Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Secret Seven-Enid Blyton

Oh, Enid Blyton.  The cause of much debate and controversy in children's fiction, yet still incredibly popular.  Adults are often dismissive of Blyton, even those who loved her books as a child, and I was very keen to start rereading some of my favourites.  When the opportunity to review The Secret Seven came up, I jumped at the chance.  I must have read the whole series at least ten times between the ages of 5-10, and the books that I especially enjoyed many more times that that. 

With slight trepidation I picked up the book.  Would I be disappointed?  Should childhood favourites be left in the past for fear of spoiling the happy memories they provide?  Or would I feel like I was being reacquainted with old friends?

The Secret Seven is the first book in the series.  First published in 1949 there are definitely parts of it that seem dated, especially some turns of phrase that are used (particularly by straight laced Janet).  However they were probably also outdated in the mid 1980s when I read these books the first time, and I was never aware that they were so old fashioned through my childhood eyes.  The same could well be true for children in modern society, infact I would go as far as to assume that it IS true, or the books would surely have gone out of print-nostalgia alone is not enough to keep publishers printing books, they have to actually sell too.

I whizzed through the story, and recalled many of the key moments throughout.  It was almost like being transported back to my own childhood, a sense of deja vu.  I loved reliving the adventure, particularly the sense of being tucked away in the shed sat on a flowerpot in the meetings the children have.  Passwords and disguises abound as the seven set off to find out who the stealthy men sneaking around a spooky old house are.  What are they doing, and why?  Of course the Secret Seven come up trumps, I don't think that is a spoiler, and as an adult I finished the book with the same sense of satisfaction that I did the first time around.  This surely shows the power a good book has, it can stand the test of time and be read at varying stages in life and still be appreciated.

The Hodder edition I had to review was illustrated by Tony Ross, which is obviously an attempt to make the books as visually appealing as possible to the young audience of the twenty-first century.  Whilst I liked the illustrations I didn't feel they gelled especially well with the text, but this may just be because they are not what I would traditionally associate with Blyton. 

Don't overlook Blyton thinking her work outmoded and irrelevant for children today.  Any child seeking high adventure and a story about true friendship and teamwork will find plenty in the Secret Seven books to appeal to them.

I have already decided that I'm going to buy all the books in the series to reread and review.  They will then remain on my son's bookshelf to hopefully be enjoyed again and again-they are classics, pure and simple.

With thanks to Hodder for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an impartial review.

The Show Must Go On!-Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

From being a child I have had a slight obsession with anything to do with the circus.  I love the magic, the excitement, the idea of travelling communities entertaining strangers in unfamiliar towns night after night.

When I heard about The Show Must Go On! by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise I knew that it would be right up my street. 

The story begins with circus owner Sir Sidney feeling exhausted.  His successful circus has been a hit with the public for so long that he needs a week to rest.  He looks for someone to run the circus and in amongst the unsuitable applicants he finds Barnabus Brambles 'certified lion tamer'.  However, Barnabus is actually a bossy, greedy slavedriver who doesn't care a jot for the animals and performers in the circus.

Follow this haphazard tale and see what happens in the week that Barnabus Brambles runs the circus and how Sir Sidney will react upon his return.

I enjoyed this story, a chapter book for newly confident readers with plenty of illustrations to compliment the text.  I loved the characters of Gert and Bert, the seamstress mice who create their own words (my personal favourite is 'dramastic'- the result of mixing 'dramatic' and 'drastic').  Overall The Show Must Go On! is an entertaining read with madcap capers and a moral message.

The Show Must Go On! is released on September 10th, published by Algonquin Books.


With thanks to Algonquin Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Tragedy Paper- Elizabeth LaBan

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan is essentially a coming of age tale.  It is a young adult novel, but may also appeal to adults.
Duncan, a student boarding at Irving School, has been allocated the undesirable room at the end of the corridor.  Tradition dictates that every year the previous resident of the room leaves a present for the person moving in.  Outsider Tim has left Duncan a gift of CDs, and as they are played we learn about Tim's infatuation with Vanessa, his experiences as an albino and his involvement in a tragic event... 
The Tragedy Paper is a brilliant story.  Mysterious and intriguing, I found it hard to put down-I just had to know more and reach the conclusion as quickly as possible.  I loved the idea of learning about the past via CD, and thought it a new and interesting way to compose a  dual narrative story. 
Elizabeth LaBan climbs inside Tim and Duncan's minds and I was transported back to being an awkward teen, which actually made my chest tighten with the memories of longing and the desire to 'fit in'.   I am sure adolescents reading The Tragedy Paper would be able to relate to the characters- the popular guy, the 'freak' , a hot girl, an inspiring teacher...all are there, as they are in schools the world over.
As mentioned previously, The Tragedy Paper is a coming of age story focussing on first love and relationships with peers.  Beautifully written and highly readable, I thought this was an outstanding debut novel.  I would definitely recommend this book and will be eagerly waiting more YA novels by Elizabeth LaBan.
The Tragedy Paper is out now, published by Doubleday.

With thanks to Doubleday for providing me with a copy of The Tragedy Paper in return for an impartial review.

I was keen to know more about how Elizabeth LaBan started writing and particularly how The Tragedy Paper came into being.  Here is what she said...

