REVIEW: Pig The Grub by Aaron Blabey

Published: 3rd September 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Books Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book (Purchased)

RRP: 17.99

4.5/5 Stars 

Eww! What a stinker!

Pig isn’t just the world’s greediest Pug, he’s the DIRTIEST too.

It’s high time he had a bath! But try telling Pig that . . .

Over two million Pig books are now in print around the world!


He’s back!!!

Pig the Grub is the latest addition to the best selling Pig series by Arraon Blabey. With over two million Pig Books sold, you know you are in safe hands when it comes to quality kids picture books that will both entertain, and expand your child’s understanding of the world and vocabulary, all the while keeping readers of all ages coming back to see what Pig has gotten himself into this time.

In typical Pig The Pug style, Pig the Grub opens with an already dirty Pig, who steadily gets and worse and worse as the book progresses thanks to Pig’s less than ideal pastimes – playing with poo, lying in rubbish and mud etc. When the stench becomes unbearable, his owners try to bathe him, only for Pig to get up to his old tricks and goes to outlandish lengths to escape bath time (i.e. he plugs the taps), until his attempts backfire with a BANG and he ends up bathed and sulking, but still the unrefined, graceless, selfish and farting Pig the Pug we all know and love.

While the story itself is entertaining and what readers have come to expect from this vastly popular character, the book also takes on a serious note as it teaches kids about the importance of great hygiene for both oneself and those around them.

The text is simple and clear and usually restricted to no more than four or five lines per page. All of which goes to show how much of genius Blabey is and how well he knows his market, as Blabey uses his sparse words cleverly, making every word count. What’s more every now and then, accompanying a particularly smelly looking Pig, Blabey challenges the readers vocabulary by using words like ‘rank’, ‘reeked’, and ‘rancid’, just to name a few. The accompanying illustration and unfamiliar text, teaches the child reader more sophisticated and hard words in an easy to understand manner; a no small feat for books aimed at such young children.

Blabey has deliberately chosen his usual bland colour pallet for this book – predominately browns, blacks, greys, red, yellows/oranges with hits of green and pink in places – that further empathises the dire need for Pig’s bath. While Blabey is an expert illustrator in his own right, I love that he employs such basic colour schemes and doesn’t rely on bright and bold, over the top, colours and illustration devices to get his story over the line. Instead, his artwork is clean, coherent and timeless, creating the brand that readers easily identify with and can’t get enough off.

With Six Pig The Pug books successfully under his belt already, one would suspect Blabey’s tried and tested formula to start to get old and predictable by now. Instead, Blabey is going from strength to strength with his wickedly mischievous and naughty Pig The Pug getting up to even more obscene tricks and tantrums in every single book. Pig and Trevor are delightfully unpredictable and his story telling is humorous and educational with out preaching.

Pig the Grub would make a perfect addition to any child’s growing library collection.


To purchase a copy of Pig The Grub, visit the following online retailers:

Scholastic Shop | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | Big W | Target | Kmart | The Nile | Angus & Robertson’s Book World | Boomrang Books | QBD |


To learn more about Aaron Blabey, visit the following social media sites:

Aaron Blabey’s Website | Facebook |





REVIEW: Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting In the City, Book 1) by Penny Reid

Published: 14th March 2013

Publisher: Cipher-Naught (Self Published)

Pages: 403

Format: Ebook and audio book (I switched between the two mediums -> both forms purchased)

RRP: $5.99 AUD for the ebook – currently free across all platforms

5/5  Stars

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

I thought I loved Penny Reid’s writing when I read her Rugby series with LH Cosway, and then the first book in the Wilson Brother’s series, but nothing could have prepared me for the love I have her books post reading the Neanderthal Seeks Human. Seriously, this book is everything. Penny Reid was already on my must-buy author list prior to discovering this series, but she will forever now be an author I pre-order without question … there are just not enough words to describe how much this series, and her books mean to me.

As the cover depicts, Neanderthal Seeks Human is a smart romance; you won’t find no whiny mary-sue’s or damsel’s in distress in these books. In fact, you won’t find any of them in ANY of Penny Reid’s work and that’s what makes her writing so refreshing. Instead, what you will find is strong, capable women from all walks of life, making their own way through the shit storms life throws their way. Sure, the men are absolutely swoon worthy – it is a romance novel after all – and while they are not your typical knights-in-shinning-armour all the time, they are just as stubborn and hard-headed as their leading ladies when they need to be.

