A quick mish-mash of a post today.
First off, a book I won arrived today.
And there’s nothing like a new book to cheer up the day, so a big thank you to Cosmochicklitan for the giveaway.
Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe is the second book in the series by Debbie Johnson and it looks scrumptious. But…
Reader problems No 1. Do I read it now or wait until next Christmas?
Secondly, a quick update on Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen.
You might remember I ordered this book to roadtest with the grandchildren but it hadn’t arrived when I wrote the post. Well, the 2-year old liked operating the various flaps and wheels. However, one has required sellotaping already so I am a little worried how robust it will be.
Reader problems No 2: Having to repair the book in the first day.
The 4-year old was less impressed. He told me there was ‘no story’ but he was keen to try out the instructions to make real pancakes. Check out my pancake tossing skills below. (Only one pancake landed on the side of the pan and fell to pieces. Who said I was no good at throwing and catching?)
Finally, Storm Doris hit Wales in February. I lay in bed watching the rain lash at the window, listening to the wind rattling the roof and re-arranging the garden. I love storms and although Doris missed out on the thunder and lightning, it was still a beauty, leaving the river running through the village in full flood.
Reader problems No 3: spending time clearing up after the storm when I should been reading.
I meant to post this video last week but didn’t get round to it. Must try harder.
Happy reading till next week.
Things Evie Eats book video
Remember the trouble I had making the video for Better Buckle Up? I’m happy to report the Things Evie Eats book video went far more smoothly. (Probably only a pain point 4/10)
A video is a great way to get a feel for a book before you buy from a new author and is good for entertaining your child when you’re busy.
… I still cringe when I hear my accent though lol.
Hope you and your little ones enjoy the story.
PS You can get a copy of Things Evie Eats for Kindle or in paperback … for the times when reading it yourself with snuggles are in order.
Picture books about Pancakes
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is almost upon us. 28th February is the day people all over the UK try tossing those eggy, milky mixtures. It’s a strange ritual. My kids found it hilarious because I’m pretty hopeless at throwing and catching. And yes, some of my culinary wonders have ended up splattered on my cooker and worktops. So to get you in the mood for throwing your cooking around your kitchen, here are some picture books about pancakes.
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Jack wakes up and wants a pancake but his mother doesn’t have the ingredients. So starts an incredibly detailed description of Jack as he cuts the wheat and grinds it into flour (I told you this was detailed), collects eggs from the hen, milks the cow and churns some butter. He then makes jam, lights a fire and finally gets round to cooking the pancakes.
This is the same style as our favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar but not quite as catchy. However, it is a great way to explain (in glorious technicolour) how to make a pancake. Although I’d recommend you buy the ingredients from the supermarket and use your cooker.
Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley
Another story about someone waking up wanting to eat pancakes. Unsure how to do it, an uncharacteristically pleasant Mr Wolfe asks lots of his neighbours to help him but they refuse – very rudely. Even more rudely, once Mr Wolf has made the pancakes, they come round to ask him to share them. The twist in this tale is that Mr Wolf decides to share. But is Mr Wolfe as pleasant and polite as it seems? Nope. Once they’re in his kitchen, he eats the neighbours!
This is a tale with lots of opportunity to talk about good/bad behaviour and sharing – as well as making pancakes.
Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen
This is such an unusual book you really need to watch the video to appreciate it. By a series of flaps and wheels, readers mix and cook their pancakes. I ordered a copy of this book to share with the grandchildren but it hasn’t arrived as I write this. I’ll update you all when we’ve road-tested this book.
Hey Pancakes by Tamson Weston
I’ve included this last book because I love the illustrations. They are so colourful and bright and full of movement – true homage to the humble pancake. It also has the recipe for Grandma’s Pancakes at the end for good measure.
Have a great pancake day.
It was bedtime in the Jungle: book review for your little adventurers
We have a new favourite book in our house. It was Bedtime in the Jungle by John Butler is a gorgeous picture book. Honestly, I want to cuddle up with the animals as their parents settle them down to sleep as night falls myself.
There are crocodiles and rhinos, monkeys and wolves and a fold up extended page with baby elephants.
The book works on two levels. On one hand it is a counting book; count the baby animals (and even the little white moths if you’re feeling enthusiastic).
On another level it has a gentle repeating text with just the right amount of rhyme to settle down baby humans too.
It was bedtime in the jungle, And the stream was shining blue,
A monkey made her bed, For her babies two.
“Rest,” said the mother. “We’ll rest,” said the two.
And they rested in their bed, By the stream shining blue.
