Category Archives: Fiction review

Transcription- Kate Atkinson


Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

 

Synopsis

During the war Juliet Armstrong worked for MI5, just as a secretary though, now she works for the BBC, but something strange is happening, could someone be after Juliet? And what did she actually do during the war?

Review

(You know what is an exciting this as a reviewer? When you get offered a book from an author whose work you previously loved.)

I make no secret of the fact that ‘Life After Life’ is one of my favourite ever books. This makes me sort of apprehensive about approaching a new book by Atkinson, but also super excited. When you loved a book by an author you are going to compare everything else by them to it, which can skew your view a bit. With ‘A God in Ruins’ I think this led to too high an expectation, so I tried to approach ‘Transcription’ as if it wasn’t by the same author (It didn’t really work…expect the comparisons!).

Juliet’s story jumps between her life during and shortly after the war. We start off with her life ‘now’ which I think was a good choice because otherwise we would think that it was just a story about a secretary- not exactly the most exciting premise for a novel!

It was the war side of the story which initially made me want to read the book however (we all know how I love a war story). In terms of being a war story it wasn’t exactly classic war literature. Most of Juliet’s job was transcribing conversations between an undercover agent and Nazi sympathisers in the UK. After some time Juliet’s life gets more exciting, but what really interested me, and kept me turning pages was that we didn’t seem to have the full story.

You see Juliet is being threatened, possibly followed, and we as the reader don’t know why, or even if the reason is legitimate. That means that everything you read you are trying to read more into. Did she do something awful that we haven’t yet found out about? Are there parts of her story that are more than they seem?

Whilst taking part (largely) during wartime I wouldn’t really say that ‘Transcription’ is a war story, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it.

It isn’t quite to the level of ‘Life After Life’, I am likely to suggest it to others, but I am unlikely to force it on anyone (even though it doesn’t contain a woman dying multiple times…according to my sister that’s a downer…who knew?). Having said that it did get pretty close, and it is one of those strange books that gets better the more you think about it.

4.5/5

‘Transcription’ is released tomorrow (6/9/18) but you can pre-order it now:

Hardback (£13.99)

Kindle (£9.99)

Paperback- released April ’19 (£7.91)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical

Children’s Hour: The Paper Dolls


It been a long time since I’ve done a Children’s Hour post, and I found out this week that I will be returning to uni I am excited but it does mean I’m leaving the nursery- so I’m not sure how many children’s books I’ll be able to blog about, so I really want to make the most of the time I have to read to the kids!

 

The Paper Dolls is a Julia Donaldson book which has been a favourite in pre-school for quite some time. In it a little girl makes a set of paperdolls to play with. The dolls go on a lot of adventures and sing their song

“You can’t (catch) us on no no no,

We’re holding hands and we won’t let go

We’re Ticky and Tacky, and Jackie the Backie, and Jim With Two Noses, and Jo with the Bow”

It’s a lovely journey through a child’s imagination, and the pictures show us what is really happening.

The kids love the song (which my colleague made up a great tune to) and will join in with. We’ve also had a go at making our own paper dolls.

As the reader it may not be the easiest to read, simply because you need to make up the tune yourself- we tried to find a good version on youtube but couldn’t find any where the readers actually sung, which was really disappointing. Also there are subtle changes which once you know the story quite well can be easy to get wrong, trust me the kids notice when you do!

All the same give it a bash, it’s well worth it.

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.49)

Boardbook (£6.99)

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Disenchanted- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Synopsis

Ella is pretty content with her life. Sure she has a bridezilla of a stepmother to-be, and her father never seems to be around, and whilst her stepsister is perfectly nice she isn’t like Ella at all, but overall Ella’s pretty happy.

Then some dwarfs show up, insisting that Ella’s stepmother is out to kill her, and things just get more bizarre from there.

Review

I’m quite a fan of the novels co-authored by Goody and Grant (I’ve not actually read any pure Goody or Grant) so when I saw ‘Disenchanted’ on amazon I was more than willing to give it a try.

Everything else I’ve read by the team has been the part of a series but ‘Disenchanted’ is a stand alone novel (or at least I hope it is, it really doesn’t seem that it could be the start of a series). It’s a bit of a twisted fairytale, it asks what if the princess doesn’t want her ‘perfect’ price charming? And what if the characters are not quite what they have always been painted as.

Ella is a great character. She’s self sufficient. She’s not your stereotypical fairytale princess, she cares much more about doing her own thing than trying to find a fairytale ending. After all how can half the fairytales really be happily ever after? The princess who married the guy who awoke her with a kiss? The one who married the guy who locked her up until she fell in love with him? Or the one who fell in love after a dance? Even real fairytales can’t be that perfect, right?

I loved the fairytale references littered through the book, especially when Ella started to catch onto them too. I loved the feisty women. Most of all I loved being able to laugh.

You could probably easily read this in a day. It’s incredibly readable, light and humorous without lacking substance. It doesn’t have as much dark or slightly disgusting humour as other books by the team, so it’s probably better for those who don’t like that type of humour (although if that is you I hope this is a gateway book!).

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.50)

Paperback (£5.99)

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

The Art of Hiding- Amanda Prowse


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis

Nina has a good life, her perfect, rich husband provides everything for her and her two kids whilst her job is simply to look after the house and children. Her biggest problem is that her teenager is, well, a teenager. In the space of a few days Nina’s life falls apart and she has to find the strength to pick up the pieces.

Review

I’ve never read any Amanda Prowse before even though she’s quite well known. I guess I always categorised her as chicklit type books, or at least somewhat formulaic. I had no real reason to suppose this except for the cover art- which is something that can tell you a lot, but can also be misleading (like that particular cover for The Bell Jar). When I got the request to review it I decided to see what she really was about.

I would say that ‘The Art of Hiding’ is more of a feelings book than a chicklit. It does have that relationship element which chicklit often has, but it wasn’t about falling in love but coping without it, and about finding out about things which make you look at that love in a different way.

I didn’t especially like Nina, at least to begin with, she was very much one with her head in the sand, and later on I couldn’t quite balance that with the woman she became- and apparently the woman she was before she met her husband. I suppose we do show a different side of ourselves to different people, but this seemed to much.

Having said that I did enjoy reading the book, especially as Nina became more ‘herself’. It was hopeful, and sad, and enough happened that it kept me reading. I do think there could have been more about how Nina’s feelings changed, and how she managed to square her feelings with the man who was her husband with the man who had hidden so much from her, however I did feel that the story had a good resolution, and if you want an easy read with a bit of substance I would recommend it.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.00)

Paperback (£4.99)

Other Reviews:

Literary Flits

So Many Books, So Little Time

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Re-reading ‘His Dark Materials’ (Part 1)


Before ‘The Book of Dust’ came out I had said to myself that I wanted to re-read ‘His Dark Materials’. The plan was to read them then buy ‘The Book of Dust’…but I sort of failed. ‘The Book of Dust’ came out and I hadn’t even started ‘The Northern Lights’ (Or the Golden Compass if you’re an American person). I tried not the buy ‘The Book of Dust’ but I didn’t manage that either! So since ‘The Book of Dust’ came out I have been, with the occasional break, making my way through ‘His Dark Materials’. I wanted to not write a review as such, because of it being a re-read, but to sort of get some thoughts down.

I discovered ‘The Northern Lights’ around about the same time as I was discovering Harry Potter, I want to say 1998- I had got ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ the Christmas before. I guess 1998 was a good bookish year for me! Because these were two amazing books, and two fantasy books, that I discovered around about the same time I always compared them in my head and they became sort of linked to one another.

‘His Dark Materials’ could have easily done what Harry Potter did. At the time I prefered ‘Northern Lights’ to ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and I think the series as a whole are certainly at least comparable in the sense of enjoyment. Harry Potter became more important because it was more than a book after a while, it was a part of my life, but even now I would say as a series in itself ‘His Dark Materials’ is better.

The Northern Lights

This one has always been my favourite, which makes it quite unique as a start of a series, because the first book is often about establishing background and story foundations. In fact one thing I would say about the series as a whole is that each book could be read independently, even though they do link together.

