Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My life in books

I have a whole heap of books for you this week. All of them have been read compliments of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So thank you NetGalley. 

Since my last "My life in books" post my son and I have been reading a lot of great kids books. So I'll start with them. I'm going to try to fit in all my reads since the last "My life in book post" but it is quite a large pile this week, so if anything is missing, bare with me, because it will appear in next Wednesday's post instead. 

Now an author that has popped up in my reading list again and again recently is Vanita Oelschlager. 
Vanita has a great knack for writing books that are not only entertaining but education. Which is brilliant for me as a homeschooling mum. 

Some of Vanita's books that we looked through this week are: 

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past

Ivy in Bloom


Instead of a story, the book is made up of a beautifully illustrated poem about the coming of spring. 

My thoughts

I'm sorry to say that this was probably my least favorite of all the books by Vanita that we read. Both my son and I were unimpressed by the main poem of the book. There is; however, a very clever idea behind this book, as you discover when you reach the end of the main poem.

What Vanita has done, is to construct her main poem in the book from other poems with the same theme, that have been written by famous poets. 

All of these poems are laid out in the back of the book, with the text that was used in Vanita's poem, written in green. 

I read through all these poems with my son, many of which he did. in fact, enjoy and in doing so discovered the beauty of this book. As always, Vanita is cleverly tempting kids to learn and boy did it work. Suddenly my son, who is not a big fan of writing, wanted to have a go at creating his own poem about the change from Winter to Spring, along with illustrating just like in the book and is currently doing so as I write this. 

Talking of illustrations. the ones in this book are beautiful and it was, in fact, the illustration on the cover that really drew me to this book. 

Kristin Blackwood is an amazing illustrator and her art has a way of speaking right to your heart. Her pictures were so pretty that I wouldn't mind hanging some of them on my walls. 

Overall, I did like this book. I do feel that the main poem in this book could have been better as it did not engage my son at all and left him feeling confused. That said, the book as a whole worked well to build his excited about learning and that is never a bad thing. 




Knees, the story of a young boy with Dyslexia. who is trying to find his calling in life? 

My thoughts

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it with my son. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia myself as a child, I was intrigued to read something which I hoped would help children with this condition to see that they were not alone and that although it might make things harder, it could not stop you achieving your dreams. 

I am pleased to say that I think Vanita achieves this brilliant, in a lighthearted and funny way that I think we'll be really uplifting for all the children out there finding things that little bit tougher, due to Dyslexia.

To make things even better, the book has been illustrated beautifully by Joe Rossi, in a way that really brings the story to life. I highly recommend this book, not only for children with Dyslexia but for all children. So that they may better understand the condition and be less cruel to those that have it. 


Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly PicturesOut of the Blue: A book of color idioms and silly pictures

The final two book, by this author that we looked at this week, are Birds of a feather and Out of the blue. I'm reviewing these two together as they follow the same theme, teaching kids about idioms, and are also laid out in the exact same manner. The only difference between the two is that Birds of a feather is idioms in general while, Out of the blue looks at idioms that are based on the theme of colour. 

My thoughts

I really loved both of these books. There designed in a way that makes them both exciting and entertaining for kids to read through. On each page, there is a bright, colourful and often funny illustration by Robin Hegan along with an idiom, then at the bottom, in one of the corners, you will see. some text that is written upside down. This text comprises a definition of the idiom and then an example sentence. 

This allows you to test your child's knowledge of idioms before allowing them to flip the book and see if they are right. 

My son is eight and he loves anything that tests his knowledge and he loved this. It engaged him very quickly and the pictures had him giggling away. 

My only disappointment with this book, is that only one idiom in his book, gets its origins explained, and this is Vanita's way of encouraging readers to explore idioms further on their own. I can see why she has done this, but a part of me would have preferred for this to have been done within the books. Mainly because I already have a pretty hectic work schedule and I now, of course, have a child who is desperate to scour the internet for the origins of all the idioms within the book. 

Still, I think it is important to encourage parents to do things with their kids, so I will definitely be scheduling this into our homeschooling lessons for the future and am incredibly pleased to have found some books that are fun, educational and engaging, to share with my son. 


Montgomery RabbitLet's step away from Vanita now and look at some of my other reads since my last "My life in books" post. 

Montgomery Rabbit
Sandy Little


Montgomery is a curious little bunny, with big, beautiful floppy ears, who one day sticks his head out too far through the garden fence and tumbles out into the big wide world beyond. 