There is so much to see and talk about in the artwork which is realistic yet cuddly. It comes highly recommended by me and the grandchildren.
John Butler is a UK author/illustrator who has written more than a dozen books for children and illustrated over sixty. His books have been published in more than 20 countries. It was Bedtime in the Jungle is my February book in the British Books Challenge.
PS This is the second time I’ve written this post due to my website being hacked! Some people need more to fill out their day.
Awesome titles and loglines Equal Success. Check Yours Now With This Free App
A lot of my readers are other bloggers and authors. Well, today’s post is just for you because you are going to love the new app I just found from Michelle (Girl Blogger Next Door). We all know titles and loglines need to be awesome to maximize their impact. Well, Michelle’s new app, Hookline Dynamic, helps with this; scoring them for emotion, excitement and empowerment. All you do is type in your title and immediately find out whether it will invite readers to click it… or not.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, there is also a brilliant “Get Ideas” button. You fill in the answers to the questions it asks and it generates potential titles. Simples.
The app is free but for a small subscription you can access pro features which rate your title depending on whether your prospective readers are young/old, male/female etc for even better targeting.
So, that’s it for this week. I’m off to write.
If you check out Hookline Dynamic, let me know what you think.
PS I just read this back and realized it sounds like a marketing pitch. So, just to be straight, I receive nothing from sharing the app. I just thought it was a good idea.
Better Buckle Up book video
There were many stages in the making of Better Buckle Up book video.
- The making of the flash file that turned the pages of the ebook. Pain point 6/10 – only involved slight swearing at InDesign.
- The recording myself reading the ebook and turning the page at the same time. Pain point 7/10 – used Camtasia for screen capture. Hard to keep the mouse in the right place to turn pages nicely.
- The hating of hearing my voice on the recording. Pain point 10/10 – I thought my Northern accent had mellowed! Spent more time listening to voice artists on Fiverr. Couldn’t decide. Went back to me.
- The making of the animation for the Intro and Outro of the video. Pain point 0/10 – because I didn’t do it 🙂
- Cutting the video together. Pain point 8/10 – involved copious amounts of swearing at Premiere Pro. Was OK once hubby decided I was unteachable and just did it for me.
- The adding of the music. Pain point 9/10 – not that this stage was unpleasant but it took forever to audition possible sound files in Audioblocks library. Then a further forever to cut them together with the video.
Hope you like it.
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.
A very special book.
OK, first things first – I loved this book. Everything about it is special: the gold highlights on it’s cover, the lyrical writing style, not forgetting the unique story itself. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was published in 2015 but it has a wonderfully old-fashioned feel. I have already ordered, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, book two in the series and book three, The Mystery of the Painted Dragon, is due next month. Next month! Yippee.
Right, now I’ve got that out of the way. Let’s get down to business.
You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!
Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villains to justice…
I actually think this doesn’t do justice to the book. It makes it seem a little silly and shallow, which isn’t the story at all. Whilst I can see they were trying to set up the feel of a by-gone era, for me, it doesn’t draw the reader into the ‘mystery’ like it should.
All the characters in the book are well-written. Although the story centres on Sophie Taylor, we actually see the story through four points of view.
Sophie Taylor: Sophie’s father has recently died leaving her an orphan with no means of support. As Sophie is fourteen years old, she is too old for an orphanage. She’s lucky to land herself a job in the hat department of Sinclair’s, the newest, most luxurious department store in London.
Even though Sophie was brought up as a typical ‘young lady’, she is clever, brave, kind and resourceful. In short; a great heroine.
Billy Parker: Billy is the young porter at Sinclair’s. He is more likely to be found reading his story paper than working. Will all the tips he learned in those mystery stories help solve the case?
And finally we have Joe. On the run from the infamous Baron’s gang, living on the streets, but with a good heart. These four characters work together to solve the clues of who stole the Clockwork Sparrow? And why?
No spoilers here but I will say that the stakes for the robbery turned out to be much higher than just the robbery of a jewelled antique. Woodfine scatters the clues cleverly throughout the story until the reader doesn’t know who to trust and the events happen at an ever-increasing pace. The book contains some fights, a shooting and Sophie gets abducted but it’s all handled well so I don’t think it will give even the most sensitive reader nightmares.
A glimpse into a world of times gone by.
“The shop girls there were expected to work fourteen hour days and to sleep in communal dormitories above the shop, but were paid only a few meagre shillings a week.”
It’s a far cry from today. When I started reading, I did wonder what modern day children would make of the language; the duffers, and rotters, the shillings and guineas. But anything that can’t really be guessed from the context is skillfully explained. It’s good writing. Did I mention I loved this book?
