Friday, 6 March 2015

Rebel Science by Dan Green (Children's, Non-Fiction, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 Februry 2015, Weldon Owen, 80 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Content: lots of humour, facts 

Book summary from the email request (I couldn't find it on Weldon Owen's website)
 Rebel Science by Dan Green is an amusing, caricatured book covering the ups and downs, and the insane experiments in science which led to some of the most remarkable discoveries. Each of the scientists broke the rules in one way or another, but it ended up being for the best reason…

Nayu's thoughts
I was invited to read Rebel Science because I have reviewed books with Dan's work in the past (see suggested read). Now, the illustrations weren't as soft and cute as I'm used to, but they were very funny, especially with each person managing to look different and have a personality of their own without reading the text. 

The facts are short and snappy, made even me who has finished all her formal science education (thank goodness!) think more about the world we live in. Virtually every area of science is covered (electricity, power, atoms, biology, chemistry, physics....). I enjoyed the mini battles of scientists, and think this is a fun way of engaging readers with science, and will hopefully lead to a hunger for more research into areas of interest.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Blog Tour Review + Competition Lili by Wen Dee Tan (Children's, Picture Book, 10E/10E) UK entries only

The competition to win this is after the review!
15th February 2015, Fat Fox, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Themes: friendship, differences, 

Summary from Fat Fox
Lili is an ordinary little girl. Well except for one thing, she has fiery red hair. Lili finds it hard to make friends with there fiery red hair, but one day Lili finds the village children lost in the deep dark woods and her briery (and hair) leads them all home safely. Lili is a beautiful story of overcoming rejection and being accepted for who you are – something that will resonate with children and adults everywhere.

Nayu's thoughts
On this particular blog tour Fat Fox is asking reviewers to chat about their personal feelings towards the book, how they relate with Lili, etc. Because I do just then when I normally review books, I'm putting my thoughts in this part of the review. 

Lili is a deceptively simple picture book. The style of drawing with no colour other than Lili's hair draws all attention to the orange flames. It is all too easy to imagine the hardship Lili faces - yes she may be able to heat up her own bath water, but when it rains would her hair go out? Or does it make the rain evaporate? She would be so unpopular in snowy weather since she could probably melt a snowman. My heart went out to Lili as she was rejected for being herself. She couldn't help having her hair any more than we can 'help' having two arms and two legs. It's a part of her which both she and others needed to accept.

Having fire for hair causes no end of problems for the children she plays with. I think this is a fair depiction of how children and adults see anything which makes someone different from what is considered normal. By the way, normality doesn't exist! Yet people create barriers when there don't need to be any. I confess to thinking that Lili's parents may have turned out to be like Roald Dahl's Matilda's parents, in that they would abuse her hair and make her be a modern day cinderella, but thankfully they didn't.

Like the first few children who came off worse for wear from Lili's hair, some people see difference as huge obstacles which aren't possible to climb. Thankfully there are many people who think outside the box and see how the so called problems can be turned into solutions. I remember when I was at school, sometimes my friends enjoyed the fact that I needed to rest a lot for medical reasons because it meant they could spend a bit of time chilling by a beanbag I had for resting! It made for a comfier story time. 

These days I don't go out a lot because I find it tiring. That doesn't stop me from having friends like Lili's who appreciated her hair was just one of those things - as well as being perfect for toasting marshmallows - my friends know that when I do go out and visit them I embrace the time we have together, trying to fill it with fun things to last me until I next see them.

Lili's tale is a gateway for optimistic thinking and problem solving, shows what the true meaning of friendship is, and encourages helping others and being inclusive with everyone you may meet. 

Find out more on Wen's website.

Suggested read
I've reviewed a lot of picture books which deal with differences; in Specs for Rex by Yasmin Ismail, (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E) Rex does his best to avoid using his glasses, then finding they are rather useful after all. 

