10,000 Things

I’ve written regularly about the amount of clutter in our house and all the attempts to sort it out, which have invariably failed because of impaired executive function. But now I know that my executive function is impaired, I can work with that. Using a Bullet Journal has definitely helped, and I’m actually working towards my goals most of the time.

In one of my “try to work out what to do next” / daydreaming moments I had the idea to release 10,000 things before the end of this year.

Why 10,000? It’s a number plucked from thin air but it’s also probably realisable, albeit challenging. In order to have any chance of hitting 10,000 there has to be leeway in the definition of “a thing”. So for example I will count every piece of a puzzle or game, every sheet of separate paper, every pencil or crayon; but not every page of a book or magazine, or every teeny item like sequins or Hama beads ūüėČ

My other self-imposed rule is that day to day rubbish and recycling don’t count towards the goal. Rubbish and recycling from hoarded boxes do count, that’s part of the point.

I’ve seen these challenges elsewhere but I’m not joining in with a community for this, it’s just extra motivation for me to do the decluttering I need to anyhow.

The most challenging part will probably be remembering to count everything!

I’ve no idea whether 10,000 is a ridiculous aim or not, but I may as well aim high.

The challenge starts now. I’ll keep you updated ūüôā

 

Just Visiting

I try to remind myself I’ve been here before.

I try to remember that I won’t be stuck here. I will escape.

Thinking is foggy and laden down. My mind is so heavy I can barely lift my head.

What if this time I can’t leave? What if this time I’m here for good?

What if all the years of holding myself together, filling the cracks in, coping, have left me too broken to be fixed?

I can get free. I will get free.

Depression will not hold me.

But right now, I’m visiting.

Just visiting.

NetGalley Reads

I appear to have ended up in a state of (fear?) over writing reviews, which makes each one take too long and I worry that I’m not doing the ones I care about justice. I’ve managed a couple of posts of Chaos Castle this year, but I’m generally being avoidant. So I’m trying to write some quick reviews here of past NetGalley books I’ve read (some over a year ago) in order to get into practice!

A Song for Ella Grey - David Almond (Hachette Children's Books, 2014)A Song for Ella Grey – David Almond (Hachette Children’s Books, 2014)

I think I am not a David Almond fan. So far, of the three or four¬†of his books I’ve read, I’ve loved Skellig and have felt meh at best for the others. I very much disliked A Song for Ella Grey, I think all the more so because of the rave reviews from everywhere else. I did not see what other people saw in this book. I have no frame of reference to relate to the teens, and thought that perhaps this was the problem. I also never studied English Literature past GCSE level so perhaps I was missing out there too. But I believe a novel should be enjoyable regardless of what level you read it on. Maybe it has more for the literati, but it still needs to be readable. I realised that A Song for Ella Grey was lacking not just in my experiences on reading Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan. Again, I have no frame of reference to relate to the characters, but because of the way they were written, I could relate. Again I could not relate to studying English, but Apple’s writing was beautiful and enjoyable. Crossan’s writing is beautiful, lyrical, and enjoyable (I also love The Weight of Water.) Almond’s writing was a slog, with generally unlikeable characters, and no relation to the Orpheus myth that I know. It’s been over a year since I’ve read this, so I don’t have a clear memory, but I have no desire to try again and try to work out what it was that I was missing.

Buy A Song For Ella Grey at Amazon*

Heart of Dread: Frozen - Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnson (Hachette Children's Books, 2014)Heart of Dread: Frozen – Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnson (Hachette Children’s Books, 2014)

This is the first in a dystopian fantasy series.¬†It’s been over a year since I read this, so I can’t write a very clear review, but it was a quick read with a believable world and I would read the sequels if I didn’t have such a big TBR list. One to read if you’re into YA fantasies, albeit fairly standard fare.