'I recently cleaned out my mother’s apartment to help her downsize to a smaller place, and I realized that I have been writing my whole life. I found a silly book I wrote in third grade called Me, in which I talk in great detail about my love of cats. I found the attempts my friend and I made at creating a cool kid detective character. It was in a big, brown envelope with the words Chopped Suey written in crayon. Inside, though, were examples of a lot of cover designing and not much writing. I found endless love poems, mostly prose poems, that I wrote in high school and college, reminding me about all the relationships that didn’t work out (I can now say thankfully!). It was amazing to see my writing history in one place.
I have also always loved reading. I remember being on a trip with my parents, I must have been eleven or twelve, and I was reading a book about a group of kids who had been kidnapped. I had been forced to leave the book behind so we could go out to dinner, and I could barely stand to sit through the meal. All I could think about was the book and the characters and what was going to happen. There were many others that I couldn’t stop thinking about, too. In fact, I wrote in the acknowledgments of The Tragedy Paper that reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now truly changed my life and made me want to be a writer. For thirty years I thought about creating a world in the same way she and the other authors who had grabbed me over the years had done.
As far as The Tragedy Paper goes, a number of things came together at once: my agent encouraged me to try my hand at a young adult book; I read, also at my agent’s suggestion, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther; and I started to think about how that famous tale could be modernized. It was about that time that the world of the Irving School started to spring to life in my head. Before I knew it, Tim was traveling to New York during that snowstorm, and Duncan was walking under that archway…'

Monday, 26 August 2013

Katie and the Starry Night- James Mayhew

Katie and the Starry Night (subtitled A magical journey through five Van Gogh masterpieces) is one of a series of picturebooks designed to introduce children to art and history.  This story appealed to me in particular as I am fascinated by The Starry Night and have been ever since we did a Van Gogh project in my final year at junior school.  It took me seventeen years of longing to finally get to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC to see the painting in 'real life', but it was well worth the wait.  There is something enchanting and magical about it, almost other-worldly, and Katie and the Starry Night encapsulates this perfectly.

The story begins with Katie and her Grandma visiting an exhibition of Van Gogh's work.  Katie is fascinated by The Starry Night, which she describes as being 'like a dream'.  Katie climbs into the painting to reach out for the stars and puts one in her pocket.  Soon all the stars want to play and follow Katie out of the picture.  In Katie's attempt to return the stars before anyone notices that they have disappeared from one of the most recognisable paintings in the world, readers are introduced to some of Van Gogh's other inimitable pieces- Vincent's Chair, Noon, The Olive Grove and Fishing Boats on the Beach.

Beautifully illustrated and with an escapist story, Katie and the Starry Night is a fabulous introduction to the work of one of the world's most popular artists.  I loved it, and am sure that children will learn that art can be enjoyed by everyone as a result of this series.  I will definitely be seeking out more Katie books to add to my collection and use within my job as a nursery nurse. 


Katie and the Starry Night is out now, published by Orchard Books.

With thanks to Orchard Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Guest reviewing on Making Them Readers- Cassie and the Woolf- Olivia Snowe

I absolutely love the Making Them Readers blog.  It is such a fantastic resource, chock-full of reviews, news, ideas, nostalgia, and pretty much anything and everything else you could think of regarding children's literature.  Focussing heavily on the importance of reading for pleasure as well as education, Making Them Readers is one of my favourite blogs.

I think regular visitors to Books with Bunny know I'm a huge fan of picturebooks in particular, but I enjoy exploring all children's books.  From fiction to non-fiction, board books to YA, I am not fussy.

I was so very chuffed when I was approached to be a regular guest reviewer for Making Them Readers too.  Promoting reading is why I started book blogging in the first place, and I truly believe there are books out there to suit everyone.  Helping parents, teachers, childminders, librarians, booksellers and most importantly children to discover what is out there is an absolute pleasure, and I know how much delight I get from the recommendations of others.  To be able to give some of that pleasure back through Books with Bunny and Making Them Readers has me glowing with pride.  If I can encourage one person to pick up a book they might not have tried, find a new favourite author or rekindle their love of books (no kindle pun intended), then I consider it all worthwhile and a huge success.

My review of Cassie and the Woolf by Olivia Snowe (a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood aimed at a junior market) is on the Making Them Readers blog today, and you would make my day by going and reading it here. 

Looking for La La-Ellie Campbell

Looking for La La is the third book by Ellie Campbell, a duo of sisters working collaboratively to create entertaining fiction.   I must admit that I really didn't know what to expect when this arrived for me to review, but was intrigued to find out !  The cover image of a madcap lady with manic eyes peeping over a fence reminded me of myself on a particularly stressful bad hair day...maybe this could be a book I could relate to?
Looking for La La is the story of Cathy.  A wife and mother struggling to retain her own identity in the hectic world of school runs, housework and other necessities of life, Cathy feels tired and unfulfilled. When flirtatious postcards addressed to her husband start arriving, Cathy feels even more threatened-could he be having an affair?  Is someone trying to ruin their marriage? Or is it a joke that has got out of hand?  Before long, Cathy is suspicious of everyone around her.  Is there anyone she can really trust?
I must admit that it took me a while to get into this book, although I wonder if that is partly due to reading Mad About You by Sinead Moriarty just before- there are some similarities in the plots.  However, once I obtained a big bar of Dairy Milk and wriggled myself into the corner of the settee I was all set to go and Looking for La La entertained me for the next four hours.  Yes, it is embellished and far fetched in places, but mothers in particular will be able to identify with Cathy's loss of identity-that feeling of being someone's wife, someone's mum and yet feeling detached from yourself as you seek to please everyone else.
I was getting very frustrated as the story progressed as I was desperate to know who La La was.  I thought I had it worked out and then something would make me doubt myself.  This definitely made me want to keep turning the pages as I'm not good at putting down an unsolved mystery!   Part mystery, part chicklit, part women's fiction; Looking for La La touches on a variety of genres which is both a strength and a weakness.  Whilst it has the potential to appeal to a variety of readers, I feel it is not a neat enough fit into any of these genres to really recommend to one specific target audience. 
Looking for La La is out now.
With thanks to Ellie Campbell for providing me with a review copy of Looking For La La in return for an honest review.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Song for Papa Crow-Marit Menzin

Song for Papa Crow is a simplistic picturebook celebrating difference. Papa Crow loves the 'caw' that Little Crow makes. It means he always knows where his precious baby is. However, Little Crow is in awe of the other birds who make more exotic sounds.

With artwork that explores pattern and texture, Song For Papa Crow is, in the main, eye-catching and visually appealing. Younger readers will find the bright colours used stimulating.

At the end of the book there is a factsheet telling readers more about the different birds mentioned in the book, adding an educational element as well as the moral message of accepting what makes you unique that the story drives home.

Song For Papa Crow is out now, published by Schiffer Publishing

With thanks to Schiffer Publishing for providing me with a review copy in return for an honest review.

