#IMWAYR – May 16, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and 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 recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

My House

My name is Jane, and I love cats, so it was pretty much inevitable that I would love this vibrant, colourful picture book.

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A friendly little cat named Jim takes readers on a tour of his house, using simple, friendly text and delightful illustrations. Definitely worth taking a look at, even if you’re not a cat lady named Jane. 🙂

The Snow Rabbit

Wow.

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This wordless picture book is simply stunning. The paper cut illustrations are miniature works of art, subtle, elegant and evocative. Two sisters explore the wintery world outside their door, encountering a mysterious and magical snow rabbit. Perhaps not the most suitable book for this time of year (it’s already getting toasty here!), but just too beautiful not to explore and share.

Lord Edgware Dies

I quite enjoyed this classic Poirot mystery, which featured a twist ending that I honestly didn’t see coming. The most interesting part of the novel, however, wasn’t written by Ms. Christie at all, but rather by a mysterious editor armed with a pencil. All throughout the book a previous reader left little corrections, pointing out a typo here, a word choice error there. Fascinating that someone would even bother to go to all the hassle. Were they trying to improve the reading experience for the next borrower, or did they simply want to prove they could one-up Agatha Christie in the writing department? We may never know. At least they made their notations in pencil and not red ink….

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Hope you’ve all been having a great reading week!!

Harry Potter Spells Book Tag!

Thanks to the lovely ladies at The Book Wars I’m tackling the Harry Potter Spells Book Tag, which was first developed by Kimberley Faye Reads.

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Confession: I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I’ve read the books, I’ve watched the films, and they were OK, but nothing spectacular. I honestly have no clue what any of these spells mean, or what they do. I’m a children’s librarian who’s not a Harry Potter fan. There, I said it. Whew, that’s a weight off my shoulders.

And away we go!

1 - Accio

An upcoming release you can’t wait to get your hands on.

Ada Twist, Scientist / Andrea Beaty

This title, coming September 2016, is from the same creative team that brought us Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect, great picture books about kids pursuing their passions, even when no one around them seems to understand. Bonus points for featuring a girl obsessed with science!

2 - Alohomora

Favourite series starter.

The Black Company / Glen Cook

Glen Cook’s The Black Company is fantasy like you’ve probably never read it before – dark, gritty, violent, bleak, and pretty darn amazing. Undoubtedly the finest book in the series, this title served as inspiration for countless “dark fantasy” novels in the years that followed.

3 - Cheering Charm

A book that gave you all the fuzzy/warm feels.

George / Alex Gino

Words cannot describe how much feels this book gave me. While a lot of the book made me angry (mostly at a society that forces children to suppress their true identities and live in fear simply because they do not fit into the boxes that other people have assigned them), the ending made me all warm and fuzzy and hopeful. Feels.

4 - Aguamenti

A book that made you ugly cry.

See You At Harry’s / Jo Knowles

OK, so I’m bonafide sap who cries at credit card commercials, so take this for what you will, but whoo boy, this book made me cry. I don’t know about ugly crying, but there were definitely more than a few tears shed during the reading of this story. This is a fantastic book filled with fantastic characters, but be warned, you will likely need a tissue at the ready to deal with the sadness.

5 - Expecto Patronum

A character you’d consider to be your patronus.

OK, I don’t know if this is necessarily a patronus so much as a book incarnation, but I’m going with it. Junie B. Jones, the spirited kindergartener who just can’t seem to control her mouth and who calls it like she sees it, even when it gets her into trouble is like a little motor-mouth Jane. The parallels are eery. It’s like Junie and I are kindred spirits.

6 - Lumos

A book you intentionally spoiled for yourself.

The Terminal Man

The suspense! I was starting to get a little too stressed out by this thriller, so I skipped ahead just a couple of pages to make sure a character was going to be alright.

By the way, the tradition of the terrible book cover synopsis is a long and proud one (something the team at The Book Wars discusses in their Cover Wars series). “Watch this man become a homicidal maniac!” says the cover. “Ugh,” says the reader, “this book is full of math, computer science, psychology, medical ethics and history! Where’s the homicidal maniac alread?y” A fantastic book with an absolutely terrible and completely misleading cover.

