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Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. 

This weeks choice:

In The Shadow Of The Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. 

Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? 

A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp.

Released by Bloomsbury Us in April 2011

Love me an epic historical love story...this sounds great!

The Secret Shopper Affair by Kate Harrison

Best mates Sandie, Emily and Grazia have been through so much together: widowhood, divorce and redundancy for starters. They thought they'd be friends forever, but they reckoned without the dividing effects of men and money... Shopping guru Sandie is on a roll, with a baby on the way and Toby, her posh totty partner, proposing every five minutes. But when she realises the legendary Garnett's Department Store is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, she knows she's the only one to save it, even though Toby's mother seems determined to scupper the rescue bid. For Emily, Sandie's apparently perfect life is a bitter pill to swallow, especially as Emily's been banned from having a second child by her boyfriend, Will, who is more interested in saving the planet than her. As the rifts grow, will she learn to stand on her own two feet, or give in to a new temptation? Glamorous Grazia tries to play peace-maker but she's facing her own big decision: whether to develop her new career as an erotic embroidery artist... or give up on her talent for the sake of her new, needy lover? Can the magic of retail bring the secret shoppers back together, or is it time to shut up shop for good?

Released by Orion March 2011

I LOVE this series. You can read my reviews of the first two Secret Shopper books here and here pretty is that cover?

Book Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

An electric combination of angels, mystery and romance, MERCY is the first book in a major new paranormal series. 

There's something very wrong with me. I can't remember who I am or how old I am, or even how I got here. All I know is that when I wake up, I could be any one. It is always this way. There's nothing I can keep with me that will stay. It's made me adaptable. I must always re-establish ties. I must tread carefully or give myself away. I must survive. 

Mercy doesn't realise it yet, but as she journeys into the darkest places of the human soul, she discovers that she is one of the celestial host exiled with fallen angel, Lucifer. Now she must atone for taking his side. To find her own way back to heaven, Mercy must help a series of humans in crisis and keep the unwary from getting caught up in the games that angels play. Ultimately she must choose between her immortal companion, Lucifer, and a human boy who risks everything for her love. (from

The moment I read the above synopsis I was drawn to this book. Angels may well be the new vampires, but this sounded very different. I was right, Mercy is extraordinarily different and from page to page I had no idea what to expect.

The book begins with Mercy waking up in a stranger’s body. She doesn’t know where or who she is, only that this happens again and again. She has no idea why this happens or whom she was before her constant journeying from host to host began.  This time she’s in the body of quiet misfit Carmen, aboard a coach with the school choir visiting another school in order to perform with them. The students are placed with local families during their stay, only Carmen seems to have drawn the short straw and finds herself placed with the tragic Daley’s whose own daughter and local star soprano, Lauren, mysteriously disappeared two years ago. Drawn to angry and vengeful brother Ryan, Mercy feels she has been sent here for a purpose, but what exactly will that be?

I was sucked in to this book immediately by the beautifully tragic prose Lim uses in her opening chapters as Mercy finds herself falling into Carmen’s life. It’s almost poetic and completely captured my imagination. I was all set for something truly amazing. However I was quickly surprised to see the book taking a different path from what I had originally presumed from the synopsis. The main focus of this book is the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance and although Mercy discovers some pretty amazing powers on her journey, the paranormal element is a definite undertone.

That isn’t to say this was a bad thing, I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, which in itself was gripping and well executed. I thought Lim imagined the overwhelming despair and depression of Lauren’s parents perfectly to the point I could feel the weight of it as I read. Ryan is also perfectly crafted as the brother angry at a world who has now wrote his sister off as dead but refuses to stop believing. I particularly enjoyed the developing trust and tenderness between Mercy and Ryan. In contrast to many other YA Paranormal characters, there’s almost no romance between the two. It’s built on respect and trust, and while Mercy does mention a couple of times feeling attracted to him, that’s as far as it goes. Again this relationship completey sets apart this book from many others on the market.

However I felt the synopsis may have been a little misleading and is possibly an overview for the whole series rather than this book. It’s actually only from reading this that I know what Mercy is, as by the end of the book although closer to knowing the truth, she’s still in the dark. There’s no mention at all of Lucifer, although we do get brief glimpses through her dreams of a mysterious Luc (who could possibly be Lucifer?), and other possible fallen angels, though it’s all very vague. Again, if it wasn’t for the synopsis I wouldn’t really have had a clue who or what these beings may be and found this confusing. I also felt Carmen, Mercy’s human host could have been expanded upon and would have liked to know more about her other than she could sing. It seemed to me a shame to hijack this characters life and induce some attachment to her, and then discard her without any thought. 