Buy Heart of Dread: Frozen at Amazon*

Buy Heart of Dread: Stolen at Amazon*

Buy Heart of Dread: Golden at Amazon*

The Astounding Broccoli Boy - Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Macmillan Children's Books, 2015)The Astounding Broccoli Boy – Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015)

I’ve not actually read any other Cottrell-Boyce, but I know I really should. I read The Astounding Broccoli boy about a week after the Doctor Who episode Forest of the Night (written by Cotterell-Boyce) first aired, which slightly detracted from my enjoyment as the TV script and the novel recycled some scenes. In different contexts, but because I’d read/seen within a week it did seem a bit lazy. I don’t know if this was changed in the final print version, as the NetGalley was out five months before publication. However, silly distractions aside, Broccoli Boy is a funny novel about three very different children who suddenly turn green, and what happens after this. Illustrated by Steven Lenton, I grabbed this in paperback when it came out and would happily re-read. At some point, I might get around to reading Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s other novels.

Buy The Astounding Broccoli Boy at Amazon*

What Milo Saw - Virginia McGregor (Little, Brown, 2015)What Milo Saw – Virginia McGregor (Little, Brown, 2015)

This book tries too hard. If it was just about Milo and his unique view of the world, then that is a story in itself. But it then adds in immigration and nursing homes in a mess of trying-to-win-some-diversity-award that mostly just left me feeling that the story was trying too hard to be too many things, and managed to sideline Milo’s disability and its effect¬†as a result despite claiming to be about this. Read several months ago and not memorable enough to have much to say about it.

Buy What Milo Saw at Amazon*

NEED - Joelle Charbonneau (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)NEED – Joelle Charbonneau (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

From the author of The Testing trilogy, comes a contemporary but no less disturbing story set in an all-American high school. NEED is the new social network – tell it what you want, and do what it asks, and you get what you’ve asked for. It warns that it should only be for things you need, but of course the students ask for stuff they want (phones, laptops, etc), or even revenge. Soon they realise that none of this is for free, and NEED knows too much about you… There’s a main plot on one teen, searching for her father, and a twist relating to this, but the social media concept in itself makes this a compelling YA thriller.

Buy NEED at Amazon*

The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2015)The Wolf Wilder – Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2015)

Katherine Rundell’s writing is beautiful, and I found my only bug with The Wolf Wilder (which I also had with Rooftoppers) is that it seems to end too soon. I’m sure there should be more! I didn’t know what to expect from this story, and I read the title as “The Wolf, Wilder” thinking it was maybe fantasy from a wolf viewpoint, but finding out that a wolf wilder is someone who returns ex-pet wolves to their nature. Which was fascinating, especially in a backdrop of Russia just before the Revolution. This is another book I will buy in paperback when it is out, because it has gorgeous illustrations (the downside of NetGalley are the “illustration here” comments in the middle of the text, because they are unfinished proofs!) I already want to read this again.

Buy The Wolf Wilder at Amazon*

Counting Stars - Keris Stainton (Hot Key Books, 2015)Counting Stars – Keris Stainton (Hot Key Books, 2015)

This is my first Keris Stainton book and although out of my usual genre (contemporary romance isn’t really my forte) it was a fun read and I much enjoyed it. I’m afraid for me it comes under popcorn as a quick read that doesn’t stick in the memory, but that’s due to my personal tastes. However, I would happily pick up any other Stainton novel based on Counting Stars, knowing that I would have an enjoyable and well written read ahead of me.

Buy Counting Stars at Amazon*

Into The Dim - Janet B Taylor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)Into The Dim – Janet B Taylor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

This is a time travel novel, set in contemporary Scotland and 12th Century London, written by someone who I’m fairly sure probably has made nothing more than a fleeting visit at best to a very touristy part of Scotland, if visited at all. It might work better in America, but as a Brit reading, it is so inaccurate as to be painful. Which I expect is also how Americans feel about some British writers writing about contemporary America. The historical aspect didn’t feel well researched, and although the concept was interesting, it really didn’t work for me. It’s described as Outlander for teens, but I’ve not read or watched Outlander to compare. However I think for a time travel tale, 18th century is more believable than 12th century. Seriously, how much has language changed in over 900 years? Is it really possible for 21st century people to pass (the language they were using as written certainly wouldn’t have), or to not catch some long-dead illness that would kill them quickly? Am I completely over-thinking this? You may have guessed that this didn’t entirely work for me.

