Tag Archives: review: fiction

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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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

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

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other Reviews

Me, My Shelf and I

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Word By Word

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

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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Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£7.99)

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

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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Paperback (£12.89)

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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- Earnest 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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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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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)

Other reviews:

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link in comments

 

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A Tale For The Time Being- Ruth Ozeki


Synopsis (from amazon)

Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery.

In a small cafe in Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place – and voice – through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.

Review

‘A Tale for the Time Being’ marks the beginning of what I am calling my return to ‘normal’ reading, ok still not completely normal for me- I’m reading one book at a time rather than two. I’d had a few single books which have held my attention since my return to blogging, but now I’ve had a bit of a run, and I hope it’s not just due to the books I have chosen. (You can read a bit about my lack of reading here). Is it ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ which made me be able to come back to my old reading levels? I’m not sure, but I do know that I enjoyed it, I do know that I wanted to read it above other activities which require less concentration (and which I had been holding my interest more than reading), and II do know that since reading it I have read a number of other books which have held my attention (which I intend to review in due course).

So, yes, I really did enjoy ‘A Tale For the Time Being’, but actually I don’t know if I have anything significant to say about it.

It did take me a little time to get into, but once I did get into it I didn’t want to stop. I especially wanted to know what had happened to Nao, and Ruth’s story helped fuel that as she got so absorbed in Nao’s story.

I liked Nao’s voice. It made subjects which were sometimes very emotional easy to read, and her story really did sounds like she was telling it to a friend who she was slowly getting to know.

I certainly recommend it. Although if you can go for a paper copy rather than an ebook, I read the ebook and all the footnotes were at the end of the book, which doesn’t really work when you can’t flick through it!

4.5/5

Buy it:
Paperback (£8.99)
Kindle (£5.29)

Hardback (£16.59)

Other reviews:

The Relentless Reader

Words for Worms (contains spoilers)

Fay Simone

As the Crowe Flies (and Reads)

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

 

 

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The Radleys- Matt Haig


Synopsis (from amazon)

Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can’t sleep, can’t eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can’t go outside unless they’re smothered in Factor 50.

With a visit from their lethally louche Uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically.

Review

The Radley’s was on my wishlist for years, before I read The Humans, before The Humans was even released. I have a problem, I add things to my wishlist and never buy them, because when I’m in a bookshop (or to a lesser extent on an online store) I get distracted by books which are not on my wishlist, and end up buying them. I think I ended up buying The Radleys because it was on kindle deal.

I’m trying to think how to review without spoiling.

It’s somewhat of a coming of age novel, although not in a classic sense, because the thing which is making the Radley children grow up is not exactly normal. Also that there is a sort of coming of age novel for the parents too- who says you have o be a teenager to ‘come of age’?

At times it was sort of predictable, but that’s ok, I enjoyed it anyway.

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£8.99)
Kindle (£5.69)

Other reviews:

Reading With Tea

Leeswammes’ Blog

Knitting and Sundries

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

B Reading

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The Tiger’s Wife- Téa Obreht


Synopsis (from amazon)

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

(Isn’t the new cover awesome?)

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£7.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

Word by Word

Lit and Life

Nose in a Book

Page Turners

Literary Lindsey

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Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes


Synopsis (from amazon)

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.29)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£13.49)

Other reviews:

Plastic Rosaries

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Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsey



Double Dexter is the sixth novel in the Dexter Series.

Synopsis (from amazon)

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.74)

Kindle (£5.99)

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Children’s Hour: The Time it Took Tom


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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Paperback- new or used (from £3.40)

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Children’s Hour: Dinosaur Kisses


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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

Hardback (£11.99)

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Children’s Hour: I’m Not Sleepy


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

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

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

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

“I’m NOT sleepy”

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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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


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

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

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

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

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

“Shh! SHH! We have a plan”

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

“Hello Birdy!”

