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princesslaura

princesslaura
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Member since: 05.05.2004

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      01.06.2011 16:54
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      Milly delivers a fab story!

      "A Summer Fling" follows the lives of four women who, in perhaps a first for a chick lit novel, work in the bakery department of a supermarket chain. They're all a little nervous at the imminent arrival of their new boss Christie but don't confide their worries to one another, none of them having ever really spoken to each other before, despite working together five days a week. Christie has a huge job ahead to mould them into a team and teach each team member to support and rely on her comrades.

      The oldest of our ladies is Grace. In her fifties, she feels stifled by her husband and pressured by him to take early retirement, retirement from the job that provides the only escape from her loveless marriage. Thirty nine year old Anna was devastated when her fiancé left her for a much younger model and now only leaves the house to go to work, spending her time daydreaming about her lost fiancé coming back to her. Dawn, at 33, has been desperate to have a family ever since she was orphaned as a teenager. Engaged to the dreadful Calum and deeply attached to the security she feels this brings, Dawn seems impervious to all of his many, many flaws. The youngest of the women is Raychel, 28, who appears to have a blissful marriage to her childhood sweetheart Ben; but why haven't they had children, and why is Raychel so quiet and withdrawn?

      It took me a chapter or two to get properly immersed in the book, but once I was there I was really hooked: there's loads of excitement and intrigue, with plenty of secrets to be uncovered as we discover more about the protagonists.

      My favourite character was Grace; I felt so sorry for her with her awful husband wanting to permanently whisk her away to a caravan. I loved how her story developed and I thought the relationships between her and her stepchildren were brilliantly dealt with.

      Some of the novel's other great personalities were Dawn's future family-in-law, who were hilariously awful, and her fiancé, who has to be one of literature's laziest bums. It's a true testament to Milly Johnson's writing that you could really empathise with Dawn and understand why she'd stuck with these awful people for so long - a big, close family was what she felt was missing from her life.

      Part of the novel that I particularly enjoyed was Anna's transformation; not just the physical changes, her care of herself and her smiles, but the mental alterations, how the scars of her fiancé leaving heal. Anna's love interest, the vampire character, was a little bizarre, but if Milly wants to add a little Gothic vampirism to her text then who am I to complain?

      There were some aspects of this book that really made it stand out. I especially felt that making the women differing ages gave the novel a wide appeal and I found it interesting to see events from their various perspectives. I enjoyed having Barnsley as the setting; it gave the story a very different feel to the usual metropolitan chick lit.

      This is the first of Milly Johnson's books that I've read, and I'll be working my way through her back catalogue soon. It contained some brilliantly written characters and the intertwining plots were all captivating. Yes, there were parts of the novel that were a little far-fetched, but what's wrong with a little escapism eh?

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      • Secrets - Freya North / Fiction Book / 45 Readings / 45 Ratings
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        30.05.2011 22:04
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        great characters, fab read

        Joe has a job that he loves, and a woman waiting for him in every country his work takes him to. He's very set in his ways and a confirmed bachelor. So when he advertises for a housesitter to look after his house and dog whilst he travels, he doesn't expect to find himself hiring Tess - a woman running away from her problems in London with a baby in tow and seemingly determined to lock heads with him at every opportunity.

        He suddenly finds his life, and his house, being turned upside down by Tess and baby Emmy's arrival. And what's worse, he rapidly becomes intrigued by Tess and what exactly she's running away from. Will Tess be able to keep her 'secrets' to herself whilst living with Joe? And is it possible that Joe could have some secrets of his very own?

        Joe was a fantastic male lead: very sexy and brooding. His job, building bridges, made his character interesting and led to some brilliantly original scenes and a very perfect ending to the book. Unfortunately however, the man just doesn't seem to know what's good for him: I found myself almost shouting out loud with frustration at how he treated Tess, he was so infuriating! I just couldn't put the book down until he sorted himself out and did what I wanted him to do, which took a while! Thank goodness he got there in the end.

        Tess came across as a little weak at the beginning of the novel but then really came into her own. There's one particular scene where she thinks that Joe is going to leave after an argument and she completely turns the tables on him - he will forever after have a fondness for Iggle Piggle.

        The way the relationship develops between Tess and Jo is beautifully written, and I love that Freya North isn't afraid to have the main characters come together in the middle of a novel so that the reader can watch their new relationship grow.

