REVIEW: There’s A Dragon In Your Book By Tom Fletcher and Illustrated by Greg Abbott

Published: 28th May 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book (ARC from Publisher for Review)

RRP: $24.99

5/5 Stars

OH LOOK, there’s an EGG in your book!

But this isn’t any old egg – there’s a dragon in it . . . And pretty soon she has set your book ON FIRE. OH NO!

Tom Fletcher and Greg Abbott have created a fantastically interactive sequel to their bestselling There’s a Monster in Your Book. Children will love stroking, poking and flapping the book to make magic happen as they turn the pages. Can they help Little Dragon find a way to stop the fire and fly off on her own adventure?

As soon as I opened my mail and discovered this book from Penguin Random House Australia, I fell in love with it. Tom Fletcher has created the cutest, and uniquely interactive picture book that I have seen in a LONG time. When combined with Greg Abbott’s brightly coloured, and adorably beautiful illustrations, readers of all ages can not help but get caught up in the action.

Hands down, There’s A Dragon In Your Book, is one of my favourite, if not THE favourite, picture book I have seen this year. Possibly even for a couple of years. Unlike traditional picture books, this super sweet and utterly adorable narrative asks for the readers cooperation to help it save the book, and the dragon its surprising found itself faced with.

Tom Fletcher’s story is simple, being mostly compromised of one or two short sentences on a page. It’s clean and easy to understand, and yet, it packs one hell of a imaginative punch with the reader. Using short, snappy phrases, Fletcher expertly asks the reader to carry out simple tasks – “why don’t you tickle her little nose …” and “help dragon blow out the flames and turn the page“, – that more often than not have catastrophic consequences (like setting the book on fire). Smashing through the fourth wall, he asks the reader, not to turn the page, and then converses with them for doing the opposite of what he has asked, while showing them the fall out and consequences of doing just that in a fun, light hearted way.

Greg Abbott’s illustrations are second to none, and when combined with Fletcher’s story, really bring this story not only to life, but a step above the rest. Using mostly, blank space, Abbott relies on a very expressive and adorably cute dragon to carry the story, putting the focus back on Fletcher’s words and the readers action in a brilliantly clever show of story telling. Seriously, if I sound like I’m gushing over this picture book, it’s because I am. I simply can not get enough of it.

Incredibly imaginative, and uniquely interactive, There’s A Dragon In Your Book, is sure to be a crowd pleaser for readers of all ages. It’s the type of book I can’t help but recommending, and forcing on everyone I know, both young and old.

To purchase a copy of There’s A Dragon in Your Book, visit the following online retailers:

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

 

To learn more about Tom Fletcher, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Random House Australia | Facebook | Instragram | Twitter | Youtube

To learn more about Greg Abbott, visit the following social media sites:

Tumblr | Twitter | Society6 | Inprnt |

 

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REVIEW: The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley

Published: 28th May 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book (Courtesy of the Publisher)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars 

Harvey owned a heap of stuff, but could always use more. The ORANGE 430 was the latest and the greatest. Harvey wasn’t sure what it did, but he had to have it!

A cheeky picture book for anyone who’s bought a thingy or whatsit . . . and doesn’t quite know why. In his debut picture book, Michael Speechley explores our obsession with stuff in a fun and edifying way.

The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley is a picture book that is desperately needed in today’s world. With consumerism running riot, and children and adults a like falling victim to the ‘must-keep-up-with-the-Jones’ mentality day in and day out, it’s a relief to see a picture book that fills a much needed, but unnoticed gap in the market.

This book is designed to show children and adults a like that the we don’t need things to have fun, and that sometimes the all-new-must-item we have been converting and saving for and then spending way too much money on, is just a useless thing that will sit there collecting dust. I know I for one am guilty of doing just this.

Told through sepia inspired images, featuring only a mix of greys, browns, oranges and a dash of white, The All New Must Have Orange 430 is a book with a lot of layers. It speaks to the power of marketing, the impulse nature of the human psyche, desperation and mindlessness of consumerism and the need to collect things just to simply have it. The pages are filled with chaotic piles of unnecessary stuff and things, and the lack of colour gives off the bleak and over saturated world we live in a closed in feeling, illustrating just how much Harvey (the books main character) and ourselves need to break out of this devastating and unnecessary cycle.

