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The Tiger’s Wife- Téa Obreht


Synopsis (from amazon)

Natalia is on a quest: to discover the truth about her beloved grandfather. He has died far from home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery.

Recalling stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia suspects he may have died trying to unravel two mysteries. One was the fate of a tiger which escaped during German bombing raids in 1941; the other a man who claimed to be immortal. But, as Natalia learns, there are no simple truths or easy answers in this landscape echoing with myths but still scarred by war.

Review

I read the first chapter of this book back in 2011 when it was in the first Waterstone’s Eleven. It went on my wishlist then, but it’s was only towards the end of last year that I actually read it.

There are four stories in this novel. That of Natalia as a child and her relationship with her Grandfather. The story of Natalia now. And the two stranger stories, those of the tiger’s wife, and the deathless man. All the stories are meant to be true, the stranger stories being stories which Natalia’s grandfather told her about his life.

The stranger stories are what make the book really. They have an almost fairytale like quality. I especially liked the tale of the deathless man because it had elements which seemed more real than that of the tiger’s wife, but they were contrasted in the idea of this man who couldn’t die. The idea of a woman falling in love with a tiger was less supernatural I suppose, it’s more how much it was believed I think that was unusual.

I did enjoy the writing in this book, however I’d find I got interested in one story only for it to stop and give way to one of the others, and then I’d stop reading because I didn’t want to read that other story. Even though I liked each story on it’s own I wasn’t ready to leave one for another, and that meant it took me a surprisingly long time to read for such a short book.

(Isn’t the new cover awesome?)

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£7.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Word by Word

Lit and Life

Nose in a Book

Page Turners

Literary Lindsey

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, Literary

Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes


Synopsis (from amazon)

Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.

People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.

Review

This book has had some controversy. Mainly focusing about is it right to write a humorous book about Hitler? I think the main problem people see in it is that it sort of makes light of Hitler and in doing so somehow makes light of what he did.

I think the people who say this miss the point somewhat however. It’s a book about Hitler in the basics, but really it’s more about the media and how life now views Hitler. He’s seen as a sort of spectacle. Think of all the tourist destinations which wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Hitler. Is this about the point of not forgetting so it can’t happen again? Or is it more of a morbid curiosity or some sort of extended rubbernecking?

I think it shows how something similar could happen again. Hitler in this book became known and famous. Maybe he would never have been taken seriously as a politician, but the start of it was there. It does make me think somewhat of the popularity of people like Trump, many people are against him, but he also has a certain amount of support- and that could be dangerous.

On the surface this is a humorous book, and it did make me laugh. You could probably read it just as an entertaining read if you wanted to. If you didn’t feel the need to justify it.

It won’t be for everyone. I know it’s something that could offend. I understand why. But I liked it.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.29)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£13.49)

Other reviews:

Plastic Rosaries

Did I miss your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here

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Deals of the Moment- February


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Usually I tweet about the interesting deals and leave it at that, but a couple of months ago I decided to try sharing them more widely. There was nothing of interest last month but this month they have holiday offers too and there are a few interesting offers there

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


The Uncommon Reader- Alan Bennett

This is one I’ve read already. An enjoyable, easy little read which should go down well with book fans. About the Queen visiting the library.

You can buy it…here (only £2.29)


The Colour Purple- Alice Walker

This is one of those ‘must read’ books and I read it back in school.  I only remember it very vaguelly, but I do remember enjoying it.

It’s the story of a black girl during segregation who has all sorts of problems (not just those to do with being black.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Lingo: The Language Spotters Guide to Europe- Gaston Gorren

I remember seeing this some time ago in paperback and considering it, more for my Mum than myself. It does look interesting, it’s about languages and dialects and how they evolve.

You can buy it…here. (only £1.99)

 


Delusions of Gender- Cordelia Fine

I’ve had this one on my kindle for literally years, but somehow never been in the mood to actually read it. IT does sound like a good read though, about how science is making sexism seem logical.

You can buy it …here (only £1.09)


The Life of a Banana- PP Wong

This is one I’ve heard good things about so may buy. About a Chinese girl who is ‘white inside’.

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


 

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Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking-Anya Von Bremzen


Side note: So yes it’s been a while. Me and the boyfriend just moved into our very own house a few months ago, and with everything that needs doing, and organising we didn’t really have much time for internet (or we shouldn’t have…) so we only got our internet connected last week. But yay I’m back and hoping to post a bit more regularly, although my focus is still off a bit. I have quite a few reviews to catch up on so I should get on it really!

Synopsis (from amazon)

Born in a surreal Moscow communal apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen, Anya von Bremzen grew up singing odes to Lenin, black-marketeering Juicy Fruit gum at school, and longing for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy and, finally, intolerable. In 1974, when Anya was ten, she and her mother fled to the USA, with no winter coats and no right of return. These days, Anya is the doyenne of high-end food writing. And yet, the flavour of Soviet kolbasa, like Proust’s madeleine, transports her back to that vanished Atlantis known as the USSR .

Review

It’s been a while since I actually read this, so my review may be a little sketchy, although I at least have a few general thoughts which I knew I wanted to share.

This book it a bit difficult to put into a box, part memoir, part biography, part history book, part food book, part cookbook. It all sort of fits together, although it has a bit of a flighty nature jumping between present day and the past- and not just Anya’s past, her parent’s past too, and her grandparents. It sort of makes a bit of a clash, although the historical bits are more or less in order sometimes it is difficult to connect different events, especially when it becomes more history than biography. Maybe it’s meant to be like that- with the idea of the gap between the government and the general population. It’s hard to connect what she says about the government with what it happening ‘out there’.

I did find it a little slow at first for this reason. I found Anya’s first hand accounts easier to connect with and found I wanted to read the book more when she was a young girl in the narrative, probably it is easier to narrate something which has happened to you personally.

I didn’t get the same sort of sense of amazing food from the food descriptions as I have in other books about food, maybe because I don’t really have any experience of Russian cuisine. Having said that I’ve wanted to try foods from descriptions before, and a lot of the time the descriptions given by Anya were expecting prior knowledge.

I did like the way that history was told with food as a starting point, it made it accessible, and the parallel between those who ate whatever they could get and those who had whatever they wanted was interesting.

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£8.99)

Hardback (£16.54)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other Reviews:

2,606 Books and Counting

Have I missed your review? Leave me a link in comments and I’ll addd it here.

 

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Filed under food, History, Memoir, non-fiction review

Review of the Year 2015


Hey, I’m finally writing a post! I’ve just moved house (to my own home, how exciting!) and our internet isn’t up and running at the moment (which considering the masses of things that I have to do might actually be a good thing) so I’m writing this from my Dad’s house.

What with one thing and another my concentration has been pretty low this year, and it really has impacted on my reading. I’m finding I’m more likely to give up on books, and I’m taking longer to read the books I am sticking with. I certainly haven’t tackled many more difficult books over the last year.

Because of this I have decided just to do the one review of the year post this year, focusing on my favourites.

The Stats

Read: 40

Fiction: 31

Non-fiction: 9

Unfinished/abandoned: 3

Best fiction

Raven Girl- Audrey Niffenegger

Says something that my favourite book this year is a graphic novel. Wonderfully  strange and beautiful. I’ve seen the ballet too which I hope to review soon.

