#IMWAYR September 26, 2016

#IMWAYR is here again. Hurrah! It's time to share what you have been reading in the past week and find out what other readers have been up to. The adult version of this meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. The kidlit rendition is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Now that was a glorious reading week. I abandoned housework, sewing, gardening and other inconsequential things to laze around and read. Ok, all those audiobooks reflect that I managed to get in some long walks and do some cooking. We had two birthday celebrations last week so there were cakes to bake. I also scrabbled out a bit of time to do some writing. I need to set up a schedule so I am more consistent about this, but honestly, I am revelling in the fact that I don't have to have a schedule. I'm sure that eventually I will get bored by this, but in the mean time...



 Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley (NetGalley)

4 stars
This is a NetGalley title that expired while I was busy grieving for my mother earlier this year. I found the book in our local library and read it because the idea of it appealed to me so much (and I have to get caught up with all these books) I enjoyed this story of four damaged teens trying to support each other after a tragic incident forces them to flee from their small town and the police. They make some questionable choices, but we can see how these were inevitable. There is just so much authentic love, heartbreak and growth for the characters in this book. I wept buckets.

Rivers of London (Peter Grant 1) by Ben Aaronovitch Audiobook narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

4 stars
I have no idea who introduced me to this series, but after just one book, I've fallen hard. I love how smart and witty the writing is. It's reminiscent of American Gods and Skullduggery Pleasant. Peter Grant is a young constable just starting out in the Metropolitan Police Service in London, England. One evening while guarding a murder scene with another new constable, Leslie May, a ghost appears to him to tell him what he saw.  When he returns to the crime scene in hopes of interviewing the ghost again, he meets up with Chief Inspector Nightingale. Instead of ending up trapped in a position doing paperwork so real coppers don't have to, Peter ends up as apprentice wizard to Nightingale. I'm anxious to get to the next book in this series.

Sticks and Stones (Upside Down Magic 2) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle & Emily Jenkins Audiobook narrated by Rebecca Soler 

5 stars
I love, love, love this series. That Mlynowski is a Canadian author, just adds to my pleasure. If you haven't read anything by this team of writers you need to remedy this. Last spring I convinced the teacher of a classroom of learners with language processing issues, to read the first in the series, Upside Down Magic. They loved it, and he came asking if there was a sequel. I think I will purchase a copy of this for him. It tells the story of a group of students in a special class for kids who have magic outside the realm of what is normal.

Stars So Sweet by Tara Dairman

4 stars
I fell in love with Gladys Gatsby, kid chef and restaurant critic in All Four Stars. In this installment, Gladys is trying to balance her cooking life with after school clubs, homework, and friends as well as helping out her favourite aunt. Somehow I missed the second in this series, but it didn't seem to make a difference in my enjoyment and understanding of this one. (Of course, when I discovered that the second was a available at a nearby library, I went for a walk and picked it up.)

The Unmapped Sea (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #5) by Maryrose Wood Audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren

3.5 stars
Miss Penelope Lumley has her hands full when the family heads off to Brighton so that the pregnant Lady Ashton can get some sea air. Lord Ashton wants her to find someway to erase the curse on him so that the child can grow up normal. The Babushkinov family, with children wilder than the Incorrigible children, are also spending time in Brighton. Nothing good can come of it. I adore this series, but have to admit that this ending devastated me!

The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore

4.5 stars
Mori, and her friends, Theo, Benji, and Julia, live on Firefly Lane in the utopian community of Old Harmonie. Their lives are pretty much idyllic until a family with a daughter, Ilana, move in. Ilana is oddly perfect, but Mori still connects and befriends her. This creates conflict with Julie who is suspicious of Ilana. Then Mori and Theo uncover some uncomfortable secrets about Ilana's background; secrets that shed light on their own realities. Like all of Blakemore's titles, Firefly Code is a tale that presents her characters and readers with all kinds of ethical dilemmas. It is interesting to see how a community that starts out with the best of intentions can get sidetracked by a corporate agenda. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Ida Always by Caron Levis & Charles Santoso (illustrator)

There has been a lot positive buzz about this book, but honestly, I'm conflicted as heck about it. On the one hand I see that it is a beautifully illustrated, powerful book about loss and grief. On the other, I'm distressed that polar bears, who migrate hundreds of kilometres in a yearly migration, are confined to a compound in a zoo, irrespective of how large and comfortable we think it is. Further reading about the real life of these magnificent creatures, Gus and Ida, just depressed me more. (Did you know that Gus was put on prozac for neurotic behaviour because of his environment?) On top of all this, here we are getting mushy about a couple of zoo bears all the while ignoring the fact that we are driving polar bears to the brink of extinction as we contribute to global warming. Sorry. I'll stop ranting now. 