The All New Must Have Orange 430 is the perfect educational tool for parents to explain to young, and not so young kids, about the value of money and things respectively, the dangers of rushing out and impulse buying unnecessary things. It’s a good financial training tool in that regard too, as it warns the reader of the dangers and wastage in needless and mindless spending and seeks to open the readers mind to a more imaginative and free world of creativity with what is around them. What’s more, I think its a narrative that is all too familiar to readers of all ages, young and not-so-young, who are not only guilty of doing the same thing as Harvey (the books main character), but who are probably in the process of carrying out similar actions even that week that they read the book.

The All New Must Have Orange 430 is a cleverly designed and thought out book; it seeks to challenge social norms and educate the reader on what exactly we do without thinking and the consequences that often meets. It’s the perfect educational tool to explain money and the value of things to children too.

To purchase a copy of The All New Must Have Orange 430, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Books Australia | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |

 

To learn more about Michael Speechley, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Random House Australia | Instagram

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: A Court of Frost And Starlight by Sarah J Maas (A Court Of Thorns And Roses 3.1)

Published: 1st May 2018

Publisher: Bloomsbury Ya

Pages: 229

Format: Hardback (Purchased)

RRP: $22.99

3.5/5 Stars

The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

A Court Of Thorns And Roses (ACOTAR) is one of my favourite YA series at the moment. Each time a new book is announced, I per-order that baby as soon as I possibly can, and then wait not so patiently until the postman brings it to me. This most recent addition to the series, A Court Of Frost And Starlight (ACOFAS), was no different.

A Court Of Frost And Starlight (ACOFAS) is a bridging novella designed to fill the space from the dramatic conclusion of the third book, A Court Of Wings And Ruin(ACOWAR), and bridge the gap before the new book, which has no title or release date at present. Thus, to a certain extent, ACOFAS is kind of like the start, and the bridge connecting the new spin-off series from ACOTAR. It is NOT a full length, action packed novel, and anyone going in with that expectation, may find this latest offering from Sarah J Maas … well… lacking (for the sake of a better word).

Despite your views on novellas, and the idea of the bridging novella to connect to the two linked series, at the end of the day, I really enjoyed this latest release from Sarah J Maas. Let’s be honest, this woman is a YA Goddess, and I’d probably read her shopping list if I was ever so fortunate to see it. Her writing is powerful, emotive and full of intrigue and twists that I don’t necessarily see coming. That aside though, I enjoyed ACOFAS for what it was, a healing story giving the readers an update on how their much loved characters were fairing after the explosive end to the original ACOTAR trilogy. It doesn’t hurt either that aftermath stories, are one of my all time favourite novels to read.

All in all, ACOFAS is a sweet story, with not a lot of the fast paced and gritty action that we know and love Sarah J Maas for constantly delivering. Instead ACOFAS is a character motivated and driven piece, that allows the reader to glimpse each of the characters – Feyre, Rhysand, Cassian, More, Elain, Nesta, Azriel and Amren – as they seek to find their footing in the new post-war world.

Told from alternating character perspectives, and set in the lead up to the Winter Solstice, it’s a book with a whole lot of heart. With complex themes of family dynamics, the unforgettable and heavy price of war, and post war trauma, ACOFAS is a book that carries the heavier aspects of its story with just the right balance of heart, and well, fluff. It’s a light, easy to read book, and a blatantm but quite possibly necessary, filler between series, that fans of the series will enjoy as long as they don’t go in expecting a full length, action packed story.

 

To purchase a copy of A Court Of Frost And Starlight, visit the following online retailers:

Book Depository | Bloomsbury Aus | Booktopia | QBD | Kobo

To learn more about Sarah J Maas, visit the following social media sites:

Author Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr |

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Nerves And Wires by Marissa Meyer and Doug Holgate (Book One)

Published: 31st January 2017

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 238

Format: Hardback borrowed from the library

RRP: $43.99

4.5/5 Stars

When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the series.

