Here I share my reviews with you, most recently read reviews are at the top of the page. I write up reviews about good films I’ve watched, and great books I’ve read & recommend. You can also buy the books directly from this page by clicking on the picture of the book.
Bittersweet – The Chocolate Box Girls
If you’re a fan of the chocolate box girls, you will love this book! If you haven’t read this book before, then the series are really light, easy reading, and really enjoyable.
So we all know about the Tanberry sisters, but we don’t know about Shay fletcher, Honey’s ex and Cherry’s boyfriend do we? Written especially for world book day, I chose this book with my pound voucher because I love Cathy Cassidy and I also love the chocolate box girls! Shay loves to sing with his guitar, make up songs & play at beach parties. Although, he hardly has time for this because he has to help out his angry dad at his sailing centre.
Then suddenly, he is offered a contract at Wrecked Rekords, one of the biggest record companies ever, but he cant do the contract without his dads signature – and his dad is unlikely to say yes. With that on his mind, and the end of the school holidays coming up, the last thing Shay wants is his ex-girlfriend Honey to turn up, crying, and wanting his help, but by helping Honey, that means he might lose his relationship with Cherry, who he loves very much….
Will Shay be able to fulfil his dream of being a pop star? Will he help Honey?
10/10 I really love this book and recommend it to all Cathy Cassidy fans 11+ (contains kissing and boyfriend & girlfriendly stuff)
Tom gates: Everything’s Amazing Sort Of
Tom gates’s favourite thing to do is doodle, annoy his sister Delia, and practise for his band. This series of three books is funny and enjoyable, and a nice easy book to read, I like how Liz Pitchon has made the characters eccentric but believable. I rate it 10/10 and recommend it for 9-11 year olds, I thought only boys might enjoy this, but I actually really enjoyed it so I recommend it to both boys and girls.
Cassandra Mortmain is seventeen years old, (though it seemed to me with her maturity levels, that she was 13) she lives in a crumbling castle in Suffolk with her sister, Rose, step-mother & her father. Her life is pleasant, she gets to swim in the moat and roam the fields, help Stephen the boy who lives with them weed the garden and feed the chickens, but then life starts to seem tedious and her sister dreams of much grander things to do than swim in moats; like going to parties, marrying to a rich man. Then one night two rich young American men arrive in the kitchen, and start to form ‘friendships’ with Rose & Cassandra, Rose leaps at the chance to become rich, and fortunately for her, begins to fall in love with Simon, the eldest. Cassandra is happy to have something to do other than write stories and dream, and begins to get mixed feelings about the two men. Everything goes past very quickly, going to endless glamorous parties, picnics and walks in the woods, soon Rose is engaged to Simon and planning a wedding. But Rose isn’t marrying for love, but for the money. Everything gets messed up when Cassandra finds out that Stephen has wanted her to marry him since he was eight, and finding out she is falling in love with her sister’s husband-to-be. I rate it 7/10 It has the worst ending in the history of books, and Cassandra ends up falling for the wrong man who can’t be with her anyway! It’s a very tragic book! But I did enjoy it. I’d recommend it to 12-16 year olds for some content which I wouldn’t recommend to under 12s!
This book is a great book to read before you read Anne Franks actual diary. It is her photographic story, with descriptions on each photo, as well as entries from her diary on each page. The book starts from the day she was born to what happened after she died. It’s filled with photos on every page, and it really helps you place where Anne lived and the photos help develop her and Margot’s characters.
I really like the photos of hand written postcards and letters she had written from the secret Annexe to her friends and family.
It also explains the history about what was happening in Germany at the time in each chapter, and shows maps of where Anne was when this is described. There are horrifying facts and it is shocking and upsetting to read but important to know about and remember that this holocaust happened only 70 years ago.
After reading it, I could relate to Anne more, and appreciate every word she wrote.
