Tag Archives: review: fiction

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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Children’s Hour: Barry the Fish With Fingers and the Hairy Scary Monster


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 some of the kids went to the library, one of the books they borrowed was Barry the Fish With Fingers and The Hairy Scary Monster. In it Barry and his friends are playing hide and seek, and one of Barry’s friends finds something scary.

It’s a nice story about friendship. It’s maybe a little long for the younger toddlers but there is plenty of suspense to keep them interested most of the time.

The pictures mean that the kids are instantly interested. They’re lovely and bright, and have sparkly bits! I personally love Barry’s fingers too!

Buy it:

Paperback (£4.00)

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The Guest Cat- Takashi Hiraide


Synopsis (from amazon)

A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

Review

The Guest Cat is a beautiful book in the same sort of was that The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly was a beautiful book. It had a simplicity which some may find boring, but the writing made it beautiful.

I liked the descriptions of the cat, she was so playful, and just generally cute.

Hiraide is a poet, and you can tell.

If you’re looking for a story which will race on this isn’t for you. But if you want something more relaxed and everyday, you’ll probably enjoy it. It’s the sort of story to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£3.59)

Other Reviews:

Wensend

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Children’s Hour: Incy-Wincy Spider


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.

On World Book Day two of the kids brought Incy-Wincy Spider books. One brought a puppet book, the other brought a sound book. They were, as you would expect, the incy-wincy spider song with pictures.

We preferred the sound book. Pressing buttons is exciting! And it was easy to sing along too. We did have to read it several times so everybody could have a turn pressing the button though, which was rather frustrating after some time- especially as the batteries seemed to be running out.

There were a couple of issues with the puppet one. It was a small book, so not really designed to read in a group. Plus the child who brought it in really did not like sharing it, he cried through the whole thing. We liked the puppet crawling on us though!

 

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Children’s Hour: Mr Nosey and the Big Surprise


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.


Mr Nosey and the Big Surprise is one of the books which the children brought to share on World Book Day. It features Mr Nosey from the Mr Men series. In this book Mr Nosey sees a door, so of course he has to go through it! What will he find on the other side?

It’s a fairly simple story, it’s pretty much all about the build up, and our toddlers love build up, especially if you read a book so it builds tension. They did find a it a little on the long side however.

The pictures are of the classic Mr Men style, bright, simple. I’ve always rather liked them myself.

 

Buy it:

Paperback- new (from £500.05)

Paperback-used (from £0.01)

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Pigeonwings- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Pigeonwings is the follow-up novel to Clovenhoof.

Synopsis (from amazon)

As punishment for his part in an attempted coup in Heaven, the Archangel Michael is banished to Earth. The holiest of the angelic host has to learn to live as a mortal, not an easy job when you’ve got Satan as a next-door neighbour.

Michael soon finds that being a good person involves more than helping out at Sunday school and attending church coffee mornings. He has to find his purpose in life, deal with earthly temptations and solve a mystery involving some unusual monks and a jar of very dangerous jam.

Heide Goody and Iain Grant have written a wild comedy that features spear-wielding cub scouts, accidental transvestites, King Arthur, a super-intelligent sheepdog, hallucinogenic snacks, evil peacocks, old ladies with biscuits, naked paintball, stolen tractors, clairvoyant computers, the Women’s Institute, and way too much alcohol.

Review

This book follows on from Clovenhoof but his time instead of focusing on Satan it focuses on the Archangel Michael who has recently been banished from Heaven.

It was my first read of 2014 (and I’m only now writing the review!) and it was a fun way to start the year

I must admit I didn’t enjoy Pigeonwings as much as I enjoyed Clovenhoof, Michael just wasn’t as exciting as a character.

Having said that there were more topics which verged on the serious, as Michael fried to re-establish his relationship with God, something which he had taken for granted before. It was interesting to see him explore faith in different ways, and finding how difficult it can seem for a human to have a relationship with God.

Ultimately though it was still funny, and there waa less dark humour than there was in Clovenhoof, which I personally am not a big fan of anyway. I think it was less funny overall though as well.

There was the mystery side of it which I liked however.

I’m looking forward to the next one which is due out later this year.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.99)

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

Children’s Hour: Bruno’s Box


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.

Bruno’s Box is one of the books that the kids brought in on World Book Day. It was (at least in my opinion) the best of the selection, and the kids seemed to enjoy it too.

Bruno’s Box is (believe it or not) all about Bruno’s box, and why it’s brilliant. We see the different things that Bruno does with his box, things such as turning it into a rocket or a pirate ship, or even a dinosaur! The kids love to talk about what Bruno’s box has become, and we can try and think of other things that Bruno’s box could become.

Unfortunately the last couple of pages were missing 😦 but at least we could talk about what might have happened.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Board Book (£3.99)

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The Diplomat’s Wife- Pam Jenoff


The Diplomat’s Wife is a follow up to The Kommandant’s Girl. However you do not need to read The Kommandant’s Girl to understand The Diplomat’s Wife.

Synopsis

1945. Surviving the brutality of a Nazi prison camp, Marta Nederman is lucky to have escaped with her life. Recovering from the horror, she meets Paul, an American soldier who gives her hope of a happier future. But their plans to meet in London are dashed when Paul’s plane crashes.

Devastated and pregnant, Marta marries Simon, a caring British diplomat, and glimpses the joy that home and family can bring. But her happiness is threatened when she learns of a Communist spy in British intelligence, and that the one person who can expose the traitor is connected to her past.

Review

I really wanted to read this after finishing The Kommandant’s Girl. I’m fairly certain I didn’t even read the blurb (which I always do) before I read it. When I found out that it was about Martha I was a bit disappointed, I wanted to know what happened to Emma next. It’s not that I hadn’t liked Martha in The Kommandant’s Girl, I was just satisfied with how her story had been left, I would rather have known what happened to Emma when she left for the mountains.

I would still like to know what happened to Emma, but it didn’t take me long to get dragged into Martha’s story, and then I mainly forgot that she was even connected to Emma. Her past was important, so in that sense it was good to have the knowledge from The Kommandant’s Girl, but it wasn’t crucial.

The Diplomat’s Wife is less of an overtly political novel than The Kommandant’s Girl, and a lot of the time it felt more…normal. I wasn’t really expecting anything exciting, and the best bits of the story were at the beginning and the end, with the story carrying on well enough in the middle to keep me going.

I liked Martha more by the end of The Diplomat’s Wife than I had at the end of The Kommandant’s Girl. I admired her at the end of The Kommandant’s Girl, but she felt more real by the end of her own story.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.79)

Paperback (£6.99)

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Children’s Hour: World Book Day


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.

Happy World Book Day book fans! To celebrate the toddlers brought in some of their favourite books to share with their friends. Over the next few weeks we are going to look at some of them in more detail, but for today I wanted to share what they decided to bring in. Where available links lead to amazon.

Something Beginning with Blue

We’ve looked at this book before on Children’s Hour, although our copy has become ‘over-loved’ it was nice to read it in its entirety again. A book around colours.

 


Dumbo

We didn’t read this one, it seemed a bit long for the toddlers. It’s a basic version of the Disney Dumbo story


Bruno’s Box

A story about Bruno and his box, and why his box is so fantastic


Mr Nosey and the Big Surprise

Mr Nosey finds a door so, being Mr Nosey, he had to see what is behind it


Incy Wincy Spider

Two kids brought in Incy Wincy Spider books. One a puppet book, and the other a sound book. Exactly the sort of thing you would expect.

Fireman Sam Ready For Action

Simple Fireman Sam sound book.

 

 

Monster’s University Magnetic Drawing Book

We didn’t read this because it’s more of an activity book really. With the idea being that you do the activity on the board.

 

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Children’s Hour: Freddie Goes Swimming


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 really don’t get what the kids like about Freddie Goes Swimming. It is a very basic (and in my opinion rather dull) story about Freddie’s first time swimming.We see the pool, we see the difficulties, then we see Freddie swimming on his own (with armbands of course).