        The setting of Saltburn-by-the-Sea was another great aspect of the novel. The descriptions of the region were captivating and it's easy to see that it's somewhere thought of with great fondness by the novelist. It's not an area that I had heard of before, but I would now love to visit if I ever get the opportunity.

        This is the first book I've read by Freya North; I've been meaning to try her writing for a while but just hadn't got round to it until now. I found 'Secrets' a lovely, very romantic novel, with an incredibly sexy lead man and a cute dog and toddler chucked in - what more could you ask for? I'll definitely be on the look out for more of Freya's work.

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          28.05.2011 16:16
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          great family drama

          'Daughters of Fortune' spans a period of thirty years and follows the trials and joys of businessman William Melville's three daughters. Elizabeth and Amber, William's daughters by his wife Isabel, were brought up in the lap of luxury; the only thing they missed out on as they grew up was having their father around: William was always too busy working to spend time with them. Caitlin, William's third daughter, also lacked her father: she was 15 before she discovered she was the product of a love affair between William and her recently deceased Irish mother. Her father insists Caitlin's brought to live in the Melville's mansion, but she doubts she'll ever find any affinity with her spoilt, aloof half sisters.

          I loved the feeling of grandeur and wealth which went along with the novel; this is a family who are extremely rich and are used to living the high life but, as always, the adage is certainly true that money doesn't buy happiness. Whilst from the outside this world would appear to be ideal and the characters in it flawless, it's only when we're taken closer that we see that of course, this isn't completely true.

          I was worried I'd be put off the story a little by how perfect the sisters appeared, and in particular by how good-looking they all are, but actually this just seemed to add to the whole grandeur of the narrative. In a way these women seem at first glance to almost be a type of super-human: beautiful, rich and talented, but naturally like all of us girls, they do have failings and weaknesses, making their characters much more satisfying to explore.

          Caitlin was the most 'ordinary' of the girls - probably because she'd had such a normal upbringing until her mother dies. Her talent for fashion design is something which is vastly different to anything that her half-sisters can do and, althought it would have been very easy for her to have used this ability to become part of her father's business, she chooses to remain independent. Her determination to stand on her own two feet and make her own way in the world was a trait which endeared her to me.

          Amber quickly became my least favourite of the sisters - she really was extremely shallow and self-centred. Though, having said that, she's not totally without redemption and her treatment by her family has a lot to do with her behaviour. Thankfully she comes into her own towards the end of the novel - maybe a sequel would give her a chance to shine?

          Following the lives of William Melville's three children was completely engrossing, and setting the novel over thirty years meant that the reader really experiences the characters' developments from childhood to a point in their lives where their true colours begin to become apparent. Wonderful, gripping escapism, 'Daughters of Fortune' is a glamorous and thrilling read from start to finish.

          For more of my reviews please see my blog: girlyscribbles.wordpress.com

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            21.05.2011 14:30
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            lovely, heartwarming novel

            In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away. His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets. And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will. He talks of them wistfully. His legacy, he calls them.

            Lydia, Dean and Robyn don't know each other. Yet. And they are all facing difficult changes. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed. Dean is a young man, burdened with unexpected responsibility, whose life is going nowhere. And Robyn wants to be a doctor, just like her father - a man she's never met. But is her whole life built on an illusion?

            Three people leading three very different lives. All lost. All looking for something. But when they slowly find their way into each other's lives, everything starts to change ...

            'The Making of Us' describes the coming together of Frenchman Daniel Blanchard's children as he lies dying in a hospice in Bury St Edmunds. Daniel donated sperm to a fertility clinic in London many years ago, but never told anyone. Now, as he nears the end of his life, Daniel tells his secret to his friend Maggie and asks her do one thing for him before he dies: find out something about the children he fathered.

            Twenty-nine year old Lydia is the eldest of Daniel's progeny. Her life has changed inextricably from her troubled upbringing in a small Welsh town; nowadays she's extremely rich and living in a beautiful house in London. But money can't buy happiness, and Lydia is lonely and unfulfilled. However, thanks to a mysterious letter, she's discovered that the angry, bitter man who raised her was not actually her father. Some further investigation brings the news that she has siblings and Lydia wonders whether getting in touch with them make her life more complete.

            Next is Dean who's at a low point in his life: he's only twenty one, but his life is a mess, and when his girlfriend Sky dies, leaving him to look after new-born baby Isadora, he doesn't think he's up the challenge. Can the support of his newfound sisters give him the strength to sort himself out and become a good dad to his baby?

