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Friday, 26 July 2013

Bear's Big Bottom by Steve Smallman and Emma Yarlett

Bear's Big Bottom

Bear was friendly, Bear was sweet, The nicest bear you'd ever meet! With little paws and little feet, And a very BIG bear bottom! Poor Bear! His bottom is causing chaos...Bump! Crash! Splat! Soon Bear is in great big trouble! Can he ever make it up to his friends? A hilarious story of bottoms, bears and animal friends that will have children giggling at Bear's bottom-based mishaps. From children's favourite Steve Smallman, author of Smelly Peter, the Great Pea Eater and The Monkey with A Bright Blue Bottom.

This is a funny book, written in rhyme and tells the story about a bear who has a big bottom.  Bear's friends are all upset when Bear's bottom smashes the presents and squashes the cake however Bear saves the day when Fox tries to bite the bottoms of his friends and have them for lunch!

As i have previously said, the book is written in rhyme and I can imagine that this book will soon become a storytime favourite, with older children picking up the rhyming sentences to help tell the tale. 

The illustrations which accompany the story are bright and colourful. They tell the story well and children will enjoy looking at each one and guessing what trouble Bear's bottom will get him into next.

In summary, this is a great rhyming story book which I think would be great for slightly older children to enjoy and the whole family will soon be reciting the rhyming sentences to tell the tale.

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

Stan Stinky - He's a sewer hero! by Hannah Shaw

Stan Stinky

Stan Pipe Stinky is annoyed. He's being forced to spend his summer in the boring sewer he's lived in his whole life, while all his friends are off surfing the storm drains of the Bahamas. What' worse is that his mum is making him work aboard his crazy uncle's boat, The Noodle. Uncle Ratts and his sidekick Roachy think the're adventurers, but in reality all they do is deal with some very smelly poo blockages. Then Ratts and Roachy disappear up a u-bend into the terrifying unknown ...a HUMAN HOUSE. Stan must come to their rescue! When desperate measures call for him to flush them to safety down the toilet, Stan finds himself riding the biggest wave of all! Ya boo sucks Bahamas!

For fans of the Pixar movie 'Ratatouille' this is the perfect book. Full of humour and disgusting ideas - an official poo chart and an adventure which included surfing on a bar of soap and a journey in The Noodle, a boat made out of empty Chinese takeaway cartons with a pair of old pants as a sail and held together with Sellotape and string.

Although this is a child's book, there is something in there for adults too. Characters have fantastic names - Stan Pipe Stinky and a holiday to 'The Bananas' are just a few of the laughs. 

The book has the look of a scrapbook - which ties in with the diary that Stan has to keep of his summer holiday. The story is told in both narrative and illustrations, there are diary entries and letters as written by Stan, pictures drawn by Stan and tourist information sheets. The pages have lots of different typography styles on the pages which also adds to the scrapbook style. 

It is a great book - and I am sure it will be a big hit with both boys and girls. It has humour and wit on every page and at the end of the book there are bonus pages detailing how to make you own Old Noodle ship and also 20 uses for old socks.

I recommend this to readers age 9+, and especially to fans of Sorrell Anderson and the movie Ratatouille.

Thank you to the publishers, Scholastic, and the author, Hannah Shaw, for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Wonder by R J Palacio


'My name is August. I won't describe to you what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' Ten-year-old August Pullman wants to be ordinary. He does ordinary things. He eats ice-cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside. But Auggie is far from ordinary. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, he has been home-schooled by his parents his entire life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, Auggie's parents are sending him to a real school. Can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all? Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches, "Wonder" is a frank, funny, astonishingly moving debut to be read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Every now and then I read a book and when I sit down to review it I struggle with what to write - because the book is so good, I just don't know how to express just how good it really is. This, Wonder, is one such book - it is so beautifully written that everyone should read it.

Auggie, August Pullman, is a ten year old boy and likes the same things as other ten year olds. However, he has facial dis-figuration  which has left him needing lots of operations and has been home schooled, leading him to be isolated. Now his parents have made the difficult decision to let him attend the local school and the story is Auggie's journey to be accepted by his peers. 

The book is narrated by August and the narrative includes lots of fantastic child observations, things that only children would notice, or a child's interpretation of a situation. The chapters are very short and the book is a quick read. 

August is very observant and the narrative is humourous as well as believable. It shows August to be a very capable young boy, who has a great deal of obstacles in front of him, and has a very strong support network around him to aid him through life.  He has so much courage and a 'will do' outlook on life - something that children should take on board while reading this book.

My eleven year old daughter has also read this book and she also enjoyed the book as much as me. It made her think about how people are all different and how people treat people who are slightly different or have abnormalities or disfigurements and the effect it can have on the individual. 

I think this is a book that everyone should read - from 9+, both adult and children will find the book to be a great read. It is a powerful read which I hope will make people reconsider how they treat people in society and that they see the person behind the abnormality or disability.

Thank you to the publisher, Transworld Books, and The School Run Forum, for sending me the book to review.

It's Raining Men by Milly Johnson

It's Raining Men

A summer getaway to remember. But is a holiday romance on the cards…? Best friends from work May, Lara and Clare are desperate for some time away. They have each had a rough time of it lately and need some serious R & R. So they set off to a luxurious spa for ten glorious days, but when they arrive at their destination, it seems it is not the place they thought it was. In fact, they appear to have come to entirely the wrong village… Here in Ren Dullem nothing is quite what it seems; the lovely cobbled streets and picturesque cottages hide a secret that the villagers have been keeping hidden for years. Why is everyone so unfriendly and suspicious? Why does the landlord of their holiday rental seem so rude? And why are there so few women in the village? Despite the strange atmosphere, the three friends are determined to make the best of it and have a holiday to remember. But will this be the break they all need? Or will the odd little village with all its secrets bring them all to breaking point…?

In the modern world today, when everyone is very busy with their own lives - both work and home life - take over and time with friends becomes scarce. This is exactly what has happened to May, Lara and Clare, and so they scheduled a holiday away together many months in advance. However, a computer glitch meant that the holiday they wanted to book, was actually incorrectly booked and the friends ended up in a cottage in a small village where the locals were very unfriendly and practically refused to serve any outsiders. 

