Our Week in Books #15

I seem to have a blank spot for Kindle books, so have added two I bought in previous weeks onto this week. I shouldn’t really count Kindle books against the net gain in books for the year, as it’s shelf space that I’m trying to keep from expanding. 8 Kindle books this year out of 137, and 120 books taken from the shelves so a net gain of 9. And I have 9 ready for a giveaway, so that will make a net gain of zero. Good work, me!

I am annoyingly still ill. This is a theme. I think I normally seem to be almost constantly ill for about six weeks at this time of year. It gets a bit boring. I’m on to a chest infection now. All very minor, but irritating and not helping me get anything useful done. My plan when the children go back to school is to spend a solid week blogging my heart out. I have so many reviews to write, lots already in draft format and even more still in the back of my head…

It’s still been a good week of school holidays though. Lots of different things done, time spent with people, visiting places, and only one day of constant TV. There was also a decluttering achievement due to a charity collection so I got rid of five sacks sitting in the garage. Woohoo. Ignoring the cycle of cold-related bugs I’m going through, it’s been good.

Oh, I’ve also spent far too much time updating the school website as they’ve changed to WordPress so I’m having great fun creating blog entries for past events. The only downside being that I’m doing all this extra work for free because they didn’t actually ask me to do it. Oops.

Books added to shelves:
The Testing – Joelle Charbonneau (99p Kindle on 3rd March)
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell (£1.49 Kindle on 2nd April)
Girl With A White Dog – Anne Booth (bought from Mostly Books)
The Fairytale Hairdresser and Cinderella – Abie Longstaff & (bought from Mostly Books)
Mr Men: The Big Match – Roger Hargreaves (bought from Blackwell’s)
Little Miss Naughty and the Good Fairy – Roger Hargreaves (bought from Blackwell’s)
Cumulative: 137 (£146.12)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 120

Read 52 books finished this week:
The Madness Underneath – Maureen Johnson
Girl With A White Dog – Anne Booth
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Year progress: 102/365 = 27.9%
300 Picture Book progress: 142/300 = 47.3%
Read 52 progress: 19/52 = 36.5%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

300 Picture Books #14


Click on the badge above for details of the 300 picture books challenge and how to join in.

Oh, okay, I never got round to updating last week with a competition so it will be this week after all. And I think I have updated Goodreads at last. We’ve mostly been reading the same things over and over so not many added each week, the 16 below are from the last four weeks (last time I updated oops!)

I owe lots and lots of comments from the last four weeks, thank-you all for your patience, and it’s still been lovely reading about the books even if I haven’t commented.

Thank-you for the comments on whether to do this weekly or monthly. I think I’ll leave it weekly, with the monthly giveaway, and then you can link up whenever you want.

This month’s giveaway has a kind-of specific theme in mind so I’m opening it up to anyone, although #300PB members can get two entries by commenting twice (random selection from comments) – see details below.

Chaos Household ‘new’ picture books read for the last four weeks:
The Princess and the Presents How to Catch a Star The Queen's Hat Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk The Deep Dark Wood The House That Zac Built The Dawn Chorus The Kiss That Missed Good Knight Sleep Tight The Three Wishes A First Book Of Fairy Tales Have You Seen the Crocodile? Famous Five Colour Reads: Five and a Half-Term Adventure Herman's Letter Ding Dong Gorilla Don't Call Me Sweet


#300PBs progress: 137/300 = 45.7%
2014vs2013 progress: 137/228 = 60.1%

Monthly Giveaway
This month’s prize is a selection of toddler books from Barefoot Books, Little Tiger Press, Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Puffin. This selection would be great for someone with a toddler or pre-schooler and who is expecting, although the books are suitable for any toddlers/pre-schoolers. There are four activity books to keep small children amused in waiting rooms, two books about new siblings, a pack of small picture books that can be easily transported, and a picture book and board book for sharing any time. The titles included are:

