REVIEW: First Day At School by Rosie Smith and Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Published: 1st January 2018 (this edition), Originally published in 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Australia Press

Pages: 32

Format: Soft Cover Picture Book

RRP: $14.99

4/5 Stars

Whether big or small, feathered or furry, the first day of school can be a lot of fun!

On my first day, I will meet new friends and learn new things … What about you?

The iconic husband and wife duo are back again with their 2016 hit My First Day At School.

With Christmas done and dusted and January in full swing, the 2019 Australian school year is fast approaching and there are likely to be many anxious kids full of wonder, hope and a dash of trepidation of what their first school day may hold for them. If this happens to be one of your children, or a friend or family member’s, then My First Day At School is the perfect book to ease their fear and lead them gently into the school year.

Featuring a cast of colourful animals My First Day At School breaks down the school day in simple, easy to understand and relate to steps. Starting with simple things like:

On my first day … I dress myself … and eat my breakfast…

Meaning that children of all ages are able to identify and relate to the characters and the story straight from the get-go.

Using simple one sentence text, that is typed in clear, bold font, Smith and Whatley are allowing the children to break down the big day in to simple bite sized notions of what they can expect the day to hold in store for them. This in turn can help to ease any anxiety and fear they may hold for the future.

Choosing a wide variety of animals as the class of students, Whatley has deliberately created an inclusive and open environment for children from all backgrounds, ages, races and abilities to relate and enter the text, making it universal for all.

While Smith’s text is straight to the point, Whatley uses hints of humour and colour to entertain and enthral his readers.

Likewise, Smith and Whatley have cleverly constructed their book to feature double page spreads featuring one block colour background. Across each spread, there is one page with one line of text printed in the centre of the page and one page of illustration where one animal is usually undertaking the task presented in the accompanying text. By giving the text itself a full page, this allows the words to take centre stage and helps in turn to teach children to read and identify words and letters in a manner they are used too.

All in all, My First Day At School is a sweet and simple picture book perfect for anxious children and parents  alike who are about to start  school for the very first time.

To learn more about Rosie Smith and  Bruce Whatley, visit the following social media sites:

Bruce Whatley’s Website

To purchase a copy of My First Day At School, visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Target Australia | Dymocks | QBD | Boomerang Books | Angus & Robertson

 

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REVIEW: Books Ever After Book Box – December 2018

The perfect indulgence for romance readers

What Is the Books Ever After Book Box?
Books Ever After Book Box is the perfect indulgence for any romance reader.
The Books Ever After Book Box is an Australian produced,pay-as-you-go, romance book box designed for romance readers across a wide variety of genres. Unlike most book boxes, Books Ever After is not a rolling subscription,  each purchase is a one-off deal with boxes offered every 2-3 months.
Cost:   Cost varies by country. See table below.
Payable by: Paypal or direct deposit upon receipt of invoice. Each box is put up for pre-sale before invoices are sent out.
Shipping: Books Ever After ships Australia wide and internationally to New Zealand, UK, and America.
What’s include:
Included in each box is two romance paperbacks. One signed by an Australian author, and one paperback by an international author with a signed bookplate. Both books feature limited edition, never before covers. There is also a variety of swag included in each book ranging, but not limited to bookmarks, lip gloss, ebooks, and special edition, one-of-a-kind items.

My Thoughts:

I was fortunate enough to attend a lunch with a bunch of romance readers late last year where Kat, the organiser of this box attended and spoke a little about the box. What was clear right from the get-go was that the passion and enthusiasm Kat had for the Books Ever After Book Boxes and she came up with the concept because as Aussies, we often miss out on book boxes due to  astronomical shipping costs and exchange rates. What’s more, Romance is largely under represented by the few boxes available in Australia. I was really intrigued by the promise of the boxes, so much so that I ordered the first box, the December box, that very same day.

As a whole, I was really impressed with both the presentation of the Books Ever After box and the content inside.

Shipped in a white padded postage bag, with the big black sturdy box tucked inside, I was relieved to find that the box for this book was rather large. Too many subscription boxes in the past have either tried to jam the book and swag contents into too-small boxes, satchels and once even an envelope; all of which have resulted in destroyed books and items. For this particular box, the protection off the box, and the inside contents, no corners have been cut in order to preserve the items themselves.

