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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Angel's Great Escape (A Christmas Story) by Kirstie Rowson and Kristyna Litten

Angel's Great Escape: A Christmas Story (Paperback)

It's Christmas Eve and Angel is looking forward to a magical Christmas with her decoration friends. There's only one problem, they're trapped in a box at the home of the Mean family. Will they be able to escape? And will they be in time to meet Father Christmas?

Find out in this magical, rhyming, Christmassy tale with cosy illustrations by Kristyna Litten!

When I was younger I remember I had a special Christmas story that I read every year over the festive period and I think this book could be a child's special Christmas story. It is written in rhyme, another favourite style, and the illustrations are beautiful.

The story tells of good v bad and has a lovely Christmassy feel to it. A magical story to read to a child this Christmas time.

Thank you to the publishers, And So We Begin, for sending me the book in return for an honest review. 

Roller Coaster Ride Around The Body by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow

A Roller-coaster Ride Around The Body (Hardback)

Shortlisted for the Association for Science Education "Book of the Year 2017"
Jump on board and take a ride around the human body on our read-aloud, rollicking rollercoaster. Created by CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal nominees Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow, prepare to take your inquisitive youngster on a visually led, fast-paced rhythmic trip, from bones to muscles, feelings to sleep. This book is bursting with energy and fun - the perfect way to introduce your enthusiastic little one to a key school topic.
Roller-coaster Ride Around the Body has been designed to promote learning through imagination and humour, building visual and auditory memory, in addition to stimulating questioning and enquiry skills. It is particularly suitable for reading together with pre-school children, individually and in groups, and as a starting point for physical-led expression.

Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
ISBN: 9781445152028

This is the perfect book for an inquisitive child who wants to learn more about the human body. There is lots of information contained within the book and it is displayed in many different ways. There is lots of imaginative prose throughout the book, inviting the reader to take a journey throughout the human body - comparing body shape, colour and ability, while also answering those questions that trouble a child's mind e.g. what is spit for or what are bogies for? The book can be dipped in and out of as questions arise and will be great for school biology topics. It will make a great addition to any resource shelf, school library or for the country's future doctors.

Thank you to the publishers, Orchard Books, for sending me the book in return for an honest review. 

James Mayhew Presents Ella Bella Ballerina and The Magic Toyshop

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Magic Toyshop - Ella Bella Ballerina (Hardback)

Everyone's favourite little dancer, Ella Bella Ballerina, steps into an enchanted toyshop in this magical
ballet adventure.
Discover a world of fairytale toymakers and dancing dolls in in this beautiful introduction to classic ballet, La Boutique Fantastique. With a sparkling foiled cover and exquisitely detailed illustrations, this is the perfect gift for all would-be ballerinas.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated story book that will make a perfect gift for any ballet loving child this festive period. It is perfect for an older child (5+) who loves to share stories with their peers. The book is part of a series which all feature famous ballets: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Swan Lake;Cinderella; The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

Thank you to the publishers, Orchard Books, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Blog Tour - Know Me Now by C J Carver

Today I am very pleased to welcome C J Carver to my blog to celebrate the ebook publication of her latest book. Know Me Now.

A gripping suspense thriller for fans of Angela Marsons, MJ Arlidge and Peter May, from CWA Debut Dagger winner CJ CarverA SUICIDE. A MURDER. A CONSPIRACY. DIGGING UP THE PAST CAN BE DEADLY . . .A thirteen-year-old boy commits suicide. A sixty-five-year old man dies of a heart attack. Dan Forrester, ex-MI5 officer, is connected to them both. And when he discovers that his godson and his father have been murdered, he teams up with his old friend, DC Lucy Davies, to find answers.But as the pair investigate, they unravel a dark and violent mystery stretching decades into the past and uncover a terrible secret. A secret someone will do anything to keep buried . . . 'A top notch thriller writer' SIMON KERNICK 'Perfect for fans of Lee Child and Mason Cross' GUARDIAN'CJ Carver is one of the best thriller writers working today' TOM HARPER
Publisher: Zaffre Publishing
ISBN: 9781785760310 

