25 Oct 2014



SOURCE: Received for review from the author. 25 Roses is due to be released January (February in the UK) 2015. An Advanced Reading Copy all quotes were published with the permission of the author.

BACK COVER BLURB: Mia Hartley has always lived in the shadow of her perfect older sister, Kellie, who can do no wrong. And even though Mia has her own BFF's, she feels overshadowed by the super-popular girls at school, a clique led by queen bee Kaylee Hopper.

Mia finally has a chance to get noticed when it comes time for the student council chocolate rose sale. Every year students buy roses for their crushes and friends, and the grade that sells the most roses wins bragging rights and a fun prize. And every year the same group of people gets most of the roses, making everyone else feel left out. However, Mia is in charge of selling the roses this year for the seventh grade - and things are going to change.

With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone's affection. Soon the school is buzzing with newfound crush statuses - and people finally notice Mia. But her plans start to unravel when she realises that being a secret Cupid is a lot more complicated than she'd ever imagined. Can Mia manage to match hearts and not break them - and find the perfect way to shine?
~ Contains spoiler hi-light to view.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter One} To: Stanton Middle School 
From: Mia Hartley 
This place could use a real-life Cupid.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 34}: This was Dad, the guy who had told us we couldn't start dating until we were thirty-eight. I was starting to think he might get his wish. With me, anyway.

MY THOUGHTS: Though not a novel that I got into straight away I did find myself slowly but surely engrossed in the life of Mia, BFF, Ashleigh, and BMFF (Best Male Friend Forever if like me you are older than the nine to thirteen year old for which the book is marketed), Alex. I admit I did have my concerns that here was a book predominately aimed at an American audience but with its themes of friendship, sibling rivalry, fitting in and first crushes 25 Roses is also a very universal story.

A lively and innocent tale of discovery and realisations. I'm so pleased that rather than a vacuous story of beautiful/popular girl gets their boy that sent out all of the wrong messages here was a tale of 'average' girls, girls with 'baggy clothes and hair with a bad case of the frizzies', standing out because of their new found confidence all brought about by one girl doing what she thought was the right thing.

With a fun cover that is neither too grown-up nor too childish, characters that I'm sure many will relate to/aspire to be and a plot which includes a bit of a mystery - just who is placing those roses and messages in Mia's locker? -  I'm sure this will prove a hit with many young readers.

22 Oct 2014


THE BINDING CHAIR {Also published as The Binding Chair: A Visit From The Foot Emancipation Society} by KATHRYN HARRISON.

SOURCE: A re-read off our shelves.

BACK COVER BLURB: The magical tale of a young orphan's adventures after she flees rural China for turn-of-the-century Shanghai.
- Read more here.

FIRST SENTENCE {Apprenticeship}: The gatepost, stuccoed pink to match the villa, bore a glazed tile painted with a blue number, the same as that in the advertisement.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 41}: She'd learn never to move her skirt while sitting, never to move her legs while lying down, and never to wash her feet in the same basin as her face - otherwise she would be reborn as a pig.

MY THOUGHTS: Last read a number of years ago I decided to re-read this in order to decide whether or not I wanted to keep it/ pass it on/donate it to a charity shop.

Sadly not a novel I enjoyed second time around. I don't know whether my tastes have changed since I last read it or that at the time we had plenty of shelf space and I wasn't so strict with myself as to only keep books I knew I'd re-read at some point in time.

Whilst at heart a story of China The Binding Chair isn't written by a Chinese author. Not that this usually matters, after all how many paranormal novels are written by vampires, werewolves or the like? Its just that I felt the author did not write with authority or for that matter much conviction.

Not so much a confusing read as what I'd describe as a fragmented one. I'm afraid the to-ing and fro-ing between decades and cities not to mention main characters, May, and her niece/surrogate child, Alice, made for a disjointed story. 

A story of obsessions, of what it is to be beautiful, of the sometimes perverse nature of man's desire - the author makes a great (and very graphic) deal of how erotically enticing May's English husband (and her Chinese father before him) found her (and her mother's) bound feet - whilst the book does go some way in exploring the cost to women I'm afraid for me much was eclipsed by the fact that at times it felt as if the author relied too heavily on shock tactics where none were needed.