I rate it 10/10 and from the age 9+ (it’s hard really to say the age range, because my mum was interested in it, and so was my 17 year old sister)
The Girls Book series, are short books full of ideas and advice on anything and everything! I have read 4 of the books in the series. The Girls Book Of Friendship is a book about games you can play with your friends, friendship bracelets and presents, and one idea I really liked, is you get an old hinge, and put wrapping paper over the surface, then stick little photos inside of it of you and your friends, thread a red ribbon through one of the holes and use it as a necklace! The Girls Book Of Glamour is how to make your own essential oils, nail varnish, how to avoid itchy skin and things like that. The Girls Book Of Secrets is my favourite! It’s things like how to make a secret book safe, how to decode body language, how to make invisible ink and lots of other things! The Girls Book how to be best at everything, is tips on how to run faster by breathing right, how to do a perfect walkover and other stuff. I rate them 10/10, and recommend them to girly girls, & tomboys, or the in-between girls (like me!) age 9-13
This extravaganza of a book follows a strong friendship between Arthur and Marty, who survive years of blood drawing work at Piggy Bacons, days of travelling in a desert, overcoming a dear friends death together and then eventually getting jobs at a boatyard, where they discover their true talent. All through this, Arthur keeps the special key that his sister Kitty gave him when he was leaving on the big boat for Piggy Bacons and they were just little children. Many years later, after marrying a nurse, Arthur begins building a boat with his daughter Ali. But half way through, Arthur dies of a heart attack. At 18 years of age, Ali is determined to fulfill her father’s life lasting wish and sail to England and find Kitty, and discover what the key is for…
The book was so good I couldn’t put it down, not even for my favourite lunch! Michael Morpurgo’s story in a story technique and style is very interesting, Ali’s story I enjoyed as much as I loved Arthur’s. I could relate with different characters and situations, even though it was set in a different time to now. This made the story more real and enjoyable as you understand how they are feeling and thinking. I actually said out loud half way through: I felt like that when I went swimming! It’s a unusual topic, and I’ve never read anything like it before, which is fun. This is my favourite of Michael Murporgo’s book as it made me laugh and cry and still think about it long after I’d read it. The message that has stayed with me is don’t give up your dream, even if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime someone may carry it on from you and it’s important to believe in your dreams, this will give you purpose through the toughest times. It’s a powerful book that I highly reccommend.
The Old Country,Never look too long into the eyes of a fox…by Mordicai Gerstein
(sorry no picture as I can’t find this for sale on amazon)
Gisella sets off to kill the fox that is taking her chickens. But when she finds the fox, she ignores her Aunt’s warning, and can’t help but look into the eyes of the fox (Flame.) Immediately Gisella is in Flame’s body, and Flame is in Gisella’s body. Gisella sets off on an adventure to get her body back. But with the war rising, and the magical worlds disapearing forever, Gisella’s hopes to get her body back look faint, will she get her body back? I loved this book, though I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was a bit younger. It had a great plot, and it had a very unexpected (sad) ending. 10/10, Age recommendation: 7-10
This book is unusual, dealing with dying. I didn’t know what to expect when I first started reading but this book engrossed me completely. It is both funny and sad. It is written in the first person and so it feels like you know the main character Sam very well. Sam is eleven and has leukaemia. He loves facts, and wants to do special things before he dies. He wants to know what an ’18′ horror film’s like to watch, what it’s like to drink, what it’s like to kiss a girl, what its like to see the world from an aircraft, what it’s like to go on an escalator by himself, and what it’s like to brake a world record. Those are only some of the things. And his best friend Felix, 13, wants to help him achieve the things he wants to do. But will they be able to do some (or maybe all!) of them before he dies? Most of all, he wants to know the answers to his questions that nobody will answer-they’re all about death. I have read this book five times because it is so good. It is fast moving and faces many emotions that aren’t usually talked about. I found it realistic with a mix of humour and sadness as well as joy. 10/10, age: 10-16
”I do not, I repeat I do not, need a Nanny!” 13 years old, squirmy about french manicures (which she calls ‘lobster claws’) and in search of a happiness clock, Edie Evans thinks she is perfectly capable of looking after herself, and her little brother Sam. And she certainly does not want another Nanny! But all the same, a new Nanny has arrived-but this is no ordinary Nanny. I mean, she’s definitely not normal to give a magpie as a present, or wear zappy, bright, enchanting, fancy dress, sort of clothes! Neither is she fooled for Edie’s taunting tricks. Edie can’t get her head around Alice. B Lovely…And there’s some mystery, something strange that Edie just can’t work out…What is it? Why does she run away from an exhibiton when a journalist questions her? Why did she graffiti the baby powder advert? Alice B. Lovely is a mystery. And Edie Evans is going to find out that mystery…
This book is like the film Nanny Mc. Phee really, but it’s set in the modern day, and the nanny is younger. I enjoyed this book, It had lots of funny parts in it, and sad bits too.
