#IMWAYR October 31, 2016

I'm writing this on Sunday, October 30. Here in Vancouver BC the sun is shining! Many of you won't get how remarkable that is, but here on the wet west coast, it's seriously cause for celebration!
Celebration time is also here because tomorrow/today it's time for #IMWAYR. It's when readers share what they have been delving into over 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 TeachMentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search. While I didn't blog last week, I did read and enjoy many of your posts. 
In the last couple of weeks I have not read much. I've got some kind of back and neck issues that make knitting, reading with my eyes, and writing a challenge. I am so thankful for audiobooks that I can listen to while lying flat on my back on the floor. Thankfully, what I have managed to read with my eyes has been worth the discomfort! 

5 stars

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

This was a book club title I barely finished in time for my book club meeting. It is a powerful read that is open to many interpretations. It is narrated from two perspectives; Ruth, a middle aged writer, who finds a journal and package of letters in the ocean near her place; and the author of that journal, Tokyo, a sixteen year old Japanese girl. Many people in our book club talked about the zen aspects of the novel. I see those, but for me, this book resonated with the intimate relationship between the writer and her characters.

4 stars
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith  

I am just so infatuated by this series. So far everyone who I have referred these to has enjoyed them as much as I do. They are adult oriented, but would make fabulous YA reading. If you are looking for fun light entertaining reading, that incorporates magic, murder and the mythological creatures, this is it. I think fans of Terry Pratchett will fall right into these. Sir Terry is one of my literary heros and I sure have. 

3 stars

In some Other World, Maybe
by Shari Goldhagen. 

This follows three characters who all attend a theater showing a movie version of the famous Eons & Empires comic. Their lives converge and separate over time, but eventually it all sort of comes together at the end. The book was ok although there were times when I wanted to smack those characters and tell them to smarten up and get over themselves. 

Boy Born Dead: A Story of Friendship, Courage, and Triumph by David Ring (Preface), John Driver, & David Wideman narrated by Paul Michael (from Audiosync)
3 stars
This is a fictionalized account of the life of David Ring who as the title states, was born dead. He survived but was left with cerebral palsy. Fortunately there was nothing wrong with his intellect. I have no idea how much of this is actually true, but in spite of this, it was still an interesting story to listen to. David Ring and I are the same age. Having grown up in historically similar social environments with a paraplegic father, I am very aware of how difficult it must have been growing up in his body. I am not at all religious, but that didn't take away from the inspirational aspects of this tale. 

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud
5 stars

This will make a great Halloween read! I love love love this series and this one might be the best of the lot. Lucy has managed to survive just fine on her own until Lockwood comes asking her to work together with the team on one special project that requires her listening Talent. It all works out swimmingly and then the Lucy's talking skull is stolen. Trying to rescue it gets her in a bit of a hot water so she inds up back with Lockwood & Co. Subsequently the crew ends up leaving town for a small hamlet that is particularly overrun with ghosts, especially a particularly dastardly creeping shadow. I am going to fess up to admit that this one is scary enough that I occasionally took a break from it. (As in slapped the pages shut and did some deep breathing and poured a glass of wine before continuing) The plot is chock full of action. Add characters you can't help but care about and it's a recipe for addiction. I think I loved this one even more than the last. 


Lucy by Randy Cecil
5 stars
I read this book a couple of times. The first time I focused on the text with some appreciation of the images. The second time round I focused on the illustrations. I'm pretty sure if I go through it again, I'm going to need more stars to give it. It's the kind of picture book that works on many levels. The first time I wondered if younger children would appreciate it. I'm still not sure if really young kids will, but I can see where older ones will want to know more about what happens to Lucy. Even older readers will appreciate the patterning in the book, the learning that eventually occurs, and of course, how Lucy finally finds a place to call home again.
5 stars

A Family Is a Family Is a Family
by Sara O'Leary & Qin Leng (Illustrations) 

 Just Wow! This charming book introduces readers to all kinds of different families. Students are telling their classmates what it is that makes their families special. One wonders what to say. It isn't till the end that that one story is revealed. Qin Leng's illustrations are fabulous as usual. This is a must purchase for all school libraries!


