Monday 28 January 2013

Book Review - The Other Slipper

Title: The Other Slipper
Author: Kenechi Ugogu
Publisher: Kenechi Udogu
Release Date: 27 Sept 2011

When Jo finds a lone glass slipper on the night of the royal ball, she realises that there is more to the seemingly ordinary object than meets the eye. Searching for its owner, she is led to the palace where the princess sets her on a journey that thrusts her into an unexpected world of magic and illusions. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more to her mission as she discovers startling secrets about her past and struggles to embrace her destiny.

My Review
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I am ashamed to say I actually recieved this a long time ago. My request pile didn't seem to shrink and I stopped reading my e-books for a while. So sorry for the delay, especially as it was a good book and easy to read. In the end I read this in about 5 hours total. 
This is the story of Jo, she is awkward and a bit of an outcast. She works doing odd jobs around the palace, only really tolerated because of her mother and brothers. Then on the night of the royal ball she finds a glass slipper left on the side of the road along with a pumpkin. She then has to discover who the owner of the slipper is and is led back to the castle and the new Princess - Ella. But the journey doesn't end there, Jo must go o a mission filled with magic and mystery to return both slippers to their original owner. 
On her journey she is accompanied by her brother Ron and they meet a stranger on the road who becomes their companion, Locke, but he's not all he seems either.
I liked Ron, he was quiet, thoughtful yet strong and protective. Locke was mysterious and quite interesting, probably my favourite character. Jo is very headstrong and actually prone to whining, she would ask for help then not want to listen to what anyone had to say. She annoyed me in places, but I didn't find myself disliking her much, just wish I could reach through and shake her a bit sometimes.
It was a good twist on the idea of Cinderella and I liked the fresh angle. Ella herself doesn't feature much but the story is still tied to her and brings the fairytale to life from this new angle. 
The pace is fairly fast paced, it kept me turning pages and wanting to know more, there was a good mix of description and action and turning of events. It felt a little bit slower towards the end, but ultimately it was easy to read and held my interest.
If you are a fan of fairytale retellings like I am then you will really like this book. 
The only thing that would really disappoint me with this book would be it's cover, it just doesn't live up to the awesome story inside. But that is a minor grievance.

My Rating

Sunday 27 January 2013

Book Review - Frost

Title: Frost
Author: Kathryn James
Series: Mist (book 2) 
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Release Date: 3 Jan 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1444903072

Last time Nell went into the mist she rescued her sister. This time she’ll have to go farther than the Elven forest, farther than the frozen wastes beyond and onto a lake of primal ice so treacherous she’ll be lucky to return at all.

It’s the New Year, Woodbridge School is closed and the country is snowed in. While the blizzards rage and Nell’s mum works double shifts, their house is full of Gwen’s friends permanently crashing out on every bed and sofa. The Elven world is frozen, too. It’s deep in snow and ice storms are ravaging the forest. Worst of all the massive Harps that keep the Elven land twisted out of sight are falling silent. No music, no land.

Can Nell and Evan cross the deadly frozen lake that surrounds their land, and fight through freezing blizzards? And if they do reach the Harp will they be able to overcome the two enemies waiting for them - Loki and Laki Winter? They are feared Ice Elven, a race so secretive that most young Elven think they’re myths used to scare them into being good. The scheming Winter twins are all too real, though, and they’ll stop at nothing to make sure the Harps stay silent.

My Review
I read Mist just after Christmas and really enjoyed it, and was pleased when I realised how close this book was in release. I requested for the library to buy this book for me straight away and it actually came in quite quickly. 
Frost carries on pretty much where Mist left off. Nell can't stay away from the Elven world no matter what her parents say. Gwen should have fogotten but something is pulling her memories back. Evan has left on a mission and a Blizzard has descended.
Nell gets called back through the Mist to help the Elven, the Mother Harp that keeps their world alive has stopped humming and they need help to start it again before the whole world collapses. 
I got back into the world really easily when I started to read Frost and enjoyed being a part of the mystery again. I read it quite quickly, it's easy to read and sweeps you through, the chapters are quite short and the plot exciting. 
I didn't find this one quite as good as the first, a slight spark was missing, but it was still very good. There are some new characters in this book - the Ice Elven, in particular twins Loki and Laki. Not quite sure whether the are totally good or bad they make a good addition. I didn't like Loki much and didn't trust him but he did make an interesting 'bad guy'.
Evan is of course back in this book and I was glad, he didn't seem quite so strong in this book, he's more hesitant and a bit more unsure I think, but then the situation is very different and there is more at stake for him. 
The book cover is beautiful and the world very well thought out. I did still really like this book and I am looking forward to there being a third book. 