10/10 I recommend this book to 9-14 year olds.
Cedar B. Hartley loves acrobatics, and especially the flying trapeze! Cedar, and her (crush) friend Kite, have set up a small acrobatic circus group with their friends called the ‘Acrobrats.’ But then, Kite’s father Ruben, gets a job as a trainer for the Flying Fruits Circus. Kite auditions to be part of the circus too, and gets in. Ruben and Kite move to (far away) Albury, and Cedar is left helpless, cross, and heartbroken. But then Kite asks her to audition for the circus, too. And then Cedar is left with a difficult decision….Should she stay with her (falling-to-bits-but-now-improving) circus, or follow her own dream? I guess you’ll have to wait and see…
9/10 some paragraphs and chapters I found a little bit dull, with no action. But otherwise, it was a great book, with lots of situations I can relate to. Age recommendation: 10-14 years
I highly recommend this book to everyone but particularly to anyone who has ever felt helpless to change what’s happening around them, as this is how the main character feels at the start of the book, she never gives up and her ingenious ideas and courageous determination see her through. It is fast paced and easy to read with lots of interesting subplots. It has adventure and humour in it, sometimesI laughed out loud as I read it. The ending is satisfying and left me feeling creative and inspired. The central charcter is eleven year old Hannah Roberts who has always wanted to have her own theatre, act/write/and direct. She has a best friend Lottie Perfect who has always wanted to design and sew the costume for a theatre. But Hannah barely has time to think, let alone make their shared dream come true. After her mum’s death, everything went down hill, there is a new greedy landlord who is doubling the rent to ridiculous prices, and if they aren’t paid, then he will demolish the farm. There is hardly any money, and day by day, something more on the farm is sold. None of the children realize how serious this is till their father has to sell his beloved calves and cows. Yet somehow, in the midst of all of it, Hannah discovers an old hen house, a secret shed on the farm…And the Linford arts festival is coming up, with a £500 prize in the drama category for the winning theatre group…Hannah and Lottie know they have a chance, to make their own theatre, win, and save the farm. But can they manage it? Especially when mean Miranda Harthway is intent on winning with her professional theatre group, and gorgeous Jack Adamson keeps on distracting Hannah, and then, to top it all off, wicked Danny Carr causes big, big, serious trouble…
I rate this book 10/10, I seriously couldn’t put it down! Interest age 9-12
Hugo, an orphan, lives secretly in a train station in Paris, running the clocks. Each day he also works on trying to finish fixing what his father started to fix with him, the automoton, using a notebook of annotated sketches to guide him. Then one day Hugo is caught stealing parts he wants to use to fix the automoton. Papa George accuses Hugo of being a full time thief, and searches his pockets, where he finds Hugo’s automoton notebook. The man grows angry, at the sight of this notebook, and takes it away from him, and makes Hugo work for him in his shop in the station, to repay his theft. Then Hugo meets Isobelle, (Papa George’s grandaughter) Isobelle and Hugo start to uncover the mystery of Papa George, the automoton, and many other things along the way….
This film is adapted from the book and is directed by Martin Scorcese, it is incredibly well made, the camera angles, colour themes, stage sets, lighting are fantastic. A thrilling adventure, a great family film to watch. I loved it, I rate it 10/10, this is undoubtedly the best film I’ve ever watched! 8-16 years.
Sorren, a young barn owl living in the Tyto forest, loves to hear ‘long ago’ stories from his father about The Guardians; the owls living in Ga’hoole.