Baby Animal Sticker Activities and Farm Sticker Activities (Little Tiger Kids, 2014) – packed full of early learning activities and real-life picture stickers, these books are great for toddlers and pre-schoolers. 80 pages of activities and 200 photographic stickers with RRP £6.99, these are great value for money compared to weekly magazines and excellent quality too. The Little Tiger Kids imprint has impressed me with every one of their books we’ve been sent to review and I only wish I had younger children so I could justify keeping them!
Red, Blue, Peekaboo! Katie Saunders & Annette Rusling (Caterpillar Books, 2014) – an absolutely gorgeous board book with big flaps suitable for the smallest hands. The flaps have cut outs so you can ‘peekaboo’ and guess what’s underneath. With one colour focussed on each page, there’s plenty of learning but even more fun. Another one I want to keep (and at 4 & 7, my two still loved sharing this book together!)
My Little Box of Springtime Stories (Little Tiger Press, 2014) – similar to the mother’s day box, but with an extra book instead of a card, this sturdy cardboard carry-case contains five small paperback versions of Little Tiger Press stories. Great for overnight stays, holidays, waiting rooms, or snuggled up reading anywhere.
Don’t Call Me Sweet: Smriti Prasadam-Halls & Angie Rozelaar (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014) – an adorably cute little monster tries to be scary in this cute rhyming tale, until he decides that maybe being sweet is okay after all… Beautifully illustrated fun for little monsters everywhere.
Dotty Spotty Doodles & Zig Zag Zebra – activity books from Barefoot Books.
Ruby’s Baby Brother: Kathryn White & Miriam Latymer (Barefoot Books)
There’s an Ouch in my Pouch: Jeanne Willis & Garry Parsons (Puffin Books)

Baby Animals Sticker Activities; Farm Sticker Activities; Springtime Stories (5 books); Red, Blue, Peekaboo; and Don’t Call Me Sweet were received for review. Dotty Spotty Doodles, Zig Zag Zebra, and Ruby’s Baby Brother are new Barefoot Books from when I was an Ambassador. There’s an Ouch in my Pouch is from a Bookstart pack and has been on our shelves and therefore in good but not as new condition. Lovingly cared for in a smoke & pet free home.

To enter the giveaway, you must* enter the linky and leave a blog comment. The winning entry will be chosen at random from blog post comments. If you don’t leave a comment, I’ll assume you don’t want to enter.
* You can enter by just leaving a blog post comment if you have nothing to link up, just tell me where you are in the challenge or a favourite read from the last week instead. Open to everyone, #300PBs members please leave a second comment for an extra entry.

The giveaway is open to enter until the linky list closes on Sunday 20 April, and a winner will be chosen at random from the comments. This giveaway is not endorsed by the publishers, and postage is paid from my own pocket.  Open to UK addresses only I’m afraid but if you’re based elsewhere and have someone in the UK I can send to, that’s not a problem.

Our Week in Books #14

The plan today was to add books to Goodreads that aren’t there so I can update my picture books read list properly, take a photo of the books I’m going to giveaway for #300PBs and update Monday’s post at last, and write an update here of all the decluttering and tidying I’ve done in the last two weeks, with pictures.

This was all going to be possible because Mighty Girl was out from 9-4 today with a Brownies’ Circus Skills Workshop and Danger Girl is a doddle to look after. But what actually happened is I felt lethargic all day until at 4pm I just fell asleep until 8pm because I was too worn out to continue any more. I lost my voice two days ago so I think I have a virus, and my throat started to hurt today. It’s only been two or three weeks since I last had a sore throat / head cold so I’m a bit miffed with my body.

But in the last two weeks, despite constant back pain (that’s now been three weeks, not sure what I did), and then managing to do my ‘good’ knee in just walking down the stairs this week (the ‘bad’ knee has been giving me problems since I fell off a bus seven years ago – it was at a bus stop, but I misjudged where the ground was and hit it funny, fell down and had a swollen knee for over a year after), I have done so much decluttering and tidying that even people who haven’t seen my house in a messy state say the house is tidy! So I suppose that’s something.

