Book Review: What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday

A few weeks ago I signed up with NetGalley to read and review the latest new book releases. Over the weekend I was checking out the latest releases when I happened across What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday. This is the latest book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks and knew I had to request it.

The kids were over the moon when my request was accepted. Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough on Monday so we could read it.

What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday by Julia Donaldson  and Lydia Monks

“One fine day, in the middle of May, The ladybird went on holiday.”

Those two bad men, Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, are back! They may be in the city instead of the farm, but they haven’t changed their thieving ways. In fact, they’ve got even more ambitious. They’re planning to steal a monkey from the zoo and use it to steal the Queen’s crown. It’s a pity for them that a certain crime-busting ladybird is holidaying in the very same city – and she’s got a good idea that will ensure the dastardly pair won’t get away with it!

With a whole host of noisy new zoo-animal characters to meet and even a cameo from the Queen, What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday, from stellar picture book partnership Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, is a sure-fire hit.

Our Thoughts

The book is everything you would expect from a Julia Donaldson book. It’s fun for adults and children alike. We all had a fantastic, if noisy time, making the different animal noises and catching up with the ladybird’s antics.

We are huge Julia Donaldson fans in this house and as usual she hits the mark with this wonderful follow up to What the Ladybird Heard and What the Ladybird Heard Next. The fabulous illustrations are by Lydia Monks and complement the book perfectly.

This book will be joining our Julia Donaldson collection as soon as it’s available.

Thank you to Netgalley, Macmillan Children’s Books and Julia Donaldson for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday is available from 29 May 2017 and priced at £11.99

Book Reviews are Moving

Just a quick public service announcement regarding my blog content, in particular my book reviews.

As you know I have been publishing a lot of reviews of late. However, I have been giving a lot of thought to the direction I want to go with my blog and have made the decision to transfer my book reviews and book related posts to their own little area of the internet.

My New Blog

From now on all reviews can be found on my new book blog My Eclectic Reads.

If you love books/reading why not pop over and join me in my new adventure.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall

Title: My Sister and Other Liars

Author: Ruth Dugdall

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Page Count: 364

 

Synopsis

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

The brain is not like the body: it does not let go so easily and is harder to control, and as I drift to sleep it takes me elsewhere, to the place of all my nightmares.

Review

After reading this book I can safely say that the subject matter is not for the faint hearted. The topics include self harm, eating disorders and crimes of a sexual nature.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ruth Dugdall and although the story is a little uncomfortable at times, it made for compulsive reading.

The book focuses on Sam, a patient in a specialist hospital dealing with eating disorders. We follow her story as she works with her therapist on the run up to her review hearing.

Sam believes she deserves to die due to events in her past and her doctor is trying to get her to open up. The story is set in the present, although we share Sam’s memories from the past as she talks to her doctor.

We hear about her sister and how she was attacked on Sam’s 16th birthday and left with disabilities. We are also introduced to her parents and a few other characters.

I felt the some of the characters were a little unbelievable, such as why a 16 year old was taking on the role of PI to find out who attacked her sister. Surely the police would have done a much better job than they appeared to have done.

I’ll admit to figuring out some of the secrets before they were written but the identity of the attacker eluded me almost until the end.

If you can bring yourself to read this dark and gritty thriller then I would highly recommend it

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Presidential Shift by C G Cooper

Presidential Shift by C G CooperTitle: Presidential Shift (Book IV of the Corps Justice Series)

Author: C G Cooper

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 174

 

Synopsis

The vice president killed…
The first lady attacked…
A president on the edge…

Cal Stokes, former Marine and owner of Stokes Security International (SSI), has had a busy year. Trying to calm his inner demons and forget the tragic loss of his men, Cal dives headlong into his work, taking the battle to the enemy. Now the president needs his help to uncover a leak in his administration and start the long road to cleaning up Washington, and wrestling power back from corrupt officials who threaten to plunge the American government further into the abyss. Will Cal uncover the truth before it’s too late?

Most Americans have no idea the level of corruption that exists within their own country.

Review

Presidential Shift is the fourth book in the Corps Justice series and although this is the first book I’ve read by C G Cooper, it definitely won’t be my last. I’ve already downloaded the first three books of the series as my interest was piqued by some of the existing relationships within this book. They had obviously been developed in previous book and I want to know more. That said, it is still possible to read this book as a standalone without it impeding the flow.

There were a couple of areas where I began to feel a little bit lost, especially with some of the Marine references – Semper Gumby anyone? Fortunately I was reading on my Kindle and was easily able to use the capabilities to find out what they were talking about and continue with the story.

