Peapod’s Picks – The Hat Books!

We were lucky enough to request and receive board book copies of these free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. However, we already own bought copies of the paperback versions, so we knew in advance we loved them! Opinions and views are all my own.

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

Those of you who’ve been here once or twice before will know what huge fans of Jon Klassen we are and how much we love both these books and his collaborations with Mac Barnett.

We have had these for a while but despite mentioning them often, I’ve never properly reviewed them. So receiving board book versions of the first two seems like a good opportunity!

I Want My Hat Back

The original and (some I would say) the best!

Wonderfully witty with a delightfully dark ending, this book is a perfect example of a funny yet sophisticated picture book that has appeal across all ages (although try telling that to parents that just want a long picture book for their mini reading prodigies 🙄)

Bear is looking for his hat. Despite the matter of fact style of speech, it’s clear he’s very upset about it going missing. He very politely asks around, stopping to help a poor tortoise in need – oh the complexities of this character! – along the way.

There are so many clever techniques employed here, ftom the different coloured text to denote the different character’s speech to the way Klassen packs SO much expression into his character’s faces (those of you familiar with the shape trilogy will already know it’s all in the eyes!)

Then there’s the use of dramatic irony, so when Bear realises where he has seen his hat it’s a brilliantly celebratory moment. This is made even better as it is followed swiftly by his reaction and the way the book’s use of repetition delivers the punchline is the perfect ending!

And of course having a bash-able, chewable, non-tearable version is even better now that Peapod is do enthusiastic in his book love!

A very much littler Peapod enjoying it in a very much calmer way than he does now!

This is Not My Hat

Written in a similarly minimal and deadpan style to I Want My Hat Back, we are once again treated to the bigger picture as our narrator – the small hat thief – talks us through his cunning escape with the hat that “is not mine. I just stole it.”

This is a great book for those turn-the-page-punchlines – where we can often see what’s going to happen, but it’s still funny when it does.

As I’m the first book, so much of this book’s humour is in the eyes – so expressive and conveying such a lot! And despite the characters saying or doing very little, you will find yourself really believing in them.

I groaned fondly at our fishy narrator. There is something really innocent about them (think a young child’s attempts at denying wrong doing or playing hide and seek), despite their light fin(ger)s and this self-belief really made me smile.

As for our poor victim, it’s ALL in the illustrations as he doesn’t say a word, but we know his thoughts and feelings too.

And, as in I Want…, the book points a finger towards questions of right and wrong without making a judgement or telling you what to do/think.

With a slightly more ambiguous ending, you can even convince yourself that no fish were eaten at the end of this story. You’d be wrong of course, but it’s possible to read it that way!

Funny, clever and just as brilliant as book one!

We Found a Hat

While this third installment retains the stripped back style and dry humour of the first two, it is more touching and less murdersome than the previous books!

Here, two tortoises have found a hat. It looks good on them both, so what should they do?

I’ve said it already but it’s all in the eyes! The excitement at the find, the torment, the indecision, the love for hat and friend, the sorrow…although there are (a few) words, this story is as easily told through the pictures (and eyes) alone.

And, as with This is Not My Hat, there are complex ideas subtly running through this, to be unpicked (or not) as much or as little as you want to. Fairness, sharing (or not), friendship, sacrifice and the feelings of others.

While this wasn’t as dark as the other two books, it was just as clever, just as dry and just as beautifully illustrated and I really loved it just as much in the end. It was such a warm and hopeful end to the trilogy.

I’m hoping this will also be out in board book soon. And I’m also very much looking forward to this hardback ‘hat box’ set:

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WWW Wednesday 11/9/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens (ebook)

Of course I’m loving this because I’ve loved all this series (incidentally we got Murder Most Unladylike in with blue sprayed edges today! I hope they do all of them, surely they must?!) Though so far, I’m. Not loving the theatre setting as much and I’ve found it a bit slower to get going than usual. That all sounds very negative but it’s not really – I’m still very much enjoying it!

Uki and the Outcasts by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by David Wyatt.