My Rating

Saturday 26 January 2013

Book Review - The Hidden Gallery

Title: The Hidden Gallery
Author: Maryrose Wood
Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Palace (book 2)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 18 Feb 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0061791130

Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, "They must have been raised by wolves."
The Incorrigible children actually were.
Thanks to the efforts of Miss Penelope Lumley, their plucky governess, Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia are much more like children than wolf pups now. They are accustomed to wearing clothes. They hardly ever howl at the moon. And for the most part, they resist the urge to chase squirrels up trees.
Despite Penelope's civilizing influence, the Incorrigibles still managed to ruin Lady Constance's Christmas ball, nearly destroying the grand house. So while Ashton Place is being restored, Penelope, the Ashtons, and the children take up residence in London. Penelope is thrilled, as London offers so many opportunities to further the education of her unique students. But the city presents challenges, too, in the form of the palace guards' bearskin hats, which drive the children wild—not to mention the abundance of pigeons the Incorrigibles love to hunt. As they explore London, however, they discover more about themselves as clues about the children's—and Penelope's—mysterious past crop up in the most unexpected ways. . . .

My Review
I read book 1 a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I found it fresh and fun and wanted to know more, so I ordered this book at the library. It came in yesterday and I thought I would start it quickly. (it's quite short with good sized print so I knew it wouldn't take long).
Anyway The Hidden Gallery follows on right where book 1 ends. The house is trashed, the children in disgrace and Lady Ashton in a frightful state as usual. Deciding it's time to get away they decide to go on a trip to London. Once there things only get more confusing. The origin of the Children is still a mystery, Lord Ashton's strange behaviour is still not explained and now there is a strange Gypsy woman scaring them with crazy predictions. Why is it so important that Miss Lumley dye her hair and what has Agatha Swanburne got to do with it all.
The mystery is very well layered and will have you turning the pages to know more, but each time you think you are about to get an answer the mystery just gets deeper. This series is very Lemony Snicket like and in a way that is one of the things I love about it. It's fresh, sweet, intriguing and enjoyable. 
The Hidden Gallery is set in 1850 I think so has some historical elements which I enjoyed reading about and added a certain charm to it. The language in the book is just charming and creates a whole feel to the book and makes it all seem so much more realistic.
Lady Constance is once again very melodramatic and over the top, it would be annoying if it wasn't so funny, but I really did find myself laughing at some of her ridiculous statements.
The children are also developing well as characters and developing stronger personalities. I did get slightly irritated by the constant 'woooo's added to the end of words. It was cute at first but started to annoy me more as the book went on. But I suppose it does fit with their background and it wasn't a big issue, I could mostly ignore it so it didn't put me off at all.
Overall I think this book is full of charm and fun and great adventure. A thoroughly enjoyable read for children and adults alike. 

My Rating

Friday 25 January 2013

FF (106)

Follow Friday is an opportunity to discover and follow other book related blogs! Want to join? Check it out at Parajunkee.

This week's question feature is
Sugar @ Sugar & Snark

Q:  What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

My Answer: I have read a lot of good books lately but 'Reached' by Ally Condie was the last one to keep me hooked. I had to read it all in one, just couldn't put it down. Such an amazing book and a fantastic end to a truly Epic series. :D

My review is here.


