Children’s Book Reviews

Good morning! Today I wanted to share with you a selection of children’s books we have recently read. I absolutely love reading with my children and encouraging them to enjoy books. Both my boys have inherited my passion for reading which I am so happy to see!

The Cow Said Neigh! by Rory Feek

The Blurb

From New York Times bestseller Rory Feek, one half of the singing duo Joey+Rory, comes The Cow Said Neigh!, a fun and humorous tale of farm animals who wish they were like the other animals . . . which leads to a farm-full of confusion! This delightful book will be a family favorite for years to come.

The Cow Said Neigh! is the story of some peculiar farm animals who wish they were like other animals on the farm. The cow wants to run free like a horse, the sheep wants a snout like a pig, the dog wants to be inside like the cat. Soon the entire farm is in chaos!

With silly farm animal sounds, clever rhymes, and adorable art, The Cow Said Neigh! will have kids of all ages laughing out loud as they celebrate the unique strengths in each of us.

This delightful picture book is sure to be read time and time again.

What I Thought

A great book that young children will love. I really enjoy books for this age that rhyme and this one has some really lovely illustrations to go with it. Perfect for little ones who are learning farm animals names and sounds. Perfect bedtime reading!

Where To Buy

Faithgateway Store

Clean Up, Up, Up! by Ellen Mayer

The Blurb

It is cleanup time, and Daddy and his little one are putting away books, blocks, teddy bears, and train cars, washing hands, and preparing for dinner—all while having fun with math! As Daddy talks with his toddler, he uses spatial-relationship math words and phrases like up, down, inside, outside, next to, and under to reinforce his young learner’s understanding. When it is dinnertime, the little one proudly demonstrates an understanding of down when helping to set the table and up while enjoying the first delicious bite!

A playful story that models engaging conversations between parent and child, Clean Up, Up, Up! includes a note by early childhood education expert Susan C. Levine that shows parents and caregivers how everyday activities offer rich opportunities to teach early spatial math concepts.

What I Thought

This is great for learning about positional language (up, down, under etc) and will help encourage and give ideas for tidy up time. The interaction between the parent and child in the story is lovely. The text is in both Spanish and English which I love to see. It also has notes for parents about reading the book and how to extend your child’s learning from it.

Where To Buy

Ellen Mayer website with links to buy

Spacekid iLK by Andrew Hammond

The Blurb

iLK is a Glubwark from the planet Glub and his dad has just invaded Earth.

iLK isn’t keen on being involved in the invasion, but his dad, BiLK, quickly decides that Earth is useless and hands the mantle of ‘Emperor of the World’, down to his son.

iLK becomes responsible for ruling Earth and soon grows to love it. So when he discovers his father isn’t interested in caring for the planet he is confronted with a difficult choice. How will iLK save Earth whilst also trying to fulfil the responsibilities assigned by his father?

Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 is an illustrated novel for ages 8–12. At an age where children are learning about different points of views and about taking responsibility, this book aims to not just extol the virtues of doing the right thing, but also asks why one would and what that choice involves.

Using entries from iLK’s journal and comic pages throughout, Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 is likely to engage even reluctant readers.

What I Thought

I loved this and I am sure the boys will too. Although it is aimed at 8-12 year old I think good readers aged 6 -8 years would get on well with this too. It could also be read to this age group by the parents and enjoyed. I liked the diary style layout of the story and the illustrations were good. The book is funny but also teaches children about choices and different points of view. Highly recommended!

Where To Buy

Amazon UK – paperback

Amazon US – paperback

Change The World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good

The Blurb

Written in simple, engaging rhyme, this story takes an inspirational look at how the little things in life—a smile, a kind word, a simple deed—can help change the world in a big way. Through 21 stunning illustrations featuring a diverse group of young dreamers, children will read about eating right, cleaning up the Earth by recycling and conserving, helping the sick and those less fortunate, and working in a group to make bigger miracles. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime!

What I Thought

I really loved the gorgeous illustrations in this book. Full of ideas to make the world a better place that can be done in our every day lives. Perfect bedtime reading for 5-8 year olds it provides a lot of further discussion prompts for parent when reading. The rhyming text doesn’t flow as well as in most books but I think with the lively conversation starting points this does not really matter.