I really love Lyra in this book. She’s just a normal kid, pretty much. She’s not some angel, or a nightmare, and her motivations are somehow realistic. It’s not about saving the world or some sense of bigger purpose, she just cares about her friend, and she wants to visit the north. For a kid yes she ends up doing some amazing things, but actually she’s still very much a child. I suppose you can say she’s an unlikely heroine because she was never trying to be one. And she’s relatable because she’s so ‘normal’.

Despite this being the book of the series that I’ve read the most I was surprised of how much I’d forgotten. At times I thought I was being smart when reading- but was maybe actually just remembering at the back of my mind somewhere. It doesn’t help that the other half kept telling me thing that were going to happen because his own memories of the book were different!

One of these things which has been said about ‘His Dark Materials’ is that it’s anti-Christian. When I was younger I would have defended this as being wrong because Lyra’s world is a different world. Now I read ‘The Northern Lights’ and see the parallels. Lyra’s church does have a certain Catholic like element, the beauty and extravagance, the idea of a powerful church leader. From within that’s not my experience of Catholicism, but it does have those elements. Does that make the books anti-christian? I’m not so sure. I think, at least in this book, it’s more against the misuse of religion. The idea that by doing bad things you are somehow doing something for God. Now the crusades would be criticised, but in their time people saw it as helping spread the ‘true’ religion. Or if you want a more modern version, ISIS is apparently muslim- but most muslims don’t support ISIS. In later books I might change my view of how ‘His Dark Materials’ might be anti-christian, but we will get to that later

Buy:

Northern Lights Paperback (£3.99) Kindle (£4.99) Hardback (£12.27)

His Dark Materials Paperback (£15.40) Kindle (£13.99) Hardback (£15.42)

The Book of Dust Hardback (£9.99) Kindle (£9.99)

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Children’s Hour: Handa’s Surprise (re-visited)


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.

Handa’s Surprise is a book I originally read to the toddlers back in 2013 , I don’t tend to re-review books unless it’s with a different age group, or if something happened in a re-read which was significant.

Well today we read Handa’s Surprise, and whilst it might not technically be significant the kids were really engaged. One kid was excited to read it because he’s ‘watched it at home’ (I’m guessing the video I mentioned in my books on screen post, which is very good), and he was able to tell me bits of the story (although unfortunately not what was happening on the essential page which was missing from out copy).

The story is simple, and really it’s told in the pictures. In the words we hear Handa’s voice wondering which of the fruits which she is taking to her friend her friend will like best. It would be pretty boring with words alone, but it would allow children to find out about the different fruits. In the pictures however there is another story taking place. As Handa walks to her friend’s village one by one the fruits are taken from her basket by a variety of different animals.

I think it’s this second story which really engages the children because they have to work out what is happening, and that means they can tell the story themselves, and that’s exciting for them.

Buy it:

Paperback (£4.46)

Board Book (£5.99)

Kindle (£3.79)

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Children’s Hour: Nemo’s Friends


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.

Nemo’s Friends  is one of those let’s make sure parents don’t feel guilty for buying Disney books by making it educational books.

The story is pretty much none-existent. It basically lists Nemo’s friends and gives a fact about that friend, like ‘is a blue fish’ or ‘is a small fish’. The kid’s like it because it’s Nemo, and possibly because they can feel the achievement of knowing which fish is the blue fish etc.

One thing I do like about it is that there will be more sea creatures on the page than the one mentioned so the kids do have to use their knowledge to find out which fish is the fish being talked about.

In terms of story enjoyment, and adult enjoyment it’s pretty low. Even so this is the book other that ‘I Want My Potty’ that the kids seem to want to possess, so it obviously holds some charm. For me it is a way of getting them engaged in knowing things like colour and size, so whilst I don’t find it enjoyable to read, it is at least useful.

Buy it:

Board Book (new and used from £0.01)

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War- Roald Dahl


Synopsis

War is a set of short stories for adults written about war. Based on Dahl’s own experiences in the RAF and of wartime in general.

Review

I’ve ever read any of Dahl’s adult stories before, it’s one of these things that I always thought I’d do at some point and never got around to. I loved his stories as a child, so I was both excited and a bit apprehensive about reading the adult stories. I chose this particular collection because of my love of war stories.

The first, and longest, story was ‘Going Solo’ and it was an account of Dahl’s own experiences in the RAF. Now I read his book ‘Going Solo’ when I was a child, which I only vaguely remember. I’m sure that this version (the one in ‘War’) is more adult, it doesn’t read like a children’s book anyway, but as both are autobiographies I imagine that a lot of the stories are of the same incidents.

Going Solo was the story in the collection which I enjoyed the most. The others though really held something which said that Dahl knew war, and the aftermath. What I liked was how things like loosing a child, or shellshock, or even just generally recovering from the experience of war were talked about but not explicitly. Most of the other short stories felt like they were a story which showed how these things felt, without actually saying how they felt- a sort of metaphor if you will.

The other stories did tend towards the weird, which I think is part of why I didn’t like them so much in the moment. They weren’t weird in an entertaining way, just strange.

I’m not sure if my experience means I will read more of Dahl’s adult stories or not. When I bought this one I also considered Madness and Innocence so I still may read them.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£6.55)

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Filed under Biography, Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, History, Memoir, non-fiction review, Short story

The Power- Naomi Alderman


Synopsis

It starts with teenage girls and gradually spreads and grows until ‘the power’ reaches all women. The power means that women can send arcs of electricity with their hands. Soon the world is turned on it’s head and women are in charge.

 

Review

‘The Power’ was a pick for my book group a few (3? 4?) months ago and it was a hit with all of us (The first 2 links in my other reviews section are from fellow group members). It’s a feminist book group so this did seem like a pretty perfect choice for us, but it had been on my radar before we picked it.

I was ready to write this review when I finished it but I wanted to go to the book group first so I left it, and my vigor to write this review wore off a bit- I think next time I will write but not publish until after.

The story is told in 4 main voices, but contains more major characters than that. There is a female senator who is very supportive of the girls early on, there is the daughter of a gang boss, there is a girl who transforms herself into a religious leader, and a journalist- the only male voice who we hear from directly.

At first it seemed that everything would be perfect. Women have been marginalised for millennia so why would they treat men the same when they find they have the power? Part of what I liked was that things weren’t perfect. It said that women are just people too, and people do bad things, and people abuse power, and people get carried away. It asked the question of whether a world ruled by women would really be better than one ruled by men? The power didn’t really rebalance the problem, it overbalanced it in the other direction.

In other books, in books where women weren’t on top some of these women would be praised as being powerful women, but in a world where they have the natural advantage they sometimes use that power for bad. As the story went on things got darker, and at times it was hard to see right from wrong, because things need to change- but is there such a thing as too much change?

In terms of readability it was a pretty easy read, and the writing style did remind me a bit of YA, not that that’s a bad thing. In fact ‘The Power’ could probably be a YA book if some bits were less graphic.

The other half was a bit sceptical of this book in general, he didn’t really get why they needed a power to balance things, and that says it all really- that we try and balance things but still it’s hard to be a woman.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£12.75)

Other Reviews:

Murder Underground Broke the Camel’s Back

Heavenali

Sam Still Reading

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Word By Word

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Children’s Hour: What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?


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.

I’ve read What Shall We Do With the Boo-Hoo Baby?  to the toddlers a few times now, and it’s pretty popular. It’s a fairly simple story, the baby is crying and car, duck, dog and cow are trying to make it stop, with little success.

It’s a repetitive story. Each animal makes a suggestion of what to do, and they do it, whilst making their noises, but still the baby goes ‘Boo-Hoo-Hoo’. The kids like the noises, especially when I ‘cry’ boo-hoo-hoo, but I’m surprised that they’re not yet joining in with the repetitive bits. We also managed to stay quiet after reading so we didn’t wake the baby (if only we could manage this when some of the other toddlers are sleeping!).

In general I would say that after 2 it would probably be to basic, but it could work for younger children.

The edition we have is dual language Romanian and English, but you can get it in just English and in other dual languages

Buy it:

Paperback (new and used from £0.01)

Board Book (new and used from £0.01)

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The House Cup Reading Challenge


I saw The House Cup Reading Challenge on Tomes with Tea and it looked like so much fun that I had to join in. As a proud Hufflepuff I’m joining the ‘puff team which is headed up by Kelsey. I’ll start off with the questionnaire then post the board before my choices which I’ll add to as I go.

