Challenge Participant


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom (a colouring book adventure)

Lose yourself in Millie Marotta's animal kingdom....

Illustrator Millie Marotta grew up in rural Wales surrounded by all kinds of plants and animals. She works from her studio by the sea and draws inspiration from the wonderful wildlife around her.

Now you can personalise her beautiful illustrations and create an animal kingdom of your own. From the beetle in need of a colourful, iridescent shell, to the whale waiting for a magnificient ocean home, there is a whole world of fauna and flora to explore. All you need are pens, pencils and a bit of imagination.

Who does not love colouring in?? A pastime which can be enjoyed from all ages - as soon as a child can hold a pencil or crayon, colouring and drawing can be enjoyed, a pastime which has no upper age limit. Colouring books are a staple rainy day activity source and these too can aimed at different ages, from simple, bold outlines to more detailled and intricate designs, there is something for everyone.

This book is full of beautiful, line drawings featuring floral and fauna of many descriptions. There are illustrations with big, open spaces to colour, but also areas which are infilled with intricate patters - many have a 'zentangle' appearance which is a craze flooding the crafting industry at the present time. The book is beautiful to look at while in black and white but will also be fantastic when coloured in. The drawings could be coloured in my a mix of ages, they would make a great family project and I am sure that they would look stunning mounted in a picture frame and hung on the wall.

My only negative on this project, and it is one which I think is evident in all colouring books, is that the pictures are printed on both sides of the page. Dependent on the medium used to colour in the illustrations, the colour may bleed through to the other side - especially if alcohol ink pens are used. 

This is a great book for adults or teenagers who enjoy colouring in. I also think it is a great book to have as a family project on a wet and cold Sunday afternoon or over the Christmas period.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she? In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating ...

Wow, wow, wow, wow,wow!! I absolutely loved this book!

I first met Clare Mackintosh when I went to went to this year's Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She is the founder and Festival Director and was also in the process of writing her first novel. She is a lovely lady and I was surprised to hear that she had been in the police force for twelve years before leaving in 2011 (she didn't look old enough!). I was, of course, very  interested to read her debut novel and was very pleased to hear that Clare had added me to her advance proof list - thank goodness I had had blogger business cards printed before the festival.

As soon as started reading the book I was hooked. The story is a sad one, a young boy is killed in a hit and run accident and the police investigation does not have many clues to investigate. The team are soon told to close the case due to lack of evidence but a trusty DC keeps going to get justice for Jacob.  What follows is a great story which has so many twists and turns that just when I think I know who was driving the car and what happened on that fateful day, Mackintosh throws something new into the mix and I am again left completely in the dark. These little twists kept me engrossed throughout the whole book and I was sad to see it end. I can't wait for Clare's second book!!

I highly recommend this book to all of my blog readers, lovers of crime fiction or anyone looking for their next book to read. It is one of my top ten books of 2014.

Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

Monsters Love Underpants: Book 2

There are prowly monsters howling loudly and drooling monsters from the steamy swamp. There are wild, woolly mountain monsters and spiky, spooky monsters from outer space. And they all have one thing in common - they LOVE underpants!

The aliens stole them, the dinosaurs fought over them, the pirates got rich from them - whatever will monsters do with underpants?

Find out in this, the latest book in the much-loved Underpants series, created by the brilliant Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. The series is published in sixteen languages and has now sold over two million copies worldwide!

This is a fantastic series of books which I adore, let alone the children I share them with. The story is fantastically written, in rhyme and is great for children to listen to, join in with and also to think about. Fantastic discussions and art work can follow the reading of this book and is only limited by the readers iimagination The illustrations add even more to this book - they are so imaginative, and not the least bit scary.

I recommend this book to children of all ages - and it will make a fantastic Christmas gift this year. Add it to your collection or if it is your first introduction to this great collection then buy them all!!

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

Jolly Snowmen - Ned Taylor

Jolly Snowmen

Five little snowmen on a winter's day looked at one another and wondered what to play... 

Count the jolly little snowmen in this adventurous rhyming tale, as one by one they skate, slide and slip away! Featuring tactile 3D snowmen, perfect for little hands. 

I love this series of books - They are great stories told in rhyme and there will be lines which children will soon be reciting as they are read the story. The fantastic thing about this book, and I have seen other adults do the same, is working out how the snowmen disappear through the book - it is an easy process but I have seen many of my friends or relatives also have to look through the book a number of times before they work it out. If adults keep looking at the book, I am sure children will pick them up too.

