Change Happens – Kathryn & Ross Petras

Kathryn and Ross Petras have collated in this book an alphabet of wisdom about change. Taken from a variety of writers, philosophers, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs and others, there are quotes to inspire you, comfort you and make you smile.

While you may want to read from cover to cover initially, I liked that the quotes are grouped in themes so you can easily find the ones that are most applicable for your current situation. For example, here’s L.


This would make a good gift book for someone going through a big change in their life or for reflection yourself because as the quotes tell you, change is inevitable. My favourite quotes include:

When we are no longer able to change a situation … we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. – Maya Angelou

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. – Ernest Hemingway

Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin

When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them. – Andy Warhol

While the layout was clean and consistent and the font made the quotes easy to read I didn’t find the creative flair I expect from gift books. I love quotes and have since I was a kid when I’d write the ones that spoke to me in notebooks. However if I’m going to buy a book of quotes I don’t want to be bored by the layout. Some pages included an illustration but when they didn’t the pages blended together.


Thank you to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This collection of quotations – from the masters of the quote book, Kathryn and Ross Petras – focuses on the empowering aspects of change and is perfect for graduates or anyone else facing a life passage -landmark birthday, new job, new home, or the beginning (or end) of a relationship.

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid – Dylan Thuras & Rosemary Mosco

Illustrations – Joy Ang

Did you know that the marvellous word ‘chocolate’ came from Mexico’s Aztec language?

Can you imagine living in Mongolia and having someone bring a library to you on the back of a camel?

Whether you want to swim in a lake full of jellyfish, enjoy a swing ride in a cooling tower that’s part of an amusement park in the grounds of a nuclear power plant or take a zip line to school, this book has got you covered.

Because of my love for all things weird and wonderful I particularly enjoyed reading the obscure facts about each country you visit in this book. My favourite was:

Iceland has the world’s only school dedicated to the study of elves.

Although this book has added many experiences to my Bucket List, topping it is a visit (or maybe several hundred) to Coromoto’s Ice Cream Shop in Mérida, Venezuela. “About 60 of the 900 varieties are on sale at any given time.” I’m not sure whether I’d actually enjoy spaghetti flavoured ice cream, but I’d love to be able to say I tried it.

Next you’ll find me in an Austrian library. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (the Austrian National Library) in Vienna has secret passages hidden behind bookcases! I don’t need any more information to sell me on this destination.

The writing style in this book felt like I was listening to a tour guide. At times I can find writing that directly addresses the reader annoying but it worked for me here. I can imagine a young reader trying to picture ten million shrieking bats flying above them in Zambia, then feeling reassured that they’re not on the menu because these bats only eat fruit.

Using size comparisons with objects kids are already familiar with was a great choice. It’s much easier to imagine how huge a blue whale is when you discover it’s longer than two city buses. There’s a good blend of history, culture, geography and mythology in this collection of interesting and quirky destinations.

Joy Ang’s cover illustration was one of the things that drew me to this book in the first place and I really liked the details she incorporated and the different perspectives shown; sometimes I felt I was standing looking across a vista and other times I was granted a bird’s eye view. While I enjoyed seeing all of the people and animals illustrated, some landscapes felt unfinished, e.g., Antarctica’s Blood Falls looked blurry and not that interesting to me, whereas photos of this location made me want to visit. If I read this book with a child I’m sure we’d be Googling photos of each of the locations to continue our exploration.

I managed to snag Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders on Kindle when it was recently discounted and am even more interested in reading it now.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Journey to the World’s Most Mysterious Places

Created by the same team behind Atlas Obscura, the #1 New York Times bestseller that has over 600,000 copies in print in its first year, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventuruous Kid is a thrillingly imaginative expedition to 100 weird-but-true places on earth. And just as compelling is the way the book is structured – hopscotching from country to country not by location but by type of attraction. For example, visit the site of the Tunguska event in Siberia, where a meteor slammed into the earth in 1908 – and then skip over to the Yucatan, ground zero for the ancient meteor crash that caused the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Then, while in Mexico, tour the fantastical Naica caves, home to crystals ten times larger than the average person – then, turn the page to Vietnam to a cave so vast you  could fly a 747 through it. Illustrated in gorgeous and appropriately evocative full-colour art, this book is a passport to a world of hidden possibilities.

