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

On our quest to become the Royal Family for the Royal Caribbean we were invited to spend one day in Southampton onboard the ship Independence of the Seas, we had to board at 9am which meant to arrive comfortably and have time to spare, sleeping locally would be the best option.

Enter our saviour the Jury Inn in Southampton.

If you are thinking of visiting Peppa Pig World, Paulton’s Park or any of the fabulous attractions in and around Southampton or indeed if you are lucky enough to be boarding a cruise ship to sail off on an adventure then the Jury Inn could be what you’re looking for.

It was incredibly easy to get to from the M3 and we were able to park outside whilst I went in to get information on where to park the car. The hotel is ‘sitting’ on a car park which is very handy indeed and costs £6 for 24 hours.

The Jury Inn is also only a ten minute car journey from the docks.

jury inn southampton family room

We had a family room with a double bed and two single beds and an en-suite bathroom. The room had all the usual comforts we’re used to finding these days in a hotel room, television, hairdryer even an ironing board if you needed and is very well presented. In the corridor outside there was an ice machine too.

I was really impressed with the helpfulness and cordiality of the staff, from the moment we entered we were made to feel special and our stay was hugely enhanced by this.

jury inn food

We ate in the restaurant on the ground floor and enjoyed a delicious meal for a very reasonable price. Be warned the children’s portions are huge.

jury inn menu

There is also a bar on the ground floor but our girls were too tired and we had a big day ahead so we decided to return to our room.

One lovely touch the Jury Inn has put in place for the younger guests is a library. The girls were able to choose a book each, and three were books of all levels available, take it up to the room and return it the next morning. They loved this idea and it made our bedtime a lot smoother too with this homely touch.

jury inn children's library

Check out was incredibly smooth too and the added pleasantries from the staff made our stay so much more enjoyable. I’d like to thank all of the staff we met for a perfect service, it’s so nice to see people taking pride in their work and making guests feel so comfortable. I’d like to thank Jury Inn Southampton for hosting us for the night and serving us such a delicious meal and on that note I would advise any reader looking for somewhere to stay in Southampton to check out this hotel as you will not be dissatisfied.

jury inn

Disclosure: Jury Inn Hotels very kindly offered us bed and breakfast in a family room plus an evening meal and the car parking for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

bags of love

There, what do you think? This happens to be the favourite of all my favourite Jay Mountford photographs taken back on 9th March at the Little Hermitage in Kent.

I was contacted back in April asking if I’d like to review a canvas and service of Bags of Love, the personalised gift company and this is it.

I am over the moon with the finished product and have displayed it in the hallway so every time I enter the door it reminds me of how happy I was that day surrounded by all our family and friends.

Sometimes life can get tricky, work can overtake and we tend to forget those moments where we truly were over the moon; hanging a treasured photo can do the trick of jolting your memory and finding the positive in life, remembering why you go to all the troubles you do. It works for me.

I’d say I was clearly out of the honeymoon phase now but when I look at this I smile and I’m back in that place, that day.

It was incredibly easy to order, a case of uploading your photo, choosing your canvas size; I chose an extra wrap around so as not to lose any of the picture and I also had Little Hermitage 9th March written on the back which I think is an excellent touch.

Once in the basket, the time to make my order up and deliver it was next to nothing, I wish I could say the same for me getting around to writing my review!

So if there is a photo you’ve taken that you’d like to treasure I would definitely get it made up into a canvas and display it proudly on the wall.

For more information see for your self on Photo Canvas

Disclosure: I was offered a canvas of one of my photos in return for this article all thoughts on the product are mine

I was ‘challenged’ on Twitter this morning when my Brittany Ferries post was automated to my timeline, it’s a first for me and I found myself defending my corner quite fiercely which a little later on in the morning surprised me so I started to reflect on the whys of this reaction?

Twitter Brittany Ferries review

I agree to review certain products or services with the PR or company that I’m interested in and therefore yes, it’s more than likely going to be a good review.

Apart from adding the usual disclosure at the end of the article to ensure readers that I have received the product/holiday in exchange for a post on Mari’s World and am therefore declaring it’s a freebie what am I actually looking for when I review something?

Toy Reviews

I have been working with John Crane for over a year now and of course after that amount of time a good rapport is created but as chief reviewer I would like to think that my word is taken for what it is. I have also reviewed many toys and children’s books for other companies too and I hope to continue along that line so what do I look for in a toy or book for children?

I want quality, I want something for my money first and foremost and I don’t want it to break the minute it’s played with.

I want the toy to do it’s job and that is keep my little ones amused for a decent length of time, to help them develop their skills and interaction with the world around us. If the toy has added educational properties all the better in my book.

Product reviews

Again quality for money, I want to know the product does what it says on the box and does it well. I am a housewife with limited time so I want products that can help me solve problems around my home, that are useful for my life and not just filling space in my cupboards.

Travel Reviews

Probably the most money a family will fork out in a year is on the annual holiday. It means an awful lot to each member of that family, parents have worked hard all year and will want to relax and have fun with their families, children want to be able to spend quality time with their parents and most of all families want to make good memories that will last forever.

I look for clean and comfortable surroundings in line with the amount of money the holiday costs. I look for friendly staff. Having worked in the tourism industry I understand it’s hard work, I know there are difficult customers but a smile costs nothing and gets you everywhere and just because he is rude doesn’t mean to say I am ;)

I look for cleanliness in your facilities like the swimming pools, public toilets, bar, restaurant and so on.

I look for ‘extras’ that I may be getting for my money, entertainment for the children? A park for the children to play in? Maps and information on the surrounding area? Sky TV so dad can watch his football?

I look for service, for example can you keep my unused wine till the day after in the fridge for me? I have a crying, tired child at dinner, have you got crayons and paper to tide them over for half an hour? Can members of staff jump in and solve a problem for me without needing to be asked?

If, as I am packing my bags and leaving a place, I am sad to be leaving then it suggests to me I had a great time and therefore my review will be positive for sure.

If I find a dirty room, dirty linen on the beds, unhelpful angry staff, you’ll hear about it. Does the swimming pool need a darned good cleaning? I’ll let you know.

One last note, we can all find something bad to talk about EVERYWHERE, people live entire lives moaning and groaning and I am not one to pick holes, I know members of staff have bad days, stressed moments, I get the chambermaid forgot to change the towels as she was changing over 30 rooms by midday and I know by being pleasant and asking reception all manner of ‘problems’ can be quickly and easily solved and that staff are only to happy to help.

That is what I’m looking for

Vertbaudet sent us some gorgeous pieces from their new Spring/Summer collection to review and what happened the weather turned cold and wet on us!

vertbaudet spring summer collection 2012

But being mum to two very inquisitive little madams ‘That’s a pretty dress mummy, is it for me?’ I couldn’t keep the items hidden for too long so I decided to do a ‘fashion show’ indoors.

vertbaudet dress 2012

If you look at these pieces they really are for running around outside in when it’s warm and I can romantically see the photos I would have taken had the weather played ball, flowers, fields, running, you know the kind of thing.

But here’s what we did, and of course my models didn’t really obey when I said ‘play girls’ or ‘Look like you’re playing’ they’d turn round at me knowing I was trying to take photos and grin sillyly (sure that must be a word)

Disclosure – We were sent two similar t-shirts with groovy pictures on front and back, one pair of 3/4 length trousers which will be perfect for preschool and a gorgeous purple flower dress with a fabulous bow on the back  this will be perfect for summer parties and I had a peek in the catalogue and saw they do a plain purple one too, phew! Argument saved again.

Vertbaudet have children’s clothes for both boys and girls, they also sell products for children’s bedrooms too