I must admit here, that the picture above is not how the box actually arrived. I was so excited after a long day at work to come home and find the box waiting for me that I eagerly ripped into it to see what was inside. I didn’t wait to take photos immediately – I know, rookie mistake – but I can promise you that the contents were packed much neater and well-presented then my half-arsed attempt above.

The books were laid down flat, with the black shredded material over the top and the swag items loosely nestled in and around the shredded protection. The breakable object, and stand out swag item for its uniqueness and creativity was wrapped in a plastic bag as added protection.

 

The two books included in my box were a signed copy of Ashton Scott by Nina Levine (Australian Author) and a paperback of Drive by Kate Stewart (International author)  with a signed bookplate stuck inside the front cover.

I was worried that I might have already purchased one or both of the books that would be included in this box, but was super ecstatic to discover that I had neither read the two books included, or previously brought them. In fact, both books were ones I had been eyeing off and were on my TBR list on goodreads!

In terms of exclusive covers, the covers themselves are foil printed (or rather the titles are foil printed) with a limited print run to the Books Ever After Book Box run.  While I know that is part of the marketing angle of the book box itself, it’s an aspect I can take or leave really; I’m more excited to have two new books that I haven’t read before. The fact that they are both signed (either the book itself or the bookplate inside) is the selling point for me!

I was also surprised to discover a voucher inside the box for an e-copy of Never Never by Lilliana Anderson, bringing the book tally for this book box up to three!

Other swag pieces making up the box included : a Beth Prentice bookmark and lip gloss

an Eden Summers bracelet. The other side of this bracelet reads ‘Romance with a side of sizzle & sarcasm.’

A JA Low door hanger and key ring

Nina Levine included a postcard of her Sydney MC bikers and T. L Swan a postcard advertising her book Green.

Lastly, because it was Christmas and a December gifted box, a Christmas Decoration was included in the box. I’m not sure if all of these items were the same, but I received a purple, glittery, butterfly.

Perhaps though, the most impressive and most unexpected surprise swag was the adorable mini Books Ever After Mug. While somewhat impractical, this is seriously the cutest thing I’ve seen!

I know this particular box costs a lot. Removing the cost of shipping, while lets face it, there is nothing anyone can do about in Australia, the box itself is $50 AUD.  $50 for a one-off book box isn’t cheap, but when you look at the box as a special gift every couple of months and attempt to run some of the numbers, I think the box comes out being a good investment for avid romance readers.

With Indie books ranging anywhere from $15 AUD to $30 AUD at books signings it’s a bit hard to estimate the costs of the paperbacks included in this book themselves. Let’s say they are $15 each though, the included ebook is $6.60 on Amazon Australia, and let’s estimate that adorable little mug to be around $15 printed. Our total already is $51.60, that’s not including the Christmas decoration included in the box, the special edition cover, or the lip gloss and various bookmarks, fridge magnets and marketing material. I think it’s safe to say, us readers come out ahead here.

I think this book box is the perfect way for romance readers who haven’t had the chance to get to one of the bigger indie signings  a brilliant way to get their hands on signed paperbacks that are otherwise a lot trickier to come by.

Besides, I’m using this box, and the Valentine’s Day one that I’ve recently pre-ordered as a gift for myself and a way to introduce me to some new-to-me amazing authors that I may never had heard of or tried before.

The next book box releases in February and is Valentines Day themed. If you, or someone you know would love one of these boxes, be sure to get your pre-order in quick as a recent post on facebook stated that there were only a few boxes left to pre-order for Valentines Day.

If you happen to be going to Books By The Bridge in February, there is an option to pick your box up on the day to save on shipping costs as well.

To learn more about the Books Ever After Book Box, visit the following social media pages:

Books Ever After Website | Facebook

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Why I Love Australia: Celebrating Australian In Children’s Very Own Words illustrated by Daniel Howarth

Published: 17th December 2018

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $14.99

3.5/5 Stars

‘I love Australia because… ‘

This beautiful book combines endearing things said by children about Australia, with fun illustrations of cute Australian animals. And from the beautiful scenery to the plentiful outdoor activities, there is certainly a lot to love!

The perfect keepsake for residents and visitors of Australia!

Why I Love Australia is the most recent addition in the best selling worldwide Why I Love Series and it’s just in time for Australia Day 2019.

Using children’s own words as they describe the many reasons as to why they love Australia, author and illustrator Daniel Howarth has created a picture book celebrating the best and most diverse parts of Australia and it’s culture.

