Archive for July, 2012

The YA Prize Pack

I doubt that it has escaped your notice that all of  the reviewers of Big Book Little Book have a particular fondness for YA books. Our Love Books Will Travel posts also demonstrate the high regard in which we hold YA authors. To reflect this we have put together a YA Prize pack of Goodies we have collected from our Love Books Will Travel adventures.

The YA Prize Pack (UK Postal addresses only)
A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton Signed Paperback and Signed A Witch In Love Postcard
Dark Parties by Sara Grant Signed Paperback
Night School by CJ Daugherty Signed Paperback
Soulless by Gail Carriger Signed Graphic novel
Until I Die by Amy Plum Signed paperback and Signed Die For Me Book mark

One lucky UK based reader will receive all five signed books, one signed bookmark and one signed postcard.
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 a maximin of five comments per day for the duration of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Throne Of Glass

Sarah J Maas

Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness. In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
Celaena is serving a life sentence, hard labour in the salt mines, a place where few live longer than a year. She is famous, famous for being a killer for hire. Then the son of the despotic king comes to visit. The king wants a champion, someone prepared to do his dirty work. There will be a competition to decide who this will be, with each Lord of the realm supporting a contender. The Prince wants Calaena to be his and if she wins after 3 years she will gain her freedom. But first she has to win and also decide whether it all is too much to pay, even for her freedom.

I don’t think words can describe quite how much I loved this book. It has the same kind of feel as Maria Snyder and Trudi Canavan’s books, two of my favourite authors. Before becoming a school librarian and switching to Teen, YA and children’s books, my genre of choice was fantasy. It was lovely to return to this, but in a more accessible format. This books contains most of the elements you would expect from a high or epic fantasy novel, yet at the same time I didn’t feel as though I had to take notes.

And pure fantasy this is, Maas has created a fantastic world and some very real characters. The language is richly descriptive meaning the reader can create a detailed picture in their heads. I really felt as though I knew the castle by the end of the book. Calaena is my favourite kind of fantasy character a strong female, with some flaws. The relationship she builds with both the Prince and the Captain feel very meaningful. There is a hint of the now typical love triangle, so prevalent at the moment in YA books. But this doesn’t feel forced at any point. It doesn’t dominate the book either. The journey that Calaena takes is more important. I loved the fact that the author still retains some mystery to the main character. You are given hints to her background, but not everything is explained. New information only comes out at the relevant points and this only adds to the tension and the desire to carry on reading. This is not a short book yet I still read it in a day, I felt so drawn into this new world that I just needed to know what came next. The book also ends well with a lot of questions tied up yet enough left open for the books to come. I do really like this, I’m not sure my nerves can cope with all these cliffhanger endings, much as I love them. It’s refreshing to read a book where I look forward to the next, but don’t feel desperate to know.

Sometimes, when there is such a strong central character other characters don’t feel as well drawn. This is definitely not the case here. Even characters not seem very often have their own personality quirks, and like most fantasy novels you do meet a quite a few characters. Others you get to meet quite a lot and I felt as though I got to know them as much as the main character.

I read this book as an e-galley, but have seen the cover since and it is beautiful! I also think it’s great that it doesn’t look too old style fantasy as I think that this is the perfect book to introduce people to a new to them genre.

Verdict: Introduces a richly described world with well written characters, with a hell of a good story too. Really looking forward to the next one.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2012
Format: eARC
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy, Magic,Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Debut Author
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Happy Birthday Big Book Little Book

Has it been a year already?! Next you’ll be telling me it’s less than 6 months until Christmas…oh wait! Like any parent, I’m so proud of how our BigBooklittlebook (BBlb) blog baby has grown in just one year. I’ve loved how being part of this blog has made me dedicate more time to reading and given me the opportunity to socialise with likeminded bibliophiles and meet fantastic authors in the flesh too!

Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to read our posts, super squishy hugs for those that are following us and full on snogs for everyone that has commented on any of our posts – they really are so appreciated and motivates us to carry on.
This is a picture of my two kids reading, ‘The fearsome Beastie’ by Giles Paley – Phillips. It’s been read so often, Becca knows most of the words off by heart. A review will come when I find the right words to do the book justice! When you see your kids having the same wonder and enthusiasm for a much loved book as you have for reading, it kinda makes all the effort worthwhile 🙂
Post by Karen

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Big Book Little Book Prize Pack

Here at Big Book Little Book we adore books of all shapes and sizes. From brightly coloured picture books through to the classic’s, we can’t get enough! The Big Book Little Book prize pack represents this diversity of book love.

