Picture Book Review: The Santa Thief by Alane Adams #ChildrensBooks #Review

santathiefTitle: The Santa Thief
Author: Alane Adams
Series: N/a
Format: Digital ARC, 32 pages
Publication Details: November 7th 2017 by Sparkpress
Genre(s): Children’s Picture Book
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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It’s winter in Girard, Pennsylvania and the pond is completely frozen over–ready for a young boy to go skating!–but Georgie’s ice skates are too small. All Georgie wants for Christmas is a new pair of skates. But times are tough in 1920s Pennsylvania, and he gets the disappointing news Santa might not come this year.

Follow Georgie as he decides to take matters into his own hands and steals Santa’s identity–and discovers what Christmas is all about. The Santa Thief is a heartwarming tale of boyhood set in 1920s Pennsylvania for children ages 4-8.

 

Review

 

The Santa Thief was a nice little story about a boy who is told that Santa won’t be coming this year. It’s set in the 1920s, and times are hard for Georgie’s family who would like nothing more than to buy him a new pair of ice skates, but they just can’t afford it, so Georgie decides that he’ll just have to be Santa himself!

I thought this book was written well and the illustrations were lovely, and I’m sure it will capture the heart of very young children, but I was a little disappointed by it. I didn’t find it that heartwarming or imaginative which is something I look for in festive stories.

However, The Santa Thief has a nice moral which I’m sure will be a hit with parents over the Christmas period. Worth a read.

unicorn rating 3

 

 

New(ish)Picture Books: Mini Reviews #PictureBookReviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones 🙂

Pirates in the Library ~ Nadia Ali & Jake Tebbits

 

piratesHardcover, 40 pages
Published October 15th 2016 by Star Bright Books

Prepare to set sail for the adventure of a lifetime with fierce Captain Jake when he discovers a treasure map that leads him, his crew (and a parrot, too), right to the library. Ms. Benitez, the librarian, welcomes them—as long as they behave! The pirates’ search is on! 

Soon they discover—with the aid of Dread Pirate Dewey’s map—treasures galore on the shelves. Now the dilemma: Can they keep these treasures? Ms. Benitez has the answer.

Pirates in the Library is a lovely little story to introduce the wonder of libraries and books to children. They will be sure to love Captain Jake and his parrot too!
The text is nicely rhythmic and repetitive so that children can recite it with glee. The illustrations are bright and simple with a nice warmth and humour to them. I really liked the balance of fun and learning in this story, and the important message of supporting your local library because they really are full of the best kind of treasure – stories and knowledge.
unicorn rating 4

Princess Lemonella ~  Saarein te Brake & Sassafras De Bruyn

princesslemonella

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Clavis
Princess Lemonella is born angry. She always looks sour and never smiles.
When the king and queen try to find a prince for her, she sends all the candidates away.
Until one prince just rides past her …
 

A funny and romantic fairy tale about how love can make you smile. 


For princes and princesses aged 5 years and older.

 

I was torn by this one. On one hand I loved the beautiful illustrations and some of the themes of the story such as that everyone is different and that there is someone for everyone.

However, I’m not a huge fan of modern children’s stories that are based solely on a princess having to find a prince. I love fairy tales but I do think that they need to be modernised to reflect and embrace diversity. I’m not sure how healthy it is for little girls to constantly read about the need for a Prince Charming, or in this case, a Prince Grumpy!
unicorn rating 3

The Book of Kringle: Legend of the North Pole #BookReview #XmasReads

bookofkringle

Title: The Book of Kringle – Legend of the North Pole
Author: Derek Valez Partridge with Mark Packard
Series: N/A
Format: ePub, 32 pages
Publication Details:  September 22nd 2016 by Vista Clara Productions
Genre(s): Children’s Literature; Christmas Stories
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

In a magical land on top of the world, an epic struggle between light and darkness was waged between two brothers. King Kringle ruled with a harsh hand over the Elves of the North Pole, allowing no laughter, no play and no Christmas celebration.

