Children’s Classics

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October 2018 – Netgalley Month

Published October 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Chrissi Cupboard Month where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (and that’s a lot!).

Then there’s Real Book Month where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves (also a LOT!)

Finally, there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (A LOT!)

At the moment, I’m desperately trying to catch up on my Netgalley reviews to finally achieve that much longed for and ideal 80% ratio. Unfortunately there’s not much chance of me achieving it this year – I went a bit crazy when I was first approved for review copies on Netgalley. Oops. However, I’ve done much better this year at closing the gap and will work on it again next year before I request anything else. Once I’m on top of things, I’m planning to be much more sensible!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got planned to read this month:

An Act Of Silence by Colette McBeth (with kind thanks to Headline publishers)

What’s it all about?:

MOTHER. WIFE. POLITICIAN. LIAR.

THEN: How far did she go to conceal the truth?

Politician Linda Moscow sacrificed everything to protect her son: her beliefs, her career, her marriage. All she wanted was to keep him safe.

NOW: What will she risk to expose the lies?

When the voices she silenced come back to haunt her, Linda is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line . . .

An Act of Silence is about the abuse of power, the devastating effects of keeping the truth buried, and the lengths a mother will go to save her child.

The Book Of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici (with kind thanks to Random House, UK)

What’s it all about?:

One Man’s Truth Is Another Man’s Lie.

When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, he is intrigued.

The author, Richard Flynn is writing a memoir about his time at Princeton in the late 80s, documenting his relationship with the famous Professor Joseph Wieder. One night in 1987, Wieder was brutally murdered in his home and the case was never solved.

Peter Katz is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of what happened that night twenty-five years ago and is convinced the full manuscript will reveal who committed the violent crime. But other people’s recollections are dangerous weapons to play with, and this might be one memory that is best kept buried.

The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry (with kind thanks to Penguin UK)

What’s it all about?:

You were loved and lost – then you came back . . .

Five years ago, three-year-old Dillon disappeared. For his father Harry – who left him alone for ten crucial minutes – it was an unforgivable lapse. Yet Dillon’s mother Robyn has never blamed her husband: her own secret guilt is burden enough.

Now they’re trying to move on, returning home to Dublin to make a fresh start.

But their lives are turned upside down the day Harry sees an eight-year-old boy in the crowd. A boy Harry is convinced is Dillon. But the boy vanishes before he can do anything about it.

What Harry thought he saw quickly plunges their marriage into a spiral of crazed obsession and broken trust, uncovering deceits and shameful secrets. Everything Robyn and Harry ever believed in one another is cast into doubt.

And at the centre of it all is the boy that never was . . .

The Sex Lives Of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh (with kind thanks to Random House UK)

What’s it all about?:

When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, disarms a gunman chasing two frightened homeless men, the police and the breaking-news cameras are not far behind and, within hours, Lucy is a media hero. The solitary eye-witness is the depressed and overweight Lena Sorensen, who becomes obsessed with Lucy and signs up as her client – though she seems more interested in the trainer’s body than her own. When the two women find themselves more closely aligned, and can’t stop thinking about the sex lives of Siamese twins, the real problems start…

In the aggressive, foul-mouthed trainer, Lucy Brennan, and the needy, manipulative Lena Sorensen, Irvine Welsh has created two of his most memorable female protagonists, and one of the most bizarre, sado-masochistic folies à deux in contemporary fiction. Featuring murder, depravity and revenge – and enormous amounts of food and sex – The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins taps into two great obsessions of our time – how we look and where we live – and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.

Sisters Of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle (with kind thanks to Penguin UK)

What’s it all about?:

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness — and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante.

But when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for.

BUDDY READS/COLLABORATIONS FOR THE REST OF THE MONTH

I’ve got myself quite a good mixture of contemporary fiction, thrillers and a historical fiction but I’ve also got some fantastic buddy reads planned for this month. Firstly, my monthly read with the wonderful Janel from Keeper Of Pages is the second book in The Themis Files – Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. If you’re intrigued for my review from the first book in the trilogy, Sleeping Giants which was also read with Janel, please check out my review HERE.

Then we’ve got another buddy read with the fantastic Stuart from Always Trust In Books. This time around we’ll be reading The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It’s a book I’ve heard so much hype about and I was delighted when Stuart hauled it recently as it seems like every blogger I know has read and absolutely adored it. I need to get on this bandwagon.

