Graphic Novels · Middle Grade · Sunday Morning Comics · Uncategorized

Sunday Morning Comics May 27, 2018

Good Morning! In the United States we are enjoying a long three-day weekend which means that Sunday morning is extra relaxing. I had the time to quietly enjoy both of these graphic novels which feature characters grappling with typical adolescent issues in additional to the impact of their culture background.

American Born Chinese by Gene Lien Yang showcases the stories of Jin Wang, the Monkey King, and Wei-Chen Sun. Jin Wang’s parents are Chinese immigrants and when Wei-Chen Sun arrives at school directly from Taiwan, Jin Wang wants nothing to do with him. Jin Wang wants to be an all-American boy and date the all-American girl. And the Monkey King has lived for thousands of years mastering skills to join the ranks of the immortal gods. But there is no place in heaven for a monkey!

The author and illustrator employs a fairly unique storytelling trick and does not use a traditional narrative structure. This allows three different perspectives regarding cultural assimilation and race-shaming to combine into one poignant message: “It’s easy to become anything you wish so long as you are willing to forfeit your soul.”

Meanwhile, in Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Vera is the odd-duck out in her social circle of all-white affluent kids. Vera immigrated from Russia with her Mom, little brother and sister when she was five. After a disastrous attempt to host a sleep over she turns to her Russian Orthodox Church to find friends. There she hears about a camp which is only for Russian Orthodox kids and convinces her Mom to send her to camp. She figures that it will be easy to make friends with kids with her own cultural identity and background.

Once at camp though things don’t go quite as planned. They speak in Russian as much as possible, sing Russian songs and while Vera’s accent is perfect, it seems she isn’t Russian enough. She is also placed in a tent with much older girls and finds out that there is a big difference between almost ten and fourteen.

I really enjoyed how both of these authors used their personal knowledge to highlight the additional struggle foreign culture can add to growing up in America. While I have always been fascinated by other cultures I am well aware that there are many obnoxious Americans insist on cultural homogenization which is a tragedy. I hope every child (really, adults as well) read these books and work to feel comfortable with their own culture, or, embrace the child whose culture is different from your own. The world is just a more interesting place with diversity and acceptance.


Tell me, please!

Have you come across any other culturally interesting Graphic Novels?


 

Uncategorized

February Stunk

I took my test. 1000 hours of studying, an equal number of notecards and 15 hours of testing later, I am done. I don’t get the results for a couple of months but, for now, I have a reprieve. A break. And all I want to do is read!

How I have missed new books. During February I read only one new book. Old books I visited for comfort but anything new was a bit overwhelming. My brain was so consumed with the information for my test that I dared not enter into any new worlds or new relationships with characters unknown to me. But I missed my bookish adventures and there are no words to describe the job of reading for pleasure again!

I have just finished reading The Cruel Prince and it is just as good as everyone promised. The review will go up soon but I just wanted to post a little “hello” after a month of quiet!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever been too stressed to read new books? What did you do?


FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · nonfiction · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #17

It is October 29th and the gimme-some-candy moment of Trick or Treat is almost upon us. I have been reading so very many books. Sadly, there have been none which I feel confident recommending at this time. Fortunately, I stumbled across this delightful book which we might all need either for a last minute labor intensive costume making session.

costumeThe Costume Making GuideCreating Armor & Props for Cosplay by Svetlana Quindt is a mind-blowing introduction to how people make cosplay accessories and armor. I have been to one or two events which involved Cosplay but I have never understood how people really put together their outfits. I mean, they sell pieces at the conventions but a single item can set you back $100 so I couldn’t imagine building a whole costume!

But, in The Costume Making Guide, Svetlana aka Kamui Cosplaygives steller tips on how to make cosplay excessories and weapons that look so incredibly real out of regular materials (think saran wrap and duct tape) that I feel anyone could make some armor given the time and the know how provided in this book. And, by this time in October you either have your costume, you are not wearing one this year, or you are regretting not putting one together. Honestly, I found myself just last night on Pinterest looking at, “last minute costumes, stuff around house.”

But with this book I am going to try and make some Wonder Woman arm shields and pair it with regular clothing for an under-the-cover WW. Actually, Kamui Cosplay’s website has a number of other amazing ideas and books but I am pretty tickled with the idea of the arm shields so I am going to try it!

With only two days left in Frighteningly Good Reads I need to put down the stacks and stacks of books (both good and bad) and take a minute to make some kind of costume and I am really thankful to have found this book in time!


Tell me, please!

Do you celebrate Halloween? Are you dressing up?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · historical fiction · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #12

Today’s FGR is another children’s novel that I really believe everyone should read. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a sweeping piece of historical fiction that covers all of the major events in American history through the eyes of children and linked them together through a magical harmonica.