Best non-fiction

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?- Mindy Kaling

I love Mindy, and I loved her even more after reading this. Funny, thoughtful and light hearted. Probably actually my favourite read of the year overall. I’ve just read her latest too. Also really good but not as good as her first

 

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Bookish Gifts 2015


It’s that time of year again. If you (for some reason) don’t want to buy a book for your bookish friends then maybe you could buy one of these instead:

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All of the years at Hogwarts in one picture

$31.20 from Society 6

 

 

 

 

 

normal_chocolate-miniature-books

Little chocolate books

£9.99 from Not on the High Street

 

 

ravenclaw-necklace-horcrux-vintage-antique-silver-eagle-crown-font-b-diadem-b-font-pendant-jewelry-for

Ravenclaw Diadem Necklace

$28.80 from Ali Express

 

 

 

 

9780764970610

Alice in Wonderland calender

£10.99 from Foyles

 

 

 

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Golden Snitch earrings

£104.95 from Etsy

 

 

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‘A Book is a Dream You Hold in Your Hands’ t-shirt

$22.00 from Society 6

 

 

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Bookshelf Wallpaper

£59.99 from 1 Wall

 

 

 

bookworm-n4s-cases

iphone case

$35.oo from Society 6

 

 

 

 

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Back in September I went of hiatus from this blog. I have been thinking for a few weeks that maybe I am ready to come back, but had a lot of deliberating about how to come back.

Part of me wanted to give an explanation, part of me wanted more than that, part of me just wanted to dive back in as if nothing had happened.

But this blog has been going a while and I feel I owe something to my readers.

In September my Mum died. She had secondary breast cancer. Her death was something we expected but her condition got a lot worse very quickly. I miss her everyday and I didn’t want to have to think about updating this blog.

I did think of making a little obituary type post, with a bookish slant, but whilst I feel prepared to start making my steps back into the book blogging world I do not feel ready to discuss things so openly, and I feel that my words could not express what I would really want to say.

I did however want to say something because I can’t promise that my blog will fully come back to itself. The Children’s Hour feature in particular was something I shared with my Mum, and if I’m just not feeling like posting I won’t. Plus I have found that I have less concentration, which means that maybe I read a little less and a little slower, and can’t quite cope with more complex books.

I will be here, but for now I would say I am just dipping my feet in.

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On Haitus


This blog is currently on hiatus.

I am still reading comments and messages but not currently accepting review requests

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Top 10 Tuesday: Toddler’s Top 10 Books


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

 

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s a free choice so I decided to do The Toddler’s Top 10 Books. That is books which the toddlers that I’ve worked with over the years have loved. I started working with the pre-schoolers a couple of weeks ago so I thought this would be a nice way to close that period of time.

In no particular order.

I’m Not Cute- Jonathan Allen

I’m Not Cute is about Baby Owl who everyone thinks is cute, but he says he isn’t. It’s consistently popular with the toddlers, even as the groups change. We also love ‘I’m not Reading’ and ‘I’m Not Sleepy’ which are about Baby Owl

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt- Michael Rosen

A sort of modern classic. A poem in essence about going on a bear hunt and the obstacles encountered

 

Cock-a-Moo-Moo- Juliet Dallas-Conte

Another that has been popular with different groups. A funny little story about a cockerel who forgets how to crow.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

This one has been popular for a long time, and it’s popular with the babies too. Very simple. Each animal being asked what they see. The kids can ‘read’ it to themselves. Special mention to ‘Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?’ which is similar but about sounds and the kids also love.

Shh! We Have a Plan- Chris Haughton

This one is a current favourite, the kids ask for ‘The blue book’. It’s about some men trying to catch a bird. The pictures are key

Don’t Wake the Bear, Hare!

This is an old favourite, but stayed popular for a long time. The animals are having a party, bt they don’t want to wake the sleeping bear.

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Monkey Puzzle- Julia Donaldson

A personal favourite. About a monkey trying to find his Mum. Of course Julia Donaldson is basically queen of picture books.

The Animal Boogie- Debbie Harter

A favourite singing book. Complete with CD. Special mention for ‘Walking Through the Jungle’ another song book we’ve loved

Some Dogs Do- Jez Alborough

About a year ago the kids always asked for this book which is about a dog who finds he can fly. I really disliked it.


Painter Bear- Vivianne French

The kids loved the way my collegue used to read this story- telling painter bear off.

What books do you like to read to your kids? Or which picture books did you like growing up

 

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Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsey



Double Dexter is the sixth novel in the Dexter Series.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Everyone’s favourite serial killer is back and deadlier than ever…

A witness. Such a simple concept – and yet for Dexter Morgan, a perfectly well-disguised serial killer, the possibility of a witness is terrifying. As an upstanding blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police, Dexter has always managed to keep the darker side of his life out of the spotlight. An expert at finding truly bad people – murderers who’ve long escaped justice – Dexter has long been giving them his own special brand of attention.

But now someone has seen him in the act. Dexter is being followed, manipulated and mimicked, leading him to realise that no one likes to have a double – especially when his double’s goal is to kill him.

Dexter is not one to tolerate such displeasure … in fact, he has a knack for extricating himself from trouble in his own pleasurable way.

Review

I’ve recently finished watching Dexter on netflix which made me want to read more of the series (which I hadn’t read so far because of the size of my to be read pile) so I borrowed ‘Double Dexter’ from the library. The TV series is pretty much a completely story to the books, so one doesn’t spoil the other, although if you try to compare them it just makes you annoyed that the TV series is so different, and that I suppose is what made me want to keep reading the books. The TV series is good, as a TV series, just not as an adaptation.

In ‘Double Dexter’ Dexter is, well, different. He gets seen and that puts Harry’s Code under threat, because he has to deal with this new threat.

One thing I really feel shows skill when it comes to Jeff Lindsey’s  writing is how he makes the reader actually feel sympathy with Dexter. It makes some sort of sense in the other books because the people who he murders are murderers themselves, it’s a sort of vigilante justice. That isn’t true in Double Dexter, because the person who he is trying to kill did nothing criminal- he just saw Dexter at his work. However we still feel sympathy for Dexter.

One thing though I tend to get with the Dexter books (and I have mentioned it before) is that sometimes Dexter seems very slow. I’m not sure if that is just that I’m cleverer than Dexter, or if there has become a certain predictability with the books.

This one though is the first time I’ve got frustrated with Dexter for other things. Like how he expects Rita just to have the dinner on the table. Sort of sexist. Except is he sexist or is he just single minded? Because it’s always been like that does he just not question that maybe it shouldn’t be like that?

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.74)

Kindle (£5.99)

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Children’s Hour: The Time it Took Tom


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
The Time it Took Tom has been fairly popular with the toddlers, and more popular with the pre-schoolers.

In the story Tom finds a tin of paint, and decides to paint to living room…completely! The story talks about the time it took, and the time the events after took.

The toddlers like the simpler parts of the story as Tom is actually painting, but they tend to loose interest in the longer bits that describe how they fixed it. It’s a good book to talk about time, and there is a lot of extra story in the pictures as you see Tom’s Mum out of the window.

The pictures are by Nick Sharratt and of the style which tends to be popular with kids

Buy it:

Paperback- new or used (from £3.40)

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Sunday Surfing 6/9/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

A Group of Authors Are Raising Money for Syria. Different authors are matching £10,000 each, as I type they’ve raised over £860,000 you can donate here

Books to Read if You Love Haruki Murakami

How Books Changed This Prisoner’s Life

How Reading Books is Better to Reading e-books

Bookish Sand Sculptures

Why Books Are Dangerous

It’s been a while since I’ve put a video in here but I couldn’t resist this little bookworm

 

And on the blog this week…

 

Blogiversary Giveaway

I Reviewed ‘Hallucinations’

The Kids Read ‘Dinosaur Kisses’

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Children’s Hour: Dinosaur Kisses


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
I’ve read Dinosaur Kisses to both toddlers and pre-school, but it went down better with the younger ones.

