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


I have a new trick and it works really well, you see I don’t have a lot of time to keep up with what’s good to read out there and what to avoid but lots of my friends and family are avid readers.

I was lucky enough to get given a Kindle a while back and it’s perfect for taking on train journeys if I have to go up to London and of course on holiday, I am able to load lots of books on there and read at leisure all on one device.

So what’s my trick? I write a Facebook status update – I know it’s not groundbreaking stuff but I got so many excellent tips that I thought it would be good to share them.

Top books to read summer 2014

  1. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson came out tops with most votes. I am half way through it and love it
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. On the Kindle and still to read
  3. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Brilliant read had me hooked all the way through.
  4. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.
  5. One Summer by Bill Brysone
  6. The Monk who Sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma
  7. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  9. Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge
  10. Tandem by Alex Morgan

Other suggestions included: Americanah, We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, Sisterland, Raising my rainbow, Shantaram, The Fever Tree, A Change in Altitude and The Making of Miranda.

Do you have anything to add? Please let us know

In honour of World Book Day on Thursday, I thought I would write a post on why books are so amazing.


World Book Day 2014

World Book Day 2014

1. As soon as you open up a book, you enter a whole new world. 
Each book you open up has new things waiting for you, new experiences and new universes. Every book is different and unique, offering billions of circumstances.

2. A book gives you the freedom to decide what goes on. 
A film shows you exactly what the characters look like, what the world looks like and how everything is shown. However, when reading a book, it gives you the opportunity to  choose what goes on and how everything looks, in your own head.

3. A book is portable. 
You can take a book anywhere and everywhere! You can read it on an aeroplane, a car journey or a boat trip. The versatile nature means you can continue your story wherever you want and not matter about connecting to the internet or whether it will run out of charge!

4. You can pick up a book whenever you want, no commitment needed!
However much time you have in a day, you can read a book. No commitment is needed, you don’t have to finish a whole book, you can read a page if you want!

5. You can learn from books.
Whether it is a situation you have experienced or about to experience yourself, every book has something to learn from. A message that you can take away or even an experience that you now know how to handle just a little bit better, every book has something important to take away from it.

Happy World Book Day everyone!

Happy World Book Day 2014

Happy World Book Day 2014

Knackered Mother's Wine ClubI’m in it! No honestly I am. I drink wine and I’m knackered, so that means I am in it. Are you?

I *watch it claim to fame coming up* actually met Knackered Mother a few years back, we were invited to a vlogging camp by BritMums in London and we sat next to one another, one more clueless than the other and we talked wine as it was one of our common denominators – apart from being knackered, that was the other.

Anyway Helen and I chatted, I told her about setting up a wine bar in the hotel in Italy with my ex and having to taste every bottle of wine Italy could throw at me, for research purposes you know and she told me she used to buy wine for a major British supermarket, so she won that chat hands down but how goddamn cool is that? Helen’s street cred shot up a billion points with that nugget of info.

Anyway, via Twitter or Facebook we’ve kept in touch. She reprimanded me when I wrote about our stay in Sandy Balls as she was close by – a missed opportunity to drink more wine together and recently I received a copy of her brand new book.

The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club

Now you’re all going to say, oh but she’s your friend so your bound to say the book’s good which is true BUT let me tell you this. It’s awesome!

For example answer these questions

  • Do you – Frequently panic in the wine aisle and end up reaching for the same old thing. Every. Single. Time?
  • Simply pick the bottle with the nicest looking label?
  • Always choose the second cheapest wine on the wine menu?
  • Feel it may be time to extend your wine horizons beyond Pinot Grigio?

If you answered yes to the above then this book is for you too

Because life’s too short to drink bad wine

That’s KM’s quote above by the way and she does write very well indeed, in fact you must bookmark her homonymous blog with the same name Knackered Mother’s Wine Club because every week she gives the white in the fridge and the red in the rack and all the info a KM needs to know. It’s insanely easy and she knows what she’s talking about.