Buy Into the Dim at Amazon*

Demon Road - Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2015)Demon Road – Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2015)

I expect “not as good as Skulduggery Pleasant” isn’t much of a review, but I think I need more time to get into this new world of a teen that turns into a demon, her incredibly f-ed up family, and a new host of not-as-human-as-you-thought characters. Actually, having written that, I feel more inclined to revisit it. If you’re a fan of Skulduggery, then you need no tempting to read this, but Demon Road is definitely aimed at older YA than early Skulduggery was. I expect I will be buying this series as it comes out in paperback, but I’m glad I got to read the preview so I didn’t pay for a hardback.

Buy Demon Road at Amazon*

Buy Desolation at Amazon*

Of these nine books, I recommend The Astounding Broccoli Boy, The Wolf Wilder, and NEED first, plus Heart of Dread: Frozen, Counting Stars, and Demon Road.

All books received free to read via NetGalley, with thanks to the respective publishers.

* affiliate link

Procrastinating

I have procrastinating down to a fine art. I tried to work against it, and did quite well, but here it is, almost the end of March and I’ve not posted anything for ages. So instead of finishing off all the half-written book reviews I need to do, I’ll procrastinate here instead…

I’m still loving the Bullet Journal. In January I got so much done, and I may feel frustrated that I’ve not got much done since (in terms of writing posts, and getting the house decluttered), but I am keeping on top of the day to day things more days than not, and have even stuck to a diet for two weeks so far.

In need of relaxation this morning, so setting up April in #bulletjournal

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

We have another autism diagnosis to add to mine, and I now suspect that three out of four of the Chaos¬†household¬†will end up with official diagnoses. Despite knowing we were going through the assessment process, the diagnosis did take me by surprise and we’re all still adjusting to it. It does mean that I really need to start building up local Home Ed contacts because I can’t see that mainstream schooling is going to be that helpful for us.

We have a huge number of review books to get written. Many very excellent ones, and a few so-so ones that probably won’t get added. The best of illustrated books will go Chaos Castle, the¬†rest here. Which will include some very excellent unillustrated books. Chaos Castle is all about the visuals.

I really need to update both blogs visuals.

But content is king, so I have a note to myself to not procrastinate by updating themes… I really want to…

I’ve not been reading as much as I feel I want to, but am currently on the third in the Tiffany Aching series, working up to Terry Pratchett’s final novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. It’s nice to read them all together, without several years between, as everything is fresh from one book to the next, and you can really see the development of writing over the years.

It seemed like a good time to (re)read these. Although reading The Shepherd's Crown will be hard.

A photo posted by Anne-Marie Carslaw (@chaoscastleuk) on

I wish they’d kept the smaller hardback and matt cover format for the last three. I preferred it, and I want the series to match!

I now need to convince myself to finish off writing a review that’s over a month later (never mind all the other ones), so I feel I’ve achieved something…

 

#bookgivingday #giveaway

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It’s International Book Giving Day! As I posted on Instagram, I’ll be giving away five books today. Three are brand new, unread, and can be won from entering the very easy rafflecopter entries below.

The other two are read (although as new apart from slight crease where front cover has been opened) and will be given away via Instagram. Note: the post above is not a giveaway post.

These are personal giveaways, not affiliated with anyone, and posted to UK mainland addresses only. Giveaway closes at midnight tonight, and please allow time for posting if you win because it’s half term break and I won’t get to a post office for at least a week.

Good luck ūüôā

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rapunzel Books

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In the tale of Rapunzel, Rapunzel’s birth mother craves the salad leaves /¬†rampion / garlic / greens growing in the garden next door. Nothing else will do for her, and she pines for this one thing…

I have a huge TBR pile. More books on my Kindle that I’ll be able to read in a lifetime. Plus a least four books that I urgently need to read and review right now.