This blog has suffered because of it. Oh, I was also going to do a post of all the books I haven’t reviewed. It’s a bit ridiculous. But I need to update Goodreads first and I haven’t done that. It’s the school holidays now so not sure how much I’ll get done in the next two weeks but my priority now is some book reviews as the house is so much better and can be ignored for a little while again ;-)

I started this 12 hours ago but didn’t quite finish. And I’ve just seen I haven’t added the books properly but my head isn’t working well enough so I’ll fix the details later. I doubt anyone else will notice anyway. Bit of a whingy ramble today but I’m fed up of feeling like I’m falling apart. I feel old.

Books added to shelves:
How to Catch a Star – Oliver Jeffers (competition prize from
The Queen’s Hat – (review book from Hachette)
Barbapapa’s Ark - (review book from Hachette)
The Princess and the Presents – Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (bought from Mostly Books)
The Hugo Movie Companion – Brian Selznick (bought from Poundland)
Cumulative: 131 (£124.78)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: 49 (still to take to charity shop)
Cumulative: 120

Read 52 books finished this week:
The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon – Jonny Duddle

Year progress: 95/365 = 26.0%
300 Picture Book progress: 133+/300 = 44.3%
Read 52 progress: 16/52 = 30.8%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

300 Picture Books #13


Click on the badge above for details of the 300 picture books challenge and how to join in.

I’m contemplating whether to have this linky monthly rather than weekly and just updating the books I read onto the one post, and having a competition open for the month. Hmm… You can link up as many times as you like if you prefer weekly though? Let me know whether you want to keep the weekly or if monthly suits in the comments. And I will go back and comment on the link-ups from the last few weeks, thank-you for continuing to support #300PBs.

I’m going to have the monthly giveaway in this post, but I haven’t decided what books to give away yet so I’m leaving the generic info for the giveaway below and will update later. I’ll make the closing date at least a week after the time I’ve added the prize details, and keep the linky open for longer even if it overlaps next week so you have a chance to enter.

I’ll come back and update this later… ;-)

I never did get back in time, so the giveaway is in Week 14

Chaos Household ‘new’ picture books read this week:

Our Week in Books #13

Unlucky 13… Or exactly three months into the year. Eek, a quarter of this year gone already and I’m not sure how that happened (as always!) It is true that life speeds by at an alarming rate the older you get.

The last few weeks I haven’t been blogging at all other than to keep Our Week in Books and #300PBs going, and even then they’ve been late and half-hearted. Funnily enough my blog stats have fallen hugely in that time, and not so many people joining #300PBs because I’ve not been commenting. This is expected and I will pick up again but with the Easter holidays looming, it’s going to be another few weeks before that happens.

What I have been doing is lots and lots of decluttering. This week I think it’s been about seven sacks of recycling, another sack for shredding and I’ve got five sacks of charity/sale stuff building up in the garage. I really need to get photos sorted and sell some bits and pieces so I can happily give the stuff that doesn’t sell to charity knowing I at least made an effort. We currently have a cot and a junior bed in pieces in our bedroom, and they’ve been there for… er, years actually. It’s been two years since we bought full size single beds for the children. Oops.

My kitchen is full of plastic boxes. Which was all the paperwork and bits that got stuck in a box for “sorting later”. This last week has at last been the “later”. The problem is, I have sorted and created these aforementioned 12-ish sacks full of decluttering and yet I still seem to have lots of full boxes still to sort. The stuff seems to breed. And I haven’t even touched the lounge, which looks like it’s been burgled…

Sunday we went to the Oxford Literary Festival to see Jonny Duddle and meet up with fellow bloggers at CApptivated Kids, Read It Daddy! and Can I Walk Mummy? And totally missed DYESTTAFTSA who was at different events. It was wonderful and I’ll write up the Jonny Duddle event separately.

I need to update lots of Goodreads, more books to add to the database to keep track of the review backlog, which is even more ridiculous than usual with all the blogging I’ve not been doing. Special mention this week to Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk by Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon which I’ve been reading several times a day to DG, who keeps asking for it again and again. Big hit.

