Book reviews

Local Mums recommend the best books on the market for children and adults


"I highly recommend
The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land by Isabella Davidson to all Local Mums. This is a great novel for new mums, especially those embarking on the new world of nursery drop offs and school gate politics. The trials and tribulations of poor Sophie (The Beta Mum) with the mean yummy mummies of Notting Hill (Alphas) will make you feel a lot better about any school-gate nerves or being snubbed by the playground cliques. This is a light-hearted, page-turning novel that cleverly manages to take a knowing, honest look at mum politics while still being charming, hugely entertaining and very funny. Well-crafted plot and good characterisation from Isabella Davidson who has definitely been there! A great read for the new term.”
Kathy McGuinness, Local Mum


"I highly recommend The Night Before Christmas by Rose Collins. I love this story as it makes me feel really Christmassy but this book is a bit different as the characters are Teddy bears. Children have been reading this story for over a hundred ideas but I like the new pictures in this story. I love reading it every night as we get closer to Christmas, especially Christmas Eve!”
James, Age 7

Published by NurseryBox, The Night Before Christmas by Rose Collins is a modern animal-themed take on classic tale Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore. Children will love the story of a family of bears who are awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas and his troop of flying reindeer on Christmas Eve. It’s a fantasy tale that has delighted children of all ages across the centuries, remaining as popular a Christmas favourite today as it was back in the 19th Century, and one that parents will enjoy reading to their little ones just as it was read to them when they were young.

The Night Before Christmas by Rose Collins (NurseryBox) is available in hardcover, priced £4.99, and eBook versions priced £1.49. For more information visit


"I highly recommend Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle. This book was very good. I think both girls and boys would enjoy it as, although it's about spies, girls would love it like me. I also found the pictures very amusing as well. I found the characters brilliant and all very different. Nick and Tesla were quite serious but Silas and Demarco were so funny! I found Tesla was rather like me. The style of writing was very high-tech with all sorts of spy gadgets, which was really exciting. There is a great ending but I don't want to give it away. When I read this book I didn't realise it was the third in a series so now I want to read the other two!"
Sophie, age 9


Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle
Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle is an adventure story based around two siblings who like to solve mysteries. Aimed at 10+ it has a unique interactive element and is full of things for children to make to take part in the story and, comes with complete and easy to follow instructions. 

These adventurous siblings, with a knack for science and electronics, have found themselves in trouble yet again in a whole new mystery. The third instalment of this critically acclaimed series features a new captivating story and a whole range of inventions for aspiring spies to build. 

As we join Nick and Tesla on their latest adventure they have discovered a spy searching for secrets in the home of their beloved Uncle Newt, the brilliant inventor. To expose the mystery agent Nick and Tesla must engineer all kinds of outrageous contraptions from code wheels and fingerprint powder to spy cameras and burglar detectors. 

This uniquely interactive book is filled with step by step instructions and diagrams so that readers can easily join in and build the gadgets as they go through the story. For the crafty and those who just enjoy a good adventure there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Nick and Tesla series. 

For more information and to order this book:
ISBN: 9781594746765

Price: £9.99 PB 
Pub Date: 06/06/2014

"I highly recommend Fritha's Summer, the People's Book Prize finalist by Susan Morris. This is a gripping read for the young and not-so-young. I bought this for my friend's daughter but couldn't put it down after reading the first page. The story is a classic old-fashioned adventure with all the excitement and drama you would expect. However the book also deals with family break up and dysfunctional relationships. The author paints a beautiful palette of the Cornish countryside, so familiar to anyone who has holidayed there. But this is no sickly-sweet tale of sandcastles and ice-creams. A great book for 8 - 11 year-olds. Pure escapism for older readers!" 
Kathy McGuinness, Local Mum of four


Fritha's Summer by Susan Morris

Eleven-year-old Fritha tells this story of how she and her two brothers are taken away from their suburban home by their scatty mother Min. They end up living in an apparently deserted caravan in Cornwall, with no electricity or water. The children meet a boy from a far distant country who is involved in a dangerous intrigue.

For Fritha and her family this is a time of secrets and discoveries which will test their loyalty to each other; by the end of the summer their lives will not be the same again. 

Extract from the book:
The low branches of trees nearly met overhead; it was beginning to get dark. Min drove slowly because the lane twisted and turned and then the engine started making the same choking noises as before.

We stopped in the end just where the verge widened and there was room to push the car onto the grass. It was easier this time, without traffic rushing past.

“So,” Min said, when we’d finished shoving, “that’s it then!”

“We’re not staying here?” Ric said in horror, staring round at the low gnarled trees, and at the gorse and the brambles trailing over the hedge on the far side of the lane.

“Yes,” said Min, she sounded tired. “We are. For now we’re staying right here.”

A recent review:
I really enjoyed this book, and that the storyline was gripping. Every night in bed I would look forward to reading it. My favourite character was the smallest, Tol, because whenever I read a bit about him he made me laugh! My favourite scene was when they were trapped underground. It starts with excitement for the main characters, which is always good in books. The names were pretty unusual, but this is an important thing. When I am reading books I find I come across names I have heard before, and sometimes if I know people with that name the pictures in my head get a little twisted!

To sum it up, I loved Fritha's Summer! I hope that you find my review useful, and I also hope that Fritha's Summer  will soon be at the top of every bookshelf. Meg (10)

Buy Fritha's Summer now in paperback or Kindle edition

Contact the author to visit your school:
Susan Morris
Fritha's Summer 

"I recommend Eric, the boy who lost his gravity. I really like this book. I get angry at my little brother sometimes and I wish I could fly away like Eric. It's really cool what happens to him!"
James, age 5


An entertaining tale ready to float off the bookshelves! Kids won’t be able to put it down!

Eric builds up a head of steam as he becomes more and more annoyed by the antics of his little sister, Alice-she’s always messing with his stuff, and when he gets mad at her, his parents blame him! Things come to a head when in a particular fit of pique, a furious Eric floats up to the ceiling. Unable and unwilling to heed his parents’ orders and pleas to come back down, Eric makes his way out a window and into a nearby tree. At first he feels empowered by being free of his family, but when his lack of gravity starts to pull him toward the lonely ether, he asks for, and gets, help. Eric gains some appreciation for Alice along the way, and a view of how she always wants to be just like him (especially when she shows a bit of gravity-defying temper herself!).

Author: Jenni Desmond.
Publisher: Blue Apple (Random, dist.),
ISBN 978-1-60905-348-2

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