Format: Paperback

The Fairytale Hairdresser and Rapunzel

Posted September 26, 2022 by louisesr in Age 5-7, Childrens / 0 Comments

The Fairytale Hairdresser and RapunzelThe Fairytale Hairdresser and Rapunzel by Abie Longstaff
Series: Fairytale Hairdresser #1
Published by Puffin on 6 Jan 2011
Genres: Childrens
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Join Kittie Lacey, as she faces her most hair-raising challenge - an evil witch, a tall tower, and a girl called Rapunzel who is having a very bad hair day. Will Kittie manage to tame unruly tresses that go on for miles, rescue a princess and create a happily ever after?

My daughter loves this series. In this first book Kittie Lacey is called to a tall tower where the witch is complaining she can’t get on with her evil plans as there is hair taking over the tower, Rapunzel is having a bad hair day. Kittie to the rescue!

This features a cast of many favourite fairytale characters who make an appearance to get their locks looked after by the best hairdresser is all the land!

Divider

Bright Burning Things Book Review

Posted June 28, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 1 Comment

Bright Burning Things Book ReviewBright Burning Things by Lisa Harding
Published by Bloomsbury on 7 December 2021
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
three-half-stars

Being Tommy's mother is too much for Sonya.

Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy's life is in her hands.

Once there was the thrill of a London stage, a glowing acting career, fast cars, handsome men. But now there are blackouts and bare cupboards, and her estranged father showing up uninvited. There is Mrs O'Malley spying from across the road. There is the risk of losing Tommy - forever.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Being the mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old the premise for this book really interested me.

“Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy’s life is in her hands.”

Loving your child too much, living in fear are totally normal feelings for most mothers, as is needing a glass of wine at the end of the day to cope with the stresses that you’ve faced. But with Sonya, everything is done to the extreme. Loving your child to the point you almost suffocate him. needing that glass of wine so much that it’s gone in one mouthful (followed by 2 further bottles). Sonya’s life is spiralling out of control and she’s taking Tommy down with her causing her neighbour and her father to intervene.

The entire book is told through Sonya’s eyes, we get to experience just what she is seeing and feeling and it is terrifying. For me the thought of potentially losing my child or doing something that would put them in danger would be enough to stop me from progressing down a dangerous path, but when we meet Sonya she is too far gone and the consequences are inevitable.

There are parallels in here with Hansel and Gretel with Sonya likening their neighbour to the witch, but really it was her father and step-mother who reminded me most of their fairy tale counterparts; although Tommy is let down by Sonya I think she is let down the most by her father who seems to have (perhaps not always intentionally) caused her heartbreak throughout her life.

This is a book that plays on your emotions, to see the heartbreak caused by the separation of Sonya and Tommy is very impactful and the journey back to the family dynamic is a tough read

three-half-stars
Divider

Hidden Book Review

Posted May 26, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Hidden Book ReviewHidden by Emma Kavanagh
Published by Random House on November 5, 2015
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Goodreads
four-stars

HE'S WATCHING
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He's unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman - before it's too late.

SHE'S WAITING
To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety - both for her, and her young niece who's been recently admitted. She's heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman's next target will be. But he's there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks...

Emma Kavanagh, has written a very clever novel which sucks you in from the very first page. Not least because she starts the novel, just after the shooting has happened. The first chapter is told from the POV of Charlie, who is assessing the carnage around her, who she can see, who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s unlikely to make it. At this point the names mean nothing to you but then the story goes backwards 6 days and we start the process of getting to know the characters while slowly moving towards the present day.

Each chapter is told from a different point of view; Charlie the reporter, Imogen the Psychologist, Aden the police officer and The Shooter. Between them they shed light on the events that have led up to the shooting, not just the immediate 6 days prior to it, but the relationships and incidents from the past which have led everyone to this point and led to the lives of the main characters being interwoven.

At first I got a bit confused by all of the different people, not just the narrators but also their families and work colleagues who also have major roles in the storyline. However, it didn’t take me long to get comfortable with all the names, personalities and the relationships/history they had with the other characters.

About half way through I had to go back and reread the first chapter, the one describing who’s been shot and the state they’re in, by this time I had formed an attachment with certain characters and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t misremembered anything. I think it was a very brave move that Emma Kavanagh made in setting up the novel in the say she did.

There’s a lot of clues thrown in as to who the shooter is, there’s also a lot of clues to throw you off the scent. Although I figured out who it was I think it’s from reading so many crime novels and having an idea of how a crime writers mind seems to work, although she did have me alternating between a number of other characters for a time!

four-stars
Divider

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Posted May 5, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Little Princes by Conor GrennanLittle Princes by Conor Grennan
Published by HarperCollins UK on January 27, 2011
Genres: Autobiography
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

The riveting story of Conor Grennan’s year in Nepal reads like a cross between Into Thin Air and Three Cups of Tea. While volunteering at an orphanage, Conor discovers that the children are not orphans: they are trafficked. Despite the danger, Conor treks up dirt paths with photographs of the children, miraculously reuniting dozens of families.

