It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? January 18, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at BookDate, and was adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list. I’m going to be joining both groups this week, as I’ve got both kids and adult books represented in the done-and-dusted pile.

 

market

Title: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt De la Pena / Illustrator: Christian Robinson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Picture book

My Two CentsI actually read this a while ago, but for some reason I never got around to talking about it on the blog. Not that there’s really all that much I can add to the conversation surrounding this wonderful, award-winning book. The deceptively simple, brightly-coloured illustrations are just beautiful and suit the sparse text of the story perfectly.  My grandparents may not have resembled the nana in this story physically, but they certainly would have appreciated her no-nonsense, common-sense approach to life! They were certainly more of the “Boy, what do you know about seeing?” style of grandparents – just like CJ’s nana, they demonstrated their love by helping me become a better person, even if that meant telling me off a time or too!

greyrabbit

Title: Grey Rabbit’s Odd One Out
Author/Illustrator: Alan Baker
Publisher: Kingfisher
Publication Date: 1999
Genre/Format: Picture book

In this colourful sorting book children must help a messy little rabbit sort out his room so that he can find his favourite book. The little grey rabbit protagonist is charmingly lifelike, and the colours of the different objects are vibrant and eye-catching. Just a simple, sweet early concept book for young children.

baabaa

Title: Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
Author/Illustrator: Jane Cabrera
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Picture book

My Two Cents: I have long enjoyed using Jane Cabrera’s picture book adaptations of nursery rhymes and songs in my storytimes – her version of “The Wheels on the Bus” is one of my favourites. This new version of the traditional children’s song Baa Baa Black Sheep features a knitting-crazed young girl who eventually knits the fuzzy black sheep out of all his wool. On my first sing-through, though, the rhymes felt clunky and awkward, and I couldn’t seem to make the lyrics fit the melody as I remembered it. Cabrera does include sheet music in the back of the book, and it seems that my tune for the song varied somewhat from hers. With a bit of adaptation, I was able to make the song work for me, which is good, because it’s quite sweet, and would be lovely for babytime.  

girl

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Thriller / Novel

My Two Cents: I read this book for one of my book clubs, and found it to be pretty darn meh.  Featuring melodrama that somehow manages to be both over the top and boring, ridiculously self-absorbed, uninteresting characters, endless self-pity and self-loathing, a supposedly “surprise” ending that everyone in the book club saw miles away, and several narrators whose voices are so similar as to be essentially interchangeable, I can’t say I understood the hype. I didn’t find Girl on the Train to necessarily be poorly written, but given the hype surrounding it and the promising premise, we were all surprised by how dull and dreary the book turned out to be.

So there you have it, a few titles I’ve been reading this week? What have you been reading?

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28 thoughts on “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? January 18, 2016

  1. I haven’t jumped on the Girl train, but your thoughts make me feel alright about that.
    I haven’t heard of Cabrera, but she sounds wonderful! I’ll have to check her out.
    I’m in the middle of Middlemarch and a Jewish fiction read called Tin Horse. Both good!

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    • Middlemarch is one of those classics that I keep meaning to read but never get around to, I hope you enjoy it! I didn’t hate The Girl on the Train, but with so many books out there to read, I just hate wasting my precious reading time on books that don’t wow me.

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  2. I “made myself” read The Girl on The Train, mostly because it was first a gift, then I couldn’t figure out why it was so talked about, so had to keep reading. I feel just the same way, & thought that it was predictable too, except for one character. And the characters were so sad & unlikeable, or sad & tragic. Anyway, I agree with all you wrote. But, I love the books for young ones you shared. They would be nice to remember for coming baby gifts! Thanks, Jane.

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    • We felt the same way at my book club, everyone kept reading and wondering when the good part was going to come, since the book was so popular! Just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good – smart publicity and a bit of hype can overcome that!

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  3. I agree completely with your thoughts on Market Street. It is such a lovely book! Yo have pretty much convinced me not to get excited about the rest of them, except for the Alan Baker title who’s books are still popular here in our library.

