Archive for July, 2012

The Fearsome Beastie


Giles Paley-Phillips and Gabriele Antonini (illustrator)

The Fearsome Beastie is hungry and he likes nothing more than a yummy child. He is crafty and cunning but will his demise come form a little, old granny?

This is a book that from the very first page had both my children ‘entranced’. Prior to this book, my son was a bit ‘meh’ to listening to stories and would only tolerate noisy or tactile books.

Now, this is,’The Book’ that quite frankly has superpowers. When I need normality to resume in the household due to the kids either squabbling, crying, getting bored and so on I now call out to them asking for,’The Book’ and watch them promptly stop what they’re doing and trot off to get’The Book’.

I knew my kids were hooked from the outset because from the start the poem grips you. With a loud ‘Roar’ the fearsome beastie has awoken from his slumber, making the children in nearby villages tremble with fear. Visually you see him leaving his cave that has human bones dotted around, making you realise that he isn’t your average monster just looking for a cuddle. You then read on, building the sense of menace as the beastie makes his trek towards where the children live and then the unthinkable happens,the children do get eaten up! Cue your child’s mouth dropping open in shock but they are now truly gripped by the story. We then have a rather unconventional gran come to the rescue whose methods of dealing with the beastie make my children shriek with delight every time.

This book truly deserves to be a classic. I remember reading Roald Dahl as a child and feeling ‘deliciously scared’ and loving how the ‘bad guys’ always get their comeuppance in the most imaginative ways possible and this book sits in that format perfectly. In a few years time I want to be sitting in front of the tv with my kids on Boxing Day and watching this poem come to life.

Verdict: Giles Paley – Phillips is an author to watch and from the strength of this book alone, I’ll happily blindly buy other works of his, no questions asked!

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s book
Age: Picture Books
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Received from Author
Challenge: British Book
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Letters From Home


Kristina McMorris

Two people. An unforgettable moment. One extraordinary love story.
In Chicago, Illinois, two people are about to lock eyes across a crowded dance floor. The following moment will spark the love story of a lifetime…
The year is 1944 and America has just entered the war. Young men and women are being drafted in to fight with their allies on Europe’s distant shores. Throughout America, sweethearts are saying their last goodbyes.
Liz Stephens is already betrothed to budding US politician Dalton Harris, but when she meets GI Morgan McClain, she feels an instant and intense connection. But then he dances with her flirtatious best friend Betty and Liz is left feeling like just another soldier’s fancy.
Betty is mesmerized by Morgan and begs Liz to write letters for her to post to him overseas. Liz reluctantly agrees, in the end anxious to retain a connection to him. As the last searing days of World War II loom, a correspondence begins that will alter the course of their lives forever.

I picked this up on one of those supermarket two for £xx deals. I really wanted the other book and took this as I can’t resist a book bargain and ironically I enjoyed this more than the one I had really wanted in the first place.

I have always had a bit of a fascination with WWII and part of that is the way it affected people at home. I’ve read plenty of novels that are based in those times and touch on many issues, but I have never read one that was set in America during the war. It is a little different from the UK as I am sure you will appreciate!

Having read this story though, the things that stand out for me were the similarities between the lives of people here and there. People are people wherever they are! There are the obvious differences, less rationing, more men at home and the women are less directly involved as there are men there to do ‘men’s’ jobs. But the women in this tale are living lives dominated by the war and dominated by the men who are at home and away fighting. In some ways it feels that they have even less freedom than British women at this time, some of whom were experiencing things they never would have had the opportunity to do before. However there is that over-riding popular view that women belong at home and their job is to support their man and have the children! Even though this is a clever love story reading this from a 21st century perspective the women seem quite trapped, and some of them don’t even feel or seem to notice it. It is not that they are unhappy; their expectations are just so different.

