Category Archives: Thoughts

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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The Special Book Box

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I received two book boxes in May from The YA Chronicles; there was the regular monthly instalment, and the special pre-order box for A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOWAR) by Sarah J Maas.

I get excited every time a book box is due, but waiting for the ACOWAR box was torture! I greatly enjoyed  the first book in this series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and it was definitely love through the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury, so I was extremely ready to dive into the third book once it arrived. (Read my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses here). Getting the book in a book box was a bonus, and the contents of the box were gorgeous; it’s my favourite box so far.

I developed a terrible book hangover after finishing A Court of Wings and Ruin. I actually didn’t pick up another book for several days, I just wanted to stay in Feyre’s and Rhysand’s world. It’s now been a couple of weeks and I’m still struggling to get really enthused about a new read! Luckily the contents of the book box are keeping me happy.

Included in this box is the book (I chose the UK paperback version as it matched my other books), A Night Court tote bag by Paperly & Co, a smelly candle by Kool & Co, a beautiful Feysand bookmark by Read And Wonder, a ribbon bookmark by Charmed Fiction, a cute baby Rhysand sticker by Taratjah, an art print by Charlie Bowater, and a really big button pin by Evie Bookish.

It’s difficult to decide which is my favourite item in the ACOWAR box, it’s all pretty awesome, but I was especially impressed with the bookmarks. And the bag… and the artwork… and the button…

Lovely bookmarks.

Pretty ribbon bookmark.

 

It’s going to be hard to top this box!

If you’re interested in getting a young adult book box subscription, hop on over to The YA Chronicles.

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A Book Box in March

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I was so excited to find this little package on my doorstep during the week! It’s a small box packed with awesomeness that makes me feel so very happy.

The YA Chronicles are an Australian book box subscription service specialising in young adult literature. Each month, a new release YA book is chosen to develop a book box. It is then accompanied by several themed goodies, which make it a truly fun experience. A subscription would make an excellent gift for a lover of YA.

This month, I opened the box to grassy green tissue paper, which I carefully peeled back and unveiled… A beautiful parcel of literary fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book is Frogkisser by Garth Nix! And it came with a signed plate through the publisher, Allen & Unwin. It’s been a hectic week, so I haven’t been able to start reading it yet, but I can hardly wait to get to it (must get kids to bed first!)

Also included was a lovely vinyl sticker from Ink and Wonder Designs, some villainous bath salts from Burning Pages Candles and a delightfully smelling lip balm from From the Page. And of course, The YA Chronicles bookmark and information postcard.

Check out The YA Chronicles to get in on the book box action!

 

 

My First Book Box

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Recently I had seen a few places advertised online that were selling book box subscriptions, but they were not available in my area, or the postage costs were prohibitive. Then I ran across The YA Chronicles, an Australian based book box subscription service specialising in young adult literature. I could hardly have been more excited! I love YA and read it as much as I can, so this was just perfect.

Each month, a new release YA book is chosen to develop a book box. It is then accompanied by several themed goodies, which make it a truly fun experience. A subscription would make an excellent gift for a lover of YA.

Book box

Book box

My first box arrived during the week, yay! I got an email from Australia Post early in the morning to say it was on board with the driver for delivery that day. I waited impatiently all day for it to arrive, but it didn’t show up until after four, by which time all the kids were home from school, so I had to sneak off to my room to open it in peace!

I was tingling with anticipation as I opened the box to find black tissue paper surrounding the wonderful contents. Inside was the book, Valentine by Jodi McAlister, along with a lovely smelly and glittery soy candle, a pin, some tea and a bookmark. And I love it all!

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Already looking forward to the next box! Thanks to The YA Chronicles for giving me such joy!

Time Away

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Focus, concentration and motivation have been rather lacking in my life lately, as I slowly recover from illness, and the death of a loved one. I just haven’t been able to work or even read for pleasure, leaving me woefully behind in my read-and-review stack. I apologise if you have been waiting for a review or feedback. I don’t know how long it will be until I find myself back on my feet again, I’m just taking things one day at a time.
Thank you all for reading my blog and sharing your work with me and my readers. I hope to continue the Today We Did journey soon, and I hope you will come along for the ride 🙂

Sara xx

New Library Additions June ’16

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More books, more books!

Physical books:

E-books:

Guest Post: How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

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kidsreadingImage: Shutterstock

 

How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us that children holding tablets and iPhones before they can speak has substantially changed the way they interact with the world. The research has been done, but it’s fairly obvious that the switch from wooden blocks to a full on digital device is a force to be reckoned with.

So what has changed exactly?

Access to instant information has trained us to be satisfied when we are constantly engaged, but more importantly, entertained in every second. For new readers, this can be distracting for the learning process. It takes careful motivation and time for the development of comprehension and practical application to cross over the digital barrier and enrich new readers to pick up reading with an appetite on their own.