This is an adorable logo
It's competition time! The lovely people of Fat Fox are offering one UK reader not only a copy of Lili's story but it's a signed copy! How cool is that?! Simply fill in the form below to enter.
A signed version of Lili could be yours!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Review & Guest Blog Post: The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

The Kingdom of Silk series
Note from Nayu: Blogging gremlins were at work and refused to let me centre all the text in this post. Sorry! I hope they cooperate in the future so I can make it look uniform. 
This review is slightly different in that I need to explain how I came across this sweet series which explores so many issues that families face in a way that isn't too frightening for readers of all ages, and provides ways to cope when life goes a bit haywire. I was invited to read and review book 6, The Tender Moments of Saffron SilkI read it, loved it, and since it was an ebook I asked to read the rest of the series too, which I gobbled up in no time. So here's the order of books which they were written and ideally could be read, although they can be read on their own quite easily.

Book #1 with charming illustrations
The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard and Caroline Magerl, Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E Cot death from the view of an older brother makes a powerful read. Tissues are needed

Book #2 with more wonderful illustrations
Layla Queen of Hearts by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King, Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E A tale of a girl who might as well have been born a silk who learns about dementia directly

Book #3 Perry is one special boy
Perry Angel's Suitcase by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King, Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E A new member of the Silk family arrives, only he thinks he won't be wanted. You'll see just how wrong he is.

Book #4 As touch a read as all the others
All The Colours of Paradise by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King, Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E Time to learn more about Perry, why he has 2 days of homeschool each week and why his mother is a secret.

Book #5 More tissues needed
Plum Pudding and Paper Moons by Glenda Millard, Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E Scarlett's wishes were so like my own at her age.

Today's main review focus Book #6

5th March 2015, Phoenix Yard Books, 128 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Content: tissues, humour, family love, friendship 

Summary from Phoenix Yard Books
Series summary
In Glenda Millard’s beautifully written and multi-award-winning Kingdom of Silk series, set in the evocatively realized Australian countryside, we meet the uncommon Silk family. Parents Ben and Annie Silk have a brood of five daughters (‘the Rainbow Girls’), a son named Griffin, Griffin’s best friend Layla who ‘might as well be a Silk’, Nell - the ‘tiny bit magic’ fairy grandmother, and Perry Angel – an adopted son who joins the Silk family midway through the series.

Through these whimsical, lyrical stories, Glenda Millard writes about families like no other writer writes about families. The books explore important themes of love, loss, friendships, home and belonging, in ways that pull at the heartstrings but are never over-sentimental. Honey for the soul.

The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk summary
Everyone knows that Saffron Silk has a talent for pretending to be someone else but when the firebirds rage inside her head, and it hurts even to breathe, Saffron barely has the energy to be herself.

Saffron's family don't know about the firebirds that come to warn her of terrible headaches. And Saffron doesn't know how to tell them. But her brother Perry Angel has learnt to read hearts and recognise tender moments, and Perry knows that Saffron is frightened. Frightened of what might be wrong with her and afraid that she might have to leave the Kingdom of Silk forever..
Nayu's thoughts  
Like with many other books I review I ended up reading book first, then the previous 4/5 books, then I reread this one. I'm glad I was able to read the others (thanks to the lovely publicist), because my initial thoughts were that Saffron's father was a bit of a lunatic, her family was a bit too wacky, and I didn't entirely understand the various relationships. The first time round I fully related to Saffron's fear of what was wrong with her, just because it is so scary having your body do things which you've no control over & don't understand. The care and support of her friends and family made me cry (I cry when I'm happy, sad, & overwhelmed), especially that of Perry whose personal sacrifice I fully understood when I read the stories where he first appears.

This entire series is such a sweet read, covering emotionally complex issues in a way that makes sense. I want a grandmother like Nell! She is heaps of fun, sees the positive in everything, and knows that not everyone can learn the same way, which is why Perry ends up being homeschooled 2 days a week and attending school for the rest. It is never openly said (as far as I can remember) but it's obvious that Perry has some form of Autism or Aspergers, and the way his adopted brother and sisters view him is touching. I loved how Layla brightens everyone's life after their dear sister Tishkin passes away. 

I admire Saffron's parents for sticking with their way of life and not minding what other people think, for picking meaningful names, for being able to follow their dreams. Liking handicrafts made me like Saffron's dad being a wood carver and a baker – the naming books sounds exquisite! This is a series I'll reread because they are touching, and the illustrations heighten the meaning behind the story. A family focused read with lots of grandmother magic!