The friends soon discover that there is something not quite right in village and they think that the key is the three Hathersage brothers who the three friends have each taken a shine to. There is also Raine, an old lady who is in a wheelchair, who lives in a cottage on the cliff. 

'It's raining men' is the latest book by Milly Johnson, one of my favourite authors. When I pick up a Milly Johnson book I know that I am going to get a great story, often with humour, but always full of women, who are great friends and this book is no exception. However, this book I thought had a slightly different feel to it, with the local history and local beliefs, I felt the story was truly British - Britain has lots of folklore and local customs and beliefs and this book really went down this route. Ren Dullum sounded like a beautiful country village and I would love to visit there because through Johnson's narrative I was able to picture the village and all the characters who lived there.

The characters also were fantastic - there were the three Hathersage brothers - I think I liked Gene the most, the strong, mysterious carpenter, although I did feel sorry for Francis and the hold that Daisy had over him. I also liked Jenny in the cafe - I think that although she was a villager, she wanted to push the villagers into accepting tourists and newcomers. I think that a lot of the villagers had been born and bought up in the village and were totally immersed in village life and the beliefs. 

In summary this book is fantastic - absolutely brilliant. I definitely recommend this as the book every beach bag must contain this summer. It is lighthearted and allows escapism, along with the British belief of village life and folklore. I know that if get away to a holiday cottage this year I will be searching for the secret door which leads to a private lagoon to swim in.

Thank you to the author, Milly Johnson, and the publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me the book to review.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Olivia's Curtain Cal by Lyn Gardner

Olivia's Curtain Call - Olivia 7

Olivia and her friends are auditioning for a production of Romeo and Juliet in the West End. It makes Olivia realise just how much she wants to be an actress, like her mum was. But her father asks her to perform with him in a high-wire stunt instead. How can she choose between her parents? And love is in the air at the Swan School of Theatre and Dance. But when the curtain falls, will everyone get their fairytale happy ending?

This is the seventh and final book in the popular series which follows Olivia and her younger sister, Eel, through their daily life at The Swan Academy of Theatre and Dance. 

Olivia's mother was the youngest actor to play Juliet on stage and now Olivia has the opportunity to do the same, however she must audition against many older, more well known and experienced actresses, to win the part. Her father, Jack, wants her to perform alongside him and her school mate, Tom, on a high wire show and her gran supports her in her quest to play Juliet. Which will Olivia choose? There are obstacles along the way, leaving Olivia to make difficult decisions, should she be ruled by head or heart, and when Eel is involved in a serious accident what will the future hold?

This, again, is a fantastic book. A stage school based story which shows the real life of such a school. This story concentrates much more more on the audition process and the life of an actor than on school life. There is also more in this book about the love life of some members of the school and some follow in the footsteps of Romeo and Juliet; families at war, forbidden love all play a part.

The story features some of the most famous Romeo and Juliet text from the stage play which adds to the story - I really liked this and I am sure it will encourage younger readers to either read the full text or watch a performance of it. 

I was sad to read that this is the final installment in this Swan Academy series, however Lyn Gardner has finished on a high. The book is a great story, which could be read as a standalone story but for fans of the series, it is a great ending to Olivia's story, where she has the opportunity for new heights in her blossoming career but also has a love story which I think readers have hopefully waited for since the start. 

I would recommend this book as great for readers aged 9+. It will be a great pick for readers who enjoy anything stage and screen - budding actors, singers, dancers, but also for anyone who wants to read a great read this summer.

I have spoken to the author, Lyn Gardner, who has promised me she is working on a new book and will be back soon with another great read!
Thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Angela Nicely by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts

Angela Nicely - Angela Nicely 1

From the world of Dirty Bertie comes a new star! A brand new series from David Roberts, creator of Dirty Bertie, Angela Nicely is already well known to Bertie's fans. Angela might look like she's made of sugar and spice and all things nice, but nothing could be further from the truth! Angela knows best! Whether it's trying to succeed as a top model, proving that her head teacher wears a wig, or finding herself out of her depth on a spa weekend, she's determined to make a splash! Angela Nicely is the first book in this fantastically mischievous series. Perfect for little girls who are fans of Dirty Bertie.

Alan MacDonald and David Roberts are the fantastic author and illustrator collaboration which created the lovable Dirty Bertie, who this year is celebrating 10 years of making mischief. They are now back with a new character, Angela Nicely, who is a sweet and angelic looking girl, who just can't help but make mischief.

Angela Nicely follows the same format as Dirty Bertie books. Three stories within one book, all full of mischief, mishap and lots of laughter. In this book, the three stories are Miss Skinner's Wig, Supermodel and Healthy Holiday. Three great stories which see Angela and her friends/school mates trying to prove that Miss Skinner is wearing a wig, trying out for a modelling shoot and Angela and her mum visiting a health spa for a relaxing and fun break.

As ever, with MacDonald and Roberts, the stories are well written, the characters instantly lovable, the chaos hilarious and the stories being loved and read over and over again. The illustrations are fun and split the text up well for new readers to gain confidence.

I really think MacDonald and Roberts have created a female character which could give Dirty Bertie a run for his money. I look forward to seeing more from Angela Nicely in the future.

I received this book from the publishers, Little Tiger Books, in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cafe at the edge of the moon by Francesca Simon

Cafe at the Edge of the Moon - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Janey is fed up of being told what to do by her mum and dad. So she jets off to the cafe at the edge of the moon where she can do anything she likes - eating pudding first, splashing in puddles and racing a dinosaur.

Fracesca Simon is well known for her popular character, Horrid Henry. However, this is a book featuring different characters. 

When I read this book, my first thoughts were that I am sure many children think like Janey did in the story. Janey was fed up of being told what to do by her mum and so she went off in her racing car to a place where she could do exactly what she wanted.