I really enjoyed Know Me Now. I have been reading a lot of easy read, Christmassy books over the last couple of months and I was ready to pick up a book that was completely different, and this was definitely the book to choose. It kept me up reading just another chapter to find out what happened next. I was on the edge of my seat many times during the book as Carver has really done her homework and planned it in so much detail as there are lots of twists and turns throughout the storyline which are so good. 
The suspense and drama happens from the go - Chapter One had me gripped and the pace never slowed throughout the whole book. The storyline was really believable and I love this type of book as it is all imaginable in todays world.  

The author, C J Carver, joins me today and tells me about how she has used her life experiences within her writing .............

I’ve always been interested in the dynamics of long-life friendship, especially how loyal people can be and what they might do when the chips are down.

Personally, I found myself on the horns of a dilemma when a friend of mine turned up on my doorstep wanting to hide from the police.  It turned out they were an addict – which I’d had no idea about – and had broken into an office to steal money.

My friend was a mess.  I brought them in, made them a cuppa, and talked.  Boy, did we talk.  I was fortunate that I didn’t have to call the police because my friend turned themselves in. But if they hadn’t… what would I have done?  How would I have felt if I’d called the police, or if I’d continued to harbour a criminal?

These questions inspired the friendships in this book, between a group of four people who’ve known one another since they were toddlers and are now adults, with children of their own.

I believe all my personal experiences inform my writing in some way, because they make up who I am, and they determine what I write.
For example, I’m very interested in psychology.  What makes people tick.  How they’re shaped by their childhoods.  My own upbringing, on a dairy farm, was pretty happy until I was sent away to boarding school.  Eight years old, badly bullied, I silently hoarded cheese until I thought I had enough, then ran away.  The police eventually picked me up and returned me to school.  When I began hoarding food again, the bullies came to me and asked if I’d let them join me.  I became their leader on a school break-out one Saturday afternoon and although we were picked up by the police fairly quickly, I was never bullied again.
I know what it’s like to be thrown into an alien world where you don’t know anybody; you’re an underdog, misunderstood and vilified.  I like to put my characters in similar situations, where they feel like a fish out of water, uncertain and vulnerable, and then I push them harder to see how they react.  Will they go to the authorities?  Or simply run away?  Turn their backs on something or someone they love in order to save their own skins?  What makes a hero?  Why does one man jump into the water to save his friend from a shark attack while another hides below deck?  Why are some people leaders, and others aren’t?
Writing exposes the author as much as it informs about the calibre of gun the villain uses, and I’m not sure what a professional psychologist would say about me if they studied my books.  Addicted to adventure, perhaps, and good underwear.  I guess I have a bit of a David and Goliath complex from my being bullied  - I do love seeing the bad guys swallow some of their own medicine.
Like all my novels, Know Me Now contains personal, real-life incidents, but I’m just not going to say precisely what they are.  It might spoil the story.
© CJ Carver

Thank you to C J Carver and her publishers, Bonnier Zaffre, for inviting me to take part in the tour and a copy of Know Me Now in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed the book and I hope that my blog readers pick up Know Me Now too and love it as much as I do, one hint though .... block out the whole weekend because you won't want to put it down.

Monday, 18 December 2017

All I Want For Christmas by Rachel Bright

All I Want For Christmas (Paperback)

Two penguins discover that love is the perfect gift at Christmas in this sparkling festive picture book!
The countdown to Christmas has begun and there is so much for Little Penguin to be excited about: decorating the tree, cooking festive treats, sending a letter to Santa, wrapping presents, and much more. But what does Big Penguin want for Christmas? The answer will warm the hearts of every penguin, big or small!
From the bestselling author of The Lion Inside and The Koala Who Could.
Rachel Bright's card and gift range The Bright Side has sold over 7.5 million cards and over three million gifts worldwide.

