The Naughty List by Holly Lansley

Published: 1st October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Make Believe Ideas
Illustrator: Lara Ede
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Bookpict
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A brand-new picture book told in the form of a letter to Santa. The letter is written by a boy named Tom, who is trying to convince Santato put him on the Nice List, even though his behaviour has been bad all year! Hear all about the things Tom has done and the ways he tries to spin them to Santa.

This is a fabulous book written in the style of a letter to Santa which is hilarious, clever, and even at times very sweet.

There is so much to love about this book. From page one I was in love and seeing the colourful and decorative formatting makes it even more enjoyable and brilliant. The formatting is big and bold, filled with colour and decoration with emphasis placed by the letter writer which in turns helps when reading and shows how passionate Tom is in his belief and his reasonable explanations.

The rhyme is fantastic, it’s a great poem about all of Tom’s well intentions but essentially naughty adventures through the year which may have got him on the Naughty List. I loved how Tom explains his actions and how insistent he is that he wasn’t actually being naughty at the time he was having an adventure or quite often just trying to help.

The illustrations are woven into the story with the text appearing on lined paper reminiscent of a child’s Christmas list and reflects the story of this complaint letter to Santa. There are drawings on the letter which are from Tom’s hand but there are also drawings on the adjacent page in a more defined style depicting the action he’s defending himself against. I liked Ede’s style of bright and cartoonish drawings. Tom’s cheeky nature comes through as well as those suffering around him.

This is a brilliant book not just for the story and the rhyme but the creativity of the formatting and the presentation was a huge bonus. This is a funny and clever book that is a wonderful spin on why one may find themselves on the naughty list this year.

You can purchase The Naughty List via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Changeless (#2) by Gail Carriger

Published: 1st April 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Orbit
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Genre: Steampunk/Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

  The delightful Alexia is back, now married and now in charge of an entire wolf pack. I was glad to see Carriger hasn’t lost any of her charm and wit in her writing as this story is just as fabulous as the first.

The relationship between Alexia and Connall moves past the frustrated acquaintances and into frustrated newlyweds which feels natural and fitting. I love how both Alexia and Connall can love each other but be infuriated by one another, more so Connall than Alexia, though now that she is living with the pack there are a few more things to frustrate her. This story also brings to light some more of Carriger’s werewolf mythology and we see more intricately how the pack operates. We are introduced to new names and faces but the familiar faces remain and the pack becomes an extension of the main characters.

I loved the mystery Carriger has presented because it’s a fascinating exploration of how this society operates and how much the supernatural citizens contribute and rely on the existing structures. The mystery is only one of many things revealed and unravelled in this book. We gain a better understanding of Alexia’s preternatural abilities and a better look at Lord Maccon’s own supernatural and family history. I liked the pace Carriger has taken for this story because it is a decent time frame and also one that is chaotic, dangerous and filled with the wit and humour, not to mention the incredible inventions and contraptions, I’ve come to love and expect from her. One thing she does well is have multiple plots running that raise their head at various times as the need occurs. It also plays into the natural feeling of the story and the realism, if one can call it that, of this world. It is believable and the pacing and events reflect that.

There is an excellent hook at the end which raises all the questions and sparks a lot of intrigue, Carriger knows how to get you leaping into the next book. Even though I fell deeply in love with this series from the start, the more I learn and is uncovered as I read the more I adore it. I am fascinated by Carriger’s creativity, but more so I love how complicated yet simple and well-functioning this society is. This alternate reality, steam punk world sounds marvellous and it is a joy to read about a new interpretation of the werewolves/vampire myth as well as a new history of our own time.

You can purchase Changless via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

Published: 4th December 1984 (print)/15th September 2012 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin Books/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 208/6 hrs and 14 mins
Narrator: Kate Hood
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Classic
★   ★   ★  ★ – 4 Stars

1478198Distraught over her parents’ separation, Abigail follows a strange child called Beatie Bow and time slips back a hundred years where she becomes involved with an Australian shopkeeper’s family.

I was unsure what to expect from this, I’d heard great things about this Aussie classic and since it was reasonably short I was intrigued. I enjoyed the story from the start, I liked how Abigail is defiant and independent, and I loved the relationship she had with her mother.

I was quite drawn into the story by the end, it feels like a longer story than it is and time stretches on but does not drag. Park has done a great job mixing the time periods and blending the historical with the contemporary. Despite being published in 1980, there is a wonderful 70s vibe through this story because it is the time of the women’s liberation movement and this comes across in the dialogue between Abigail and her mother. Limiting minor spoilers I loved how fiercely Abigail is trying to reason with her mother over her relationship with her father. It gave a wonderfully modern feel to the story and I think Park does a great job satisfying both parties with how she handles the situation.