I love the Five Realms books and this I s no exception. Although I do party wish it was another Podkin book, I think its a brilliant idea to hsvea book mid-series that would also be perfect as a stand alone read or fine as the durst book you read on that world. I’m loving Uki and his new found friends and the different world that’s being laid out to the one we’re familiar with from Podkin.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (audiobook read by Juliet Stevenson)

I’m still very much enjoying this and love Diane Setterfield’s style of writing. I’ve loved the way the characters and their histories are central to the plot and scene-setting. I feel there’s going to be much weaving together of these stories as the mystery is unravelled.

What have you just finished reading?

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens (ebook)

I loved reading this again now I know the characters better. The change in them thanks to the change of scene was really well written and believable, with some very touching and funny moments.

The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens (ebook)

A short, fun read written by Daisy which – after reading Cream Buns and Crime – I was really pleased about. She does make me smile.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve been utterly useless at getting a review posted for this but i will do soon! I loved it. Kiran’s usual lyrical style and evocative descriptions but with added grit and darkness. And oh, how I loved the ending.

I Go Quiet by David Ouimet

This is a stunning book, perfect for introverts, book lovers and fans of Shaun Tan. Absolutely gorgeous, affirming and inspiring.

What will you read next?

Audio

I think Once Upon a River will take me a while (though hopefully not as long as Circe!) so I’m not sure yet.

E-book

I’ll be reaching the end (so far!) of the Murder Most Unladylike series with Top Marks for Murder.

Physical copy

So, Sequel September is being firmly sidelined. I can’t say much but I have a reading challenge for the next month or two – a lot to get through and not much time, wish me luck!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday 4/9/19

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

What are you currently reading?

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens (ebook)

I read this when it came out, so I already know I’ll enjoy it! I decided to read it again now that I’ve read the Murder Most Unladylike books before it and know the characters better.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave.

I’ve nearly finished this and I am LOVING it! Full review ASAP!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (audiobook)

This us the Fiction Book of the Month at work, and I did really like the sound of it but knew I’d never fit it in as a physical book so I’m listening to it. I’m enjoying it a lot, though I’m not very far in.

What have you just finished reading?

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

A firm ‘unrateable‘ – this wasn’t really my cup of tea, but there were a lot of positives and for younger readers/dog lovers more into their contemporary MG it’s brilliant. Cosmo is a sweet, funny narrator and the way the author uses him to narrate is a great way to approach the family issues in the book. One I’m happy to recommend despite not loving it personally.

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens (ebook)

This is a really gun addition to the series with shorter mysteries from The Detective Society and The Junior Pinkertons, as well as recipes, code breaking puzzles and information about real unsolved crimes and authors.

My favourite parts have to be Daisy being a ghost which absolutely cracked me up and the chapter written by Beanie and Kitty – I loved hearing more from them.

Circe by Madeleine Miller (audiobook)

I FINISHED IT!! This has taken me SO long, but I finished it last week. There was lots I enjoyed about it, but I seemed to wax and wane a bit with it – it woukd really grab me for a while, then I’d lose interest a bit, then something woukd get my attention again etc. I think I’d have done better if I’d been able to listen or read in longer spells though. Still, I’m taking a certain amount of satisfaction from finishing!

Kevin’s Great Escape by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

I loved the first Kevin book – The Legend of Kevin: a Roly-Poly Flying Pony – so I was very excited to get a copy of this one! Even more so when I saw Neville and Beyonce on the first page (guinea pigs with a penchant for adventure!).

Just as much fun as the first – review ASAP!

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue by Paula Harrison and Jenny Lovlie

OK, not exactly my ‘thing’ but a good one to know about for young readers, especially fans of Isadora Moon who I think will love Kitty!

What will you read next?

Audio

I think Once Upon a River will take me a while (though hopefully not as long as Circe!) so I’m not sure yet.

E-book

I’ll be working my way through the Murder Most Unladylike series!

Physical copy

Something from my Sequel September stack! I’m not sure which yet though…

… *edit* I know exactly what. Look what came into work today (and it’s part of a series so it even counts!!)