Find out more on Glenda's website.

Suggested read
For another series which focuses on a family check out The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy and includes Sweet Honey (Children's, 11 years +, 10E/10E)

How to create magic when writing about serious issues for children by Glenda Millard

Nayu: It is such a pleasure to find out more from Glenda how she write a series which covers so many challenges in life that ideally people wouldn't face but find they have to. A huge thank you Glenda for creating a life enriching series.

There are times when most of us need a diversion from life’s difficulties. And what better way to do that than to read a book? For there is magic in books; carpet-ride magic, that transports us to places we’ve never been; perhaps to Treasure Island, 40,000 leagues under the sea or even down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. This kind of magic is capable of transforming us into people we are not; into heroes, warriors or little princes from faraway planets.

And then there is that other kind of book-magic where we discover characters who are just like us, from families like ours. Characters who think like us, act like us and feel the way we do. They might be shy, guilty, angry, embarrassed or broken-hearted.
Age or gender is no barrier, we are interested to see how these characters react, how they cope with feelings of loneliness, fear or oddness. Engaging with literary characters such as these is, at best, like meeting someone in real life and finding comfort in discovering a shared experience, a common background. We feel less alone, more hopeful and courageous.

Each of the seven books of the Kingdom of Silk series is based on events that commonly occur in real families. In the 6th book, ‘The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk,’ Saffron, the youngest of six daughters, is ill. While she and her family anxiously await diagnosis, Saffron reflects on something her grandmother told her. Books are many things, Nell says, lullabies for the weary, ointment for the wounded, armour for the fearful and nests for those in need of a home. This has been, and continues to be, my experience as a reader and one that I hope readers of my books (both children and adults) will enjoy.

I have been a reader for far longer than I’ve been a writer. The books I love best are always the ones I can lose myself in. For that is what we do when we are immersed in a book. We lose all sense of self and become. Yes, we become; someone else, somewhere else. Since I have become a writer, my motivation is to write books that my readers can lose themselves in. I want to cast the spell of becoming over my readers. I want them to weep for the loss of baby Tishkin, to sing for joy at the coming of Perry Angel, to see the daisy-covered hills and smell the eucalyptus trees of the small town of Cameron’s Creek, far away over oceans and seas in the great southern land of Australia.

Nell Silk uses imaginative play, ‘dress-ups’ and her own brand of magic to communicate with children. I am soon to be blessed with a grandchild of my own. I hope to be a Nell kind of grandmother. One who still remembers what it was like to be a little girl, wanting people to explain things, give me answers to questions that were important to me, in a way that was loving, kind and understandable. One who believes that children have a right to answers. And most of all, one who can find the right words to talk about the things that are hardest to say.

So if there is magic in what children’s authors write when touching on difficult topics, I suggest it is this; we do our best to enchant the reader, to cast the spell of ‘becoming’ over them, making it possible for them to believe in the worlds we have created and feel for the people who inhabit them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Nayu's News #177 Audiobooks + Audiobook competition!

Time to share what I love with you!
I ended up being busy at the weekend after scheduling a few blog tour posts for this week, so this post isn't a review. It's about my view on audiobooks. 

I love audiobooks! A year and a bit ago I didn't imagine saying this. After all, reading books was just that, reading a book, be it a physical book or a digital book. I did listen to audiobooks when I was little - I fondly remember Bramley Hedge on tape and wish I still had them. 

Somehow I did try an audiobook, more because a friend was listening to them on her way to work. And I loved it! I started off with a small collection, which slowly has been growing thanks to Audible UK which I subscribe to. For only £7 a month (or is it £8?) I get 1 credit, which is the cost of an audiobook. Given that some of the ones I've got cost well over £20, it's a total bargain! You can buy more credits, there's a bundle which is often on offer and there are various other promotions throughout the year. 

Even when my energy is non-existant I can enjoy a story thanks to audiobooks
The reason I love audiobooks is because I can do craft while listening to the stories. Not only that, they are perfect for when I'm too tired to but want to read a story - I can zone out with the audiobook as it takes less concentration than following words on a page. That's how I'm able to keep reading when I'm  not well. They are good for the times when I'm not feeling up to reading, or watching anime, but want to do something fun & quiet. 

