Monday, December 10, 2018

Bookish - Hedgehog Howdedo

Heya Lovelies,

If you have a little person to buy a gift for this year please do consider a book. As any parent of small people can attest they will get read at least a million times! (Plus so much better than a present that makes loud noises when you trip over it at 3am.)

Lynley Dodd has weaved her magic again with Hedgehog Howdedo.

This delightful board book is so cute and the rhyme scheme so perfect and the language so pared back I was halfway through before I even realised it was a counting book. Some counting books are about counting and not much more but this one has so much charm. I could feel myself smiling as I read it and it feels like an absolute treasure of a book.

I have a little person in my life (niece) fairly newly arrived and I'm sure her big brother would read her this book - question is can I part with my copy? I might have to go and buy another.

Dodd at her wonderful best.
(The link has an author photo - Dodd is very different than I imagined, in my head she was a 'soft/ squishy' grandmotherly look with a million animals and a patchwork coat!)

Details - Penguin Random House, December 2018 RRP $15.99 BB

love you more than some 'bold as brass' hedgehogs owning the woodpile xxx

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bookish - Bright Young Dead

Kia ora Koutou,

I must confess I rather like a good murder mystery. I have been a watcher of Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders for some time. (I feel like such a grandma typing that sentence!) However, I haven't read murder mysteries before. I have picked up a couple of Agatha Christies at op-shops so there is hope.

This meant I came to Jessica Fellowes Bright Young Dead with a very open mind.

The book is set in the 1920s and focusses around the 'bright young things' as they emerge into and claim ownership of the glamorous new ways of their time. The upstairs/ downstairs roles are highlighted and Louisa Cannon the maid and often-chaperone finds these worlds are both colliding and pulling her to make a choice between dutiful maid and a woman who cannot accept the murderer is really guilty.

Alongside the drama that unfolds with the murder of a dinner party guest is the infamous Alice Diamond and her forty thieves - all women and the police's attempts to trap the queen of the ring. Dancing, jazz music, secrets, lies and threats all lie in the way of unravelling the mystery.

A real whodunnit and not an obvious answer - surprises right to the end. I also enjoyed the insights into the lives of women in this era. Longing for independence and emancipation but very much reliant on others giving them the benefit of the doubt and opportunity to prove themselves.

Nice to curl up and read with chocolate and a cup of tea and some jazz playing somewhere in the background.

Details - Hachette NZ, October 2018 RRP $34.99

love you more than a bolt of cloth hidden under a bustle xxx

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bookish - the next person you meet in heaven

Heya Readers,

It's getting to the Christmas Season and I'm trying to make the most of times where I'm sitting waiting for dance rehearsals to finish or just snatching moments here and there. Last year and this year I've kept a record of all the books I've read cover to cover. (Or finished reading if I started last year!). In this list I count longer non-fiction, novels, YA novels and children's novels but not picture books.

My list currently sits at about 40. So I feel like that's pretty good for a year where I've been studying part time, working part time and being a parent and partner.

Mitch Albom's book the next person you meet in heaven (the lowercase is how the title is written on the book) is a sequel to his best selling The Five People You Meet in Heaven. 

Now I must confess I haven't read the first book and it didn't matter at all. The narrative stands alone. Although, now that I have read it I'm very keen to read the other.

Albom has a really unique style of writing. It feels almost like spoken poetry. There is an immediacy to it and it lacks long descriptive passages. It is very different in its writing style to anything else I can think of.

I so enjoyed this book. It is brutal and beautiful and heartfelt without being wish-washy emotional. The story follows Annie (who was rescued by Eddie in the first book) on her wedding day and what will be a difficult 24 hours ahead. It is so readable as well. I started it and finished it in a short amount of time because the writing style is so pacey.

I don't want to say anymore about the plot because I do hate spoilers before I have read something. I would just say read it, buy it for someone you know who enjoys reading. Curl up in a cheeky corner somewhere and eat it up.

Details - Hachette NZ, October 2018 RRP $34.99 HB

love you more than a dog and girl who both need rescuing xxx

Friday, October 26, 2018

Bookish - Perfect for Presents

Bonjour :-)

How is it that we're already in October?? Today I'm excited to talk about more books by excellent New Zealand writers. These would all make great presents for people in your world. If you buy them from your local bookshop you'll be supporting local and supporting local authors and publishers - triple win! :-)

Oh Boy: A Storybook of Epic NZ Men by Stuart Lipshaw is a wonderful contribution to the the profiles of inspiring people that are popping up at the moment.