Where To Buy

Amazon – hardback

Buzzing Bees by Melissa Higgins

The Blurb

For ages 4-8 years

What makes a bee a bee? What are the buzziest bees from around the world? Carefully leveled, engaging text supports life science curriculum related to classification, behavior, life cycles, and more. Smithsonian Little Entomologist feeds kids’ natural curiousity about the little critters in their world to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Fans of augmented reality will love to buzz beyond the printed page with up-close bee videos, accessible via the Capstone 4D app or on your web browser. 

What I Thought

A great little non-fiction offering for kids and perfectly set for the recommended age group. This book is informative and full of great, bright and clear photos to illustrate the information. I love that they offer extra content online and check out the website for other great non-fiction books about other insects

Where To Buy

Capstone website

The Not-So-Brave Penguin by Steve Smallman

The Blurb

Posy the penguin is scared of many things – snowstorms, loud noises, the dark – but when her adventurous friend Percy is missing, Posy plucks up the courage to overcome her fears and goes on an excursion to find him. After an intrepid journey, Posy finds an injured Percy in a dark cave. She rescues him and brings him home, realising in the end just how brave she can really be. A heartwarming story about friendship, being brave, and overcoming fears when it really matters, this picture book is sure to delight and entertain.

What I Thought

A really charming story, perfect for bedtime reading. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, the story shows you can overcome your fears and be a great friend. Leo (aged 10) is a huge penguin fan and even at his age enjoyed this little story! Gorgeous illustrations compliment the story well and there are ideas for further discussion for parents/teachers at the end of the book.

Where To Buy

Amazon – kindle, paperback and hardback versions available

I hope you enjoyed this selection of kids books I would recommend this month. A huge thankyou to NetGalley for my ARC of these books in return for an honest review. I hope you and your little ones enjoy them as much as me and mine did. Happy reading!

January Book Reviews

Still cannot quite believe we are in 2019 but here we go with the first round of books I have been reading recently.  Some of these go back a month or three as I haven’t done one in  a while but hoping this year will be a much more organised one!

With Or Without You by Shari Low

wowy

The Blurb

Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?

When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

A clever, captivating and bitterweet story of what might have been. Perfect for the fans of Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

What I Thought

Wow!  I really enjoy Shari Low’s books and this one was no exception.  The idea presented in the blurb intrigued me – could one decision really affect your whole life?

I loved the way the chapters were devoted to special events in the lives of this group of friends – parties, birthdays, weddings.  It was a chance to catch up with what had been going on with them all, without having a lot of ‘filler’ detail.  This meant that, rather than a frothy chick lit read, it became a more intriguing and enjoyable read.  There was difficult subject matter tackled well by the author.  Her writing is fresh, fun and moving – you really do get attached to these characters and wants to see what happens to them in both situations.

Highly;y recommend this one and look forward to more from Shari Low!

Where To Buy

Amazon

Thankyou to Aria and NetGalley for my ARC of this book in return for a review.  All opinions are my own

A Bad Lot – Collected Short Stories by Barbara Kastelin

abadlot

The Blurb

Twenty-four engrossing tales of human life, each with a twist in the tail. 
A collection of bite-sized novellas to enjoy in a busy life of commitments. 
Entertaining short fiction with an after-taste of surprise and disquiet.
 
During the hour of perusal, the soul of the reader is at the writer’s control” Edgar Allan Poe .
 
A Bad Lot is a collection of twenty-four short stories. Twenty-four stories each in a different style, set in different times and in different places showing the frailty that humans are capable of.
 
The Neapolitan thief can almost be forgiven, and the lone woman in the Manor house might have been more perceptive about her suitor. The Cambridge lawyer had no guts; lies have short legs in a Caribbean resort. A crush on a police inspector is a poor excuse for some behaviour, and buying a holiday home in the sunny Algarve may have its downfalls but, for her love of dogs, the woman from Norfolk will have to be rewarded in heaven. Whether giraffes have mythical powers is questionable, while being slave to a Nordic god could confuse any young man. Yes, the world around us is full of surprises.
 