I’ve spent over £100 on books so far this year. However, this time last year I’d spent £278.35 on 193 books so I have improved. I do need to cull more books though as there’s a net gain of 55 books so far and I do want to keep that at zero. I also need to cut down the book spending as £400 a year is more than half my annual salary! Either that or get a bigger income of course ;-) Last year I spent a ridiculous amount, so much so that I stopped adding it up, but this year I will keep track of it so I can control it better.

I like tracking things. I just don’t have the time to track everything so I’m just doing books at the moment. I think if I tracked more bits of my life I’d be able to keep on top of things better but I think now is not the time to try. I actually have a diary where I wrote down every ml of milk and every minute of sleep that MG had over a two week period as a newborn, which did help us settle into a routine. She didn’t sleep. She took ages to drink milk (hence bottles, I couldn’t deal with the constant breastfeeding – she took 2hrs to get through 4ml bottles…)

I digress. As always. Lots of rambling today because I have lots on my mind. Too many things I want to get done before school breaks up on Friday lunchtime. Trying to slow my brain down enough to work out which of the things I can actually get done. Still probably going to fit in a nap today because the weekend was exhausting and we’re going to the cinema tonight. I know that sounds useless, but I have limited ‘spoons‘ and need to recharge. I also read about splines theory this week which is interesting. Perhaps I’m reticulating splines…

Books added to shelves:
The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson (bought for Kindle)
The Madness Underneath – Maureen Johnson (bought for Kindle)
The Boy and the Whale – Michael Moniz (review book from Simply Read)
Rainbow Magic Early Reader: Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy – Daisy Meadows (review book from Hachette)
Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk – Rachael Mortimer & Liz Pichon (review book from Hachette)
The Deep, Dark Wood – Algy Craig Hall & Ali Pye (review book from Hachette)
The House that Zac Built – Alison Murray (review book from Hachette)
My First Hugless Douglas Activity Book – David Melling (review book from Hachette)
The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon – Jonny Duddle (2 copies, bought from Blackwell’s, Oxford Literary Festival)
Cumulative: 126 (£112.79)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 71

Read 52 books finished this week:
The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson

Year progress: 90/365 = 24.7%
300 Picture Book progress: 131?/300 = 43.7%
Read 52 progress: 15/52 = 28.8%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #12

The only good thing about feeling ill most of last week (head cold / sore throat plus lower back pain, since you asked) is that I read a lot of books for me. The ‘bad’ things (excluding the actually feeling ill) are that I’ve done no decluttering, I’ve no idea where I am with reading picture books on Goodreads, I’ve not written any reviews or blog posts because my brain has been mush, and I feel like I’ve achieved nothing for the last fortnight.

Onwards and upwards…

Books added to shelves:
The Dawn Chorus – Suzanne Barton (review book from Bloomsbury)
The Boy in the Smoke – Maureen Johnson (WBD £1 book bought from Mostly Books)
Harry the Poisonous Centipede - Lynn Reid Banks & Tony Ross (bought from Mostly Books)
My First Hugless Douglas Activity Book – David Melling (bought from Mostly Books)
Cumulative: 116 (£99.83)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: none

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 71 (11 still to post)

Read 52 books finished this week:
Operation Bunny – Sally Gardner & David Roberts
Half Sick of Shadows – David Logan
The Three Pickled Herrings – Sally Gardner & David Roberts
The Vanishing of Billy Buckle – Sally Gardner & David Roberts
The Boy in the Smoke – Maureen Johnson
Still 19% through Half of a Yellow Sun

Year progress: 81/365 = 22.2%
300 Picture Book progress: 130/300 = 43.3%
Read 52 progress: 14/52 = 26.9%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

The Yes by Sarah Bee & Satoshi Kitamura

The Yes: Sarah Bee & Satoshi Kitamura (Andersen Press, 2014) The Yes: Sarah Bee & Satoshi Kitamura (Andersen Press, 2014) 

The Yes is an important book. The Yes is a beautiful book. The Yes is a book that deserves to be talked about. The Yes is a book that works on many different levels.

But what is The Yes? In the story, the Yes is an odd orange creature; a three-legged, eyeless blob of oddness that catches your eye in its contrast to the background. The Yes is a concept, a non-real entity, an anthropomorphic personification.