Raising 2 boys means these kind of books are very welcome at our place. (We do have girl books too because we can be inspired by anyone.) This book has a great line up of men who have had a real influence in their chosen fields from artists to inventors, from sportsmen to surgeons there are so many great men to be introduced to. A great book for quick stories with a wide variety of illustrators there is also a real assortment of artistic styles. These kind of stories are great jumping off points for talking about ambition, hard work and resilience. This one stays on the coffee table or nearby at our place for easy grabbing - a perfect book for dipping in and out.

I love that these kind of books push us to realise their are so many great people who are kiwis and are doing/have done great things for Aotearoa and the world.

Super gift for any family in NZ!

Details - Penguin Random House, October 2018 RRP $45.00 HB

Wake Up Bear by Lynley Dodd

As an illustrator and writer Dodd is synonymous with excellent books created for small people. Her feeling for language and stories that last the test of time is so well established. Wake up Bear is a book full of delightful interactions as all the animals try to wake up bear for Spring.

Will anyone succeed in waking up bear or will someone very small offer a little incentive that will get past everyone else's efforts?? Fun, sweet and joyful - as can be expected of Dodd.

Details - Penguin Random House, August 2018 RRP $17.99 PB

Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests by David Hill and Phoebe Morris

The next in this great series of influential New Zealanders. I hadn't appreciated that my littles wouldn't have heard of Sir Peter Blake. This story has all the wonder and joy of a life lived for ocean adventure.

I love that this book includes Blake's death by pirates - not in a gratuitous or violent way - but that it sits with the sorrow of a life cut short. Death by old age seems an acceptable thing in children's books but that can be limiting of the reality that we experience as people. It's good that this book gives a framework to discussions of loss and living onwards. (It includes the lives of Pippa and the children to the present).

My nine year old LOVED the red socks - especially on the elephant in the zoo. Like the others in the series it has a great timeline as well. I can imagine this series will be very enjoyed by small people with particular passions and also by people doing special projects on famous kiwis.

I hope as the series continues (I am assuming it will) that it will include Māori, Pasifika and other cultures. Super pleased to see a woman included and looking forward to more of them too.

Details - Penguin Random House, October 2018 RRP $25.00 HB

Love you more than being inspired on home turf xxx

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bookish - Beautiful Bookish Gifts - middle sized people

Heya peeps,

I feel like I am so looking forward to mid-November when all assignments are done and my TWO day exam is finished. I have this large stack of books piling up for when I have some leisure reading time available to me.

I'm also starting to think about Christmas gifts. I often fall for books as an option especially for little people. I'm going to do a few posts with some line ups of books that have been recently added to the shelves at your local bookshop.

The Wizards of the Once by Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell is one of those writers who seems to have a golden touch. Her How to Train Your Dragon books need no introduction. (I also have a real soft spot for her Emily Brown books). Her latest book The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic is filled with adventures and twists and turns and her classic relatable sense of fun and humour. The novel, which she also illustrated, follows Xar and Wish and how they meet again.

Mr 9 has been reading it and giving me feedback, he says 'My favourite bit is when it says the punishment cupboard would like to remind you that ALL MAGIC IS BANNED IN THIS CASTLE. No sprites, no spelling, no cursing, no charming and absolutely no enchanted objects. By order of the queen who will most unfortunately remove your head if you disobey. I like it because Wish is using magic inside the punishment cupboard. This book would be good for 7-11 year olds.'

Details - Hachette NZ, September 2018 RRP $24.99 PB

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson and illustrated by Laura Barrett.

This classic story has been reimagined with the exquisite silhouetted illustrations by Barrett. Printed on concertinaing heavy card the final page becomes a pop-up castle. In the front pocket of the book are little stand up paper-dolls that you can use to reenact the story in the castle at the end. I imagine this would be a very precious gift for any little fairytale and imaginative play loving person. Because of the small pieces and the delicate nature of pop-ups I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 7.

I could also see it being a very special grandparent or auntie/uncle book that would be anticipated each trip. Even without the words there would be much to love about this book for anyone who loved to tell their own stories. Just wonderful.