I try and stretch it out a bit by talking about the children swimming with their families, and about the things we do at the pool which are less implicitly mentioned in the book (e.g. “What do you wear?” “Why do you wear armbands?”), and the kids do like to talk about themselves and their families. They still seem to like it without this though, maybe it’s just that they can connect to it.

The pictures are nice, I’ll say that for it.

Buy it:

Paperback- new (from £503.36)

Paperback-used (from £0.01)

Hardcover- used (from £1.85)

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How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran


Synopsis (from amazon)

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Review

Some books you want to review as soon as you’ve finished them, you don’t want to wait for all the feelings and thoughts to fall out of your head. How to Make a Girl was one of these books, so I moved it to the top of my review pile (despite the fact that I still have reviews of books I read in 2014 that I need to write). Unfortunately I couldn’t actually write the review straight away, so I hope my thoughts are still clear enough.

I was excited to read something of Caitlin Moran’s after basically having a girl crush on her after reading How to Be a Woman (don’t ask me how I haven’t managed to read Moranology yet, it’s a mystery to me). I must admit though I had my doubts about How to Build a Girl, it seemed basically to be an autobiography pretending to be fiction (a bit like Stephen Fry’s Moab is my Washpot and The Liar, which I still confuse).

There are a lot of similarities between Caitlin’s life and Johanna. They both grew up in Wolverhampton. They both had Irish fathers who were once in bands but now had some sort of problem causing them pain. They both had large families. They both had early jobs writing for music magazines. They even both won awards for writing before they entered the world of work. Oh and they both had a slightly goth look.

So you can see why I was wondering how much more was based on Caitlin’s life. At times it even distracted me from the story itself, especially early on. It didn’t help that Johanna had a very similar voice to Caitlin too.

One thing I like about Moran is that she’s so forthright. She’ll say whatever she’s thinking, not worrying about embarrassing herself or others.  I admire her for it. Johanna is the same. Although I think more with Johanna I didn’t want to know, maybe because for a good chunk of the book she was a teenager. In a sense I would say this is a YA book, I could certainly see myself connecting with Johanna at the beginning of the story, in some ways at least. However I can see it not being a hit with parents due to how frank it is. There’s little in there I don’t think the average teen would know, but I think it’s the way it’s put across too. I don’t really want to go into too much detail here, but if you have listened to Lily Allen’s album ‘Sheezus’ it’s a similar sort of frankness (listen here, beware explicit), you can probably guess just by looking at the titles in fact.

I did really like How to Build a Girl in the end though. I loved Johanna, even if she made me cringe at times at her decisions, and at her cluelessness when she seemed so ‘grown-up’. She seemed fairly realistic, if a bit of a teenagers dream. The ending was satisfying but did seem to lead to more. Apparently there are two more books to come, which I would be interested to read too.

4/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£10.49)

Kindle (£9.42)

Paperback- pre-order (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

Lit and Life

Nylon Admiral –start of a readalong

As the Crowe Flies (And Reads) – also start of a read-a-long

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

 

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA

Children’s Hour: Row Your Boat


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.

 

Row Your Boat is a different version of the classic children’s nursery rhyme. It starts the same, but adds some new verses which create a sort of story where the two children have a mini adventure.

The kids enjoy the familiarity of the tune, but enjoy the differences, especially the parts with the lion and the elephant. They like laughing at the elephant and shrieking for the lion.

The new words fit well with the original song so it’s pretty easy to sing on the first reading (if you can read of course!). The pictures are quite nice, although the cover picture seems a little romanticised to me, I prefer the more ‘active’ pictures.

Buy it:

Paperback- new (from £323.85)

Paperback- used (from £0.01)

Hardback- used (from £1.20)

Soundbook- used (from £3.48)

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The Casual Vacancy- J.K. Rowling


Synopsis (from Amazon)

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Review

It’s taken me a long time to actually get around to buying and reading The Casual Vacancy. I love the Harry Potter books so I had some reservations when it came to J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel. What prompted me to actually read it was the series starting on TV, I wanted to read the book before I watched it (and I managed it, just!).

When it comes down to it you probably can’t get much further away from Harry. You probably wouldn’t even know that The Casual Vacancy was by the same author unless you’re a Potter addict who can spot J.K’s style. I can’t help comparing to Potter but it’s not really comparable. If you are looking for something with magic, or something exciting, or something fast paced you won’t get it with The Casual Vacancy.

The Casual Vacancy, you see, is not plot driven, it barely has a plot at all to be perfectly honest. It is more of a study of the characters. That means that despite the characters being very flawed you come to care at least somewhat, even whilst not liking most of them. Probably the most likeable character was Kay, she cared, but she was weak. Krystal was probably the standout character though, at least for me. She was caustic, but I admired her (note admired, not liked). I can’t imagine being friends with any of these people, but they are real.

It took me a long time to get into the book, you need to be prepared to wait, to take the time. There was enough to keep me going, until I realised that it was sort of like a soap (you know how in soaps there are no ‘normal’ families, they all have these ‘issues’). I suppose it’s meant to be a sort of ‘you never know what goes on behind closed doors’ type of thing, but it did put me off a little.

The ending hooked me though, one of those stay up for just one more paragraph/page/chapter type things. I hear that the TV series has changed the ending. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

A lot of people have criticised how much sex and bad language J.K has used in A Casual Vacancy. There is a lot, but I don’t think it’s completely unnecessary. People have been saying that it’s J.K’s way of saying she can write adult fiction. I think that makes her sound like a former child star who does a nude photo shoot to show that they are ‘all grown up’ (because of course becoming a woman automatically makes you a sex object). I don’t see it like that. People swear, people have sex. Can it be realistic if you make it all family friendly? Life isn’t always family friendly.

I intend to write something about the first episode of The Casual Vacancy later in the week.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.85)

Kindle (£3.66)

Hardback (£13.60)

Other Reviews:

Book Jay

Words For Worms

The Eye of Loni’s Storm

Alison McCarthy

Reading With Tea

Recovering Potter Addict

So Many Books, So Little Time

Sam Still Reading

Mama Kucing Reviews and Ravings

Heavenali

Nishita’s Rants and Ravings

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

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Humans: An A-Z- Matt Haig


Synopsis (from amazon)

DO YOU

A) Know a human?

B) Love a human?

C) Have trouble dealing with humans?

IF YOU’VE ANSWERED YES TO ANY OF THE ABOVE, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU

Whether you are planning a high level of human interaction or just a casual visit to the planet, this user-guide to the human race will help you translate their sayings, understand exotic concepts such as ‘democracy’ and ‘sofas’, and make sense of their habits and bizarre customs.

A phrase book, a dictionary and a survival guide, this book unravels all the oddness, idiosyncrasies and wonder of the species, allowing everyone to make the most of their time on Earth.

Review

Humans: An A-Z is a sort of companion book to The Humans. It’s like a guide book for visitors to earth. Sort of an extended version of the tips for being human at the end of the novel itself.

It was, as I expected, amusing, but it lost most of the heart warming aspects that I liked in the main novel.

I had it on kindle but would personally recommend the hard copy, it would have been nice to be able to flick back and forth, especially as some sections refereed to others, it would have been good to be able to cross reference.

In the music section Haig writes about music for different mood, sometimes songs, sometimes albums. I made a spotify playlist for it, and everything was there (which was nice after my playlist for 31 Songs was a bit of a failure)

 3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Kindle (£1.79)

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Children’s Hour: When I Was A 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.

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 was a Baby is pretty much what you would expect from its title. It talks about what the narrator (a toddler) was like as a baby, and how he is different now. It’s a cute, simple story. Maybe a little too simple for most of my toddlers if I am perfectly honest.

It was fairly easy to extend however to engage the toddlers more. Asking them about how they were different when they were babies, or how they are different from babies who they know. You could even extend it and talk about how pre-schoolers are different to them.

It has a nice rhythm, and is written as if a child is speaking, so it would probably suit under-twos too. The pictures are simple and bright.

