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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK)
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Laughter on the Stairs (Merry Hall Trilogy)
Laughter on the Stairs (Merry Hall Trilogy)
by Beverley Nichols
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 13 Jan 2014
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This is the second book in the Merry Hall trilogy by Beverley Nichols, the first of which is the eponymous Merry Hall.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first one, partly I think, because I had grown used to Beverley Nichols idiosyncratic way of writing, partly because I had grown to care for the characters he paints so vividly and it was a pleasure to be reintroduced to them. I think that Laughter on the Stairs is more amusing than the first book too. I particularly loved to read about his torture by decor thanks to the late Mr. Stebbings of Merry Hall, the stained glass window in particular springs to mind. Nichols has an ability to paint miniatures in words, snapshots of his life that are incredibly vivid and a joy to read. His voice reminds me more of a pre war era, with a little of the Mitford about him perhaps. It is perfect escapism.


Cuckoo!
Cuckoo!
by Fiona Roberton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A gently humorous book about friendship and acceptance, 9 Jan 2014
This review is from: Cuckoo! (Paperback)
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This is a lovely, well thought out picture book about what it means to be different and find acceptance. When cuckoo is born, his mum and siblings love him, but they can't communicate with him. Cuckoo tries to find someone who speaks like him, and when that doesn't work he tries to learn to speak like the other creatures. Eventually cuckoo finds a friend.

This is a simple story with a nice message for children aged from about two to five. It is suitable for boys and girls. The illustrations are clean and sparse, but very cute, and there is a lovely sense of humour in the story that manages to damp down any tendencies to be over sentimental.


Cross My Heart
Cross My Heart
by Carmen Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting book about resistance work during WWII, 6 Jan 2014
This review is from: Cross My Heart (Paperback)
This is the story of fifteen year old Nicole who wakes up one day to find the world as she knows it torn apart. Belgium, where Nicole lives, has been invaded by the Nazis. Her friends from school start to go missing. Her father disappears and she doesn't know if he's dead or alive, and her best friend, instead of despising the Nazis, starts flirting with them.

Nicole cannot bear what the invaders have done to her country, and as a result she and her friend Anton, join a resistance cell.

This is the story of Nicole's war. It is not a true story, but is based on extensive research by Reid, and includes many real historical details which give the story a great deal of weight and a sense of immediacy for the reader.

I enjoyed this very much. It would be a fantastic book to study alongside a topic in school on WWII. I did worry it might get rather explicit as the relationship between Nicole and Anton develops, but it doesn't at all. It's not that I have a problem with depictions of sex in books for teens, it's just that if there are any, I can't really stock them in my primary school library, and sometimes it means that my kids miss out on otherwise brilliant books. An example would be the excellent Tamar by Mal Peet, another book about resistance work during the war, but just that little bit too grown up for my children. In this case, a bit of kissing and handholding is as far as things go, and a third of the way into the book the focus shifts to much more serious matters anyway.

I liked the fact that the book is about resistance work. It's an interesting aspect of war that hasn't really had much focus in children's books, and I'm glad to see it's being redressed.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2014 6:52 AM GMT


The Morville Year
The Morville Year
by Katherine Swift
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly delightful, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Morville Year (Paperback)
I first came across Katherine Swift when I was given The Morville Hours to read by my mother. I confess that although parts of it were really beautiful, it didn't really grip me. I finished it in several sittings, dipping in and out of it, but never getting truly hooked.

Over this Christmas I wanted something to read that was simple, and calming and non taxing. I picked up The Morville Year, thinking it would be just the sort of thing I could dip in and out of. I was utterly entranced by it, and read the whole thing in a day. I don't know if it's that I am in a different place as a person, and am ready to read something like this now, or that this volume is different from the other book. Probably it's a mix of both. This is a collection of columns that Swift wrote for a newspaper during her four years as their garden columnist. I enjoyed the concise way she tackles the topics she addresses here. I enjoyed the way she connects what she reads and sees with the life of her garden. I just enjoyed everything about this so much more than the previous volume. It was a real delight to read.


Demon Dentist
Demon Dentist
by David Walliams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A great addition to Walliams' body of work, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Demon Dentist (Hardcover)
This is the latest in David Walliams acclaimed novels for children, and very good it is too. His books are exceptionally popular at our school and I have several copies of them all, which are all out on loan. Demon Dentist is on the children's wish list, and one of the books I will certainly be buying for the library in the New Year. My son requested it for Christmas, and we took it on holiday with us on our New Year break, and all read it with much enjoyment.

