Picture Books

Picture Book Heaven…

Publisher Simon & Schuster have a wonderful selection of picture books which are just perfect for storytime anytime of the day. Bright, colourful and with engaging characters, these are sure to capture your little ones imagination.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Alison Ritchie & Marisa Morea

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A riotous, rhyming countdown to Christmas with adorable dogs leaping from every page.

A delightfully doggy take on the twelve days of Christmas, this fun, beautifully illustrated picture book is filled to the brim with perfect pooches. With one excited little pub, ‘three drooling Dalmatians’ and ‘six sausage-snaffling Scotties’ and many more besides, this will be a perfect book to share with young dog lovers.

Children will love picking their favourite dogs and spotting the puppy in busy scenes. This hilarious picture book is a great way to introduce children to Christmas traditions.

Published in paperback: 5th October 2017

Price: £6.99

The Magical Ice Palace by Suzanne Smith & Lindsay Taylor

Illustrated by Marnie Maurri

9781471123191Doodle Girl uses her magic pencil to create adventures by transforming doodles into fantastical lands, full of amazing animals!

On their latest outing, Doodle Girl and her friends find a curly, curvy shape. What is it supposed to be? Whilst trying to work it out, they find a sad, lonely mammoth high up on a mountain. What’s he doing there? Will Doodle Girl be able to help him? And what is the curly, curvy shape going to be?

Talented trio, Suzanne Smith, Lindsay Taylor and Marnie Maurri have created an original and fresh character in Doodle Girl, who exudes positivity and encourages creative thinking. With a giant, free doodling poster included inside, this book is full of creativity and fun for all to enjoy.

This is such a charming, pretty picture book, which celebrates the power of drawing and the illustrators who bring the words to life. Doodle Girl is incredibly endearing, feisty and brave. She made me want to go grab a magic, red pencil and create my own fantastical lands and adventures. A wonderful tribute to both books AND those oh so important illustrations. – Oh and it comes with the most amazing giant poster to colour in. This would be the perfect gift for any little readers who love to draw and especially those who lack a little confidence with their drawing.

Published in paperback: 19th October 2017

Price: £6.99

Evil Pea Rules! by Sue General & Paul Linnet

9781471144066_JacketFrom bestselling, award-winning duo Sue General & Paul Linnet comes the story of the much-loved Supertato’s nemesis…the Evil Pea. It’s all very well being a superhero and saving the day…but what if there was no one there to cause the chaos? To provide these heroes with their chance to shine? Would we even need superheroes?! Fortunately, this isn’t something we will have to worry about any time soon. The Evil Pea is BACK! And this time he has his biggest, most dastardly plan yet to take over the supermarket…

Evil Pea escapes the confines of the freezer and tries to cause madness and mayhem in the supermarket. Will Supertato save the day?

I absolutely love Evil Pea and the frosty chaos he tries to unleash on the other vegetables and fruit. There is a distinctly festive feel to this latest adventure making it perfect in the run up to Christmas. I think even the naughty, little pea found a little Christmas spirit in the end (or should I say in HIS rear-end – tee hee 😋.)

Published on: 2nd November 2017

Price: £6.99

Words and your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

41gv2McsjML._SX428_BO1,204,203,200_Your words are amazing!

This book is about your heart.

The little bit inside of you that makes you, you!

A very timely book about the power of words – and how we use them. Told through the eyes of Pip and Cat, this book beautifully demonstrates the importance of what we say – both positive and negative. Thoughtful, warm-hearted and completely non-preachy, this is a book that has already resonated with large numbers of children, whose teachers report a sea of change in the culture of their classroom after reading it.

A universal message, for a world that always needs a little more kindness.

This is an absolutely stunning book. The design and layout is just beautifully executed, the illustrations perfectly complimenting the text have a wonderfully memorable impact. The message is simple yet powerful and expresses the effect our words have on those around us. It’s about empathy, compassion and how each and every one of us can make the world a little better, a little happier. This is a book I think every child should read.

Published on: 2nd November 2017

Price: £6.99

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Middle Grade Fiction

The Boy With One Name by J.R. Wallis

It’s Saturday and it’s Autumn – a great time to buy books.

I absolutely love Middle Grade fiction. It’s exciting and there is such an amazing choice for kids (and those of us still kids at heart). Unfortunately although there are many amazingly well stocked and managed school libraries out there not all of them have the funds or space to keep a stock of fresh, new titles. If you are lucky enough to have a local library then I urge you to use it if you don’t already and of course a bookshop of any shape or size is always a great place to visit. So, if you are looking for a weekend reading treat here’s my recommendation for this week.

