#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. 

#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.