Thursday, 5 March 2015

PICTURE THIS!

There’s something so very special about getting a parcel in the mail – and something else special again when you know it contains books. My library got a lovely little package of books today and I was very tempted just to sit it on the circulation desk and gaze at it adoringly all day long. However (and even better!) both the library assistant and I knew it was full of picture books and neither of us could resist ripping into it and seeing what had been picked out for us.


And, honestly, who can resist reading their way through a stack of shiny new picture books? If you’re able to resist that you’re a stronger-willed person than I, that’s for sure. They were an eclectic collection today, and there were definitely some I enjoyed more than others, but there were one or two that I thoroughly loved and have already recommended to (read: pushed into the hands of) some students.





Title: Me and Moo
Author: P. Crumble and Nathaniel Eckstrom
Published: 2015
Pages: 23

This book has everything that makes for a winning picture book - adorable illustrations, an endearing narrator, and a simple, yet engaging storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Moo, chuckling along at the small jokes and absolutely fawning over the pictures. A quick read, even for a picture book, I encourage everyone to go and learn about the heart warming relationship between Moo and 'me'. 5/5





Title: Those Pesky Rabbits
Author: Ciara Flood
Published: 2015
Pages: 40

Another example of illustrations that had me delighted - I loved the huge roundness of Mr. Bear, but those little bunnies? So cute. I tried to feel sad for Mr. Bear, being swarmed by these 'pesky' new neighbours of his, but, truly, I knew where the story was going to end up and I was eagerly awaiting his happy new outlook on life. I wasn't disappointed. Charming story, adorable illustrations, beautiful all around. 5/5





Title: The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade
Author: Davina Bell
Published: 2015
Pages: 32

Normally with picture books, it's the illustrations that really draw me in. I, naturally, always love a good story, but usually it's the wanna-be-illustrator in me that's picking up the book in the first place. This is one instance where, despite enjoying the illustrations, it was actually the story itself that I found myself loving. The central character of The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade, Alfie, is a young boy with a rather nervous disposition. He's all set to play Captain Starfish in the school play, but at the last minute finds himself unable to go through with it. Alfie is blessed, however, with wonderfully supportive parents, who provide him with the love and wisdom needed for him to make his own progress. I don't know whether it was my own identification with Alfie's fear and anxiety, or whether it was just the virtue of the story itself, but I adored this one and am already looking forward to reading it again. 5/5





Title: Ride, Ricardo, Ride!
Author: Phil Cummings and Shane Devries
Published: 2015
Pages: 32

You never really have to go searching too far for a war-themed picture book. There are some truly fantastic ones out there, as well as plenty of mediocre ones, but I often feel that the sheer number of them out there makes it hard for any new ones to impress. I can't say that Ride, Ricardo, Ride will make it to the top of my go-to list for this theme, but it did have some interesting features of note. I particularly enjoyed that the soldiers themselves are never seen, nor even referred to as soldiers, but simply 'shadows'. I enjoyed the art work, though found the contrast between the highly saturated, almost oil-painting like main pages and the simpler, vintage-looking (think Blyton) line illustrations to be an interesting choice. 4/5





Title: This is Captain Cook
Author: Tania McCartney and Christina Booth
Published: 2015
Pages: 40

I can't quite decide if I liked this book or not, which is an uncomfortable place to be writing a review from. I thought the way in which the story was told (through the format of a school play) was quite interesting and something I'd never come across before. I really liked the quite realistic portrayal of the families, among whose silhouettes the reader is watching the play from, but the story and the play itself was quite dry and not necessarily an interesting read. I wanted to like this book more than I did, but it managed three stars from me on the basis of it's structure. 3/5





Title: Green Tree Frogs
Author: Sandra Kendell
Published: 2015
Pages: 32

Unfortunately this was another example of a book that didn't quite hit the mark. It was an excellent example of alliteration and onomatopoeia if you're looking for something for your classroom, but the story itself fell short - both as an example of a text explaining the development of frogs from tadpoles, and as one relating the beauty of growing up in a nature rich environment. Again, a book I wanted to like more than I did. 2/3

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013
Pages: 325
First Line: XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.


Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.


I try to keep up with the popular books of the moment - particularly those that are being read by my students. As such, when one of the senior girls from school asked me to read Eleanor and Park, a book that was already on my radar, I immediately went searching for it. I was delighted to find that both of my public libraries held a copy, but, sadly, both copies were unavailable. And so they remained. Not being a fan of the way my libraries organise their holding system, I often just try to luck it out and get it on or near the return date, but this book eluded me for over two months. Not to worry, however, for surely this just meant it was being well loved and it would be worth the wait.