I’ll also be buddy reading for the very first time with the lovely Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader. We’ll be reading Elmet by Fiona Mozley, again another book that I’ve been very excited to get to!

Finally, I’ll be reading the “usual suspects” with my fabulous sister, Chrissi Reads. Our Kid-Lit book for the month of October is Nightbirds On Nantucket, the third book in The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken and our Banned Book for the month is Beloved by Toni Morrison.

A busy, busy reading month but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these titles and what you thought of them? Hope everyone else has a brilliant reading month!

Lots Of Love

Beth xxx

 

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – SEPTEMBER READ – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Published September 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Living with his little brother, Fudge, makes Peter feel like a fourth grade nothing. Fudge is never far from trouble. He’s a two-year-old terror who gets away with everything–and Peter’s had enough. When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw.

What did I think?:

Apologies for the smaller image than normal regarding the book cover but I couldn’t resist including this particular cover as the headline picture for my post as I’m pretty certain this was the actual cover I owned when I was a youngster! For anyone who might not already know, I love Judy Blume with every fibre of my being. She was such an important part of my childhood, she taught me so much about adolescence and how to cope with it and I was even lucky enough to meet her in person a few years ago when she attended YALC, a young adult’s literature convention that happens in London on a yearly basis. Chrissi has had to put up with my gushing admiration for Blume over the years and luckily for me, didn’t get too embarrassed at YALC when I came face to face with my idol (and made a fool of myself by dropping down into a curtsey, I was so overwhelmed with happiness!). Yes, the less said about that the better I think.

Her Royal Highness Judy Blume, author of Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. Your majesty…

Chrissi was also incredibly gracious when I begged her to let me put some classic Blume on our Kid-Lit list this year and I’m so very glad that we did. Jumping back into her writing was so wonderfully nostalgic it made me feel all warm and cosy inside. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing is probably written for the younger readership, i.e. middle grade fiction but the enjoyment I got from it was second to none. I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that when Chrissi and I were growing up, our father was in the army and we lived in Germany for about thirteen years. At one point, we didn’t have access to many English bookshops – in fact, there was only a very small one about half an hour’s drive away and we went there about once a month to spend our pocket money. The rest of the time we had to make do with the local school library or re-reading the books we currently had so we spent a LOT of time doing that. As a result, my Blume collection was unsurprisingly very well thumbed, dog eared and a bit worse for wear from the amount of times I re-entered the world of Peter, Fudge and company.

As I started to read Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing as an adult, all the old feelings I had about this story came rushing back and some of them were truly precious. I remembered whole incidents that I had completely forgotten (for example, the little girl who wets herself at Fudge’s birthday party) but what was most remarkable to me is how little my views had changed on the characters since I read it as a child. Reading it back then, I remember being exasperated almost up to the point of tears with the character of Fudge. I felt terribly sorry for Peter as he struggled with his painfully annoying younger sibling and even went so far as to question his parents love for himself after, initially, Fudge appears to be blatantly getting away with everything. I wondered if as an adult, I would feel more sympathetic towards Fudge and understand his predicament slightly better – in other words, he’s a small child and doesn’t have the skills yet to realise the consequences of his actions. Of course, I DO realise that but I have to admit….I’m still team Peter. There’s something about Fudge that really irks me, I can’t put my finger on it.

I sympathised with Peter, being the oldest sibling myself and can remember those times in my childhood where the responsibility of looking after my two younger siblings seemed occasionally to be quite a huge cross to bear. If you’ve been there, you might be familiar with the frustration of being blamed for something your sibling does because as the oldest: “you should know better/you should have been looking out for them.” Maybe this was why I connected with Peter so much? Anyway, this is a beautiful little tale about the scrapes Fudge gets into, how it affects his older brother and how one devastating incident with a pet turtle called Dribble ends up bringing the whole family closer together again. I smiled, I groaned, I got emotional and I loved every minute.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN OCTOBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Nightbirds On Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles #3) by Joan Aiken.

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – AUGUST READ – The Creakers by Tom Fletcher

Published August 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What silently waits in the shadows at night? What’s under your bed, keeping just out of sight?

Do you ever hear strange, creaking noises at night? Ever wonder what makes those noises?
Lucy Dungston always did.
Until, one morning, Lucy discovers that all the grown-ups have disappeared – as if into thin air. Chaos descends as the children in Lucy’s town run riot. It’s mayhem. It’s madness. To most kids, it’s amazing!
But Lucy wants to find out the truth. Lucy lost her dad not long ago, and she’s determined not to lose her mum too. She’s going to get her back – and nothing is going to stop her… except maybe the Creakers.