Buy it:

Paperback- used (from £0.01)

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Tampa- Alissa Nutting


Synopsis (from amazon)

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She is attractive. She drives a red Corvette. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed and devoted to her. But Celeste has a secret. She has a singular sexual obsession – fourteen-year-old boys. It is a craving she pursues with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought.

Within weeks of her first term at a new school, Celeste has lured the charmingly modest Jack Patrick into her web – car rides after dark, rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works the late shift, and body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods. It is bliss.

Celeste must constantly confront the forces threatening their affair – the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind. But the insatiable Celeste is remorseless. She deceives everyone, is close to no one and cares little for anything but her pleasure.

Review

It feels kind of wrong to get any sort of enjoyment out of Tampa, but I did enjoy it, or at least found it interesting.

Celeste is like no character I have ever read before. You couldn’t get much further away from a likeable character.

It was interesting though. She is like an addict. I suppose you can say she is an addict. She will do pretty much anything to get teenage boys, take all sorts of risks. She knows it’s ‘wrong’ but she can’t help herself, and she doesn’t really care.

It is quite graphic in parts, as you would expect I suppose. It’s interesting her approach to sex though, and the different ways similar events can be written. When she has sex with the boys you can tell that’s it’s pleasurable for her. Whereas you can see that she is disgusted by the same acts with her husband.

It is pretty well written. Whilst not likeable, Celeste is pretty engaging, and believable (which is just whole other reason for the book to make you feel uncomfortable).

It is worth reading, but it’s probably not for everyone.

I noticed when looking up amazon links that the paperback cover of Tampa has changed to something less rude looking (although technically the old cover wasn’t rude). See it over there->

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£4.19)

Paperback (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Giraffe Days

Roof Beam Reader

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments.

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: Suddenly!


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.


Suddenly! is a Preston Pig story. In this one Preston is going about his day as normal…or so he believes. He doesn’t realise there is a wolf after him, but keeps managing to thwart his plans all the same.

Suddenly! has been popular with all the toddlers, but I think it’s probably more suited to the older toddlers, or maybe pre-schoolers. The younger toddlers like to spot the wolf on all the pages (in fact one today was chanting “big bad wolf” all the way through). The older toddlers though are more likely to be able to describe what the wolf is trying to do, and what has happened to the wolf. I reckon that pre-schoolers would probably get the joke at the end too, although I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out on them.

In terms of learning that makes Suddenly! a good book, but it’s also exciting, and it works best if the kids work things out, so you don’t feel like you’re asking questions for the sake of asking questions.

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.99)

2 Comments

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

Children’s Hour: Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In a 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.

 

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up In a Ball is all about the actions Little Wombat likes to do, from curling up in a ball, to jumping up and down, to shouting really loud. It is told in Wombat’s voice, and we not only hear what he likes to do but also why.

Books with actions tend to be quite a hit with the toddlers, especially if they get to copy the actions, and for some reason talking really, really, fast to show running is hilarious! This is as true for I Like to Curl up in a Ball as for anything else.

This book also has the often popular rhythm and rhyme which helps the kids to stay focused and interested, and makes it easier for them to join in. We only have it as a library book, so we haven’t quite read it enough times yet to know it off by heart- and sometimes that makes us love books even more (case in point, Brown Bear).

 

Buy it:

Paperback Dual Language English and Welsh (£4.99)

Paperback- new (from £0.40)

Paperback- used (from £0.01)

Boardbook- new (from £90.51)

Boardbook- used (from £0.01)

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

The Kommandant’s Girl- Pam Jenoff


Synopsis (from amazon)

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma’s husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city’s decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob’s Catholic cousin, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety–and her marriage vows–in order to help Jacob’s cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma’s relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

Review

Since reading The Officer’s Lover I’d really wanted to read another book by Pam Jenoff. The Kommandant’s Girl seemed perfect, set in the war (and we all know about my penchant for war stories), with Jews, and Nazis, and the resistance, and love.

I really liked The Kommandant’s Girl. I liked Emma, she started off a bit naive, but love made her strong, and made her take risks. A heroine in the end anyway.

There was even a little bit of me that liked the Kommandant. Not the Jew killing bit (obviously) but the bit where he was genuinely caring towards Emma.

It was dramatic, and emotional, really kept me turning the pages (or pressing the buttons I suppose as I read it on kindle).

4/5

Buy it from amazon:

Kindle (£4.79)

Paperback (£5.99)

 Other reviews:

Between the Pages

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

 

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

Trains and Lovers- Alexander McCall-Smith


Foreword

It was National Handwriting Day on Friday, I only found out about it yesterday, so I decided to pay my tribute a little late. I’ve decided to write a review as in actually handwrite it. I like handwriting, it helps me to think. I don’t like how little I do it.

I’m doing copying bits (links to buy, synopsis, hyperlinks) in typing, and I will transcribe afterwards in case you can’t, or don’t want to, read my handwriting.

Oh and I apologise for any misspellings- handwriting has no inbuilt dictionary.

Synopsis (from amazon)

In the words of Alexander McCall Smith: ‘You feel the rocking of the train, you hear the sound of its wheels on the rails; you are in the world rather than suspended somewhere above it. And sometimes there are conversations to be had, which is what the overarching story in this collection is all about. It is a simple device: people brought together entertain one another with tales of what happened to them on trains. It takes place on a journey I frequently make myself and know well, the journey between Edinburgh and London. It is best read on a train, preferably that one.’

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Buy it on amazon:

Paperback (£6.27)

Kindle (£4.87)

Hardcover (£8.99)

Transcript

So here goes. The review.

I decided to write a review of ‘Trains and Lovers’ as my handwritten review because I don’t actually have much to say on it. With the fact that handwriting takes longer than typing, plus me wanting to type it up, I don’t want to have to write lots. (Although I probably will end up writing as much with all this explanation)

‘Trains and Lovers’ is a bit different from the other McCall-Smith books I’ve read. To be fair the others have been detective novels- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and one of the Isabel Dalhousie books. There’s less to figure out- which you would, of course, expect seeing as it’s more of a romance novel. Although McCall-Smith can’t quite resist, there is one story which has a bit of a mystery to it.

It has the same ‘nice-ness’ which I would expect from McCall-Smith, but it’s sweeter. There’s a certain poetry, which probably replaces most of the humour which I would have expected. I liked that.

I also liked that it was real. The stories were not great ‘perfect’ romances, or a rehash of Pride and Prejudice (as so much chick-lit is). They were romantic in an everyday was, no grand gestures. They were romances I could believe, and in a sense that makes them more inspirational than ‘great’ love stories.

I think I likes this more more than I realised. Writing this has made me look at things differently.

3.5/5

 

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Romantic

Children’s Hour: Silly Suzy Goose


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.

Silly Suzy Goose is about a goose who wants to be different, so she decides to copy other animals, not always with good effects.

The kids enjoy following Suzy’s actions and copying the sounds she makes. They also find it amusing, especially when she “ROARHONK”s at the lion.

It’s a really good story to be dramatic with, which makes it more entertaining for the kids too.

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.99)

Hardback- Pop-up (£6.99)

Kindle (£4.79)

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

Children’s Hour: Shh! We Have A Plan


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

I bought Shh! We Have a Plan for my two year old nephew for Christmas. It’s a simple enough story. There are three people trying to catch a bird, but things keep going wrong. It’s quite funny when you add the pictures.

My nephew appreciates that he can shout “go!” every couple of pages, and he likes to spot the bird, and to see what has happened to the people chasing him. My niece (who is five) likes that she can read it herself, partly from actual reading, partly from remembering.

Personally I do prefer Oh no, George! which is by the same author, but they are both quite entertaining.

My niece has just told me that Shh! We Have a Plan is funny because they say Shh! and they try to catch the bird, then they fall out of the tree, then they fall in the water.

Buy from amazon:

Hardback (£8.99)

Paperback (£6.13)

Buy from an indie shop (via Hive)

Hardback (£9.23)

2 Comments

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

Texts From Jane Eyre- Mallory Ortberg.


Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book (from the US publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (my own- for once!)