This book is perfect for young children who are beginning to read books alone. Each page has only one sentence per page and has bright, colourful pictures which also tell the story. It is planned especially for very early readers and will be a great encouragement to them and their progress in learning to read alone.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop

When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien's ice cream parlour, it turns both their lives upside-down. The Brighton shop is a seafront institution, but while it's big on charm it's critically low on customers. If the sisters don't turn things around quickly, their grandmother's legacy will disappear forever. With summer looming, Imogen and Anna devise a plan to return Vivien's to its former glory. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map. While Imogen watches the shop, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But as she works shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best chefs in the industry, Anna finds that romance can bloom in the most unexpected of places...

I love these type of books where family members inherit a family business in which they have no previous interest or experience and are given the oppurtunity to take over the business and often have to learn new skills or have to move to a new area to be able to take the business to new heights.
This is such a book, where sisters Imogen and Anna inherit an ice cream parlour from their grandmother.  The resulting story is a great read, full of potential romance, hard work and the attempts to engage local communities to work together for the good of the area.

The book is the story of their journey in taking over the parlour - they are faced with problems with their neighbours and realise that they have no idea on how to make the famous ice cream that their grandmother was known for but Anna flies off to learn how to make ice cream which left me wanting to try all these beautiful sounding ice creams, sorbets etc. There are a number of recipes in the back of the book to try which all sound delicious.

i enjoyed the author's debut novel, Meet me under the mistletoe  which is another fantastic read, a Christmas story, which gets the reader in the Christmas mood. This is another great read and I am sure Abby Clements is going to be one of those authors that you can confidently pick up her latest release and know it will be a guaranteed good read. Looking forward to her next release already.

This is a great summer read, which is easy to pick and will have you enthralled until it is time for another ice cream!

Thank you to the publishers, Quercus Books, for sending me the book to review.

Tulsa and the Frog by Tony Ross

Tulsa and the Frog - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Tulsa dreams of a life as exciting as the girls in her story books. First she tries pretending to be Snow White, Pippi Longstocking and Rapunzel. Then one day, in an enchanted forest behind her house, she discovers a talking frog...

A book from the fantastic Orion Children's Books Early Reader series. This book has a blue banner which is a book that can be shared with all and read alongside their peers.

The story is about Tulsa who has a fantastic imagination and loves to pretend she is characters out of her favourite fairy tales. She hates her own name 'Tulsa' and therefore takes on the names and lives of characters from her books. When she went for a walk through the local enchanted forest, she found a talking frog who wanted her to kiss her, but would she??

This is a fantastic story about a young girl and her own childish imagination where fairy tales are real life and anything is possible. It is written by the author and illustrator, Tony Ross, who I absolutely adore. I know that when I pick up a book that Tony Ross has either written and/or illustrated that it will be a brilliant book that is suitable for children to enjoy. 

I would recommend this as suitable for both boys and girls, who want to share a book with their peers or who are starting to read themselves. There are short chunks of story on each page, which are broken up by fantastic illustrations that will also capture a child's imagination and make them enjoy the story even more.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me this book to review.

Operation Eiffel Tower by Elen Caldecott

Operation Eiffel Tower

Lauren, Jack, Ruby and Billy live by the seaside with their mum and dad. But their parents are always arguing, and then their dad moves out. Lauren and Jack decide they have to get them together again. And so begins Operation Eiffel Tower which the four children try to raise money to give their mum and dad a treat in an attempt to make them happier. First they want to send their parents to Paris, but quickly realise they can never afford that, so instead they set up a dinner for two under the Eiffel Tower in the local crazy golf attraction. But will it get their parents talking again? A funny and very moving story that tackles important issues with a light touch.

This book tackles the difficult subject of family separation, a difficult subject for children to understand. This story is about a family who do separate, and the children decide to try and get their parents back together with a trip to the Eiffel tower, but with money a problem, they come up with another plan.

This is really well written. It has been nominated in a number of children's book awards and I think these nominations have been well deserved. The story is cleverly written, especially the way the children have been written. They all behave as children would, they think how children do and there are a number of occasions throughout the book where there are funny moments when the children do, what children really do do in real life and events are seen through a child's viewpoint. It is these observations that Caldecott has made which makes the book such a true to life book.

This is a book that I would recommend to children aged 9+. It  is suitable for children who are going through parental separation or divorce but is also a great read for any child. I look forward to reading more from Elen Caldecott in the future. As it mentions on the front cover, I think that this is a great book for fans of Jacqueline Wilson's books.

Thank you to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for sending me the book to review.

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy - Horrid Henry Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Horrid Henry can't stand it when Perfect Peter loses a tooth before him. Why should Peter get a pound from the Tooth Fairy and not Henry? And then Henry has a brilliant idea. He will trick the Tooth Fairy.

Another instalment in the fantastic Orion Children's Books Early Reader Series. This story was originally included within the Horrid Henry black and white story book 'Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy' and has now been reprinted in the popular Early Reader series. 

The Early Reader books are full, chapter stories which are printed in a larger print and the story is split up by colourful illustrations - the Horrid Henry illustrations are by the fantastic illustrator, Tony Ross, who captures the mischief of Henry perfectly.  The story is the same as the original but the adapted format of these books make it easier for younger readers to follow and enjoy, while gaining confidence in their reading ability.

This story sees Henry unhappy because Perfect Peter's first tooth has fallen out before any of Henry's. Henry does all he can to make his first tooth fall out, to no avail. He steals Peter's tooth to try and trick the tooth fairy but the tooth fairy very cleverly sees through Henry's trick. However when Henry finally looses a tooth, he has an accident with the tooth.

This is another fantastic story in the popular series by Francesca Simon which young readers will love to read again and again. I am sure this series encourages lots of young readers and starts them off with a set of books that is gauged at the right level to challenge but not overwhelm.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

About a Girl

The brand new summer bestseller from the immensely popular Lindsey Kelk Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when the Plan goes belly up, she's forced to reconsider. After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa's phone, she decides that since being Tess isn't going so well, she might try being Vanessa. With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa's photography assignment to Hawaii - she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right? But Tess is soon in big trouble. And the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he'd like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster. Far from home and in someone else's shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or 'fess up and run...