Thankfully it really was. A quick stationary dart into town for work bought me right next to the library so I was able to duck in and pick it up. Then I made my mistake, I stupidly read a chapter while waiting in line at the circulation desk. Oh no. I was hooked pretty much off the bat. However was I to go back to work and actually work with this book sitting on my desk? Somehow I managed it with only a few distracting moments, but as soon as I got home it was time for the lounge and blankets and tea until that last page was read. I haven't read a book in one sitting like that for a long time, so that should be high praise in and of itself. But! Onto the book itself!

I wasn't too aware of the plot line of Eleanor and Park before I picked it up. I knew it was about first love, I knew there was talk of an upcoming movie, and I knew it was big with the Nerdfighter crowd (who have never steered me wrong before), but as for the actual details, I had none.


The me that's me right now is yours. Always.


Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan the protagonists of this novel, are both social misfits to varying degrees - Eleanor because she simply can't fit it, and Park in spite of it. Meeting on the bus on Eleanor's first day, the pair, despite the eternal and unwavering politics of a school bus, move from a place of isolation to true friendship and, ultimately, into the sweet clutches of first love.

More than the sweet simplicity of schoolyard romance, however, Eleanor and Park's relationship finds itself strained, and threatened, by Eleanor's home life - which is, by all accounts, far from ideal. With Eleanor struggling to stay afloat in a situation no sixteen year old should have to deal with, Park stands as a terrifying yet stable beacon of hope.

I've heard the book marketed as a read for any adult who wishes to remember the joys of first loves, and Rowell certainly delivers on this promise. She manages to deliver all the innocent joy of discovery and the bitter strains of heartache without falling into the saccharine or clichéd. She employees an uneven distribution of perspective, switching between Eleanor and Park even within chapters, but instead of being distracting or disjointed it only serves to further the sense of anticipation and joy between them. I feel as though using format to reflect emotion is often a difficult feat to pull off naturally, but Rowell champions it here.

I really felt myself getting swept away in the emotions of this book. Often when I read a romance between teen characters I can enjoy the plot, or appreciate the characters, but I often find the romantic development simplistic to the point of disbelief. The romance between Eleanor and Park develops just as quickly, to be sure, but I felt a truth to their emotions, and an authenticity to Rowell's words that completely won me over.

I would definitely recommend this to any YA lover! Particularly any John Green fans. 5/5



Read if you enjoyed:
  • Looking for Alaska - John Green
  • Paper Towns - John Green
  • Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil




Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Sensitive Creatures - Mandy Ord

Sometimes I’m a little slow to see the huge benefits of any given situation, but when I get there I sure do enjoy it. I started my new job as a Teacher Librarian (finally, yay!) at the beginning of the school year and, until now, have been so busy trying to get my feet under me and figure things out that it wasn’t until today, five weeks in, that it clicked to me that hey, it’s Friday, and grabbing a nice little pile of books on the way out the door for some weekend reading is pretty much going to be a standing arrangement. So yes. Bring on the good times.







Title: Sensitive Creatures
Author: Mandy Ord
Published: 2011
Pages: 296







It’s nice when a randomly selected book turns out to be a pleasant read. I grabbed this one off the shelf as I left work today and spent quite the pleasant afternoon flicking through it on the lounge.

Australian artist, Mandy Ord, uses her quirky artistic style to paint a portrait of the everyday. With no over-arching plot, Sensitive Creatures is a collection of comics that celebrate life’s daily minutia – walking the dog, people who drive too fast, weird smells. Peppered throughout, however, is a sense of anxiety and the ways in which it can permeate a life. While far from the key theme of the collection, it was true and honest and, for me, was what made the novel.





I found Ord’s art interestingly unlike any other graphic novel I’ve ever read. I’m not sure if it’s actually lino-print or just highly reminiscent of them, but it added a strange grittiness that added to the everyday feel of the collection. It was a quick read, but an enjoyable one and I’d recommend it for anyone who’d like a gentle meander through some relatable moments. 5/5



Other Reviews 
Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Books read in 2015

Total Books: 15



  • Acton, Sarah - Hold on Tight
  • Aliki - Mariathe's Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories
  • Blabey, Aaron - Thelma the Unicorn
  • Brayden, Melissa - Waiting in the Wings
  • Dawson, James - This Book is Gay
  • Gabaldon, Diana - Outlander
  • Genova, Lisa - Still Alice
  • Muldow, Diana - Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book
  • Ord, Mandy - Sensitive Creatures
  • Pitcher, Annabel - My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
  • Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki - This One Summer
  • Vaughan, Brian K. and Fiona Sharples - Saga, Vol. 1
  • Vaughan, Brian K. and Fiona Sharples - Saga, Vol. 2
  • Vaughan, Brian K. and Fiona Sharples - Saga, Vol. 3
  • Westaway, Kyle - Whale in the Bathtub

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: 2013
Pages: 460
First Line: My father trusted me with the details of his death.