One day Soren falls from his nest to the ground, and is kidnapped by the enemies of The legendary Guardians; the evil breed of tasmanian devil owls, who call themselves ‘The Pure Ones’.
Soren is held captive till he cleverly escapes, with his new found friend, Gylfie a young elf owl. They must now search for The Guardians, to warn them of the ‘Pure Ones’ who are kidnapping all the young owls and turning them into soldiers to destroy all other races of owls, including ‘The Guardians’.
But it is a long journey ahead of them. They encounter many adventures along the way, and make friends with other owls along the way in their search for the legendary Guardians.
This is a great family film, I highly recommend it, especially for 5-11 years.
Thomas dreams of much more than sitting in a school room.
He dreams of being a famous actor, and following in the footsteps of Master Shakespeare.
Then one afternoon, Thomas plays truant, and goes to a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
There he meets Will Kempt, the player of Bottom.
Will Kempt invites Thomas to be a actor of the Chamberlain’s Men, that is, when he is much older.
But Thomas can’t wait. A couple of days later, as things get worse at school and at home, he sets off on the road to London, to find Chamberlain’s men,and then the adventures begin.
Along the road he meets a cocky and bold girl called Alice. The plot involves many twists and turns and adventures including attempted assassination. I was absorbed in Elizabethan England when I read this and enjoyed the historical references.
A great book, full of adventure.
I’d recommend this book for 8-13.
Mr. Penderwick, is a fan of Latin words, Rosalind, is a capable and sensible 12 year old, Skye, a budding mathmatician; stubborn and feisty.
Jane, artistic, expressive, and obsessed with her book series: Sabrina Starr, then little Batty, who is shy with everyone apart from ‘nice people’. She won’t go anywhere without her orange and black butterfly wings and the family’s beloved dog Hound.
The Penderwicks are all going away from their home in Cameron, Massachusetts, to rent a holiday cottage for three weeks, in part of the Arundel mansion house with it’s huge gardens (which the children are strictly forbidden to enter, so says mean Mrs. Tifton, the owner).
When they arrive, Jane spies a boy, in a window of the mansion as they drive past. But who is this mysterious boy? Can they help smooth out the current mess in his life?
There is adventure, romance and humour in this book.
Rosalind, starts to fall in love with the young gardener, Cagney-but things don’t run smoothly.
Batty takes a shine to Cagney’s two tame wild rabbits, Yaz and Cala. But one day Batty visits the rabbits alone, and Yaz, escapes. Batty sets out on an expedition alone to find Yaz, but Hound is also looking for him. Will she find him? Will Batty get there first before Hound pounces upon Cagley’s beloved Yaz?
Will Skye be able to show how she really wants to help, when she accidently messes everything up?
Jane Is on a mission to finish her latest Sabrina Starr book: Sabrina Starr rescues a boy.
And gets tons of ideas when her and Skye get stuck up a tree, three storeys high, whilst they were investigating the stange boy…
All the girls together, and individually, must watch out for the evil Mrs. Tifton, and her new wicked boyfriend, Dexter…
All the girls have many great adventures, all in 3 weeks.
A great book! Thoroughly enjoyed it.
I recommend it for 8-14 year olds. 10/10!
I have just finished this book, It is brilliant! It has left me feeling happy and uplifted. The author straight away gets to the point, and takes you and Maia, the main character, on a magical journey into the Amazon.
Maia an orphan, and her new governess Miss Minton, are sent to her very English Aunt and Uncle and their rude and mean twins, Beatrice and Gwendolyn, who recently have moved to Brazil for more money. They have lots of debts, but somehow manage to look rich, and wear expensive things.
The life Maia leads in the Amazon is FULL of adventure, and surprises, Which makes the books exciting and difficult to put down.
The main character is Maia, a kind, generous person, as well as an animal lover; I can relate to her and understand her feelings, which are described well in the book.
There is a big conflict between Maia and her spoilt twin cousins, the twins clearly hate her, and want her to go away, but the only reason why the family taking her in (for now), is because Mr. Murray is paying them a big allowance for looking after her, which they need.
The characters are convincing, and their feelings and attitudes are described in depth.