There are three girls at the heart of this novel. Liz meets a GI (Morgan) and falls head over heels, despite her being attached to someone else, and despite the fact that her friend Betty likes him too. As Betty agrees to write to Morgan and then doesn’t follow through Liz takes up the job with far-reaching consequences. Betty is a bit of a good time girl. She really wants to be a singer but through the turn of events ends up being a nurse in the jungle; this is not a situation that pleases Betty! Finally there is Julia who is excelling in her clothes design course but passes up the opportunity to work for Vogue magazine so she can support her Fiancée Dalton in his ambitions, and not disappoint their two families.

Through these three women’s lives we get a clear picture of what it was like in 1940’s America. Feminism hasn’t arrived yet and there is huge pressure to fit with the social norm. These three women all find ways to overcome that pressure and have their own rebellion in pursuing what is important to them despite what other people may think.

There is insight into the frontline war as well with Morgan’s letters giving us a realistic illustration of the terror and hardships suffered by soldiers, along with the guilt, loneliness and the battle to remain true to yourself in a wartime situation.

Verdict: Even though I have dwelt on the elements of this book that interested me in this review it is primarily a love story. There is happiness and heartbreak, unrequited love, misunderstandings, friendship, families and warmth. It did take me a few pages to really get into it but once I did I couldn’t put it down.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction, Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Oldest Book
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The City’s Son


Tom Pollock

Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen. But the hidden London is on the brink of destruction. Reach, the King of the Cranes, is a malign god of demolition, and he wants Filius dead. In the absence of the Lady of the Streets, Filius’ goddess mother, Beth rouses Filius to raise an alleyway army, to reclaim London’s skyscraper throne for the mother he’s never known. Beth has almost forgotten her old life – until her best friend and her father come searching for her, and she must choose between the streets and the life she left behind.

Despite it’s familiar UK location, reading The City’s Son, felt like tumbling down a rabbit hole, in to an unexpected and magical world filled with fantastical creatures. The irony is that this isn’t a separate, or secret world. This is our London.

Shunning the usual attractions, Pollock takes us on a sightseeing tour of the grubbier, graffiti strewn, and unsavory parts of our capital city. The parts that won’t be being showcased by the British tourist board this summer. Unhidden but unvalued, Filius’ kingdom is ignored or explained away.

For me there is nothing better than when an author really captures the atmosphere of a location, suspending my disbelief and transporting me in to the mist of the story. There were times when I was so absorbed in Pollock’s world building that my stomach lurched from his descriptions and I felt the desire to take a shower.

Despite the, at times, repulsive nature of Filius’ London I couldn’t help but share the characters affection for the city, not in spite of but, because of its untamed and scruffy nature.

When I say that Pollock brought London to life, I don’t just mean metaphorically. Pollock takes the mundane fabric of the city and doesn’t just craft a believable, if not uncomfortable environment, but the very creatures cohabiting London with us. I certainly won’t look at a flickering street lamp or a coil of barbed wire in the same way!

The City’s Son is told predominately from the first person perspectives of Filius the street urchin, prince and the 3rd person point of views of Beth a teenage graffiti artist and Pen her poet friend. Rather than causing confusion, I found that the multiple perspectives actually enriching to the story. Pollock reserved the first person perspective for Filius, allowing me in to the mind of the street prince and enabling me to accept this unusual character and his associates without question.

I was really impressed with Pollock’s development of strong female characters and the emphasis on forms of strength other than the physical; emotional strength, independence, courage and resilience.

I really enjoyed the exploration of friendship and relationships portrayed within the book. The developing relationship between the main characters felt natural and unrushed and while it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in the mist of all the fast paced action, it certainly wouldn’t put off readers who don’t enjoy that aspect as much as I do.

I didn’t consider myself particularly fearful before I started reading The City’s Son, but Pollock’s descriptive narrative, hitched my breathing and spiked my pulse rate as I found myself simultaneously freaked out and thrilled by the phobic inducing characters and situations he crafted.

Verdict: The City’s Son blew me away with its originality and creativity. I can’t help rub my hands in glee with the thought that there will be two more instalments!

