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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Life in the UK - Complete Study and Practice

Life in the UK Test - Study and Practice

This book and CD-ROM set is a complete guide to passing the Life in the UK Test (also known as the British Citizenship Test). The book contains the full Home Office text that the test is based on, with full-colour diagrams to explain the important information and short summaries in easy-to-read English - ideal for people learning the language. At the end of the book, there are 20 complete multiple-choice practice tests. Finally, the CD-ROM contains a Test Generator that can create thousands of realistic practice tests from a list of over 800 questions.

Much has been written in the UK press about British Citizenship Test and this book advertises itself as containing everything you need to know to pass the test.

The book is in two halves - the first containing all the information, facts, data and theory needed to be learnt. This has been split into five chapters: The values and principles of the UK; What is the UK?; A long and illustrious history; A modern, thriving society; and The UK government, the law and your role. There is also a calendar and timeline before 20 practice written, multiple choice tests, along with answers and a comprehensive glossary.  The book also contains a CD ROM which has a test generator to further test students.

I was born in the UK and grew up attending UK schools, however looking through this book and trying out some of the questions I found it an eye opener. There are lots of interesting facts included within the book that would make great quiz questions - some of them would be brilliant tie breaker questions. Although it is marketed as a text book for people sitting the Citizenship Test, I think it is a great text book for all students within the UK to have on their shelves. Lots of useful information, presented in a clear manner. 

The book is published by CGP who are fantastic at producing clear and concise, well thought out textbooks. 

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Queen Bee (Angela Nicely 2) by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts

Queen Bee - Angela Nicely 2

The second book in a brand new series from David Roberts and Alan MacDonald, the best-selling team that brought you Dirty Bertie. Angela Nicely might look like she's made of sugar and spice and all things nice, but nothing could be further from the truth! Queen Bee features three wickedly funny stories about Angela. Whether she's matchmaking her teachers, flogging homemade lemonade, or dealing with the Ugly Sisters, she always has an answer for everything...With fantastic artwork by award-winning illustrator, David Roberts (Tyrannosaurus Drip, The Wind in the Willows, The Troll, Eddie Dickens Trilogy), these stories are perfect for confident readers to enjoy by themselves, or for sharing with your child. Angela Nicely is sure to delight young readers, with her larger-than-life personality and her desire to be the best!

Bought to young readers by the hilarious duo who also bought us Dirty Bertie, this new series is fantastic! I have previously reviewed book one: Angela Nicely and was looking forward to seeing what happened to Angela next. I was definitely not disappointed, Angela was just as inquisitive and mischievious as before.

While reading Angela Nicely, I have an image in my head of her as being a really girly girl, all pink, curls and prettiness but having the same demeanor as Dirty Bertie - however the mischief that she and her friends get into is girly mischief, not Bertie's mischief rewritten.  This book contains Angela trying to be a matchmaker for her teachers and also getting the better of two older girls from her school.

As with the Dirty Bertie books there are three stories within each book. They are an ideal size to share on at bedtime or story-time, or for a young reader to read out loud to their peers in one session.  The typeface is one that is easy to read, straightforward and clear. The story is broken up by Alan MacDonald's fantastic illustrations, pencil drawn and contain all the mischief that Angela brings along with her.

I really like this new character and I hope to see more of Angela Nicely this year. It is nice to have the two series of books - Angela Nicely and Dirty Bertie but it would be great to see them meet up in some books or even on a television screen sometime. 

I would recommend this series for children aged 7+ who are reading alone or to share with younger children at bedtime or story-time.

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

Ten Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty

Ten Little Pirates

Ten little pirates sailing out to sea, Looking for adventure, happy as can be. Are they hunting treasure? Are they going far? Ten little pirates all say, "Arrrrrr!" Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But what will the ten little pirates do when they meet a hurricane ...and a giant squid ...and a HUNGRY SHARK? This fun-filled rhyming story, which incorporates counting backwards from ten to one, is great to share with young children who are learning about numbers. The colourful, humourous illustrations feature objects to spot and count on every page. With a bouncy, rhythmic text and lots of great sound words, this piratical adventure is perfect for sharing again and again.

Pirates appear to be a firm favourite with children of all ages and this book will also appeal to children who love rhyming books. 