Hogwarts Student Questionnaire

Name: Lucybird

Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff

Wand Type: Redwood and Unicorn Hair 11″

Pet: A cat, named Lyra (after His Dark Materials)

Favorite Subject: Potions

Favorite Professor: Lupin

First Year: reader’s choice
Second Year: reader’s choice
Third Year: reader’s choice
Fourth Year: reader’s choice
Fifth Year: reader’s choice
Sixth Year: reader’s choice
Seventh Year: reader’s choice

Gryffindor: Read a book with an epic hero/heroine
Hufflepuff: Read a book that contains a strong friendship
Ravenclaw: Read a book that revolves around a mystery
Slytherin: Read a book set in a dystopian world The Handmaid’s Tale
Astronomy Class: Read a book set in outer space
Care of Magical Creatures: Read a book that features an animal or magical/mythical creature
Tri-Wizard Tournament: Read a book that includes a competition
Occlumency: Read a book about a character with magical abilities or superpowers
Death Eater: Read a book told from the POV of a villain
Platform 9 3/4: Read a book that features travel
Time Turner: Read a book set in the future or past
Fantastic Beasts: Read a spin-off to a beloved series Lyra’s Oxford or The Book of Dust
Dumbledore’s Army: Buddy-read a book with a friend or group Autumn

Find the challenge at Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf

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Children’s Hour: Mr Big


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.

When I picked up Mr Big  I was a little unsure as to the length for the toddlers, but we needed something new and interesting, so I offered this and another new book (which will probably be next week’s Children’s Hour), and they picked this one.

Ed Vere is also the author of Banana which was very popular with the pre-schoolers, but very reader dependant. ‘Mr Big’ tells its own story. The story is about Mr Big who is so big that everyone is scared of him, and all he wants is some friends. Mr Big buys a piano, and the beautiful music he plays lets everyone see his soft side.

It’s a beautiful story about not judging by what you see, about emotions, about the importance of friends, and the beauty of music. You could probably write an adult book on the same themes if you padded it out a bit.

Anyway, yes the kids did miles better with it than I thought they would. They actually listened (or at least most of them) and the only way really they didn’t sit nicely was because they wanted to leap up and see the pictures and point at things- which you can’t really say is a bad thing.

Ed Vere’s pictures are bright, and beautiful, and engaging, they really helped the kids to see Mr Big as a person and to want to know about him (him being a monkey probably helped too)

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Children’s Hour: I Want my Potty


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.

We have got quite a few toddlers potty training recently so it was time to get out I Want My Potty.  It’s a book which has been popular with plenty of toddlers over the years I’ve been working at the nursery, but this particular group seem to be obsessed.

The story follows The Little Princess as she learns to use the potty, and how she grows from disliking it to finding it fun. She does some silly things with the potty, which I know some readers wouldn’t find helpful, but our kids find it funny, and you still talk about whether that’s what we do with a potty which gets a conversation going.

In one scene The Little Princess decides to wear the potty on her head! Two of our toddlers did this with our play potties and came to show me laughing and saying they were the princess! (I wish I could show you a picture, it was so cute!)

They have also taken just to carrying this particular book around. Not necessarily to read, more to possess (oh little budding bibliophiles!)

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.94)

Hardback (£4.99)

Kindle (£4.49)

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Choose to Rise: The Victory Within- M. N. Mekaelian


Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis. 

One day Vartan Hagopain, a well respected professor approaching retirement, collapses whilst teaching a class and is shouting of a woman his grandchildren have never heard of. This brings his brother Armen to share a story which he had been keeping a secret since he was a teenager.

It’s the story of their life during and just before the Armenian Genocide.

Review

I mainly agreed to read this book because I knew nothing about the Armenian Genocide, a part of history which I think has largely been forgotten due to it coinciding, but not being a part of, the first world war. I tend to find stories are a good way to learn about history because they make it more real than a handful of facts.

When it came to the actual events of the Armenian Genocide itself I think this book did do quite well. It was almost brutal in the amount of detail which was given, and those who are sensitive to gore may dislike it- but that’s how it should be. I liked how Mekaelian showed both the horrible side of the genocide but also how the Armenians and sometimes others living in the Ottoman empire showed compassion and generosity even when it caused them to be at risk.

Having said this I found the first 75% of the novel difficult. I felt not much was really happening, and some things were pretty unbelievable. I almost gave up a few times.

The beginning was quite exciting, but in reflection it was pointless. There were other ways to be able to tell the story, and it made me think that it might have just been included so that the free 10% given by kindle would encourage people to buy it. Whilst this part of the story was referred to occasionally throughout the novel those parts weren’t needed either.

After the rather exciting start the tempo really slowed down are Armen started his story. The story is very much Vartan’s story to start with, but it is told by Armen. I often got frustrated at how much Armen seemed to know about Vartan’s life even when he wasn’t present. I can’t imagine that even the closest of brothers would reveal such deep thoughts and feelings to each other, and some of the smaller events probably wouldn’t be shared either. It made the writing seem a bit clunky to me, and I think that if Mekaelian wanted to get both the brothers side of things and stories then he would have been better telling the story in a different way than completely in Armen’s voice.

I also found Vartan’s relationship with Nadia to be rather superficial and unbelievable. I couldn’t see where the love was coming from. Maybe that is because it was told in Armen’s voice, but it wasn’t detailed enough to be a love story.

There was also a sort of philosophical element which seemed like it was jammed in to give meaning to the events. And, whilst something like that would have an effect on someone’s outlook on life I don’t think it needed to be a solution for Armen searching for something.

All the different elements did make me wonder if the author really knew what he wanted to write about. Did he want to write a story about the Armenian Genocide? Did he want a coming of age novel? Did he want a story of everyday life for Armenians? Did he want a love story? It just seemed a bit like he’d crammed lots of ideas together.

In terms of learning about the Armenian Genocide it probably made it worth reading for me, however there are probably better ways to learn about it, and maybe even other novels?

2.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.19)

Paperback (£16.38)

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Children’s Hour: My Mum


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.

When I was in pre-school earlier today one of the children came to show me My Mum, I have seen it before, but never discussed it on here. She first wanted to show me all the pictures and told me the story in her own words, then she asked me to read it.

The story is pretty simple. With each picture there is a description of what the child’s Mum is like “My Mum is as soft as a kitten, and as tough as a rhino” with the pictures showing Mum like that. The pictures are obviously the Mum because they wear the same pattern as her. Each section ends with a variant of “She’s really nice, my Mum” which gradually makes Mum sound even better.

The combination of pictures and the repetitive formula make it an easy story for the kids to read to themselves, but isn’t so repetitive that it’s boring. The pictures are beautiful and well thought out.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£5.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

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Filed under Children's, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: Mr Bear Says ‘Can I Have a Hug?’


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.

Mr Bear Says ‘Can I Have a Hug?’ (or Owl as one of our children calls it) is just right for our current group of toddlers, quite a few of whom don’t have the focus for a longer picture book. I managed to read this and another in the same series before I felt they wouldn’t focus for any longer. In this one Mr Bear is looking for someone to hug, but nobody i quite right. The spider is too small, the owl’s feathers make him sneeze, but baby bear is just right.

It reminds me a little bit of the That’s not my… books, but with more variety of descriptive words. The kids loved it when we acted out hugging the different animals, which made this one more popular than the other.

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The Circle- Dave Eggers


Synopsis

‘The Circle’ is the biggest internet company in the world, with technological arms which reach into many areas of life. Mae Holland is one of the lucky ones who gets a job at The Circle, and her life is going to completely change

 

Review

Note: For purposes of this review ‘The Circle’ refers to the book and The Circle refers to the company which is the topic of the book.

When ‘The Circle’ was first released there were a lot of people on my blogroll reading it, and many raving about it. At the time I sort of liked the concept but my experience of the only other Dave Eggers book I’ve read (‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’) sort of put me off. When I finally picked it up it was because it was on kindle daily deal. I kind of wish I hadn’t judged the book by its author because I actually really liked ‘The Circle’.

The book has been described as being a dystopian novel, which is probably accurate, although what makes it really scary and sort of uncomfortable is how close it is to life now, and how at first it doesn’t seem like anything is really that bad, in fact most of the things The Circle are doing seem almost good. It’s only when it’s too late that you realise those things which seemed good are actually not so great, and it makes you question where the line is. At what point did the things The Circle was doing become bad? Or were they always bad?