Featuring full, double page, bright illustrations Howarth has certainty created an eye-catching and memorable picture book covering everything from Australia has to offer from the theme parks on the Gold Coast, Queensland to the tropical rainforests, food, beaches, Indigenous culture, cricket, the outback and Uluru, Sydney Harbour  and everything in between.

What’s more Why I Love Australia is inclusive, not only in text, but through the deliberate use of Australian flora and fauna as representation throughout the book. Featuring a wide range of Australian aniamals, readers will delight in seeing Koalas, Kangaroos, Emus, Echinda’s, Quokka’s, Kookaburra’s and Platypus’s (just to name a few) taking part in some of their favourite activities and being in their favourite places within Australia.

Taking it all a step further, Howarth has included a chance for the reader to personalise the book that little extra bit with the very last page have a dedicated space for the reader’s photograph as the story ends with ‘.. Everyone loves Australia, especially …. ME!’ This personal touch is quite unique and adds another dimension to what is otherwise a fairly decent portrayal and encompassing picture book for kids, and people visiting Australia.

The one downfall I have with this book is the concept of ‘written in Children’s very own words’. Some of the phrasing used and choices chosen leads me to question who these children are and what ages they are? While the text is largely simple and easy to read in big bold font, the phrasing of some of the reasons makes me think the children in question are a lot older than those this book is aimed at OR that they have been edited and perhaps swayed in one direction or another. To make matters worse, I can’t find anything on how they find, choose or recruit the children or their words for the book; all of which makes it a bit murky for me personally.

All in all Why I Love Australia is a pretty spectacular picture book perfect for teaching young children about Australia, for celebrating all the best parts of the country and it would make the best gift for any tourist looking for a keepsake.

To purchase a copy of Why I Love Australia, visit the following online retailers:

Harper Collins Australia | BooktopiaBoomerang Books | Harry Hartog | Angus & Robertson | Book Depository | QBD

REVIEW: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Published: 6th February 2018

Publisher:Nelson Books, An Imprint of Thomas Nelson

Pages: 220

Format: Hardback (purchased)

RRP: $22.99

5/5 Stars

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Faceshows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

Girl, Wash Your Face is arguably the book I heard everyone talking about last year … and I totally understand why.

I believe that you are a not a mistake – and feeling guilt about who you are (working, staying at home, overweight, underweight, overeducated, undereducated, emotional, bookish, street smart, or whatever) does a disservice to yourself and the creator who made you.

This review is going to be a hard one to write, for in order to do that I need to be willing and able to admit out loud that there are many aspects of my life that I felt like a failure in, insecure with and just downright terrified and stuck in a rut by. I’m not going to break down those fears, except to say that I was aware of the way I was feeling and what those feelings were ultimately doing to me (holding me back). Perhaps I  was even subconsciously looking for a way to fix these aspects of my life and thus Girl, Wash Your Face came along at the perfect time.

There are hundreds of ways to lose yourself, but the easiest of them all is refusing to acknowledge who you truly are in the first place.

Everyone talks about the books that change your lives for the better, and while it’s cliche as hell to say so, I’m going to say this book has done that for me. While it wasn’t earth shattering, Girl, Wash Your Face is the kind of book that confirmed many of my fears and suspicious and allowed me to let go some of the guilt that I had been holding on to for the past five or so years. It’s a book that allowed me to critically look at my life and see what BS was holding me back from achieving the things I really want out of life. In parts it was incredibly disheartening to read when I applied the narrative to my own life, but inspiring, liberating and down right hopeful as well.

You-the real you- is not an accident.

Girl, Wash Your Face is not going to be a book that is for everyone. There will be readers out there rolling their eyes and going ‘dah!’ to everything this book represents and talks about. There will be things that aren’t applicable to you and your life. That’s totally fine; there were many aspects not applicable to me either, or other areas that I knew I had control over… but the biggest thing I took away from this book was the feeling of community, of knowing that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I was in some regards to my life and knowing how to start going about correcting those missteps, how to take that giant leap into the unknown and actually let myself be who I was meant to be. It was recognising the patterns and fears I held on to unwittingly and unwillingly, and learning to overcome them.

Those dreams you have for yourself are not silly; they are the road map to your divine calling! Don’t sit this one out. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you determine your worth. Don’t miss out on the chance to live the life of incredible possibility in front of you.

You were not made to be small.

