Review of Baby Twinkle

17.04.2014
09:10

Baby twinkle cover

Baby Twinkle, from Caterpillar.

For Milo’s age (14 months) this book is a great education tool. He particualrly enjoyed the use of the shiny red paper which ran throughout the book and he kept running his fingers over the shiny design. The book is simply positioned, the pages are nice and thick for my son to turn.

Milo started to point to other objects (which were similar in shape) in the room, whilst we reading the book which was particualrly intersting for me to see! He has always responded well to black and white books. The only negative is that I have is that I think the dotted lines that run around each object on each page are unnecessary and tend to make the page look overcrowded and a bit too busy. 

Reviewed by Caroline.

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Accident by C L Taylor

14.04.2014
13:22

The Accident cover

 

Susan and Brian`s lives are devastated when their teenage daughter Charlotte walks in front of a bus after school and is now in a deep coma in intensive care.. Everyone concerned thinks that it was an unfortunate accident, everyone, that is, except Susan.

Susan escaped from an abusive relationship twenty years previously but has never been free of the mental state of abject terror which James inflicted upon her. Up until the moment of Charlotte`s “accident”, she has thought herself to be free of him, but now there are indications that he may have tracked her down in order to have his revenge for her rejection.

Brian believes that Susan has had a relapse into severe depression and insists that she take medication, believing that the “clues”, such as Milly, their dog, escaping from the porch where she is kept and odd things happening around the house, are figments of her imagination brought on by high anxiety. Such is the strength of Susan`s fear, she even suspects Brian of being involved in Charlotte`s attempt at ending it all. When Susan finds Charlotte`s diary, it sets her on the quest for the truth. What she finds is horrifying.

Alongside the main storyline, we learn what Susan went through in the years when she was in a relationship with James. Both stories are sensitively conveyed in easy language and the reader lives the two parts of Susan`s life. An excellent first novel and a great holiday read.

Reviewed by Liz.

Thank you to Avon for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Zoom Zoom Zoom by Katherina Manolessou

12.04.2014
16:48

zoom-zoom-zoom cover

Zoom Zoom Zoom is a lovely book about a monkey and bird who don’t want to go to bed. Awake late at night they decide that they will go to the moon. Once there they get a tour of the moon and play in the sand and go in a real spaceship. By the time the have zoomed around, they start getting very tired and before they know they are back asleep in bed.

 

I thought that the illustrations and vivid colours in this book were absolutely stunning. It is a perfect book to read with little ones who don’t think they are quite ready to go to sleep.

 

This is a beautiful book that I highly recommend. I will be looking out for more books by this author.

 

Thank you to Macmillan for sending us a copy to review.

Interview with Emma Shevah – Author of Dream On, Amber

11.04.2014
09:11
amber
I am delighted to welcome Emma Shevah to Bookbabblers today. Emma has answered a few questions for us about her novel Dream On, Amber.
Please tell us a little about yourself
My name is Emma Shevah and I’m half Thai and half Irish. I live in London with my four children, our dog, Spark, and our baby tortoise, Slow Mo (short for Slow motion). I have travelled to lots and lots of countries and lived in a few, including Australia, India, Japan and Israel. I love travelling and want to jump on a plane any chance I get. I haven’t been to Africa or South America yet though, so those are top of my wish list.
 
Please tell us about Dream On, Amber and your inspiration for the book
Dream on Amber is the story of Amber Miyamoto, an eleven-year-old girl who is half-Italian and half-Japanese and lives in London. Amber’s father left home one night when she was six and she’s hasn’t heard from him since. The story begins when Amber’s younger sister, Bella, writes a letter to their dad and asks Amber to post it for her, but Amber takes it to her room and reads it. She feels sorry for Bella so she decides to pretend to be their dad and write back. This causes all kinds of problems, on top of the problems Amber has when she starts her new school. When it gets too much to deal with, Amber, who loves art, draws and then brings to life an imaginary dad who she talks to and who helps her with her escalating problems.
 
I wrote this book because my Thai father left when I was small: I was much younger than Amber though – just a baby – and I wanted to write about how that felt. Most of the story is made up, but the part about a dad leaving I know about because I went through it myself.
 
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a couple of books at the moment and I’m not sure which one I’ll get stuck into. I’m still playing around, which I tend to do at the beginning: it’s a phase where I work out who the character is, get the voice right and figure out what the storyline is going to be from the seed of the idea I have. I can’t really say what the books are about yet but they’re both interesting ideas. Let’s just say one is about food and one is about travel.
 
What is your average writing day like?
Once the children have rushed out of the door to go to school, I walk the dog, feed Slow Mo and sit at my laptop. On a good day, I write all day, but I usually have to do lots of other things, like take my children to appointments, shop, cook, have meetings, send emails, make phone calls, prepare for classes I teach and then go and teach them. I tutor for English GCSE and I co-host a literary club at NYU in London. My life is so busy and hectic. But my favourite time is sitting in front of the laptop writing, preferably when it’s raining and stormy outside and I have a steaming cup of tea beside me and nowhere else I need to be.
 
