Book Review: Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

Dead Popular, Paperback / softback Book
Click on image and order now from Hive Stores and collect from your local independent bookshop

Set in an elite boarding school by the sea, we meet Kate, her friends, and other pupils at Manor Norton School. Right from the beginning you get this feeling of entitlement, money and beauty, the art of being practically perfect. One of Kate’s friends, Sasha was expelled at the end of the last term and we aren’t told why. An artwork collage by one of the pupil’s, Veronica, is on display in the common room called “The Things We Keep Hidden” is suddenly embellished with extras. A prescription, the address of a hospital. All these little things build the tension. Kate is planning her secret party at a very expensive beach house and by then we know something is going to happen. But what and to whom? There is a great twist at the end.

I loved this book. I read a lot of thrillers and the building up of the characters and the setting made it unputdownable. (Is that a word? It should be). I grew up with the Chalet School books by Elinor Brent-Dyer set in a boarding school in the Austria / Switzerland and Dead Popular reminded me of some of their adventures.

I had heard a lot about this book, but couldn’t afford to buy it so reserved it from my local library instead.

New series and updates June & July 2019

Here’s the list of all the new titles added to during June & July 2019. They are all linked to the relevant page on the website so you can click thorough to the series.

May I remind you that the only way this site makes any money is through referrals via Amazon, Waterstones and Hive. If you go in via a click through from and buy anything at all from those sites I get a tiny referral fee. Last month I made the grand total of £2.72. Many thanks for all your support and please keep using the site. Spread the word. Happy reading.






New series added:
Alex Bellos & Ben Lyttleton – Football School
Alex Morgan – Kicks
Carina Axelsson – Royal Rebel
Chantele Sedgwick – Love, Lucas
Dave Cousins – Charlie Merrick’s Misfits
Jennifer Gray – The Travels of Ermine (Who is very determined)
Scott Allen – Llama United
Terry Deary – Silver Hand

Abi Longstaff – Trapdoor Mysteries – 4
Coco Simon – Cupcake Diaries – 30 – 32
David Walliams – Worst Children – 4
Frank Lampard – Frankie’s Magic Football – 20
Jim Kay & J.K.Rowling – Harry Potter – Illustrated Editions – 4
Jordan Quinn – Kingdom of Wrenly 8 – 14
Kita Mitchell – Grandma Dangerous – 3
Sibeal Pounder – Bad Mermaids – 3


Book Review: My Parents Cancelled My Birthday by Jo Simmons

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday, Paperback / softback Book
Order a copy here from Hive and support your local independent bookshop.

“It all started when a pig fell off the roof” When a book starts with that line, you know you want to read on to find out what happens next.

Birthdays are important to Tom and this one is going to be his 11th. He has a great long list of requests for his parents to make his day special, but then disaster strikes, in the form of a curse from the tooth fairy, a flattened chihuahua and the pig falling of the roof.

Tom’s parents are busy people, they can’t possibly sort out an unforgettable birthday for Tom this week. Can they do it next week? Or cancel for this year?! Tom can’t believe this, he’s been looking forward to this day for months. Tom won’t give up. He wants to celebrate his birthday with style and if his parents won’t help he’ll sort it out himself. So with the help of his best friends, a gladiator volcano cake and his younger sister, he makes plans. But this is Tom, so expect the unexpected.

I loved this book, it made me laugh out loud. Birthdays are always big in our family so I can sympathise with Tom. If you need cheering up and a good laugh this is for you. Jo Simmons way with words and with Nathan Reed’s illustrations interspersed, it makes a great read.

I was given this book by the publisher for a frank and honest review.

Book Review: An Unlikely Spy by Terry Deary

An Unlikely Spy, Paperback / softback Book
Click here to order a copy from hive and collect from your local independent bookshop.