I’m adding my review of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow to the British Books Challenge for January. Katherine Woodfine is a Lancashire lass after my own heart. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.
Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy: book review.
I picked up a Kindle copy of Annabelle the Reluctant Fart Fairy on a whim because the title made me laugh!
OK, maybe there was a little bit more to it than that.
First, I read the blurb:
A Fairy. A Dream. And a Bean Burrito.
Annabelle, like all of her fairy friends, desperately wants to be a rose fairy when she grows up.
But when things go horribly wrong at the Great Selecting ceremony, the fairy queen tells Annabelle she will have to spend the rest of her life as a . . . fart fairy!
Oh, what a logline. Brilliant!
Second, I checked out M.T Lott’s website, forgottenfaries.com.
What is a Forgotten Fairy?
A Forgotten Fairy — or FF for short — is a fairy who has a job that most people don’t want to talk about. Like the snot fairies, the vomit fairies, or the scab fairies.
Without the FFs, people would have a very difficult time existing, but no one seems to care about them.
Forgotten fairies? You got me.
This book was not what I expected. Yes, there are lots of references to bodily functions and Annabelle’s name is Buttocks (“It’s pronouced Bee-you-tocks!“) but there was a clear message: ‘even though you don’t always get what you want, things can turn out OK’. It also touches on important issues like bullying and judging others.
The age range for the book is 9 – 12 years range. Lott does a great job of making Annabelle and her friends sound very typical opinionated tweens. The cover has a modern feel and I liked the artwork scattered throughout the pages. The author does a great job of building up the fairy world ‘rules’ and sets the scene nicely for the other books in the series.
I didn’t always like Annabelle. She wasn’t particularly nice to her brother, and her attitude gets herself put in fairy prison! Is that scary for a 9 year old?
Well, you’ll have to read it to find out.
I didn’t laugh out loud at this book, and it certainly smashes any ideas of fairies as demure little winged creatures. I’m rounding it up to 4 stars on Amazon because it had some interesting ideas I’m sure kids will like.
Recommended for lovers of bean burrito’s everywhere.
If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think below.
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I usually avoid setting New Years goals and resolutions. It naffs me off when I don’t reach them. However, one of the challenges is the British Books Challenge 2017. Reading British Books is definitely high on my agenda and you only have to commit to reading and reviewing just one book per month, so … deep breath … I’m jumping in.
The British Books Challenge 2017.
Here are the rules regarding qualifying books and authors.
- Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
- Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and his/her books were/are being published in the UK first
- Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but his/her books are being published in the UK first
Sounds easy enough.
Every month I’ll post a link to the book review on this page so you can keep an eye on my progress.
January’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
January’s book will be The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, a Lancashire Lass born in Preston, so she definitely counts 🙂
I picked this up from the library last month but Christmas got too hectic for me to start it. You can read my review here.
February’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
There is a new favourite book in our household. It was Bedtime in the Jungle by the super talented author/illustrator John Butler. Find my review here.
March’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
April’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
A fun debut novel from Nikki Young. Find my full review here.
May’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
A rhyming story about Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain. My review is here.
June’s book for the British Books Challenge 2017
Billy has a Birthday is a book about bullying by James Minter. Check out my review here.
If you’re joining in the challenge, leave a comment below and I’ll check out the books you’re reading.
Happy 2017. Let the challenge begin.
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Stacking the Shelves for Christmas
Forget about Christmas pudding, turkey and mince pies, Stacking the Shelves for Christmas is my book haul for my Christmas reading 2016. I added three books to my collection this week and I’ve read two, which I’m pleased about considering the time of year. I’m linking up with Stacking The Shelves over on Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual.
So, without further ado, the first book I bought was…
Fa La Llama La
I got Fa La Llama La by Stephanie Dagg for my Kindle. This is the first Christmas book I’ve got this year that hasn’t been aimed at pre-schoolers. Shameful, isn’t it?
Anyway, Fa La Llama La promises to be “a feel-good, festive and fun romcom with a resourceful heroine, a hero who’s a bit of a handful and some right woolly charmers”.
Sounds like Christmas night reading to me… and look at those cutesy llama’s.
Next up, the library got me a copy of …
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.
I’ve been hearing good things about this book, the first in the series, by Katherine Woodfine and I finally got a copy from the library.
Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice…
Not exactly Christmassy but sounds a lot of fun.
My last book this week is…
Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe
Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.
Looking at the cover the ‘merry torture’ could well be ‘death by whipped cream topping’. But I’m sure everything will work out right in the end.
So, I have my Christmas sorted. What will you be reading over the holidays?