Happy Hopping & Blogging. :D

Guest Post - Nancy Parker

It is very important to start reading to children from the very beginning. I know that I was reading to my children while they were still in the womb. It does not really matter what you read to them at that point but that you are indeed reading. When my daughter was very small she loved to listen to anything you wanted to read to her but refused to learn to read on her own. So I continued to read to her, she did not care what it was, she even enjoyed the dictionary. When she got into school and saw that some of the other children could read she was very upset and demanded to learn immediately, which she then accomplished quite nicely. It is important to find out what kind of a child you are dealing with early on and find out what works and what does not to instill a love for reading in their lives.

Seven years later I had a boy who did not even want to be read to. He would turn the pages and glance at the pictures only. If you were trying to read to him he would force you to turn the page before you were done and if you did not cooperate he would just turn his attention to something else. Can I say frustrating? I found that I had to resort to creative ways to get him interested. I found out that he liked the hidden pictures in the Highlight Magazines and he would read the “Goofus and Gallant” cartoon with me as well as the Timbertoes cartoon. I realized he was mainly interested in the pictures at this point so I found as many books as I could with pictures and very short sentences on each page. He also had a great interest in construction equipment so I found every book I could on this subject. I started buying the “Where’s Waldo” and “I Spy” books for him when he got a little older. He also was interested in “Captain Underpants” books. I don’t know what it is about boys but it seems that underpants are a fascinating topic. I have been working with my son for years and he does still not want to read like his sister but I will not give up. Do whatever works for your child as long as they are reading something, this is the goal.

I am going to give you a few ideas that may work for your child. The idea is not to give up!

  1. Start reading from birth – I know I already said this but I feel that it is very important. It is important to start reading with your children from the beginning. I did this with both my children and they both responded to reading differently. It does help you in seeing how they respond and helping you to adjust your strategy while they are still very young.

  1. Read the same books over and over – When you see that your child has an interest in a certain book read it again and again. My daughter had a book she loved from before she could talk that I read to her time and time again. When she could hold the book alone she “read” the book out loud and turned the pages at the right time. Everyone thought she was a genius child! She had memorized the book and when to turn the pages and she loved sitting there and doing just that!

My son also had a book when he was very young that he loved to look at the pictures in. It was about construction equipment, all kinds of different trucks and bulldozers, etc. with a simple sentence on each page. After reading this book over and over he could tell you the names of all the equipment as he thumbed through the book.

  1. Have the books easily accessible – set up a book shelf or book basket and a comfy place for them to read. My children loved bean bags and then as my daughter got older she had one of those hammock chairs. They would curl up in their chairs next to the bookshelf and read. Often my daughter would read to my son who was younger. This is also a good way to encourage the younger children to read, have the older children read to them as well as yourself.

  1. Use stuffed animals or puppets to read to your children – My girl loved puppets and would often talk to the puppets like they were really talking even though she could clearly see my mouth moving. She had a huge imagination! She loved it when the puppets talked to her. My son on the other hand knew I was a phony and demanded that I stop, it may have scared him, I am not really sure. He did however like stuffed animals talking, go figure. I would use a different voice and tell stories that they were both fascinated with. Using props to read to your children is great if that sparks their interest. Have the puppet or the stuffed animal read using the voice of the puppet/animal. Often you can get children to sit and listen to the reading of a book this way.

  1. Audio books – Audio books helped my son a lot when he was younger. His sister started reading him the “Hank the Cow Dog” series and he loved it. When we went on vacation we decided to get him some audio books to help him on the ride. We did this for my daughter also but for a different reason, she got car sick when she read! Anyway, he loved listening to the audio books and he would look at the book itself to see if there were pictures to go along with the story. It helped to peak his interest about the joys of reading.

  1. Read with emotion – Watch carefully how you are reading. Make it exciting, use silly voices for each character. Jump or gasp when the story gets scary or exciting. Make the book come alive to your children and make them want more.

  1. Try reading pop-up books, books that make sound, or the little doors you open – My son loved books that had a door to open! I think it was one Christmas someone gave him an advent book and it has a little door to open every day. He absolutely loved it. So I looked for books that had doors to open or any kind of interactive book. He also loved books that talked or made noises. I was just thrilled anytime he opened a book!