            The youngest of the trio, Robyn, has always known that her father was a sperm donor. If anything she's enjoyed the faint air of glamour that her French parentage lent her during her pampered Essex upbringing. She's determined to become a doctor like her biological father, and is off to study medicine at university. But something doesn't feel quite right as she starts this new chapter in her usually perfect life.

            The characters were delightful, and their worries and feelings were completely believable. And, although the main protagonists are very different, and come from widely contrasting backgrounds, they do, ultimately, gel. Lisa Jewell uses alternating viewpoints incredibly well and it's lovely to see the characters through their siblings' eyes. I thought the concept of the trio coming together and tentatively trying to form a relationship was very original and made for a real page-turner. Naturally flawed, the characters were so lovable and vulnerable that I was moved to tears several times.

            I adored all of Daniel's children, and Dean in particular. His actions at the beginning of the novel made me think he'd be my least favourite of the three, but he was frustratingly captivating and brilliantly written: he's 21, but acts much younger and he's so infuriating that you almost want to prod him out of his apathy and force him to pull himself together. It's wonderful to see how he comes out of his shell as the book progresses; a turning point being his support of Lydia on a trip to uncover the truth behind her mother's untimely death.

            This novel has everything: an intriguing plot, wonderful writing, great characters and the ability to draw out of the reader all sorts of emotions. It contains some extremely funny moments, often concerning Lydia and her crush on her personal trainer, as well as very moving episodes, especially those set at the hospice. Lisa Jewell's works really seem to have taken a step up in recent years, and I think she can be now very firmly placed in the same league as authors such as David Nicholls and Rosy Thornton.

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            • Virals - Kathy Reichs / Junior Book / 28 Readings / 28 Ratings
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              20.05.2011 15:00
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              great YA novel

              Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years.

              With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.

              On the run from forces they don't understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology - and suddenly it's clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It's a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again...

              "Virals" is the beginning of a new series by Kathy Reich, forensic scientist and author of the Temperance Brennan novels. The book stars fourteen year old Tory Brennan, great niece of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Tory lives on a small island near Charleston with her marine biologist father, a man that she only found out existed when her mother died less than a year ago. Whilst she and her three friends are visiting the research island where her father works, Tory meets a family of wolf-dogs; when one of the pack goes missing, she decides to investigate and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for, including a 40 year old murder to solve and a mystery illness.

              The book is written in the first person, and Tory makes an entertaining and witty narrator. This style of writing means that the reader very quickly finds out a lot about her and the way she thinks, her background, and, in particular, how intelligent she is.

              The paranormal twist in the tale occurs when Tory and her friends contract a newly developed and untested virus from one of the wolf-dogs, and are left with super-sensory powers. These abilities bind the group together as a 'pack', and come in particularly handy if you need to sniff out the odd hidden skeleton.

              I liked the way that Tory and her gang were all gifted in different areas and worked well together as a group, with Tory as a rather bossy leader! As Tory is only fourteen I thought it was appropriate that there was no real love story in the book, although she does have a small crush. In fact, the four teenagers are brilliant role models for the young adults reading this book - they don't drink or do drugs, but they're cool, fun, and work hard at school. I'll admit they do a fair amount of breaking and entering, but it's all in a very good cause!

              "Virals" is Kathy Reich's first book aimed at young adults, and I found that I really enjoyed it. I liked the way that this novel worked well as a stand-alone adventure - the plot is tidied away neatly at the end, but the characters are compelling, and it's so intriguing to imagine where their new powers will lead them, that I'm sure most readers will be anxious for the next instalment. This really was a fantastic mystery, which kept me hanging on right till the end to discover exactly who was responsible for the crimes. The addition of a supernatural element only served to enhance it to my mind.

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              06.09.2010 22:09
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              the latest installment of the Shopaholic series

              Becky Brandon is back! But this time, she has an accomplice. In Sophie Kineslla's latest offering, Becky is joined by her daughter Minnie, who, at the age of two, can already hail a cab and ask to be taken to Starbucks for a muffin.

              'Mini Shopaholic' is the sixth in the Shopaholic series and has been very eagerly awaited by Sophie Kinsella fans, myself included. The series centres around the antics of Becky, a personal shopper, who is married to businessman Luke Brandon. Becky has a serious shopping addiction; she just can't resist any form of shopping at all, and this is the basis of the many hilarious situations that she finds herself in.

