Archive for July, 2011

Sunday Surprise: Give away!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

We all love spending a lazy Sunday absorbed in a good book. Therefore there is nothing better than a month with five! To celebrate the fifth Sunday in July we are giving away two signed books.

When we reach 50 Blog followers we will use a random number generator  to select a blog follower to receive:

A signed Paperback copy of The Immortals: Everlasting by Alyson Noel

Everlasting is the sixth and final installment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears-all in the hope of being together forever. Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach.
Will they be united-or torn apart forever? Readers will finally discover the truth in this anxiously awaited conclusion!

When we reach 100 followers we will randomly select a follower to receive a signed Hardback copy of:Tess Gerritsen’s The Silent Girl
In the murky shadows of an alley in Boston’s Chinatown a hand has been discovered. On the rooftop above lies a woman’s severed head. Two strands of silver hair- not human- cling to the body that lies nearby. These are Detective Jane Rizzoli’s only clues, but they are enough for her and Dr Maura Isles to make a startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel

To be eligible to win you need to follow this blog.  While we are very grateful for all of your support, for the purpose of this giveaway following via twitter and facebook doesn’t  make you eligible for entry.

This give away is open to international followers.

Please be aware that we are funding the giveaway out of our own pockets and as such we will be shipping the books to their new owners using the cheapest method available, for international followers this could take as long as eight weeks from the date of postage.

Big Book Little Book is not responsible for lost or damaged items.

Big Book Little Book is unable to provide an alternative prize.

Winners will be required to provide a postal address. This information will be used for the sole purpose of shipping the books and will not be stored by Big Book Little Book or passed on to any other parties.
GOOD LUCK!

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Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

Francine Pascal

It’s been ten years since the Wakefield twins graduated from Sweet Valley High, and a lot has happened.
For a start, Elizabeth and Jessica have had a falling out of epic proportions, after Jessica committed the ultimate betrayal, and this time it looks like Elizabeth will never be able to forgive her.
Suddenly Sweet Valley isn’t big enough for the two of them, so Elizabeth has fled to New York to immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious reporter, leaving a guilt-stricken Jessica contemplating the unthinkable: life without her sister.
Despite the distance between them, the sisters are never far from each other’s thoughts. Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forget her twin’s duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the ‘good’ twin, the one getting her headstrong sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…

If you spent some of your teenage years reading about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and would like to know what happens to everyone in the end, then this book is for you. (But please note, I only read about the first thirty books in the series, if you have read them all, and the spin off series’ too, you may have an entirely different view on this final episode.).

As Francine Pascal, who wrote the original stories, has written this one, the style has a very familiar feel, and is definitely what I would call an ‘easy read’. There are some new characters, but the focus of the story remains on the twins and their friends.

Interestingly, it is Elizabeth who has departed Sweet Valley for New York and is trying to get her career off the ground while Jessica is at home…with Todd! Through first person narrative from both Elizabeth and Jessica, and flashbacks and past memories we gradually discover how this has come to pass, and who is going to be with whom in the future. It is a great premise for all followers of the Wakefield twins to enjoy and does come with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Although not dark in any way, it is true to say that this book has moved on from the innocence of the originals. Things no longer stop at a goodnight kiss, and there are some character developments that would not have featured in the Young Adult novels.

The best part is at the end when there is an epilogue that covers what happens to everyone, so no stone is left unturned. If you don’t want to know what happens, don’t look at the end first, I had to resist the temptation to do this standing in the shop!

Verdict: For me a guilty pleasure, I really enjoyed it! But probably not something I will read again now I know what happens.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Arrow
Publication Date: April 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 293
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Romance
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Some Dogs Do

Some Dogs Do

Jez Alborough

All dogs walk and jump and run, but dogs don’t fly – it can’t be done … or can it?’

This is a heart-warming story of a little dog named Sid who from sheer happiness manages to fly to school one day. Once there no-one will believe him and his happiness quickly disappears. Back at home his Dad shows a loving concern for his sons’ unhappiness, which is quickly dispersed when a secret is revealed!