At just 270 pages of quite large text, the problem may be that there was just too much story left uncovered. This almost felt like two different books at times, the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance being one, then the occasional vague and confusing celestial thread another. It’s a very complex plot and pretty amazing how so much was fitted into relatively few pages. On the upside, this made the book a very easy and breathtaking read and rarely lost pace. On the other side though it did leave me feeling confused at times. Rereading my review I’m left wondering if the series was written as a book, but then someone decided to split it?

For the most part, despite the flaws, I very much enjoyed reading this book (more than my review may indicate) and think the series does have  huge potential. Rebecca Lim uses language beautifully and evokes emotions and imagery very well. I was gripped by the unpredictability of the story and never knew where things were heading. I read the book in two sittings and will certainly be following Mercy’s story in the future, as the book tells us at the end, Mercy awakes in May 2011. 

Kids Corner: Books We've Been Reading This Week.

This week winter has well and truly hit here in the UK and signs of Christmas are springing up all over. It certainly set the mood for some wintery and Christmasy reading for me and my little one. I love kids Christmas picture books and stories and we have quite a collection at home, though we still couldn't resist some from the fabulous displays set up in the local bookshop. The only issue was deciding which to buy! here are a couple we've enjoyed snuggling up with this week.

Foxes In The Snow by Jonathan Emmett, Rebecca Harry (Illustrator)

When Mother Fox goes out to look for food she leaves her fox cubs, Alfie and Bonnie, with clear instructions to stay inside where it's safe and snug. But the two young cubs can't resist the exciting world above, and soon find themselves in the middle of their first ever snowfall. But Alfie and Bonnie are only little and the world outside feels very big, and very white. If they snow keeps on falling, how will they ever find their way home?

A cosy, reassuring story with a stunning sparkly jacket -- perfect for Christmas and beyond! (From

This book is so cute! The two little foxes are adorable, Bonnie brave and curious and Alfie more cautious, they can't resist the falling snow despite being told to stay where they are. Seriously though, who could? We don't get that much here and it's still magical to my daughter! When the two realise they have strayed a little too far and are lost there's a gentle tense atmosphere which had my daughter hooked, but not for long because everything is righted quickly in a humorous way that made us both chuckle. The story telling is beautiful in this book, with just the right amount of atmosphere and a message that young children will understand. The ending is one that will leave you with a huge 'awwwwww' The illustrations are particularly gorgeous with lots of detail and plenty to look at. Recommended for ages 3-7 years

Lu says: This book is really good. I like it a lot. Bonnie is my favourite fox, she is cute and funny. I liked when the mother came home.

The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson, Alex Sheffler (illustrator)

The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should Ever set foot in the deep dark wood. But one wild and windy night the Gruffalo's child ignores her father's warning and tiptoes out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn't really exist ...does he? Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are on dazzling form in this captivating sequel to the classic picture book "The Gruffalo". (from

This is Lu's pick this week, we've read it at least three times a day and is definitely a big hit here! This story expands on Julia Donaldson's much loved 'The Gruffalo' and has the same brilliant and clever rhyming text,  fabulous characters and one very clever mouse. It never fails to raise a smile and is an absolute joy to read aloud. I think you do need to read The Gruffalo first to really appreciate this one, but in all honesty no child's bookshelf should be without either anyway! 

Lu says: I love the rhyming and like reading this myself. I like when the Gruffalo's child goes off on it's own and when the mouse tricks her.

Book review: Strange Angels by Lili St Crow

Dru Anderson: Night Hunter. Knife Wielder. Heart Breaker. Dru can sense evil, which helps when she and her Dad are tracking down ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional reanimated corpse. It's a dangerous life, but it's the only one she knows. Then Dru's dad turns up dead and she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deadly game where every move she makes could be her last. Dru is more special than she realizes - and whatever killed her dad could be coming for her next. Can Dru stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections? Find out in the heart-stopping first book in a thrilling series. (From

There are many things about Strange Angels that make it seem like a typical YA paranormal book, until you start reading and realise it’s completely different. What’s so utterly striking is Lili St Crow’s raw, edgy writing style, which I absolutely loved.