Cross My Heart-Carmen Reid *Review, author top 10 and giveaway!*

I am a huge fan of Carmen Reid.  I first came across her Annie Valentine 'shopper' books a couple of years ago now, and found them a laugh-out-loud funny.  Similar to Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series, they are thoroughly entertaining reads.  Carmen is also the author of the St Jude's series of teen books.  A modern spin on the popular boarding school genre, they are humorous, fast-paced reads.

Today on Books with Bunny you can read my review of her latest novel, the heartbreaking war story Cross My Heart, discover Carmen's favourite reads as a teen and there is also the opportunity to WIN one of three of Cross My Heart via a rafflecopter giveaway!  What more could you ask for?!


When I heard that Cross my Heart was being released I was slightly overexcited- a completely new approach from one of my favourite authors was definitely something to celebrate!  I have messaged Carmen quite a bit via her facebook page and knew that this book held a special significance for her and desperately hoped that it would live up to my high expectations. 

I needn't have had any concerns.  Cross My Heart proves just how versatile Carmen Reid is as an author, demonstrated by her ability to tackle the horrific subject matter of WWII in a sensitive, informative manner. 

Nicole, a fifteen year old Belgian girl, finds her life thrown upside down when the Nazis invade.  Her best friend Lottie is a German Jew and flees Belgium seeking safety, her Papa disappears without trace and before long Nicole decides she has to make a stand.  Against her family's wishes, Nicole and her friend Anton join the Resistance to help fight for the freedom of their country. Nicole is determined and gutsy, yet finds there are still moral dilemmas however strongly you believe in a cause.  Essentially a war story, Cross My Heart also encompasses romance and family loyalty ensuring that there is something that will appeal to readers of a wide range of genres.

Although aimed at teens, Cross My Heart has a strong plot that will also appeal to adults.  The story skips along at incredible pace and I found myself greedily turning the pages to discover Nicole and Anton's fate.  It is almost unimaginable to someone who has grown up in a safe, relatively peaceful society that Cross My Heart is based around fact.  Our generation has a responsibility to educate and inform our children about the horrific acts committed during both World Wars.  Books such as Cross My Heart are vital in doing this by providing a vivid account of how life may have been for teens during this time, and I hope that Carmen Reid's latest offering will be as widely read as other children's books set in this era such as John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Nina Bawden's Carrie's War. 

Cross My Heart is out now, published by Corgi Childrens.

With thanks to Corgi for sending me a review copy of Cross My Heart in return for an honest review.

If you would like to read Cross My Heart, why not enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this blog post?  Good luck!
An avid reader as well as an author, Carmen was keen to share the books that she loved as a young teen with Books with Bunny.  Here are some of her favourites and why they appeal to her...

Sunset Song - Lewis Grassic Gibbon
So romantic and so sad. This book is set in the part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where I grew up. Yes the skies and landscape really are as beautiful as described. I love Chris, the central character, and her journey from teenager to young woman.

Little Women  - Louisa May Alcott
One of my absolute favourites. The four March sisters are so well portrayed with their quarrels and their quirks and their big ambitions for life. They are on the brink of womanhood and they have big plans for their future. I have two sisters and although the Marchs live in America in the 1800s, so many of their thoughts and feelings were familiar.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
A heartbreak of a book. I’ve read it so many times. I love the rural England portrayed here and poor, gorgeous Tess. She’s so badly treated and nothing ever goes right for her. You’ll never feel quite the same about eating a strawberry after this story.

The Yearling - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
A beautiful story about a boy and a wild fawn who becomes his pet. But it’s not sentimental, this is a story set in a harsh, small farming community with a tragic ending.

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
A brilliant book packed with totally memorable characters: Scout, Jem, Atticus, Mrs Dubose and her azaleas, scary Boo Radley in the cellar next door. It’s funny, sad, thoughtful and wonderful. A tale of racism and injustice which both seem all the worse as seen through children’s eyes. 

Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
I was a devoted fan of the TV series, so went on to read all the books I could find in this series. It’s about a family growing up in rural America and I was captivated.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
This is also set in rural America, but it’s more serious and grown up. Two farm workers are searching for a happier life, despite all the hardship they encounter.

The complete novels of Nancy Mitford
I’ve read all of Nancy Mitford’s books (I think!) and I just love her sense of humour. This is upper crust English society and although she makes fun of it most of the time, there are some lovely characters portrayed with real feeling. I always loved the story of the girl who runs off to Paris to be with romantic Frenchman Padrice.

Letters from my Windmill - Alphonse Daudet
Lovely stories from rural France which we would occasionally be read at bedtime.

My father’s Glory - Marcel Pagnol
I loved this book and did in fact read it in French. It’s all about a boy growing up in the heart of Provence. There is a lot of detail about hunting all kinds of little birds and creatures which I remember finding totally fascinating.
Books with Bunny has three copies of Cross My Heart to give away to lucky winners.  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below-  the competition closes on Friday 30th August.  Winners will be informed shortly after this date.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lives of the Novelists- John Sutherland

Lives of the Novelists, subtitled 'A history of fiction in 294 lives' is a collection of short biographies covering influential authors over five centuries.  At over 800 pages long, this great tome of a book is obviously the result of an incredible amount of research from Sutherland. 

Most of the biographies are around three pages long, which is enough to give a flavour of the life the author led.  Sutherland references both the most highly regarded and the overlooked,  so even the widely read will learn something from this work.  At the end of each biography there is the authors full name, 'must read text' and a suggestion of a biography for further reading.

Lives of the Novelists could be read from cover to cover (as I did- I felt that by reading it chronologically I was able to get an overview of social changes from the 1600s onwards as well as learning about influential authors) or could be used as a reference material to be dipped in and out of.  Possibly a useful resource for literature students, John Sutherland's labour of love reinforces just how many authors meet a tragic end or live an unfulfilled life despite success.  It should also come with a warning-I have added a huge amount of books to my 'must read' list as a result of it!

If you are looking for an accessible, comprehensive overview of writers' lives then Lives of the Novelists could be just what you're looking for. 

Lives of the Novelists: A history of fiction in 294 lives is out in paperback today, published by Profile.


