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Jenny, Wondrous Reads (UK)
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The Accidental Prime Minister
The Accidental Prime Minister
by Tom McLaughlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Accidental Prime Minister, 24 Mar. 2015
The Accidental Prime Minister is as crazy as it sounds, posing many questions and embracing the madness that accompanies a twelve-year-old boy running the country. It made me seriously wonder what it would be like to let a kid be in charge of very important things, and I've come to the conclusion that it would most definitely involve bouncy castles, jetpacks and fancy dress days. They're among Joe's greatest achievements as Prime Minister, and they certainly make life more jolly for everyone!

This book is illustrated throughout and is reminiscent of titles by David Walliams and Roald Dahl. It has a certain charm to it that younger readers will love and, even though there are one or two moments when you really have to suspend disbelief, for the most part it's pretty realistic and on point. In fact, it's a great idea and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into a world run by an almost-teenage boy.

Tom McLaughlin's writing is great to read, humorous and light yet full of opinions and questions. Anyone reading it will wish they could be Prime Minister for at least one day, and they'll wish they too could travel by jetpack and hang out with the Queen. Overall it's a wonderful middle grade book that's topical and ripe for discussion, though mostly it's just a fun read that leaves you with a big grin on your face. More please!


Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
by Anthony Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Song, 24 Mar. 2015
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Blood Song is one of a handful of epic fantasy novels I've read, and it's up there with my favourite fantasy in general. It's a brilliant, visceral look at the life of Vaelin Al Sorna, engrossing right from the start and very, very difficult to put down. It's a hefty book but don't be put off by its size - it's easier than it looks, and you'll find yourself lost in the story within mere pages. Anthony Ryan writes well and his characters are all people you'll root for, even when things aren't as black and white as they may initially seem. Apologies for being cryptic, but I don't want to spoil anything!

This book follows Vaelin's life from when he's a young boy and just joining the Sixth Order, when he's learning to fight and wield a sword, as well as how to hunt a man and kill an enemy. It focuses on him and his group of friends as they find their way in this brutal, dark world, and what happens to him is truly shocking at times. I absolutely loved his character, his resolve and determination being stand-out traits and part of what makes him so strong. He's a true warrior, and that all becomes apparent as he gets older and leaves his training. A war is coming and the Sixth Order is one of the only forces that stands in its way - Vaelin's life is about to change, and there's not a single thing he can do about any of it.

Blood Song is a long, detailed book, but time passes quickly and it never feels like a chore to read. Each character is a joy to get to know, whether good or bad, and I particularly enjoyed the earlier sections that take place when Vaelin is a young boy. The regime and training they all go through to be part of the Sixth Order is pretty harrowing, and how they learn to be men is, at times, even worse. Anthony Ryan doesn't hold back on anything - battles are bloody, lives aren't always spared and there's no guarantee of a happy ending.

I found myself pulled into Vaelin's story almost instantly, so much so that I couldn't bear to put the book down. I read it on trains to London even though it makes me travel sick, and I couldn't stop until I'd finished it. Although this story isn't the typical kind of fantasy I usually read - there aren't any dragons or wizards - I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it. Vaelin's the kind of man I imagine would fit right in if he went to live in Westeros, and I can see why he turns out how he does. He's been surrounded by a life of brutality and order from a very young age, and for him that's all there is. His life is all about duty and honour, and he serves the Sixth Order like his whole existence depends on it. He's amazing!

Blood Song is one of the best books I read in 2014, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to write this review. It's stuck in my mind as a favourite fantasy novel, one that I'm really glad I decided to read and one that features one of the most memorable characters I've had the pleasure of meeting. I'm hoping to get around to reading the sequel, Tower Lord, sooner rather than later, and I just hope it's half as good as this. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for Vaelin, thought I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried about how his story will end. I guess I'll just have to carry on reading and find out!

4.5/5


Pets from Space 4: Rocket Ride
Pets from Space 4: Rocket Ride
by Jan Burchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rocket Ride, 23 Mar. 2015
Rocket Ride is the first Pets from Space book I've read even though it's the fourth in the series, and now it's safe to say that I want a blue mop-haired cat called Zingle. It's also one of many good reasons to read this cosmic book!

This book is split into two stories, Blast Off and Best Pets, all about the Satniks and their human owners. The Satniks are pets from the planet Saturn, with cool names and even cooler appearances, and they get up to all kinds of mischief at museums and school pet shows. Tom, Zack and Daisy might have the best, and most unusual, pets in the world, but they also have the very difficult job of keeping an eye on them at all times!

Rocket Ride is a fast, fun read for children, and I enjoyed getting to know the Satniks. It's also fully illustrated by Alex Paterson which makes it even better, and I'm sure younger readers will love getting to see what the Satniks look like. I know I did! Now, where can I get a mop-haired cat from?