Fiction is like that, once it is released into the world: contagious, persistent. Like the contents of Pandora's box, a story that's freely given can't be contained anymore. It becomes infection, spreading from the person who created it to the person who listens, and passes it on.


It's been awhile since I read any Jodi Picoult novels, a realisation that surprised me as I never fail to enjoy them. 'Enjoy', however, is a word that I find so hard to use in reference to this particular novel.

Following her trademark move of picking hot button issue around which to revolve her story (capital punishment, organ donation, religion), The Storyteller introduces the character of Jozeb Weber, a more-than-model citizen in his nineties who, after befriending Sage, young local baker, confesses to being a Nazi soldier during World War II. What's more, he is asking Sage, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, to forgive him before helping him die. No small ask.

The Storyteller is a layered, multi-generational story, weaving in the narrative voices of Jozef, Sage, her grandmother Minka, and Leo, the DOJ attorney from whom Sage is seeking counsel. The reader experiences the atrocities of WWII and life (and death) at Auschwitz, not only through the eyes of Minka, a then nineteen year old girl, but also through the eyes of the Jozef, a high ranking the Nazi officer at Auschwitz. These overlapping stories are, in turn, heart wrenching and sickening, tear inducing and angering. And through it all you cannot help but feel for Sage and the role she must play in drawing out these stories and finding herself in a position to pass judgement.

I make no claims to be a WWII historian, nor do I descend from family on either side of the war. I say this because I am aware that books dealing with narrative voices from the holocaust often provoke strong reactions in those with real life connections to events. I read this from a point of view of interest and as such, found the book to be a compelling and emotional read. There were points in the book that I had to put it down and walk away because it had upset me so.

I would have to say this this is one of Picoult's best works. While I find all of her novels moving, The Storyteller, undoubtedly because of the subject matter, carried a weight that I was not expecting when I started it.  5/5


Read if you enjoyed:

  • The Book Thief - Markus Zusak




Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Books Read in 2014

Total books read: 53


  • C, Chloé - Go Get a Roomie, Vol. 1
  • Clark, Brian - Whose Life is it Anyway?
  • Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan - Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 1
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 2
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 3
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 4
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 5
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 6
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 7
  • Danforth, Emily M. - The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  • Davies, Valentine - Miracle on 34th Street
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
  • Flynn, Gillian - Gone Girl
  • Gere, Denise - Cupcakes: For Every Occasion
  • Gray, Eva - Tomorrow Girls #1: Behind the Gates
  • Grillo, Gabrielle and Lucy Sweet - WTF Knits
  • Harris, Neil Patrick - Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Keil, Melissa - Life in Outer Space
  • Kibuishi, Kazu - Amulet Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper
  • Koyczan, Shane - To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful
  • Kuhlmann, Torben - Lindbergh: The Tales of a Flying Mouse
  • Lepard, Dan - The Great Australian Bake Off
  • Lowry, Lois - The Giver
  • Maguire, Gregory - Wicked
  • McCoster, Kim - One Pot One Bowl: Rediscover the Wonders of Simple Home Cooked Meals
  • North, Ryan - Adventure Time, Vol. 1
  • Ozma, Alice - The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Knits Again
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To or Not)
  • Peters, Julie Ann - Luna
  • Picoult, Jodi - The Storyteller
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and The Last Olympian
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #1: Divergent
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #2: Insurgent
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #3: Allegiant
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Attachments
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Eleanor and Park [read twice]
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Fangirl
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Landline
  • Straczynski, J. Michael - Superman: Earth One
  • Stillman, William and Jay Scarfone - The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion
  • Tan, Shaun - Rules of Summer
  • Tan, Shaun - The Lost Thing
  • Tan, Shaun - The Red Tree