Let me just start by saying, I absolutely LOVE everything to do with fairy tales and mythology. One of my favourite aspects of the Lunar Chronicles series was being able to  see the beloved characters and well-known fairy tale stories take on a new life and unique experience within this dystopian, futuristic world where nothing was as it seems. I love everything about Marissa Meyer’s writing – her characters, her imagery, plot, pacing, the twists and turns, everything -, and I simply could not get enough of her work. I devoured each book and hunted down the release date for the next, always wondering what she was going to do next and how she was going to twist the story just so. When I first heard about Wires And Nerve, a graphic novel spin of series continuing on from the series, but with a focus on every-bodies favourite android, Iko, I was ecstatic. I was going to be able to live within this new world, with it’s larger than life characters for a little bit longer and I could not wait to get stuck into it.

Wires And Nerve picks up exactly from where The Lunar Chronicles series left off. The heroes have completed their mission, and the world is semi-set right once more, with living continuing on in almost the same manner as before. With the battle against Lunar’s controlling Queen now resolved, there’s the question of what to do next with the rogue mutant wolf packs freely roaming earth. Iko bravely steps up to the task and I really enjoyed seeing this character grow and take on a whole new level of radical awesome android. Also the added extra about her backstory, and the glimpses of what is to come in future books in the series … well let’s just say, I’m excited!

From the very first time Iko appeared in Cinder, her personality was larger than life. The android dreamed, wished and lived life harder than some people I know in my real life, and so it was no wonder that although she never really took centre stage in the original series, she was always pushing for some more limelight, for recognition, and in this brand new series of graphic novels, she gets exactly that! Seeing Iko’s character’s growth and journey in Wires And Nerve answered a lot of questions I had about her from the series, while supporting characters challenged her and brought questions to the readers mind that I never even thought to question originally!

For me, one of my favourite things about Wires And Nerve, was seeing how The Lunar Chronicles series and it’s vast array of characters translated into illustrations within a graphic novel format. While the story and writing is very true to Meyer’s own voice and style, I can’t help but commend Doug Holgate’s artwork for that extra edge and dimension his visual portrayal of the characters and the world they live in evokes. We literally get to see them on the page this time, and it couldn’t  have been any more awesome  – unless they took to the big screen, of course, a girl can dream after all.

While many of the characters and the world aren’t exactly the way I imagined them to be, I found that I greedily took in every single panel of the story, endlessly searching for more clues, and ways into the story. For more of everything I loved about the original series, and then some.

It’s safe to say, I devoured this book and probably would have done so in one sitting, had I not started it late and had an early morning shift the following morning. It’s easy to read, full of life and the illustrations are perfect, even if they weren’t exactly what I expected them to be.

While having read the original The Lunar Chronicles series would be advisable in order to truly enjoy and understand many of this stories intricacies, I don’t believe it’s necessarily vital to do so for there is a short seven page recap of the story prior to the books official opening (not like a prologue) to get readers used to the format, re-introduce and establish the characters in illustration and remind readers briefly what happened in The Lunar Chronicles in a nut shell.

Featuring beautiful end papers and chapter dividers, a quirky and kick arse story from Marissa Meyer and stunning and imaginative artwork by Doug Holgate, Wires And Nerve has a lot to offer readers of all ages.  It’s the kind of book you want to re-read as soon as you’ve finished to see what you might have missed in the artwork and what else you might gleam from the story. I personally hired this book from the libary, but I can tell you now, I’m purchasing it the first chance I get for my own collection, so I can do just that!

Wires And Nerve is the first book in  a brand new spin off series, and I for one can not wait to see what happens next!

To purchase a copy of Wires And Nerve, visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

To learn more about Marissa Meyer, visit the following social media sites:

Marissa Meyer’s Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Lunar Chronicles Goodreads |

 

To learn more about Doug Holgate and his artwork, visit the following social media sites:

Doug’s website | Goodreads |

 

 

REVIEW: The Last Peach by Gus Gordon

Published: 2nd April 2018

Publisher:  Penguin Viking (Penguin Random House Australia)

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book Courtesy of the Publisher

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars 

One fine summer’s day two bugs discover the most beautiful peach of the season and are faced with a dilemma…
Who should eat it?

 

 

The Last Peach by Gus Gordon is an adorable and humorous picture book about friendship, food, and objects that are not as they may first appear.

