#BlogTour! #Review – Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival @TomPercivalsays @KidsBloomsbury

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Delighted to be one of today’s stops on Tom Percival’s blog tour for ‘Perfectly Norman’, published by Bloomsbury books. Huge thanks to Faye Rogers for inviting me to review such a fantastic children’s book.

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Norman had always been perfectly normal. That was until the day he grew a pair of wings!

Norman is very surprised to have wings suddenly – and he has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky. But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat.

But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?

A poignant yet uplifting story about individuality, with stunning artwork in a striking minimal palette from the author/illustrator of Herman’s Letter. Fans of Oliver Jeffers and Benj Davies will love it.

What does TWG think?

For me, reading and reviewing children’s books on my blog are such a delightful change of scenery. Most books I read cover a wide variety of in-depth, emotional, and often quite serious topics. Reading children’s books however, seem to enlighten the brain in such an innocent and eye-opening manner. ‘Perfectly Norman’ is one of those books, and then some.

Norman has always thought of himself as ‘normal’. But what actually is NORMAL? In Norman’s eyes, normal means he is just like everyone else with nothing out of the ordinary separating him from his peers. Well, until he grew a pair of wings of course. Can you imagine suddenly having wings? Being able to soar above the sky. Being the owner of more freedom than you ever thought possible. Being able to take flight whenever the situation arose. Sounds bliss really, doesn’t it? At first, the novelty of having a beautiful pair of wings wasn’t lost on little Norman, he took the situation by the wings and flew with it…literally. But being that ‘different’ came with a price. A price which a child should never, ever have to decipher.

Little Norman’s knee-jerk reaction was to hide his wings. Why? Because he was afraid. Afraid of what people would say if they were to find out about his wings. Afraid of the repercussions. Did hiding his wings help him? Well, let me ask you this; if you were the owner of something out of the ordinary, brought into your life out with your control (& yes, including illness related differences), which made you stand out differently to another person (aside from the obvious hair colour etc), would you feel happy about hiding those differences because you were afraid of other people’s reactions?

Would you? Because I certainly wouldn’t, and as someone who has to live my life with those differences, I most certainly dislike doing it.

Tom Percival needs a humongous hug, in my opinion. There’s a difference between an adult leaning more towards hiding things, especially as they’re able to understand more of the situation than a young child, but when a child feels that pressure – this is when people need to open their eyes and realise how much society needs educating.

‘Perfectly Norman’ is a beautiful, beautiful story about learning how to be yourself without shying away from the things which make you different. The things which make you, YOU. The language used in this story is perfectly matched to the topic of the story, and the illustrations completely blew my mind. Not only did Tom Percival write this magnificent story, he also illustrated it. Personally, I think he has done a truly fantastic job.

I read ‘Perfectly Norman’ with my then three-year old daughter (who turned four a few weeks later). Throughout the story, my daughter asked me questions such as; ‘why is the boy sad?’ and ‘why does he have wings and others don’t? don’t they want wings like him?’. It wasn’t a case of asking me why Norman was different, or laughing because he didn’t look like the other children. No. My daughter wanted to find out whether the other children wanted wings like Norman, AS WELL. In my eyes, that right there is the fundamental difference between a child’s mentality, and an adult’s mentality. As adults we, in theory, are more educated about certain situations than a child, and therefore more capable to direct our feelings towards those situations in a more logical manner. However, child often don’t receive the credit which they deserve, especially at times like these. Children understand a lot more than we seem to believe. They are aware of a lot more. They see situations a heck of a lot clearer than some adults often will. So, when a child comes up against a topic such as the one in ‘Perfectly Norman’, they will see it for what it is rather than spending ages deciphering every single point logistically, and often long-winded. Also known as – OVER THINKING EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, not every adult (or even child) are like that.

Tom Percival’s children’s book is an extremely vital learning material for children of all ages, and yes, even adults. As soppy as this sounds, this book made me emotional because I could appreciate the sheer importance of the message which the author was trying to convey, and managed one hundred percent flawlessly.

‘Perfectly Norman’ is a beautiful, enchanting, eye-opening story which needs to be read by every single person out there. Such a joy to read, yet extremely emotional at the same time for those who can fully appreciate the sensitive topic.

Magnificent. My favourite children’s book of the year so far.

Thanks Faye Rogers & Bloomsbury.