What did I think?:

This is the first children’s book I’ve read from former McFly musician turned author Tom Fletcher although I’ve been aware of his work for a little while, particularly The Christmasaurus which Chrissi and I are now kicking ourselves for not having chosen as our December read this year. I was SO very pleasantly surprised by The Creakers and can now understand why Tom is becoming so highly regarded in the middle grade fiction world. The Creakers has everything you want in a novel aimed at younger readers, a bit of mild peril, fantastic lead characters, laugh out loud moments and a wonderfully happy ending that really warms your heart.

Tom Fletcher, author of The Creakers.

This fantastic, exciting and innovative story features a cracking female lead in Lucy Dungston who wakes up one morning and discovers her mum has completely disappeared. Things get worse when she discovers that ALL the grown-ups in their small town seem to have vanished and no-one seems to know where they have gone or, even more frighteningly, if they’re ever coming back, especially when they find a note stating that the chances of them returning are very remote. The younger children automatically look to Lucy for what they should do next (after they’ve stopped running riot, jumping on sofas, eating tons of sweets and getting themselves stuck in inappropriate places of course!). Yet the plot grows murkier and murkier when Lucy discovers that the reason for the adults’ disappearance may lie with some strange creatures she discovers under the bed and an even stranger land called Woleb where everything runs backwards and horror upon horrors, the adults may not even want to come back!

Two of the creatures known as Creakers, from the pen of the super talented Shane Devries.

Tom Fletcher has let his obviously huge imagination run wild in his tale of The Creakers. I loved everything about it, from the brilliance of his female lead Lucy, to the artful way in which he has plotted a very unique kind of creature that thrives on rubbish and is utterly disgusting but give them a chance, you might end up feeling a bit differently about them by the end of the novel. The illustrations by Shane Devries compliment Tom’s words marvellously and funnily enough, were exactly how I pictured everything in my head even before I saw the graphics! I can imagine children of middle school age absolutely devouring this book – it’s such a fun and exciting read that not only could I imagine reading it to my nephew one day, I chortled along as if I were a child myself.

Tom Fletcher has a clear and undeniable gift for writing books for children, he gets the balance of humour, action and pacing perfectly and seems to really understand or tap into how kids would think and behave in certain situations. I’ll certainly be reading more books by him in the future and look forward to watching his development as an author, I’m sure he will only go from strength to strength.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN SEPTEMBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

Banned Books 2018 – JULY READ – Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Published August 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the seventh banned book in our series for 2018! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

AUGUST: I Am Jazz– Jessica Herthel
SEPTEMBER: Taming The Star Runner– S.E. Hinton
OCTOBER: Beloved -Toni Morrison
NOVEMBER: King & King -Linda de Haan
DECEMBER: Flashcards Of My Life– Charise Mericle Harper
For now, back to this month:

Julie Of The Wolves by Jean Craighead George

First published: 1972

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)

Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  Sigh. As I’ve mentioned in past Banned Books posts, sometimes I can see why people have issues with some of the books we review for this feature. Not that I think they SHOULD be challenged/banned but I can see why they might be offensive or problematic. Then there’s other books that we read and throughout the book, I’m struggling to see how anybody could have a problem at all, especially when I look at the reasons behind the challenge. Julie Of The Wolves was one of these latter books for me, I read through it thinking: “Aha! NOW I’m going to find out why there are issues!” And nope, I didn’t. Not even once. Even when I think about back in the early seventies when this was first published – could there have been reasons then? You’ve guessed it – no. I normally like to try and guess the potential reasons and I’m always, always wrong. With Julie Of The Wolves, I couldn’t find a single one!

CHRISSI: I am genuinely confused as to why this book is challenged. I didn’t find it at all offensive. I really am stumped with this one. As for one of the reasons being violence? Really? Children see more violent things on the news which is actually happening in day to day life sometimes so close to them. Video games are a hell of a lot more violent too. I really didn’t see this book as particularly violent. Hunting and death do occur within the story, but it makes sense to the story and most people could rationalise that…

How about now?