              When we last saw Becky she had just given birth to daughter Minnie. She and Luke had moved in with her parents after the purchase of their house fell through and Luke's company ran into problems. Minnie is now two and they are all still living with Becky's parents due to a series of misfortunes whilst attempting to a buy a property.

              In 'Mini Shopaholic' we see Becky doing her best to cope with the country's financial crisis and organise an inexpensive surprise party for Luke. Oh, and she also needs to convince a childcare guru that Minnie doesn't need to be dragged off to Utah to deal with her rather demanding nature.

              Shopaholic fans will see the return of lots of their favourite characters, such as Suze, Tarquin and Danny, as well as Becky's terrifying mother-in-law Elinor. There are also some new faces, in particular Luke's assistant Bonnie.

              There were some very funny moments (such as Becky's visit to Poundland and Minnie ordering sixteen Miu Miu coats from the internet), but I felt that the new character of Bonnie seemed quite incomplete. By the end of the book I still had no idea about her homelife or what she really thought of Becky. I am also continually surprised by Sophie Kinsella's decision to never show Luke's father, who surely would have made the effort to attend a massive party which was being held for his only son.

              I think that Sophie Kinsella should get a lot of credit for being able to make Becky come across as such a likeable character. She has many flaws and I find myself getting annoyed with her in each of the books as she gets herself into all sorts of scraps, but, ultimately, I'm always rooting for her to succeed. Sophie Kinsella also manages to come up with something different for each book in the series and really manages to keep the reader gripped. I read this book in one sitting, only getting up to get more tea and to check that my children and husband weren't feeling too neglected.

              I really enjoyed the scenes between Becky and Minnie; they were often very funny and despite the exaggerations of fiction, a lot of parents will find elements of them very true to life!

              A reader new to the Shopaholic series would, I think, enjoy this book, but perhaps not as much as someone who has followed Becky's dramas from the offset. I do feel however that I should issue a word of warning for those new readers - this really is a very frivolous book; entertaining and hilarious in parts, but totally frivolous. That said, and despite my few and minor other criticisms, I would recommend this book to any chick lit fan; if you're in the mood for a little escapism than you won't find much better than the Shopaholic series and its latest addition!

              This book is currently available only in hardback. It's RRP is £18.99, but Amazon are selling it for £8.99.

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                18.07.2010 22:43
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                very romantic and unputdownable!

                Paige Toon seems to have taken the chick lit world by storm in the last couple of years, and no wonder, her books are immensely readable and once you start there really is no putting them down!

                'Pictures of Lily' is Paige's fourth book and has been very eagerly awaited by her fans, not least because she has been promising updates on our favourite characters from her other books.

                The eponymous Lily is a twenty-six year old temp who lives and works in Sydney, Australia. The book begins with Lily being proposed to by her boyfriend Richard. Lily loves Richard and is happy living with him. She should be thrilled to be marrying him but she has never got over losing her first love at the age of sixteen. Can she marry Richard when she knows that part of her heart will never be his?

                'Pictures of Lily' is set in Adelaide and Sydney. I enjoyed the way that Paige used landmarks and the beautiful Australian scenery as a backdrop to the story. Her descriptions of the conservation park which Lily works in and of the animals there are very memorable.

                One of the aspects of 'Pictures of Lily' which I really liked was the way that Paige takes us back ten years for almost half the book to when Lily is sixteen and falls in love with someone that she realty shouldn't have fallen in love with. Paige does a wonderful job of writing as a 16 year old, conveying all the teenage angst, whilst still ensuring that the reader knows that the love she feels isn't just a teenage crush. It's the real thing and will never leave Lily. Paige also manages to deal with the large age difference between Lily and her love very well. The relationship between them never seems wrong. The reader knows that despite the age difference, the two characters really are made for each other.
                Something that I admire about Paige as a writer is the way that she sees all the sides to her characters. There is no simple answer to what Lily should do; she does love Richard and he is a good person, while Lily herself is not perfect in the way that she deals with the situation.

                In writing this book Paige certainly fulfilled her promise of bringing back previous characters. Lily's boyfriend Richard cameoed in Paige's first book, 'Lucy In The Sky', as Nathan's flatmate in London. He's still friends with the old gang, so fans of 'Lucy In The Sky' get an update on what Molly, Sam, Lucy and Nathan have been up to! There are also brief mentions of Johnny Jefferson ('Johnny Be Good') and Luis and Daisy ('Chasing Daisy').