Buy now

#BlogTour! #Review – One Summer in Tuscany by Domenica De Rosa @ellygriffiths @QuercusFiction

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Rivalries and romance in a Tuscan paradise. A relaxing writers’ retreat? If only! Perfect holiday reading from Domenica de Rosa, author of the bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series under the name Elly Griffiths. Previously published as SUMMER SCHOOL.

Patricia Wilson’s carefully composed ads for the writers’ retreat she runs at her thirteenth-century Italian castle promise so much. But while the splendour of their surroundings and chef Aldo’s melanzane never fail to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It’s make or break time for the Castello.

Each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with the inevitable baggage alongside their unpublished manuscripts. But this August something is different, and soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo’s vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing.

As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with ghosts, scorpions, and some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing’s for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this.

What does TWG think?

Set in Italy, ‘One Summer in Tuscany’ is an ideal book to take with you on your holidays, lay on the sun lounger and just relax. With a not to strenuous storyline, this novel allows you to go with the flow without being too heavy, or too complicated.

Be prepared for a lot of characters to come your way though! Although, with a beautiful setting such as Italy, I don’t think the prospect of multiple characters will annoy you too much!

What I found endearing about ‘One Summer in Tuscany’, was the fact that it was set in a writers retreat, as well as Italy. I have only come across that particular setting once or twice before, so it made a nice change to be able to watch the storyline unfold in a writers retreat. For me, it gave the novel more of a unique feel. Not only that, the chef, Aldo, was able to make my mouth water with a minimal amount of effort! Out of the gutter…please.

Whilst I am all for a calm storyline, I do enjoy a bit of bite. Something to sink my teeth into. Something to keep my interest. Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained by ‘One Summer in Tuscany’, I just needed a bit more…oomph to the overall storyline. I felt that the characters were well written and realistically developed. The setting was beautifully described, I just wanted to pack my suitcase and go live there. THAT’s how realistically written it was. The storyline was full of bounce in terms of happiness, without anything majorly traumatic.

Overall, it was a lovely, lovely read. I just wish it had that little bit extra. I cannot fault the author on the feel of the book though, that’s for sure!

Thanks Quercus.

Buy now from Amazon UK (Paperback follows 29th June)

#BlogTour. #Review – The Elephant of Frimley by Nicholas Rawls. @AuthorightUKPR

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Two sisters and an elephant embark on an exciting adventure in this charming illustrated children’s book.

After the discovery of an elephant in their back garden, sisters Hannah and Emily make it their adventurous mission to return it back home. 

Originally written as a bedtime story for his two daughters, and beautifully illustrated by Louise Jewell, The Elephant of Frimley is a delightful and fun read that parents, primary school teachers and extended families will enjoy sharing with young children.

What does TWG think?

As soon as my three-year old daughter saw the front cover, she asked me a question; ‘Mumma, was is the elephant sad? Its eyes are dripping near the baby bit of her eye, why she crying?’.

Before I was able to answer her questions, I flicked through the book myself and tried to see if the story gave me any clue. Personally, it didn’t. The illustrations were delightfully drawn and completely different to other books I have read with my daughter, that’s for sure.

I still didn’t answer my daughter’s question, so I sat down with her and read the book with her, just to see what her thoughts were and whether her question got answered in its own little way. She adored the illustrations of the elephant the most. But, where the storyline was concerned, her little face began to frown when she couldn’t realise why the elephant was involved in certain things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s uniquely written and has a certain charm about it, and I adore the touching background story of it being written for the authors two daughters. Super cute!

It was a lovely, little book as far as the elephant was concerned, and as far as my little girl was concerned. She didn’t seem to find that answer for her question, nor did it keep her attention like other books.

I enjoyed reading something different with my daughter, even though it wasn’t really for us. I am sure many other children will adore the story as much as we adored the elephant.

Thanks Authoright.

Buy now.

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Happy birthday to me! TWG turns ONE! #happybirthdayTWG #bookblogger #authors #firstbirthday

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AHHHHHHHHH!! Happy birthday to TWG! One year ago today, 15th March 2016, my first ever blog post was published. I even remember which one it was too – The woman who upped and left – Review. I didn’t even think anyone would read my reviews, let alone be following me a year down the line. It has been a surreal year for TWG and I have loved every single moment of it. Well, most of it!

