Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book Review: Feathers by Karen Hendriks

Feathers
by
Karen Hendriks
illustrated by Kim Fleming 
 

 
 
Publication date: 1st September 2020
Genre: Children's / Picture Book
Pages: 36
RRP: $17.00AUD
Format read: Softcover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
Back cover
 
'Dad, it's my wish feather.'
I gently place my dream treasure under my pillow,
Mum promised to always be with me....
 
My review
 

Feathers is a beautiful, gentle book about a young boy remembering his mother. The story starts with the boy running in the garden trying to catch some floating feathers. He tells his dad that mum said feathers help you capture good dreams. His father now joins in.

The delightful watercolour pictures are joyful as the boy and his father run around with smiles on their faces, catching feathers. With the feather under his pillow dad puts him to bed that night and he has lovely, happy dreams of his mother.

Picture books are a relatable way of learning how to talk about and explore difficult emotions in an engaging and meaningful way. 

Feathers gently explores the theme of loss. Death is never mentioned only that mum's star is shining in the sky. The young boy and his father are remembering his mother in a happy way. I loved that the inside cover has delightful watercolour illustrations of different feathers labelled with the relevant birds.

Symbolising loss has a beneficial effect on healing and I know people who have used sightings of rainbows, birds and cloud formations to remember loved ones. Karen Hendriks use of feathers as a symbol is soft, gentle and calming.

I think this would be a valuable resource for any family that has lost a loved one be it mother, father or grandparent. It would also be valuable for general classroom discussion.

ages 3 - 7 years

5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author



Karen was a primary school teacher and has always loved using picture books to brighten children’s lives.

Karen lives on the south coast of New South Wales with her family and little dog Elmo.  Being by the sea, with sandy toes and close to nature is what makes Karen happy. She rides her pushbike with Elmo in the basket along the beaches.

Karen loves to travel anywhere, whenever she can.  She keeps on dreaming and planning of things to see and do. But to Karen the simple things in life are just as important, like writing and laughing and having fun. 

Karen can be found writing in local coffee shops or even on scraps of paper or typing some random idea into her phone.  She believes kindness is catching just like hugs from picture books.

With the lightness of a feather in the breeze Karen hopes her stories reach and find you.

Karen's Facebook 

 

About the illustrator

Kim can vividly remember being amazed at the age of 4 when she mixed red and white together and got pink. It was magic!

Her mastery of pink led Kim to many other colours, and a love of art began. 

A move to Melbourne, led Kim to discover the glorious world of children’s book illustration... and she often declares that she has ‘the best job in the world’.

She loves using layers of collage and watercolour washes, and creating sweet, heartwarming characters. She also sometimes uses ink, acrylics and hand-carved stamps

Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020


The book can be purchased through the publisher:   Empowering Resources

 
 

Monday, 21 September 2020

Book Review: The Bro Code by Elizabeth. A. Seibert

The Bro Code
by
Elizabeth A. Seibert 




Publisher: Wattpad Books
Publication date: 22nd September 2020
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of Smith Publicity

About the book

As a certified stand-up bro, Nick Maguire knows that some things in life are sacred: Do not skip ab workouts. Never back down from spicy foods. And always accept the outcome of Rock, Paper, Scissors. For these are the revered doctrines of The Bro Code, rules of conduct that have been passed down through the ages from bro to bro.

Heading into his senior year, Cassidy High’s star soccer player has his priorities straight and intends to spend his time playing sports, hanging out, and living by the code. But when his best bro Carter’s sister Eliza returns from studying overseas, the awkward, academic girl Nick remembers is different.

Carter might be Nick’s bro, but Eliza becomes his whole world—and he has to make a choice between them. Is being with the girl of your dreams worth breaking the most important rule: never date your best friend’s sister? Somehow, Nick never expected that following The Bro Code may have even bigger consequences than breaking it

My Review


Elizabeth Seibert has delivered a humorous and satirical look at a group of boys, the jocks of their high school, as they navigate the path from boys to men.

The boys were all about ‘the code’ and, as most teens are, all about themselves and the rules that they decided they should live by. These were a group of privileged white boys and I think they realised that. However, with no responsibilities they also seemed to lack respect.

One rule; ‘you don’t hit on a bro’s sister’ starts to cause division in the group as one of the boys starts to fall for his best-friend's sister.
As the story evolves and the boys mature they start to come to the realisation that their attitude towards girls has not been respectful.

There is plenty of humour as the boys hang out doing silly boy stuff, playing video games and eating pizza. However the book also explores many situations relevant to teens including the important topics of consent, respect and toxic masculinity although I feel these topics could have been explored further and I didn’t like that there were never any consequences for their actions.
The boys look back on events in the past and see with a more mature mind that things they did were not okay.