The setting of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, was described vividly, and I could imagine it clearly. It felt like I had experienced being there before,like in a past life, when I was reading the book. The author had researched it in depth and it changed my perspective.
My favourite moment in the story was when ‘The Crows’ (Mr. Trapwood and Mr. Low, two detectives trying to track down Maia’s friend Finn) got a humorous response from the Amazonian Indians about where and what Finn looked like: “The old woman sat down on a tree stump and began to count. She used her fingers and her toes and then some pebbles on the ground, and the chief and his friends helped her. Then she winked at the interpreter and said it had been 50 years ago!” There is a lot of humour in this book both in what people say, do, and the situations they get into.
The book is fast moving and takes the reader through many emotions and is action packed. I was so absorbed, I read this book in an hour
I rate it 10/10, 8+ although it’s age interest would be 8-12
Friends, Callum and Iona promise Iris the osprey to look after and protect her, even if that means contacting people far away in deserts.
This story is about friendships, loss of hope, it deals with death, faith in human spirit, & facing the facts.
The novel takes place over a year and a half, the story is set in everyday normal life in the present day, with extra ordinary events.
The start of the book is exciting, and intriguing, the middle of the book is SO sad & the end is emotional and deeply moving.
The main characters are Callum and Iona, following their relationship and the loss of it, but the last part of the story focuses on Callum and Janeeba.
I found Iona most interesting and could relate to her. All the characters feelings are realistically described
This story is written in the first person, through Callum’s eyes.
I felt emotional reading this book, it deals with themes such as death and loss that are often left out of books for my age group, it has an unusual plot and is cleverly written.
I think the author wrote this book to share her love and passion for animals-especially birds.
The story felt SO real, deeply moving.
I rate this book 10/10 & although I am 9 and I felt I was the right age to read it, but I would generally recommend it for 11+
It’s age interest I think would be 8-13
This film is based on the book ‘The little white horse’,but I think is much better! this is a magical film about a girl, Maria Merryweather, who when her father dies, is forced to leave her luxurious house in London, and has to go and live with her grumpy, secretive Uncle, Sir Benjamin in the country.
At the mysterious Moonacre Manor, she soon discovers the strange world where two families live apart in hatred, the Merryweathers and the De Noirs.
Young Maria has a race against time, where she has to be brave and ignore her families pride, and find the moonpearls,hidden somewhere in the heart of the dangerous forest that the De Noirs rule. The pace of this film is quick as we feel for Maria wanting her to find the pearls before the night of the full moon, and restore peace to the two families and the valley.If she doesn’t their world will be destroyed including the people in it, she has only the help of the little white horse (really a sacred unicorn, who only Maria can see) Rolf the black Labrador dog (who is really a lion), and Serena, her hare she rescues from one of the De Noir’s animal traps. Where are the pearls hidden? It is exciting all the way through, and you never get bored, it’s even hard to stop it to go to the loo!
The ‘king’ of the De Noirs, has a son, Robin, who after capturing Maria three times, all of which she escapes, he starts to get to know her a bit more, but still he jeers, and laughs at her, but finally he plucks up the courage to betray his evil father, and help Maria, but he only decides to help her the morning of the full moon, surely it must be too late?
Will there be enough time to save the valley? And all the people in it?
The King of the De Noirs, is out in the forest with his gun, and his men, in search of both the moonpearls, Maria, and his son Robin. They want their revenge. And Maria to be dead. Including Sir. Benjamin.
Soon even Sir. Benjamin’s manner house is not safe for young Maria. Nowhere will be safe, until she finds the moonpearls, and restores peace. Easier said than done…
The most spectacular thing that stands out in this film, is the costumes, which seem old fashioned, but then not, and they are absolutely beautiful, as well as the amazing beautiful music, and imaginative sets. Watching the film is like being in an exquisite painting.
My favourite moment was when she found the moonpearls and held them in her hand, and when the white sea horses galloped out of the sea, with the Unicorn leading the way, with Maria on her back.
I rate this DVD 10/10
I think it’s age interest is 8-18, it is a really good family film. I highly commend the musicians for the amazing soundtracks.