This would be a great gift to give to children this Christmas period.

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

One Special Christmas by M Christinia Butler and Tina Macnaughton

One Special Christmas

Just in time for Christmas, a brand-new Little Hedgehog book by Little Hedgehog creators M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton. With wonderfully wintry illustrations and soft touch-and-feels throughout One Special Christmas is the perfect festive tale!
It’s Christmas — but poor Santa has a cold! So Little Hedgehog sets out with a sledge full of presents. "Santa’s helper is on the way!" But there are too many presents for one little hedgehog to handle! Perhaps he needs some help from his friends?

This is a perfect book to share with a child in the build up to Christmas. It is full of Christmas cheer and the ideal winter weather - which could be enjoyed, cuddled up together on a Sunday afternoon.

The story is suitable for a slightly older child, 5+, due to the story being longer, but will be enjoyed by children of all ages. The illustrations are beautiful - they are beautifully drawn animals who, although they have a slight cartoony appearance, are beautiful and realistic. There is also an added bonus to this book - it is a 'touch and feel' book. Some of the pages are additionally embellished with a strokable texture - a great addition to the illustrations.

This is a great gift to give this Christmas - something which has a hint of Father Christmas but is about the season of giving and also the power of friendship. 

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

The Twelve Days of Christmas - illustrtated by Britta Teckentrup

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Introduce children to the traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, in this beautiful new book, featuring illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. The peep-through pages reveal each new Christmas gift,  creating a stunning layered effect. A perfect gift for your true love! 
When I choose a book to give somebody, especially a child, as a present I like to choose a book that they can keep, something that would like to pass on to somebody else as an heirloom or maybe just because they loved it themselves. This book ticks all of those boxes, and more besides.

Everyone knows the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and it is a popular song sung in nurseries and schools everywhere. This is a book of that song.  The book starts on the first day of Christmas and continues up to the twelfth day, each days counting down as in the song and it is fantastic as a reminder of those days we are all unsure of.

However, where this book really stands out from all the others that are also the same is the illustrations by the fantastic Britta Teckentrup. They are beautiful and I would love to be able to buy them as Christmas Cards because they are so cute. Britta was born in Hamburg and I think that the style of the cute little characters on the front cover remind me of German folklore. 

Each page has cut out sections which show the twelve days of Christmas as they appear and this is also cleverly done. I love books which have clever ways of revealling more of a picture or design and this one is a real treat. I loved turning each page to see the next reveal and I can imagine children also enjoying the magic that it appears to be. 

I am already writing a list of people who I would like to buy this book for this Christmas as I am sure it is one which will be got out each Christmas period and read/sung again and again. Perfect for a teacher to share with her children at circle time or for a grandparent to share with their grandchildren. I definitely recommend this book highly.

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

Surprise! The Book that Keeps on Giving! (My Little World)

Surprise: The book that keeps on giving

This Christmas board book features a brilliant game of pass-the-parcel – as the gift keeps getting smaller our group of friends discover more and more festive fun, but what will the final surprise be? Featuring cut-out holes on every page, a jolly Christmas rhyme and bright, bold illustrations by Fhiona Galloway, this is the perfect Christmas gift for curious little learners.

What super surprise will the friends find in this colourful Christmas book? Bright artwork, finger-holes and a cheerful rhyming story make learning come alive!

This will make a fantastic Christmas gift to a toddler this year. It is a thick board book, which has ever decreasing cut outs in each page, making it perfect for little fingers. 

The book is full of bright, bold colours and simple cartoon style illustrations by Fhiona Galloway which will capture a young child's attention and accompany the
great words by Jonathan Litton which tells the story in rhyme. 

Although the story told is simple, the book gives so much more than just a story. Each page has things to look at - lots of animals to spot throughout the story and Christmas shapes - without the pages being overpowering.

I will certainly be giving this book to my nephew who is 14 months old for Christmas and can't wait to share it with him.

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

Sunday, 26 October 2014

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings ......Actually by Ali McNamara

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings ... Actually - The Notting Hill Series 3

Movie addict Scarlett O'Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she's dreamed of - but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread. Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, planning her wedding to handsome fiance, Sean, with best friends Oscar and Maddie - life couldn't be better. But then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling, Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamorous. As she begins to experience the other side to being rich and famous, it's not only Scarlett's perfect wedding that's put in jeopardy, but her whole world. Indulge in all your favourite rom-coms at once with this warm, fun tale of what happens when you really live the glitz and the glamour.

