Monday, September 30, 2013

Geek Girl Model Misfit by Holly Smale : Review

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows a lot of facts.

She knows that humans have 70,000 thoughts per day.

She knows that Geek + Model = a whole new set of graffiti on your belongings.

And that the average person eats a ton of food a year, though her pregnant stepmother is doing her best to beat this.

But Harriet doesn’t know where she’s going to fit in once the new baby arrives. And with her summer plans ruined, modelling in Japan seems the perfect chance to get away.

Can Harriet cope with the craziness of Tokyo, her competitive model flatmates and her errant grandmother’s ‘chaperoning’. Or seeing gorgeous Nick everywhere she goes?

Will geek girl find her place on the other side of the world?

I received this copy from Harper Collins for an open and honest review.

Star Rating

I was actually in the middle of a different, fairly mediocre, book when this beauty arrived through my letter box courtesy of Harper Collins. Upon arrival I opened it up intending to read a couple of chapters and found that, four hours later, I had finished the whole thing. I enjoyed Harriet Manners the first time round in Holy Smale's debut 'Geek Girl' however this time I found her adventures to be 'unputdownable.'

Again, I need to point out the amazing front cover that is sure to jump out on the shelves and appeal to it's target audience of young girls. The chapters are incredibly short (something I personally love) and make the story a very easy read. 

This Geek Girl sequel follows Harriet Manners to Tokyo as she continues on her new-found modelling career. Here she meets some new friends, Poppy and Rin, but are they quite what they seem? On her journey, Harriet faces some new challenges that provide many humorous scenes for the reader but utter humiliation for Harriet herself. Along with new and exciting characters, such as Harriet's grandma Bunty, we are also reacquainted with some much loved old characters including Nick (Harriet's 'boyfriend') and Toby (her crazy stalker). The ending to the book has an enjoyable twist involving some of these characters and left me feeling satisfied.

Sequels are always a brave move and I feel that Holly Smale has surpassed her first installment with Model Misfit. The story is told, through the voice of Harriet Manners, with great ease and humour. Weird and wonderful facts are shared throughout as Harriet shows her 'geek' side. One of my favourites being: 

"99.99999999999999999 per cent of every atom consists of empty space." 

Harriet goes on to explain, "It means that every single thing in front of you right now - the chair you're sitting on, the shoes on your feet, the glasses on your nose, the chocolate in your mouth - is mostly not there. And that includes you."

I shall now be eagerly awaiting Holly Smale's third installment coming some time in 2014.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty : Review

At the heart of The Husband's Secret is a letter that's not meant to be read ...

Mother of three and wife of Jean-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
Jean-Paul's letter confesses to an act of madness from before he knew Cecilia which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most...

Star Rating

I received this book from the publishers for an honest and open review.

Before I start, can we all just take a moment to admire how beautiful this front cover is. Having finished the book (very quickly as I couldn't put it down) the meaning of this image becomes all the more apparent. 'The Husband's Secret' is full of mystery, lies and untold truths that, as the story develops, slowly reveal themselves and the butterfly effect begins. As secrets are released a knock on effect occurs that has devastating consequences for the families involved. 

This story is very clever with three intertwining story lines involving three different families. From the very start the reader is made aware that 'the husband's secret' is going to influence the course of events for all the characters in the book and this provided some terrific plot twists. 

The narrative begins with Celia (mother of three) rooting around in the attic for an old holiday souvenir to share with her daughter. Accidentally knocking over a box of her husband's work documents, "Celia's eye was caught by her own name on a white business envelope. She picked it up and saw that it was John-Paul's handwriting. It said: For my wife, Celia Fitzpatrick, to be opened only in the event of my death." However, it is not until page 144 that Celia finally opens the letter and the butterfly effect begins.  

This story is all about the things we know, the things we don't, and whether or not we ever get to choose. The book explores the consequences of our actions and how, as humans, our insatiable curiosity for knowledge can sometimes have devastating effects. Do we really want to know our loved ones darkest secrets? And once you know, what then?

As Liane Moriarty explains, "Poor, poor Pandora. Nobody tells Pandora a word about the jar. Nobody tells her not to open the jar. Naturally, she opens the jar. How was she to know that all those dreadful ills would go whooshing out to plague mankind forever more, and that the only thing left in the jar would be hope?"

This was a fantastic story that captured my attention from start to finish. With the three intertwining story lines it was difficult to keep up at first but as the characters developed it became easier to follow. It was interesting to discover how the three families would link and be effected by the revelation of the secrets unfurling. 

Another highly recommended read to all! 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers : Review

Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn't always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW, that it was meant to be his. He thought he would call him Marcel.