The words are all so perfect and used so well I want to quote the whole book. When I read it I hear Neil Gaiman’s voice in my head, which suits it well.

They were so many and so very that you could see nothing but Nos. They made all the Here and all the Else a no-ness and a notness.

This is a picture book for grown-ups and children, and it can be read in a multitude of ways. It spoke to me about non-conformity, of not giving in to slings and arrows, of trusting your instincts and being yourself, of ignoring the herd.

This is an excellent book to talk about. The use of words (snicked, lumpen, bumbled, scrumbling) could inspire children to make up their stories or poems. It might be interesting to read this alongside Jabberwocky with older children.

I think The Yes would be best used with KS1 (5-7) and KS2 (7-11) children and probably the most effective with KS2. It can be read as a story on its own too but there is so much more in this book to discover.

Mighty Girl (7) took to it instantly, asking questions and talking about the plot. She wants to take it into school and share as she loved it so much. Danger Girl (4) took a few reads to warm to it, and I wonder whether it is not as accessible for younger children or whether it’s just DG.

I would classify The Yes in a similar way to Shaun Tan, although it’s more accessible for me (I don’t quite understand Shaun Tan’s work even though I find it beautiful.) Picture books like this work on many levels and can be enjoyed by anyone from any background.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Buy or borrow The Yes as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.

Disclosure: received for review from Andersen Press.

Famous Five Colour Reads

Famous Five Colour Short Stories: Enid Blyton & Jamie Littler (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)

We had all twenty-one Famous Five books when I was young, and I read them all. Actually, we had twenty, number two in the series was missing so I begged my mum to buy it because I needed to read them all! With much older siblings (aged 12, 11, 10 & 5 when I was born) the books had been bought over the years and had a variety of covers from late 1960′s versions to late 1970′s with pictures from the TV series (which I’ve still never seen) I forget what ‘my’ cover was, whatever was published in about 1983/4 when I voraciously read the series aged 8 or 9.

Mighty-Girl is now seven and although a great reader, she doesn’t seem to have the concentration span to read novels and gets distracted very easily. Something I find hard to relate to as I was powering my way through books at her age! She loves colour pictures too, so finds novels off-putting, but most colour reads are too ‘easy’ for her.

I therefore jumped at the chance to review one of these Famous Five colour short stories aimed at 7-9 year olds. However, getting MG to read it in time for a review is apparently a tall order (she does things her way) so I ended up reading it aloud instead. It works well as a read aloud, and is short enough to read in one sitting. At 80 pages split into eight chapters, it’s also challenging enough for newly independent readers to get their teeth into.

It was hard not to giggle at some of the language with an adult mind, but of course children aren’t aware of the connotations of Dick or Aunt Fanny, and also aren’t phased by phrases like “golly gosh” (I went to school with someone who used this phrase in all seriousness) and “jolly exciting”. I’m not entirely sure that Anne really should have been “fondling Timmy” though…

We received Five and a Half-Term Adventure, the first of a series of eight colour reads (two currently published, with two more following in April and a further two in September) and jokes about the language aside, it’s actually much fun.

The Five are at Kirrin cottage for half term (four whole days! I remember being mortified that my secondary school had four day half terms, although by the time I left they were longer) and decide to go for an Autumn walk. Silly old Ju has forgotten to wind his watch though, and by the time they realise it’s too late to walk back so they catch a train (this is pre-Beeching, of course, with local trains.) But who are those two suspicious characters on the train, and could it be a mystery to solve? I say!

What really makes these books though, is the fabulous artwork by Jamie Littler. Picturing the children as modern children, with modern trains, and modern phones, allows the story to work for a modern reader. And Timmy the dog is adorably cute! The pictures are full of interest and fun, I’d buy these books for the illustrations alone.

Oops, I seem to have managed to have written this entire review without mentioning Enid Blyton. She wrote the stories of course. But these gorgeous little books are all about the illustrations! You can see some of them at Jamie Littler’s blog. These are books which modern children will find a joy to read, and may tempt them into more ‘classics’ from bygone days…

Disclosure: Received for review from Hachette Children’s Books.