Gary and the Three Turkeys by Richard Guthrie

gary and the three turkeys

My enormous thanks to Rosie Crofts at Pen and Sword Books for sending me a copy of the children’s book Gary and the Three Turkeys by Richard Guthrie in return for an honest review.

Published on 18th November 2018, Gary and the Three Turkeys is available for purchase here.

Gary and the Three Turkeys

gary and the three turkeys

The poem Gary and the Three Turkeys was the creation of Richard Guthrie, a frustrated student at Aberdeen at the time. Bored in a lecture one day, he etched out a rough doodle of an oversized young gentlemen in a baggy sailor’s suit and recalling some fanciful tale of a portly old school friend and his penchant for food and especially turkey, the creative muse was stirred and verses began to flow.

The poem has since entertained many a household dining table, been the subject of insistent recital at a number of official functions and can be found, together with some of its author’s own scribbled sketches, adorning many a wall from Yorkshire through to the Scottish Highlands. Entertaining all but the most Victorian of principle, it has proven a must have party piece for all ages, from those still attired in their school shorts right through to the blanket covered retirement recliners.

Now the Gary and the Three Turkeys has been adapted into a book and a film (featuring Brian Blessed) and a game. By purchasing the book, readers get access to all three via QR codes of web addresses. In addition the book contains 35 pieces of augmented reality which can be view after downloading a free App (also featuring Brian Blessed).

My Review of Gary and the Three Turkeys

Gary is hungry and he wants his favourite food – turkey!

What a completely bonkers book. Children of all ages will love Gary and the Three Turkeys.

Firstly, I have to comment on the quality of the production of Gary and the Three Turkeys. It’s a really robust, heavy-weight, hard back with super glossy pages that will withstand many many readings. Although I haven’t yet used all the augmented reality features, I did enjoy the sounds and animations in the book that really bring the story alive. I’m looking forward to seeing the film with Brian Blessed narrating too.

I thought the language in Gary and the Three Turkeys was excellent. The rhyme scheme works so well and there is an excellent balance of familiar and unexpected vocabulary that will enhance the language skills of children whilst still maintaining the interest of older readers. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed the language, rhyme and plotting, particularly the reference to the traditional three little pigs, even if Gary does blow the houses down somewhat differently! I can see the humour will leave youngsters giggling helplessly and can’t wait to share this book with my great-nephew.

Gary and the Three Turkeys is a super book. It’s enormous fun with lots of added extras that I really recommend.

About Richard Guthrie

There’s more about Richard and Gary and the Three Turkeys on the website.

The Cave by Suzy Davies

the cave

My grateful thanks to the author, Suzy Davies, for sending me a copy of The Cave in return for an honest review.

I previously reviewed another of Suzy’s books, Luna the Moon Pig: The Pig Who Hid, here.

The Cave is available for purchase from Smashwords.

The Cave

the cave

Ancient Thai Mysticism and a modern-day tale of The Wild Boars Football Team and their leader’s adventure in a Thai cave are woven together in this young adult’s story of hope, courage, adventure, teamwork, bonds of love and survival.

My review of The Cave

Based on the real life rescue of the Thai boy football team from the flooded caves.

Although The Cave is billed as a young adult book and is a quick read, I think it can be enjoyed on many levels from around the age of 8 upwards, because a great deal of care has gone in to ensuring the style emulates that of traditional fairy stories or morality tales. Language is accessible and well crafted so that confident younger readers could attempt the book independently.

The Cave is an interesting and entertaining retelling of a true event which I found had all the more poignancy because it was based in fact. I appreciated the way in which Suzy Davies made me consider those not directly involved, such as Khun Mae, and I thought the manner in which the story pays tribute to the diver who lost his life in the rescue attempt was very well handled.

I very much enjoyed the descriptive passages, especially those linked to the more spiritual or mythical elements of the story when the writing takes on almost a dream-like quality. What Suzy Davies has done is take a well known international event and bring it alive through the personalities of the boys, their relatives and the culture of the Thai people so that it captures the imagination of the reader.