Texts From Jane Eyre is a collection of text conversations between various (generally famous) literary characters and writers.

Review

I’m rushing through my notable books in my backlog of reviews because I want reviews of the ones I might mention in my review of the year. I’m doing this one first partly because I really enjoyed it, and partly because I bought it for my sister for Christmas so I had been waiting to write it.

This is my most recommended book currently (although since finishing How to be a Heroine over Christmas that may overtake it). I recommended it on both my Book Blogger Holiday Card Exchange cards, and I bought it for my sister (I ordered it from The Book Depository because it’s not out over here yet).

Actually when I was first sent the offer of an advanced copy of this I was unsure. Sometimes these types of things can be more annoying than funny, but then I read some reviews and realised I had to say yes. I’m so glad I did.

It was funny. Especially when I knew the writers or characters. In fact the only bad thing about it really is that a lot of the humour is lost if you haven’t read the books in question.

My favourite bits were the Poe sections:

“whoa
I wasn’t LOOKING at a bird
wow where is this even coming from?
the BIRD
wouldn’t stop LOOKING
at ME”

and the William Blake sections:

“Is it a picture of someone being flayed?”

“Well

sort of

I mean they’re already flayed but they’re not getting flayed

it’s not like a double flaying

ooh wait

hang on”

It’s a good flick through book too, so probably better in the physical book format. That is a problem with kindle books, no good for flicking.

Basically anyone who likes books should appreciate it, and should read it.

4.5/5

Buy it from amazon:

Hardback pre-order (£14.99) – released November 2015

Buy it from The Book Depository:

Hardback (£11.00)

Other Reviews:

So…I know I had said I read reviews on a load of blogs, but apparently none of these bloggers have put them on goodreads, and feedly doesn’t allow me to search (unless I pay..booo!), so if you have written one please put a link in comments and I will add it here.

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Humour

Harry Potter re-reads


If you follow me on twitter or facebook you may have noticed that I’ve been re-reading the Potter books.

After each book I have done a ‘thoughts on re-reading’ post on facebook. I thought I would post them all here, with the photots I posted to twitter.

This post contains spoilers

Philosopher’s Stone


1) a lot happens for such a short book

2) chapter 1 is so Rowling… it’s the best way to see her style… and be able to tell Galbraith is her

3) Reading PS with a knowledge of what happens later is heart wrenching

3a) and in light of that Dumbledore is the stupidest genius

4) Considering Harry’s link to Voldy do his dreams in PS mean now than it seems? They are described in surprising detail

5) Hermione really keeps her promises

6) I should have started this re-read as soon as I first had wanted to

7) Why did Harry’s scar hurt at the welcome feast? Voldy wasn’t attached to Quirrell then and Harry didn’t get the same affect from shaking Quirrell’s hand

8) Chamber of Secrets next… my joint favourite

Chamber of Secrets

I’m Sure I remember writing thoughts for Chamber of Secrets, but I can’t seem to find them

For some reason I can’t imagine Harry clutching a mop without seeing him laughing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prisoner of Azkaban

1 ) you know what POA might be my least favourite *cue cries of horror* I know it is important plot wise but it doesn’t seem to add much. Not that I don’t still love it

2) Lupin oh Lupin what happened?

2a) Only kidding… still can’t help loving you even after the fiascos of Deathly Hallows
2b) and you are more attractive than David Thewlis

The introduction of Lupin

3) If Lupin isn’t gay Sirius has to be

4) Whatever happened to Penelope?

5) ugh, Snape

6) The way Pettigrew pays back his debt to Harry is rubbish

7) Did Lupin really think Sirius being an animagus wasn’t something people needed to know?

8) Why was Sirius so insistent on killing Peter? He was the easiest way to show proof of Sirius’ innocence

Goblet of Fire

So of course Harry gets it

1) How many girls actually are there in Hogwarts? It seems there are more boys

2) If the Patel twins are the hottest in the year why didn’t they get dates sooner?

3) This one took me longer this time, not sure why.

4) Charlie is the most underated Weasley. He works with dragons, that’s hot.

5) Harry is a real idiot sometimes

Touching an unknown magical substance with your finger is dangerous, but obviously touching it with your wand will be ok


6) as is Ron (but that is a major characteristic of him)

7) If Barty Crouch Jr was a deatheater why did he teach kids how to fight the Imperius curse?
7a) yeah, yeah, I know it’s what Moody would have done

8) How would anyone ever be able to complete the triwizard tournament without cheating. I mean how do you just know how to get past a dragon? Who would think to open an egg under water? The only vaguely possible task to complete without cheating is the last.

9) I really do like Hermione

10) Why did the films give do much Dobby material to Neville? It would have made Harry’s life easier if Neville knew his problem with breathing underwater

Order of the Phoenix


1) I really enjoyed it this time for some reason

2) I am still in denial about Sirius’ death

3) If I could ask JK anything it would probably be about the veil

4) Luna is awesome…There should be more Luna
4a) I’m convinced she had a thing for Ron

5) Umbridge is the worst. I actually hate her more than Voldy
5b) And it really irritates me that I can’t see Harry getting angry at her without seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s awful emotionless acting

6) The best fighting scenes are in this book

7) why is it that we know Fred and George passed a handful of OWLs when school finishes in GOF but the trio have to wait for the holidays?

8) We never really do find out when James stops being an ass

9) The DA. Yay!

10) Harry, it is time I told you everything… except that you’re a horcrux, because, you know, that’s not important…

When you know what it really means this moment is so sad


11) It’s actually quite surprising Harry isn’t all emo before now

Half-Blood Prince

1) My favourite along with Chamber of Secrets

2) oh the feels! Snape kills Dumbledore! Hogwarts might close

3) I think I have finally accepted the Harry and Ginny thing. It was always just too expected, I wanted a coupling which wasn’t so set out from the start

4) Voldy is 1 evil dude

5) I never got why they didn’t just try spilling the green potion. It probably wouldn’t have worked, but you know they didn’t even try

6) How do you actually learn to fight like Dumbledore? Harry really doesn’t seem equipped to fight Voldy

7) Here goes Harry being noble and stupid again. Does he really think Voldy wouldn’t use Ginny just because they spilt up?

8) Harry also doesn’t seem to be very equipped for finding other horcruxes, or destroying them. Couldn’t Dumbledore just have told him there are 7 horcruxes, here’s how you destroy them,and here are some awesome spells so you can actually defeat Voldy?

9) If Snape is the half-blood prince then why doesn’t Harry do better in potion lessons prior to this book? Does Snape just not teach the best method?

10) Luna is the best commentator

11) So close to getting another Horcrux

Deathly Hallows

1) Whilst not my favourite Potter this has probably been my best re-read. I felt almost as hooked as first time round (although without having to read a bit if I awoke during the night). Probably because I haven’t read it as much so there were bits I had forgotten, or at least don’t know off by heart.

2) Lupin is such an idiot in this book, but still understandably so.

3) If Harry’s cloak is THE cloak of invisibility why can Moody see through it?

4) All the tears

5) I still don’t 100% get why Harry doesn’t die

6) Neither do I think Snape is a big hero. He may not be a villan as such, but I don’t think his motives are completely good either

7) The epilogue still disappoints me

8) Dumbledore is totally channeling Stephen Fry in ‘King’s Cross’
8a) and he is rather shady

9) I can’t believe my re-read is over

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Children’s Hour: Weather Books


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
The toddlers have been really interested in weather books recently. They’ve been asking to read Weather (Little Princess) and Weather (Learn With Thomas). In fact almost all the toddlers came and listened to one of my colleagues reading the Thomas weather book yesterday- completely independently.

Both books are pretty simple. The Little Princess book shows different weathers and shows how they feel (e.g. “the rain is wet”) and how the Little Princess copes with it (e.g. “but we are dry” showing the Princess with an umbrella, and rain clothes). You can ask questions about the pictures, and about what the weather is like, and sometimes the kids make comments on the pictures. It’s more storylike than the Thomas book.