Publisher: Hachette Children's Group
ISBN: 9781408331668
A bright, colourful, bold picture story book which feature lovable penguins. Told in rhyme, it is a great story to share this festive period with young children. The story is great for toddlers or slightly older children, The illustrations are bold and eye catching and accompany the story perfectly. It is about the festive period but does not include Father Christmas which makes it a great book to share
while trying to settle down before the excitement of the impending visit gets all too much,.

Thank you to the publishers, Orchard Books, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

I Am Actually A Penguin by Kasia Matyjaszek

I am Actually a Penguin (Paperback)

When a little girl is given a penguin suit she decides that living as a penguin is much more fun than just dressing as one. But penguins don't exactly behave like people. They don't ride the bus like people, they don't talk like people and they certainly don't catch fish fingers like people. Her family tell her, "You're not actually a penguin," but she knows that she ACTUALLY is. A hilarious new picture book from Sean Taylor, the author of What a Naughty Bird and Kasia Matyjaszek, author/illustrator of I am a Very Clever Cat.

Publisher: Templar Publishing
ISBN: 9781783704514
This is a great book - children love dressing up and this book really captures the love that children have for this simple game. The author has really got into a child's mind about their way of thinking and making believe.

The book also has great illustrations, simple shapes, with emotion and detail. Add in the words of the story and the result is this fantastic book that children of all ages will enjoy sharing with their family, peers and professionals.

Thank you to the publishers, Templar Publishing, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Big Brown Bear's Cave by Yuval Zommer

Big Brown Bear's Cave (Hardback)

"My cave will have the most ever!" Big Brown Bear's new cave just doesn't feel right, so he fills it with all kinds of stuff ...... all sorts of stuff..... So much stuff that before long there is hardly any room for Bear, much less when his friends to come and visit. Something's got to give! It's friends that count, not possessions.

Yuval Zommer's fourth title for Templar is a funny story with energetic, playful artwork and an important message about friendship. 

Publisher: Templar Publishing
ISBN: 9781783706471

Everybody needs a place to call their own, a place where they can be surrounded by their belongings, their stuff and be able to relax and stretch and that is exactly what Big Brown Bear wants. He finds himself a cave and then fills it with stuff, however he soon finds that he has too much stuff because his friends can't fit in there with him, and then he finds that he can't even stretch and relax in there himself! Big Brown Bear soon learns that it is more important to be surrounded by friends than by stuff.

This is a lovely story, one which teaches about the importance of friendship. It would be a great conversation starter, a book to share at circle time before talking about friends. The story is great for children. It is relatively short, written in short sentences, accompanied by beautiful pictures which tell the story but also can be shown to children and talked about.

This is a beautiful book which could be given to a child as a gift or donated to a school or child care setting for their book corner.

Thank you to the publishers, Templar Publishing, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale by Daniel Thompson

The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale' is a 5000 (ish) word children's Christmas poem, about 3 siblings who build an evil snow queen in their own front garden. Little do they know of the adventure that lies ahead in their plight to save Christmas from her evil plan to end the season once and for all.

Every family has a favourite Christmas story that is brought out each Christmas Eve and read with the family. This could be the new favourite for many families this year.

The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale is a Christmas poem and, due to its length, suitable for older children who don't believe in Father Christmas but enjoy the festive atmosphere and traditions. It is a definitely alternative Christmas tale but one which will appeal to adults and children alike.

Written in rhyme the tale is about Elaine Gale, our heroine, who is a head strong and ambitious young lady, and the baddie, an evil snow queen. The main elements of Christmas are all in the book, Father Christmas, his reindeers and the gifting of presents however this is a truly modern approach to a Christmas tale and one which I love. 

The storytelling is brilliant and the use of rhyme is very popular at the current time and will keep children of all ages attention to the very end. It is a great story and one which will be brought out each year and passed from generation to generation.

Thank you to the author, Daniel Thompson, for sending me the book in return for an honest review. 