3.5/5


Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna & the French Kiss 3)
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna & the French Kiss 3)
by Stephanie Perkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Isla and the Happily Ever After, 23 Mar. 2015
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This book seemed to be a long time in the making, but it was so, so worth the wait. Stephanie Perkins is an undisputed queen in the YA contemporary world, having already written such gems as Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, and expectations for this final instalment in this series were high. VERY high. Isla and the Happily Ever After easily met any and all hopes readers might have had, and I think it's my favourite of Stephanie's books so far. That seems to change weekly, though, so maybe it's safest to just say that I loved it!

Isla and the Happily Ever After is one of those books that, as you get older, I think you'll appreciate more. It's less about getting to a relationship and more about what happens after you're there and you're knee-deep in it. Everyone knows love and relationships are hard work, but if they work, they're amazing. That's what Isla and Josh (sigh) are experiencing in this story; they're learning how to be together as more than friends, how to grow and how to exist as a couple rather than Isla and Josh on different sides of the campus. It's a big, scary transition, just like it is for couples in real life. There's compromise, fights, make-up sex, disappointment and an overwhelming feeling of love that accompanies their journey, and it's this that makes the book so realistic.

Isla is brilliant, and I liked her immediately. She isn't a pushover, she's independent and she knows exactly what she wants most of the time. A few of her decisions annoyed the heck out of me, but I completely understand why she did what she did and that it was necessary for her and for her relationship with Josh. Certain things didn't quite ring true for me, but then I remembered that everyone is different and what works varies from person to person. Josh is also an excellent character, and I pretty much fell in love with him straight away. He's good for Isla, he cares about her and he's just a genuinely nice, thoughtful guy. Obviously he isn't perfect, as no-one is, but he does his best to be everything he can be and more.

There's not much else I want to say about Isla and the Happily Ever After, because I think all Stephanie's books should be read in the dark, as much as is possible. The way her relationships and characters unfold is a thing of beauty, and this book is no exception. I loved every page and I can't wait to see what Stephanie writes next. There's even a couple of beloved characters who have a cameo in this book, which is really the icing on an already well-made cake. Two thumbs up!


Detective Gordon: The First Case: The First Case
Detective Gordon: The First Case: The First Case
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars The First Case, 21 Mar. 2015
I love books like this, so it should come as no surprise to hear that I really enjoyed The First Case. It's like a graphic novel with more emphasis on the novel part, and it also happens to include some excellent illustrations by Gitte Spee. First published in Sweden, Detective Gordon's story has been translated for worldwide audiences and what a treat it is - it's a truly lovely book!

Detective Gordon, a very clever toad, must solve a particularly troubling case of a squirrel's missing nuts, and to do that he needs help. Buffy the mouse is just the person for the job, and together they set out to catch the petty criminal responsible for the theft. As ever, nothing is quite that simple and Detective Gordon finds himself with a more difficult job than he thought. Will he solve the crime with the help of his new friend?

I've always been a fan of animal characters (thanks, Narnia) so this story is right up my street. There's a chubby toad and a cute little mouse (called Buffy - instant win!) who make friends even though have very differing personalities, and that's the best part of this story for me. They overcome a lot to make a successful team, and it's greatly detailed on the page by the brilliant illustrations I mentioned earlier. In fact, they remind me of those in The Wind in the Willows!

The First Case marks what I hope is the start of a popular series for children, and a book that is a fun read for any age. There are all kinds of life lessons hidden within its pages - half the fun is uncovering them through the actions of a toad and a mouse, and the other half is spent marvelling at the magical depictions of these characters. I look forward to reading more from Ulf Nilsson and Detective Gordon!


A Shade Of Vampire (Shade of Vampire; Book One)
A Shade Of Vampire (Shade of Vampire; Book One)
by Bella Forrest
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Shade of Vampire, 21 Mar. 2015
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I kept seeing A Shade of Vampire around the Internet and bought a 77p Kindle copy a while ago. I read it recently at the insistence of my friend who's making her way through the series, and I was pleasantly surprised by this short, vampiric novel that I admittedly had low expectations of. Bella Forrest, while not necessarily doing anything radically new or different, managed to capture my attention within the first couple of chapters.

The Shade is a vampire sanctuary of sorts where there's never any sunlight, and seventeen-year-old Sofia Claremont finds herself there against her will. Not long after, Derek, a powerful five-hundred-year-old vampire prince, is awakened from his sleep and first claps eyes on Sofia not long after. So begins an all-comsuming romance, but not a lovey-dovey one, rather one filled with danger and blood.

I enjoyed this book, even though it's short and a bit rushed. There's not quite enough time to fully immerse the reader in the story - well, there wasn't for me - but something about it has made me want to continue with the series. I'll read anything featuring vampire, and A Shade of Vampire definitely has some interesting ideas that I'd like to see explored further.

I'm usually put off my books that aren't traditionally published by well-known houses, but I'm glad I put that aside and gave this one a go. It's well-written and edited professionally, with hardly any typos or mistakes. The story is fast-paced, the characters are intriguing (I even got used to a vampire being called Derek) and I have a feeling that future, longer books in the series will have a lot more to offer. An entertaining read that has a lot of potential - and for the price, it's quite a bargain.


