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Betster
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      10.02.2011 00:31
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      Three women telling about thier lives with Henry VIII

      I became intrested in the Tudors after reading some Elizabeth Weir novels. Some fellow dooyoo members suggested that I might enjoy reading books by Phililppa Gregory another English historical novelist.
      'The Boleyn Inheritance' is the second that I have read by Gregory and I'm quite sure it will not be the last. It is one of six in her Tudor series and follows the lives of three woman at the royal court during the reign of King Henry VIII, two of whom he married and a lady-in-waiting.

      >>> THE AUTHOR <<<
      Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya in 1954. When she was two years old her family moved to England. She was educated at the university of Sussex and then the university of Edinburgh where she earned her doctorate in 18th Century literature. Her history knowledge is vast but she does have a certain interest in the 16th Century and the Tudor period. One of her most successful novels is 'The Other Boleyn Girl' which has been both adapted for the BBC in 2003 and then made into a film which was released in 2008 starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. As successful as she is Gregory still had critical reviewers, especially with her 'lack of historical accuracy' regarding Anne Boleyn.
      In 2008 Gregory won Celebrity Mastermind with a specialist subject of Elizabeth Woodville. Twenty years ago she funded a charity paying for wells in Gambia. She now lives with her third husband and family on a farm in Yorkshire.
      The Philippa Gregory website is well worth a visit for information on all her books and other historical facts; www.philippagregory.com.

      >>> THE STORY<<<
      'The Boleyn Inheritance' is actually the sequel to 'The Other Boleyn Girl'. It starts in 1539 and ends in 1542. In this time King Henry VIII has two marriages, and the story is told by thoses wifes, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard as well as their Lady-in waiting, Jane Boleyn known as Lady Rochford.

      ANNE OF CLEVES was a German noblewoman the daughter of John III Duke of Cleves. She came to England to Marry the King in 1540 after the King had seen only a portrait of Anne. She was very happy to come to England so she could escape her cruel brother,a strict Lutheran who had taken charge of the family since the death of her father in 1538. Anne could not speak any English which made everything much harder for her. The introduction to King Henry was a complete disaster as he came in disguise to trick her and she pushed him away in public. Anne was Henrys fourth wife and it lasted just seven months. Due to her strict religious upbringing Anne had never been taught to sing or dance or even dress well, all these factors resulted in Henry not finding her attactive in any way and never even consummating the marriage. In the end Anne agreed to sign an annulment saying that she was still engaged to Francis of Lorraine. The truth was that she had been engaged to him when she was twelve but it was called off in 1535! Although at first fearing for her life Anne was actually given a generous settlement including Richmond Palace and Hever Castle. She was to be referred to as the Kings 'beloved sister' and was often invited back to court.

      I liked Annes character she came across as gentle and kind. She wanted contact with Henrys three children and became very close with Mary the daughter of his first wife Katherine of Arragon. I found myself feeling sorry for Anne more than any other character in this book even though she lived to tell the tale I feel that she was a victim of abuse both in Germany and then in England.

      KATHERINE HOWARD was the cousin of Anne Boleyn. At the beginning of the book she was living with her grandmother in Norfolk House. Katherine (Kitty) was on the naughty side with regards to the opposite sex and it was here that she had a relationship with Francis Dereham and they declared themselves husband and wife. Kittys uncle found her a place at the royal court and she soon forgort Francis. She became Lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves where her bubbly personality and good looks soon won the eye of admirers. One was King Henry who described her as his 'Rose without a thorn' and another was Thomas Culpepper Henrys favourite courtier. When Kittys uncle saw the way Henry felt for Kitty he encouraged her to act on it. In July 1540 as soon as he could Henry married her. She tried hard to be a good wife as being a Queen was an extravagance she loved but soon the appeal of a much younger and fitter man took her fancy and with encouragement from her Uncle via Lady Rochford she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper.
      Everyone knows the ending here . . . with less than two years of marriage Kitty was beheaded on the grounds of treason and adultry.

      Kitty was portrayed as quite a simple girl who was only really interested in dresses, jewellery and men. I did feel sorry for her because she was so young and was pushed into situations by her greedy uncle. Henry was so very much older than her and sounded quite repulsive, who can blame her wanting a younger model?

      JANE BOLEYN, known as Lady Rochford was an English noblewoman who was sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn as she had married her brother - George. She seemed haunted by the past and often referred to her husband and Anne. It turned out that she had helped sentence them both to death for treason and incest. She also helped with the annulment of Anne and Henrys marriage by confirming it had not been consumated. Jane was Lady -in -waiting to Katherine Howard which at first seemed good as she knew how to behave at court and was a help to Kitty. However, with The Duke of Norfolks demands Jane encouraged the relationship between Kitty and Thomas and arranged meetings for them. When the affair came to light she was executed on the same day as Kitty.

      It was difficult to like this character. At first I felt sorry for her because of the death of her husband but then it turned out she had testifyed against him. She seemed very jealous, especially of Anne Boleyn and very devious. She belived she was to be rewarded with a new husband so she must have been lonely.

      As I have already mentioned the book is told just by these three women. However, I feel that I must include some description of the man himself, the reason they were all there;

      KING HENRY VIII - 28/6/1491 - 28/1/1547. Henry was the son of Henry VII. He was crowned King in 1509. He was a well educated man fluent in Latin,French and Spanish. I believe he was a handsome man in his prime, however this book covers his later life where he is in poor health and obese. The book often refers to his leg wound which would leak pus and smell. The thought of him in the bedroom snoring and passing wind were quite horrifying. I have never really disliked him in my previous reads but in this book he came across as egotistical, insecure and harsh. Basically anyone who stood in his way was charged with high treason and executed. Although I knew my history I still felt quite worried for Anne of Cleves knowing how easily he depossed of people, I could certainly feel her fear!