I thought the themes were very well suited to a teenage audience, with fear and courage, friendship and trust all being explored through the story. I could see The Cave being used as a stimulus for creative writing or drama in middle grade classrooms especially.

The Cave will appeal to a very wide range of readers and is a well researched and fitting tribute to an almost miraculous true event.

About Suzy Davies

suzy

Suzy Davies is a Children’s Author, Romance Novelist and Poet. Her new release, Luna The Moon Pig: The Pig Who Hid is illustrated by award-winning world-acclaimed illustrator and animator, Sheila Graber, famed for her work with Paddington Bear and family, Children’s Television and her illustration and animation of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories.

Suzy has also published Snugs The Snow Bear, a children’s book, and Johari’s Window, a romance novel.

Suzy has been a writer from an early age. She is a sociologist, and following her first degree at Leicester University, she read for an MA in English Literature at the University of Sussex, in England.

An educationist, Suzy was a Lead English Teacher and Literacy specialist. Suzy is passionate about nurturing future generations of writers, and to this end, she reviews books from time to time, and is an author contributor for The Young Writers’ Newsletter, an international online newsletter which is for young people who wish to write. She is also a regular contributor to The Writers’ newsletter online, where she posts her book reviews.

When Suzy isn’t behind a book, she likes the outdoors and enjoys communing with nature on the beach or by one of Florida’s lakes. She also likes to go to music concerts and enjoys visiting restaurants or mall shopping.

You can follow Suzy on Twitter @birdwriter7.

The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper

the geography of friendship

My enormous thanks to Lucy at legend Press for sending me a copy of The Geography of Friendship by Sally Piper in return for an honest review.

The Geography of Friendship will be published on 1st February 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

The Geography of Friendship

the geography of friendship

When three women set off on a hike through the wilderness they are anticipating the adventure of a lifetime. Over the next five days, as they face up to the challenging terrain, it soon becomes clear they are not alone.

Lisa, Samantha and Nicole have known each other since school. Lisa is a fighter, Samantha a peacekeeper and Nicole a rule follower. United they bring out the best in one another.

Only once it is too late for them to turn back do they appreciate the danger they are in. Their friendship is tested, and each of them must make a choice that will change their lives forever.

My Review of The Geography of Friendship

Old school friends Lisa, Samantha and Nicole retrace a hike they first completed years before.

Wow. The Geography of Friendship is a poignant, accomplished and tense exploration of relationships and how our past shapes us in our present. I found it a stunning read.

There’s something primeval and threatening from the outset of this story so that I felt tense and affected from the very first page. Sally Piper writes with such intelligent, poetic style that I was on the hike with Lisa, Samantha and Nicole. The physical descriptions are so beautifully crafted, evocative and accurate that I felt as if I were looking at a kaleidoscope of vivid jewels of language that kept shifting and uncovering a new perspective. There is constantly an undercurrent of imagery that made me keep thinking of nature being ‘red in tooth and claw’ so that it’s no exaggeration to say I had goosebumps at times as I read. The landscape in The Geography of Friendship is, rightly, no pastoral idyll.

It’s absolutely perfect that this is a story that involves the traditional collective power of three and what happens when that power balance fractures or is impacted by external forces. Lisa, Samantha and Nicole all have their equal place in the narrative and I found the structure of the story, with each woman being the focus in turn, with a balance of past and present events in each chapter, utterly mesmerising. I felt that not only did I understand each of the three personalities and why they were the women they had become, but that Sally Piper was holding up a magnifying glass to humanity, illustrating the potential for all of us to behave in particular ways. I don’t want to expand that point more for fear of spoiling the book for others!

The plot is shaped so cleverly. Tension builds as the past is gradually uncovered and I loved the concept of individual and collective memory that makes these three women who they are. A couple of the events are breathtakingly shocking yet utterly plausible, making me appreciate the quality of the writing still further.

The Geography of Friendship is an exploration of the literal and metaphorical geography of friendship, guilt and forgiveness. I found it menacing, atmospheric and literary. I thought it was completely wonderful.

About Sally Piper

sally piper

Sally Piper is an award-winning Brisbane based writer.  She is a former nurse and nurse educator, specialising in neurosurgical critical care, and has worked in both Australia and the UK.