Please note that the featured artwork is for the UK hardback published by Jo Fletcher books on the 2nd of August 2012

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: eARC
Pages: 480
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: US Publisher via Netgalley
Challenge: British Book, Debut Author
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Because Of Winn Dixie


Kate Dicamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother’s abandonment seven years earlier.
With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people’s lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood “witch,” a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart.

Because of Winn Dixie is mainly about a homeless dog who smiles his heart out.
Winn Dixie is found in a groceries store called Winn Dixie, in Florida. When opal finds out he’s in with a chance of going to the pound, she steps in…

But this is no ordinary dog , Winn Dixie some how manages to help the lonely opal find some friends. By the end of the story the Bald Headed Babies, The preacher, the librarian and others are all drawn together because of Winn Dixie.

But one stormy night something happens which could change Opals life forever and Winn Dixie’s secret is revealed…

I have read this book a thousand times and have had it read to me two thousand times by my Mummy.

Verdict:I love it so much that I even got her to take me to the Winn Dixie store on our holiday to Florida and have my photo taken outside it!
Reviewed by Izzy (9)

Publisher:Walker
Publication Date: August 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: Animals
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Izzy
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Self Published Sunday: Trisha Leigh

The Big Book Little Book team is very grateful to the self published community for giving us an opportunity to read and review their work. As victims of our own success, we have found that we have less and less time to devote to discovering independently published gems, and sharing them with a wider audience.

Although the BBLB team had been discussing the development of a self-published showcase for some weeks, it was the receipt of Trisha Leigh’swell written and researched review request that augmented it’s development.

Totally impressed with Trisha professional approach, intrigued by her synopsis and gripped by the Whispers in Autumn trailer, we knew that we wanted to share her voice with our readers. But with our full review schedule it looked as though we were going to be disappointed or at the least, very patient! Prompted in to action, we created Self Published Sunday and we were delighted when Trisha agreed to signed up for our very first Self Published Sunday feature.

In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.
Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.
The autumn she meets Lucas, everything changes.
Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.
It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.
And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.

I’ve been pretty much immersed in the publishing world since mid-2009, and even though only three years have elapsed, I’ve watched it slip and change and question itself endlessly. When I began my quest to become a published author, self-publishing wasn’t even on my radar. It wasn’t talked about, I didn’t know anyone who was doing it—and you certainly couldn’t have convinced me there would be a time when I considered it a viable option.

I’m not going to go over my specific reasons for deciding to self-publish Whispers in Autumn and the rest of The Last Year series (if you’re curious,). The fact is, there is no longer a clear path, no one right way to get your work in front of readers. There are a multitude of options. Some will be right for you, others won’t. I personally don’t understand the mud slinging that happens between traditional and self-publishing, because we all love books. Bottom line.

What I’d really love to see change is the term SELF-publishing. Because guys? I could never in a million years put out a quality product ON MY OWN. Choosing to publish your book without going through the agent and/or publishing house doesn’t mean you don’t need help in order to make it the best it can possibly be. No one can see all of the flaws in their own work. We all need critique partners and developmental editors. I must have read Whispers in Autumn over a hundred times, but the copy editor I hired found a multitude of items—word repetition, comma usage, word choice, inconsistencies—that needed to be corrected.

And after she read it, four proofreaders unearthed even more mistakes.

I don’t know about y’all, but it’s important to me that the product (my book) reflects commitment and hard work, along with creativity. Sure, not every reader is going to enjoy your story. People’s tastes differ, their genre preference changes, or perhaps your main character bites her nails and they just hate that. Whatever it is, you can’t write a story that appeals to 100% of readers.
But I can produce a book that’s free of glaring grammatical, spelling, structural, and consistency errors—one that you read and can’t tell at a glance whether it’s released by a publishing house or not. Choosing to use a professional cover designer also helps, because a graphic artist I am not. And she did a wonderful job; her artwork grabbed my story more attention that I ever dreamed or could have drummed up on my own.

Now that Whispers in Autumn is about to release (July 24th!), I’m going to depend on even more people to make it a success. If the book is going to sell, I’m going to owe the fabulous book blogging community, who are embracing the chance to read and review, a huge thank you. Along with them, anyone who picks up my book, reads, reviews, tells a friend, etc. Not only can I not write a saleable book on my own, there’s no way to earn success without help.