The story is about a dinosaur who sees a kiss and wants to copy, but keeps getting it wrong.

It’s very simple, probably too simple for a pre-schoolers, at least I think that’s why they appreciated it less. The toddlers though liked all the noises included in the narrative, and found it funny when the dinosaur got it wrong.

Personally I liked the pictures which were very cute. and I had imagined it as being more a book for the toddlers than the pre-schoolers.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£11.99)

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Hallucinations- Oliver Sacks


Synopsis (from amazon)

Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?

Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body. Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them.

In this book, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organisation and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

Review

Oliver Sacks is probably generally seen as one of the most accessible neuroscientists of modern times.  Considering that, and my interest in psychology it’s quite surprising that I haven’t read anything by him before now. I can see why he is seen as accessible from his writing style, however I did find Hallucinations a little hard-going, more because of repetitiveness than anything else.

The book was split into sections based on causes of hallucinations (e.g. particular illnesses, sensory reasons, drugs), which made sense in some ways, however it also meant that when more than one cause for a particular type of hallucination could be found a description of that type of hallucination would be given in each chapter about each cause. There were different first-person accounts, which was interesting in it’s own way because different people hallucinate different things, even within a set type of hallucination. Even that did have some repetitive air to it though.

Having said that it was very interesting. I think Sack’s main aim was to make hallucinations more acceptable. They are generally seen as a sign of madness, and they can be that, but usually they aren’t, there are many more things that can cause them, and lots of different presentations of hallucinations which many people wouldn’t consider.

In fact he described what one would call a migraine aura usually as a type of hallucination which is interesting. I suppose calling it an aura makes it seem less serious or scary- but is that just because of a sort of stigma put on the idea of hallucinating. I do sometimes find migraine auras distressing- would they be more distressing if I called them hallucinations? Anyway it just shows that hallucinations aren’t all what one’s first thoughts of hallucinations would be. They aren’t always ‘real’ things. They aren’t always pictures even.

I did find it very interesting, and it probably changed my view of hallucinations a bit. It could have done with a bit of editing though. I’ll certainly read more by Sacks, and I already have Musicophilia and Migraine on my wishlist.

Oliver Sacks sadly died this weekend, which is what prompted me to write this review over the others that are waiting to be written.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£7.49)

Kindle (£4.49)

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Blogiversary Giveaway 2015


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It was my blogiversary yesterday (6 years, can you believe it?!) so I’m running a giveaway to celebrate.

The prize is your choice of any book mentioned in my review of the year posts, so long as it is sold on The Book Depository

The giveaway is open internationally if The Book Depository does free shipping to your country.

You don’t need to follow my blog to enter, but can earn extra entries by following in any of a few different ways.

Enter Here

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Sunday Surfing 30/8/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Which YA Book to Read Based on Your Favourite Disney Princess

The Benefits of Reading Before Bed

A Japanese Bookseller Bought Most of the Copies of Murukami’s Latest Book to Hold Off The Online Sellers

The Best Selling e-books of 2015 (so far)

‘American Gods’ is Being Adapted For TV

Oliver Sacks, Neuropsychologist and Writer Has Died

And on the blog this week…

Food in Literature 101

The Kids Read ‘I’m Not Sleepy’

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Children’s Hour: I’m Not Sleepy


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
I’m Not Sleepy is another story about our favourite Baby Owl. I borrowed it from the library because the toddlers love Baby Owl

In this one it’s Baby Owl’s bedtime, but he doesn’t want to go to sleep because

“I’m NOT sleepy”

even though he’s yawning, and stretching, and even closing his eyes.

It’s much more like ‘I’m Not Cute‘ than ‘I’m Not Reading‘, which I prefer as a it’s a bit simpler and easier to follow, plus there’s much more of Baby Owl shouting, which we all like.

There are different animals to the animals in ‘I’m Not Cute’ which is interesting for the kids, and as with ‘I’m Not Cute’ the kids love naming the animals, as well as joining in with the shouting.

It’s probably our second favourite library book, after ‘Shh! We Have a Plan

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Top 10 Tuesday: Food in Literature 101


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101 .

Welcome to Food in Literature 101. In this course we will be looking at books and scenes in books where food is important. Eating in this class is not only allowed but encouraged. This is your required reading:

Chocolat- Joanne Harris

The descriptions of chocolate in this book are graphic enough to mean you need a bar of chocolate to hand when reading it

Great Expectations- Charles Dickens

Specifically the scene where Pip meets Miss Havisham in her decaying wedding reception.

 

A Little Princes- Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Again specifically the scene where Sara and Becky are really hungry so they imagine a magnificent feast.


The Book Unholy Mischief- Ellie Newmark

When a homeless boy is caught stealing a pomegranate by a chef the chef takes this as showing the superior taste of the boy so he takes him in to be a chef’s apprentice.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl

Food plays a role in a lot of Roald Dahl work (the cake in Matilda, the peach in James and the Giant Peach, for example), but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has the most feed in it. For a more full look at food in Roald Dahl take my second year class.



Like Water For Chocolate- Laura Esquivel.

This book has recipes as part of the story.One at the begginning of each chapter

Brooklyn Bites Short Stories- Scott Stabile

These short stories have food as a pivotal part of the plot. Technically 3 books, but they’re all very short.

 

 

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Sunday Surfing 23/8/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

 

Run a Bookshop, as Your Holiday

Jonathan Franzen Considered Adopting an Iraqi Orphan so he Could Learn about Young People. I don’t even know where to start with this one

The Book that Claims it Can Put Your Child to Sleep

Why Bedtime Stories Are Good for Kids

Play the tumblr Book Themed Game

And on the blog this week…

I Talked About What is Happening With Libraries in Birmingham

The Kids Read ‘Shh! We Have a Plan’

 

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Children’s Hour: Shh! We Have a Plan (revisited)


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

I first wrote about Shh! We Have a Plan after I bought it for my nephew. When I saw it at the library a couple of weeks ago I decided I should share it at nursery too, especially considering how much they had loved Oh No, George! I think I made a pretty good choice because it’s almost certainly the toddler’s favourite book of the ones I got from the library (which is really saying something because one of them was a Baby Owl book).

Shh! We Have a Plan follows four men who are trying to catch a bird. Three of them are trying to use stealth and creeping up on the bird, the other is being very friendly, much to the annoyance of the other three

“Shh! SHH! We have a plan”

The kids like the simplicity of the words which make it very easy for them to join in, and they especially like saying

“Hello Birdy!”

along with the fourth man. They love looking out for the bird, and are becoming increasingly competent at describing what is happening in the pictures. Both make them feel a sense of achievement.

The pictures in the book tell as much of the story as the words do, which makes it almost like the children are making up the story for themselves. The pictures are simple but rather beautiful. I like how everything bar the birds are in blue which makes the bird stand out so you can see why the men want to capture it.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.24)

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Birmingham Libraries in Trouble


DSCN0837

Library of Birmingham (photo by me)

So what I had feared is happening. Birmingham, yes, cannot really afford its lovely new library. I was concerned from the beginning (well sort of) that the opening of a fancy, new, and- yes- expensive library would effect the libraries in Birmingham as a whole.