4 stars
Bera the One-Headed Troll
by Eric Orchard 

 I love this adventure story of a gentle hearted troll who heads off into the wild to save a human baby from falling into the hands of Cloote, the former evil head witch of the troll king. There is a darkness to some of the images, but ultimately it is a story of hope. It just makes me even happier about this book to find out that Eric Orchard is Canadian! I sure hope he has more adventures of Bera on the way. 


3 stars
Brilliant!: Shining a Light on Sustainable Energy by Michelle Mulder

This is an introduction to renewable energy for younger readers. It is well laid out with plenty of illustrations and interesting facts. It provides an historical perspective of alternative energy. I picked up this title from the Orca Footprint series because what with the kerosene spill off the coast near Bella Bella here in BC, and the Standing Rock Conflict in North Dakota, I've been reading a lot about alternative energy. While this book is a good start, given that it was published in 2013, and there have been considerable advances in this area since then, it probably needs to be updated and republished. 


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

This is the second time I tried to get into this book. I wanted to love it. It's been on my must read list two years in a row. I appreciate so much the way Hodkin writes about PTSD. I was fascinated trying to figure out what was paranormal and what was from her illness. It's just that the guy thing bothered me, and I wanted the murder mystery aspect to kick in. When I got halfway, and it didn't seem to be going anywhere, I just gave up. 

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

This is another book I really wanted to love. It won the Giller prize and Alexis is Canadian for heaven's sake. What happens is that a couple of gods make a wager about what will happen if dogs are given human intelligence. It seems that the dogs, once transformed, sank into brutality to show off the worst of humankind very quickly. It felt like  getting knocked over the head with this message of how inevitably terrible and unhappy the dogs would become. I just couldn't go on. I'm going to try something else of his instead. 


I'm reading Into the Woods by Tana French, the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I can only do 100 pages a day maximum because of my back issues. I'm also in the middle of Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbit and March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights by Zachary Michael Jack from NetGalley. I'm listening to Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger 

I have no idea. I just hope that all the yoga I am doing means that reading with my eyes and knitting become doable again soon. 
How have you been doing?

#IMWAYR October 17, 2016

It's Monday. What have you been reading? It's time to share what you have been delving into over 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.

It has been three weeks since my last post.

Part of the reason is that I've just been occupied on the weekends. I was away, then there was Canadian Thanksgiving. 
The other part, if I am honest, is that I'm just not sure if I want to continue with this blog. Figuring out who I will be for the next few decades of my life is emotionally hard work. I need time to think about who and what I want to be now that I am retired. 

I haven't been reading so much fiction, but I've been sucked down the rabbit hole of American politics reading numerous articles about the candidates. Whatever happens there will have a profound impact on us in Canada. It already does if the actions of the rabid right wing propaganda machine here is any indication. 

So aside from reading, I'm finding other stuff to do. 

I've been in to visit the school I taught it. Our school board cut the last bit of teacher librarian consultant/mentor last spring. There's no one there for new teacher librarians so I went in to do what I could to help out for a bit. 
My son has been taking me out for my first golf lessons. There is a small pitch and putt a couple of blocks from my place and we plan to go there on a regular basis. I'm loving our time together and discovering what an fine man he has turned out to be. 
I'm also trying to get in at least 10,000 steps in every day (I had no idea how much energy I used up teaching) and find time to work on knitting and quilting projects for Christmas. And then there is always writing. 

