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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England)
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Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess
Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess
by Meg Cabot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess, 26 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Author Meg Cabot is obviously extremely well known for her long-running series, “The Princess Diaries,” Although my eight year old daughter has never read those books, this is the first in a brand new spin off series for younger readers. This is based in ‘Middle School’ which, as far as I am aware, is for children aged 11-14, effectively bridging the gap between Elementary and High School.

Olivia Grace Harrison is in Grade Six (she is twelve when we meet her) at Cranbrook Middle School, where she is having trouble with the popular, pretty, but extremely mean Annabelle Jenkins; even though they have known each other since they were little. Olivia’s mother is dead and her father travels all the time, so she has been brought up by her aunt and uncle and their children. However, Oliva’s worries about Annabelle fighting her after school are ended when she is saved by Her Royal Highness, Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia – who turns up in a limousine, no less.
From having a very bad day, Olivia discovers that she is, in fact, a princess and that the father she has never met is the Prince of Genovia. This book is very much a modern day fairy tale, with Olivia having to deal with a family she has never met before and yet her old life – and problems – are still there to haunt her. Will she get the chance to start a new life, or will she have to go back and face Annabelle the bully?

At 180 pages, this is for fluent readers, but it is not too daunting. There are black and white illustrations which break up the text on some pages, chapters are fairly short and there is a chatty style – as Olivia pours out her thoughts in her diary. Olivia is a fun character and the storyline moves along with a good pace. There is the excitement of Olivia’s new family turning up out of the blue, along with real life issues, such as bullying, which children will understand and respond to. My daughter loved it and I would say it is ideal for the 9-12 age group (or a little below if you have a confident reader). This is not great literature, but it is a good story and will have a lot of appeal to Princess obsessed girls.


Into the Night: Inspector Rykel Book 2 (Amsterdam Quartet)
Into the Night: Inspector Rykel Book 2 (Amsterdam Quartet)
Price: £3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the Night, 26 Mar. 2015
“Into the Night,” is the second in the Amsterdam Quartet, which began with, “After the Silence.” Many of the characters which appeared in the first book also feature here, including Inspector Jaap Rykel, Inspector Tanya van der Mark and Inspector Kees Terpstra. After the events of the first book, we find Jaap Rykel and Tanya van der Mark having a relationship; although their attempts at happiness are complicated by Jaap’s discovery that he has a daughter by a previous relationship and Tanya’s inability to talk to anyone about the abuse she suffered from her foster father. Indeed, the beginning of this novel sees Jaap being berated by his former partner for not being able to give enough time to his daughter, while Tanya tries to pluck up the courage to confront the man who abused her.

Like the previous novel, this is a fast moving and hard hitting book. Jaap finds himself involved in a bizarre case, where two headless bodies are discovered. While he wonders what links the two men, he had not thought that the answer would be himself… Meanwhile, Tanya finds her leave cancelled, after a woman who seemingly committed suicide at a station turns out to have been murdered and Kees, struggling with debts and drug use, manages to lose a major witness in a forthcoming trial. Before long, the members of the murder squad realise that these incidents are all linked. Then, as it looks as though the police themselves are implicated, events spiral out of control and the three officers have to come together to try to stop the killing.

This is a good addition to the series, with the characters becoming better known to us and the hard hitting storylines move along really quickly. However, this is certainly not a book for those who object to difficult subjects or violent scenes, as this book has violence in abundance. If, however, you enjoy gritty crime novels, then this could be a series for you. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Blood Relatives
Blood Relatives
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood Relatives, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Blood Relatives (Kindle Edition)
We first meet the central character of this novel in 1975. Richard (Ricky) Thorpe is sixteen and has just embarked on his first job as a Corona pop delivery driver. This is a coming of age novel, as Ricky is discovering his sexuality and, as the novel progresses, he embarks on a discovery of himself and the Northern gay scene. For Ricky lives in Leeds, with his mother, Mitch and sister Mandy. It isn’t a particularly close family and there are undercurrents and tensions, which are gradually uncovered as we read on.