The story is very entertaining, with a fun bouncy rhyme and repetition to enthrall and engage the participation of your audience.

My son always follows the story, repeating crucial points throughout. We especially enjoy Sid’s ‘long and lonely walk home’ as we talk about his walk through fields and over hills! I could easily recite it by heart now and having read it so often (usually 4 times every night), my son nearly does too– which only adds to the amusement and enjoyment we both get from our nightly rendition of ‘Sid’!

The fantastic colourful illustrations delight with their emotionally expressive characters– we witness Sid’s elated happiness at flying, his disbelief at the response of his classmates and teacher and the loving concern of his Dad and family.

This book is about believing in yourself and shows that anything is possible if you believe in it enough, despite what others around you may think! In addition to studying the actions and adventures of Sid through the story, his emotions provide excellent opportunity to explore feelings and the reasons for them.

Verdict: I think I love this book almost as much as my 3 year old son and it’s certainly a firm favourite in our house! I would strongly recommend this delightful book to anyone looking for a book for a child.

Reviewed by Jane

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: August 2004
Format: Paperback
Pages: 38
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Picture Books, Early Readers
Reviewer: Jane
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Frugal fiction: Read it swap it!

The Demon Trappers: Forsaken

This month I’m taking the £8 budget and using it to fund book swaps on the swapping site http://www.readitswapit.com/. Read it swap it is a website which facilitates book swaps in the UK. You register your unwanted books on the site and then search the extensive library for books to swap yours with.

The site is very accessible and easy to use. There is a single page registration form, the usual terms and conditions to agree to, and then you’re good to go. Registering the books you have available to swap is simply a case of inputting the ISBN and ticking a few boxes to indicate the condition of the book. Then the fun begins, searching for books to swap with. You can either browse the library by; most recent, most popular, and genre or use the search box to look for specific authors and titles.

Having identified a title of interest, simply browse the list of owners (registrants are awarded a star rating based on swapping history) and click on swap with this member. This swapper is now given access to your list of books and can decide if they wish to swap with you . Once a swap is agreed you are provided with the postal details of your fellow swapper.Sisters Red. Jackson Pearce

After you have received your book(s) you are given the opportunity to provide feedback on your swap, contributing to your fellow swappers rating.

To make best use of the site, my top tip would be to compile a wish list. Read it swap it will send email notifications should anyone make one of your desired titles available for swapping.

For further information click here.

What I got for the money
The swaps are free but you are responsible for the postage of your book, I usually send my books as a second class package, it is sometimes possible to send slimmer books as a large letter.

I swapped Paranormalcy by Kiersten White for Jana Oliver’s The Demon Trappers Daughter: Forsaken: Postage £2.16

I swapped Alyxandra Harvey’s My Love Lies Bleeding (Drake Chronicles) for Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red: V. 1: Postage £1.72

The Body Finder
I Swapped, Hex Hall: Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins for The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting: Postage £2.16

And I swapped Emma Donogue’s Room for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go :Postage  £2.16

Ok you’ve got me – four books for £8.20!  But what’s 20p between book lovers!

Advantages
Free books – all you pay is the cost of original book and postage

You can re-swap swapped books for even more reading material

It is an easy to use site, minimal effort required.

You are keeping the post office in business!

Read it swap will notify you when “wish list books” are added to site.

Disadvantages
You have to have books people want to swap with.

These are second hand books so you rely on accurate descriptions of condition from other swappers.

It requires internet access including email.

It requires access to the post office.

Never Let Me Go

Accessibility
The website is very easy to use with very clear information pages.

The site lists over 364,000 fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres including contemporary and historical fiction, classics, young adult, sci-fi, cookery, health and wellbeing, parenting, short stories and poetry.

Value for money
The cost of postage for the  books swapped came to £8.20 to purchase the same books new from a popular online vendor would have cost £17.19 a saving of £8.99.

Post by Caroline

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What a fantastic first week!

