Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Review: How To Teach Grown-Ups About Pluto by Dean Regas and Aaron Blecha (Children's, Non-fiction, 10/10E)

 May 2022, Britannica Books, 112 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Book Summary

Pluto has not been a planet since 2006. But this tiny world still inspires people of all ages while sparking controversy. In this delightfully witty book, astronomer Dean Regas teaches you how to educate your grown-up about the cutting-edge science of space, most crucially the reason why Pluto is NOT a planet anymore.

Delving into the history of space discoveries, the key players who have helped our understanding of the universe (including the 11-year-old girl who named Pluto in the first place), and the ever-changing nature of science, this book will equip every reader with the tools they need to bring their grown-ups fully up to speed, and to sneak in as many amazing astronomical facts as possible. 

And there’s a handy quiz at the end so that you can check your grown-up has been paying attention!

Nayu's thoughts 

I am one of those grown-ups who likes to believe Pluto is a planet. As a child I grew up with it being a planet, so I was eager to read why it isn't. There is so much good information in this book, and yes it's possible to spend an entire book talking about Pluto! Even though technically it isn't a planet as what makes a planet's definition has been changed, to me Pluto will always be a planet. It was for a time, and therefore it can be in my mind!

I liked how clearly it was explained why Pluto was a planet, and is not one. Rather than black and white illustrations they are blue and white, in keeping with what Pluto looks like.Despite being 2D some of the pictures popped off the page and felt 3D, almost all had a sense of humour to them.  I learnt about planets in general, moons, various scientific beliefs that changed over time as technology provided new evidence that change previously known facts. There is a timeline dedicated to Pluto facts, quizes at the back to see how much info was retrained from reading the book, and a much needed glossary, more useful to those new to astronomical terms. 

This is definitely essential reading if you don't understand why Pluto technically isn't a planet any more, and perhaps you will will join my team who pretends it still is a planet. I'm stubborn and I don't care! But at least the youth will know what Pluto really is, a once upon a time planet which is still an important part of our solar system. Or galaxy. Or both. I can't remember the difference between the terms. 

Suggested read

If you love space check out When We Walked on the Moon by David Long and Sam Kalda (Non-fiction, Children's, 10E/10E)


Saturday, 5 November 2022

Review: The Gita for Children by Roopa Pai and Sayan Mukherjee (Children's, Non-fiction, Spiritual, 8/10E)

  October 2022, Swift Press, 304 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Swift Press

The Gita For Children is an accessible friend, philosopher and guide, designed to, reassure, empower, and provide direction to young readers in an increasingly chaotic and morally topsy-turvy world.

The Bhagavad Gita has been on India’s must-read list for an incredible 2500 years (at the very least), and with good reason. Secular, liberal, and unfailingly compassionate towards human frailty, the divine song is a call to war against the most powerful and dangerous enemy of all – the one that lives inside our heads.

Pai’s spirited, one-of-a-kind retelling of the epic conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his mentor and friend Krishna is the best introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. Lucid, thought-provoking and brimming with fun trivia, this book will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Nayu's thoughts

Initially I was going to turn down reading this book, after all I'm Muslim rather than Hindu so why do I need to understand The Gita? However, I do like learning about other religions, understanding people is a step towards getting on with them (in theory), and I was curious about it. There are very few illustrations inside, which was a shame as they are gorgeous. 

There is a lot of explaining of the key essential parts of The Gita, which I appreciate is useful for those new to it. Some concepts were complex even when explained clearly. I liked how the explanations used were relevant for both children and teens, relating to homework and seeing friends. There are a lot of philosophies which are very similar in Islam, some were quite strange to me, and I didn't agree with all of them, but overall I feel I have a vague grasp on Hindu philosophies and why Krisna is believed to have fought the battle despite not wanting to fight his own family. 

