Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey by Lorenzo Etherington

Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Trade paperback
Released: June 5th, 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon summary:

The Curse of the Golden Monkey is BOTH a brilliant puzzle book AND a thrilling adventure story! It;s jam-packed with challenges for you to solve, and every step of the way our hero's fate is in YOUR HANDS! Can Doogan uncover the MYSTERIOUS and TERRIFYING secrets at the heart of Javasu Island? It's up to YOU! 


If you like puzzles and adventures then The Curse of the Golden Monkey is the book for you! It contains absolutely loads of challenges that, quite honestly, took me ages to complete. There's an ongoing comic story all about Von Doogan, a daring young adventurer, which ties in to the various puzzles included.

A progress bar at the bottom of each page constantly reminded me just how slow I am when it comes to mind-bending puzzles (hey, I was tired ok?!) and the more you complete the more of the story you can unlock. I quite enjoyed learning a bit of Morse Code and unlocking a door in the right order, and lucky for me the solutions are all included at the very end of the book.

The Curse of the Golden Monkey will keep any reader occupied for HOURS, regardless of their age. Just make sure you're awake and alert, otherwise you'll find yourself muttering questionable words and wishing you could just figure out the four things Kuthulu will be made from. All in all this is a clever, entertaining addition to The Phoenix Presents series of books, and I hope to see Von Doogan again soon. Now, I'm off for a much-deserved sleep!

Review: OMG! Is This Actually My Life? by Rae Earl

Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: February 7th, 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon summary:

Fourteen-year-old Hattie Moore doesn't actually know who her dad is – but that's the least of her problems. How can she become a TOTAL HOTNESS GODDESS when Miss Gorgeous Knickers at school hates her and NO ONE FANCIES HER. And her family are an actual nightmare. Her unbelievably annoying brother is EVIL and on top of that, her gran is a TOTAL mental, who may be texting rude jokes to just about EVERYONE in the world. Including dentists. Hattie's diary of this tumultuous year is an absolutely hilarious account of the ups and downs of teenage life, including a dating bogey phobia, near death from biscotti and a home-made breast-growing machine.


If you've ever seen My Mad Fat Diary, you'll know all about Rae Earl and her embarrassing teen years. But did you also know she's written a series of books for teenagers? No? Well, carry on reading! OMG! Is This Actually My Life? is the first book following a year in the life of teen Hattie Moore, followed by the second book, titled OMG! I'm in Love With a Geek!, which was published last month. These books are right up my street and if you like diary-style stories, you'll want to give them a go!

Hattie Moore is not your average teenager. She's quite mad, very funny and has a bonkers family from hell. This book chronicles a whole year of embarrassing moments, boy troubles and friendship woes, as well as her search for her real dad. Obviously nothing goes smoothly, and Hattie soon realises that being a teenager is not all its cracked up to be.

Hattie is an ace character, completely mad and so fun. She has a great group of friends mainly consisting of Dimple and Weirdo Jen, and a gran that could rival the Mad Hatter in the crazy stakes. She muddles through school and boy problems - life's great mysteries I'm sure we all remember very well ourselves - and basically has a fantastic time whilst doing it. Nothing is too out of the ordinary for Hattie, not even if it involves her gran accidentally taking drugs and behaving like a rowdy student. It's all just another day for Hattie Moore!

Anyone who knows me and my reading habits will know that I'm a huge fan of books like this. I've always loved the diary format and I'm a sucker for a book that will make me laugh. If you've ever read Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging or Have a Little Faith then OMG! Is This Actually My Life? is the next book for you. It'll make you laugh like a loon (you get me, Georgia fans?) and dive straight into the next book to see what poor Hattie will have to endure next. Also, here's a tip straight from Hattie herself: avoid foreign boys on holiday. It never ends well.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: Head Over Heart by Colette Victor

Publisher: Chicken House
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: July 3rd, 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon summary:

Zeyneb is like any other thirteen-year-old British girl, juggling the demands of her social life, school work and family. But as a Muslim girl attracted to a non-Muslim boy she has more difficult choices - and one very big decision. Now a woman in the eyes of her religion, she must decide if she will wear a headscarf. Zeyneb wants to make the right choice, not just for her family or friends, but for herself.


Head Over Heart is a coming of age story about Zeyneb, a girl dealing with the pressures of growing up as a Muslim in today's society. It deals with parents, boys, friendships and everything that accompanies being a teenager. Told with a great voice and featuring likeable characters, Head Over Heart is a quick read but one that raises a lot of questions and discussion topics.