With thanks to Profile for providing me with a copy of Lives of the Novelists in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mad About You- Sinead Moriarty

Mad about You is the fourth book following the relationship of Emma and James.  Although it could be read as a stand alone novel I felt that having previous knowledge of the characters did add to my enjoyment of the book. 
Emma and James are now parents to two young children.  Following a move to London so James can continue working as a rugby coach, Emma finds she struggles to fit in.  The yummy mummy's seem content to spend their husbands big fat paycheques and Emma quickly realises this lifestyle is not for her.  Returning to work as a make up artist alongside her outlandish sister Babs, Emma discovers life as a working Mum holds challenges of its own.  Emma is pushed to the edge of her limits when it appears James, previously so supportive and loving, is having an affair.  Overtly sexual text messages are initially taken to be a prank, but when a vibrator arrives with a sinister message, Emma is close to breaking point.  Can their marriage survive under the strain?
Sinead Moriarty is often compared to Marian Keyes, and there are certainly some similarities in the writing style.  Very much family orientated, Mad about You has a perfect balance between wicked humour and an engaging plot.  Emma is a likeable character that females will relate to- a woman trying to have it all and struggling to keep her sanity as a working Mum. The family dynamics are also something that many readers will be familiar with, the 'can't live with them, can't live without them' dilemma.  I thought the relationship between Emma and Babs in particular was believable and touching.
Although I did find parts of the book predictable, Mad About You was a fun, easy read that chicklit fans will enjoy. 
Mad About You is out now, published by Penguin.
With thanks to Penguin for providing me with a review copy of Mad About You in return for an honest review.

Keep Calm and Carry On Dating- Jane Austin

When I first heard about Jane Austin's collection of stories related to internet dating I was keen to give them a try.  I've never actually had any first hand experience of any dating websites, but my husband and I did first meet on an online forum and are still very happy together fifteen years on, so I thought I would be somewhat qualified to make a judgment...

Keep Calm and Carry on Dating showcases fifty different experiences of online dating and each story is only a few pages long. Most of the people interviewed seemed to have at least one negative experience- coming across liars, thieves and the sexually depraved is commonplace in the world of online dating if these accounts are to be believed! 

Personally, I was expecting more humour and variety from the tales, but this is a short read that may appeal to those who have had nightmare dating experience themselves. 


Keep Calm and Carry on Dating is out now, published by Troubadour.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Life List-Lori Nelson Spielman

Brett is devastated when her beloved mother dies, and hurt beyond recognition when her brothers get given an inheritance and she doesn't.  Her mother's will instructs Brett that in order to gain her share she must complete the 'life list' she wrote as a teen.  Brett is reluctant-she doesn't even want half these things any more- but does mother know best?  Reluctantly, she sets out to achieve her childhood dreams, hoping that they can bring fulfilment to relieve the pain of grief.

I have a life list.  I wrote it aged 31 and am actively trying to reach my goals.  This book really spoke to me about how many of our dreams and desires are built in us from an early age.  It also reminded me that if you want anything enough you should do all you can to get it.  Inspiring stuff!

Although sometimes slightly farfetched, The Life List was actually a very uplifting, motivating read.  Filled with romance, friendship and family upheavals, the chaos and unpredictability of life is explored in a humorous and touching way.  There were moments where my eyes glistened with tears and others where I silently chuckled to myself.  Sentimental yet not mawkish, I found The Life List a tender and immersive read.  Brett was a likeable protagonist and I was actively willing her to achieve her goals and find out exactly what made her tick.

Lori Nelson Spielman has written a fantastically readable book that will appeal to fans of Cecelia Ahern's bestseller P.S I Love You.  This is not just chicklit, it is chicklit with a heart.

The Life List is out now, published by Arrow.


With thanks to Arrow, who provided me with a review copy of The Life List in return for an honest review.

You can find out more about Lori Nelson Spielman on her website.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Naughty Girls' Book Club- Sophie Hart

A struggling café.  A new reading group.  A rather naughty reading list...
Estelle, a single Mum running the struggling Café Crumb, is keen to bring customers back to her business.  When the local bookshop closes, Estelle sees an opportunity- starting a book group at the café.  Estelle advertises locally and a small but select group is formed.  We meet Sue who feels stuck in a marriage rut, vintage fan and staunch feminist Gracie, Rebecca who wishes to spice up her sex life with husband Andy, and studious Reggie, attending only to gain material about book clubs for his thesis.
Starting with Tess of the D'Urbervilles and progressing to a bestselling erotic novel, the book group explore a saucy reading list covering Marquis de Sade, Jilly Cooper and Shirley Conran.  Inspired by the books they read, the members of the book club are soon having adventures of their own with romances blossoming and self confidence renewed. 
I must admit that when I first saw the cover of The Naughty Girls' Book Club I was doubtful as to whether it would be my kind of thing.  I've not really bought into the boom in erotic fiction, not for any reason other than I tried Fifty Shades of Grey and found it so badly written that I couldn't continue with it.  I have read other 'naughty' books in the past and am certainly not snobbish about them.  Riders, one of the books the book club read, was a favourite of mine in my student days.  I just haven't found much of the new wave of erotica that appeals to me.
However, The Naughty Girls' Book Club is not really erotica.  It does have some sexy scenes, but is actually more about the friendships that grow between the members of the group and their lives away from Café Crumb.  The characters really grow throughout the book and are a diverse group- I am sure readers will be able to see aspects of themselves in Estelle, Gracie, Rebecca, Sue and Reggie.  Plus, a book about books is always a success for me.  Fans of erotic fiction will find plenty of suggestions for future reads, both in the novel itself and the additional recommended reading at the back.  My edition also had a list of questions for book groups reading and discussing The Naughty Girls' Book Club.
Sophie Hart has written a book that is fun and flirty, frothy and frivolous, frank and forthright.  It strikes a perfect balance between naughtiness and niceties, and  reading The Naughty Girls' Book Club reminded me just how important true friends, those who accept you warts and all, really are.
A perfect holiday read for those seeking a story of romance, friendship with a touch of extra spice.
With thanks to Avon at Harper Collins for sending me a review copy of The Naughty Girls' Bookclub in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Night Flower-Sara Stovell *Part of The Night Flower blog tour*

How proud am I to be the final stop on Sarah Stovell's blog tour?  And on publication day itself, no less!  Feeling a little bit humbled, but what a fabulous opportunity to be part of the launch for The Night Flower, and I do so wish I were able to be at the party tonight-a celebration is certainly deserved!  To find out more about the book and read further reviews and interviews with Sarah, pop along to the other blogs mentioned on the above flyer.
Sarah Stovell is a fantastic talent.  The Night Flower was written as part of her PhD in Creative Writing and is an immersive, enlightening novel. 

