Top books to read for tween girls this summer

Taking the books on holiday!

I love the fact that the twins are passionate about reading and I am so proud that they are so good at it! They are currently on Ruby level which is an excellent place to be and reading helps with their spelling, English lessons and comprehension. It also helps with all of the other subjects too, the comprehension, the writing and the revision when the time comes.

After a disastrous Year 4 (4 changes of teacher in 1 year!) we shall be pleased to see the back of it but I do feel it is more important than ever to keep the girls ticking over during the summer and reading is the perfect way to keep them amused and up to date. Bonus for me that it won’t be a hardship, maths, well maths will require the patience of a saint this summer…

There are so many fantastic books out there that when Harper Collins asked if we’d like to review some titles for them I jumped at the chance. The good news is, the books were all so good (sent just before last half term) that I’m going to have to go out and buy some more. Fortunately, many of the titles below were the first book in a series, so I know exactly what to buy them!

The girls are working their way through them,  here’s what they had to say…

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first book that Alice chose out of the six we were sent to review and she couldn’t put it down. Bessie is reading it at the moment.

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.” 

Harriet knows a lot of things, all sorts of things but she doesn’t know why nobody seems to like her at school. This is one of children’s greatest fears: not being liked by their school friends. It can cause great upset and reading about another child’s take on the situation helps in understanding how they can get on more.

Harriet goes into modelling, which of course isn’t going to be everyone’s way out of the problem. In fact, it doesn’t help Harriet much either as the reader will find out. So it’s up to Harriet to look for another alternative and that’s where the can’t-put-the-book-down syndrome kicks in.

Alice says: I really loved this book and want to read the others now.

Blink and you die – Ruby Redfort

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Redfort: undercover agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius – you can count on her when the ice starts to crack.

All good things come to an end… Ruby Redfort is running scared, a whole bunch of people want her dead and worst of all one of them is on her team. But just who is this agent of doom?

You can run, Ruby, but you can’t hide…

Alice says: I couldn’t get into this book so I have put it to one side to try later on.

Scarlet and Ivy, The Lights Under The Lake – Sophie Cleverly

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet and Ivy’s school trip takes a turn for the worse as another mystery begins to unfold…

The fourth book in the SCARLET AND IVY series is perfect for fans of MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE.

It’s summer and as a special treat after the horrors of last term Mrs Knight announces a school trip to Shady Pines Hotel on the shores of Lake Seren. Scarlet and Ivy are thrilled to get away from Rookwood for a break!

But the old hotel and the waters of the lake reservoir are covering up dark secrets. And when mysterious things start happening to hotel guests it seems that a malicious new threat is haunting the girls.

Locals say that at night you can hear the ringing of the church bells and see lights under the lake, that troubled souls buried in the flooded graveyard no longer rest…

Bessie’s first pick. she says: I really  loved this book and want to collect the others now too.

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH and magics her away down the drainpipes to compete in Witch Wars – the competition to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City.

Filled with silly spells, delectable dresses, ridiculous riddles and a serious shoe problem, Witch Wars is a witch story like no other. Although if you enjoyed The Worst Witch, you’ll love this too!

Bessie says: This was really funny and I really enjoyed it.

Radio Boy – Christian O’Connell

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice read this book and loved it, see what she has to say …

From leading breakfast radio star Christian O’Connell comes a brilliant and laugh-out-loud story of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary secret radio show. (Broadcast from his shed.)

Meet Spike, aka Radio Boy: a new Adrian Mole on the radio for the internet generation.

Spike’s your average awkward 11 year old, funny and cheeky and with a mum to reckon with. When he becomes the first presenter ever to be sacked from hospital radio, he decides to carry on from a makeshift studio in the garden shed, with the help of his best friends Artie and Holly, disguising his voice and going by the moniker Radio Boy.

Week by week, word gets around and soon Spike is a star… if only people knew it was actually him. When Spike begins to believe his own hype, and goes too far with his mocking of the school headmaster, a hunt is launched for the mysterious Radio Boy.

Can Spike remain anonymous? Will he get to marry the girl of his dreams, Katherine Hamilton? Will he become famous and popular? The answer to most of these questions is no…

Alice says: Such a good book, it made me laugh a lot and I couldn’t put it down.

Goodly and Grave in a bad case of kidnap – Justine Windsor

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An archly funny, classic mystery adventure with a magic twist!

Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home – and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy is determined to find out…

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Top books to read for tween girls this summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the great Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, master of dirty tricks and burglary (in the name of the greater good, of course).

Oh yeah. And dead.

Then there’s his sidekick, Stephanie. She’s… well, she’s a twelve-year-old girl. With a pair like this on the case, evil had better watch out…

“So you won’t keep anything from me again?”
He put his hand to his chest. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Okay then. Though you don’t actually have a heart,” she said.
“I know.”
“And technically, you’ve already died.”
“I know that too.”
“Just so we’re clear.”

Stephanie’s uncle Gordon is a writer of horror fiction. But when he dies and leaves her his estate, Stephanie learns that while he may have written horror, it certainly wasn’t fiction.