Sixteen year old Eliza, the sister of one of the boys, provides a good perspective of the female point of view and the harm that can be done by these disrespectful boys. I liked that Eliza was outspoken and called the boys out over their behaviour.

There is a really sweet romance running through the story and I love how Eliza chooses the course and pace of the romance.

The Bro Code is a light read that gets the message across in a subtle way. This is a story I hope will make young males see toxic masculinity as outdated and young girls to be strong and outspoken. 

3.5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐.5

Ages: 14 – 17 years.

About the author

Photo: Goodreads
Elizabeth A. Seibert has been an author, sunscreen-obsessed lifeguard, barbecue-loving waitress, finance reporter, nine-to-five marketer, and aspiring superhero. Her stories on Wattpad have amassed over thirty million reads, and she’s been featured in Imagines: Celebrity Encounters Starring You (Simon & Schuster).

Elizabeth attended the University of Massachusetts Amerst and currently lives in Massachusetts, USA, where she attends Harvard University. Elizabeth loves to cook and play board games and ultimate frisbee. The Bro Code is her debut novel. 


 


 






Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Spotlight: Always a Princess by Clyve Rose

Always a Princess
by
Clyve Rose
 

Publication date: 8th September 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 350
Format available: Paperback, eBook
RRP: $12.99, $3.99
 
About the book
 
For fans of regency romance, that leaves less to the imagination than your typical costume drama, and readers who love a confident heroine, comes a story of two hearts from different worlds who find a way to love one another. 
 
Anyone obsessed with the royal-marries-a-commoner storyline playing out in the monarchy of the United Kingdom will love this very British tale that illuminates the lives of the Romany people. Once called gypsies, the Romany were an integral but oft-overlooked part of regency society. 
 
Lyrical, textured and flush with romance, Always a Princess reveals how love is an act of great personal courage.  
 
About the author
 
Photo: Goodreads

Clyve Rose has been writing historical romance fiction for the best part of two decades. She works in the historical romance, fantasy, and speculative fiction genres. She also creates literary novels under an alternative pen name. In between her devotion to fiction writing, Clyve researches various mythologies and historical periods, often basing her characters on actual historical personalities.

One of her novels was longlisted for a 2010 Hachette Development Award for Fiction while her paranormal short story, The One Below, is a Finalist in the Sexy Scribbles contest organized by Passionate Ink, the erotica division of Romance Writers of America.
 
 


 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Book Review: My Daddy is Different by Suzi Faed

Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing books written specifically to help children understand feelings, emotions and the ever changing world around them. 

I find picture books are a wonderful go to if a child is frightened or overwhelmed over something they don't understand. Often written in a peaceful way with simple words they help children unravel feelings on their own level.

The first book I have to bring to you is:

My Daddy is Different 
by
Suzi Faed
Illustrated by Lisa Coutts
 
Publication date: November 2019
Genre: Children's picture book 
Pages: 32
RRP:$17.00AUD
Format read: Softcover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
About the book
  
I used to have a Daddy who was like all other Daddies. One who would go to work, and play with me when he was home. But one day, something changed. He started saying strange things, doing strange things. I was confused.

My Daddy is Different is a beautiful story, written to nurture any child who may have a loved adult in their life who is suffering from mental illness.

My Review

The story is told in the first person by a young boy as he notices a change in his father, as he sinks into a state of depression, and this confuses him and makes him afraid.

The story explains the highs and lows of a person with a mental illness as our narrator feels happy and safe when old daddy is back but confused when he withdraws again. Hospital stays are explained and the natural response of a child not wanting to go because it is strange and scary. He expresses his feelings of being afraid and worried that none of his friends would understand.

The emotional illustrations compliment the story with lots of sad faces and dark clouds when daddy is withdrawn and non-respondent but the pages are also interspersed with happy days and big smiles.

In the hospital he sees other children and realises he is not alone. There are other kids whose mummy or daddy had a mental illness too.

"Daddy looked at me and said, Remember I still love you. That will never change."

Filled with positive reinforcement I feel this book will be a valuable resource for anyone looking to explain mental illness to children.

Somethings I would have liked included in the story were:

  • Words of encouragement and love from the boys mother.
  • Acknowledgement that his friends would still be there for him.
  • That it wasn't anything he did that made his father change.


Help lines are placed conveniently in the back of the book.