[I’m talking novels when I say books. Reading picture books and early readers are no problem.]

I’ve read on one day for the last two weeks because I have a rapunzel book. I want to read a particular book (that I don’t own) and I just can’t get into anything else at all.

My current rapunzel book is The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.* It was published five years ago and I’ve managed to completely bypass it. It wasn’t until last year that I realised it was in a genre that I’d probably enjoy. And this year, I realised that the author wrote two Seventh Doctor stories that I’d enjoyed as a teenager (I have a soft spot for Sylvester McCoy stories – and Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield were ones that I actually remembered watching. Especially Battlefield. I was 14. I had a crush on one of the characters. Blush.)

There is no reason for me to need to read this particular book now, but it’s stuck in my head. I may not even like it. But it’s stuck in my head.

I have no reason to buy another book at the moment, I have more than enough to read, and re-read. I have a TBR list that will take me two years to get through. I don’t have ¬£9 spare to spend on a paperback.

But, like Rapunzel’s mother, I will probably give in. This is not my first rapunzel book, nor will it be the last. Some turn out to be my favourite reads.

But in the meantime, I can’t concentrate on reading any other novels, because I pine for the rapunzel and nothing else will do…

Do you have rapunzel books? Please share yours. Were they what you expected, or a disappointment?

*affiliate link

The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone

theshadowkeeperAbout (from Simon & Schuster)

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic.

With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of J.K Rowling, Piers Torday and Michelle Paver.

Chaos Comments

I was late to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and all three were out in paperback before I was given the set by a friend. This was handy, because I when I ended a book with a “No! I need the next one NOW!”, I could read the next. The ending of The Shadow Keeper has left me feeling like this again, but there isn’t the next book to read now.

The world of The Shadow Keeper takes me back to the books I loved as a child, and I’m itching to re-read The Dark is Rising sequence, The Chronicles of Prydain, and The Wizard of Earthsea again now.

Following on from The Dream Snatcher, Moll and her friends are still avoiding the dark magic whilst searching for the second amulet. The stakes are higher, and the pain experienced by members of the tribe were heartbreaking. Poor Gryff! Poor… Oh, but no spoilers.

There are codes to solve too! I was one of those kids that translated the runes in the Hobbit, so codes rock for me.

I love this exchange near the end of the book, it sums up Moll’s character for me, and a fab piece of humour.

‘- and Moll wants to go after it tonight,’ Puddle finished. ‘In the rain. Without a boat. To Devil’s Drop.’

‘What’s Devil’s Drop?’ Siddy asked warily.

Moll raised her jaw. ‘A waterfall that might or might not be a little bit haunted.’

‘How haunted are we talking?’ Alfie asked.

Moll tapped her foot impatiently. ‘Dead sailors, I think.’

Siddy moaned. ‘Only you would come up with a plan as mad as that, Moll.’

Then a few pages later, Abi will break your heart. The danger is real. The trust and friendship are deep. Moll’s world is one worth visiting. I savoured this book over a longer period so I didn’t have to leave them again, and I can’t wait for the next part.

The Shadow Keeper is published by Simon & Schuster on 25th February, and The Dream Snatcher is out now.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The Shadow Keeper by the author, and I’ve even got a mention in the acknowledgements. [Squee!!] I also think Abi is a pretty awesome person. This doesn’t affect my honesty in writing reviews.¬†

Bullet Journal Convert

I may have mentioned Bullet Journalling a few times recently. I’ve now been using the system for almost six weeks so am still new but I’m a convert.

What is Bullet Journalling?

A Bullet Journal is a system for organising your planning.¬†It’s simple, infinitely customisable, and doesn’t need any special materials.

One notebook. One pen. One you.

The introductory video explains the concept, and the basic modules to start a Bullet Journal.

Anything on top of that is up to the individual. Below is an example of how a Bullet Journal can evolve over a few months of use to something beautiful.