Sally has had short fiction and non-fiction published in various online and print publications, including a prize-winning short story in the first One Book Many Brisbanes anthology, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Saturday Paper, Weekend Australian and WQ plus other literary magazines and journals in the UK. She has been interviewed for radio, been a guest panellist at literary festivals and delivered many author talks and readings.

Sally holds a Master of Arts (Research) in Creative Writing from Queensland University of Technology. During her post-graduate studies she also tutored on the QUT Creative Writing program. She currently presents workshops and seminars for the Queensland Writers’ Centre and mentors on their ‘Writer’s Surgery’ program.

You can find out more by visiting Sally’s website and following her on Twitter @SallyPiper. You’ll also find Sally on Facebook.

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

a rising man

I’m delighted to have A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee for review today as one of the reasons I’ve been cutting back on blog tours and posts is so that I can actually read the books from the U3A book group I attend. A Rising Man is our January book.

A Rising Man is published by Vintage, a Penguin imprint, and is available for purchase through these links.

A Rising Man

a rising man

India, 1919. Desperate for a fresh start, Captain Sam Wyndham arrives to take up an important post in Calcutta’s police force.

He is soon called to the scene of a horrifying murder. The victim was a senior official, and a note in his mouth warns the British to leave India – or else.

With the stability of the Empire under threat, Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee must solve the case quickly. But there are some who will do anything to stop them…

My Review of A Rising Man

Following his time in WW1, Captain Sam Wyndham takes up a new post in India.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Rising Man, not least because the evocative descriptions of India transported me back there after a recent visit. I thought the use of the senses in conveying scenes and atmosphere worked especially well. Even more effective, however, was Abir Mukherjee’s fabulous research so that his attention to detail gave an unparalleled authenticity. The history, the culture, the geography woven into the story made India as much of a character as any of the people. Indeed, I found Abir Mukherjee’s style quite Dickensian at times with Calcutta as much of a presence in this story as London ever is for Dickens.

The plot is so carefully crafted that I found it spellbinding and it drew me in almost against my will. After the dramatic opening initially I found it a little slow until I attuned myself to the pace and realised it matched perfectly the speed of Indian bureaucracy and afforded the reader the opportunity to get to know Sam and Surrnder-not intimately, as they are gradually developed, with the promise of more detail in future books. I shall certainly be reading more about this duo because I enjoyed A Rising Man so much. I also found echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories that provided huge satisfaction for me as a reader without the references ever becoming a pastiche. What I found so entertaining was that I had my theories and suspicions, but I didn’t guess the manner in which they were revealed at all. I also loved the mini cliffhangers at the end of chapters so that I was compelled to read on. Abir Mukherjee has a very tantalising style. I thoroughly appreciated the dark humour of many of Sam’s thoughts and words too.

Typical of the intelligence of the way A Rising Man is written is the title. There are so many resonances of the title throughout the narrative. I can’t mention them all as that would spoil the story, but the concept of the ordinary Indian rising up against British oppression, Sam’s recovery after the events of his past, Surrender-not’s position in society, the political and cultural hierarchy and so on, all reverberate making for a very satisfying read.

On occasion I felt quite uncomfortable reading A Rising Man. White attitudes to people of any colour, the inherent racism and sexism and, sadly at times, the feeling that not much has changed when it comes to corruption, all underpin the story, so that it feels fresh and modern at the same time as being totally historically convincing. I found the way WW1 echoes through Sam’s behaviour actually very moving, even though it isn’t a major theme of the narrative.

I’m not sure what I was expecting in A Rising Man, but what I got was a very entertaining crime story with vivid characters I believed in and cared, about alongside an authentic and evocative setting that had me hooked and wanting to read more. I really recommend Abir Mukherjee’s writing. I thought A Rising Man was super.

About Abir Mukherjee

abir

Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of Scotland. At the age of fifteen, his best friend made him read Gorky Park and he’s been a fan of crime fiction ever since.