Fluffy Strikes Back
 by Ashley Spires (NetGalley)

It's Ashley Spires, a local author and illustrator, who is creator of the Binky series and The Most Magnificent Thing as well as many other picture books. She's the person behind those wonderful images in Spare Dog Parts. In this, our hero is Sergeant Fluffy Vandermere, head of P.U.R.S.T (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) His job is to protect the world from alien domination (bugs.) It's hilarious and clever. If you still need to find out more, check out my full review.


I'm trying to finish Dead Boy by Laurel Gale. (another Netgalley title I didn't get to in time) It's a hard slog. I even went and read the end in hopes of being motivated to read more.  I'm about 1/4 into See How They Run by Ally Carter, but I'm not enjoying that either. There is too much poor pitiful me angst in it. I may end up abandoning both of these. Sigh. 


The Seventh Wish by Messner, Kate, Summerlost by Ally Condie, and Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb are due back to the library in a few days, so I have to get them read soon. I've got Moon Over Soho, the second Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch ready to listen to as soon as I finish or abandon See How they Run

Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

This is a coming of age story about of a group of damaged teens growing up in a small town. They are carrying way too much emotional baggage. The truth of course, is they aren't unusual in the least. It's just that we don't generally acknowledge them. And yet here they are in their own novel.

Lillian, Olivia's mother, committed suicide a few days after her birth. Olivia is trapped in the shadow of her mother's life. Her father can't bear to spend time with her because she looks so much like her mother. Her grandmother has began calling her by her mother's name. People don't really see Olivia. They see Lillian and wonder if Olivia will repeat her mother's actions. Olivia isn't even sure where her mother ends and she begins.

Jamie lives next door to Olivia. They are as close as brothers and sisters could ever be. Jamie's father is an abusive alcoholic who beats his mother in drunken rages.

Max, who has his own drinking problem, is Olivia's on-again off-again boyfriend.

Maggie, Olivia's best girlfriend, is a gifted artist whose mother is a drug addict.

One evening, while Olivia is at Jamie's house for supper, his father comes home from work unexpectedly. He explodes in anger and Jamie, trying to protect Olivia and his mother, unintentionally kills him.

The four teens flee their small town and head off to New Orleans. Once there they end up staying with unscrupulous friends of Maggie's mother. Olivia manages to connect with Beth Hunter, one of her mother's best friends who has continued to place letters on Lillian's grave. Beth provides funds for Jamie and Olivia to get false passports and escape.

This beautifully written novel is loaded with authenticity. I wept buckets even though I halfway anticipated the conclusion.

Drowning is Inevitable
worked for me because I became emotionally invested in these characters. It worked because this book is full of love and forgiveness. It's the love of friends who will do anything for each other. It's the tangled up romantic love of 17-year-olds. It's the dysfunctional, but nonetheless real love parents have for their children. It's about truly seeing each other and loving that person no matter what. It worked for me because there's growth in all of these characters, the teens and the adults, kind of like real life. 

Fluffy Strikes Back by Ashley Spires.

There are many reasons to love Ashley Spires. She is a local Vancouver, B.C. talent. Spires is both author and illustrator of The Most Magnificent Thing, as well as other brilliant picture books. She is the illustrator of Spare Dog Parts and many other titles. However, most of the readers in an elementary school will recognize her as the author of the Binky series and appreciate her for her sense of humour. 

Her new cockamamie graphic novel is hilarious. It is certain to entertain elementary school readers from kindergarten on up. Fans of the Binky series will love Fluffy. 

Sergeant Fluffy Vandermere is head of P.U.R.S.T (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) His job is to protect the world from alien domination. (bugs.) 

Entrance to P.U.R.S.T headquarters is in a secret sandbox. It is supremely well guarded and fortified. Yet in spite of this remarkable defence system, the bug aliens manage to infiltrate their headquarters. 

In order to save the world Fluffy has to leave his managerial desk and become an operative once more. Will he be up for the challenge? You'll have to purchase your own copy of this book to find out. (Or, you could borrow it from your local library.) 

School libraries should purchase numerous copies of this book. It will be popular. 