 

Attention Spans

The digital age has shortened the human attention span to eight seconds, and it’s had a big effect on kids too, as studies show that, on average, children from ages 6 to 12 spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens. After a while that can mean big changes to learning styles, but in this day and age, you don’t have to fight the statistics but can embrace them.

Matching your child’s interest in digital devices with reading is an excellent way to reach them on a level they will be excited about, and excitement and independence are the ways to get lifetime readers (both things your kids can achieve through reader technologies). Letting them navigate ways to read titles that interest them, allowing them access to books when it interests them, and also maintaining that they are reading at their level will build voracious readers that can’t get enough of the written word.

A couple of good things to remember about tablets however is that tuning out is as important as tuning in, so moderation and supplementation with exercise, plenty of time for play outside away from the tablet and a healthy diet with plenty of fluids are the best ways to raise healthy kids that don’t become unnaturally addicted to screen time.

 

Apps

The good news about digital reading comes down to apps. Between interactive games and e-readers, getting your kid to read on a tablet combines two things that really are better together: the latest technology and one of the oldest taught skills. Together, they improve minds, expand horizons and make for brighter futures. Here are a few apps that are likely to help out any new reader:

  • MeeGenius: Working on iOS, Android and Google Play, MeeGenius allows readers to highlight words that might need a little more time, and then go back to review them with audio, as well as providing a personalization element that will substitute the main character’s name with your child’s name. It’s a great tool for the younger set still learning how to read, and it comes free with book selection.
  • Tikatok StorySpark: As Barnes & Noble’s kid-friendly app, Tikatok StorySpark combines a lot of great elements for an app that will fully engage any new reader who also wants to take a stab at playing author. Kid’s can write and publish their own stories, using their own drawings or uploading digital backgrounds, and then they can upload their finished product to com for publication.
  • Tales2Go: This app is a winner due to its inclusion of thousands of titles that you can take wherever your tablet can go (hint the name!) and is well-beloved by parents who don’t want to pack a bunch of bedtime books for every adventure. Bookmark favorites, scroll through genres and save yourself a little library on Tales2Go—it’s ideal for the reader who can’t get enough of the favorites but also likes the option to browse.
  • A Story Before Bed: A Story Before Bed app is a great one for readers who dig the nighttime storytelling experience. It allows readers to access 300 titles and then uses a video recording to save the goodnight reading session. It’s perfect for going back to relive some of the best stories you have shared together whenever.

 

Mobile Opportunities

Busy families can benefit from the mobile opportunities that a tablet reader provides, and if you don’t want to have your kid slinging around your new iPad Air, tablet devices for kids exist for that very reason.

Try a model such as the V.Reader, which is perfect for toddlers just getting their hands on a book or two. It comes with software cartridges that let you monitor what they’re reading and provides them with plenty of interactive games. For older readers, the Amazon’s bundled e-reader includes achievement benchmarks that monitor your child’s progress and comes with access to over 250,000 titles and the ability to access e-books from their libraries. With the Amazon reader you can also download PDF books whenever you run out of options, so try international titles from around the world. Sounds like a great start, right?

It may seem as if the world is coming to an end since the tablet’s arrival, but really it’s just an opportunity for us all to evolve—something we’ve historically been very successful at. Why not do it with reading?

How has technology impacted your child’s reading? Do you have any other apps you would suggest? Share with us in the comments below!

 

About the Author: Caroline is a passionate reader and technology guru who writes for CultureCoverage.com and SecureThoughts.com. She is constantly in search of the best new book, the latest in technology and the ultimate guide on how to gracefully get out of weekend plans so she can remain at home in bed with a good read.

Web: www.culturecoverage.com
Twitter: @CultureCovC

New Library Additions May ’16

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Added some books to my home library this month!

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Physical Books:

E-books:

What new books did you get in May?

CBCA Shortlist for 2016

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The Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their Book of the Year shortlist for 2016 on Friday. I get so excited waiting for this every year!

Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators of these wonderful books!

I am looking forward to reading as many as I can. Unfortunately there never seems enough time to get through all of them.

 

In the early childhood category;

  • Piranha’s Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  • The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood
  • My Dog Bigsy by Alison Lester
  • Mr Huff by Anna Walker
  • Perfect by Danny Parker and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
  • Ollie and the Wind by Ghosh Ronojoy

 

In the picture book category;

  • My Dead Bunny by James Foley with text by Sigi Cohen

 

In the younger readers category;

  • The Cleo Stories: A Friend and a Pet by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

 

In the older readers category;

 

Information books;

 

I am quite keen to read The Flywheel, it sounds interesting. I’m also looking forward to sharing the early childhood and picture books with my kids, they are always worth a read. We already love The Cow Tripped Over the Moon and Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, so now I am excited to discover the others.

Which of these books have you read? Which ones do you think will be Book of the Year?