      The other significant character in the book was the DUKE of NORFOLK who was uncle to both Anne Bolyen and Katherine Howard. He was an evil, greedy man who used people to strenthen his power at court. He planned for Kitty to get pregnant by Thomas and pretend the baby was Henrys so that a Howard boy could get to the throne. He had no thought or care for anyones feelings and I really did not like him.

      I hope I have not said too much to ruin the story for anyone as hopefully we all know the basic story of Henry and his six wives. If you want a more in depth picture of wife four and five than this is the book for you. I love the way it is told by the womwn so you can see events unfolding through their eyes. Also another thing that I personally like is that each 'chapter' is very short, two to five pages. This agrees with me as sometimes I only have really short opportunitys to read.

      I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female and it doesnt really matter if you are not that interested in history, the story is gripping anyway!

      Available on amazon £4.48

      ISBN 978-0-00-719033-1

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        26.01.2011 23:03
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        A pup any child (or adult) could love.

        My daughter is five and although loves getting presents - don't we all?, and is quite easy to buy for, she has never really asked for anything specific before. There have been years when she wanted a doll or a bike but any would have done. Last Christmas it all changed when in October she started asking for this pup - Biscuit. At first we were delighted that she an an exact gift in mind, however after checking out the price - around the £150.00 mark we tried in vain to come up with other suggestions of toys she would like instead. I am not even sure where she first saw him as I have not seen him advertised on the tv and none of her friends had him. I have since learned he was one of the most wanted Christmas toys from 2009. Anyway, December came and by now countless lists and pictures had been done at school all refering to the pup Father Christmas was going to bring. Well you can guess the outcome . . . .

        ##########THE TOY######################

        Biscuit is a very cute, lifesize golden retriever pup. The beauty of this pup is that he is interactive. He has nine sensors that can sense either touch, light or sound. The sensors are all over his body; under his ears, his back, paw, mouth, nose and several on his head. What Biscuit does depends on your motion and where it is, for example when you pat on his back he will move his head and neck and make contented sounds or when you touch his left paw he will lift it up for a shake. Probably our favouite part of this toy is the speech recognition. Biscuit responds to seven different commands; sit, lie down, speak, sit up and beg, do you want a treat?, give me a paw and shake. He comes with a collar that has a bone shaped tag on it, the tag has all the commands written on so you don't forget. He also comes with a bone, a brush and a adoption certificate.

        ##################THE PRICE#########################

        As I have already stated this pup does not come cheap. I did a great deal of shopping around and research. Prices really varied, going up to £185 in Hamleys, Argos had an offer for £135 but in the end we managed to get him from John Lewis for £99 with free delivery, so really pleased with that. As well as the big price tag Biscuit is run on six D size batteries that are not included. There is an on/off switch to the pup so as not to waste the batteries, but still an expensive toy to run.

        ############### MY OPINION##############################

        I am not dissapointed with Biscuit, everything he is advertised as doing he does. He is very cute and real looking and although not cuddley, his fur is soft. The negatives that I can see is that he is fairly heavy - 5kg, which is too heavy for my five year old to carry around. Also when there is a lot of background noise he doesn't always respond to your command. If I am being really honest from about ten days after Christmas he has been neglected somewhat, I hear my daughter talking to him but it only lasts a few seconds without interactive play. He is the sort of toy you want to show others (who have all been impressed) but so far not used for a long game. Am I glad we bought it??? Well the look on my daughters face on Christmas morning was worth every penny!

        #################WOULD I RECCOMEND HIM?#################

        This is a difficult one, great toy but soooo expensive. For anyone who really does not want a pet it would be a great substitute as it encourages your child to play and love it, and you don't have to walk it or take it to the vet! It is worth looking for second hand ones as they can be found on Ebay or Amazon. It is advertised for ages five and above and I think this is fair due to the size and commands you need to make.

        FurReal is a product of Hasbro

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          15.01.2011 23:36
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          A must for any Toy Story or bear fan

          Lots - o'-Huggin' Bear came to live with us on Christmas morning. My daughter was delighted which was a sigh of relief for me as this was never something from her Christmas list but rather something that her daddy had fallen for and desperately wanted!

          If there is anyone on the planet who has yet to see Toy Story 3, then let me explain who Lot-so is;
          He is a purple soft toy who turns out to be the real baddie of the film. I don't want to ruin the film with too much detail buts lets just say that he was loved and lost and never to be loved again, which kind of turned him into a villain. My daughter is very much a princess type of girl and I was concerned that she would not want a villain in the house so my husband went out and bought it anyway ! ! !

          THE PACKAGING

          Lot-so comes in a beautiful bright pink box which is clear at the front so you can see him, press him to hear him talk and most importantly smell him; he is strawberry scented and it is lovely. He also comes with a certificate of authenticity from Disney Pixar basically saying that he is a lovingly produced replica of the film.

          THE BEAR ITSELF

          Why is a fairly normal looking bear so special you ask? Well other than the obvious that it comes from one of the best films around at the moment, it is actually quite cute. It is an interactive bear with over forty five phrases and it is clever enough to respond when you talk to it. I had one of those mum moments on Christmas morning when I first heard Lot-so and my daughter having a conversation, it seemed so real and the look on my daughters face will be one I will cherish forever. Either hand can be pressed for different modes and there are sensors in the feet which respond to tickling. The voice is the exact same voice from the film.
          For an interactive bear he really is still very soft and cuddly and for the majority of the time now he is switched off and just used for cuddles. The label says that the material is "New material only, consisting of polyester fibre, plastic stiffener and cellulose acetate". As I have said he is very soft and cuddly and the smell of strawberries is still as strong one month on. Lot-so requires two AA batteries but so far the ones that he came with are still running well.