Zeyneb is learning the ways of her culture as she grows older, like that her parents will absolutely not let her date boys and she must never even be alone with one. She also must decide whether to wear a headscarf or not, a decision which could change her whole school life and her relationships with her peers. It's a lot of pressure for someone so young, and Zeyneb starts to feel the strain as her fiends grow and change around her but without the extra pressures of being a good Muslim girl. It frustrates her and makes her question herself and her religion, and it really makes her grow up into who she wants to be.

I liked Zeyneb and her family right from the beginning, especially her dad. He's a role model for Zeyneb, as well as a comforting presence in her life, and their relationship is lovely to read about. Zeyneb is immediately one of those characters that gets in your head and stays there, and I rooted for her throughout the whole book. She goes through a lot in a short space of time, growing up right before her parent's eyes. She thinks with her head rather than her heart and endeavours to be the best person she can be.

I enjoyed this novel and how it portrays a different way of life. Zeyneb and her family opened my eyes to what it can be like to be a Muslim, and how the decisions these teenagers are faced with can be that much harder and defining. It's not something I knew an awful lot about before reading Head Over Heart, but I'm glad that has now changed. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Zeyneb and her culture and I'm looking forward to whatever Colette Victor writes next. This is a great book for school libraries and anyone with an interest in different cultures or teenage life in general. I hope it does well!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Life Cycle of (The) Rain Blog Tour: Take Shelter in Your Local Book Shop!

One minute sixteen-year-old Ruby Morris is having her first proper snog with Caspar McCloud in a hot tub, and the next she’s being bundled inside the house, dripping wet, cold and in her underwear. Not cool.
As she and Caspar shiver in the kitchen, it starts to rain. They turn on the radio to hear panicked voices – ‘It’s in the rain . . . it’s in the rain . . . '
That was two weeks ago, and now Ruby is totally alone. People weren’t prepared for the rain, got caught out in it, didn’t realize that you couldn’t drink water from the taps either. Even a drip of rain would infect your blood, and eat you from the inside out. Ruby knows she has to get to London to find her dad, but she just doesn’t know where to start...
After rescuing all the neighbourhood dogs, Ruby sets off on a journey that will take her the length of the country – surviving in the only way she knows how.

The Rain is now published in the UK by Macmillan Children's Books and sounds brilliant! I'm lucky enough to be part of the blog tour - a blog tour that's a bit different - and I hope you guys enjoy reading all about the life cycle of The Rain!



We all remember learning about the water cycle at school don’t we? How the sun heats the water, and the water evaporates and… blah blah blah. The Water Cycle was never a topic that set our school books on fire BUT maybe if Ruby Morris had paid more attention to her Geography teacher then she’d know exactly which clouds might kill her! So we’re here to educate you, because don’t forget, just one drop will kill you. From the writing process to publication, join us for a blog tour with a difference, as we learn about a FAR more interesting cycle – The Life Cycle of The Rain by Virginia Bergin.

1. The sun heats the ocean i.e. Virginia Bergin gets an excellent idea
2. Prevailing winds pick up the manuscript and deliver it to the Agent Louise Lamont
3. Pressure (also known as excitement) begins to build within the publishing cloud of Macmillan with Editor Rachel Petty
4. Virginia Bergin is as high as a cirrocumulus cloud as her book begins to form
5. Storm clouds gather over Frankfurt and Bologna – Rights
6. A downpour of marketing and publicity support
7. Take shelter in your local bookshop – Totnes Bookshop


THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE RAIN - Take shelter in your local bookshop! @TotnesBookshop
The Rain author, Virginia Bergin, let slip that the fictional town of Dartbridge “the hippy capital of the universe, drowning in tie-dye and organic vegetables” was loosely based on the beautiful market town of Totnes, South Devon.
So now that The Rain has completed its cycle and is available to buy in the shops, who better to offer up some survival advice than The Totnes Bookshop – just as long as they survive the vicious looters of Totnes, sorry I mean Dartbridge.
How to protect yourself from The Rain:
* Seek shelter - run to your favourite independent bookshop: Totnes Bookshop
* Do not venture outside - one drop of rain will kill you. Stay inside and browse our shelves.
* If you have to venture out, buy a large, heavy (and expensive book) to protect you from the deadly deluge.
* If in doubt, return to the safe sanctuary of the bookshop.
Remember, this bookshop could save your life!

