Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #3)

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s not everyday you find yourself in combat with a half-lion, half-human.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

Thoughts:

I am late to the party with Percy Jackson but it’s a series that I’m pleased that we’re reading for this kid-lit feature. I have to admit, I don’t quite ‘get’ the love as much as some super fans do. Please don’t get me wrong. There’s no denying that it’s an excellent adventure series and I adore the Greek mythology, it’s just not a series that I see myself re-reading. That said, I am enjoying my step into Percy Jackson and I thought The Titan’s Curse was an excellent addition to the series so far.

In this book, we follow Percy, Annabeth and Thaila as they try to help Grover sneak two half-bloods out from a military style school. As you can imagine, things go wrong and they come across another problem. Annabeth is kidnapped during a battle. It’s another mission for Percy. Another chance to save someone!

There are some really intriguing characters in this instalment. I always love to meet the Gods and Goddesses and they are there in abundance in this tale. I also enjoyed the character Zoe. She’s prickly and a bit of a brat but I thought she was interesting. I think you learn more about why she is the way she is as the story progresses.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this story continues. I adore how the author incorporates Greek mythology so seamlessly. It certainly keeps things interesting for me. Rick Riordan is a fantastic writer and its his writing that keeps me glued to the pages. He’s effortlessly funny and keeps the story moving at a great pace.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (April):
Demon Dentist- David Walliams

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Talking About ‘The Last Thing She Told Me’ with Bibliobeth!

The Last Thing She Told Me

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too far-fetched?

BETH: This might not be the same answer for everyone who reads it but unfortunately for me at points, I found it difficult to connect with. Not necessarily unbelievable but there were points when I thought the way certain characters reacted to circumstances weren’t how I imagined they would in a real-life situation. However, I don’t have any personal experience similar enough to what some of the women suffer through in this book so who can say for certain how someone would/should react? I have plenty of experience with grief and it certainly does crazy things to a person, emotionally and psychologically speaking. Also, the part with the fairy bone and Maisie being allowed to keep it for a night according to the police – I really don’t think that would actually happen.

BETH: What did you think of the relationship between the women, primarily Nicola and her mother Irene? Did you find any similarities between Nicola’s relationship to her oldest daughter, Ruby?

CHRISSI: I felt like the relationships between women in this story were quite fractured. Nicola and Irene definitely had a difficult time within this story, mainly down to what had happened to Irene in the past. Nicola may not have realised this. I feel like Nicola tried to be more open and honest with her own daughter although she hid a major secret from her. There were so many secrets in this story that affected all of the female relationships.

CHRISSI: What purpose did William’s letters to Betty serve throughout the book?

BETH: I thought they served as a nice little addition to the narrative. I really enjoy the inclusion of letters in a novel, it gives such a fascinating insight into a character’s life and personality but the danger with them is that if you’re only hearing from one person’s point of view, it gives only one side of the story. With the different threads going on throughout this book, I couldn’t help but be slightly suspicious of William’s character and motives and it was interesting to read how it all panned out in the end.

BETH: Did you predict what would happen at any point in this novel?

CHRISSI: I don’t think so. I had some ideas along the way but nothing that was particularly solid. I think it could have gone in any direction really… it was that sort of book!

CHRISSI: Without spoilers. why do you think Nicola finally acknowledges what happened to her at age 20?

BETH: I think Nicola goes through so much inner turmoil as she relives her own personal experiences through that of her mother and grandmother. It reminds her how different life was for women just a generation or two ago and how little power or control they seemed to have over their own destiny. As a result, it makes her think again about how times have changed. She now has the perfect opportunity to break her silence and speak out whilst arriving at the realisation that telling her family the truth is better than hiding terrible secrets.

BETH: Why do you think Betty mentioned the babies to Nicola before she died?

CHRISSI: In my opinion, Betty wanted her family to be able to move on. If she told Nicola then the secrets would be out in the open. I think it somewhat took a weight off Betty’s mind and she could die knowing that she had done the right thing.