The Thomas book shows different engines in different weathers and small pictures of things associated with that weather which they can find in the main picture. It’s more interactive than the Princess book, but it’s sort of forced interactiveness, and I find the kids are often more interested in the trains than the rest of the pictures.

Buy The Princess Book from amazon:

Hardback- new (from £104.96)

Hardback- used (from £0.01)

Buy The Thomas Book from amazon:

Hardback- new (from £2.99)

Hardback- used (from £0.01)

 

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Children’s Hour: The Jungle Run


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

The Jungle Run is similar in a lot of ways to Giraffes Can’t Dance (it’s even illustrated by the same person). This time it’s a run instead of a dance and a lion cub rather than a giraffe, but you get the idea. The cub is jeered at because he’s too small to race, he could never win.  I had expected a sort of hare and tortoise story (i.e. the other animals get cocky so the cub wins). I wasn’t quite right, it was more that what the other animals had seen as barriers for cub to win the race ended up helping him.

It’s a good book. It has a nice rhythm, some load noises to make, and a nice message. However it doesn’t quite meet up to Giraffes Can’t Dance, and the kids didn’t stay quite as interested, although once the noises came their attention was drawn back.

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£5.99)

Hardback (£3.28)

 

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Children’s Hour: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is very popular book, so you can forgive me for presuming that the toddlers would like it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they disliked it, just that they didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about it. They like it more as it becomes predictable, and now they know what the slightly unusual foods are. They still wouldn’t pick it though, and they find it hard to concentrate for the whole thing

 

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£3.85)

Boardbook (£3.49)

 

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

Circ- Various Authors


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Razvan Popescu lives in a flat overlooking the seaside town of Skegness. He keeps himself to himself and few know the man at all. Even fewer know his past, which he has tried to leave behind in the Romanian woods.

But when a tattooed man is found murdered on the beach, it is clear that some of that past has followed him to this tacky seaside town. As battle erupts within the criminal fraternity, dark forces gather around the town and Popescu’s acquaintances find themselves dragged into a world of violence, fire and fairy tales.

One thing is certain: the circus has come to town.

Ten To One is a novel writing project in which ten authors write a novel together, seeking the approval of a judging panel and a public vote to keep their character in the story.

Circ, the first Ten To One novel, is written by Simon Fairbanks, Maria Mankin, Yasmin Ali, Jason Holloway, Livia Akstein Vioto, Luke Beddow, Danielle Rose Bentley, William Thirsk-Gaskill, Sue Barsby and Giselle Thompson.

Review

The main reason I agreed to review this book is because of the concept. I was interested to see how a story could be pulled off with so many different authors, when the author changed not just from chapter to chapter but within chapters. And where nobody really knew where the story was going t go, because they didn’t know when they would loose different stories. Of course it would mean working together, and knowing each others plans for the characters.

I had had the concern that the story wouldn’t be very cohesive, that the writing styles of the different authors would be too different. It gelled much better than I had dared hope though. The first chapter, admittedly, took me about the same amount of time to read as the rest of the book as a whole. I think that was just because so many characters needed to be introduced, it was a lot to be crammed into one chapter. From the second chapter on however things continued to get better, until I was enthralled by the end.

As you would expect from a novel where characters were voted out some stories remained somewhat unfinished, and I would have liked to see what would have happened to some of the characters later. I think that shows good writing though, that I became interested in the characters.

The story itself was sometimes a little strange, which may be due to the nature of the peculiar writing process. However it was exciting, and had a lot of twists (not shocking really as even the authors could be sure what they would get). It kept me reading, and at times on the edge of my seat.

I am interested to find out more about the writing process, so to that end I’m hoping to get to the Separated By a Common Language event to see what I can find.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.09)

Paperback (£7.99)

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: I Don’t Want To Go To Bed


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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 Want to Go to Bed is all about Little Tiger. Little Tiger never wants to go to bed and one day his Mum has had enough, she decides to let him stay up. Little Tiger is thrilled and goes off to find his friends to play with, but of course they are all going to bed.

It was one of the books we got at the library, and it has had a bit of a mixed reception. The kids pick it a lot because, well, tiger, anything with a tiger on will get picked (or a lion for that matter), and these are particularly bright and engaging pictures.

The story is quite simple and easy for the kids to follow, and they liked seeing the different animals, however it was a little too long and I found that the kids would often lose concentration before the end. I’m not sure if it would be better for pre-schoolers either, because whilst they would be more likely to maintain concentration I don’t think that they would be interested enough in the story itself, I think it would be too simple and repetitive. I think it is suitable for toddlers, but maybe not when reading in a group. It’s easier to talk about things when you’re reading a book between one or two because you can focus the attention on that child without loosing others who might not be interested in the same aspects of the story, so you can go into more depth with questions, it’s easier to bring back the attention of one or two children as well, rather than twelve!

 

Buy from an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback with jigsaw (£7.25)
Paperback with CD (£6.75)

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£5.99)

Hardback with jigsaw (£6.39)

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

Clovenhoof- Heide Goody and Iain Grant


Synopsis (from amazon)

Charged with gross incompetence, Satan is fired from his job as Prince of Hell and exiled to that most terrible of places: English suburbia. Forced to live as a human under the name of Jeremy Clovenhoof, the dark lord not only has to contend with the fact that no one recognises him or gives him the credit he deserves but also has to put up with the bookish wargamer next door and the voracious man-eater upstairs.

Heaven, Hell and the city of Birmingham collide in a story that features murder, heavy metal, cannibalism, armed robbers, devious old ladies, Satanists who live with their mums, gentlemen of limited stature, dead vicars, petty archangels, flamethrowers, sex dolls, a blood-soaked school assembly and way too much alcohol.

Review

Clovenhoof was one of the books I got at the Birmingham Independent Book Fair (I also got the sequel, Pigeonwings, which I haven’t yet read). My boyfriend read it before me and compared it to Good Omens (which I haven’t read), a book he had enjoyed. He was excited to see where I was whilst reading it too.

It was a funny, and quite light read. It was interesting how the reader was made sympathetic to Satan, to even like him, and to dislike the angel Michael. It should really be the other way round, shouldn’t it?

I suppose in a way it shows how bureaucracy has good intentions, but sometimes you have to break the rules so that things will work, and some rules are more important than others. Or even that sometimes old rules loose their importance as things change. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a bit of a serious message which you can read into Clovenhoof.

There’s also a bit of a message about there really being no absolute good or evil, because something meant for good can have bad consequences, and things meant for bad can have good consequences.

You don’t have to make it serious though, you can just read it as a funny story about the devil having to live on earth.

Plus it’s sent in Birmingham, it’s always nice when a story is set somewhere you know.

There’s a great twist at the end too.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.00)

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Humour

Children’s Hour: Mr Cool


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
Spotty and Spike and Growly Mike are best friends, they do everything together, but one day Spike finds a scooter and he isn’t Spike anymore he’s Mr Cool.  Mr Cool is too cool to do the things he used to do with his friends they’re “boring”. Poor Spotty and Growly Mike feel rather rejected, but when problems come Mr Cool realises that he does need his friends, and that things are more fun with his friends.

It is a lovely story about friendship, th kids aren’t especially engaged with it most of the time however. They like it when  Spike has his ‘problem’ because you can be quite dramatic, but the things which they get up to as friends aren’t as interesting for them as the differences that Panda Big and Panda Small have.

The pictures were probably the best bit of this book, eye catching and fun, and that meant the book was of an initial interest to the kids.

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£4.99)

Hardback (£10.99)

 

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Children’s Hour: Panda Big and Panda Small


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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


Panda Big and Panda Small are very different, but they love each other very much. This book (which is one we got on our visit to the library) talks about all the things which each of the pandas like to do. It talks a lot about concepts like size and distance, and talks about opposites so it’s good for developing language. Plus the kids love telling you which things they like to do (which is pretty much all the things). It’s simple language, but with good reading it can still be exciting.

The pictures are my personal favourite part. Beautiful, bold, bright.