The book pretty fast moving, steadily picking up the pace right until the end. Although, I must admit that I had my suspicions about who was behind everything from very early on. I did begin to doubt myself before finding out I was, in fact correct in my assumptions. It may be because I have a bit of craving for US political dramas at the minute. Whatever the reason, there were still lots of twists and turns.

My only issue is that by the end of the story I still had a couple of unanswered questions. Hopefully, the characters will pop up in future stories and their stories will develop further.

Although I had my suspicions, a main plot detail about one of the characters wasn’t mentioned until right at the end. Personally, I don’t think it would have ruined the ending. In fact I think it may have thrown me off the scent.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

The Spookshow by Tim McGregor

The Spookshow by Tim McGregorTitle: The Spookshow (Spookshow #1)

Author: Tim McGregor

Genre: Paranormal

Page Count: 114

 

Synopsis

Life used to be normal for Billie Culpepper. Drab even. That all that changed after an accident left her in a coma for three days. That’s when the spookshow really began, when Billie realized that she could see the dead.

And the dead could see her.

Now, they won’t leave her alone.

Accompanying two friends through a haunted house, Billie uncovers a terrible secret that brings, not only the police, but the homicide detective responsible for putting her into the hospital in the first place. He’s also the one man she sworn to stay away from.

Generations of teenagers and thrill-seekers had stomped in and out of the murder house over the decades.

Review

I picked this book up for free from Amazon (as I do many of my books) as the blerb drew me in. I’m glad it did, despite it being outside my usual choice of book.

Considering I usually avoid anything remotely spooky like the plague, I found this book more physic fiction than out and out horror. The story was scary enough to give you a chill without the nightmare scenario. All in all there was a great balance on that front.

It’s eventful and fast paced and I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without it’s flaws. There appears to be a backstory between the main character, Billie, and the detective which gets a little confusing. I couldn’t help feeling as if I’d missed a crucial part of the story. However, I have since found out that this is the topic of the second book.

It’s as if this book is there to catch your attention and the following books in the series elaborate on the things you have learnt. I’m not sure I’m completely hooked with this series, but am willing to give the next book, Welcome to the Spookshow, a try.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Wintersong by S Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S Jae-JonesTitleWintersong

Author: S Jae-Jones

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Page Count: 368

 

Synopsis

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl feels that her childhood dreams are slipping away. And when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. But with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

Review

Wintersong was chosen by Emma-Louise for the February TSG Bookclub Box. I’d heard a few good reviews about it before I got around to reading it. Unfortunately I didn’t fall in love with it.

The book is a retelling of the film Labyrinth (which I love) and bears similarities to a poem by Christina Rosetti called The Goblin Market. So far so good.

I loved the descriptive world building and beautiful writing. For a debut novel the writing was impeccable. It’s a well written fantasy and I can understand the 5 star reviews and the hype. It just didn’t cut it for me – I didn’t connect with the characters very much or fall in love with their story.

So why didn’t I love it?

The romance was all over the place. One minute they’re all over each other, the next they can’t even bear to be in the same room. Also for a YA novel the content is a little more ‘mature’ than I would have expected at times, definitely not for the younger age of the proposed demographic. I’m not sure I missed the point, but I also feel like the reader is being given the wrong ideas surrounding the sex as Liesl is expecting it to fix her.

Although the Goblin King was the one character I actually liked for the most part it felt like he was secondary character in the story a lot of the time. I understand the story focuses on Liesl but it also about her connection with the Goblin King and I didn’t really see that.

I struggled to keep up with the plot and where the story was going. Just when I got a handle on things, the goalposts moved and we switched direction leaving me bewildered.

My final disappointment was the ending. It was so anticlimactic. Don’t get me wrong, I was anticipating the majority of what was going to happen, but I expected a little more in the way of consequences.

There was no explanation. What happened to everyone afterwards? How did it happen before? There are too many aspects of the story that are thrown at the reader and then left unresolved.

I’d like to hope that there was a reason for the ending – a second book maybe? If that’s the case then it would make a little more sense and hopefully answer all my questions.

Despite all my disappointments I would recommend this book purely down to the writing. Wintersong is beautifully written and extremely descriptive. Fingers crossed for book two.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

 

Execution is Everything by Nick Warren

Execution is Everything by Nick WarrenTitleExecution Is Everything: A Jon Kaine Short Thriller

Author: Nick Warren

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 120

 

Synopsis

When you have 10 seconds to live, Execution Is Everything.

Dr. Jon Kaine has flown into New York to commit a crime, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the late-night bar he hides out in, the gang that runs it, and the beautiful woman who follows him inside.