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

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

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.24)

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Children’s Hour: Ruby Roars


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

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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane- Neil Gaiman


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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£0.99)

Paperback (£3.85)

Other reviews:

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Under a Gray Sky

Alison Mccarthy

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

An Armchair by the Sea

Words for Worms

Chrisbookarama

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Children’s Hour: Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig


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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Boardbook (£4.99)

Paperback (£10.19)

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Children’s Hour: One Bear at Bedtime


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

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

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

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

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

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman



Synopsis (from amazon)

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

Review

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

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

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

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

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.96)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other Reviews:

Nylon Admiral

Words For Worms

Chrisbookarama

Literary Lindsey

 

 

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The Winter Guest- Pam Jenoff


Synopsis (from amazon)

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

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

Review

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

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

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

Both become stronger in their own ways.

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

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

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.03)

Paperback (£7.99)

Other Reviews:

Silver’s Reviews

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The Thirteenth Tale- Diane Setterfield


Synopsis (from goodreads)

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It got me guessing right up to the end.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Kindle (£3.66)

Other Reviews:

The Book Musings

Books at Violet Crush

HeavenAli

The Perpetual Page Turner

Reading With Tea

Alison Mccarthy

Words For Worms (Discussion, contains spoilers)

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

 

 

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Children’s Hour: Dinosaur Roar!


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

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

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

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

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

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£4.00)

Boardbook (£5.00)

Kindle (£3.80)

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Children’s Hour: Wow! Said the Owl


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

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

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


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

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

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

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Short Reviews the Third


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

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

 

Left Neglected- Lisa Genova

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

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

The Apple- Michael Faber


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

Satan’s Shorts- Heide Goody and Iain Grant

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

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Children’s Hour: Banana


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it:

Boardbook (£5.50)

Paperback (£5.99)

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Children’s Hour: I’m Not Reading


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

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

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

 

I’m Not Reading is a story about Baby Owl from I’m Not Cute. Seeing as how much the toddlers have been loving I’m Not Cute recently I decided to seek out this book which I had seen in pre-school.

In I’m Not Reading Baby Owl is settling down o read a book in the peace and quite, but then along comes Tiny Chick who wants to listen, then tTiny Chicks Brother’s and Sisters, and then his cousins and all their friends, and they all want to sit on Baby Owl’s lap.

The kids didn’t take as much of an instant liking to this one. It’s a bit more complex, and you don’t get as much of Baby Owl raging which the toddlers enjoy. They did still like those elements when they did come up though, and the pictures tell more of a story than those in I’m Not Cute which makes those more interesting.

Buy it:

Boardbook (£4.75)

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Children’s Hour: It’s Mine


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.
This week we read It’s Mine! for the first time. It’s written by Rod Campbell who is probably better known for his book Dear Zoo. It’s a simple story, not even really a story. You see little bits of the animals (e.g. the elephant’s trunk, the giraffe’s neck) in the jungle and the reader is meant to guess what it is.

The kids really weren’t that great at guessing the animals, or were being shy and didn’t want to speak up. Some of the animals were a bit difficult for the animals to guess, I had to peak at the next page on the bear for example because even I couldn’t tell what it was going to be.

They did however like naming the animals when they saw the whole of them, and they really liked the lion at the end.

Technically it’s a pop-up book, but a bit of a lame one, only the last page pops up

Buy it:

Boardbook (£3.59)

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Children’s Hour: Kipper’s Ball


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.

Every time that I go into pre-school lately at least one of them seems to want to read Kipper’s Beach Ball. It’s a Kipper story, you know, the dog, and it’s similar to other Kipper stories. Simple, everyday, cute. In this one Kipper finds a beach ball in a pack of cereal and goes to play with it, it’s so much fun!

I think the kids like that they can identify with Kipper (a bit like Spot). There is a bit of a puzzle before they know what the ball actually is, which is interesting, and they like seeing what happens to the ball too.

