Sunday, 12 April 2015

Children's Book Review: Dinosaur Poo by Diane and Christyan Fox

Fox, C &D. (Published 04 Sept 2014, Quarto). 32 pages.

We talk about poo a lot in this house. Poo and dinosaurs. 
This was one of the books that I gave to Little L for his third birthday last week. My reasoning behind it was because he is a fan of dinosaurs and not so much of poo. Well, having a poo at least. I wanted to show him that everything poos! Even dinosaurs did it. 

This book is a complete winner! Little L loves it. Really loves it. We read it every night before bed, often more than once.
The story features dinosaur friends who are on 'a big poo quest', searching high and low for the biggest and best poo! With cute and comical illustrations and flaps to lift this book keeps little ones engaged for the whole story. This rhyming tale is great fun and the sassy pterodactyl is definitely our favourite character, just wait for the surprise at the end. 
Ok, so this book doesn't necessarily have a 'moral message' like many children's books tend to have. However childhood constipation is a real problem, with up to one in three children in the UK suffering from it at any one time. It is particularly problematic around potty-training age. Frequently, it is a psychological problem. A child having a painful bowel movement, can make the negative association with having a poo, so anything at all that shows having a poo in a positive light is a plus with us!
Dinosaur Poo is a  great hit here, and definitely makes a great story for toddlers and younger children who burst into a fit of giggles at the very mention of poo!

For more information on childhood constipation visit or the NHS Choices website.

Whilst writing this, I have noticed that this book varies greatly in price from different retailers. I bought my copy from one of my favourite retailers: The Book People.

Feel free to leave me any comments and let me know your child's favourite reads.

Silent Sunday: The Best Boy Ever.

Little L: The Best Boy Ever. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Children's Book Review: Legs by Sarah J. Dodd, illustrated by Giusi Capizzi

Dodd, S.J. (Pub. 21 Aug 2015) 17 pages.

This is a beautifully illustrated tale of a young meerkat named Miki who inadvertently goes on an adventure in the big wide world outside of his zoo.

From Miki's point of view, it seems like the world is full of legs! Some legs frighten him so much that he finds himself outside of the zoo, only to be faced with even more legs. 
Thankfully, the friendly zookeeper rescues Miki, and shows him that the world is also full of faces, and eventually he finds his way back to his favourite face of all; Mama's!

My son (aged nearly 3) loves this story and we've read it again and again. He calls it his 'morning story' as we read it each morning. It certainly makes you appreciate how daunting the world can be for little ones.

This book will be published in the UK on 21 August 2015 by Lion Children's books. NetGalley provided with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No payment has been exchanged and all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Book Review: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

Tremayne, S.K. (Pub. 2015). HarperCollins 384 pages.

If I'm honest I wasn't expecting a great deal from this psychological thriller. I have been reading a lot more literary fiction these days and thought this story from an unknown author would be a quick easy read to give me a break from the intensity of university study. But can I just say... Wow! This is easily my favourite book of the year so far.

Following the death of Lydia, one of their identical twin daughters, Sarah and Angus make the decision to move to a remote island off the coast of Scotland, which they've inherited from Angus' grandmother. Angus has lost his job due to a violent flare-up with his boss as he struggles to come to terms with the loss of his daughter. The couple face financial ruin if they do not take drastic measures, so with the intention of a fresh start, and a project in renovating their new home, they sell up and head North. 

Their surviving twin, Kirstie is clearly traumatised by the death of her sister, especially as she was present when her sister fell from their grandparent's balcony to her death. Sarah and Angus pin their hopes on the move to Scotland being a positive one. Of course there would be no story if this was the case. I have decided not to give any spoilers away on this review, because if you do read The Ice Twins, you'll be amazed by the plot twists right up to the end.

Sadly the family spiral into a depressive decline as the story progresses. The bleak but beautiful backdrop of the island of Torran, completely complements the characters' crazed state of minds. Both Angus and Sarah have their secrets, and the lack of trust between them becomes a gaping pit of hostility and hatred. The death of Lydia completely tears their family unit apart, with each parent harbouring doubts about the other. Communication between the couple becomes dysfunctional, and the effect on their remaining daughter Kirstie is heart-wrenching. Faced with her sister's face every time she sees her reflection, Kirstie is confused about her identity and Sarah begins to wonder which of her daughter's actually died in that tragic accident. 

Tremayne cleverly foreshadows early on in the story to the final plot-twists. As a reader, I felt dismay, sympathy, anger, sorrow and hatred for all the main characters at one point or another. As the story reached its conclusion, and all the secrets were unravelled, I was left with such a feeling of sadness for the whole family. The poignant message of how tragedy can destroy lives, but also where there is life, there is hope.

The story is quite intense and creepy at times, and a great tension builder. You are left guessing right up until the end. I really cannot recommend this book enough. It is an easy read, but that does not mean it lacks quality. Quite the opposite. I believe The Ice Twins was S.K. Tremayne's debut novel. I cannot wait to read more from this author. This book was a wonderfully atmospheric, intense and realistic story.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge from Mumsnet Blogger's Network for review purposes. However all opinions are my own. No payment was made in exchange for this review.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

World Book Night.

Calling all reluctant readers! World Book Night is happening on 23 April 2015. 

What is World Book Night?

World Book Night (WBN) is an annual celebration of reading and books. It sees volunteers who are passionate about reading give out books in order to get those who are reluctant readers or unable to access books easily reading. WBN is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers to help give them an equal chance in life.