From memory, Neanderthal Seeks Human was the third Penny Reid novel I had read, but it was the first one I was instantly drawn to 110% from the very first page. I loved Janie Morris’ character. She is quirky, but relate-able, and I absolutely adored how she saw the world slightly differently, and perhaps a bit more naively, than just about everyone else around her. Her world was not all sunshine and roses, in fact it couldn’t be further from the truth, but there was this vulnerable aspect to her that made me want to reach through the pages and give her a hug, all the while knowing she was more than capable of looking after herself. She was lively and just everything one wants to be when they grow up …

Quinn Sullivan on the other hand, is the broody silent type. Nicknamed Sir McHotpants by Janie and her girlfriends, he is a man of few words, quick actions and the ultimate smouldering look. He is also the world’s most unlikely knight-in-shinning-armour, who has Janie, and Janie’s alone best interest’s at heart.

Together, Quinn balances out Janie’s bumbling and quirky ways, and she softens his hard edges and steel like resolve in the best ways possible. The pair have a rocky start – Janie first really speaks to him on the day she learns her boyfriend has cheated on her and now not only does she have no where to go home to, but she has also just been sacked from her job – and well, really a rocky path as each fights their own natural instincts around the other… but their chemistry, it’s off the charts and their story is one I can’t wait to dive into again and again.

As a rom-com, Neanderthal Seeks Human feels both authentic and larger than life, but it’s also funny in the most unexpected, but natural ways. Nothing is forced, be it plot, chemistry, characters, humour and although there are so many different things happening at once, it all just works so seamless together. Evidently, I couldn’t get enough.

As mentioned above, I flicked between the ebook and the audiobook as I devoured everything about this book as quick as I could. The audio is narrated by Jennifer Grace and I can not praise her narration high enough, as she really brought the characters and narrative to life in a way only someone who truly gets what the story means can.

Now that I’ve read a few of Penny Reid’s titles across most of her series, I’ve come to learn a few things about her books. In each of her books, it’s almost an unwritten rule that ALL Reid’s books will include:

1) Her books are SMART romances. The characters are larger than life and have minds of their owns that they often employ to fix complex situations. They are computer genius, Spys, journalists … the lists goes on and on, but they are also so grounded in reality that they could be the person next to you on the subway and you’d never know it. They don’t read outlandish. They feel real.

2) All her books are brilliantly written, totally engaging and oozing sexual chemistry.

3) Penny Reid is about empowering women. She seeks to build women up, both her characters and readers alike,  and won’t let nothing and no one stand in their way.

4) Her books feature characters from all walks of life – big cities, country towns, with unusual quirks and those considered to be ‘normal’, felons, cops, rich, poor, bikieis, FBI/Spies … basically you name it, chances are she has it.

5) Her books are funny. They are rom-com’s for a reason, and having now read all that she has published to date, I can attest that they are laugh-out-loud funny in the most unexpected and natural ways.

If you like authentic romances and rom-coms, I highly recommend you seek out this book ASAP; I highly recommend this series.

To purchase a copy of  Neanderthal Seeks Human, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon AUS | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon USA | Audible | Barnes & NobleBooktopia | Book DepositoryGoogle Play | kobo | Ibooks |


To learn more about  Penny Reid, visit the following social media sites:

Goodreads | Author Website | Instagram | Twitter |  Facebook | Pinterest






REVIEW: A Monster In My House by The Umbilical Brothers & Illustrated by Johan Potma

Published: 1st October 2018

Publisher: Puffin Books, an Imprint of Penguin Random House

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover Picture book

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars

A charming, funny picture book from internationally acclaimed comedy duo The Umbilical Brothers.

There’s a Monster in my Bedroom. Keep very, very still. Tell me you can see it. It’s giving me a chill . . .
A funny, charming rhyming picture book about a house full of monsters with an unexpected twist from internationally acclaimed comedy duo The Umbilical Brothers. With gorgeous, rich illustrations by Berlin artist, Johan Potma.

A Monster In My House is exactly the kind of picture book I would expect to come from the likes of the comedic duo The Umbilical Brothers. Witty, outlandish, with a catchy rhyming rhythm, a couple of twists and turns, and just generally a whole lot of fun, A Monster In My House  is sure to be a hit for readers of all ages.

The Umbilical Brothers have out done themselves with this latest release for children and adults alike. Featuring full page double page illustrations by Johan Potma, and rhyming banter from the iconic comedic duo The Umbilical Brothers, A Monster In My House is a picture book quite different from everything else on the market this year. It’s the type of book that plays on your expectations and trust to take everything at face value; it’s a little bit cute, creative and inspiring and just good old fashion fun that will leave children howling with laughter when the big reveal is finally understood.

