Category: Book Reviews

Dec 07

The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch

by Jill Murphy

Picture 1Children’s Fiction
Ages 7-11
First Published in 1974
Publisher: Puffin Books

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Book Synopsis:

The Worst Witch:

Mildred Hubble joins Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. But it doesn’t take her long to realize that she is possibly the worst witch the school has ever had.

Mildred is a klutz, can never get her spells right, and has a tabby cat who is terrified of broom-flying.

However, Mildred may have been able to pass under the teacher’s radar, if the mean Ethel Hallow hadn’t decided to become her worst enemy.

A few more books from the series:

Picture 2

A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch:

Can Mildred shed her reputation as the worst witch of Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches? She tries her best, but as usual for Mildred, things go horribly wrong for her…

Picture 3

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Dec 06

The Hours

The Hours

by Michael Cunningham

(5/5)

Picture 2Fiction
First Published in 1998
Publisher; Fourth Estate, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Set in: London, New York City and Los Angeles (1920s/1940s/1990s)
Won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Won the 1999 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Three women.

1920s London. Virginia Woolf attempts to begin her new novel, but she is struggling to settle her unruly mind.

1940s Los Angeles. In the stifling heat, Laura Brown, a young mother and wife aches to abandon her domestic life to escape to the solitude of reading Mrs Dalloway.

1990s New York. Clarissa Vaughan hosts a party for a dying friend.

Michael Cunningham uses the life and works of Virginia Woolf as inspiration for a moving reflection on love, failure, despair and artistic behaviour.

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Dec 06

Simply Divine

Simply Divine

by Wendy Holden

On the grand scheme of good books: (2/5)

On a fun light-reading  level: (3.5/5)

Picture 1 Fiction / Light Reading
First Published in 1999
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
Set in: London, present day

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Jane is an ordinary journalist. She has love-life stress, stress from work and she just can’t seem to shed those extra pounds. Then, the gorgeous celebrity-for-celebrity’s-sake social butterfly Champagne D’Vyne is thrown into her life. Champagne is as different from Jane as could be. As their worlds become strangely entangled, Jane discovers that this busty blond goddess will do everything to get what she wants. She lets nothing get in her way. Including Jane.

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Dec 06

Detective’s Handbook and Spy’s Guide

Detective’s Handbook

and

Spy’s Guide

Illustrated by Colin King

Picture 1Picture 2Children’s Non-Fiction Book
Ages 8-11
First Published in 1978
Publisher: Usborne

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Detective’s Handbook Synopsis:

Being a detective is challenging and extremely thrilling. You must be well trained, alert and patient to be a good detective. He must be able to create a whole story from the tiniest clue at a crime scene. He must be on the lookout for criminals and be prepared to chase down a baddie if necessary.

The Detective’s Handbook teaches you special detective skills, such as dusting for fingerprints, identifying handwriting, questioning witnesses and finding clues.

Full of advice, tips and hints, this handbook for young detectives will prepare you for when your skills are put to the test!

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Dec 04

The Blood of Flowers

The Blood of Flowers

by Anita Amirrezvani

(4/5)

Picture 1Fiction
First Published in 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Set in: 17th Century Persia

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Book Synopsis:

In 17th Century Persia, a father dies suddenly, leaving a fourteen year old girl and her mother to fend for themselves. With no male protector and no dowry with which to marry, they have to make the long journey to Isfahan, to live with the girl’s uncle, a rug designer to the King.

The girls imagination and interest is aroused by the carpets and she hungrily learns the craft, becoming a talented rug maker. But as time goes by, her chances to marry diminish and she is given no choice but to marry a rich man in secret. Will she stay in this unhappy marriage, or does she have the strength and courage to weave a new life for herself?

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Dec 02

Jonathan Livingston Seagull a story

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story

By Richard Bach

Photographs by Russell Munson

(5/5)

Picture 1Fiction / Inspirational
First Published in 1970
Publisher: Harper Element

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Seagulls fly to find to food. Seagulls eat. Seagulls survive. This is seagull law. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull has discovered the sheer joy and pleasure of flying and swooping and diving. Because of this, Jonathan is banished by the seagull elders. But Jonathan still continues to fly, expanding his horizons and searching for his higher purpose.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a fable about seizing life by the horns, and following your dreams, even if it means going against the norms of the flock.

A story that will inspire you to follow your dreams, so that you can soar too.

