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Image result for polka dot shop

Published by Chicken House

Andy’s mother runs ‘New to U’ a second hand clothing shop in the village. She has taken to bringing home new items for her daughter to wear. Second-hand new. Andy meanwhile dreams of dresses. New dresses. Handbags. Shoes and underwear that’s not ‘pre-owned’…

She’s the only pupil in her school who continues to come to school in uniform. Recently they have been encouraged to show their individuality by choosing their own clothes for school.  Most pupils spend their weekends buying new clothes – trying to find that something no-one else has seen.

Andy though, is given a pile of pre-loved clothes, a muddle of clothing, vintage that doesn’t suit…certainly clothing that no-one else would give wardrobe room…

Then Andy finds a bag of quality designer clothes, stuffed in a bag at the back of the shop and then Andy’s mum takes a break to see her mum and her sister and Andy takes the chance to change everything…

This is a touching story about fashion, friendship, depression, love and business acumen!


I’m not quite sure if this is wise. If I start reviewing chocolate, I must to do it properly, sample them. Perhaps I won’t think about this too much.

I bought from work a selection box of Divine Chocolate, the Divine Chocolate Tasting Set one lunch time. I had need of chocolate. It had been one of those mornings where things hadn’t quite gone to plan. Sainsbury’s is no real distance from work, being just at the bottom of the escalator. They are often busy, though, and sometimes the need for chocolate, can be urgent and so, I find that I purchase from work, when the need drives.

The first bar from the tasting set that I tried was the Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt. I enjoyed it so much that I determined to write a post about it, and kept the wrapper. Just 15 g. of quality chocolate, with the distinct flavour of sea salt and toffee. Sumptuous…of the other six flavours I have also enjoyed the Creamy White with Strawberries and the 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries. I have not finished the finished the set yet – eating just one each break… The quality is obvious.

The Divine Chocolate Tasting Set retails at £6.00 –

I have found that I need less quality chocolate to sate my appetite than bars of the general sort, though all chocolate (well most), have their place…


Image result for tardis  gif

Published by BBC Books / Penguin Random House / Target Books

Dr Who. Iconic – brilliant and British.

Secretly, I rather hope there is a Dr out there – not necessarily to just protect us from the Daleks, Nestene Consciousness and all the other aliens out there…but also from ourselves…our politicians…

That aside I have always enjoyed watching Dr Who – especially, when small, after persuading my Dad  that it was ‘the last in the series…‘ and to come and be with us as the Daleks tried once more to take over the world. We were always safe if Dad was there…More recently I have enjoyed the new regenerations (also with Dad, though sometimes afterwards on the telephone) – starting with Christopher Eccleston… though Matt Smith was definitely not one of my favourites. He looked too young…and was obviously younger than I, which seems incongruous – however legitimate, for the Dr.

Image result for doctor who rose bookRecently ‘they’ have published a few of these more recent stories as books – and the first I read was this – Rose.

I hadn’t read a Dr Who story for a very long time and found that I loved it more than watching it on TV. Perhaps because I had seen it, but also because there seemed to be more background in the book than the programme. Then again it might have been that I just missed the detail whilst watching it.

I can highly recommend these. They are not, it has to be said ‘literature’.  They are pure fun – for those of us who enjoy Dr Who…for those of us who want a little light entertainment…to laugh out loud on the tube and to secretly hope that there is someone out there…who can whisper just six words….

My Dr? Probably Jon Pertwee – the third regeneration…


Image result for the book of boy murdock


Published by Chicken House

The key to Hell picks all locks.

A tale of Heaven and Hell. This is a story of medieval intrigue. Priceless relics, good and evil and an hunch-back goat herder. Oh and some goats, a stroppy donkey, a pack of dogs, geese, wolves and a phlegmatic and rather sleepy cat, amongst others. Boy is taken from the only home he can remember, leaving his herd behind, to travel with a pilgrim to Rome. The year is 1350 a year of change, devastation and fear. Things are not as they seem and Secundus seems abrupt and frightening when Boy begins his journey. As he goes he finds that people are not what they seem either. Ashamed and fearful he keeps his hump hidden, never touching it, and keeping himself out of the way. Secundus wonders at Boy’s relationship with the animals they meet, but is driven to reach St Paul’s Church before he dies; determined to gather Saint Peter’s relics as he travels. Determined to reach heaven the only way he knows how.

The different animal characters in the book reflect the those you might come across – the cat, confident that all will be well, the hounds, the pack of hounds working together as one entity…

This is a super book. Its perfect – the language is just that bit medieval, to give the story colour, whilst at the same time the mysteries that surround Boy and Secundus entice the reader into a superbly written small volume.

Each chapter is headed with wonderful illustrations (I’m not sure if they are wood engravings), that look the sort you might just find on a medieval manuscript – just right for this, and the map at the beginning is perfect, with an angel and devil supporting the scroll at each corner.

This is a beautiful medieval tale.

My only disappointment, I’m afraid, is the cover of this paperback. The book was first published in America – with the cover shown below – which reflects the illustrations in the text and the story. The new cover, doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid.  I wish they had stuck with American version here. I will have to try and see if I can get a hardback copy from the States. Though I’m afraid I won’t be buying it from Amazon…. Perhaps my aunt in California will be able to get me a copy…since Waterstones doesn’t recognise the hardback’s ISBN. Sigh.

Truly a  wondrous book.

Lastly – a small note, my colleague Amabel, who works with me in Finchley Road O2, really must read this – I think she and her children would love it…

.Image result for the book of boy murdock   Cover image - The Book of Boy



Image result for we are young cat clarke quercus

Published by Quercus

Definitely one for my older readers.