First the hours were cut and staff were let go. Now apparently new fiction is not being bought- there’s just no budget. I fact reportedly some Birmingham libraries have been asking for donations for their shelves.

I love the Library of Birmingham. It is a beautiful building, and of course all the books. However I never really saw a problem with the old one at least it terms of it’s purpose as a library. You couldn’t exactly call it beautiful, but it had books, and places to read them, which is the important thing really. It’s nice to have a library which isn’t a concrete monstrosity, but I’d rather have the old old library back based on the pictures I’ve seen, apparently at the time it was too ‘showy’ though, and the knocked it down when the ugly new library (of the time) was built.

Victorian Library (source)

The Library of Birmingham is probably the library I use the most (there are others closer to home, but I travel through town every day. It is certainly a nice library to have as my main library, although the decreased opening hours have meant that it’s often already closed when I am travelling through town on the way home.

That fiction is being cut I think really shows the attitude that libraries and reading are a luxury. Is this true though? Whilst non-fiction may be more intellectually enriching, fiction is, at least generally speaking, more emotionally enriching. Is that the type of society we really want? Where intelligence is rated above compassion or empathy? Plus reading has been shown to have good effects on mental health which is surely a good thing.

Old central library (source)

Again it is the poor that are getting hit. Those for whom the library is their only, or their main source of books. I am lucky. I can afford to buy more books than I really ‘need’. I have a pile of books waiting to be read which could last me a few months, and enough Waterstone’s points to buy three or four books if I’m really desperate.

However I remember a time when I used the library a lot. I did much of my studying for my GCSEs there, and spent a lot of time there during my holidays. I was a frequent visitor at the school library. If it wasn’t for the library- and yes, especially the fiction section I wouldn’t be the reader I am today.

Reading isn’t a luxury. Reading is a way of life, and in a world where there are so many other things to distract potential readers shouldn’t we be putting more into our libraries, not taking away from them. Books create a person, books are a lot of what I am, not just a reader, but my personality too. I hate to think of a world where this access to self is lost.

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Sunday Surfing 16/8/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Mistakes You May Be Making When Reading 

Books in a Tweet, Do They Encourage Reading?

Why Paper Books Won’t Die (long but worth the read)

Why Mark Haddon Doesn’t Mind That ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ Has Been Censored

The Books Obama is Reading This Summer

Bad Things Are Happening to Libraries Here in Birmingham

Fake Books in Film

Are You Living in a Haruki Murakami Novel?

And on the blog this week…

Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

The Kids Read ‘Ruby Roars’

 

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Children’s Hour: Ruby Roars


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
Last week I went to the library to pick some books for the kids (let’s not go any further into this library business here or I may start getting angry) Ruby Roars is one of the books I picked. I’ve been in pre-school a lot this week and they seem to have taken to Ruby Roars, which is strange because they didn’t seem that engaged when I read it first time, I suppose they must have been more interested that I thought though because they asked for it again.

Ruby Roars is about a Tasmanian devil who is learning how to roar. She tries out lots of different noises but can’t seem to scare anybody. Eventually she finds the perfect word and scares everybody.

The kids like the noises which increase in their volume (or at least they do when I read it!). They find it funny I think to see you being a bit silly (which is sort of strange because half my job is being silly, you’d think they would expect it by now). It was because of the noises that I picked the book out, so I’m glad I was right

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From I’m using my Goodreads so not sure this is 100% correct, but more or less. Title links are for reviews. Most books read is first:

Enid Blyton

27 books read. It wasn’t until I started counting until I realised how many Enid Byton books I’ve read. All the Adventure series, all the Secret Seven, 1 Famous Five, 3 Twins at Saint Clare’s. Mostly borrowed from the library as a child. I feel  I should do better.

Jodi Picoult

25 books read. All her solo written books and kindle shorts except Wonder Woman and Leaving Home.

Jaqueline Wilson

21 books read. For a few years in junior school (and the beginning of secondary school) I read all of the Jaqueline Wlson books I could get my hands on. I may still have one somewhere, and I still want to call my child Lottie after The Lottie Project.

Roald Dahl

15 books read. Most of his children’s ones, as a child. I intend to try out his adult stories at some point


J.K. Rowling.

13 books read. All the Harry Potter’s plus Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and Tales of Beedle the Bard. The Casual Vacancy and her books as Robert Galbraith.

Judy Blume

13 books read. A good chunk of her YA novels. I should really try one of her adult novels at some point.

Paula Danziger

13 books read. Around about the same time I was reading Judy Blume.

Noel Streatfeild.

13 books read. Again in childhood.

Jasper Fforde

10 books read. 7 Thursday Next, 2 Nursery Crimes, 1 Shades of Grey (when oh when will that second one come out!)He’s got a new one coming out next year too, a stand-alone novel, how exciting!

Charlaine Harris

19 books read. First 10 Sookie Stackhouse books. I was in a bookring on the Bookclub Forum, but it stopped at book 10 and I was never that bothered to seek out the last 3.

I think my list is pretty telling about how my reading habits have changed. When I was younger I used to find a book I liked then try and read everything by that author. Now I read more eclectically meaning that it’s only favourite authors who I keep returning too, or if I’m reading a series I will read a lot by one author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Surfing 9/8/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

 

A Night at the Harry Potter Hotel

Could You Answer Questions Asked of Booksellers?

This 7-year old Created a Comic About a Girl With Magic Afro Puffs

Which Margaret Atwood Should You Read?

What One Female Author Found When She Send Her Manuscript Under a Male Name

The First Books Authors Loved

Misconceptions About Harry Potter Fans

And on the blog this week…

Deals of the Moment

The Kids Read ‘Tip Tip, Dig Dig’

I Reviewed ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’

 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane- Neil Gaiman


Synopsis (from amazon)
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

Review

Neil Gaiman started off writing ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ as a short story for his wife when they were apart, but it just kept growing. You can sort of tell that he was thinking about her at the time. The narrator keeps speaking about stories or books as a comfort and an escapism, I can see that as being what Gaiman intended this story to be for his wife. I put a few of the most interesting quotes on my tumblr, but I think this one sums it up the best:

“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible “

In a way it is more ‘adult’ than the other books I’ve read by Gaiman. I think it’s because it’s narrated by the main character as he looks back. It’s more introspective and that gives us the sort of insight that a present narrator wouldn’t give. Looking bak he could see things which he might not see at the time.

It still had the normal Gaiman fantasy and action-y bits which stopped it being too thoughtful, but actually I preferred the times when the narrator was just thinking. The thoughtful times I suppose.

There’s some interesting messages in it too about an adult’s relationship with his own childhood. About how looking back can be a comfort, and about how we never really loose that childhood part of ourselves, it’s just often hidden by life.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£0.99)

Paperback (£3.85)

Other reviews:

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Under a Gray Sky

Alison Mccarthy

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

An Armchair by the Sea

Words for Worms

Chrisbookarama

Did I miss your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here

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Children’s Hour: Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
The kids really liked Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig There’s a bit of a story to it, about how the different building equipment are going to fix problems but it’s more about the repeated refrains of what they do, e.g. tip, tip. The kids can join in and learn about what the different equipment does at the same time (which is good because everything is apparently a digger!). The problems are asked about so the kids can guess what the answers are too e.g. “Look at all this mess! What can we do with it?”