Walliams' style is unmistakeable. He has a mischievous pen, delighting in jokes and oddness. In this book he coins lots of new words, which really should have been words all along. I was delighted to see the return of Raj, the bonkers newsagent, who pops up in his other books, and I thoroughly enjoyed the macabre supernatural twist that this book has, that makes it wonderfully different from his other works. My favourite is still Gangsta Granny, but this is of just as high a quality and will only serve to cement Walliams' reputation as a top children's author even more firmly in 2014.


Is It Just Me?
Is It Just Me?
Price: 3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted this to be better, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Is It Just Me? (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. I think I would have if I had read it last year, when I hadn't seen/read so much about her already that nothing in this book was particularly a revelation, and particularly after having heard her on Desert Island Discs this month, I found some of this material quite disappointing, in that it is obvious that she has moved on with her life quite a bit since this was written.

A lot of the material in here is clearly gleaned from what she has written into her show as well, and this sort of takes some of the enjoyment out of reading it for me. When a certain anecdote starts in the book I can already picture how she has done it on the television and the writing becomes a bit flat because of it.

Having said all that, she comes across as a decent, kind, lovely person in the book, much as she does on television. Her writing voice is so exactly her you can actually picture her reading it to you, and it is amusing enough, just not terribly revelatory or innovative.


Boy Meets Boy
Boy Meets Boy
Price: 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A truly lovely book, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Boy Meets Boy (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. The premise, that the hero had not had trouble coming out, and lived in a town where being gay or straight, bi or whatever was totally acceptable, and a drag queen was also a football hero, was excellent. Instead this is a more straightforward love story, where you really get to concentrate on character and the emotions of the people rather than the whole issue of whether someone is going to come out, and if they are, what everyone is going to think. The story was very sweet. The characters were excellent and if I were in a school with older readers I would order this for the school library in a heartbeat. As it is, the material is a little too sophisticated for primary aged readers, but would be perfect for twelve and overs.


Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
Price: 2.85

4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this far more than I probably should have, 5 Jan 2014
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I really wasn't sure about this book, and to be honest, if it hadn't been 1.99 in the Kindle sale, I wouldn't have dreamed of buying it. I read all they reviews of it when they came out, and all the hype and just wasn't convinced about the book. I loved the first Bridget Jones book. I tolerated Edge of Reason because I wanted to find out what happened. I found the whole second volume rather laboured and hated the bit in the Thai jail and the bit where she interviews Colin Firth so much it made me sad.

I was pretty sure I was going to hate this third instalment.

I didn't.

It isn't perfect, by any means. The plot is rather weak, and a lot of the criticism that has been chucked at the book is perfectly valid. It is such a shame that Bridget hasn't changed very much at all, given everything that has happened to her. Then again, should she really change? After all, do any of us change that much? Surely, with a dead husband and two small children to contend with, some of us revert to type rather than turning into a saint?

I loved the sections of the book where Bridget reflects on her relationship with Mark. I found them beautifully written and really affecting. I loved the sections where she writes about her relationship with her children, and I totally empathise with some of her parental failings. I fail in those ways myself.

I found this an easy read and I found I had missed Bridget, and it was nice to see her again. It was never meant to be super literary fiction, and it still isn't, and that's ok with me.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)
by Laini Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not as good as I wanted it to be, 5 Jan 2014
I found myself wanting to like this book more than I actually did. It got great reviews, from authors and critics I actually believe. My teenage daughter loved it, and ate the book up in a couple of days over the holidays. The blurb sounded like it would be the sort of book I would love - and I didn't love it.

I did enjoy it. It was certainly readable, but I didn't love it. I didn't find myself compulsively muttering 'just another page' or reading until my eyes hurt, and I really wanted the book to be that engaging, so I was sad about that.

On the other hand, it was a novel idea, well executed, if a bit too flowery in the execution, and I am curious to see what the next volume brings in terms of how the story unfurls. I like the fact that Karou is a no nonsense, sensible heroine, who although she makes mistakes, can take care of herself and doesn't spend the entire book mooning on about love and failing to do things. If you like supernatural, fantasy romance books with a lot of kick ass fighting in it, this is the sort of book you will love.


Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum)
Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum)
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.91

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars shockingly bad, 5 Jan 2014
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Every year I vow to give up reading the Stephanie Plum series, and every year I read the next one to find myself hugely disappointed. My teenage daughter loves the series and requested the book for Christmas. She loved it. I didn't.

I think this is the weakest book of the whole series. The crime element was very poorly written. It seemed very hasty and ill conceived. Even the love triangle element fizzled out in this volume. The incidental characters were all bland and cartoonish, which leaves nothing much of anything left to say. Evanovich has written herself into a corner. The characters are nothing but caricatures, nothing happens to move them on in terms of plot or growth and in trying to maintain the status quo the books have lost all their spark, all their charm and anything that made them a delight to read.


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