Posts Tagged ‘Publisher-Macmillan’

#LGBTQIARead…You Know Me Well

Nina LaCour and David Levithan
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

You Know Me Well was the perfect start to this week long LGBTQIA read-a-thon. Not only does it contain a diverse cast of characters from across the LGBTQIA community, all of the action in this zippy little read takes place over Pride week. While the book alludes to some serious themes and introduces the characters at povital moments in their young adult lives, overall the book felt fresh and light and I was happy to be sweep up within its pages. I loved the premise that someone on the outskirts of your social circle, essentially a stranger, can at the right moment in time be exactly the person you need in your life.

There were some elements of this book that under different circumstances I would find frustrating (and possibly even eye rolling)- “insta” love, rapidly resolved dilemmas and heartbreak recovery- however, as supporting elements to what was Kate and Mark’s falling in to friendship story, they simply added to the intensity created by the bubble of Pride week and the rapidly dissolving school year.

Despite me starting this review stating that it was essentially a light summer read, there were some moments that really resonated with me and made me pause. As an adult who reads YA I could really relate to the sentiments expressed about why the adults in the story were so fascinated by the protagonists life experiences. The limitless possibilities of youth and their wrestling with the huge decisions which focus and reduce those choices further is one of the reasons I gravitate toward young adult fiction- the absence of the daily grind, bill paying and the cynicism are some of the other reasons. Twenty years down the road, I still remember those feelings of pressure, excitement and fear, of being on the precipice and having to make what felt like irrevocable, life defining choices.

I loved the inclusion of expression and art in many forms from music, clothing, painting and photography, through to a poetry slam which was simultaneously the most educational, eye opening and moving part of the entire book.

I will definitely be checking out the authors other works.

Verdict: Fast paced platonic love story.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: June 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 248
Genre: LGBTQIA, Friendship
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: LGBTQIAReads

Personal Read-a-thon aim: Two books
Number of books read: One
Currently reading: Pantomime by Laura Lam

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Accidental Superstar

Marianne Levy

If I’d known that two million people were going to be watching, I’d probably have done a bit of tidying up.
Katie Cox is used to going unnoticed, by her mum, her dad, even her best friend. But when a video of her singing in her bedroom goes viral, she becomes a superstar overnight. As the views skyrocket and a recording contract beckons, the real world starts to feel very far away.
And now Katie’s riding high on her newfound fame. But the higher she goes, the further there is to fall…
Accidental Superstar by Marianne Levy is the first in a hilarious series about a girl who accidentally finds fame singing online.

What were your initial thoughts of the book?
I thought this book was one of those really lovely and uplifting books that fills you with hope and happiness. I ended the book feeling just that little bit better about the world. The rest of the book is emotional and addictive. The perfect combination to make this book a quick, heartwarming and cute book that is sure to make you happy by the end of it.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
I think my favourite aspect was the way that Katie learnt so much from her viral video. It took her on a very intriguing journey that she certainly wasn’t expecting and she didn’t deal with very well but I loved that by the end of it, she seemed to grow so much as a person. I would actually love to read a sequel to the book just to see where she took the rest of her life.

Who was your favourite character and why?
My favourite character was probably Mad Jaz, which is surprising but I loved how much of a surprising character she was in the book. She was edgy, different and unique but deep down she also cared, seemed lonely and just wanted to fit in. I thought she really made the book that little bit more exciting and fascinating to read.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. Especially if you’re looking for a real pick me up kind of book where everything sort of fits together by the end of it. I will say that if you’re really struggling with Katie at the beginning to preserve as it is definitely worth the journey by the end.

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
A surprisingly emotional and uplifting story about a girl who has a lot of lessons to learn about what is important in life.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: January 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
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Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
fangirlCath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .

In a plight to try and make my spot as a ‘proper, grown up reviewer’ VERY IMPORTANT, I have decided that my reviews will now have a level of maturity that may have not been prominent in my former reviews. Eh hem.