The Boy With One Name by J.R.Wallis

I absolutely adore a little magic and mystery. Throw in some mortal danger, monsters and things that go bump in the night and I’m in heaven. 😄

This summer the rather lovely people over at Simon & Schuster kids sent me a copy of The Boy With One Name. The cover alone grabbed my interest as soon as it slipped out from it’s Jiffy bag.

WELCOME TO THE BADLANDS … a hidden part of our world populated by creatures which most people think exist only in fairytales and nightmares.

The story features two young protagonists – Jones desperately wants to be a normal boy but since he was a baby fate has had other plans, because Jones is an apprentice Badlander. Badlanders hunt witches, ogres, shapeshifters and other monsters that ordinary people only see in their nightmares.

Ruby is also desperate for a different life. Running away from her latest foster carer and a difficult home life, Ruby  is searching for a world she can fit into. A world where she has some purpose and meaning.

Things go terribly wrong on the night that Jones is making his first kill as part of his commencement to become a Badlander and suddenly he is left without his master Maitland, the one man who taught him everything he knows and who’s been there for him since he was a baby. Now he is alone with only a talking gun (which he can’t touch) for guidance.

Looking for a safe place to hide, runaway Ruby finds herself caught up in Jones life and the monsters that she thought only belonged in fairytales and nightmares. Before long circumstances force them to work together as each tries to not only stay alive but to find the lives they’ve both dreamed of.

What follows is an adventure story that grips from the very first page as you tumble into the Badlands. Adrenaline filled and full of danger, Wallis will have you cheering for more.

This is a great book about friendship, self discovery, learning who you are and finding courage in even the most desparate of situations. I absolutely loved Jones and fiesty Ruby. They each had their own problems but discovered that working together they could achieve anything.

An exciting start to what I hope will become a series. This will make a fantastic, fun and exciting read.

Published by Simon and Schuster
Published in paperback in August 2017
Review copy supplied by the lovely people at Simon and Schuster (thanks so much:)

Find out more about author J.R.Wallis by visiting his website: here.

Here’s a small taster that I’ve taken from the opening page.

     Jones stopped. He’d felt safe enough creeping down the path in front of the cottage, in the dark.  But now the moon had reappeared from behind the clouds, the world was relit with a softer silver light meaning he was much more likely to be seen.

He kept trying to focus on what Maitland had promised, that he wouldn’t come to any harm. But that was less easy to believe now they were actually here. Scared to go on, Jones looked behind him, to where his Master was hiding, hoping to be beckoned back.

Maitland stepped out from the granite porch concealing the front door of the cottage and stood on the path, big as a bolder in his greatcoat. He said nothing. His craggy face remained hidden below the peak of his baseball cap. And Jones knew right away Maitland wanted him to go on, however bright the moon, because this was his big night. This was his big test.

 

Adult Fiction, Musings and Wonderment

A blast from the past… because sometimes a novel becomes so much more.

Two years ago I published an article on Kate Kerrigan’s novel The Dress. It’s one of those novels that I enjoyed so much I know I’ll revisit whenever I fancy curling up with an old friend. This novel in particular came to mind when I recently spent some time at the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion Exhibition at the V&A, it was absolutely fascinating and as I wondered around the stunning creations and enjoyed an insight into how they were created my thoughts returned to Kate’s novel. As I learned a little more about Balenciaga’s story it reminded me that behind each garment there is a story of a person, not just of the person who would own it but those who worked in it’s creation. Everything has a story. So as it holds such lovely memories I thought I’d share my article again now. It is after all a rather fabulous novel.

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan

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One of the many highlights for me in a day at Lovereading.co.uk is when a proof lands on my desk for a novel which we feel will meet the high expectations of our fabulous reader review panel. Quite often the cover gives very little away and it can be particularly thrilling when you are presented with few clues as to what lies on the pages within. However, publisher’s will at times make the proofs (almost) as beautiful as the finished copies and as soon as I saw the cover of Kate Kerrigan’s The Dress, I just wanted to pick it up and start reading. And read it I did, along with a selection of members from the Lovereading Reader Review Panel.

How delighted I was to then discover that Kate Kerrigan herself was coming to our local indie bookshop (yes, we’re lucky enough to still have one) in East Grinstead. So on a bright and beautiful Saturday afternoon I found myself amongst some rather lovely, beautifully dressed ladies listening to Kate as she chatted about her inspiration for the book and her life as a writer.

An extremely warm and friendly woman, she made us all feel welcome, as though meeting an old friend for coffee. Instantly everyone was at ease in the comfortable surroundings of the small cafe within the bookshop. As I had read the novel it was a delight to hear her read a familiar chapter and those discovering the story for the first time were inspired enough to purchase one of the beautiful hard backed copies available to buy on the day.

