21 Oct 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: About the book ..

A child can deal with beliefs and emotions which have such a tremendous impact on his self-confidence and self-worth.

Whatever self-belief a child has, this will either aid or hinder his happiness and success. Stories are a truly amazing way of helping children to recognize and shift negative self-perception

The book is a collection of three magical stories designed to provide impacting inspiration in a way that children can easily understand.


Oscar is a small frog who did not believe in himself. It was only through a scary event that he discovered something amazing.

Someone Like Me

Lou is a little boy who struggles to fit in. He makes a magical wish. However, his wish is granted in an unexpected way.


Jenna is a girl who wishes to be popular. She admires the pretty girls in her school who seem to have it all. A poster shows Jenna how to have it all.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

MY THOUGHTS: Hmm! I have such mixed thoughts on this collection of short stories which is why I've asked for the help of Little Plum, almost six, with whom I read it.

Beautiful cover and interesting illustrations - full page and in glorious colour - it was however somewhat disappointing that there were only three of them, one at the beginning of each story.

Very different stories but all with a common theme - that of being different, of discovering yourself - at their heart. Whilst each of the stories was enjoyable enough taken on its own, taken as a collection I struggled with the fact that to me they didn't sit comfortably together. That each of the stories (down to the illustrations) seemed suited to quite different age ranges - the first to little ones, the second, to slightly older children, through to the third and what I felt would be much older (and possibly female more than male) children.

A collection I could see working well in a school setting. The first story perhaps re-enacted with the use of puppets. The last as a great starting point for a discussion.

But what of Plum, what were his thoughts?

Weeelll .....

Also a big fan of the cover though like myself (but even more so) he was disappointed with the lack of illustrations.

Like many children he responds well to animal stories and as such loved Oscar (The Frog That Could Not Jump), even managing to grasp the moral of the story in his own not quite six year old way.

As a boy himself he identified with Lou (Someone Like Me) .... to a certain degree ... loving his shadow which reminded him of Peter Pan's shadow. 

As for Jenna (Popular). Evidently too complex a story for him too grasp. Unable to relate to the character in any way, I'm afraid he showed no interest and, unlike the first two stories, has not requested a re-telling.

14 Oct 2016


Warning: Whilst not what I'd consider rude - and as many of you know I consider myself a bit of a prude - this advert has been certified as risque enough to be only shown after the 9 PM watershed here on British TV. TT

  • Considered by some as too rude, that any young children watching might be 'offended', that any parent(s) watching with a young child might be embarrassed. I'd argue that, only shown after 9 PM, surely little children will be in bed. And besides which, wouldn't any young children who happened to be awake and watching only see a woman spilling her chocolates and not get the sexual connotation?
  • Considered by certain Men's Rights groups as being 'sexist' in that if this had been a man instead of a woman there would have been cries that the ad was making light of sexual assault. I'd argue, the woman was talking about a partner (albeit a new one) and not some random stranger that she had groped, that, far from a sexual assault upon a person, this was more of a 'mishap', a mishap that the woman's partner quite clearly enjoyed.
  • Considered by some as patronising towards disabled people. I'd argued that its wonderful to see actual disabled people (and not able-bodied people playing disabled people) on TV, that its refreshing to see someone disabled actually advertising 'everyday' products, that, most of all, its fantastic that its being acknowledged that, guess what, disabled people do have sex lives.
What are your thoughts? Love the advert or loathe it? Find it too risque, merely patronising ... or both?

Way behind with my reviews and with a busy few days ahead of me, I'm hoping to catch up with things and as such shan't be posting until Tuesday (possibly Wednesday) soooo, as always ...

12 Oct 2016


After yesterday's review of August's readers group book, today I'm bringing you September's read which the group will be discussing tomorrow ...


BACK COVER BLURB: The four Alton children spend every blissful summer at their family's Cornish home, a house nicknamed Black Rabbit Hall, playing on its sun-baked lawns, building dens in its woods. Endless days without an adult in sight. Amber, the eldest daughter, cannot imagine anything ever changing.

