Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018

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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.

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – APRIL READ – Ratburger by David Walliams

Published April 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The fifth screamingly funny novel from David Walliams, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country. Hot on the heels of bestselling Gangsta Granny comes another hilarious, action-packed and touching novel – the story of a little girl called Zoe. Things are not looking good for Zoe. Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And now the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers is after her pet rat! And guess what he wants to do with it? The clue is in the title…From the author that is being called ‘a new Roald Dahl’, Ratburger is not to be missed!

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I have made no secret of the fact that we love David Walliams’ writing for children and we’ve covered a few books now of his in our Kid-Lit challenge, so it was a bit of a no-brainer whether we would be putting another of his books up this year for discussion! Ratburger was another absolute joy to read and as before, the illustrations by Tony Ross were just the icing on the cake. In fact, if I consider all the David Walliams books we’ve read so far, I’m struggling to pick a favourite. This is a line up where each book is special and individual in its own right, each one has a host of glorious characters of heroes to adore and villains to despise, and Ratburger is another wonderful treat easily comparable to all the others.

In this story, our protagonist is a small girl called Zoe who lives with her beloved father and (evil) stepmother, Sheila who is addicted to prawn cocktail crisps and treats her step-daughter abominably. Zoe’s father has retreated into himself immensely since her mother died and soon after, he lost his dream job in the ice cream factory. Now he spends all of his days drowning his sorrows in the pub, reluctant to hunt too hard for another job. One of the only perks of Zoe’s life is her new pet rat, Armitage (DON’T ask how she gave him his name but if you do know, have a good giggle with me in the comments!). Like her pet before him, she starts to teach him tricks and dreams of the day when she can leave the bullies at school behind and start her own performing animals show.

However, this wouldn’t be a David Walliams book without a bit of trepidation, an unfortunate incident and a dastardly villain and our poor heroine happens to come across a very nasty individual who has grand plans for Armitage. Zoe then ends up in a very precarious situation where she must rescue her pet rat from a dangerous and hugely gruesome ending at the hands of a very odd man who makes very “special” burgers for a living.

This book is perfect for your average middle grade reader and like every other book I’ve read from this author, the humour is just right for that age group and perhaps even for a slightly immature adult like myself? Themes like death, bullying, being a bit different, chasing your dreams and family dynamics are introduced for the younger reader very delicately and at no time did I feel it was “too much,” or inappropriate. There are a couple of ruder bits but I promise you they’re incredibly tame and are more likely to make a child chuckle rather than scarring him/her for life! I’ve heard this described on Goodreads as more of a boy’s book but I one hundred percent dispute that statement. I can’t even imagine why the reviewer thought it was aimed more towards the male sex, I think both boys and girls would enjoy it equally. And hey, a brave female lead is ALWAYS appreciated here on this blog so thank you David Walliams for giving us Zoe, a determined, dreamy young girl who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing until she gets it despite the hardship she may suffer along the way.

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

NEXT UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – MARCH READ – The Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Published April 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of Year 2017 

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

What did I think?:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest time! Debut author Kiran Millwood Hargrave won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the British Book Awards Children’s Book Of The Year in 2017 and with that stunning cover, I couldn’t resist much longer and made sure to suggest it to Chrissi when we were compiling our Kid Lit list for this year. In the end I have to admit, I wasn’t completely blown away by this book although there were many parts of it that I adored BUT I think if I had been the right age bracket for this novel, I would have rated it a lot higher. As a middle grade fiction read, it’s easy to fly through these pages in one sitting and both the fantastical and adventure elements are hugely appealing for children of both genders.

This is the story of Isabella Riosse who lives on a small island with her cartographer father under the tyrannical rule of the Governor whose daughter Lupe, Isabella happens to be best friends with. The Governor has cut off large portions of the land as forbidden and there are a lot of local legends about how the land used to be before the Governor’s time. Residents of the island are reminded that they are not permitted to venture beyond the forest into what is known as The Forbidden Territories so when the Governor’s daughter disappears there and is presumed lost, Isabella disguises herself as a boy and offers her map-reading skills to the Governor in the hunt to retrieve Lupe. Isabella is ecstatic at the prospect of seeing part of the land previously forbidden to everyone but is not entirely prepared for the journey she ends up going on, one that involves a desperate fight to save the land she loves dearly.