          PRICE and AVAILABILITY

          Our Lot-so came from Toys-r-us for £37 which I think is average. I have seen him in Argos for £39.99 and Amazon for £34.95. Just before Christmas he was quite difficult to get hold of. I do think this is expensive for a cuddly toy but Disney can get away with it and he is rather special.

          The box says for ages 4 and over. I would agree with this and say that anyone, especially Toy Story fans aged from 4 to 104 would love it!

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            23.10.2010 23:37
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            An enchanting book to be enjoyed again and again

            '1001 Things so Spot in Fairyland' is the first item I have bought directly as a result of Dooyoo reviews.
            I love buying books for my daughter and the whole description of this book captured me straight away.

            The book is exactly what it says on the cover, I suppose it can be described as a spotting/searching book or maybe even puzzle -solving. It is quite a basic concept of looking for a number of things in the pictures.

            '1001 Things to Spot in Fairyland' is very much aimed at little girls, it is very pink and pretty. It has nice sized pages and a padded pink cover both back and front with a lovely fairy scene. Inside are the instructions explaining how you know what you should be looking for. On the next page the scenes begin . . . .

            Each double page is a magical scene from Fairyland, starting with 'Fairy feast', a beautiful but very busy outdoor scene. Under the scene are ten pictures of individual things with a number beside them which indicates how many of each we are looking for. For example here we need to spot ten leaf trays, nine bowls of marshmallows, ten sugar mice, seven paper garlands and one greedy goblin. As I said the scenes are very 'busy' and spotting is not always as easy as it sounds. The other scenes taking you through the magical land are; Enchanted Waterfall, Moon dance, Fairy school, Magic market, Secret garden, Fairy palace, House fairies, Treetop fairies, Fairy tree house, Fairyland workshop and The Snow Queen's ball.

            In addition to everything else you have to find 'Dizzy Rainbow' a new fairy to Fairyland who wants to explore and ends up in every scene needing to be found. The last chapter is called 'Dizzy Rainbow's magic spells' and it asks the reader to go back through the book looking for certain amounts of different ingredients that Dizzy will need for her magic class. Unlike the rest of the book if you become stuck, you can cheat on this because the last page of the book has the answers.

            WHY DO I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH? - well there are a number of reasons; firstly and most importantly my daughter loves it. She has just turned five and not quite reading on her own yet so this book gives her the perfect opportunity to be 'grown up' and go to bed with a book, use it as it should be used and not ask for help. She spends hours looking through with out any need for my input. Words are under the pictures to look for so although she can't read I am sure in time she will recognise the words and their meaning. The pictures are truly delightful and with so much going on you never tire of looking at them as each time something else will come to light. As well as encouraging concentration, finding certain numbers of things helps with practising counting. Because there is no story going on this book can be picked up as and when there is a spare five minutes and then put down again. It is fun to look through together as well as you can have competitions who finds the most first. My daughter makes up her own stories to what she thinks is happening on each page.

            This idea is obviously a successful one as there are many books in this collection. The other 1001 things to spot include; animals, bugs, knights and castle things, monster things, pirate things, things to spot at Christmas, in the sea, in the town, long ago, on the farm. Wizard things, big book of things and the newest 'Thousands of things to spot". There are titles to suit everyone and prices range from £7.99 - £14.99.
            1001 things is by Gillian Doherty and illustrated by Teri Gower. It is
            published by Usorne who are the leading UK independent publishing company. The price on the book is £7.99 but it is available on Amazon for £5.49 at the moment.

            Age wise I think this would be good for anyone three or above up until ten maybe?

            I loved it so much I have now stocked up as I feel they are a great Birthday party present.

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            • onepoll.co.uk / Internet Site / 106 Readings / 106 Ratings
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              09.09.2010 23:54
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              If you can spare five minutes a day from your chores £40 will soon be yours!

              OnePoll claims that it is "The worlds fastest growing online market research company". After reading about it on Martin Lewis's website I thought I would give it a go.

              I joined OnePoll in February this year. It was very easy to register and after a few questions about me , my account was instantly credited with £2.50.

              Unlike other survey sites you are not sent an email advising of a relevant survey, but instead you have to regularly log in to your account and check available surveys. OnePoll claims that they give cash rewards from 5p to £1.00 for completed surveys, however I have yet to find a survey with a reward more than 20p. Typically 10p with the occasional 5p and 20p thrown in. This does not sound like a great payment but the surveys are very short and easy. If you regularly check your account there should be at least three or four surveys a day which soon mount up in rewards.

              *******SURVEYS*********

              The surveys are conducted on behalf of many different companies from all round the world. They are of a multiple choice format and are usually fairly straight forward. Sometimes they can be quite amusing, one that springs to mind was with regard to male celebrities manhood's, and how big (or small) I would think certain celebrities were!! Generally though they are more sensible such as what family meals I cook or what I look for in a car. The surveys never take longer than a couple of minutes and sometimes I have been pleasantly surprised by just having to answer one question. You are always told before hand how much the reward is. Occasionally there is a screening question first and after answering that you may not be eligible to carry on with that survey, but again it is just one question so no time is wasted in finding out. If you are not wanted for the survey after the screening question you are entered into a cash draw.
              The site says that there are 20 - 30 polls active at any one time, however I have never had more than eight in one go.

              The surveys are broken down under different titles;

              PAID FOR SURVEYS - These are the surveys described above. After completing each one the money is instantly credited to you OnePoll account.

              24HOUR SURVEYS - These surveys are meant to be higher earners with prizes varying from £500 and payments starting at 50p. I must admit to giving up looking for these after the first month as they never seemed to be available.

              COMPETITION SURVEYS - These have a different symbol next to them. The surveys are the same but instead of payment you are entered into a competition. Prizes vary from cash to spa treatments and gift vouchers and electrical goods. I would estimate that I have entered about one competition a month since February but have yet to win.

