Friday 28 February 2020

Storybook Corner Book Review: The Gruffalo's Child (15th Anniversary Edition) by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo's Child (15th Anniversary Edition)
Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication date: 24th September 2019
Genre: Children’s / Picture Books
Pages: 40
RRP: $14.99 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should
Ever set foot in the deep dark wood.

But one wild and windy night the Gruffalo's child disobeys her father's warnings and ventures out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn't really exist … does he?
The Gruffalo's Child is the number one bestselling, much-loved sequel to the worldwide picture book phenomenon that is The Gruffalo. Julia Donaldson's trademark rhyming text and Axel Scheffler's brilliant, characterful illustrations combine once more to ensure that the Gruffalo's Child has followed firmly in her father's footsteps and that her story is one that children will ask for again, and again … and again!

Children have always enjoyed tales of dark, scary creatures and the Gruffalo’s child is no exception. The Gruffalo tells his daughter she should never go out in the deep dark wood or the Big Bad Mouse will be after her.

The Gruffalo’s child decides to find this Big Bad Mouse. She isn’t scared. The story follows her through the snow swept woods as she comes across different animals; a snake, an owl, and follows tracks to see who they lead to. Will she find the Big Bad Mouse?

The Gruffalo’s Child is told in rhyming verse and the use of voice variation gives depth to the story. Scheffler’s illustrations give the Gruffalo’s child a human like dimension as she carries her favourite toy, a doll made of sticks.

The Gruffalo's Child 15th Anniversary Edition features:
- A wrap-around snowy wood play scene and press-out characters for an interactive reading experience.
- Plus additional book content including letters from author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler.
- The Gruffalo's Child Song.
- A Gruffalo's Child quiz.
- And tips for putting on a Gruffalo's Child show!

We all enjoyed playing with the wrap around scene, acting out the story and also making up our own stories with the animals.

With this 15th Anniversary Edition you can be assured the Gruffalo will delight yet another generation of children.

The Gruffalo’s Child is on the 2020 NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge list for K-2.
Our rating  5/5

About the author 
Photo: Pan Macmillan Aus

Julia Donaldson is the author of some of the world's best-loved children's books, including modern classics The Gruffalo and the Gruffalo's Child, which together have sold over 17 million copies worldwide, and the hugely successful What the Ladybird Heard adventures. 

About the illustrator
Axel Scheffler is a star illustrator whose instantly recognisable, warm and witty illustrations have acheived worldwide acclaim and numerous awards. Axel is the illustrator of some of the world's best-loved picture books.

Other books we've read by Julia Donaldson: 



Thursday 27 February 2020

The Winner of a paperback copy of Just an Ordinary family by Fiona Lowe announced

A big thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Just an Ordinary Family . The giveaway closed on the 25th February and I had an amazing 95 entries. The winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to.....    Naomi Pettit


Please see my Giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Book Review: Lovestruck by Bronwyn Sell #BRPreview

Bronwyn Sell 

Publisher: Harper Collins Australia 
Imprint: HQ Fiction - AU
Publication date: 24th February 2020
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction / RomCom
Pages: 512
RRP: $29.99
Format read: Uncorrected ARC 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

When a romantically challenged family gather at their Whitsundays resort for their first wedding in decades, Amy 'stuck in the friend zone' Lowery realises that her single tango-dancing mum and besotted groom-to-be dad have hotter love lives than she does.

But when she locks eyes with an alluring stranger, The Pull in her chest is undeniable. And the look in Josh Brennan's eyes definitely says 'more than friends' - but not in the way she hopes.

Loner Josh is ecstatic to meet his witty stepsister-to-be and stoked that the union of their two dads comes with the lively (if chaotic) family he's always wanted. No way will he admit to an inconvenient attraction to his insta-sister - not even to himself.

Elsewhere on the island, resident nice guy Harry is absolutely not going to fall for smart and sexy jilted bride Sophia, who is locked in the honeymoon villa trying to kickstart Operation Get Your Life Together. But a harmless flirtation never hurt anyone - right?