Dru hasn’t had a typical childhood. Brought up by her hunter Father since the death of her mother many years ago, she’s been moved from place to place, school to school; constantly on the move chasing creatures from the real world she’s tough. She has to be. But when her Dad turns up as a living dead Dru is plunged into a situation that just seems out of her control. All alone she’s scared and doesn’t know where to turn. Step in Graves, street kid with ambition and a huge heart. But will untrained and trusting Graves turn out to be more of liability to Dru as the secrets of her past are revealed? Can a girl in her position risk getting close to anyone?

I loved Dru. She’s a truly kick ass heroine, rough, raw and real. Her reactions and emotions are gritty and believable no matter how unpleasant and I both pitied her being left all alone in danger, and admired her strong fighting spirit. I also loved her snarky dialogue too; Dru’s absolutely my kinda girl and one of my favourite female characters I’ve read about recently. I also really loved Graves too. He’s streetwise and naïve in equal measures and so adorable he completely stole my heart. Fiercely loyal to Dru, even when she shrugs him away, the pair of misfit loners really do bounce of each other and have real chemistry. I wasn’t so keen on the third character, Christopher, possible love rival, although he is also intriguing with a real air of mystery and because I’m still unsure what he is actually about.

Strange Angels is a fast paced, action packed, gritty and edgy paranormal story and throughout the book I wasn’t sure where things where going to go. Sometimes it can be a little too fast and at times I had to reread full passages to fully understand them but this is really my only complaint. There’s a whole host of supernatural creatures to get to grips with both traditional and new. Reading it was thoroughly exciting from start to finish and the ending takes an interesting turn which will leave you racing for the next book in the series as soon as you’ve finished. 

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine, where we spotlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

When her mother is killed in a car accident, Michele Windsor has no choice but to move in with the wealthy grandparents she's never met in New York. Disillusioned by their coldness, Michele retreats into her room, where she discovers her great-great-aunt's journal--and, once she touches its pages, finds herself hurtled back in time. 

In the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele learns that a wedding is coming up between the Windsors and another prominent family, the Walkers. But when Michele attends a party, something miraculous happens: while almost no one can see her in this era, one gorgeous young man with sparkling blue eyes can. Drawn together by mutual attraction, the two bond over music and the parents they've recently lost. But when the party is over, Michele learns the truth--the man she just fell for is Phillip Walker. And she, unknowingly, has just inspired him to call off his wedding to her great-great-aunt, prompting a family feud that will last for generations. 

As Michele travels back and forth in time, she and Phillip meet over and over, always frustrated by their inability to have more than a few hours together. Michele knows she should try to make a life in the present, but none of the boys at school can hold a candle to Phillip. Finally, Michele tries to end their romance altogether--spurring a tragedy that transcends generations. Has Michele destroyed her chances for happiness? Or is her love for Phillip . . . timeless?

Released January 2011

Competition Winner-The Dead Of Winter

Thanks to everyone who took part!

The lucky Winner is Michelle E ... is on it's way!

If you didn't win this time, don't worry...there'll be more contests coming up soon!

Book Review: Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman

Seventeen-year old Dante is waiting for a delivery that will change his life. But rather than the A-level results he’s anxiously awaiting, his ex girlfriend turns up with a baby. Surprised after not seeing her for more than a year he’s a little annoyed, but when Melanie drops the bombshell that the little girl, Emma, is his daughter all Dante’s plans vanish before his eyes. But it doesn’t end there, after asking him to take care of the child while she nips to the shop Melanie does a runner and he’s left literally holding the baby.

I was fascinated by this book from the moment I heard about it. I’ve read many books and articles on young single mums, but never from a teen dad’s. Boys Don’t Cry is a stunning  novel with thought provoking topics subtly raised on every page and will speak volumes to the teens it’s targeted towards.

Dante is clever and ambitious, hoping for knockout A-level results and knows what he wants to do with his life. Brought up by his single father after the tragic and early death of his mother, he struggles sometimes with a stifling relationship with his own Dad and sways between irritation and dogged loyalty and protectiveness of his more vulnerable younger brother, Adam. He’s determined to make something of his life and knows what he has to do to get there, so when Melanie turns up with Emma and drops her bombshell his anxiety, fear, panic and resentment are tangible.  There’s nothing pretty about Malorie Blackman’s story, she lays the difficulties and emotions he feels down bare, no matter how ugly.

What I loved about Boys Don’t cry is how it shows Teen parenting from a different angle. While reading this book I felt very sorry for Dante, and questioned myself regularly whether I felt more sympathy because he was a boy, rather than a girl. Teen mum’s are vilified daily, yet most probably found themselves in a situation from one reckless mistake just like Dante did. Even in this book I thought it might have been easy to write Melanie off as the bad one, for getting pregnant in the first place then dumping the baby with Dante, but Malorie Blackman’s writing allows the reader to constantly question and ponder such subjects without forcing opinions on her audience.