The pictures are very appealing, being bright and fairly simple.

Buy it:

Boardbook (£4.99)

Paperback (£10.19)

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Deals of the Moment- August


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. This in the post where I talk about any books which are of interest.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews. Amazon links are affiliate links but any money made goes back into the blog (e.g. for giveaways)

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- Hunter S Thompson

I may buy this one because it’s on The Rory List, although I’m not sure how ‘me’ it is.  Plus it’s very popular. It’s about drugs and the ‘American Dream’

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Virgin Suicides- Jeffrey Eugenides

I love Jeffrey Eugenides writing, and especially liked Middlesex. The Virgin Suicides is a sort of modern classic. About a family of girls who all commit suicide.

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet- Jamie Ford

This is one of my favourite World War novels. It’s about the Japanese community in America during WW2.

You can buy it…here. (only £0.99)


The Happiness Project- Gretchen Rubin

I’ve heard some fantastic things about this book, but again I’m not sure if it’s one for me, it seems a bit self-helpy for my taste. However I may give it a go. It’s a sort of autobiography showing the various methods Rubin used to gain happiness and how they worked out for her

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Keeping Faith- Jodi Picoult

I am a big Picoult fan, I’ve read all her books. Keeping Faith is about a kid who starts hearing God. She ends up with a lot of attention, but so much rubbish is going on in her life, is she really hearing God?

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Storyteller- Jodi Picoult

Yes another Picoult one. This is about an ex-Nazi SS solider who wants forgiveness. Not a ‘usual’ Picoult but very good

Buy it…here (only £1.49)


Anita and Me- Meera Syal

Anita and Me was one of the first ‘adult’ books I read. It’s about an Asian girl growing up in a predominately white town, and wanting to fit in.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz

This is one of those books everyone says you ‘have’ to read. It’s about a geek who lives in a dream world- basically.

Buy it…here (only £2.59)


Charlotte Street- Danny Wallace

I loved this book when I read it. It’s a bit like Nick Hornby in style. About a man who tries to find a woman whose disposable camera he accidentally took.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Kommandant’s Girl- Pam Jenoff

Kommandant’s Girl is probably my favourite Pam Jenoff (at least so far). It’s about a girl who gets together with a German Kommndant to help the resistance during WW2.

Buy it…here (only £0.99)


The Ocean at the End of the Lane- Neil Gaiman

I just finished this one (it’s a Summer deal rather than a monthly). I highlighted a lot of quotes (see a few on my tumblr). It’s sort of insightful, a coming of age novel, but with the usual Gaiman fantasy element (yeah, can you tell I still need to write my review?)

Buy it…here (only £0.99)


Still Alice- Lisa Genova

A very moving book, and sad. About a woman with early-onset dementia.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

If anyone doesn’t already have it! It’s a dystopian book about a ‘game’ played every year where basically kids have to kill each other off, sort of based on Battle Royal. I really liked it.

Buy it…here (only £2.19)


Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell

Not my favourite Rainbow Rowell, but still great. Geeky. It’s a love story, but more too.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

 

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Sunday Surfing 5/7/15


bird surf Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week. Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Books Children Should Read Before Finishing Primary School (according to teachers)

The Trailer For ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ is Out

And So is the Trailer for ‘Room

Picture Books Which Go Against Girlish Stereotypes

Read the First Chapter of ‘I Am Malala

The Man Booker Longlist was Revealed

And on the blog this week…

I Reviewed ‘Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?’

Lucybird’s Book Blog is now on tumblr

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You can now follow Lucybird’s Book Blog on tumblr

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)- Mindy Kaling


Synopsis (from amazon)
Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: comedienne, actress, obedient child of immigrant professionals and, now, writer. With a blend of witty confessions and unscientific observations, Mindy writes about everything from being a timid young chubster afraid of her own bike to living the Hollywood life, dating, friendships and planning her own funeral – all executed with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

Review

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? has been on my wishlist for so long. I heard about it before I even knew Mindy Kaling existed (oh, sad times). I just heard it was funny, and it seemed like the sort of thing I would like. Then I saw The Mindy Project, and I realised I really wanted to read it. However due to my thing of not actually buying off my wishlist I didn’t end up buying it until it popped up on the kindle monthly deals this month (yay!).

I read it a couple of weeks ago when I was ill. It took me a few hours, less than a day. It’s been a long time since I last read something that fast (of course I was stuck at home with nothing to do). I really loved it. I had to start watching the US version of The Office afterwards to stop me getting withdrawal (I had avoided it so far because usually US remakes are a bit rubbish, and I only occasionally liked the original version of The Office), which I’m now on the seventh series of (so yeah, I am liking it actually).

I love how Mindy blossomed I suppose. She was a pretty shy kid, you could still see a bit of that Mindy quality, a sort of no cares attitude, although it had it’s quivers. She really was a self-made woman. It sort of reminded me of how Stephen Fry and his contempories came up. They started as their own thing and sort of got ‘discovered’. I like that, it’s genuine.

I also like how she tried to use her position to teach girls who might admire her. There was one scene (and, God, I hate People magazine for this) where Mindy was going to a photo shoot, something about beautiful people. Nice yeah? At the time she was a size 8 (which I think is a size 10 in the UK) so about average. The stylist only had size 0s, which is just rubbish, especially when you are showing someone ‘normal’ who was beautiful, and then to suggest they couldn’t wear nice clothes because they were too ‘big’. It just makes me mad. And Mindy is really pretty. It still makes me mad now.

So despite the fact that most of the time it was funny there was a serious side too, and now I love Mindy even more. I just wish I didn’t have to wait all the way until September for her new book

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.99)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other Reviews:

Alison Mccarthy

Girl Vs Bookshelf

Ink and Page

Words for Worms

Recovering Potter Addict

Chrisbookarama

Silly Little Mischief

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Sunday Surfing 26/7/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

 

Most Popular Highlighted Quotes on Kindle (Excluding ‘The Hunger Games’)

The Moment Haruki Murakami Knew He Would Be a Writer

Can ‘Buzzfeed’ Guess How Old You Are Based on Your Taste in Books? Well it couldn’t with me…

There’s a Drop in Younger Children Visiting Libraries

And on the blog this week…

The Kids Read ‘One Bear At Bedtime’

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Children’s Hour: One Bear at Bedtime


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

One Bear at Bedtime is a simple story the boy only needs a bear to go to bed, but all these other animals show up. It’s a counting book, with a series of animals showing up, a different number of each.

The kids likes it because it was silly, with animals doing things they shouldn’t, like lions shampooing their manes. Really it’s the pictures which make the story- and the questions you ask.

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Sunday Surfing 19/7/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

 

Why ‘Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf’ is Feminist.

Brain Scans May Indicate Which Children May Go on to Struggle With Reading

‘Go Set a Watchman’ Breaks First Day Sales Records

Is There a Third ‘Mockingbird’ Novel?

Should the Book World Fear Amazon?

Publishers Earn More than Authors on e-book sales

And on the blog this week…

 

I Reviewed ‘Stardust’

I Talked About the Last 10 Books I Aquired

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman



Synopsis (from amazon)

Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall – named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and for the coveted prize of her hand, Tristran vows to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends him over the ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…

Review

This is one of those books where I saw the film first. And I really like the film. It sort of put me off reading the book because I find if I watch the film first I’m just waiting for my favourite bits of the film. It’s part of the reason I try to read books first, sometimes I can still enjoy the film then, but I would rather get the enjoyment out of the book, generally speaking.

