#IMWAYR May 15, 2017

Hello Everyone!

#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.

The election I was working on is strangely incomplete. The results are very close, and we won't really know the final tallies in some ridings until the more than 176,000 absentee ballots have been counted. It looks very much like we will have a minority government. However, the candidate I was working for did win her seat. Hurrah! 

I am thankful that my part is over. I slept on and off for two days afterwards. 

There are still 9 more blocks to finish on the double wedding ring star quilt before it gets assembled. I'm still trying to decide if I want to hand quilt it, or send it off to be finished on a machine.

This week I meet with the rest of the jurors to determine the Chocolate Lily titles! I have only one more to go, and this will be a reread since I already read it a while ago.

PICTURE BOOKS

3 stars
Liam Takes A Stand by Troy Wilson & Josh Holinaty (Illustrations) (Netgalley)

I am conflicted about this book. There are some parts that I really loved, and other parts that just didn't work for me. Two older twin brothers, Lister and Lester, are highly competitive. They are so busy trying to outdo each other in everything, that their younger brother, Liam, who just wants to play with them, is ignored. One summer, the twins compete to see who can raise the most money through a lemonade stand. Neither will let Liam help, so he does odd jobs in the neighborhood to show them what a good worker he is. The twins, in their efforts to outdo each other, go deep into debt to their parents. Liam meanwhile, continues along saving up cash for his own eventual venture into business.
I liked Josh Holinaty's illustrations a lot. He captures the insanity of the older brothers outrageous schemes perfectly.
I appreciate that this book encourages kids to think like entrepreneurs and see that this is a future option for them. Competition, so long the primary goal is to make life better for oneself and one's community, is a good thing. I think this message of balance and thoughtfulness is there in the story, I'm just not sure most readers will get it.

4 stars
Big Nuisance by Junko Morimoto & Isao Morimoto (Translator)

Big Nuisance, a giant, visits a sleepy Japanese village and wrecks havoc. This folktale is both philosophical and humorous, as in when the giant, who is having a bath in the lake, farts and the villagers run from the smell.
Big Nuisance decides to make the village more interesting. He reroutes the river into tiny streams. He moves the houses together on a higher side of the village.
Then, while the tired giant lay sleeping, a bird dropped a seed into his ear and a tree grew from it. The tree pained Big Nuisance and he begged the villagers to remove it. A deal was reached, and the villagers worked together to help him, in exchange for the giant promising to not be a nuisance. The tree landed on the roof of the sacred temple, but eventually bore fruits that made the villagers happy. Ultimately, the interesting changes Big Nuisance made in the village make the villagers life better.
In the final lines of the book we are left wondering who and what was Big Nuisance and did he really leave the village?

3 stars
Every Color by Erin Eitter Kono

The story was ok. The illustrations though, are gorgeous in this tale of a bear who sails around the world before being able to appreciate what he has at home.





4 stars

Shy by Deborah Freedman

The beautiful illustrations are the highlight of this book for me. With all the different animals looking at the sky, they made me very curious to figure out just who this Shy character was. I expected to like this book more, but that might be because I had such high expectations for it. 

GRAPHIC

4 stars
Seeking Refuge by Irene Watts & Kathryn Shoemaker (Illustrations) CL

Marianne Kohn is an eleven year old Jewish girl who travelled on the Kindertransport from Germany to England during the second world war. While fictional, it shows us the sorrow, fear, and homesickness real children experienced in their placements. Some of their situations were positively creepy. 
The black and white, somewhat fuzzy illustrations by Kathryn E. Shoemaker add dimensions of understanding about the young girl's uncertainty about her present and future. I liked this story a lot. 
I just picked up Goodbye, Marianne, the prequel to this.

4 stars
Fluffy Strikes Back by Ashley Spires CL

Ashley Spires, a local author and illustrator, is the 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 title, 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. This is my second read of this title. I think I liked it even more this time than the last, and that is saying a lot, since I adored it last time round.

NOVELS

4 stars
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold & Charles Santoso (Illustrations)

What a delightful read! Bat and his family are lovely characters. Bat (Bixby Alexander Tam) is on the autism spectrum. When his mother, a veterinarian, brings home a newborn skunk to nurture, Bat takes responsibility for looking after it. His attachment to the the kit leads to change in other aspects of his life.