There was only one truly kindhearted soul who could make a difference and change the course of the world. Would the Elves be able to find Santa and bring laughter and joy to the land? Manusol the Elf knows the answer, for it is written in The Book of Kringle.

Review

This beautifully illustrated children’s book is an origin story of Santa Claus. Narrated by an elf, we are taken on a journey through a tough time in the North Pole where the evil King has put a ban on Christmas, celebrations, and even laughter. 

But the Elves envisage a better future for themselves and together they set out to find the one person who can stop the King. The one person who knows the importance of the spirit of Christmas, and that is the King’s brother himself, known as Santa Claus.

The Book of Kringle is wonderful. The story was unique amongst many generic Santa Claus tales, this one had grit and adventure and just the right amount of danger, all finished off with a happy ending, of course. I only wish it was longer!

However, the star of the show is definitely the stunning illustrations. They are complex and bright and will no doubt hypnotise all children who are lucky enough to see them. This is a book worth treasuring for years to come. 

unicorn rating 4

This Month in Books: September 2016 #TMIB #MonthlyRoundUp

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Hmm September, what happened to you!?

It went very fast. I’m not sure if I did anything interesting…I finally gave in and bought one of those unlimited cinema cards so I spent a lot of time at the cinema. Crime Writer of the Year, Clare Mackintosh came into my library for a talk and a workshop session. She was great. But other than that I have no idea what happened in September. I had another good reading month so maybe that’s all I did?

How do the years keep flying by faster and faster. It’s scary! I’m very happy Autumn has arrived though. I love this time of year.

September 2016 Stats

Total Posts: 18 (+ 4 from previous month)

Books Read: 6 (=) 
The Thousandth Floor ~ Katharine McGee
Labyrinth Lost ~ Zoraida Córdova
Siege and Storm ~ Leigh Bardugo
Stealing Snow ~ Danielle Page
Cut to the Bone ~ Alex Caan
Haunt Me ~ Liz Kessler

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (5/6); Fantasy (4/6); Contemporary (1/6); Crime/Thriller (1/6)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (5/6); Digital (5/6); Hardback (0/6); Paperback (1/6) / Owned (0/6); Borrowed (1/6); For Review (5/6)

Most Surprising: Haunt Me
Most Disappointing: Stealing Snow
Most Exciting: Hmm Labyrinth Lost at a push
Most Swoon-worthy:  Siege and Storm
Most Beautifully Written: Haunt Me

Reviews: 6 (=)

    • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, 3/5 (View)
    • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CĂłrdovs, 3/5 (View)
    • Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, 2/5 (View)
    • Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo, 3/5 (View)
    • Picture Books by Various,  (View)
    • Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan, 3/5 (View)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy-tale Inspired Books
  2. Bookshop Finds: Copperfields
  3. Ten Things About…Prague

Promos, Guest Posts and Highlights

Awards

 

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 68

Books Added: 6

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 72

Fail!

Heard about the Flash Fiction Battle I’m hosting? NO! Where have you been? It’s not too late to vote. See all the details here.

New Picture Book Releases: Mini Reviews

I’ve recently started paying attention to picture book releases, and existing picture books because I’m trying my hand at writing a couple. If anyone would like to be my beta readers -email me!

