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I do a monthly round up for everything we’ve read each month. Himself focuses on science articles and forums and news, so he’s not getting a section – books only!
Large boy re-read a whole bunch of David Baddiel books this month so that he could do Accelerated Reader quizzes and got points (he’s very competitive, I wonder where he gets that from?). So not many new book reviews this month.
Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Spiders, Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Zombies, Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Ghosts and Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Sharks by Katie Tsang
These are really good books about someone trying to be brave and then getting awards for fighting against a pretend threat. He’s really enjoyed them and sounds like he thinks they teach important lessons so they can’t be that bad even if I think they’re rubbish.
Charlie Changes Into a Chicken and Charlie Turns into a T-Rex by Sam Copeland
It was only OK according to large boy. He doesn’t much want to tell me about it, it wasn’t that good.
- My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara
- Many back issues of Oor Willie (Scottish comic strip annuals)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I saw the TV series advertised at year sometime and decided I wanted to read the book first. So it was on my TBR Kindle list for quite a while. I was sort of saving it up and finally decided to read it. I think I’d also been saving it because it had a good reputation and I was afraid of being disappointed.
I need not have feared. It didn’t disappoint at all. I loved the plethora of strong central female characters. I loved all the back stories building sympathy with these imperfect women. I loved watching the girls mature into strong, decisive characters who act to obtain what they want to be.
So yeah, I don’t write reviews that retell the story. But I loved this book.
However, at the same time, it kind of had that feeling of ticking lots of literature boxes. It took me back to Enish A level and noticing themes and parallels, echoes and linguistic quirks. Maybe I’ve grown used to detective novels with little aspiration to literary greatness. Or maybe, it’s just a bit too tutored, a bit too designed and a bit too show room model perfect? There was a reason I didn’t study English – I want to read for pleasure not to analyse. Here, I found myself slipping into analysis, maybe there’s an obviousness to the themes and literary tricks that made noticing them unavoidable. There was certainly a tarnishing of enjoyment for me, coming from a distraction of the text away from the story.
Darkness on the Fens by Joy Ellis
I do love a detective story. I looked back and was surprised to find that I hadn’t read anything by Joy Ellis since last November. I think I’m back up to date with the Nikki Galena series now. It’s set in a fictional town of Greenborough which is very obviously Boston in South Lincolnshire, I love recognising some of the pubs and other places from their descriptions. Although, I didn’t guess whether or where the supposedly-haunted mansion is meant to be – it was certainly an evocative and highly suitable location for the climax of the tale.
This installment was pretty dark, not just in terms of the crimes being investigated either. One of the main characters seems to be entering a different phase and making some surprising choices. I’ve got to give Joy Ellis a lot of credit – she doesn’t just establish a couple of relatable detectives and give them interesting cases, she keeps those central characters evolving too. Another highly recommended read.
Small boy is just 6. He’s just started year 2 having learned to read over the last two years with the marvellous Read Write Inc phonics scheme. It’s brilliant and he’s made huge progress since we began home learning back in March 2020, especially through the spring of 2021.
In December, he read his RWI and other school books plus a couple from the library. Then, at Christmas, large boy realised he hadn’t got his brother a present and went to fetch some books he’d grown out of… and now small boy gets a proper book review of his own. It was slow going and he needs help with non-phonetic words that he hasn’t learned yet (cancel, circle, automatically, build, though….etc but the list is getting shorter) but he was so proud of himself reading proper “grown up” books. He’s only just back at school so hasn’t brought home a book yet, but I think we’ll just review the chapter books here.
The Penguin Who Wanted to Find Out by Jill Tomlinson
He says it was really quite good. His favourite bit was when Otto the penguin chicken got his feathers and learned to dive and that getting fed fish soup was good but he wouldn’t like it. He felt really pleased with himself and proud when he finished the whole book.