Details - Hachette NZ, October 2018 RRP $29.99 HB

Stories for Kids who Dare to Be Different by Ben Brooks

You may remember the Boys Who Dare to Be Different book I reviewed recently. This one is in the same vein. It highlights is a range of heroes who come from a variety of time periods and cultures and whose life had an influence on others. Some of them had an impact while they were young and others just began their passion while they were young. There is a pleasing variety both geographically and in time periods. I love being introduced to new heroes whose 'sound bite' (one page) stories can be grabbed and shared easily.

I love that the book introduced me to women like Biddy Mason whose generosity and tenacity is inspiring others so many years on. I keep our growing collection of these kind of books under the coffee table and we all grab them now and again and discover a new inspiration.

Details - Hachette NZ, October 2018 RRP $39.99 HB

love you more than a great stack of books and a fireplace to read them by xxx

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bookish - For those who care

Hi Again,

More amazing titles from Aotearoa authors who care for conserving our beautiful land.

New Zealand's Great Walks: The Complete Guide by Paul and Shelley Hersey.

This husband and wife team, photographer and writer, have put together a beautiful book of Aotearoa's nine great walks (one is actually a river journey). The book is a testament to their love for the land and the outdoors and opens with a challenge to all who walk the tracks to play their part in defending and protecting the amazing environment we enjoy here. The book includes great information for any walker, cycler, kayaker as well as very detailed descriptions of each walk. Included is a graph of the topography, a map of the walk, highlights and lengths and times for each day as well as plenty of other goodies.

This is a fabulous book for anyone who loves tramping and exploring. Plenty of details to whet the appetite! I can think of quite a few people in my life that would love this for Christmas.

Details - Penguin Random House, September 2018 RRP $45.00

Eco Home by Melinda Williams.

We're hoping to dive into a bit of a renovation project at our place and I'm keen for us to make as little impact as we can environmentally speaking. This book has a wealth of accessible, inspiring and detailed information for anyone who is wanting to make 'greener' choices in their own project. It's not just for builders or renovators though the book also has great info boxes throughout to help give ideas to anyone who would like to just live a little lighter on the planet. It's great to have a book like this written in a NZ context as often international books have things that we cannot source here.

I'm so enjoying all the things I'm learning and I love that there are plenty of photos scattered throughout to keep the inspiration levels high. A perfect gift for anyone whose making lifestyle changes or request your local library to get a copy I'm sure it will get plenty of borrowing.

Details - Penguin Random House, September 2018 RRP $45.00

love you more than treasuring what we have xxx

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Books to Enjoy With a Cup of Tea

Kia ora koutou,

I love having books that I can dip in and out of for a few quiet minutes. Two books that sit near me on the couch for that very purpose are Big Weather: Poems of Wellington and I Am New Zealand: Aotearoa Through My Eyes.

Big Weather is a book of collected poetry that capture the shapes and sounds of our capital city.

The authors range from established poets like Hone Tuwhare to emerging voices on the poetry scene. My husband grew up in Wellington and we have family who live there so it's familiar territory for me. This book would make a great gift for anyone who loves poetry and the land and cityscapes of our capital city. I love how a good poem can completely transport you in a few moments and words to another place.

Details - Penguin Random House, June 2018 RRP $30.00 PB

I Am New Zealand is a book of stunning photography capturing their NZ.

It stemmed from a Nikon photography competition. The book travels from Cape Reinga all the way to Stewart Island and the variety of images is stunning. It's a book that makes me want to travel the length and breadth of my own country. It's a wonderful testament to the beauty of this whenua and the creative ability of those who dwell in it behind the camera lens.

This would make a fantastic gift for anyone and I am so enjoying the way it expands my heart as I linger with different images over a cup of tea and the sound of birdsong. Also all profits from the book are being donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, wins!

Details - Penguin Random House, October 2018 RRP $45.00

It is so good to see books being published in Aotearoa by our own. I think it's especially important to support these kind of books.

Love you more than a cup of tea and birdsong xxx

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Bookish - Is it Bedtime Yet?

Heya Readers,

My fabulous sister is a real fan of Emily writes so I've asked her to guest contribute a review for this book for me.

