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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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What We Are Reading Right Now #24… The Galactic Edition…

March 26th, 2014 · 10 Comments

I promised a week of books… and we have had a couple of days of rain… actual rain!!! Yes, the laundry is piled up and my kids are screaming at the site of rain, but we are holding it together and reading away. We so enjoy reading and free access to our local library… we are going to be making a lot of use of it over the cooler months!!! You are welcome to take a peak at our community library project over here…

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Meanwhile, once again we have read through our pile of review books and it is time to show you all the latest and greatest reads that are coming out right now… All the books in this post were given to us, for review purposes, by PanMacmillan South Africa… there is an epic for every age-group here!!!


The Hoods Are Reading…

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Hood #1:

Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz: After our interview with Anthony Horowitz last year my guys have been waiting on tenderhooks for this book to come out. It did not disappoint. If you have followed the Alex Rider series… then you will be familiar with the players in this book… the catch is that it is written from Gregorovich’s perspective. Just before the first Alex Rider book begins, Gregorovich is commanded to assassinate Alex Rider. This is the prequel to the Alex rider series and you will learn how the assassin came to be who is. He and Alex had very similar starts in life, but one turned spy for the Secret Service and the other assassin… the question is: two boys with similar backgrounds and life experiences turned out so diametrically opposite… the one chose to work for good, the other is a villain through and through. Alex Rider fan, then this is a must read.

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Hood #2:

The Ultimate Truth by Kevin Brooks: If you are looking for a great mystery/detective read then you have just found it. This is the story of Travis, whose detective agency parents are killed in a car accident. Amidst his grief, one or two things peak his interest and he starts to investigate the death of his parents. The more he is drawn into the investigation the deeper the mystery becomes. He has unearthed the proverbial can of worms and the reader finds themselves discovering things they never knew they needed to know. A book that you want rush through, but you can’t afford to miss any of the details. A gripping read – to be sure.

Young Sherlock Holmes, Knife Edge by Andrew Lane: Well Hood #2 has collected this entire series – they are that good. If you are looking for a fabulous mystery then this is a great series to read your way through. these books are the kind you rush through because they are so good and yet you never want them to end… also because they are so good. There are lots of clever twists and turns. Knife Edge is set in Ireland and the locals are terrified by strange and mysterious happenings… is there really something ominous afoot or is there a reasonable explanation?

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Hood #3:

What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens: I know… a book about war. We loved it from start to finish. I confess we don’t usually choose to read themed poetry books, but this one is a keeper. The poems are beautiful, funny and sad… and are divided into sections for each of the World Wars, and takes a look at more recent wars. Turns out you can learn a lot about the war from reading poetry and while we learnt a lot of historical bits and bobs, we really got a feel for life in the war… this book took the “there are two sides to every war…” and the standard documentary of life during times of war, and personalised it. The focus on one topic, one person, one heart at a time and writing to share was beautiful. We were all very impressed with this book.

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Hood #4:

Oliver Fibbs and the Abominable Snow Penguin: And the Oliver Fibbs series grows and the reason we reviewed all these books is because they are good, especially for readers who don’t jump at the chance to read… you know those that put it off until they have too… and then the story must be quick to appeal before it is discarded. What can I say, the stories appeal. In this book, Oliver Fibbs is sharing his uncle, Sir Randolph’s, adventures in the Antarctic… the adventure gets wilder and wilder… and then even WILDER!!! There are cartoons interspersed throughout the book, they are an integral part of the story and keep the avid comic reader content, while reading a chapter book. This series is a continuous chuckle and this book another winner.

The World’s Greatest Underachiever: Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver: In the same vein as books for boys who really would rather be doing anything other than reading… Hank Zipser brought to us by Henry Winkler, is hysterically funny, especially for a ten year old boy. This series of books have really encouraged my middle boys to keep turning the pages. This book has no dramatic effects, no stunning illustrations, no intertwining comics, just words on a page. It is humour that will keep you reading on… who doesn’t want a good laugh. The book begins with Hank discovering on the kitchen calendar that one of his best friends’ mum is going to have a baby and in true young lad style he is shocked and appalled and tries to break the news to his friend very gently… only Hank has it wrong and it is his mum… and all the drama he was envisioning for his best friend has now landed back home. Funny, readable and easy enough for a quick and enthusiastic read.

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Hood #5:

Picture This Animals: Well say good-bye to boring old fact books and enter the delightful world of info graphics… All sorts of incredible and amazing facts presented with the use of very clever illustrations. There are not a lot of words to read in this book and so for the boy who wants to dip and browse for a couple of fact about animals, this book is perfect. this book is very definitely the case of a picture says a thousand words. Facts like:

  1. Skipper caterpillars shoot pellets of poo at their enemies.
  2. The burrows of Meerkats have up to 90 different entrances.
  3. Don’t even ask about the worlds longest animal… the giant ribbon worm, 30 m… 30 m long.