The Worst Wizard (Early Reader)
The Worst Wizard (Early Reader)
by John McLay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Worst Wizard, 7 Mar. 2015
The Worst Wizard is another great little Early Reader book that I picked up in my quest to read books for every age group out there. I think these are aimed at 5+ primary school readers, which means they're quite easy, educational (lots of new words) and illustrated. They're fantastic, fast stories though, and I can see why the Early Reader range is so popular!

The Worst Wizard is all about Harry, whose family are all tall knights and important people. Harry is small and works as a shield cleaner, kept company by his best friend, a horse called Oats. Harry gets an idea to make himself taller, which involves tracking down a wizard called Hocus Pocus. But once found, can he solve all Harry's problems?

Anyone looking for easy books to read with their children should definitely get a copy of The Worst Wizard - it's a nice story with memorable characters, and it features a wizard, which we all know are very popular people. It's also illustrated by Martin Brown of Horrible Histories fame, so really it's got everything going for it. Knights, wizards, magic, horses... early readers are in for a treat!


The Sky Is Everywhere
The Sky Is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.10

5.0 out of 5 stars The Sky is Everywhere, 7 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Sky Is Everywhere (Paperback)
When this book was first published, I didn't want to read it. I didn't want to read about a girl mourning her sister, about her grief and how she felt. Then suddenly I did. I read it quickly, completely dissolving into Jandy Nelson's beautiful words and quiet style of writing, revelling in the additional poetry included by the clever way of Lennie leaving them all over town. There is nothing this book won't make you feel, so do be prepared for that.

Lennie Walker is struggling to cope with the death of her older sister, Bailey, and she has no idea how to get round it or through it. Her remaining family tries to help, but they're all grieving themselves. So instead she turns to two very different boys - Toby, who was Bailey's boyfriend, and Joe, a new boy in town with the ability to light up a room. Suddenly grief isn't the end of all things, and instead it could be just the beginning.

Jandy Nelson has herself experienced loss and grief, and it really shows in her writing. Certain passages almost made me cry because they hit a nerve and touched on something I've been going through myself, and I could empathise with Lennie more than I'd ideally like. Every page is like reading poetry printed and bound into a novel, and there's no end to the raw outpouring of emotion that emanates from Lennie every time she thinks or speaks. She's truly lost, but willing to find her way again.

The Sky is Everywhere is one of the best books I've read on the subject of grief and loss, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's been through it themselves. Even if you haven't, it's a beautifully written, honest and realistic novel about life, love and living, and I can absolutely see why it's so well-revered by YA readers. I'm looking forward to reading Nelson's next book, I'll Give You the Sun, and I only hope it's half as good as this.


Anthony Ant Saves the Day (Early Reader)
Anthony Ant Saves the Day (Early Reader)
by Lauren St John
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Anthony Ant Saves the Day, 7 Mar. 2015
Anthony Ant Saves the Day is the first Early Reader book I've read - and what a good one to start with! I initially picked this one because it's about a little ant, and I do like stories about little creatures and people. Plus it's written by Lauren St John, so it must be good!

Anthony Ant is a tiny ant who often gets overlooked because of his size, but all he wants is to be a hero. With the help of the other jungle animals he realises that size really doesn't matter - it's your actions that make all the difference in the world.

This book is just lovely from beginning to end - younger readers these days are very lucky indeed. Not only is it a great little story sure to resonate with many tiny children, it's also vibrantly illustrated by Tamara Anegon. She makes Anthony Ant and his friends come alive, and they all look brilliant! Short chapters and a heartwarming story make Anthony Ant Saves the Day the perfect Early Reader title, and I'm now looking forward to reading more from this series of books.


01 Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco
01 Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco
by Ruth Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emily Sparkes and the Friendship fiasco, 7 Mar. 2015
Fans of Dork Diaries and the Keep the Faith series will find lots to love about Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco. It's funny, a bit daft and charmingly down to earth, with a new leading lady set to take teenage girls by storm. I really enjoyed it and am already eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!

Emily Sparkes is dealing with a lot in her young life. Her best friend has moved to Wales, her mum is having another baby, and she gets stuck with the worst boy in her class. Honestly, it doesn't get much worse than that! When new girl Chloe Clarke appears on the scene, Emily is determined to be friends with her, which of course has some embarrassing, and disastrous, consequences. Think Georgia Nicolson but a bit younger and you've got Emily Sparkes!

Ruth Fitzgerald writes with humour and heart, and that's why I loved this book. I laughed out loud more than once and ended up really liking Emily. She tells it how it is and always manages to get herself into terrible situations, which makes for some very funny reading. I liked her right from the start, especially her wit and deadpan delivery. She's exactly the kind of person I would have been friends with in school!

Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco is a great little book for teen girls, right on par with Cathy Hopkins and Sue Limb. I can't wait to read more of Emily's embarrassing adolescent adventures, and luckily for me the second book, Emily Sparkes and the Competition Calamity, is published in July. Form an orderly queue, people!


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