Category Archives: Thoughts

I’ve been busy…

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As many of you will have noticed, I haven’t been posting much this year, and especially in the past few months. Now, it’s not because I’ve lost interest (I haven’t), or that there is a lack of review requests (there’s not) or even because I’m not reading (picture books still count!) No, it is because I simply haven’t had the time of late to spend at my computer, or to read much of anything that requires me to concentrate. My time has always been stretched thin with four kids, a couple of part-time jobs, volunteering at the schools, and a house to upkeep, but this year all of my kids have required some extra TLC. I don’t want to go much into it, just suffice to say I have found myself bouncing between various appointments, meetings and educational courses and seminars to help us through, and as an added bonus our family has been repeatedly hit with the virus stick, knocking us down one after the other for the last six months or so. I’m pretty tired…. and I’m only getting time on my computer today because I’m in bed recovering from the latest illness.

Now, I hope you won’t give up on me just yet! With spring in the air, hopefully the coughs, sneezes and snots will leave us be for a while, and life will return to some semblance of its normal chaotic self. I can’t predict when I will be back on the blog more regularly, but I will try to get more reviews happening, though I may be limited to picture books for a while….

I apologise if you have sent me a review request and I haven’t gotten to it yet, I do keep all review requests on file, so it’s still in my to do pile! I get more requests than I could ever complete even when times are good, but I will do my best!

Thanks for your understanding,

Sara

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Kids Books for Early Sexual Education

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When kids start asking those awkward questions (or when you overhear your preschooler explaining to his friends how babies get pooped out of butts), it’s time to arm yourself with some great picture books about sexual education.

A few things to consider when choosing early sexual education books includes the child’s age, whether the book is to be shared or read alone, and how inclusive the book is. I think the best books are the ones that also discuss alternate methods of having a baby, such as IVF, surrogacy and adoption, as well as vaginal and caesarean births. Some might also picture different family configurations, such as two dads or two mums, and parents of various cultural backgrounds. If you’re looking for one comprehensive picture book, my vote goes to The Amazing True Story of How Babies are Made by Fiona Katauskas. However, I’ve always found it useful to use an array of books, and to keep them lying about for the children to peruse at their own leisure.

Below, I have put together a list of books I have used with my own children, and have found useful. Some are about our bodies, and some deal directly with intercourse and reproduction. You might be able to find some of these at your local library, or at second-hand bookshops (I have also included an affiliate link to each picture for convenient purchasing of the books).

Picture Books for kids aged 3 to 7 

The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson with art by Heather Collins

 

Mummy Laid an Egg! by Babette Cole

 

Amazing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz and illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath

 

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth

 

The Amazing True Story of How Babies are Made by Fiona Katauskas

 

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

 

Overall, I personally prefer to get the kids reading sexual education books early (sharing picture books) before they realise there is any potential for embarrassment, and then provide a range of age appropriate sexual education literature for them to peruse as they get older. By the time they are adolescents, I think it’s important to have books available covering the changes occurring to both girls and boys, sexual health, pregnancy, sexuality, and how to be sexually safe and responsible. I try to be open to questions, and answer them as honestly as I can. If you appear embarrassed and reluctant to discuss sexual education, this conveys to the child that there is something “wrong” or “taboo” about our bodies and reproductive abilities. I also try to keep things light.

And I have never managed not to laugh when one of my kids has mispronounced the word vagina as ‘bagina’ or told a helpless (and increasingly embarrassed) adult that the penis fits inside said ‘bagina’! I try to stop them, I do, but often the words are out before I can intervene, and then what is there to do, but apologise and laugh? I have talked to my children about not sharing their knowledge at school, but they all seem to find this very difficult too.

Do you have or know of any sexual education books for younger children that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

 

*Please remember that I am not an expert, just a parent speaking from experience with my own children (two girls and two boys).

 

 

International Book Fairs on the Kotobee Blog

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I really love anything and everything to do with books. I can’t pass a bookshop, a book stall at a market or fete, or even the library without having a browse! I love to check out other people’s bookshelves, small and large, and I really enjoy wandering through a book fair. Unfortunately, with little kids, I don’t often have the opportunity to visit book fairs (at least not alone, or with the time and funds they really deserve!).

