David Arnold is a Super-Racehorse! #Vic #KidsOfAppetite

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When I first picked up ‘Kids of Appetite‘ I was reminded quite strongly of another YA, ‘Alex Woods Versus the Universe‘ (an awesome read). Perhaps because it begins with the main character being interviewed at a police station, or maybe because Vic is smart and has an unusual way of looking at the world – a bit like Alex. And this was a sign of things to come. A sign that I was really, really going to like this particular coming-of-age story, with its ‘Pay It Forward‘ ethos and page-turner quality writing.

Okay, so here’s the premise: Vic decides his mum’s new boring-lawyer-boyfriend is completely unbearable, so he steals his dead father’s ashes and hightails it out of their house. He then discovers, inside the urn, a letter from his father, outlining a list of  obscure places he’d like his ashes to be scattered. When Vic meets Madeline Falco, who lives in a greenhouse with a ragtag group – mostly teens – who have their own troubled pasts, Mad offers to help him fullfill his dad’s wishes… And Vic accepts, becoming the group’s latest ‘Chapter’. This leads them on a journey which will ultimately end with both Mad and Vic in a police station, being questioned about a murder. Because, why not?

And the rare seeds which led David Arnold to write such a quirky mashup of a story? Moebius Syndrome; the Second Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997-1999); child abuse; SE Hinton; Matisse; side-ways hugs at funerals; fear of ‘natural’ food additives; and a love of ice cream, or salad wraps…

The Characters – 5/5 (eccentric and original, heart-warming and kind, awesome and funny)

The Dialogue – 5/5 (something special)

The Writing – 5/5 (beautiful, lyrical, honest, poetic, approachable, smart, vivid…)

The Level of Crazy – 4.5/5 (madcap adventure)

The YA Romance Angle – 4/5 (low-key, sweet, realistic, creative)

 

You know the places on this list. Take me there, won’t you?

Till we’re old-new,

– B

1. Hang me from the Parlour.     2. Toss me off the Palisades.

3. Bury me in the smoking bricks of our first kiss.     4. Drown me in our wishing well.

5. Drop me from the top of our Rock.

Netgalley Picture Book Reviews

As some of you might know, I’m starting a Primary PGCE course in September, and I’ve been tasked with reading more children’s literature. So, here’s my take on the following picture books!

Birds of a Feather by Vanita Oelschlager (illustrated by Robin Hegan)

Designed to introduce kids to common idioms, using a humorous approach; the kids can help the teacher read aloud the idiom on each page and discuss the pictures. Then, when they turn the book upside down, the teacher can read aloud the written explanation and example given for each idiom.

Cons: the illustrations don’t always relate directly to the actual meaning of the idiom… Also a racoon is in one of the illustrations – an animal kids in the UK will not recognise.
Pros: Kids will LOVE THIS BOOK.
               Ages: 4+                           Rating: 5/5 + AUTO-BUY


Little White Fish Has Many Friends by Guido van Genechten

Designed to introduce kids to the concept of friendly play. The teacher can get the kids to explain what game little white fish is playing on each double-page spread, then read the book aloud and see if they’re correct!

Cons: games like dancing the “cha-cha” and giving “eskimo kisses” seem a little exotic for a kids book.
Pros: large, simple pictures, introduces kids to the names of various sea creatures.
                Ages: 3+                           Rating: 3/5

 

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep by Caroline Nastro (illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva)

A story about a bear who cannot sleep and so ventures into New York city to visit the galleries, museums and streets there, before finally becoming sleepy… There are plenty of opportunities for the students to explain to the teacher what bear is doing on each page, as the pictures sometimes diverge from the text.

Cons: Perfect for kids from New York, but the landmarks mentioned might confuse kids from other parts of the world.
Pros: Beautiful illustrations and interesting settings, and a main character (bear) kids will relate well too.
              Ages: 3+                          Rating: 4/5

 

The Toothless Fairy by Timothy Jordan (illustrated by Matthew LaFleur)

A rhyming story about a lonely, ‘ugly’ fairy with a very sweet tooth! The teacher can use this book as a jumping point to ask about what makes Halloween fun i.e. spending time with your friends. And to discuss why too much sugar leads to issues with your teeth! It’s also great for introducing children to the idea of poetry as a narrative device.

Cons: Sophisticated language usages and the topic of ‘Halloween’ works well in the USA where kids know what ‘trick or treating’ is, but might not work so well outside of the USA where they don’t.
Pros: Fun and creative illustrations which kids will love!
                 Ages: 5+                                 Rating: 3/5

 

Vroom! Kevin’s Big Book of Vehicles by Lisbet Slegers

Designed to help children identify different types of vehicles and their various parts, uses some rhyming. Includes on-page activities for kids.