Fangirl is a fun, light-hearted, teen read which is not set in an apocalyptic future and no one dies in it so yayyy.

Fangirl is about a girl called Cath who has gone to college somewhere in America with cows (I think its college which is like Uni in the UK, I don’t understand the American schooling system) and she is the quieter, more reserved half of a pair of twins. Cath and her twin sister Wren enjoy the very popular book series ‘Simon Snow’ which is about the world of Mages and is an obvious joke about the very popular ‘Harry Potter’ series. In fact Wren and she are such massive ‘fangirls’ of Simon Snow that they write ‘fanfiction’ about it. Now if you don’t know what fanfiction is, I suggest you Google it because it will be easier.

Cath and Wren have stuck together ever since their mum left them with their slightly insane father and they have done everything together…until now. Wren, as the more outgoing of the two, suddenly decided that although the two twins would be going to the same college (Uni, whatever) that Wren wants to not share the same room as her sister and Cath was pathetically ‘dumped’ by her own twin. Cath being the quieter, more socially awkward one relied on her sister to do the socializing for her and she is slightly freaking out a lot.

The book opens on Cath being worried about there being a boy in her room and then finding that the boy’s name is Levi and he is not her roommate but her roommate Reagan’s ‘friend’ (Cath assumes that Levi is Reagan’s boyfriend, I, as the admittedly embarrassed lover of poorly written romance novels, see Levi as a potential lover for Cath. But we are getting ahead of ourselves). Levi is really annoyingly happy and friendly to everyone and Cath thinks that is threatening. Reagan and Cath are quite happy to ignore eachother and let Levi come in only when Reagan is there; otherwise he has to sit in the hallway. Cath gets on with her life without Wren okay but is struggling and Reagan stages an intervention when she finds out the Kath was ‘dumped’ by Wren and has been living on only cereal bars and peanut butter which she has hidden under her bed because she is too scared to go into the food hall and she doesn’t know where it is. Also she was running low because Levi kept secretly eating them when Cath was in class.

Anyway, as the two make an unlikely but brutally sarcastic friendship, Cath has to juggle her very popular fanfiction account which has thousands of followers; school work and her dad’s sanity decline because he is struggling to cope without the girls. Wren becomes a social butterfly with no time for Cath but a lot of time for alcohol fuelled parties and flirting with boys.

After a while, Cath becomes friends with a boy called Nick in her fiction writing class and they become writing partners and it turns out better for him because Cath is a very good writer and she writes all the best bits, they become writing partners for any assignment they get and eventually tries to claim credit on a piece of work that they both wrote together which causes a massive hoo-hah and the end of their friendship.

After lots of fun (!) school stress, she gets a boyfriend, sorts out life with her dad and Wren gets saved from alcohol poisoning and all is marvellous and dandy.
That was admittedly a very vague synopsis but you get the picture and this review is already too long and my tea’s gone cold.

Verdict: After reading all (most, slight over exaggeration) of Rainbow Rowell’s books, I have decided that this is my favourite. It is witty, full of sass and a generally nice read. I definitely would recommend to anyone of the ages 12 and up, not because of the content but because I think the humour would go over the head of anyone of a younger age.

Reviewed by Daisy

Publisher: Macmillian
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: ebook
Pages: 445
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (15)
Source: own
Challenge: None
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Landline

Rainbow Rowell and Rebecca Lowman (narrator)
landlineGeorgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

What were your overall thoughts on the book?
Rainbow Rowell is an author I have enjoyed reading before. After finishing Fangirl, it quickly became one of my favourite books ever. Thus, going into Landline I was both excited and nervous, for I did not want to be disappointed by this amazing author. But, once again, Rainbow has written a superb book that I just fell in love with. It is super cute, has the perfect amount of romance – without unnecessary sex scenes! – and is just written so well. I was enraptured by this story and while there were a few issues I had with it – where was the rest of it? – I still enjoyed every minute of reading it!