Miriam, a sweet young Romany gypsy, is orphaned and in order to survive befriends headstrong Katie-May.  Led astray by her new friend, Miriam's life changes dramatically. 

Rose is the opposite of Miriam- well brought up, well turned out and a mother who takes her role seriously.  However, as her life changes beyond recognition her future mirrors that of Miriam, and both women are piled on to a crowded, stinking ship and transported to the convict colonies of Tasmania. 

Can Miriam and Rose, who appear to have nothing in common, work together, trust each other or even become friends?

The Night Flower is a fabulous read.  Alluring despite the dark subject matter, it is ultimately a book exploring how quickly life can change.  It demonstrates the resilience within us as humans and is a gritty, honest book.

I found Miriam and Rose likeable characters and I empathised with their plight.  Their lives are so far removed from my own that as a reader I felt almost guilty at my freedom, choice and privilege.

The Night Flower is beautifully written, an intoxicating, seductive book best enjoyed in as few sittings as possible.  Dark and gritty, coarse and seedy- Sarah Stovell's book makes for uncomfortable yet riveting reading.

The Night Flower is out now, published by Tindal Street Press.


With thanks to Sarah Stovell and Tindal Street for inviting me to be part of The Night Flower blog tour.  They would both love to hear your views about the book via twitter, @tindalstreet and @sarah_stovell.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Speeding Down the Spiral- Deborah Goodman Davis

Speeding Down the Spiral (subtitled 'An Artful Adventure) is the story of Lizzie and Ben's visit to the Guggenheim Museum.  From arriving at the iconic building Lizzie is in awe of the structure and its spiral shape, and when Ben's pushchair rolls away from her a whistlestop tour of the exhibits ensues.  Ben sails past paintings from Miro, Picasso, Cezanne and Warhol amongst others, and this fun filled book also educates and informs.

I thought this an entertaining children's book and a fabulous way to introduce younger readers to an architectural masterpiece and the collection of classic works of art that it houses.  Having visited the Guggenheim on my honeymoon eight years ago I am now itching to go back.  The main limitation for me was that the pictures of the art on display at the Guggenheim are small compared to the overall illustrations.  I feel that the book would work better if these were larger.


Speeding Down the Spiral has a fantastic website to accompany the book- visit it here.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The List of my Desires- Gregoire Delacourt

The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt is an international bestseller.  Widely touted as one of the 'must read books of 2013' I couldn't wait to be whisked away by it.

It is certainly a thought-provoking read.  Jocelyne is a wife and mother living in a small French town.  She runs a haberdashery and writes a successful crafting blog.  Her best friends work at the hairdressers next door and dream of winning big on the Euromillions.  Determined that Jocelyne will get a taste for their lottery habit, they encourage her to buy a ticket-and amazingly, Jocelyne wins 18 million euros. 

Before cashing her winnings, Jocelyne begins to list her 'desires'.  Mostly simple, everyday objects she ponders whether money can truly bring happiness.  Should she cash the cheque?  Or will having such a large sum of money cause more problems than it solves? 

The List of my Desires made me contemplate just how much influence money has over our lives, not just the opportunities it can afford but also affecting how you are perceived my others; and whether it is healthy to be able to afford everything you wish for. 

I often find that books translated into English from other languages are harder to read and don't flow as naturally as they ought, but this was not the case with this book.  From the opening sentence to the closing message, it was highly readable- literary, yet accessible to the masses.

Touching and heartwrenching, The List of my Desires lives up to the hype surrounding it, a well crafted and all consuming novel. 

The List of my Desires is out now, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.


With thanks to Weidenfeld and Nicolson for providing me with a review copy of The List of my Desires in return for an honest review. 

It's Raining Men-Milly Johnson

I absolutely love Milly Johnson.  She writes witty 'chicklit' and I always find her characters likeable and believable.  The lead characters in It's Raining Men are no exception, and the bond between the friends is portrayed beautifully throughout the book. 

May, Clare and Lara are workmates that seem to have lost all work/life balance.  On top of that they are each facing relationship difficulties.  A spa holiday is just what the doctor ordered, a chance to escape and withdraw from the stresses of life for a while.  However, when they arrive at their destination, it isn't at all what they expect.  Ren Dullem is unwelcoming and full of locals who seem determined to spoil the girls' holiday. 

It's Raining Men is very different to Milly Johnson's previous novels.  Whilst still driven by relationships and friendships, there is also a magical element that will require most readers to suspend disbelief.  Personally that was my least favourite aspect of the novel, but that is possibly as I was expecting It's Raining Men to be similar to Milly's other books.  I did however, really enjoy finding out more about Lara, May and Clare's lives, and my nosy nature enjoyed meeting the eclectic, eccentric mix of locals in Ren Dullem. 

An easy read, It's Raining Men entertained and amused me.  If you enjoyed Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl, I am sure you'll love this. 

It's Raining Men is out now in paperback, published by Simon and Schuster.


You can read about the fun I had at the Meadowhall book launch of It's Raining Men here.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Glaciers- Alexis M. Smith

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I think we are all guilty of being attracted (or otherwise) to books because of them.  Glaciers initially stood out to me because of the vintage style cover which led me to read the blurb.  I was convinced I would love it. Described as 'a story about longing', Glaciers is Isobel's tale.  She works in a library and loves everything vintage, and as I used to work in a library and also love anything with a history I felt Isobel could be me.