The book counts from ten little pirates down to one little pirate before a surprise at the end. The story is written in rhyming verse which young children love, will soon learn and be able to join in telling the story. Each verse has a sound at the end which children will be able to shout out. 

It is perfect for circle time or as a book to share at bedtime. With its brightly coloured illustrations, the book will attract the attention of children. Although the pictures are simply drawn with bold outlines and bright colours, there are little details within each picture which children will love to find - little crabs, mice and fish pop up in bigger pictures.

I really liked this book and I can see it becoming a firm favourite alongside other favourites by Julia Donaldson, Tony Ross and Nicholas to name but a few.

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Love,Lipstick and Lies by Katie Price

Love, Lipstick and Lies

Katie Price, former glamour model Jordan, is back with the most sensational installment of her life story. The last three years of Katie Price's life have been as dramatic as ever. From the highly publicised divorce from Alex Reid to the romance and split from Leandro Penna, and a whirlwind marriage and surprise pregnancy with Kieran Hayler, Katie has been through a lot of changes. And that's just her love life. Katie has also dealt with increasingly bitter disputes with first husband Peter Andre and her former manager, as well as her public spats with comedian Frankie Boyle, who made offensive comments about her son Harvey, and Kelly Brook, over her dalliance with Danny Cipriani. Despite her personal life being played out in the public arena, Katie remains true to her heart by always speaking her mind and living life to the full. This fifth instalment of Katie's roller-coaster life provides intimate access to her side of all the stories with her own special brand of humour, compassion and total honesty.

I hold my hands up and will admit 'Katie Price's autobiography's are my guilty pleasure!' I look forward to each installment of her life, and eagerly read each one to find out all the ups and downs in her life. Excerpts of her books are serialised in the newspapers before the book is released and much is made of her life, but what I get when I read her books is that she is a mum first and foremost who is unlucky in her choice of men and who the press love to follow and report on. 

The book starts with her marriage to Alex Reid and details her life until just before the birth of Jett earlier this  year. The one thing that I think I found in this book is her bad choice in men - Alex, Leandro and Danny all ended in heartbreak but now she is married to Kieran I hope that he is the one and they are able to live happily ever after.

As I read the book I can hear Katie's voice throughout - it is written how she talks, her quirks are included throughout the book. However alot of what is included has been included in the press and therefore many of the revelations are not explosive and sensational, as they have already been leaked to the press.

Talking about the press, one thing that is evident in this book is that Katie Price is not allowed a private life, there is always someone ready to sell a story or photos to the highest bidder which is very clear throughout the book.

As with all of Katie's autobiographies there are loads of photographs - some glamourous but mostly family snaps, those that aren't shown in the papers, which I love, a chance to see the real Katie Price, who I would love to meet!

This is one of those books that people either love or hate, and I will admit I love it, I really enjoy reading about Katie's life and I will be looking forward to her next installment although I think that it will be sometime before the next comes out.

Thank you to the publishers, Century and Random House, and Net Galley for a review copy of the book.

The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter

The Love Detective

'In a way, I'm a bit of a love detective. Because what's a greater mystery than love?' Meet Ruby Miller. A writer who makes happy-ever-afters happen. Until she discovers her fiance is a lying cheat and loses her faith in love. So when her sister invites her on a beach holiday to Goa to forget about him, Ruby jumps on a plane ...and into an extraordinary adventure. Stolen bags, a runaway sister and a handsome American stranger sweep Ruby into a magical mystery tour across India. Amid fortresses and fortune tellers, and a whirlwind of weddings, she uncovers fascinating stories of love, lost and found. But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby's life upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself - and love - again.

I have read many of Alexandra Potter's back catalogue and have enjoyed them all and this book is another great read. I read it very quickly and enjoyed every page.

When I pick up one of Potter's books I am expecting a chick lit, romantic read, however I found this book was even better than normal. Throughout this book the reader is introduced to the sights, sounds and smells of India as Ruby travels through the country on a train before travelling further by car, visiting local markets, towns and cities, seeing families living in varying levels of poverty and splendor, all while trying to find her sister who has run away to marry the yoga teacher from the resort she visited on holiday. 

