Mile High Apple Pie explains dementia in a simple and touching way through the eyes of Margaret. My 5-year-old child could easily identify with this little girl, and it was clear that she shared the some worries as Margaret. I found the opportunity to discuss how her own Nana would in all likelihood get worse, quite easy during this book. It was wonderful how the grandmother in the story was presented as someone who had led an interesting and fulfilling life. I think for children, old people quite often appear to have always been old and I liked being able to talk about our own Nana and how she used to be, and how she still likes a lot of the things she used to do, even if she can't manage to do them anymore.
I also really appreciated the way Laura Langston explained how even though Grandmother couldn't remember Margaret, she still knew she loved her, and when she saw her thought of pleasant things. While my Gran isn't quite at this stage yet, it is likely to come and for a small child it must be confusing and frightening. I really did feel that the book might have prepared my daughter for this, as she said 'If Nana forgets us, she will still love us'. My daughter didn't find it upsetting, she was just interested and I think she now has a little understanding of how her Nana may be. Margaret uses a lot of visual things to help her grandmother remember, such as favourite flowers and music, and both my daughter and me probably found this useful and I have encouraged my daughter to make things for her Gran that will remind her.
The book is illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner and the pictures are quite stunning. Each double page has a bright and colourful scene with plenty of detail to look at. The characters are soft and sweet looking and appeal to young children. At the end of the book is Grandma's very own mile-high apple pie recipe and instructions, which I thought was a really nice touch.
Zara White has had a pretty traumatic time. Struggling to cope with the loss of her beloved stepfather, she collects and obsesses over phobias, reciting them to herself when she is nervous. Her Mother has sent her to Maine to live with her Grandma, hoping this will help her to heal.
But something strange is going on in Maine. Young boys are going missing, and this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Everyone tells Zara she mustn’t go out after dark. Then there’s the creepy guy following and pointing at her, leaving trails of gold dust behind him. When her new friends mention Pixies, and not the cute Tinkerbell type, Zara isn’t convinced. But as things get weirder and her life is put in extreme danger, she is forced to accept that maybe there is something in it after all. But just what do they want with her? Is anyone in Maine who or what they seem?
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did! I was intrigued enough by the Pixie premise to buy Need, but was worried it would be quite gimmicky and silly. And if I’m honest, some of it is…a bit. But I enjoyed the book so much, I was willing to overlook this and just get engrossed in the story.
The strength in this book is Zara herself. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I really, really liked her character. From the synopsis on the back of the book, I was expecting her to be weak but she certainly isn’t. The beauty of her though is that she doesn’t realise her strength; she is gutsy and brave without being aggressive and sarcastic. This gave her a really refreshing voice and I warmed to her from the very beginning. She’s an active member of Amnesty International, and this kind of sums up her moral attitude, in that she is keen to stand up for the underdog whether it’s the captives she supports through Amnesty or her oddball new friends at school.
Zara’s phobia collecting was very interesting too and different to what I expected. Rather than being consumed by phobias, it seems it’s the idea of them that fascinates her more. Each chapter begins with a phobia and a small description and I learned quite a few I’d never heard of before! This was really unique, I’ve never seen anything like that done before and it gave the book and Zara herself a real quirky feel. I also enjoyed the relationship between Zara and Nick Colt, which seemed very genuine.
There are some flaws in the book, which annoyed me a little. I thought the discovery that the creepy man stalking Zara was a pixie was very sudden, and without build up. I also thought that the idea of Pixies was accepted too easily and didn’t ring quite true. However, I did like the story about the pixies, which while it wasn’t entirely unpredictable, it was interesting. There are some other supernatural/mythical creatures along the way, which I wasn’t expecting and made for an exciting and action packed story that I raced through and struggled to put down.
I ended up really enjoying Need. Yes it’s predictable in places and a little bit implausible at times, even allowing huge stretches of imagination. But Zara as a narrator is compelling and intriguing, there’s plenty of original twists and fast action and it was easy to just put my criticisms aside and be swept along with the story. I’m looking forward to reading Captivate soon!
The Drakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer. (from Amazon.co.uk)
After receiving this book and seeing some positive reviews I was quite looking forward to it. My Love Lies Bleeding turned out to be bit of a mixed bag for me.
The Drakes are an ancient vampire family, and their daughter, Solange, is approaching her sixteenth birthday, where she will transform into a full Vampire. Being the only known female born vampire, she is prophesised to become queen. However reigning Queen, Lady Natasha has no intention of handing over her crown, not without a fight and the result is all out clan war.
I have to be honest and say, to begin with I found this book confusing. In fact I was sure there must have been a previous book in the series, but there isn’t. This is the first. The problems I had were that the different clans, families and vampire politics weren’t really explained, it seemed like it was presumed I knew what the author was talking about. I had to keep flicking back to work out the difference between Helois-Ra and Hel-Blar. As for the Drake family themselves, with seven brothers, Solange, Mum, Dad and human best friend Lucy as well as a host of cousins, aunts and distant relations that dropped in and out, I found it quite hard to keep up. Maybe I've just not read enough Vampire books in the past.
Despite this, I kept going and I’m glad I did as I quite enjoyed the second half of the book where things pick up and slot into place. At only 250 pages long, this is a quick read, but plenty of action is packed in between the pages. I also really liked the idea of The Drakes, being an old traditional family with an abundance of history. It’s like a vampire family saga, with decadence, wealth, tradition, passion, jealousy, loyalty, treachery and deception making it an intriguing read.