              ***************** THE SITE *************************

              The actual website for OnePoll is very clear and well set out. Once you have logged in your account balance is instantly displayed, as well as any messages you may have. All you need to do is click on "surveys" and all that are available to you are displayed.
              If you are interested there is an option to view press coverage and recent earners. Another way of earning money on the site is to sell an interesting story about yourself to their case studies. The payments range from £50 to £1000. Being the reserved type (and boring) this has not actually appealed to me, but I am sure could be a good earner for some.

              ***************************PAYMENT************************
              Your account has to reach £40.00 before you can claim. This is then paid to you either directly into your bank using BACS, into your paypal account or via a personal cheque. I opted for the personal cheque even though the first two options were instant and it still arrived within a week of the claim.

              I joined OnePoll in February, claimed my first £40.00 at the end of August and had the money by the first week in September. That averages at about £8.00 a month which might not sound like a lot, but the surveys are so quick and easy that it really is in my opinion money for nothing.

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                12.08.2010 23:30
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                A deeply moving story for children as young as five to enjoy

                One for sorrow, two for joy . . . . . . .Everyone knows the magpie song. 'Seven for a secret' is a children's book based around this song.

                The whole book is made up of letters that are between Ruby, a little girl living in the city and her grandpa who lives in the country. Grandpa tells Ruby about a family of magpies that live in a tree in his garden and then goes on to teach her the magpie song.

                As the letters progress we learn that Ruby lives in a high apartment in the city and that finances are tight for her family. We hear about the countryside that grandpa lives in, the nature around him and what the magpies are up to. In every letter he refers to the song, for example "There were three magpies this morning - Three for a girl. That's why I thought of you."

                I really don't want to say any more about the story as telling you more would almost certainly give the surprise away.

                The correspondence between the two characters is very moving and cleverly incorporates many opposites such as youth and old age and sorrow and joy.

                The book is written by Laurence Anholt whose previous work includes the 'Anholt's Artists' series and the 'Chimp and Zee' Collection. Illustrations are by Tim Coplestone.

                Every one of the books 32 pages contains beautiful illustrations. They are bright and clear. The letters are cleverly incorporated in the pictures, for example grandpa typing his letter which can clearly be read. On one letter there is a little extra 'top secret' letter for Ruby stuck on top. At the end of the book the pages double over so when opened the actual picture is four pages wide. As well as telling a beautiful story these little extras are a great way to keep a Childs attention span as my daughter loves to open the extra letters flap and fold out the doubled up pages.

                My daughter is nearly five and although she enjoys this book, I do have to keep explaining things to her. I would therefore recommend it to any one over five right up until adults. Some of the letters are quite long so it probably wouldn't be advised to a new reader. However, anyone who is a strong reader or who enjoys being read to must hear this story as it is truly beautiful and thought provoking.

                We found our copy by chance at the library but I love it so much we will buy one to keep very soon. It is currently available on Amazon new for £4.49.

                Published by Frances Lincoln children's books and came out in 2006. A version of the story was first published in 1995 by Egmont children's books under the title of 'The magpie song '.

                I really can't praise this book enough it is so beautiful, charming, moving and thought provoking. It is written in such a style that although covering sensitive issues it still draws the reader in and appeals to a large audience.

                Any child would be richer in wisdom through hearing this story and it stays in your mind for a long time after reading it.

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                  13.07.2010 23:26
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                  Another good book for that quality cuddle time!

                  This book was given to us in my daughters latest Bookstart pack.

                  Our copy is a paperback book that measures 235 x 280mm in size and contains 32 pages. Colin McNaughton is the author and it is illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. The front cover has quite a lively picture of several nursery rhyme characters bearing gifts. I think that I would have been attracted to this book if I had seen it in a shop, especially given the familiar title. I think everyone knows the classic rhyme of "Not last night but the night before". . . . luckily in this book it isn't robbers that come knocking at the door.

                  'Not last night but the night before' is a rhyming book all about a little boys friends that come knocking at the door. Every other page starts with the title lines and has different characters knocking. The boy lets them in and they rush up the stairs with out speaking to him. The visitors are all well known characters; The man in the moon, Three little pigs, Little Bo Peep, Little Miss Muffet, Jack and Jill, Three blind mice, Goldilocks and even Punch and Judy . At the end it is revealed why they are visiting.

                  Most of the pages have just two lines of words above a picture. The illustrations are great they are charming and funny at the same time and have lots of detail.

                  *The Author*

                  Colin McNaughton was born in Northumberland in 1951. He has had over 70 books published including 'Suddenly' and 'Oops!' which was the category winner in the 1996 Smarties Book Prize. He has an MA in illustrations but did not do them in this book.

                  *The Illustrator*

                  Emma Chichester Clark was born in 1955 and studied at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she was taught by Quentin Blake. In 1988 she won the Mother Goose Award as the most exciting newcomer to children's book illustration. Her Bibliography is endless with many well known titles including 'I love you Blue kangaroo'.

                  With the above combination of two experts in their field, a well known title and well known characters understandably this book has the right ingredients. My daughter is four and loves me reading it to her, the repeativness of the words makes it easy for her to follow and remember. She delights in recognizing the characters and loves looking at the pictures.

                  I believe this book would appeal equally to boys and girls. It is suggested that the book is aimed at readers aged four +, but I would say that it could be read to a child as young as two and they would understand it. It is a good book for beginner readers because of the simplistic style so I would say it would be appreciated by anyone up to seven or eight.

                  Priced at £5.99. Available on Amazon new for £4.49.