Befriending a little brown rabbit with sticky up ears, who had lived in the wild all his life. Montgomery soon finds himself on an exciting, interesting and at times very frightening journey, to find the deliciously enticing, Raspberry patch. 

My thoughts

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I just had to read it. I love bunny rabbits and David Wenzel's illustrations are to die for. Each one is amazingly detailed, and sure to raise a lot of Awww with both young and old readers alike. 

Combine these will Sally's skill's as a writer and you are left with a book that children will love and hold on to for the rest of their lives. I wish this book had been around when I was a child, but the fact that it wasn't isn't going to stop me from adding it to my bookshelf. This is a great read and my only complaint is that it was a little short, meaning that at times, the action seemed a little to rushed for me. 

That said if you're looking for a good book to snuggle up with and share with the little ones you adore, whilst you wait for the warmer weather of spring, then I highly recommend that you give this one a try. 


The Most Magnificent Thing

The most MAGNIFICENT thing
Ashley Spires


A young unnamed girl has a dream to build the most Magnificent thing, she knows exactly how it will look and exactly how it will work. Sadly, like most plans, it's never quite as easy as we'd like to think it will be and this little-unnamed girl, can also become a very angry girl as she struggles to bring her most Magnificent thing to life, with the aid of her marvelous assistant and best friend, her pug. 

My thoughts

Have you seen the cover of this book? The second I did, I fell in love with it. Ashley spires is an incredibly talented illustrator and as it goes, a very talented author too, because this book was brilliant and contained everything you could ever want in a children's book, including cute, lovable characters, beautiful and amusing illustrations and a great life lesson. My son and I loved it. I have to say, I'm shocked that I've never heard of Ashley Spires before, and this definitely isn't her first book because I've checked. 

This is a book that I hope every school catches onto, because it's one of those books that would get both girls and boys alike, excited by reading and come on parents, be honest, how many of you get really excited when your kids bring home a good book, for reading practice. I know I did when my son was as school, in fact many of those books are now sitting out on my bookcase because we just had to rush out and get a copy of our own. 

Well, this is one of those books that will have your running for amazon or the local book store. So you know, if there are any teachers reading this, go hit up the head teacher, cause the kids in your school, need this book and a good few parents too. :) 


Loula and Mister the Monster
Loula and Mister the Monster
By Anne Villeneuve


When Loula hears her mother angrily telling her father that the monster must go, she knows she can be talking about only one thing. Loula's rather large and very naughty dog Mister. 

Determined to keep Mister safe and not lose him forever, Loula sets out on a mission to teach a very naughty Mister, Manners. 

My thoughts

This is a lovely story, that had my son and I laughing throughout. 

The illustrations were very well done and fit the story wonderfully, they were also placed perfectly within the book so that you could often see what was coming and be giggling away before you even made it to the text. Something my son in particular loved. 

There are some good lessons for kids within the pages too, which all in all makes this a brilliant read that I can't recommend enough. 


Kobee Manatee
A wild weather Adventure 
By Robert Scott Thayer


Kobee the Manatees sets out on a journey across the ocean with his two best friends, in a bid to make it to his sisters birthday on time. 

My Thoughts

This is a nice educational book for kids, not only is the story fun and interesting, with lot's of beautiful illustrations by Lauren Gallegos, but also educational. 

Each page of this book contains a special area that contains Kobee fun facts. That teaches kids all about clouds and the weather. Which really helps to bring the context of the story to life. 

It kept my son enthralled from beginning to end, and I wasn't at all surprised to discover that the book already had a couple of awards to its name.


I have two comic style books up next for you, I'm not normally a bit fan of the comic format as I like a bit more detail to my stories, but I decided to give these to a go. Let's get on with the reviews.


Unicorn vs.Goblins
Another Phoebe and her Unicorn adventure
By Dana Simpson


This is the 3rd Pheobe and her Unicorn adventure and this time, school out and it's time for summer fun and mayhem. 

My thoughts

All my life I've longed for a unicorn and reading this I started to realize I may already have one. Only she doesn't look all that Unicorn-esk.

You think I'm joking, but I am not. Pheobe and her unicorn have such a sarcastic relationship, that as I read it, I felt as though I was having a discussion with, the queen of sarcasm. aka my bestie, Sam Bell. It was scary!!!
Queen of Sarcasm, AKA Sam Bell,
now and forever more,
The Unicorn. 