This last year I have:

– Created a signed book collection of 35 books, containing novels from authors such as Lindsey Kelk, Jodi Picoult, Carol Wyer, Paige Toon, Sophie Kinsella, Michelle Visage, David Videcette, Mary-Jane Riley, Liane Moriarty, Sue Moorcroft, Sue Watson, Sam Carrington, Louise Jensen, Tilly Tennant, Sue Fortin, Jan Brigden, Laura James, Marcie Steele, Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan, Elli Darkins, Eva Jordan, Lisa Jewell, Cathy Bramley, Mhairi McFarlane, Susan Gander, Rosie Blake, Heidi Swain, Milly Johnson, Jennifer Bohnet, and Rebecca Raisin.

Huge thank you to the authors who have sent me those signed books as a competition prize or for another reason, thank you to the publishers, and thank you to the authors for signing those books so that they were available to buy. I feel extremely lucky and I will forever be grateful.

– Became friends with most of those authors above, AND MORE. A year ago I was in dream world when it came to authors tweeting me back. A year later, I am still in dream world when they do that and have to pinch myself when I am in conversation with them. Am I dreaming?

– Found some truly loyal bloggers to build brilliant friendships with. I also am so thankful to Joanne R for taking me under her wing at the very beginning, making sure that I wasn’t on my own in a huge group.

– Huge thank you to Anita Chapman for letting me know about Book connectors FB group! Without you, I don’t think I would have known anything about it.

– Received books to review from publishers and authors I have admired for many, many years. Every time I get book post it feels like it’s my birthday all over again. Thank you to Accent Press for being the first publisher to put me on their blogger list, and a huge thank you to all of the other publishers who continue to bless me with bookpost and book related things. Living the dream.

– This last year I also met Jodi Picoult. Another author who I have admired for many years and made me catch my breath when I met her, with fellow blogger Dee. Amazing experience.

There are so, SO many highlights from this past year, I couldn’t begin to list them all. I have been on several hundred blog tours, taken part in multiple cover reveals, been lucky enough to interview Jenny Colgan, Ali McNamara, Carol Wyer, Cathy Bramley, Andi Michael, Tilly Tennant and many, many more. My interviews are no longer called ‘interviews’, some authors know of them as interrogations! A fellow blogger, Lorraine, let me know that I was now the ‘blogger who made authors cry’ (in a good way), with my reviews. I don’t set out to do that (honestly)! A special thank you needs to go to Carol Wyer and Kim Nash. When I first started blogging, I had no idea about most things yet Carol became such a good friend in such a short space of time, becoming the support network and confidante that I treasured, and I still do. Carol stood by my side and championed me and TWG from the very beginning, and she still does to this day. I will always be grateful for your kind words and support Carol, you truly are one of kind. As for Kim Nash, you were the first publisher I ever spoke to directly (well, over e-mail) and we built a good friendship from that moment. Plus, you had copious amounts of patience with me when I kept pestering you! Thank you for believing in me now and today.

This last year has seen me read a total of 214 books (so far), with 154 books being from 2016 and 60 being my current total. I have been lucky enough to try so many new authors and fall in love with genres I never thought I would see myself reading. I have been made to feel included to various book groups on FB and this whole year has seen my blog posts being shared far and wide by bloggers. BLOGGERS, thank you for always sharing my posts, championing my reviews and being such stars. You are all incredibly wonderful and it’s a pleasure to become your friends. You all know who you are!

This year has also seen an article of mine get published on mental health and illness website, The Mighty. Within 2 weeks it had been shared over 3000 times. You can find my article here. I also have had one of my quotes published on the back of a paperback, with another one (or two) to be expected further on in the year. I have also found my quotes on publishers publicity pictures, and yes, a year later the feeling is still surreal with every new one. Thank you.

This post could go on forever, as there are so many people I would like to thank for helping my dream get on its way to becoming a reality. Reading books is my only respite from the hell of daily life and for that reason, I will forever be in authors debt for writing those books that allow me to travel to France, New York etc, or allow me to ‘work’ in various different places without having to worry about my P45!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write and be involved in books/writing some way or another. I’m involved in books thanks to my blog. I just need someone to give me that break to change my life, and allow me to work freelance as a writer/publicist etc. It’s getting to a point now where the chances of me working outside are slim. Fingers crossed that 2017 allows me to get even closer to getting that job. Thank you all for following my blog, supporting me, reading my posts and just being you.