Children of Parents with a Mental Illness

www.copmi.net.au

Kids Helpline

www.kidshelpline.com.au

Kids Matter

www.kidsmatter.edu.au

Headspace

www.headspace.org.au

About the author 

Suzi is a qualified teacher, wife, full-time mother to an energetic and book-loving toddler, and a budding picture book writer.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and a Diploma of Education in Early Childhood Studies, hav
ing taught pre-primary before the birth of her daughter. Recently, she has completed a course in Writing Picture Books for Children.


Suzi is making her writing debut with her picture book, ‘My Daddy is Different’. Her father suffers from a mental illness, and this had a huge impact on her childhood. Her experiences inspire her writing, and she hopes that with this story, she can help children who are struggling with similar issues. She also has an interest in fostering children’s self-esteem, and hopes that her writing journey will offer opportunities to fulfil this.

Living in the coastal city of Bunbury, Western Australia, Suzi enjoys being close to the beach. With a toddler who is asserting her independence and two little dogs with big attitudes, life is busy, but in quiet moments, Suzi likes to read, write, play volleyball and tennis, and dream of the ever-elusive sleep in.
 
About the illustrator
 
Lisa is a Melbourne based illustrator who has illustrated many books and items mostly in the children’s market thanks to her charming character based style, and because she is a bit of a kid at heart.

She studied graphic design at Swinburne and has been a freelance illustrator since graduation.

Lisa enjoys working in dry pastel for it’s light, soft texture and the colourful mess she can make. She also uses pencils and acrylic paints. With these she loves to create and draw characters and their worlds, whether real or imagined.

Her favourite things in life inspire her illustrations. She is cat crazy and has two cheeky Devon Rexes called Coco and Elsa. She loves riding her bike especially long distances and up mountains. She also has a thing for striped clothing and often her characters are wearing something stripey just as she does. Oh, and she loves making and eating pancakes. 
 
 
 
Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020
 
 

 




Monday, 14 September 2020

Monday Mailbox & Life This Week - September 14th

 

 

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Life This Week is a meme created by Denyse Whelan Blogs where bloggers share snaps of what is currently happening in their lives.

Happy Monday!

Not much happening on the home front over the last two weeks. I've been dividing my time between reading and knitting. I am currently making Dot an afghan throw made from knitted squares.

 We managed to gather all the children, partners and grandchildren together for a Father's Day lunch. The only photo I managed to take was of our deconstructed pavlova dessert. This is now my favourite way of serving pavlova as everyone can choose what they like to add for the toppings.



Books received over the last two weeks:


 Facebook is a great place to find new books, new authors and connect to bookstores and your favourite authors. It's also a great place to win free books. I won the following books in Facebook giveaways.

Sunshine by Kim Kelly

It’s 1921 and the Great War has left in its wake untold tragedy, not only in lives lost, but in the guilt of survivors, the deep-set scars of old wounds and the sting of redoubled bigotries.

In the tiny hamlet of Sunshine, on the far-flung desert’s edge, three very different ex-servicemen – Jack Bell, an Aboriginal horseman; Snow McGlynn, a laconic, curmudgeonly farmer; and Art Lovelee, an eccentric engineer – find themselves sharing a finger of farmland along the Darling River, and not much else. That is, until Art’s wife Grace, a battle-hardened nurse, gets to work on them all with her no-nonsense wisdom.

Last Survivor by Tony Park

Greed.

Joanne Flack is on the run - suspected of stealing a rare African plant thought to be extinct and worth millions of dollars.

Danger.

Sonja Kurtz is hired by the CIA to hunt down Joanne and find the link between the missing plant and a terrorist group hiding out in South Africa.

Treachery.

Joanne is a member of the Pretoria Cycad and Firearms Appreciation Society who take it upon themselves to track down the plant ... and the traitor in their midst who is willing to kill for it. 

  From the publisher:

The Night Letters by Denise Leith

When threatening night letters from the Taliban taunt Kabul’s vibrant Shahir Square, and two young boys disappear without a trace, young Australian doctor Sofia Raso must determine her place, and ability, to intervene. 

 

 

 


The Farm at Peppertree Crossing by Léonie Kelsall

After a fractured childhood spent in foster homes, city-girl Roni has convinced herself that she has no need of anyone - other than her not-as-tough-as-he-looks rescued street cat, Scritches, and her unborn baby, who she's determined will feel all the love she's been denied.

Despite facing a bleak future, Roni distrusts the news of a bequest from an unknown aunt, Marian Nelson. But, out of options, she and Scritches leave Sydney behind, bound for the 800-acre property on the edge of the wheat fields of South Australia.

However, this is no simple inheritance: Marian seeks to control her legacy from beyond the grave by setting tasks that Roni must complete before she can claim the property and a life that could change her future. With everything at stake, Roni must learn to trust in the truth of Marian's most important lesson: everyone deserves love. 