Putting aside my current inability to attend them (I’ll just keep dreaming…), each year there are lots of wonderful and spectacular book fairs around the world, and luckily for us, Kotobee Blog has compiled a list of some of the biggest and best international book fairs throughout 2019. These fairs bring publishers, authors and readers together to celebrate all things literary. Below is an infographic of the book fairs sorted by month, but if you pop over to Kotobee and have a look at the original article, you can look at the list by month or by continent, it’s pretty neat! There is also some information about each fair, and links to find out more. Some of these are trade fairs, while others welcome all visitors interested in the fascinating world of books.

If you’ve attended one of these events or are intending to, I would love to hear about it! The closest one to me is Melbourne’s Rare Book Fair, which I think would smell utterly delicious, ahhh… I will make it there someday, and many of the others will be added to my bucket list!

Reviews on Amazon.com.au

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In an earlier post I lamented Amazon’s new reviewing policy which requires a $50 spend on site within the previous twelve months in order to post reviews on their site. Since I rarely purchase anything to that value, I was no longer able to post my reviews there. However, my daughter recently saved her money up to buy some electronics, and we purchased it through my Amazon account. I got rather excited, thinking that I would be able to review on Amazon again, but alas, since I am Australian, and we automatically get redirected to Amazon.com.au now, this was not to be.

I am able and fully intend to leave book reviews on Amazon.com.au. Not quite the audience of Amazon, but I’ve got to work with what is available! Still reviewing on Goodreads and Riffle Books too.

Amazon Reviews

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I logged in to Amazon yesterday to post a review only to discover that their review guidelines have changed. I can no longer post reviews unless I have spent a minimum of US$50 using a credit/debit card on the site within the previous 12 months. I live in Australia, and find that many things I might like from Amazon do not ship to Australia or the postage makes the cost too much, and I tend not to buy enough e-books to cover the minimum amount (I prefer physical books). So I am sad to say that I will no longer be posting reviews to Amazon.

I am dismayed by this policy change. I believe it unfairly impacts indie authors by restricting who can review their books. It also impacts the customers by restricting their access to honest and unbiased reviews. Reviews are helpful in creating sales, and are especially important for those books which have not been through a big publishing firm with dedicated marketing. This is a disappointing move that just smacks of greed (sigh…). I used to post reviews on Book Depository too, but now they only pull reviews from Amazon…

However, I will continue to post my reviews to my blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, Goodreads and Riffle. And I will continue to look for more places to post reviews. I’m open to recommendations too, so if you know a good place with free access to reviews, please let me know!

A long, dark winter….

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This winter was a difficult time for me as I bounced from one illness to the next. Since early May I have been struggling with chest infections, bronchitis, several bouts of conjunctivitis and gastroenteritis, and sinus and ear infections, plus a most hideous case of food poisoning… With a family of six, there were few days when no one was sick, and caring for sick kids is almost as tiring as being sick yourself. All of that has left me exhausted and feeling low. My beautiful husband, Big L, has been an absolute rock, pulling the cart when I could not, and putting up with my complaints, and my snoring! He is an amazing person with a big heart, and I adore him.

During those long months, it was difficult to work and sometimes even to read, so my book reviews have been few. I am sorry for this. I have greatly missed reading great stories and writing about them. I’m hopeful to be back in full swing shortly (I’m yet to beat the latest bout of bronchitis and ear infection). I appreciate your patience, and your support in reading and sharing my blog.

Thank you. Thank you.

July Book Box

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The YA Chronicles July theme was “To the Revolution”. The book was The Waking Land by Callie Bates, which I hadn’t heard of, but which sounds extremely interesting! 

My favourite item in this box is the Readvolution sticker from AnnaOMline. Though I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the super proof, Date A Book from Hachette Australia, containing chapters from some of the YA books hitting shelves in 2017. There was also a Feminist pin from Jubly-Umph, a Rise Up decal from GoldParrotCreations and a magnetic bookmark from ByEpikPage. The smelliest product was a scented Rise Up candle from The Book Hangover (oh I love their candles!).