The book is packed with challenges to stereotypes throughout. As a single teen father, Dante finds support from outside agencies difficult to come by. Making a doctors appointment for example is a nightmare. He’s not on Emma’s birth certificate as he didn’t even know of her existence then and so can’t register her without her Mother. Of course he doesn’t know where her Mother is, and the obstacles and bureaucracy he comes up against is shocking. A visit from a social worker concerned that a baby in the care of three males may be in danger is also frustratingly accurate and Dante rightly questions her attitude and whether it would be the same were he female.

What surprised me about Boys Don’t Cry was that it turned out not just to be Dante’s story of teen fatherhood but his brother’s story is equally as important. Told in alternating chapters from Dante and Adam, we meet a young boy, comfortable with his own sexuality but struggling with a world that isn’t. I adored Adam, whose wit, quirkiness and quiet strength proves to be the backbone of the family. There’s an equally strong message of acceptance in this book, which again won’t fail to provoke thought and reflection on the reader.  And their father also has a huge part to play. Somewhat overbearing on first appearances, I think the relationship between both boys and their father will resonate with many and may go someway in helping us see our own parents in a different light.

Boys Don’t Cry is an amazing book from start to finish. Not only does it show males of different situations in a positive light, it really makes you think about the pressure put upon boys to hide their emotions and how damaging that can be. It challenges stereotypes on every page through its three strong male characters. And it reminds you   that no matter who you are or how unconventional your family, respect, acceptance and love makes all the difference.  If I were to recommend one must read book of contemporary fiction to teenagers then this would be it. 

Published by DoubleDay Children's Books 28th October 2010

Thanks to the publishers for sending me this copy for review.

National Non Fiction Day Book Review: The Usborne Art Sticker Book

Today is National Non Fiction Day in the Uk!

National Non Fiction Day has been organised by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in partnership with Scholastic Children’s Books. There's a fantastic website to look at with some great book recommendations and a massive amount of free downloadable fun stuff for children of all ages and abilities, covering a wide range of topics from History, Crafts, Animals and much more. The website states 'It aims to celebrate all that is brilliant about non fiction and show that it’s not just fiction that can be read and enjoyed for pleasure.' Definitely worth a look! You can also find out more at NNFD's Facebook Page and by following on twitter @AllNonFic

To Celebrate I have reviews of some Children's Non Fiction my Daughter and I have been looking at recently.

The Usborne Art Sticker Book

Usborne are fantastic at Non fiction for children and the reason for this is that they understand what will capture a child's imagination and interest. There isn't a child anywhere who doesn't love stickers and by using them in lots of their books they make sure that children have fun while learning. I wasn't sure my daughter would like this book when it first arrived, covering serious works of art from the National Gallery, but by making it interactive and involving with the child filling in the frames with stickers of famous paintings she really liked it, and so did I.

Beside each painting there's also a little passage of information, very much targeted at it's audience which makes the paintings all the more interesting and fun. Some tell an interesting story about the painting, such as Henri Rousseau's painting of a tiger ready to pounce on some explorers who are not in the picture, while others highlight a small detail that may otherwise have been missed. I liked how this allowed my daughter to see there was a story behind the paintings and she enjoyed looking for the small little details pointed out in the text. With it's fun, easy style  the pictures are brought to life for young children and will encourage them to really look, think about and appreciate what they are seeing. There's a whole page dedicated to pictures with hidden meanings which I also found fascinating. 

There's also a history lesson contained in this book as many of the stickers are devoted to portraits and people. My daughter particularly enjoyed the Children's Portrait page and was intrigued by the clothing, especially the boy's who she thought were girls. Through one picture we were able to talk about how children today are very lucky and that life was much harder for Children in the past and also that there were no had to be painted instead!

I myself know very little about art and it's a long time since I visited the National Gallery.  I recognised many of the famous artists, such as Van Gough  and as an adult had my interest piqued by this book. I'd certainly plan a visit with my daughter to the Gallery next year when we plan on visiting London and I think she'd enjoy taking the book with her and seeing these pictures 'live', infact when we learned that the painting of WhistleJacket the Racehorse is almost the same size as a racehorse she asked if she could see it. I was very surprised at how much my daughter took away from this book and it proves how well Usborne know their audience. I'd recommend this book as something very different and interesting to children aged 6-10 years old.

Thanks to Usborne for sending us this book for review.


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