  My purchase:

Something in the Wine by Tricia Stringer

Reserved high school teacher Keely Mitchell is more than ready for her holiday on the west coast of Australia, so when a medical emergency turns over all her plans and an intervention by a kind stranger finds her recovering in a Margaret River vineyard, she is at first downcast.

Keely had wanted to put recent traumatic events out of her mind, and recuperating alone in a stranger's house won't help that. But slowly the lovely food, spectacular wine and beautiful landscape of the area begin to work their spell. As Keely makes friends with the locals and adapts to the rhythms of the vintner's year, she starts to feel part of the scenery too, particularly when her artwork and jewellery-making somehow find a home at Levallier Dell Wines.

But clouds are on the horizon in the shape of a warring father and son, interfering family friends and a rival in love. Keely didn't mean to fall for anyone, but she can't help her feelings for clever, passionate wine-maker Flynn Levallier. Sadly, it seems he only has eyes for the beautiful Kat, daughter of a rival wine-maker. Can what Keely feels be real? Or is it just something in the wine? 

I would love to hear what books you received in the mail recently!



 

 

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Book Bingo - Round 9: Themes of Crime and Justice

 Reasonable Doubt: lost lives, justice delayed, criminals walking free. by Xanthe Mallett


This week I have chosen the category 'themes of crime and justice'

The book I have chosen for this category is: Reasonable Doubt.

Up until this year I rarely read a non fiction book but here I am now entering my second non fiction read for the book bingo challenge.


Exposing false confessions, police biases, misplaced evidence and dodgy science, Reasonable Doubt is an expert's account of the murky underbelly of our justice system - and the way it affects us all.

You can read my full review HERE

 

Friday, 11 September 2020

Book Review: The Good Teacher by Petronella McGovern

The Good Teacher
by
Petronella McGovern




Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 1st September 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 416
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
About the book
 
Every evening, Allison watches her husband's new house, desperate to find some answers. Every morning, she puts on a brave face to teach kindergarten. She's a good teacher, everyone says so - this stalking is just a tiny crack in her usual self-control.

A late enrolment into her class brings little Gracie - sick and grieving. Allison takes the girl and her father, Luke, under her wing. She smothers Gracie with the love she can't give her own son. As others question her judgement and the police arrive at her door, Allison starts to wonder if she can trust herself.

When Gracie has a chance to go to America for treatment, Allison leads the school in a fundraising drive. But has she crossed a line?

How far will the good teacher go to save a life? And whose life will that be?

An intriguing tale of our times about kindness and betrayal, and the danger of good deeds.
 
My Review
 

Petronella McGovern has delivered again in her second offering in the domestic fiction genre.

Allison Walsh is The Good Teacher always going above and beyond for her students and their families, but now her husband has left her, and her 15 year old son Felix with him, for another woman and she is reduced to stalking his house to get a glimpse of the woman who stole her family.

It's a new school year and Luke and his 5 year old daughter Gracie have moved to Sydney to be treated at the children's hospital for Gracie's rare form of cancer. Allison invites Luke and Gracie to stay with her while they save for a life saving trip to America. Allison's invitation isn't wholly selfless as she pours all her energy into raising money for Gracie's trip is she using Luke and Gracie to replace the family she lost?

"Allison had realised that family didn't have to be narrowed down to Tony and Felix, it could be expanded to include whomever she wanted."

McGovern has highlighted the wonderful giving nature of people who will go out of their way to help others. Luke and Gracie are welcomed into the community with open arms.

Told in multiple points of view, each character has their own agenda around helping Gracie.

I like the short chapters on Felix's point of view and how the themes of Felix's school text, Othello, tie into events happening in his real life.

As with McGovern's previous novel, there is so much happening and it's all pertinent so I can't say too much without spoilers. There are plenty of red herrings and twists along the way. The Good Teacher induced a roller coaster of emotions; empathy, pride, sorrow, anger, satisfaction and joy.

Following on from  her success with Six Minutes Petronella McGovern has now, with her release of The Good Teacher placed herself firmly as the Queen of Australian domestic fiction.

About the author

 
Photo: Goodreads

Petronella McGovern is a writer and editor who grew up on a farm outside Bathurst, New South Wales. After working in Canberra for a number of years, she now lives on Sydney's northern beaches with her husband and two children. Her best-selling novel, Six Minutes, was published in 2019 and long-listed for the Australian Independent Bookseller Awards.

The Good Teacher is her second novel.

Author website  ||  Facebook  || Twitter  || Instagram

  
 
Click on cover to see review

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020