As I’ve mentioned, this story has a lot of things going for it and when I first started, I was in awe of how the author set the scene and introduced her characters, particularly Isabella. The world she lives in is fascinating and I was intrigued by the setup and history however this is also where the story fell down slightly for me. I just wanted more. I would have loved the author to have gone into more detail about the world including The Forbidden Territories and how the Governor came to power and I felt this was touched on too briefly and left me feeling slightly confused about how exactly everything happened. This was also the case with the characters, sadly. Isabella was a wonderful female protagonist and I loved her bravery and tenacity in helping her friend, especially considering the horrors she comes across along her incredible journey. She had such great potential and yet somehow, I still didn’t feel like I really knew her at the end of it all which was a shame. Saying all this, The Girl Of Ink And Stars is still a masterful, exciting story that I’m sure will capture the hearts of many children around the world. It’s fast-paced, very easy so read and packed full with the most brilliant magical elements that kept me constantly eager to turn the pages.

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT UP IN APRIL ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Ratburger by David Walliams.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – FEBRUARY READ – Matilda by Roald Dahl

Published February 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

What did I think?:

Disclaimer: Roald Dahl was a staple part of my childhood reading so I may be slightly biased or over-passionate about his work as like most children who read him when they were younger, I adored him and his wonderful stories. I was slightly concerned as I am with all the kid-lit Chrissi Reads and I re-visit, if there happens to be a re-read that I won’t enjoy as much as an adult. I’m delighted to say that Matilda has aged very well and I instantly remembered all the joy I got from this little book, the lines I used to be able to recite off by heart and of course, the glorious illustrations by Quentin Blake which just add a little extra something special to Roald Dahl’s expert story-telling.

If you don’t know what Matilda is about (where have you BEEN?), it follows a rather extraordinary little girl who is thoroughly under-appreciated by her family. Matilda is extraordinary as she is highly intelligent, teaches herself to read before she goes to school, can multiply huge sums in her head and once she has exhausted everything in the children’s section of the library, she starts on all the adult books with the help of Mrs Phelps, the kind (yet astounded) librarian. Matilda does eventually go to school like a normal child and her teacher, Miss Honey realises quite quickly how bright she is and gives her more advanced books to study whilst the rest of the children learn their ABC’s. There is a dark side to this narrative however and this is the dreaded headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who terrorises the school, especially young children like Matilda who she has a particular distaste for. However, clever Matilda has more than a few tricks up her sleeve to deal with such a deadly adversary and revenge is certainly sweet indeed for anyone who has ever been unlucky enough to be frightened by The Trunchbull.

Ahhh, this book is everything. It was perfect for a bookish child like myself who delighted in a female protagonist that was intelligent yet gentle and managed to get her own back on the people who wronged her in the most hilarious way. It was also perfect for the bookish adult that I have become who still champions a quirky female heroine who will always hold a special place in my heart. It was such a nostalgic, beautiful reading experience that made me hug the book to my chest within just a few pages at the sheer remembrance of how fantastic the story and the characters are. Roald Dahl has a real quality to his writing that can enable the reader to imagine particular scenes so vividly and there’s still those scenes for me, like The Trunchbull throwing Amanda Thripp round and round in a hammer throw that I pictured as a child and funnily enough, still have the same picture in my head as an adult, completely before the film came into fruition. Now that I’ve been reminded how awesome Roald Dahl is, I can’t wait to re-read more of his work so that I can re-discover that same magic that captivated me as a child and still continues to enchant me today.

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

COMING UP IN MARCH ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Bookish Resolutions And Goals For 2018

Published January 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://msbookish.com/2015-goals-bookish-goals-for-the-new-year/

Hello everyone and welcome to a post that I don’t normally do but for some reason, I thought it might be nice to do for 2018. I don’t normally like to make too many rules and regulations for my blog but due to the sheer volume of the books that I own, the back-list of reviews I still have to write etc. I thought it might be time to set some things down, just to give me some sort of direction for the year ahead. I’ve written down TEN major resolutions and then I’ve slotted in another FIVE general ones (just because once I started I found it quite difficult to stop…oops!) So, here we go!

1.)  Put less pressure on myself to blog every day.

I came a little way to doing this last year when I was ill. I did get to the stage where I just thought: “Oh *%$* it!” but there was still that residual guilt when I didn’t get a post done every day. 😦

2.) Gradually reduce review back-list by continuing to do mini-pin it reviews.

