ARRAY(0xa7742c48)
 
Profile for IcedGems > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by IcedGems
Top Reviewer Ranking: 36,666
Helpful Votes: 221

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
IcedGems (Oxford, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
pixel
Silent Saturday: Forbidden Spaces Trilogy: Book One
Silent Saturday: Forbidden Spaces Trilogy: Book One
by Helen Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy and atmospheric, 17 Mar 2014
Having read Helen Grant's The Glass Demon and been terrified out of my wits by it, I approached Silent Saturday with some trepidation! I don't read a lot of horror thrillers, but I knew this would be exceptionally well-written - and it was. Veerle is a wonderful character, trapped by her mentally ill mother, who is a typical hypochondriac when it comes to actual health problems but can't see how paranoid and obsessive she is. Whether this paranoia has been triggered by the incident witnessed by Veerle at the age of seven is undecided, but since then Claudine has been more and more desperate to keep her daughter safe at home.

Of course, this kind of smothering can only lead to rebellion, and Veerle is very naturally drawn to Kris and his shadowy group the Koekoeken, who trespass in empty properties when their owners are away. I could well believe the attraction of spending a few hours in a luxurious house with every amenity! And the Koekoeken is a group with the kind of organisation more commonly seen in terrorist cells: no one knows everyone, and there is very little to connect them.

But they ARE connected, and the killer that Veerle saw as a child is slowly picking them off. He's a truly monstrous creation, without remorse or humanity, the sort of killer who takes pleasure in the hunt and the method of death. We know who he is before Veerle does, and Grant plays very cleverly on the reader's emotions as we urge Veerle on to realise what kind of danger she's in.

There are many unanswered questions at the end of the book, and I did feel a little adrift. Some characters' stories needed a little more 'tying up' for me, but I hadn't realised that this is the first in a trilogy, so presumably (and hopefully!) there will be more development in the second book. Certainly the Koekoeken is a fascinatingly realistic group: one can definitely imagine that such a group could exist most successfully.

Helen Grant does suspense superbly. I found myself racing over paragraphs, reading them as quickly as possible, in order to know what happens next. And the climactic chapter suddenly jolts into present tense, which ratchets up the tension even more as we're suddenly pulled into Veerle's viewpoint. A clever device!

I'm hoping not to have nightmares since finishing this book, but if I do, it's only testament to Helen Grant's skill as an author. I look forward (or do I?!) to the next in the series.


Go to Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard
Go to Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard
by Steve Cole
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars High jinks at bedtime!, 15 Feb 2014
If you've ever threatened something you couldn't actually carry out at bedtime, this book is for you. Joe and Ellie are playing up the new babysitter (who is clearly reaching the end of her tether) when she threatens them with all sorts of ridiculous things. Joe and Ellie are unimpressed - but then she threatens them with the LEOPARD...and she goes downstairs, and suddenly THERE HE IS!

My five-year-old was bewitched on the first reading. She completely identified with Joe and Ellie and was genuinely nervous when the leopard was released - but don't worry, this book won't give your children nightmares! There is also a very clever twist at the end that parents will appreciate!

This is a book that teachers could use in class because of the great alliteration. Joe and Ellie are 'catching creatures with the curtains', 'wrestling wild wardrobes' and the babysitter begins to 'rumble like a rocket ready to rise'.

A highly enjoyable book!


Chantress
Chantress
by Amy Butler Greenfield
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable historical fantasy, 8 Oct 2013
This review is from: Chantress (Hardcover)
I agree with the other reviewers that this book is a little short on action for the first half. However, I did find Lucy a sympathetic character and I also liked Nat: his inscrutability and his love-disguised-as-hate for Lucy. I would have liked to know more about Nat's back history in his own words; we only find out about it from other characters.