                  Published by Walker Books in 2009

                  ISBN - 978-1-4063-2878-3

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                    10.07.2010 01:17
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                    One of the best picture books around today

                    I have always read to my daughter and encouraged her to enjoy books. I was delighted when she came home from nursery at the age of three and described the book that had been read to them in class. Up until then all her books were ones that I had picked and if she mentioned stories from nursery then it was only to say that it was one we both knew. It felt like a very "grown up" moment with my three year old going into great detail about a girl who would not give her rabbit to the Queen. She knew the exact title of the book so off I rushed to Whsmith and bought "That Rabbit Belongs to EMILY BROWN".

                    My copy of "Emily Brown" is a paperback version. It is quite large in size and has a fun cover that would catch your attention. The cover shows Emily cuddling her rabbit with two potential bunny thief's watching from behind a wall and others watching them from the sky. The title is large and spreads across the middle with the words Emily Brown in red being the only bright colour on the page. There are thirty one pages in the book; every one having a picture which vary from drawn to photo types.

                    ***The story***

                    Emily Brown had an old grey rabbit called Stanley. Emily and Stanley seem to do everything together and in Emily's make believe world that could involve launching into Outer Space, riding through the Sahara Desert, diving off the Barrier Reef and climbing through the Amazonian rainforest. Unfortunately for Emily Queen Gloriana notices Stanley and decides she wants him for herself. Her offers to Emily are very generous up to the point where she offers all the toys Emily could ever desire in return for Stanley. Emily makes it quite clear that Stanley is NOT for sale.

                    The Queen would not give up she sent her Special Commandos to steal Stanley. On discovering her missing rabbit Emily Brown runs to the palace. Poor Stanley has been washed and stuffed and is looking miserable. The Queen is distraught that Stanley is not the same and she asks Emily what to do. Emily gives the Queen one of her own new golden teddy bears and gives her advice how to treat him.

                    A couple of years later Emily hears from the Queen again simply with a note saying "Thank you".

                    There is a lot of repetition in the book which encourages the children to join in more as they know what to say. The writing is very clear, it changes in size and font often which I think makes the whole reading experience more fun. It is an easy book to read and add different voices to. My daughter used to like it when we changed the words to her name and her beloved pink bear.

                    This book won a Nestle book prize gold award in 2006 and was also chosen as one of the Richard and Judy Christmas books.

                    ***Illustrations***

                    The illustrations were done by Neal Layton. I have just googled him to find out some facts and it says that he like his illustrations to appear as fresh and spontaneous as possible. He says he uses all sorts of different media to make the pictures. This would explain a lot as some of the pages in the book look like they have a photo with drawings on them. What ever way you explain his style Neal certainly has an eye for detail as there is so much going on in each picture. Even now after reading the book many many times we find something else going on in a picture we hadn't noticed before.

                    ***The Author***
                    Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. By the age of eight she started writing stories. She has also written the series of books called "How to train your dragon" which has just been made into a film.

                    ***The Price***

                    Being impatient I rushed out to get my copy from Whsmith at a cost of £5.99. I have just looked on Amazon and it is available new for £3.98 or used from £1.44.

                    ***Verdict***
                    A truly wonderful book that will stimulate any childs imagination. I think this book would appeal equally to girls and boys from the age of three up to ten. This story is so well written, it is charming, funny and touching. I think everyone can relate to that special toy you would never part with.

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                    22.06.2010 22:39
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                    Koomson has yet again come up with all the right ingredients and made an incredibly moving book.

                    I read "The Ice Cream Girls" after reading the good reviews about it on dooyoo. I have in the past read most of the other books written by Dorothy Koomson and always found them to be a good read.

                    The book is divided into eight parts and in each of these parts the narrative alternates between the two main characters; Serena Gorringe and Poppy Carlisle. These girls were accused of murdering teacher Marcus Halnsley and were named "The Ice Cream Girls" by the press after pictures of them eating ice cream in bikinis were circulated during their trial.

                    The story jumps from past to present as we learn about the girls, how they met and how they became involved with Marcus. After his death both girls were put on trial for murder but only one of them - Poppy was sent to prison where she spent twenty years. On her release Poppy is determined to clear her name and the only way she feels she can do this is by finding Serena. Serena has led a very different life, she is happily married to a doctor with two children and she does not want the past to catch up with her.

                    As well as secrets and lies this book is very much about relationships. Poppy's struggle to be accepted by her family after her release was very moving, as she is clearly someone needing to be loved. Serena stayed close with her sisters but felt constant guilt that she had ruined all of their lives. Although happily married her past has remained a secret from her husband.

                    The relationship that the girls had with Marcus has been so well described that you almost wish it hadn't. The man was clearly a dominant, cruel and sick in the head man who abused the naivety of two innocent teenagers. At times the scenes created were very sad.

                    I guessed the end of the book a long way before the end so for that reason I am not going to give it top points. I would also say that if it is a classic girly book you are after with a love story and happy ever after then this is not for you. However, it is a very good story and I do recommend it to anyone wanting a thought provoking read.

                    Available on Amazon £7.71

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                      02.06.2010 00:17
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                      A nice book but nothing special

                      I read "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" many years ago and loved it. I found it both funny and heart warming and was delighted several years later when the film was made as I did not know anyone else who had read the book; and up until then thought I was the only one to have made this special find. As so often the case the film was a disappointment and the book soon became a memory.

                      I was browsing in my local library recently with my four year old daughter when she told me that she had found me a good book. Without really expecting to be interested I took the book from her; it was "Ya-Yas In Bloom" and I was surprised at her fabulous choice, (obviously she had gone for the picture on the cover which differs from the one on Dooyoo. This was a small girl dressed as an angel in roller skates above a cloud). Up until then I had not given the "Divine Secrets" any recent thought and certainly had not realized that there were more to follow.

                      Since reading the book I have now learnt that 'Ya-Yas In Bloom' is actually the third book in this series with 'Little Altars Everywhere' coming in between. Having not read the second book I don't see it as being too great a disadvantage in following the story as there is so much going on with many characters over a long time. I believe that the second book was the story of one of the "Petites Ya-Yas", Sidda and why she moved away.