CHRISSI: What significance do the fairy statues have throughout the story?

BETH: I love the addition of the fairy statues (and I’m sure you did too, I know you have a fondness for fairies!). However, they do represent something a lot darker and more saddening than you would normally associate them with. I believe they represent childhood, innocence and how these things can be permanently altered through traumatic experiences.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I haven’t read this author before, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy her writing was to read.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Banned Books #57- Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen.

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Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
First published: 2008
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: No, no and no some more. I get so wound up when a book as sweet and inoffensive like this is challenged on grounds of homosexuality. I don’t understand it that as recently as ten years ago (which still feels to me like yesterday!) that individuals were challenging books for children because it featured gay characters. I think I would understand (but definitely NOT accept) the challenging if it was in less enlightened times when homosexuality was illegal and a lot of people had a problem with it. But to use it as a reason to restrict access to a book in the 2000’s. Really?

CHRISSI: What Beth said. I actually find it offensive that this book was even challenged! It is such a sweet story and it’s told in such a gentle way. What message does it send young children if a book like this is challenged/banned? That’s it wrong to have a homosexual in your family? Argh, it makes me so cross. I know a lot of children who do have two mothers and my heart hurts to think that they would believe it’s ‘wrong’. Children should see a representation of every type of family to open their minds and address stereotypes.

How about now?

BETH: I think you can already see from my previous answer that I very much disagree. Since 2008, I would have loved to believe we are becoming more accepting of individuals beliefs and desires but sadly, although I think there has been a lot of progress, there is still a lot more work to do. There will always be people who have quite extreme ideas about what is right and what is wrong and they’re entitled to their own opinion but when they use it to try and change other people’s minds/hurt the target individuals that they have a problem with, that’s when I have a problem too.

CHRISSI: I think there’s so much work to be done. Children are so much more accepting than adults and I wonder when that acceptance starts to get lost, or why it gets lost. When is it that we begin to judge so much? I know children don’t. When I get asked why a certain person has two mothers/fathers in class, the children accept it without questioning. Books like this NEED to be about so children know that it’s not abnormal to have a different family set up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I found this book to be a very adorable and informative read, especially for younger children. It’s a fantastic way of introducing children to LGBT issues and the fact that people should be free to love/marry whomever they want. I would be happy to read it with any children I come across and would be delighted to see it in schools, available for children to enjoy.

CHRISSI: It’s adorable and I’d be happy to read it to any child in my school!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘The House On Half Moon Street’ with Bibliobeth!

The House on Half Moon Street (Leo Stanhope, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Everyone has a secret… Only some lead to murder.

Leo Stanhope. Assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret. 

For Leo was born Charlotte, but knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – he fled his family home at just fifteen, and has been living as Leo ever since: his original identity known only to a few trusted people.

But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.

CHRISSI: I told you when I started reading this book that it wasn’t what I had expected. Did you have any preconceptions of this book? Did it live up to your expectations?

BETH: I know you weren’t super keen on this one when we originally looked at it and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect myself. I’m desperately trying to step away from judging books too much before I give them a chance so I went into it with an open and intrigued mind. Also, even though I usually read the synopsis before I get stuck in, I tried to go into this book a little blind so that I could find out all about it myself without making any pre-judgements. In the end, I’m glad I did this as it made the story and the character of Leo more exciting for me and I was curious to see how it would continue.

BETH: What do you think you anticipated from this novel? How did your opinion change as you began and then finished it?

CHRISSI: I was NOT keen at all on reading this book. I did a you (hee hee) and judged it by its cover and the crime genre. I’m not a massive fan of the genre because it doesn’t always capture my attention. I personally feel that the genre is overpopulated and there are so many similar books. However, my opinion completely changed. I was pleasantly surprised and I feel like Alex Reeve brought something new to the genre.

CHRISSI: We’ve read books set in Victorian London before. How do you think the setting is compared to other books set in the same era?