The Circle is a sort of blend of google and facebook. There’s a social element which is similar to facebook, but then they are all over the place through their ‘true you’ program which means you only ever need to remember one login for everything, banking, shopping, social media. This sounds sort of good, right, convenient? Then they’re into social justice, documenting things for accountability, like demonstrations, you can see where violence might start, and it’s a public place, anyone could see it anyway. It’s not that different from videos being posted on youtube to show what governments are doing. That’s good, right? We want governments to be accountable.

‘The Circle’ has kept popping back into my head since I read it. Part of it was that it got me thinking about fine lines and privacy, and accountability. Part of it is that real life kept making me think of it. Not long after I’d read it I saw that facebook had started a feature where you can see how many people have reacted to your recent posts. Like wow look how popular you are Like! I don’t care about that for my personal account (maybe a little for the blog facebook), at the time I might want to talk to my friends about what I’d posted, or I might appreciate someone’s reaction to it, but I don’t really care about how many people it is. I’m not a big facebook poster anyway.

I would say that ‘The Circle’ does make you think and I would recommend it. Quite a few people dislike it because they find Mae hard to sympathise with, she’s not really a likeable character, so if you have to like your main character then I would maybe leave this one, but her being that way is part of what makes the book what it is.

4.5/5

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Other Reviews:

Leeswammes Blog

Book Journey

Nylon Admiral

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There’s still time! If you haven’t entered my giveaway of ‘Yes Means Yes’ why not?!

 

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Filed under Contempory, Dystopian, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: Sometimes I Feel Sunny


It’s been so long since I last did a Children’s Hour that apparently photobucket won’t let me use my graphic anymore 😦 Hopefully I’ll be able to get back on schedule now I’m back at work, and I’ll try to sort a graphic for next week

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.

One of my colleagues bought Sometimes I feel Sunny for the toddlers (who I now work with again) to cover an emotions topic with them it’s been the book I’ve found them most engaged with as a group since I moved in there. The toddlers are all usually 2 but we have quite a few who just moved up from baby room and aren’t quite 2 yet.

I think the book was pretty well aimed for the age group. The pictures are bold and simple, and the colours do a good job of showing how the different emotions feel which may be more accessible to those who don’t have the language to express how they feel yet. Plus the expressions on the faces are simple without being unrecognisable as those emotions (as I often find with simple pictures to show emotion).

The words are quite simple too with a repeating phase of “Sometimes I feel…(emotion)” and an example with the illustrative picture.

Whether it’s actually helping the kids understand their emotions is hard to tell, but at least they enjoy it and stay engaged!

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If you haven’t already head over to my review of ‘Yes Means Yes‘ for a chance to win a copy

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Armada- Ernest Cline


Synopsis

Zack Lightman is a video game addict. He spends hours playing Armada and is one of the top players in the world. Then one day he sees a spaceship outside the window, and the really strange thing? It’s a spaceship he recognises from Armada, is he going crazy, or is it something else?

Review

I read Armada as part of Dewey’s Readathon and it was a pretty perfect choice for a readathon. It was easy to read and engaging, I got to geek out, and I didn’t have to think about it too hard. It took a little time to really get going but once it did I was really hooked and it took me less than a day to read the whole thing.

I had bought Armada as a present for my partner after he loved Ready Player One, and I read it because I loved ‘Ready Player One’ too. The boyfriend described it as reading like a book written on the way to getting to ‘Ready Player One’, very similar in lots of ways, but not quite there yet. I get that completely. It wasn’t quite up to the awesomeness that was ‘Ready Player One’, but it had a lot of the same sort of geeky references which were one of the good things about ‘Ready Player One’.

Armada’s storyline is probably a bit more relatable than ‘Ready Player One’, but it makes it less of a fantasy and less escapist too. It also means that you don’t have quite as strong a feeling towards the characters. And it makes it more predictable, I guessed at least some of the plot beforehand and although I still enjoyed it but I like it when plots keep me guessing.

If you’ve not read any Ernest Cline I would go for ‘Ready Player One’ first, but ‘Armada’ may fill some of the void which was left (or may be a big disappointment if you believe some other reviewers, views are very mixed)

4/5

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Other reviews:

Annette’s Book Spot

Leeswammes’ Blog

Silly Little Mischief

Words for Worms

Book Journey

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Gather the Daughters- Jennie Melamed


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis

A remote community lives on an island, the only place that is safe after a disaster left the rest of the world as a wastelands. Only the wanderers have seen the wastelands, where they go to forage for supplies, and occasionally save survivors.

There are rules to the island. The men lead, it is the women’s job to keep house and birth children, which they start to do on their first ‘Summer of Fruition’.

But one year a girl, who is soon to become a woman, sees something which starts the girls questioning what they had always been told, and that things had to be the way they are.

Review

I really raced through this book, it reads like a pretty standard dystopian YA novel, but it has some really dark subject matters which are hinted at; rape, domestic violence, paedophillia, murder, anorexia, and persecution. The community follows the laws laid down by the ancestors in ‘Our book’, and in this sense and the way that the community was quite basic and old-fashioned made me think of the Amish (although I wouldn’t expect the Amish to have a community who raped their daughters as a ‘normal’ thing).

Looking back it does seem that that Melamed wanted to add as many issues as she possibly could, but at the time of reading I found that I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next, so I guess that was actually a good thing.

At the beginning I found it a little difficult to define the characters from each other, but as I got to know them better I found them easier to distinguish. I ended up really liking Janey, she was strong, I would call her a role model but I’m not sure she is really a good one, whilst her actions have fairly sound reasoning behind them they aren’t always the best choices, and I can see some parents not wanting their kids to read the books because of it.

Other reviews I’ve read have described ‘Gather the Daughters’ as too depressing. Whilst I don’t think it is too depressing I also would say that if you like to read light and easy books it won’t be for you. Overall though I would recommend it.

4/5

‘Gather the Daughters’ is released on 25/7/17 in hardback and kindle editions and on 5/4/18 in paperback

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Other Reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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Filed under Dystopian, Fiction review, YA

The Accidental Woman- Jonathan Coe


Synopsis

Maria is a woman who is drifting through life. Things happen to her, but she has little drive in what happens. We follow her life for fifteen years, starting just before she starts university.

 

Review

I found The Accidental Woman a little awkward. It’s Coe’s first novel and bares little resemblance to his others. The style of writing is different, and although it is interesting in its difference it also feels a bit like it was used to spread out a story where nothing much really happens.

Coe himself is the narrator, he tells Maria’s story as an author, referring to himself as such. At times this is somewhat amusing because he suggests that he might know how the reader is feeling, but then proceeds not to follow the thought pattern of the reader. In this way he ends up going off on tangents, saying he will tell us about something, then taking a chapter to talk about something else. It is this that makes it seem like a device to spread out the story, but it also makes the reader feel a little like Maria- powerless.

Maria was unlikeable. She seemed so unconnected to her own life, things happened to her and she just let them happen. She would want things but never go for them. She liked to think of herself as somewhat of a loner, but she had friends who she didn’t make any effort with, or any effort to keep, even when she liked them (which was rare).

At a few points it did seem like there was going to be more of a plot, but those points were never explored (which I suppose is Maria’s way), and that was frustrating as a reader.

If you’ve read other novels by Coe you may like to explore the differences in his style by reading ‘The Accidental Woman’, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as your first Coe- maybe ‘The Rotter’s Club’ instead

2.5/5

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The Lake House- Kate Morton


Synopsis

Whilst on enforced holiday police officer Sadie Sparrow stumbles across an abandoned house that holds a secret. 70 years ago a young child went missing and was never found. Sadie decides to revisit the case and see if she can solve it.

Reveiw

I really enjoy Kate Morton’s books, I like the combinations of mystery, history and relationships. The Lake House is a little bit different, it has more of a ‘standard’ mystery story about it, mainly because it involves an unsolved crime and the actual police where her others are generally more about the people who are involved in the mystery. It still definitely had her personal element, looking at the way the past had affected people now. From how Sadie’s own past had an effect on her to how the child’s own family had been affected by his disappearance.

There were a lot of theories banded about, at first I thought that maybe ‘The Lake House’ was an earlier book by Morton which had been republished because I always felt I was one step ahead of Sadie. Thinking about it a bit more closely though I think that made me be more closely entangled with what Sadie was thinking, and I had more information than Sadie as the book would shift between times, and included sections where you saw into the minds of different people involved.  This gave not just a good look into the mystery, but also a look at the lives and minds of those involved.