Lots of love,

TWG x

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#BlogTour! #Review #PilotJane by Caroline Baxter @IZZIpics @bigsunbooks @fayerogersuk

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Don’t you wish that you had a plane like THAT?! ^^^
I am super excited to welcome Big Sunshine Books to TWG HQ today! Based in Oxford, Big Sunshine Books are taking the children book genre by storm (or sunshine), and, as a mummy to a three year old, I am so excited that I am able to enjoy such beautiful books with her.
You can find out more about Big Sunshine Books right here.

Today, Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane are landing right outside TWG HQ for a re-fuel and a review. Enjoy!

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Information about the Book
Title: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane
Author: Caroline Baxter
Illustrator: Izabela Ciesinska
Release Date: 8th March 2017
Genre: Picture Book
Publisher: Big Sunshine Books
Format: Paperback
Goodreads Link
Amazon Link

Blurb.

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her

best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting
adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to
destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose
falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this
action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

What does TWG think?

My little three year old daughter was completely speechless when I handed her Pilot Jane. She loves planes, tractors, fire engines and so on, so when she spotted the pink plane she yelled; ‘Mumma!!! That plane is pink and flowery!!! I want one!’. If anyone wishes to manufacture a miniature version of this plane, please shout me when you do as she wants one haha.

Any children’s books that come through my letterbox always get given to my daughter first, as it’s really her reactions and thoughts that my children’s book reviews are based around. This time though, we sat on the floor with Pilot Jane in front of us, and I began to read the story out loud.

My first impression of the contents were the incredible illustrations, they are outstanding, eye-catching and so perfect to look at. I loved them. Eva is at the age where she finds a lot of things hilarious, even grumpy, funny faces and funny noises; so when she spotted Jane pulling a lot of various faces through the book, she was in absolute hysterics. Hats off to Izabela Ciesinska for the amazing illustrations. Such beautiful, beautiful work that makes the storyline jump off the page and into your imagination.

I’m also such a big kid at heart, so when I spotted the plane refuelling on cake, I just knew that Pilot Jane would stay in my mind for a long time to come. The rhyming storyline was fantastic as it was easy to read and kept my little one’s interest.

‘But once in the air, Mitch raced through the cloud.
He looped and swooped, feeling clever and proud.’

Now, what I truly love about children’s books is the fact that they’re always centred around a topic that will help to guide the children through their childhood, and sometimes even further. Pilot Jane shows children, with the help of a plane or two, exactly what team work is all about, even including the possibility of calm moments before the storm. Well, or the runaway plane in this case. Pilot Jane doesn’t hide away from the true meaning of team work, no. What she does is show the good with the bad by keeping it real and showing the children that sometimes you just can’t fix things or do things by yourself. Sometimes you do need a little bit of help, especially if your helper is on the same page as you and knows how to listen.

What a brilliant message to highlight in a story! Even as adults we take team work for granted!

I asked Eva what she thought of Caroline Baxter’s storybook, Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, here word for word, is her reply:

‘Mumma, it made me laugh cause the plane swooped and swished and the Queen’s tee-eye-ra (tiara) fell off. She was a grumpy bum! Can I have a pink plane soft toy like Rose? It can come to bed with me! Thank you for my book mumma, I love it, it’s super cool!’

Just like Eva, I loved this storybook and I believe that both children and adults will read it with a HUGE grin on their faces. Fabulous!

Big thanks to Faye Rogers and Big Sunshine Books for this fantastic children’s book!
Buy now!

#Review of Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson (@fansofjwilson) @RHKidsUK #CloverMoon

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Blurb.

Clover Moon’s imagination is her best escape from a life of hardship in poverty-stricken Victorian London. When tragedy plunges her into a world of grief, Clover realizes that everything she loved about the place she called home is gone. Clover hears of a place she could run to, but where will she find the courage – and the chance – to break free? And could leaving her family be just what she needs to find a place that really feels like home?

What does TWG think?

Ever since I can remember, Jacqueline Wilson’s books have been part of my life. When it came to writing book reviews at school, Jacqueline’s ‘The Lottie Project’ was usually the first book that I chose, and, 19 years on, it still remains one of my most favourite books. As a lot of you are aware, Jacqueline writes books aimed at children and young adults. However, given the topics her books cover, I am sure a lot of adults would still appreciate the literary genius that is Ms.Wilson.