Pursued by evil forces intent on recovering a mysterious key, Stephanie finds help from an unusual source – the wisecracking skeleton of a dead wizard.

When all hell breaks loose, it’s lucky for Skulduggery that he’s already dead. Though he’s about to discover that being a skeleton doesn’t stop you from being tortured, if the torturer is determined enough. And if there’s anything Skulduggery hates, it’s torture… Will evil win the day? Will Stephanie and Skulduggery stop bickering long enough to stop it? One thing’s for sure: evil won’t know what’s hit it.

Nobody has read this one yet but judging by the standards of the others sent through, we think this is going to be a really good read.

A lovely selection of great books that will keep tweens hanging on for more, why not invest in a couple or see if your local library has them?

Disclosure: Harper Collins sent us through these books to read for the purpose of this post, we would really recommend them to you

Black Forest ice cream with Fabbri

As ice creams go I think Black Forest ice cream sums up a delectable combination of chocolate, ice cream and of course cherries. But what if I said Amarena? Would you know what I was talking about?

Allow me to indulge for a moment.

Amarena are the most exquisitely delicious cherries in a thick syrupy sauce that are used widely in Italy in desserts but also in many other recipes like, bruschetta with gorgonzola and amarena Fabbri drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Now that idea to me sounds heavenly and one I shall certainly try sooner or later.

But let’s get back to amarena. When I first moved out to Italy I was 19 and had lived a relatively normal life in Kent with the annual holiday to my grandparent’s apartment in Mallorca. I was wet behind the ears but with a great passion to learn and understand. My boyfriend Enrico, lived in the mountains and together with his family he ran a hotel; a hotel that had been in the family for almost 100 years (we celebrated the centenary in 2002).

I used to wait in the bar of the hotel in the evening whilst he was working, I would speak with his friends and slowly, slowly I learnt to speak Italian and they became my friends too. In that time I also had a glimpse into this new life and, whilst spending my evenings in the bar talking and playing cards, my eyes would always be drawn towards one very prominent vase on the shelf in the ice cream area. It was white with blue swirls on it and the word Fabbri.

My curiosity got the better of me (always a good idea) and I discovered it contained cherries in syrup called amarena so, me being me, I was curious to see what they tasted like….

Oh boy! Shall we say first taste and I was hooked.

More recently I was asked to a wonderful evening by Ciao Gusto where all of my favourite Italian brands were displayed and used for the meal we were invited to eat. I was sent a Ciao Gusto hamper later and amongst all of the wonderful products, I found a vase of Fabbri amarena. Can you imagine my delight?

Oh how I enjoyed them and when I learnt I could buy them from the Ciao Gusto shop at Ocado, it was like a dream come true.

If only to have a pretty blue and white vase on your kitchen shelf – which will soon be empty, trust me – I would highly recommend you buy some Fabbri amarena and taste these special cherries for yourself

Black Forest Ice Cream

Black Forest ice cream mix

Mixing the chocolate cake with the Fabbri amarena

Black Forest ice cream mix

The Sage ice cream maker working its magic on the ingredients…

5.0 from 1 reviews
Black Forest Ice Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Black Forest Ice cream takes the traditional ingredients for the world famous cake and presents them in a delicious ice cream suitable for all of the family.
Author:
Recipe type: ice cream
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • ½ pint of double cream
  • 1 x 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g Fabbri amarena cherries
  • 90g chocolate cake crumbled
Instructions
  1. Mix the condensed milk, cream and vanilla essence in a jug and place in the fridge to cool.
  2. Place the mixture in the Sage ice cream maker and start to churn.
  3. Tip the cherries into a bowl and smash with a spoon, add the crumbled chocolate cake and mix well.
  4. When the ice cream maker signals to add the mix ins add the cherry mixture.
  5. Once completed, it's ready to eat or place in the freezer for later.

The Ciao Gusto shop on Ocado is the easiest way to order your authentic Italian products all in one place. With an amazing selection of products; some famous names and some new gems to discover. Find out more here: Italian Shop. Or, visit the Ciao Gusto website where you’ll also find more information and history behind all of their brands and a host of wonderful, season recipes too.

beach house interiors

We just cannot get enough of our beach house at Birchington Vale and due to a busy social schedule (the twins – not ours!), we haven’t been down for a couple of weekends. So we are really looking forward to getting down there on Saturday – after the girl’s sleepover that is!

You know that feeling you get when you are in your favourite place? The world seems at peace so you sit back and relax? That is how our home at the beach makes me feel. We love it so much I could move down to Thanet in a click of my fingers but of course real life butts in and it’s just not possible. Paul would have a 2 hour commute each way, the girls would have to change school and with year 5 looming it’s just not a good idea to move them right now.

So, what’s the next best thing? Well, bring the beach house home!

twins on beach

 

very excited to be part of the Wayfair home experts team, I have collaborated on numerous occasions in the past, like my ‘Shelfie’ post, where I concentrated on wall art in the bedroom. I also created a recipe for them, a classic beef stew which, come the autumn, I shall be putting back on the weekly menu.