Books read in 2013

Total books read: 36


  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #5 - Death Masks
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #6 -  Blood Rites
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #7 - Dead Beat
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #8 - Proven Guilty
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #9 - White Night
  • Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Game
  • Dahl, Roald - Esio Trot
  • Fine, Anne - Blood Family
  • Flagg, Fannie - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • French, Jackie - Dark Wind Blowing
  • French, Jackie - Hitler's Daughter
  • Gleeson, Libby - Red
  • Gray, Nigel - Oliver Twist Finds a Home
  • Hicks, Faith Erin - The Adventures of Superhero Girl
  • Hornby, Nick - The Polysyllabic Spree
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol. 1
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol 2: Blood of Saints
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol. 3: Revolution
  • Gaiman, Neil - American Gods
  • Gaiman, Neil - Fortunately, the Milk
  • Gaiman, Neil - Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
  • Gownley, Jimmy - Amelia Rules, Vol. 2: What Makes You Happy
  • Kuipers, Alice - Life on the Refrigerator Door
  • Lake, Selina - Homespun Style
  • Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Fire and Ice #2 - A Clash of Kings
  • Martell, Nevin - Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Waterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip
  • Melancon, Isabelle - Namesake, Vol. 1
  • North, Ryan - Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die
  • Palacio, R.J. - Wonder
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Battle for the Labyrinth
  • Spence, Jon - Becoming Jane Austen
  • Tamaki, Mariko - Skim
  • Thompson, Jill - The Little Endless Storybook

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent; Insurgent; Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: 2012 / 2012 / 2013
Pages: 487 / 525 / 526






Since I read these books in such quick succession, one after the other, I'm going to cheat a little and review the trilogy as a whole inside of individual books. This was another series that I read on the insistence of students (it is so lovely to have kids so excited about books that they want to discuss the with you so try to read those books as soon as I can).

These books are rather popular at present, so no doubt you've heard of them or seen them (or the new movie) about, but just in case you haven't, here's the run down. The series takes place in a not-to-distant future Chicago. In this world, communities are few and rather closed in. When children reach the age of sixteen they undergo a testing procedure which determines their dominant traits and attributes and indicates which of five 'factions' they would be best suited.

Unlike a lot of other dystopian fiction that employs this trope, however, the choice is ultimately theirs, children can choose which faction, and which trait they which to guide their life - Abnegation (self-sacrifice), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (truth),  Amity (friendship), or Dauntless (daring). Children can choose to align their life with their families, or with what their testing indicates.

For those like Tris, however, testing reveals a shocking secret - she is Divergent. Equally skilled or suited to more than one faction. This way, history has shown, leads to great upheaval and chaos, not only within the individual them self, but for society as a whole. And so people like Tris are feared. And hunted out.

In choosing Dauntless, Tris takes a bold step away from her family and into a new life, but all is not entirely what it seems - and not just at the Dauntless compound, everywhere.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series - not as much as, say, The Hunger Games, but I would definitely recommend it to any fans as a similar read. The last book, however, I found disjointed and off putting as Roth employed an alternating chapter perspective change between Tris and, another main character, Four. This had not occurred in the first two books and I would often get a ways into the chapter before I realised it had shifted.

As an example of YA dystopian fiction it checks all the boxes - a young lead character with a skill above her peers, a love interest with a complication, separation from the parents, and a corrupt government. Through in some crumbling buildings and a cool zip line manned by some under-20s and you're all set to go. Not a bad read, by any stretch, just not anything out of the ordinary. 3/5



Read if you enjoyed:



Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Teaser Tuesday (May 22)

Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesday is  hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve  given!

 

shallows

Over the last few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going - so far as I can tell - but it’s changing. (5)

The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember - Nicholas Carr

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore

lamb

Published: 2002
Pages: 506

 

I will never, ever, get to the end of my tbr list, because by the time I have finished reading a book I have uncovered five more to add. You know how it is. Because of this, it is not unusual for a book I am very excited to read to be forgotten in the depths of the pile, only to by pulled out by the passing word of a fellow book lover. This happened to me this week when Kyla mentioned that she was thoroughly enjoying her current read, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

“Hey! I wanted to read that. I have it around here somewhere!” I cried. And so I went digging and the pair of us settled down with our respective copies to enjoy and, when she’s done, discuss the book.

I had not read anything by Christopher Moore prior to Lamb, and, though intrigued by the concept of this book, knew little of it beyond its basic premise. And such, I was not prepared for just how humorous the novel would be – I believe that I alarmed more than a few people with my public outbursts of hilarity.