Review – Is it Bedtime Yet?  Emily Writes and Friends

Ahhh… “Is it bedtime yet?”  How many parents have wondered, prayed and wished this question and it is a fitting title for Emily Writes’ latest book.
Those who laughed, cried and “amen-ed” their way through her first book, Rants in the Dark, will not be disappointed with Emily Writes’ latest work.  Of the 50 stories in the book, nearly half are penned by Emily, with the rest written by a range of parents, many also Wellington-based.
The unifying theme of the book is honesty.  Diverse parents share their honest truth about what parenting looks like for them.  And there is something for everyone here.  Parents will relate to topics such as the inner conflict about the kind of birthday party you want to host vs. what “everyone else” seems to be doing, the disproportionate negative impact of daylight saving on young families, fertility challenges and raising children who believe in themselves.  Some of the stories are raw and painful, others are challenging and humorous.  All are vulnerable and infused with love - “Oh, the capacity of our hearts for our children!” 
Emily Writes has a particular talent for retelling stories with humour and dialogue that makes you feel like you are in the room with her.  I also love her tendency towards hyperbole such as (on making a homemade birthday cake): “It took only 160 days, a two-month course on fondant, and a small piece of my soul but it was worth it.”  Some of the other contributors have a more poetic narrative.  I particularly enjoyed the imagery used by Thomasin Sleigh, Holly Walker, and Nichole Brown.  Thalia Kehoe Rowden’s imagery in the science of motherhood also appealed to me. Regardless of the authors’ writing styles the message hits home loud and clear: parenting is complex and hard.  We’re all doing our best.  Being honest about the journey - the highs and the lows - helps everyone.  Amid the laughter and tears is woven a steady thread of encouragement for struggling parents everywhere:  “We do our best.  Sometimes our best doesn’t feel like it’s good enough.  But it is.  And we keep doing our best.  Every day.  For the best things that have happened to us, we do our best.”  And “You will survive this, and you will learn that you are stronger than you know.”
This book will resonate with any parent with under-fives in their care, and perhaps also with parents of older children if they haven’t already blocked the early years from their memory.  You will see your own life, conversations and thoughts reflected here.
For readers who are undecided about starting a family, it might pay to save this book until it’s too late to change your mind!  (Perhaps not a suitable gift for your childless daughter-in-law if you’re hoping for grandchildren any time soon).
Health warning: this book contains traumatic birth, swearing, sleep deprivation, sexual references, bodily functions, alcohol and substance use.  Prepare to laugh.
 A few choice extracts:
[Advice for Dads] “Unfortunately, the world isn’t ready to see you spray-foamed into yoga pants, downward dogging.  Until times change, wear good trainers and bend at the knees when lifting”.
“If you go to sleep now, I promise you I will buy you a car when you turn sixteen, we can work this out.”
“’Any day now’ the midwife says.  Any day.  But not today, or today, or today.”
 “Our roots are something to be proud of.  Our stories are begging to be told.”
 “Attempt, if you can, to halt the Earth’s gravitational pull.  It can impact the sleep patterns of your baby.”

Guest review by (my sister) Abi Vink of Wellington.  Abi is a Strengths-based Career Coach, avid reader and mother to 3 small children.

Details - Penguin Random House, July 2018 RRP $35.00

love you more than sharing the love xxx

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bookish - Little Readers

Kia ora readers,

How are things? It might seem like my world is only about reading books right now but there are lots of other things going on too! The part time work and half time study load and creative writing are keeping me from this space.

I’m always excited to get new books in the post and I love that there are so many I can share with my boys and with the little people in my world.

Recently I’ve been enjoying:

The Story of Tantrum O’Furrily by Cressida Cowell and Mark Nicholas. 

This book has such charm – the playfulness of the language and illustration blend perfectly together. The overarching message of the book is the power of story and the importance of remembering the kindness of another. A gorgeous book for sharing with someone special. Will appeal to a range of ages.

love you more than remembering to leave a paw print xxx


Toto the Ninja Cat and the Incredible Cheese Heist by Dermot O’Leary. 