Kaine is a psychologist – more used to business pitches than bar fights – but as the night descends into violence he’s forced to put his skills to darker use.

Submission. Affirmation. Respect. Three weapons in the ancient art of manipulating people.

Review

I completely devoured this book. I read it in one day as I couldn’t put it down.

I love the character development, especially the main protagonist. They are totally engaging and believable and extremely well developed for a book of this length.

The story is packed with plenty of tension and is totally different from anything I’ve read for a long time. I especially loved the psychology aspects within the plot, it adds something to the whole story. It was interesting to see how it’s possible to ‘outwit’ people just by knowing how they will react in certain situations.

It definitely left me wanting more and I’ve signed up for parts 2 and 3 so will update my review when I’ve read them.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

TitleFangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult

Page Count: 460

 

Synopsis

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)

Review

Fangirl is a book by another new to me author. I’d read loads of reviews and the majority of people have raved about it. All I can say is I don’t think they were my kind of people.

I definitely had high expectations about this book and to be honest, at best it was OK. I’m not the within the target demographic of the book so this may go some way to explaining my disappointment.

There is no real plot to speak and the ending is somewhat abrupt. I would have preferred a little more if I’m honest. It felt as if I was reading about a small snapshot of Cath’s life without a beginning or an end.

I really didn’t like the references to Harry Potter or the fanfiction scattered through the book. If I’m honest I skimmed over the whole Simon/Baz fan fiction as I found I didn’t care in the slightest about it. Did it affect my reading pleasure? No, I don’t actually think it did, in fact I didn’t actually see the point of it.

So what kept me reading? Most definitely the relationships between the characters. I especially loved the growing relationship between Cath and Reagan. At times I actually found myself caring about the characters and truly wanted to know how things worked out between everyone.

I don’t regret reading Fangirl, but I may think twice before picking up any of Rainbow Rowell’s young adult books in future – they just aren’t for me.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

 

The Fairytale Box – TSG BookClub Box

I finally managed to collect my latest subscription box from The Stationery Geekette earlier this week after several visits to the Post Office.

This month the theme was fairytales and the book Emma chose was The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millward Hargarave.  The book blew me away before I even began reading. Every page is decorated with drawings and cartography markings and it looks amazing. There are also maps of the island inside the front and back covers. All in all the book looks beautiful.

Anyway, onto the rest of the items in the box. This month we have an amazing smelling was melt from Westroad Witches Wax Cauldron.

There was also a Happily Ever After tag from MTB Creations which I love. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it yet but it definitely will be finding a good use as it’s beautiful.

Next up we have a fairytale keyring. Mine is a cute little fairy/sprite.

Finally we have some stickers from LGD Designs on Facebook

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Debbie x

*Disclaimer: This is a totally unbiased review of a product I purchased myself. I am in no way affiliated with Emma-Louise Smith or The Stationery Geekette*

Betrayal by Tim Tigner

Title: Betrayal

Author: Tim Tigner

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 306

Synopsis

WHAT WOULD YOU DO
if you awoke after a mission . . .
in an Iranian hospital . . .
as the only survivor . . .
of a terrorist attack?

FBI AGENT Odysseus Carr is about to find out.

But should Odi trust the man who saved him . . .
or the man who sent him . . .
or none of the above?

Presumed dead after a staged terrorist attack, FBI Agent Odysseus Carr is running for his life with the doctor who rescued him. Meanwhile, the same power players who sent Odi to his death are now manipulating an FBI profiler into blindly tracking him down. She’s not just their best, she’s also his sister.

As Odi unravels a devious plot of profound political manipulation and global consequence, the hunted becomes the hunter, and the real terror begins.

Betrayal changes a man . Betrayal makes him worry about things he never worried about before. It makes him worry about things like self - preservation. Ponder motives. And plan his revenge

Review

Betrayal is the second book I’ve read by Tim Tigner, I read Flash back in December, and yet again, I loved it.  The title is very appropriate, just about every character is betrayed, sometimes more than once during the book.

It’s action packed, fast paced political plot keeps you hooked until the end wondering if the main characters make it out in one piece.

The story is unpredictable and almost believable in this current day and age. That said there are a couple of sections that made me go ‘Really??’, before reminding myself it was just a book. Regardless of that I found myself reading ‘one more chapter’ until it was past midnight and I had run out of chapters to read.

I loved the characters, especially the twins Odi and Cassie, and found myself willing them on throughout the book. I also liked the fact that their actions weren’t always what you would have expected from the main characters.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of political/espionage thrillers, although I would advise you hold off on the coffee while drinking!!

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x