This is the third book in the fantastic series by Ali McNamara about Scarlett O'Brien's life. They are all great reads and could be read as a series, but can also be read as standalone novels too.

It is great catching up with Scarlett again, it is like meeting up with an old friend and having a good gossip. The storyline was a great one for Scarlett and I believe stayed true to her beliefs and values. It was also a chance to catch up with some more of Scarlett's friends, including the flamboyant Oscar and to meet new friends, including some famous faces who just happen to drop in. 

I enjoyed McNamara's descriptions of New York - I think she must of spent some time there exploring and discovering the places where Scarlett would visit.

I recommend this book as another great seasonal book to get lost in and I look forward to reading more of Scarlett's exploits soon.

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

The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews

The Christmas Party

Louise Young is a devoted single mother whose only priority is providing for her daughter, Mia. Louise has a good job in a huge international corporation and she's grateful for it. The only problem is her boss who can't keep his hands to himself, but Louise can handle him. What she really doesn't have time for is romance - until she meets the company's rising star, Josh Wallace. Louise usually says no to evenings out but she's decided to let her hair down tonight. It's the office Christmas party, she has a pretty dress to wear and she's looking forward to some champagne and fun. She's completely unaware that others around her are too busy playing dangerous games to enjoy the party - until she's pulled into those games herself ...Romance is in the air and secrets are about to be uncovered. It's going to be a night to remember at The Christmas Party.

I am a big fan of Carole Matthew's and this is the author's twenty fifth book and I believe Carole is getting better and better with each new release. I believe this book is a different style to her previous books, with theis one set over only three days, with the majority of the book set over the night of the Christmas party.

As with many Christmas parties there is the build up to the party, the initial entrance where everyone is looking at what each other is wearing and then after the meal and the drinks have flowed, starts the real party, with music, dancing and the saying 'what happens at the party, stays at the party' is often applied. This Christmas party is no different and the exploits are from  the directors down to the bottom of the career ladder.

There are some fantastic parts to the book - I especially loved Tyler, the pushy boss who had his comeuppance in the magicians act and his subsequent fall from grace,but I really loved Louise's story, the assistant who stepped out from under the sleazy boss and her romance with Josh- it is a great love story which I really enjoyed reading.

I love Carole's writing style, her short, choppy chapters, which I can pick up and put down when I have a few minutes to read a little more of the book - although I didn't want to put the book down, it was such a good story that I just wanted to keep reading. Carole packs her books full of good stories, lots of individual tales which are interlinked and come together effortless at the end - and this book is no exception, It is full of Christmas cheer alongside real life dramas and 

I heartedly recommend this to any of my blog readers who want a fantastic seasonal read with a little bit of naughtiness and a whole load of humour. 

Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for sending me the book to review. And Carole - I look forward to the next twenty five books!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Blog Tour - The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene

The Seafront Tea Rooms

The Seafront Tea Rooms is a peaceful hideaway, away from the bustle of the seaside, and in this quiet place a group of women find exactly what they've been searching for. Charismatic journalist Charlotte is on a mission to scope out Britain's best tea rooms. She knows she's found something special in the Seafront Tea Rooms but is it a secret she should share? Kathryn, a single mother whose only sanctuary is the 'Seafront', convinces Charlie to keep the place out of her article by agreeing to join her on her search. Together with another regular, Seraphine, a culture-shocked French au pair with a passion for pastry-making, they travel around the country discovering quaint hideaways and hidden gems. But what none of them expect is for their journey to surprise them with discoveries of a different kind ...Full of romance, tea and cake, The Seafront Tea Rooms is a heart-warming tale about the strength found in true friendship.

I loved this book, it was one that I curled up and read on a cool autumn evening and lost myself in the world of The Seafront Tea Rooms. It is cast of woman - with a strong undercurrent of friendship and sisterly love and all mixed in with lots of cake and cups of tea - what more can one ask for?

The story was one of three woman, with their own history and reasons for visiting The Seafront Tea Rooms but all finding friendship and working together to help each other through their problems.  The tea rooms are in Scarborough but due to a magazine assignment the trio find themselves travelling around the area to visit many other tea rooms and the descriptive writing of Greene makes this a virtual tour with the added accompaniment of a delicious sounding afternoon teas. There are also a number of the recipes mentioned within the story included at the back of the book.