Most of the time Marcel is very obedient, abiding by the many rules on How to Be a Good Pet. But one dark day. while deep in the woods, someone else claims the moose as their own...

         Star Rating
I received this book from Harper Collins for an open and honest review.

Being a massive fan of Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers, I requested this copy from Harper Collins and had very high expectations. Once again, Jeffers has managed to combine a thought-provoking story line with beautiful illustrations that capture children's attention and help to draw them into the plot.

This book explores the concept of ownership and teaches children that belongings should always be returned to their rightful owner. My Year 2 class grasped this concept quite quickly with one child saying that "Wilfred did the right thing. He gave the moose back in  the end." Many of the children told me that they enjoyed the story as both Wilfred and the moose made good choices - Wilfred returned Marcel and Marcel became a good pet. In addition to this, my class were highly amused when Wilfred ended up in a 'perilous situation' tangled in a ball of string and hanging from Marcel's antlers.

Whilst discussing our likes and dislikes, one child told me that they didn't like the book as Wilfred's mum would be worried because he didn't come home. This book has many underlying themes that teaches children rights and wrongs in a fun and humorous way. There is some quite sophisticated language included such as 'enraged', 'perilous' and 'compromise' which allowed for some word level discussion and for children to add these to their vocabulary. 

A beautifully-illustrated, thought-provoking story!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Wrongful Death by Lynda La Plante : Review

Six months after the body of Josh Reynolds, a London nightclub owner, was found and determined by police and coroner to be a suicide, DCS James Langton tasks DCI Anna Travis to review the case. Reynolds died from a single gunshot wound to the head, the gun held in his right hand. But details are emerging that suggest someone else may have fired the gun...

As soon as she wraps up the case, Langton tells Anna she can join him at the FBI Academy in Virginia for training. Meanwhile, a Senior FBI Agent, Jessie Dewar, crime scene expert, is seconded to Anna's team as part of her research and immediately the competence of the original investigation team is questioned.

Star Rating


I received this book from Simon & Schuster for an honest review.

Surprisingly, as a lover of crime fiction, this was the first novel by Lynda La Plante that I have read and it definitely won't be the last. This was an extremely detailed and exciting read that followed the investigation of Anna Travis and her team as they worked to discover what really happened to Josh Reynolds on that fateful night. Was it suicide or murder? What secrets would unfold as the closed suicide case became a homicide investigation?

Lynda La Plante has told this thrilling mystery story in enormous detail with many references to the particulars of crime investigations. Throughout the book, the reader is exposed to an array of evidence including blood splatter patterns, finger prints, interviews and CCTV footage. All this contributes to the realism of the plot and helped me to form opinions and theories in my mind. The book had many twists and turns and I kept changing my mind all the way through as to who I thought may have murdered Josh Reynolds. I would make a terrible detective!

The story was very reminiscent of recent popular series such as Dexter and Luther and the characters involved were very likeable and real. I was particularly drawn to the relationships between Detectives Travis and Dewar and later on between Travis and Bane as their relationship blossomed at the FBI training camp.

At a grand total of 500 pages I did at times find myself struggling and found the detail included quite draining. However, there was a welcomed break in plot roughly halfway through the book as Detective Anna Travis left for America to take part in the FBI training course. Here, she set upon a new case to discover what happened to a missing school girl and this subplot added an exciting twist to the story.

Lynda La Plante made good use of rhetoric and questioning in her writing to make the reader feel involved in the case and part of the discovery. I was eager to find out who killed Josh Reynolds and why and found myself with that end of 'Cluedo' feeling upon my discovery.

I am giving this book 4 stars as I feel the story could have been told in less pages and sometimes in less detail. However, for all crime lovers out there with a strong interest in police investigations this is a must read.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sharon Sant Guest Post, author of 'The Memory Game'

I am VERY excited to welcome the amazing author Sharon Sant to my book blog. Having recently finished reading her new novel, The Memory Game, I am now slightly obsessed with this incredibly talented author. Check out my 5 star review of The Memory Game here...

So, after Sharon had kindly agreed to guest post on my blog I started to brainstorm some ideas. I wanted to do something different to the normal Q&A interviews and wanted the post to be related to Sharon's powerful story plot. With this in mind, I asked Sharon the following...

"Three weeks ago fifteen-year-old David died, he is still hanging around and he doesn't know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his school days bullying."

Putting yourself in David's shoes and one person could see and hear you, who would you choose to spend your 'after'life with?

Sharon Sant

Top 5 fictional characters to spend the afterlife with

When Lynsey asked me to choose five fictional characters to spend the afterlife with, the biggest problem I had was deciding whether they’d be with me forever or not. They’d need to be immortal to wander with me forever, which meant I was looking at one of the Elves from Lord of the Rings or Highlander! The other option is to go with someone else who is dead too, which left me with Marty Hopkirk or Casper the Friendly Ghost. Then I decided to scrap the idea of having them forever and go with a ‘live’ person for a little while. I actually couldn’t decide on the order of the list, so they’re not in any order really, I’ll take whoever turns up first!