I started reading this book with Mr 9 and then I ‘let’ him read the rest as he snuggled down to sleep one evening. I get such pleasure from watching children enjoy reading and text. He loved this. It’s a very manageable read, with some fun illustrations that compliment and break up the text. The story moves at a good pace and has a sense of fun and mystery throughout. Easily enjoyed by a younger audience too but big enough for people who want to be seen reading ‘proper’ chapter books.

love you more than a blind ninja xxx

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bookish - Little People Big Contrasts

Hi Readers,

Today I'm celebrating the fact that little people can enjoy books that are silly and books that have beautiful poignant messages.

Oi Cat! by Kes Grat and Jim Field is a example of the silly.

For any fans of Oi Frog! or Oi Dog! the absurd humour and funny animal moments will be familiar, and I suspect well loved. Poor Cat has to sit on gnats, as per Frog's new rules. It's terribly itchy and not much fun and so the other animals try to come up with a another rhyming word that will give him some more comfort. Guaranteed laugh out loud moments and fabulous colourful illustrations are bound to make this a book that gets read again and again.

Details - Hachette NZ, September 2018 RRP $19.99 PB

Little Mouse and the Red Wall by Britta Teckentrup (author and illustrator) is a gorgeous example of poignant and beautiful.

Little Mouse wonders what lies behind the big red wall that has been around his, and the other animals, home for ever. No one seems to know or even care but Little Mouse is a wonderer and a determined little mouse. With the help of Blue Bird he will discover there is much more than any of them imagined. Stunning illustrations and a beautiful, courageous, adventure. Sure to be a favourite with little and big people.

Details - Hachette NZ, July 2018 RRP $19.99 PB

love you more than story time at school xxx

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bookish - More for Littles - The writer/illustrators

Hey awesome people,

More books for little people (can there ever be too many?). These are all created by amazing women who write and illustrate their books.

Zachary Quack Minimonster by the beloved Lynley Dodd is a new board book about the little duckling Zachary Quack.

As you can expect the book is full of mischief with delightful illustrations to compliment it perfectly. I love Dodd’s work and the ways in which she is obviously delighted by language and manages to make that accessible for small people.

A perfect gift for little people and Dodd fans.

love you more than a bootie for a hat xxx

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale by Ruth Paul. Another wonderful NZ author/illustrator Parks won the NZ book award for Children and Young Adults for her book I Am Jellyfish in 2018.

This joyful book is perfect for little people who love the ocean and have an adventurous spirit.

Little Hector is full of spunk but he might just meet some others under the sea that will scare it right away!

Never fear a fabulous friend will see him right.

Perfect for littles who are about 4+

love you more than a barnacled blue whale xxx

Puffin the Architect by Kimberly Andrews is a gorgeous offering by another talented writer/illustrator combo. 

This book features fabulous houses designed by Puffin. Floor plans, rhyme schemes and all sorts of clever nooks and crannies. This book is sure to delight children who love details and making huts, forts or construction.

Puffin is surely a genius but will she ever be able to satisfy her most demanding and fussy clients??

Perfect for littles about 6+

love you more than a tunnel with all sorts of uses xxx

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Bookish - The Rest of Me


Katie Marsh’s book The Rest of Me was a really interesting exploration of what it is to be a family and how the roles we take in a family can unintentionally limit us.

Alex is the one who always copes, she is the one on who all the responsibility rests and she needs to be well. So how does she cope when her husband is suddenly well after years and she isn’t well? What does it take for us to live honestly with those around us?

And maybe there’s a lot worse than the worst that can happen.

I think this story will appeal to many women who want to be good at all the things and are slowly dying under the weight of their own expectations. At the heart of it this is a story about honesty and about the very most important things in life… which are always relationships.

love you more than making peace with the past xxx

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bookish - Women of the Dunes

Hi, hi,

Can you believe how fast the year is speeding through?!

I recently finished reading Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine. 

Set in three time periods in Ullaness, Scotland. The legendary woman Ulla 800AD, Ellen 1890 and Libby the archaeologist – what secrets and difficulties unite them and how much of the legend is true?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I appreciated that the main story was Libby’s but there was enough of Ellen’s story and Ulla’s story to tighten the modern narrative and some twists that were unexpected.

I enjoy Maine’s writing style. The characters felt nuanced and there were some great characters in the book and some lovely moments between them. I was sad to finish it. I thought a lot about the characters while I was reading it, guessed at what might come next and would definitely pick up other books by this author.

love you more than the stories history may or may not confirm xxx