The Last Peach is the story of two friends (mosquitoes?) who have found the most wonderful peach and can not wait to bite into it. After a couple of arguments and warnings from friends, the pair must decide what their feelings on the Peach are and if they are brave, and quick enough to snag a bite of it. … but is everything as it seems? And do they get the peach at the end? Only time will tell.

The first things I noticed about this book was the beautiful end papers featuring 18 different types of peaches – don’t read this book if you are hungry! -, all of which that are so realistically and scientifically drawn that it took me longer than I am willing to admit to realise they weren’t pictures.

The next striking feature of The Last Peach is the form in which Gus Gordon has used to tell his story. The narrative is told through colour coded dialogue between two friends once they stumble upon the most beautiful and ripe looking peach – possibly even the last one of the season. The tone is easy and conversational, and sure to leave young readers smiling and laughing at their rather unusual predicament.

Showcasing themes of friendship, sharing, the importance of listening and taking on advice, and how seemingly small issues can turn into massive fights when care is not taken. Lastly The Last Peach is a story that takes the reader by surprise, especially when they are so sure they know what is going on. It asks the reader to think twice and for themselves, so that they dont believe everything they see, for things are not always what they may first appear to be.

Each double page spread features one full page colour illustration on the left hand side, accompanied by one page of colour coded dialogue narrative on the right hand side. The form is unusual, but it works so well with the story and it makes the narrative feel so much more immediate and as though the reader is there spying on the mosquitoes.

All in all, The Last Peach is a cute and unique picture book that is sure to delight readers of all ages – just make sure you have peaches on hand in case you too find yourself with a desire to bite into a juicy ripe peach!

 

To purchase a copy of The Last Peach, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House Australia | Booktopia | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | Dymocks | QBD |

 

To learn more about Gus Gordon, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Books Australia | Gus Gordon’s Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

REVIEW: How To Catch The Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace and Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

Published: 1st February 2017

Publisher:  Lake Press

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $12.95

3.5/5 Stars  

Is this the year you’ll be able to catch the Easter bunny in action? Start an Easter tradition with this fun and funny children’s book, from the New York Times bestselling creators of How to Catch a Leprechaun!

-I’ve been working long and hard
with all my peeps and crew.
We’ve made the eggs, and now I’m here
to bring them all to you!-

How To Catch The Easter Bunny  by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton is a surprisingly cute and hilarious little book. Wallace and Elkerton have delivered a perfect Easter themed book for any child (or child at heart) who has contemplated, and even attempted, catching the Easter Bunny.

The first thing I noticed about How To Catch The Easter Bunny  was the explosion of colour. Featuring full double page illustration spreads, it is impossible not to notice the use of strong, bright and bubbly colours that perfectly identify Easter and the fun loving vibe this book gives off on every page. This is in turn is paired with Wallace’s simple and playful text that seeks to leave the reader laughing along with the narrator.

You want to catch me for my eggs,

and magic basket too,

but I’ve been hiding Easter treats since 1962!’

The second thing, was the unusual choice of narrator. Given the title of the book, I was rather surprised to realise that it was in fact the Easter Bunny himself, or E.B as he prefers to be called,  narrating the story – a point that does lend itself to a hilarious adventure and some interesting fourth wall collisions.

 

I switch my size, from two feet tall to something small and grey.

Your Easter spirit is so strong,

you see me straight away.

I leave so many EASTER TREATS,

no children will be sad.

But when they see that I’ve escaped,

they’ll all be hopping mad!

The Easter Bunny takes us through all the traps set for him along the years and how he always manages to escape. Featuring such daring attempts as the simple carrot trick, to the more outlandish cannon candy and ‘Bunny Tumbler 2.0’, How To Catch The Easter Bunny is sure to leave everyone with a small on their face and hop in their step.

