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Journey into the past with The Rome Affair

This is my second Karen Swan novel. Last year, I read The Paris Secret, where she put passion into the Parisian landscape with élan. The timing was impeccable. Recently, having ventured on my own Parisian adventure, the beautiful prose of The Paris Secret brought me right back into those perfectly unforgettable moments. 

So, when PGC Books sent me an advanced copy of a new novel by the international best-selling author, I was alight with excitement. This time, it seemed that Karen Swan was ready to take me through the streets and piazzas of one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

The Rome Affair is charming. The glamorous capital of Italy is brought to startling life...it's exactly what I'd expect from Karen Swan. She does have a way of transporting you into a city, and embed you right into its culture and complexities. You are there. The streets seem familiar and the characters relatable (well, some at least). The countess in this novel reminds me of one of the elabora…

This book is making me fifty shades richer

Entertaining. Outlandish. A Guilty Pleasure.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan is at it again, with his third instalment of the Crazy Rich Asians series, and it's everything you've come to expect in a Kevin Kwan novel. Lavish lifestyles complete with private jets, torrid affairs, family squabbles, and of course, inheritance woes. At the centre of it all, is Tyersall Park, a billion dollar estate on sixty-four prime acres in the heart of Singapore. 

The same old suspects are back in Kevin Kwan's third novel, Rich People Problems. Three prominent families - The Young, T'Sien & Shang clans - are back to claim their matriarch's massive fortune. Ah Ma is rich...super rich. Did I mention, she's the one who owns Tyersall Park? 

The book starts off with her suddenly falling ill, which mitigates some concern, but also inspires greed amongst all the relatives. Who's going to inherit Tyersall Park if something happens to Ah Ma? Nick Young, who has been est…

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

A vividly personal narration that toggles back and forth between two perspectives. Set in a travelling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale is a story of two women with their own harrowing stories, who come together amid times of despair and bond a mutual friendship. It is a story of the struggles within Nazi occupation, but set in a world that we normally would not see. The same struggles entail, the same story of survival, yet the characters and the circumstances are uniquely different. 

Astrid is a circus aerialist who was married to a German, but forced to leave him because he was an officer of The Third Reich, and forbidden to have a Jewish wife. She returns to Darmstadt, and has an arrangement to join the circus as an aerialist on the road at least for a year. 

Noa is a teenage runaway with a baby. When the circus takes Noa and baby Theo in, Astrid is forced to teach her the aerialist act in six weeks, so that she can travel with the circus as a performer. It seems an im…

Imagine if your best friend was an ancient oak tree

In life, you don't need a lot of friends. You only need one good friend who is by your side, day after day, through thick and thin. For one little boy, that best friend is Bertolt. 

But Bertolt, isn't like any other best friend. See, Bertolt is an ancient oak tree. 

And this little boy loves Bertolt. He spends a lot of time hanging out with this 500-year-old oak tree (he estimates that's Bertolt's age based on his scientific calculation of another tree that was cut down beside it.) 

Springtime is especially beautiful, when he can hang out in the coolest hangout ever, spying on the neighbourhood below. Bertolt's leaves create the best privacy for the boy. Nothing gets past this little boy. Not the lawyer's daughter kissing Kevin, or the Tucker twins stealing bottle from the grocer and selling them back to him. Nope, there is so many interesting things to see and do when you hang out on the high branches of Bertolt. 

Then winter arrives, and the boy must say goodbye …

Liam Takes A Stand by Tory Wilsom and Josh Holinaty

This book tries to pack a wallop of teaching moments into it, and actually succeeds.
Lesson 1:  Work Hard. Work Smart.
Lesson 2:  Sibling Rivalry Is Real
Lesson 3 When Life Throws You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Liam has two brothers older than him. Lister and Lester are identical twins, who are constantly busy trying to outdo one another. Regardless of the activity, their first instinct is to compete with it each other. 

All Liam really wants, is to hang out with his brothers and do things with them. But they barely notice him. 
The twins are too busy trying to figure out what their next big competition will be.

One day, a bit of entrepreneurial spirit strikes and they open up rival lemonade stands outside their house. Lester first starts the game opening up a Lemonade Universe. Which immediately prompts Lister to open his own Lemonade Multiverse. 
This just escalates the competitiveness. Each one trying to outdo the other in their branding, product development and even execution, in the effort to ge…

In Focus by Libby Walden

Ten illustrators.
Ten subjects.
One fascinating book.

Looking at 101 wonders of the world from the outside, in, ten illustrators including Tracey Tucker, Thomas Pullin, Barbara Bakos and Chester Bentley, explore a subject in depth, in an attempt to provide unique perspective and ignite in kids, a curiosity for the world and our fascinating planet. 

From cutaways, to close-ups to cross sections, this interactive book is engaging and a pleasure to indulge in. Both parents and kids will enjoy learning about everything from famous landmarks to fruit, and the natural world, to vehicles. 

Close-Ups allow you to enjoy a fresh perspective by looking at the world from the outside, in. 

Cross Sections slice through 101 objects, animals, and buildings to reveal some extraordinary interiors. 

Cutaways allow the reader to reveal wonderful surprises. 

One of my favourites is the section on buildings of the world that includes the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, St. Basil's Cathedral and The White House. Did …

Love Comes In All Sizes

Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L'Arronge A whimsical banter between a parent and a child is represented by a pair of weasels, and delightfully captured in a series of vignettes. 

Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L'Arronge celebrates the difference between parents and kids, while highlighting their common love for each other. 

Let's face it, parents and children are different. They think differently. They look at the world from different perspectives. They disagree on almost everything. Even cookies? Yes, even cookies. But at the end of the day, they admire and love each other, and are able to find a commonality. 

YOU MINE. ME YOURS.
YOU AND ME, AS IT SHOULD BE.

There is a silliness to the word play. The book has a nice balance of banter, partly filled with nonsensical words like "whoop" "bop" and "bip", while also sprinkled with real words, that represent the moment. 

The real strength of Me Tall, You Small rests in its simplicity. Lilli L'Arronge takes …