Press Out and Decorate Unicorns

Press Out and Decorate: Unicorns - Press Out and Colour (Board book)

Each press-out design is intricately decorated with pink foil and perfect for all ages to decorate. Featuring 20 unique designs, the press-out pieces can be slotted together to create magical three-dimensional hanging ornaments or threaded together to make a super-cute garland. From flying unicorns and shooting stars to fluffy clouds and rainbows, these gorgeous press-out pieces look elegant in white and pink, but even better as a decorated collection of flying unicorns.

Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd
ISBN: 9781788002172
A great stocking filler this Christmas time or the perfect present if a pack of felt tips, crayons or pencil crayons or a glue stick and sequins are added to the parcel.
The book contains 20 board pages and each contains a push out unicorn design which has been pre foiled, and can be easily pushed out,  along with wings, stars, rainbows and other designs which can be added together to create three dimensional displays, mobiles, bunting style garlands or scenes or stuck to cards to give as gifts. There is also plenty of blank space on each page which has been foiled and could be used with punches to add extra designs to creations or as embellishments for hair slides, cards or put in the craft box for future projects. The designs are in a range of sizes making them perfect for a number of different projects.

Thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book in return for an honest review. 

Crafty Gifts by Jane Bull

Crafty Gifts: Packed with ideas for presents, wrapping, and cards (Hardback)

Stuck on gift ideas for mum, dad, grandparents, or teacher? Then turn to Jane Bull's charming new children's craft book. Packed with over 20 ideas for presents, wrapping, and cards, perfect for kids who love to craft. Crafty Gifts is full of amazing projects for children aged 7+ to make, all with clear step-by-step instructions. Jane takes you from creating lovely presents, all the way to the finishing touches of wrapping and cards. Children will love crafting delightful doodle mugs, brilliant button-art pictures, and more. Even better, each project can be customised and personalised, meaning every present really is a one off. Let Crafty Gifts show you it's better to make a gift than buy one.

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
ISBN: 9780241275801

A great gift idea for a child who loves crafting or as a resource for primary school teachers, early years providers or carers of young children for rainy day or festive crafty ideas.

Published by DK Books it is a well thought out and presented book. There are three main sections within the book: Crafty Gift Ideas (button charms, salt dough treasures, apple packs, gingerbread folk, jars of goodies, bath fizzes, picture it, this belongs to and thanks a bunch), Craft cards (love bugs, pop out cards, snap happy and cards for crafters and grafters) and Crafty Gift Wrap (pillow boxes, make a box, flat packs and brown paper packages).

The book begins with a crafty kit - what tools are needed to complete most of the projects within the book - always good to have a basic craft kit before starting any project (scissors, glue stick, sticky tape, all purpose strong glue, felt tip pen, pencil, ruler and colourful paper/card), add to this paint, glitter and crafty sparkles and you have a great craft box ready for any eventuality or rainy day!

Each crafty idea has lots of photographs and easy to follow step by step instructions. There is the basic project and, in many cases, suggested alternatives or examples. The pages are full of colour and ideas. The projects split down into easy to follow steps with very clear instructions. The crafts are suitable for small hands, with adult supervision, and will make great presents for friends, family and many other recipients. They can be adapted for a range of celebrations or for sale at fund raisers or fayres.

Even though this book is aimed at children I really like a number of the craft ideas and will be looking to adapt them to encompass my favourite crafting styles

Thank you to the publishers, DK Books, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Shady Bay Buddies created by Emma Brown

Today I would like to introduce my younger blog readers to the Shady Bay Buddies who have been created by Emma Brown.

Emma Brown in an expert in crochet, who has created a cast of adorable crocheted characters. Originally created for her daughters, they spent many a happy time making up stories together about them. The animals live together on a far-away island called Shady Bay. Emma began thinking up designs for the characters and wrote her own patterns to bring them to life.  Emma's patterns for a number of her animals can be found in 'Crocheted Bears and Other Animals'.

