Book Sale Bargains

I love a good book sale. Whether it’s a second hand book sale, a library stock sale, or a warehouse sale, I. Am. There.

Today’s exciting book sale was the Scholastic Warehouse Sale where you could buy a box for $40 and fill it with as many books as could fit. I initially went there to see if I could find some good picture books, but was pleasantly surprised to find there was a lot of YA there. A wonderful discovery and one that put my Tetris skills to the test because I wanted to fit as many books in my small box as I could which was a challenge with different sizes and a box that Did Not want to fit things nicely.

In the end I succeeded and walked away with 24 books, 21 in my box and three from the separate discounted section. I found a mix of YA, junior fiction, and picture books to add to my collection. All of which I have zero room for, but who doesn’t love a good project of reorganising the bookshelves and trying to fit in more books?

A few of the books I bought were completing a series, that I had on my TBR list, or were nice new fancy shiny special edition copies that I needed to have but a lot I took a chance on because they sounded really interesting. This is what I walked away with:

Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann. M. Martin

Disappearing Act by James Moloney

Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian

Woeful Second World War by Terry Deary

Making Bombs for Hitler by Forchuk Skrypuch

All the Things That Could Go Wrong by Stewart Foster

The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster

This is My Song by Richard Yaxley

The Boy The Bird and The Coffin Maker by Matilda Wood

The Smell of other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Finding Nevo by Nevo Zifin

A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King

Broken by Elizabeth Pulford

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My Life As A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

Clifford’s Puppy Days by Norman Bridwell

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Don’t Call Me Bear by Aaron Blabey

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey

Of course to top off my hour spent inside as I was leaving Clifford the Big Red Dog walked in with the Very Cranky Bear. I wasn’t able to grab a picture but you can see their adventures on the Scholastic YouTube channel. Overall it was a very rewarding morning.

Rodney Loses It! by Michael Gerard Bauer

Published: 1st September 2017Goodreads badge
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Chrissie Krebs
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Rodney was a rabbit who loved nothing more than drawing. He never found it tiresome, tedious or boring. But then one day, disaster struck, the one thing Rodney feared, while working at his drawing desk his pen just…DISAPPEARED! 

I loved this book. The rhymes were clever and I easily got into the rhythm, and the story is excellent and funny. This is a book where the illustrations match perfectly to the story, it a story that relies on the pictures and the keen eye of the reader. This book can easily be enjoyed by adults and children; the children love it because it’s funny and Rodney is silly, the adults because it reflects situations they have probably had themselves which makes it even funnier.

Krebs’ illustrations are colourful and stand out either on a page to themselves or placed next to the text which is a format which works well to enhance Bauer’s story. Krebs brings Rodney’s world to life showing off his drawings and his love for his pen Penny, and his humorous distress when she goes missing.

This was on the CBCA 2018 Shortlist and ended up winning the Early Childhood category which is well deserved. The title works on two separate levels which is a joy, and Krebs’ illustrations are comedic and as I say, match perfectly with the words. You see Rodney’s frustrations and kids will delight in seeing his manic expressions and chaotic desk while he tries to find his missing things.

You can purchase Rodney Loses It! via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus & Robertson | Fishpond

QBD | Amazon Aust

Noah’s Song by Jaclyn Osborn

Published: 28th February 2017Goodreads badge
 Encompass Ink
Pages: 266
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Noah Derwin knows what it’s like to be different. Being a seventeen-year-old kid in high school with blue hair, piercings, a mostly all black wardrobe, and an obsession with zombies and video games, he doesn’t exactly blend in. But he never wanted to. His two dads raised him to always stay true to himself.

Bastian Hunter prefers structure and predictability. Suffering from a rare disease, every day is a challenge for him, and he prepares for the future by excelling academically and denying who he really is. Everything changes when he meets Noah, the unpredictable variable in the equation he’s built his life around, and feelings he’s hid for so long begin to surface.

Being gay in high school isn’t exactly rainbows and butterflies, and Noah has definitely faced his fair share of bullies. Moving to Port Haven, Oregon opens up new possibilities for him, and he starts falling for the quiet, brown-eyed boy from his English class. Too bad the attraction is one-sided… or is it?

I found this book by chance and gave it a go because it sounded interesting and I’m glad I did because I found myself quite invested and attached to these adorable teenagers and their love story. There are certainly some flaws in Osborn’s story, both in structure and plot, but I still found myself enjoying it all the same. It is a good heartfelt story about being who you are and discovering who you are. It’s cliché at times and a bit unrealistic in some aspects but it a wholesome story that still makes you feel warm inside.

Getting the problems out of the way first, the writing can be clunky occasionally and the dialogue balances between realistic and cheesy, but the intent is there and if you look past the imperfections in the writing, there are some wonderful moments and it is a good story underneath.

On the positive side, there is a good exploration of disability and LGBT issues which was great to see explored in a story and yet not be the Focus of the story or the Point of the story. Osborn has managed to make it just part of who these character are, something that Noah highlights himself. That isn’t to say they don’t contribute to the issues in the story, but there is more going on than Noah being gay, instead it’s like any other young love YA where there’s a crush and general teenage angst and trepidation.