The Best Damn Answers to Life’s Hardest Questions: A Flowchart Book – Tess Koman

Am I a nerd? ✔️
Do I like flowcharts? ✔️
Do I like gift books? ✔️
Do I like laughing? ✔️

I found The Best Damn Answers to Life’s Hardest Questions: A Flowchart Book and thought I’d hit the quadfecta. It turns out that just because something ticks all the right boxes it doesn’t always mean you’ll find the gift book of your dreams.

I wouldn’t need a flowchart for a lot of the questions anyway:

  • Room for dessert? – Duh! Always!
  • Do I need a vacation? – See above.
  • Do I need more coffee? – Again, see above.

I’m too nerdy to fully appreciate the carefree look of these flowcharts. They don’t have different symbols for each action type and without arrows a messy flowchart can be kinda difficult to navigate in sections. Also, some of the questions don’t result in a flowchart, just a rant or a pros and cons list, which didn’t make sense to me as it’s a Flowchart Book.

Maybe we can chalk it up to the fact that this book is asking questions of millennials when I’m too old to even pretend to be one, if I actually wanted to. However, regardless of my age, I doubt this ever would’ve been the book for me.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A hilarious and utterly relatable collection of flowcharts, rants, and lists about adulting.

A humourous guide to adulthood in a collection of 54 charmingly illustrated flowcharts and pros-and-cons lists that each address an all-too-real question, from the mundane to the life-changing. Will I survive this hangover? (Probably not.) Should I cancel my plans? (YES! Cancel immediately.) Am I having a quarter-life crisis? (Probably.) Do I even like this person? (Nope, nope, nope.) This inspired book of humour disguised as invaluable advice is a gift to make anyone feel better, proving that every question, thought, and decision, no matter how ridiculous or irresponsible, is completely valid. 

Silver Hair – Lorraine Massey & Michele Bender

Besides the celebrities that are now dying their hair grey silver (why!) there are plenty of examples of those letting nature takes its course, and they look stunning. Exhibit A: Jamie Lee Curtis. With an Exhibit A that’s so gorgeous we don’t really need an Exhibit B.

If you’re sick of the hair dye merry-go-round, especially those with dark hair whose roots show almost as soon as you dry your newly coloured hair, Silver Hair is a useful book to help you take the plunge. While I understand that it’s only hair, it is a surprisingly scary thing to contemplate what you’ll look like if you step away from that little bottle of dye.

With plenty of photos of celebs and the woman next door either letting their silver shine or showing the multi-coloured transitional phases, this book shows that you can actually look good while your hair is mid grow out and gorgeous with silver.

Besides the beautiful photos there is also plenty of information. Silver Hair dispels myths, addresses common concerns, provides advice on managing the partly grown out look and mindset that goes with it, prepares you for the compliments (yes, you read that correctly), and there are plenty of stories of ordinary women who have ditched the dye.

You’ll also learn tips and tricks for managing and caring for silver hair, along with some recipes for homemade hair care products. Other than focusing specifically on your hair you’ll learn clothing, makeup and accessorising tips that will enhance your new look.

My Nitpick: Okay, so maybe that’s not the right term to be using for a book about hair. 🤨 Anyway, while I loved the different ages represented in the women in this book I was disappointed that in just over 200 pages there was only one man included.

So, what did I do? Between requesting to read this book and actually reading it I went from waist length coloured hair (sometimes chocolate brown, sometimes purple with a rainbow of extensions) to a buzz cut. My poor hairdresser, who was literally the girl next door growing up, was suitably traumatised but, after asking several hundred times if I was really sure, went for it and I love it.

I’ve got occipital neuralgia so mine was partly a medical decision but I can hand on heart tell you that it’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. Do I get some funny looks out in public? You bet. Do I care? Nope! That was a surprising but welcome side effect – while Samson’s strength was in his hair, apparently my tendency to people please was in mine.

Now if my hair is longer than my eyelashes I’m ready for it to get buzzed. I’ve saved time, money and plenty of care factor for the true priorities in my life, A.K.A books, and my only regret is that I didn’t take the plunge years ago.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Whether you’re naturally graying, weaning yourself off the dye, or coveting the chic #grannyhair trend, your hair will shine with this empowering guide.