We have all come across the feelings these characters in A Bad Lot experience. Our senses record the world around us but, in our brains, it is our frail humanity that overlays the information with illusion – our vanity, jealousy, sexuality, insecurity, love, ambition and guilt warp our perception. This anthology of short stories takes us on an entertaining tour of our capacity for self-deception. Lyrical and clever, they tackle the challenges of our demons.

What I Thought

Short stories are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoy them.  Normally there will be a couple or three of the stories in a collection like this, that I end up flicking through as they don’t grab my attention.  However, in this book, I read every single story and enjoyed them all.  Some I enjoyed more than others, but each one was able to hold my attention and entertain me.

Some of the first short story collections I read were the ones by Roald Dahl and there were similarities in this collection – deception, greed, jealousy, blind ambition.  It was like a trip through the seven deadly sins.  Some of the stories were shocking, some horrifying and some made you cheer when the good guy actually came out on top!  There is some adult content not suitable for children.

Any short story fan will love this and it is a great introduction to them if you have not previously read a collection.  Highly recommended and very much enjoyed by me!

Where To Buy

Troubadour Website

Amazon

The Author – Barbara Kastelin

Barbara Kastelin was brought up in Switzerland, always writing and painting, and always an outsider, an observer and a collector. She studied copy-writing and design in New York and worked for the UN Secretary-General. Having married a British diplomat, she has lived all over the world. She is the author of two previous novels

Thankyou to Troubadour and NetGalley fro my ARC of this book in return for a review.  All opinions are my own

Mothers by Chris Power

The Blurb

An “extraordinary” (The Sunday Times) debut of unnerving beauty, Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers evokes the magic and despair of the essential human longing for purpose.

Chris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends—characters who search without knowing what they seek. Their paths lead them to thresholds, bridges, rivers, and sites of mysterious, irresistible connection to the past. A woman uses her mother’s old travel guide, aged years beyond relevance, to navigate on a journey to nowhere; a stand-up comic with writer’s block performs a fateful gig at a cocaine-fueled bachelor party; on holiday in Greece, a father must confront the limits to which he can keep his daughters safe. Braided throughout is the story of Eva, a daughter, wife, and mother, whose search for a self and place of belonging tracks a devastating path through generations.

Ranging from remote English moors to an ancient Swedish burial ground to a hedonistic Mexican wedding, the stories in Mothers lay bare the emotional and psychic damage of life, love, and abandonment. Suffused with yearning, Power’s transcendent prose expresses a profound ache for vanished pasts and uncertain futures.

What I Thought

Another set of short stories which I LOVED! I devoured it and it really reminded me of the first sets of short stories I read by Roald Dahl (for adults) with their noir humour. The characters were all intensely fascinating, disturbing and multilayered.

As with many of these types of book, there were a couple which didn’t quite grab me the way the others had, but overall the book is brilliant and I would recommend to any fans of short stories or anyone interested in reading some.

Where To Buy

Amazon – available in Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible editions

The Author – Chris Powers

Chris Power lives and works in London. His column, A Brief Survey Of The Sort Story, has appeared in The Guardian since 2007. He has written for the BBC, The New York Times and The New Statesman. His fiction has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review and The White Review. Mothers is his first book.

Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC of this book which I received in return for an honest review.

Our Little Lies by Sue Watson (Audible)

The Blurb

Marianne has a life others dream of. A beautiful townhouse on the best street in the neighbourhood. Three bright children who are her pride and joy.

Sometimes her past still hurts: losing her mother, growing up in foster care. But her husband Simon is always there. A successful surgeon, he’s the envy of every woman they’ve ever met. Flowers, gifts, trips to France – nothing is too good for his family.

Then Simon says another woman’s name. The way he lingers on it, Caroline, gives Marianne a shudder of suspicion, but she knows she can’t entertain this flash of paranoia.

In the old days, she’d have distracted herself at work, but Marianne left her glamorous career behind when she got married. She’d speak to a friend, but she’s too busy with her children and besides, Simon doesn’t approve of the few she has left.

It’s almost by accident that Marianne begins to learn more about Caroline. But once she starts, she can’t stop. Because what she finds makes her wonder whether the question she should be asking is not ‘should she be jealous’, but… ‘should she be scared’?

Fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go looking for a dark, gripping psychological thriller, with a final twist that will put their jaw on the floor, will love Our Little Lies.