A short book that can easily be read in one sitting, Glaciers is delightful to read.  Nothing extraordinary happens in the book.  It is very much the story of an ordinary young woman, working an ordinary job, with ordinary interests and ordinary emotions.  For me, this is what makes it a triumph.  With a simple concept, yet exquisitely executed, Alexis M. Smith drew me into Isobel's world so fully that I could experience every tingle of emotion of the protagonist. 

Wise messages are sprinkled throughout to give the reader food for thought, particular favourites of mine being '...everything is temporary.  Everything.  There's not a thing in the world that will not change, including you' and ''s a treasure if you love it.  It doesn't matter how much it costs, or whether anyone else wants it.  If you love it, you will treasure it, does that make sense?'. 

It is hard to compare Glaciers to another book.  It reads almost like a classic novel with its accessible literary prowess.  Isobel's unrequited love brings elements of romance.  The insights into Isobel's emotions gives Glaciers the feel of a diary-honest and heartfelt.  It encompasses so much in just 174 short pages.

I know I will reread this book.  With acute observations and a hauntingly beautiful writing style , Glaciers deserves to be an international success for Alexis M. Smith.  I love it.  I will treasure it.

Glaciers is out now, published by Oneworld.


With thanks to Oneworld for providing me with a copy of Glaciers in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Dixie O'Day In the fast Lane- Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy

Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane is a collaborative work between Shirley Hughes and her daughter Clara Vulliamy.  Aimed at young readers, it is a fantastic introduction to a basic chapter book and a perfect progression from picturebooks.  With seven short chapters it would also work well as a bedtime read for children not yet confident to read alone.
Dixie O'Day in the Fast Lane is the first book in the Dixie O'Day series.  We are introduced to Dixie and his sidekick Percy as they embark on a calamitous race reminiscent of an episode of Wacky Races.  They meet a variety of challenges on their journey as they topple on a cliff edge and get stuck on a train track-can they overcome these mishaps and finish before confident, cocky Lou Ella? 
With simple red, white and black illustrations, Clara Vulliamy has created bold, attractive artwork which perfectly compliments the text.  The movement and velocity in the images will capture a child's imagination and adds to the quick-paced nature of the book.  Dixie and Percy are illustrated as charming, visually appealing characters full of mischief and fun.
The additional content is superb.  A detailed map precedes the story allowing children to visualise Dixie and Percy's adventure (and maps are always very popular with children!), and also question and answers sessions with Dixie, an array of suggestions of games to play on a car journey and a quiz section which acts as an introduction to comprehension activities.
I am already a huge Dixie O'Day fan.  Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy have come up trumps.  Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane is a brilliant first chapter book for younger readers.  Exciting and appropriate for the target age range, it would make a lovely gift or keepsake for children aged five-eight.  I particularly like the array of additional features that set it apart from other books. 
Dixie O'Day In the Fast Lane is out now, published by The Bodley Head, an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers. 
With thanks to Random House Children's Publishers who provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Necessary Lies- Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is a prolific bestselling author.  In the UK alone she has sold 750,000 books.  Yet for some reason I have never read any of her other books (so many books, so little time!)  The Midwife's Confession was a runaway success and a favourite with reading groups, and although I have been meaning to prioritise reading it, life has got in the way.  When I was sent a proof copy of Necessary Lies to review I was very excited.  Here was my chance to read some of Diane Chamberlain's work and see what the fuss was about!

Necessary Lies tells the story of Jane, a young newly-wed employed as a social worker in rural North Carolina in the 1960s.  Wet behind the ears but with her heart in the right place, Jane finds it hard to keep a professional distance from the disadvantaged families she works with.  Encouraged by her employers to put forward young women for uninformed sterilisation as part of a eugenics programme, Jane faces a constant battle between her own beliefs and what is expected of her.  Should everyone have the right to have children?  Or are only some people capable of parenting competently?

It took me a while to get into Necessary Lies, but I once I got to grips with the characters and their back stories I was hooked.  Diane Chamberlain has written a thought-provoking and emotive tale based on fact.  It is hard to believe that eugenic sterilisation was still being practiced in North Carolina as recently as 1974.   I was left with a tear in my eye and a heavy heart as I read the final few pages.

Chamberlain has been widely compared to Jodi Picoult, and it is true that both authors write books that debate highly topical issues and are character driven. I found Jane easy to relate to- a young woman struggling to maintain a work/life balance, torn between her duty and her beliefs- and as a protagonist I thought Jane was believable and likeable. 

Well worth a read.

Necessary Lies is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing me with a proof copy of Necessary Lies.
Diane Chamberlain's website can be found at .

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Dark-Lemony Snicket

'You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you.  That's why the dark is always close by'...

This glorious hardback children's book made my stomach lurch the first time I saw it.  Something about the cover made me want to cry.  It depicts a boy (who is revealed in the text as Laszlo) standing nervously at the top of a staircase peering into looming darkness.  Something about Jon Klassen's eloquent illustrations reminds me of how it feels to be a child, and how it feels to be afraid.  Lemony Snicket, most famous for creating A Series of Unfortunate Events, provides the simple yet captivating story of Laszlo facing his phobia head-on.  The remarkable collaboration of text and illustration makes The Dark a stand out children's book, perfect for talking to children about their fears. 

I have never read another children's book like it, and as a mother, student of children's literature and nursery nurse I have a wide ranging knowledge of picturebooks.  The ultimate simplicity of The Dark and a plot that younger readers can relate to will surely contribute to the long-lasting success that I predict for this book.  It has a timeless, ethereal quality and a narrative that will never date-for as long as there are children there shall be children with phobias. 

My five-year-old was captivated, and particularly liked the personification of the darkness.  Although not a fan of the dark himself, he wasn't scared and especially liked Laszlo, a normal boy just like him.  The Dark is already a huge hit in our house! 

Jon Klassen's illustrations are beyond exquisite and I cannot see how they could be bettered.  They absolutely made the book for me, and The Dark has leapt straight into my list of favourite books.  A beautiful book that every home should own.

Published by Orchard, The Dark is out now in hardback. 


With thanks to Orchard for providing me with a review copy of The Dark.  You can find out more about Lemony Snicket at and Jon Klassen at .