The story is so much more than a love story. I really think that the author has been to India and traveled in the cramped 'express' train, where many classes of life, travel on the same train in differing conditions. The towns and cities that Ruby visited are described in such a way that the reader is able to conjure up images of India very easily. This level of description never not deter away from the story, it is entwined within the story well, and adds much to the story-line. Towards the end of the book, when Ruby closes in on her sister, there is an another love story taking shape and I really think that the story was well planned out and written. 

The cover is beautiful, although there is little to suggest to the reader that they are off on a whirlwind journey through India in search of Ruby's sister.

I would recommend this as a fantastic read for lovers of chick lit reads but also those who like books that take the reader to warmer climbs.

Thank you to the publisher, Hodder, for sending me this book to review in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Oliver and the Seawigs by Phillip McIntyre and Sarah McIntyre

Oliver and the Seawigs

Oliver grew up in a family of explorers - but his biggest adventure is about to begin! Along with his new friends, a grumpy old albatross, a short-sighted mermaid and a friendly island called Cliff, Oliver goes off in search of his missing parents. But before he can put his rescue plan into action there's the evil Stacey de Lacey and an army of pesky sea monkeys to contend with ...EEP! Award-winning dynamic duo, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, have created a book bursting with eccentric characters and stunning two colour illustrations. This book has been shortlisted for the 2014 Blue Peter Book Awards, in the Best Story category. 'A delightfully told, beautiful tale of nautical hairdressing, saltwater primates and sarcastic seaweed - this is my kind of book!' Chris Riddell

My son has recently got into reading, however he is constantly rereading the same books over and over again - Horrid Henry, Captain Underpants, Tom Gates and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, however I really think this is a book that he will enjoy. 

It has a great plot line all about a young boy, whose parents are explorers and have gone missing, not long after they all return from their latest exploration. The story-line is full of imaginary characters and creatures and will enable the reader to conjure up their own stories and pictures long after they have finished the book. There are great characters that Oliver, the boy, meets throughout the book and the author uses wonderful language within the story. There are moments of great humour, leaving the reader in fits of giggles. 

Alongside the fantastic story-lines are the brilliant illustrations throughout the book. There is so much detail within them and they follow the story perfectly. I think they would look great on a bedroom wall in a series of prints.

This book has been shortlisted for the 2014 Blue Peter Book Awards and I really hope that it wins its category. I hope that this book is the first in a new series as I am sure it will be popular with children aged 7+. 

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme. 

Home by Orla Kiely

Orla Kiely Home

"Orla Kiely is a virtuoso of vintage pattern and design." - The Sunday Business Post "Whether you're a fan of Orla Kiely's cult retro patterns or not, it's hard to resist her second book." - Real Homes Internationally renowned designer Orla Kiely describes her career as 'a journey in pattern and colour'. Her distinctive palette, and graphic and stylized motifs in clean repeat constructions, have won her devoted fans across the world, and have helped to turn, what began as a small British business designing bags, into a global fashion, accessories and homeware brand. Following the success of her first book Pattern, Home opens the door on Orla's own house, looks at a series of British, Irish and Scandinavian case studies - all beautifully photographed by Richard Powers - reveals the mid-century modern items that have inspired her work and tracks the creation of her homeware range including furniture, textiles, wallpaper and ceramics. 'I have always been inspired by architecture and interiors so the move into furniture and homewares was completely natural,' Orla says. 'To me, the home is where we can truly express our style and personality, where we can be playful.' Contents Includes...Elements My Work My House Case Studies Siegel House Scheer House Villa Bendvold Bygdoy House Brabrand House Aarhus ...And Many More!

This is a beautiful coffee table book. Full of gorgeous photographs of her designs and work it is a book to pick up and dream of your own home having a gorgeous interior!

When I picked up the book I was expecting to have a book full of Orla's gorgeous fabric designs as I did not realise she is also  was famous for her furniture design. There is an insight into her own gorgeous homes

There is Orla's life story, detailing how she got to where she is today, which made for interesting reading . I really enjoyed reading the section entitled 'Elements' where Orla breaks down the process and thoughts within her designs. There are many throwbacks to the 1970's within her design.

This book contains many more photographs than words and therefore is definitely a coffee table book, but is one of those to use for inspiration or dreams for the perfect home.