Remember how in my opening week I told you that I had a blog many years ago? This is one of the posts that I have saved from there. I read this book when it first came out and I still think of it often. It’s one I never hear mention of any more but one that I whole-heartedly recommend.

This is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve read, add to this the fact that it’s a biography and five stars just doesn’t seem to do it justice. As soon as I finished it I was recommending it to family and friends.

Not only is this a really interesting and moving story but it’s really well written, Conor does a fantastic job of letting everybody’s personality show through in the way they speak. In a lot of ways this book reads more like a novel than like I biography, which I personally think makes it a lot easier to read. It also has a lot of humorous scenes interspersed with the more moving scenes. I think it’s a sign of a good writer if they can make you both laugh and cry within minutes of each other.

The work that he has done makes Conor an inspiration to many, it would have been so easy for him to have completed his initial 3 months and not looked back but the children affected him and got under his skin, as they have obviously done to a number of people as Conor makes it clear he has not worked alone in his fight to save these children.

A percentage of the proceeds from this book go to aid Conor’s work in caring for the children of Nepal and tracing their families. Once you read this you’ll understand just how important that is.

five-stars

About Conor Grennan

Conor Grennan is a citizen of the US and Ireland. He grew up in Poughkeepsie NY and Jersey City, NJ. He spent eight years at the EastWest Institute (EWI), both in Prague and the EU Office in Brussels, focusing on peace and reconciliation in the Balkans. He left EWI in 2004 to travel and volunteer in Nepal, where he ultimately started Next Generation Nepal (NGN), an organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families.

Conor was based in Kathmandu, Nepal, until October 2007, when he returned to the US. He is still active in NGN and serves on the Board. He holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the NYU Stern School of Business, and currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

Divider

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Posted May 2, 2022 by louisesr in Review / 0 Comments

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta SepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Penguin UK on April 7, 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop
Goodreads
five-stars

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . . Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

Before this book was published I didn’t know anything about the treatments of Lithuanian’s during World War II, it amazes me that everyone knows about the treatment of the Jews during this period but they were by no means the only people who were mistreated. Having recently read Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet about the treatment of Chinese people living in the USA I was eager to get another insight into this period from a different perspective.

Knowing that this was about Lithuanian Prisoners of War during World War II, I thought I was prepared for it to be an emotional read. I was wrong, nothing could prepare me for how absolutely heart wrenching this novel is. Within pages of starting this book I was openly crying in public places, I couldn’t help myself and yet I couldn’t tear myself away, I was absolutely transfixed from the start and desperate to know what happened.

We start the novel as Lina, her mother and her brother are being taken from their home, their father has already disappeared days earlier. They are told nothing about where they are going or what to expect, but are taken to a railway station where they are forced to board a train with hundreds of others in appalling conditions. Within the carriage Sepetys introduces us to a number of characters who accompany Lina and her family throughout the novel, she does this with such skill that you grow to care about each of them, know their idiosyncrasies and really do feel the pain of all those involved. As a group they have to fight for their survival but also look out for one another and support each other through what is obviously the worst ordeal of their lives. The conditions on the train are horrific but this is only the start of the story, the trains are a means of transferring the prisoners to work camps where the fight for survival escalates. I actually started to worry about myself at this point in the novel, it was almost as though I had become anaesthetised to what they were going through, I calmed and went a couple of hours without tears. I think part of my calming was the determination, spirit and camaraderie that the prisoners showed. Even when they were suffering and there was little hope to be had, they clung to any glimmer of hope that could be found. The attitude of these people was unbelievably uplifting, in the UK in times of trouble people talk about the spirit of the blitz, although I’m sure it wasn’t a great time for anyone to live through the spirit of the blitz cannot even compare to the courage that is conveyed throughout this novel.

Just when you are thinking that things are as bad as they can get, the prisoners are again moved – to Siberia. For me, the thought of heading to Siberia now when I could take all manner of modern gizmo’s and clothing to keep me warm still isn’t appealing. For a malnourished, mistreated prisoner to be sent there in clothes they’d been wearing for years with no accommodation awaiting them at the other end is beyond comprehension. Yet still, they refuse to be broken and carry themselves with dignity at all times.
If I thought the start of Between Shades of Grey was emotional I was in for a shock at the end, I’m writing this review a week after finishing it and my eyes are welling up as I type, it was absolutely heart breaking.

This was a fabulous book, filled with raw emotion. For a horrific subject matter it was often shocking, but never unbearable to read. Sepetys is very eloquent in her storytelling and I loved the dignity and hope that was present throughout the novel.

five-stars

About Ruta Sepetys

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.

Divider