So without giving too much of the book away because it really does deserve to be on your bookshelf I have discovered there’s more to wine than just Italy – yes we all know I am Italy obsessed but since reading I have tried a Falanghina from Puglia and a Nero’d’Avola from Sicily – yes I know they’re both Italian but they were KM’s suggestions, next up is a Viognier from Chile and a Garnacha from Spain.

I can honestly say the Chardonnay from New Zealand was delicious, I think I may have even tweeted her that one. Helen has had this amazing shopping list drawn up and I copied it onto my shopping list. Colour/Where from?/grape made from/why choose it?

Simples, she gives the country ie Italy (not that I’m pushing Italian wine or anything here) the region Campania and off you go to the supermarket and search.

First up it’s amazing to find myself actually looking at what’s in the bottle, I’ve discovered an entire new world to explore and secondly, I’m starting to enjoy shopping for wine rather than head for the 3 x £10 or on special this week. which however are not to be knocked because as Helen says in her book (which you really must get) sometimes they put some fabulous wines on special and of course if you recognise them you can stock your wine shelves up and make the most of the bargain.

So, have I convinced you? I hope so, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t buy it. It’s on sale for RRP £12.99 but right now Amazon is offering it for £8.44 with Free Super Saver Delivery get in there!

PS Tonight from 8 – 9pm @knackeredmutha will be on Twitter doing a Q&A with @TescoWines, come and check it out

Hinterland Caroline Brothers BloomsburyIt’s such a marvellous thing to be able to finally snatch back some reading time for myself and after reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for Bloomsbury they invited me to choose another book to read so with my Italian trip looming, airport departure lounge, flight and no twins for 2 days it would be the perfect time to read.

I chose Hinterland by Caroline Brothers and waited with anticipation to see if I had chosen a good book or not. There is nothing worse than sitting down for a good read only to find the book doesn’t grab you, in my opinion and with my reading time so limited I have to get it right.

I wasn’t disappointed, Hinterland was gripping from start to finish and a book I will bend over backwards to recommend to any bookworm out there.

Caroline Brothers weaves a controversial tale of immigrants trying to reach the UK escaping from their own war stricken countries and in search of a better life. A subject that is loudly heard all over our country, ‘We’ve got too many immigrants here!’ ‘Send them all back to where they came from!’ ‘We don’t have any more room, infrastructures…’ basically we don’t want them here, when we read in the media that families of 12 are living in mansions in Chelsea costing the tax payer millions of pounds we get angry with the whole situation. We’re not a nasty population but our country is small and we are in financial difficulty up and down the land and more importantly we will not suffer any lazybones or people who come her to purposely get as much as they can from our state without doing nothing in return.

A subject close to many I assume.

Hinterland is the story of two young brothers who have lost their parents in Afghanistan and watched them die, bombed in front of them. They have no one and have been advised to go to the UK where they will be able to go to school and live a normal life again. The story is seen through their innocent eyes as they cross the vast lands that stretch between our countries, as we pass the interminable months they must wait before they can move on and encounter the dangers as they come across you cannot but feel warmth in your heart for the older brother Aryan as he looks after his younger 8 year old brother Kabir so diligently during their treacherous journey.

One of my favourite quotes from the book at a particularly poignant moment is –

‘I wish there were a way to turn back time and bring back all the people who died,’ Aryan says. ‘Well not all of them, not the bad ones. Just some.’

A deep fraternal relationship where the older brother is forced into a parental situation. An exhausting journey where the children battle extreme cold, heat, violence and exhaustion, where the hunger never leaves them for one moment and where they are ignored by everyone apart from the police who are surprisingly vicious every time.

A beautiful story that really makes you question your thoughts and feelings on this matter and makes you realise that sadly this is real, it is actually happening out there and we too often turn our heads the other way.

10/10 is my vote on this book, if you see it buy it. Hinterland by Caroline Brothers published by Bloomsbury

Disclosure – I was sent this book to read, I was not asked to write a review but I did because I really enjoyed this book and all of the above is my thoughts and opinions