#IMWAYR January 14, 2018


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.




We are in the middle of unseasonably warm temperatures here in Vancouver BC. At 10°C with NO rain, it's perfect for taking the grandchildren to the park or just wandering around outside with a light jacket on. The bad news is that the rains are coming, and with this mild weather forecast for the rest of the month, there is no likelihood of snow.

In the evenings after work I've been finishing up some projects. I finally completed quilting and sewing the binding on these placemats (all 8 of them) that were supposed to be a Christmas gift for my partner. Now I'm trying to get the binding sewn on a baby quilt before I pick up two more quilts from the quilter.




BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK


PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light by Tim Tingle & Karen Clarkson (Illustrator)

Tim Tingle is one of my favourite storytellers. This picture book is based on the true story of his grandmother and how she lost and regained her sight. Karen Clarkson's artwork is magnificent.
I love this quote from the end of the book, "We all leave footfalls, everywhere we go. We change the people we meet. If we learn to listen to the quiet and secret music, as my Mawmaw did, we will leave happy footfalls behind us in our going.

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS

This biography of Mary Shelley is as brilliantly written as it is brilliantly illustrated. Go and read my blog post to find out more. Once you get a sample of the swoon-worthy art, I'm sure you will be compelled to get a copy to read. I especially appreciated how Linda Bailey, (who is a Canadian author living in my home city) shows us how Frankenstein, (and all stories) have their roots in many different kinds of experiences.

NOVELS

This is a charming little romance. Two high school boys, Arthur and Ben, meet in a New York post office but don’t exchange names or phone numbers. In spite of this inauspicious beginning, they manage to find each other. Because Arthur is returning to Georgia at the end of August, their romance can only be a summer one, or maybe not. What I like most about this book was the focus on how being honest can save a lot of grief.


I liked this well enough. I'm not the target audience, (to much angst for me) but I do think it's an important book. I appreciate that so many of us are questioning society's rigid gender notions. At a personal level, I have always understood that sexual preference is complicated, and for me at least, would be predicated on who I fell in love with. Nic Stone certainly shows us this here. 


4 stars

This was a bit of a shocker. One of the things I love most about this series is each new title reveals a bit more about the inhabitants of Three Pines generally, at the same time as it zeros in on one specific individual. In this case, an unknown hermit, who lives in a cabin just outside the village, is murdered. His body is discovered in the local bistro and antique shop. Olivier, the owner, appears to be the murderer. I'm not sure by the end that Inspector Gamache has it figured out right! (A quick peek at the next in the series suggests I might be correct.)

GRAPHIC


This is a beautiful book. There are pages where I just wanted to gaze into the gorgeously coloured landscapes and get lost. The message about stewardship of our oceans is timely. It’s part fairytale and part environmental warning. There is also a hint of romance between two women.

The main part of this book tells the story of two Eritrean brothers, Ebo and Kwame, who leave their small village and make their way to Europe. Their journey is gruelling and horrific. The worst part is dealing with the human smugglers who take advantage of them without any care for what will happen to the people.
At the back of the book is a short story that shows women's journey.

CURRENTLY

I'm reading Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees by Olivier Kugler I've just started Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice.

UP NEXT

My next audiobook will be Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I also have a hard copy in case that doesn't work. I need to get it finished for my book club! I will start Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith, one of my #MustRead titles from this year. I have growing piles of graphic novels that I will be reading closely for the Cybil awards. I put The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag aside til this week because I had another copy at the library waiting to be picked up.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2018 1/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 1/12 

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 0/25 1 in progress

25 books by Canadian Authors 5/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 15/333

Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey & Júlia Sardà (Illustrator)


I started reading this book last fall at our local children’s bookstore. I didn’t have a budget to purchase it, but knew I needed to read it again. My library had it on order and I have waited for what seems like forever to finally get this book in my hands again. It was worth the wait.