Now I am a Home Expert, I will have the opportunity to work on exciting projects with them and I embraced my first challenge, the Blogger’s Picks, with a lot of enthusiasm.

I was asked to go on the Wayfair website and choose six favourite pieces to create a theme. I chose Go Coastal and the above image is my final choice which I put forward.

Wayfair Home expert badge

Beach house interiors

Bar table and stools  

The thing I love most about the summer is the impromptu visits, the barbecues, the drinks, the easy chat in the summer warmth, this bar table and stools is perfect as it is casual but elegant at the same time and can be turned into a dinner table too. should the situation arise.

Kashmir table lamp

I like to create an ambience that shouts out, locally sourced, beach life and rustic. This Kashmir table lamp ticks those boxes in a quiet and understated way.

Ship’s Wheel Wall Decor 

Fun, fun, fun! Why not add a bit of retro to the room and keeping in with the beach theme too. This ship’s wheel decor is most definitely an eye catcher.

Vienne vase 

Pure, classic, simple and beautiful in its own way. I might be tempted to drop shells, driftwood and beach mementoes into my Vienne vase in it as time goes by …

Glass mosaic place mats 

My colours. I can’t stop looking at them and wouldn’t these mosiac place mats work perfectly as an impromptu dinner mat or even a centre table for dips and snacks? LOVE.

Reclaimed wall mirror 

I love reclaimed articles and this wall mirror is a perfect example. It shows great workmanship, it is functional and it has that ‘Im rich but not a show off’ attitude about it. Beautiful.

 

So there you have it, my first challenge completed and I am really pleased with my choices. what do you think? Are you inspired by your environment when decorating the home?

Creative writing online course

Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

It’s been a while now that I have wanted to do something to better myself. I like to have a project and I like to think that I am constantly working at improving my skills in one way or another, be it for work, home or just for fun. I just need more time in the day, that’s all. Small ask.

Anyhow, I have signed up for an NCC course in creative writing.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book for years, I have started a few and slowly petered out, unsure of my words and unsure of the path to complete the story but every time I listen to people like JK Rowling, who celebrates 20 years today since Harry Potter first published, I am inspired and my desire to write kicks in again.

Who knows, maybe by the time I am 100 I’ll have something to show you.

In the meantime, I am working on improving my writing skills. I think I have come a long way since my first attempts at blogging. Grammar, spelling, attention to detail and constructing a simple sentence that is understandable have all played a role in this process and I am very aware that I have a long way to go before I will be satisfied with my work.

NCC is an online home learning website that has many different courses to complete; science, culture, health care and business are just some of the sectors where courses are offered. The forensic scientist course shouted out at me but that’s because I love Silent Witness and other similar dramas. I can’t really see myself taking up a career in this sector and I’m not sure I would sleep easy either.

So, I’ve gone for the creative writing course, I’ve completed the first module and started the second, so far so good. I don’t feel as if I have learnt anything new yet but I am looking forward to ploughing ahead and discovering lots of new styles of writing. I shall be looking at poetry, writing for radio, novel writing, life writing, writing for children, non-fiction, scriptwriting (looking forward to this module). I will even have to sit an exam at the end.

The good news is I shall have a certificate if I pass. But more than the certificate, I’ll have spent some quality time improving and expanding an area of my life that I love and am passionate about.

What about you? Would you like to take up a course and further your knowledge? If so, what would you like to study?

Disclosure: NCC has given me a Creative Writing course (without tutor feedback) in return for a review. I’ll be back soon (after 200 hours study) to let you know how I got on.

A few other friends have taken up the challenge and you can find out what they are studying and how they are getting on here.

Mummy Barrow is learning to be a Life Coach

bib2017-BADGE

 

I think it might be my best achievement to date, being a finalist in the Family & Lifestyle category of the BiBs 2017 awards! Holding down a full-time job, running a home and family and on top of that writing is not a task for the weak. Continuing to write is a passion, it has to be otherwise why else would I use my precious free time to keep on at it? But it has paid off and I am wearing my finalist badge with honour.

I am over the moon considering the exceptional quality of blogs out there. Loyal readers will know that I have been blogging for over 7 years now, I started in 2010 when there were a mere few hundred blogs and we spent our time writing, commenting and learning the skill that has since become so popular. It was a very different scene back then compared to the explosion of great blogs there are today.

The new bloggers are way more savvy than I was when I first started and it is evident from their presentation, their superb promotional skills and the way they write confidently. However, I have made it to the finals as I have many times in the past, even with my first nomination back in 2010, look I still have my badge!

BiB_2010_FreshVoice

I can’t tell you what it would mean to win this award, having reached the finalists on so many occasions and being pipped at the post I am kind of setting myself up for another disappointment, but like everything in life – if you don’t give it your best shot then you’ll never know. I am very British about asking for votes (which clearly doesn’t help my case) but PLEASE, would you vote for my little blog in the Family & Lifestyle category?

Votes close on 2nd July  – THIS SUNDAY – so please don’t wait, go straight in and plant your cross on my name. I will be forever grateful to you. Just click on the link below and thank you for taking the time.

BritMums

Vote for #BiBs2017 here!