Buy from amazon:

Hardback- used (from £0.05)

Paperback- new (from £127.76)

Paperback- used (from £0.01)

 

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

Dexter is Delicious- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter is Delicious is the fifth book in the Dexter series. You can read my reviews of the previous books using the Jeff Lindsey tag

Synopsis (from amazon)

Everything’s changing for our friendly neighbourhood serial killer. As if getting married wasn’t enough to complete his nice-guy persona, Dexter is now the proud father of a baby girl. And disconcertingly, he actually seems to care. But even if fatherhood is distracting Dexter from his midnight excursions to rid Miami of a few more lowlifes, there’s no let-up at work. Two young girls are missing – and it’s not long before one of the bodies turns up, partially eaten. But as Dexter and Miami PD’s finest investigate, Dexter can’t shake the feeling that somebody’s watching him…

Review

Dexter is Delicious is probably the most disturbing book so far of the Dexter series. It’s kind of sick, and even the title makes me remember and shudder a bit. It’s strange because it’s not like there aren’t other gruesome crimes in Dexter books, chopping up and freezing body parts is probably the least gruesome, cuttings off parts of someone’s body whilst they are concious is a particularly cruel way to go, and the idea of body parts and death as art is not without its gruesome factor either.

Maybe it’s the nature of the death. It wasn’t exactly intended as something violent or something to kill someone, it was more like survival in some weird twisted way. Plus there was a sexual element (something between necrophilia and some sort of sexual fascination with death) which is just uggh.

It wasn’t violet as in violent for the sake of violence is what I suppose I am trying to say, but in a way that made things worse.

It’s also however part of what made Dexter is Delicious more interesting to me. It was sort of intriguing. I also liked seeing a bit more of a human Dexter, and how he was squaring his ‘human’ side with his ‘monster’ side.

4/5

Buy from an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£7.99)

e-book (£5.49)

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£5.99)

Kindle (£5.49)

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Children’s Hour: Bridget Fidget


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

Bridget Fidget is one of the books we got from the library. It’s about a girl called Bridget who is convinced that a parcel which is delivered to her house will contain a pet for her.

It’s a book that does get requested a lot, but also gets a mixed reception. The older toddlers love guessing at what might be in the box and are eager to see what it contains, but the toddlers who have only recently become two loose interest fairly quickly. There’s a fair bit of waiting to see what it is where I think the younger kids would benefit more from a less delayed discovery.

It is a good book to get the kids thinking about what might happen next, which is something the older children can do.

The tone is easy to understand and has lots of mini climaxes which keep things fairly exciting.

Buy from amazon:

Hardback or paperback (from £0.01)

 

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Children’s Hour: You’re Not So Scary Sid


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

You’re Not So Scary Sid is one of the books we read on our visit to the library a couple of weeks ago, and it was the runaway favourite. It features Sid who loves to eat fingers, and thinks he’s scary, but is he so brave after all?

You’re Not So Scary Sid is one of those ‘puppet books’ so execution is really important. Luckily the librarian was very good at this. He got all the kids involved, and excited. It’s really great for child-adult interaction, and the kids find Sid really funny.

The story itself is pretty simple, and I can see that being a negative point, but even the simplest stories can be entertaining if read well. After all our kids still love Brown Bear, and that’s very simple.

 

Buy from an indie store (via Hive):

Hardback (£8.19)

Buy from amazon:

Hardback (£7.99)

 

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

The Forgotten Daughter- Renita D’Silva


Synopsis (from amazon)

‘You were adopted’. Three simple words, in a letter accompanying her parent’s will, tear Nisha’s carefully ordered world apart. Raised in England, by her caring but emotionally reserved parents, Nisha has never been one to take risks. Now, with the scrawled address of an Indian convent begins a search for the mother and family she never knew and the awakening of childhood memories long forgotten. The secrets, culture and people that Nisha discover will change her life forever. And, as her eyes are opened to a side of herself she didn’t know existed, Nisha realizes that she must also seek answers to the hardest question of all – why?

Review

The Forgotten Daughter is one of those books which is written in different voices. Obviously the voice of Nisha, but also a girl called Devi and a woman called Shilpa. The three woman are (as you would expect) linked, but initially the reader does not know why.

I’m not sure I liked the three narrator part of this. Whilst I enjoyed reading each character, and there were times when one character’s story would take over another’s in my mind it did mean that the reader knew more, and I think that made the emotions pack less of a punch at times. However it did more of a context which made the story more interesting, and meant you could have up to three cliffhangers at a time.

It was a fairly easy read, and exciting enough for me to wan to read it. However it was fairly predictable and at times a little far fetched

3.5/5

Buy from amazon:

Kindle (£1.59)

Paperback (£9.99)

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Clash of Kings- George R.R Martin


Clash of Kings is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series which started with A Game of Thrones

Synopsis (from amazon)

Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising.

From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky – a comet the colour of blood and flame – five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.

Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.

Review

You know what? I don’t think I really get on that well with epic fantasy novels. I’ve never been able to get further than the forming of the fellowship in Lord of the Rings. I did like Clash of Kings but it took me a long time to read, and I didn’t come out of it eager to read the next one (unlike I had for A Game of Thrones).

As with Game of Thrones there were parts I really liked, and parts I didn’t like so much. I actually liked Sansa’s chapters more than I had previously, but found Jon’s chapters held my attention less.

In general it felt less actiony, which is strange as war is definitely taking hold now. Maybe I just don’t find battles that engaging to read?

Tyrion’s chapters were undoubtedly my favourites. I still can’t quite work him out, I think maybe that he is just out for himself and sort of waiting to see what will happen, although he was more on a Lannister in this book.

There has been a lot set up for the future however, and it interested me enough to want to keep reading, I’m just in no hurry.

3.5/5

Buy it from an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£8.49)

E-book (£6.71)

Buy it from amazon:

Paperback (£3.85)

Kindle (£3.66)

Other Reviews:

Nylon Admiral

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Under a Gray Sky

Nishita’s Rants and Ravings

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: Knick Knack Paddy Whack


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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

Knick Knack Paddy Whack s a bit of a cheat when it comes to a book the children enjoy because it’s actually the CD with the song which the kids enjoy the most- more than the book itself. They love dancing to the introduction music, as much as dancing to the song itself, and they don’t really pay a great deal of attention to the actual book. I think if we sung it ourselves it may actually be better for engaging them with the book, however they always ask for the CD to be put on.

Knick Knack Paddy Whack is a Barefoot Book, which are always popular (I’ve featured Walking Through the Jungle, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, and The Animal Boogie before), with their bright pictures, their interaction, and the fact that they are written in a way that captures the children’s attention.

Buy from and indie store (via Hive):

Paperback with CD (£6.23)

Buy from amazon:

Paperback with CD (£6.99)

 

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Larger Than Life- Jodi Picoult


Synopsis (from amazon)

Alice is a researcher studying memory in elephants, and is fascinated by the bonds between mother and calf – the mother’s powerful protective instincts and her newborn’s unwavering loyalty. Living on a game reserve in Botswana, Alice is able to view the animals in their natural habitat, as long as she obeys one important rule: she must only observe and never interfere.

Then she finds an orphaned young elephant in the bush and cannot bear to leave the helpless baby behind. Alice will risk her career to care for the calf. Yet what she comes to understand is the depth of a parent’s love.

Review

Larger Than Life is another one of Jodi Picoult’s Kindle Singles. This time it is based around a character her up and coming novel Leaving Time.

It’s probably the best of her kindle singles which I have read (I have also read The Color War, and Where There’s Smoke). I think it stands quite well as it’s own story, and fits ok as a short story. I still wanted more (as I tend to with short stories) but it was good whilst it lasted, and I didn’t really feel like there needed to be more.

It was a cute little story. The main focus was the baby elephant, and that was really all it needed, it was sweet to imagine and I enjoyed Alice’s interactions and thoughts around the elephant.

There was also a romance element, which I had anticipated early on, and which was nice, but maybe unneeded.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.49)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Short story

Children’s Hour: Fergus Goes Quackers


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
Fergus is a dog. In Fergus Goes Quackers Fergus gets followed by a brood of ducklings. He tries to get the ducklings to go away by barking at them, but it doesn’t quite work- the ducks start barking too! The other animals think it’s a great game, and start copying each others’ noises.

