Book Review: Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

Dead Popular, Paperback / softback Book
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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.

Book Review: My Parents Cancelled My Birthday by Jo Simmons

My Parents Cancelled My Birthday, Paperback / softback Book
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“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
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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.


Book Review: The Wickerlight by Mary Watson

Irish folklore, magic and an ancient feud.

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This wonderful tale of Celtic / Irish folklore and magic follows on from The Wren Hunt. But it is written from the point of view of David, one of the Judges in the first book who I didn’t particularly like. The chapters alternate between David and  a new girl in the village, Zara. Zara’s sister Laila died a couple of months before in mysterious circumstances and Zara wants to find out what really happened. But as she digs deeper into the lives of the people of Kilshamble, nothing is quite what it seems. The people at the big house, where David spends a lot of time, a ruined cottage in the woods and the strange behavior of Maeve and Sibeal who live in a bungalow at the end of the village all help David and Zara become entangled in an ancient feud. David’s character develops a lot more in this book and I did grow quite fond of him.

I loved these books. It’s not a genre that I would usually read and I did find the first few chapters of The Wren Hunt really confusing. However, in The Wickerlight there is a glossary at the back of the book which explains all the old Irish and Celtic words and how to pronounce them. But I didn’t find this until I had finished the book and I’d been looking the words up on my phone. Maybe it should be at the front?

The Wickerlight was sent to me by the publishers in return for a frank and honest review. I  reserved The Wren Hunt from the library as I wanted to read that first. It does make more sense if you read them in order.

Book review: Slick by M. M. Vaughan

Friendship: Real or Virtual?

Price: £6.26
Was: £7.99



Danny Lazio gets bullied by other kids at school and takes refuge in an online game called Land X. But when a new guy, Eric joins his class, Danny thinks he might have made a friend. Especially as Eric likes Land X as well. But Eric comes in with new things every day, new clothes and Slick trainers sent by his Uncle Martin and he gains a nickname; Slick.

But gradually as their friendship grows and another boy, Ethan, joins them, things start to get seriously weird. Slick has weekly dentist appointments. What? Who has weekly appointments to see someone we’d rather only see every 6 months? Slick has an accident and is taken to hospital but his parents seem to know before Danny has a chance to tell them and then don’t seem very worried about their son.

Danny, his older cousin Vito, Ethan, and Ethan’s sister Hope are determined to find out what is going on. But discovering the truth and coping with its consequences is not easy.

A wonderful story about friendship, real and virtual, and loss by M. M. Vaughan

Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.