The author cleverly ties this, rather banal, life story in with the predominant news story of the day. The first chapter has the name of Wilma McCann, the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim, as its heading. As we follow the story, from 1975 until 1980, each chapter heading has the name of another victim; or woman he has attacked who survived the vicious assault. We are mindful that, as Ricky’s life carries on – as he has relationships, struggles with family dynamics, gets to know the characters on his round – women are being killed sporadically throughout the book; their names cropping up accusingly at the start of each chapter.

This novel really does have a sense of time and place. Elvis dies, the Sex Pistols split and women die; but life goes on at a pace which is too slow for Ricky. The Yorkshire dialect is not over-whelming, but helps create a realistic, and immediate, setting. Although, throughout the novel, characters muse on the identity of the Ripper, and many locals are interviewed, often this is more a side story which happens in the background of Ricky’s life. Also, it is fair to say, that often the locals are antagonistic to the police’s attempts to stop the murders – “Ripper 12, Police 0!” chant the crowds at football matches, drowning out attempts to play a tape purported to be the voice of the Ripper over the sound system…

I enjoyed this novel very much. The setting is bleak and depressing – Ricky is astonished to see the back to back houses of his childhood appearing on the television news – but the author manages to combine the mundane and ordinary with the shocking in a very interesting way. An impressive debut – I look forward to reading more from this talented author. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Fifty-Year Silence, A
Fifty-Year Silence, A
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fifty Year Silence, 25 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Fifty-Year Silence, A (Paperback)
This is a very moving memoir and is the personal story of both author, Miranda Richmond Mouillot, and that of her grandparents – Anna and Armand. Miranda was the only grandchild of Anna and Armand. Although her parents were divorced, she was close to both her mother and her father and her step-parents. However, although her childhood was happy and she felt loved, she was also unsettled by conversations and snippets which she hardly recalled hearing, but which affected her. Her beloved grandmother, who lived next door, was a holocaust survivor , as was her grandfather, who she became closer to when slightly older. However, she was aware of her grandmother’s keeping things, “just in case,” and Miranda herself dreamt of flight and the fear of losing her home. She was also always aware that her grandparents – joyful, outgoing Anna and grumpy, difficult Armand – were estranged. In fact, they had not spoken for many years –ever since Anna left their house in France with her two children and a typewriter…

In this book we follow Miranda’s discovery of her grandparent’s story. Her gradual closeness to her grandfather and how she visits the house he shared with Anna in Alba, in the South of France. Miranda falls in love with the house and is devastated when Armand announces he wants to sell it. However, difficulties arise when his wish means that he needs Anna’s agreement. Miranda travels back to France with her eighty seven year old grandmother and, as events unfold, she decides she needs to discover what happened between her grandparents which led to a silence of over fifty years between them. During her research, both Anna and Armand become elderly and frail. Miranda’s life changes and she comes to terms with both her grandparent’s pas t and their legacy. This is a lovely read, which is incredibly moving and you really feel the weight of history as the book unfolds. Miranda writes of her grandparents with deep love and I feel grateful that she shared her story, which is wonderfully told. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.


Sofia the 1st 10-inch Amber Doll
Sofia the 1st 10-inch Amber Doll
Offered by Games Without Frontiers International
Price: £22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amber Doll (Sofia the First), 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My daughter is a huge Sofia the First fan and her favourite character, by far, is Amber, so we were delighted to find this doll. Amber comes dressed in a pretty sparkly gown, with a gold embroidery pattern on the skirt. The dress is removable. Ambers shoes are also yellow and she has a rather odd tiara - I think it is meant to be silver, but it sadly looks rather grey and dull. Likewise, Amber’s hair sticks out oddly in two stiff curls at the side of her head. Her features are painted and the eyes do not close. Amber can move her arms and legs, but they do not bend; although she can sit down and her head moves slightly – most useful if she needs to bob a curtsey.

This doll is suitable for ages 3+ and is very pretty. Her tiara comes attached, but you can snip the plastic tags to remove it. Be warned that it is hard to get the tiara to stay on, so you might be best to leave the tiara fixed, if you think that it will annoy your child if it keeps falling off. Although I have pointed out the minor minus points (a rather dull tiara, the impossibility of brushing her hair unless you wash it first, etc), I doubt they will concern a child too much. It is delightful to have an Amber doll added to the range of Sofia toys and I am sure she will be very popular in my house.