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    • Isn’t it wonderful? But yeah, Girl on the Train was just meh – I didn’t even hate it, which I’d prefer in a book, because at least that means it caused some emotional response and gave me something to reflect on. The worst kind of book is one that’s really just kind of boring.

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    • If you’re still curious I’d recommend borrowing it from the library instead of buying it – you might really enjoy it (it’s just my opinion after all, and different people have different tastes), but if you don’t, at least you haven’t wasted any money!

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  4. I tend to shy away from hyped up books or wait for a long time before I’ll open one of their covers. Sorry you weren’t impressed. This happened to me with The Goldfinch; I was bored and DNF.

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    • I usually try and do that, too – my book club read The Cuckoo’s Calling, JK Rowling’s murder mystery. When the book first came out I wasn’t at all interested because of all the buzz around it being written by Rowling under a pen name, but when we eventually did read it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think being able to separate the book from the hype really helped.

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  5. Oh good. I was thinking about reading Girl on a Train and now I see that I can skip it! 🙂 That gives me time for something else. I read Last Stop on Market Street to 12 classes for our Mocks and I didn’t get tired of it. We had great discussion about the text and illustrations. On a side note, one of our teachers has many tattoos and he loved that a picture book was representing him.

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    • That’s wonderful, it’s so great when you can find books that don’t lose their spark even with repeat readings. The tattooed character was definitely popular with the kids, and I was glad to see a visually-impaired character as well! Such a positive representation of our modern urban realities. Glad to see it rewarded this year.

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  6. I wasn’t super impressed with Girl on the Train either, and actually had to make myself finish it as I just lost interest a few times in the middle. The characters were mostly unlikeable although I did feel bad for Rachel (I think- the main character?) at times… but generally yeah I didn’t feel this lived up to the hype.

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    • Yeah, I think one of the problems was that every single character had a sob story, which kind of lessened the emotional impact of each story. When everyone is absolutely miserable, no one’s misery stands out anymore. Hype can be such a double-edged sword – it can get your books into people’s hands, but can also build expectations to staggering, unrealistic expectations.

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  7. Very interesting to read your thoughts about The Girl on the Train – I was pretty underwhelmed by it as well, maybe because I read Gone Girl the year before that and was fully hooked from the first page, despite my dislike of the characters. I suppose the only thing that made me really enjoy The Girl on the Train was my experience of reading it while I was in London riding the trains. 🙂

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    • They’re actually talking about making a film version of The Girl on the Train, but setting it in America (because Americans apparently can’t relate to anything that isn’t set in their backyard?). It feels like doing that will take away some of the spirit of the book, though, because trains are such a part of English culture in a way that they aren’t in the States anymore, even on the East Coast where commuter trains are more common.

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  8. I bought The Girl On The Train just this month and am looking forward to delving in to it. I’m hoping that because I’m reading it after all the hype I can go in with fresh eyes and not let those reviews sway me in anyway.

    I’m currently reading another book that was much talked about last year – You by Caroline Kepnes.

    I hope you enjoy all upcoming reads!

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    • So true! Any review is just one person’s personal opinion, and even at my book club there were people who loved it, people who hated it, and people like me who were just kind of underwhelmed. Book blogs are a great way to learn about books, but shouldn’t discourage you from reading something you’re curious about.

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  9. Yay, I thought I was the only on on the planet who disliked The Girl on a Train (I actually DNF’d it part way through). It’s one of those books I just don’t get why there’s so much hype? The writing style made my eye twitch :p

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    • We were trying to figure that out at book club, and part of the hype I think comes from a few reviews that named it as “this year’s Gone Girl”, piggybacking on the success of that title. Also, it was on Oprah’s website >.<

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  10. Ha, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I found The Girl on a Train fine, but I didn’t love it.

    I just added Last Stop on Market Street to my list of books for my kids, but I imagine the hold list at our library will be getting pretty long!

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  11. I keep thinking that I should read The Girl on the Train since it’s been so wildly popular, but just haven’t gotten there yet. I’ve heard a couple reviewers complain about the sameness in the character’s voices, which isn’t encouraging.

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