Wait! by Beck and Matt Stanton

Published: 19 March 2018 Goodreads badge
ABC Books
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

‘Wait! Just wait!’ You find yourself saying this all the time, right?

Well, we’re sorry, but you’re gonna hate this book!

This book is going to make you wait too. Once you and the kids start reading it, you can’t do anything else until it’s finished.

You’ll just have to … wait.

And the kids will love it!

I love the Stanton Drive Kids Crazy books and this is another to add to the list. While it wasn’t as funny as the others to read to yourself, I can see how reading this out loud would be a fun activity, and one that certainly plays up to the words in the book.

The creative use of the text to infer and influence speech is amazing and when you have wiggler and impatient people then this is a great torturous read. There are multiple activities to do while you ‘wait’ with each page, humming, patting your head, wriggling your toes. It’s also makes you stay by saying you aren’t allowed to leave until you finish, which also brings in great grown up involvement as well.

Beck and Matt have definitely tapped into a great formula with these books and it goes against usual reading conventions by making you very aware you’re reading a book and lets you interact with it in innovative ways.

You can purchase Wait! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

I’m Sticking with You Too by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Published: 7th September 2022Goodreads badge
Simon Schuster Children’s UK
Illustrator: Sam Small
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Much-loved characters Bear and Squirrel are back! And they’ve found the perfect rhythm for their friendship. Until, that is, Chicken turns up… She wants in! But how will Bear and Squirrel feel about accepting a new friend? Will they come to see that some things work out when we do them together. That two can be good…but three can be BETTER?

This beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated follow-up to the bestselling I’m Sticking with You is the perfect book for examining how, even if new friends might disrupt the rhythm at first, the sense of belonging that friendship can bring has the potential to make your heart sing!

It’s a sweet story, one that is enjoyable but I felt may have been a smidge too drawn out. I can see what Prasadam-Halls was doing though, and in terms of the musical nature of the text and the story being told, there is justification to the length.

Chicken wants to join the rhythmic duo of Bear and Squirrel but they are a tight-knit duo who don’t want to ruin their good thing. Prasadam-Halls acknowledges that they aren’t being mean, but to them it wouldn’t work out and it’d throw off their groove.

The story is told in rhyme which makes it a quick read as you get caught up in the rhythm. Something that is a plus because there’s a few pages, though few words on each page. The illustration layout and the position of the text helps you get the beat right as well as enhances the story being told.

Small’s illustrations are great accompaniment and I liked the expressions and activities each character was doing. Minimal facial manipulation doesn’t stop there being great expressions and feelings of the characters.

There is very much a troubadour or minstrel group singing through the forest vibe from the story. Bear and Squirrel playing their instruments and sing along, then the three of them at the end is like a pictorial musical number. I liked how at the end it turns out they still don’t have a rhythm together, Bear and Squirrel were right, but they learn it doesn’t matter.

You can purchase I’m Sticking with You Too via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

I’m Sticking with You by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Published: 5th May 2020Goodreads badge
Henry Holt & Company
Illustrator: Sam Small
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Bear and Squirrel are best friends. Wherever Squirrel goes, Bear follows. Bear vows to stick with Squirrel whether he’s grumpy, or silly, or mad–which is put to the test when Bear sinks Squirrel’s canoe. And catapults him from the seesaw. And breaks his favorite mug.

Finally, Squirrel has had enough. He tells Bear he needs his space–only to realize he has much more fun with his best friend around. Funny and poignant in equal measure, I’m Sticking with You shows that friendship always finds a way.

This is a story of friends who do everything together, helping each other through thick and thin and always being there when they’re needed. It also is about needing time apart and taking a break from one another, understanding it’s ok to have some time alone and needing your own space. Through Bear’s big presence it’s easy to see how Squirrel would need some time alone and not be crowded and inconvenienced by Bear.

Small’s illustrations show the vast size difference between Bear and Squirrel which reinforces some of Squirrel’s feeling of suffocation. The images of Squirrel sitting on Bear are adorable as well and the friendship between one very large animal and one small animal has always been a favourite depiction of mine in picture books.

There’s compromise as the realisation comes they need their friend and they miss them. It was sweet how Prasadam-Halls describes them as joined at the heart. It’s a beautiful way to describe their friendship.

It’s a basic story but one that shows off a sweet friendship and the love between two friends.

You can purchase I’m Sticking with You via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Something Borrowed, Someone Dead (#24) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 17th September 2013 (print)/03 October 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Minotaur Books /Audible
Pages: 304/6 hrs and 19 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Incomer Gloria French is at first welcomed in the Cotswold village of Piddlebury. She seems like a do-gooder par excellence, raising funds for the church and caring for the elderly. But she has a bad habit of borrowing things and not giving them back, so when she is discovered dead, folk in the village don’t mourn her passing too much.

Parish councillor Jerry Tarrant hires Agatha Raisin to track down the murderer. But the village is creepy and secretive and the residents don’t seem to want Agatha to find who the murderer is. Then Agatha’s investigations are hampered by the upset of discovering that her ex, James Lacey, has fallen in love with her young protégé.