21 Oct 2014


WARNING: Whilst I endeavour to keep Media Monday fairly family friendly I feel it only right to let you know that some of the articles featured do contain links to articles that may contain more adult material. TT
 'Goldilocks burglar asleep in elderly couple's bed'. An retired Burnley couple returned from holiday to find what has been described as the most domesticated burglar imaginable asleep in their bed. Alarmed to find three bowls of porridge a pasta dinner prepared in the kitchen and a tub half full of bubbles in the bathroom the pair discovered the thief snoozing under the covers. 

The news from across the pond and my favourite articles of the week ..... 'Man arrested for taking cleaner's mop and aggressively mopping hotel floor'. A 30 year old US man has been arrested when after spotting a hotel employee he thought was doing a poor job of cleaning the floor he grabbed the mop and becoming aggressive mopped over the employee's shoes several times.

'Cock-a-doodle-to-do! Noisy cockerel slapped with ASBO after crowing complaints'. A noisy cockerel has been slapped with an ASBO (Anti Social Behaviour Order generally given to a person who has been found to have been engaged in anti-social behaviour) following his disturbing a sleepy Peak District village.

 'Inflatable crocodile sparks police scare'. Plymouth police and wildlife experts from Dartmoor zoo were called to reports of an escaped 3ft crocodile in a women's back garden - only to find it was an inflatable toy.

'Cannabis-eating sheep get high as kite after munching £4,000 worth of drugs'. By the time she had realised what she thought were bags of rubbish were in fact bags of the Class B drug a Surrey farmer's sheep had munched their way through £4,000 of the illegal plant.

'Police hunt thieves pictured in polkadot onesie and red leggings armed with a spade and lightsabre'. In a FaceBook post British Transport Police police officers admit it's a rarity thieves are pictured in such bizarre attire but nonetheless believe their clothing to be crucial identifying features.

20 Oct 2014


Bucket List: A list of things to do before you die 
- Urban Dictionary

Or as I prefer to think of it ...

A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime - Oxford Dictionaries.

Hosted by Sherry Ellis over at Mama Diaries today I'm delighted to be participating in .....

Milk a goat. Don't ask, its just something I'd always wanted to do. 

Have my hair restyled. Not a biggie but given the fact that up until my mid-teens I could sit on my hair (I can still see my mam sat there crying as the hairdresser made that first cut), that I'm indecisive, and am too lazy would rather take time out to read than style my hair (a major thing in deciding on a cut) it was a big thing to me. 

Two done. In no particular order, six to go .....

Plan my tattoo. (Notice I don't write get a tattoo). A big fan of what Mr T thinks of as trashy tv (Big Brother, Storage Hunters, Lizard Lick Towing to name but three) my latest discovery is Tattoos After Dark. Love them or loathe them I defy anyone to watch this show and not see tattoos such as this four wise monkeys tattoo as works of art, the skin the canvas.

Go Paint-balling. I know reliant on crutches/Madge (my trusty electric wheelchair) as I am this doesn't sound like the best of ideas BUT here is what I have in mind. I'd be the only one with a paint gun, everyone would stand still making my hitting them much more likely. Funnily enough not something either Mr T or any of our friends are up for though I can't for the life of me think why not.

Live in a hobbit hole just like Bilbo Baggins. Of all the things on my list the least likely to happen but, hey, I can dream. 

Visit our local coast more often. Only a 20 or so minute metro ride away, I love Sunday afternoons spent with Mr T at Tynemouth with its dramatic coast, amazing priory and castle and great week-end market which sees lots of books on offer, followed by fish n chips (eaten al fresco of course) and a trundle along the coast to Whitley Bay.

Tynemouth Priory. Copyright: Urszula Piotrowska.

To start BEE (BookExpo England). Of course we have literary festivals here in England, indeed we have the Durham Book Festival (a ten minute train ride away) every October but it seems to me that none, no, not even the Hay Festival, can compare to BEA (BookExpo America) and as I'm not likely to ever get there I've decided the thing to do is to bring it to the UK. 

Visit Neuschwanstein Castle. As a girl I loved fairy tales and whilst the whole princess kissing a frog who turned into prince never really appealed, the places did. Oh, to run down those stairs, loosing my glass slipper as I did so (sighs), to be locked in that tower room, letting down my long golden hair, to be eating lumps out of the gingerbread house, to visit granny in her woodland abode - its hardly any wonder that the castle on which it is said Cinderella's castle is modelled features on my Bucket List.

Well, that's me done. How does your Bucket List look? Be sure to stop over and take a look at what's on Sherry's list.