I requested the following books on Netgalley so I thought I had better write reviews for them, albeit very teeny ones 🙂

Dreaming of Mocha ~ An Swerts

mocha

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Clavis
Florence wants a dog. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog. Just any dog. To take care of, and to pet. To run with, and to play with. If she gets a dog, she will NEVER whine again and she’ll always be good. That’s what she promised Mom.
One day there’s a little dog in Florence’s garden. He came out of nowhere.
“Mocha” it says on his collar. Mocha and Florence become the best of friends.
But then Mocha’s owner is suddenly at the door. And he is a very nice man.
What will Florence do now?An endearing picture book about loving animals and loving people.
For pet lovers ages 4 and up.
I can’t really review this book properly because the epub I downloaded only had the illustrations! Only after reading some reviews on Goodreads I realised that it is supposed to have text. However, the illustrations went a long way in telling the story, which is a great thing! The illustrations were simple but very cute, and I’m sure young children will love them and fall in love with Mocha as much as Florence did.
unicorn rating 3

Baba Yaga ~ An Leysen

babayaga

Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Clavis
Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, lived a girl named Olga. Olga lived with her father in a beautiful house, and they were very happy together. Until Olga’s father one day fell in love again … His new wife was cruel and mean. And her sister Baba Yaga, who lived in a dark forest, was even meaner. Baba Yaga was a real witch! There was a rumor she was fond of children … on her plate! One day Olga’s stepmother sent her to Baba Yaga. What was she supposed to do now?
Baba Yaga, the witch from Slavonic mythology is coming alive in this fairy tale. An Leysen takes you on a journey in an imaginative story about a wicked witch and a sweet and brave little girl.
 
I absolutely loved this book. It’s exactly the kind of picture book I’d love to write. It had just the right balance of adventure, magic, and creepy/scary that children will love. Baba Yaga is terrifying but I don’t think it will worry young children too much – plus, the happy ending will be sure to put them at ease.
I’d not heard of this fairy-tale before, and I’m desperate to read the original now. But what I loved most of about this book is the stunning illustrations. They took my breath away, really! Perfect! 
unicorn rating

Gracie Meets a Ghost ~ Keiko Sena

gracie

Hardcover, 32 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2016 by Museyon
Gracie hasn’t been able to see very well recently, so she decides to get some glasses. But, after playing on the mountain one day, she realizes that night that her glasses are missing. She heads straight out to look for them on the mountain–where a bored ghost is hiding in the darkness, waiting for someone to scare. Although Ghost tries to scare her, Gracie doesn’t react by being frightened, not even little–because she can’t see Ghost well enough to be scared without her glasses! Ghost really wants to see Gracie scared, so he helps in her search all night long and finally finds her glasses. But what happens when Gracie puts them on...
This is an adorable story that kids will love in the run-up to Halloween. It’s cute and silly, and just ghoulish enough without being scary. I liked that Gracie wasn’t at all scared of the ghost because she couldn’t see him without her glasses. I’m sure this book will make having to wear glasses seem a lot less terrible to young children. The illustrations are lovely and quirky too.

unicorn rating 4

Lazy Saturday Review(s): A few that got away…

I’ve fallen behind of late, so before I completely forget about these books I thought I’d do a quick catch-up in the shape of some teeny tiny reviews.

testimony
Title: The Testimony of the Hanged Man
Author: Ann Granger
Series: Lizzie Martin #5
Edition: Paperback, 400 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Headline
Genre(s): Mystery; Historical Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

Goodreads // Purchase

A hanged man would say anything to save his life. But what if his testimony is true? When Inspector Ben Ross is called to Newgate Prison by a man condemned to die by the hangman’s noose he isn’t expecting to give any credence to the man’s testimony. But the account of a murder he witnessed over seventeen years ago is so utterly believeable that Ben can’t help wondering if what he’s heard is true. It’s too late to save the man’s life, but it’s not too late to investigate a murder that has gone undetected for all these years.

Review

I initially picked this book up because it’s set partly on Putney Heath, which is where I lived when I was at uni. I like reading about places I know well, to see how the author portrays them, especially in another era. The Testimony of the Hanged Man is set in Victorian London, and is a classic mystery which unfolds at a slow pace.

I think if I read it all in one go, I would have enjoyed it more, but I only managed a few pages at a time. However, I still enjoyed it – and despite my pet peeve of alternating narrators too.