One Step Too Far- Tina Seskis

I was drawn to One Step Too Far as I loved the sound of the plot.  Emily, an identical twin, leaves her husband and son, escaping her dysfunctional family by fleeing to London.  As she takes on a new identity as Cat, her life changes beyond all recognition.  Living in a rundown shared house in Finchley Park, Cat meets Angel who is also running from her past. Angel takes Cat under her wing and soon Cat's life spirals out of control.  Trying to escape her past and create a new persona, she finds that you can run, but you can't hide.

I did enjoy One Step Too Far and can see why it is one of the books that people are talking about this summer.  It was unsettling to read, especially as flashbacks throughout provided more information about why Emily and her family may have behaved the way they did.  I found this to be well written and a gripping read that held my interest, and I cared enough about Emily/Cat to want to know the outcome of her story.  One Step Too Far is a psychological thriller that might appeal to fans of other books in this genre such as Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.

With thanks to Kirk Parolles for providing me with a review copy of One Step Too Far.  You can find out more about Tina Seskis on her website.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Change the World Before Bedtime- Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers and Karen Good

Change the World Before Bedtime is a book for pre-schoolers and infants.  Through a simple, rhyming text and fun, cartoon-like images, readers will learn about the importance of recycling, a balanced diet, caring for those less fortunate than themselves, loving animals and the value of encouraging words.  A book with a strong moral message, Change the World Before Bedtime is educational and thought provoking and offers the opportunity for children to realise that small actions can make a big difference.
Children will enjoy the accessible and amusing illustrations which help bring the rhyming text to life, and the use of speech bubbles within the  artwork allows for a gentle introduction to these literary concepts.  A book that will be popular with teachers and childminders, Change the World Before Bedtime is a positive, uplifting read that I found enjoyable and appropriate for the target age-range.  As an American title, the only downside for me was the American spelling within the book (eg. 'color' instead of the English 'colour'), which would discourage me from using it with children that are learning to read.  I would, however, happily use this as a talking point for PSED lessons with nursery age children and an introduction to personal responsibilities for self, others and the world.
Many thanks to Schiffer Publishing provided me with a copy of Change the World Before Bedtime in return for an honest review.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Rootie Kazootie and the Pineapple Pies-John Barrow

I was drawn to this book by the kooky title and the vivid artwork that accompanies it.  The illustrations are very 'of the time'- bright and bold, eye-catching and highly attractive.  The artwork is fantastic and is fashionable and retro in the current resurgence of vintage style.  Rootie Kazootie was a favourite character in the 1950s, having a TV show as well as tie-in books and other memorabilia.

Rootie Kazootie is drawn to Polka Dottie's house when he gets a waft of the aroma of her pineapple pie.  Asking Polka Dottie if he can help her in any way, Rootie Kazootie is left to look after the pie whilst she goes shopping.  However, things don't go to plan when Poison Zanzaboo steals the pie...what will Polka Dottie say?

The characters have brilliant names- El Squeako, the Mexican cat-fighting mouse was a particular favourite of mine- and I loved the magic Kazootie which eventually saves the day.  Highly creative and slightly trippy, the story has dated, particularly in its stereotypical portrayal of women, but the story itself neither too long nor too short and kept my five year old son entertained.  He really enjoyed it, giving a positive review by signalling a double thumbs up.  He said he liked the pictures and his favourite character was Poison Zanzaboo, the baddie of the book, although he didn't like everything Zanzaboo did.

Overall, I believe this book will especially appeal to parents and grandparents who will have been read books in this style when they were children.  Whilst the story may seem tame and outmoded to a child of the 21st century, the illustrations are fabulously nostalgia-inducing, and will hold a modern child's interest with their colour and expression.

Originally published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1953, Rootie Kazootie and the Pineapple Pies is now available in PDF format from .

* provided me with a copy of this book to review in return for an honest review*

Unseen-Karin Slaughter review-published today on MojoMums!

I applied to be a reviewer for the fantastic website Mojomums a couple of months back, and was delighted when Liz from the site contacted me saying that she had a book for me to review.  The book in question was Unseen by Karin Slaughter.  I'd not read any of this author's previous back catalogue although I am very familiar with the name from the online book forums and other book bloggers.  She seems to have lots of fans so I was looking forward to trying something new.

Find out exactly what I thought by heading over to the Mojomums website and  read my review.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Liar and other stories- Matthew W. McFarland

I am not always the biggest fan of short story collections.  Personally, I find they can be frustrating, particularly when they have little purpose, plot or an unsatisfactory ending.

However, there was none of that with The Liar and other stories.  Each individual plotline is unique, intriguing and well developed, predominantly studying the way one moment or decision can change the course of life.  As such, when reading Matthew W. McFarland's work there is an unsettling feeling that the 'normal' can quickly twist into a dark, threatening or nerve-wracking moment where the unexpected is always a possible.

'The Savant' and 'Toxic Love' were the two stand out tales for me, yet this collection of six short stories has no 'fillers'.  The topics covered are diverse, including a hospital visit from the perspective of a four-year-old, a one-night-stand that becomes a frightening experience and a fame-hungry woman who ends up making the front pages for reasons she would never have expected.

McFarland writes in a straight-forward, accessible way which makes this collection very readable.  Perfect for those who have no time to commit to reading a novel, as well as fans of fast-paced short stories,  The Liar and other stories was a fascinating compilation that piqued my interest in this author.  The only downside for me was that I felt the collection could have been longer, which is a testament to how much I enjoyed the inventive stories Matthew W. McFarland has constructed.

With thanks to Matthew W. McFarland for providing me with a review copy of this collection.  All views expressed are my own.

You can find out more about Matthew W. McFarland by following him on twitter @mcfarlandwriter or by visiting his website.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Milly Johnson's fabulous book launch of 'It's Raining Men'!