Cons: I felt the odd ‘story’ page, inserted between more educational pages, actually slowed the pace of the book. Also the technical information cited means this book is more useful for school-aged children,
Pros: large simple images, good technical vocabulary (e.g. “ambulance” and “combine harvester”), good explanations, lots of fun tasks for kids. A really useful book!
            Ages: 4+                     Rating: 4.5/5

 

Who Will Dance with Little Mouse? by Anita Bijsterbosch

A story about a small mouse who asks everyone to dance with him, but one after another they give their excuses… This book shows kids that if they don’t give up, they’ll eventually find someone to dance with! And that following your dreams can be fun.

Cons: The animals featured include a sloth, not something most kids would have heard of. Also, the story is repetitive.
Pros: Teaches some animal actions and sounds, with strong describing verbs. Large, simple illustrations. Shows kids what digital imaging can do.
               Ages: 3+                            Rating: 3/5

Audiobook Review: Joyride by Anna Banks


If you’re going to listen a story about two teens falling in love despite all of the obstacles they face – a racist father, a dead sister, immigration problems etc – then it should be told in a dual P.O.V., which thankfully this story is. I liked how Carly’s chapters were read by a women and Arden’s by a chap and I really, really loved Arden’s slow drawl! 

Carly is the perfect heroine: engaging, smart, passionate and feisty! #latinapride. She’s trying to fly under the radar at school, while helping her brother to raise the cash to smuggle her parents into the US by working at all hours of the night. Then one day Arden prank ‘robs’ the store where she works and Carly, who was having none of it, peaks his interest. 

Arden is super sweet and quick witted and compassionate – but he’s also feeling kind of lost after the death of his sister. Lost and angry and rebellious. While Arden slowly grows on Carly, despite his golden boy halo at school (ex-quarterback, bags of money), she knows that  hanging out with Arden will bring trouble for her family. 

The pacing of the story (and the romance) was brilliant, this book kept my attention the whole time. Arden’s drunken uncle and Carly’s brother were really well drawn characters – I feel like I know them! Anna Banks creates a complete and  believable world for her characters – the perfect setting for a convincing love story.

Final verdict: A perfect, culturally diverse, YA Contemporary that deals with real issues and delivers a so cute, couple! 

Book Review: The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodski


This was a fun read. It’s an interesting mix of romance, crime/thriller vibes and Greek mythology. (Be warned, Jordanna knows her Classics and she isn’t afraid to show it! Expect lots of Ancient Greek vocab…) And JMB definitely makes the most of her New York setting – I learnt so much about the ‘hidden’/historic places while in New York reading this book! Which was kind of cool. 🙂

The main character, Selene, is a lonely, modern-day immortal living in New York. This former goddess now makes her living as a private detective and prides herself on protecting abused women, just as her former self (Artemis) once did. But as a weakened version of herself, she’s now barely stronger than the women she tries to help.

When a virgin sacrifice in Central Park, crowns of laurel, archaic bones and one very guilty lookingClassics professor  draw Selene’s attention to a series of ritualistic murders, she sets out to solve the case. She’s almost certain she’s the only one who can, because through these murders someone in New York is trying to pay homage to the Greek gods… Someone who knows too much to be mortal. Someone like her.

 

Mystery – 5/5 – I loved the middle of this book, talk about a nail biter! 

Romance – 3/5 – If you want passion and lust and crazy sex scenes, this is not the book for you. If you want something sweet, then give this book a whirl!

Classics Awesomeness – 5/5 – I can’t even. Just yes. My inner Classicist loved this storyline and seeing the Greek Gods reborn in modern roles – Apollo the rock star, Dionysus the terminal-student etc – was kind of wicked too.

Ending – 4/5 – I felt the ending dragged a little though – once the bad guys were unmasked, I expected a quicker/briefer final showdown.

Mailbox Monday: 25th January

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Welcome to Mailbox Monday!

Last week I read Angelfall and World After by Susan Ee and now I just have to know what happens in the final book of the trilogy, End of Days. This trilogy is just SO FREAKING GOOD! I can’t believe I waited so long to start reading it… I’m planning to do a review post soon.

And while I was in Waterstones, I also found a copy of Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. I like the scrap-book look of the inside of the book and I can’t wait to start it!

Both books were published in 2015, so they’re  perfect for the 2015-themed Backli15t Readathon which I’m doing at the moment!

What are you reading right now? Did anything great land in your ‘mailbox’ this week?

New Year’s Resolutions

 

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  1. Download C25K app and learn to run.
  2. Go to the gym to lift weights.
  3. Try to read at least one book per week – a minimum of 53 books in 2016 – as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge.
  4. Try to read more of my ageing TBR pile.
  5. Travel in the spring – San Francisco, Dubai or Grenada.
  6. Download Tinder. Try to go on one date each month.
  7. Go to bed earlier and GET UP earlier
  8. Continue to use MyFitnessPal and eat mindfully.

Did You Remember Mothering Sunday?

So, in case you missed it… TODAY is Mothering Sunday here in the UK!

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(NotOnTheHighStreet.com had some fabulous gift ideas!)

So, for today, in honour of my mum, I’m posting up her favourite poem – enjoy!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple! 

Jenny Joseph