What I Thought

So this was the first Audible book I have purchased that I just couldn’t get through. Not because of a terrible plot or the writing style, or even the narrator. Unfortunately I couldn’t cope with the content of the story and the quite realistic and vivid descriptions of abuse contained.

I love a good psychological thriller but unfortunately this one just pushed my buttons and I had to turn it off. I would definitely advise anyone that may be sensitive to this type of content be very wary of this one.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle, Paperback, Audible versions available

Sincerely, X (Audible)

The Blurb

Some stories are too sensitive, painful or potentially damaging to share publicly — unless they can be shared anonymously. TED and Audible present Sincerely, X: an original audio series featuring talks from speakers whose ideas deserve to be heard, but whose identities must remain hidden. The first season features a compelling program of victims, perpetrators, investigators, activists, empaths and more.

What I Thought

This was a free download from the Audible store and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I have listened to a couple of TED talks but would definitely like to see more. This series is all done anonymously, the person is recorded in a studio rather than a stage and their identity is kept secret.

The talks were on a range of different topics and all very interesting. There were a couple out of the ten that didn’t quite grab my attention as much as the others, but I recommend a listen to the whole series, you will not be disappointed. I am looking forward to the second series!

See Ted Talks for more information

The Colour Of Bee Larkin’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris (Audible)

The Blurb

How do you solve a mystery when you can’t understand the clues?

’A rich tapestry… distinctive and compelling’ Observer

’A stunning whodunnit’ Mail on Sunday

‘A beautiful, original novel, at once funny and tragic and brave’ Sarah Pinborough

There are three things you need to know about Jasper.

1. He sees the world completely differently.
2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own.
3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham.

But uncovering the truth about that night will change his world forever…

An extraordinary and compelling debut which will make you see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before

What I Thought

Well, I think most thought that 2018 was the year of Eleanor Oliphant for best character but Jasper could take the crown just as easily. Jasper is a really likeable character and has a refreshing kind of honesty about him which I adored.

Once again, Ste ended up listening in to this one and loving it too. I think its perfect for anyone who also enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and both me and Ste enjoyed our time in Jasper’s world. A highlight of the year.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible versions available

A Disconnected Christmas by Ryan Ringbloom

The Blurb

Lindsay Subbloom’s marriage didn’t make it past the honeymoon. Her prince had a secret that she never saw coming. Now an internet obsession is keeping her connected to a brokenhearted past.

Her sister knows that if Lindsay doesn’t let go of her horrible new habit, she’ll have no future. Enter her brilliant idea—the gift of going offline. She hopes pushing Lindsay back into the real world will open the door for a second chance at love.

When Seth O’Shea sets his sights on the beautiful third-grade teacher, there’s an instant connection. Insta-smitten quickly turns to insta-smut. And when insta-love starts settling in, it looks like Lindsay may just get the fairy tale she’s always dreamed of in time for Christmas.

But what happens when she reconnects? Will she finally get her happily ever after? Or will old habits resurface and make her new man bounce before it begins?

What I Thought

This was a sweet, very easy read (I almost finished it in one sitting when I was poorly post Christmas). I thought the focus would be more on the challenge of being disconnected from social media, but it didn’t really focus on that which was a little disappointing.

The characters were likeable and the story was realistic. It can be a little ‘risque’ in places and there are some frank discussions about sex so not suitable if you are a prude! I could see this book as a good rom-com movie, there is definitely scope for improvement and filling out the storyline.

A cutsie, easy read if you are looking to pass a few hours with a modern romance style book.

Where To Buy

Amazon – Kindle version available

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in return for my honest review

Hope you enjoyed that little round up for this month and give some of these a try if you haven’t already. If you have read any of them let me know what you think in the comments below – do your opinions differ to mine?

Read With Me

May Book Reviews

Well, May was a funny old month.  I didn’t get a great amount of reading done as I was focused on getting my last couple of university assignments finished but I did enjoy what I got round to.  I finished a couple of audio books this month and am really enjoying my Audible subscription.  I listen to them on long car journeys and when I am doing the ironing and cleaning for example.  Here is a round up of what I read (and listened to) this month.