Picture This Human Body: the companion book that we have reviewed before. But so worth another mention. More fabulous info graphic delights, packed full of amazing and incredible facts. If you are looking to build up a good reference collection of books for your kids then I would definitely add this pair of books to the pile. And to be sure you will find yourself immersed in them just as much as your kids are.

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Hood #6:

The Gruffallo Play by Julia Donaldson: Here is one to he advantages of having a heap of kids… you can instantly put on a play!!! And when the play is the Gruffalo, with all the words carefully written out by Julia Donaldson you just can not go wrong. This book has provided my kids with hours of fun… it is not just a book, it is a performance. The parts are clearly marked with a little image to help your early readers to spot when it is their turn to speak. There are a few fabulous tips to help you put on your play… and just a vague suggestion of dressing the part and the whole gang dived into it with enthusiasm!!!

Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant: I confess I would never have bought this book, on account of so much pink (I don’t mind a certain amount of pink, but this is like totally pink!!!)… and I would have made a mistake. This book has been loved and read and read and loved. It is the perfect book for a beginner reader to enjoy, because there are lots of intriguing bits and pieces to read. The lead player in the book is a young gal that looks very like Hood #6, and she writes letters to the tooth fairy, who in turn writes back. It is one of those delightful books filled with real letters to open and read… the illustrations, by Vanessa Cabban are delightful. This book went straight onto Keeper pile of books!!!

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Hood #7:

Too Many Tickles by Thomas Taylor and Penny Dann: This is another book that I felt was a little bit weak in the story line and one I wouldn’t really want to read night after night after night. But never ever underestimate the power of a book with actions… Little people love doing things and acting out actions… this book was a rip-roaring-tickle-inducing success!!!

Where’s My Teddy by Jez Alborough: What can I say, Jex Alborough and the classic: “Where’s My Teddy?” published in a new “pop-up” version… There is something about bears and the small people in my house, they just love them and this book is such a find!!! A small boy loses his teddy – so he very bravely goes to find his teddy in the big dark woods… he finds a little more than he bargained for… but ends up safe in bed with his ted. What can I say, “all’s well that ends well!!!”

And the se7en + 1th Books:

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Hood #8:

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown: Oh this is a classic in the making, what a book!!! The illustrations are exquisite and the delightful Mr Tiger is a bit of an unconventional rebel in a city filled with very law abiding animal citizens. Mr Tiger wants to break free from all the conventions… and finds his freedom in the great big outdoors, but he is lonely and misses all his friends. The question is can he have it all? By the end of this book, the animals living in the city will have relaxed significantly and it turns out they had quite a bit to learn from Mr Tiger!!!

Stick by Andy Pritchett: This has got to be my favourite book in the entire pile… we all loved it totally. Our youngest fellow is very into dogs and books and so a book with both of those… well!!! This is a book of very few and very large and very clear words. A somewhat forlorn and lonely pup is looking for a friend to play with but has no luck… Nobody in the farmyard wants to be friends, until another adorable pup arrives on the scene. Our very beginner and not even reader loved this book for the sake of really reading!!! The story is about friendship and page after page of delightful illustrations… this is one of those sweet and magical tales that is going to quickly become a classic.

We would really like to thank Pan MacMillan South Africa for providing us with the books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cat@jugglingact // Mar 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I myself read Russian Roulette – it was in a gift pack Exclusive books sent to me and although I am an adult and have never read an Alex Rider book I loved it. A great read
    cat@jugglingact´s last blog post ..I had bookclub on Tuesday night

  • 2 Marcia (123 blog) // Mar 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I LOVE THE PHOTOS OF YOUR KIDS!!!! Great captures especially hood 6 & 7′s personalities :)
    Marcia (123 blog)´s last blog post ..The importance of moving

  • 3 Terri // Mar 26, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    These posts are terrible for my Amazon impulse habit. That is all. ;)

  • 4 se7en // Mar 26, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Ah Cat, Glad I am not alone… I love reading my kids YA (young adult) books… and the Alex Rider series has been a great read from start to finish!!! If you can get past all the dystopian stuff in the young adult genre then you will find a lot of rare treasures. The authors work a lot harder at getting and retaining your attention… makes for some fabulous reads!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

  • 5 se7en // Mar 26, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you Marcia… what amazes me is just how quickly they grow up… from month to month they grow out of their baby faces – gasp… just all too fast!!!

  • 6 se7en // Mar 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Oh Terri… I am so glad you enjoy them!!! Have to say… “Stick” is right up there with one of our best books ever!!! Have a great week!!!

  • 7 Terri // Apr 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    My oldest Hood (seven years old) just ripped through the first Oliver Fibbs in a morning of reading every spare second. I just ordered him the next two. See what you do?

  • 8 se7en // Apr 9, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Oh Terri, that is hysterical!!! I see what we do and I am having a good chuckle… Sorry about that but when I find a book that my middle boy will willingly read… I grab it with both hands… All the best with future Fibbs!!!

  • 9 Terri // Apr 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    …and Stick is on its way…

  • 10 se7en // Apr 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Go on then!!! Terri… whatever it takes to get these guys reading… have to say I love Stick myself!!! Read on, read on…

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