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Dec 02

The Interpreter of Maladies

The Interpreter of Maladies

by Jhumpa Lahiri

(4/5) Picture 1Fiction / Short Stories
First Published in 1999
Publisher: Flamingo
Set in: Various countries: USA, India, London
Won The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2000
Won the Hemingway Foundation / PEN Award 2000

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

9 short stories that reveal the lives of Indians living at home, or abroad, but nevertheless isolated, steering their way through the murky path between tradition and the new world that has evolved around them. These stories which are eloquently and subtlety told by Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, will speak to anyone who has experienced the longings of exile, or the isolated confusion of an outsider.

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Dec 01

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are

by Maurice Sendack

(5/5)

Picture 1Children’s Fiction / Children’s Picture Book
Ages 3-6
First Published in 1963
Publisher:Harper and Row

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Book Synopsis:

Where The Wild Things Are is about a little boy called Max dressed up in his monster suit who gets sent to bed without any supper for making mischief. He defiantly created a forest in his bedroom, travels by boat and ends up where the wild things are. The wild things are monsters who gnash their teeth, but Max stands up to them and therefore becomes their king. But he misses home, and his mum, so he gives up being king of the wild things and makes the long journey back home.

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Dec 01

Big Dog .. Little Dog: A Bedtime Story

Big Dog .. Little Dog: A Bedtime Story

by P.D. Eastman

Picture 2Children’s Fiction / Picture book
Ages 2-4
First Published in 1973
Publisher: Random House USA Inc.

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Fred and Ted were good friends.

But they were different.

They were different sizes, they played different instruments, and they even drove their cars differently.

When they go on holiday together, they come across a problem that they need to solve…

bunnyWhy I like this book:

My mum used to read Big Dog.. Little Dog to me when I was a child. I loved this children’s book because the simplicity of the language made it easy for me to repeat. I also enjoyed the contrast between the two friends. This book is also filled with useful verbs, adverbs and adjectives.

x Julie

Children’s Book Reviews

-Reading Like Rabbits-

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Nov 30

Don’t Forget the Bacon!

Don’t Forget the Bacon!

By Pat Hutchins

Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Ages 3-6
First Published in 1976
Publisher: Puffin Books

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Children’s Book Synopsis:

A little boy is sent on his way to buy the groceries. His mother tells him what he needs to buy and especially says, “Don’t forget the bacon.”

The boy remembers his list by saying it to himself over and over again. But on his travels he is distracted by the sights and sounds on the street.

Will he remember the bacon?

bunnyMy Book Review:

I loved this book as a child, it’s very funny. The little boy chants his little shopping list as he is sent down the street to the shops by his mum. But as he goes along, what he sees replaces the food on the shopping list. Like ‘six farm eggs’ become ‘six fat legs’. It’s very funny for child as they witness the disastrous consequences. Will he remember or forget the bacon?

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Nov 30

When Dad did the Washing

When Dad did the Washing

by Ronda and David Armitage

Picture 2
Children’s Fiction / Picture Book
Ages 2-5
First Published in 1990
Publisher: Puffin Books

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book synopsis:

Three kids can’t find any clean clothes to wear. Mum’s gone to work, so it’s up to Dad to do the washing. Dad piles all their dirty clothes into the washing machine. But something goes wrong…. What will Mum say when she returns?

bunnyWhy I like this book:

When Dad did the Washing must have been written by Ronda and David Armitage after a washing incident of their own.

Valuable, albeit domestic, life lessons can be learnt in this book:

  • If you don’t want pink clothes, don’t wash red jump suits with white skirts
  • Some mistakes are blessings in disguise, it just depends on how you decide to take it.

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Nov 30

Alfie’s Feet

Alfie’s Feet

by Shirley Hughes

Picture 1Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Ages 2-5
First Published in 1982
Publisher: Red Fox

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Summary:

Alfie’s Feet is a charming book primarily about… Alfie’s feet. He counts his little sister’s toes with the rhyme ‘This little pig went to market…’, he wears his old brown shoes to splash about in puddles, but discovers that his feet, shoes and socks get all wet. So his mother buys him a shiny new pair of yellow wellington boots. This will help him keep his feet dry, but why do they feel so uncomfortable?

bunny Why I love Alfie’s Feet:

I still have fond memories of reading Alfie’s Feet. Shirley Hughes’s expressive illustrations of the cubby-cheeked children are magnetic, and there is so much to look at in her drawings. Alfie’s Feet will help children learn vocabulary to do with well…feet…but also what goes on your feet, some movement verbs and adjectives, as well as the importance of left and right.

x Julie

Children’s Book Reviews

-Reading Like Rabbits-

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Nov 30

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

by Shel Silverstein

(5/5)

Picture 1Children’s Fiction
Ages 6-10
First Published in 1964
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy. So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree and the tree gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.