I also picked these up

so I’ll be squeezing them in too!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Sequel September

I’ve decided (though whether I stick to it and how far I get with it and different matters entirely!) to attempt a ‘Sequel September’ next month.

As many of you will know, my reading has slowed right down over the last year and I have a ridiculous TBR pile looking at me.

And so in trying to get through all the new releases I ‘should’ know for work (or feel I should) sequels often get sidelined with the thinking that at least if I’ve read the first book I’ll know enough about the theme, style etc to get by with book 2.

Nothing like a bit of alliteration is there, so Sequel September is born and will be my attempt to get through my sequel stack!

The books I’m going to try to read are:

I’ll also be trying to read The Train to Impossible Places and Storm Witch even though they aren’t sequels, but their sequels are out/will be out soon and I still haven’t read them! So they are going in the mix!

There’s no way I’ll get through them all, I’ll be lucky yo get through a couple, but it might make a dent in them at least! Wish me luck!

Have you read any of these?

Are there any sequels you’re planning to read or looking forward to?

WWW Wednesday 28/8/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens (ebook)

While I prefer the full length mysteries, this is really fun and I’m loving reading through Daisy’s eyes for a change – it’s making for a very amusing read.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave.

After getting out of my YA slump with Rose, Interrupted what better way to continue than with absolute fave Kiran Millwood-Hargrave?!

I have to confess, while I did enjoy The Way Past Winter last year, it didn’t capture me in quite the same way that her previous books did otherwise I don’t think there’s any way this would have sat on my shelf for so long, I normally devour her books at first opportunity. But I am loving this so far, it’s rekindled the fangirl inside!

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

This is one that I’d promised Amy I’d try at some point after her post made me think I might like it more than I thought (those if you who know me know contemporary and animaks are really not my thing!). I hadn’t planned on reading it quite so soon, but for work reasons (massive knowing tap on the nose) I am doing!

I hope Amy doesn’t mind but *whispers* I’m still not sure it’s for me, BUT I do think it’s really original, sweet and written with great humour and ‘doggishness’ (that’s not even a word but it’s the second time I’ve used it in a review this week!)

What have you just finished reading?

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (ebook)

I’m so glad I didn’t skip this (albeit temporarily) as I think it might be my favourite yet!

I also think I’ve finally warmed to Daisy. I’ve always thought she was a brilliant character but I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Hazel! But she’s really grown on me now and I think in this book I was able to really appreciate her properly.

What will you read next?

Audio

I’m still plodding slowly through Circe…only 2 hours to go though!

E-book

I’ll be working my way through the Murder Most Unladylike series!

Physical copy

I don’t know! Maybe The Switching Hour or Meat Market. Though I am still considering a Sequel September to get through some of the sidelined sequels and next-in-series I have waiting…

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Rose, Interrupted

I requested and received a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

9781444940657

Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence.

Cover art by – to be added: my proof copy didn’t have the finished artwork or name the artist and I have tried and failed to find them online. I’ll add as soon as I know who they are!

I have enjoyed both of Patrice Lawrence’s previous books, Indigo Donut particularly, but this was by far my favourite that she’s written so far.

It follows Rose and her younger brother, Rudder, as they attempt to adjust to life in the ‘Worldly World’ having left the strict religious sect they’d been brought up in. Rose, like their mum, is relieved to be ‘free’ and doing all she can to fit in and shake off her religious past, having written herself a ten point decommissioning programme.

Rudder, on the other hand, is finding it hard. He’s struggling to adjust and swings between finding in comfort in his Harry Potter books, throws and robes and feeling guilty for having them as he yearns to be accepted back into God’s Pilgrims.

I also loved the use of music, which is a common theme in Patrice’s books (especially the choice of Simon and Garfunkel). It added a wry humour and helped build Rudder’s character further.

Unlike Rose, who has thrown herself, ultimately rather naively, into modern teenage life – using chat rooms to guide her actions when it comes to relationships and choosing flamboyant ‘fairy kei’ outfits and make up to stand out on her own terms rather than because of her past – Rudder is finding the outside world, the idea of making friends and teenage behaviour terrifyingly confusing.