There were a couple of things I disliked I thought that (highlight for spoiler) Constance’s killing of Mr LLewellyn just didn’t seem like it was really needed for the story and I found that (highlight for spoiler)Bertie actually being Theo was just a bit too convenient, it fact it slightly spoiled the end of the book for me, maybe I just like a few loose ends.  It didn’t quite hold my attention as well as other Morton books either.

3.5/5

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Other reviews:

The Book Musings

Silver’s Reviews

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical, Mystery

Children’s Hour: Jack and the Beanstalk


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.
A few months ago we got a forest school put into our nursery. The kids loved it, and still do, and we found it really sparked the imagination of some of the children. One of the children suggested that the posts for the hammocks (which we put up as an when) could be candles for a giant’s birthday cake, so that started us off on a whole topic about the giant who had visited our forest school. Of course we needed to find out more about giants so we read Jack and the Beanstalk.

I think there is a reason why some stories stay around for a long time, and the kids certainly enjoyed this one. They used what they had learnt from the book to facilitate their play, from hiding, to cutting down the big tree so that he would fall.

The edition which we have is a lift-the-flap book (it’s the same as the one shown and linked below) which is always something which helps to engage the kids because they love lifting the flaps. They asked to read it quite a few times after it had first been introduced, and a lot of them could tell parts of the story off by heart. We even had one parent coe in and tell us that their son had been talking about Jack and the Beanstalk at home- which is really lovely to hear.

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Small Great Things- Jodi Picoult


Synopsis

When the baby of .a white supremacist dies fingers point to black nurse Ruth who had been banned from caring for the child.

Review

I was excited about reading ‘Small Great Things’ as I generally really enjoy what Picoult writes, but I was also a little unsure. For a white author to write in the voice of a black woman could be problematic, I was concerned about stereotypes, or just that generally the character wouldn’t be right. Thinking about it more I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about it, after all part of Picoult’s writing is about people who aren’t herself. She can never be a black woman, but then she can never be a male lawyer with epilepsy either, or a child who speaks to God (or at least she can’t be that and a teenage witch, school shooter, abused teenager, abused child, suicide victim) so why shouldn’t she be able to imagine the voice of a black woman?

Whether she wrote an actual realistic representation of a black woman, I can’t say, but I didn’t think that it was stereotypical, and I did think that an interesting view was put on racism which seemed rather empathic. Whether she was actually a believable character is a bit of a moot point, because Picoult definitely did a good job of highlighting, sometimes unnoticed, elements of prejudice and racism.

What I was more surprised about was how Picoult managed to make the voice of the white supremacist a voice which couple be understood and sympathised with- beyond simply as the voice of a man who had lost his child. It wasn’t so much that you could understand why he was racist as you could see how someone could fall into that life.

There was one part of the story which I did find hard to believe, and I don’t think it was really needed. Maybe Picoult just wanted a twist at the end. I won’t say what it was because of spoilers.

I found when I started writing this review that ‘Small Great Things’ is being made into a film– lets hope a better job is made of it as there was on ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’

4//5

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Other Reviews:

Annette’s Book Stop

So Many Books, So Little Time

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

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Beelzebelle- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Beelzebelle is the fifth book in the Clovenhoof series

Synopsis

Only Jeremy Clovenhoof could accidentally acquire a baby, but he’s ready to be a Dad- in his own way.

Meanwhile Michael has discovered a new church, Ben has found a new hobby in taxidermy, and there is a wild beast roaming around Sutton Coldfield.

Review

I’m glad to see the series back with Clovenhoof, not that I didn’t like the others, I just missed that group.

Clovenhoof approaches parenthood like no other, including hiring a monkey assistant  and joining a mother’s group in a quest for milk for the baby. Of course things don’t quite go to plan, especially as he’s not really the baby’s father!

A lot of the more action-y part of the story is focussed around Michael who finds a new church which rewards its members for ‘good deads’, a bit like a supermarket loyalty card. and also, accidently creates a beast in the lab where he works.

As with most of the clovenhoof novels most of the action is towards the end, but there is an amusing journey to get there.

4/5 

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Our Endless Numbered Days- Claire Fuller


Synopsis (written by me!)

When Peggy is young she goes on a trip with her father to a cut off area of the woods, her father tells her that the world has ended, and everyone she knew is dead. They are the only survivors and must keep themselves alive living off the land.  The story is told looking back after Peggy has found the world again, and discovered that her father was lying.

Review

It took me a very long time to get into this book, I as reading it for months. I was in the middle of a slump, which probably was a part of it, but the story was slower than I had expected, and a lot of the time not much was really happening. Towards the end it picked up a lot, and I read the last, maybe third, quite quickly. I’m not sure that last section actually brought up the story enough for me to recommend it, but it probably just about made it worthwhile for me as someone who had already started it.

As I’m writing this review more bits of the book are coming back to me from what was quite hazy. There were some good plot points throughout, although not enough to make me eager to read. They were nice little touches though, and they might be enough for others.

Looking at other reviews it seems to be a very much ‘marmite’ book, so I suppose it might be worth giving a try, although it seems that if you don’t like it close to the

3/5

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Other Reviews

Me, My Shelf and I

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Word By Word

 

 

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Children’s Hour: The Lion Inside


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.

I bought The Lion Inside for the kids when I got a new copy of Bear Hunt for our workshop, because it was on the same offer. At the moment we have a group of kids who re really rowdy, and some of them find storytime/carpet time really difficult to sit through and listen during, so I was looking for a book which would engage them (because I know they can be engaged). The Lion Inside did a pretty good job; if anything too good a job because rather than jumping up to mess around or turning and poking their friends they were jumping up to look at the pictures or ask questions (which is a good reason to jump up, just makes it difficult for the other kids).

The story is about a mouse who wants to make friends and be noticed, but is too small and too quiet, so she decides to ask the loud, popular, lion to . teach her how to roar. It’s a nice story about friendship, and being brave, and about judging others. I was hoping it would teach that you don’t have to be loud to be noticed- I’m not sure that quite got through though!

The pictures are beautiful, I especially like the image below, where the lion looks big and scary- although you soon find that he is not what you expect!

There was one line in the book which almost stopped me from buying it “If you want to change, you first have to change you”, it sort of suggests that you should change for others, although it’s later shown not to be true. I’m not sure the kids got this subtlety, although one asked about the line so I could explain it anyway!

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Hellzapoppin’- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Synopsis (from amazon)

Life at St Cadfan’s is never dull. There’s the cellar full of unexplained corpses. There’s the struggle to find food when the island is placed under quarantine. And there’s that peculiar staircase in the cellar… Being a demon in Hell has its own problems. There’s the increasingly impossible torture quotas to meet. There’s the entire horde of Hell waiting for you to slip up and make a mistake. And there’s that weird staircase in the service tunnels… Brother Stephen of St Cadfan’s and Rutpsud of the Sixth Circle, natural enemies and the most unnatural of friends, join forces to solve a murder mystery, save a rare species from extinction and stop Hell itself exploding. The fourth novel in the Clovenhoof series, Hellzapoppin’ is an astonishing comedy featuring suicidal sea birds, deadly plagues, exploding barbecues, dancing rats, magical wardrobes, King Arthur’s American descendants, mole-hunting monks, demonic possession and way too much seaweed beer.

Review

Hellzapoppin’ is the fourth book in the Clovenhoof series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. We have seen the characters in previous books in the series, but they were minor characters, and the events in the previous books they appeared in don’t really have an effect on the events in this one (I would recommend reading the others anyway).

This one did take a little more getting into than the first couple (probably about the same as Godsquad though), and it had less of an action focus.

I did like seeing the image of what Hell might be like though- again a little bit of a poke at bureaucracy that we first saw in Clovenhoof. I also likes the friendship between Ratspud and Stephen. It seems like an unlikely friendship- a monk and a demon, but actually they ended up bringing out the best in each other.

I also liked some of the odd inventions in hell, and the inclusion of Escher and C.S Lewis. If you know the work of Escher you can probably imagine how hellish a piece of architecture based on his work could be. C.S Lewis is known for being a Christian and his Christian writings so it’s interesting to see him here, ‘on loan’ from Heaven.

escheromhoogomlaag

I enjoyed the comedy of the events at the monastery, even the dark humour which isn’t always to my taste.