In My Mailbox #215 & #216: 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 was at YALC in London last weekend so couldn't post an IMM then. I had a great time and got to see lots of lovely authors and publishers - hopefully I'll have chance to a post about it at some point!


In My Mailbox #215

For review:





Thanks to Lisa Glass and YALC!


In My Mailbox #216

For review:

[Thanks Headline for the signed Eversea!]



Happy reading!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: Rory and the Monstersitter by Rosie Reeve

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Format: Large paperback
Released: July 3rd, 2014
Rating: 8/10

Amazon summary:

Rory loves to cook. He's always inventing new recipes like blue pancakes, cheese bats and hairy cakes... One evening, when his mum and dad go out to dinner, leaving Rory and his siblings with the babysitter, tummies start to rumble. It's time for Rory to cook up a real monster feast! A hilarious and unexpected tale - with a twist of pepper!


Rory and the Monstersitter made me, at age twenty-seven, laugh out loud. More than once. I won't say why because it'd spoil a nice little twist in the story, but I'm sure younger readers will wholeheartedly approve of Rory and his penchant for cooking.

This is a story about a family of monsters, and young Rory who likes cooking anything be can get his mitts on. He particularly likes blue pancakes and cheese bats, and gets to show off his cooking skills when his monster mummy and daddy go out for the night. It's quite clever, really, and a bit mischievous too!

Rosie Reeve has both written and illustrated Rory and the Monstersitter, which I think requires enormous talent. These picture book authors and artists are really brilliant at what they do and I especially love discovering new illustrators - Reeve has made the monsters in this book look cute but, judging by their teeth, they could be biters.

There's quite a lot of text accompanying the myriad of illustrations and, although it doesn't rhyme, it still tells a great little story in a short number of pages. Rory and the Monstersitter is another fantastic addition to the picture book collection and, as I mentioned earlier, be prepared for some laughs!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Publisher: Walker and Company
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: April 15th, 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Amazon summary:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.


Open Road Summer is Emery Lord's debut novel and is the perfect read for warm, sunny days. It's like Nashville in book form, full of music, tour stops and relationships. It's exactly what I needed and I loved it!

Reagan O'Neill and Dee Montgomery have been best friends forever, even though Dee is a rising star in the country music world. After they each go through bad break-ups, they embark on Dee's huge music tour stopping at twenty-four cities throughout the summer. Enter Matt Finch, ex member of the Finch Four and perhaps the only person who can break through Reagan's tough exterior. This summer will change everything and maybe that's just what Reagan and Dee need...

Give me any book about music and chances are I'll automatically love it. Open Road Summer encompasses all my favourite parts of YA contemporary and puts them into one addictive story. There's music, friendship, broken hearts and hot boys. Even though I love Matt Finch (he's lovely), my favourite part of the book is the friendship between Reagan and Dee. Neither girl has everything figured out and they need each other more than they need any boy. Reagan is headstrong and stubborn while Dee is more trusting of others and carrying a lot of responsibility on her young shoulders. They have an unwavering trust between them, a bond that can't be broken by anything, be it romances or lies. Whatever is thrown at them gets thrown right back, and they're like a powerful force that sticks together no matter what.

Matt Finch is a huge part of this book, joining the tour and setting his sights on Reagan. He's thoughtful, kind, respectful and also a little bit broken. His life has irrevocably changed, and he's trying to make sense of it all again. Music is his outlet thanks to his lyrics, but Reagan is the person who makes him happy again, makes him see that there's still a point to everything. I won't say how their burgeoning relationship ends up, but it's worth finding out for yourself.

The whole music side of Open Road Summer fascinated me. Touring and being part of something that huge must be terrifying, and all the behind the scenes politics that goes on is frightening. Dee always has to look and behave a certain way, she can't be seen having normal teenage fun and the tabloids print lies about her all the time. It's a life I wouldn't ever want, but it's interesting all the same - I have a new respect for anyone in the public eye and what they endure on a daily basis.

Open Road Summer is a fantastic contemporary novel, perfect for the upcoming summer months. Emery Lord has crafted a believable, honest portrayal of what it means to be a teenager in a high-profile life and how important good friends really are. I'm glad I bought this one and I can't wait to see what Emery Lord writes next - I hope it's as good as this!