Sunday, 26 July 2015

It's time for the Summer Reading Challenge!

It’s July, it’s the summer holidays which means only one thing and that is that the Summer Reading Challenge (SRC for short) is happening in libraries up and down the UK. It’s something I remember very well and have very fond memories of both from taking part every year as a child - I still have my certificates and medals in a folder somewhere - and from working in a library for almost six years. Indeed it’s at this time of year that library staff really pull out all the stops for children, encouraging them to join the SRC and holding a number of other fun activities, including arts and crafts, for them to get involved with. 

The SRC is an annual event which is run by the Reading Agency with the aim of encouraging children aged between 4 and 11 to go into their local library and read at least six books over the summer holidays. There is a different theme each year - this year it’s Record Breakers - and the best thing is that, as long as the books children read are library books from the children’s section they can read whatever they want, be it fiction or non-fiction. 

When a child first registers for the SRC they will receive an explanation as to how it works and will then be given a chart on which they can stick the stickers they collect throughout the challenge and record the details of the books they read. From then on every time they return to the library after finishing a book they will be asked a few questions on what they have read and will then be given their stickers and various other rewards. At the end of the challenge, after finishing all six books they will then be presented with a certificate, medal and lots of praise. 

I cannot recommend the SRC highly enough - not only is it entirely free, it’s also a brilliant and fun way to keep children engaged with and interested in reading over the summer holidays. This is extremely important, particularly with growing evidence suggesting that the summer holidays is a time when children might find themselves not reading as much as they should, if at all. Furthermore, by having to talk to a member of staff about their books it's a great way for children to develop their self-confidence.

So if you’re a parent or carer what are you waiting for? Take the children down to a library near you and get them registered for this year’s great Summer Reading Challenge! 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Review - The Things We Do for Love by Alice Peterson

The first book I ever read by Alice Peterson was One Step Closer to You, a beautiful yet emotional read that I quite clearly remember not being able to put down. From that moment on I knew I had an author to follow in Alice Peterson and was, therefore, delighted when a few months ago I heard about her latest novel, The Things We Do for Love. Having eagerly anticipated its release I couldn’t wait to download it on my kindle when the ebook publication date finally came around and I can truly say it did not disappoint me in the slightest. 

January Wild is a woman who it’s safe to say has experienced a lot of upset and trauma in her life. After her parents died when she was a baby, both January and her brother Lucas went to live with their grandparents who were everything grandparents should be and much more. They took the children under their wings and treated them as their own, doing everything they possibly could to keep them both happy and safe. 

However, as January grew older her troubles kept on coming as, after falling pregnant at a young age with the dad not wanting to know, she became a single mother to a daughter with cerebral palsy. Despite all of this January is nothing but a grafter, providing for her daughter by going to work on a daily basis in an estate agents. It may not sound like the most glamorous or exciting of jobs but all this might be about to change for our January, particularly with the arrival of the new boss, Ward, on the scene. 

The Things We Do for Love was one of those books that jumped around quite a bit from speaking about the present to speaking about what happened in the past. Now sometimes books which do this can be a bit offputting to me as, previously, I have found some of such books quite hard to follow but I can say with certainty that this did not happen with this book. Alice Peterson wrote with such clarity, amalgamating the past with the present with such ease that is was impossible not to keep up with what was going on. Quite often an event in the present of January’s life would trigger a memory from the past. 

What I found so lovely about this particular book was seeing the way that January never gave up and always, with the support of her amazing grandparents and wonderful friends, kept going. It was a book which really did seem to demonstrate the power of not only friendship but love - the way that nothing will or should ever be too much trouble for those you love. Being just as close to my grandparents as January is to hers I also loved reading of the relationship that January had with them and thought that January’s grandmother was a lady with a lot of wise words to offer. 

I both cried and laughed whilst reading this book but one thing’s for certain that I will not hesitate to recommend this book, and hope it’s as successful as it deserves to be and more when it hits the shelves later on this year in paperback in September. All that’s left for me say is I so hope this is not the last we see of Alice Peterson’s writing, but in the meantime I have some catching up to do to read Alice’s previous novels…

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Review - Dream a little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

Dream a little Dream is the third novel written by Giovanna Fletcher, an author whose books are consistently superb. Having read and adored her previous novels - Billy and Me and You’re the One that I Want - when I heard about the release of Dream a little Dream I, quite honestly, could not wait to get my hands on a copy of it. I’m happy to say that this book did not disappoint me in the slightest.

When we first meet Sarah, a young woman who it’s safe to say has been through a rather emotional time after Dan, who is now her ex, cheated on her and ran off with Lexie, things are not great for her. She feels deeply dissatisfied in her job as a PA to a man who is, to put it mildly, not very nice and, furthermore, has a mum who you’d think would be supportive and proud of her daughter no matter what but who actually makes no attempt to hide her disappointment at the life Sarah’s living. 

Apart from her friends in life, who Sarah quite clearly adores, with everything that’s going on in her life the one thing Sarah loves the most is falling asleep at night when she dreams of Brett Last, a guy who she bumped into once or twice whilst at university. What, however, will she do and how will things turn out for Sarah when the real Brett Last makes an appearance in her life having been recruited into a position at the same company as her? 

Giovanna successfully created a hugely likeable character in Sarah and one that the reader is really able to connect with. Sarah was without a doubt one of those characters who I knew, from the very start, deserved a lot better than what she’d been through in life. Subsequently I found myself rooting for her, absolutely desperate for her hopes and dreams to become a reality and for her to find her happy ever after. 

Another element of the book that I, personally, really enjoyed was the dream sequences which appeared at the start of most of the chapters in the novel. Despite sometimes making no sense, which is to be fair the whole idea of dreams, they were entertaining and had me grinning from ear to ear. The dream sequences never seemed to be out of place and always led on to Sarah’s waking moments effortlessly. 

I’d go so far as to say that Dream a little Dream is perhaps, in my opinion, the best of Giovanna’s novels to date. It is a heartwarming tale that fully deserves to be a bestseller and whisked away on holiday with readers this summer. I’ll most certainly be recommending this book for many months to come and just know that, along with all her others, I’ll never tire of re-reading it. Furthermore, whatever Giovanna writes in the future I will not hesitate to read. 

To summarise my thoughts in one sentence - Dream a little Dream is an absolutely stunning five-star read!