I really enjoyed Lindsey Kelk's popular book series, I Heart ...... but have to be honest and say I did not enjoy Kelk's last stand alone novel, Single Girl's to do list, as much. However I have to say, Kelk's latest standalone, About a Girl, is fantastic and one I could not put down.

When Tess Brookes goes into work for a meeting with HR, she believes she is about to be given a promotion she was promised some six months ago, however, when she is instead handed a brown envelope containing a generous redundancy package, she feels like her world is collapsing around her. The day continues to get worse when she is the victim of an attempted mugging, but ends up being given a brand new phone by the mugger, and then returns home to a showdown with her flatmate. So when she later answers her flatmate's phone, and speaks to her agent, when her agent muddles her up and thinks she is talking to her client, Tess plays along and is soon on a plane to Hawaii to take photographs for a major magazine article of one of the world's most important fashion designers. But will she be able to pull off the 'mistake' or will she be found out and sent home in disgrace?

As I said, I really enjoyed this book. It is lighthearted and there are lots of comedic moments within the storyline.  The characters are perfectly chosen - with characters which readers will both love and hate. I really liked Tess, but also felt for Charlie - her best friend who worked in the same company, a university friend, a male who was a friend, not a lover. It was a great friendship and one that the reader hoped would be reconciled before the book ended. I did not like Vanessa, and really hoped that she would have her comeuppance before the end of the book.

As previously said, I really enjoyed Kelk's previous series, I Heart .... Kelk has created a fantastic cast of characters which readers can return to each time a new book was released and  and so I was very pleased to get to the end of this book to find that this book is also the first in a new series, with the next instalment due Summer 2014. I look forward to seeing what Tess what gets up to next!

This is another perfect read which should be in everybody's summer reading pile this year.

The Naughty Girls' Book Club by Sophie Hart

The Naughty Girls Book Club

A quaint suburb. A quiet little reading group. A very naughty reading list...Chicklit with a saucy twist, this is perfect for anyone looking for a slightly softer version of of E.L. James' 50 Shades of Grey. Estelle sets up a book group in order to increase custom to her struggling small town cafe, what follows is more scandalous than she could have ever imagined...As the first book club meeting flounders, Estelle suggests a spot of erotica to spice up the members lives - with trepidation the decision is accepted. Inspired by their sizzling reads, this group of shy suburban readers shake off their inhibitions and discover a new side to themselves with some tantalising results. Saucy and sexy chicklit fiction at its most seductive, this is perfect for fans of Jilly Cooper and Indigo Bloome.

With the publication and subsequent popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and other Erotica titles I am sure that there will be book clubs popping up all over the country that will delve into this new popular genre of books for their book of the month and that is exactly what is set up by Estelle in her cafe when the local independent book shop over the road closes its door for the last time.
The book club was initially set up to bring more business into the cafe ran by Estelle, a single mum. The first book she chose was Tess of the D'Urbervilles, however it was not a popular choice. The next choice is 'Ten Sweet Lessons' which livens up the book club no end and the new angle is followed for subsequent meetings. 

I really enjoyed the book. It had a good story, with the members of the club all having their own stories, which we followed throughout the book.  The members were all women, of varying ages and backgrounds, except Reggie, a university student who was using the book club as the subject of his thesis, who began on the outside looking into the meetings, but soon became involved in the discussions and was a fully fledged book club member. 

I really enjoyed this book - I have read E L James' series and did enjoy it, and although I have read a couple of other books from the Erotica genre I still find myself preferring to read other genres and to be able to pick up a book which crosses a number of genres. It has a great storyline with added sexy scenes.

The books discussed in the book club are a mix of real books and made up titles and I have found myself researching the books to find out if they are available to read. I will be looking to find the titles to read myself where possible.

The book is more than a story about a book club. The characters all have their own lives and each develop throughout the book. I would love to have been a part of this book club and could see many of the members as potential friends in real life. It has been well written and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

This book would make a perfect beach or holiday read, although be ready for the 'spicy' scenes which may make you blush! 

Thank you to the publishers, Avon, for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Toothy and Worms (Dirty Bertie) by David Roberts and Alan Macdonald

Worms! - Dirty Bertie Bk. 1Meet Dirty Bertie - a boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits! He's full to bursting with madcap plans and crazy ideas, and if it's trouble you're after, look no further - Bertie's sure to be up to his neck in it. Join Bertie as he tries to get out of a pink party, fails to be polite for a whole day and a makes really rubbish entry into the summer fair's flower arranging competition...

Toothy! - Dirty Bertie 19Calling all Dirty Bertie fans! Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! More disgusting than ever, with crazier plans and increasingly madcap schemes, Bertie continues to delight his legions of fans who revel in his revolting ways. Join Bertie on his 19th adventure in Toothy! as he takes a reluctant trip to the dentist, tries to keep his cool on the hottest day of the year, and causes a mid-air emergency whilst flying with a very nervous Dad! Dirty Bertie is a hugely popular series created by David Roberts. With each hilarious story approximately thirty pages long and split into chapters, Dirty Bertie is ideal for reluctant boy readers or readers in search of hilarity but with a short attention span.

Dirty Bertie is a big favourite in my house. A cheeky young boy who just can't keep out of mischief. He has celebrated his tenth year in publication this year, as celebrated on this blog in 10 years of making mischief

Worms was the first chapter, story book that was released in this popular series and Toothy is one of the most recent (number 19). They are both as good as each other and when a new book is published, my son can not wait to see what Bertie gets up to!  

I think that through the whole series of books, Bertie has got up to mischief in so many different situations - like at the dentist - that a book could be found as a gift for any situation.

The books are perfect for children who are gaining confidence in reading alone but they are also great to share a chapter each story time or each night to introduce younger children to the idea of chapter books. 

Each book contains three separate stories, which are split into characters and feature the fantastic illustrations by Dave Roberts. Each illustration shows the mischief that Bertie is about to reek and are great to look out throughout the stories.

They are great for fans of Horrid Henry and also Just William. The main character is a boy but they will also be loved by girls too who like mischievous characters too.