It’s a fairly simple book, simpler than the similar Cock-a-moo-moo (which apparently I haven’t featured…), and maybe not quite as good. The kids still found it funny however, and they like copying the noises.

There’s not a great deal to say about it really. It’s entertaining enough, I’m not too enamoured with the pictures…yeah, that’s it really.

 

Buy from amazon:

Hardback (£4.83)

Paperback (£6.99)

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

The Silkworm- Robert Galbraith


The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series

Synopsis (from amazon)

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

Review

After really enjoying the first Cormoran Strike book I was rather excited for the second. In terms of excitement it was probably a bit higher than The Cuckoo’s Calling, although it took a little longer to set off. However it missed a certain something which The Cuckoo’s Calling had, something which I struggle to put my finger on, but which made the book less easily readable.

Maybe it was that in The Cuckoo’s Calling Cormoran was working completely on his own theories. As far as the police were concerned it was s done deal- as it were, whereas in this one Cormoran was still trying very much to work on his own and use the same theories but he was investigating something a the same time as the police. It felt more like he was snubbing the police, and that he didn’t think they were good enough. He could have worked with them but he kept information from them. I get that he was being paid a fee, and I get that they didn’t agree on certain elements, but maybe if a bit of information sharing went on there would have been able to work together.

He was certainly still clever, and Robin was still very much his right-hand woman. There were still lots of twists and turns. It still kept me on the edge of my seat. I still really enjoyed it. There was a certain sense of ‘this is an adult novel’ about it. There was a particularly graphic scene, which did add something to the story, but was also rather brutal. There was lots of sex, which didn’t always add something.

4/5

Buy it from an Indie store (via Hive):

Hardback (£15.60)

On CD (£25.18)

Buy it from amazon:

Kindle (£6.99)

Hardback (£9.99)

Other Reviews:

Alison McCarthy

Recovering Potter Addict

Mama Kucing Books and Ravings

The Eye of Loni’s Storm

 

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Children’s Hour: The Snails’ Tales


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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


I was sent Snails’ Tales for review (by the publishers). It’s a book with two tales, both about snails (believe it or not!). The first story talks about the snails in the narrator’s garden and what they spend the day doing. The second story is all about the snails going on holiday.

As an ‘educator’ I really liked the book. There is lots of prompts for the children to use their imagination and plenty of places where I could ask questions, I could see it being a really good book to do a whole project on- about snails mainly, but also about holidays, and travel, and about the environment around us. The style of writing was very conversational which almost makes it feel like you’re not so much reading as having a discussion. Plus the pictures are really nice and bright, just in themselves the pictures could lead to some great discussion, and the toddlers did show a lot of interest in the pictures.

In terms of the toddlers, it didn’t have the greatest reaction. The kids liked the pictures, and got quite engaged when I talked about them. The story itself however they did loose interest in, I think they were a bit too long for them. The first story- the one just about the snails being n the garden they were more engaged with. They did join in with some discussion, although in a fairly basic way. I think it was just easier for them to connect with than the holiday story. It contained the sorts of things they would see and do on a daily basis so it was easier for them to imagine, whereas some of them have never been on holiday, and those that have often remember little. Trying to prompt them to think where the snails was particularly problematic as 99% of the time their answers to where is he/she/it going? or where are you going? is “the shop” (really, that’s where they are going on the bikes, that’s where the helicopter or plane is going to), not really a holiday location!

I’ve given the book to pre-school now, who I think it will be better suited too, although I haven’t had the opportunity to see their reactions to it yet.

 

Buy from amazon:

Hardback (£6.29)

 

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The Humans- Matt Haig


Synopsis (from amazon)

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

Review

The trailer for The Humans is the only book trailer I have ever seen which has convinced me that I want to read a book. (As a general rule I don’t like book trailers, I don’t see why people would want pictures to promote something which is about words).

Haig was already on my radar. The Radleys has been on my wishlist for years (yes again my problem with not buying from my wishlist strikes) and I’ve read a few of his (rather entertaining) blog posts, so I expected entertaining novels too.

Haig’s style of writing is quite similar to Nick Hornby, or Danny Wallace. It’s easy to read, and conversational. However it’s not without its emotion, as easy to read things can tend to be as they strive to be entertaining.

In it’s own way The Humans was actually quite deep. A sort of ode to what it is to be human. How it is great. How it isn’t.

There are lots of things wrong with humanity, but does that mean that there are lots of things wrong with humans?

It’s a funny, sweet, and charming book, and an easy read.

4/5

Buy it:

From an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£6.97)

E-book (£7.18)

From amazon:

Paperback (£3.50)

Kindle (£2.69)

Hardback (£19.05)

Other reviews:

Blog A Book Etc

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

6 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Children’s Hour: Books on Screen


Children’s Hour is the weekly feature where I look at picture books I have encountered during my work at nursery. My reviews contain children’s opinions which are usually from the children in toddler room (so they are all 2). Sometimes I also have books which my niece and nephew are enjoying too.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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 were acting crazy the other night so we decided to calm things down by watching a few stories on the big screen. We started off with the ever popular We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

One of the parents actually recommended this one to us because her son (who is 2) and her nieces (both under 2) really love it. It seems to be popular with the other kids too. They love joining in with the actions and the noises. Michael Rosen is a great storyteller, and even without doing anything fancy with the pictures it’s probably the most entertaining one we watched.

Next we moved onto Handa’s Surprise

The animals were the most popular bit of this one (as in the book actually), the kids loved shouting out what the animals were, and found it hilarious when the animals swept down to take the fruit. It’s one which works well as a video as a lot of the story from the book is from the pictures rather than the words, it’s almost like a storyboard in fact. I also like that Handa has an African accent.

After Handa we visited Mr Bear with Peace at Last

Peace at Last is still a favourite in toddler room, so I had expected it to be popular, but it didn’t go down so well. Maybe it was because it wasn’t read the way they are used to reading it (Mr Bear is usually more shouty when we read it, and the kids join in), or maybe it was because it was the last one we watched but they didn’t join in as much as they  (had in the past. In fact it took the alarm at the end to bring the kid’s attention back to the screen. I must admit I wasn’t that impressed with the reading or the video. There wasn’t really anything added which wouldn’t be possible to do when you were just reading it yourself. In fact if anything there was less because we couldn’t see the reader’s facial expressions. The only real advantage is when they zoom into whatever is being spoken of in the story at the time.

 

Buy the books from an indie store:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (from £5.31)

Handa’s Surprise (from £4.91)

Peace at Last (from £4.81)

Buy the books from amazon:

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (from £3.86)

Handa’s Surprise (from £4.11)

Peace at Last (from £4.79)

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

Dexter By Design- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter By Design is the fourth book in the Dexter series. You can find my reviews for the previous books here.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Being a blood spatter analyst who hates the sight of blood has always made Dexter’s work for the Miami PD tough. But it means he’s very neat when it comes to his out-of-hours hobby: murder. Of course, the fact Dexter only kills bad people helps too.

Now Dex is facing a disturbing situation. He’s used to blood at work, and blood when he’s out with the dark passenger (the voice that guides him on his deadly outings). But he’s not sure what to make of the man who says blood is art. Using bodies as his canvas, someone is out there expressing themselves in the most lethal and painful of ways.

Review

I’ve started watching the TV show of Dexter recently. I was under the impression that each series followed one book (I couldn’t have been more wrong as it turned out…but that’s a post for another time), so I had decided to let myself watch up to series 4, but no further until I had read the next book. So as I was drawing to the end of series three I bought book four- Dexter By Design.

The previous book, Dexter in the Dark had been disappointing for me. I’m used to Dexter books having certain qualities and Dexter in the Dark was low on those qualities.

With Dexter by Design it certainly picked up again. Back to the strange and rather gruesome murders- this time with murders as ‘art’. All I can say is be prepared to get grossed out! In particular one of the first scenes seems really…oh I’m just shuddering thinking about it.