This book is about music. A band.

Friendship and families – but not necessarily in that order.

It’s about a pact, promises and a potential record label.

It is the story  of manipulation and about when to say,

‘Thank you, but no.’

It’s about a guitar and trust.

Fathers and step fathers and mothers too.

This is a knot of a book.

Why we say we are fine, when we aren’t. Sometimes till it’s too late.

The reasons why we do the things we do.

This is an emotional roller-coaster of a book.




Image result for the extincts veronica cossanteli

Published by Chicken House.

Following on from my ‘main’ post/review of this, I have to say that there are no axolotl in the book, nor are there any mammoths. Which is a pity as both creatures are depicted on the cover of this book. This is I gather something that the author raised with Chicken House. They never-the-less stuck with the design on the cover, which shows both creatures.

The dodo, precariously sitting on a small twig of the tree would not have been very secure. They were flightless (sadly, otherwise they might have survived), and so would not have been able to reach such heady heights.

Those facts not with standing, this is a book to read and enjoy – so don’t let it put you off – perhaps the author will write another book, with axolotls and mammoths in it too!


Image result for the last chance hotel thornton

Published by Chicken House

I may have only reached page 184, of a book that is 324 pages long, but I think I can safely say that this is brilliant. I am staying at my parent’s house at the moment as my water tank has decided to leak everywhere and, trying to live without water on tap, as it were, was proving difficult. This has been a wonderful distraction.

Seth is The Last Chance Hotel’s pot-scrubber. He has a nose for spices and herbs. He is a very good chef, just like his father, however, he doesn’t get much chance to practice due to the owners of the hotel and their daughter  Tiffany.

This is part mystery, part crime, and part magical fantasy. When a rather important guest is murdered Seth finds himself the main suspect, as it was after eating his rather special pudding that the deceased died. The repercussions of his death are far wider than Seth realises. His only friend is his black cat, appropriately named, Nightshade…without whom the story would have had a very dark turn indeed.

This is a book to savour. To enjoy sitting with your cat beside you in peace – for once not climbing bookcases or disappearing into the backs of open drawers. It is marvellous with many different elements, or, if I may, flavours.

Buy it, find a corner in which to read it and disappear into a whole new world…


‘The traveller flung back the hood, revealing a dark domed head, the skin hatched with wrinkles like a raisin and a monstrous scar running from the corner of his bulbous nose to the corner of his lip so it was lifted as if in a permanent sneer. It was much the same look as Tiffany achieved without needing the scar.’



Image result for child i tasane

Published by Faber and Faber.

Camps. There are camps across the world, in all sorts of different places. Filled with displaced adults and children. Of those there are too many children unaccompanied by an adult. Children on their own, surviving with just their wits and their friendship with other children also struggling to live on their own. They have lost their families; siblings and parents have died, or are just missing. Their papers too are mislaid; stolen, lost, left behind, or have disappeared into the seas as boats have turned ‘turtle’.

They are trying to live in a world that doesn’t acknowledge them. If you have no papers, then you don’t exist. Names are lost too – and unless you can prove who you are, the children in these camps become an integer, a letter, a component – certainly not a person. They go to bed hungry more often than not, but still, there are the opportunities for play, if you search for it.

This is seems to be the story of I, however, it is also the story of O, L, V and C – these characters (and others), make up this tale, this glimpse into a world that most of us ignore, or hardly acknowledge. This is the story of refugees, who just want to belong, to have somewhere to call home, someone to care.

Thought provoking.




Image result for boy under water adam baron

Published by Harper Collins

Cymbeline Igloo, nine, is friendly, relatively popular and good at sports. Apart from one. Swimming. Cymbeline Igloo has never been swimming. Not once. He’s never been in a swimming pool, let alone the sea, ever. This hasn’t been a problem, up until Miss Phillips statement  – and the fact that he panicked a bit…..and said it.

‘Er, I said. ‘Well.’ And then I said, and I don’t know WHY I said it, ‘Yearh, I’m like really epic at swimming.’ 

Which resulted in that challenge against Billy Lee which had repercussions far more serious than falling into the pool and displaying more of his anatomy than he would like. That and letting down Veronique Chang.

Cymbeline’s mother has a secret. Cymbeline believes it has something to do with swimming, however, he is unaware of quite what a secret his family is dealing with.

Both funny and touching. This is a book  about families, siblings and illness. About stories and essentially, love and…friendship, of course.

‘Billy and I were…friends now, as weird as that sounds. I felt guilty for making judgements about him and it made me realise that the bit you actually see of a person is like the ears on the hippos on the Discovery Channel. There’s much more underneath.’

This is a good book – it is Waterstone’s Book of the Month for Children from tomorrow. It is a must buy. 

I hope to have signed copies in Waterstones Finchley Road O2 at some point on Monday. Even if you can’t get hold of one of those, come and buy one..


Published by Orion Children’s Books.

I made some very (extremely) brief notes about this book on my mobile as I finished reading it. I had no paper to hand, so typed it slowly by index finger (I do have an oppossable thumb – I’m just not of the generation that grew up with a mobile); some words to denote what I thought, and what the book is about.

So here is a very different review of a rather good book:





























The cover was designed by Rob Biddulph – and to be honest that was what caught my eye. That old adage, ‘never judge a book by its cover’ – is true, however, it is what is first seen, and what first appeals, though I do, generally, read anything that comes into my hands…a well designed cover can entice and excite…as this one does.

I now want to go to India to see leopards…