 I'm enthralled with the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the perfect narrator for them.  In Moon Over Soho, Jazz musicians are dropping dead all over London. Autopsies show that their brains were fried with magic. Peter and Nightingale have to figure out who is responsible. In Whispers Underground there are ghosts and quiet people and more magical weirdness. The best thing about this series is how well the magical elements are integrated into what is otherwise the modern world. Oh ya, and it is filled with self deprecating humour as well. It is just so much fun! It's the perfect antidote to the real world. (4 stars to both books)

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

5 stars
This book deals with drug addiction. I know there has been some furor over this title, but honestly, it's ridiculous to think that students aren't able to cope with it, especially given that many of them probably deal with it at a personal level. I know, because I've taught them. Kate Messner deals with this topic perfectly. I wish it had been around much sooner. 
Charlie is an ordinary young girl whose goal is to raise enough money to purchase a new costume for highland dancing contests. While ice fishing with friends she captures a magic fish who offers her a wish in exchange for its freedom. After the first time, she returns to catch the fish again and again and make more wishes. She soon learns that her wishes have a way of going awry. When the family discover that Abby, Charlie's older sister is addicted to drugs, Charlie discovers that there are some things you can't wish away. 

5 stars

Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb

This is a read that is appropriate for the times. I agree with this blurb that describes it as "an incredibly powerful and timely novel about how a single act impacts a community, a city, and the way a young girl views the world around her." It's ultimately a story about friendship, but it also examines the shooting of a black man by a white security guard. 

4 stars
Moo by Sharon Creech

This is a lovely story about two children who move from the city to the countryside in Maine. Reena and Luke end up as helpers to Mrs. Falala and caretakers of a cow named Zora. All of their lives are changed for the better by this relationship. I think I appreciated this book more than I might have otherwise, because I had just been to the Rock Creek Fall Fair and seen all those 4-H club members grooming and tending to their cattle. This would be a great book to pair up with Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones.

4 stars
City of Thirst by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

This is the second in the Map to Everywhere series. I liked it at least as much as the first one. Back in her own world, Marrill gets a message saying that the Iron Tide is coming and she must return to the Pirate Stream. Her babysitter refuses to leave her to be picked up and ends up being caught up in this adventure with her. This is a great series for readers who want excitement, adventure, humor and emotional connection.

4 stars
Think Twice by Sarah Mlynowsky

This was a fabulous sequel to Don't Even Think About It. In the first book a group of teens get a flu shot and end up with telepathy. In this title the students are looking forward to graduation and moving on with their lives. Then some of them start losing their power. I enjoyed learning more about how this group of special teenagers ended up. I was pleasantly surprised at the end to find out who the narrator was!

5 stars
The Sea Pony by Ellen Potter and Qin Leng (Illustrations) 

Here's the thing. Piper Green is probably my favourite fictional character. (At least for now.) She has adventures and gets in and out of trouble, but essentially she is a character with heart and authenticity. I dare you to read any of these books and not fall in love with her. Thank you so much Ellen Potter for creating her. 

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

4 stars
I just finished this one and holy crow! I'm glad it was on my #mustreadin2016 list, otherwise I would have passed over it. When it appears that Kamran Smith's brother, Darius, has become a terrorist, he can't believe it. The two brothers have a code they live by and Kamran is certain Darius, a graduate of West Point and an Army Ranger, wouldn't do this. Then while watching videos of Darius he realizes that his brother is sending him messages that prove this. Unfortunately, the authorities, even after DHS picks up his family and make them 'guests of the state,' won't believe him. 
Eventually, with help from one of his interrogators, he escapes. Kamran becomes part of team that embarks on a wild adventure across the country to stop terrorists from succeeding with a plan to bomb an important event, and hopefully save Darius. There are plenty of plot twists and turns to keep readers turning the pages. 
Yet this book is more than just an adventure tale. It shows us the dark underbelly of racial profiling and what it means to be 'the other' in America.


5 stars
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat, Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan narrated by MacLeod Andrews

I began listening to this title while prepping food the day before Thanksgiving. It was a strange, yet totally appropriate pairing of activity and book. If you haven't yet read it, Pollan takes us through four different food chains in America. It helped me be more thankful that we eat little to no processed food in our house, in spite of the fact that it takes a lot more time. As a side note, I discovered that Michael Pollan is the author of The Botony of Desire, probably one of my favourite nonfiction titles in all time. 


I'm listening to Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch, reading March of the Suffragettes by Zachary Michael Jack on my ipad, and just starting A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, a title for a book club meeting on Tuesday. The book is great, but it has such tiny print!


The next audiobook will be Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm is waiting for me as soon as I finish my book club book.