The Fear by C. L. Taylor

IMG_20180216_183422_079

This month I took part in the blog tour for The Fear by C. L. Taylor.  I really enjoyed this and if you are a thriller fan, I am sure you will too.  You can see the full review here

The Power by Naomi Alderman

(Audible)

WINNER OF THE 2017 BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION

29751398

The Blurb

What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – teenage girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed.

My Review

If you are a bookworm like me and enjoy discussing books with like minded people I suggest checking out Dawn O’Porter’s book club on Instagram – The Cold Water Book Club.  Last month the book she chose was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I had already read (my review can be found here) and this month she chose this for the fiction book.  I really enjoyed the questions i the book club after listening to this one, and thought the issues it raised were thought provoking and interesting.

I really loved the sound of this book.  The premise was different from anything I had read before and that excited me.  I downloaded it with the free credit I get from my Audible subscription for which I pay £7.99 a month.

I can’t say I loved this book but I did have to keep coming back to it and I wanted to hear how it all played out.  It is a great one for a book club and I would recommend it to anyone who is in one as it evokes a lot of conversations with its themes of power, feminism and religion among others.  I really liked the characters of Roxy and Tunde.  The writing was brilliantly evocative at times and the scene where Roxy had something dreadful happen (trying not to spoil it for anyone), was very emotional and made me want to cry for her.  I could feel her pain as I listened.  Some scenes are a little explicit and I would only recommend this to adult readers.

One of the major downsides of this book for me was the narration.  I really did not get along with it on this one and it was a definite hindrance to the book for me.  A couple of the different accents were done well, but the others just grated on me.  However, I am not sure I would have finished this book if I had the actual book rather than the audio version as I think I would have been bored and less inclined to pick it up.

If you enjoy something a little different and can get by with the narration of the audio version of this, I would recommend it.  I liked the concept, the delivery wasn’t always as engaging as I would have liked but it did keep me listening till the end.

Buy The Power on Amazon

Buy The Power on Waterstones

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinsborough

(Audible)

13 mins

The Blurb

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

My Review

This book was a little shorter thn most I have on Audible so I also finished this one this month.  And I really enjoyed it!

I do enjoy a thriller and this one did not disappoint, even though I worked out the big twist.  However, following the journey and how everything payed out was still gripping.

The book focuses on a group of teenage girls following the night one of them is rescued from the river and bought back to life after being ‘dead’ for 13 minutes.  She has lost her memory of what happened, so has to rely on her friends to fill in the gaps for her and can understand what happened to her.  The book is well written and the author has done a good job with the characters of the teenage girls.

The narrator of this one was much better and was able to keep set accents and voices to different characters.  Ste thought she spoke quite fast but I felt the pace was fine and much more conversational, as it would be in real life.

Buy 13 Minutes on Amazon 

Buy 13 Minutes on Waterstones

Dear Martha, WTF by Tricia LaVoice

martha

The Blurb

The Giving Tree meets Eat, Pray, Love in a brazenly honest, refreshingly irreverent, and even hilarious look at going “through” versus going “down.”

Tricia LaVoice’s life turned upside-down when her parents were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Her close relationships with her mother and father made everyday life afterwards a challenge.

Happily married and with a beautiful baby girl, Tricia had no time to fall apart. Over the years as her family grew, Tricia met two strong, dynamic women, both survivors of their own life challenges, whose wonderful friendships and unconditional maternal love and strength guide her to trust in life.

But tragedy strikes Tricia’s family again, shaking her faith in life once more. It was during this time of suffering and loneliness that she found an unexpected respite in nature, in the form of a beautiful pine tree Tricia named Martha. This rare bond inspires Tricia who literally talks to Martha daily as she heals the hurt in her heart. Tricia learns to listen to her inner voice, and heals herself by finding her source of courage and strength is within her.

My Review

They say to save the best till last and that is certainly the case this month.  What a fantastic book chronicling a woman’s journey through life and grief.

Sometimes, it is the case that you happen to pick up a book at exactly the right point in time you need to read what it has to say.  That was the case for me with this one.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I lost my Grandma at the end of April.  The author of this book lost both her parents in an accident just after having her first child.  This book follows her through the rest of her life and how she deals (and often does not deal) with not having her parent’s in her life.  Through moving (often and cross country), having children, family ups and downs we see what her reaction is and how she manages. She shows the way her grief impacts on those around her, reflects on her faith and learns different coping mechanisms.

