Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review :: My Lady Jane



"A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger - and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that's the least of Jane's problems. She's about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong."

I was super eager to read/review this book following a recommendation by this bookish gal (who has never yet led me astray).  It exceeded my expectations!  I saved it up, and I savoured it.  In fact, I was so dreading finishing, that I put off doing so for several weeks.  I wanted, needed to know what would happen but I couldn't bear seeing so few pages left, didn't want that empty #bookfinished feeling to arrive (at least until I had adequate back up).  I considered whether starting over again right away would help, but this book was such a delightful (and I rarely use that word) surprise, I need time and distance before my first reread, that it may delightfully surprise me all over again.

My Lady Jane has three POVs, each penned by a separate author.  They are delicious characters, and the minor characters are just as fun.  Absurdly, I found myself wishing that this was the true historical account of Lady Jane Grey and her cohort.  A much nicer, and much, much funnier alternate reality. #siiiiiiiiigh

This novel is probably-definitely not for everyone, but it totally floated my boat.  If you've read some Phillipa Gregory, but also love flamboyant British humour (think Black Adder, with a twist of Monty Python and just a touch of Miranda), then order this book asap.  Also recommended for fans of The Princess Bride, and I would suggest that Fielding, Rennison and Austen readers would enjoy it too - for the comedy esp.

Perhaps my top pick for 2016 reading (snap).  I know my mum, sisters, nieces, and a wide selection of friends would adore this book too.  I want more.  I hope this trio of writers offer up another book or three.  I want to watch the movie, nay, TV series (so many great one-liners).  If you're in need of some fresh comedy this summer, treat. yo'. self.

Review copy kindly provided by Walker Books

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review :: Barefoot on the Wind by Zoë Marriott

Barefoot on the Wind - by Zoë Marriott


"A feminist reworking of Beauty and the Beast from a talented fantasy writer."

Well, you had me at that byline.  Fairytale retellings are fun (see also - Jane Austen retellings *hearteyes*), and there's always room for a feminist spin, imho.  I also looked forward to reading a Beauty and the Beast retelling, not being familiar with the story at all (I know, what can I say?!), so I was pretty much 'come at me with this book!'.

Set in a fairytale Japan, Barefoot on the Wind is filled with vivid and beautiful imagery, that lingers after reading.  The world in the book feels tight and contained, entirely appropriate considering the village and inhabitants are as entrapped as the beast, and is heavy with beautiful detail.  A setting that feels eery, almost nightmare - but with just enough warmth to wrap the characters up safe. ish.

The characters themselves feel fresh.  Hana is not Belle in the traditional, aesthetic sense (I know enough of the story to see that).  To begin with, the brief description of her looks, "I was not pretty, or delicate or fine... I was a hard worker, and I was healthy," is just the kind of move away from traditional fairytale tellings that I needed.  I've read so many (too many?) fairytales to our kids over the past few years, and the whole beauty = good, ugly = bad/evil, is a massive bee in my bonnet.  Hana is obviously beautiful, for so many reasons.  Her courage, loyalty and humility, just for starters.

Likewise the beast (not going to give away anything about his looks) is a deserving counterpart, and the slow burn of their relationship is perfectly in keeping with how humble they each are.  This has something to do with the pacing of the novel (or vice versa), which was gentler than I have come to expect from YA novels.  This was to my preference.  The story was gripping enough on it's own terms and didn't take long to finish!

All up, Barefoot on the Wind was a super pleasure to read.  Perhaps my enjoyment would have been enhanced had I known the original story prior to reading, but I felt it stood perfectly well on it's own.

Barefoot on the Wind is available now in all good bookstores.  Summer reading, y'all.

Review copy kindly supplied by Walker Books.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review :: Pandora by Victoria Turnbull

Pandora - Written and illustrated by Victoria Turnbull


"A great picture story book with an environmental message.  This is a stunning fable of hope and regeneration from critically acclaimed artist Victoria Turnbull."

Pandora is a beautiful, sad and ultimately hopeful story.  The title character lives alone, surrounded by broken things with which she builds her little life.  When an injured bird appears, Pandora finally has a friend, and a purpose.  Eventually the bird leaves, but the gifts of seeds and hope left behind, transform Pandora's grey world into one that is beautiful.


While the text is kept to a minimum, there is plenty of story to be read in the detailed illustrations. Pandora is conveyed so endearingly, her vibrancy helping to lift the grey tone the story initially opens with. There's a strong conservation message depicted in stark imagery of consumer waste, countered by Pandora's very practical upcycling, and the beautiful regeneration of nature towards the end of the book.


Pandora is available now, and would make a beautiful gift - the hardback cover is in gold-sheened satin, too pretty!

Review copy kindly provided by Walker Books

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steiner School Fair


The Michael Park School Fair was a big deal when we were kids and I knew our guys would have such a great time there. We've been trying to make it there for a few years now, but the timing has never worked.  All good, because it felt perfect taking them this year.  The ideal way to round off our first year of Waldorf (inspired) homeschooling, and put aside some specially focused time with them before the bubba arrives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Review :: Angel Star



"Angel Star written by Chris Sanders symbolises a new era of Children’s storybook writing using adult contemporary music inter-twined with simple beautiful lyrics that will resonate in the heart of every child.Modern day nursery rhymes that all the family will enjoy singing and reading today and for generations to come."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review :: When We Go Camping by Sally Sutton and Cat Chapman

When We Go Camping - Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Cat Chapman


"From two of New Zealand's favourites - Sally Sutton and Cat Chapman - a rollicking romp through a day on a family camping trip!"

Homeschool Field Notes


We had another homeschool field trip a few weeks ago, while it was still cool enough to wear woolens.  We were supposed to be observing 'pond life', but all we came across was a spider.
Def no beavers or snakes #Americancurriculum.  Speaking of curriculum, we've been checking out next year's syllabus (2nd Grade) and it looks fun!  I've been looking at the Kindergarten one too which looks utterly adorable!  Super tempted...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review :: An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger



"A surreal and gorgeous alphabet book from exceptional artist Norman Messenger."

If you're looking for a book that's a little out of the ordinary, I've totally found it for you.  An Artist's Alphabet is perrrrfect for fans of the surreal, and anyone looking for an un-cutesy alphabet book. The unconventional subject matter is refreshing, no 'B is for Ball' here, peeps!  This is definitely the type of book kids will sit and pore over in front of the fire, with so many exquisite details and unexpected letter pairings.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review :: My Dad Used to Be so Cool by Keith Negley



"Did your dad used to be cool? Wondering what happened to his rock band playing, skateboarding days?"

First and foremost, I LOVE the illustrations for this book!  I'd have any of them as wall prints in my house.  The repeat pattern guitars are 👌.  It's a beautiful book no doubt about it, with thick, matte pages boasting these bold, retro illustrations.   I'm a big fan of the muted primaries colour scheme, and intend to steal it for an upcoming kiddo birthday party, yuss!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Russell, Northland


These Spring holidays have been dreamy!  So much for that grim weather forecast, it's all blue skies y'all.  Today definitely feels like the kind of day that we should fill with an adventure, but in reality I will be cleaning out my car (overdue) and sorting through the kiddo clothing.  Is it normal that I'm looking forward to both of these tasks?!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Doll Ergobaby


I've been thinking about making a couple of doll-sized ergobaby carriers forever.  It felt so good finally to whip this one up!  I'm sure there are a bunch of online tutorials available, but that's not really my style.  Instead I gathered supplies, did a bit of guessing and pinning and cutting, and came up with this one.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Adventures in Spring


I'm gonna admit it right now, homeschooling is the best decision we ever made. Which is not to say that we will never reassess, particularly if we find ourselves in the right schooling situation, but this year has been (mostly) SO much fun for all of us.

Book Review :: A Child of Books - Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston



"An inspiring and lyrical picture book about a little girl who sails her raft 'across a sea of words' to arrive at the house of a small boy. There she invites him to come away with her on an adventure where they can journey through 'forests of fairy tales', 'across mountains of make-believe' and 'sleep in clouds of song'. Guided by his new friend, the boy unlocks his imagination and a lifetime of magic lies ahead of him... But who will be next?"

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Beeswax Candles Two Ways


Ung.  I love the smell of beeswax.  Is there anyone in the world who doesn't?  Melting beeswax is even super yummier.  It really is such a versatile product for making handmade gifts.  I have a huge block set aside, and a bunch of different plans for it.

I made these candles a couple of days ago and they were ridiculously easy.  The dipped candles take a little more time and patience but they were still far easier to make than I'd anticipated. They'll make sweet little Christmas gifts for friends who don't mind imperfect looking candles. I might actually assist Eleanor in making the next batch, and who wouldn't want a lumpy candle that was handmade by a kiddo?!  No one, that's who.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review :: Neffy and the Feathered Dinosaurs - Joe Lillington



"It was a very special day for Neffy the Microraptor - she would be taking her first flight.

But when Neffy spread her wings she didn't know what she was supposed to do! Will she learn in time to join her sisters and escape the predators on the ground?"

This is the ideal book for fact-collecting kiddos (age 4+), with a sweet little story that makes for perfect bedtime reading. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sweet Mother's Kitchen - Wellington


Sweet Mother's Kitchen in Wellington has been on my to-visit list forever.  We really had to battle fatigue to get ourselves there, but I'm glad we did.  It was a nice, easy-going way to finish our little adventure.

Book Review :: Shield - Rachael Craw

Shield - by Rachael Craw


"Evie is out of options. She must comply with the Affinity Project - obey their rules, play their deadly games, give up Jamie. And her losses keep growing. When she decides to help a small group of Shields trying to affect change, Evie finds herself in the firing line. Counsellor Knox is intent on revealing her secrets and shackling her to the Affinity Project for life. To protect her family, Evie must betray those closest to her."