The relationship between the women in the story was fantastic - I wish I could find a local cafe like The Seafront Tea Rooms in Worcester. I would love to sit, people watch and watch the world go by. It would make a fantastic location for a book club or craft group. The women all found the tea rooms by chance and all were taken in by Letty, the owner, the ambience and the friendships that followed. 

There are also relationships within the latter half of the book and I really liked both Euan and Adam, local men who had made their own careers. I also enjoyed the mystery around Seraphine's relationship, it began with little hints here and there but soon grew into a coming of age and change in public perception storyline! Perfect for a sweet, young, fFrenchyoung lady who came to England to gain experience and prepare herself for the adult world.

The story was light hearted throughout but the last quarter of the story takes on a different mood when a long kept secret is revealed, one which I never saw coming but was perfect for the story. I am not going to say anything else about this except that I thought it was a fantastic idea by Greene, and made it a must read book.

Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for including me in the book tour and sorry for the late post but illness in the house stopped blogging time!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Blog Tour -Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody

Death of an Avid Reader: A Kate Shackleton Mystery - Kate Shackleton Mysteries 6A lady with a secret Kate Shackleton's sterling reputation for courageous sleuthing attracts the attention of the venerable Lady Coulton. Hidden in her past is a daughter, born out of wedlock and given up to a different family. Now, Lady Coulton is determined to find her and puts Kate on the case. A mysterious killing in the library's basement But as Kate delves deeper into Lady Coulton's past, she soon finds herself thrust into a scandal much closer to home. When the body of the respected Horatio Potter is found in the Leeds Library basement, the quiet literary community is suddenly turned upside down with suspicions, accusations and - much to Kate's surprise - the appearance of a particularly intelligent Capuchin monkey! The most puzzling case in Kate's sleuthing history yet Convinced an innocent man has been blamed, Kate sets out to discover the truth. Who would want Dr Potter dead? Does Lady Coulton's missing daughter hold a vital clue? As the stories start to emerge in the seemingly quiet Leeds Library, Kate is learning fast that in this case, she can't judge a book by its cover ...

I love a good crime read, with favourite authors including Michael Connelly, so when I was invited by the publicist to try a little cosy crime I was left wondering what would arrive. 

When Death of an Avid Reader landed on my doorstop I was immediately intrigued and it went to the top of my reading pile. I enjoyed the book, it was a good historical fiction read, with a crime committed and the subsequent enquiry - I would place it among the Agatha Raisin style books but with hints of Miss Marple. It was not as violent as Michael Connelly books can be but was a nice evening read, when winding down from the day job. 

I loved Brody's writing style and especially her character creations - they are fun characters with depth and relevance. The writing of the crime threw in a number of red herrings meaning I was pleasantly shocked by the reveal at the end, I did not guess the accused, something which is often not the case in many crime novels. The setting of scenes was fantastically written.

This is the sixth book in the series by Brody but I think each can be read as a standalone novel with no problem for the reader. 

Thank you to the publishers, Piaktus, for sending me the book to review and to be part of this blog tour. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic to the Stars

Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is in Hollywood ! It's as if all her life has been leading to this moment. She's hanging out with the stars ...or at least she will be, when she finally gets to meet movie superstar Sage Seymour, whom husband Luke is now managing. There's so much to seen and do! And getting Minnie through the hurdles for her A-list Hollywood pre-school will require some Becky sets her heart on a new career - she's going to be a celebrity stylist . Red carpet, here she comes! But Becky soon finds it's tough in Tinseltown. Luckily her best friend Suze comes over to keep her company, and together they embark on the Hollywood insider trail But somehow ...things aren't quite working out as they'd hoped. Then Becky's big chance comes, and it's an opportunity that money can't buy. But will it cost her too much?

It has been four years since Sophie Kinsella gave us the last instalment in Becky  Brandon's life. Her last book, Mini Shopaholic, showed us that it was like mother, like daughter, with Minnie sharing her mother's traits. I am sure that I am not the only reader who has been looking forward to finding out what Becky, Brandon and Minnie are up to now and therefore as soon as I received this book, everything else was put to one side, including the latest Lee Child I am ashamed to say, and I lost myself in their world.