The shift between these books that can go from horribly written to one that is actually decent is amazing. Decent for Agatha Raisin that is. There must be something in the water in the Cotswalds that make people go from calm to threatening death upon people at the slightest inconvenience.

The enjoyment of this book comes from the murder plotline and less so of the writing or extra content. Agatha’s obsession with her figure and the judgement towards other people are eye rolling and typical, but the fact Beaton managed an interesting premise for a murder and didn’t drive me up the wall reading it to execute it was something of a miracle.

There’s a lot of character action and conversations to suss out motive and intent, things happen that actually connect to the investigation and the side stories of characters when we get them are woven in a way that they still feel connected to the main story. There are throwaway lines that show time passing, Agatha taking holidays etc, but it keeps returning to interviewing people about the murder. The character interactions are more entertaining than reading long sections of narration which is probably why this was a better story than most.

There’s a couple murders in this one, the original and the second one that usually happens during the investigation of the first, typically after someone proclaims they know who the murderer is and then dies before telling anyone. The whole team gets involved and we see various avenues of investigation which is a change from quick mentions and having them behind the scenes and on other cases, even the non-detective gang help in their own ways.

The solution to having to extend the stories out this time involves having the main story for most of the book and then having a secondary mini plot afterwards to fill in time. The entire last hour was a side story that was what happens after the murderer is caught and it was a strange addition but I guess it’s a change to see what happens to the culprit and not just what new thing Agatha is up to.

There is also an unexpected addition about Toni that is tacked on at the end but given the haphazard nature of these books it’s easier to simply go along with it at this stage. The final pages feel like the start of a new book again as it introduces a whole other storyline but as a weird cliff hanger I guess it’s meant to lure you into the next one but with no real stakes, just pushing your curiosity about what’s going to happen next.

You can purchase Something Borrowed, Someone Dead via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Preserving the Evidence (#2) by Kaz Delaney

Published: 23rd May 2022 Goodreads badge
Tule Publishing
Pages: 322
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Baker and amateur sleuth Rosie Hart finds herself embroiled in a brand new mystery in her new hometown of Airlie Falls. There’s a murder, an unidentified body, missing money, a late mayoral election challenge, a strange gathering of socialites at a mansion out of town, and strangers who aren’t who they claim to be. Oh – and an unknown woman who seemed to be being forced into a car against her will on the night of the town meeting. Rosie is sure they’re all connected, but the Sheriff isn’t convinced, and she’s afraid there’ll be more bodies to add to the tally if he doesn’t quickly unmask the murderer. Then all evidence suddenly points to her best friend, local newspaper owner and editor, Midge Moyal as being the murderer. Now Rosie knows she is the one who will have to prove Midge’s innocence.

Convinced the answers are at the mansion of the murdered man, Frederick Clausen, Rosie feels the only way to get them in to go undercover and pretend to be one of those bored socialites. It’s a brief stint and proves, if nothing else, that she’s no actress. But it wasn’t all in vain. Answers are starting to drop into place and suddenly Rosie realizes she’ll be lucky to get out of this one without more than a batch of burned Buried Treasure Cookies.

Note: I was provided with a copy for review.

In book two Rosie has settled into the town quite well and has established her baking prowess to the town’s favour. Her relationship with Jonas is going well and everything is wonderful until another murder hits the town and strange things are happening and the mysteries keep piling up.

This was a slower pace than the previous book, which was fine having established our characters and Rosie in the previous novel we could afford to unfurl this new mystery in a new way. With a few things happening the focus is split and the nature of the accusations allows for a slower pace in uncovering the culprit.

As the mystery hits home and starts to affect beloved characters it’s a fun development that adds intrigue as the reader you try and work out why people are being framed and to what end. Side characters introduced in the previous story feature again, including the Fab Four who are always a delight; and the pros and cons of a small town community is reinforced as the various events play out.

There is a solid recap of the previous book without it feeling forced for those who need a refresher or who picked the books up out of order. Delaney weaves it into the story smoothly so it never feels like it’s been inserted unnaturally into the story as a reminder.

There are multiple mysteries happening side by side – the mystery body, the murder, as well as the woman that Rosie keeps seeing but can never find. I liked the sleuthing Rosie did to uncover it, there is an air of amateur detective work but a lot of it is Rosie working it out for herself, or actively becoming involved to help save her friends. As a result there are a few run-ins with local law enforcement and blundering her way through undercover operations but that is part of this charm. Rosie is never trying to be a detective but she is trying to solve mysteries in her town, especially those affecting her friends.

Delaney has included an excellent collection of misleading information, red herrings, as well as twists and turns to keep you guessing. By the end of the story as you piece all the hints and clues together the ending comes as a satisfactory surprise and one that shows that cosy mysteries can have thrilling moments of danger, excitement, and suspense. I can’t wait to see what awaits Rosie in book three.

You can purchase Preserving the Evidence via the following

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple Books

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Publisher | Audible

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