I was surprised by the ending but Park makes this work in how she loops it back to the earlier story. It subjects your expectations and keeps a little of the magic alive, certainly giving a satisfactory feel as a reader as we too have become attached to these figures of history as we spend time with them as well.

Kate Hood does a great job as narrator. Her use of accents makes each character stand out, though Park’s writing does that well enough as it is, with each time period represented through dialogue, language and descriptions.

The historical aspect brings to light a side of Sydney I hadn’t thought about before. The reign of Queen Victoria and the fact Australia is still reasonably new are charming factors, and Park shows us a little of how life was during that time. I understood how Park makes it sound rather peaceful and fulfilling, while also showing the hardships. The balance between the current times and the olden days is surely the perfect way to live and seeing Abigail come to that realisation was great.

For a time before young adult books were really a thing, this is a good coming of age story that fills in the gaps between kids and teens, for those early years before becoming a fully-fledged teenager and are still trying to navigate growing up and moving on from childhood.

You can purchase Playing Beatie Bow via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

While You Are Sleeping by Alexis Deacon

Published: 5th September 2006Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Farrar Straus and Giroux
Illustrator: Alexis Deacon
Pages: 26
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Being a plush toy might sound like an easy job, but when a newcomer joins their group, the bedside toys show him everything that goes into taking care of a child while he is sleeping. Every night, they make sure that he isn’t too hot or too cold, and that he stays safely in his bed. They chase away bedbugs and bad dreams. And on Christmas Eve they have the very important task of making sure the child does not awake until morning. The new toy and the reader will find a lot to learn before the night is over. 

I picked this up because when I saw it I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite pictures “Sweet Halloween Dreams” by begemott. The image shows the power of the toy and this story is one in the same vein.

Deacon tells the story through the voices of the bedside toys. The text addresses the reader and tells them what their toys get up to when they are sleeping. They explain that after sitting and waiting all day, and once they are sure you are asleep, they get up and make sure you have a good night. Whether it is checking for things in cupboards and under the bead, or helping if you are too hot or cold, these toys will be there. With an adorable new lion toy added to the ranks he helps them work in a bid to join their crew and they show him their routine. The toy’s job is to keep you safe while you sleep, to keep monsters and bad dreams away.

The words are simple, but extra information is provided in the illustrations. They demonstrate how these toys help without having to explain it in the text. I would have loved the illustrations to be slightly clearer. They were wonderful and there were little sweet and fun moments in the background that made me smile. I understand that was Deacon’s style but I would have loved the same heart but with less haziness. The pencil illustrations are detailed and coloured, and seeing the different sized animals doing different things is quite adorable. The new toy acts like a new toy would, not as confident or as brave, but you also see the current toys helping out and showing him how their job works. These extra details made me enjoy the story a lot more and added another unspoken layer of the story.

I can see this being a great comfort to children who may be worried about going to sleep or being in the dark. Having this story that reassures them that their favourite toys are there to protect them would be a great comfort.

You can purchase While You Are Sleeping via the following

Book DepositoryAmazon | Amazon Aust

The Waterproof Notepad: A Thing of Genius

I have gone to so, so many author events where the discussion inevitably ends up somewhere around getting great ideas in the shower and having to try and remember them. I’ve sat in the audience while authors cry “why isn’t there a waterproof notepad” to which I tell myself I will speak to them afterwards and tell them that there is in fact a waterproof notepad but alas, I never do. I’ve even considered raising my hand and telling them during question time but that’s a whole different hurdle to overcome. Instead, I thought I would share it here publicly with you in case you too are suffering the frustration of having million dollar ideas and perfect story plots lost down the drain ever night.

May I introduce you to Aqua Love Notes, the waterproof notepad.

Despite the name, Aqua Love Notes are the greatest thing ever created. This is the absolutely fabulous one that I bought a few years ago that has been a pure life saver. It isn’t used for fun notes and message to others in my household, it is used for when my mind is mulling over menial things in the shower and suddenly an idea comes to me, or a piece of dialogue or scene and I need to write it down lest I forget.

There are multiple pages, and if you are like me who writes small and scribbles all over the page you can use the same pad for years. You get two pencils, red and lead, one which has a rubber on the end and both are able to be sharpened in a regular sharpener.

I used to try and write in the steam on the shower but I’d always forget about it by the time I finished and it doesn’t last once it dries. Who knows how many brilliant ideas I have lost over time, but not any more. If you are looking for something to jot ideas down on or plot out your next epic story than this is ideal. I bought mine from Amazon because it was the only place at the time I could find one, but now you know such genius exists you may find some elsewhere with some clever searching.

With NaNoWriMo happening this month it might be the perfect thing you need when you are plotting and planning and need all the ideas you can get when you are starting out.

Go forth and never be stuck in the shower with nowhere to put your ideas again!

Previous Older Entries