It has an expensive feel with the front cover featuring one of Orla Kiely's iconic fabrics and feels luxurious. A heavy, well made book. 

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme. 

The Kids Only Cookbook by Sue Quinn

The Kids Only Cookbook

The Kids Only Cookbook is packed with 50 simple, delicious and fun recipes containing easy-to-follow captions and 300 photos in a unique cartoon-style to inspire children of all ages to get busy in the kitchen. Original and creative projects will capture kids' imaginations: such as the paper bag breakfast of a bacon and egg sandwich in a paper bag cooked on a barbecue. The kick'n'roll tin can ice cream is bound to be the project of the summer: pack a large tin can with ice and rock salt, insert a sealed ziplock bag containing cream, sugar and vanilla and kick it to the park or the beach...within 25 minutes...homemade ice cream! Kids will also learn as they go along; each recipe contains a culinary technique such as beating, whipping, piping or baking and 'Adult alerts' appear throughout the book and ensure the recipes are all easy and safe to make. This is a book which will become treasured as it helps children to discover the endless fun to be had in the kitchen and to learn skills which will stay with them for life.

The very first page of this book states that this book will help kids get cooking on their own. The book is aimed at children aged 8-12 years but older and younger chidlren will also like the recipes.

There are Adult help alerts through out the bookk where they need to supervise or help lift heavy pans etc. The recipes also have star rating: easy; not too tricky and challenging. There are basic skills included in the book and the book has been organised so that each recipe teaches important basic cooking skills while preparing and cooking recipes which children will love to prepare and eat.

The book is really well laid out, before the recipes is a section entitled 'The bits you must read first' which includes handy tips. how to avoid epic fails, how to avoid a kitchen disaster zone, cooking terms and a useful pictorial page which includes a 'list' of very useful equipment. There is a section about how not to chop off your finger and other useful tips including how to separate eggs, how to use a grater and how to chop an onion.  This section finishes with how to cook perfect rice and pasta.

The recipes are split into manageable steps, the steps are written in easy english and area all accompanied by a photograph. They are introduced by a brief introduction and includes a full ingredient list and approximate servings. The recipes are split into a number of chapters: morning munchies; scrummy basics; when mates come over; puddings and yummies to share; out and about; posh nosh; party time and edible presents. There are so many recipes and is one of those books that you can dip into for inspiration at any time. Most of the recipes include only store cupboard ingredients making it the perfect recipe book to have on your shelf for quick ideas.

I really like this book, it is perfect for both my children to find something to cook themselves or to ask for for a meal. They both have found recipes that they would like to try and liked the layout of the book.

I would recommend this as a great book for young wannabe chefs or for busy mums who want quick recipe ideas for their family.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Richard and Judy Book Club Reads Spring 2014

A new year has dawned and with it is the new selection of books chosen by Richard and Judy in conjunction with WHSmiths. 

Eight titles have been chosen from a range of genres, meaning there should be something for most readers to pick up.

This season's choices are:

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Apple Tree Yard b Louise Doughty
A Common Place Killing by Sian Busby
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Never List by Koethi Zan
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

First impressions of the selection are that there are a number of books I will be reading. I am a big Jodi Picoult fan and so The Storyteller is a definite must. I have heard good things from blogger friends about Jo Baker's Longbourn and so will also be picking that one up. I already have The Rosie Project on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I am sure that the other's will also be popping into my basket at WH Smiths very soon too although I am not sure that I will enjoy The Never List as it sounds like it may be creepy and I don't like books that leave unpleasant thoughts at night (I am a scaredy cat really). I have never heard of Beck Masterman before but I really like the synopsis - it sounds like a crime novel I will enjoy.

I really enjoy following book clubs and have followed Richard and Judy's since it was launched on Channel 4 many years ago. I have found a new of authors who have gone on to become firm favourites on my book shelves including Dorothy Koomson, Cecelia Aherne, Jodi Picoult,  Michael Connelly and Linwood Barclay. I am hoping that I may find some more new authors I enjoy in this selection too.

Will you be reading any of this season's selection? Have you found any favourite authors through the Richard and Judy book club or do you stay away from book club selections? I would love to hear about what you think in the comments below.