The Big Book Little Book Prize pack contains (UK postal addresses only)
A Picture Book: A signed and doodled copy of Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (Paperback)
A Middle Grade Book: A signed copy Of Ash Mistry And The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda (Paperback)
A YA Book: A Signed copy of The Name Of the Star By Maureen Johnson (Paperback)
An Adult Book: A Signed Copy of Whispers UnderGround by Ben Aaronowitch (Hardback)

One lucky UK based reader will receive all four books.
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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Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson: Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging

Louise Rennison

There are six things very wrong with my life:
1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years
2. It is on my nose
3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers
5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

This book had me laughing out loud in places, I really enjoyed it. Georgia typifies many a 14 year old girl the dilemma’s about spots, school, parents, parties and above all boys and snogging. Georgia is a great character and she and her friends go through the ups and downs of teenage life. The basic story follows her as she meets Robbie (sex god) and makes plenty of mistakes in chasing him until she finally gets her man!

The story is told through the form of Georgia’s diary, this works really well as it allows for multiple entries on some days and then no entries for a few weeks when life is dull! Getting Georgia’s voice directly also brings in that element of freshness and authenticity. Her vanity and self-centeredness are given a perfect platform and in a diary she can really let herself ago, this makes it very dramatic, after all many 14 year old girls love to exaggerate a little!! It is also clear when she is not being honest with herself and emotions like anger and jealousy shine through.

The best thing about the book is the humour. This is no angsty, introverted teen read, although Georgia definitely has times of hiding under the duvet (particularly when she shaves her eyebrows off!), and being depressed even these times are spiced with comedy as she finds her sister has peed in her bed, or she goes to sleep with her face mask on. Louise Rennison really brings out the funny side of those dilemmas about what to wear, how to talk to a boy and how snoresville parents are! I particularly enjoyed her dilemmas over the kissing lesson and the on-going slating of Lindsay (Robbie’s girlfriend)

Verdict: This was a real giggle, great for early teens and those who might like an amusing jog down memory lane!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s
Publication Date: August 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British Book
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Happy Birthday Big Book Little Book!

Today marks a whole year of blogging! I can’t quite believe it.

Having been brought together through mutual motherhood we found that more often than not the conversation drifted away from child related topics, into the domain of book discussions and recommendations. Wanting to further share our passion for books and the joy of reading with our children, we decided to create Big Book Little Book.

Big Book Little Book has seen quite a few changes over the year.

While we were all sad when Jane had to step down from the blog, we were blessed when the fabulous Alison agreed to step in her stead. Alison quickly proved herself to be an invaluable member of the team, devising and executing our Carnegie and Greenaway Awards feature.

We are very excited with the addition of both Izzy (9) and Daisy (11) to the junior team; I can’t wait to see what books capture their attention.

One of the biggest and challenging changes has been our move to this gorgeous, new purpose built WordPress site. Although the hard graft of the big move is complete it may take a couple of weeks for us to unpack all of the boxes and arrange the furniture! A massive thanks goes out to Webmaster Ed and Graphic designer Emma for all of your hard work. I promise that we will take good care of your baby!

Our passion for young adult books has been truly indulged by the wealth of wonderful YA titles on the market today. Unfortunately this has come at the expense in our Adult book reviews. Wishing to address this neglect we have decided to commit to an additional review each week. Henceforth we will post three reviews each week: a children’s book review (Monday), a YA book review (Wednesdays) and an Adult book review (Fridays).

While we will continue to post our ad hock features including, Love Books Will Travel event reports and our foodie Novel Nibbles posts we look forward to introducing you to our new feature: Self Published Sunday.

Having been lucky enough to work with some fantastic publishers, we have enjoyed the privilege of reading some awesome books ahead of their release dates. It has been particularly exciting to read and promote the work of some amazing debut authors.

We were very excited to have the opportunity to team up with so many dedicated UK bloggers for the Insurgent launch and we are looking forward to taking part in future blog tours.

For me personally it’s been an absolutely fantastic but busy year. When we first agreed to start this blog as a team I completely underestimated the amount of time I would spend formatting and publicizing reviews and not forgetting the time suck of social networking! My hat goes off to those bloggers working alone or in smaller teams. I really don’t know how you manage it. I am in awe!

Hands down the most exciting part of book blogging has been the wonderfully inclusive UK book blogging community. I have met some amazingly talented and wonderfully friendly bloggers. There is nothing quite like connecting with your own people and I feel like I have made some really genuine friendships.