As you know by now, I am an avid reader and a complete bibliophile, so of course I have become a volunteer for WBN. 
This means I'll have around 20 books to give out to friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, Tom, Dick or Harry; in fact anyone who I can physically hand one to. This year the book I am giving out is Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle. Who just so happens to be one of my favourite authors.
To become a volunteer for WBN, you need apply in advance. Applications for this year are now closed, but click here  if you want to find out more about volunteering for next year. When you apply, you get to choose your top three books from a list of twenty titles. If you are accepted as a volunteer, then WBN allocate you a particular title. Usually one from your top three depending on what is available. There is always a great selection of titles to choose from in a variety of genres. The selection of books is put together with the 35% of the UK's population who do not read regularly or own books in mind. 

What's the point?

A significant number of the UK's population- 35% do not read for pleasure or own books! I think that is quite a large proportion of us not enjoying the benefits, regular reading can bring. In this constantly developing technological world in which we live, the benefits of reading are easily overlooked. Stress-relief and relaxation, improved sleep, developing a more empathetic attitude are just a few of the bonuses of reading. Not to mention the latest research into links with reading and improved mental ability in later life.
WBN does make a positive difference to peoples lives. The details of which can be found in WBN's Evaluation Report 2014.

The books.

WBN give away 12,500 copies of each title and 250,000 books are printed for WBN. There is a great selection this year...

So, are you a reluctant reader or a complete book nerd like myself? Do any of the books on here take your fancy? I'd love to hear your thoughts on World Book Night or your reading habits. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Flynn. Gillian, (Pub. 2013) 496 pages.

Ok, I know, I know, I'm a bit late to the party with this one. I've never been one to catch on immediately! It's usually around a year or so later that I catch on to a particular trend; and getting involved in the hype surrounding this brilliant novel, is the perfect example. However for those of you who haven't yet read Gone Girl then please do! From looking at the reviews on Goodreads, this is a bit of a Marmite novel. You either love it or hate it. I definitely fall into the former camp. 

The story begins when Nick's beautiful wife Amy disappears from their home after what looks like a struggle in their living room. Each chapter alternates between Nick and Amy's point of view, Nick's being narrated in the first person, in the present day. Amy's epistolary diary entries date back three years, giving the reader a background to the story of their marriage. 
The book is divided into two parts. The first part gives Nick's thoughts and actions as he deals with the fallout of Amy's disappearance. His increasingly strange behaviour and secretiveness, set alarm bells ringing, not only for the police, but also for Amy's parents and Nick's closet ally; his twin sister Margo. Nick slowly but surely becomes the number one suspect in Amy's disappearance. Yet through the voice of her journals, Amy comes across as the perfect wife, willing to do anything to make her marriage work. Why on earth would Nick want to hurt his beautiful, intelligent, adoring wife? As the story progresses, the reader is taken on a journey of Nick's infidelity with a young impressionable student, along with his resentment of Amy's lifestyle and wealth and the couple's increasing financial difficulties. But is Amy all as she appears to be? She is an American Sweetheart; a national treasure. Her parents were the authors of a series of books, based on their daughter, featuring 'Amazing Amy' as their protagonist. She is certainly the beautiful, intelligent girl that everyone looks up to, but is she really as perfect as everyone believes?
In part two, the reader discovers what exactly has happened to Amy. I will not reveal this, in case you've not read it, but what I will say is the characterisation of Amy in the second part of the book is brilliant. Simply brilliant. Amy is all of the things that everyone believes her to be but flawed by all the usual worries and concerns that trouble all modern women. The reader gets to delve deep into the psyche of Amy Dunne and it is a deeply scary place: psychologically and realistically chilling. I found myself identifying with some of the warped thoughts (but thankfully not actions!) that go through Amy's troubled mind. The extremes she is willing to go to, for both herself and her marriage evoke both disgust and sympathy in the reader.
There are some highly explicit sex scenes which are quite detailed in the book, and the language at times is very colourful, but it all adds to the realism, and isn't overused for sensational effect.
This book really made me question the reality of any relationship. Whether anyone is truly their self with another person, or if you always put on some form of 'mask' to ensure the highest chance of happiness possible. Nick and Amy, like all good characters are flawed, but it is how far one is willing to accept the other in spite of these flaws that really make this novel great and realistic. 
The day I finished this book, I watched the film. As always, the book was far better than the film, there were far more layers to the characters and many more twists and turns than what is portrayed in the film. For me the film was average, but the book was a winner. If you've seen the film and wasn't a fan, please don't let that put you off reading the book. 
Have you read or watched Gone Girl? If you have please let me know what you thought about it in the comments box.

It's about time...

It's been such a long time since I last wrote a post. The start of university, along with a sudden descent in to the terrible twos with Littlest L meant my blog was abandoned, unloved and forgotten.
Well, not quite forgotten. Ideas for posts have been surfacing and floating around in some empty compartment in my head since the start of the new year. I have been planning to get things up and running again, and hopefully better than before. I didn't write all of them down. so here's hoping I can still gain access into that empty head compartment...
Please stay tuned for more book reviews, animal related posts and I also have some great giveaways in the pipeline.
I hope you're all enjoying half term and let me know if there's anything relating to literature, education, parenting or animal welfare that you'd like to see here, take care and keep reading.