7 - Imperio

A book you wish you could make everyone read.

George / Alex Gino

I wouldn’t want to make anyone read anything, but I do wish more people would take a look at George, or really any book featuring a trans* character. There’s still far too much ignorance, fear and hatred in our world, and not enough awareness and understanding around trans issues.

8 - Engorgio

A book/series you wish never ended.

Discworld / Terry Pratchett

Thankfully Terry Pratchett was a prolific writer, so there’s at least a good number of Discworld books available,  but there’s not nearly as many as I would happily devour.

9 - Wingardium Leviosa

An uplifting book.

Brown Girl Dreaming / Jacqueline Woodson

This elegant verse novel is a story of hope, determination, and the power of words to change a life. I think I would perhaps call this inspiring, rather than uplifting, and Woodson’s perfectly chosen words will touch readers deeply and profoundly. It’s particularly inspiring for educators, as it’s an ode to the power of the written word, and the impact an educator can have on a child’s life.

10 - Obliviate

A book you wish you could forget

I honestly think I’m going to skip this one, because I’m a serial DNF-er, and if I don’t like I book I simply don’t finish it.

11 - Anapneo

A book/series that got you out of a slump.

Sphere / Michael Crichton

I recently found myself in a terrible reading slump. My brain was a scattered mess, and I just couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything. Every book I picked up seemed overly complicated, too deep, too preachy, to hip, too everything. Out of desperation I decided to go back to basics and revisit one of my all-time favourite writers, whose books read like a blend of movie script and college text book – Michael Crichton.

Well, this definitely did the trick. Fast-paced and cleverly written, I devoured this title on a single commute, and the reading spark was lit once again.

12 - Jelly-Legs Jinx

A swoon worthy character.

I’m going to cheat here, and instead share…..

A swoon worthy author.

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sigh…..

Steven Johnson is the absolute swoon worthiest author I can think of. Not only is he cute as a button with those stunning blue eyes, he also plays the guitar (swoon), and writes fantastic narrative non-fiction (mega swoon), including one of my all-time favourite non-fiction titles, The Ghost Map. He is also a married father of three, but oh well, a girl can still dream….

13 - Aresto Momentum

A book that made you drop everything in order to finish it.

Ummm….OK, I was going to try and pick a book that wasn’t by Michael Crichton, but dang it, I just love me some Michael Crichton.

The Andromeda Strain

Holy crap, the suspense! Not the biggest fan of the ending (no spoilers, I promise), but the build up, holy smokes! I’ve actually reread this book a couple of times because I love it so much. It plays out like a movie in your brain. Awesome.

14 - Crucio

A book that was painful to read/a book that broke you.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe / Benjamin Alire Saenz

This novel about two young Mexican-American men is heart-rendingly beautiful and at times painful to read, but so very worth it. Life can just be so hard for some people sometimes, especially young people. Let’s all try to remember to choose kindness, because we can never know what other people are going through.

15 - Rictumsempra

A book that made you laugh out loud.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams

The original madcap, zany, side-splitting British science fiction classic. Have you read this series yet? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s insane, but in the best possible way.

16 - Expelliarmus

A book you wanted to fling away.

The Exorcist / William Peter Blatty

I read this book as a teenager, and was so freaked out at one point that I threw the book to the floor, just to get it away from me. Seriously, seriously creepy stuff.

17 - Portus

A fictional world you wish you could visit.

Middle Earth! I’d love to sit in Hobbiton and have a pint with the hobbits, or lounge around at The Last Homely House. I have been to New Zealand several times, though, which for some reason looks remarkably similar to Middle Earth…

18 - Stupefy

A plot twist you did not see coming.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / Agatha Christie

Twisty and turny but not overly-complicated or too assured of its own cleverness, this is the epitome of a classic who-dunnit by one of the masters of the genre.

19 - Avada Kedavra

A character death that destroyed you.

It’s remarkably hard to do this one without giving away unwanted spoilers….

Chaos Walking / Patrick Ness

Somewhere in this trilogy is an incredibly brutal and painful and seemingly unnecessary death. You’ll know it when you find it.