LA is the place where, in my opinion, Becky Brandon belongs. She loves everything high maintenance, high fashion, high end and the more famous the better so when she has the opportunity to make friends with red carpet regulars she goes for it. But as we all know, Becky does not always engage brain before going ahead with projects and she soon gets swallowed up in LA life. She has difficult decisions to make about family, friends and business opportunities which makes for a great read. Suze and Tarkie join Becky in LA and while I could imagine Suze fitting in perfectly I thought that Tarkie would hate it but it was great to see Tarkie embrace the holistic lifestyle.

I am not going to give any spoilers as I am sure all shopaholic fans will devour this book very quickly. I was happily reading the book, enjoying the storyline until I got to the words ..... to be continued!! I hope Sophie is writing it as we speak because I really want to know what happens to the Brandon Family next ....

The Shopaholic series is my guilty pleasure but I know that when I pick up a Kinsella book I can loose myself for a few hours in the dream world of Becky Brandon and her family. Please let the next installment come soon.

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

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Blog Tour - Finding a Voice by Kim Hood

Today I am pleased to welcome Kim Hood to my blog. Kim's latest release, Finding a Voice, is a great book which covers the taboo subject of mental illness, a subject which is hitting the headlines more and more in current months. It is a subject which has been hidden in previous years, an illness which I myself have suffered with for many years and I therefore was eager to review this fantastic book which I hope will help children sufferers to speak out and seek support from those around them. Kim Hodd joins me on my log to talk about the challenges she faced writing about this taboo subject.


To be honest, I didn’t think I was writing a book that contained a taboo theme when I wrote Finding a Voice.  I was just writing a story, and story for me always starts with interesting characters.  It just so happens that a lot of the interesting people I have known over the years have also suffered with mental illness.  Some of them have been kids.  And all of them have been members of some sort of family of course.  So it didn’t seem out of bounds to include a character with a mental illness in a book for children and teens.

While I didn’t think about mental illness being an off-limits subject matter in fiction, I was well aware of how difficult real life mental illness is for kids.  It can be draining and scary and confusing for everyone involved—those struggling with their own mental health and the people around them struggling to support them.  It is made so much harder by the fact that mental health is still unmentionable for the most part; not only does a family have to make it through dark days at times, but they have to do it silently.

This silence, for the most part, has extended to books for kids.  If a book does address mental illness it is probably ‘edgy’, and definitely for older, more mature teens.  Kids and younger teens are mostly kept at the periphery of discussions about difficult or disturbing issues—yet they are often the ones most affected by these very issues.   With statistics indicating that mental health concerns are on the rise, especially for teens, how can ‘protecting’ kids from the subject be healthy?   

Of course, there are also many kids who, luckily, have no life experience with mental illness.  I would guess there is a child at their school who does though.  Maybe that child needs someone to understand.  Books can open up discussion, or at least give kids a window into diverse experiences. 

Diversity is almost a cliché in discussions about books for kids and teens right now, but it really is important isn’t it?  Mental illness has got to be a part of this diversity, as difficult a theme as it might be.  After all, don’t all kids deserve to see aspects of their experiences reflected in the books they read?

Thank you Kim for joining me today and I hope that this book helps at least one child in seeking support for a mental illness.

I would also just like to take this oppurtunity to highlight Rethink Mental Illness - Time to Change, a fantastic organisation which helps support Mental lllness. I think this video is such a powerful piece of film and really highlights the reality that mental illness touches so many of us:

Finding a Voice: Friendship is a Two-Way Street by Kim Hood

Finding a Voice: Friendship is a Two-Way Street ...

Jo could never have guessed that the friendship she so desperately craves would come in the shape of a severely disabled boy. He can't even speak. Maybe it is because he can't speak that she finds herself telling him how difficult it is living with her eccentric, mentally fragile mother. Behind Chris' lopsided grin and gigantic blue wheelchair is a real person - with a sense of humour, a tremendous stubborn streak and a secret he has kept from everyone. For a while it seems life may actually get better. But as Jo finds out just how terrible life is for Chris, and as her own life spirals out of control, she becomes desperate to change things for both of them. In a dramatic turn of events, Jo makes a decision that could end in tragedy. This is the story of how an unusual friendship unlocks the words that neither knew they had.

Mental illness is an 'illness' which touches many people. I am one of those people and I now, after over fifteen years, feel ready to talk about it. however, when I was younger, I wish there had been a book that I could of related to, this is such a book. 