Part of the reason I picked up Hellzapoppin’ was because of my loss of reading mojo, which I thought this might get through, and I was right.

4/5

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Children’s Hour: Our Bear Hunt Workshop *Special*


Children’s Hour is a feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog on Thursdays where I look 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 currently work with the pre-schoolers (aged 3-4) so most of my readings are to them.

This week I am not talking about a book as such, but about an afternoon we had based around our favourite book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

One of our parents had suggested a story hour as a workshop idea as her kid loves stories, but most of our kids couldn’t sit and listen to stories for that long! So I decided to do a story based workshop instead, based around Bear Hunt.

We started off reading the story together, and it was really nice to have the children and the parents joining in. Then we had a talk about how the bear felt (sad, because he wanted to be friends) before doing some bear hunt related activities. (unfortunately child protection means I can’t put any photos).

We had planting seeds, for the grass. This was popular but most of the kids were more interested in just chucking all the dirt in the pots, and one of the kids put soil in the water, which meant we then couldn’t use the water for the river.

For the snow storm we had some coloured ice with things frozen in it. The girls especially seemed to like this one, one of the girls actually stayed doing it for a whole hour! This might have been because of the gems hidden in one of the ice pieces. The boys became more interested about it when they saw that there was a tiger in some of the ice!

For the forest we had painting with sticks, this didn’t seem that popular, which sort of surprised me, but one kid did lots of pictures and said he prefered painting with sticks over brushes.

The ‘mud’ was very popular, but also very messy! We had making muddy footprints with brown paint. Part of the mess issue with this is that the kids who didn’t have parents there were sort of taking over and it . was something that needed supervision.

Probably the most popular bit though was the cave and the bears. I put this in our forest school area, making a covered ‘cave’ area, hiding bears and leaving torches. The idea was for the kids to see how many bears that they could find, but to be honest they were more interested in just using the torches.

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Didn’t Get Frazzled- David Z. Hirsch


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Medical student Seth Levine faces escalating stress and gallows humor as he struggles with the collapse of his romantic relationships and all preconceived notions of what it means to be a doctor. It doesn’t take long before he realizes not getting frazzled is the least of his problems.

Seth encounters a student so arrogant he boasts that he’ll eat any cadaver part he can’t name, an instructor so dedicated she tests the student’s ability to perform a gynecological exam on herself, and a woman so captivating that Seth will do whatever it takes to make her laugh, including regale her with a story about a diagnostic squabble over an erection.

Review

The author of ‘Didn’t Get Frazzled’ (whose name isn’t actually David Z. Hirsch, that’s a pen name) is a doctor, and that made me a puzzle a lot of the time over how much was true and how much of this story was made up. I’d like to think that most of the actual medical stuff was true, but with patients and doctors given different names, but that the personal stuff was more made up. I at least would expect medical fact to be true.

It compares fairly closely to ‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly’ which I think is part of what confused me. It probably is a bit more accessible though because of the extra personal details given. Although I think I would be perfectly happy with just the medical bits to be honest, they were the sections which interested me the most.

Overall I really did enjoy it, there was just one section, where Seth and his friends went to a sort of sex club which I didn’t like, and found completely unneeded to the plot.

I would recommend it though. It’s an interesting, engaging, sometimes funny, and easy read, You could probably read it in one sitting if you had time.

4/5

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Inside the O’Briens- Lisa Genova


Synopsis (from amazon)

Joe O’Brien is a Boston cop; his physical stamina and methodical mind have seen him through decades policing the city streets, while raising a family with his wife Rosie. When he starts making uncharacteristic errors, he attributes them to stress. Finally, he agrees to see a doctor and is handed a terrifying, unexpected diagnosis: Huntington’s disease.

Not only is Joe’s life set to change beyond recognition, but each of his four grown children has a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting the disease. Observing her potential future play out in his escalating symptoms, his pretty yoga teacher daughter Katie wrestles with how to make the most of the here and now, and how to care for her dad who is, inside, always an O’Brien.

Review

‘Inside the O’Briens’ was one of my favourite reads of last year (along with ‘Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole’). It has the same sort of emotional grip of Genova’s previous novel, Still Alice, but rather than most of the emotion being focused on the ‘sufferer’ a lot is focused on the family, who can see what may come to be, and who don’t know if they want to know.

In a way the more family focused plot line is more accessible than the story of Joe himself, it’s hard to imagine yourself being ill, but easier to think of the type of dread that you may experience when you know you might be ill.

In lots of ways Inside the O’Briens is like Still Alice, except that the illness is more physical than neurological (or should I say the symptoms are as Huntington’s is a neurological disease). Like Alice, Joe was loosing a major part of himself, as a police officer his job was very physical where Alice’s required her memory and intellect. It’s hard not to compare them.

Genova’s neurological background means that the story is both realistic, and factually accurate. Her skill as a writer means that the story reads not like a dry case study, but like a compassionate look at how the medical facts can impact on real people. It is not a true story, but you can well imagine that it could be.

You can find out more about Huntington’s Disease at The Huntington Disease Association

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.99)

Paperback (£7.99)

Other reviews:

So Many Books So Little Time

Book Journey

Same Still Reading

So Many Books So Little Time (yes it is a different one!)

Words For Worms

 

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Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole- Allan Ropper and David Brian Burrell


Synopsis (from amazon)

What is it like to try to heal the body when the mind is under attack? In this gripping and illuminating book, Dr Allan Ropper reveals the extraordinary stories behind some of the life-altering afflictions that he and his staff are confronted with at the Neurology Unit of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr Ropper inhabits a place where absurdities abound: a sportsman who starts spouting gibberish; an undergraduate who suddenly becomes psychotic; a mother who has to decide whether a life locked inside her own head is worth living. How does one begin to treat such cases, to counsel people whose lives may be changed forever? Dr Ropper answers these questions by taking the reader into a world where lives and minds hang in the balance.

Review

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole was one of my five star reads last year, but my lack of blogging means I haven’t actually reviewed it yet.

In fact I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction drive over the last year. In so far as I’ve been reading this year proportionally I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction.

It’s a little bit like ‘The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly’ combined with ‘House’. Lots of real life medical symptoms which seem to have obscure reasons behind them. That tends to be a lot of physical symptoms which have neurological causes, or neurological or psychological symptoms which actually have a physical cause. It’s part of what I always found interesting about House, so it’s even more interesting to see it in real life.

In other ways it’s a lot like some of Oliver Saks work. However I found it easier to read than the things that Saks had written (and I’ve read).

I also liked that you got to see a bit of the hospital itself and also the authors own learning curve. It added a little something. I guess you could say it’s a human element which you don’t get from standard case studies.

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.64)

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£17.99)

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Filed under Fiction review, health, non-fiction review, psychology (non-fiction)

Year in Review 2016


2016 hasn’t been the best year when it comes to reading, and when it comes to blogging things have been even worse.

I’ve read 27 books, considering that at one point I was averaging two a week this is a big dip, and quite a few of those were short books.

Slowly things are getting back on track, and I’m hoping to read more, and blog more in 2017.

I rated three books as 5 stars in 2016. I’ve only reviewed one so far;

Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline which is really a book you have to read. I put it off because I wasn’t sure if it was my thing, and how I regretted it.

The other two are; a none fiction book about brain disorders, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan Ropper and Brian David Burrell, which is really interesting.

And Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova, a story about a man diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, and his children who may also have the disease in their futures.

I’m not going to talk about my disappointing reads this year, mainly because I think that my lack of concentration may have made me less tolerant of harder books.

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Filed under Fiction review, general, Musings, non-fiction review

Bookish Gifts 2016


It’s almost Christmas again so time for our round-up of Christmas bookish gifts.

Prices are correct at time of publication, and only amazon links are affiliate links.