I just can’t do this book justice ad really do recommend a read.  It will definitely be on my favourite books of 2018 list.  If I told you that, in fact, Martha is a tree you would probably say – Natalie, WTF – but honestly, especially when dealing with your own grief after losing someone, whatever stage you are at, this book will say things that you can understand completely.

Buy Dear Martha, WTF on Amazon

Thankyou to NetGalley and Post Hill Press for my ARC of this book in return for a review containing my own, honest opinions

I hope you enjoyed my reviews this month.  What have you been reading this month and would you recommend it?  I love to hear a good recommendation!  Let me know in the comments below and I will see you for another round up in a months time.

nat

See more

April Book Reviews

March Book Reviews

February Book Reviews

 

 

April Book Reviews

Aside from the month going super quickly, I feel a bit meh about this month’s book reviews.  I just haven’t LOVED everything I have read this month which is a little disappointing and has meant I have struggled to swap my phone for a book in the evening.  For that reason I have about three books I am still wading through so they will now be on next month’s list.  Here are my reviews for this month.

Not So Stories

not so stories

The Blurb

Anthology of short stories from culturally diverse writers  writing in response to Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories was one of the first true children’s books in the English language, a timeless classic that continues to delight readers to this day. Beautiful, evocative and playful, the stories of How the Whale Got His Throat or How the First Letter Was Written paint a world of magic and wonder.

It’s also deeply rooted in British Colonialism. Kipling saw the Empire as a benign, civilizing force, in a way that’s troubling to modern readers. Not So Stories attempts to redress the balance, bringing together new and established writers of colour from around the world to take the Just So Storiesback, to interrogate, challenge, and celebrate their legacy.

Including stories by Adiwijaya Iskandar, Joseph E. Cole, Raymond Gates, Stewart Hotston, Zina Hutton, Georgina Kamiska, Cassandra Khaw, Paul Krueger, Tauriq Moosa, Jeannette Ng, Ali Nouraei, Wayne Santos, Zedeck Siew, and Achala Upendran, with illustrations from Woodrow Pheonix.

What I Thought

I was really excited to read this, having read many of the Just So stories as a child.  The foreword did not disappoint and had me excited for the stories to follow.  However, they were not all as enjoyable as I expected, and I sometimes struggled to pick this book back up.  I think my two favourites were How The Spider Got Her Legs and Best Beloved.  The spider one definitely struck a nerve with me as it told the story of a mother fighting for her children.

I thought this was going to be an alternative bedtime story type book, and at least in part, suitable for me to read to the boys.  That wasn’t the case, and I think even my avid reading 9 year old would struggle with this, if that was the intention.

I wouldn’t discourage someone from having a read of this if it interests them, but I certainly wouldn’t be pushing people to either unfortunately.  I love the idea of changing something like the Just So Stories to be more modern and relevant but for me, most of the stories just did not grab my attention.

“I’ve talked at length about why it’s important that we see ourselves in children’s books.  All of us.  Because for  a person from a marginalised background to see themselves in fiction, it shows them that their stories are valid and they are seen”

Nikesh Shukla

“It’s a brave choice to take something so much a part of the canon as Kipling and make it more inclusive, and yet that’s what has happened in the following pages”

Nikesh Shukla
Thankyou to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing for the ARC of this book.  In return I was asked to provide a review but all opinions are my own

Where To Buy

Amazon

Waterstones



The Queen Of Bloody Everything (Audio) by Joanne Nadin

queen

The Blurb

And in that instant I fall in love. Not just with him, though he is the better part of it, but with them both, with the whole scene: the house, the garden, the magazine perfection of it. And I want very badly to be in this picture.

As Edie Jones lies in a bed on the fourteenth floor of a Cambridge hospital, her adult daughter Dido tells their story, starting with the day that changed everything.

That was the day when Dido – aged exactly six years and twenty-seven days old – met the handsome Tom Trevelyan, his precocious sister, Harry, and their parents, Angela and David.

The day Dido fell in love with a family completely different from her own.

Because the Trevelyans were exactly the kind of family six year-old Dido dreamed of.

Normal.

And Dido’s mother, Edie, doesn’t do normal.