As soon as I was given the opportunity to read ‘Clover Moon’, I grabbed it with both hands and snuggled up on the sofa with copious amounts of excitement bubbling as I began to read. ‘Clover Moon’ is set in London during the Victorian era; the poverty end in particular. Clover Moon is just a young girl. A young girl that has a lot of responsibility looking after her younger brothers and sisters, as well as the neighbours children. Before you even add poverty to the equation, Clover’s life seems very hectic already. In the Victorian era, people didn’t have the luxuries that we take for granted now; things like clothes, hot water, food and even medicines. Reading about Clover Moon’s life and the struggles that she had to face, opened my eyes in more ways than one.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew that life was very different back then, but when you’re focusing on one or two families, the reality of the situation becomes even more clear. When Clover faced grief head on, my heart went out to her. The little girls safety net and best friend was gone, and the only thing that poor Clover could guarantee now was pain.

Jacqueline Wilson has taken yet another harrowing topic, built a story with that topic in mind based on events from our history, and has written it in such an easy to understand way. Not only that, Jacqueline Wilson has kept the gritty reality at the forefront of the story, whilst explaining what younger children had to face and the options that they had.

I found a lot of the storyline quite hard to read in terms of emotion behind the powerful truth, yet it was delivered brilliantly.

Yet another exceptional book from the highly talented Jacqueline Wilson. In the 19 or so years that I have read Jacqueline’s books, I have never come across one that I didn’t like. Absolutely fantastic. Roll on her next book!

Thank you Penguin Books.

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson is available to buy now from Amazon UK

The Goblin Princess Book 1 – J.O’Connor & Kate Willis-Crowley @inkydoodlesplat @faberbooks

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Blurb.

Everything is topsy-turvy in Goblin world and Matty, the Goblin Princess, just doesn’t fit in! Her mum, the Goblin Queen, is always telling her to un-tidy her room and eat up her slug porridge (yee-uk!). Most of all goblins HATE nice things, including their enemies the sparkly Forest Fairies.

Matty has a problem. Her new pet baby dragon, Smoky, is far too good and her parents, the Goblin King and Queen, are threatening to send him away! But Smoky is her best friend – can she find a way to make him naughty enough to keep? She just might need the Forest Fairies’ help…

What does TWG think?

‘Smoky The Dragon Baby’ is the first book in ‘The Goblin Princess’ series written by Jenny O’Connor and illustrated by Kate Willis-Crowley. I am truly thankful for having an excuse to read children’s books nowadays without anyone saying anything, as I have a three-year old bookworm!

Firstly, let me talk about the illustrations. Wow. Will you just look at that cover? As we all know, book covers are really important. They are the first thing that readers see and most opinions of whether to pick up a book is based on that one cover. This cover in particular, however, has nothing to worry about in my opinion! The illustration of the Goblin Princess is beautifully drawn and it changed my opinion of what I assumed goblins to look like. As for the dragon, cutie! I think that the colouring works well in the background, subtle enough to catch your eye without overpowering the illustrations. Overall, my first impression of the cover was a big thumbs up.

When it came to reading the story itself, I knew that I had to get my mini-me to help, even though it did mean waiting until her bedtime to read it! Luckily for us, we got to savour the book over a few nights as I just knew she wouldn’t sit still for the whole story. Nothing against the story, she is just a fidget (and rightly so). I actually don’t think I asked her opinion at all, I didn’t have to. The belly laughing that was coming from the right side of me was enough of an answer! The names of the goblins and characters in this book are brilliant, they most certainly gave the story a fun edge.

The storyline is very easy to follow and I believe that it would be an excellent book for children of all ages to sit down and enjoy. There are a few tongue twister words involved so maybe children might be hollering for your help with the words. Either that, or hollering for the fact that they want their very own dragon!

The beautiful illustrations carry on throughout the book and match Jenny’s enchanting writing superbly. Even as a twenty-something, cough, adult, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this to my daughter and seeing her face light up every night that we read it.

Highly recommended and would be a perfect stocking filler for a little person this Christmas. Beautiful book.

Thank you Faber & Faber.

The Goblin Princess – Smoky The Dragon Baby can be bought from Amazon right now.

Keep your eyes peeled for the second book in the series; The Goblin Princess – The Grand Goblin Ball, coming in 2017!