Girl, Wash Your Face is not your typical wellness or self help book. Not by a long shot. Social media superstar Rachel Hollis has created a book to help women of all ages, one that looks intently at the lies  the media and society constantly feed us and the ones we so readily eat up and feel ashamed about. It’s an honest, raw and a thought provoking book that examines Rachel’s life while shedding light on the world as a whole.

Broken into chapters examining the common lies we believe and compare our everyday lives too, Hollis has broken down some of the biggest issues women face on a daily basis into short bite size features. However, don’t be fooled by the chapter size, for Hollis doesn’t pull any of her punches throughout the entire book as she examines, explains, and busts the myths and lies that we so readily follow unconsciously. What’s more, for each lie, Hollis gives personal and in depth examples from her own life and explains how she changed her thinking to overcome these roadblocks and finishes every chapter with short and sweet guides on how you too can work through the issues.

Covering topics ranging from the idealistic ‘something else will make me happy’ to the more problematic ‘I’m not good enough/ I’m better than you’ mentality, to the downright absurd   ‘I’m going to marry Matt Damon’ and the frightfully scary ‘I need to make myself smaller’,Girl, Wash Your Face covers all the basis and seeks to empower, rebuild and inspire women to step outside of the small boxes we’ve placed ourselves in.

It’s, dare I say it, revolutionary in it’s conversational tone and honest look, that will appeal to readers from all over the world. What I find perhaps most appealing about this book, is the way Hollis is able to deal the mother of all wake-up-calls without making you feeling insane or stupid for feeling or thinking that way in the first place. On every page she acknowledges the mistakes and missteps she’s made. but she found a way through them all and is here now to light a fire under your ass so that you too can walk free from the shame, guilt and fear that holds you down.

Girl, get a hold of you life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can;t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next. Get up, right now. Rise up from where you’ve been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again .. Girl, wash your face!

 

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

 The Chic Site | Mrs Rachel hollisInstagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Youtube | Girl Wash you face

To purchase a copy of Girl, Wash Your Face, visit the following online retailers:

Girl Wash Your Face | Amazon Aus | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Book depository | Booktopia |

 

 

Australian Women Writers Challenge (AWW2018)

Hosted by the Australian Women Writers Challenge.

Read: 29/60

Review: 17/50

So while I did once again fail at this challenge,  I’m still rather proud of what I did achieve with it again in 2018. For anyone who has followed this blog throughout the year you would know that I had a lot of highs and some lows this year which affected my reading and reviewing for this challenge. That said I am excited for the fresh slate the new year brings and the chance to redeem myself in 2019 by attempting the exact same challenge once again.

Continue reading

REVIEW: It’s Not Scribble To Me by Kate Ritchie and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard

Published: 29th October 2018

Publisher: Puffin Books, An imprint of Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture book

RRP: $19.99

5/5 Stars 

A warm and hilarious story about a cheeky little bear who’s bursting with creativity.

Have you ever had so many wonderful, wild and beautiful ideas that paper isn’t enough to hold them all?

Bear has. Upstairs and downstairs, outside and in, the whole house is covered in Bear’s colourful art – even Bear’s little sister. Can Bear convince her parents that she’s creating more than just ‘scribbles’?

All families will relate to this funny story of toddler cheekiness and charm, written by Kate Ritchie, author of I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You and illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

It’s Not Scribble To Me by Kate Ritchie and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard is a unique picture book with universal appeal. With gentle but poignant reminders to parents and adult readers, it’s the kind of book that is incredibly creative and imaginative, supportive and defining, but also incredibly stunning to behold. It’s a one of kind picture book that reads slightly different to readers in all walks of life and ages. Simply put, I loved it. Continue reading

REVIEW: Excuse Me, Santa by Dave Hughes & Holly Ife; Illustrated by Phillip Bunting

Published: 1st October 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $17.99

4/5 Stars 

Martha May has marvellous manners, especially at CHRISTMAS. She writes very neat cards and gives very thoughtful gifts… and she NEVER forgets to leave yummy snacks for SANTA CLAUS and his reindeer! But what will happen when Martha May gives SANTA a GIANT PUDDING?!

Find out in the EXPLOSIVE Christmas tale by Dave Hughes, Holly Ife and Philip Bunting!

2018 has been a great year for Christmas books. Excuse Me, Santa by Dave Hughes and Holly Ife and Illustrated by Phillip Bunting is one of this years stand outs  from the new crop of festive themed books for kids. Humorous, easy to read and full of festive cheer, what’s not to love about Excuse Me, Santa. Continue reading