I’ve had the (overexcited) honor of meeting some fantastically talented, warm and personable authors. Who have not only shared the inspiration behind their published work but also their writing methods and writing advice. I would recommend attendance at author events to any aspiring writers.

Although I attended book events prior to blogging, the highlight of my blogging year, having brunch with my favorite YA author Maggie Stiefvater, was only possible through book blogging.

Last and no means least, I have had the opportunity to share my passion for books, for reading and for reading with children, with all of you.

Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and comment on our reviews.

Photo: Caroline’s towering TBR pile!

Post by Caroline

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The Distant Hours

Kate Morton

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family. Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it …

Having read Kate Morton’s previous two novels and loved them I was delighted when someone at the book club I go to chose this for our next read. However for reasons I can’t remember I didn’t finish it in time for our discussion (sick children I suspect!) but went along anyway (needed to get away from sick children? ;-)). That meant that I found out the end of the story and consequently shelved the book for a while. I recently got it out again and was glad to have forgotten what happened and started again. The thing that I did remember from the previous time was how much I had enjoyed it!

Before I get into the story I want to say that my favourite thing about this book is the atmosphere created in it. Milderhurst Castle feels like a character itself, unchanging over time, but for the added secrets that it holds in its walls. It means something different to each of the people connected with it and its hold over them is undeniable. The descriptions of it show its beauty and its gothic eeriness. Kate’s writing brings it alive and the whole of the book is pervaded by a feeling of mystery and history.

The story itself moves back and forth between the present day with Edie Burchill and the early 1940’s with her mother Meredith. This dual thread way of writing has been done many times, but it is used to great effect to build up the mystery and to get to know all the characters involved in a much deeper and more complex way. It really enhances this story. The unresolved mystery at the centre of the story is what happened to Juniper to drive her to madness, and for Edie, the question of what was her mother’s part in it. The unravelling of it involves love stories, betrayal, revenge, ambition and stormy nights.

Edie is an interesting character, but as the story develops and we learn more about Meredith I found her the more intriguing. There is a fantastic exploration of family relationships through the novel and the interactions between Edie and Meredith and the way they have come to be as they are was riveting. I was absorbed by the way that a chain of events affects a person and the culmination of that making its way down the years to future generations.

This is echoed in the story of the sisters Blythe. The complicated relationship between the sisters again links back to the effects of a parent. Their Father, who doted on them and yet had to control and manipulate them, even beyond the grave. The secrecy and lies that are woven into their relationships mean that there are stories layered between stories. The fact that this is a family of writers and Edie is a publisher adds to the web.

Verdict: I adored this book, I couldn’t put it down its story is gripping and the descriptive writing is a joy to read.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 600
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Oldest Book On The Shelf
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The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble

Angela Mitchell and Sarah Horne (illustrations)

It is Princess Lolly’s 89th birthday party and a glorious jelly is on the menu. However there is a problem: the jelly refuses to wobble!
“I won’t wobble, I won’t wobble and that’s my final word!” screamed the jelly …
This newly released children’s book has been read most nights in our house since we received it and it’s gone down a treat. I have to put on a special ‘queen’ type voice for Princess Lolly who even though she is 89 years old comes across a little spoilt and demanding! When her birthday jelly doesn’t wobble it causes an enormous problem for everyone who has come to her birthday party and they all try to come up a solution to make the jelly wobble.

This is a fun story that will definitely appeal to the pre-schoolers out there. The illustrations are well done with great bold colours that really appeal and make you want to pick it up. We even took it in to my son’s preschool to be read and it was much enjoyed by the all the children there.

As you might guess, things don’t end particularly well for the jelly, as after all it was the main event at the birthday party, and as a result of reading this, guess what’s on the menu this week for dessert!

Verdict: A bright and funny read, sure to appeal to all the pre-schoolers out there.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing Ltd
Published Date: May 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Preschool
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Received from publisher
Challenge: British Book Challenge
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Hattori Hachi: Stalking The Enemy

Jane Prowse

Hang-gliding high above the vast forest, silently swooping through the darkness towards the enemy camp, I felt powerful, free … Schoom! An arrow tore through one of my wings, and suddenly I was plummeting down, fast and vertical. The ground was coming up to meet me as the air was forced from my lungs by the pressure of the wind. Only a miracle would save me now … An abandoned castle in the heart of Kielder forest is not what it seems as Hattori Hachi encounters a new terrifying enemy. Why is the evil Raven planning to kill hundreds of people? What is his connection to her family? How can she avert catastrophe, while uncovering dark secrets and terrifying legends that cannot be allowed to come true?