5 stars
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas & Bahni Turpin (Narrator)

This book.
This book epitomizes why we need diverse books by diverse authors.
Readers are there with Starr Carter when a white policeman kills her childhood best friend, Khalil. We are there with her and her family through everything that follows. It’s messy and complex. It isn’t easy. I’m carrying this quote around with me these days, “What's the point in having a voice if you're going to be silent in those moments when you shouldn't be.”
Prior to reading The Hate U Give, I thought I had a realistic idea of what it meant to be black in America. After all, my worldview shifted last year when I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Angie Thomas' novel has provided me with a new layer of emotional awareness all the while reminding me that I will probably never really get it.


3.5 stars
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Going Places by Ellen Potter, Qin Leng (Illustrator) & Tavia Gilbert (Narrator)

This isn't my favourite Piper Green title. I'm not sure why it didn't quite work for me, but think it might have to do with the fact that I listened to this, instead of reading it with my eyes. Tavia Gilbert does a fine job narrating the book. It's just that her voice doesn't resonate with the Piper Green character I have in my head. Besides, I missed Qin Leng's illustrations. Still, aside from my complaining above, any Piper Green story is something to celebrate. 

CURRENTLY

The audiobook I've just started is Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. I'm still listening to Rising Strong by Brené Brown off and on. I'm in the middle of House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle.

UP NEXT

Testimony by Robbie Robertson is queued up to be my next audiobook, but I might start listening to The Autistic Brain by temple Grandin, one of my must read books for this year. I need to read White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson, the last Chocolate Lily title. I'm not looking forward to this because it is a re release of a book first published in 1993. It's a story about a Chinese Canadian girl written by a white author.


PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 12/36 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 4/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 11/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 50/51 1 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 164/333

#IMWAYR MAY 8, 2017

Hello Everyone!

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. 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.

If you read my post last week, you might remember that I had concerns about a book, Heart of a Champion, a novel about the Asahi baseball team and Japanese Canadian internment during the war, written by Ellen Schwartz, a white woman. My Japanese Canadian friend got back to me with detailed feedback that proved my concerns about the author's portrayal of Japanese culture were sadly justified.

We are nearing the end of electioneering. Final voting day is Tuesday. I've been working almost every day to get the candidate in the swing riding near me elected. Sometimes it is exhausting, but it's mostly fun meeting and working with a diverse group of volunteers. I might not find time to read and respond to everyone's posts until Wednesday, but I will try. I'm not even sure about then since I hope to be slightly hungover from celebrating.

My sewing machine is ready to be picked up. Soon I will be sewing again!


BLOG POSTS FROM LAST WEEK

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
Luke's Way of Looking
by Nadia Wheatley & Matt Ottley (illustrations)

I appreciated Luke developing self confidence upon visiting an art gallery and discovering different art styles. I didn't like the portrayal of the teacher at all. Are there really still teachers like this? Matt Ottley's line drawing illustrations reveal the emotional trauma this rigid teacher's comments have on Luke. They also show us the joy Luke experiences upon learning that others with unique perspectives are celebrated.

5 stars
The Rabbits
by John Marsden, Shaun Tan (Illustrator)

I am stunned. This book is brilliantly written and spectacularly illustrated.
It isn't a book for very young children.
This is an allegory of colonization. If you know this history, you will know, within the first few pages, that things are not going to end well for the creatures in this land when the rabbits arrive.
It might be set in Australia, but it is equally applicable here in Canada.
I can not remember getting such a physical response to a picture book. My stomach hurt. I wanted to cry.

5 stars
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
by Duncan Tonatiuh

If I wasn't already a fan of Duncan Tonatiuh, this would send me there. I read this tale of how two Mexican volcanoes were created without paying much attention to the images. Then I went back and spent at least 30 minutes pouring over the beautiful art work. Just Wow!

GRAPHIC

4 stars
Real Friends
by by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham (Illustrations) Netgalley

All school libraries should purchase at least a few copies.
This graphic novel with brilliant artwork by LeYuen Pham, captures the social dynamics of girl friendship and bullying in elementary school. Hale's story of wanting to be part of the 'in crowd' and what hell that involved, is autobiographical. The photographs of her at various ages in the back matter add authenticity to the story.
I suspect that most young girls will be able to connect to the younger Shannon. So will a lot of adults.
What I liked most about this book is that it provides a model for how to extract yourself from these kinds of situations, and highlights the kinds of behaviours that are truly admirable.
Fans of Raina Telgemeier are gonna love it. I sure did.

NOVELS
5 stars

This is the book I misplaced ages ago. I borrowed a copy from school then took it to bed with me, thinking I would read it, but fell asleep before I opened it. The next day I went looking for it. I searched all around my nightstand. I searched under my bed. I stripped the covers thinking it might have gotten mixed up in the bedding. I read something else. Then I went and cleaned up the bedroom. I discovered it sitting on top of the nightstand on my partner's side of the bed.
I started it all over again. When I finished it, I went and read chapters over again.
I adored this book. I loved the characters, the plot, and the details of place that Prendergast includes. I love how she shows us the humanity in an area of my town that too many people have abandoned. Go read my full review. I'll wait.