  1. Leapfrog Tag Reader – Both of my children loved to use the pen. My daughter really wanted the help and my son just liked the way it worked. But either way they were reading the books.

  1. Poetry, rhymes, or songs – Many children love to sing and this would be a great way to get them to read. There are books with poems which we have made into songs like Little Bunny Foo Foo, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc. They often have adorable pictures and you can sing the book to your child. My daughter loved poems and rhyming. The first book she fell in love with was a book of short, cute poems. One was a poem that went, “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good she was very, very good but when she was bad she was horrid!” I do not know why she liked that poem but she did and many others as well. I still repeat this poem to her to this day and in fact she does have a curl that sometimes hangs down on her forehead! She continued to love poetry and began to write some of her own as well.

  1. Go to places to explore or see things you have read about – As I have already told you my son loved construction equipment. We would take him by construction sites and look at the machinery and he was able to tour the construction site. My daughter loved bats and all kinds of animals so we went to the zoo and pet stores to see the animals in person. We even donated to the zoo so that my daughter could “adopt” a bat and she received a certificate of adoption. She loved to go look at the bats to see how her bat was doing. Make the books come alive to your children and they will want to read all the more.

  1. Take trips to the public library – Let your children pick out their own books and sit and read in the comfy children’s section at your public library. Find out when story time is at the library and go at that time so they can sit and listen with the other children. Buy them a canvas book tote and decorate it and put their name on it. Make getting new books fun.

  1. Make sure your children see you reading – I know in this day and age a lot of us have Kindles, iPads, or read on the internet but it is important to have your child see you read an actual book or newspaper as well.

  1. Set aside a reading time everyday – We had the habit of reading at bedtime because the children of course want to extend their bedtime but also it seemed to relax them for sleep. We read at other times also but this was the time we set aside every day to read and we did not deviate. It is important to have a time set aside to read daily and discuss what you read as you go along. You need to interact with your children during reading and ask them questions about what they are reading to develop reading comprehension.

These are some of the ways that I was able to help my children glean an appreciation for books. I hope that they will help you with your children as well. It is important to watch your child and get an understanding of what they are interested in and what sparks their interest and then follow that lead. You are giving your child a wonderful, irreplaceable gift when you give them a love for reading.

Author Bio
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny, etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @

Thursday 24 January 2013

Book Review - Poison

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Release Date: 12 Mar 2013
ISBN13: 9781423139935

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

My Review
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was first drawn to this book by it's cover, it caught my eye and it really pulls you in. The more I look at it the more I see in it. It's beautiful. No matter what people say first impressions through covers matter a lot. I then read the synopsis and thought it sounded really good. I was so pleased when I was accepted to read it. 

This book follows Kyra, she's just tried to kill her best friend who just happens to be the Princess, after failing she is on the run and determined to do anything in her power to try again. It could be the difference between survival and destruction.
Kyra was a great heroin, she has a real sense of duty and honour and even if things seem impossible she tries to find a way around it. She also has a good sense of humour and great sarcasm and wit. The more I read about her and found out about her I liked her more and more. Moments of weakness mixed in with moments of kick-butt fighting made her well rounded and likeable.
Fred, the guy she runs into in the woods and begrudgingly  becomes her travelling companion is also a great character, he comes across as a bit of an idiot at times but with a good spark of life and a sort of playfulness to him. There is a sense of mystery about him as the story involved and I liked that I wasn't quite sure what he was there for, I was surprised by the outcome too, did not expect it. 

The plot is well planned and the pacing is great, the story flows really well and keeps you hooked. I actually started this in my lunchbreak a couple of days ago and then didn't have time to read since, but I have been craving to get back into it. I found myself thinking about what would be happening next and wondering if I could get away with bringing it out for a couple more pages. 
The writing and story reminded me a bit of Maria V Snyder, who is one of my favourite authors, but still maintained it's own fresh feel
I hadn't heard of this author before but hope she has a lot more up her sleeves. 

My Rating