BETH: This book is now over forty years old and as it was only challenged/banned in 2002, I don’t believe attitudes have changed much either in the years post publication or since 2002 to the present day. Particularly with these reasons they are giving – I mean, come on! Unsuited to age group?! Where were the unsuitable parts, please someone tell me because I feel like I’m going mad. Seriously. It’s marketed as young adult (possibly even middle grade fiction) and at no point did I feel like this was either too traumatic or indeed too violent for the younger audience. There is hunting and death, sure but it’s necessary for our character to survive out in the Arctic conditions for goodness sake. I honestly think there are many more children’s books (hello Watership Down!) that are more emotionally affecting than this one. *rolls eyes.*

CHRISSI: Definitely not. Again… I’m baffled why this book is challenged. I don’t mean to repeat myself too much but I think the hunting and death in the story is relative to the plot. Children aren’t precious snowflakes. I’d say that from middle grade up they can handle a story like this when worse things are happening in the world that they constantly see, read and hear about.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I thought it was an okay read! I enjoyed Julie’s relationship with the wolves (as a big fan of White Fang when I was younger) and the description of the harsh environment she had to survive in was beautifully done. It was a quick and easy book to get lost in and I thought the illustrations were particularly lovely but I felt Julie’s time spent with her people wasn’t as engrossing or as well written as the parts when she has to get by on her own.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t captivated like I wanted to be. I really liked the illustrations and thought that was a nice touch to the story. I actually wish there were a few more illustrations because I didn’t think the writing of the setting was as evocative as it could have been, especially if we are thinking that children are the target audience for this book. I’m glad that I read this book but it’s not one that will particularly stick with me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Maybe!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I wasn’t captivated but I could appreciate the story!

3 Star Rating Clip Art
Coming up in the last Monday of August on Banned Books: we review I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel.

Mid Year Freak Out Tag 2018

Published July 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a tag that’s really doing the rounds at the moment – the Mid Year Freak Out Tag which I loved doing last year. Here we go!

1.) The Best Book You’ve Read So Far This Year

This book has now made it onto my all time favourites shelf and I’m already dying to re-read it which usually doesn’t happen for a few years at least! It broke my heart and made me laugh in equal measure and if I’m ever asked for a recommendation, this is the latest book that I push into the hands of everyone who asks. 

2.) Your Favourite Sequel This Year?

I’ve got a feeling that one of the Marnie Rome books appeared in this spot last year, I’m so predictable haha! For me, this series keeps getting better and better and this book for “favourite sequel” spot was a no-brainer.

3.) A New Release That You Haven’t Read Yet But Really Want To?

Okay, so I was initially put off this book because I heard it was about ice hockey. I’m not a huge fan of reading about sports so thought it wasn’t for me. Then I started to see all the amazing reviews, then I realised it wasn’t just about ice hockey, NOW my fellow bloggers are starting to virtually bash me on the head for not having read it so far. This will happen soon, I promise. Er, this month or next month I mean!! For my interview with Fredrik Backman – please see my post HERE. (shameless plug).

4.) Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year?

I think I might have already mentioned Melmoth by Sarah Perry in a previous tag but Bridge Of Clay by Markus Zusak is another one I’ve got on pre-order and am really excited for it to be released!

5.) Your Biggest Disappointment?

I was going to choose one of our Banned Books, Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause for this answer but in the end, I’m going to choose this. Lee Child has so many fans around the world, I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I don’t know what it was, maybe I came to the series too late but I didn’t get on with it at all. Huge disappointment! Read my review HERE (but please LC fans, don’t come after me with pointy sticks!)

6.) Biggest Surprise Of The Year?

I read this as a buddy read with the lovely Stuart from Always Trust In Books. It was our first buddy read together so I will always have fond memories of it because of that but I honestly wasn’t prepared for how much I enjoyed this. I was completely gripped the whole way through and this is the first YA series that has got right under my skin for a long time now. Check out my review and our Twitter chat HERE.

We recently read a non fiction together, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt so look out for our review on that coming in the next couple of weeks. We are also just about to start on the follow up to Scythe, called Thunderhead and I think I can say for both of us that we are VERY excited!

7.) Favourite New To You Or Debut Author?

This was an easy pick for me. I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine with my blogger BFF Janel at Keeper Of Pages as our second buddy read and it was also our second five star! Gail Honeyman is new to me and she is also a debut author so that ticks both boxes and I can safely say, whatever she writes next I will be pre-ordering and incredibly excited for.

8.) Your New Fictional Crush?

I have to be honest, I don’t really get fictional crushes but if I had to choose, I’d choose Henry from one of my all time favourite books, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which I re-read again this year. He’s a little bit mysterious, a little bit dangerous and I love the way he loves Clare. I’m not big on romance but their relationship just captured my heart.