I came a long way doing this last year – to date I’ve done 16 mini-pin it reviews which means sixty-four books that were originally on my review back-list are GONE! Definitely will continue this.

3.) Use notebook to make notes on titles “currently reading” so when I come to review them, things are fresher in my memory.

I recently bought a lovely notebook from Faye at Daydreaming Designs and used it to compile this list and a few other things already this year in the attempt to make me a little more organised!

4.) Be honest with myself if I’m unable to take on a review title especially those requested by authors directly that are not really my cup of tea.

When I first started blogging, I used to love that authors requested me to read their books and used to accept EVERYTHING. Then I realised how stupid this was and that I couldn’t possibly do this and read the things I WANTED to read as well. I have got better at refusing review requests but need to stop feeling bad about it too.

5.) Be better about commenting on other bloggers reviews.

Again something I have got a little better with last year but I still perhaps don’t comment as much as I should. Sometimes I think I’ve got nothing else to say except “Great review!” but even if I just say that it’s letting the blogger know I enjoyed their post.

6.) Attend more bookish events/author talks.

I love doing this and unfortunately chronic illness slows me down in this A LOT. I work in London and there is the potential to attend events after work however if I do that and get home late I’m likely to knacker myself for work the next morning. However, once in a while wouldn’t hurt!

7.) Continue with “Shelfie by Shelfie” meme and hopefully encourage others to participate.

I’ve really enjoyed developing my little meme last year, something I thought I could never do. I have a lot of shelves so there are many, many more shelfies to come and hopefully I can inspire someone else to join in too.

8.) Experiment with making reviews a little “fresher” i.e. use of images relevant to post.

I love bloggers that use images/GIF’s which highlight their content and break up the text a little bit. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this myself but we’ll see how it goes…

9.) Read some of those books I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

For example, A Song Of Fire And Ice by George R.R. Martin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. Some of these books have been on my shelves/Kindle for FAR too long!

10.) Start doing some buddy reads/join an online bookclub.

I’ve never done a buddy read before and it looks like such fun! I already have tentative plans with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages to read The Fireman by Joe Hill this year so I’m really hoping that takes off. Just saying it right here, right now, if I mention a book and you’re open to a buddy read with me – let’s do it!

OTHER CHALLENGES:

  • Increase NetGalley ratio to a more acceptable level. – you don’t want to know my ratio…it’s shameful.
  • Participate in Mount TBR challenge. – I saw this on Jo’s Book Blog and it looks like a lot of fun!
  • Continue to enjoy Banned Books and Kid-Lit with Chrissi. – this should be easy, I’ve done this every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Richard And Judy book club picks. – also something I’ve done every year since I started blogging.
  • Read and review Daunt Books from annual subscription each month. – my wonderful boyfriend got me a Daunt Books Annual Subscription for Christmas so I get one new paperback each month. I’m determined to read and review them each month they come in. Let’s see how I do.

So everyone….

Image from: https://www.appbrain.com/app/wish-me-luck/com.Starlab.WML

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit – The Titles For 2018 Revealed!

Published January 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2017/04/03/even-more-outlandish-further-thoughts-on-the-role-of-translation-and-childrens-literature/

JANUARY – The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader -C.S. Lewis

FEBRUARY- Matilda-Roald Dahl

MARCH – The Girl Of Ink And Stars- Kiran Millwood Hargrave 

APRIL- Ratburger- David Walliams

MAY – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)-Lemony Snicket

JUNE- The Face On The Milk Carton-Caroline B. Cooney

JULY – Murder Most Unladylike- Robin Stevens

AUGUST- The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

SEPTEMBER – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing -Judy Blume

OCTOBER- Nightbirds on Nantucket  (The Wolves Chronicles #3)- Joan Aiken

NOVEMBER – Number The Stars- Lois Lowry

DECEMBER- Time Travelling With A Hamster- Ross Welford

Generally, we had a wonderful Kid-Lit year in 2017 but generally, I didn’t think it was as strong as 2016. However, lots of beauties to look forward to on this list. We are continuing with our Narnia series with The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, the fifth book in the Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, The Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket with the third book in the series and the third book in The Wolves Chronicles by Anne Cassidy which we’re very much excited about. We’ve also got some old classics like Matilda by Roald Dahl and one of my favourite childhood authors, Judy Blume to look forward to and some newer authors like Tom Fletcher and Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I’m expecting great things for this year and I can hardly wait. Join us at the end of January for our first post!