Throw in some sharp-witted siblings, a bevy of naval officers and a meddlesome gran determined to see at least one of her descendants happily wed, and the scene is set for a perfect storm that will leave no heart unscathed...

Lovestruck is a fun and witty RomCom with a large cast of quirky characters.

Gran owns the resort and also plays chief matchmaker to her three daughters and eight grown grandchildren. Cousins Amy and Harry plus newcomer Josh, who is soon to become Amy’s step-brother, and jilted bride Sophia are the main characters however the others make quite a few appearances and tell their romance woes also.

I found it hard to connect with some of the characters. Amy was always down on herself and Sophia came across as a bit fickle. One minute she is the dumped bride, inconsolable, then straight away she is falling for Harry.

I thoroughly enjoyed the setting location of the Whitsundays and Sells’ vivid descriptions highlighted the beauty of the area.

I loved the concept of the story and I know you need anguish for a good romance story but with two separate couples ruling the plot the ongoing anguish was too much for me.

Overall this book was fun and easy to read and devoted romance fans will find a lot to love in this book.


My rating   3/5

Photo credit: Nicola Topping
Bronwyn Sell is many things—novelist, journalist, travel writer, bestselling non-fiction author, yogi, theatre nerd, soccer mum, wife, lover of wines in the sun with friends, perpetually terrified taker of creative risks—but at heart she's an eternal romantic and optimist who is happiest playing with words and imaginary friends.

Her journalism and travel writing have won national awards in her native New Zealand. Her romantic thrillers (under pen-name Brynn Kelly) were published in the US, earning critical acclaim and a RITA Award™, the most coveted trophy in the romance genre.



Monday 24 February 2020

Mailbox Monday - February 24th

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. 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. Head over and check out other books received during the last week. 

Happy Monday!

I attended a wonderful bookish lunch with the Aussie Readers Goodreads group. We get together a few times a year to chat books and swap books and I always come home with a few extra books to add to my TBR.

It's been a relatively quiet fortnight, which is a good thing. My sister and brother visited from Interstate and it was nice to catch up over lunch on both Saturday and Sunday. We always tend to do lots of reminiscing and laughing over a few of my brother's antics when he was younger. 

Books received over the last two weeks:


From the publisher:

Symphony for the Man by Sarah Brill
1999. Winter. Bondi. Harry’s been on the streets so long he could easily forget what time is. So Harry keeps an eye on it. Every morning. Then he heads to the beach to chat with the gulls. Or he wanders through the streets in search of food, clothes, Jules. When the girl on the bus sees him, lonely and cold in the bus shelter that he calls home, she thinks about how she can help. She decides to write a symphony for him.

So begins a poignant and gritty tale of homelessness and shelter, of the realities of loneliness and hunger, and of the hopes and dreams of those who often go unnoticed on our streets. This is the story of two outcasts – one a young woman struggling to find her place in an alien world, one an older man seeking refuge and solace from a life in tatters. It is also about the transformative power of care and friendship, and the promise of escape that music holds.

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort - are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth - not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? 

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


Sunday 23 February 2020

Book Review: Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Salvation Station
Kathryn Schleich

Publisher: She Writes Press 
Publication date: 14th April 2020
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 256
RRP: $16.95 USD
Format read: Paperback ARC
Source: Courtesy of Book Publicity Services 

When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Kathryn Schleich’s debut novel Salvation Station introduces Captain Linda Turner, 10 years on the force her job is her life. Her latest case involves the murder of a pastor and his two children. Their bodies buried in the parsonage garden.

We are given an intriguing police procedural as Captain Turner pieces together the family’s last movements and investigates the whereabouts of the Pastor’s wife and mother of the children, Nicole Hansen.

Through a second plot line we follow Susannah Baker as she manipulates Rev Ray Williams, the founder of Road to Calvary and TV evangelist, and ensconces herself into his life. Susannah has many ideas to build the ministry and ask followers for more and more donations. With themes of religious hysteria and an almost cult like following, Susannah preys on the sick and lonely getting Rev Ray to perform fake miracles.