                      THE STORY

                      The "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" consists of four best friends, Vivi, Caro, Teensy and Necie. The friendship bond is so strong that it unites all their families and lasts a life time.

                      The book starts in 1994 with a sixty-eight year old Vivi reminiscing. This is a good introduction to her character for those not familiar with the previous books.

                      After this initial chapter the story is divided into four sections;

                      Sowing Sisterhood Seeds

                      Here we go back to 1930 and find out how the friends all met. The start of this friendship came about when a four year old Teensy stuck a pecan, still in its shell up her nose. She was taken to the Doctors clinic where Vivi was waiting to be seen with an earache. Within weeks the girls were firm friends and had an amusing first encounter with Necie that got them in trouble at church. By December of that same year the three girls had met Caro, whose parents owned the local theatre. The rest as they say is history!

                      Tending Young Buds

                      This is a section of memories from the "Petite Ya-Yas". It starts in 1994 with Sidda talking about her childhood memories and the defining moment that shaped her career. Baylor's story of a brush with fame is next as we go to 1963 and find out what happened on the day he was invited to a children's TV show. Sidda tells the story of the first time they saw snow in 1961 and how Little Shep ended up in hospital after running into a glass door. One of the funnier parts of the book is when in 1962 Vivi has an unfortunate encounter in her car with The Infant Jesus of Prague statue out side of the church. This section ends in 1965 with a trip to a Beatles concert.

                      Bruised Plantings

                      This was my least favourite section of the book. Starting in 1961 we are introduced to Myrtis Spivey a strange Bruised Plantings

                      This was my least favourite section of the book. Starting in 1961 we are introduced to Myrtis Spivey a strange women with a dislike for most things especially the Ya-Yas. In 1994 her even stranger daughter Edythe kidnaps a three year old Rosalyn one of the "Tres Petites". I think the purpose of this story is to show the bond and power of the sisterhood as they search for Rosalyn and comfort one another.
                      A Bountiful Garden

                      The story ends in December 1994 with one enormous Christmas party. This is particularly well written. There is the humour of the Nativity show being put on and the seriousness of the feelings left from recent events. Great description goes on here from the aromas of the food to the notes in the singing you certainly feel you are part of this unique group.

                      Overall I would say I quite enjoyed this book, it was funny and it was uplifting. It was great to see how the friends met and to have more of an insight in their childhood. I do not however think it was as good as the original story - "Divine Secrets" as it was not as amusing and on a few occasions I found it a little boring . I would not recommend this book to anyone who had not read "Divine Secrets" because I feel that is where the magic lies. However if you have read it and are interested in how it all began then this is an OK read with several really good parts.

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                        15.05.2010 10:53
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                        Cherishing the bond between father and child

                        I bought "Grizzly Dad" for my daughter as a special book to share with her Dad. The description on the back of the book sold it to me. . . . ."Dads can sometimes be grumpy and grouchy and grizzly... But sometimes, that can be great fun! A wonderfully warm story all about dads (especially the grizzly ones!). I must point out now that I do not have a miserable husband but he does do shift work and can get "grizzly" at times. However, he is also a fantastic dad to a daughter that can wrap him around her little finger so I thought this book looked fun.

                        "Grizzly Dad" by Joanna Harris is a fairly large book with a delightful picture on the cover of a huge bear giving a boy and a dog a beautiful cuddle, all three of them look very relaxed and are fast asleep. Near the bottom of this picture it simply says "Why dads are GREAT (even the grumpy ones!)".

                        The story is being told by a child. The child is the eldest of three in the family and they seem to lead quite a frantic life. One day the dad wakes up in a very bad mood he is described as a bear with a sore head and soon returns to bed. Mum takes the younger children out leaving her oldest son to wake his dad. When Dad does eventually get up it is not the body of dad getting out of the bed but a bear instead!

                        At first it is the boy helping the bear. He helps get him out of bed and gives him a wash. Then the bear decides to take his son out for the day. The story is simply about a fun day between father and son with a trip to the cinema and then the park. When they return home they bond even more with honey sandwiches and watching football. The son declares he has had the best day ever and that his dad is the best, shortly after this the bear turns back into dad.

                        When mum returns she is horrified by the mess , she declares that the place looks like a "pigsty". The last picture in the book is father and son holding hands and from their bottoms are little piggy tails growing......

                        My daughter loves this book and has even written her own follow up called "Messy piggy's" which ends in the characters being called slow snails and developing shells. It could go on for a long time the possibilities are endless.

                        My daughter is 4 but I think this book could amuse any child between 3 and 8 years old. It is very entertaining and really helps a child's imagination.

                        There are thirty one pages in this book,, all of which are creatively illustrated. The pictures tell equal amounts of the story as the words and each time we read this my daughter points out different events.

                        "Grizzly Dad" is a picture Corgi book.. It is available on Amazon new for £5.39 (paperback) of £10.99 (hardback) or used from £1.48.

                        In conclusion this is a beautiful book, enjoyed by all the family and justifies the place it made in the shortlist for the Booktrust Early Years Award.

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                          27.04.2010 23:37
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                          Never judge a book by it's cover - One of the best junior books around

                          "You Choose" was one of a selection of books given to my daughter at nursery as part of the Bookstart book trust. It is a Picture Corgi book with words by Pippa Goodhart and pictures by Nick Sharratt.

                          Although a nice large size book with a bright and interesting front cover (long lines of different objects and characters) I have to admit that after the initial flick through it was put to the bottom of the pile. My daughter is very girly and likes to read about fairies, princesses and mermaids. I did not see any of these on my first inspection nor did I see much of a story going on. However, at three years old my daughter was already a huge book worm and we were completely grateful to Bookstart for the lovely selection of books that we received. We eventually sat down together to read "You Choose". . . . . .