In fact, as Dido has learnt the hard way, normal is the one thing Edie can never be .

What I Thought

I was a little shocked at some of the content in this book, I will be honest.  I am no prude but some of the things the young Dido talks about, observes and hears are not for little eyes or ears.  She shouldn’t be being exposed to it.  However, I am under no illusion that children have and do grow up like this.

This didn’t put me off however, I really did enjoy this book.  Poignant, sad, laugh out loud and written with such raw emotion – it certainly takes you on a ride.  The author does a beautiful job of telling Dido’s story with some wonderful characters and an interesting look into this strange and unique mother-daughter relationship.  She also did a great job of capturing the sense of time with some good references to popular culture.  I listened to the Audible version and felt the reader did a great job in conveying the story in this format.  I especially loved the voice she gave to Edie.

I highly recommend giving this book a try, it was certainly the highlight of the month for me.  I really enjoyed the Audible version but I think I would have also enjoyed reading the physical book just as much too.

Where To Buy

Amazon

Waterstones

The Dressmaker’s Secret by Charlotte Betts

the dressmakers.png

The Blurb

Italy, 1819. Emilia Barton and her mother Sarah live a nomadic existence, travelling from town to town as itinerant dressmakers to escape their past. When they settle in the idyllic coastal town of Pesaro, Emilia desperately hopes that, this time, they have found a permanent home. But when Sarah is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant, a deathbed confession turns Emilia’s world upside down.

Seeking refuge as a dressmaker in the eccentric household of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Emilia experiences her first taste of love with the charming Alessandro. But her troubling history gnaws away at her. Might she, a humble dressmaker’s daughter, have a more aristocratic past than she could have imagined? When the Princess sends her on an assignment to London, she grasps the opportunity to unravel the truth.

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Emilia is determined to discover who she really is – even if she risks losing everything . . .

What I Thought

I actually didn’t read this one this month, but at the beginning of the year and ghave just realised I didn’t let you know what I thought.  This one gripped me withnin a few pages and had me hooked.  I am a big fan of historical fiction and enjoy all the nods to actual events that happened during the time the book was set.

Emilia was a likeable lead, and this helped immensely as you read on to find out what happens to her.  It was also great to read about Caroline of Brunswick and I always love a book which inspires you to find out more about a character, as I have been with her.

A great read which combines history and mystery with a dash of romance.

Thankyou to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group for the ARC of this book.  In return I was asked to provide a review but all opinions are my own

Where To Buy

Amazon

Waterstones

That’s this month’s round ups!  I have an exciting post coming soon about a book I was sent and am LOVING so can’t wait to let you all know about that.  Fingers crossed I will be back with a bang and lots of great books next month.   As always let me know what you have been reading and would recommend in the comments below. Happy reading!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

This post may contain affiliate links.  These do not affect your purchases in any way, or cost you extra.  They may however, earn me some pennies if you click on them before purchasing an item.  Thankyou

 

March Book Reviews

This month has been a bit of a slow one for my reading but I think I have read my favourite book of the year so far.  I have been really lucky to win a book competition as well as get the opportunity to review some fantastic books.  I hope you enjoy this month’s round up and please let me know what you have loved reading in March in the comments below.

Sunflowers In February by Phyllida Shrimpton

sif

The Blurb

For fans of John Green and The Lovely Bones

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is  beginning to have a rather good time . . .
A moving, startlingly funny yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.

What I Thought

I requested this book after reading the blurb and was excited to be accepted to read and review.  Reading it however, was not the experience I expected.  It didn’t let me down but I wasn’t as big of a fan of it as I thought I would be.  I found it all rather odd.

The story begins with the main character, Lily, waking up in a field and realising she was dead.  At first she follows her friends and family around and I did worry it was going to be a bit too close to The Lovely Bones as she makes a distressing discovery about her killer.  However, instead, this book takes a different turn when she manages to communicate with her brother, and he ‘lends’ her his body so she can say goodbye, tie up loose ends etc.  The tricky part is giving it back.