Linda Bailey takes us through the life of Mary Shelley. Her mother, the famous feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, died when she was only eleven days old. Mary, a lonely child, spent her early years reading, writing and daydreaming in front of her mother’s grave.


Not only was Mary influenced by her mother’s writing, her father raised her to read and think. Philosophers, artists, scientists, and writers were regular visitors at their home. Samuel Taylor Coleridge left a lasting impression on her. 

When her father remarried, Mary’s conflict with her stepmother led her to being banished to Scotland. After her return home a few years later, the trouble continued. Soon after, Mary eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelly. Her stepsister, Claire, accompanied them. 

They travelled across Europe, eventually ending up in a house on Lake Geneva with Lord Byron and John Polidori. One dark and stormy night, Byron challenged them all to write a ghost story.


This challenge led to Mary eventually turning one of her “castles in the air” into one of the most famous horror stories ever written. 



Júlia Sardà’s illustrations capture the essence of this Gothic era. The storm image at the house beside Lake Geneva is spectacularly ominous, but each page is full of gorgeously creepy delight. I recommend you take a look the art at her website



As much as I enjoyed the illustrated section of this book, I also loved the author’s note in the back matter. In it Bailey provides additional details about Mary’s life and times. She also makes connections between Mary’s life and her writing process.

Ultimately Linda Bailey shows us how a story like Frankenstein has its roots in many different kinds of experiences.

I especially related to these lines here: “Mary loves stories too. She tries to write the kind that she reads. But the stories she sees and daydreams are the most thrilling of all.” The stories that I try to write do not compare to the stories I see in my “castles in the air” either.



#IMWAYR January 7, 2019


#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.



New Years Day my partner and I headed off to our Okanagan house for a few days of rest and relaxation. I planned to go on long walks but slammed my foot into something and ended up damaging one of my toes. It made wearing shoes impossible. Wool socks with flip flops worked to go visiting, but isn't conducive to wandering outside in winter. We arrived safely back in Vancouver late Sunday after a bit of a harrowing journey through sections of snow and icy highway. 

One of my plans this year is to highlight books by Canadian authors. We are so close to the USA that our brilliant writers can easily get overlooked. I'm also wondering if I should actually try to read less. It's hard to keep track of even the best books with so many to remember. My rememberer doesn't work as well as it once did. How do you all keep track?

BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK



PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars

I read this and was so awed I put the book down to come back to it again. I think it was better the second time round. Frané Lessac's art is spectacular. This book does two important things. First it shows us modern indigenous people living lives steeped in their culture. Second, while focusing on those aspects of their lives that they are grateful for, it reminds all of us to be thankful for the ordinary as well as the extraordinary aspects in our own lives. Cherokee vocabulary is integrated into Traci Sorell's text. I appreciated the pronunciation guide at the bottom of the pages. 

4 stars

This is a multilayered book about overcoming our fears. Jo is afraid of what lives beneath the surface of the ocean. When her father is too ill to deliver bottles full of messages, she has to take on his job. Not only does she overcome her fears, she discovers that many of them are imaginary and makes new friends.
Cale Atkinson is Canadian author. He makes his home in the beautiful province of BC. 

5 stars

A young boy accompanies his father while he works as a janitor at a school. Lyrical is the best word to describe the gorgeous writing in this book. Karen Hesse's words are breathtaking.
We pull into our space.
Dad hauls out a ring of keys
as big as the rising moon.
He opens the door,
and the building sighs.
Come, it whispers to us.
G. Bryan Karas' grey toned illustrations capture both the ambience of the night and the loving relationship between the two of them.

4 stars

I'm glad I don't have to decide what I like best about this series: the illustrations or the stories themselves. I love how Woollvin twists these traditional tales wherein strong women and girls vanquish evil. I also love her artwork. It's mostly black and white with one other color. In this case it's the yellow of Rapunzel's hair.