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
When I do school visits, children tell me they write stories and their main problems seem to be getting stuck in the middle and not knowing where to go from there, and finishing them. My tips for these problems are to rethink ideas when you feel like you don’t know where to go next: take the character out of that situation or think of a new one to help you move on from that place where you get stuck. Not all ideas are good ones and you might need to redo that part of the story. You could even think of lots of possible avenues and see which one you like best. The second is to try and finish: I also have lots of beginnings and vague ideas but getting to the end is a major achievement, even if it’s not as good as you’d like it to be. You can always work on it once it’s written to improve it. It’s like dough then, you can knead it and bend it into shape. Apart from that, I’d say read every day and write every day if you can: both of those activities are the best things you can do for your vocabulary, for your understanding of the way stories work, and for learning to express yourself articulately. And if you love writing, don’t give up. Even before my book was published, it gave me great pleasure to write. It made me feel better, so keep at it, even if you just do it to make yourself feel better.
Thanks, Emma.
Look out for our review of Dream On, Amber, which will be up next week.

Review of Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

09.04.2014
20:19

Unbreakable cover

Unbreakable was fast-paced and action packed, emotional with a bitter sweet romance.

 

Kennedys whole world changes when her mother dies, apparently of natural causes. She has to leave her childhood home and start again, many miles away. But before she can, two teenage boys burst into her bedroom in the middle of the night and save her from a homicidal ghost.

 

Jared and Lukas Lockhart are used to the paranormal and things that go bump in the night. The belong to the Legion, a group of five individuals charged with the task of saving humanity from demonic attacks and prevented one specifically from causing more havoc than he already has. And Kennedys mother was part of the Legion and so her responsibility falls to her daughter.

 

Kennedy is thrown headfirst into a world of demons and poltergeists, trapped spirits and vengeful ones. As much as she would love to bury her head in the sand and pretend it has nothing to do with her, the other four Legion members need her and she cant turn away from that.

 

Overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted, Kennedy feels as though she will never where she fits within the Legion. Each has a speciality but she has no idea what hers is. And then there is the twins, Jared and Lukas. Lukas is the one who sets her at ease, whose touch comforts her. Jared sets her body on edge and wakes her up so completely.

 

Unbreakable was a pretty good read. It has been heavily compared to Supernatural and Buffy and I did find it distracting while I was reading it as I noticed the similarities. I am a massive fan of both shows but felt maybe the book should have been more its own thing. I did like the characters, but found it was Priest, one of the younger members of the Legion who I was most fond of.

 

The story line itself was gripping and a great premise. Really, the only negative thing I could say was the romance let itself down a little. I love teen angst and it can never worklove stories as much as the next person, but there was too much back and forth in a very short space of time for it to be appealing.

 

All in all a welcome addition to the genre, and I will be looking out for the next in the series.

Reviewed by Pamela.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly

08.04.2014
09:11

Wolf cover

 

Charlie Parker, the private investigator haunted by his past and fearless of his future, is motivated to investigate the death of a homeless man, Jude, and the disappearance of his estranged daughter Annie. Jude had been known to Parker as a decent man whose chosen lifestyle was the streets and who did his best to help his fellow homeless. He had been searching unsuccessfully for his daughter Annie and the trail had led him to the town of Prosperous. Soon after his second visit to the town to find her, Jude is dead. The money he had been collecting to pay for a few hours of Parker`s time is missing.

Parker takes up the investigation anyway. He finds himself unwelcome in Prosperous, a town which keeps itself to itself and hides a dark secret from all who are not residents – once a resident, always a resident – the majority of whom can trace their family back centuries, to the time when their ancient church was transported stone by stone from the north of England by the town`s Founding Fathers. Prosperous has always flourished throughout the ages. Just how it managed to remain buoyant through even the present world financial crisis sits at the heart of Parker`s quest. In danger himself, but with the help of his powerful underworld friends Louis and Angel as well as the vagrant Shaky, Jude`s closest friend and his street contacts, Parker slowly uncovers a horrifying series of actions and events which reveal the dark side of the town and the merciless motives of the Selectmen who rule it. Even the Police Chief, Morland , is involved.

A ruthless PI who investigates cases involving evil in human and in spiritual form is a formidable hero who, in this book, meets his most vicious and malevolent opponents yet. A spine chilling read – absolutely absorbing and highly recommended! Enjoy.

Reviewed by Liz.

Thank you to Hodder for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Zeraffa Giraffa by Dianne Hofmeyr and Jane Ray

07.04.2014
12:04

zeraffa girrafa

 

Zeraffa Giraffa is a wonderful book based on a true story of a giraffe who was sent from Egypt to France as a gift in 1826.

 

The book follows Zeraffa’s journey from the plains of Africa to sailing on a felucca down the River Nile to boarding a boat bound for France and finally arriving in Paris in 1827.

 

The illustrations are absolutely stunning and it is a delightful story to read. I was fascinated to read about the journey that Zeraffa and his young handler Atir make all of the way to Paris. The vivid illustrations really bring this amazing story to life and I could just picture them sailing down the Nile.

 

This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend.