The wonderful Milly Johnson is Barnsley through and through.  A proud Yorkshire lass, it is only right and proper that her latest offering It's Raining Men should be released on August 1st, Yorkshire Day.  Following a charity launch on publication day itself, Milly and her men poured into Waterstone's at Meadowhall shopping centre today to celebrate.  I went along with my friends Anne and Wendy to find out exactly what these celebrations entailed.
Now Milly knows how to launch a book.  Not content with signing copies like most authors, she was dishing out chocolates shaped like umbrellas, tote bags and bookmarks.  And of course, there were her men, dancing regularly to The Weathergirls classic anthem... fans had the opportunity to win a goodie bag by having their photo taken with them afterwards.

Anne, Wendy and I were also interviewed for Milly's page, so keep an eye out for it!  Slightly bumbling interview on my part, but did get a plug for the blog in there-ever the professional...
Milly herself was a delight to meet.  You can tell she really appreciates her loyal fanbase and takes nothing for granted.  She has a radiant smile and a cheeky glint in her eye and is exactly how anyone who has read her books would expect her to be (except, perhaps, slightly shorter).

After getting my copy signed, I made sure I had a photo with Milly as a souvenir of the day.  Little did I know at that point that I'd have much more to remember the day by!
Yes, I won the photo competition!  Here is the winning entry, me sheltering underneath an umbrella whilst it's raining men (see what I did there?!)
I won all of Milly's back catalogue (signed), some delicious Lush shower gel, an It's Raining Men brolly, a fake tan set and a pocket mirror, all in a gift bag.  It topped off what was a fantastic day.   Both Milly and the models were up for a laugh, including lifting up Anne for her photo, and the promotion team were friendly, chatty and genuinely interested in what appealed to readers about Milly's writing style.  I'm very excited to read It's Raining Men as Milly Johnson never disappoints (review of It's Raining Men to follow very soon), and if you want a laugh out loud read to enjoy over the summer, head to Amazon where it is currently available to download for just 99p.  Or better still, buy the paperback so you can see the beautiful cover.
Thanks to Milly, Books and the City, Simon and Schuster and Waterstone's Meadowhall for making today so much fun.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters-Daniel Gray

Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters is quite different to books I have previously reviewed for Books with Bunny. An examination of the quirks of British behaviour and the changing face of the national game, Daniel Gray's book reads as a love story-love of Britain, love of football and love of the diversity of our nation.

Before starting a family, I had a season ticket at Sheffield United.  From 1998 until 2007 I could be found at the Lane every other week, and attended around a third/half the away games most seasons. I also went to youth team games (watching players including the now England regular Phil Jagielka), reserve games, open days, 'meet the manager' events, watched training sessions at the old training ground at Abbeydale and generally lived and breathed Sheffield United.  I met my now husband via a Sheffield United online forum and chose to come to university in Sheffield so that I could watch more games.  I have hundreds of photos of myself gurning alongside former players from waiting at the players entrance.  I suppose what I am trying to say is that I know how it feels to have a bond to a team, to feel part of that community that football creates, to have an identity that is formed largely around the team you support.  Just to prove to you that I am writing this review as 'someone who understands'.

Gray visited towns and cities across England in the 2011-2012 season, examining their relationships with the local football teams.  From Burnley to Carlisle, Crewe to Leyton, Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters explores the diversity of England and the relationship between a local team and the town they are part of.  More than purely a book about football, this is a history lesson, a social commentary, a declaration of love for the beautiful game.  Gray's acute observations will resonate with football fans such as the summing up of the anticipation of visiting a new ground with the phrase 'may nothing stop the feeling a first visit to a new ground gives'.  Portrayals of towns and the characters who reside there alongside both footballing and local anecdotes will amuse and inform in equal measure.

It is perhaps obvious to compare Gray to Hornby given the subject matter, yet the comparisons stretch beyond a passion for football.  Wry observations of the quirky behaviour of football fanatics and a dry underlying humour appear to be Gray's fortes, making Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters a highly readable and entertaining piece.  Beautifully written, nostalgic and reflective, this will also appeal to fans of Simon Armitage, Stuart Maconie and Tim Moore.

And as this is my blog and it's the first day of the new football season, I'm going to finish this entry my way-Up the Blades!

Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters is out now, published by Bloomsbury.

*With thanks to Bloomsbury for providing me with a review copy of Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters*
*You can find out more about Daniel Gray at his website *

Thursday, 1 August 2013

London Calling-Sara Sheridan

Before I start, I should probably warn you.  I am going to eulogise about this book.  Unashamedly, unreservedly, full-on rave about it.

Firstly, it is part of the Mirabelle Bevan series.  If you are not yet familiar with Mirabelle, this is important because she is elusive, attractive, witty and sharp.  She is the kind of woman that men are intimidated by and she utilises her wily charms to wheedle out the facts she needs from men she encounters.  I want to be like her.  Infact, scrap that-I want to BE her.

Set in London in 1952, London Calling is the second book in the Mirabelle series.  When a beautiful debutante mysteriously vanishes from a jazz club, saxophonist Lindon Claremont is the number one suspect.  A childhood friend of Vesta, Mirabelle's sidekick, the women are determined to find out the truth and clear Lindon's name.  We are sucked into the underground music scene and exposed to alluring secret drinking dens and caddish jazz musicians.  As a fan of this era, Sara Sheridan does a fantastic job of representing post war London as a buzzing city high on promise and hope. 

Delightful old-fashioned mystery stories in the same vein as Agatha Christie's classic 'Miss Marple' books, the Mirabelle books are intriguing and beguiling whilst never drifting into uncomfortable violence or unnecessarily graphic scenes. London Calling does not disappoint, and I found myself wishing that it was longer-always a promising sign!  Infact, I was devastated when I finished the book and immediately tweeted the author asking when the next book will be out (unfortunately, not until 2014).

Well written and thought provoking, heart wrenching and thoroughly entertaining, Sheridan's evocative writing style will appeal to both those interested in the 1950s and the 'cosy crime' genre.  Vivid, likeable characters add to the appeal, complimented by a highly readable plot.  Pure escapist reading which makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew.

Bravo Sara Sheridan, bravo Mirabelle Bevan.  More!

With thanks to Polygon for providing me with a review copy of London Calling.  You can find out more about Sara Sheridan by tweeting her, @sarasheridan.

Brighton Belle, the first Mirabelle Bevan book is free via iTunes at the time of writing.  Try it!