Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Mum Never Did Learn to Knock by Cathy Hopkins (Children's, 11 years +, Dyslexia friendly, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 April 2015, Barrington Stoke, 80 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: grief, tissues needed

Summary from Barrington Stoke
Emily and Mum are close – real close – and then Mum goes. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop talking, even if Dad doesn’t like it.

Nayu's thoughts 
I had to laugh because I think all mother's enter without knocking at various points in a child's life, even when they aren't a child! The first instance was hilarious, counteracting how heartbreaking it was to see Emily upset over her mother's death. Well, she kind of wasn't because she could see her, so was really happy, but that happiness turned to annoyance and had people who cared about her worry at how she was taking the death. The humour was spot on and worked brilliantly with the illustrations. It was a happy ending, with tissues needed both then and at other points in the story.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Nayu's News #186 You can have your own Soaring Rainbow Dreams blanket!

You know you want it!
Want to know how this Rising Rainbow Dreams blanket can be yours? Easy. Head to my Etsy store, Nayu's Crochet Dreams! You can find the full story on the blanket over on my crochet blog.

Nayu's News #185 Aikatsu: Sumire's Tutu Ballerina song

Guess who's the singer! It makes sense now I know ^o^
I spent all of yesterday trying to figure out where I'd heard the song that was stuck in my head. I couldn't Google it because I didn't know the words, only the music. Late last night I remembered - it's an Aikatsu anime song! Not from an episode I've seen yet, but one time when I browsed all Aikatsu songs and fell in love with this, Tutu Ballerina sung by Sumire. Time for it to get stuck in your head! ^o^ Heehee!

What are YOU reading? #269

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.


Eden's Wish by M. Tara Crowl
Children's, 9 years +
(A girl genie wanting to be free makes for a super awesome read from Disney!)

Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate
(Learnt a lot about divas and ghostwriting!)

You Can't Take An Elephant On The Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman
Children's, Picture book
(Although not quite my style illustration wise, this is a funny book which made me think...)

The Edge of Me by Jane Brittan
Children's, 11 years +
(Harrowing tale of a girl caught up in a war formed gang...)

Saving London by Taylor Dawn
(An impressive read, never quite as I thought but in a good way. Loved the ending but suspect not all will!)

A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston
Amish Fiction, Romance, Christian Romance
(Another ace Amish story by a writer whose books I'm slowly devouring!)

I Want My Daddy by Tracey Corderoy and Alison Edgson
Children's, Picture book
(A book so cute it made me cry...)

I Love Dad by Tasha Percy, Natalie Godwin and Zeta Jones
Children's, Non-Fiction, Picture book
(Lots of animal fathers, some with incredible facts that I've never heard of!)

A New Baby Story: Aren't You Lucky? by Catherine and Laurence Anholt
Children's, Picture book
(I nearly spat out my drink when I read the child's reaction to their new little brother!)

Families, Families, Families by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang
Children's, Picture book, Non-Fiction
(A book celebrating differences in families, and showing how they are all the same.)

Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett
Children's, Picture book
(Poppy has a huge problem and comes up with a clever solution with her imagination...)

Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes and Pauline Martin
Children's, 7 years +
(You have to see Hamster to understand why he is diabolical!)


The Princess Diaries #2 Take Two by Meg Cabot
Young Adult
(Mia continues to make me smile with her princess lessons and mishaps...)

The Princess Diaries #3 Third Time Lucky by Meg Cabot
Young Adult
(Grandmere is both wonderful and evil for Mia...)


Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie Day
Children's, 9 years +
(This is my first listen of a much loved book, and I know it will be relistened to regularly as it is a 'go to' read...)


Pop Pixie
Anime, French version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(My virtually no romance magic fairy fix, perfect for my Ramadan practice days.)

Winx: Season 2
Magical girl anime, French version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(If it's possible I'm even more in love with the fairies than ever!)

Once Upon A Time: Season 2
Fantasy drama, English version
REWATCH! - 10/10E
(I'd forgotten how twisted the plot gets concerning Emma and Mr Gold!)

Tinkerbell The Secret of the Wings
Anime film, English version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(I love Peri's friends! And Peri...)

Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy
Anime film, English version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(This time I felt sorry for Zelena from the start, despite what she does...)

Tinkerbell and the NeverBeast
Anime film, English version
(Saddest and scariest Disney Fairies movie to date!)

Beauty and the Beast
Anime film, English version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(Can't get enough of this fairytale at the moment!)

Sandybelle Jonquille
Anime, French version
(On disc 3 and Sandybelle's life is currently a bit like Princess Sarah in A Little Princess...)

Strawberry Shortcake's Adventures in Berry Paradise
Anime, French version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(Got to the part where the girls compete to be the Berryfest Princess!)

Music idol anime, Japanese version
REWATCH! - 10E/10E
(I teared up when Twings got formed because I know they will beat Double M!)

Craft, games, etc
No gaming this week, but I've worked on figuring out colour combinations for a summer blanket...

...and I've started a funky coloured blanket which I take when I go out anywhere in case I have a few free mins...

Murder Most Unladylike and Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E & 10E/10E)

June 2014 & January 2015, Corgi Children's, 352 pages each, Paperback, Review copies

Content: murder, suspense, lots of humour and tension

Summary from Random House Children's Publishers
When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't.)

Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She assumes it was a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove one happened in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill - and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem - and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

Nayu's thoughts on both books  

Thanks to the fairly recent release of Arsenic For Tea I've entered the crazy, hilarious, and slightly crazy world of Hazel and Daisy. I grew up on Enid Blyton's various boarding school series (must read them again soon), which for me are how a boarding school should be. I've read modern boarding school reads which keep some of the same traditions (midnight feasts, pranks, not quite legal goings ons among students), but this is the first book which truly matches my ideal of a boarding school. It is set in an era without mobile phones! There's all the traditions like prep (homework), being allowed out to the local town for a time limit with a specific number of other classmates, punishments...and new ones like having a murder on the loose in both books, having a secret detective society, making lists of suspects and motives. 

I found it interesting the way Hazel finds English life strange because she's from China, and how in Arsenic For Tea the way people react to her at Daisy's home is different to being in a school environment. At times they seem like an unlikely duo, and there is some falling out at crucial parts of the story, but their different character traits mean that all areas of their investigations are covered, both the spontaneous side and taking thorough notes. All of the cast have traditional character elements – for example there is an entertaining French Mistress (book 1) & a melodramatic mother (book 2) who made me think of Mrs Bennett in the BBC TV adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Although Murder Most Unladylike was the first time I met the girls, such is the power of the writing that within the first 5 pages I felt like I knew them really well, even though I didn't. Daisy is a bit nutty, rather gung ho and at times a bit of a diva but it's because of how the other girls view her that she's able to find out information which proves crucial to the cases which she and Hazel set about solving. Okay sometimes it is more a case of Hazel going along with Daisy to try and keep her out of trouble; it meant a lot when Hazel knowingly broke some rules since she was fond of keeping them. 

It's a bit tricky to convey just how wonderful this series is, and how eager I am for book 3. I laughed a lot, but there is a surprising amount of suspense with the murder side of things. I had the shivers as the plot thickened, and believe me when I say the reality in who the murderer is was a total surprise and cleverly thought of. I'm stopping before this turns into an essay, (too late) but you absolutely must check these rereadable books which I can't wait to get return to and try spotting the hints about the various mysteries which are linked with the murders.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Princess Poppy The Unicorn Foal by Janey Louise Jones and Samantha Chaffey (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Girly read!
February 2015, Young Corgi, 128 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: occasional peril, humour, cuteness
Join Poppy on a camper van adventure that takes her to the enchanting campsite, Fairy Moon. Together with her new friend Jonny, Poppy has fun discovering all sorts of wonderful wildlife – and could she even have spotted a real unicorn?

Before long Poppy's imagination runs wild and leads her into danger . . .

Nayu's thoughts 
As well as finding a unicorn foal Poppy learns the hard way adults have a reason for setting limits on where she and her friend Jonny can play while camping. I like the lessons which Poppy learns in each book, and in keeping with this being a chapter book not a picture book it felt reasonable that the mishaps were more dangerous. I am intrigued why she ended up being rescued in a particlar way 'again' – I wonder which book it happened for the first time! As ever the super cute illustrations add another dimension to the thrilling read which will be treasure and reread many times over. 

Suggested read
Check out other Princess Poppy books for younger readers including Princess Poppy: Story telling Princess by Janey Louise Jones (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Review & Game! Flashcards: ABC, 123, Opposites and colours (Children's, Non-fiction, flash cards, 10/10E)

Today's review is a triple treat!
May 2015, QED Publishing, 20 flashcards per box, Review copy 

All flashcards: 
Double-sided for interactive learning, these cards are a key tool to give your child a head start as they enter the world of reading.
Make learning the alphabet a joy with these delightfully illustrated ABC flash cards. With an animal fact feature on every card, they are perfect for young animal lovers
Colours & Opposites
Make learning key concepts a joy with these delightfully illustrated flash cards. With a variety of creatures featured on every card, they are perfect for young animal lovers. 
Make learning to count a joy with these delightfully illustrated flash cards. With different creatures featured on eery card, they are perfect for young animal lovers

Nayu's thoughts
I was asked by QED if I'd like to take part in a slightly different review by playing a game using the flash cards. Naturally I said yes as I love their storytime range for the thoughtful questions at the end of the book, such as in Give Us A Smile Cindrella! by Steve Smallman and Marcin Piwowarski (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E) 

As you can see there are currently 3 types of flashcards. They are around A5 size, made of sturdy, what feels like wipeable cards (perfect when sticky fingers are about!), and are double-sided. 
Here's what an empty box looks like
They are housed in an easy to open box, with a ribbon which needs to be kept on the bottom with a bit hanging out so you can easily lift all the cards up, saving the need to turn the box over and tip them all out. Yes I've done both methods!

The 123 flashcards count from 1 to 10 using a variety of animals. 

1 side of the card is just the picture of the number of animals...
...the other side incudes the animals and the number in digit and written form (plus what the animals are)
I'd say there are more what I call icky creatures (creepy crawlies/bugs/snakes) than I'd like in a set like this, but they will appeal to almost all young children who I know. The foxes are cute and cuddly! I haven't looked them up but I think the white one is an arctic fox, the bottom left a normal fox and the bottom right a fennic fox which lives in the desert. I liked foxes when I was little! 

Colours and Opposites
These were more my kind of animals! The opposites have the opposite type of word on the reserve side, whereas for the colours one side shows some animals, the other side says the colour involved and gives the names for the animals.
Here's one side of the opposite and colours card...

...and here's the other side!
As for the ABC cards, well they are straight forward.
This photo shows how on one side you have the letter and the animal's picture, and the other side has the animal's name and a fact about them.

Game letters!
I'd like you to come up with weird and wonderful words beginning with one of these letters, H, G, A. If you want to make it harder use two letters, or, if you want a real challenge, make up a word which uses all 3 letters! For 2 or 3 of the letters you can use them in any order with other letters. Off the top of my head I've come up with




Yes I've got animals on the brain! Let me know your ideas in the comments!