A picture book designed to inform and reassure children who are worried about going to the doctor.
Shady Bay Buddies: Archie Goes to the Doctor (Paperback)Archie and his big sister Amber are two of the Shady Bay Buddies who live in the close-knit community of Shady Bay Island. They love playing outside together, but one day Archie falls from the garden swing and hurts his arm. He's very worried when it's made clear he'll need to see the doctor. With his mum and Amber by his side, Archie goes off to the doctor and is pleasantly surprised to find it's not that bad after all. There are fun things to do there and the doctor is very kind. This delightful picture book, with adorable crocheted characters designed and made by Emma Brown, will become a firm favourite with young children who are fearful of doctors and hospitals.

Shady Bay Buddies: Archie's First Day at SchoolPublisher: Ryland, Peters & Small Ltd
ISBN: 9781782495444

A picture book designed to inform and reassure children who are starting school.
Archie and his big sister Amber are two of the Shady Bay Buddies who live in the close-knit community of Shady Bay Island. Archie is starting school and wondering what to expect. Amber reassures him that it will be fun. We join Archie as he gets ready for school, meets his teacher, Miss Whimsie, and enjoys lots of fun activities on his first day. He even makes a new friend called Woolie. This delightful picture book, with adorable crocheted characters designed and made by Emma Brown, will become a firm favourite with young children as they embark on that all-important first day at school.

Publisher: Ryland, Peters & Small Ltd
ISBN: 9781782495451

I really enjoyed both of these books. They are beautifully photographed, each double page spread being a great photograph with Emma's crocheted characters taking central stage, and including Archie's felt bunny which has been cleverly placed in each scene for young readers to spot. 
Each title is a great story, helping children to understand what will happen at a visit to the doctors or on their first day at school.  The stories are told in simple text, short sentences which are accompanied by the brilliant photographs. The crocheted characters are adorable and are joined by lots of their friends. Children of all ages will enjoy meeting them and the scenes tell their own story, lots of look at on each page and to discuss.

I really do like this new series of books. Parents will love the clean and non fussy scenes, the stories are short and easy to understand, but the illustrations can be used as the start of conversations. I really like that the characters are crocheted - perfect for craft lovers - and as Emma's patterns are available in 'Crocheted Bears and Other Animals' children can own their own Archie and Amber, allowing children's to recreate scenes and make up their own stories with their favourite characters.

Thank you to the publishers, Cico Books, for sending me the books to review in return for an honest review. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Blog Tour - It Had To Be You by Keris Stainton

Twenty-five-year-old Bea is a hopeless romantic with a hopeless love life – until now. New beau Dan ticks all the boxes: he’s good-looking, kind and thoughtful. The complete opposite of Bea’s ex, who once threw her out in the middle of the night when she was ill so she didn’t disrupt his sleep.

So when her friends point out that she and Dan don’t have fireworks, Bea ignores them. Dan is the whole package. And yet Bea can’t stop comparing him to her best friend Henry… Because Dan doesn’t get Bea’s jokes. Or like books. Or make her laugh until she can’t breathe. Or become speechless when Bea puts on her favourite black dress for a night out… 

As time goes on, Bea can’t shift the feeling that something just isn’t right. On paper Dan is the perfect man. But in reality… Will Bea be brave enough to ask for more from life – and get the fireworks she deserves?

A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Cate Woods, and Mhairi McFarlane.

Today I am pleased to be part of Bookouture's Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Keris Stainton's new release, It Had To Be You. Keris is an author who has written a number of books for both children, young adults and adults.

It Had To Be You is a laugh out loud novel with characters who everyone can relate to and care about. The storyline is also relatable to many readers, two people meeting, having a relationship but finding that there is something missing and not being sure, or brave enough, to do something about it.

I really enjoy Keris' style of writing. I have read a number of her previous novels and always find them to be well written, comedic and great story lines. They are easy to pick up and get lost in and have great casts of characters.