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The magical feel to it. This book reminded me a lot of Celia Ahern’s books, (which I love!), as they are contemporaries but also have a sparkle of magic to them, which Landline did as well. It really helped to make this book really cute and just a great read that I truly loved. It was a fantastic way to show Georgie’s life and her relationship with Neal. All I can really say is give me more books like this!

Who was your favourite character and why?
Georgie, by far, was the best character. As the protagonist this probably isn’t that surprising but I just really loved everything about her. She’s so hard-working, emotional, focused and human, that it is impossible not to love her. This book doesn’t paint her in the best light. She’s made mistakes and we see them and I found that so great about this book. She is a real character dealing with real problems and you can’t help but sympathise with her and want to help her.

What did you think of the audiobook narrator?
Loved her! Seriously! Her voice was really easy to listen to with a soothing quality to it. I could probably listen to her forever! She also managed to distinguish between different characters quite well as well, which really helped! I would definitely listen to more books by her, no matter what book she was reading!

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely! Over and over again! It is a lovely light-hearted read that I am certain contemp adult readers would really enjoy. It does have some emotional moments but essentially it is a book that looks at love and relationships and shows how amazing (and magical) it can all be. Especially when it’s right. (Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to still work at it!) So, if you’re looking for a truly romantic book, look no further.

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict).
An incredibly cute romantic story that will make you feel a whirl of emotions before settling on eventual happiness. A must read.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Audiobook
Length: 9hrs 6mins
Genre: Contemporary romance, magical realism
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Book Expo America
Challenge: None

To celebrate Faye joining the Big Book Little Book Team we are giving away one copy of Landline by Rainbow Rowell( Audiobook CD’s) to one lucky UK reader ( UK postal addresses only).
Winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 48hrs of notification email BBLB reserve the right to select a new recipient.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Room On The Broom

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler(illustrator)

room on the broomThe witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom. But is there room on the broom for so many friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?

So, today at the Supermarket it was ‘Room on the Broom – LOOK!’ followed by ‘Pleeeaaase’, which, as it was on offer, I couldn’t refuse! I’d barely got the milk in the fridge before we flopped on the sofa with great excitement to read Joshua’s newest addition to his collection!

As you might imagine, this is another truly wonderful story. ‘Room on the Broom’ is told in delightful poetry, has great humour and the witch is very friendly and likeable. This is perfect for pre-schoolers – the rhyming means they can pick up the flow very quickly and the humour makes us all chuckle out loud. This is a funny story about how the witch keeps having to stop and ‘land’ due to various items falling off of her and how they end up collecting passengers along the way. Joshua was particularly excited to find out that a dragon is involved and of course Alex Scheffler’s illustrations capture us along the way.

Verdict: If you don’t have it – put it on your list! Your pre-schooler will thank you!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s books
Publication Date: April 2010
Format: Board book
Pages: 28
Genre: Picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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The Shark in the Dark

Peter Bently and Ben Cort (illustrator)

shark in the darkWill the flustered fish become saltwater snacks, or can they come up with a plan to teach the mean, greedy shark a lesson he’ll never forget? With atmospheric underwater scenes and a terrifically toothy villain, this captivating rhyming story is perfect for reading aloud.
Tremendously funny – with a biting twist

This is a great story that starts off a little scarily, reminding us just how scary that big ol’ Shark is and then switches to the fish, scared and terrified and not wanting to be eaten today, thank you very much! As the shark turns up for his tea the fish all try to swim away as fast as they can and seek refuge with the Squid, who gives them some wise advice and helps them to save themselves.

Told in rhyme, with some very funny lines this is a great little story that has kept my boys’ attention as they are desperate to find out what happens and to watch the shark get his comeuppance!

Of course there is a happy ending and no fish are eaten in the making of this story! The fish play a great trick on the Shark and manage to keep him away. My boys enjoy the illustrations by Ben Cort and this has become a recent favourite on our book shelf.

Verdict: A recent favourite on our book shelf

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler(illustrator)

Charlie Cook cover artCharlie Cook is reading a book about a pirate captain, who is reading a book about Goldilocks, who is reading about a knight, who is reading about a frog . . . From kings and queens to aliens and ghosts, there’s something for everyone in Charlie’s amazing book Entertaining and original – another winner from the best picture book team in the world.