Osborn has clearly tried to break down stereotypes and perceived perceptions, even if she does so by literally pointing it out to the reader. Some of the characters are sweethearts and are good unique and complicated characters but I felt there could have been some better development in terms of some characters, or maybe that’s something that could be improved with an adjustment and naturalisation of the dialogue.

I think what Osborn has tried to do is include too many supportive moments and tried to be too on message. As much as I understood what she was trying to achieve it felt too perfect, too much like everyone was a good person, and for those that weren’t, it didn’t take long and not too many words to change their minds.

I really enjoyed watch Noah find his feet and I will admit I got my own cheesy grin on my face watching him falter and try to act natural around the boy he likes. It was all kinds of adorable and it was one of those nice moments when you could see an outcome long before it happened so you got to enjoy Noah’s confusion and uncertainty around Bas, all the while you just waited for the moment when it all came to a head.

Watching Noah and Bas together was absolutely adorable and I loved Noah’s reaction and interaction with him. Noah himself is a complicated character, there is a lot going on with him that I felt Osborn could have focused more on, again, tied into a stronger writing style, but nevertheless it was an interesting route she chose to take with him because while simple and idealistic characters can be one dimensional, Noah knows who he is and while he still struggles with some things, he is also a little self-assured too. Something which suits Osborn’s expression of him.

Like I say, it’s idealistic but it’s heart-warming. It’s a feel good story that tries to have a nice little message in there even if there are a few flaws in the story and the structure. I still enjoyed it and I was surprised how invested I got in the characters and even more so finding myself with my own cheesy grin on my face at these teenagers which sometimes were just too adorable.

You can purchase Noah’s Song via the following

Audible | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 8th August 2017Goodreads badge
  Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Join Andy and Terry in their ridiculous 91-storey treehouse! Go for a spin in the world’s most powerful whirlpool, take a ride in a submarine sandwich, get marooned on a desert island, hang out in a giant spider web, visit the fortune teller’s tent to get your fortune told by Madame Know-it-all and decide whether or not to push the mysterious big red button. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

This might be up there as one of my favourites of the Treehouse books. It’s silly, but clever, filled with adventure and you can’t help but love these characters as they go on these wild adventures and get into all kinds of strife.

Griffiths’ talent is that one thing blends so well into another as he’s telling the story. Madam Know-it-all leads into the Big Button which gives us a hint at the story to come as Andy and Terry must scramble to make sense of the clues and cryptic answers. I also love how Griffiths links together all of the new storeys and they get to become part of the new adventure and not just an unseen addition.

Andy and Terry go on another adventure in this book with Mr Big Nose’s grandchildren in tow. There are wonderful references in this book to other pop culture things such as Narnia, The Beatles, and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, all with a delightful twist that suit the Andy and Terry universe. I loved the humour that comes through in both the writing and the illustrations and the balance between serious and silly is great, you know these boys can get into strife without it ever getting too serious, but serious enough that it’s engaging and adventurous.

With these wonderful adventures are also the brilliant accompaniment of Denton’s illustrations. Depending on the story, Denton’s illustrations can be simple or incredibly complicated. This is one of those great times because the amount of detail Denton has put into these drawings is amazing.  There are some wonderfully clever drawings as Andy and Terry try to wrangle the grandchildren on their myriad of adventures through the many exciting new storeys filled with tiny surprises for the keen eyed reader.

These books are quirky and funny and the more you read the more they grow on you. It will be interesting to see how high Griffiths and Denton plan to take this, because surely they are going to run out of tree eventually. Until then I will look forward to the continuing antics of Andy and Terry.

You can purchase The 91-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

A Walk in the Bush by Gwyn Perkins

Published: 1st March 2017Goodreads badge
Affirm Press
Illustrator: Gwyn Perkins
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Little Iggy doesn’t want to leave the house, but Grandad insists – they always have fun together. What follows is a wonderful journey in the great Australian outdoors with singing birds, wallaby surprises, secret caterpillar messages and oodles of grandad humour. Here is a story about the wonders of nature, the funny side of life and spending time with the ones we love.

This is a sweet book that has a beautiful story. I can see why this won the CBCA award; it’s an appreciation of the Australian environment and the possibilities to escape into nature. I will also admit is a bit adorable. Perkins’ illustrations reminded me at first of those in a comic strip, they are simple and the background is both simple and wonderfully colourful as the story goes on.

I have an affection for Iggy the cat though. His owner hunts around looking for him then dresses him up with a hat and sunscreen to go out on a walk. I love Iggy’s reluctance and shame at being made to wear a hat, and I love how interested he looks as his owner explains the surrounding bush to him.

This is definitely a book that is meant to be read slowly. There are few words on each page and the words invite you to study the pictures, to look at the images themselves and relate them back to the narrative. As the man stops and tells his cat about all about the different aspects of nature it invites the reader to study the picture and see what he is talking about.

Initially I thought it was too simple, too much of a pat on Australia’s back and that was why it won, but on my second read through a few days later I came to understand why it might have won. It is a beautiful story and one that does show off the Australian bush, but it is a lovely story and who doesn’t want to stop and just look at the wonderful scenery.

You can purchase A Walk in the Bush via the following

QBD | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

Fishpond | Dymocks

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