Sunday, 30 June 2013

In the Summer Time- Judy Astley

I have previously read and enjoyed some of Judy Astley earlier books, but must admit I haven't read one for the last few years. 

Her latest offering In the Summer Time is set in beautiful Cornwall, where Miranda and her family have gone to scatter her step-father's ashes.  In order to fulfil his final wish the family have to confront memories from their last trip there twenty years previously.  Miranda is both dismayed and comforted to find that her teen sweetheart Steve is still a local whereas her mother Clare is trying to come to terms with the loss of her soul mate.  Z-list celebrity Harriet is escaping the press following the end of her relationship to a top-flight footballer, whilst teenagers Silva and Bo are adjusting to adolescence, not feeling like they are either children or adults.  In the Summer Time cleverly shows how different age groups often share the same emotions, providing a deliciously entertaining and touching read.  Miranda in particular is a warm and likeable character holding her family together, someone that women will relate to.

With a gorgeous cover, In the Summer Time will draw in the holiday book buyers, and I am sure that if they are looking for an enjoyable, humorous tale of family life, friendship and romance they will agree that Judy Astley has come up trumps again.

In the Summer Time is released on 4th July 2013, published by Bantam Press.


With thanks to Bantam Press for providing me with a review copy of this book. 

You can find out more about Judy at her website here.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

I was given The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Christmas by my sister-in-law, Jill.  I'd asked for it specifically, mainly because the stir around the film adaptation had piqued my interest and I always try and read the book before watching the film in these situations.  Although I do try and avoid the film tie-in editions of books wherever possible- in my opinion having famous actors and actresses on the cover takes away the personality of a book.  The edition I have has a cover that is a beautiful representation of what to expect from the book-a scrap of paper from a journalists notepad covered in scrawling, sprawling script.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age novel.  It is built up through letters addressed to 'Dear friend' and follows Charlie through his freshman year.  I'm not normally a fan of coming of age stories.  I find they often lean towards pretentious.  This was different.  Chbosky has very cleverly written a novel that will appeal to teens and adults by referencing timeless aspects of youth culture that has and will continue to appeal to young people- The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beatles, The Smiths, Nirvana, On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye...

The charm of the book comes via Charlie, whose insightful observations of the world are endearing and thought provoking.  It reads almost like a free-write, testimony to Chbosky's readable style. 

Charlie's letters explore unrequited love, bereavement, mental health, sexuality, drugs and abortion.  The difficult subject matter is beautifully explored, written with a reflective awareness that will stay with the reader long after the final page.


Friday, 28 June 2013

Guesting on Making Them Readers blog

I have known Katy from the Making Them Readers blog for a few years now. She shares my passion for reading and is particularly vocal on the importance of raising children to love books. 

I have written a short piece for Making Them Readers about how books have been an ongoing part of my life which has been published today- you can read it here.  It talks a lot about children's books, which have always been a key part of my reading material through work and study as well as for enjoyment.  It is a nostalgic piece, but I'm not going to apologise for that.  Books should evoke memories and stir emotions!

You can find out more about Making Them Readers on their facebook page which posts lots of current news articles relating to children's books.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dream Lake-Lisa Kleypas

I was absolutely thrilled to be approached by Carol at 'Dizzy C's Little Book Blog' to review a copy of 'Dream Lake' by Lisa Kleypas.  Carol and I have known each other through the online community at the Read It Swap It site for a long while now, but have had more communication over the last fortnight than ever before-it has been lots of fun discussing books and blogs.  So as well as an enjoyable read, I feel I have gained a new friend through this book. 

You can read my review here.

Many thanks to Carol for giving me the opportunity to guest on her blog, and Piatkus for allowing me to review 'Dream Lake'.

You can find out more about Piatkus books here

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Boy in the Dress-David Walliams

I've been meaning to read David Walliams' children's books for a long while, and finally got around to picking up a copy of 'The Boy in the Dress' from the local library this week. 

I'm incredibly passionate about high quality and entertaining fiction for children, and 'The Boy in the Dress' is certainly that.  Fantastically accessible, relevant and laugh-out-loud funny, Walliams has created what will surely be a children's classic of the future.  Dahl-esque humour alongside Quentin Blake's extraordinary illustrations is a winning combination, one that I am sure boys and girls alike will find amusing.

The story revolves around Dennis, a schoolboy who is fascinated by fashion.  With the encouragement of an unlikely friend, Dennis explores this interest and finds he enjoys wearing dresses; that fashion for females allows much more diversity and expression than fashion for males.  Ultimately, 'The Boy in the Dress' addresses how it feels to be different, something that children and adults alike can relate to.

Although a children's book, there are elements that will definitely appeal to an adult audience too. I loved the references to parts of childhood that had been repressed into the depths of my mind- I can honestly say I hadn't thought about Um Bongo (Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo) since about 1994 until last Friday, and now I can almost taste it!

