The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner


51KtYHzaUfL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Go-Away Bird
by Julia Donaldson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A gorgeous story about friendship and working together from a star picture-book partnership, the inimitable Julia Donaldson and award-winning Catherine Rayner.

‘The Go-Away bird sat up in her nest, With her fine grey wings and her fine grey crest.’ One by one, the other birds fly into her tree, wanting to talk or to play, but the Go-Away bird just shakes her head and sends them all away. But then the dangerous Get-You bird comes along, and she soon realizes that she might need some friends after all . . .

The Go-Away Bird combines brilliant rhyming verse from much-loved children’s author Julia Donaldson, creator of the bestselling picture books The Gruffalo and What the Ladybird Heard, with stunning illustrations from the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Catherine Rayner.

A charming story about the power of friendship from a thrilling creative partnership, this beautiful book is perfect for reading together.

 

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read this with my 2 year old, who is a massive fan of all Julia Donaldson books. I find most of Julia’s books consist of a really strong story line with an important underlying message which allows a parent or teacher to open up a conversation about the topic.

The Go-Away Bird is a wonderful example of this, and a timely arrival for me personally as my daughter has reached the age where socialising, sharing, being kind and forming friendships are entering her small world and we are hearing the words “go away” more than we would like to as parents!

We settled down and read the story together. My daughter enjoyed pointing out the birds in the pictures and I found the rhyming text very easy to read out loud. We both enjoyed saying “go away, go away, go away” together and when the Get-you bird appeared, my daughter was immediately concerned and invested in the Go-Away bird finding help.

After we finished reading we went back through the book to look at the pictures again and I talked to my daughter about how it is important to have your own space, but how having friends is important too and it’s nice to be kind to people and help them. She seemed to connect with this idea quite well and definitely understood that telling the colourful birds to go away wasn’t very nice of the Go-Away bird.

I’m sure The Go-Away Bird will become a firm favourite on our shelf. It’s a wonderful story, with beautiful illustrations and it provided a great jumping off point to discuss friendship themes.

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One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I was younger I used to steal my mums Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell books to read, even though a lot of the references went over my head. I loved the stories and the romance and the feeling after you’d turned the last page that you’d made good friends within the pages of the book.

“One in a Million” is the first book I’ve ever read that gave me these exact feelings but also was aimed at my age group and actually referenced things I understood. Oh, the joy I felt when I read the words “Just 17”.

Aside from mentioning magazines I obsessed over as a teenager, the whole plot felt really relevant to my life. I could imagine being friends with Annie and Miranda and it was easy to understand their lives and priorities and motivations.

The plot itself was really original and although it wasn’t hard to imagine how the story would end (who reads a romance hoping for a sad ending?!) I was captivated until the end and had to stifle some ugly happy sobs for fear of bewildering my toddler.

I couldn’t put this book down and it’s left me with such a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart.

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I have lost my way by Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never read any Gayle Forman before so I was really interested to see what I though of “I lost my way” when I won a copy via Twitter.

From the first page I was completley drawn into the story and I binge-read it in one sitting. I couldn’t help it!

The book follows three people who have “lost their way”. Freya, an up-and-coming recording artist who had lost her voice; Harun, a gay muslim who is about to leave his secret boyfriend behind and enter into an arranged marriage with a woman; and Nathaniel whose home life has completely fallen apart leaving him all alone.

All three stories converge at the beginning of the book, whcih follows them over the course of a single day. During this day they help each other find themselves and discover what life can be like if you’re true to yourself.

I think part of the reason this book was so easy to read is Gayle Forman’s writing style. She has a really clear, simple way of putting accross a lot of complex emotion. The three main characters all jump off the page at you and their voices are all so individual. I love POV books for this reason; I enjoy hearing the inner workings of each characters minds and in this book it really helped me to see why each character so desperately needed the support of their new friends. Vitally for a POV book, each of the story arcs were captivating and well developed so there was no feeling of being desperate for a different story line to continue. They were all as strong as each other and beautifully interwoven.

Each of the three protagonist’s stories were incredibly sad, however, when I finished reading the book I felt really positive and happy. The way they all came together to protect and save their new friends after only a day of knowing each other was so beautiful and I loved the dynamic between them.

There is potential for a sequal to be written and I would welcome one with open arms because I am not ready to leave these characters yet. Having said that, this book did beautifully conclude this chapter of their lives so it could just as easily be left as a standalone novel.