EchoI wrote about Echo months ago and have recommended it to everyone for at least a year. Recently, a young reader told me they found the book “terrifying.” I was a little taken aback – I had not considered it scary at all.

But, that is the thing about fears. For me, the ocean is the most terrifying setting possible. So, a book set on a cruise ship is already terrifying. A submarine…..full shudder. For this child, this book reached into his deepest darkest psyche and kept him up reading until all hours. Thankfully, he found it thrilling!

Echo tells the story of three children struggling through some of the most difficult moments in modern history.  The rise of Hitler’s Germany, the Great Depression and segregation in America are all experienced through the eyes of these young and brave kids.  It is the harmonica – an immensely popular instrument in its own time – that provides a means of escape for the each of them.

But, the forces working against our little heroes provided enough tension and mystery to create fear in the younger reader. So, for today I recommend again the fabulous Echo.


Tell me, please!?

Have you ever read something that just terrified you (even though it wasn’t supposed to)?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Graphic Novels · Halloween2017 · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #4

For day four of my adventures through Frighteningly Good Reads I tried a graphic novel. I have only recently been introduced to the wonder of graphic novels and finding a scary one that was also excellent was surprisingly easy.

throughthewoodsThrough the Woods by award winning comic-creator Emily Carroll is a book of five short horror stories. In addition to the art, which I found very creepy (I’d say that this as a good thing, after all it is a horror book), the stories are told in sort of the manner one would any scary tale. Just, imagine that you and your friends are sitting around a campfire. One leans into the glow to speak in a whisper, “There was a girl…and there was a man…” This is how I heard the stories in Through the Woods.

And the creep factor in these drawings is high but doesn’t pass my gross-out limit. The author was able to build anticipation and tension with her art and words and leave me baffled on one story, transfixing in horror on another and actually shuddering on a third. Each story stayed in my mind but if I were being honest, the fifth one really scared me the most. I mean, really scared me. I almost tossed the book across the room.

This book really puts the Frightening into my growing collection of Frightening Good Reads. If you want to try a truly scary graphic novel I highly recommend sitting down and taking a trip Through the Woods.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy graphic novels? What about scary short stories?

 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · Mystery · Romantic · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #3

It is hard to write about things that make me happy when there is so much senseless violence and devastation in world. I was in an utter tailspin after hearing the news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. My heart breaks for all those who were killed, their families and for the people who were hurt, scared or had a love one in any way involved.

For moments like these, I keep a shelf of books that bring me nothing but joy. They are all dog-earned and the spines are broken but they calm me down and keep my company on long nights when sadness is almost all consuming.

I have five Jennifer Crusie books on that shelf. I fell in love with her contemporary romances that combine a strong woman, a cute guy and a bit of mystery within their storylines. I love that her character’s happily-ever-after are varied and not so cookie cutter as requiring a marriage and children. Mostly, these books are well written escape. A much needed one at times like these.

maybeSo, today I recommend for you as a FrighteninglyGoodReadMaybe This Time. This romance pits a divorced couple against a creepy old house with both figurative ghosts from their past coming back to visit and literal ghosts in the present popping up and causing chaos. Add in two delinquent children and an unfinished romance and this book cooks.

There are ways to help people. There are a million things that must and will be done. But, tonight, if you have trouble sleeping, books like these are always there for you. They can’t fix anything but they will graciously keep you company.


Tell me, please!

Do you have an author you rely on to take you away?


 

Uncategorized

NY Times by the Book Tag and a Book Tag Journey

I love book blogs. Sometimes, when I don’t write for a while that is because I am knee-deep in reading and enjoying the adventures of literature through the eyes of my fellow book bloggers.

Recently, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Thrice Read, and they had featured a tag called, “New York Times by the Book Tag.” While I was intrigued by the title (and the fab post, check it out here) I couldn’t figure out why it was called The New York Times by the Book Tag. The originator of the tag is Marie Berg and there is a youtube link but the video is lost. So, I started backtracking through the different blogs that tagged each other. I started with Thrice Read who was found the tag on Beth’s blog Reading Every Night. Beth was tagged by Jessica at Pour Over Pages. Jessica was tagged by Lois from Lois Reads Books. Lois was tagged by Reg from She Latitude. Now, Reg had tagged a couple of other people but you can only go so far down the rabbit hole. Reg was tagged by Lauren at Wonderless Reviews. And Lauren was tagged by Louise at Genie Reads. Louise was tagged by Michelle at Book Adventures. Now, I don’t know where Michelle’s New York Times post went so I decided this was the end of my journey. Whew!

Now I have five new book blogs to follow, an avalanche of books to add to my TBR and an overwhelming need to tell everyone to drop what they are doing and read Pierce Brown right now (so many bloggers cited his books as ones they meant to read). If I were you I would check out all these fantastic blogs – many of them also include how they organize their books shelves, some with pictures!