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the books to review.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong - Almost Naked Animals 1

Almost Naked Animals is a high-energy CITV series featuring a cast of pants-wearing animals. Now get a look behind the scenes at the Banana Cabana and see what Howie and his friends are up to ...Running a busy hotel is a tough job, particularly when you're as bad at it as Howie is, but it helps when you have friends. Joining Howie are a gang of bottom-covered misfits including Octo, Bunny, Narwhal, Duck and Piggy ...and in a rival hotel nearby lurks Howie's evil sister Poodle, who's obsessed with taking over the Banana Cabana and shutting it down for ever! Howie has an urge to do Dog Stuff, but with no other dogs around but his evil sister, he's out of luck. And Poodle has a Cunning Plan. Will Howie discover who his real friends are, before it's too late? The author translating the Almost Naked Animals from TV to book form is a BAFTA-honoured comedy writer, and these books are in full colour throughout - with bonus stickers!

My children love this television series and looking through this book it is just like the programme; bright, colourful and very busy!

The story is as chaotic as the series. It is a brightly coloured book and would be perfect for children who need encouragement with reading. The popular characters are on each page and although the story is quite long, with chunks of narrative on each page, there are still big, brightly coloured pictures throughout the book. Add this to the added bonus of free stickers included within the book and this will be a hit with any child who loves the series.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Compact Oxford Hachette French Dictionary

Compact Oxford-hachette French Dictionary

The Compact Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary offers over 90,000 words and phrases, and 120,000 translations of contemporary French and English. It covers all the words you need for everday use, carefully selected from evidence from the Oxford Languages Tracker and the Oxford English Corpus. Also includes French cultural and grammar supplements to help you improve your French. Includes 12 months' access to Oxford Language Dictionaries Online at

My daughter is moving to high school in September and will be learning French for the first time. She will be starting from scratch and although I also studied French to GCSE and started A Level (but never completed it, concentrated on German), this will be well used over the next few years!

This is the compact dictionary - not the smallest dictionary avaliable, but still manageable to have in a school bag. I remember when  I was doing A Level languages, we had to lug the thicker hardback dictionaries to and from school. 

As with most language dictionaries, translations are avaliable French-English and English-French. Each dictionary entry is clearly laid out and defined and highlight 2000 words which are the most frequently used.

At the end of the dictionary there is also a concise summary of French Grammar, French Verbs  and also a section on numbers. At school I remember the endless lessons spent on verbs and the various participles - all of which are shown in the dictionary, a very useful section to have to hand for french homework, and not one I am looking forward to revisiting with my daughter over the coming years. I will be making sure this dictionary is close to hand.

The purchase of this dictionary also gives twelve months access to Oxford Language Dictionaries Online - something I have not yet accessed as I will wait until my daughter starts French in September to make sure we have full use of the twelve months. It is something I am sure will be of great use to students who are studying French.

In summary, I found this dictionary to be a very good one - clear, concise and well laid out. The key words being highlighted was very useful and I also think that the section at the end with grammar and verb explanations very useful. I think it would be great for students who are starting to learn the language to have to hand for homework tasks but could also see it being detailed enough for GCSE examinations also. The added bonus of online access is the icing on the cake - a fantastic resource for students. 

I recommend this as a great purchase for students of French.

I received this dictionary through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts by Gizzi Erskine

Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts

A revelatory new healthy eating book of two halves from bestselling author Gizzi Erskine, Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts will leave you amazed at what you can eat, rather than being disappointed by what you can't! Part One, Skinny Weeks, gives you a delicious, easy-to-stick-to recipe plan for 6 days of the week, perfect for a 1 - 2lb weight loss per week. Mouthwatering dishes such as Blackened Mackerel with Roast Tomatoes and Kaffir Lime Leaves, Korean Beef and Glass Noodles and Pancetta and Chilli Baked Beans on Sourdough demonstrate that healthy food needn't be boring or mean sacrificing bold, exciting flavours. In Weekend Feasts, Gizzi shows you how to let your hair down and treat yourself to the food you love to eat. Choose from a Friday night feast, a long leisurely brunch, a proper Sunday lunch or an indulgent afternoon tea and enjoy some truly decadent food, safe in the knowledge that you've earned it. Throughout, Gizzi reveals the secrets of eating the right way day in, day out - demonstrating how a bit of forethought and preparation can go a long way towards eating healthily and enjoying astonishingly satisfying, flavoursome food with just a fraction of the expected calories. Sensible, achievable and utterly delicious, Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts will show you how to have your cake and eat it ...

I have enjoyed watching Gizzi Erskine on my television screen for sometime and watched her gain confidence and recognition for her fantastic recipes, which often are perfect for those of us who are wanting to loose a few pounds.  This book is an extension to this and is full of lots of recipes that can be eaten while trying to loose some!

The book is split into two halves: Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts. This is a great idea because I know that if I am trying to watch what I am eating, I am ok during the week but let myself go at the weekend and then feel disheartened and give up, but this in this book Gizzi suggests that six days per week readers should be aiming to limit calorie intake to 1500 calories per day and then on the seventh day of the week (as decided by the reader), forget the calorie counting and enjoy a good meal and indulge. I must admit, I am unsure if this is right for everyone, as one day of indulgence could undo all the good work throughout the rest of the week, however the recipes within this book look like some new ideas to try.

The Skinny Weeks section of the book works by splitting the daily allowance of 1500 calories into meals: 300 calories for breakfast; 400 calories for lunch; and 600 calories for an evening meal; leaving 200 calories for snacks or pudding. 

There is a useful section at the start of the book entitled 'Eating the skinny weeks and weekend feasts way' which gives hints and tips and theory behind the plan. It mentions the idea of low-GI food which are included within the plan, something which I had heard of but never looked into and gives 5 survival tips fr the skinny weeks! One of the hints within the section is to prepare to use a little elbow grease throughout the plan, to prepare the recipes is going to take time and effort but as in most things - the more you put in, the more you get out of it!