This book has a great concept; I love the idea of singing spells and I hadn't come across them before. I was also properly creeped out by the Shadowgrims. Ravens are creepy birds anyway, but this was like a Hitchcock version. Having said that, the author never actually showed us the Shadowgrims in action, which could have really heightened the tension. Similarly, we didn't see enough of the villain, Scargrave. We were always hearing about the bad things he'd done but we didn't see many of them. The middle section of the book is where Lucy is being trained by her grumpy cousin, who has escaped capture for many years. It is, of necessity, a bit 'talky' though I felt it was a good way of showing us how Lucy becomes frustrated at being held back.

The last third of the book is a really fast, enjoyable read, and I liked the way Lucy threw herself into trying to save her friends. The stone she wears around her neck is supposed to protect her, but she does something at the end of the book that means things will never be the same again. This book is the first in a trilogy, and it will be interesting to see how Lucy's story develops in the next book. Despite some pacing issues in the middle, I enjoyed this book.


Amber
Amber
by Julie Sykes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sci-fi contemporary mystery!, 4 Oct 2013
This review is from: Amber (Paperback)
Amber is Julie Sykes's first YA novel and it's beautifully produced. The cover is gorgeous and just screams 'Pick me up!' but what's clever is that the image gives very little away about the story.

Similarly, the book is easy to begin and hooks you quickly, but for some time you're not quite sure whether you're reading a classic mystery, a whodunit, a sci-fi story or a straightforward girl-meets-boy. It's hard to review without giving anything away, but there's something that Amber discovers she can do early on that makes it clear she's not just a normal girl.

Amber has been in a car accident, that much is clear. But she has completely lost her memory. She doesn't know her own name, and many things are completely unfamiliar to her. A kind family takes pity on her and offers her a place at their music school for the summer while the social workers keep an eye on her. I loved the descriptions of the school and the people there, who felt warm and real and well-drawn. I also loved the section where Amber discovers she's an expert on a particular instrument. Her growing attachment to Dan, a student at the school, is lovely to see, especially her reluctance to commit to something when she can't be sure who she is. Sykes shows us enough of Amber's inner turmoil (is she a thief? an alien? a genetic experiment? on the run?) to keep us guessing and interested without ever making us bored of Amber's voice.

Very gradually (almost frustratingly slowly!) we are thrown clue after clue as to Amber's real identity, but it's still quite a shock when it's finally revealed. I can't explain anything about it, for obvious reasons, but I enjoyed the new area that opened up and thought it well described.

My one gripe with the story was the romantic element, which didn't quite go as I anticipated. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but this time I felt disappointed by Amber's decision. I just typed a bit more about it but realised it gave too much away!

The book is a great YA debut for Sykes and quite apart from being a good read, it also touches on an important theme: the human effect on the planet. This isn't done in a heavy way; but it raises some issues that readers may find interesting.


Wendy Quill is a Crocodile's Bottom
Wendy Quill is a Crocodile's Bottom
by Wendy Meddour
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great voice and fantastic illustrations!, 4 Jun 2013
*Disclaimer: I know the author

I read a LOT of children's books, and I know many authors. I don't often review their books - not because they're not good, but because I'm not really their target audience (being, y'know, sort of grown-up).

But WENDY QUILL is good. Really, really good. It's short, in bite-size chunks, and the illustrations are quirky and engaging, with lots of extra notes which means that the book will stand re-reading. It's a shame, as others have said, that the cover is PINK which will put off some boys. They too would love Wendy Quill, but *sigh* marketing children's books these days has become very gender-driven. I am assuming that the next book in the series will not be pink!

Wendy Quill is a great voice, reminiscent of the Charlie and Lola style, and many kids will identify with her longing to be NOTICED and a LITTLE BIT FAMOUS. The text is widely spaced, which makes it appealing to those who find reading difficult, and the vocabulary is pitched just right - not too easy but not too off-putting.