Personally I find it a little too normal, but I can see the appeal.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.29)

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Godsquad- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Disclaimmer: This book was given to me free of charge (by the author) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

The Team:
Joan of Arc, the armour-plated teen saint of Orleans.
Francis of Assisi, friend to all the animals whether they like it or not.
St Christopher, the patron saint of travel who by papal decree has never existed – no matter how much he argues otherwise.

The Mission: An impossible prayer has been received by Heaven and it’s a prayer that only Mary, Mother of God, can answer. Unfortunately, Mary hasn’t been seen in decades and is off wandering the Earth somewhere. This elite team of Heavenly saints are sent down to Earth to find Mary before Armageddon is unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Godsquad:
A breathless comedy road trip from Heaven to France and all points in-between featuring murderous butchers, a coachload of Welsh women, flying portaloos, nuclear missiles, giant rubber dragons, an army of dogs, a very rude balloon and way too much French wine.

Review

Godsquad is the fourth book in the Clovenhoof series. However it’s rather differ to Clovenhoof and Pigeonwings and can easily be read as a stand alone novel. It contains some of the same characters as the pervious books but they have been relatively minor characters before. It contains neither Satan or Gabriel.

I always rather liked Joan of Arc in the previous books so I was looking forward to seeing more of her, but on the other hand I found Francis of Assisi annoying- so wasn’t so much looking forward to seeing more of him.

In terms of action and adventure Godsquad did seem to promise more than either of the previous two books, so I found myself a little disappointed that the action didn’t get started earlier. It was somewhat interesting to see the saints adapting to modern life, but we have seen a lot of that in previous books and it might have been nice to have something different.

However when the action did get going I did find in very engaging, and the second portion of the book went very quickly for me.

I still really liked Joan of Arc by the end- more so if possible, and Francis of Assisi had grown on me too- although there are still annoying elements to him, and I liked Christopher too.

I found Mary to be a rather amusing character. Feminist, anarchist, anti-capitalist, but pretty much clueless really- that’s why she was amusing.

In fact on reflection I think it may be my favourite in the series.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

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Children’s Hour: Is it Bedtime Wibbly Pig?


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.

Is it Bedtime Wibbley Pig? Has to be one of the most patronising children’s books I have ever had to read. After we read and really enjoyed ‘Suddenly!’ I expected this one to be better, but it was just so boring.

The premise is that Wibbley Pig is getting ready for bed and the narrator is asking him what he is doing, but in some of the most stupid ways “Are you brushing your teeth Wibbley Pig?” “Have you finished your cocoa Wibbley Pig?”. I can see it being the way parents might ask their children but it was just so mundane.

The kids I read it to (just 4 pre-schoolers) did sort of like answering the questions for him, but to be honest it was too young for the pre-schoolers, it may be better for my toddlers, but I guess  that they enjoyed it well enough.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Boardbook (£5.99)

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Children’s Hour: I’m Not Cute (revisited)


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

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

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

 

Back when Children’s Hour was just a baby the kids really loved a book called I’m Not Cute. It was only the second Children’s Hour book featured on this blog, and I am the only remaining member of toddler room staff from that time. It was so loved that now it is just a distant memory, because the kids loved it to death.

But when I got back from jury service I saw that we had a new copy.

I’m Not Cute is the story of Baby Owl. All the other animals are calling Baby Owl cute, but he’s not cute, he is a hunting machine! He gets very frustrated with the other animals.

It was a pretty much instant hit with the kids. We read Puffin Peter first and I was concerned that they wouldn’t concentrate for a second story (the kids will often ask to read a second story but tend to loose interest if you read it to them) but they actually became more engaged not less.

They love watching Baby Owl’s tantrums, and staff ‘shouting’ like a toddler is always popular. They were quick to be able to join in, and showed lots of pride in being able to name the different animals.

The squirrel still doesn’t like a squirrel though!

Buy it:

Boardbook (£4.99)

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Children’s Hour: Puffin Peter


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.


