Saturday, 28 March 2015

Review: Horrid Henry's Jumbo Joke Book by Francesca Simon


Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: March 12th, 2015
Rating: 8.5/10


Amazon summary:

The next three Horrid Henry joke books - HORRID HENRY'S HILARIOUSLY HORRID JOKE BOOK, HORRID HENRY'S PURPLE HAND GANG JOKE BOOK and HORRID HENRY'S ALL-TIME FAVOURITE JOKE BOOK - collected together in one outrageously funny bumper volume. Horrid Henry fans will laugh their heads off! 

Review: 

In all honesty I've never reviewed a joke book before - it's not something I usually read, though I do like a good joke. Horrid Henry's Jumbo Joke Book is sure to delight any fans of the naughty youngster, and I must say that I did indeed laugh my way through all 294 pages of this selection of Henry's best jests.

This book contains three Horrid Henry joke books that have been published over the last few years, together for the first time in one handy volume. Horrid Henry's Hilariously Horrid Joke Book, Horrid Henry's Purple Hand Gang Joke Book and Horrid Henry's All Time Favourite Joke Book are all featured here, and all contain absolutely loads of clever, clean jokes. Perfect!

Q. Which ghost stops goals?
A. A ghoulkeeper.

This is just one of Henry's jokes that you'll find within this book, and there are plenty more where that came from. Anyone who loves jokes will find something to laugh at in Horrid Henry's Jumbo Joke Book, and I can see it being a hit with 5+ readers everywhere. In fact, it's great fun for all the family!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Violet and the Hidden Treasure Blog Tour: Meet the Characters!

Violet has spent her holidays exploring India with Godmother Celeste, including visiting Celeste's good friend the Maharajah and meeting his very special cockatoo. But when she returns home, Violet gets a surprise visit from the Maharajah's butler, asking her to look after the bird. Violet couldn't be more amazed (and her cat Pudding couldn't be less pleased...), but the cockatoo holds the key to the Maharajah's fortune, and someone is trying to bird-nap her! Can Violet discover who the culprit is before they succeed?

Violet and the Hidden Treasure was published in the UK yesterday by Simon and Schuster and is another brilliant book about everyone's favourite detective, Violet Remy-Robinson. This series is great for younger readers - do look it up if you haven't yet met Violet!

I'm excited to be part of this blog tour and I have a handy guide to the characters to share with you all. I hope you enjoy meeting everyone!

You can also view this image online here.


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[Click to enlarge!]

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Review: Detective Gordon - The First Case by Ulf Nilsson


Publisher: Gecko Press
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: March 1st, 2015
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Someone’s stealing the squirrel’s nuts, and it’s up to Detective Gordon to catch the thief. Unfortunately, solving this crime means standing in the snow and waiting for a long time... If only he had an assistant—someone small, fast, and clever—to help solve this terrible case. Then Detective Gordon would be able to go back to doing what he’s best at: thinking, eating cakes, drinking tea, and stamping important papers. 

Review:

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!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain


Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.


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The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
 by John Boyne

* Published by: Doubleday (UK)
* Format: Hardcover / eBook (UK) 
* Release Date: September 24th, 2015 (UK)

* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.co.uk:

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler. Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler's wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.


I've loved all of John Boyne's children's books so far, particularly those set during WWII. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain sounds like another excellent addition to his body of work, and I really can't wait to read it.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

We All Looked Up Blog Tour: Tommy Wallach's Inspirations!


Before Ardor, we let ourselves be defined by labels - the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed. They said the asteroid would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we'd been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.

We All Looked Up is officially published in the UK by Simon and Schuster this Thursday, March 26th, and is the next book on my TBR pile. It sounds pretty amazing, don't you agree? Although, if I'm honest, I've always had a fear of an asteroid heading for Earth... yikes!

I hope you guys check this book out, and thanks to Tommy for writing the below post for me. I love hearing about an author's inspirations!


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Inspirations 
by Tommy Wallach 
 Well this is super cheesy, but the most inspiring person in my life has always been my mom. She was the tenth female airline pilot in the United States, and raised me while working that very difficult job, without any help at home. She was never married—not for want of options (of course!), but because she’s one of the most fiercely independent people I know. All in all, a total badass. I aspire to be as hardworking, groundbreaking, and unafraid as she is. 
  More directly, this book was inspired by a few things. First, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, a beautiful film about two women and an incoming asteroid. Trier’s film is an allegory about depression, not a standard story, so I definitely took the conceit in another direction, but it was seeing Melancholia while I was thinking about trying to write YA that put the idea in my head a few months later. Thank God for Lars von Trier! 
  As for other novels, I’d say the work of Ursula K. Leguin has been particularly inspiring to me over the last few years. She isn’t labelled as YA, but only because her work is so freaking good and complex that it shakes off any label you try to put on it. Her Earthsea books are beautiful fantasias about civics and ethics, and her more mature works (The Lathe of Heaven, for example) take on gender and sexuality without didacticism or preachiness. I’d kill to write on that level. 
  And while I’m hitting all the various media, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention my favorite musician, Joanna Newsom. I write and perform music myself, but my songs have always been—for better or for worse—very on-the-nose. I sing about my emotions, and I name those emotions; I can’t help it. I’ve always been jealous of those people who write lyrics that I don’t even understand, and yet still feel moved by. It’s just not a skill I have when it comes to songwriting. But I do feel much more capable of accessing my poetic side in prose (ironically), and the work of Joanna Newsom has empowered me to do so. I used some of her lyrics as the epigraph for my book, because I wanted that spirit to inhabit the writing. If I reached her level even for a couple of sentences at a time, then I feel pretty damn good. 
  The final thing I’ll say about inspiration has involved the other folks I’ve met in the YA world. Even though my first novel isn’t even out yet, WALU sold over a year and a half ago, so I’ve had the pleasure to meet a lot of writers in the interim. What amazes about the people working in the YA world is just how damn much they write. They’re workhorses, keeping alive the dream of writing for a living, instead of just on the side. My second book was just accepted for publication (as of today, March 13th actually!), and part of what drove me to get that done so quickly (aside from my contractual obligation, of course…) was seeing so many other writers who work their asses off, day after day, week after week, year after year. (I’m looking at you, Andrew Smith, Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, etc.) There’s no excuse to slack when everyone around you is as slackless as a rope in a game of tug-of-war!

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Monday, 23 March 2015

Review: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest


Publisher: CreateSpace
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: December 17th, 2012
Rating: 6/10


Amazon summary:

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's 17th birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood. She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains. Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince. Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night. Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

Review:

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.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

In My Mailbox #250: New Books This Week



In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and any links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

Thanks so much to all publishers/authors who sent me lovely books to review - I received some nice surprises this week!


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For review:






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Bought:




Happy reading!