Lamb, as implied by the title, is narrated by the character Biff (or Levi, called Biff), the best friend of the young Christ. He is not, perhaps, the most obvious choose for the best friend of the messiah, being the self-acclaimed inventor of sarcasm and somewhat of a sex fiend, but his heart is good and his loyalty strong. It is through Bif’s eyes that we witness the youth and adolescence of Christ, from when the pair meet at the age of six, through their travels and learnings, the banding together of the apostles, right through to the crucifixion.

I think, perhaps, that I had just the right level of biblical knowledge to thoroughly enjoy this book – just enough to realise and understand all the references, but not enough to have grown up with a strong knowledge that would prevent me from picking up this somewhat cheeky tale in the first place. This is not, I would think, a book for everyone, and yet despite this, I would applaud Moore for walking that fine line between irreverence and respect – because for all the humour and sarcasm of the novel, I do consider it to be, at its core, respectful to the message of the bible.

I enjoyed Lamb immensely – for its humour, for its clever interweaving of stories, and for its respectful translation of the morals and lessons of the bible. As I said above, I’m sure this is not a book for everyone, and I would love to hear from those of you who have read this book and who may have a differing opinion. Come chat to me in the comments below.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Books Read in 2012

Total Books Read: 37



  • Black, Holly and Cecil Castellucci (ed.) - Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
  • Butcher, Jim - Dresden Files, Vol. 1: Storm Front, The
  • Butcher, Jim - Dresden Files, Vol. 2: Fool Moon, The
  • Butcher, Jim - Dresden Files, Vol. 3: Grave Peril, The
  • Carter, Aimee - The Goddess Test
  • Collins, Suzanne - Catching Fire
  • Collins, Suzanne - Mockingjay
  • Eisner, Will - 9-11: Artists Respond, Vol. 1
  • Green, John - The Fault is in Our Stars
  • Hack, William - International Quiddith Handbook, Version 5
  • Hicks, Faith Erin - Friends With Boys
  • Jenkins, Paul, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas and Andy Kubert - Wolverine: Origin
  • Loeb, Jeph, Michael Lane Turner and Peter Steigerwald - Superman/Batman, Vol. 2: Supergirl
  • Loeb, Jeph, Carlos Pacheco and Jesús Merino - Superman/Batman, Vol. 3: Absolute Power
  • Manguel, Alberto - A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books
  • Marías, Javier - Written Lives
  • Moore, Christopher - Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
  • Naifeh, Ted - Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
  • Nancy, Ted L. - More Letters from a Nut
  • Niffenegger, Audrey - The Night Bookmobile
  • Norton, Mary - The Borrowers
  • Smith, Jeff - Bones, Vol. 1: Out of Boneville
  • Smith, Jeff - Bones, Vol. 2: The Great Cow Race
  • Smith, Jeff - Bones, Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 2: Cycles
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 3: One Small Step
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 4: Safe Word
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 5: Ring of Truth
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 6: Girl on Girl
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 7: Paper Dolls
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 9: Motherland
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Pia Guerra, Goran Pavlov and José Marzán Jr. - Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores
  • Waid, Mark and Alex Ross - Kingdom Come
  • Wells, H.G. - The Time Machine
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls - The Little House in the Big Wood

The Night Bookmobile - Audrey Niffenegger

bookmobile

Pages: 40
Published: 2010

 

I’m a big fan of giving books as gifts, though I don’t have many people for whom I would do this. I so enjoy the weeks of considering the perfect books, weighing up all my options. Even more than this, I enjoy receiving books as gift which, coming from a non-booky family, you can imagine that I don’t get very often. I am very fortunate, however, to have people like Wendy in my life, who recognises all too well how wonderful a gift a book can be and who gave me a beautiful book for my birthday this year.

She chose a copy of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Night Bookmobile – which as a book lover and fan of Niffenegger, I immediately fell in love with. After some debating with Wendy about its classification as either a ‘graphic novel’ or ‘adult picture book’, I have decided to go with the later, but with the caveat that it is indeed intended for adults – do not let its heavy use of illustration and picture book format sway you into thinking that it is intended for children.

book mobile1

Without giving you any spoilers (it’s only 40 pages – go, find yourself a copy), The Night Bookmobile tells the story of Alexandra, live long reader and booklover. One night, after a fight with her boyfriend, she heads out for a walk where she encounters a library mobile – one that operates only from dusk to dawn. Stepping aboard she peruses the shelves... only to come to the realisation that not only has she read all the books, these are all the books she’s ever read, right down to her childhood diary. The librarian explains that this is, in fact, HER library, that it is his job to shelve everything she ever reads. The following years for Alexandra revolve entirely around the bookmobile – the finding of it, and her, apparently fruitless, endeavour to gain the chance to work with it. Through doing so Alexandra is forced to evaluate her life, both as a reader and as a person.