As for the story itself, I’m not going to say much about the plot of this one for fear of spoilers, but I will say there is DEFINITELY a monster in this house and I would be scared of it too! On a rather important side note: this book is perfect for readers of all ages, reading levels, maturity levels and scardy-cat  levels – I’m the biggest wimp around and I totally recommend this one!

As far as A Monster In My House‘s text goes, each double page spread is separated mainly into one text page and one full page illustration, making the text easy to spot, read and understand. For the most part, the font is clear and printed in black with an old-fashioned typewriter-esque font, with the odd edit in the protagonist’s pencilled handwriting thrown in for good measure, which is a cute little touch that adds an extra layer to the story and the reading experience. As a whole the text is short, sharp and uses very basic language.

Johan Potma’s illustrations on the other hand, feature mainly varying degrees of sepia tones, suggesting a more retro and nostalgic feel to the story’s timeline, with lots of browns, reds, oranges dominating the spread. As mentioned above, the book predominately relies on a double page spread featuring one full page illustration and one page of text, a ploy that I think really works in Potma’s favour, as his larger than life illustrations encompass every room and imagination of this families home life. His attention to detail, right down to the hair on the character’s bodies, the grain of the wooden tables, and countless wall hangings and posters, really gives this book a life of it’s own. The house, it’s inhabitants, and well … the monster .. feel and look so real; not to mention there will be something else to discover no matter how many times you pick this book up!

All in all, A Monster In My House has a very retro, nostalgic feel to it that makes it stand out in today’s market. With the loveable ‘monster’ wearing the house Alice-In-Wonderland-style on the cover, complete with a big toothy smile, I think it’s a great example of what you are going to find inside; expect the unexpected people, because this book does not disappoint!


To purchase a copy of A Monster In My House, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House Australia | Amazon AUS | Angus & Robertson’s BookworldBooktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |

To  learn more about The Umbilical Brothers, visit the following social media pages:

The Umbilical Brothers | Penguin Random House Australia | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube


To learn more about Johan Potma, visit the following social media pages:

John Potma’s website 





REVIEW: Collecting Sunshine by Rachel Flynn and Tamsin Ainslie

Published: 3rd September 2018

Publisher: Puffin Books

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback picture book courtesy of the publisher

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars

A perfect picture book to share that celebrates the joy of imagination and the wonders of the natural world.

Mabel and Robert love to collect things on their walks – leaves and stones and seeds and berries. But when they are caught in the rain and can’t take their collection home they have an even better idea . . .

A book for those magical days when a walk to the park is nothing short of an adventure.

Collecting Sunshine is just that, an adorably cute and innocent picture book celebrating life and everything that is in it.

When Mabel and Robert set out one day in the park with a brown paper bag, they are hoping to find some hidden treasures for their collections. With a heaving bag of sticks, stones, leaves, flowers and the rest of their precious finds, the pair find themselves in a sun shower. Despite an innocent attempt to collect the rain as well, the pair refuse to be disappointed and choose instead to collect memories, and the sensory feelings of the world around them.

Collecting Sunshine truly is a breath of fresh air and just generally  a happy picture book. Tasmin Ainslie’s illustrations are bright, bubbly and simply divine in their childhood innocence and the memories they alone will invoke in readers of all ages. Rachel Flynn’s text is simple and sweet, with no more than two or three lines on any given page; but through the combination of Flynn and Ainslie’s work, a seamless and beautiful story of a happy childhood and the simple wonders of everything that is around us every day, is brought to life.

I really enjoyed the simplicity of this picture book, and the way that it allowed the reader to focus on nature and the world around us without overtly telling us to do so. Here are two kids, being kids and collecting all sorts of things from the park to add to their collections and draw pictures of and with. It’s simple, with subtle undercurrents of optimism, happiness, resilience and the beauty of nature and the world we live in, and the  need (and reminder )to move away from materialistic objects.

I, for one, couldn’t stop smiling my way through Collecting Sunshine.


To purchase a copy of Collecting Sunshine, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Books Australia | Amazon AUS | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | Booktopia |Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |

To learn more about Rachel Flynn, visit the following social media sites:

 Penguin Books Australia | Goodreads  |


To learn more about Tasmin Ainslie, visit the following social media sites:

Illustrator’s website | Penguin Books Australia | Instagram | Facebook |


REVIEW: Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner and Illustrated by Tom Jellet

Published: 1st October 2018*

Publisher: Puffin Books, Imprint of Penguin Random House Australia

Pages: 32

RRP: $19.99

3.5/5 Stars

There are four seasons in a year, and they’re all awesome, but only one of them gets to be summer!