But no one foresees the storm that will bring it all to a tragic end, turning Black Rabbit Hall into a twisted, unforgiving place that will steal their childhood innocence. A home that not all of the Altons will be strong enough to survive.

Decades later, as Lorna winds her way through the countryside in search of a wedding venue, she discovers a disturbing message from one of the Alton children carved into a tree.

Will the truth of that dark summer finally creep into the light? Or should some secrets be buried forever?

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue: Amber, last day of the summer holidays, 1969, Cornwall}: I feel safe on the cliff edge, safer than in the house anyway.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page  183}: Lorna's heart sinks. Just when she felt she was getting somewhere. Still, to be fair, Mrs Alton looks quite drained beneath the powdery blooms of blush on her cheeks, giving her the eerie appearance of an aged china doll.

SOURCE: A Reading Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Let me begin by saying that this is a work of fiction and as such a certain amount of poetic licence is to be expected but there were certain things so implausible as to greatly mar my enjoyment of this book. The main one being ...

The threadbare rugs, the dark dank rooms, the peeling wallpaper, the dead seagull blocking the chimney, the hydrangea growing through the ballroom floor - all wonderfully descriptive of an ancestral hall long since past its prime but what bride-to-be would even consider holding her wedding here let alone show such determination to do so? 

Different eras (the late 1960's and 30 years on) and people. As if jumping around between the past and present, between the different occupants of Black Rabbit Hall, didn't make for potentially confusing reading. Add in the fact that many of the chapters ended in what amounted to cliff hangers and its hardly any wonder that I'd occasionally lose the thread of certain aspects of the story, finding myself having to back-track.

Perhaps surmountable concerns IF I'd otherwise found myself gripped by the plot and/or engaged with the characters but as it was, a case of too little too late, it wasn't until around page 150 or so and the hint of a tragedy that my interest was momentarily aroused and some pages after that that I found myself vaguely interested in how the story might eventually pan out. 

11 Oct 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unsuitable man, she has no idea what she has discovered

Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiled Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting - a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called 'The Improbability of Love'. Delving into the painting's past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history - and in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

FIRST SENTENCE {PROLOGUE: THE AUCTION (3 JULY)}: It was going to be the sale of the century.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 26}: I sat at Bernoff's getting lonelier and lonelier. It is arrogant to presume human beings have the monopoly on communication - we pictures converse with like-minded objects. You try maintaining a relationship with a cake tin or a Toby jug.

SOURCE: A Reader's Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Uh-oh! 'Prize winning shortlisted' alert.

Despite its amazon.co.uk headline of 'SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016' and the gushing book cover reviews from various publications, alas, all too often finding they don't live up to all the hype, I don't generally fare too well with such prize winning/prize winning shortlisted/prize winning nominated fiction. Would The Improbability Of Love be any different?

So called chic-lit with the addition of  .... Satire?

Surely with names such as Venetia Trumpington-Turner, M Power Dub-Box, Barthomley Chesterfield Fitzroy St George (nee Reg Dunn) - to say nothing of the fact that part of the book is narrated by a somewhat stereotypical French picture - one could be forgiven for thinking so.

Doubtlessly with humorous names but why-oh-why so many characters? In the first six or so pages I counted no less than thirty of them, many of whom (thankfully) as it turned out peripheral to the story and, amongst whom, oddly enough the most memorable of which was the 300 year old painting ... perhaps for no other reason than that amongst such a multitude its voice stood out as being at least that little bit different.

A plot that feasibly would have been all the better if we had heard more of main character Annie's story (as lame as her romance proved to be) instead of the art related sub-plot upon sub-plot to which we were indiscriminately subjected. 

A novel that might have proved more enjoyable if the author had concentrated instead on the 'foodie' element with which authors/publishers/readers currently seem obsessed. Then again, if, instead of long pompous dialogues into the word of art, the story was predominated by long pompous dialogues into cuisine, maybe not.