When I came back from jury duty there were two new books in toddler room, on of them was Puffin Peter (the other was a book which was loved so much a few years ago that it literally got read to death).

Puffin Peter is a story about two friends, Peter and Paul. One day Peter gets lost in a storm and can’t find his friend Paul, but he meets a whale who tries to help him. It is very loosely based on the rhyme Two Little Dicky Birds.

As a story it’s very similar to Monkey Puzzle, but more complex in a way. The whale listens to Peter’s instructions and finds things which meet all of his descriptions (rather than the latest one as in Monkey Puzzle). It makes the whale seem smarter, but it’s less funny.

There’s no rhyme either, which makes it less interesting for the kids. They still liked to see if the different animals were Paul, but they were less focused than they would have been if we were reading a favourite.

I really like the pictures. They are bright and quite atmospheric.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

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Ajax Penumbra: 1969- Robin Sloan


Synopsis (from amazon)

San Francisco, 1969. The summer of drugs, music and a new age dawning. A young, earnest Ajax Penumbra has been given his first assignment as a Junior Acquisitions Officer – to find the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. After a few weeks of rigorous hunting, Penumbra feels no closer to his goal than when he started. But late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles upon a 24-hour bookstore and the possibilities before him expand exponentially. With the help of his friend’s homemade computer, an ancient map, a sunken ship and the vast shelves of the 24-hour bookstore, Ajax Penumbra might just find what he’s seeking…

Review

Ajax Penumbra 1969 is the prequel to Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, it can be read alone with no problems, but I think those who have read the sequel first would probably get more out of it.

I must admit I actually think I prefered this one to the sequel. It certainly was quicker to get going, but then it was a short story- so I suppose there wasn’t much time for ‘faffing’.

It was interesting to see how Penumbra started, and his job sounded like a great job! I found his adventure more interesting than the adventure in the sequel too, although I would have liked to see more of his early days in the bookstore.

I came out of it liking Penumbra as a character much more too. He had interested me before, but we didn’t really get to know him.

I would like to know if they really did sink ships in San Francisco and build on top of them.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.89)

Hardback (£6.39)

 

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Children’s Hour: Fix It


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.

I don’t quite get what the kids get out of Fix It. It is possibly one of the most boring books ever. It doesn’t even need words, the words just describe what you can see in the picture, that is the different things that the girl can fix.

I suppose in some sense that does make the book good though. It means the kids can easily ‘read’ the story (in as far as it’s a story) to themselves with little, or even no, adult input. It’s nice when the kids can read for themselves, it gives them a sense of independence.

I quite like that the protagonist is a girl too, it’s calculated, but that’s not a bad thing, it says girls can do these things too. We had a similar book as kids, Mum Can Fix It, although I remember it being more sophisticated than Fix It is.

The pictures are bright, and quite simple, and more instantly noticeable than more fancy pictures, just the sort that attract our toddlers.

Buy it:

Paoerback (£4.99)

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Some More Short Reviews


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

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

 

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore- Robin Sloan

Wasn’t there a character on some TV programme called Robin Sloan? (Maybe I’m thinking of Diagnosis Murder, but that was Mark… I think).

Anyway Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is about a 24-hour bookstore (believe it or not!), but there’s something not quite ‘normal’ about the bookstore and the new clerk starts to find out what it is. Lots of people have told me that they loved this book because it was about a bookstore. I don’t really see that- it’s more a mystery, almost an Indiana Jones type story. It was strange but rather intriguing and there was a good amount to puzzle out and action towards the end. I got into it well enough to buy the prequel. 3.5/5

 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared- Jonas Jonasson

Try saying that with a mouthful of toffee! I’m going to abbreviate it (laziness!) to THMCWD.