Like raising a child, producing a quality product takes a community effort. So it shouldn’t be termed SELF-publishing.
Not if you do it right.

Post by Trisha Leigh

Raised by a family of ex-farmers and/or almost rocks stars from Southeastern Iowa, Trisha Leigh has a film degree from Texas Christian University. She currently lives in Kansas City, MO. Whispers in Autumn is her first novel, and she’s hard at work on the remainder of the series. Her spare time is spent reviewing television and movies, relaxing with her loud, loving family, reading any book that falls into her hands, and being dragged into the fresh air by her dogs Yoda and Jilly.

To discover more about Trisha and her writing you can visit her at her website, follow her on Twitter and befriend her on Goodreads and/or Facebook.
You will also find The Last Year fan page on Facebook.

Whispers in Autumn is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and ebook from Amazon.co.uk

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Happy Birthday Big Book Little Book!

I’ve loved blogging over the last 6 or so months, a latecomer to the Big Book Little Book crew; they have been such a welcoming bunch with a true passion for reading. I am incredibly lucky that a huge part of my job means that I get to talk about fantastic books and encourage people to read them. Blogging has allowed me to take that to another level. It also gives me the opportunity to talk to others that are passionate about reading, something that doesn’t always happen at work. And what is even more fantastic is that there are many, many more books out there to read and review. I can’t wait to get started.

Photo: Alison’s place of work!

Post by Alison

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Happy Birthday Big Book Little Book!


Caroline asked us to write something about what blogging has meant to us this last year I was actually quite stumped! Don’t get me wrong, I have loved being a part of Big Book Little Book, but I hadn’t really thought about why I enjoyed it. After all I have always loved books and still relish talking about them with anyone who will listen, and even reply! So how has blogging been special

Well after a little reflection I have realised that I have revelled in writing about books again. After my Degree I didn’t think I would ever do that again, (or maybe even want to!) but it seems I have actually missed it. There is something about formulating your thoughts into some kind of cohesion and finding that right word to express yourself that is very satisfying. On top of that it has been wonderful to share my thoughts with other people and find that they are interested enough to read them and even give such nice feedback. I love sharing books on this whole new level.

In addition I have gotten to read some great stories, some in advance of their official release. It is a privilege and so exciting to know you are reading a story before many others even get to see the book. One of my highlights has to be getting an ARC copy of Abandon to read. It was a great novel (I am still impatient for the next instalment) and I felt so lucky to get to share my thoughts on it so early on in its life. It’s thrilling to know that it is still our most read post, even if it because the book is so popular not because of my writing ☺. It’s still exhilarating to know people out there are reading my views on it.

 

So in conclusion it has been an exciting year and I have had a brilliant blogging time. I take my hat off to Caroline for keeping us all on track and for all the hard work she has poured into to making this successful, thanks for asking me to be part of it. Here’s to next year and many more after that!!

Photo: Inspiring the next generation of bookworms!

Post by Helen

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International Prize Pack

We really appreciate our international readers but due to postage prices and the fact that we are funding these giveaways ourselves the international prize pack consists of items easily posted overseas!

One lucky International reader will receive:
A Witch In Love Postcard Signed by Ruth Warburton
Dark Parties Book Mark Signed by Sara Grant
Department 19: The Rising Postcard (Unsigned)
Die For Me Bookmark Signed by Amy Plum
Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Postcard (Unsigned)
Magnus’s Vow by Cassandra Clare A Short Story set during The Mortal Instruments (Unsigned)
Night School Postcard Signed by C J Daugherty
The Mortal Instruments cotton shopping bag (Unsigned)
Until I Die Bookmark Signed by Amy Plum

To enter simply comment on any of our posts.
With over 200 posts there are plenty of opportunities to have your say.
For our loyal followers, old comments count too!
For your comment to count as an entry you must enter the name of the post in the Rafflecopter device below.
While you are there why not check out how you can earn extra entries!
ONE comment on ONE post = ONE entry to ONE giveaway.
You can enter five comments per day for the duration of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wives and Daughters