3.5 stars
The Griffin of Darkwood
by Becky Citra CL

Will Poppy and his mother, inspired by their muses, spend time together writing. When she dies after finishing a best selling book, even though b
oth of their muses continue to stalk him, he stops writing. Then his greedy aunt takes them to live in Sparrowhawk Hall, a haunted castle in the English countryside where the caretakers are even nastier than her.
Soon Will discovers that the villagers take magic for granted. Some even have metaphysical talents. His friend Thom, who is learning to cook from a Julia Child cookbook, is an animal empath. His other friend, Emma, wants to join the circus. Fabian, the owner of the bookstore is unperturbed when creatures from fantasy fiction make their appearance among the shelves.
Will and his new friends end up having to figure out how a young girl died 40 years ago and what it has to do with a scrap of an ancient magical tapestry.
I like a lot about this book, especially the connection of writing to magic. It's got humour, suspense, and action. My only complaint is that the beginning is awfully bleak.

3 stars
When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

I had a hard time with this book. I really really hated all the death. In the end, the story kind of worked for me because I liked the characters, but honestly I was just so ticked off by all the dying that I couldn't get emotionally involved enough to shed one tear.

3 stars
The Missing Skull
by John Wilson CL

This is part of the seven prequel series. In this short, action packed novel, Steve and his grandfather go on a road trip together to Canoe lake in Algonquin Park. W
hen Steve's grandfather challenges him to find Tom Thompson's skull, the story delves into the mysterious death of the famous Canadian painter.  The story is bigger on plot than on characters, but should prove to keep young readers who like adventure entertained.

4 stars
The Case of the Girl in Grey
by Jordan Stratford & Kelly Murphy (Narrator) CL

This is a reread for me. It's the second in an alternative history series that posits a young Ada Lovelace and a young Mary Shelley as friends who set up their own detective agency. I wasn't impressed at first by Ada and Mary's sisters showing up and wanting to join the agency, but they did eventually show that they had their own unique talents to contribute. This novel has the girls trying to figure out what is amiss with a young woman's fiancé and how it might connect with another young woman who has fled from an insane asylum. What makes these books work for me is that they highlight history from a feminine perspective and at the same time, are loaded with suspense and adventure. However, while I enjoy this series, I suspect that readers with less background knowledge might not get as much out of them.

ADULT & YA NOVELS

5 + stars
The Inexplicable Logic of my Life
By Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is a book filled with death and dying. 
I adore it. 
Saenz shows us that we all die, but before then, we are made for love.
I read all 445 pages in one day. If you like deeply philosophical, character driven novels, that are not plot driven, you will love it. It's about a young boy and his relationships with the people in his life. They include his friends, his extended family, his gay father and his dying grandmother. It also includes his relationship with his dead mother and his missing biological father. The writing is sublime. I was forced to stop reading and write down quote after quote.
Here are a few:
"My dad called that sort of behavior whistling in the dark. Well, I guess that when you found yourself in the dark, you might as well whistle. It wasn't always going to be morning, and darkness would come around again. The sun would rise, and then the sun would set. And there you were in the darkness again. If you didn't whistle, the quiet and the dark would swallow you up.
The thing is, I didn't know how to whistle. I guessed I was going to have to learn."

"Her mother had left a note on the bathroom mirror, written in lipstick: just because my love isn't perfect doesn't mean I don't love you."

"Fito, who always lived in hope when life offered him no hope. Certitude was a luxury he had never been able to afford. All he ever had was a heart incapable of despair."

CURRENTLY

I've been listening to Rising Strong by Brené Brown off and on. Sometimes it works for me, and then it doesn't.  I've started listening to The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas with Bahni Turpin as narrator! Seeking Refuge, by Irene N. Watts and Kathryn E. Shoemaker is the only print title I have on the go right now. 

UP NEXT

Going Places by Ellen Potter is queued up to be my next audiobook. I'm looking forward to hearing it since I've read all the previous books with my eyes. I have only three more books to read for Chocolate Lily! Hurrah. Unfortunately, I've managed to misplace another of them. I suspect it is at my house in Oliver. I will finish the ones I have this week and see if I can find a copy of the missing one to read from somewhere. I've also got a box of books from the library to get to. 

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 9/36 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 4/12

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 11/50

Chocolate Lily (CL) 48/52 1 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 155/333
 
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