Firstly, I cannot say how much I loved this book. It most certainly had its darker moments, but the core idea, that of the personal bookmobile really intrigued me. I starting thinking of all the books I had ever read in my lifetime, stacking up there on my bookmobile shelves. I started to think of all the books I started and never finished. And all the books I read in secret, too embarrassed to have their covers show – though I would never do it, I can’t help but imagine these poor books sitting there naked, their covers having been torn off. I started thinking about all the ebooks I’ve read, all the blogs and articles online – and I start to wonder if my bookmobile has a digital wing. The concept has crawled into my brain and it is not going anywhere.

bookmobile2

Thought not as wordy as her novels, Niffenegger’s precise prose is again present here in The Night Bookmobile – but this time married with her simple but touching illustrations. It was a quick read (like I said, only 40 pages, and much of that illustration), but no less a moving one. In fact, I read it over several times in that first sitting, uncovering new details each time. If you’re a booklover, or a fan of unconventional stories, I recommend it heartily – and if you do read it, please come back and tell me, as I would love to discuss it with you in more detail.

5/5

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Unchaperoned

You know that determined feeling you have when you park outside the library, the one where you're telling yourself that you're only going in for one book? What's more, you even know which book you're looking for, and exactly where it is shelved so you'll be in and out so speedy, nothing will be tripping you up today. You know that feeling?

I hate that feeling.

Because I know it's a lie.

I tell myself this all the time, and even trick myself into believing it, but even so, my inner self - the one nestled deep down in my brain, happily munching on popcorn and just waiting to revel in the fall out - knows that it is a complete and utter false belief.

All this is my way of saying that I've given up on the pretense. Having added the sixth book to the pile in the crook of my arm, I have secured myself a table and am sitting here telling the world of my inability to control my book gathering tendencies before I delve into my nice little pile.

 

 

  • Written Lives - Javier Marías
  • The Country of the Blind and Other Selected Stories - HG Wells
  • A Reading Diary - Alberto Manguel
  • Letters from a Nut - Ted L. Nancy
  • Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories - Herbert Kohl
  • 80 Great Poems: From Chaucer to Now - Geoff Page

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

9-11: Artists Respond, Vol. 1

9-119-11: Artists Respond, Volume 1 Will Eisner
Published: 2002
Pages: 196

This is probably not a book I would have picked up on my own accord – or rather, it’s not one that I would have gone looking for, but I was talking to my friend Denise, a fellow 00English teacher, about how she would like to use some of the images in the classroom and I was intrigued.

I’m not terribly (okay at all) politically minded and was a little concerned that the collection of comics contained within this volume would be more politically charged than I was prepared to deal with (particularly since this was on the top of the pile for my holiday reading). I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the large majority of the comics and images – in fact nearly all of them, focused on the stories of individuals and their experiences. There were quite a few images that had me transfixed – by both the beautiful imagery and the message it contained, and there were even those that had me in tears.

The artistic style employed throughout this collection was extremely diverse, and I would have to say this was a large part of its appeal and, what’s more, one of its biggest strengths. With its large number of contributing artists, many of the submissions are shorter, one page images or strips being the norm and the occasional double or three page spread appearing throughout. I can certainly see what my friend was talking about regarding using it in the classroom, but it made for an intriguing personal read also. I highly recommend it, and will be tackling the second volume next.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Teaser Tuesday (Jan 17)

Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesday is  hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve  given!

 

thrones

Brian was moving from gargoyle to gargoyle with the ease of long practice when he heard the voices. He was so startled he almost lost his grip. (77)

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

Monday, 16 January 2012

Musing Mondays (Jan. 16)

Musing Mondays is hosting by MizB at Should Be Reading

What devices - if any - do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

 

This is an interesting question for me as it is one that I still continue to think of often - mainly because while reading ebooks is a fairly new addition to my reading repertoire, reading online certainly isn’t and so I feel as though I’ve made the journey through reading devices.

I remember when we first got the internet on our home computer (and what an ordeal it was convincing my parents it was safe for me to use as I was still rather young at the time). I always enjoyed writing and had several friends who likewise wrote and so I spent a fair bit of time reading these on our family computer.