Elizabeth Gaskell

Set in the watchful society of Hollingford, this is a warm tale of love and longing. Molly Gibson is the spirited, loyal daughter of the local doctor. Their peaceful close-knit home is turned upside down when Molly’s father decides to remarry. Whilst Molly struggles to adjust to her snobbish stepmother, she forms a close relationship with her glamorous new stepsister Cynthia. The strength of this friendship is soon tested as their lives become entwined with Squire Hamley and his two sons.

I have wanted to read this since seeing the brilliant adaptation done by the BBC back in 1999. I have now finally gotten around to it, thanks in no small part to my Kindle, as the book is a real tome and I really appreciated not having to hold all 656 pages that comprise the paperback!

The story follows the life of motherless Molly Gibson as she has to come to terms with her Father’s sudden decision to marry again and the consequences of this. Molly is a kind, caring girl, she loves her father dearly and although he has, for the most part, remarried for Molly’s benefit, his rashness leaves her bewildered and, to begin with at least, very angry. I really liked Molly, she was such an honest person, and so easy to identify with. Who wouldn’t be upset at these changes being thrust upon them, especially as she was without any clue that it was about to happen!

Things are made worse by the fact that the new Mrs Gibson is a vain, inconsiderate and quite selfish woman, far from the ideal step mother Mr Gibson wanted. Molly’s father starts to go out more to escape his new wife, but poor Molly has no such option open to her! Thankfully there is a saving grace in the shape of Cynthia, Molly’s new step sister. She arrives on the scene like a breath of fresh air, standing up to her Mother and providing Molly with a much needed friend and confidante her own age. Cynthia’s sarcasm and bite add a different dimension to the tale, and her relationship with her mother demonstrates that.

However as Cynthia is not just attractive to Molly, but to everyone she meets, including numerous young men, life with her is anything but peaceful. In helping Cynthia deal with the many and various predicaments she finds herself in Molly becomes a focus of gossip herself and jeopardises her own precious reputation. Worst of all however is the dilemma caused by the girls both having romantic attachments to one man. You will have to read the book to find out what happens, or watch it on telly of course! But a note of warning if you go for the book option; Elizabeth Gaskell died before finishing the story! I didn’t know this and wondered why it stopped so abruptly. The ends are pretty much tied up, but you don’t get the satisfaction of actually reading the ‘happy ending’.

Anyone who thinks that classic fiction doesn’t speak of things that we can identify with today should read this! Issues with parents and children, step-families, falling in and out of love, dealing with gossip, the disparity between rich and poor, snobbery, getting mixed up with a scoundrel of a man(!), the list could go on and who doesn’t know someone who has been touched by one of these issues in some way?

There is plenty of gentle humour, a lot of description and a lightly plotted story. You wouldn’t read this expecting a fast paced page turner but it is not a difficult read and there is ample reason to keep reading. It does give a really interesting insight into life in that period.

Verdict: A lovely classic book, great characters to love and hate and an interesting pair of heroine’s!

Publisher: Public Domain Books
Publication Date: July 2003 (new ed.)
Format: eBook
Pages: 866KB
Genre: Classic
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Oldest Book
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Happy Birthday Big Book Little Book!

Blogging on Big Book Little Book over the last year has been a lot of fun. I love reading and have enjoyed being able to write about the books that I’ve loved. As a result of being involved in the blog, and meeting up with my fellow bloggers to talk books, as well as drink coffee and eat cake of course, I’ve ended up reading books I may have not considered in the past and have found myself trying out and enjoying different genres. Reading with my kids is a regular part of our day and I love perusing the shelves of various bookstores looking for new books to read with them and of course then review for Big Book Little Book! It’s been a fun experience, and long may it continue!
This Photo is of where I do most of my reading… Snuggled up in bed. Honestly it’s the only place I get any peace and quiet from the family!Post by Lesley

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