The book touches on many subjects, bullying, disability, mental illness and the over riding topic of friendship makes this story such a beautiful read which has underlying messages running throughout. It is a great book to read at anytime but also it would be a powerful book to read during school PHSE lessons and could be used as a great introduction into mental illness. 

This book should be introduced into school -let's get it onto school reading lists!

In summary, a well written book and I look forward to reading more by this author soon.

Thank you to the publicist, Antonia Wilkinson, for sending me this book to review.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blog Tour - The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

The Best of Me

They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks - with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart. Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip ...Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. Can true love ever rewrite the past? This is the new epic love story from the multi-million-copy bestselling author of The Notebook, The Lucky One and The Last Song. Nicholas Sparks is one of the world's most beloved authors.

Nicholas Sparks is fast becoming a very popular author, but I had not, before reading this book, read any of them. I had picked up an earlier book but never finished it  However, after finishing this one, I am sure I will be looking out for others by the same author.

The story begins with the love story of two people who's families believe that they should not be together, they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but no matter what barriers are put in their way, they get together, until college calls for Amanda and Dawson makes the ultimate sacrifice by breaking the relationship off so Amanda will follow her career path - however not all goes to plan and lives change. It is not until Dawson returns for the funeral of someone he looked up to that Dawson and Amanda meet again.

I read the first two thirds of the book and enjoyed it, but was not itching to pick the book up at every spare moment. This soon changed when I got to the last third of the book. The tempo changed and existing characters were given bigger roles in the story. Filled with twists and turns, the story gathered pace, but the ending was just too tidy for me - I would of liked a little bit more from the ending which would of had me talking about it to friends, raving about the plot, but I just didn't feel satisfied with the ending. 

It was an easy read, I liked Sparks' writing style but I am unsure if I will be rushing to other titles.Many of Sparks' books have been made into films and have had rave reviews. I may try watching one of these films to see how they translate to the big screen

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

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Blog Tour Review - Violet and the Pearly Orient by Harriet Whitehorn

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient

Meet Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making...When a new family move in next door, Violet is sure there's something strange about them. Then her eccentric, but lovely neighbour, Dee Dee Derota, has a precious jewel stolen. Could the new family be to blame? Violet is on the case to uncover the truth...With a beautiful hardback package complete with two colour illustrations throughout by emerging talent, Becka Moore, everyone is bound to fall in love with Violet and the colourful characters that make up her world. Perfect for fans of Dixie O'Day, Ottoline, Goth Girl and Darcy Burdock.

This is a fantastic book for young detectives, Violet Remy-Robinson is, herself, a wannabe sleuth, who knows as soon as she meets her new neighbours that something is not quite right. There are clues throughout the book as to the crime and its culprits.

It is a great book, written for the 9+ audience. It has a fantastic cover which depicts the characters perfectly. Printed in hues of violet and a light turquoise, this all adds to the 'spookiness of the book'. It reminds me of a kind of Addams family style family who have moved into the neighbourhood, neighbours to Violet Remy-Robinson.

This is one of a series of books featuring Violet but is great as a stand alone book which I am sure will encourage readers to find more of Harriet's books to read in the future.

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

Blog Tour - Violet and the Pearl of the Orient - Illustrations

Today I am pleased to welcome Harriet Whitehorn, the author, and Becka Moor, the illustrator, to my blog. Violet and the Pearl of the Orient has a fantastic cover and they discuss the process of how the cover was designed.

Becka Moor Illustrations

The cover art for Violet and the Pearl of the Orient went through various different stages before we settled on one we liked. The concept itself was a spark of genius by designer Jane Buckley at Simon & Schuster who suggested we try for a ‘Rear Window’ kind of feel, with the main cast of characters occupying different windows of a Georgian style town house. Violet also went through a few different stages. She started with long hair and dungarees, but as we progressed through ideas, she was given a haircut and new wardrobe to reflect her background a bit more.

The process for Violet and the Pearl of the Orient was really collaborative. I started with the roughs which were shown to the author, Harriet Whitehorn, who passed on some feedback. Along with feedback from the publisher, a few changes were made until everyone was happy with everything. From there, we moved onto the finals for the book, which took a little bit of planning due to the addition of the violet pantone colour throughout. It was a lot more technical than I initially thought, but once I’d cracked it, it was easy peasy...ish. Everything was done digitally, with some added handmade textures here and there!