When I reached high school we upgraded our family computer and the old one took up a new residence - in my room. Oh how excited I was to have a computer of my own! Until I realised… computer yes, but internet no. How was I to continue my practice of online reading? (especially since now I was part of mailing lists and the like dedicated to the writing and reading of stories?) I quickly deviced a system however, involving a stack of about ten 3 1/2 floppy discs and many many txt files. I would fill them all up, read them on my own computer and then traipse back to the family computer to reload. Looking back now, I consider this my first experience of ‘reading on a device’ and it was one that I kept up for many years.

By the time I started university I had a laptop and the house had a networked internet connection so my floppy discs were retired. Uni however also came with an hour and a half bus trip to uni every day and it wasn’t unusual for me finish a book and not have packed a spare. Enter my ipod. Adapting my old system, I would save txt files and utilise the ipods note function, scrolling scrolling scrolling through many books (by this time I’d discovered Project Gutenberg). My highly portable ipod was my first ‘ebook reader’.

My poor ipod (which is still alive) gave way to my old Samsung phone  - which with it’s in-build QWERTY I adored. I remember being very excited as I read and wrote on my phone, gleefully thinking it a Star Trek PADD (yes, nerd, I know). Sooner or later however, my jealousy over the iphone’s far larger screen gave way and I traded my phone in. It was here that my ebook reading took flight and I spent a lot of hours squinting at my iphone.

samsung-sgh-i617-with-gps-pdaiphone

When people started noticing the squinting (oddly enough around the same time I got glasses), it was suggested that I get myself a dedicated ebook reader which would be easier on the eyes. Being the tech lover that I was, I sacrificed some lightness (and a fair stack of money) to purchase an ipad and I haven’t looked back since.

ipad

I will always prefer a book over my ipad, but I cannot forget the plain convenience of having my ipad with me in my bag. Many many books at hand, more than I could ever fit in my bag. In built dictionaries and non-permanent highlighting. Note taking functions. Being able to pause my reading and do a little related research with the mere flick of a finger.

And you know what? I find that I read more with my ipad than I would without it. There have been many occasions that I’ve gone to bed without picking up my book first. You know what it’s like once your head hits the pillow - the last thing you want to do is get back up and turn the light on to retrieve your book. Much easier just to grab the ipad off my bedstand!

A Comic Afternoon

One of the things I like best about being a teacher is that I share a staff room with a large amount of nerdy people. And being an English teacher means that book recommendations are easily come by. While visiting a friend from work, Denise, she retrieved a book from her shelves telling me how much she enjoyed it and that I must read it. Always happy for a book to read (and entering the holidays with lots of reading time making it all the better) I tucked it under my arm to take home.

However it seems that Denise is a little like me when it comes to book recommendations – like me she gets a little excited when people are happy to receive suggestions. I left her house with 13 graphic novels in my possession and the promise of more when I was done.

I’ve been a little busy this holidays after all and haven’t had the chance to sit down and truly enjoy them. But today is a cold rainy day and I’m thinking that I shall settle down for the afternoon with a cup of tea and a collection of comics. What do you think?

 

  • Blue Monday, Vol 2: Absolute Beginners - Chynna Clugston-Major
  • Blue Monday, Vol 3: Inbetween Days - Chynna Clugston-Major
  • Blue Monday, Vol 4: Painted Moon - Chynna Clugston-Major
  • 9-11: Artists Respond, Vol. 1 - Will Eisner
  • 9-11: Artists Respond, Vol. 2 - Will Eisner
  • 9-11: Emergency Relief - Will Eisner
  • Y: The Last Man, Vol 1: Unmanned - Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr.
  • Y: The Last Man, Vol 2: Cycles- Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr.
  • Y: The Last Man, Vol 3: One Small Step - Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr., Paul Chadwick
  • Kingdom Come - Mark Ward and Alex Ross’
  • Wolverine: Origin - Paul Jenkins
  • Superman/Batman: Absolute Power - Jeph Loeb, Carlos Pacheco, José Merino
  • Superman/Batman: Supergirl - Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Online Reading

Being the start of a new year, I naturally compiled my years reading stats for 2011. The thing that stood out for me more than anything is the huge decrease in my reading numbers. Not just in total books read - I knew that already, knew that my reading time had more than halved. But my page numbers count is still less than I would have expected.

So I started thinking about what would count for this. And the answer was obvious: that darn pesky internet worming it's way in. How many hours do I spend reading blogs, travel articles, journals for uni, and yes, biggest of all for me: fanfiction. How many pages upon pages do I read here. These never make it onto my reading count as I have never counted it as 'reading'.

This year I've decided to roughly track just how much I read online (forgoing things like twitter, facebook and the like). And you know what? I read a heck of a lot of online data! Given that most printed pages of a paperback book have an average of 350 words per page, I have already read... wait for it...