I couldn’t help comparing it to the film. I did think it was a little slower to start but I didn’t mind because it meant that a similar atmosphere could be built, and actually it gave me a better idea of the contrast between the village of Wall and the land beyond the wall.

On the other end of the spectrum though one of my favourite bits of the film is the pirate captain. He was still significant in a way in the book but his actual part was less big, we didn’t see so much of him, so we didn’t get as much of a sense of character from him.

Overall I did enjoy it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t seen the film first. But it was a nice little story, I just don’t really have anything much to say about it.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.96)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other Reviews:

Nylon Admiral

Words For Worms

Chrisbookarama

Literary Lindsey

 

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: Last 10 Books I Acquired.


Top 10 Sites I Visit that AREN'T About Books

It’s Tuesday again so The Broke and the Bookish are hosting Top Ten Tuesday.

This week it’s The Last 10 Books I Acquired. I’m using my Goodreads so not sure this is 100% correct, but more or less. Title links are for reviews. Newest acquistion is first:

The Ocean at The End of the Lane- Neil Gaiman

This book which I bought on kindle was really cheap (I presume it still is, I bought it on the weekend). In it dark creatures are after our narrator, and he only has 3 women at the end of the lane to protect him.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)- Mindy Kaling

This one is in the kindle monthly deals. I’ve been wanting to read Mindy’s autobiographical book for ages, and I love her show The Mindy Project.

 

A Tale For the Time Being- Ruth Ozeki

Another kindle one which had been on my wishlist for a while. It’s the story of a diary which is found washed up on the beach. I wanted to start this the other day but found it had been sent to the cloud reader rather than direct to my kindle, gah.


Tigers in Red Weather- Lisa Klaussmann

This one was recommended to be by Rory, it was in the kindle’s monthly deals last month so I bought it (do I actually save any money on kindle monthly deals or end up spending more?). It tells the story of two cousins and a Summer which changes them. It’s my current kindle read.

A God in Ruins- Kate Atkinson

I actually bought this companion to ‘Life After Life’ in hardback, in a real shop. I’ve already read and reviewed it (see the link above), and I loved it.


Satan’s Shorts- Heide Goody and Iain Grant

This set of short stories was free on kindle. I hadn’t read it before as it was more a companion than part of the Clovenhoof series, but I heard it bridged some of the gaps between Pigeonwings and Godsquad

Stardust- Neil Gaiman

Another previous kindle monthly deal. I am in the middle of writing a review of Stardust as I’m writing this post (in fact I may end up publishing it before this as I’m preparing this on the Sunday). It’s the story of Tristan who goes into another land to find a fallen star.

The Apple- Michael Faber

The Apple is a series of short stories which link to The Crimson Petal and the White. Again a previous kindle monthly deal.

The Winter Guest- Pam Jenoff

You guessed it, another previous kindle monthly deal. This is about two sister’s living in Poland during WW2 one of whom finds and helps a crashed American paratrooper.

Ajax Penumbra: 1969

Another kindle book. This one is a prequel to Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and is all about Mr Penumbra before he became the owner of the store.

I sort of wish more of these were ‘real’ books. I suppose it’s easier to buy kindle books though, and I have a tendency to buy them when they’re cheap.

 

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Sunday Surfing 12/7/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

A Reader’s Manifesto

Shirley Hughes Has Won the Booktrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award

“The Girl on the Train’ Has Broken Book Sales Records

Childhood Books Explained as an Adult

Book Lover’s on Instagram and In Real Life

Is this the Real Reason People Buy Kindles? For me, no.

Bad Love Advice From Literature

The Advertisers of the New ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Book Are Allowing One ‘Lucky’ Fan to Advertise the Book on Their Skin

Read the First Chapter of Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’

Or listen to it…

 

And on the blog this week…

I reviewed ‘A God in Ruins’

And ‘The Winter Guest’

And ‘The Thirteenth Tale’

I Looked at Kindle Deals this Month

And I Talked About my Reading Habits

 

 

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Reading Habits


I was tagged by Lectito to write about my reading habits. I don’t usually bother with these things but as I have a bit of spare time I thought I would do this one. I’m not going to tag anyone but if you want to do it too you can.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Not really. I have a favourite chair, and I like to read in bed, but I can read pretty much anywhere. I’m in the middle of buying my first house though, and I already have my book nook picked out!

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

I sometimes use bookmarks, when I can find one, but generally I just remember where I was from what happened last.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

I’m used to reading on the bus so I can stop at the end on a sentence but I don’t like doing it, I prefer to wait until the end of a paragraph.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yes I always read over breakfast and lunch, and often will have a cup of tea and a snack when reading at other times. Plus I like to pop into coffee shops for a coffee and a read of my book when I’m in town.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

I don’t generally like complete silence, my mind tends to drift, I prefer to have some music or background noise so I don’t get distracted.


One book at a time or several at once?

Almost always two. One paperbook, and one on kindle. Mainly because I do a lot of reading on my commute so the kindle is more convenient then, but I prefer reading a ‘real’ book. Sometimes one will overtake another though. At the moment I’m reading Tigers in Red Weather on kindle and Hallucinations in hardback. The hardback is in the lead, but mainly because I’ve been stuck at home ill.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I prefer reading at home, more comfortable, less interruptions. But I probably do most of my reading elsewhere. I have an hour commute to work, an hour lunchbreak, and an hour commute back so I spend most of that time reading. Reading on my lunchbreak is the worst for interruptions though, the number of times I’ve been interrupted whilst reading in the staff room just to be told that “you like reading, don’t you?”. Well obviously, so let me get back to it!

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

In my head.Does anyone read out loud once they can read in their head? Unless they’re reading to someone else? I read out loud to the kids at work, that’s it.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Oh no, that would spoil it. The only time I skip pages is if I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, then I skip to Hagrid’s entrance, I find the bits before a bit slow.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don’t mind the spine breaking. I get sad if pages rip or get damaged, or if pages start falling out, but I don’t mind if a book is just showing signs of being read.

Do you write in your books?

Nope. No since I was at school and had to make notes. I don’t even make notes on my kindle. I just never felt the need.

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Filed under general, Memes

The Winter Guest- Pam Jenoff


Synopsis (from amazon)

Helena and Ruth Nowak are like chalk and cheese: one staunchly outspoken and independent, the other gentle and caring. Caught up in the struggle of Nazi occupied Poland, the sisters have bound together and created an enviable bond that can’t be broken. Or so they thought…

When Helena discovers a Jewish Allied paratrooper, wounded but alive, she risks the safety of herself and her family to hide him. As her feelings for the solider grow deeper, she finds her loyalties torn.

Review

Why yes I have been reading a lot of Pam Jenoff recently (and I have ‘A Hidden Affair’ still to review too). There are things I like about her writing. It’s often set during world war two. It’s exciting. It’s easy to read without feeling ‘fluffy’. This one. Well, I liked it, but it didn’t have quite the same excitement as the others by her that I’ve read.

Don’t get me wrong there was excitement there, but it was a long time coming, and whilst there was always some promise of it most of the time it was unfulfilled.

Actually I would say that this story is less an excitement based story, or even a war based story as a story about people. It’s a story of the relationships between Helena and Ruth, between Helena and Sam, and the girl’s family. It’s also a story of self-discovery. Both girls learn more about themselves.

Both become stronger in their own ways.