BETH: I think the setting was definitely very evocative. Victorian London is one of my favourite settings to read about and I especially enjoy crime set in this era. However, because a lot of different works of fiction have been set within this time period, there is always a chance it can feel a bit stale. Luckily, I don’t believe this is the case with Half Moon Street. The author drops you expertly into the Victorian era with a lot of vivid descriptions of the streets and the people that walked them at this time in history. It took me right back in time, like I wanted and sits perfectly alongside other books set in this period.

BETH: Who was your favourite supporting character and why?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure it’s a ‘favourite’ as such but I was intrigued by Rosie Flowers. Yes, that really was her name. I wanted to know whether I could trust her or not and I was very interested in her history. It’s hard to pick a favourite as the characters are incredibly well rounded and developed. I think I could have easily picked a few. Maria herself intrigued me throughout, even though she had died (not a spoiler) early on in the story!

CHRISSI: Did this book capture your attention all the way through? What was it about the story that kept you reading?

BETH: I can say with complete confidence that my reason for turning the pages was most definitely the character of Leo. From the very beginning, you understand what an extraordinarily difficult life he has had and this could have made a story all of its own. When a murder is thrown into the mixture, Leo (turned amateur detective) becomes an even more endearing character who you find yourself rooting for constantly.

BETH: How do you think the author manages to capture the dark side of Victorian London?

CHRISSI: I felt like Alex Reeve really captured the dark side of Victorian London well. I definitely felt the atmosphere that I can imagine was around Victorian London. There were many elements that portrayed Victorian London effectively. The prostitution, the murders, the gore (especially the talk of the innards at the start!) the role of the men and women. It was all there in all it’s glory gory. It really struck a chord with me, that Leo knew he’d be put in an asylum if it was found that he dressed as a man.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, what did you make of the ending? Can you see this becoming a long series?

BETH: I liked the ending! I thought I had it all figured out but not quite. Things are resolved to an extent but the reader is definitely left hanging in one respect as to what might happen next (generally speaking) in the life of our main character, Leo. It absolutely has the potential to run as quite a long series because of the strength of Leo’s character and the potential adventures that he could become embroiled in.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. As long as the series doesn’t go on for too long. I think it’s my problem with some crime fiction. It seems to go on for many books and my interest wanes. A trilogy is enough for my attention span! 😉

Would WE recommend it?

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ with Bibliobeth!

Dear Mrs Bird

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Synopsis:

London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

CHRISSI: We all know now that you’re a cover judger. (Tee hee!) What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: Sssh, that’s a secret! Oh well, you’re right, everyone probably knows by now. To be honest, with Dear Mrs Bird, I didn’t really have any impressions of the cover, positive or negative. I thought it was an okay cover, remarkably inoffensive but something that didn’t give away much about the contents of the novel (which can both a good and bad thing!) or stands out in any way. Luckily, I had heard good things about it from my fellow bloggers and had some vague idea about the arc of the story so I was looking forward to reading it.

BETH: Author AJ Pearce incorporates charmingly old-fashioned expressions to help convey a sense of the time period. What were some of your favourite terms? Did the language help your understanding of the era and the characters’ personalities?

CHRISSI: My impression of the book was indeed that it was charmingly old-fashioned. It was awfully British. I loved how Mrs Bird described anything ‘naughty’ in the letters as ‘unpleasantness.’ I also loved the use of the word ‘jolly’ too. We don’t use jolly enough. I’m going to make it my mission to bring it back. I liked it said someone was ‘awfully lucky.’ There was a lot of ‘awfully’! Two of my favourites were ‘Right-o!’ and ‘Crikey!’ It definitely gave me a sense of the era and of the characters’ personalities.

CHRISSI: One of the major themes of the novel is friendship. Discuss Emmy and Bunty’s relationship, and all the ways they support and encourage each other over the course of the novel.

BETH: I do love a strong female friendship in a novel, especially one like Emmy and Bunty’s where they are so close that they literally become part of each other’s family. I think both girls needed the other one in their lives for strong support, humour and to confide in during the tough and dangerous times that they are living in. This is particularly evident when a crack forms in the relationship and the two girls are almost lost without the other to lean on.