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS

5+ stars

This was my first nonfiction picture book of 2019. It sets a very high bar for the rest of them to meet.
Matthew Forsythe's illustrations are beyond stunning. They are mesmerizing. I want a framed copy of the page that shows Ken Nedimyer as a young boy sitting on the beach staring out at the golden ocean. I love how Nedimyer has captured the essence of this young boy with his hair whorl and ears sticking out. His art unites with Kate Messner's lyrical text to create a spectacular book that is both informative and inspirational.
I wonder if they can collaborate on a new book explaining why the sea urchins died and what is being done about this.

4 stars

Each two page spread begins with the question, Do you see my tail? This is followed by a brief description and another question, Guess who I am? Lifting the flap on the next page reveals the animal. I like this book and think that my grandchildren will too. I'm reserving the right to change my evaluation of this book depending on what they think.

3.5 stars

This is a fun informative toon book that introduces readers to snails. It provides detail about their biology, their predators and reproduction. I liked the use of comparisons to other animals to show how fast they move. I had no idea that snails make mucus roads that other snails follow, but that does account for why some of my plants get devoured before others.

NONFICTION

3.5 stars

Back in the 1960’s and 70’s my sister and I sang along to our treasured Joni Mitchell albums. We knew all the lyrics. These days when I run into another fan we often end up crooning our favourites together. I feel as though I have met a soulmate if they can join me in Twisted.
Thus I was excited to see this biography. I enjoyed Xe Sands’ narration and appreciated learning the backstory that led to the different albums. 
It's just, sometimes you don’t want to know exactly everything about your idols. You want them to maintain their mythic status. You don’t want to learn about their pettiness and flaws. You don’t want them to be human.
I would be lying if I told you I loved this book. I almost abandoned it at one point, but didn’t and am glad I finished it. It turns out that it’s ok to see that people you admire are just human after all. It made me appreciate Mitchell’s genius even more.
I especially appreciated my Spotify account so I could go and to listen to the music I was reading about. Being able to listen in conjunction with the book turned out to be a brilliant way to appreciate her music and life more deeply. It’s what enabled me to continue when I was ready to give up. In retrospect I think it would be better to have the music in the background while reading the book with my eyes. I recommend it if you decide to give this a go. 

NOVELS

4 stars
This is the first in a charming series with animal characters. It’s for readers moving into longer transitional chapter books. The Heartwood hotel is a hollow tree in a forest that is run by different animals for the benefit of other ones.
It centres around Mona, a spunky mouse, who comes upon the hotel by accident ands stays to work as a maid.
I’m off to find the next in the series.
Kallie George is not only Canadian, she lives in my city!

4 stars

This book took me WAY out of my comfort zone. It's told in two parts. One part is the story of a girl name Sadie, who is searching for her sister's murderer. The other part is the transcription of a podcast about the two girls and what happened to them. It's a dark thriller that brings awareness of child sex abuse and highlights why so many girls go missing.
Courtney Summers is Canadian author who lives in Ontario.

GRAPHIC

4 stars

I loved the story, the world building, the art and the characters in this science fiction graphic novel. I loved that it is entirely populated with individuals who are women or nonbinary. It showcases many different aspects of love within fully authentic relationships. Across the span of the book they all grow and change. Walden's artwork: the buildings, the different parts of the universe, and the boarding school are atmospherically gorgeous. I really appreciated the contrast between the expansiveness of her universe juxtaposed with the intimacy of the connections between the characters.
However, the font is nearly minuscule and unless I was sitting in front of window with the sun shining through, reading the text was an exercise in frustration.

CURRENTLY

I've downloaded and plan to start listening to The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. I'm reading What If It's Us by Adam Silvera & Becky Albertalli. I've just started The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag.


UP NEXT

I've got a couple of graphic novels to read, Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill & Illegal by Eoin Colfer. I hope to start Odd One Out by Nic Stone.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2018 1/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 1/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 0/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 3/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 8/333