THMCWD is a book about THMCWD, sounds dull? Well he gets up to all sorts of things which you wouldn’t expect, with the police on his tails all the time. There’s robbery, criminal gangs, murder, and an elephant. When the action was going on I read it quite quickly but when it wasn’t I found I wasn’t too encouraged to read it at all. I did find that despite not being the longest book it took me a long time to read because I lost interest. However at times it was funny, and bizarre, and I really thought that Allan was an interesting character.

THMCWD is in a middle of a lawsuit here in the UK and can no longer be sold by the British publishers, but you may still be able to get your hands on a copy somewhere. Amazon is selling the US version of the kindle edition (by the way what is up with that cover? Allan looks more like 30 than 100) 3/5

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Raven Girl- Audrey Niffenegger


Synopsis (from amazon)

Once there was a Postman who fell in love with a Raven…

So begins the tale of a postman who encounters a fledgling raven while on the edge of his route and decides to take her home. The unlikely couple falls in love and conceives a child – an extraordinary raven girl trapped in a human body

Review

Raven Girl is a graphic novel by the author best known for the fantastic book The Time Traveller’s Wife. It tells the story of a man and a raven who fall in love and have a daughter, she looks like a girl, but inside she is a raven, and is stuck in a sort of hole where she can never truly be either.

Raven Girl is a strange little story, right from the premise really. It’s sort of a sweet story though, and you could almost swap the Raven Girl for anyone trying to fit in, or anyone stuck between two cultures. You can see the style of Niffenegger’s writing which you recognise from her novels- it’s style is probably closer to Her Fearful Symmetry than to The Time Traveller’s Wife- although the story itself is much more simple.

The art work (also created by Niffenegger) fits the story well. It’s a bit mismatched, a bit strange, but still quite pretty. I’m sure Niffeneger designed the pictures to be like this as her other graphic novel which I have read, The Night Bookmobile, has much more realistic pictures (see below)

Image from The Night Bookmobile Source

Image from Raven Girl Source

It’s the sort of book you want to possess as much as read, like a piece of artwork.

I found out during my search for the images above that there is a ballet of Raven Girl which is showing at the Royal Opera House in October, I think i would be quite interesting to see.

4/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£13.59)

Other Reviews:

Alison Mccarthy

Have I missed your review? Leave me a comment in links and I will add it here.

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The Girls at the Kingfisher Club- Genevieve Valentine


Synopsis (adapted from amazon)

Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off. The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid.

Review

Girls at the Kingfisher Club is based on the fairytale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and set in the prohibition era in the US. I read about it on somebody’s blog and really can’t remember whose it was (if it was you, sorry! Let me know), and I really liked the premise.

I can’t really say that it was much like the fairytale. Sure there were 12 sisters. And a rather domineering father. That was where the comparison ended though.

Having said that I did like it as a story in itself. I liked Jo (who was actually rather Jo March-esque). She was clever, and obviously cared a lot for her sisters. I would have liked to know more about the other sisters (the story was shown from Jo’s perspective), and I would have been interested to know more about her parent’s lives too.

The speakeasies (is that the right plural?) were written with a good atmosphere, and I’d actually quite like to visit The Kingfisher. (Although how they afford it without actually prostituting themselves I don’t know)

I found the story carried along nicely and got better towards the end.

4/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£15.90)

Kindle (£7.13)

Paperback- pre-order (£10.04)

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Children’s Hour: No Matter What


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.
We had No Matter What on on our shelves for quite a long time before the kids really started to pay any attention to it. I still wouldn’t call it popular, but it gets picked up on a fairly regular basis.

No Matter What is the tale of a little fox and its mother. The little fox is asking its mother about the conditions of her love, “Would you still love me if I was a bug?” with the conditions getting stranger and stranger. Of course mother fox will always love little fox “no matter what”.

It reminds me a lot of Guess How Much I Love You, but in a sort of backwards way.

The rhyme to it helps keep the kids interested, but I can’t say they are especially into the story or pictures.

 

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Boardbook (£5.99)

Kindle (£4.70)

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