We have all had a fabulous time setting up our site and working on our reviews. Not to mention reading lots of  wonderful books!
Jane has been taking some gorgeous photographs which we hope to share with you soon.
Here are a few stats from our first week of book blogging:
1 author requesting a book review
1 Wish List post
2 book signing reports
6 blog followers
7 book reviews
41 people “like” our Facebook page
65 followers on Twitter
797 Page views (including 9 from Australia, 2 from France and one from Canada)

Thank you so much for your support.

Caroline, Helen, Jane, Karen and LesleyThe Big Book Little Book Team

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Fallen

Karin Slaughter

On an ordinary spring day, Special Agent Faith Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation returns home to a nightmare. Expecting to find her mother minding Faith’s new baby daughter Emma, she is horrified to discover Emma locked in the shed, her mother’s safe open, her gun missing and a trail of blood to the front door.
Without waiting for back-up, Faith enters the house to a scene of carnage. It has been torn apart and a man lies dead in a pool of blood. She stumbles across two more intruders, and within minutes they too are shot dead. And when the Atlanta police force turns up, Faith has some difficult questions to answer. But she has some desperate questions of her own. What were the killers searching for? Ex-Atlanta police chief Evelyn Mitchell was once under investigation by Faith’s partner Will Trent. Is her mother directly involved this time, and where is she now?

This book’s pace is relentlessly fast and needs to be consumed in as few sittings as possible to keep up with the story development and numerous characters that are mentioned. Expect some disturbing scenes, that Karin describes so well as it could make even the hardened reader at least wince in empathy.

The main storyline focuses on Faith and her family. We finally get the truth over whether Evelyn, Faith’s mother, really was as dirty as the rest of her narcotics squad that Will investigated. This delivers a twist I certainly wasn’t expecting and which, to be honest, left me deflated as it was a little far fetched for my liking.

Sara Linton, the protagonist of the series, takes more of a backseat role from the main action but still remains a magnet for danger. Her feelings for Will are much stronger and they are more open in this book.

Sarah finally meets Angie, Wills mostly absent, abusive and volatile wife. It’s no spoiler to say that they’re not likely to be the best of friends anytime soon. In fact you just know that in one of the future instalments, Angie will have a much more prominent role showing us just how dark and twisted she can get in her bid to keep Will firmly under her control.

Verdict: A great read for those that can tolerate the macabre, enjoy strong yet flawed female characters and delivers an ending that may induce just a few tears!

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Century
Publication Date: June 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Survival

Chris Ryan>

Five kids: Alex, Li, Paulo, Hex and Amber bond on board a sailing ship. When they are marooned on a desert island, they must face the ultimate test — survival! The team is born.

Survival is the first book in the Alpha Force series by Chris Ryan. A team of five teenagers find themselves washed up on a deserted island after drifting away on a little boat that was ‘supposed’ to stay attached to The Phoenix, a yacht. All they have to do is survive blood poisoning, killer komodo’s, deadly sharks and a gang of pirates (nothing too hard!). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It will hold your attention and will stop you getting your homework done!

Verdict: I would really recommend reading this exciting action packed book.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: June 2004
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Action
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Forever

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3)

Maggie Stiefvater

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater
then. When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives. now. That should have been theend of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.
forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment- a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Forever is told, once again, from the first person perspectives of Grace, Sam, Isabel and Cole. Four voices so recognisable and distinct, that the chapter headings are redundant. Maggie’s prose is as poetic and beautiful as ever and her descriptive narrative quickly re-immerses you in her world.

The story resumes six weeks after the events of Linger. Sam and Grace still separated, are determined to reunite. My tension increased as time and again their attempts to be together were thwarted. The resulting pay off is tender and sweet. However the relief is short lived, and I read with a growing knot of apprehension as opposing forces mount against our couple’s happy ending.

While I’ll always have a place in my heart for Sam and Grace’s sweet, soul deep, maturing love story, it was the two other developing relationships that stole the show for me. The Isabel and Cole scenes simply sizzle with their palpable chemistry and I couldn’t wait for their chapters to come around again.