The recipes within the Skinny Weeks sections are split into Breakfast; Working Lunch; Skinny Dipping; Simple Suppers; and Puds.  The Weekend Feasts sections are split into: Friday Night Feasts; Lazy Brunches; Sunday Lunch and Sweet Treats. There are lots of full page photographs of some of the recipes but not all recipes are accompanied by a photograph. The recipes do sound nice, however there are lots of ingredients which would not be found in a average store cupboard and therefore lots of forward planning would need to be done for this plan to work.

The recipes are clearly set out, with a 'chatty' introduction to each recipe,, giving info on unusual ingredients or ideas on recipe extension. There is a comprehensive and full ingredients list, which includes preparation of ingredients (i.e. finely chopped, rinsed and drained etc). Number of servings made, calorie content, preparation time and cooking time are also given. The recipe instructions are clearly written and are easy to follow - for people who don't do much cooking, like me, they are clearly and logically written. The Weekend Feasts recipes also have a wicked rating allowing readers to gauge their sins because calorie content is not given for these recipes.

I do like this book, it is quirky, bright and fun and I like the concept of skinny weeks and weekend feasts however I am not sure that the recipes in this book are for me. I am not a really fussy eater but I think I would struggle to keep to this plan for even a week with the recipes in this book. I think I would use this book as one to dip into when looking for something low calorie but would need to use it alongside other books to keep to a skinny eating plan.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt

The List of My Desires

What would it take to change your life? Jocelyne is 47. She lives in a small provincial French town, runs her own dressmaking shop, has been married to the same man for what seems like an eternity, has had two children and lives a very ordinary existence. In fact so ordinary that she is beginning to wonder what happened to her, to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Then comes the chance to change her life completely - but should she? For when Jocelyne begins to look at her life and its small pleasures - her friendship with the twins who run the hairdresser next door, her weekends away, her sewing blog - she realises that maybe ordinary isn't so bad. Until the decision is taken out of her hands...The List of my Desires is a wonderfully heart-warming novel about what we value in life and the search for happiness.

I found this book purely by chance while 'window shopping' through an online bookstore and was drawn to it by its pretty cover and the fact that the main character worked in a haberdashery shop - after reading and enjoying Kate Jacob's popular series set in a wool shop I had been after other books set in craft, haberdashery or wool shops. However this book is very different to Jacob's series and the haberdashery is not the heart of the story.

As soon as I started this book I couldn't put it down. It is a very individual and clever style of book - one which I would recommend to all. It is only a short book, 175 pages, and has very short chapters, making it perfect as a book to keep in a bag for  commuting or as a holiday read. 

I found the book to be very thought provoking - as I read it, I felt as if I was in Jocelyne's mind, reading her thoughts and going through the emotions along with her. The main storyline is how a women's life could potentially change following a win on the Euromillions lottery of over 18 million Euros. Jocelyne appears to have a satisfactory life, owning the haberdashery, living with her husband, who has overcome alcoholism but this has had a real effect on their life, and has two grown up children, although she also had a third baby who was still born, another element which has never been resolved. 

From the outside, it looks like Jocelyne has a good life, however this is obviously not the case and this book is about her trying to decide whether this lottery win will make her life better. She keeps the cheque folded up inside a shoe in her wardrobe, but will she decide to bank the cheque or will the cheque be found by someone else - her children and her husband all are capable of devious behaviour?

The following story is well written and as I have previously mentioned, it felt to me that I was reading Jocelyne's thoughts and that I, as the reader, was watching her make the decisions and live her life with her. I found the story to be heart-warming and true to life. I think if the book had been written from a man's point of view it would of been  a completely different story, whereas Jocelyne is considering, not only her own life, but those of the people around her, and not just her family, but the identical twins who meet with Jocelyne almost every lunch time for a chat and gossip.  It is a story of love, but also of a regretted life story - I think Jocelyne would of made different choices along the way if she was to live her life again and she often thinks, what if???

The book was originally published in French and has been translated into English - nothing has been lost in translation. Unless you previously knew, a reader would not guess it was a translated tale that they were reading. 

A cleverly written story, which I would recommend to someone who wanted a quick read, or who wanted a story about real life, with real life choices needing choices to be made.

Thank you to the publishers, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, for sending me the book in return for an honest review

Abigail by Catherine Rayner


Abigail loves to count. It is her very favourite thing. But when she tries counting Zebra's stripes and Cheetah's spots, they just won't sit still. It's hopeless! What will Abigail do? A beautiful book by award-winning author-illustrator Catherine Rayner, full of gorgeous illustrations of Abigail the giraffe and her friends Cheetah and Zebra. Abigail is a perfect bedtime read with a stunning fold-out night sky ending. Catherine Rayner is the winner of the 2009 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Harris Finds His Feet and illustrator and author of Solomon Crocodile and Augustus and his Smile.

This is a beautiful book, a lovely story with accompanying beautiful illustrations. The story encourages counting and enforces the idea of counting anything, anywhere. The story includes a number of different wild animals living in their natural habitats. 

I really liked the message within this book - it is possible to encourage counting while carrying out everyday tasks or on a walk and this is what Abigail is trying to do throughout the story.  I also like the illustrations - the giraffe looks like a real giraffe, no cartoony illustrations included within this book!

I would recommend this book as the perfect gift for a young child who loves reading books or is beginning to learn to count. It is a book which would make a beautiful gift, one which would be treasured for many years to come and I am sure it would become a favourite, very quickly.

Abigail is part of Little Tiger's Summer Reading Challenge, Reading Rocks. On the Reading Rocks webiste, there are lots of fun activities, author interviews and a fantastic competition to encourage reading this summer.

I received this book for the publishers, Little Tiger, in return for an honest review.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Horrid Henry's Nightmare by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry's Nightmare - Horrid Henry No. 22

Four hilarious new Horrid Henry stories - HORRID HENRY'S MOTHER'S DAY, probably not the day his mum looks forward to most in the year, HORRID HENRY'S NIGHTMARE where Henry's chased by a ghost bunny with huge teeth, a wailing graveyard ghost and, for good measure, a slimy zombie, then a new story about one of his greatest enemies in THE RETURN OF THE DEMON DINNER LADY and last but not least FLUFFY STRUTS HER STUFF. Horrid Henry is illustrated by Tony Ross, who also illustrates David Walliams' children's books, as well as his own picture books.