Want your own YA book box each month? Head over to The YA Chronicles and sign up for one of their subscriptions.

June Book Box

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We have had weeks and weeks of illness in our house so I am woefully behind in everything…. so here is the June book box from The YA Chronicles. The mermaid socks went down a treat with my seven year old!

Such beautiful items in this box, including book marks, mermaid socks, a mermaid bath bomb, artwork, an iron on patch and some pirate treasure. The pirate coins disappeared into my kids pockets very quickly and the socks straight onto my daughter’s feet.

The book of the month was Song of the Current by Sarah Tolscer, which I am looking forward to reading.

For your very own book box, pop over to The YA Chronicles!

 

May Book Box

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With school holidays, I’ve gotten a little behind with things, but I’m working on getting them done now. I was organising my June book box, when I realised I never posted about the one I got in May. I was so excited by the A Court of Wings and Ruin box that I forgot about the other one! So better late than never, here is what came in the May book box from The YA Chronicles.

 

The May book was Flame in the Mist by Renée Adhieh. 

The other contents of the box included a very cool pair of socks (which I love), a fiery bracelet that my younger daughter swiftly claimed, a cute pack of dragon sticky notes, a Hunger Games figure and a beautifully smelling candle. Plus the usual bookmark and postcard with info about the box.

 

 

 

 

 

To get your very own book box like this one, head over to The YA Chronicles!

 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, paperback novel, 288 pages, first published 2007, this edition published by Razorbill in 2011.

When Clay receives an anonymous package containing a series of cassette tapes, he is startled to discover they contain the voice of his friend and love interest, Hannah Baker. Her voice comes to him from the grave, describing and explaining the reasons behind her decision to end her own life.

Thirteen Reasons Why had been on my to read list for quite a while. But I have a confession to make; I actually watched the Netflix series before reading the book! I know, I know, I do usually read the book first, but I was sick, and sad, and the series looked interesting…. Anyway, I watched it, and I loved it.

I also liked the book, but this is one of those rare occasions where I preferred the screen version. The acting, casting and soundtrack were all good, but it was the emotiveness of the story that stuck with me. I felt Hannah becoming isolated, I felt her sadness, her resignation, and her acceptance. I also felt her parents’ devastation and the repercussions her death had on her family, on Clay and on Tony, and the ripples that moved through the wider school community. It is those left behind that are also victims of suicide, but it is rare that they have a chance to understand the reasons behind the final act.

Knowing the outcome from the start, knowing that Hannah takes her life before we even get a feel for her, made this novel an haunting memoir of a life at risk. It explored the many facets that can intertwine and connect leading to depression and suicide in teens. Even a small act can change the course of a life forever, and you can never predict what consequences will be wrought.

The Netflix series had thirteen parts; an episode for each side of each tape. That was an hour dedicated to each story Hannah tells. This allowed the characters to be fleshed out and explained in a way not usually encountered in a film or TV adaptation. There was so much more to the characters, we got to see them not only through Hannah’s eyes, but as the teens they were, and those they became. We saw how listening to the tapes affected them, and changed the course of their own lives. There was such depth to each person that the book could not explore fully since we only heard about them through Hannah’s voice on the tapes.

Inevitably there were some changes made, such as the type of store Hannah’s parents owned, the secret that Courtney wanted to keep, Clay’s relationship to the car crash victim, much bigger roles for both Hannah’s and Clay’s parents. However, I felt that the biggest change from book to screen was the timeline that Clay followed whilst listening to the tapes; in the books it’s all over in one night and told mostly in the past, in the series the story is played out over days, with interactions with all the other students involved in both the present and the past. Threads were added, exploring the way that Clay dealt not only with Hannah’s death, but also the actions that he undertakes in reaction to the other students’ stories. I found all these differences only enhanced the story and made it even more poignant.

Whether you read it or watch the series (I recommend you do both!), Thirteen Reasons Why is a story that will stay with you forever.

Thirteen Reasons Why is suitable for middle to upper high school students and above. It contains themes of depression, suicide, bullying, rape and sexual assault. It may be overly upsetting to some readers.

 

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