This has been an interesting series so far for me. I have to admit, a young adult series based on ninjutsu isn’t my first choice of reading material and when the books arrived, they lingered a little longer than they should have done before being picked up and read.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised that I found myself enjoying them! ‘The Revenge of Praying Mantis’ is the first book. Here we meet Hattie, a 15yr old living in London with no idea of her family heritage or destiny. Her mum though has been training her to be a ‘kick ass ninja’ on the sly, why she did this starts to become apparent after her mum mysteriously disappears. Now the nice thing about Hattie is that she’s one tough cookie. This isn’t some pint sized heroine who needs a strong male lead to look after her. Yes she meets ‘Mad Dog’, who helps her search for clues into her mother’s disappearance but from the outset it’s clear that he is following her lead and his fighting skills doesn’t compare to her extraordinary talent. The action in this book is constant; just think of the classic ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ style movie fighting, set the scene for London and make it age appropriate for adolescents and this is your book.

In ‘Stalking the enemy’ the book is very much a straight continuation. Whilst Hattie becomes more self-assured and she gets closer to fulfilling her destiny, she still requires the help of her friends to get to the bottom of what’s going on in the Kelder forest. In the midst of all the action, we clearly see a potential relationship blossoming. Hattie’s still too busy though kicking ninjutsu ass to truly explore her feelings so the series shouldn’t alienate those looking purely for adventure in a read. Given that this series is all about ninjutsu, it isn’t actually, very violent; well in the sense that there’s not much death or detailed violence in the fight scenes. Due to this and the fact that the romance is minimal, I wonder if this book series should have been better promoted as for readers aged 9yrs+?

Verdict: An enjoyable, refreshing and action packed change to my usual YA tastes. The third instalment, ‘Curse of the Diamond Dagger’ should be out later this year.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Piccadill
Publication Date: June 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Genre:Action, Ninja
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Received from author
Challenge: British Book Challenge
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Hetty Feather / Sapphire Battersea

Jaqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt (Illustrator)

Hetty Feather: London, 1876. Hetty Feather is just a tiny baby when her mother leaves her at the Foundling Hospital.The Hospital cares for abandoned children- but Hetty must first live with a foster family until she is big enough to go to school.
Life in the countryside is sometimes hard, but with her foster brothers, Jem and Gideon, Hetty helps in the fields and plays vivid imaginary games. Together they sneak off to visit the travelling circus, and Hetty is mesmerised by the show – especially the stunning Madame Adeline and her performing horses.
But Hetty’s happiness is threatened once more when she must return to the Foundling Hospital to begin her education. The new life of awful uniforms and terrible food is a struggle for her, and she desperately misses her beloved Jem. But now she has the chance to find her real mother. Could she really be the wonderful Madame Adeline? Or will Hetty find the truth is even more surprising?

Sapphire Battersea: Hetty Feather is a Foundling Hospital girl and was given her name when she was left there as a baby. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her beautiful new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life! But things don’t always go as planned…
Follow the twists and turns of Hetty’s adventure as she goes out to work as a maid for a wealthy man. She longs to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jem – but also finds a new sweetheart, Bertie the butcher’s boy, who whisks her away from her chores to experience the delights of the funfair!But Hetty’s life may also take a darker path. Can she cope with the trials ahead?

I’m reviewing these books together as they are the first two parts of a trilogy by Jacqueline Wilson.

In Hetty Feather we are introduced to Hetty, a feisty red-haired girl from the Victorian times.

Abandoned by her mother, she is taken to a foundling hospital in London.She gets sent to a foster home and six years later she returns and discovers her mother and her true name, Sapphire Battersea.

This leads me on to the next book Sapphire Battersea. This is the story of when she leaves the foundling hospital for good and takes up her job of being a house maid. There she befriends the friendly cook and Sarah the other housemaid. I don’t want to give anything else away so I will leave it there!

These books are very difficult to put down and the illustrations don’t give too much away at the start of each chapter. I would highly recommend these books to any 9-14 year old girls. I am slightly annoyed that Jacqueline left the second book on a cliff hanger…

Verdict: I can’t wait for the last book to come out.
Reviewed by Daisy (11)

Publisher: Doubleday/Yearling
Publication Date: Nov 2009/July2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 309/432
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Daisy
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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