 

Thank you to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison

06.04.2014
08:14

Anything to have you cover

Natalie and Brooke are best friends, and have been forever. As different as chalk and cheese but lifelong partners in crime. Though, normally it would be Brooke doing the crime and Natalie cleaning the mess. Natalie is the quiet one, Brooke the party animal. But everything changes when Natalie finally caves and goes to a party with Brooke. Unfortunately, Natalie can’t remember much the next morning but Brookes boyfriend, Aiden, never will.

 

The pairs friendship is thrown out of sync as both girls struggle with the consequences and repercussions of the party.

 

Anything to Have You is told from both perspectives of Natalie and Brooke. It was well written and very enjoyable, but I wish Brookes character was just a little more developed. Her chapters were short and blunt and I couldnt help but wish for a little more from her. I loved Natalie. I thoroughly enjoyed her journey throughout the book and sympathise with her over the decisions she has to make.

 

It is an impossible situation with very sensitive scenarios but I thought they were handled perfectly. I have great respect for authors brave enough to tell it like it is, and this is exactly what Paige Harbison has done. Anything to Have You was a raw and honest account of typical teenagers. A wonderful read that passed in a blur of frenzied reading to find out what happens next.

Reviewed by Pamela.

Thank you to Mira Ink for  sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Lewis Chessmen by Irving Finkel and illustrated by Clive Hodgson

04.04.2014
09:58

Lewis Chessmen front cover sml

 

The Lewis Chessman and what happened to them is split into three parts and begins with a short background to the history of the chessmen.

 

Since their discovery on a beach on the Isle of Lewis, the chessmen have fascinated us. This book brings their story to life taking us through visits from Queen Victoria to being put into storage during the Second World War and being reunited again in 1993 when the collection was brought together for the first time in 162 years.

 

This is a fantastic book that will delight younger and older readers alike. The illustrations really bring their tale to life for readers. I was completely fascinated by this story of The Lewis Chessmen and their journey to the British Museum.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Thank you to the British Museum Press for sending us a copy to review.

Light Blog Tour: Guest Post by Michael Grant

03.04.2014
08:22

Light cover

 

 

I am delighted to welcome Michael Grant to Bookbabblers today, as part of the blog tour for his latest book Light.

Thanks Bookbabblers for letting me play here at your blog.

 

I get so bored with authors whose only communication with the world amounts to, Read my book.That is definitely the underlying idea behind my use of Facebook and Twitter and doing blog tours like this. But I hate being predictable and I hate just being a shill for my own stuff. So I frequently use Twitter and Facebook for other things. Like ranting about politics, criticizing schooling, and of course, bitching at companies who have annoyed me. This latter often involves airlines. Sometimes cable companies. The occasional restaurant.

 

When you become a Famous Author theres no training session on how to deal with the public.

Really. One minute youre typing away on your book and then, suddenly, youre doing what amounts to marketing and public relations. Authors may be great at writing and be really not great at lots of other things. The author is kind of on his own in figuring out social media.

 

My approach has been to go on being myself. My interactions with fans on Twitter are usually of the easy-going, playful variety. Because I like my readers, so why wouldnt I just sort of hang out with them? But I also really hate guns and think they have no place in society, which pisses off my fans who are into guns. Other times I may use inappropriatelanguage, such as the many words absolutely every one of you knows, and that bothers some people. And, believe it or not, some people actually like US Airways.

 

So why am I doing that? Why not just be safe and not annoy people? Why not stick to pimping my books?

 

Im not sure. Not sure I understand my own motives and not sure Im right to take this approach. But, I do it because a writers job is to write, even if its just 140 characters, and you cant just write what people expect or what you know they want to read, or what your publishers want, because then youre not being a writer, youre being Don Draper pushing cigarettes and toothpaste. I dont want to be an ad exec, not even handsome Don Draper with his fabulous hair. I dont want to be pushing toothpaste, even if its Michael Grant brand toothpaste. (Now in delicious boiled rat flavor!)

 

You have to be who you are, dont you? In the end, whats the alternative? You have to be you. So, in social media I just act like me. Which often annoys people because, well, because I can be annoying, thats why. But the idea of creating a sleek, focused, polished version of myself to present on social media just makes my flesh creep.

 

One of the best things about getting older is that you stop caring what people think of you. This is a result of having lived a life in which on a million different occasions youve worried about what so-and-so thinks, followed by a million times realizing you were wrong and in addition, who gives a damn what so-and-so thinks? The reality, which is that people are going to think what they think, and that you cant control what they think, and who gives a damn, anyway, finally penetrates your skull and when it does, its like the Liberation of France. Youre free! Vive la liberté! I dont want to give that up for Twitter.

 

So, as far as social media is concerned, Ill just be whoever I am, and when I want to pimp a book Ill say something like this: Hi, I really hope you read MESSENGER OF FEAR, which comes out this autumn. Its scary and cool and I wrote it hoping youd like it. So check it out, okay?

 

And then, because I just cant stop myself, Ill say that I really hate Virgin Americas faux-rap safety video. Love the airline, hate the video. Also, dont have a gun in a home with a child, its stupid and irresponsible.

 

So, I guess thats my social media thing: Pimp nRant.

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