9.) New Favourite Character?

I read the Nightingale with Janel @ Keeper Of Pages for our third buddy read and although my review isn’t up until tomorrow (spoiler alert, I ADORED it!) I had to include it on this tag because I completely fell in love with the character of Isabelle. I’ll talk more about her tomorrow but wow, I don’t think I’ll ever forget her!

10.) A Book That Made You Cry?

It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, I’m not sure why! But when a book does, I will never forget it. I came close to crying with The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Nightingale, books I’ve already mentioned in this tag but I really teared up during a particular moment of H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald, a non fiction book about grief and falconry where Helen is feeling sad and then plays with her hawk for the first time. It’s really heart-warming and was a passage I read over and over again.

11.) A Book That Made You Happy?

Matilda by Roald Dahl, an old childhood favourite and one Chrissi Reads and I picked for our Kid-Lit challenge this year. I absolutely adore it and it’s always a delight to re-read. 

12.) Your Favourite Book To Movie Adaptation That You’ve Seen This Year?

Has to be The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood. I love the book (it’s another of my all-time favourites) and I loved the TV series too, I’m currently watching the second one on Channel 4 and it’s so chilling!

13.) Favourite Book Post You’ve Published This Year?

I hate this question as I’m always really insecure about how my blog posts are received. I guess there’s two I’m quite pleased with for very different reasons, Another Day In The Death Of America where I really enjoyed ranting about guns in America and The Time Traveler’s Wife which I’ve already mentioned above where I got into some quite personal details about my own life. 

14.) The Most Beautiful Book You Have Bought/Received This Year?

I’m actually on a book buying ban this year (this excludes pre-orders and any books I might receive for my birthday of course!) so I’ve been really good about not buying many. I did get this beautiful Penguin clothbound classic of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott from my boyfriend for my birthday while we were on holiday in Mexico which was a lovely surprise!

15.) What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year?

These are the main two books that my fellow bloggers have been begging me to read soon. And I will, I promise!

So that’s my answers, thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices. Let me know in the comments if you agree with me or tell me what you might choose yourself. Anyone who wants to do this and hasn’t done it yet, consider yourself tagged!

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – JUNE READ – The Face On The Milk Carton – Caroline B. Cooney

Published June 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The face on the milk carton looks like an ordinary little girl: hair in tight pigtails, a dress with a narrow white collar, a three-year-old who was kidnapped more than twelve years ago from a shopping mall in New Jersey.

As fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson stares at the milk carton, she feels overcome with shock. She knows that little girl is she. But how could it be true?

Janie can’t believe that her loving parents kidnapped her, until she begins to piece together clues that don’t make sense. Why are there no pictures of Janie before she was four? Her parents have always said they didn’t have a camera. Now that explanation sounds feeble. Something is terribly wrong, and Janie is afraid to find out what happened more than twelve years ago.

In this gripping page-turner, the reader will unravel — as Janie does — the twisted events that changed the lives of two families forever.

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I always enjoy picking our Kid Lit list for the year ahead, we’re usually super organised and do it about November time, picking six books each so that we both get a chance to read things we’re excited about/things that bring back happy memories. Caroline B. Cooney is one of those authors for both of us. Although we’ve never read The Face On The Milk Carton before, we have wonderful memories about the author mainly connected with her Point Horror books, of which we’ve read a few, namely Freeze Tag, The Cheerleader and The Perfume. We were OBSESSED with Point Horror as young teenagers and as we lived in a British army base in Germany for the majority of the time, they were quite hard to get hold of. Back in those days there was no Amazon (haha!) and we lived out in the country with a shopping centre about 40 minutes drive away which had a very limited supply of books and a small school library. This is just one of the very many reasons why we appreciate the easy availability of books nowadays!

Caroline B. Cooney, author of The Face On The Milk Carton.

Sadly, I found myself slightly disappointed by The Face On The Milk Carton. I don’t know what it was, perhaps it’s an age thing and her young adult fiction doesn’t read as well when I’m a grown adult? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s her Point Horror alone that gives me that warm, nostalgic feeling? Who knows. It follows a teenage girl called Janie Johnson who looks at a milk carton one day at school on lunch break with her friends and recognises her own childhood face on the carton. Her life is instantly set into turmoil as she assumes that she must have been kidnapped from her “birth parents,” who are still desperately looking for her. The trouble is, Janie can’t remember anything and has a strong, loving relationship with her “current” parents who are mostly all she can remember. As Janie begins to investigate the picture on the milk carton she begins to realise a few foggy memories of a strange kitchen, other children and an ice cream parlour. Has she really been kidnapped? Why? Piece by piece, the clues start to come together in the most unexpected way.