The child of immigrants from India, A Rising Man, his debut novel, was inspired by a desire to learn more about a crucial period in Anglo-Indian history that seems to have been almost forgotten.

A Rising Man won the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition and became the first in a series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. It went on to win the CWA Historical Dagger and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Abir lives in London with his wife and two sons.

To find out more, follow Abir on Twitter @radiomukhers or visit his website. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone

Puzzle Girl bc

My grateful thanks to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to be part of the paperback launch blog tour for Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Puzzle Girl is available for purchase here.

Puzzle Girl

Puzzle Girl bc

Love is a riddle, waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it.

Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

My Review of Puzzle Girl

Cassy Brookes knows the best way to deal with life is to write lists and do puzzles.

I thoroughly enjoyed Puzzle Girl. It’s light, entertaining, amusing and romantic without being saccharine. Rachael Featherstone writes with flair and realism so that the events and characters in Puzzle Girl feel fresh and believable.

My goodness Cassy has the ability to entangle herself in troubles. I loved the way in which she was so fixated on an actual puzzle book and discovering the mystery puzzle-man that she entirely missed the real life puzzle pieces around her, causing her to neglect her friends and be duped by those about whom she should know better. I didn’t much like her at times and thought the way in which Rachael Featherstone developed her character so that I learnt to care about Cassy was very skilful. The first person approach made Cassy come alive on the page. By the end of Puzzle Girl I felt she had been elevated to a convincing Everywoman so that there is much to learn from her life; particularly that we shouldn’t always jump to conclusions about others.

I found the minor characters perfectly balanced so that there were enough of them to create interest without stealing Cassy’s limelight. I know a book has worked well when I have a physical response to characters and in this case I would have been more than happy to punch Seph – hard! Of all of Cassy’s acquaintances, it was Martin I found the most intriguing, but you need to read the book to see why.

The plot races along with Cassy lurching from one, frequently self-induced, crisis to another. All the way through I kept thinking ‘what a tangled web we weave’. I’d love to see Puzzle Girl as a feature film as many of the events, particularly those surrounding the walk-in health centre would lend themselves to a rom-com. I did guess many of the elements but actually this enhanced my enjoyment of the book because I was intrigued as to how Rachael Featherstone would resolve them. The different settings add extra layers of interest too and I loved the deftly handled themes of identity, friendship and relationships.

Puzzle Girl is hugely entertaining and fun to read. It is wonderful escapism, perfect for a cold winter’s afternoon or a relaxing holiday. I thought it was enormous fun and very satisfying to read. I’d really rather like a follow up novel with some of the same characters now please, perhaps developing Dan further!

About Rachael Featherstone

rachel featherstone

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfil a life time ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband, Tim and daughter Elodie.

You can follow Rachael on Twitter @WRITERachael and visit her website for further information. Rachael is also on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Puzzle Girl Blog Tour Poster

Cover Reveal: The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle by Jemma Hatt

Adobe Photoshop PDF

As someone who believes sharing the love of reading with children affords them a lifelong pleasure, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover of a brand new middle grade children’s adventure series by Jemma Hatt. The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle is book one in Jemma’s The Adventurers series.

Here’s more about the book:

The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle

Adobe Photoshop PDF

A mysterious curse has stricken Kexley Castle for generations ever since Egyptian treasure was transported to Cornwall by a 19th Century explorer.

Can four young adventurers reveal the secrets that have been hidden for over a hundred years?

Join Lara, Rufus, Tom and Barney in their first exciting adventure together as they unravel the mystery and race to find Captain Jack Kexley’s hiding place.

To succeed, they must discover and solve a series of clues left by their ancestor, ahead of two unwelcome visitors from the British Museum who are determined to get there first!

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Doesn’t that sound brilliant?

The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle will be published on 29th January 2019 and is available for pre-order from Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble.

The cover design is by Andrew Smith whose website you can visit here.

About Jemma Hatt

jemma hatt author pic

Jemma Hatt was born near Sevenoaks in Kent. She grew up with a passion for reading and writing short stories, which ultimately led to a degree in English Literature from the University of Exeter. The Adventurers Series was inspired by many childhood holidays to Devon and Cornwall as well as her family’s pet border collies.