The Times describes it as 'charming' and 'funny'-I can only nod along furiously in agreement.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Funny Peculiar-Will Young

I am a fan of Will Young.  I know it isn't cool like being a fan of the Stones or Bob Dylan, but I can't help it.  From when I first saw him on Pop Idol I knew that this was someone who interested me, someone with a fabulous voice, someone who was strong-willed and passionate, someone who was funny.  And I have been a fan ever since.

Those first perceptions of Will were right, and this is shown throughout 'Funny Peculiar'.

However, there is much more to Will than this.  'Funny Peculiar' is an autobiography that is honest and insightful.  From his public schooling to his appearances in the stage show of 'Caberet', Will's life and career is explored in an entertaining, dry-humoured way.

For me, the most interesting aspects of the book were when Will opened up his heart about his ongoing battle with depression.  As someone who also suffers depression I could really relate to the candid descriptions of the dark days (weeks, months...). 

Will also speaks in some depth about his sexuality, and the difficulties he felt as a teenager to admit to himself and friends and family that he was gay. 

I would have loved to have read more about Will's time touring and recording, but can appreciate that 'Funny Peculiar' is perhaps more accessible to a wider spectrum of people for focusing primarily on emotions rather than Will's career.

And a quick final mention for the small line drawings-I found them entertaining and a few actually made me laugh out loud.  Genius.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Happily Ever After-Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans is an author whose name I had heard a lot of via facebook.  There were lots of good things being said about her latest book 'Not Without You' and I wanted to see if the buzz was deserved.

I am lucky enough to live just a five minute walk from my local library and probably single-handedly keep it going.  As if by coincidence, on one of my regular visits I saw 'Happily Ever After' on the first bookstand that you see as you walk in and I took that as a sign that I was meant to read it.

I adore the cover.  Classic white with the title emblazoned in black, a shimmer of gold for the author's name and a tasteful, understated image of a bookshop.  Perfect.

I also loved the book.  Firstly, it is a book about books, and that always makes my heart sing.  It balances romance and relationships with the serious issue of alcoholism, which makes it stand out from other books in the genre.

Eleanor Bee is the protagonist, a quiet, bookish girl determined to become a success.  Working for a publisher Elle grows in confidence, working her way up in the publishing world.  'Happily Ever After' is ultimately a love story-love for partners, friends and family are all explored in an honest way that I could relate to.  Elle's family are dysfunctional and affected by alcohol misuse, and this was dealt with sensitively throughout.  Whilst I didn't cry, there were certainly some moments where my heart grew heavy for Elle, particularly in relation to her family.

I also absolutely loved the underlying message that all reading is good (let's face it, it is).  As Elle states 'Why is someone only passionate about books if they're into literary books that win prizes?  Why can't you be passionate about books and only read romance?'  I wanted to high five her for that comment alone.

Overall, this might be my first Harriet Evans book, but it won't be my last.  A solid storyline, well constructed, likeable characters and book recommendations at the end-what more could I ask for?


Monday, 17 June 2013

On the Island- Tracey Garvis Graves

'On the Island' was a charity shop find.  I often mooch the local shops (which are pretty much all charity shops), and I happened upon a beautiful cover, blue sky, turquoise sea, biscuit-toned sand...exactly what the UK is missing. 

The cover suggests a holiday theme, with a glamorous girl centre stage, tousled hair billowing in the sea-breeze.  The reality is quite different.

'On the Island' follows the story of Anna Emerson, a thirty-year-old teacher who accepts a summer position tutoring T.J., a teenager in remission after battling cancer.  Luckily for Anna, the post is in the Maldives.  However, as T.J and Anna are en route to the Maldives to meet with T.J.'s family their seaplane crashes.  Stranded on an uninhabited island, T.J. and Anna face a battle for survival.  With echoes of the film 'Castaway', 'On the Island' explores survival instincts, human nature and relationships.

Whilst I did enjoy the book, especially how it was written from both Anna and T.J.'s perspectives, I did feel that some aspects of the plot were too far fetched, even for my escapist mind. 

Would I recommend it?  Possibly.  Tracey Garvis Graves has written an accessible, readable novel especially suitable for summer (or those dreaming of it!). 


Saturday, 15 June 2013


Welcome to Books with Bunny!

Bunny Lovell is the creative alterego of Kate, a thirty-something from South Yorkshire, UK. 

Bunny is an avid reader, happy to try any genre (although am less keen on strong fantasy/sci-fi) and Books with Bunny is a library of reviews, books on the 'wishlist' and other book news of interest.

If anyone wishes to contact me about reviewing a book on my blog I am contactable via facebook- just message me via the 'Books with Bunny' page.

Happy Reading!