Unicorns to me have always been beautiful, magical creatures radiating kindness and love, but the unicorn and main character Pheobe in this one are really sassy and bounce off each other brilliantly, in a way that really makes you smile. 

In essence, it's modern teen meets incredibly vain unicorn. Sam will be yelling "I'm not vain!" at me now, but you should see some of her poser pictures she puts up. hehe

The story in this book jumps about a fair bit and at times that made it a little hard to follow and I have to admit put me off a little, on top of that I spent most of the book wondering when the goblins were going to show up and they really do take the time. That said there is enough going on in this one to keep you giggling, so you don't mind it's little foibles too much. 

I think, you really have to be someone who likes comics books to really like this one and sadly I just don't. 

I like a bit of back story and to be reading more than dialogue and with most comics books there just isn't enough setup and character building to really make me happy. That's not to say I didn't like these characters because I did, they were funny and kept you entertained, but being someone who has never read any of these books before, it would have been nice to get a bit more of a background story on the characters, than there was.

This isn't a book I would go out and buy, if I brought it at all, it would simply be to show Sam that I found her in a book. 

I probably wouldn't recommend this to anyone either, unless I knew for sure they were a girl who liked comics and could appreciate a unicorn. So if that's you, go buy this, if not, well maybe don't. 

If I could see any changes made to this one, it would be the change from comic book format to a proper book, but you know, that's just me. 


The misadventures of Grumpy Cat 
(And Pokey!) 
Volume 1
by Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher and Steve Uy.


Follow Grumpy cat and Pokey as they enjoy/.hate their way through the many misadventures of life. 

My thoughts 

I love Grumpy cat, so when I saw this I got really excited and then I realized, it's a comic!

I'm sorry for all you comic lovers out there, but I am just not a fan, that said, if I had to read a comic, then it would probably be this one. I loved Pokey, probably even more than Grumpy cat, and I feel so bad for saying that. Pokey's eternal optimism when combined with Grumpy well known and loved hatred of everything makes for some great and often very amusing stories and that's essentially what this book is, a collection of very amusing stories in comic strip format. 

Would I buy it, no, not on your nelly, not for me anyway, but for my son, yes I would, because I know he would love this. 

So if you love Grumpy cat and you don't find the comic book format annoying, go grab a copy, because I think you'll really like this one. 


It's time for the adult books!


 Sage's Eye's
V.C Andrews


Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they're right to-even she can't make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don't, that her parents and teachers-no adult-could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring, new boy at school shares many things in common. Perhaps, they'll learn, far too many things.

My thoughts

I was so excited at the thought of this book. I love Virgina Andrews and  have always been an avid fan of her books, even those that weren't actually written by her, which I am pretty sure is actually most of them now. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. 

At any rate, it was torture, slowly watching this book creep up my to-read pile when I so badly wanted to be picking it up and diving in. So when that magical day finally arrived I was over the moon!

Only it didn't last. 

Did they up and change to a new fake V.C. Andrews without telling us?  Because that's how this book felt. Sure there was Andrews trademark, family secrets and lies with a little incest thrown in for good measure, but where was the gripping need to read on that is normally always present. I kept waiting for it to come but it just didn't and the characters, I just didn't care. 

This has to be, hands down, the most awful,  V.C. Andrews book I have ever read and it kills me to say that. It did absolutely, nothing for me and it makes me so sad to say that. 

So, I'm really sorry to say this but, I don't recommend this book. 

The readers of broken wheel recommned
By Katarina Bivald

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

My thoughts

Hand's down the best book I have read in a long time. If you love books, which if you're here. I'm assuming you do. Then you need to read this one. It is amazing. The first book by Katarina and it is already an international best seller and I know why! It is amazing. The characters, all of them, every last one, is brilliant, the plot, the setting,  all of it BRILLIANT!!! I did not want this book to end! I wanted to step inside it and stay there forever and never ever leave. If only, this book could be real life. 

There is honestly nothing I could say that would do this book justice, so, I am just going to keep it simple. 

BUY IT!!!!!!! 

You won't regret it.

Well, that's it from me for this week. I sadly didn't have time to review all the book's I've read since last Wednesday's post, but I will get to them, so bare with me. 

Until next week...

Love and hugs all
Joss xx


  1. Goodness! That's a ton of books. You've got me interested in a few.

  2. It's been a busy month, so far I've got through 22 books. I have another 9 to go on my list at present.

  3. I picked up that last one in a bookshop recently, but my budget wouldn't run to it this month. I will definitely put it on my list now, though.