I guess the small negatives of audiobooks are the expense if you aren't in a scheme like Audible, as they are more costly than ebooks & paper books. Also depending on your speed of reading it can take much longer to complete a book, but that doesn't diminish the enjoyment at all. For me those aren't negatives aren't an issue. I love relistening to my favourite stories without having to take up time that needs to be spent reading review books! 

Competition time!
Enter a whole other world with audiobooks!
What do you think about audiobooks? Have you tried them? Do you like them? Do you think that there's no way you'd ever listen to one? 

As an incentive to get talking about audiobooks, I'm holding a competition! 

If you'd like an audiobook from Audible UK worth no more than £20, or Audible US worth no more than $31, simply tell me what you think about audiobooks in the comments for this post. 

I'll use a random number generator to get a winner. 

You have until 2nd April 2015 to enter. 

Important notes: This competition is only for US/UK residents. If you live in the US, if you pick a book from that is $31 I'll send you the money via Paypal so you can purchase it. If the winner is from the UK I can easily send the book as an e-gift. It's easy to sign up to Audible, there's always a free trial going on and you can quit the subscription at any time & keep the books you've got so far. For more information about how to listen to a book from Audible check out the Audible US help page and the Audible UK help page.

So get talking!
You can listen anytime and anywhere to an audiobook!

Monday, 2 March 2015

What are YOU reading? #258

What are you reading on Monday? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you post books completed last week and plans for upcoming books. Jump over to her blog and see who else is participating.


Hero by Samantha Young
(A bit predictable but there's nothing like danger to make a story exciting!)

Rebel Science by Dan Green
(Humourous science is the best way to learn so many facts...)


Welcome To Dog Beach by Lisa Greenwald
(Finished this fun MG story with a huge surprise at the end!)

Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews
(Nell hasn't started her handbag business yet...)

The Second Chance Cafe by Alison Kent
Amish fiction
(One of several Amish themed stories I'm devouring...)

A Gift of Grace by Ann Clipston
Amish Fiction
(I can't stress how long a wait it will be to get my next monthly credit so I can get the next in this series : putting 2 modern teen girls in their Amish aunt's home due to their parents dying and you have a fascinating story...)


The Legend of Korra:  Season 1
Anime, English version
(Despite being impatient and disobedient, I rather like Korra...)

Call the Midwife
Medical drama, English version
(Learnt some very interesting facts about the really strict midwife who has a dark past which I never expected...)

Waterloo Road
School drama, English version
(I'm curious about the deputy head's past, and shocked that in the sneak peek to next week's episode Leo looks to be the culprit for bullying Bonnie. It makes sense as he is a whizz with computers!)

Table for 12
Documentary, English version
(Insight into a family of 12 children!)

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:  Season 4
Anime, English version
(Learning Pinkie Pie is Applejack's distant relation was a happy shock and sweet to watch!)

REWATCH! - Music idol anime, Japanese version
(I never tire of watching how Lala gets to team up with Sophie...)

REWATCH! - Music idol anime, Japanese version
(At the moment I'm alternating season 2 with season 3, and loving every moment!)

Medical drama, English version
(An alright episode, Connie on more of a warpath as its her father's death anniversary...)

Top Gear
Motor show, English version
(Not the most hilarious episode, but still entertaining...)

Holby City
Medical drama, English version
(Mary Claire might be leaving for the second time! I won't mind if she comes back again...)

It's been a busy week gaming on my 10E/10E Gameloft games.

I'm plodding along in Littlest Pet Shop. In the middle of rebuilding Ice Age Village, and decided to save my gems in My Little Pony so I can get Princess Cadence! There is a new mlp update coming soon which I'm excited about.

Craft wise I've been experimenting with the paw print for my forthcoming pet blankets. It's on an attempt which has sparked other exciting ideas! Here's my paw print progress so far.

Here’s my progress using some yarn which looks pretty but hasn't lived up to my expectations.

Sewing wise I’ve made a fair amount of progress on this owl kit....