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Ladies in dresses with Kate (2nd from the right) – (Image provided courtesy of Kate Kerrigan)

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Lovely Kate & I – (Image provided courtesy of Kate Kerrigan)

As Kate spoke about her inspiration for the novel she questioned the power a dress has. This question has since been floating around my head. Personally, I’m a big fan of dresses. They are feminine, smart, sexy, beautiful and they come in so many shapes, sizes and styles. Whatever the season, whatever the occasion there is a dress to suit and I just love that. A favoured garment can make us feel confident, attractive, dare I say beautiful? It can pull us out of the dumps and even reignite precious memories. But can a dress really make someone fall in love? Could it even save a marriage?

These questions are all touched on within the story but there is also so much more within the pages of this delightful novel. I loved the dressmaking details throughout, the dual time setting, glamourous locations and the engaging characters brought to life by Kate. Her characterisation is excellent, as is her attention to detail. During her time with us at The Bookshop, Kate also shared some of her experiences as a writer and divulged the often unrecognised hard work that writing a novel requires. As an (aspiring) writer myself it’s good to know that a book is not just written but nurtured. It takes time, attention and love (and a tough but great editor:) For me The Dress was an engrossing, easy read and a delight from start to finish.

Just a few days after meeting Kate I found myself visiting Killerton House, a National Trust property in Devon. Killerton is home to a fashion collection of over 10,000 items of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing dating from 1690 to the 1970’s (Source – National Trust). Each year the house displays a selection from the collection in an exhibition. This years exhibition, The F-Word: the changing language of fashion, celebrates innovations within the fashion industry and the advances they have brought throughout history. The exhibition features pieces from the past, along with new work created by students from Exeter College.

A selection of dresses from the historic collection at Killerton.

A selection of dresses from the historic collection at Killerton.

Shoes, glorious shoes!

Shoes, glorious shoes!

A knitted wedding dress from the 1970's.

A knitted wedding dress from the 1970’s.

One of the impressive new creations whose story is just beginning.

One of the impressive new creations (a story is just beginning).

As I wandered around the exhibition my thoughts returned to The Dress, Joy, Lily, Honor and Frank. It made me wonder about the stories within each of these historic pieces and if a little of the people who had worn them over the years had been left behind. Maybe some of their energy remained within the folds of fabric, the swish of a skirt or the sparkle of a sequin. Quite often memories are locked into the garments we wear; a wedding dress is treasured, just as a favorite jumper can be. The sorting of clothes after the loss of a loved one can be traumatic and painful. Clothes become part of who we are. This is one thing that most can relate to and why the choice of subject in Kate’s book is so interesting. The Dress feels like a character in itself and I read on intrigued to know it’s fate. It was, after all, the image on the front cover that first drew me to the novel before I had even read the synopsis.

The cover image design was based on descriptions of the dress within the story. It is stunning and inspired me to indulge myself by drawing a version with slight alterations made to fit just me. What decoration would your dress be adorned with? As you may see from the picture below my dress includes images of flowers rather than fairy-tales. Of course the absolute perfect dress for me might well be covered in the titles of my favourite novels.

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Do you have a dress that is special to you? Please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

You can find further information about The Dress by Kate Kerrigan at Lovereading.co.uk or at www.katekerrigan.ie.

Finally thank you so much to Olivia D’Silva for organising the event and to The Bookshop in East Grinstead for hosting and finally to Kate for coming to visit. I wish her every success with her novel and very much look forward to the next.

Adult Fiction

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Courages, strength and erotica is at the heart of this humorous, heart-warming tale about a clash of cultures and the women in our lives we should never take for granted. Nikki is a modern girl living in London who is determined to live life on her own terms. She’s also Punjabi. Her mother hasn’t quite forgiven her for dropping out of law school, or selfishly moving from the family home to work in a pub outside of their community. Sister Mindi, to her horror, wants an arranged marriage and Nikki has never felt more alienated from her family and the traditional values they embrace. When she begins teaching a creative writing class for Punjabi widows, Nikki is surprised by the strength and passion that lies within the women and the secrets they hold. Before long stories begin to emerge. They are good, full of erotic description and give the women a platform to be heard for the first time in their lives. Before long the stories are being shared outside the classroom. However, something darker lies beneath the revered community and its traditions, something that brings danger to this group of women who wish for nothing more than to express themselves and move away from the shadows. A deeper truth is soon exposed, a truth that will send shockwaves throughout the community, bringing danger to both Nikki and the group. A great read filled with memorable characters and their stories.

Published in Hardback: 7th March 2017

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Published in Paperback: 7th September 2017

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Published by HarperCollins

Find out more about the author Balli Kaur Jaswal by visiting her website here.

I reviewed this title on behalf of Lovereading.co.uk