683 pages of online data

That's a whole book! And a rather large one at that. I'll continue with this study to see what it numbers out to at the end of the year - I'm really rather curious!

Books Read in 2011

  • Baum, L. Frank - The Life and Times of Santa Clause
  • Benjamin, Melanie - Alice I Have Been
  • Cleary, Beverly - Beezus and Ramona
  • Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
  • Collins, Suzanne - The Hunger Games [x2]
  • Collins, Suzanne - The Hunger Games II: Catching Fire  [x2]
  • Collins, Suzanne - The Hunger Games III: Mockingjay  [x2]
  • Congrave, Timothy - Holding the Man
  • Dunford, George - The Big Trip
  • Hanff, Helene - 84 Charing Cross Road
  • Hoggart, Simon and Emily Monk - Don't Tell Mum: Hair-Raising Messages Home from Gap-Year Travellers
  • Kitamura, Satoshi - UFO Diary
  • Logue, Mark and Peter Conradi - The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 2: The Dead of the Night
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 3: Third Day, The Frost
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 4: Darkness Be My Friend
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 5: Burning for Revenge
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 6: The Night is for Hunting
  • Marsden, John - Tomorrow 7: The Other Side of Dawn
  • Marsden, John - Ellie Chronicles I: While I Live
  • Matheson, Richard - I Am Legend
  • McDonald, Megan - Judy Moody #1: Judy Moody
  • McDonald, Megan - Judy Moody #2: Judy Moody Gets Famous
  • McDonald, Megan - Judy Moody #3: Judy Moody Saves the World!
  • McDonald, Megan - Judy Moody #4: Judy Moody Predicts the Future
  • McCarthy, Cormac - The Road
  • McGraw, Eloise - The Moorchild
  • Mitchell, Todd - The Secret to Lying
  • O'Malley, Bryan Lee - Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
  • O'Malley, Bryan Lee - Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Murray, Todd and Jenn Brisson - Rubber Rocks and Apple Boxes
  • Picoult, Jodi - House Rules
  • Rhue, Morton - The Wave
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
  • Rosoff, Meg - Vamoose!
  • Sapphire - Push
  • Shanower, Eric, Skottie Young and L. Frank Baum – The Marvelous Wizard of Oz
  • Stead, Rebecca - First Light
  • Stevenson, Seth - Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World
  • Thomson, Alexa - Antartica on a Plate
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 6: Homelands
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 7: Arabian Nights
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 8: Wolves
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 9: Sons of the Empire
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 10: The Good Prince
  • Willingham, Bill - Fables, Vol. 11: War and Peices


Total Books Read: 49
Total Pages Read: 12, 373
Total Authors: 34
New Authors: 18

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Moorchild

The Moorchild


Eloise McGraw


Published: 1996

Pages: 241

Awards: Newberry Honor Book

It was Old Bess, the Wise Woman of the village, who first suspected that the baby at her daughter's house was a changeling.
For a time she held her peace. Many babies were I'll-favored, she told herself. Many babies cried with what seemed like fury against the world - though this little Saaski had not done so as a newborn. It even seemed to Old Bess that the child had not looked quite like this for the first few months, but somehow she could never quite remember.
Moql was one of the Folk, a young magical creature who spent her time learning the ways of her people and playing on the Moor. Except Moql isn't like the other young Folk. She isn't as skilled as they are - and that can get them all in trouble. Declared a danger to the band, half-Folk, half-Human Moql is banished, exchanged for one of the beautiful human children in the nearby village. She becomes a Changeling.
Banished to human existence, Moql becomes Saaski and quickly forgets the life she left behind. Unfortunately for Saaski, forgetting doesn't make her any more human, and her odd ways quickly make her a target for the other children's hostilities and causes no end of trouble for her and her 'parents'.
It is only on the moor, free to run and roam with her music and Tam, the traveling companion of a tinker, and her only friend, that she has any peace. But what happens when the village people are no longer willing to live with her oddities. What happens when she starts to remember?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Moorchild for it's innocence and old-world charm. Despite the darker passages dealing with poor Saaski's treatment by the other villagers (rather Grimm-like, I felt), the book on the whole had a wonderfully European fairytale atmosphere which was a far cry from the current slew of fairy novels written for children at the moment.
The books was rich in texture, layering local dialects (beautifully reminiscent of The Secret Garden) over old-world folktales to create a very authentic window into this folksy world.
Definitely recommended for fairytale lovers of any age.
4/5