                I recommend Paige Toon far and wide, and this book is certainly no exception. Readers will be able to relate to the characters but the situations and Australian backdrop give added interest that really keep the reader hooked. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than curled up reading this!

                'Pictures of Lily' is published by Pocket Books. It's RRP is £6.99, but Amazon currently sell it for £4.19. It's 432 pages long.

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                  18.10.2009 23:18
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                  'Mr Strong' is number 26 in the very popular Mr Men series by Roger Hargreaves. The main character of the book, Mr Strong himself, is so strong that he can hammer nails into the wall just by tapping them with his finger! Mr Strong's strength can be to his disadvantage, as he frequently breaks things without meaning to but one day he uses his strength to help a farmer whose field is on fire, and in doing so gains a reward which comes in very handy!

                  There are some very funny moments in this book, such as when Mr Strong bumps into a tree and the tree trunk snaps in half. The simple, bright illustrations, which are on the right of every double page, are perfect in helping little ones understand the humour of the story. The writing, which is on the left of every double page, is very clear and nicely spread out, which I think encourages children to look at the words and have a go at working out what they say.

                  The book cover shows a picture of Mr Strong, who is square and red with a smiley face and a rather dapper green hat. The back of the book has a picture of each of the Mr Men, with their name and book number underneath them.

                  This is a lovely addition to the Mr Men collection. It's very funny and I love that Mr Strong is so strong because of all the eggs he eats. My 5 year old definitely upped his intake of scrambled egg after reading that!

                  This book is published by Egmont Books and is 36 pages long. It has an RRP of £2.50.

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                    17.10.2009 00:15
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                    The Topsy and Tim series of books have been loved by children since they first began to be published in 1960. They are simple stories of a set of twins as they go through many of the experiences that young children experience, such as going to the doctor and the dentist. They can be very useful in helping to prepare children for something new as well as being lovely stories in their own right.

                    In this Topsy and Tim adventure the twins are taken by their Mummy to buy new shoes because their old ones are all worn out. They have their feet measured and learn about the importance of wearing the right size shoes.

                    This book really helped my autistic son on a recent visit to have his feet measured. We read it the night before so that he knew what to expect. I reminded him during the visit to the shoe shop that he was doing the same as Topsy and Tim. The only problem came with the actual measuring of the feet, the shop assistant asked him to step onto a computerised sizing thing in the corner of the store. He was having none of it so I managed to convince the shop assistant to bring out the old fashioned measuring device like Topsy and Tim use!

                    All my children enjoy this book, they particularly like the bit when Topsy has a hissy fit in the shoe shop because she wants a pair of pink party shoes. In all fairness the shoes her mum chose for her were pretty pants...

                    The cover of the book is colourful and appealing and shows a picture of Topsy and Tim in the shoe shop, with Topsy trying out her new shoes and Tim waiting to have his feet measured. Each page of this book has a lovely, bright illustration to accompany the text, so it really keeps a child's attention for the whole story.

                    This is a hardback Ladybird book and is 32 pages long. It is available to buy from sellers on Amazon, but I don't think that it is in print at the moment.

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                      14.10.2009 16:09
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                      'George's Marvellous Medicine' was the first of Roald Dahl's stories which we read to our eldest son. It's the story of a little boy who has a real stinker of a grandmother. She's rude and scary and bosses him around all the time. One day George's mum and dad have both gone out, leaving him alone with his Grandma. George has had enough of Grandma bullying him and so decides to cure her of her cantankerous behaviour with a special potion, which he'll give her instead of her usual medicine.

                      He finds an enormous saucepan in the kitchen and lugs it all around the house, essentially putting in a bit of everything he finds [lipsticks and canary seed included!]. He even makes sure he adds some brown paint so that it is the same colour as Grandma's real medicine! He then boils it up to make sure that everything's nicely mixed together before serving it to his unsuspecting Grandma!

                      The 'medicine' has quite alarming results and Grandma ends up growing taller and taller until she is bigger than the family's house. George then tries it out on some of the farmyard animals, and the potion brings about the same results. However, the saucepan of potion won't last forever, and George didn't bother to write down exactly what he put in it so George and his father set about trying to recreate the potion so that they can sell it to farmers and make their fortune. They also need to find a way to shrink Grandma [who is even more of a pain big than she was small and shrivelled up in her armchair] back to size.