We are big fans of Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler and my four year old is busy ensuring we get the whole collection as quickly as possible!

While this story doesn’t capture the interest of Samuel, who is almost three, like a lot of Donaldson/Scheffler books do, Joshua who is four and a half really enjoys it. Told, as usual, in rhyme and with fabulous illustrations this story goes round in a full circle, starting with Charlie Cook who is curled up in a cosy chair reading his favourite book, in which the main character finds a book… As it goes on, each character in each book goes on to find a book in which is the next main character.

Maybe that sounds confusing, but you quickly get into it and on first reading it’s a surprise to find out what’s on the next page.

Verdict:You can’t fail to be drawn in by Julia Donaldson’s wonderful poetry and Alex Scheffler’s fabulous illustrations and while this may not be quite suitable for very young readers, I think older pre-schoolers will really enjoy it.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Macmillian Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Underworld

Meg Cabot

underworldLast year, Pierce died – just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: a devilishly handsome boy who ushers souls from one world to the next. Pierce tried to fight her attraction to John but has now accepted her fate and gone to live with him in the dark realm between heaven and hell. She may finally be safe from the Furies – the angry, vengeful souls of the dead – but is she safe from John? When she discovers that she’s a prisoner and her family are in danger she must escape even if it means risking everything, even her life . . .

I have been waiting for this since having the ARC of Abandon and I haven’t been disappointed.

Underworld begins right where Abandon left off. Pierce wakes up in the Underworld with John. She has to try and process everything she has just found out; her grandmother is a Fury and has just tried to kill her, she has tried to kill her before (!), the Furies are after her as a way to hurt John and they won’t stop until they get what they want. Phew, on top of all this she is now in the Underworld for safety and because of all the above can’t really go home. Being with John might be a dream come true, but life in the Underworld? Pierce doesn’t feel ready to let go of her Mum and her cousin Alex just yet.

So with all that in the background Pierce begins to explore her knew home and her relationship with John as she realises there is a lot about him she doesn’t know, and she wants to find out. She discovers he has some ‘undead’ friends living in the Underworld with him and her. Curiosity continues to grow, not just about John as the head of the entrance to the Underworld, but about his life, his family, the ship he sailed and most of all his death and how he came to be undead. Being the second book in a trilogy not all the answers are revealed, but over the course of the story we do get to know more about the enigmatic John.

Pierce is also worried about her cousin, Alex, who she sees on her phone trapped in a coffin. Her phone shouldn’t work in this other realm so Pierce is desperate to make sure he is alright. John is worried about taking her back, not only because of the danger from the Furies but because now Pierce lives in the Underworld she might find visiting her family a bit difficult. Pierce’s insistence that they go leads to all sorts of drama and it reveals more about the history of Pierce’s own family and the links it might have with John’s history.

In addition to all this is the development of John and Pierce’s relationship. Pierce is unsure if she wants to be stuck in the Underworld, although she is sure she wants to be with John. The connections to Hades and Persephone come to the fore as Pierce grapples with whether or not she will be able to leave the Underworld for good at all. We finally discover the significance of those pomegranate seeds!

Verdict: There is loads going on in the novel and I was hooked. There is plenty more action I haven’t covered. Its a real page turner and I still want to know more and see how it all works out. Hurry up book 3!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Macmillan children’s Books
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 314/936KB
Genre: Paranormal romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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I’m Dougal Trump and It’s Not my Fault

Jackie Marchant

I, DOUGAL TRUMP, AM DEAD.
Ok, I’m not actually dead, but if I’m not very careful, I soon will be.
In this first book, football-loving Dougal Trump finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him, disinheriting those who get on his bad side, and fielding constant pleas from friends and associates [Cool will, Dougie! Can I have your playstation? – George]. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .

I really love this book because it is so funny. About half way through the story we hear about Douglas’ next door neighbour’s bra being taken and this is how Jackie (the author) puts it:

“Its Mrs Witzel’s fault she really ought to know better then to lean over the fence to stroke the dog whilst she is hanging up her washing especially when she is holding a bra. The bra dangled over the fence just when the dog jumped up (long story short) unluckily the dog thought we were having a game of tug of war. After a lot of pulling and tugging we ended up by the shed (long story short again) the bra ripped in two. Later on…the dog goes to the vets to have half a bra surgically removed.

Above was only one funny thing of many, and I loved this book but it’s definately for an older reader!!!

Verdict: As you can see I have really enjoyed this and think it is the best I’ve EVER READ.

Reviewed by Izzy (9)

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date:July 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 205
Genre: Memoir
Age:Middle grade
Reviewer: Izzy
Source: Provided by author
Challenge:British book
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The Magic Princess Dress

Gwyneth Rees

New from the wonderful Gwyneth Rees, an irresistible series about the power of wishes and imagination. When Ava enters Marietta’s dress shop on the hunt for her missing cat, she has no idea how magical it will be – but before she knows it, she’s trying on a beautiful Princess Bridesmaid dress, only to be whisked away to Fairytale Land – where Cinderella is about to get married, and her Fairy Godmother is about to turn Ava’s cat into something a lot less cute and fluffy. From the award-winning and bestselling author of the FAIRY DUST books comes this exciting new series that no little girl will be able to resist.

This story is about a young girl who discovers that fairy tales are real and are not always what you expect. As a child I loved all those princess stories and had favourites among the different versions of them. I was always intrigued that there were so many ways of telling the same tale. Now as an adult I appreciate those twists in a tale, the ways in which you can take what is so familiar and turn it into something new and fresh. This story is just like that.

Ava has to go and stay with her Dad for the holidays. A fact that she is not too impressed about. She takes her beloved cat, Cindy, with her and when she goes missing Ava is desperate to find her. Her search draws her to a strange shop (it made me think of Mr Benn for those who remember him!). The sign on the window tells her the cat had been found and is there and Ava is only made more eager to go in by the fact that her father so evidently doesn’t want her to!

Inside she meets the mysterious Mariette and goes into the back of the shop where lots of beautiful dresses are found. She tries on her favourite, a perfect fit! But then things start to get really weird as Marietta tells her that her cat has disappeared to a magical land through one of the magical mirrors and Ava will have to work out which one and follow Cindy through the mirror to get her back. Finding this a little too much Ava runs for home but is later drawn back and is even more surprised to find her Dad there too. It turns out her Dad and her Aunt (who is the owner of the shop) can travel to different worlds through the magic mirrors and Ava sets off through one to find Cindy. Once there she discovers a fairy tale land of Cinderella, arriving the night before her wedding to the prince. The Ugly Sisters are there and truly horrible, the Fairy Godmother too is highly unpredictable and Ava discovers a host of other characters that are never mentioned in her fairy story books. She befriends a mistreated girl called Tilly who has her own Cinderella type story and helps her to pursue her dreams and she goes about finding Cindy and trying to get a glimpse of Cinderella herself. Lots of drama ensues and Ava learns there is a lot more to Cinderella than meets the eye. She also learns a lot about herself and her family, through experiencing the reality of a fairy tale and in helping somebody else.

I really liked Ava, she tells it how it is and feels very normal in what is very definitely not a normal situation. I also liked the way there were parallels between her life and Cinderella’s story and the stories of other characters all blended well and drew out different threads from the story we all know so well. There was a good balance on the issues faced by Ava in both her real life and the magical world. There is plenty of humour too and plenty to keep you turning the pages.

Verdict: Any girl who has loved princesses and fairy tales will enjoy the twists and turns of this well- crafted story. My girls are too young for it but I will be keeping it for when they are old enough. The story is left open for sequels but I haven’t discovered any. I hope there are more as this was a highly entertaining and clever read.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 272/1142KB
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Age: Middle Grade book review
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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