                          Basically the book is designed for interaction with your child. There is no written story, just questions and pictures to help your child decide how the story will evolve.

                          The first page says "If you could go anywhere, where would you go?" The pictures here, which spread over a double page give endless ideas, a few of which are; The moon, a desert island, a fairground, a volcano, a forest and a city.

                          The next page asks "Who would you like for family and friends?" Here we find many characters as portraits hung in a gallery. The choice ranges from ghosts and witches through to Kings, Queens and Father Christmas, it has since been pointed out to me many, many times that this is where we find our Princess and a fairy!

                          As you turn each page there are eleven more questions, I won't write each one down as that will be the whole book copied, but to give you an idea your child is asked to choose homes, furniture, transport, food, clothes, pets, a job, hobby and bed.

                          I have lost count of the hours of fun we have shared with this book. We have had it over a year and I have seen my daughter develop in her thoughts and logic when she makes her choices. At first she would predictably always go to the moon, live in a pink palace and be friends with the fairy. Now much thought goes into her choices and I take great delight in how serious she is in telling me that I can't have a dolphin as a pet if I am to live on the sun.

                          The book has twenty four pages. It would be almost impossible to count but I would hazard a guess that there are around two thousand illustrations. We already have several Nick Sharratt books at home and are familiar with his style which is both colourful and fun.

                          I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to buy a child a gift. It has equal appeal to boys and girls and could be used from birth to as old as you like - as long as there is imagination you have a story.

                          To sum up "You Choose" I would say it is the most fun we have had from any of our many books . It can turn a few minutes into pure quality time with a child and it never becomes boring despite the hundreds of times it is read

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                            22.04.2010 22:20
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                            A poignant story, so well told you can feel the tension.

                            I bought this book after reading "The Lady Elizabeth" by Alison Weir and becoming totally fascinated with the Tudor period. Unlike my first read however, "Innocent Traitor" is a novel and although still very factual in parts, the author has been able to add her own ideas to the historical events.

                            The story is about Lady Jane Grey and her doomed life from birth to her tragic death.

                            Jane was the oldest daughter of Henry Grey - Duke of Suffolk and Lady Frances Brandon. She was also the great - niece of Henry VIII. Her parents craved a son and never forgave Jane for being born a girl. As a result of greed and ambition Henry Grey and Frances Brandon were abusive and cruel parents and bullied their daughter into her marriage and her acceptance of the crown. Lady Jane Grey was Queen for nine days before the rightful Queen Mary took the reign. At the age of sixteen Jane was sentenced to her gruesome death.

                            This novel starts with Jane as a baby and as the story evolves the reader is given a clear picture of her character. From the beginning Jane was harshly treated by her parents. There was a short happy period in her life when she was sent to live with Katherine Parr, Henry's widow and her new husband, but sadly Katherine died in child birth and Jane's life returned to the sadness of the past. She was an intelligent girl and soon learned that her only solace was through her studies. She had a strong devotion to the Protestant faith which gave her courage when she needed it the most.

                            After failing to make a marriage between Jane and Edward, Henry Grey and his wife joined with the Duke of Northumberland and his plans to keep Henry VIII's daughters from the throne. Against her wishes Jane was married to Guilford Dudley (son of the Duke of Northumberland). There is no love story here, the reader can feel only sympathy for Jane as yet another cruel and ambitious character enters her life. Guilford was executed for high treason only hours before Jane in 1554.

                            This book is written in diary style entries both by Jane and by those that shaped her life. I really liked the way this worked as it helped to understand not only events as they took place but also how everyone was feeling and what thoughts were going through their heads. As well as having sympathy for Jane the reader is given an insight into the minds of her ambitious parents, the corrupt Duke of Northumberland, Mrs Ellen the nurse maid who looked after Jane and loved her as her own and Queen Mary who never wanted the story to end the way it did despite giving the order for execution.

                            At the end of the book there is a "Historical note" which tells the reader what was historically accurate and what had been changed for the sake of a good story. This was a nice touch if like me you were unsure as to how informative a novel would be .

                            THE AUTHOR

                            Alison Weir was born in London, although trained as a teacher with history as the main subject she became a Civil servant then a housewife and mother. Her first published work as an author came in 1989. All I can say is that she would have made very many students love their history if she made it even a tenth as interesting as she conveys in her books.

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                              24.03.2010 01:12
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                              Give a little love and you will enjoy the rewards from this wonderful breed

                              My husband and I had been married for three years when we decided that we were ready for the commitment of a dog. It then took us nearly a year to agree on a breed. A Springer Spaniel was not the first choice for either of us but was a very good compromise and probably the only breed we could agree on. We had both previously seen Spaniels at work for Customs and Excise and was in awe of their skill.

                              We bought our Springer Spaniel from a reputable breeder when he was 12 weeks old. He came with a Kennel Club registration and cost £450. Choosing him was easy as we had agreed on a boy and he was the only male left, as soon as we set eyes on the appealing bundle of love and mischief we knew we had to have him. We quickly paid the deposit and then went home to swat up on the breed.

                              BREED CHARACTERISTICS

                              There are two lines of English Springer Spaniel; Show and Working. Show is the bigger and heavier and Working is faster . There are also two main colour types; Liver and White or Black and White.

                              Springer Spaniels have been used as Gundogs for many years . It is thought that the name came from 'Springing' Spaniel a term used to describe how they sprang game. Our dog constantly has his head down on walks sniffing out what has been there, we don't worry about him finding animals as he is so soft he would not hurt anything he just loves the chase. We are often grateful to birds who like to tease him flying down low and giving him a really good run, this usually ends up in the sea where without our intervention I think he would gladly swim to France!