A Bullet Journal won’t magically change your life and make you more productive. Nor will any other planner system. But the flexibility of Bullet Journalling means that it can work better for each individual than a planner designed by someone else, which probably¬†includes things irrelevant to your life, and excludes things that are vitally important.

Why I’m using a Bullet Journal

I’ve been writing plans and sketching room layouts and making goals for years, but I haven’t got anywhere. I manage for a while, and then something happens and I forget everything and start writing new lists and new plans and never quite manage to keep up with the day to day, let alone bigger goals.

My Bullet Journal is helping because I’m using it. I’m looking at it every day, several times a day. I’m adding new things, but rereading what’s already in there to cement it in my brain.

It’s funny how having a task written down is making me more likely to complete it, because I don’t want to write it again for the next day!

But also having everything written neatly in one nice book (for me, the nice book helps me use it, so I did invest in a Leutterm1917*), is helping me flow my thought processes and break down tasks more easily.

All of these things are me making me more productive. But I find peace in looking through the pages, so I can de-stress for a few minutes doing that. I’ve always liked visualising and planning and writing lists, so the system suits me for that. Looking back at completed tasks shows me how much I’ve done, and motivates me to do more.

How I’m using a Bullet Journal

Because I like to do things my own way, I’ve been picking and choosing from what I’ve seen online to suit what I need, along with¬†relevant lists of long term plans from old books. I’m slowly and carefully breaking these into smaller tasks, on days when I can manage. On off days, I write basic daily tasks to do, so I get mental¬†reinforcement in using the system.

At the moment I have the following ‘modules’:

  • Index (already included with Leuchtterm1917, as are numbered pages)
  • Future Log (handwritten 2016 calendar with space for monthly tasks on two double spreads)
  • Monthly overview (currently similar to Boho Berry, but developing monthly as I discover what works best for me)
  • Monthly tracker (really not happy with the first one I’ve created for January but like the concept, so am sketching out plans to change for Feb)
  • Monthly gratitude log (an idea I’ve taken from the Bullet Journal community. Thinking of two things every day that were good. Finding two things is do-able, albeit hard on bad days. It adds up: there will be 62 positive things at the end of January. 732 positive things at the end of this year. 732 good things in a year when I usually can barely think of a handful because I focus on the negatives so much)
  • Dailies (a list of tasks I want to complete on a particular day – as well as what’s on the tracker – plus some journal notes for things I want to track, which in my case are mainly what I’ve decluttered and the books I’ve read! I don’t include weather pictures or special hand lettering!)

Modules

Specific to my goals, my ‘collections’ include:

  • List of all rooms / areas of the house so I don’t forget to declutter anywhere (including garden, sheds, and garage)
  • List of categories of ‘things’ (so far just children’s stuff¬†and paperwork, but I categorise anyhow and it’s also in the¬†¬†KonMari method – seeing how much you have of each ‘category’ helps declutter it down)
  • List of what is going to be in each room (so far just for the children’s rooms) This is to help plan where furniture etc is going to fit, but also my plan is to write everything (category-wise) that we want to keep, then anything else either needs a home created or isn’t needed!
  • List of the storage we have, to plan a place for everything…
  • List of chores, to work out when to fit them into routines
  • List of steps towards goals, that can then be broken down
  • Initial plans of routines, schedules, and timescales for goals, allowing for changes
  • Lists of books to review, books to read, books received…

Collections

I’m also using colour coded stickers, tabs, and washi tape, because – well, because I want to!

At the moment, rereading and checking my bullet journal is taking up a lot of my time, while I build habits. But this was time I’d been wasting on phone games because I couldn’t pull myself together enough to do anything. So the games playing has gone down, and I’ve been productive, and I’ve taken ‘me time’ and space so I don’t stress.

Being happy with myself has been a rare occurrence for too long. So I am a Bullet Journal convert for now, and long may it continue.

Disclosure: * affiliate link. I actually bought my book from my lovely local independent stationary shop.

Word of the Year

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I’ve chosen words of the year a couple of times, and then not really taken much notice of them.

I don’t think I chose a word last year. I don’t think I did much of anything last year.