I recommend everyone to pick up It Had To Be You this Christmas time for a great, easy to read, comedic story, which everyone can relate to.

Thank you to the publishers, Bookouture, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for giving me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Blog Tour - The Secret Child by Kerry Fisher

You can run from your past, but it will always catch up with you…
Susie was forced to do something she will always regret: giving her baby son up for adoption. Everything that led to this child, this choice, had to be buried and forgotten.

Her secret echoes down through the years, tainting everything it touches. Her husband wonders why his wife is so distant. Her daughters can’t understand their changeable mother. 

Susie knows her past is pushing her family apart, and the guilt is eating her up, but she can’t escape the longing for her lost son. No-one but Susie knows the whole story, and when her daughters discover a piece of the puzzle, she must face the question she has struggled with for most of her life:

Would the truth bring them back together, or break them?
From the bestselling author of The Silent Wife, The Secret Child is a heart-breaking and unputdownable novel about family secrets and lies. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.

Today I am part of the Bookouture blog tour to celebrate the publication of Kerry Fisher's latest release, The Secret Child, a heart warming novel which addresses a mother's worst nightmare, giving birth to a baby and having to give him up because he was the result of a fling with a naval officer while her husband is away at war. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a book that tugged on my maternal heart strings on a subject which I am sure many women have experienced and still hold this secret many years later. I really liked the inclusion of the Janet and John books within the story, where Susie (the mother) is reminded of the 'traditional' family, mum, dad, daughter and son, and a constant reminder of the missing son she had to give away and only her mother knows of his existence. It is a walk down memory lane for those readers growing up in the sixties, Family Circle magazine, also plays a big part in the story, another grounding element within the well researched story. The story really is a tear jerker, but in a good way, it was a book that I could loose myself in and I really felt for Susie and her family through this difficult time. 

The Secret Child is a poignant tale, one which will stay with the reader after finishing it and is a book suitable for book club reads with a number of topics that make for great discussion.

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Blog Tour - Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies

Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found: A Heartwarming Feel Good Romance Novel (Paperback)

Sometimes you’ve got to run away to find yourself…

Twenty-four-year-old Lucy needs a fresh start. Forever single and frustrated with her studies she gives up everything to run a little library in the leafy village of Tilley Moreton.

Lucy loves reading almost as much as she loves fixing other people’s problems, so starting a book club seems like the perfect opportunity to do both. As she meets her new members, it’s clear she’s going to have her work cut out for her. Handsome but silent Callum is the biggest puzzle of them all...

But Lucy’s meddling begins to cause more problems than it solves, and no one is more surprised than Lucy when Callum steps in to help. Could there be more to him than people think?

As Callum and Lucy start working together to fix the broken hearts of the library’s most loyal customers, the first sparks of romance begin to fly.

Can they right all the trouble Lucy has created, and might there be a chance for a happy ending of their own?

An utterly uplifting, emotional page-turner that will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your face. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Milly Johnson.

Today I am pleased to be part of the Bookouture Blog Blitz to celebrate the publication of Emma Davies' new release, Lucy's Book Club for the Lost and Found.

I really enjoyed this book, it is one of the those books that once picked up, can not be put down until it is finished! It is one of those books that take the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions while in the middle of a great read.

Lucy, the main character, is in temporarily in charge of a library, while also suffering confusion about her teaching career and unsure what to do. Her life is in turmoil but she, as I am sure many of us do, finds the solution within a good book. 

There is a great cast of characters, and we meet them all through the library's book club. Each member has their own life, and their problems are also dealt with within the book. As I previously said, this book is a roller coaster of emotions and I really enjoyed reading about the reading club's members lives, they represent communities all over the country and I am sure everyone can relate to a number of the cast within this book.

I definitely would recommend this book to all, get settled one weekend with a drink, comfy chair, some chocolate and some tissues - you will not be disappointed.

Thank you to the publishers for  inviting me to take part in the blog blitz. I did receive a copy of the book in return for an honest review on my blog.