Category: Uncategorized

Bedtime Bangers

It’s been a while! But I’m still reading!

After having to suffer through two rather rubbish reads in a row I’ve found solace in some new (and classic) children’s picture books.

I promise you that all of these will make the bedtime routine the best part of the day.

First off The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton. This was everything I wanted from a picture book, it was reminiscent of films such as Song of The Sea and Ponyo. Poignant, beautifully written and an all round great read. The Secret of Black Rock recently won the Illustrated Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee. We had THE MOST fun reading this debut picture book from Australian presenter and comedy wife of Hamish Blake, Andy Lee. With every page teasing and urging the reader not to go any further, Do Not Open This Book had my daughter screaming with laughter by the end.

A Mighty Bitey Creature by Ronda Armitage, illustrated by Nikki Dyson. This is a cute and cheeky story that involves lots and lots of bitten bottoms! But who’s biting these bottoms? Well the mighty bitey creature of course!!

Everybody Poos by Taro Gomi. Has this book helped in my potty training endeavour? 100%! A very sweet book that will help little ones become comfortable about doing what comes naturally. Plus it’s got loads of funny pictures of poo.

If I Had A Dinosaur by Alex Barrow and Gabby Dawnay. This book is the best! The illustrations are really cute, the story is lovely and if you’re going to buy one book today make it this one.

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Trying something new

Some times I get stuck in a rut with reading the same picture books over and over again. It’s easy to pick up Oliver Jeffers, Rob Biddulph and Jon Klassen constantly throughout the day and night when we’re reading together but I thought I’d try something new with my daughter.

Every Monday for the past few weeks we’ve made a point of watching Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s lovely, it’s cute and it’s fun, perfect for a toddler. Seeing as the show was such a hit in our house I thought I’d test the waters with the manga. I was almost certain this would be a wasted effort, I didn’t think the black and white illustrations would hold P’s attention and I was worried the right-to-left format would be too confusing.

I was so wrong. Cardcaptor Sakura was perfect, as I read though the text P described each scene, she remembered all the characters and we had the best time reading together.

If you’ve read manga before you’ll know that CLAMP have created some of the most beloved characters and stories so they’re a perfect starting point for new readers. They write exquisite fantasy manga and the illustrations are gorgeous.

After Cardcaptor Sakura we tried a few different mangas and most were a hit. It’s hard finding content that’s suitable for much younger readers but here’s a few we’ve been reading:

Prétear by Kaori Naruse & Junichi Satou – This is pretty much a super shojo magical retelling of Snow White.

Kingdom Hearts by Shiro Amano – The Final Fantasy and Disney Square Enix game but in manga format. These mangas are so beautiful. They’re exciting, page turning and great for younger readers.

Nodame Cantabile by Tomoko Ninomiya – A weird romance story revolving around classical music students. Noda Megumi the titular character is my all time favourite manga character. There was also an anime and drama that were equally as good as the books.

And finally…

Pokemon.

Suicide Club

I don’t often post about books I haven’t even started yet but today I received the most exciting proof.

Sucide Club by Rachel Heng is one to watch in 2018. I’ve been (excuse the pun) dying to read this since the moment I saw that Sceptre had acquired this novel.

In near-future New York, life expectancy averages three hundred years.

Immortality is almost within our grasp.

It’s hell.

I mean, just look at how this book has arrived!! I feel like I’m going to end up rushing my current read just so I can start Suicide Club.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I’m about the get really gushy about a book. A really, really, REALLY good book. I’ve just finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I was one billion percent wrong when I thought that I wasn’t going to get much from this book.

Eleanor Oliphant is about the titular character who has the same lunch routine everyday, she wears the same outfit everyday, she’s worked in the same mundane job for years, she doesn’t have any friends but… She’s completely fine. After winning a work raffle Eleanor ends up seeing a band and decided that the lead singer is THE ONE. Eleanor goes about changing everything about herself so she can become the perfect woman for the musician.