After having lived and worked in London, New York and Delaware, Jemma currently lives in Kent and is working on the sequel to The Adventurers and The Cursed Castle as well as other writing projects.

To find out more about Jemma and her new series, follow her on Twitter @jemmahatt, find her on Facebook and Instagram or visit her website.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff by David Walliams

The World of David Walliams

I was delighted when Burak from Books2DoorUK asked if I would be willing to review some of their titles for them and when a selection arrived within less than 24 hours of my ordering them I was extremely impressed. Their service and pricing are excellent.

Today I’m starting off by reviewing The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff which is available for purchase from Books2Door here.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff

The World of David Walliams

A spectacularly funny feast of all things Walliams for super-fans, new fans and anyone who likes laughing out loud a lot. In glorious colour throughout!

Welcome to the World of David Walliams. This spectacularly funny book is bursting with Walliams wonderment!

Insider sneak peeks, brilliant character quizzes, fabulous fun facts, design your own Walliams book cover and meet Raj in a brand new comic book adventure never seen before. You even get exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content from David Walliams himself.

Hours of entertainment for all the family and the perfect companion to David’s novels. Featuring colour illustrations from the iconic Sir Quentin Blake and the artistic genius Tony Ross.

My Review

of

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff

Everything you ever wanted to know about David Walliams and his books…

I have a confession. Although I’ve watched David Walliams’ books dramatised on television and thoroughly enjoyed those programmes, I have never actually read one, partly because I felt, quite erroneously, that their popularity was more to do with celebrity than quality. How wrong can you be? If The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is representative, I’m going to have to buy them all and read them immediately, because I thought it was utterly brilliant!

Although I’m not familiar with the written work of David Walliams, my total enjoyment of The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff was unaffected. I was able to recognise and understand many of references and I’m certain that any fan of David Walliams’ work would adore every page of this vibrant and entertaining book. I so admired the effervescent style and pitch perfect tone for children.

Much of the humour is lavatorial and crude; exactly what children love and, as an adult rapidly approaching their 60th birthday, I found myself laughing aloud too. I genuinely think The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is a book that can resonate with, and amuse, children of ALL ages. However, alongside the entertaining humour and frequent silliness, is actually a very perceptive and subtly poignant sub-text, such as in Joe Spud’s letter to Santa or a Day in the Life of the Grubb Twins, so that children could explore loneliness and bullying, for example, in a safe environment. It is this contrast between the humour and seriousness that works so well. After the Midnight Gang secret files section, the comment ‘And please, whatever you do, whoever you are, wherever you are… never stop dreaming! No one can take your dreams away from you‘ genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

The illustrations by Quentin Blake and Tony Ross are wonderful, transporting me back to those of the books I read as a child and stirring pleasurable memories as well as exemplifying this text so brilliantly. I loved the fact that children can learn to draw like Tony Ross. In fact, the interactivity of The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is sheer genius. I now have a title of a book to write, Moody Hairdresser, and although I might well substitute suggested chocolate drops for rabbit droppings, I certainly fancy making Rabbit Dropping Roll from Mrs Trafe’s Cookery Book Range. There are quizzes, spot the difference pages, snakes and ladders, cover designs, memory challenges and loo roll modelling that will occupy and entertain children for hours.

I loved The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff. It’s amusing, entertaining and joyful so that I forgot I was a middle aged adult and felt transported back to the innocent pleasures of childhood. What I found incredibly effective was the acceptance of children, their dreams and aspirations and the credibility and guidance given to youngsters woven into the playful comedy.

The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff is glorious and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About David Walliams

David Walliams

David Walliams is an actor, a judge on TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent and is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK.

Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book Demon Dentist was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers Ratburger and Gangsta Granny were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of Gangsta Granny remained at number one for an incredible 22 weeks in the UK charts.

David is well known for his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created Little Britain, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs and is now shown in over 100 countries. David and Matt followed Little Britain with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series Come Fly With Me.

You can follow David on Twitter @davidwalliams and visit his website for more details. There is also a World of David Walliams Facebook page.