The dual narrative in this works brilliantly as the characters and their worries are so different, but have the same root causes for their situation and struggles. Their different ways of coping (or not) and their differing views on what happened before they left the Pilgrims are really well articulated this way, and their frustration, anger and worry for each other is made clearer because of it too.

It was also a great way to depict their relationship in a realistic way – they clearly love and care for each other, but they bicker, fight, roll their eyes, take deep breaths and generally annoy each other the way only siblings can. I thought this was so well-written.

There are real layers to this, both in terms of the story which we get more and more of the history for as it unfolds, and in terms of the topical and thought-provoking issues it deals with – social media, sexting, so-called ‘revenge’ porn and consent, but also poverty and power, religion, control and being able to break free.

There is much to relate to in both Rose and Rudder’s situations and feelings – no, I’ve never had to leave a strict religious community that shun modern life, but I have been a teenager and so many of their doubts and uncertainties and their attempts to fit in, to do what ‘everyone’ does and to be accepted will be universally recognised.

It feels deep and complex and the emotions and shades of grey involved in so much of what’s covered are clear, but it’s such a page turner too!

Those of you who are here often will know I’ve been struggling to boot myself back into reading some YA for a while now, and contemporary (in YA or MG) is NOT MY THING…but this really grabbed me and I couldn’t put it down. Really well-written, it feels like Patrice Lawrence is going from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Book Snob Tag

I always say I’m going to do Book Tags then never do, but this was such a short and quick one I thought it’d be a good bank holiday weekend sort of post! Thanks to Amy and Lily whose blogs I saw it on!

Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the movie?

Usually, yes. But a lot of books that become films aren’t my cup of tea (romance, contemporary etc.) so often neither. Often it’s the book that makes me want to see the film, so it’s less of a ‘I must read the book first’ and more of a ‘ooh, I enjoyed that, I’d like to watch it.’

Although, I do think once you’ve seen the film it’s that version of the characters/setting etc that becomes stuck in your mind (well in mine, anyway!) so I do like to read the book first to have my own version of them first.

There’s a lot of ‘the book is always better than the film’ and usually I’d agree, but the film is often a different beast altogether and there are a fair few that I think are just as good. A Clockwork Orange and Trainspotting stand out.

Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Definitely physical. I started reading ebooks and audio as a way to keep my reading up around Peapod, but I’d always choose a physical copy if practicalities were no obstacle!

Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

Yes. As long as they weren’t anti-reading and just didn’t enjoy it themselves. My partner isn’t the biggest reader – we joke about how many books I’ll have read by the time he gets through the one he’s been reading FOREVER! – but he just rolls his eyes lovingly and orders another bookcase when it comes to my bookishness and he loves reading with Peapod.

Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre – never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Romance. I never read it anyway unless it sneaks into a book that’s mainly another genre, so I probably wouldn’t even know it had gone!

Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

So, to jump on Amy and Lily’s bandwagon – I’m going to say I’ll just take the children’s section please. I know this isn’t a genre, but my blog, my rules. I’m having it.

Ha! Ok, if I had to pick an actual genre, I’d probably go fantasy…but I’m over-riding the question and just picking kids, because I’m not giving up picture books.

Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?

Also like Amy and Lily, less a genre, more a section – kids. Kids book snobbery winds me right up (except when it comes to being snobbish about celeb authors, because you know – double standards)

I hate how many people look at me oddly when I try to explain I read the kids books for work (no, I don’t *have* to, I’m in kids because I *want* to) and love picture books.

I hate how many older kids are steered forcibly away from younger books and told they’re ‘beyond’ them – what does that make me then?!

I hate how many children’s authors have tales of how they’ve been dismissed by other authors or book industry people for not writing ‘proper’ books and taking the easy route (yeah, right).

I hate how little coverage kids books get in the media when everyone bangs on about wanting kids to read.

Snobbery Recipient: Have you ever been snubbed for something that you have been reading or for reading in general?

Nope. Lots of my friends aren’t really readers, but they’d never snub me for reading.

That’s a short answer, but there’s not much more to say on that!

If you’ve not done this and fancy it, consider yourself tagged.