Posts Tagged ‘YA Reviewer-Helen’

Molly’s Millions

Victoria Connelly

Hard-up florist Molly Bailey has just won a fortune in the National Lottery. And she wants to get rid of it… fast!
Tom Mackenzie is on the verge of losing his job. He needs one hell of a story if he hopes to secure his future in journalism. And his luck may have just come in…
With a strong belief that sharing her good fortune is the only way forward, Molly unwittingly becomes the most sought-after person in the country as she distributes her wealth to the masses. With only her terrier pup, Fizz, and her trusty Beetle for company, Molly embarks on the journey of her life. But with Tom hot on her heels, will she succeed before her family and the media catch up with her? And, with Tom leading the pack, would that really be such a bad thing…?

I picked this up needing a little light relief after reading a more weighty tome and this was the perfect antidote!This story is chick lit at its best; a funny, romantic, well-paced ride through the English countryside with a bit of substance as well.
Molly Bailey is a lovely girl who has managed to stay lovely despite the un-loveliness of her family. She owns her own florist shop and has escaped the family home and all the scrimping, saving, penny pinching men who live there. Her brother Marty,(married to her friend Carolyn) is a chip off the old block however. Molly’s mother, Cynthia, left when Molly was still a child and Molly still has many unanswered questions about what happened.

On a whim one day Molly buys a lottery ticket and Bingo(!) hits the jackpot coming away with £4.2 million. Despite Lottery advice to do nothing too quickly Molly knows that once the Bailey men discover the news about her win there will be no stopping them dividing it up and packing it off to the bank, never to be seen again. Molly wants none of this so she decides she is going to give it away, the only problem…to who?

So Molly begins her journey in her brilliant, bright yellow VW bug. She shuts up shop and leaves discovering good causes as she drives through England. She begins anonymously leaving donations with a calling card; a yellow sunshine daisy and having a wonderful time. She gets into some hilarious situations and meets fantastic people. But the fun really starts when those Bailey men find out what’s happening and come after her. Molly is desperate to stay one step ahead and the ensuing chase around the country is fabulous.

In addition to all this Molly is also being chased by Tom, a journalist, and his 10 year old daughter Flora who is along for the ride. He is the reason her family discover she has the money and causes a fair bit of friction until Molly figures out how to use him to her advantage. He also provides the will they/won’t they part of the story.

During all this there is depth too, Marty and Carolyn’s rocky marriage is really put to the test, Marty learns some valuable life lessons about money (its too late for the older members of the family!!) and Molly does get to find out more about her mother and what happened long ago.

Verdict:The ending is great, literally the high point of the book. This is definitely a story I will re-read, it would be a brilliant cheering read if you were a bit down too. Very funny and I loved it.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Allison and Busby
Publication Date: March 2011
Format: Kindle
Pages: 352/454KB
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
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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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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This Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown

Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (illustrator)

Emily Brown’s rabbit, Stanley, is NOT FOR SALE.
Not even to her Most Royal Highness Queen Gloriana the Third.
Not even for all the toys Emily Brown could ever desire.
So when naughty Queen Gloriana steals “Bunnywunny” away, Emily Brown sets out to get him back. Along the way, she shows the queen how to love a special toy of her very own.

We borrowed this book and it was so worth a read. Although it can be enjoyed by younger ones I think this is definitely a picture book best suited to an older pre-schooler, or those in their first year or so at school. There is a fair bit of text for a picture book and some of the ideas and groups of people mentioned are well over the heads of younger readers (or should I say listeners!).

Emily has a much loved rabbit called Stanley, a great starting point for a story as most children have favourite toys of some sort. She and Stanley have lots of exciting adventures and this leads to a bit of a problem. Queen Gloriana the third decides she would like the rabbit for herself. She writes to ask Emily to give her Stanley (or bunnywunny as she prefers to call him) and in exchange she offers Emily a brand new bear. Emily however, is having none of it and stands up to the Queen saying a very firm “no”. The Queen tries to bribe Emily with further offers and sends in increasingly strong forces to back her cause. Finally the SAS come and steal Stanley away. Emily is furious and heads off to the palace to fetch him back.

Emily teaches the Queen that to have a special toy you must love it and play with it until it is truly yours. It’s brilliant. I loved Emily, she is so un-phased by anything, and like many children, when it comes to her toy she will stop at nothing to protect what is hers! But far from being a story about “mine” in the selfish sense (a word we hear a lot in our house at the moment!) it is a story about love, loyalty and the joy of special toys. Emily is not willing to give up Stanley, even for the multitude of things she is offered in return. She demonstrates that some people (or toys) cannot be bought at any price. She is also courageous enough to go to rescue her beloved toy and stand up to the Queen!

There are some great lessons in this story, but it is also a great read, has lots of humour and has charming pictures.

Verdict: Fab, I am sorely tempted to go and get this, even though I am trying not to buy more books at the moment… This one might just sneak itself onto the shelf!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Orchard
Publication Date: October 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Picture books, Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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