The story begins in England at the beginning of the Second World War. Brigit Furst is the daughter of Aimee and Marius, who we met and shared their adventures in “The Silver Hand”. Brigit’s father is German, he’s a doctor and has lived in England for many years but that doesn’t stop Marius being interned and Brigit being bullied.
After running away during the chaos of evacuation Brigit meets up with her mother at a very special training camp where Churchill is building a secret army of spies and saboteurs known as the Special Operations Executive. Aimee is half French and still speaks the language fluently. After completing all the training, Aimee and Brigit are dropped by plane in Northern France to stay with Aimee’s mother and start a local resistance group, but will anyone suspect Brigit is a spy? She’s only a child.
Lots of adventures follow with many references to “The Silver Hand” and Brigit, Aimee and the local villagers trying to stop the German advance.
As it says at the beginning of the story they all “Did their bit”
Terry Deary peppers the book with Churchill’s speeches and quotes and this great adventure sheds new light on the S.O.E. and the Second World War in time for the 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of war in September 1939.

I really enjoyed this story, and as it’s written by Terry Deary you know that it’s going to be factually correct. It also made me think about how “Walls have Ears” and the S.O.E. would work with social media and the internet in the 21st century. It does work as a standalone book, but I managed to get “The Silver Hand” from the library and read that first.
“An Unlikely Spy” was given to me by the publisher for a unbiased and frank review.


How to survive the summer holidays – get a library card.

Holidays are coming and the children are off school for 6 weeks. There are lots of ways to keep them entertained, but a lot of events are expensive and and you need the weather on your side. So this is a backup plan for getting through those wet August days and the children are beginning to get cabin fever.

Have you got a library card? Everyone should have one. This is the easiest way to survive the summer holidays. If you join your local library now, you will be entitled to all sorts of adventures. Not only is it free to join and borrow books, digital audio and e-books are free as well. You might need to show proof of address to join, just ask or check your council website under Libraries. 

Make sure the children have their own library cards. If they get a  library card as a child they will always have one. Then they can sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.Can they read 6 books over the summer holidays? It can be any kind of book, from stories of adventure like the Murder Most Unladylike series,  funny books like Captain Underpants, joke books or books about things, like dinosaurs or space. Most challenges don’t finish until after the children go back to school. It is a great idea to keep children reading during the summer holidays. The Reading Agency have been doing this for 20 years now and the theme for 2019 is Space Chase, celebrating 50 years since the moon landings. The challenge starts on 13th July in England and Wales, and 22nd June in Scotland. Find the website at and click here on the video below to watch the film and see how it works.

Most libraries will have activities during the holidays as well, these may be free but you might need to get a ticket, so look for the events list at your library.

Once you have your library card, check with your local library to see what kind of online resources they have. For example, in the West of the UK we have LibrariesWest which links 7 local authorities together from coast to coast, North Somerset to Poole and Bournemouth and in London there is the London Libraries Consortium. Therefore there is a huge catalogue of books that are available.  Check – It might be free to reserve children’s books in your local authority as well.

If you are going on a long car journey during the holidays, take a talking book. Find something for everyone to listen to. Most libraries have spoken word CD’s or playaways, which are stories on an MP3 player that you can plug into the car’s aux socket. Or you can download free audio books and listen on your phone or another device. The apps available will be on your libraries online resources page on your local council website.

These apps are linked to library services and you will need to enter your library card number to set it up but you can have up to 5 titles for 3 weeks. How many miles will that cover?

If you are flying away to some exotic destination and don’t want to take actual books, you might think about signing up to Cloud Library. This app will allow you to download e-books to an e-reader to enjoy while you are away. It’s free!   Again you will need to register on the app with your  library card number. Check with your local library which apps they use for digital and audio books and make life easier.

Most authorities use the following apps: Cloud Library, Bolinda BorrowBox, RBDigital, OneClick Digital, Ebscohost & Libby by Overdrive. 

If you do live in the Librarieswest area, and you go from Somerset to Dorset for a day out, you can borrow books from their libraries and return them to your own library when you get home. The authorities linked are N. Somerset, S. Gloucestershire,  Bristol, Bath and N. E. Somerset, Somerset, Dorset and Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.This also applies in the London Link Consortium.

Remember that if you’re reading or listening to a series, check at to find which books come next, or try for adult fiction books.

If your library uses other apps or is doing something different this summer please add it in the comments.

So join your library this summer and enter another world.Image result for chris riddell library quotes

Neil Gaiman – author of American Gods.