                      My favourite part of this book has got to be George's father's reaction when he comes home to find his mother-in-law's heading poking out of the top of his house. He's far more interested in the giant chicken next to her and just tells her to shut up!

                      My children really enjoy this book, apart from the song which George sings just before he starts collecting his ingredients. I have given up reading that passage as it causes so much animosity!

                      I am always slightly disappointed by the end paragraph of this book, it seems to be to bring the book to its close before it's quite ready. I would have liked to have seen George's family making a fortune out of their giant animals! I also think that the ending may be a little disturbing for young children of a sensitive disposition!

                      This book contains black and white illustrations by Roald Dahl's principal illustrator, Quentin Blake. The cover of the book is red and has a colour illustration of George brewing his potion.

                      Our edition of 'George's Marvellous Medicine' is a paperback and was published by Puffin books. It's 112 pages long [we tend to read it to our boys in a couple of sittings!]. Our copy was published in 1982, but a newer edition can be purchased for a few pounds from most book shops.

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                        13.10.2009 20:58
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                        'Mr Silly' is number 10 in the Mr Men series which was written by Roger Hargreaves. Mr Silly lives in Nonsenseland, where everything is very silly. The trees are red and the dogs wear hats so it really is the ideal place for Mr Silly to live! Every year there is a competition in Nonsenseland called the Nonsense Cup and Mr Silly is desperate to win it, but he needs to come up with a really brilliant idea if he's to beat such genius as a car with square wheels. After much pondering Mr Silly enters the competion, but will his entry be daft enough to win the cup?

                        The front cover of this book is white with a picture of Mr Silly on it. Mr Silly has a big smile, is light brown and wears an orange hat, which hides his eyes, and some fabulous yellow shoes.

                        The books follows the usual Mr Men format of having the writing on the left hand pages and the pictures on the right hand pages. The pictures are simple, but very bright and distinctive.

                        This is definitely one of my favourite Mr Men stories, it is very funny and never fails to make my children giggle when we read it together [although I'm not sure my 2 year old really gets the joke at the end, he does tend to just laugh if he sees other people laughing!]. I would say it's suitable from about the age of 2 up until about 6 or 7.

                        I find the Mt Men stories to be a really good length for little children. They're not so short that you've barely sat down before it's finished but they're not so long that you have a fidgety little monkey next to you!

                        'Mr Silly' is published by Egmont Books. It is 32 pages long and measures 13.5 x 12.2 x 0.5 cm. It's RRP is £2.50, but it's available from Amazon for £2.25. Not bad value for such a funny story which we have read over and over and over again!

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                          11.10.2009 21:23
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                          'Mr Bump' is number 6 in the very famous Mr Men series by Roger Hargreaves. It tells the story of the very accident prone Mr Bump, who can't seem to do anything without either hurting himself or breaking something. It is impossible for him to hold down a job as he is such a liability. Mr Bump eventually decides to go on a holiday to get over all his little accidents and try to come up with an idea of a job he can do. You'll have to read the book if you want to find out whether or not he succeeds!

                          The 'Mr Men' books are small [they measure 13.6 x 13 x 0.8 cm] and all have white covers with a picture of the main character from the story on them. Mr Bumps is blue and round and has bandages wrapped around his head and his tummy from all the bumps he has!

                          It follows the same format of the other 'Mr Men' books in that the left hand pages have the writing on them and the right hand pages each have bright, quite simplistic drawings.

                          'Mr Bump' is 32 pages long and is published by Egmont Books and has an RRP of £2.50, which I think is pretty fair. Amazon currently sell it for £2. I don't find the Mr Men books to be the best quality, but as they are much cheaper than a lot of other children's books I can forgive the fact that several of ours now have several pages held in place by sellotape!

                          Overall I would say that 'Mr Bump' isn't my favourite Mr Men character , and this book isn't one that my children ask for very often, but it is a nice addition to the collection and I am rather fond of the very sweet ending!

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                            09.10.2009 22:20
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                            Palmolive Odour Neutralising Liquid Handwash claims that its special formula neutralises stinky smells on your hands, such as onions and garlic. It also contains an antibacterial agent which helps to remove germs from your hands. Palmolive reckon that it should leave your hands 'feeling clean, fresh and protected' So does it do all that it purports?