I think that the cover really suits this book - it really reflects the writing style of the book and the characters within. Throughout the book there are all brilliant illustrations. The book has a great Hallowe'en party within the story and I especially loved these illustrations with the characters dressed up in their costumes.

Another point I love about this book is the colour scheme. As mentioned above there is a violet colouring throughout which all adds to the 'spookiness of the book'.

Thank you to both Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor for visiting my blog today. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blog Tour - Created the Destroyer by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Created, the Destroyer (eBook): Number 1 in Series

Sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit, ex-cop Remo Williams is rescued from the electric chair at the eleventh hour and recruited by a secret government organisation named CURE. From this moment, he ceases to officially exist. From now on, he will be an assassin, targeting criminals who are beyond the law. Remo's trainer is a grouchy old Korean named Chiun, whose masterey of the terrifyingly powerful martial art of Sinanju makes him the deadliest man alive. Together Remo and Chiun set forth on their epic, impossible mission to vanquish every enemy of democracy - every bad guy who thinks they can escape justice. This is a new era in man's fight against the forces of evil. This is the time of the Destroyer. Breathlessly action-packed and boasting a winning combination of thrills, humour and mysticism, the Destroyer is one of the bestselling series of all time.

I am a big fan of Lee Child, Jason Bourne and other books with strong male leads who don't live by the rules and when I heard about Remo Williams, I was hoping to find another man to add to my list. And I wasn't disappointed!

When I read the synopsis sent to me I will admit I was unsure - I didn't believe that it would be believable but it was. An ex cop on death row, who was due to be sent to the electric chair but is visited by a monk who gives him a black tablet which he is told to bite on just before the button is pressed. This is just the start of the story as Williams is then send to a medical establishment where he is 'awakened' and he is trained as an assasin - how can he be traced if he is supposed to be dead! 

It is a great read, full of everything a reader wants from a debut read from an explosive new author and that is what get. And that is not all - Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir have actually written fifty ebooks in this series and they have all been released now for us to read! 

Thank you to the publishers, Little Brown, for including me in this blog tour - and I definitely recommend that everyone reads Created the Destroyer - I am sure you will all soon be hooked!

Blog Tour - Destroyer

Blog Tour - Viva Alice by Judi Curtin

Today I am pleased to welcome Judi Curtin to my blog. Judi is the author of Viva Alice which is the eighth book in her series of books about friends.

I asked Judi Curtin to tell me a little about her writing influences:

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly which writers had the greatest influence on my writing. I think it’s fair to say that, for better or worse, every word I read influenced me in some way.
As a child, I read anything I could get my hands on. I loved Enid Blyton for the carefree, adventurous world she portrayed. I loved CS Lewis, for his beautiful writing and wonderful, vivid imagination. I loved Heidi because of the descriptions of Heidi’s life on the alm. I loved What Katy Did, because Katy was such a wild, fun girl – the kind of girl I could only dream of becoming. I loved Little Women because of the poignant portrayal of a family struggling together through hardship. But even though I was such an avid reader, I made no serious effort to become a writer until I was in my thirties.
After school I studied English and German in university, (lots of books), and then I trained as a primary teacher. When I started my first job, a colleague advised me to always end the day by reading a story to the children. Her thinking was that the school day can sometimes be tiring and frustrating for the children (and for the teacher), and a few minutes of story-time would be a happy note on which to send the children home. This was great advice, and it turned out to be the favourite part of my day. I think it may also be why I finally sat down and started to write my first book.
Sometimes, despite my best efforts, my end-of-school-day book selections were not good. On those occasions, my reading was muffled by the scrape of chairs and the restless shuffling of scores of feet. Sometimes, even if I was mid-sentence when the bell rang, there was a danger that someone might be injured in the stampede towards the door.
When the book was right, though, everything was different. I could reduce my voice to a whisper, and the children would strain to catch every syllable. I could pause, and look up to see the wonder on the children’s faces. The bell for home could ring and no-one would move. After-school hockey and ballet and swimming were all forgotten as the children willed me to turn the page and keep on reading.

Now, many years later, I can’t even remember who the most popular authors were. At the time, I was often surprised. They may not have been critically acclaimed award-winners, but they all had something in common – they made the children love books. So those were my true influences, the nameless authors who left my young pupils begging for more. In my dreams, I become one of them.

Thank you to Judi for visiting my blog today and to my readers, please check out my review of Viva Alice below.