Schleich depicts how police work away at a case sometimes taking years investigating small snippets of information waiting for the perpetrator to slip up.

There is a tiny bit of romance for Linda towards the end and I thought the story was perfect without it but maybe the author has more in store for Linda and Malachi in the next installment.

Salvation Station is a riveting page turner featuring a charismatic psychopath who has greed as a motivator.


My rating  4.5/5

photo credit: She Writes Press

Kathryn Schleich has been a writer for thirty years. Her most recent publications include the short story “Reckless Acts,” featured in After Effects: A Zimbell House Anthology, and her story “Grand Slam,” published in The Acentos Review in May 2017. 
Her guest posts have been featured on the Women On Writing blog, The Muffin, and she writes for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s volunteer newsletter. When she’s not writing, Schleich is likely volunteering in the education and arts communities in the Twin Cities, where she lives. Friends, family, good food, wine, and traveling are important aspects of her life. Salvation Station is her first novel. 


Saturday 22 February 2020

Book Review: The Order of Time by Scott P Southall

The Order of Time
Scott P Southall

"If you're into secret societies, time-travel, dangerous artifacts, deadly assassins, evil priests, and vengeful gods then I've got a story for you..." 

Publisher: Seaview Press Holdings
Publication date: 21st January 2020
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pages: 274
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of Smith Publicity 

Anastasia and Edward Upton are eleven years old twins who are different in almost every way. Despite this they are inseparable and the best of friends. They tackle the highs and lows of sixth grade together whether they are fending off bullies at the elite Blake Academy or examining rare antiquities as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Then: life gets complicated.

They discover that their friend and mentor, Dr. Gregorian, is part of a secret society called the Order of Time. It turns out that time is not fixed, it's a fluid continuum where changes to the past can create ripples all the way through to the present. It unwittingly falls to the twins to travel back through time to ancient Egypt where they must overcome deadly assassins, evil high priests and vengeful gods in order to prevent disaster. Together Anastasia and Edward must navigate all obstacles to preserve the past and find their way back home.


The Order of Time is an action packed time travel adventure featuring 12 yo twins Anastasia and Edward and how their fascination and visits to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History lands them in the centre of a deadly plot to alter the past.

Southall has created two strikingly different protagonists. Anastasia is Maths and Science smart and athletic. A master of Martial Arts. She likes to stick to the rules. Edward is a bit of a rebel his interests lean towards History and Art. Where Edward backs down Anastasia takes the bullies full on quite often protecting her brother. Rather than feel jealous, Edward admires his sister’s athletic abilities. It was well portrayed how the two compliment each other, each using their different strengths to solve problems.

Although not entirely unique Southall uses the tried and true formula of power inducing crystals and magic portals in this time travel fantasy.

There was action aplenty as the children travel back in time to Ancient Egypt and plunge themselves into the local culture, conversing with Nefertiti and Akhenaten.

I was engrossed by the Ancient History and Mythology aspects of the story. Southall introduces ideas on problem solving and small facts relating to Science and History. A couple of political digs may go over the Middle Grade reader’s head but, if they are open to it, it’s a good starter for a political conversation.

The concept of time travel through the combination of portals and crystals and how changes to the past have a rolling effect on their present was well portrayed and easy to understand.

The Order of Time is a fabulous debut. Totally captivating!

10+ some content on mythology includes the demon of the afterlife.


My rating   5/5

Photo credit: Goodreads

Scott Southall is an American author and banking executive. He grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. playing sports,exploring the woods behind his house, and stretching his imagination by reading any book he could get his hands on.
He attended Georgetown University where he earned a degree in business.
Scott spent the first fifteen years of his career as a management consultant working with Fortune 500 companies around the world. In 2006 he changed careers and became a banker. While he loves to bank, telling stories is his true passion. The Order of Time is his debut novel.
Scott and his Australian wife Kylie live with their family in the paradise which is also known as Sydney, Australia. 

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie Author Challenge 

  #AussieAuthor20    #AusBookBloggers