The book is told in alternating chapters from best friends, human Lucy and almost vampire Solange. I didn’t really warm that much to Lucy and found her irritating at times. She’s supposed to be feisty and impulsive, but to be honest I found a lot of her wise cracks just ridiculous and inappropriate. I also felt a lot of the time, she should butt out of the Drakes business and much preferred to read from Solange’s point of view. Her story is far more interesting and I’d have been happy to see Lucy as a minor character. Maybe she is integral to the rest of the series, I don’t know. I just didn’t really get her that much. I also preferred Solange’s romance than Lucy’s and would read the next book in the series just to see how that developes.
Overall, My Love Lies Bleeding isn’t a bad little read. It’s not the best-written book you’d come across, but it is entertaining enough. It’s a quick read too, and doesn’t require a lot of effort once you get over the confusing beginning. I will read the next in the series as I’m intrigued to see how things work for Solange and the rest of The Drakes!
Thank you to the publishers for sending me this book for review.
Lucy Brown has never been happier. About to marry the love of her life, Dan, she’s living the life she always wanted. But on the eve of the wedding, Lucy has an accident and dies.
But that’s only the beginning, because Lucy has just woken up in limbo and has a choice to make. She can go up to heaven, where her beloved parents and eternal happiness await her, or she can return to earth to Dan … as a ghost. Lucy barely has to think about it and rushes back down to earth. There’s a catch though as before she can become a ghost she must complete a task. She must find love for scruffy computer geek Archie and she only has 21 days to do it. To make matters worse Lucy finds out that her best friend Anna is already hitting on a grieving Dan. Time is running out, but can Lucy ever complete the task and finally be with Dan forever?
You know how there are some books you pick up and know from the first few lines you’re going to love them? Well for me this definitely was one of them! I immediately warmed to Lucy, who is a little ditsy but completely loveable. By page 9 I’d already laughed out loud a few times, with a scene where Lucy is reminiscing her first date with Dan having me in stitches, while scarily being able to relate to and cringe along with.
Lucy’s death happens very early in the book, but if your thinking this may sound a bit morbid you’d be wrong. The details of her death are kept to a very bare minimum, as that’s not what the story is about. If you’re completely unable to suspend reality and just go with a story then to be honest, this probably isn’t going to be the book for you. From this point on Lucy returns to Earth as a Living Dead and moves in with fellow wannabe ghosts Brian and Claire.
I absolutely loved the interactions between the three housemates, who are so completely different in every other way but one. While the story is told in the first person from Lucy, I also found myself really warming to both Brian and Claire and becoming wrapped up in their personal stories too. Despite being dead, the three all have something to learn about themselves before they finally pass on and I thoroughly enjoyed each ones journey. I thought Claire in particular was a fantastic character and her story is incredibly touching. Lucy’s human task, Archie is also extremely well written with characteristics that are so realistic I could imagine him perfectly. I think it’s a huge credit to Cally Taylor that in a story that defies reality, she manages to create such perfectly believable characters.
I flew through this book once I got time to settle down properly with it and finished the 370 pages in a couple of days. The writing is fast paced and I found it very easy to get completely engrossed in. I was also never quite sure where things were going. Lucy may well be a typical chick lit character, but her situation isn’t typical of the genre at all and so I really didn’t know quite what to expect. There are a few twists and turns along the way that kept me intrigued and a real shocker at the end which I didn’t see coming at all.
While I did have tears with this book, most of them came from laughing or because it was just so lovely and touching, not because it was depressing. Heaven Can Wait was a real emotional roller coaster of a read to me, taking me from laughter, compassion, sadness and joy. Lucy’s love for Dan is so simple and beautiful it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it all. If you love chick lit, then you will love Heaven Can Wait. Perfect beach read or cosy weekend in, this is a real treat of a book and I highly recommend!
Thanks to Cally for sending me her book for review.
Inspired by her obsession with The Book, Jane Eyre, 14 year old Charlotte is looking for a living breathing Mr Rochester. Worried that she’s been single far too long, she decides it’s her duty to find the perfect man for her lovely Mum (and of course the chance to wear a gorgeous but not too frilly bridesmaid dress would be a bonus).
So when the new French teacher Mr. Grant arrives at school, Charlotte decides immediately he’s the one. Convinced she has engineered the perfect match, Charlotte’s smugness is short lived, as Mr Grant seems to be the complete opposite of perfect! Can Charlotte stop her mum from making a huge mistake? And will her meddling mean she’s too busy to catch her own Mr. Rochester?
Charlotte is THE most adorable character; it’s hard to not fall in love with her. Full of the best intentions this romantic dreamer lets her imagination run riot, usually putting two and two together and coming up with five. I loved how she came to wild conclusions from almost nothing when it came to her Mum’s relationships, it reminds me of some of my own wild wonderings about my parents when I was (a lot!) younger.
I also really appreciated how Kay Woodward made Charlotte an unconventional heroine. A love of books probably isn’t something a young teen would automatically see as cool, but Charlotte manages to make it so. Her passion for Jane Eyre is contagious, and I can imagine many a girl being tempted to go and have a peek herself after reading Jane Airhead.
Jane Airhead is probably suited to the younger teen reader. I know I would have loved reading this when I was aged between 10-14. It’s sweet, funny and with just the right amount of romance to leave you with a big sigh. I’m sure if I’d read this book as a pre teen myself I’d have been inspired by Charlotte, she’s exactly the type of character I’d have aspired to be. It would also have had me dusting off my Mum’s ancient copy of Jane Eyre as soon as I’d finished the last page! I'm passing this on to a friends 12-year-old daughter who I just know will really enjoy it too!
Thanks to the publishers, Anderson Press for sending me this book for review.