More importantly, this book is FUNNY. Funny is VERY hard to do well, and it's often under-rated. Buy this book! (and no, the author did not pay me to write that. I have actually bought copies for other friends' children - that's how good I think it is!)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 4, 2013 9:32 PM BST


Lottie Biggs is (Not) Mad
Lottie Biggs is (Not) Mad
by Hayley Long
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More satisfying than the cover suggests, 4 Jun 2013
Lottie Biggs begins in a familiar, predictable way, falling nicely into the Rennison/Cabot diary genre. But it becomes clear over time that Lottie isn't entirely 'normal' - that is, her reactions are extreme, and she experiences wild mood swings and anxiety issues. Hayley Long develops Lottie's story with great confidence and subtlety: the scene where Lottie has a conversation with her boss while hiding in a wardrobe is both funny and poignant.
Lottie, like many people suffering with a 'mental disturbance' (which is how it's described in the book), is very relieved when she is diagnosed. At last she knows why she's been finding life so hard.

I think the cover of this book is somewhat misleading. It suggests that the book is a light-hearted romp through a teenage girl's life. The blurb on the back suggests the same. But there is much more depth here than you might imagine, and the handling of the mental health issues is excellent. Lottie is a great 'voice' and I look forward to reading the rest in the series.


Glider Rocking Nursing Recliner Chair with footstool and brake system
Glider Rocking Nursing Recliner Chair with footstool and brake system
Offered by Mums2b
Price: 124.98

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent price for good solid item, 30 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this when 8 months pregnant and assembled it myself. Delivery was prompt and I have to say I was impressed by the minimal packaging - I mean it was packed extremely well so there was a minimum of cardboard/packing to throw away.

The instructions are obviously translated from another language and are not always very clear, though I figured out most of it! The chair is fairly easy to assemble though I had great trouble understanding how the brake worked as that bit of the instructions is definitely NOT clear. Got it in the end though had to ask someone else what they thought! The instructions claimed that the footstool was supplied 'fully assembled' which it most definitely wasn't - it was in eleven separate pieces! However it's straight forward to work out how to put it together with a bit of common sense (and you can always take it apart again if you do it wrong the first time). The cushions are well padded although the covers feel a bit cheap and nasty - haven't tried to wash them yet so can't comment on whether they'd shrink or not. At this price, however, I'm OK with chucking a throw rug over the chair to help make it feel a bit more luxurious!

The gliding motion works a treat and is perfectly silent. The chair is extremely comfortable and I could quite happily go to sleep in it! All in all, I'm very pleased with the chair and footstool, especially given the very reasonable price - though it only gets four stars due to the a) unclear instructions b) lack of instructions for footstool and b) quality of cushion covers.


The Sound Of Music [DVD] [1965]
The Sound Of Music [DVD] [1965]
Dvd ~ Julie Andrews
Offered by Discs4all
Price: 3.93

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be careful, not the two-disc version!, 20 Oct 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Just a warning for others. There are lots of different versions of this film available, and I thought I was purchasing the two-disc version (after reading Amazon's review and some of the customer reviews). It's NOT the 2-disc version; this is the one-disc version (as you can see if you look closely at the item description list, where it says Number of Discs: 1). I have had to return mine and order a different version - so just double-check which one you're actually buying!

Film is brilliant, of course ;-)


More Than Just a Mother
More Than Just a Mother
Price: 0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How Life Really Is..., 15 Dec 2010
There are a lot of myths about motherhood and Emily Carlisle debunks them all. From having an emergency wee in one of the children's nappies whilst stuck in a traffic jam (it's amazing how much a Pampers Baby-Dry can hold) to reviews of the latest toys, this is the only motherhood blog I read and it never fails to make me laugh - or, when you have read Emily's own story - cry. Highly recommended for mothers, father, sisters, aunties, uncles, grandparents...everyone, in fact! (except perhaps the kids - this is strictly adults only!)


Faster, Faster, Nice and Slow
Faster, Faster, Nice and Slow
by Sue Heap
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe more people haven't discovered this gem!, 11 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is truly inspired. Our daughter first discovered it at the library just before she turned two, and we have since bought our own board book copy because it was requested at EVERY bedtime. At 26 months she can now 'read' it herself, which makes her very pleased!

The pictures are bright and bold and the two styles work seamlessly. The rhymes are satisfying and easy and short, so the pages can be turned quickly or slowly. My daughter often likes to go back to particular favourite pages to repeat them!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4