Harry Potter from… well… Harry Potter.

He can already see ghosts, right? And he’d be pretty cute and fun and would be able to do magic that would help me enjoy the afterlife a bit. Maybe he’d even find a way to help me communicate with other people that didn’t just involve making himself look like a nutter who talks to his imaginary friend?

Ma Larkin from The Darling Buds of May

I wanted one of my choices to be someone nurturing, someone who would be like a mother figure but would be a bit fun too. Molly Weasley sprang to mind, but as I already have Harry, I thought I would look elsewhere for inspiration.  A long, long time ago, I read these books and quite enjoyed them as a bit of feel good escapism. I reckon the afterlife might be a bit short of feel good escapism so anywhere you can get it is fine by me.

Dr Watson from Sherlock Holmes

Watson is level-headed, good-natured, patient and open-minded – in short, a fine upstanding member of Victorian society. And if you can stay sane in the face of Sherlock’s temper tantrums and taciturn silences, coping with a ghost following you around will be child’s play.

George the werewolf from Being Human

Ok, I snuck in a TV one. And you might think this is a weird choice, but George is actually kind and considerate and very cute. I know what you’re thinking, once a month he turns into a bloodthirsty, uncontrolled ball of fluffy rage – but I’m already dead, so what’s he going to do to me? I’ll just sit it out until he’s done. Oh, and he can already see ghosts too. Does that mean I get another choice to go with him?

Luca Valvona from the Sky Song trilogy.

This bad, right? Choosing one of your own characters is probably the literary equivalent of laughing at your own jokes.  But I struggled with number five and, as I always say, if you can’t create people you love, who can? He’s fun and flirty and always up for adventure and someone you definitely want on your side when you’re in a jam. And I’ve said before that out of all my characters, I think Luca is the one that might have more than a little bit of me in him.  I might find that very annoying, of course, but I reckon we’d get on like the proverbial house on fire.  Something that’s a definite bonus when you’ve got no one else to talk to! As there are no actual photos of this character, I’ve had to use my imagination and cast someone. I chose Jonathan Bailey because, although my Luca is darker haired, Jonathan could pass as an Italian teenager (he played a young Leonardo da Vinci in CBBC’s Leonardo - I will never forgive the BBC for cancelling that show!) and he would be rather pleasant to look at.

Check out Sharon Sant's website here

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Memory Game by Sharon Sant

"If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it."

Three weeks after fifteen-year-old David died, he is still hanging around and he doesn't know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his school days bullying. 

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her. 

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning...

Star Rating

I received a copy of 'The Memory Game' from the author, Sharon Sant, for an honest review.

With it's explosive and shocking start, 'The Memory Game' grips the reader from start to finish. The story begins with fifteen year old David looking down on his dead body at the scene of a hit  and run accident. The story is told in the first person and the reader is immediately drawn into the story wondering who David is and what has happened to him - "I should go somewhere, but I can't seem to leave my corpse alone. It looks so... vulnerable. Stupid, I know - it's just a body now, after all." 

As soon as I had read the first couple of pages I just knew that this book wasn't going to disappoint! The story had a 'Lovely Bones' feel to it with David watching life go on without him. It was interesting to read about the repercussions of death from the victim rather than the grieving family. Sharon Sant made many references to the loneliness and emptiness of death as the ghost of David came to terms with what had happened to him "I feel like an empty crisp bag on the wind, blown around, useless and unwanted. I'm like a walking memory." It was heartbreaking to see David wandering along the school corridors, unseen, unheard and unwanted. 

After a frustrated tantrum in the school assembly, David realises that Bethany Willis, a girl in his year group, can see him. The rest of the story focuses on the relationship between these two characters as they begin to build a strong friendship together. David and Bethany begin to spend every waking second together and the reader, along with David, enters upon a journey of discovery - who is the real Bethany Willis and why is she the only person who can see and hear David? On this journey, Sharon Sants introduces us to some very dark and mature themes that will stay with the reader long after finishing the book! It made me realise that you can never truly know what goes on behind closed doors and that families all over the world must hold hidden secrets and untold truths. 

It is the dark themes in this book that make it stand out and sets it aside from many other YA books out there. Sharon Sant is one of those authors who can make the reader laugh, gasp and cry. The ending is superb and was exactly how I wanted the story to finish. I feel privileged to have been asked to read this wonderful book that I am sure will stay with me for a long time. A five star read and highly recommendable!