If you like traditional, light-hearted, Victorian detective fiction, give this series a go.

unicorn rating 3

kisskiss

Title: Kiss Kiss
Author: Roald Dahl
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 231 pages
Publication Details: October 26th 1987 by Penguin Books
Genre(s): Short Stories
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In these wickedly anarchic stories, Dahl explores the dark, sinister side of the psyche: the cunning, sly, selfish part of human nature that makes for unexpected outcomes and horrifying conclusions.

Review

I’ve wanted to read some of Dahl’s adult fiction for ages so I picked this up for my lunch-time read when I spotted it in the library. I read most of the stories in this collection, and came out with mixed feelings. The collection was first published in 1959, and you can tell; it hasn’t aged well.

The stories are not what I would call anarchic or horrifying in today’s meaning of the terms, but they were interesting, funny and slightly odd – as you would expect from Roald Dahl. I enjoyed Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat the most.

unicorn rating 3

badjelly
Title: Badjelly the Witch
Author: Spike Milligan
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardback, 64 pages
Publication Details: October 19th 2000 by Virgin Books (first published 1973)
Genre(s): Children’s; Picture Books
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.

Goodreads // Purchase

Badjelly The Witch can turn children into sausages or chop them up to make boy-girl soup. She can turn policemen into apple trees or bananas into mice and she is the wickedest witch in all the world.

A charming fairy tale which has delighted children for many years, this edition is copiously illustrated with Spike Milligan’s own drawings which have been specially adapted and beautifully hand coloured.

Review

Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse for Kids was one of my favourite books when I was little, but I never read this one. I’m so glad I eventually got round to reading it! It’s exactly as bonkers as you’d expect – loved it!

Definitely a fun, wacky book to read to young children.

unicorn rating 4

Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Top 10 books from my childhood (Or teen years) that I would love to revisit

A lot of the books I read as a child and going into my teens have stayed with me, and I revisit them often, so I found this week’s topic quite tough, but here goes…

childst1

  1.  Naughty Amelia Jane ~ Enid Blyton : I’ve been looking for a nice copy of this series for ages, I remember loving it as a child and I’ve not read it since.
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  3. I Don’t Want To!~ Bel Mooney: This is another one that I remember vaguely from my childhood but haven’t been able to find a copy since.
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  5.  Green Eggs and Ham ~ Dr. Seuss: I’d like to read this again, I don’t know why I don’t own it.
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  7.   The Magic Faraway Tree ~ Enid Blyton: I have a couple of books in this series but haven’t read them for years. Need to get on that!
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  9.  Unknown unicorn book: When I was at junior school I always wanted books from the book people that came round every now and then, but usually I wasn’t allowed. However, on one occasion my mum gave in because I fell in love a beautiful picture book about a unicorn who gets lost in a forest. I remember the cover of that book to this day but I’ve never been able to find it as I can’t remember the title or author. It makes me sad every time I think about it. Any ideas? It must have been around 1990
  10.  
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  11. The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C.S Lewis: So I read Narnia a lot, but I have a confession, I’ve never read the last book in the series, ever! I really should, but I’m scared that it’ll break me. I’ve also only read The Silver Chair once so I need to revisit that one too.
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  13. Point Horror ~ Various: These books were such a staple of my reading growing up. They are what made reading cool for me. Over the past couple of years I’ve been building up my collection again but I haven’t read most of them since I was about 12.
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  15. Knightmare: The Dragon’s Lair ~ Dave Morris: I wish I still had a copy of this. I loved those choose-your-own-adventure books. I’d like to revisit this one to see if it was as fun as I remember.
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  17. Robinson Crusoe ~ Daniel Defoe: This was one of the few books I was made to read at school that I actually enjoyed. I re-read it again at uni about ten years ago but after recently reading The Martian, I’d like to give it another whirl.
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  19. Secret Vampire ~ L.J Smith: I remember getting this free with a magazine when I was a young teen. It’s probably what set of my vampire obsession! I think I still have it somewhere, I must find it!