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I did have a favourite character. I did enjoy the friendship between Emmy and Bunty, but I have to say I liked Emmy more. I thought she was a very easy character to like. I was rooting for her throughout the story. I really wanted her to do well.

CHRISSI: Did you enjoy the pace of the story? Was it ever too slow/fast for you?

BETH: I did enjoy the pace. It wasn’t particularly action-packed and exciting but I don’t think that’s what the author intended it to be. It was about very ordinary characters doing extraordinary deeds and displaying huge amounts of resilience when placed in war-torn London and having their lives put at risk every single day. At some points it did feel slightly too “jolly hockey sticks,” and “British stiff upper lip,” but at the same time, I really enjoyed the quintessential and classic British-ness of it all.

BETH: Do you think Emmy was right to confront William after he rescued the two children? Was his reaction warranted?

CHRISSI: I could see it from both Emmy and William’s point of view. Emmy was worried about William losing his life and wondered how her good friend Bunty would deal with that if it happened. William was purely doing his job though so I can totally see why it got his back up.

CHRISSI: If you were to put this book into a genre, which one would you put it in?

BETH: I think I would put it in historical fiction, purely for the World War II aspect, the emotional accounts of the bombings and the brave efforts of so many volunteers to keep London and its inhabitants safe each night.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I liked the author’s rather gentle writing style!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes! 3.5 stars

CHRISSI: Of course!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The BFG

The BFG

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Matilda

Synopsis:

When Sophie is snatched from her orphanage bed by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), she fears she will be eaten. But instead the two join forces to vanquish the nine other far less gentle giants who threaten to consume earth’s children. 

Thoughts:

I bloomin’ love The BFG. Roald Dahl is one of my favourite writers. I absolutely loved him as a child and I still love his work as an adult. I read him to children in my class and they love him. I read this book on a train journey and I actually laughed out loud. Roald Dahl’s writing is so accessible to young children. His work is just as good in 2019 as it was back in the 90s when I first read it.

If you don’t know much about the story, then where have you been? It’s a classic! Sophie is snatched from the orphanage by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). She’s terrified that she’s going to eaten but he couldn’t be further from a terrifying giant. He’s a lovable, sweet friend to her. The two of them join forces and work out a plan to save the children of the world from the other horrifying giants!

The BFG himself is one of my favourite characters. He’s adorable and oh so loveable. I love the words that he makes up! ❤ His lack of education is what makes him so endearing. I hated every moment when Sophie corrected him. Let him be, Sophie! He’s the sweetest. This book just warms my heart and I’m so glad I re-read it this year.

I adore Quentin Blake’s illustrations. His illustrations certainly add something to the story. They’re so timeless. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were a dream team.

I would highly recommend the older movie if you haven’t seen it too. I have such fond memories of it.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Next up on Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit (March):
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)- Rick Riordan

Talking About ‘Love, Iris’ with Bibliobeth!

Love, Iris

How did I get it?:
It was a present!

Synopsis:

Tess has a secret – one which is going to turn her life upside down in just nine months’ time.

The only person she can confide in is her beloved grandmother. But Iris is slipping further away each day.

Then chance brings a stranger into Tess’s life.

Gigi’s heart goes out to Tess, knowing what it’s like to feel alone. She’s determined to show her that there’s a silver lining to every cloud.

As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Tess feels inspired to open up.

But something still holds her back – until she discovers Iris has a secret of her own. A suitcase of letters from another time, the missing pieces of a life she never shared.

Could the letters hold the answers that Tess thought lost for ever?

CHRISSI: I knew you would initially be unsure of reading this book. What was it that made you unsure?

BETH: Ah, you know me too well. I’m afraid to say that one again it was the cover that was initially a turn off for me. I have to be compelled to pick up a book and a beautiful cover can be the magic moment where I’ll pick it up and want to read the blurb on the back. I’m afraid with Love, Iris, if I ordinarily saw it in a bookshop, I wouldn’t even pick it up to read the back. I would (wrongly) assume that it wasn’t going to be the book for me. I’m glad that reading books with you as part of our “Talking About” series is making me pick up books that I wouldn’t normally and being pleasantly surprised as a result!