This is the 22nd book about the popular Horrid Henry and his family written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross. This is an extra special book because it has a front cover which glows in the dark to add to the nightmare included inside!

As ever, there are four stories included within the book, all featuring Horrid Henry and some of his mates, teachers and family. Henry is up to his usual tricks and misdemeanors, causing mayhem and chaos where ever he goes.

I would recommend this book as suitable for Horrid Henry fans of any age - the stories are perfect to be read by parents to children, to share a chapter at night or at story time at school or for children aged 7+ who are confidently reading alone.

They really are fantastic stories which children of all ages love, either in picture books, chapter books or through the very popular television cartoon series.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Hueys in It Wasn't Me by Oliver Jeffers

It Wasn't Me - The Hueys

Meet the Hueys - a fabulously quirky group of characters from international bestselling, award-winning author/illustrator, Oliver Jeffers, creator of How to Catch a Star and Lost and Found. A fight has broken out amongst The Hueys. "It was not me! It was him!" But no one can remember what they're fighting about. If only they could find an interesting distraction...

While I was reading this I am surrounded by the sounds of yet another argument between my two children - and when I ask them what it is going on and who started it I was treated to an almost identical storyline to the story I had just read, the main line being 'It wasn't me!'

This is a very clever book - a story with few words and very simplistic drawings - black and white line drawings, simple shapes very few colours, however when colour is used, it is used to perfection. I especially liked the colour used for the argument. 

The words are presented on the page very clearly, using a strong, and bold font, and the speech is presented in speech bubbles, using an italic font.

I think that this book would be a great one for sharing at story time and also in primary school lessons as a clear and exact lesson in the use of speech in stories.

I received this book from the publishers, Harper Collins Children's Books, in return for an honest review.

Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dinosaur Farm

Jack and his pet dino-dog get up early each morning to tend to the duties on the dinosaur farm. First the pterodactyl eggs need collecting. Then the triceratops need to be let out to graze. Of course the diplodocus need a good scrub after their mud bath - they do get very messy! As the day goes on, Jack becomes more battered and bruised by his encounters - the pterodactyl were not the most co-operative when it came to collecting their eggs, the diplodocus's bath time was a bit more exciting than it was meant to be and the boisterous tricerotops sent him flying as they rushed out of their pen! Exhausted after his daily chores, Jack collapses into bed. But wait! Did he close the gate to the T-Rex pen?! And if you've fallen in love with Dino Dog? So have we. Join him on his own adventures coming soon! Age range: 3-6 years 

This is a great story for anyone who loves dinosaurs, farmyards or both! Each double page spread is one big picture and although they are basic pictures for little children to enjoy, there are little additions to each picture for children to find which I believe all adds to a picture book and makes sharing a book or storytime more interactive and fulfilling for a child.

The story is told in a small number of words, perfect for the younger child and there are plenty of pages, meaning not many words per page.  The story is basic but enjoyable and I am sure older children will enjoy identifying the different dinosaurs included within the story.

Thank you to the publishers, Pavillon Children's Books and Anova Books, for sending me the book to review. 

Mabel and Me - Best of Friends by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton

Mabel and Me - Best of Friends

Meet Mabel and Me in this hilarious picture book, as they explore what puts the 'best' in 'best friends'! Mabel and Me are strolling down a strolly street, when Mabel asks a Hugely Harrowing and Diabolically Difficult question about why Me thinks they are best friends. Join this oddest of odd couples in their very first adventure to discover the answer - but be prepared for a large dose of mistaken identity along the way! Mark Sperring's sparkling text is a rollicking read-aloud that delights in language and rhythm and is perfectly complemented by Sarah Warburton's terrifically warm and witty illustrations.

This is a beautiful book about Mabel and her best friend, a mouse, and Mabel's refusal to do things without her best friend. 

It is well written and fantastically illustrated, with the hand drawn, sketchy style drawings accompanying the story perfectly. The pages are laid out well, with words being included in a number of different typographical styles,all of which adds to the hectic story.

I would recommend this picture story book to a slightly older child - 5-7 years - due to the hectic story and its wordy story. It is a beautiful book and one which I am sure will become a story time favourite very quickly.

I received this book, in return for an honest review, from the publishers, Harper Collins Children's Books.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tim, Ted and the Pirates by Ian Whybrow and Russell Ayto

Tim, Ted and the Pirates

Shiver me timbers! A swashbuckling picture book adventure from the author of the phenomenally successful Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs. It's story time at school, when all of a sudden...SPLASH!...the classroom fills with water and Tim and Ted find themselves taking part in a swashbuckling nautical adventure. Can they rescue stolen treasure from the pirates before Tim's mum comes to collect him at home time?

A great book for pirate lovers everywhere. The story is written in rhyme and is a story of two children's imagination at story time. The illustrations throughout the book are quirkily drawn and add to the imaginative story.

It is the perfect book to give as a gift or to share at story time and I am sure it will soon become a favourite of both boys and girls alike.

Thank you to the publishers, Harper Collins Children's Books, for sending me the book to review

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Robin Hood by Richard Brassey

Robin Hood

From medieval times to the modern day, people have been fascinated by tales of the famous outlaw who allegedly robbed the rich to give to the poor. But who was Robin Hood really - aristocrat or commoner, hero or villain? Myths abound and in this book, with all the humour and affection of the bestselling NESSIE, Richard Brassey gently pokes fun at the falsehoods while pursuing the truth.

I have previously reviewed another book by Richard Brassey, The Queen , on this blog and really enjoyed looking though the book finding out lots of interesting,but useless facts, ones which you never think you will need but are those great nuggets of information for the wining answers at a quiz and this book is full of more useless facts.