...completing the branch & everything except the small yellow owl. 

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Nayu's News #176, Schedules, branding, & fun!

I'm relaxing!
After a week of being ill a lot, it feels good to make it to the weekend feeling normal (my kind of normal is still with pain & fatigue, but it's easier to cope with when I'm not under attack from germ gremlins). I got most of my blogging done before I met with a friend for mid-morning coffee (not that we ever have coffee...), and finishing off now I'm back before I'm done for the day. 

I so really need to print myself a copy of this cute planner!
I adore schedules and feel lost without one, which is why I have one each day, often not written down just a mental one. Recently to help me promote rest & avoid blog overwork (all too easy to do with my crochet shop) I've made a new scheduled where I'm allowed 2 hours of blogging on a non-work day, plus the extra 30-60mins emails & social media stuff. Ideally it is a max of 40mins, which is my limit in the week on a work day, but at weekends it can extend a little without too much impact on me. I find that because I leave emails & social media for a specific section, I'm able to focus just on sorting blog posts. Although in reality I now do less work on my blog, because I have set times for specific tasks I'm getting a lot more day. Long live the schedules! 

Book logging system tweaking
Remember my new review book logging in system? Well it's still working, only it's not as good as helping me keep track of date order as everything is logged in when I receive it. Unlike a computer a notebook can't be re-ordered at the click of a button. So, since I have some index card and an index card holder I'm going to keep track of dates that way, labelling the dividers with months of the year, and continue using my log book for finer details. I've yet to decorate my index card box with either stickers or wrapping paper, but it currently looks something like this.

Mine will be way more exciting than plain black. There's nothing wrong with plain colours, I just like bright & cheery items.
 Once I've read a book I'll simple turn the relevant index card upside down, and on the reverse will write the title so I know it's been read. It's handy for jotting down my thoughts as I read the book too. 

This fan art of Sumire from Aikatsu is cute! She & her friends do so much work that their fans don't see, just like bloggers & newbie craft shop owners like me do.
Other news...lots of behind the scenes 'stuff' is going on for Nayu's Crochet Dreams this weekend, including sorting return address labels (for me & my shop), labels with my name on for each item; this will be Nayu's Crochet Dreams in rainbow letters; and vaguely temporary business cards. Why vaguely temporary? I hear you ask. It's vaguely temporary because while I would love to have everything bespoke with my unique logo here...
...price wise it's not a practical option yet. I'm waiting until my shop a) is open & b) starts selling items before I'll start making sure my brand is the same for everything I use. Until then I'll use 'vaguely temporary' designs - these are designs offered by the company. I happen to be using Vistaprint UK, I'm not receiving anything by mentioning them, I simply like the look of them, they seem cheaper than the popular Moo business card, and currently have 25% off everything (I think) which is a very good deal for me right now! I am getting the item labels elsewhere, but they are still a bargain price.

For the rest of the day I'll be watching anime, reading, and of course working on my beloved crochet projects! I hope you have a nice weekend whatever you end up doing ^o^ 
Ooops, forgot to mention my dear Muse who yes will be playing with me today & tomorrow, after I've had a rest and fed her with inspiration!

Give Us A Smile Cinderella by Steve Smallman and Marcin Piwowarski (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 April 2015, QED, 24 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: lots of humour

Summary from QED
Every day Cinderella brushes her teeth twice whilst her two sisters eat cakes and sweets all day. Can her sparkling smile take her from rags to riches?

Follow Cinderella in this hilarious twist of the classic fairytale and discover why it's important to brush your teeth.

Nayu's thoughts
I adore the story of Cinderella, a classic fairytale, and this version is a brilliant take on it to get readers to take care of their teeth. I can safely say I've never read a version like this, and thoroughly enjoyed the different plot slant. The illustrations are a sweet style which made me smile on every page. Readers will understand why her step-sisters are so evil, and will be encouraged to follow Cinderella's steps, be they in one shoe or two, and brush daily so they don't frighten anyone else with the state of their teeth.

Suggested read
There are more books in this fun series such as Keep Running, Gingerbread Man! by Steve Smallman and Neil Price (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)