                              Surveys have regarded the Springer as being an excellent family pet as they are so low on aggression and get on well with children. One big worry of ours was introducing our dog (whom we named Merlin) to our two cats. This did not turn out to be a problem at all the cats soon let him know who was boss and even now six years later one of the cats and Merlin are best of friends often found sleeping together or playing 'see if you can get my toy' with Merlin wanting to be chased. When Merlin was just over a year our daughter arrived in this world, again we were a little worried as he would no longer be our number one but things have worked out well. There is a strong bond between them that started straight away and I believe my daughter would rather sleep in the dogs bed with Merlin then her own. I trust Him completely with children, many a time I have walked in the room to see his sulky face asking why my daughter has just stuck a cowboy hat on him or some reindeer antlers, but he lets her do it.

                              Springer Spaniels are known as obedient and intelligent dogs. As a pup I took Merlin to agility classes as it was something I had always wanted to try. It was great fun we both enjoyed it and he learnt very quickly as well as having a great bit of social time with other dogs.

                              Spaniels need a great deal of exercise. We walk Merlin twice a day for a total of two hours, we are quite lucky as he runs so much he easily covers two or three times the distance that we walk.

                              DISADVANTAGES OF SPRINGER SPANIELS

                              Most of the downside that I can think of here really applys to dogs in general and not just this breed. The obvious one is commitment. Dogs do need walking whatever the weather. Days out need to be planned, no more 12 hour shopping trips or impulse nights away. We put Merlin in a kennel when we go on holiday but usually only go for a week now as we miss him so much. Then there is the obvious expense, food, vet bills, insurance, kennels and grooming. One disadvantage that I believe is a Springer trait is the dirtiness. Although Merlin is 90 per cent good on walks i.e. he comes when called and I can trust him completely with children and other dogs he can NOT be trusted near anything that stinks. To Merlin a walk is not a walk unless you come home smelling of odour de dead fish or fox poo. If you can avoid the smells then you only have to look forward to a kitchen full of sand, mud and dog hairs.

                              ADVANTAGES

                              Where do I start? Companionship, love, fun. As corny as it sounds a dog really is your best friend. Merlin is part of the furniture he is always there. We had an early start on our last holiday so he had to go to the kennels the night before. I lost count of the amount of times that night that I threw some food on the floor or wondered why he wasn't under my feet it was horrible the house felt so empty.

                              We are sure that we chose the right breed of dog. There have never been problems with things being chewed in the house although Merlin is a slipper stealer, when we find them they are never chewed just sometimes a bit soggy from his big chops. He is also a very quiet dog and very seldom barks which I think is a major bonus - nothing more annoying than a yappy dog. Pre my daughter Merlin was not a beggar but since having many a treat dropped from a highchair he has now realised just what he might gain by sitting under the kitchen table at mealtimes. However I can still trust him with food and do not have to hide things in the kitchen including the cat food which he knows is not his.

                              To sum up our Springer Spaniel experience so far I would say that we have now had Merlin for seven years, I hope that we are only half way through our journey as he is very much part of the family.

                              If you are prepared for the commitment of caring for a Springer you will be rewarded with so much fun, respect and unconditional love.

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                                15.03.2010 23:48
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                                A very informative book that appeals to children of any age

                                My vision of Walt Disney World had always been of Mickey, Minnie and Princesses and I had never really given much thought to the rides. Before booking our Orlando holiday we did a great deal of "grown up" research; hotels, restaurants and shopping but still felt unsure as to what to expect from Disney it self and more importantly how much we would find there to be suitable for my very young daughter.

                                I knew Birnbaum Guides were the official Disney guide, and when I found one that was specifically aimed at children I thought it might advise us on some good rides. However, what it really gave us was so very much more . . . . . . . .

                                The book is divided into seven sections;

                                1. You're Going to Disney World - This is the introduction to the guide, saying how to use it and an explanation of the symbols that appear throughout .
                                There are a couple of pages on Walt Disney himself and some Disney milestones.
                                A holiday countdown chart is included and some useful advice on planning a schedule and what to pack.

                                The next four sections belong to each of the theme parks;

                                2. Magic Kingdom
                                3. Epcot
                                4. Hollywood Studios
                                5. Animal Kingdom

                                First there is a description of each park and a map.
                                Every single ride and attraction is detailed here and each ride is given at least half a page. I found the descriptions very good and quite honest giving an indication as to what age this would appeal to and clearly stating height restrictions. There were numerous pictures and symbols indicating what to expect and if you can obtain fastpasses. Readers are encouraged to give feedback from the parks and this information is used in the guide in the form of the top ten rides (reader pleasers) and reader reviews.

                                Some of our favourite info was the "Hidden Mickey Alerts"; clues as to where we might find him hidden at the attractions. It nearly became an obsession of ours searching in the shadows and clouds for his image.

                                There is a page on entertainment, giving details on the parades and firework shows and information on where to meet all the characters. There are also some useful tips for each park individually.

                                7. Everything Else in the World. - This section really contains what it says in the title. There are twenty eight pages of what else Disney has to offer including; Water parks, Hotels, Sports, Downtown Disney and Disney Quest, the Monorail and Restaurants.

                                8. Magical Memories - This beautiful and well thought out section is the reason we will keep this book forever. It is designed for your child to fill with their thoughts, memories and even keepsakes ( a place to stick your ticket and napkin). The last twenty pages are left blank for autographs. The characters recognise the book and Goofy and Donald took great delight looking through and laughing at pictures of Mickey. My daughter thought this was hilarious.

                                The reader reporters in this guide are aged between 7 and 14 and offer honest and really helpful views. I believe however, that your child does not have to fit into this age bracket to benefit from the advice. Our daughter is four and we found it extremely useful. She loved looking at it before we went away, using the symbols to make her own plans and she loves it now because of the wonderful memories it contains.

                                Without hesitation I would recommend this book to anyone with children planning to visit Disney World.

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