This story is set during the second world war and based on a true story. I have heard many similar stories from my Babcia (Babcia is polish for Grandma) as she escaped from Poland when she was a child, with her mum and siblings across Europe to Austria, before coming to Wales. So when I read it, I can imagine it vividly.
It follows the lives of three Polish children, Bronia, Edek, Ruth and how they deal with the events which happen to them during this time. At the start of the novel their father is taken away to a concentration camp, for not allowing pictures of Hitler to be put up in his school. Soon after their mother is also taken away by the Nazis,upstairs while this is happening Ruth, Edek, and little Bronia have little time to escape across the rooftops of Warsaw before the Nazis take them away too. They escape just in time and soon they start to struggle to survive in the burning streets of Warsaw, and they make a drastic decision: to leave Warsaw and make a big journey by foot, across Europe in only their ragged clothes to Switzerland, where the family had agreed to go to meet in safety if they were ever to loose each other in the war.
The magical part of this book is to be found in Jan (said ‘Yan’) with his treasure box under one arm, and his latest animal he’s adopted under the other. He is a war orphan, who has learnt how to survive, and lives by his own laws. The title of this book comes from the silver sword he keeps inside his treasure box, which was earlier given to him by the children’s father, in exchange for Jan showing him where, and how to jump a train, from Warsaw to Switzerland.
I read this book with my mum before bed, each night. This helped to bring the book to life. And we discussed it as we went along. If I had read this book on my own, I don’t think I would have been able to understand, nor finish it. It was different from other books that I have read about the 2nd world war, as it focused on how the children deal positively with the devastating situations they face along the way, and shows the chaos for all nationalities when the war was supposed to be finished.
Here is a quote from the book I like, which shows the children’s spirit and determination: “no buildings were standing, the Nazis had blown up everything before they’d left…It was crowded with refugees. Some were going one way, some the other-it didn’t seem to matter which way, as long as they kept moving, on all their faces, was the same dazed look. As Ruth looked at them…there was no room in her heart for anything but pity. But they did not disturb her inward contentment, for she had hope, and firmness of purpose and she knew where she was going”.
The book describes many encounters many adventures, each facing danger, and small rays of hope.
It is amazing, that how so different each child, is they somehow manage to get on, and keep faith in their hearts. And keep on going.
Little acts of kindness, from all nationalities, even those who are supposed to be their enemies are described throughout the book showing the individual to be powerful in their choices to do the right or the wrong thing.
It was a good book.
I recommend it to age 10-14, I don’t think below 10 without your mum or dad reading it to you. I think you have to be very interested in the subject and it really helps if you have studied the second world war.
I rate it 9/10
This book is set in 1649, just after King Charles 1st had been executed. At the back of the book there is some historical background notes.
It is really hard to describe, because although it is set in a real time from history, it moves between two different worlds, it is unlike any book I have read before. It is the best book I have ever read, I couldn’t put it down and read the 300 paged book in two days. It is packed full of mystery, magic and adventure, and history, with the slightest bit of romance.The story unfolds through the eyes of six year old Coriander, who is almost 20 by the end of the book. One of things which is fun seeing change, is Coriander’s fear of the stuffed baby alligator in her father’s study, it holds the key to the cabinet in its mouth, and at the end, it comes alive (just like she had feared all along) it saves her-I can’t tell you how because it will spoil it!
The imagery throughout the novel is beautiful, and everything is described in great detail. Here is an example:
” Everything in the room was covered in a layer of thick dust. The curtains that the sun had been badgering were now no more than a mass of spiders webs. The bedroom covers were all torn and tattered, feathers split from the mattresses, and the wash basin was cracked and broken as if long abandoned. It was a room of rags and feathers, nothing more.”
The book has a fairy tale quality to it, because of the language Sally Gardner uses and the events of the story.
The characters are larger than life and dramatic, and at times frightening,
This novel’s ending was satisfying and felt complete. After reading this book I felt inspired to write a story set in a time from history also.
I highly recommend this book, I will definitely read it again!
I rate it 10/10, and would recommend to age 9-14