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Barbar ‘Yoga for Elephants’ tote bag

Out of Print Clothing

$18

 

 

 

 

‘When in Doubt go to the Library’ t-shirtwhen_in_doubt_library_t-shirt

The Literary Gift Company

£19.95

 

 

 

 

gone-snitchHarry Potter Snitch t-shirt

Tee Public

$14

Banned Books Mug

Uncommon Goods

$12

bookmark-light-kyouei-designIlluminated Bookmark

DesignBoom Shop

$16

 

 

 

Silver Snitch Bracelet

Sour Cherrysilver_harry_potter_snitch_bracelet_design_2__08108-1448421539

£9

 

 

socks-1013-very-hungry-caterpillar-adult-socks_1_1024x1024The Very Hungry Caterpillar Socks

Out of Print Clothing

$10

 

 

 

 

Gryffindor Sword Letter Opener

Amazon

£41.53

 

il_570xn-988829323_luniSilver ‘Moby Dick’ Bookmark

Silverleafitaly @ etsy

£379.37

 

 

beetrix_potter_necklace_3__46853-14267851181

Mrs Tittlemouse Pendant

Sour Cherry

£10

 

 

 

1147512_16090912280046286936A Stay at the Tokyo Book and Bed Hotel

From ¥3,800

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Some Small Reviews, and Serial Reader


breakfast-serial-iconRecently I’ve been reading some books on an app called Serial Reader. Serial Reader is a free app, which I found out about on thingy thing. It has a number of  books on it (mainly classics) which are sent to the app in small bite sized chunks (of about 10 minutes worth of reading time) with one chunk being sent per day.

It’s really designed for people who don’t have time to read (who I don’t understand) but I find it’s good for when I’m waiting for a little time and don’t want to get involved in a whole book.

So far I’ve only been reading the shorter pieces, which I feel is more ideal, but you can read longer things, it just takes longer.

There is a Serial Reader premium, which allows you to read ahead and highlight, among other things.

So far I’ve read two books, and started two others, so I thought I’d review these. I also started Sun Tzu’s Art of War which I doubt I’ll finish but is on the Rory List

The Monkey’s Paw– W.W. Jacobs

Most people know the barebones of The Monkey’s Paw, at least anyone who has watched a few of The Simpson’s Halloween episodes. The  basic premise is that there is a monkey’s paw which gives the owner three wishes. However it is somewhat of a curse because of the way the stories came true.

It was pretty spooky, but had a little too much superfluous information which made the beginning drag, and the actual wishing bit was more brief than I expected. A quite entertaining little read.

If you would rather read it on your kindle it’s only 49p

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button– F Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who ages backwards, he is born as an old man, and dies as a baby.

My own knowledge of the story comes mainly from the film, the film lasts over two hours, so I knew they really must have stretched the plot to make a short story into such a long film. I think I expected a bit more similarity though.

It was an enjoyable read, and I think it did well as a short story (which I often find are lacking in something). I didn’t really feel much for Benjamin, but I think what was more interesting was how others reacted to him.

You can read this one on kindle for free (as part of Tales of the Jazz Age)

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Children’s Hour: Dinosaur Kisses


Children’s Hour is a new 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.

It was quite a long time ago that I read Dinosaur Kisses to the pre-schoolers, in fact I think I originally chose it from the library for the toddlers. However I do remember that they found it funny. In it Dinah, the dinosaur wants to give everybody a kiss but keeps getting it wrong, she just has too many teeth for kissing!

It’s a cute little book, and Dinah is a loving character. The kids loved laughing at her getting the kissing wrong, and they described what she was doing instead. Some of the reviewers on amazon seem to think that their kids would learn to bite instead of kiss because of it, which seems strange to me, but maybe for some kids if it’s not explained.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Film of the book- Still Alice


This post contains spoilers for the book and film of Still Alice.

I’ve been wanting to watch Still Alice for a long time. Having loved the book. and heard good things about the film. So I was excited, but also a bit unsure, mainly because when I love a book I see every problem in the film.

The film did stand up quite well. It stayed quite close to the original story, and it certainly pitched a punch emotionally, although not quite as well as the book. The thing with the book which was emotionally hard were the  questions to see how much she had forgot. They were in the film but they seemed less significant than in the book. Maybe it was because they were a word rather than an action thing, something harder to see than to read.

I was also put off by Kristen Stewart, but that was nothing to do with the plot or the way that she acted, her mannerisms just really grate on me. (And it doesn’t help that she was Bella, the worst character ever).

Buy it:

DVD (£5)

Blu-ray (£7)

Download (£5.99)

Free with Prime

 

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Children’s Hour: Banana (revisited)


Children’s Hour is a new 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.

When I first reviewed Banana I wasn’t the one reading it, and to be honest I don’t think my co-worker quite ‘got’ it. It wasn’t so popular with the toddlers. The pre-schoolers though wanted it again- straight away. (I am just going to say it was my reading 😉 ). The book only has two words, banana and please, really the story is in the tone of voice, and the pictures. Maybe that’s part of what made it better for the pre-schoolers, that they could recognise the emotions in the pictures more easily than the toddlers, and I, of course asked them how the monkey felt.

If you’re a bit theatrical it’s a great book to read, but if you’re more about reading what’s written I’d leave it.

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Delusions of Gender- Cordelia Fine


Synopsis (from amazon)

This is a vehement attack on the latest pseudo-scientific claims about the differences between the sexes – with the scientific evidence to back it up. Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory. Yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it’s our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, “Delusions of Gender” rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. Cordelia Fine reveals the mind’s remarkable plasticity, shows the substantial influence of culture on identity, and, ultimately, exposes just how much of what we consider ‘hardwired’ is actually malleable. This startling, original and witty book shows the surprising extent to which boys and girls, men and women are made – and not born.

Review

This book has been on my kindle since 2014 (according amazon anyway), which makes me wonder how long some of my ‘real’ books have been on the shelves unread.

I kind of wish I had read it sooner, but I’ve been on a bit of a roll when it comes to non-fiction recently, so maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind before.

It was a while ago so more exact details are lost to me, but there are certain things which still stand out, and in a way doesn’t that make for a better review? I was helped a little to remember by reading Ruth’s review (which I recommend).

Delusions of Gender did take a little getting into, in terms of a ‘sciencey’ book it was easy to read, and it was interesting, but not necessarily immediately engaging.

I did find some of the arguments a bit repetitive, which makes sense when you’re talking about different but similar studies, but not so much when you are talking about the same one. It is difficult though if you are referring to something said earlier to know how much to say to make sure the person you are writing to knows what you are referring to.

The main thing I got out of it really is about how much difference small things might be able to make, especially when a child is still trying to work out their identity. Would not gendering a child change this? I’m not so sure, at some point the child themselves would want to know what they are, and I’m sure they could work it out.

In a way those little things seem hopeless, because they’re the type of things that you don’t even think about, so how can you hope to have a gender neutral environment.

4/5

Buy:

Kindle (£4.68)

Paperback (£8.99)

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Filed under Feminism, Fiction review, non-fiction review, psychology (non-fiction)

Juliet, Naked- Nick Hornby


Synopsis (from amazon)

Annie lives in a dull town on England’s bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who’s gone into seclusion in rural America – or at least that’s what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker’s work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.

Review

Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this quickly, took me just over a day. I’m not convinced it’s all down to the book, I was phoneless at the time (ok that’s not quite true, I had the boyfriend’s old iphone which is so out of date that apps just aren’t compatible with it) so there were less distractions.

Part of it was the book though. Hornby is very readable, and the story was engaging. It had a bit of a High Fidelity feel about it, although I wouldn’t say it’s up to the same level.

Part of what I liked but also sort of disliked was that the characters were rather unlikeable. I suppose that makes them more real, which is good, but it did mean I didn’t feel that much of a connection with them.

The ending sort of fizzled out too which was disappointing but maybe true to life.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£8.99)

Kindle (£3.99)

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That Day in September- Artie Van Why


This review was originally posted 11/9/11.
You can buy a copy here

Lucybird's Book Blog

Cover of "That Day In September"

This book was sent to me free in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

We all have our stories to tell of where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. This is one of them. In “That Day In September” Artie Van Why gives an eyewitness account of that fateful morning. From the moment he heard “a loud boom” in his office across from the World Trade Center, to stepping out onto the street, Artie vividly transports the reader back to the day that changed our lives and our country forever. “That Day In September” takes you beyond the events of that morning. By sharing his thoughts, fears and hopes, Artie expresses what it was like to be in New York City in the weeks and months following. The reader comes away from “That Day In September” with not only a more intimate understanding of the…

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Love Anthony- Lisa Genova


Synopsis (from amazon)

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a ‘normal’ life was shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak, hated to be touched, almost never made eye contact. Then, just as Olivia was learning that happiness and autism could coexist after all, Anthony was gone.

Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman, Beth, brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way. In a piercing story about motherhood, autism and love, two unforgettable women discover the small but exuberant voice that leads them both to the answers they need.

Review

I’m becoming quite a fan of Lisa Genova, and I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. It still had the sort of knowledge I would expect of Genova, she obviously had more than a layman’s knowledge of autism, but that didn’t really feel like the centre of the story.

The story was more about the two women, and, although that story was somewhat involving, it didn’t have that extra kick that I expect from a Genova novel.

I felt like I was reading the novel waiting for the two stories, the stories of the two women, to intertwine. Part of that was I think because of the synopsis I read (which was the one above) which made it seem like there would be more of a relationship between the two women. The relationship was pretty intense, but it was also a while in coming.

I did enjoy it it just wasn’t a typical Genova.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.99)

Paperback (£7.99)

Currently part of amazon’s 3 of £10 promotion

Other reviews:

So Many Books, So Little Time

Reading With Tea

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

Children’s Hour: Stick Man


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.

Stick Man is a favourite for our pre-schoolers at the moment (we got this, Zog, A Squash and a Squeeze and Monkey Puzzle recently and Stick Man is the favourite). It’s about a stick man who keeps getting mistaken for a normal stick, with worse and worse consequences. It has Santa in it, so you could get away with using it as a Christmas book, but he’s barely in it, and Christmas is only in it a little too so it doesn’t have to be a Christmas book.

As with all Julia Donaldson books it has that tried and tested formula, rhyme and repetition, helped along by Axel Scheffler’s lovely illustrations.

It makes it easy to follow for the kids. They love joining i with “I’m Stick man, I’m Stick Man, I”M STICK MAN, that’s me”, and enjoying seeing the adults shouting and being silly too.

It’s on 3 for £10 on amazon at the moment too

Buy it:

Paoerback (£3.85)

Boardbook (£4.79)

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Children’s Hour: Help! The Wolf is Coming


Children’s Hour is a new 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.
Our Pre-schoolers really enjoyed Help! The Wolf is Coming. It’s maybe a little simple for pre-schoolers but it is fun. There’s not really that much of a plot, just the wold chasing the reader through the pages. With each turn of the page you try to do something different to get rid of him, which includes turning and shaking the book, that’s what makes it so much fun!

It’s good for teaching position words too, and the pictures are great

Buy it:

 Board Book (£6.99)

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Ready Player One- Ernest Cline


Synopsis (from amazon)

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

Review

I’d been hearing great things about Ready Player One, reviews that almost made me want to read it, but I didn’t really think it sounded like my type of book, so I didn’t seek it out.

Then I was trying to think of a present for my partner. I’d had a fair amount of success with books which sounded good but a little too fantasy or sci-fi for me, so Ready Player One came to mind.

My partner really enjoyed it, so, when my TBR pile wasn’t looking especially appealing, I decided to borrow it.

Oh how I wish I’d read it sooner. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sci-fi- which is the main thing that puts me off, but this book definitely fell on the love side of things.

It had everything, action, romance, intrigue. The geek in me loved it. A lot of people say that they liked the nostalgia element, but most of the things based o the past were from the 80s, I was born i 87 so a bit early for me, and I was’t a console player anyway which a lot was based o. Maybe if I was I would have enjoyed it eve more, but as it was I loved it.

5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.84)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Book Journey

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Silly Little Mischief

Ink and Page

Girl Vs Bookshelf

Leeswammes’ Blog

Words For Worms

Nylon Admiral

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

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Filed under Contempory, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction review

Oddjobs- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but someone still needs to do the paperwork.
Incomprehensible horrors from beyond are going to devour our world but that’s no excuse to get all emotional about it. Morag Murray works for the secret government organisation responsible for making sure the apocalypse goes as smoothly and as quietly as possible.
In her first week on the job, Morag has to hunt down a man-eating starfish, solve a supernatural murder and, if she’s got time, prevent her own inevitable death.

Review

I’ve been really enjoying the Clovenhoof books by Goody and Grant (I’m reading Hellzapoppin’ at the moment) so when they sent me an offer to read the first book from their new series I jumped at the chance.

Oddjobs has the same humourous tone that the Clovenhoof books do but I think it has a bit more of an edge to it.  It’s a little bit political, about work in general and probably a lot about more about government work (I’ve only ever really worked in that sector so I’m not sure how true it would be of other sectors).  Basically about red tape and silly ideas.

It has more action throughout that the Clovenhoof books too, which makes it readable in a different way.

Clovenhoof is probably a bit more easy going, but I think overall this might be a more interesting series, I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.50)

Paperback (£6.99)

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Jonathon Safron Foer


Synopsis (from amazon)

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.

Review

After loving Everything is Illuminated I had high hopes for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, maybe that’s why I was a little unimpressed. It took me a while to really get going, and it really didn’t have the emotion that I expected. I expected Oscar’s Dad’s death to be a major theme but it was more of a trigger point for the rest of the story.

There was a certain amount of emotion, but I’m pretty sure Oscar was autistic, or at least he didn’t show emotion in the ways most people would. It just didn’t hit me like I expected.

Reading on a kindle didn’t help either, there are pictures in the book, which were in the kindle version, but they were never very well displayed, whether that is just a kindle thing I’m not 100% sure, but I think it probably was.

In the end I did sort of enjoy it, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other reviews:

Knitting and Sundries

The Perpetual Page Turner

Lit and Life

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps- Michael Faber


Synopsis (from amazon)

Note: I don’t like this synopsis, but it’s the best of a bad bunch and I can’t write a better one myself, so…yeah

Siân, troubled by dark dreams and seeking distraction, joins an archaeological dig at Whitby. The abbey’s one hundred and ninety-nine steps link the twenty-first century with the ruins of the past and Siân is swept into a mystery involving a long-hidden murder, a fragile manuscript in a bottle and a cast of most peculiar characters. Equal parts historical thriller, romance and ghost story, this is an ingenious literary page-turner and is completely unforgettable.

Review

This is more a novella than a novel, which suits my reading habits right now.

The synopsis makes it sound more exciting that it really is, it’s more interesting than exciting. The story carried on nicely though, and was quite beautifully written, it’s no Crimson Petal and the White but it fills the gap well enough.

There’s not really that much of a story to it. The letter offers some intrigue, but it isn’t really used to the best it could be, and the romance was a bit everyday.

I did enjoy it enough though to be disappointed when my kindle copy ended at around 60%, and I felt a bit ripped off, I must admit the customer service at canongate were very good when I complained on twitter though.

Both editions listed below also contain the novella ‘The Courage Consort’

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.53)

Paperback (£8.99)

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Literary

The Seed Collectors- Scarlett Thomas


Synopsis (from goodreads)

Aunt Oleander is dead. In the Garden of England her extended family gather to remember her, to tell stories and to rekindle old memories. To each of her nearest and dearest Oleander has left a precious seed pod. But along with it comes a family secret that could open the hardest of hearts but also break the closest ties…

Review

I adored Pop Co. and loved The End of Mr Y, but the Scarlett Thomas books which I’ve read since have been a bit disappointing, not not good, just not as good. So I approached The Seed Collectors with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

I think with The Seed Collectors Thomas is getting back to the writer I love, the writer who I was excited to see new books by. I think the gap between this book and her last was bigger, and maybe that shows.

It’s still not as good as Pop Co. It took more time to fall into- more like The End of Mr Y- but I ended up loving it all the same.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected, I expected it to mainly be a book about the seeds, but it wasn’t really about the seeds much at all. I suppose you could say it was a story about a family, but that makes it sound boring. This isn’t some ‘normal’ family, everything is screwed up. Plus some of the people are vile, ok all of the people are pretty awful (so if you like to love your characters, this probably isn’t the one for you).

To be completely honest it’s not really very plot driven, but I really enjoyed it all the same and found myself reading it in the same sort of incessant way that I would normally only read a plot driven book in.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.22)

Paperback (£6.74)

Hardback £13.48)

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Which do I buy?


Help! I have a £10 amazon voucher and a list of 10 books I want. I can buy 3.

Which do I buy?





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Filed under Fiction review