I wasn’t going to choose a word for the year this year, but it snuck up on me and I realised it’s what I want to aim for overall.

My word of the year is:

HAPPY

ūüôā

New Year. New Books.

New books are always lovely, and a book sale is an excellent time to stock up for future gifts; grow a home library; or plan for party bags. The Scholastic Book Clubs sale started on 25th December, and has books from as little as 99p. What’s more, 20% of purchases go to the school of your choice.

Our local school sends home Scholastic Book Club catalogues once a term, and they are always packed full of bargains. They also have exclusives, like the paperback version of a something only just out in hardback.

Scholastic Book Clubs asked me to choose a few favourites from the sale to share. I’m not sure if all my choices are sale books, but the prices are pretty¬†great all year round. You can see all the books in the sale on their website.

Scholastic Book Clubs SaleMy first choice is this amazing pack of 20 picture books for only £20. At only £1 per book this would be perfect for party bags, and the quality of the books included is stunning.

The pack includes Marmaduke the very Different Dragon (review), The Pirates Next Door (one of our favourites in 2012), How to Hide a Lion from Grandma and Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion (included in Chaos Castle’s books with single dads). I’d be willing to pay more than ¬£20 just for those four, but there are another 16 included too – something for everyone.


Scholastic Book Clubs saleSticking with early years, who can resist this lovely soft Hugless Douglas? We are huge Hugless Douglas fans, and even though MG and DG are technically a little old for this, it’s still so cute that it gets read and played with regularly. ¬£3.99 is a ¬£7 saving on full price, and a very cheap gift for new babies (or their toddler siblings), or any young child really!


Scholastic Book Club saleMy next choice is the latest in Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s Underpants series, Aliens Love Dinopants. Currently still only out in hardback, this paperback is even more of a bargain at only ¬£2.99. The¬†Underpants series are wonderful, and¬†each new book is still fresh and inventive (and includes little details relating to other books in the illustrations, which makes reading even more fun.)


169177-ml-1436458My final picture book choice is I’ll Wait, Mr Panda – which isn’t even published in hardback until next week, so this paperback for ¬£3.99 is almost an essential purchase. We haven’t actually read this yet, but Please Mr Panda is amazing and Steve Antony hasn’t had a so-so book published yet. Besides, who could resist that cute face?!


Scholastic Book Club saleThe Phoenix comic is probably the best comic for kids around at the moment, and the collected strips in book form are excellent for reluctant readers, and avid readers alike. Of the three in this pack, we’ve only read The Pirates of Pangaea but are avidly waiting the next installment. This three pack is ¬£14.99, or each can be bought separately for ¬£4.99 each.


Scholastic Book Club sale

Jim Kay’s illustrations for Harry Potter are stunning, and this first illustrated book in the series is stunning and worth the ¬£30 RRP – but it’s only ¬£16.99 here so grab a bargain (and don’t forget the 20% back to your school.)

And if you don’t own any of the Harry Potter series, and have kids approaching the age to enjoy them, the full set of paperbacks (with Jonny Duddle’s gorgeous covers) are only ¬£29.99.


156822-ml-1212677My final choice (and really there are so many more I could point out, but I’m late writing this already!) is the complete set of nine Skulduggery Pleasant books for ¬£39.99. Okay, so it doesn’t include The Maleficent Seven or Armageddon Outta’ Here, but the main nine novels don’t need the extra two unless you get completely addicted (which I did!)¬†The earlier novels are 9+, but later ones are 11+, so I’d recommend this pack for teens and older (up to any age!) The humour, action, twists, and fabulously imagined world of Skulduggery Pleasant is well worth losing yourself in.

I hope that’s given you some good ideas for new books for the new year, and some brilliant bargains. There is so much to browse in the Scholastic Book Clubs sale, and 20p in every ¬£1 spent goes to the school of your choice. Wins all round.

Disclosure: My local school will receive some books in exchange for this post. I’ve been¬†a happy customer with Scholastic Book Clubs for over five years so jumped at the chance to promote them more.