20 - Finite Incantatem

Best concluding book in a series.

A Memory of Light / Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The death of Robert Jordan before the conclusion of his Wheel of Time series left many fans in a tizzy, wondering what would happen to the characters that we had all put so much bloody time into reading about (seriously, these books are massive). Hearing that the series would be finished by a different author I was sceptical, but holy smokes, was this ever a fitting end to the series! Brandon Sanderson is a fantastic fantasy author, and he stayed true to Jordan’s vision while bringing in his own unique style. Definitely a satisfying conclusion.

Whew, that was quite the post, thanks for tagging me, The Book Wars! This is actually the first thing I’ve ever been tagged in, so I feel like I’ve finally made it in the world of book / library blogging – I’m one of the cool kids now! 😉

#IMWAYR – April 4, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and 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 recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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Title:
Sphere
Author: Michael Crichton

I went through a bit of a reading slump for a few weeks – my brain was all scrambled and reading just seemed too much work. I read picture books for work, but for entertainment I found myself drawn more to the TV than my bookshelf. Out of desperation I decided to give an old favourite another go, and boy am I glad I did, because this baby blew my reading slump right out of the park.

This novel is fantastic. Edge-of-your-scene suspense, a thrilling, breakneck pace, interesting characters and perspectives, and enough science, math and psychology that you actually feel better educated having read it. Crichton was undoubtedly a brilliant man and he knew how to write a novel that really read like a movie in your mind. Gripping, thought-provoking, and lots of fun.

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Title: Death Comes as the End
Author: Agatha Christie

Having destroyed my reading slump I was eager to devour more books. The next title I finished this week was a great historical mystery from the mistress of the classic who-dunnit, Agatha Christie. I read my way through her Poirot and Miss Marple novels, and I read a few of the Tommy and Tuppence stories, but this was an entirely new title to me (hurray for shelf-reading!).

This murder mystery is set in ancient Egypt, which makes for a refreshing and unusual setting. I really enjoyed the story, the storytelling and the characters, and there’s even a romantic subplot that I actually enjoyed (I’m not usually a fan of romantic plot lines). If you like classic murder mysteries, definitely give this lesser-known title a try.

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Title: George and Martha
Author: James Marshall

This wry, witty, understated children’s classic features dear friends and hippopotamuses George and Martha. The text is spare, the illustrations are muted, but the results are brilliant. “The Tub” is my favourite of the five short stories in this collection. A pretty wonderful children’s classic worth seeking it if you aren’t familiar with it yet.

It feels like I’m finally back in the reading game! What have you been reading this week?

May Book Club – “Silent in the Grave”

I’m the first to admit that I don’t always finish every book I start. There are so many books on my to-read list, I simply don’t have time to waste on books that don’t engage me.

silentI started this month’s book club pick, the Victorian-era mystery “Silent in the Grave” by Deanna Raybourn, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The characters were pretty dull, I guessed the murder almost immediately, and the writer seemed to have confused “chemistry” and “creepy”, because the love interest showed his interest in the female lead by first threatening to hit her, and then by drugging her as part of an interrogation, without ever doing anything to change the reader’s creeped out opinion of him.

So, I read the beginning, I read the end, I skipped the middle, and I still had enough to talk about at book club.

I wouldn’t recommend “Silent in the Grave” simply because there are so many other awesome books out there that I would recommend!

For fans of female sleuths in historical settings:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie / Alan Bradley

sweetness

The first in a mystery series set in 1950s England, starring precocious 11-year-old chemistry prodigy Flavia de Luce.

Cocaine Blues / Kerry Greenwood

cocaine

1920s Australia provides the backdrop for the first novel in the Phrynne Fisher series of historical mysteries.

Maisie Dobbs / Jacqueline Winspear

maisie dobbs

Maisie is a private detective solving crimes in inter-war years Great Britain.

Mistress of the Art of Death / Ariana Franklin

mistress

Adelia is a “mistress of death”, the medieval version of a medical examiner, who acts in the service of the king to solve mysteries in 12th century England.

Miss Marple / Agatha Christie

marple

Though originally a contemporary series, Christie’s classic Miss Marple novels range in setting from the 1930s to the 1970s.