Robin Hood, a famous outlaw, who hid in Sherwood Forest, and robbed from the Normans to give to the Saxons. But who knew that he really was a half Norman/half Saxon, who lived in Loxley Hall and was named Robert? This was just the first piece of information that I gleamed from the book and that was only on page 2.  

The story and facts are accompanied by fantastic cartoon style illustrations which are eye catching and each time a reader looks at the illustrations, they are bound to spot something different.

I think this book is a great way for children to learn more about the famous names in English history and I would automatically pick up a book written by Richard Brassey when trying to find  a book to help my child with their homework.

I would recommend this book, and the rest of the authors back list, as a great addition to any school or home library.

Thank you to the publishers,  Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Freaky Sleepover (Monstrous Maud) by A B Saddlewick

Monstrous Maud: Freaky Sleepover - Monstrous Maud 3

When Maud's perfect twin sister, Milly plans a sleepover, Mum forces Maud to have her friends over too. What can possibly go wrong? Nothing much ...just that Maud's mum might find out about Rotwood High being a school for real monsters! As if that's not enough to worry about, Maud is tricked into looking after Violet, the school hamster, by her arch enemy, bitchy-witch Poisonous Penelope. But Violet is no ordinary hamster! She's a pedigree vampster and an expert cage-breaker. With a vampster on the loose, sleep is the very last thing that happens! Another terrifyingly terrific tale in the Monstrous Maud series, written by Abi Saddlewick.

This is the third book in a series featuring Monstrous Maud by the author A B Saddewick.

Monstrous Maud has been sent to Rotwood High, a school for 'monstrous' children - vampires, monsters, ghosts etc. Maud has a sister, who is still in the mainstream school and does not know, along with their parents, who attends Rotwood High. When Maud's sister has a sleepover, their mum thinks it is only fair that Maud also invites some of her new friends along too - the story which follows is full of fun, laughter and will have children screaming with laughter. I would recommend it as a great series of books for both boys and girls, either to share at bedtime or for them to read on their own. It is part of a series and it may be advisable for readers to read from the start of the series so they find out about the school as Maud does.

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme.

Dr Christian's guide to growing up by Dr Christian Jessen

Dr Christian's Guide to Growing Up

Finally TV's favourite doctor, Dr Christian, comes to the rescue of parents, boys and girls to answer all their questions about adolescence, sexuality and puberty. In his assured, no-nonsense fashion Dr Christian allays the fears, and uncertainties of growing youngsters (and helps parents find answers) about puberty, sex, personal and emotional health and body image. Leave it on the coffee table or sit down and go through it together - this book is a godsend for every family household with children under the age of 15 Addressing all those cringey questions parents squirm at answering, Dr Christian's sensible, light-hearted advice guides boys and girls on the path to be coming healthy, happy adults. Covering issues such as: * Puberty * Diet * Sex * Sexuality * Self-esteem/body image * Personal health * Emotional health * Bullying

My daughter is of the age where I have to sit her down and discuss puberty and all that follows with her and although I have had chats with her, it is plain to see that she doesn't want to be there listening and talking with me on these subjects. Therefore I have been very pleased to find this book which is perfect to look through with a child and either discuss the topics included or leave it for the child to look through and use as a starting point for future discussions at the right time for a child.

The book is written for children and considers questions about both boys and girls. It is in a scrapbook style format, with pages being printed, brightly coloured, using different fonts to grab a child's attention.

The advice inside the book is great for children who want to find out the answers to their questions. It is written in a child friendly words, using as little jargon as possible and has many pages entitled 'Ask Dr Christian' which is similar to the problem pages in many teen magazines answering the questions that most teenagers want the answers to. 

The information included in the book is a good introduction to the subject but it only goes so far and therefore I would consider this a great book for a conversation starter rather than giving all the information needed. There are a list of websites offered in the back of the voice for further advice/information but this is not an extensive list.

This is a great book for early teenagers or children reaching the age of puberty. It would also make a great addition to any school library.

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Poppy the pirate dog's new shipmate by Liz Kessler

Poppy the Pirate Dog's New Shipmate - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey.Poppy is not very happy to discover that she is getting a new shipmate - a kitten called George. She's sure he'll be stealing her pirate treasure, taking her favourite spot by the fire, and generally causing trouble. What's a pirate dog to do?

I first met Poppy the pirate dog in Liz Kessler's previous early reader title Poppy the Pirate Dog and immediately fell in love with her. A lovable family dog who thinks of himself as a pirate dog but prefers dry land to the seven seas!  In this book Poppy feels anxious when the family grows in size - George the kitten  wants to become top dog but Poppy stands firm!

This is another book in the fantastic Orion Children's Books Early Reader series. Perfect for children who are gaining confidence in reading chapter books either alone or with their peers, or would also be suitable for a book to share at bedtime, reading a chapter each night. The story is split into manageable chunks on each page with beautifully hand drawn pictures accompanying the text making pages appealing to children's eyes.

This is a great story and will be loved by both boys and girls alike. 

I look forward to seeing what mischief Poppy gets into in her next adventures soon

I received this book in return for a review from the publishers, Orion Children's Books.

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn Porter

Paper Aeroplanes - Paper Aeroplanes

It's the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renee and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn't be more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renee. But Renee and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renee's growing infatuation with Flo's brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renee and Flo it is the time of their lives. With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, Paper Aeroplanes is a gritty, poignant, often laugh-out-loud funny and powerful novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence and the heart-stopping power of female friendship.

This book was set in the 1990's and it was nostalgic and memory provoking for me, as I grew up in this decade. It was a time when I would of encountered much of what Renee and Flo did at a similar time. Mix this with the writing and wit of Dawn O Porter and I found this to be a fantastic read.

Dawn O Porter was able to bring her fantastic humour and also her observations and own memories to the book. The book has that full range of emotions - times of laughter and times where you could cry with the characters, but it also brings into the story those cringeworthy moments which, while we grew up, we all went through and the reader relives with Renee and Flo.

This would be a great book to put in a holiday suitcase, to be read on the beach or next to the pool. It is only 260 pages long, so a quick read. It is aimed at young adults but I think that anyone who was a teenager in the 1990s would enjoy reading this.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.