It didn’t hook me in the same way as some of Pam Jenoff’s other books have, but I think it showed a more sophisticated writing style and plot than her others have.

The others may have been more enjoyable at the time of reading, but The Winter Guest is more likely to stay with me.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.03)

Paperback (£7.99)

Other Reviews:

Silver’s Reviews

Have I Missed Your Review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

 

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield


Synopsis (from goodreads)

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family–fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates…

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past–and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret’s own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfield’s spell?

Review

I read The Thirteenth Tale so long ago now that I had to read the synopsis just to remind myself what happened (I don’t like this synopsis by the way, but I don’t think I can write a better one so I decided to lump with it, it’s the same as amazon’s, except that it doesn’t mention the film). All I could really remember is that I didn’t want to include it as a short review because I felt (still feel) it deserved more than that.

This book sat on my wishlist for a long time after I read lots of positive blog posts about it, then it sat for a long time on my to be read pile. It may have sat their for longer if I hadn’t read Bellman and Black as a review request.

It was better than Bellman and Black too. They both had that gothic element which I love, and a certain mystery to them. Plus a element of the past effecting the future. The main different with this general background was that for William (of Bellman and Black) it’s his own past which effects him, and for Margret it’s more Vida’s past which effects her.

The story takes part during a two time periods, there is the past story of the twins at Angelfield, told in a rather detached way by Vida Winter, and the current story of Margret as she hears Vida’s story and makes her own investigations, as she has been commissioned by Vida to write her biography. At least initially Vida’s story is the most engaging, however the further we get into the story the more the two stories become entwined.

Trapped up in Vida’s big empty house, having nothing to do except listen to Vida’s story makes Margret rather crazy, understandably. (A classic of gothic literature, think Jane Eyre trapped in Thornfield, with all those noises, and the strange maid, and unexplainable fires…you get the idea) But how much is Margret imagining? How much is real? Is she just being effected by Vida’s story? By her own past? Or is there something more to it?

Vida’s own story has the aura of a gothic mystery too. All the way through you are trying to work out what actually happened in Angelfield, just as Margret is.

There was an added little story which I didn’t really think was that necessary to the story. I’m not sure it added all that much either, although it did create a bit of a twist in the tale which I suppose was good, if a little over the top.

It got me guessing right up to the end.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Kindle (£3.66)

Other Reviews:

The Book Musings

Books at Violet Crush

HeavenAli

The Perpetual Page Turner

Reading With Tea

Alison Mccarthy

Words For Worms (Discussion, contains spoilers)

Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Mystery

Deals of the Moment- July


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. This in the post where I talk about any books which are of interest.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews. Amazon links are affiliate links but any money made goes back into the blog (e.g. for giveaways)

I almost didn’t do one this month because the pickings are pretty slim. Have ended up using kids books to sort of ‘pad it out’

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)- Mindy Kaling

I bought this one as soon as I saw it. It’s been on my wishlist for a long time after reading about it on someones blog, since starting watching ‘The Mindy Project’ I’ve been wanting to read it even more. Yay I finally have it.

It’s an autobiography.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Station Eleven- Emily St. John Mandel

I’ve heard lots of great things about this dystopian story. Set in a world where there has been a disaster, then a deadly illness starts spreading.

You can buy it…here (only £1.79)


Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing- Judy Blume

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was the first book by Judy Blume I read, it’s probably true for a lot of people. This is the story of Peter, and his crazy little brother- Fudge.

You can buy it…here. (only £1.79)


 

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A God in Ruins- Kate Atkinson


Synopsis (adapted from goodreads)

In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century.

Review

‘A God in Ruins’ is a companion novel to ‘Life After Life’. You don’t need to have read Life After Life to understand it (but you should, because it is amazing). 

If you have read Life After Life you should know that A God in Ruins is very different. More ‘normal’. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I really enjoyed it, but it’s barely comparable to Life After Life.

I’ve sat with just those few words for a few days, letting myself get distracted by Hearthstone, because I don’t know how to write this review without spoilers. You see the ending is really important, but I can’t describe why it’s important, or why it really ‘makes’ the story without saying what that ending is. See I want to say how it effects the novel as a whole, because that’s what made me love A God in Ruins, but I don’t think, if you already knew it your reading would be the same. I suppose all I can say is to make sure you read right to the end (the author’s notes are interesting too, but not essential).

The problems with books where the ending is what makes it is that the rest of the novel has to hold enough power by itself to make people want to read it.

The novel was split into three timelines, with chapters differing between those timelines (generally speaking). There was Teddy’s war, and a little of his time before the war. There was his life with his wife Nancy. And there was the life of his daughter Viola- this bit mainly told in her own voice.

A lot of the time the novel had a plot which wasn’t very exciting. Atkinson’s writing was still good enough not to make these sections ‘boring’ but they didn’t hold a great deal of pull. You read them, but you weren’t necessarily eagerly looking forward to reading them. They had an everyday simplicity which was beautiful in it’s own way, the images that Atkinson drew, but I wouldn’t have read a whole book of it.

What I really liked were the periods during Teddy’s war (while I do have a thing for war novels). I found those times most interesting and exciting. I really liked Teddy (well you’re meant to ‘everyone loved Teddy best’ -I paraphrase but that’s basically a quote from ‘Life After Life’). He seemed like a good leader of his little team. He also seemed like a good husband, and father.

That’s part of the reason I really didn’t like Viola. She seemed like Teddy’s opposite, despite being his daughter. She was so selfish, and self-absorbed. However when it came down to it she was an interesting character, after all the best characters to read about are not always the ones you love- Viola was definitely an example of that. Actually she had more depth than Teddy really.

Sorry, I can’t do this without spoilers. Highlight to see the spoiler.  It’s interesting that Viola does have such depth as a character seeing as she was a figment of Teddy’s imagination. I suppose he was a better author than he thought! It is also interesting to think that Viola also had her own voice in the book, seeing as she never really existed. Part of me thinks that Viola was Teddy’s way of punishing himself. For not loving Nancy enough, for his own imagination making himself kill her, which is a cruel thing really. That is if you take it as being all Teddy’s imagination.

In her author notes Atkinson writes that she saw it as another of Ursula’s lives (sorry if you haven’t read Life After Life) , which means that actually it was ‘real’ in that universe. Oh I’m confusing myself now. I always thought of the one life in Life After Life being Ursula’s ‘last’ life, and this life fits with the Teddy dying in the war ‘life’. Oh it’s confusing! I suppose in a way you can say that both things happened. Is one life better than the other though? One is certainly better for Nancy…but the other while that leads to more. Either way it’s interesting to think of how a single event could be so pivotal and make things so much different. I suppose even any small event could end up that way, even if it doesn’t seem significant in the grand scheme of things, even if it’s not such a big event as someone dying or not. From what I feel about Teddy I actually think the life where he dies is more likely, I don’t think he would give up on a crew member, but maybe that’s just me.

I think this would make an interesting book club read. Maybe more so if you read Life After Life too. End of spoiler

People who didn’t like the more ‘unusual’ side of Life After Life may prefer A God in Ruins, I liked that element of it though which makes Life After Life at least more memorable for me.

Because the ending is so important I wanted to give this five stars at the end, but probably most of the way though I would have given it four, or four and a half. It seems somehow wrong to give it lower than five stars, but should I really give it five stars if it wasn’t like that all the ay through.

If you follow me on twitter you’ll see that there were points other than the ending which really got me. I wrote about how my own thoughts ended up having the same tone as the novel, which only happens when I really get into a book, I think maybe things go 5 stars there too.