I loved the “bro-mance”. Sam and Cole, finally putting aside their preconceived impressions and developing a mutual respect and understanding of each other was a highlight for me. I particularly enjoyed the scene where they begin to communicate using music as an icebreaker.

The action sequence had my heart in my mouth, further evidence of Maggie’s ability to create intense tension, which usually requires release with tears!

In forever we witness our protagonists enter a phase of healing, accepting the need to change, and starting out on that journey. Much of this healing is centred on the child-parental relationships. These are huge steps for our characters but seemingly small steps for us as observers. I appreciated that the author stayed true to the characters by providing the promise of healing without jumping to the finish line and tying everything up in a tidy bow.

Let’s be honest, although we all love a happily ever after, when your much loved protagonists are teenagers do you really want their story to conclude aged eighteen, with everything settled, character development completed and the future decided? What I will say is that the ending is ultimately uplifting and hopeful.

Verdict:The Author herself sums up forever “It has happier moments than either of the two books . . . and SADDER MOMENTS than either of other two books”.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: July 2011
Format: US Hardback
Pages: 400
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge:N/A
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Calm Down Boris!

Calm Down, Boris! (Puppet Pop Ups)

Sam Lloyd

Boris just wants to be loved, but he’s too big and kissy and tickly! With this hilarious cut-away book, Boris the puppet comes alive when you put your hand through the back of the book! Turn the card pages to find out how he gets carried away… Boris is made of soft, orange fur and has a big felt tongue.

Ahh Boris. What child wouldn’t find a furry, manic monster who just loves to kiss and who gets chastised for being a tad overzealous, compelling? The joy of this book is how the child participation smoothly runs through this simple, quirkily illustrated story. It’s also a great book for when you want to entertain more than one child including babies.

My 8mth old son will collapse into giggles when petted by Boris and is clearly quite fascinated with the hand puppet.

It is a short read. We found though that it encouraged my 3 yr old daughter to ‘role play’ and she loves to pretend to be Boris herself.

Verdict: This is definitely a day time book as opposed to a bedtime book due to the excitement it causes and deserves a place in every preschoolers bookshelf.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Templar Publishing
Publication Date: July 2006
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 5
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Picture Books
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Paul Torday

British businessman and dedicated angler Paul Torday has found a way to combine a novel about fishing and all that it means with a satire involving politics, bureaucrats, the Middle East, the war in Iraq, and a sheikh who is really a mystic. Torday makes it all work in a most convincing way using memos, interviews, e-mails, and letters in clever juxtaposition.

Don’t be put off by the title of this book; it is about so much more than fishing (although it is worth saying that I know so much more about fishing than I ever thought was possible and the genius is that I still loved the book!). In fact the story touches on many areas; politics, spin, ethics, society’s values, terrorism, consumerism, and so the list could go on. It also manages to do this whilst being funny, it made me laugh out loud in places, and not many stories achieve that.

It is a clever, witty and intriguing satire about our society and its political leaders, of whom there are thinly veiled references to figures we would all recognise. At the heart of the tale there are interesting and diverse characters who are all coming together to make this bizarre project work. We follow Dr Jones on his personal journey, but for me the Sheikh was the most interesting character. He is a Yemeni version of an English eccentric and his influence on all the characters changes their lives. This is not just because of his wacky project , or even his wealth, but his gentle, insightful and spiritual nature. He challenges and supports them, and therefore us too, to think about how the world works and whether different societies having different values and ways of doing things is really such a bad thing.

The story is told through emails, diary entries, letters and interviews. As this is developed it is fascinating and amusing to find out about the characters’ perception of each other. I liked the result of the story always being told in the first person, and looking at the same events through the eyes of different people. However, it does make the contents page look a little daunting. Using this style of writing also means that it was easy to just read a little bit, or just a little bit more too!

Verdict: An original premise and funny story that can also make you think. I never thought I would enjoy a book about fishing so much!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Phoenix
Publication Date: June 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Satire, Humour
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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