Like I say, I didn’t not enjoy this book but it was a bit weird.  It explores the possibility of what happens when you die and the author had an interesting take on this, but I feel that we didn’t get to see enough of what happened to Ben and it never went really deep enough.  The character of Lily was likeable and a typical teen, I think this would appeal to it’s most intended readers of YA.  I enjoyed the first part of the book, exploring the feelings following death (both from Lily and her family and friends perspectives) and the effect it has, but I think the twist was just a little too far fetched and strange for me.  Overall was a decent read but just not quite enough for me.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

bookworm1

The Blurb

The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the vivid intensity of your first encounter with a book.

As a bespectacled young bookworm, Lucy Mangan devoured books: from early picture books, to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, and from trashy teen romances to her first proper ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures.

This is a love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, telling the colourful story of our best-loved children’s books, the extraordinary people who created them, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.

What I Thought

After Sunflowers In February leaving me feeling a little disappointed I couldn’t have moved on to a better book.

Lucy took me on a journey that I could have written and evoked so many happy memories of past, childhood reads.  She shared a brief, interesting history about children’s publishing, along with some humorous family memories.

This book stirred up memories of old favourites as well as some books I had forgotten about.  She also shared a couple I haven’t read and intend to seek out if I can.  An absolutely brilliant read, especially for self-proclaimed bookworms like me.  Highly recommended and easily my favourite read of the year so far.

Favourite Quotes

“Leave us be.  We’re fine.  More than fine.  Reading’s our thing”

“‘Pallid’ says my sister, peering over my shoulder as I type this. ‘Bespectacled, Friendless.’ Which is also true.And yet, who needed flesh-and-blood friends when I had Jo March, Charlotte, Wilbur and everyone at Malory Towers at my beck and call?”

“you simply never know what a child is going to find in a book (or a graphic novel, or a comic, or whatever) – what tiny, throwaway line might be the spark that lights the fuse that sets off an explosion in understanding whose force echoes through the years”

“‘He’s reading!’  More often than not, I tiptoe back to watch.  I can practically see the stream of glittering words flowing into his mind, giving him new names for things, teaching him in some fundamental way that nothing else can manage”

“At most they will spend a few days tapping the backs of wardrobes hopefully (yes, I did – well, only the old wooden one in the spare room.  All the others in the house were white-melamine-covered chipboard)”

“Sendak’s favourite fan, though, was a little boy who sent him a card with a little drawing on it.  Out of respect for a fellow artist, Sendak went to some trouble with his reply and included a little drawing of his own – of a wild thing – to the boy.  He got a letter back from the boy’s mother which said ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’  Sendak considered it the highest compliment he had ever been paid.  ‘He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything.  He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.'”

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Audible – narrated by Cathleen McCarron)

eleanor

The Blurb

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

An astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness

What I Thought

My first impressions were that this book may not be my cup of tea.  It has been very popular and spoken about a lot, which is why I chose to download it, but I was concerned I was not going to enjoy it, or even possibly get to the end.

Eleanor was a strange character who I just couldn’t warm to.  But then, as the story continued, I really did grow to love this odd, simple, lonely lady.  I found myself willing her on, cheering from the sidelines for her and hoping things would all turn out better for her.  I wanted her to do well, to find love and to banish her awful mother from her life.

This story is a real journey and you see this woman grow in front of your eyes.  It tackles the topic of adult loneliness and it is shocking to think that many people really do live this way.  There is a lovely interview with the author at the end of the story in which she talks about developing the character and what prompted her to write this story.

I also really enjoyed the narration of this story.  The soft Scottish accent was really how I envisioned Eleanor to talk and it bought the story and it’s location alive.  I hear Reese Witherspoon has bought the rights to make the film and I am sure it will be brilliant.  I found myself imagining the characters of Eleanor and Raymond to be played by Jayma Mays and Chris O’Dowd and really hope my ideas of the book aren’t ruined by a film version.

I would definitely recommend giving this one a read, or a listen.  I really enjoyed this as an Audible book with it’s great narration and think it helped me enjoy it even more than if I had read it.

 

I hope you enjoyed my March reviews, as I said at the top of the post, please let me know what you have enjoyed reading this month in the comments below.  You can still sign up for the Reading Challenge monthly newsletter by dropping me your email address.  I am attempting to read 50 books this year and hope you will try it with me!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Thankyou to NetGalley, Vintage Books and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC of Sunflowers In February and Bookworm.  I was given these books in return for a review but all opinions are my own