This is Paris (This Is . . .)
This is Paris (This Is . . .)
by Miroslav Sasek
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Paris, 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This wonderful picture book is one of a series about cities of the world by Miroslav Sasek. Other books include, “This is New York,” “This is Rome” and “This is London.” Full of wonderfully retro illustrations, young readers are taken on a joyous tour of Paris. Although published in 1959, this is still a recognisable Paris – with well known tourist sites within the pages. Packed with information; children will see artists, cathedrals, cafes and famous paintings, which give a real sense of the city. There are also snippets of history and lots of humour, especially in the illustrations. My eight year old daughter loved this book. We also have the London book and I look forward to getting more in the series – they are timeless introductions to some of the most beautiful cities in the world.


Wahl Ultima Plus Shaver
Wahl Ultima Plus Shaver
Price: £49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wahl Ultima Plus Shaver, 25 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice, sturdy shaver, with a slightly retro design, which comes with a protective cap, case and charger. The shaver has both a shaving foil and a long hair trimmer. If the shaver is fully charged, it will work for up to 45 minutes and, obviously, you can also use it while it is plugged in. The shaver is suitable for wet and dry shaving and the long hair trimmer can be used for trimming beards or sideburns. There is also a three/five day beard shaver, for a fashionable stubble.

My husband found this razor gave a perfectly adequate close shave. He liked the design and, although he has not tried this particular make before, usually uses an electric shaver. Although it does not offer anything that strikes me as being above and beyond the normal functions of any shaver, it does the job it is designed to do and works well. A little research suggests this brand is used by many professional hairdressers and so, should be one that becomes trusted as it becomes better known in the UK.


KS2 SATs Practice Papers (English Reading, SPaG & Maths) for the 2015 Y6 SATs Tests. Inc. Audio & Online Marks Compare
KS2 SATs Practice Papers (English Reading, SPaG & Maths) for the 2015 Y6 SATs Tests. Inc. Audio & Online Marks Compare
by J. Geake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KS2 SATs Practice Papers, 24 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a huge book, which contains three sets of Maths, Reading and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar papers for the key stage two SATs. These are fully up to date and will give your child invaluable practice tests. This book consists of three Maths sets papers – with Paper 1, Paper 2 and Mental Maths tests. You can download the audio transcript for the Mental Maths papers or read the questions aloud. There are three sets of Reading papers, including reading booklets and answer booklets. Although this has the advantage of being all included in one, large book (meaning nothing gets lost), it does mean that your child has to flip back and forwards from the reading booklets to the answer book. That is really the only, small, disadvantage that I can find in this book. Lastly, there are three sets of Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling tests; including short answer questions and spelling tasks (spelling transcripts are included, or you can download an audio transcript if you prefer).

The back of the book contains all the answers and mark schemes and the website for the book includes an Online Marks Comparison tool – simply enter your child’s results to get their SATs marks and also to see how they did compared to other children across the country. This really does have a huge amount included for the price and includes lots of advice on administering and marking the tests. Good value for money and well laid out.


Stuck
Stuck
Price: £0.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stuck, 24 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stuck (Kindle Edition)
This wonderful picture book is full of humour and will appeal to children (and adults) of all ages. The story begins when Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree and he throws other things to try to knock it down… Before long, all sorts of items end up in the tree, along with the kite, and, to children’s delight, the things get more and more absurd. Will Floyd ever get his kite down? This really is a delightful read. It will appeal to both boys and girls and is a wonderful story to read aloud. The illustrations are quirky and the entire story is well realised and told.


The Wind in the Willows: Usborne Picture Books
The Wind in the Willows: Usborne Picture Books
Price: £2.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Wind in the Willows, 24 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This picture book, aimed at young children, introduces the characters from “The Wind in the Willows.” There are Ratty, Mole, Mr Toad and Badger; although this only gives a very basic re-telling of the story. There is Mr Toad’s sports car and the stealthy stoats and wicked weasels in Toad Hall, but somehow the story does not work as well as it should. It might have been better to have taken one scene from the book and enlarged on that, rather than trying to condense the entire book into just a few pages. This is one of a series of books, which include other Classics like “The Railway Children,” “Black Beauty,” and “Robin Hood.” I will be interested to see if these manage to convey the story better than this rather charmless re-telling, with un-inspiring illustrations.


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