I’m going to do something which I haven’t done for a long time. a variable, or sliding score

4-5/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£9.00)

Kindle (£8.49)

Paperback- pre-order (£7.99)

Other reviews:

Alison Mccarthy

Did I miss your review? If so leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

 

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Filed under Fiction review

Sunday Surfing 5/7/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

The Dangers of Living a Bookish Life

‘Go Set a Watchman’ May Have Been Discovered Before it was ‘Discovered’ This whole thing sounds so manufactured.

The Most Popular Books Set in Each Country in Europe

Bookish Summer Activities for the Kids

 

And on the blog this week…

The kids Read ‘Dinosaur Roar!’

I Reviewed ‘Moranthology’

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Children’s Hour: Dinosaur Roar!


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
You know what I like about Dinosaur Roar!? That it’s a book about dinosaurs (which are generally popular) which doesn’t require me to try and pronounce the names of the dinosaurs.

It’s a very simple book actually. Two words to a page, “Dinosaur” and an attribute e.g. “Dinosaur fierce. Dinosaur meek”. With each of two attributes being the opposite of each other, and with a nice rhythm.

The kids like it being about dinosaurs, and especially like roaring with the roaring dinosaur. If it was our own book (we borrowed it from stay and play) I can imagine that it would become a quick favourite. Plus I can imagine it being one they could ‘read’ for themselves. Sort of in a similar way to how they feel about Brown Bear.

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£4.00)

Boardbook (£5.00)

Kindle (£3.80)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

Moranthology- Caitlin Moran


Synopsis (from amazon)

In MORANTHOLOGY Caitlin Moran ‘gets quite chatty’ about many subjects, including cultural, social and political issues which are usually left to hot-shot wonks – and not a woman who sometimes keeps a falafel in her handbag.

These other subjects include…

Caffeine | Ghostbusters | Being Poor | Twitter | Caravans | Obama | Wales | Marijuana Addiction |Paul McCartney | The Welfare State | Sherlock | David Cameron Looking Like Ham | Amy Winehouse | ‘The Big Society’ | Big Hair | Nutter-letters | Failed Nicknames | Wolverhampton | Squirrels’ Testicles | Sexy Tax | Binge-drinking | Chivalry | Rihanna’s Cardigan | Party Bags | Hot People| Transsexuals | The Gay Moon Landings

Review

I wanted to read Moranthology since it came out, but somehow it hasn’t happened until recently. After all the build-up and how much I loved How to be a Woman it got to a point where I was almost expecting to be disappointed.

I found it interesting and funny, just like How to be a Woman, but less cohesive, maybe because it was actually made up of lots of Moran’s columns from The Times. Some columns were more funny than others, and some more interesting. It was nice to see a variety of topics, even though it did make for a less cohesive book. I think although the book was split into sections it might actually have been better to have as a flick through book than one to read cover to cover, as I did.

I always feel a little cheated when I read a book made up of things which have previously been published, simply because I feel I could have already read them for free online (ok, maybe not so much with The Times), or bought the paper. There was a little original material, and that did contain some of my favourite bits (the conversations with her husband most notably).

All in all a very good read, but not to the levels of How to be a Woman. Which is hard by the way because that basically gave me a girl crush on Caitlin Moran

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.74)

Kindle (£5.98)

Hardback (£7.94)

Other Reviews

Between the Pages

Nylon Admiral

Devouring Texts

Lit and Life

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Filed under Essays, non-fiction review

Sunday Surfing 28/6/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

Authors Say the National Curriculum is Damaging Children’s Creative Writing

Book Franchises Which Need to be Left

Guardian Readers Recommend Indie Bookstores

Amazon Plans to Pay Kindle Authors Only for Pages Buyers have Read

J.K. Rowling has Revealed Why the Dursley’s Disliked Harry So Much

And Has Revealed There is a Harry Potter Stage Show Coming Soon

Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down According to Buzzfeed Readers

The Problems With Buying Books

 

And on the blog this week…

The Kids Read ‘Wow! Said the Owl’

I Posted Some Short Reviews

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Children’s Hour: Wow! Said the Owl


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.


Wow! Said the Owl is a story about an owl who decides to stay up during the day to see what the world is like, and is very impressed. I’s a simple story. The owl sees everyday things, the sunrise, leaves, flowers, clouds, but through new eyes everything makes the owl say “Wow”. It’s also a book about colours and says all the colours which the owl can see.

The kids love joining in saying “Wow” and feel proud when they can name the colours. The pictures are really beautiful and are what prompted the kids to pick it up.

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

Short Reviews the Third


I’ve decided to do some little reviews again. This time for books that I don’t have a lot to say about, but I still want to mention.

The bold links are amazon affiliate links (the money goes back into the blog).

 

Left Neglected- Lisa Genova

Left Neglected is another book about brain damage by Lisa Genova. This one is about a woman (Sarah) who looses her left after a car accident, basically she can’t see anything to the left of her, it’s as if it never existed.

I didn’t think it had quite the same emotional punch as Still Alice, but it was still very easy to sympathise with Sarah. Where Still Alice was about Alice’s deterioration Left Neglected has more hope and shows how Sarah learns to cope with her injury and how she begins to make things better 4/5

The Apple- Michael Faber


The Apple is a series of short stories about the characters in ‘The Crimson Petal and the White‘. It’s descriptions are less than in Crimson, but they are still rather beautiful. It also was quite as ‘racy’ as Crimson, which I am not bothered about either way but some may prefer. It didn’t have quite as much detail as I would have liked, but was still interesting to read.  3.5/5

Satan’s Shorts- Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Satan’s Shorts is the third book in the Clovenhoof series. It’s a series of short stories based around the characters in the other Clovenhoof books, and you probably wouldn’t get much out of it of you haven’t read any of the others. It is funny like the others but not as engaging. 3/5

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Filed under Fiction review

Sunday Surfing 21/6/15


bird surf

Sunday Surfing is my weekly feature (inspired by Chrisbookarama‘s Friday Bookish Buzz, which is one of my favourite features) where I share my favourite links from during the week, about books and blogging. Plus a little about what’s happened on the blog this week.

Let’s get started.

Around the web this week

The Significance of Shoes in Literature

Books for Kids About Refugees

Waterproof Books

Questions J.K. Rowling Needs to Answer

 

And on the blog this week…

The kids Read ‘Banana’

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Filed under general, Memes, Sunday Surfing

Children’s Hour: Banana


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

Banana is not the easiest of stories to read, and my colleague who read it struggled. It doesn’t have hard words, in fact it only has two words in the whole book (one is “banana” believe it or not). However it does require a certain…theatrical element which my colleague didn’t really give it. I would have liked to read it myself, but we had borrowed it and had to give it back.

It’s the story of two monkeys and a banana. One monkey has a banana, and the other wants it, it’s a story of sharing in the end (that’s when the second word comes in- “please”).

There are two ways you can get things out of this book. One, which is what my colleague used, is to make up your own little story which explains the pictures, this is a good way to get the kids looking at the pictures and thinking about what is happening and different emotions. The other is to put lots of expression into your reading so that your tone of voice shows how the monkeys are feeling. Of course you can use just one, or both together.

The kids really did like looking at the pictures, but few of them answered the questions my colleague put to them, which left her a bit stuck.

Buy it:

Boardbook (£5.50)

Paperback (£5.99)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books