 

Our female lead, Janie Johnson finds her childhood photograph on a milk carton similar to the above image.

Let me just start by saying that if I read this book as a young teenager, I would probably absolutely love it. It is purely reading it as an adult and rolling my eyes at the dramatics of teenage angst that is the problem here, I promise! The premise for the novel is brilliant, suddenly finding out as a teenager your parents aren’t who you expected them to be? There’s definitely be dark points of my adolescence where I’ve ashamedly wished for a different parent or wondered if I was adopted but luckily these were only fleeting as I happen to have (in my opinion of course!) the world’s most wonderful mother!

So yes, initially I was quite gripped by the mystery behind Janie’s parentage and was keen to find out what was going on as the narrative continued. Unfortunately it just didn’t really continue the way I had pictured it in my head. It’s obviously a horrific thing to find out as a teenager and I really felt for Janie as she discovered her perfect parents might not be so perfect after all but there was so much drama. It became positively melodramatic as she wanted to find out what was going on, came close to confronting the situation then backed off and decided to stick with what she knew i.e. the parents that had raised her. Fair enough, you might think, that’s a normal response, right? But this happened over and over again and just became too repetitive for me. I feel like the author could have used her time better by delving deeper into the emotions that Janie was experiencing but it just seemed to be either one level or the other – the extreme reaction then just….nothing!

Saying that, I would recommend this book for young adults with a note for parents that there is a bit of tame sexual content so perhaps not suitable for very young children. It’s an interesting little mystery with relatable characters and a plot that could definitely be a conversation starter between friends and family.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP IN JULY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – MAY READ – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket

Published May 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

What did I think?:

I think I was a little bit older when the Unfortunate Series Of Events books first came out so they kind of passed me by. This is why I love doing the Kid-Lit challenge with Chrissi though, I get to re-visit old childhood favourites and discover ones that I missed. The Wide Window is the third in the series so if you want to check out what I thought about The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room I’ll link my reviews in the book titles. I initially fancied suggesting this series for our Kid-Lit challenge as I had always been curious to check them out and also to watch the Netflix series at some point which looks equally brilliant. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying my adventures with the Baudelaire orphans and although life treats them abominably, I’m always intrigued to discover both what mishap might befall them next and how they manage to overthrow the wicked Count Olaf’s plans each time he turns up.

Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, author of The Series Of Unfortunate Events stories.

In the third outing of this series and the dramatic events that led to the Baudelaire children being removed from their Uncle Monty’s house, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny are sent to live with their Aunt Josephine in a house on the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Lachrymose. As soon as they get there, the children begin to have worries about their new guardian. She worries about everything – not just ordinary anxieties but things that affect her life drastically. For example, she won’t turn radiators on because they might explode, she won’t answer the telephone in case she is electrocuted, she won’t cook anything hot in case the stove catches on fire and she stacks tin cans by the door of each room so she can be alerted by anyone trying to burgle the house. Of course, as you might have suspected if you’ve read the previous books in the series, Count Olaf returns, once again in disguise as Captain Sham to flatter Aunt Josephine and persuade her by any means necessary to give up her claim on the children, his motive being to access that huge Baudelaire fortune.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in the Netflix series.

Once again, this is another gripping episode of the misfortunes of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. I adore that each child has their own personality and talent, Violet for inventing things, Klaus for reading and learning and Sunny for er….biting. It does come in handy I promise, especially when dealing with that dastardly Count Olaf. Yes, you could say that each story follows the same old pattern; i.e. Count Olaf appears in disguise, nobody believes the children when they tell a responsible adult that it’s him (especially Mr Poe who is starting to get on my wick a little bit) and eventually, after an exciting incident, the children foil Olaf’s plans and he runs away to lick his wounds rather than getting captured and imprisoned for his crimes. But at the same time, I think the repetitive nature of the plot works in its favour too. As the older reader, we are always kind of aware of this formula but the younger reader can delight in the blessed relief of Olaf being defeated once more by some very industrious children.

I’m definitely going to continue with this series, after all, I do have that little glimmer of hope that the villain of the piece will be vanquished eventually and it’s always fun to see the unique way in which the children manage to get themselves out of a sticky mess time and time again.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN JUNE ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Face On The Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket was the thirty-third book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!