To purchase a copy of How To Catch The Easter Bunny , visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon AUS | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | Wordery |

 

REVIEW: Barefoot Investor by Scott Page

Published: 22nd November 2016 / 1st August 2017 (updated Version)

Publisher: Wiley

Pages: 248

Format: Soft cover, non-fiction (2016  version)

RRP: $29.99

4/5 Stars 

If you’re like most of us, you spend your whole damn life working for everyone else: the bank, your spouse, or your kids – it’s rare that you carve out some time to stop and focus on the vitally important questions. You know, the one’s that are critical, but not urgent, like: “Why am I still in this job? Wasn’t this supposed to be a stepping-stone? Why do some people seem to be doing better financially than me? Will I end up eating home-brand bangers and watching Family Feud in retirement?Am I on the right path?”Together we’re going to answer these questions. I’ll give you a step-by-step plan that will clear away the cobwebs of doubt and give you clarity and confidence. But to get the most out of it, you need to do your part: sit uninterrupted in an easy chair, with a biro, a cuppa and a Tim Tam or two.To be truly happy you must be in control of your financial life – or lack of money will control you forever. So in this book, I’m going to step out my plan — a plan that’s allowed me to tread my own path, and will allow you to do so too.Over the years I’ve successfully taught this plan to thousands of people, from elite athletes to single mums on Centrelink. I’m confident it will work the same for you as it did for for them.I understand how busy life is. The average visitor to my website stays for around 2.38 minutes (or so my web geek tells me)… and I’m asking you to spend an afternoon with me?!So at the start of this journey together, I want to honour your commitment, and that’s why I’ll make this promise to you: You will be able to buy everything you need, while achieving your number one goal: whether that be dumping your debts, radically paying off your dream home, or retiring with dignity. You’ll achieve it without using a strict budget, or living like your poor old Aunty Mavis. Above all, I’ll give you the freedom to tread your own path.Sounds like bulldust, right?All I ask is that you keep an open mind. Read this book in your comfy chair, enjoy the bikkies, and follow all the instructions.Trust me on this: as you begin to see the plan working, your confidence will soar.

As a bookseller, this is a book I both love and loathe. I love it because it’s so easy to read and understand, offers some great advice and is so easy to hand sell. I loathe it, because, in recent months, Scott Page and his finance book The Barefoot Investor has become one of the MUST have finance books, not only here in Australia, but all around the world. Thus, I spend a good proportion of my day fielding questions about this particular title and explaining to people that we are once again sold out. All of which is to say, The Barefoot Investor is a fantastic finance book for anyone looking for a book to get their money back on track.

The older I get, the more I start to take aspects of my life a hell of a lot more seriously, especially when it comes to money. Back in high school, we learnt about depreciation and percentages and taxes etc, but I feel like perhaps there should have been an entire class dedicated to life skills and money management for the everyday person. In the current world/climate, it is so easy for people to fall into money traps and make bad decisions that can haunt you for the rest of your life. Sometimes those money mistakes turn into bigger financial woes that can see everything you know and love come crashing down. While I’m not in any of these dire situations, I knew it was time for me to start getting ahead and learning as much as I could about financial stability, superannuation, shares, credit ratings etc.

I read this book a few weeks ago, and while there are giant chunks of this book that aren’t applicable to my situation, I found it really useful and a great starting point to get my financial stability not only back on track, but ahead!

Scott Page is a financial guru that has spent years helping people out of their money debts. The Barefoot Investor is a straight shooting, hold no bares book about money and how to handle it better for the everyday person. In easy to understand language, he breaks down credit, debt, daily budgeting that isn’t strict or limiting, shares, superannuation and what you should be doing to get ahead in life financially.

His strategy is easy to follow, with weekly-turned monthly ‘dates’ set aside for you to look at your money situation and make sure you are on track. He gives out practical advice and even uses everyday situations and examples to show how to implement his ideas into your lives no matter your living situation.

Having read The Barefoot Investor from cover to cover in the space of a couple of hours, I can see why this book has taken off. It’s easy to understand and offers practical advice to people from all walks of life and financial situations.

All in all, I do recommend this book to anyone who looking for help or simply to better understand some of the more confusing aspects of finance in a clear and decisive manner. The Barefoot Investor is a great starting block to get your confidence back on side and get your money situation back on track so that you too can live a more stress-free and happier lifestyle.

For anyone looking at learning more about their finances, I strongly encourage you to take the Open2Study free Financial Literacy course. This course covers the basics of financial literacy in broken down easy to understand snapshots to help you understand some much bigger and broader terms, concepts and financial problems. To learn more about this course, visit Open2Study.

 

To purchase a copy of The Barefoot Investor, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon Aus | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | Barnes & Noble | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |