Peapod’s Book Advent Week Three

It’s been lovely seeing Peapod really starting to understand and get excited about Christmas this year, and he’s loving all our Christmas books. He gets one a night from his “Advent bag” – you can see what we read in weeks one and two here and here.

This week we’ve read:

Day 15 –

Oh, Christmas Tree! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet We’ve written about this one before, here, but it raises even more of a smile now Peapod’s a bit older. He likes seeing the tree riding a bike best!

Day 16 –

Emily Brown and Father Christmas by Cressida Cowell This was our introduction to Emily Brown a couple of years ago, and we’re all mow big fans. Peapod likes re-enacting the bit where Santa’s sleigh breaks down and they have to find some reindeer instead!

I promise he was more impressed than he looks😂

Day 17

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Alex T Smith This is a new one for this year and is a really fun take on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas song, with increasingly extravagant and outlandish gifts from Grandma being delivered.

We sang it, complete with dramatic pauses, super speedy bits and silliness and Peapod thought it was hilarious!

Day 18 –

Lucy and Tom’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes I make no apologies that our book advent has been somewhat dominated by Shirley’s books as we love them. You can read our original thoughts on this one here.

Day 19 –

And speaking of Shirley Hughes, here’s another new one for this year, and without doubt Peapod’s favourite of the week – Dogger’s Christmas.

It’s Christmas and Dave has lost his favourite toy Dogger (again!) Everyone has helped search but they can’t find him anywhere until Bella has a great idea anj just in the nick of time!

The combination of Shirley Hughes’ writing and illustration, which Peapod always likes, a lost toy and bin men cemented this a favourite and we have read it and acted it out endlessly since we first opened it!

Day 20

Mince Spies by Mark Sperring and Sophie Corrigan This is another we’ve written about before, though as predicted Peapod did get more out of it this year. Its a great fun read, perfect for fans of Sue Hendra

Day 21 –

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

We live the Bear books and this was no exception. Bear should be sleeping, but he’s trying extra hard to stay awake to spend Christmas with his friends.

Warm, cosy and full of the joys of celebrating simply with friends, this is a gorgeous rhyming read and has gone straight into our favourites.

I have been awful at getting photos this week, but it’s been another great week of Christmas reads here!

Have you been enjoying a book advent or any favourite Christmas picture books?

WWW Wednesday 16/12/20

I’m still frantically trying to finish everything I need to read by the end of December for work, so continued apologies for my sporadic posting, visiting, commenting etc. Normal service will resume in the new year!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

I’m enjoying this more than I expected to and, as I embark on part 2, I am definitely intrigued to see where it goes next!

Last Lesson by James Goodhand, audiobook read by Alex Roberts

I’m not loving this but I think my overall opinion will hinge on the ending. A lot feels like it could go in one of two really obvious ways, so I’m judt hoping for something unexpected to save it. I’m liking the idea of having a main character who is pretty unlikeable but so much feels self indulgent, tired or stereotyped… I’ll reserve judgement though as I’m keen to see where it goes even if I’m not 100% invested in it yet.

What have you just finished reading?

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

I really loved this! I will review at some point…!

Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Froxfield

This was a hit of nostalgia in many ways, taking me back to my adolescent Point Horror addiction. In that resort, it was a quick, easy and fu read that I know younger me would have enjoyed. That said, I’m no longer younger me and I definitely enjoyed it more for the Point Horror feel tan anything else and I wasn’t 100% sold on the ending.

What will you read next?

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann – This will be my next audiobook (of I ever finish Last Lesson!)

The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert – I’m looking forward to this as my next physical book.

Have you read any of these? What are you reading at the moment?

Peapod’s Book Advent Week Two

Welcome to our round up of the books we read during week two of our Christmas Book Advent.

You can see what we read in the first week of December here.

Day 8 –

We read Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. I thought Peapod would love this because, well, pants! He did enjoy it, but it’s not one that’s really captured his attention.

Day 9 –

Okay, he actually got two books tonight as I added in How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens after he loved How to Hide a Lion at Christmas last week (and pretty much every day since).

But tonight’s Christmas Book was Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes. He LOVES it. We’re reading it multiple times every night and we have to play Alfie when we go outside too!

He’s fascinated by Alfie finding his scooter but being unable to go straight out in it (“no shoes on! Got jammies on!”) and by him speeding away from Great Uncle Will later on, so this is re-enacted repeatedly in our garden!

I love it as it really feels like a snapshot of a family Christmas!

Day 10

We read The Very Busy Day and The Very Noisy Night by Diana Hendry and Jane Chapman earlier in the year and he loved them, so I ordered this Christmassy Big Mouse and Little Mouse tale – The Very Snowy Christmas – months ago ready for Christmas and it’s proved just as popular.

He’s enjoyed playing this with our pretend snow (packing foam bits!) and toy mice too, so we’ve taken this one downstairs!

Day 11

“SUPERTATO TO THE RESCUE!!” It’s safe to say Peapod is a Supertato fan so he was very excited to find Supertato: Evil Pea Rules by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet in his advent bag today (though of course it did mean bringing the original book in too – unquestionably his favourite of the series!)

He loved this seasonal supermarket adventure too though – “Evil Peeea!!!” Such a, great series which always, makes us giggle.

Day 12

The Tree That’s Meant to Be by Yuval Zommer. We reviewed this more fully last year but it was a big hit this, year too. Peapod enjoyed spotting all the animals and birds, and was particularly taken by the two children reading under the tree at the end and I always enjoy Yuval’s, illustrations and depictions of nature and the seasons.

Day 13

Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Jarvis. This is another we talked about last year and another favourite. I always, leave this one til we’ve put up our tree and Peapod has really enjoyed it this year. We read it repeatedly back to back yesterday as I managed to coerce him into a nap (bkniwung we’d be out late and he’d need it but also knowing it’d be a big ask to get him to have one!) and it was a, lovely, cosy story to read as he gradually settled and snuggled and slept.

Day 14

Peapod doesn’t watch much TV, 10mins a few times a week maybe, but when he does Postman Pat is his go to choice. He loves it because of Peter’s tractor, especially when he, has to clear the roads of snow or mud and help or when he gets it stuck.

So I knew he’d LOVE last night’s book – Maisy’s Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins – as Eddie gets stuck in the snow and Maisy gets her tractor to pull him out.

Well, I was right. We read it repeatedly last night then as soon as we got up this morning then three more times before nursery, and squeezed in a quick rescue of Eddie from the snow (the vacuum is the tractor. Obviously.)

So it’s been another great week of Christmas books here!

Have you read any of these? Are you doing a book advent? Which Christmas picture books have you chosen/would you choose?

WWW Wednesday 8/12/20

I missed last week’s WWW amidst the hustle and bustle of reopening after lockdown to Christmas craziness, and both posts and comments to you all are sporadic as I go into panic mode trying to read everything I need to for work by my January deadline! So apologies if I’m less present than usual!

But here’s what I’ve been reading since I last posted a WWW…

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

I am absolutely loving this! History, magic, intrigue – it’s rich and atmospheric and brilliant!

Last Lesson by James Goodhand, audiobook read by Alex Roberts

I’m not loving this but I think my overall opinion will hinge on the ending. A lot feels like it could go in one of two really obvious ways, so I’m judt hoping for something unexpected to save it. I’m liking the idea of having a main character who is pretty unlikeable but so much feels self indulgent, tired or stereotyped… I’ll reserve judgement though as I’m keen to see where it goes even if I’m not 100% invested in it yet.

What have you just finished reading?

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm

I admit I had reservations about this, but I ended up really enjoying it. My review is here.

That Time i Got Kidnapped by Tom Mitchell audiobook read by Jot Davies

Not my usual fare, but a welcome and enjoyable addition that injects some humour to the current teen offerings.

The Space We’re In by Katya Balen

I loved this. It utterly broke me. Review to follow.

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

This was pretty good, though it didn’t blow me away, but a bit like That Time i got Kidnapped it was good to read something a bit different. I liked the concept and the setting, tension and horror were well written. I wasn’t sold on the ending though.

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

It took me a, while to get really into this, and I HATED the use of ‘wot’ throughout. But I really liked Nate and Megan, as well as the fact that it’s set near me and I thought it took on a sensitive subject well. Perfect for fans of Patrice Lawrence.

What will you read next?

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann – I love a verse novel so I’ve high hopes for this!

Have you read any of these? What are you reading at the moment?

Peapod’s Picks – Book Advent Week One

We’ve done a book advent with Peapod both last year and the year before, for his first Christmas, but this year is the first year he’s really been aware of what’s happening and excited about it.

It’s lovely to see him all eager to open his “advent bag” each night, and of course to see him loving the stories that are inside!

I’ll be posting each week with the Christmas stories that we’ve found hiding inside!

Day 1 –

I had to cheat here and pop two in! Countdown to Christmas by Adam and Charlotte Guillan, illustrated by Pippa Curnick was always going to be the first book in the bag…until Peapod came home from nursery asking for Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allen which I knew we didn’t have as I’d foolishly given our copy to nursery last year because I’m not a fan but knew they’d enjoy it…didn’t think about Peapod seeing it there then wanting it though! So I ordered a new copy and that went in the day one bag too!

Peapod was very pleased to have his own copy of Father Christmas Needs a Wee again and has decided we’ll tell Father Christmas he can have a wee at our house on Christmas eve if he needs one.

I’m mostly enjoying his retelling of the end which sees FC dash home to relieve himself, ending WITH the line “merry Christmas we hear him roar” which becomes “open door…run upstairs…shut door…ROOOAAAR!!”

I’m really pleased though that Countdown to Christmas has become a firm favourite that we’ve been reading every night. Peapod loves to pretend to be Mouse poorly in bed – “I’m poorly…stay in bed” – and seeing her get the star for the tree at the end, as well as opening all the advent calendar doors at the end of course!

Day 2 –

Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr We love Mog in our house, so this was always a safe bet. Peapod thinks the “tree walking” is hilarious and tells everyone all about it (the women in the green grocers were rather bemused!) This is another that we re-read most nights.

Day 3 –

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley. This was one of my favourites from last year and we all enjoyed it again this year – Peapod especially likes all the birds and animals in it.

Day 4 –

I didn’t manage to get any pics of him this eve, but he was thrilled to find Winnie in his advent bag and we had to go and get his other Winnie and Wilbur stories to read with it too!

It’s also had us singing “When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney” all week!

Day 5 –

How to Hide a Lion at Christmas by Helen Stephens. This has probably proved Peapod’s favourite so far. He’s straight up and into his playroom each morning to set it up and act it out with all his toys! He especially likes the part where the lion joins the carol singers round the tree – “shalalala!” but retells pretty much the whole story with relish!

Day 6 –

Paddington and the Christmas Surprise by Michael Bond. Paddington is another favourite of ours, so we knew this one would go down well too. We read it about three times in a row yesterday and he loves the part where they lose Paddington who has gone off to repair the lighthouse in the department store’s Winter Wonderland, so our trip round tesco yesterday mostly involved me ‘losing’ him and him then ‘reappearing’ having fixed some lights!

Day 7 –

Ten Little Elves by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickety I really rate this series for young children – rhyme, counting, bright colours, bold images, action, humour… – and thought he’d be all over this too. He did enjoy it, but it didn’t grab him the way the longer, more traditional style stories have.

And that’s it ’til next week!

Are you doing a book advent?

Have you read any of these Christmas books, or got any favourites to recommend we include?

Believathon 3 – Orion Lost

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of this in exchange for my thoughts on it. All views and opinions are my own.

Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm, artwork by, published by Nosy Crow

This was my choice for Believathon prompt The Shadow – Read a book first published in 2020.

Spaceship Orion is taking a crew from Earth to settle and start a new colony in space. However, when one of its ‘jumps’ goes wrong, all the adults are stuck in their sleeping state and it’s up to a crew of children, who don’t always see eye to eye, to try and get a badly damaged ship past space pirates, unknown alien (Videshi) ships to safety.

Things become more complicated when the children gradually realise something’s amiss, but can they get to the bottom of it and put it right?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a sci-fi fan and this did not sound like my cup of tea at all and, despite knowing lots of fellow bookish people had loved it, I wasn’t really looking forward to it.

But I thought it was BRILLIANT. One of the most unique and original MG books I’ve read in recent years.

Whatever my personal reservations, I had been pleased to see a slice of Sci-fi entering the MG world as it felt like there was a real gap to fill and, although I’m no expert, I thought this filled that gap splendidly.

It was full of technical details and language that fans of the genre/space will appreciate, and that give it a sense of authenticity and authority. But, and it’s an important but, its cleverly done so that total newcomers to the genre who don’t speak science (ie me) could not only follow what was happening, but become completely immersed and invested in it.

The characters, and their relationship with each other – particularly the difference, conflict and contrast between Beth and Vihaan – had a lot to do with this. There was a really good mix of personalities which worked really well together and Beth was a particularly likeable and believable main character (and also a handy way to get my head round the more technical aspects of the book as they were explained to her too!)

I really liked the way Beth and Vihaan showcased between them the qualities of a good leader, and the way the novel examined what this was and the balance it needed.

What I also really enjoyed about this book though was the perfectly plotted mystery that gradually developed, subtly at first, creeping up on us a little clue at a time, until we reached a hugely tense and dramatic climax.

Although I did have a couple of correct inklings early on, I didn’t come close to piecing the whole thing together and it really kept me guessing the way the best mysteries do.

I’ll probably never be a true sci-fi fan, but I would absolutely jump on the next novel from Alastair Chisholm so if that counts as being converted, consider me a convert! This was great!