Kindness and a sense of duty to others as well as oneself were the messages that came across strongly to me, and that people regardless of their spiritual inclination can appreciate how The Gita is a foundation for Hindus. It touches on ideas that I learnt about when I studied Pyschology at sixth form, different part of the self and how we can give in to certain thoughts or feelings or we can be stronger than them and do the dull tasks that are necessary in life. I do feel young Hindus will find this book invaluable to their spiritual journey, and other readers can broaden their knowledge which is never a bad thing. It's not a book I will peronally reread, but it is very good and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Suggested read

If you want to learn more about India check out A Jar of Pickles and Other Stories by Chitra Soundar and Uma Krishnaswamy (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


Thursday, 15 September 2022

Blog tour: Sometimes People Die by Simon Stephenson (Thriller, 9/10E)

 1st September 2022, The Borough Press, Ebook, Review copy

Book Summary

The year is 1999. Returning to practice after a suspension for stealing opioids, a young Scottish doctor takes the only job he can find: a post as a senior house officer in the struggling east London hospital of St Luke’s.

Amid the maelstrom of sick patients, over-worked staff and underfunded wards a darker secret soon declares itself: too many patients are dying.

Which of the medical professionals our protagonist has encountered is behind the murders? And can our unnamed narrator’s version of the events be trusted?

Nayu's thoughts 

With hospitals being quite a large part of my life, I found the concept of murder in a hospital really exciting. Due to my passion for hospital dramas I understand almost all the medical terms and jargon and understood all the processes that the doctor carried out. Sometimes People Die is an accurate title, but sometimes people are also killed, which is the case in this book. What I liked quite a lot is the protagonist, who admittedly I and other characters felt could be the culprit for a time, is really far from perfect. He is not someone I can relate to on pretty much any level but that's why he was so interesting. Due to his shady past he is not in a great hospital, but he does meet some genuinely kind staff members. There are some who are not kind but he gets used to their abrupt manner. And thankfully he gets to move out of the initial accomodation because that just was not the best place for him.

I like that somehow throughout the entire novel (I think) he is never really named. He does end up in a relationship, but it felt like something he felt he ought to do rather than really wanted, which seemed so odd to me. He himself is not a bad doctor, he isn't the best but he does his job fairly well despite the weird deaths. There's definitely a sense of fear during the time he gets blamed for the murders, every time the police came I wondered along with him if it would be the time they would formerly arrest him. He develops a rapport of sorts with the investigating officers, although as the story progresses that doesn't necessarily help him out. There is a shocking turn of events which I won't spoil but does affect his previous addiction, and seeing him spiral was not pleasant, but he does eventually get the help he needs. He is the only one who feels that the alleged murderer is not necessarily the correct one, and he gets to journey out of London in the attempt to discover the truth which was a total shock and cleverly executed.

I liked the snippets about other historical murders that came every few chapters, but as the tension mounted in the plot I did find these distracting and while I suppose it was like an alternate point of view, I just wanted to get on with the story rather than learn how evil some doctors can be in the past. I probably won't reread this as a lot of the wow factor came from not knowing anything, but it is a really good thriller and I highly recommend it. I did sit down for several hours and couldn't stop reading until I finished it! 

Check out all the stops on the tour: 

Suggested read

For other good thrillers try No Smoke Without Fire by Claire S Lewis (Thriller, 9/10E)


Thursday, 25 August 2022

Review: The Greatest Show On Earth by Mini Grey (Children's, Non-fiction, 9/10E)

 April 2022, Puffin, Hardback, Ebook, Review copy 

Book Summary from Penguin

 Take your seats for the ENTIRE history of Planet Earth, as we take a whistle-stop tour from the birth of Earth, to the age of bacteria, the era of dinosaurs . . . to the moment of people (blink and you'll miss it).

Narrated by a friendly troop of insects and with mind-blowing, lively illustrations, this illustrated non-fiction book will entertain and educate, as we put on a show, the greatest show, the show of the evolution of life on Earth.

Nayu's thoughts

Our planet has been around for a phenomenal amount of time. Often history looks at more modern issues, but The Greatest Show on Earth focuses more what happened many millions of years ago rather than ancient civilisations. It looks at how the earth's creatures evolved to meet the changing atmosphere. The style is as a circus act with several cute creatures (even if in real life they might have some readers including myself squealing and running far from them) as the performers. There is a timeline at the bottom of the page to help keep perspective on how far back the current era is. In the margins on each page there are further details about the talked about era with fascinating facts to learn about.

The watercolour style which is in a sort of muted tone suits the feel of the book and is a pleasure to look at. There is humour in both the text and the images themselves, which will make the information more palatable for younger readers. Stopping to think of all that's happened is quite a marvelous feeling. Even now, millions of years on there are constantly new discoveries about the past which is an important part of our present. It's not all dinosaurs or amoebas, there are many other almost mythical creatures (sadly no unicorns) that I had forgotten about from when I learned about this in school. The Greatest Show On Earth is by far better than a dull textbook, and I feel is a companion book to a home library encyclopedia as facts presented in a fun way are so much easier to learn about and remember. Hopefully this will interest younger readers in historical science!

Suggested read

Take a step back in time to 2010 and check out one of Mini's fiction books:Three by the Sea by Mini Grey (Children's, Picture book, 5 years +, 9/10E)


Monday, 8 August 2022

The Last Monster by Dan Walker (Children's, 9 years +)


 4th August 2022, UCLan Publishing, Paperback, Ebook, 322 pages, 

Book summary 

The Light Hunters have fought Monsters for centuries and Squad Juno are the very best at it. From cities to villages, the young group’s abilities are on show for all to see now that their powers don’t have to be used in secret. Every victory they have prevents a Monster from taking more victims, preventing more loss. Lux Dowd, Squad Juno’s healer, has had more than enough loss ... But a more immediate loss is that of his powers. Lux can’t – or won’t – heal his teammates. Whenever he tries, a terrible energy comes from within and hurts the people around him. Lux can’t afford to lose anymore of those he cares about. Sent on a mission that could end their war against the Monsters, the Light Hunters soon find themselves making new allies in their quest to unearth an Ancient secret that may be able to stop the attacks. Could this really be the last monster they fight?

Nayu's thoughts

This is more a spotlight post of the second book in a fantasy series that does look really interesting but for various reasons I haven't read it yet. Plus the cover is really cool! I know, never judge a book by a cover but cool ones help make a book look more attractive!

Suggested read

Make sure you check out book one, The Light Hunters

Sunday, 17 July 2022

The Pancake Champ by Joanna Nadin and Ana Gomez (Children's, 5 years +, 10E/10E)


 June 2022, Bloomsbury Young Readers, Paperback, 32 pages, Review copy

Summary from Bloomsbury

 Manjit is going to his new friend Leon's house for tea. There's lots to be worried about… What if they have a scary dog? What if Leon's dad is a dragon? But worst of all, what if they're having pancakes for tea!

Nayu's thoughts

Without reading the summary I thought the title might refer to the protagonist, Manjit, but it also is a title Manjit's new friend gives his father. Manjit is highly relatable because at first he doesn't have a special friend at school, something which can take time. When he does find Leon they do everything together and have the best time, until Manjit is invited over. Manjit has a lot of anxiety about who will be there, what dinner will be like as he hates peas and his mum's pancakes too. I really like how his mother tried to reassure him, giving him an option how to refuse food if he truly didn't want to eat it. Manjit discovers there are different types of pancakes - I prefer the thick ones his mother makes but Manjit, under Leon's dad's supervision, creates his own thin and crispy pancake.

He is allowed to put whatever topping he wants on his pancakes and happily eats some quite gross ones. The illustraations are bright and cheerful, I liked the pea soup which was also a meal Manjit dreaded. Plus the cats were adorable!!! It is a really good book for those who suffer with anxiety over getting a new friend then visiting a friend. There are pointers on what to keep an eye on in the story for the adult supervising the reading, as well as questions to ask afterwards which is useful. Manjit is also a pancake champ because he discovers ones he likes that that there are more toppings than just lemon!

Suggested read

If you like food themed books check out Spaghetti with the Yeti by Adam & Charlotte Guillain and Lee Wildish (Children's, Picture book, 10/10E)