I expected a easy, fluffy read with this one but what I got was one of the best novels I’ve read in ages. Eleanor Oliphant is so funny, I can’t remember a time I’ve laughed out loud so much. Eleanor’s observations are cutting, blunt and honest. And Oliphant isn’t a character you laugh at in a mocking way, there’s a real warmth and compassion you create for this character. Honeyman has crafted one of my new favourite characters and I just want everyone to read this book.

Trust me, just get this book. It will make your week so much more enjoyable and it’ll make your life so much better.

Lullaby

I was currently part way through two novels when Lullaby crosses my path.

I’d seen this book floating around twitter and Instagram with rave reviews. A novel with is creepy baby blue front cover. A novel with the tag line “The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.”

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor is the story of stressed out, stay-at-home mum Myriam, the pressures of motherhood are taking its toll on her. When the opportunity of returning to work arises Myriam and her husband Paul make the decision to hire Louise as a nanny for their two small children.

Lullaby has one of the most shocking and upsetting opening pages I’ve ever read. It’s a razor sharp novel that holds the reader in the heady grip of paranoia and tension. After the initial shock of the opening chapter Slimani lures you into a sense of sympathy for a mother who has lost her identity as woman. Much like Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, Lullaby is a brutally honest portrayal of motherhood.

When the nanny Louise comes into the picture you spend every chapter looking for a darker meaning in all of her actions and reactions. You’re constantly waiting for it all to kick off and you find yourself holding your breath at the end of each paragraph.

I was disappointed with the ending of Lullaby but that’s not to say it’s not a compelling read. I just found myself going “oh ok then.” at the end then moved on to my next book without another thought. I thought Lullaby would be a book to stay with me.

If you enjoy creeping thrillers and great writing then Lullaby is a must read. Plus it’s super short so you’ll whiz through it in an afternoon.

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani is out now. Published by Faber & Faber

I’m Not Scared

I finished last year on such a bum note. Reading was good but it was a naff year for me.

SO

It’s the 4th January and I’ve already finished two books. Yes, one of them was an audiobook (I’ll pop a review up as soon as I can) the other book was one of the best short novels I’ve read in years.

Last year after reading Can You Hear Me? By Elena Varvello my colleague V showed me a book called I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti. After telling me all about it I ordered a copy and I could not wait to start this book. For some reason I forgot about this book. A few weeks later my friend @ObvsItsAmy recommended me the same book! I went to get the copy of ordered and couldn’t find it anywhere. I forgot about this book again UNTIL TODAY!

I found my copy.

I’m Not Scared is a short, dark novel. Set one blisteringly hot Italian summer, nine-year-old Michele Amitrano makes a stomach churning discovery… but he tells no one.

I read the first few pages in the afternoon, I was gripped. I was counting down the hours until I could get home and read more… I ended reading the entire book in one evening. Ammaniti’s writing is tense and weighs on the reader like the heavy Italian humidity. The translation by Jonathan Hunt is brilliant.

This book is nothing short of a masterpiece and just a really cool read. It’s shocking and the ending left me numb. This is the book you want to give to your coolest friend or you want your coolest friend to recommend to you.

If you haven’t picked out your first read for 2018 then start with this powerful loss of innocence.

PONTI

You know when a book falls into your life and just blows your mind?

Well that’s Ponti.

Set in 2003, Singapore, Ponti is the story of sixteen-year-old Szu. Living in the shadow of her mother Amisa a beautiful but has-been actress, Szu finds herself in her first real friendship with Circe. Seventeen years later, Circe is navigating a work project when she is suddenly confronted with the guilty memories of her friendship with Szu.

Ponti was one of those books that I keep spotting on twitter. Some of my favourite bookish people were talking about this brand new voice in literature. Using my mystical book lover powers, I managed to somehow summon a copy to my desk.

I could not put Ponti down. Sharlene Teo has a way with words which is up there with the greats. I felt like I was reading a prizewinner, the descriptions of sweltering Singapore left me heady and drained. Teo weaves three generations together through her amazing portrayals of young womanhood.

Ponti was everything I wanted in a novel: beautifully written, compelling and perfectly witty.

2018 is all about Ponti.

Ponti by Sharlene Teo will be published by Picador 19th April 2018