                            I hate anything that tastes, or even smells like, lemon or lime. So when my husband picked three bottles of this up I was really not impressed. He'd chosen it because it neutralises odours and is antibacterial, but I didn't think that was enough to get me over the smell. However, I was to be proved wrong. I wouldn't describe the smell as limey at all, it just smells really fresh and clean. I've had guests commenting on how nice it smells. It is a fairly strong smell but no one in my family seems to mind that.

                            I suffer from dermatitis on my hands and I react quite badly with most washing up liquids in particular so I am quite careful to always choose something for sensitive skin.

                            The handwash has a smooth, silky texture and is not at all sticky. It doesn't leave any residue after rinsing off.

                            I can't vouch for whether it does actually have an antibacterial action, but it does seem to eliminate at least some of the cooking odours on my hands. Although as the smell is quite strong I suppose it could just be masking them!

                            It is a clear, plastic bottle with a pump on the top to dispense the handwash. It has a picture of some limes and a flower on the front It does tend to get very slippery when wet [something that my children find very amusing]. The handwash itself is a very pretty pale green.

                            The bottle holds 300ml and the ingredients in this handwash are:

                            Aqua , Sodium C12-13 Pareth Sulfate , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Lactic Acid , Lauryl Glucoside , Sodium Chloride , Parfum , Sodium Hydroxide , DMDM Hydantoin , Tetrasodium EDTA , Citric Acid , Citrus Aurantifolia Juice , Citrus Aurantifolia Oil , CI 42090 , CI 47005

                            At the moment it is on special offer with Asda, 4 bottles for £3, but it is usually more than this, Boots, for example, charges £1.69.

                            This is definitely one of the best handwashes that I have ever used, regardless of whether the claims of the antibacterial agent are actually based on fact!

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                              08.10.2009 13:54
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                              This book, by the wonderful partnership of author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, really is a modern classic. It is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and is so popular that a stage show has been made of it.

                              'The Gruffalo' is the story of a little mouse going for a peaceful stroll in the wood. The mouse would be having a lovely time apart from the fact that various creatures keep stopping to chat to him and attempt to lure him back to their homes so that they can eat him! The mouse invents a terrible creature, the Gruffalo, who he claims he is going to meet and who, handily, would be very happy to munch his way through any of the mouse's predators. What the clever little mouse doesn't bargain for is a real Gruffalo turning up!

                              This book is written in rhyme, like Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's other books. The text really flows as you read it and has a wonderful rhythm.

                              I think 'The Gruffalo' is a fantastic story, and a really beautiful book. I think Axel Scheffler's illustrations are clever, original and engaging and I love the rhymes and rhythm of the text when I am reading it aloud to my boys. HOWEVER, my children all appear to hate this book! They never want me to read it to them and try to hide it if it's put in the pile of books to be read to them before bed. My only theory as to why they don't like it is that maybe the mouse's scheme isn't clear enough for them to get their little heads around!

                              'The Gruffalo' is 32 pages long, measures 26.6 x 20.8 x 0.4 cm, and is published by Macmillan Children's Books and has an RRP of £5.99. It's available for the bargain price of £2.99 from Amazon.

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                                07.10.2009 17:54
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                                I got our local bookshop to order this book for me about three years ago, when my eldest son was going through his fireman stage. He was a big fan of Topsy and Tim at the time so I was very pleased to discover this book!

                                'Topsy and Tim Meet the Firefighters' is part of the, fairly large, Topsy and Tim series of books by Jean and Gareth Adamson. Topsy and Tim are twins and their books are fantastic for helping children learn about new experiences. They are suitable for children from between the ages of about two to six.

                                In this story Topsy and Tim go with their Mummy to an Open Day held by their local fire station, where their friend Kerry's Dad works as a firefighter. They learn all sorts of things about fire safety and the fire service, such as that women can be firefighters as well as men. They even get to have a ride on a real fire appliance [apparently you should not call them fire engines...].

                                All my boys have enjoyed this book, there are bright illustrations on every page, [which my two year old loves to look at by himself] which are accompanied by a paragraph of writing. My only complaint about this book is that it is a little preachy, but then what else would you expect from a children's book about the fire service?!

                                Our edition of this book is 32 pages long and is a hardback Ladybird book. It has an RRP of £2.50, which I think is fantastic value. It is currently available from Amazon for £2.25. Our copy as been read many, many times and is still in excellent condition so it's obviously a very well made little book.

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