Parents take note, if you get a chance, sneak it from your kids and read it on your own. Of course you might enjoy reading it to your little ones too. 

#IMWAYR September 19, 2016

My weeks are punctuated by Mondays. Perhaps they always have been, but now, Mondays are significant because of #IMWAYR, and not because the weekend is over and I have to go back to work. I can't begin to tell you how much I look forward to and enjoy reading all your posts about the books you have been reading. 

The adult version of this meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. The kidlit rendition is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search. 

Last week, while I read them, I didn't have time to respond to everyone's posts. I have been so busy, I don't know what I did with myself before I retired. In the past week or so I have canned 24 pints of salsa, 26 quarts of tomato juice, 16 pint jars of tomato sauce, and 14 quart jars of tomatoes. I've also made another batch of peach salsa and frozen another 10 pounds of peaches. There have been walks with friends, work on the house, and on Saturday we went off to the Rock Creek Fall Fair. I had another few pounds of peaches sitting there ripening that I turned into daiquiris Sunday afternoon. Of course we invited the neighbours over to help drink them.    

We are still here in our Okanagan home. Our plans to head back to Vancouver on Sunday, have been sidetracked. The autumn sun is shining and the vista outside every window here is so glorious, we can't bear the thought of returning to the city. Oh ya, and my partner headed off with a friend to go bear hunting. (Thankfully they didn't get a bear and the bears didn't get them)



Lily and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard (from Netgalley)

5 stars
Gabrielle Grimard is the illustrator of When I Was Eight and Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, two picture books about a young girl's experiences of residential school. Like these titles, Lily and the Crow is exquisitely illustrated.  It is story of Lila, a young girl who has had to move to a new city. She is looking forward to making new friends but ends up being bullied because of her looks. I would consider it a must purchase for your indigenous collection. 


5 stars
One Native Life by Richard Wagamese

I have savoured this book bit by bit. Richard Wagamese is an indigenous author who was removed from his abusive home by child protection services, placed into white foster homes and eventually adopted into a white home. He writes with fondness of one of those foster homes, but in the main, his early experiences were brutal. Told in vignettes this book is his biography.  It isn't a traditional biography, since we learn about different aspects of his life as it is triggered by his present day experiences. It is beautifully written with powerful messages about love, forgiveness, acceptance and mostly, just being human. 
Anyone who works with indigenous students must read this book.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
4 stars

I am not a particular fan of fantasy, but titles like this YA title could change that. It's slow to start as Schwab takes time to build this world and develop her characters. It's all so fascinating you don't care that nothing plot wise is going on. Then when the action begins, it's riveting. This is the first in a series. I can't wait to read the rest! Rumours abound that it is being made into a TV miniseries, but as all readers know, it is always better to read the book.

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

5 stars
Holy Carumba! Believe it or not, this is even better than A Snicker of Magic, and that is saying a lot. Of course I am particularly fond of magical realism, so that probably helps, but even if you are not, this is just a magnificent middle grade novel. Emma is from a long line of extraordinary women. Each of them has had a dream that tells them what great thing they will accomplish in their lifetime. When it looks like Emma and her family will lose their home due to financial difficulty, Emma has her destiny dream and sets off to save them all. On the way there are many surprises for her and for us readers as we all find that "Fear is just a flashlight that helps you find your courage."

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

5 stars
If you have never read any YA fiction, you are missing out on the best stuff being published out there today. If you are wondering where to start, I highly recommend John Corey Whaley. I've been gobsmacked by everything he has written. This book surpasses his previous work. It's the story of an agoraphobic teenager who hasn't left his house in two years, and two teens who befriend him. One of them thinks she can fix him.

These characters are stunning. I adore all of them and not just the teens. The adults mostly act like adults and do the best they can to be good parents. By the time the last page is turned, They all learn a lot more about friendship and being human than they can imagine.


The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore is the book I am reading with my eyes. I seem to have misplaced Dead Boy by Laurel Gale, but I am sure it will show up somewhere soon. It better, since I have to return it to the library eventually. I'm listening to The Unmapped Sea (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #5) by Maryrose Wood narrated by Katherine Kellgren. I'll listen to anything Kellgren narrates. This series is like brain candy in that it is nothing but pure pleasure to listen to. 


With a mess of books due back at the library on the 22nd and 24th, I've got to finish up Ms Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson, Stars So Sweet by Tara Dairman, and Drowning is Inevitable by Stanley Shalanda soon. It would have been much worse if I hadn't been able to renew a few of them.