Here are step-by-step tips on letting nature take its course – or using lowlights, highlights, blending, and toning to transition with minimal drama (and avoid a skunk line). Tips on haircuts, tricks for the best care (conditioning is crucial). Products, including the DIY variety. Plus, the most flattering clothing and makeup to accentuate any shade of gray. With unique treatments and techniques from hair guru Lorraine Massey, Silver Hair is a call for celebrating and enhancing your natural radiance, with thrilling results.

Welcome to the inspiring guide for every woman who’s ready to find her true colors. Written by the authors of the national bestseller Curly Girl, here is everything you need to know, from going gray stylishly to living silver gorgeously, including Silver Lining Stories and before-and-after photos of real women. Going silver is not just about a certain look, or saving time and money at the stylist – it’s about fulfilling a deeper desire for authenticity, empowerment, and the freedom to be oneself at any age. So let’s get started.


  • The many perks of naturally silver hair
  • Style and beauty to play up the silver
  • Toners and color blending
  • Avoiding the skunk line
  • Hair care routines
  • DIY recipes, including Lavender and Verbena Herbal Hair Tonic
  • Face-framing silver streaks.

Life in the Sloth Lane: Slow Down and Smell the Hibiscus – Lucy Cooke

Sloths!!! One of my very favourite animals! I can’t see a photograph of a sloth and not smile. I especially love three-toed sloths, those gorgeous creatures with perpetual smiles and great affection for eyeliner.

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Cooke’s previous book, A Little Book of Sloth, so when I found out she had another book coming out I was jumping up and down calling, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Filled with the most adorable photos of baby sloths, adult sloths, two-toed sloths, three-toed sloths, sloths hanging out in trees, sloths in buckets and hammocks, interesting information about sloths and peace inducing quotes, I loved Life in the Sloth Lane.

Sloths teach us many things, including:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff, or any stuff for that matter if you’re a three-toed sloth and don’t sweat at all.
  • The importance of rest. They rest about 70% of the day. Now that’s the life!

My favourite quote of the book is by Chade-Meng Tan:

“Because inner peace and inner joy are independent of worldly circumstances, they are available to you anyplace and anytime.”

This would make a lovely gift or coffee table book. Anyone who needs a smile should enjoy plenty while reading this book. I was ready to reach through the pages, pull out some sloths and give them all huge hugs, most likely while sitting in that super comfy looking hammock.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Why are sloths always smiling?

Perhaps it’s because they’ve mastered the art of taking it slow in a world whose frenzied pace is driving the rest of us crazy. Here, in a mindfulness book like no other, heart-tuggingly cute photographs of these always-chill creatures are paired with words of wisdom, all to inspire us to slow down, stop to enjoy the little things, and come up relaxed, centered, and smiling.

Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird, and Totally Not Boring Things to Know – Mike Lowery

Random Illustrated Facts: A Collection of Curious, Weird, and Totally Not Boring Things to Know is a collection of illustrations by Mike Lowery and handwritten tidbits about the obscure, unusual and simply random. The book is divided into sections covering history, animals, food and drinks, science and everyday things.

After developing an obsession interest with children’s non-fiction books last year and borrowing all the new ones throughout the year regardless of topic some from the library, I already knew a lot of these random facts and had absorbed others through osmosis over the years. Apparently my brain clings to useless random snippets of information and in doing so pushes out the stuff I actually need to remember in the process.

This was a quick read. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the illustrations and think this would be a suitable gift book. I can also see these illustrations being used as a basis for an office desk calendar.

I found the writing which tends to slope upwards to the right fairly often distracting until I got used to it, the clutter of words on some pages hard to follow and the smudges on others a bit off-putting, but maybe I’m being overly picky.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A collection of illustrated trivia unlike any other. From glow-in-the-dark cats to Jupiter’s diamond showers to the link between dancing goats and the discovery of coffee, here are up to 100 obscure and fascinating facts brought to life in Mike Lowery’s quirky, hilarious style. Each illustrated fact is paired with a handwritten web of related tidbits, recreating an entertaining dive down a trivia rabbit hole.