Sunny days, weekends at the pool, games in the backyard, daylight until late and long, lovely holidays . . . that’s summer, the best season ever.

The perfect follow up to the much-loved Why I Love Footy (Notables list, Picture Book of the Year category, CBCA 2016). An ode to a uniquely Australian experience and the joy of family and friends.

Following on from the success of Why I Love Footy, the iconic Australian duo, Michael Wagner and Tom Jellett have teamed up once more to bring perhaps the most Aussie picture book of this year, Why I Love Summe.

Why I Love Summer is a uniquely Australian picture book, full of family fun activities and summer childhood stables, many of which would have vast universal appeal but there is still something distinctly ocker about it (Christmas hats, beach and cricket are just a few quick references easily identifiable).

Summer in Australia is three months of intense heat, swimming, sunburn, cricket and backyard barbecues. It’s perhaps the most stereotyped time of the year, but one that is so full of life and possibility, and this latest picture book from the Aussie Duo have perfectly wrapped all of this up in 32 pages of family fun loving entertainment.

The first thing I noticed about this book was Jellet’s illustrations. I’ve read a number of his picture books  and his distinct illustration style is now very familiar. That said I was surprised to recognise that this is the same family from his Christmas books … a small observation that made me smile and wonder how many other times I’ve missed this before.

Jellet’s illustrations are bold, full double page spreads with so much going on that readers will still be able to find new things even after the third and fourth read through of the book. A point I think many parents will LOVE as they read this to their kids time and time again this Summer! I also love his attention to the little details, from everything from a bandaid floating in the public swimming pool (Eww, but we’ve ALL seen it), to cricket balls stuck in gutters and the fish swimming at the beach. These small elements have no baring on the story, but they bring the story to life all that much more.

Wagner’s text is easy to understand and follow and features many universal experiences, this allows the narrative to reach a far reaching audience. But at the end of the day, it’s also just nice to read a story set in Australia during the craziest three months of the year and being able to easily identify and relate to every single thing mentioned and pictured.

What I want to commend this book on more importantly though, is its inclusion. Across the length of the narrative, there are many visual cues to people from all walks of life, ethnicity and age and look. It would have been easy to create a book about a family enjoying the summer, and leave it at that. While Wanger’s text is largely universal, opening the narrative up to a wider audiences  through common experiences at their base level, Jellett’s illustrations feature people of all colour, gender and size, giving the book an even larger appeal as almost every reader could look through the pages and find themselves represented among the images.

It’s clear from the get go, that Wagner and Jellett have years of experience in creating the picture perfect picture book for readers of all age. The duo have demonstrated a keen eye for what makes Summer so great, while creating a picture book that will resonate with readers of all ages and demographics.

*NOTE: This picture book is currently up for pre-order as it release on 1st October!

To purchase a copy of Why I Love Summer by Michael Wagner and Tom Jellet, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House | Booktopia | Dymocks | Amazon AUS


To learn more about Michael Wagner, visit the following social Media pages:

Author Website | Penguin Books Australia | Facebook Instagram | Youtube

To learn more about Tom Jellett, visit the following social meida sites:

Penguin Books Australia | Tom Jellett’s Website |




REVIEW: A boy, A Bear, A Balloon: Inspired by Disney’s Christopher Robin’ by Brittany Rubiano and Illustrated by Mike Wall

Published: 3rd July 2018

Publisher: Disney Press, Scholastic

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover picture book

RRP: $19.99

4/5 Stars

Retelling touching scenes from the upcoming Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming Christopher Robin film, this charming picture book finds Christopher reuniting with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of his old friends when he returns to the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time since childhood. As he returns to the life he once new, Christopher sees the world through new eyes and discovers that even as everything around us seems to change, the most important things remain constant.


Everyone’s most lovable bear and his band of mismatched friends is back in this latest release from Disney. Following on from the soon to be release movie, Christopher Robin, Brittany Rubiano and Mike Wall have teamed up to bring the film to a book shelf near you.

Essentially A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon is the long awaited return of Christopher Robin to the 100 Acre Wood. Greeted by his loyal childhood sidekick and best friend, Winnie The Pooh, Christopher is welcomed back into all his old haunts for one last adventure; though not the one you might have been expecting.

Christopher Robin is almost unrecognisable as he grumbles his way around the 100 Acre wood, looking at everything with grown up cynical eyes. For the most part, the characters don’t recognise him and fear him to be a monster returning to haunt their peaceful terrain, that is, until Christopher takes off his hat and smiles. Thus slowly winning his childhood friends over, despite his logic about monsters.

