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

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

 

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*

Mrs Brimbles Box – April 2017

My first ever Mrs Brimbles Box arrived earlier in the week and if I didn’t know better I’d think it was made specifically for me.

This month’s theme was Book and Planner Nerds and it sums me up perfectly.

In the standard box you will find
  • 4 x 12×12 scrapbook paper – 2 designs, double sided
  • 1 x 12×12 journal card
  • 1 x decorative stickers – Book & Planner Nerds
  • 1 x planner stickers
  • 1 x decorative stickers – Nerd animals
  • 1 x A6 stamp set
  • 1 x pack of 15 tabs
  • 1 x pack of ribbon embellishments

As I chose the Big Box I also received some magnetic clips and some pens.

I absolutely adore everything in the box and will definitely be ordering future boxes. I love Mrs Brimbles designs all the characters/images herself.

Starting with the scrapbook paper, there are four sheets in total. Each side has a different design – there is a book one, a floral one, a stripy one and a scribble design one. I love them all and the colours are gorgeous.

I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to do with them yet but I’m sure I’ll be sharing with you once I finally make up my mind.

Next up we have some journalling cards. There are a total of 11 journaling cards on a 12 x 12 sheet all of which complement the theme beautifully.

The stamp set is perfect and I’m pretty sure that I will be using every one of them at some point in my planners/journals etc.

I’d like to use them on the tabs that were included but I need to pluck up enough courage to give it a go.

My favourite items from this months box have to be the stickers. I love the geeky girls and animals. I’m pretty sure they will be making an appearance in my planner very soon.

Finally from the standard box we have the little embellishments. Mine are pink and purple bows some of which will be getting made into paperclips.

Additional Items

The Big Box contains a few additional items. This month they were a set of six magnetic page markers from My Prima Planner and a set of MAMBI pens from Create 365.

 

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

Fearless by Nicola Clare

Fearless by Nicola ClaireTitleFearless (Scarlet Suffragette, Book 1)

Author: Nicola Claire

Genre: Historical Romance

Page Count: 300

 

Synopsis

Free spirit. Brilliant. A Liability?

Doctor Anna Cassidy has been trained by the best; the former Chief Surgeon for the Auckland Police Force. She knows how to dissect a body. She knows how to treat any ailment. And she knows how to find a cause of death.

But society is not ready for a female surgeon.

Fighting for what she believes in has been ingrained in Anna since she was a young child. But the battles she faces now are not all based on equality. A murderer stalks her fellow Suffragettes and the police inspector in charge of the case could be Anna’s downfall.

Experienced. Dedicated. Something to hide?

Inspector Andrew Kelly holds duty and honour in the highest regard. His role as a detective proves just that; he never stops until justice is served. Love is something he has forsaken, for reasons he’d rather you didn’t know.

But Anna is not a woman a man can ignore.

Fighting his instincts with cold determination is something Kelly has become accustomed to. But a murderer is loose in his adopted city, bringing memories to the fore of a killer who walked in the shadows of Whitechapel, and shining light on a dark past the Inspector is trying hard to forget.

A gritty, twisted, and authentic Victorian romantic suspense, sure to rip you apart… just like old Jack.

My father had insisted a good surgeon empathised with their patients. And distracted themselves from their cadavers.

Review

Firstly I must point out that I’m not generally a lover of historical romances, but Fearless is not your typical romance novel. It’s dark and sinister, with a strong female protagonist and several twists I didn’t expect.

Another thing I didn’t expect from this book was that I was going to love it as much as I did. It’s up there with The Butterfly Garden as one of my top reads of 2017 so far.

I must admit I was drawn to this book mainly due to the Jack the Ripper connection and I wasn’t disappointed.  There are plenty of references to the Ripper throughout the book without it detracting too much from the story at hand.

Like most books I have read recently it has its up and downs. The whole romance situation between Anna and Inspector Kelly reminded me why I don’t like romance novels. However, there is something at the end of the book which give a little substance to the reasoning from one party at least.

I loved the whole Suffragette aspect. It’s something I’m aware of but quite how difficult life was for women in the 1800’s. It definitely makes me extremely thankful for everything they did back then so I could have the life I have.

I’m not sure I’m completely converted to the whole historical romance genre but I’m waiting with baited breath for the next instalment of the Scarlet Suffragette series which is due to be released in April 2017.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

 

Run Girl by Eva Hudson

Run Girl by Eva HudsonTitle: Run Girl (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers Book #1)

Author: Eva Hudson

Genre: Thriller

Page Count: 174

 

Synopsis

A strange new city, a missing girl, and a race against time.

In Europe to help broker a peace deal between warring African nations, Secretary of State Jayne Whitticker is in the middle of delicate negotiations when her favourite grandchild disappears from Paris.

Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg is hauled out of her FBI training session at Scotland Yard to head the hunt for the 18-year-old girl, who the FBI believe is now in London. The problem is, Ingrid has only one lead, just a few hours to track her down and can’t call in the local cops for assistance for fear the story is leaked to the press.

Will she succeed in her unexpected mission? Or will her failure lead to the collapse of the crucial peace talks?

With so much resting on her decisions and subsequent actions, one thing’s for sure: Ingrid will give everything’s she’s got to find the girl and save the day.

She took a deep breath and straightened her spine. This might be the toughest job of her career, but it was also the most prestigious. She had an opportunity to help

Review

I chose this book as I was looking for something quick and easy to read and this fit the bill perfectly. An added bonus was that it was also interesting with a whole lot packed into its limited pages.

It’s simply written and, being a novella, the author gets to the point almost straight away. The majority of the characters are engaging although the missing teenager did irritate me a little at times.

The characters aren’t too complex. In my opinion, this book sets introduces the characters just enough to hook you. In my opinion it makes you want to read more of the series.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Debbie x

 

Book Review – Younger

Today’s book review is Younger by Suzanne Munshower. This was another of my Kindle First choices.

They look at the shoes, the watch, and the bag. Then they decide where to seat you.

Synopsis

When PR pro Anna Wallingham gets dumped by her last client, she finds herself running out of options in LA, where looks trump experience. Desperate to prove she is still relevant, the fiftysomething accepts a shady job offer from Pierre Barton, secretive billionaire owner of Barton Pharmaceuticals. Isolated in a facility outside London, she agrees to test a new top-secret product guaranteed to make her look thirty years younger. Anna is starting to look on the outside the way she feels on the inside: ageless. But she soon discovers that her predecessor died under mysterious circumstances, leading her to research just who stands to gain—and lose—with this miraculous product. When Pierre drops dead in front of her, she takes off on a dangerous journey across Europe hoping to stay alive long enough to uncover the truth.

With the hard-won knowledge that younger isn’t always better, Anna is determined to escape and reclaim her life before it’s too late.

Review

I’m not really sure where to go with this review as the book was in no way a thriller, which is what it was sold as.

It began with a lot of promise. Her boss arrives at her apartment and promptly dies. Anna changes her name and goes on the run across Europe.

The book goes on to explain how Anna got to where she is now. This is where I lost interest. We hear about her shopping trips (which became a little tiresome) and the ‘life coaches’ appointed to make her sound and act appropriate to her newly come by age (I didn’t care)

I was almost a third of the way through the book before I found anything remotely resembling a ‘thriller’ and even then it fell a little flat.

The characters, although plentiful, didn’t engage me in the way I had hoped and I found myself uninterested in whether or not they found the answers they were looking for.

Overall, the book was OK, but maybe just not my cup of tea.

Thanks for reading, until next time

Debbie x

TSG Book Box – J’Taime

*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

Firstly I must apologise for the lateness in writing this post and must point out that the last date for ordering the next box has now past. However they April box will be on sale from 1 April if you wish to order.

Anyway, back to my review. As I mentioned last month there are now three different box options to choose from (standard box with paperback/kindle voucher, deluxe box with book/kindle voucher or a basic accessories pack), This month I went for the kindle option.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, this month’s box was titled Je T’aime. As the name suggests this month was all about love whether that be hearts and flowers or self-care and the contents supported this 100%.

The chosen book was Wintersong by S Jae-Jones and focuses on the bond between siblings and since I had opted for the kindle book I received an Amazon gift card code so I could download my book.
Other items in this months box were a handmade bookmark, a face mask, some hot chocolate, a chocolate rose and some hand cream. Unfortunately I never got the chance to sample ANY of the chocolate as my kids got there before me (but since this month  we are all about love I let them off).

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Debbie x