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Nov 30

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary

by Helen Fielding

(5/5)

Bridget Jones PictureFiction
First Published in 1996
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Set in: London, present day

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

Bridget Jones wants to have it all – and once she’s given up smoking and got down to 8st 7lbs, she will. Bridget Jones’s Diary is about a year in the life of a single girl on an optimistic but doomed quest for self-improvement. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something? Bridget Jones is everyone’s favourite Londoner. This is your chance to reacquaint yourself with the funniest, most heart-warming young lady ever to grace the pages of a Picador book.

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Nov 29

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry

by Audrey Niffenegger

(2/5)

Picture 1Fiction
First Published in 2009
Publisher: Random House
Set in: London, present day

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

Julia and Valentina Poole are normal American teenagers – normal at least for identical ‘mirror’ twins who have no interest in college or jobs or possibly anything outside their cosy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn’t know existed has died and left them her flat in an apartment block overlooking Highgate Cemetary in London. They feel that at last their own lives can begin… but have no idea they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives below them, and even to their aunt herself, who never got over her estrangement from the twin’s mother – and who cant even seem to quite leave her flat…

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Nov 29

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

(4/5)

Picture 4
Fiction
First Published in 1960
Publisher: J. B. Lippincott & Co.
Set in: Maycomb, Alabama, USA. 1930s
Won the Pulitzer Prize 1961

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book synopsis:

”Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this enchanting classic – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl.

Thorough the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties.

The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice.

But the weight of history will only tolerate so much…

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Nov 29

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

by Edward Gorey

Gashleycrumb PictureFiction, adult picture book
First Published in 1963
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Wikipedia Synopsis:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing is an abecedarian book written by Edward Gorey that was first published in 1963. Gorey tells the tale of 26 children (each representing a letter of the alphabet) and their untimely deaths in rhyming dactylic couplets, accompanied by the author’s distinctive black and white illustrations.

bunnyMy Book Review of The Gashlycrumb Tinies:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies was given to me as a present from a friend. I loved its macabre nature but had to wonder what in MY nature had caused him to think of me when he saw this book.

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Nov 28

Outliers

Outliers

by Malcolm Gladwell

(4/5)

Picture 2Non-Fiction
First Published in 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Click to buy this book (free delivery)


Book Synopsis:

Why do some people achieve so much more than others?

Can they lie so far out of the ordinary?

In his provocative and inspiring new book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising than we could have ever imagined. He reveals that it’s as much about where we’re from and what we do, as who we are – and that no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone.

Outliers will change the way you think about your life story, and about what makes us all unique.

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Nov 28

Maus

Maus

I – My Father Bleeds History

II – And Here My Trouble Begin

by Art Spiegelman

(5/5)

Maus PictureFiction, Graphic Novel
Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize
First Published in 1980-1991 in RAW magazine
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Set: Nazi Poland and modern day New York, USA

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

“The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” – Adolf Hitler

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father’s terrifying story, and history itself. It’s form, the cartoon (Nazi’s are cats, the Jews are mice), succeeds perfectly in shocking us out of our any lingering sense of familiarity with the events described, approaching, as it does, the unspeakable through the diminutive. It is, as the New York Times Book Review has commented, “a remarkable feat of documentary detail and novelistic vividness…an unfolding literary event.”

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Nov 28

Freedom

Freedom – The Story of My Second Life

a memoir by Malika Oufkir

(4.5/5)

Freedom CoverAutobiography
First Published in 2006
Publisher: Miramax Books
Set in: France, USA

Freedom is the sequel to Oufkir’s Autobiography Stolen Lives

Click to buy Freedom by Malika Oufkir (free delivery)

Book Cover Synopsis:

Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir’s intensely moving account of her twenty years imprisoned in a desert jail in Morocco, was a surprise international bestseller.

In her highly anticipated follow-up, Malika reflects on the life she lived before and during incarceration and how dramatically the world had changed when she emerged. Malika was born into extreme privilege as the daughter of the king of Morocco’s closest aide, and she grew up in the palace as companion to the Moroccan princess. But in 1972, her life of luxury came to a crashing halt. Her family was locked away for two decades. After a remarkable escape, Malika and her family returned to the world they’d left behind, only to find it transformed.

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