A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon is written by Brittany Rubiano and Illustrated by Mike Wall, and I want to commend the duo on creating something so canon. The over all story, despite being set years and years later, feels like we never left in the first place. The same style of language of the original texts has been used, as has the muted colours and artistic feel of the characters and the wood itself. Everything feels legit … which I’m not afraid to admit, I didn’t think would be the case. I was more prepared for this book to feel like fan fiction.

For the most part, I think this is a really well done narrative and piece of the series fandom, as it reminds the reader (both young and young at heart) not to get too bogged down by work and adult problems as we are prone to do. Life is to be lived, so smile and enjoy it’s simplicities in a fashion not unlike those who inhabit the 100 Acre Wood. With a world like ours today, where work-life-balance skews more heavily towards the work side, and families and friends are often left to be enjoyed later, this narrative is a timely reminder to stop every now and then; revisit your favourite haunts, childhood stories and live. You will be better for it.

Lastly, A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon is a great revisit and adaptation of a childhood classic, bringing the must loved and recognised characters, locations and emotions to a whole new generation.


To purchase a copy of A Boy, A Bear, A Balloon, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson’s | Booktopia | Book Depository | Disney Books | Dymocks |


REVIEW: Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers Book 1) by Penny Reid

Published: 28th July 2015

Publisher: Self-published

Pages: 388

Format: Paperback (gifted for Christmas)

RRP: $  $24.95 (Audible or $14.95 with subscription)

4/5 Stars 


Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

Truth or Beard was the first Penny Reid (soley) book I had ever read, and it absolutely blew me away.

Truth be told, I started reading this as a print book after receiving it from my Elfster for Christmas, for Penny Reid was scheduled to sign at this years Sydney Author Event and I was curious as to the hype surrounding her books. Needless to say, after devouring this book like crazy both in print and audio, I then moved on to swallow her entire back list and became a full fledged fan. That’s right people, Penny Reid officially became one of my favourite authors and one of my Unicorn authors all in 2018 alone.

Truth or Beard is the story of Duane Winston, a content red-headed mechanic from the small town of Green Valley, Tennessee and the love of his life Jessica James, a school teacher who yearns for something greater. Two worlds kind of crash headfirst in this hilarious rom-com, as both Duane and Jessica try to stay on top and keep their competing life goals in sight, while desperately hanging on to each other.

Jessica James is yet another quirky, and instantly likable character in what I’m learning is Penny Reid’s trademark. Stubborn, down to earth, and knowing exactly what she wants in life and how to achieve it, the last thing Jessica James was expecting in Green Valley was to fall in love. No, that wasn’t on her cards at all. Teaching by day, and dreaming of her escape from small time life every other second of the day and night, Jessica was only in town long enough to pay of her collage loans and get the hell out of dodge. But life appears had other plans, and on Friday night at the town’s regular community night of food and music, Jessica runs into her child hood nemesis and her world is thrown a little of kilter.

Duane Winston has been in love with Jessica James for as long as he can remember. But as the quite, more abrupt and honest speaking twin, lacking his brother Beau’s natural charm, he has never quite been the most successful ladies man. When the girl of his dreams, accidentally mistakes him for his brother … well Duane can’t help but play along. Before long, the pair are inseparable, fighting each other like cats and dogs, while loving each other with everything they have. Duane, slightly older than Jessica, believes one should court the gal of your dreams, for slow and steady wins the race, while Jessica is all for a little play before she leaves. Can Duane give up the girl when the time comes, and can they find a medium ground that doesn’t destroy each other and everyone they know and love in the process?

Truth or Beard is a long, slow burn romance; aka the best kind. It’s the type of book that took me unexpectedly by surprise and I seriously had no idea how Penny Reid was going to solve their issues and the characters over come their ‘black moment’. With both Duane and Jessica fighting to be alpha characters, and some rather big mystery, intrigue and romantic suspense plot elements at play, you really can’t put this book down!

Truth or Beard is a laugh out loud and swoon worthy read that will keep you on your toes. Featuring  strong and formidable leading characters, back-lit with a cast of  engaging and lively supporting characters, the narrative ensures that there is something for everyone, and hooks you into the series for a  long time to come.

I highly recommend this one!


To learn more about  Penny Reid, visit the following social media sites:

Goodreads | Author Website | Instagram | Twitter |  Facebook | Pinterest


To purchase a copy of Truth or Beard, visit the following online retailers:

 Ibooks | Amazon Aus | Amazon US | Amazon Uk | Audible | Google Play | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords