The joy of picture books continues this week with the arrival of my niece and nephew. It has been a while since I had a toddler clamber on my knee for story time but it is one of life’s perfect moments. The excitement of meeting the characters, the flow of the words, colourful illustrations and even turning the page is contagious. Pure happiness radiates from the kids as they recite the words of old favourites or learn new ones. Picture books are magic portals into the world of reading and I don’t think they are appreciated by adults as much as they should.
They don’t need to be long Jasper’s Beanstalk with minimal words and simple plot captivated them as much as the longer more involved Bumblebear but the illustrations matter as does the rhythm. I have a lot to learn as I scribble ideas down and stories form in my mind. I wish I could draw the images I see beyond the stick person version because they do not do them justice. These children’s stories are distracting me from my WIP. The more I try to focus on Amber the worse the words and the mental block is so I am procrastinating usefully by exploring the world of picture books and enjoying every moment.
Time to read We are going on a bear hunt again and again and again.
Do you have any favourite picture books I should read? Let me know your recommendations below.
Health has thrown me a curveball with episodes of vertigo on top of everything else so duvet days have become the norm. At first, I was fine with the idea of snuggling down with Nigel or Pip to recover; I had books to read and review, jelly beans to eat and of course, an imaginary world to explore and write about but then I realized screens made my vertigo worse. It is hard to read or write when the words tilt and swim. My euphoria of hitting the 40,000 word count a week ago has dwindled. It is now increasing at snail’s pace as I snatch a few legible words here and there on paper and screen. I just have to remember the number of words is getting higher. In the back of my mind, I have Louise Jensen’s voice telling me she wrote 200 words a day on her novel and she is a successful best seller author. If you haven’t read her books you are missing a treat. My reviews for her The Gift and The Surrogate are on Duvet Dwellers Books.
Thank Goodness I have an old-fashioned Kindle with no backlight and several books from the library to read – these are much easier on the eyes. Getting the reviews written and published to Duvet Dwellers Books is harder but I will share them soon – hopefully.
I was instantly attracted to The Hazel Wood by its dark foreboding cover and intriguing blurb so was pleased when I was given an advanced copy to review by NetGalley and the publishers Penguin Random House UK.
Title The Hazel Wood
Author Melissa Albert
Publisher Penguin Random House UK Children’s Penguin
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .
Fairy Tales have always intrigued me. Not your saccharine sweet Disney versions but the dark, complex tales passed down the generations by the spoken word before they were captured in print by Perrault and The Grimm Brothers when they provided entertainment lessons for the community.
The Hazel Wood has the elements of these original stories which create a unique dark YA novel. It has all parts of a book I tend to fall hopelessly in love with – mystery, secrets, dusty bookshops and a book central to the plot with a twist of magic. It may not have grabbed me as much as I hoped (my expectations were maybe too high) but I enjoyed this well written, quirky novel. It was easy to fall into the adventure with Alice as she followed clues with the aid of Finch, a huge fan of her Grandmothers works to search for her mother. Alice’s nomadic childhood has been blighted by a string of bad luck which has made her have an extremely close relationship with her mum, Ella and it is this bond that holds the plot together. Alice is not the most pleasant character with a tendency for uncontrollable anger leading me to question her actions at times but they are in keeping with her personality. There are many unique characters dotted throughout the story, linked together by the fairy tales written by her grandmother. It is surreal read especially part two which I found reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.
Would I recommend?
I enjoyed it so would recommend it to those who love Caraval by Stephanie Garber or darker YA tales.
A new month and a step closer to Spring. I love winter for the excuse of snuggling under the duvet with a good book but I long for sunshine and cheery flowers now. Rather than weekly updates on the books I am reading, I have decided to do monthly ones – hopefully, they will be easier to keep track of and more time to focus on writing.
Last books I read in January
Life got in the way of updating last week but I finished reading:
It’s the beginning of another week and more books are being lifted from my TBR pile. After last week’ s reading of The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan, and Jennifer Gilmour’s Isolation Junction these are the books I plan to read:
The One by John Marrs. This has been out a while but I have patiently waited my turn on the library reservation list. I first heard about it on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 Book Club and the premise of dating based on DNA testing had me hooked.
Clipped Wings by Jennifer Gilmour. After reading Isolation Junction, which is a fictional account of domestic abuse (eye-opening, worrying and uplifting book) I decided to try her second book. This is a collection of survivor’s stories on their experiences of domestic abuse.
Forget her Name by Jane Holland, in time for next week’s blog tour.
Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John. I am jumping into this after receiving a digital ARC from NetGalley. Will I be a happier writer and will my technique improve once I have finished it? I will find out soon.