BETH: Interspersed amongst the story are Tess’ letters to her developing baby. Did you enjoy these and what do you think they added to the narrative?

CHRISSI: Great question! I did enjoy the letters to her developing baby. I think they made Tess really relatable especially to prospective mothers. You could sense Tess’ insecurities about motherhood but also her growing bond with her developing baby. I thought that was really sweet.

CHRISSI: Discuss the novel’s varying depictions of marriage. What kinds of relationships seem most likely to fail or succeed? Ultimately, do you think marriage is seen as a positive or negative in the story?

BETH: Such an interesting question. Okay, so we have various relationships in the book – we have the older generation of Iris and her husband who were very happily married compared to Gigi and Richard who have been married for years and have three grown children together but recently Gigi has been feeling unhappy and taken for granted and decides a period of separation would be a good idea. Then there is Iris’ grand-daughter Tess who is pregnant but not in a relationship and her mother Donna who has raised her as a single parent. I don’t think you can ever predict what relationships will fail or succeed to be honest and I also don’t think marriage is the be all and end all. As Gigi has shown, you can be married for years and then realise you’re not happy and personally, I supported her decision to bail out if she wasn’t content. You never know what’s going to happen in the future and how your relationship with your partner will evolve (or not evolve which is sometimes the problem!) On a personal level, I’ve been with my partner since 2002, we aren’t married and have no plans to do so and we are perfectly happy. I don’t think marriage is always necessary to ensure a successful relationship.

BETH: Tess has quite a difficult relationship with her mother, Donna. How do you think this developed as the story continued?

CHRISSI: She really did have a difficult relationship with her mother. I think it developed into a sort of understanding throughout the story. As Tess began to lose Iris, and become a mother herself, I believe it made her want to sort things out with her own mother. I think losing a close friend or family member gives you perspective and makes you want to sort out issues that could be in relationships. I don’t think Tess and her mother will be the closest, but I think their experiences brought them together.

CHRISSI: Did you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

BETH: I can’t choose! I have so many favourite characters in this novel. I loved our main female leads – Tess, Gigi and to a certain extent, Iris (although I would have loved to know even MORE about her life). I felt that as characters they were all personable, easy to like and I found myself rooting for their happiness from the very start of the story.

BETH: What effect does keeping secrets have on each of the characters? What about when they reveal these secrets?

CHRISSI: I feel like both Tess and Gigi’s secret was better for them when it came to light. Tess was hiding her pregnancy and although her boyfriend was a bit of a turd about the pregnancy, her life was definitely on the up after the secret was revealed. Gigi wasn’t happy in her marriage. I think she had kept it secret for so long to keep up the happy family vibe with her children that she clearly adored. Even though it was tough for her to leave her marriage and upset her children, it was the best thing for her. No one wants to stay in a relationship like that. Life may have been a little messy for Gigi, but the future could be brighter. Iris… oh I loved that character. She kept so many secrets about her brother Tom from her family. I wish we could have known more from Iris. Secrets was definitely a common theme in this story but mainly love, family and self-discovery.

CHRISSI: Discuss whether you agree with Wilf’s entreaty to Iris that ‘love is the simplest thing in the world.’ How do the relationships in the novel support or contradict this statement?

BETH: Wow. Tough. It is and it isn’t is my answer! I think it can be very easy to fall in love with someone – after all, it doesn’t take much effort and is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. However, I think staying in love with someone can be very difficult, both of the individuals have to make a concerted effort with each other otherwise they can end up in a stagnant place where they take each other for granted, much like Gigi and Richard find themselves. Also, being in love with someone where the feelings aren’t reciprocated as strongly can be quite dangerous because you open up your heart enormously and leave yourself vulnerable to becoming very hurt.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I thought this was a great read! 🙂

Would I recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!