*This book does deal with difficult themes such as suicide and homophobia so please be aware of this before you decide to read*

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Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this manuscript via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Books set in bookshops always get put straight to the top of my to-be-read list, so when I heard about “Bookshop Girl” I couldn’t wait to read it.

When the regional manager of Bennett’s bookshop comes for a meeting the staff are devastated to learn that their branch of the store will be closed. Sold to them as a fait accompli, they resign themselves to the idea- all except Paige Turner (don’t worry, the obvious jokes are addressed and it isn’t as cheesy as it seems!) and her best friend Holly who decide to become activists to prevent their only haven in their hometown from being closed.

I’ve never worked in a bookshop myself, but I have experienced the soul crushing sadness of seeing yet another beloved bookshop disappear from the high street until the only place left to buy books is an hour away or online.

I loved the friendship between Chloe and Holly and how silly they were together whilst also being supportive of each other. Their antics whilst attending their still life course were hilarious, and exactly how two sixteen year old girls would behave in such an awkward setting.

There was some romance in this book, but it really took a back seat to the main plot which I think was really positive. The girls had their crushes but the bookshop and their friendship was far more important. Paige and Holly’s efforts to save the bookshop are so earnest and determined and their love for books is infectious. By the time I finished reading I was desperate to visit my nearest bookshop!

Bookshop Girl is a really fun, light, easy to read contemporary. The main characters are strong female leads and the whole message of the book is really positive. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series and continuing to get to know Paige and Holly.
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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time but never really got around to. After seeing the trailer for the film adaptation at the cinema I decided it was time to pick the book up. Not least because if I didn’t read the book I couldn’t allow myself to see the film and it looks really good.

‘Simon vs…’ is everything you want a contempory romance to be. It’s full of cute, romantic moments that make your heart explode and just enough drama to keep you flipping the pages. Simon and Blue’s email relationship developed beautifully, it was like a YA gay version of You’ve Got Mail and I have all the time in the world for that.

The friendship dynamics in this book were fantasically portrayed, the arguments they had, the way they all started pairing off into couples and had crushes on each other and the way they looked out for each other was all so typical of 16 and 17 year olds and how intense friendships can be at that age when you’re all just trying to make it out of adolescence alive.

I binge-read most of this book in one night and stayed up far later than I should have but it was such a readable, hilarious and adorable book I was having too much fun to put it down. I didn’t even try to guess the identity of Blue because I wanted to be surprised but I think it’s fair to say that there are enough clues in the book that if you really tried hard you could guess who it was. I’m glad I didn’t solve the mystery though because the reveal was so worth the wait.
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Baby Boom! by Helen Wallen

Baby Boom! by Helen Wallen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recieved an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

As the mother of an almost 14 month old toddler I am familiar with the mummy blogger tribes that fill instagram feeds with honest pictures, witty captions and links to hilarious blog posts. In fact, some of these bloggers helped me through some of the lonelier days of my year long maternity leave so when I saw that Helen Wallen of “Just a Normal Mummy” had turned her hand to fiction I couldn’t wait to get reading.

“Baby Boom!” is written in the same warm, inclusive, yet honest tone of the blog. It’s not a book interested in choosing sides when it comes to the best way of parenting, or even handling pregnancy and for that reason it was a refreshing read. Following three best friends in their late twenties/early thirties, two of whom become pregnant in very different situations, the book explores the highs and lows of pregnancy, relationships and motherhood.

For me, one of the nicest parts of this book was the friendship between Emily, Liz and Molly which was portrayed in the most natural and real way. Their Whatsapp conversations were hilarious to read and really made me feel as if I were a part of their friendship. Most strikingly though was the fact that at no point did the book become about them falling out. Before reading this book I didn’t realise how big a feature of women’s literature best friends having arguments is. Of course friends do argue, but in this instance it was just nice to have three women, in very different situations supporting each other in the best way they could above all else.

The only part of this book I didn’t love was the poetry at the beginning of each chapter which I find a bit twee. This type of poetry isn’t to my taste and I felt like they were a bit unneccesary to the book. However, I know a lot of “Just a Normal Mummy’s” followers enjoy her poetry within her blog so I understand why it has been included.

I wish I’d had this book to read on maternity leave, in that stretch of time before you have your first baby when you finish work and have nothing to do but wait for your baby to be born. That time when you only really want to be occupied by baby related things but also need to stop thinking about your impending labour before you go mad. It’s the perfect escapism and I will be buying a copy for any pregnant friends in future to enjoy.

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