As it so often seems Dexter had attracted some attention from the killer (doesn’t it seem strange that other killers seem to recognise Dexter but ‘normal’ people don’t?). So, with a new family, should Dexter be more cautious?

It’s the usual fast pace that I expect from Dexter, but there is also a more emotional element which we didn’t get in the past. I suppose you could say we can see Dexter growing.

Actually possibly the best Dexter I’ve read so far.

4/5

 Buy it (from amazon):

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£5.49)

Other reviews:

Book Sanctuary

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

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The Color War- Jodi Picoult


Synopsis (from amazon)

All Raymond wants to do is hang out with his best friend, Monroe, but life has other plans. This summer, his mother has decided to send him to Bible camp for inner-city kids. On the bus there, he dreams of the best night of his life, when he and Monroe slipped away from home and jumped the turnstiles to ride the subway to downtown Boston on New Year’s Eve. The elaborate ice sculptures on display thrilled them, especially an angel with outstretched wings that glowed ghostly in the night. Raymond wakes on the bus to what he takes for another angel: Melody, a camp counselor and lifeguard. Like all the staff, she’s white. Pretty, blond, and friendly, she’s the person Raymond most wants to impress during the Color War, the camp’s sports competition, and to whom he confesses his most painful secret, a loss that has made him grow up far too fast and left him wise beyond his mere nine years.

Review

I’ve read a few of Picoult’s kindle singles now. Apparently I didn’t bother reviewing Where There’s Smoke, and I have Larger Than Life on the list waiting for review.

I can’t remember why I decided not to review Where There’s Smoke, maybe I was waiting for the book it was based on to come out?

Either way The Color War  is probably the one I liked the least of the three. It had good areas, or I suppose interesting areas. It didn’t really work for me in terms of a short story however. Too many big issues which needed a ‘proper’ book. Maybe not a long one, but more than the few pages you get with a kindle single (according to goodreads The Color War has 34 pages). If it had to be a shorter story then there should have been less in it. Have the major event, or something to do with Raymond’s emotions after. As it was it was too sketchy.

Plus unlike both of Picoult’s other kindle singles which I’ve read The Color War is stand alone, so you can’t hope to get more from reading the book which it is connected to.

2/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.81)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Short story

Slaughterhouse-Five- Kurt Vonnegut


This book was read as part of The Rory List

Synopsis (adapted from amazon)

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become “unstuck in time” and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.

Review

I’ve been rewatching a lot of Lost recently (yay netflix!), I’m pretty sure a whole load of series 4 is based (ok…loosely) on slaughterhouse-five. Basically what happens is Two guys get off the island, and one of the guys gets unstuck in time- like Billy Pilgram. He keeps flicking from present day back to when he was in the army. What’s it caused by? Well I have theories but I haven’t actually seen the end yet.

In Slaughterhouse-Five we know why Billy is unstuck in time. Or at least we know why Billy thinks he’s unstuck in time. It could just be post-dramatic stress disorder induced fantasies. He may well be in the hospital bed, or even living a ‘normal’ life the whole time.

It’s weird, and different, and it doesn’t make sense. So what? Does fiction have to make sense?

3/5

Buy it (from amazon):

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£6.29)

Other reviews:

Giraffe Days

 

7 Comments

Filed under Classics, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filer


Note: This book is sold as ‘Where the Moon Isn’t’ in the US

Synopsis (from amazon)

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

 

Review

Two things before I start:

1) I wrote a copy of this post I was really happy with, then it got eaten by wordpress 😦

2) After writing my first version of this review I read Ellie’s review. Ellie suggested that to reveal what Matt’s illness was would be a bit of a spoiler, because it would give you pre-conceived ideas of what Matt was like. When I thought about it I could see where she was coming from, but my review was too much based on his condition to avoid mentioning what it was. Therefore I have blanked out everytime I have written the name of Matt’s condition, and put brackets around it. If you want to know what the illness is just highlight between the brackets. The review should still make sense missing this word out.

Okay, on to the review.

You can tell that The Shock of The Fall is written by someone with experience of mental health, the voice of Matt sounds very authentic. His mental health condition seems realistic too, it is not unknown for a serious emotional event (such as the death of a brother) to trigger (schizophrenia), and it is often part of what will make up the (schizophrenic) episodes too. What makes it even more authentic is that it is narrated by Matt himself. It’s not like seeing a (schizophrenic) episode, where it can be quite obvious that the person is unwell. You can rarely be 100% sure if what Matt is experiencing is ‘real’ or part of his illness.

Matt’s family are obviously important to him. They are like his rock. The way he talks about his Nan, and , most notably, Simon shows how much he loves them. They are both easily the most likeable characters. Matt himself? Maybe not likeable, but that works. If he was more likeable it would make the story less realistic, because of the ways he sees himself.

I do wonder a bit if Filer is having a bit of a bash at the government for it’s cuts to the NHS. An important thing which happens in the book is caused by budget cuts, and is one of the things which gets cut in reality too. On the day I originally wrote this review there had been a piece on radio 4 about how the waiting times for talking therapies are effecting patients. According to a study by We Need to Talk 1 in 6 patients awaiting treatment attempt suicide. To have to wait at all is pretty bad, but it really shouldn’t get to this state. For someone with mental health difficulties to ask for help is often the first step towards getting better. It’s like taking one step on a stair and finding a wall in the way, isn’t the easiest option to step back?

Sorry this has turned into somewhat of a political rant.

The Shock of the Fall was the winner of the Costa Prize. It’s what prompted me to look at it, but it still is the sort of thing that I would have wanted to read. Was it worth the prize? Maybe. I’m not sure I would say it has literary greatness (whatever that is…). It’s too…conversational, but actually in terms of readability and reader connection that makes a good book, for me at least.

In the US The Shock of the Fall is renamed to Where the Moon isn’t. Why? I don’t know (maybe I could find out). I’m not sure I like it though. The Shock of the Fall seems like a strange name to start off with. However when you finish it seems like a pretty perfect name. I won’t say why, spoilers. Where the Moon Isn’t sort of fits though. You know what they say about the moon and mental illness.

4/5

Buy it:

From an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£6.97)

E-book (£3.99)

Buy from amazon:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£3.85)- Part of the 3 for £10 promotion

Hardback (£14.94)- As ‘Where The Moon Isn’t’

Other reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Thought Scratchings

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

Children’s Hour: Fred the Firefighter


Children’s Hour is a feature posted every Thursday here at Lucybird’s Book Blog. Children’s Hour is my time for reviewing children’s picture books. In my job in a nursery I encounter lots of children’s books, and these are the books I use for Children’s Hour.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

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 was convinced I had already done a Children’s Hour on Fred the Firefighter, but apparently not. We used to have a kid who was obsessed with firefighters, and I was sure I had done it then (this must have been at least 3 years ago actually…so pre-children’s hour, the first one was  May 2012…really that long ago?!). It’s a book from the same series as Sam the Chef, and has a similar formula. We see Fred and his colleagues, we see the place where he works, and some of the things he has to do at the fire station, and of course he goes to fight a fire. There is some explanation of what caused the fire, and Fred has to save a dog who was caught in the fire. This always seems to be the way with fire books for kids, it’s an animal that needs saving rather than a person.

The kids are obsessed with firefighters at the moment. Everytime we go outside they have to fight a fire, they get out the firefighter dressing up, the ask for the role play fire engines, one of the kids sings the Fireman Sam theme tune everytime he’s on the toilet(!), and when they are looking independently at books they ask for this one.

They do like to look at it independently, which suggests that it’s actually the pictures that they like more than the words, although they will ask questions about things they don’t recognise- so they still get some of the learning which they would get from the words too.

As far as more factual books go I do like this series. It has a bit of a plot which makes it easier for the kids to be attentive, and the pictures are colourful and interesting.

Buy it:

Paperback- new (from £20.00)

Paperback- used (from £0.01)

Book and toy- new (from £51.50)

Book and toy- used (from £49.27)

 

 

 

2 Comments

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