New York Times by the Book Tag

What Book is On Your Nightstand Now?

make aheadThe Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. It gives me delicious dreams.

 

 

 

 

What was the Last Truly Great Book You Read?

messy

Messy, The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford is the book I just cannot stop recommending. I love this book and I have become very annoying to those around me by quoting it.

 

 

 

 

If You Could Meet Any Author – Dead or Alive – Who Would it Be? And What Would You Want to Know?

Truthfully, I do not want to meet any authors. What if I met the author of my favorite book series and I despised him / her? What if she was a horrible excuse for a human being? I feel the same way about actors. I just want to enjoy the books and movies.

What Books Might We Be Surprised to Find On Your Shelf?

I have a ton of reference books on my shelves. But, now that I am looking, I have an alarming number of books about code breaking and ciphering. Huh. I don’t even know Morse Code.

How do you Organize Your Personal Library?

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In this past year I purchased all of these wonderful bookshelves from Ikea. I try to keep my books in groups (like with like, series books all together) but I do have one whole bookshelf reserved for TBR and one for all my favorite books.

I am actually waiting for a nice cold weekend to pull them all off and reorganize them. After reading everyone else’s style I have some fantastic ideas.

What Books Have you Always Meant to Read But Haven’t Gotten Around to Yet?

All the major works of Shakespeare. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t actually read any of his great plays.

Disappointed, Overrated, Just Not Good: What Book Did you Feel Like you are Supposed to Like but Didn’t?

I’m on the edge of skipping this one because I don’t like to give negative reviews but this one isn’t a negative review so much as a I-didn’t-like-it-as-much-as-everyone-else book.

thehelp

People claimed that this book changed their lives. I think that is the part that really bothered me. Kathryn Stockett was “shining a light” on something that I felt like everyone knew about and she didn’t do it as well as I would have liked. However, if this book did change your world view then that is good news and I want to encourage you to dig deeper. Perhaps reading about minority issues from a minority author would be a good place to start.

 

 

What Kind of Stories are You Drawn to? Any you Stay Clear of?

I am definitely drawn to stories where everyone gets what is coming to them. I think that is how I keep ending up in the YA and Children’s section. I also enjoy Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Non-Fiction and Fantasy.

I steer clear of books intending to make you cry. You know the ones.

If You Could Require the President to Read One Book,

What Would It Be?

So many books are on this list. I thought about tomes written about compassion, works of minority authors, immigrant stories, history books, maybe some basic science books. But, I have very little to no faith that someone else is capable of changing his mind.  I am going to have to say a nice Children’s Thesaurus.

What Do You Plan to Read Next?

shadowI am wrapping up The Ascendence Trilogy with The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen.

 

 

 

 

 


And there you have it! The New York Times by the Book Tag and a wandering journey through the history of the tag. If anyone knows why it is called this, let me know!

all ages · Challenges · historical fiction · Uncategorized

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

thewarsaved

I have been seeing this book everywhere. It is on display at all of my favorite bookstores both major and minor. I didn’t pick it up because I was sure it was going to be bad-sad (that sadness that feels foisted upon you by authors). Finally, I requested it from my local library because I wanted to give it a chance. I am so glad I tried it.

This book is Ada’s story but it so much more. Ada is nine (maybe) and her brother Jamie is six in 1939 when Hitler has begun to threaten England. Children are being sent to the country for safety. We have all read this story haven’t we?

But, this is where author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley changes the tune. Ada is not just poor and unloved by her cruel Mother. She was born with a clubfoot. In 1939 having a clubfoot was treatable but Ada received no medical attention for her’s and has been kept in her one room apartment in London nearly her entire life.

Whenever I read stories of London’s children being sent to the country during World War II I am struck but the terrible decisions families made to keep their children safe. As a kid, I couldn’t dream of being away from my parents. As an adult, I cannot imagine handing a child over to a stranger on the other side of a train.

But, for Ada, could this separation might be her salvation? Since the book is called, The War that Saved My Life, it is a good guess that the answer is yes. But, what I think made this book really magical was the way being in the country affected Ada.

I loved this book so much I had to own it. I cannot wait to read the sequel The War I finally Won because all of these characters because very dear to me. So, if you enjoy historical fiction or are participating in the When Are you Reading Challenge like I am, this is a fantastic juvenile fiction novel.


 

Uncategorized

Non-Fiction Friday #4

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Often I read non-fiction because I am interested in a subject matter and want to delve more deeply into the details. Or, I have come across something that I know nothing about but my curiosity has been piqued. This time, I chose a non-fiction book on a subject that I really didn’t care about just to understand it more.

Let me back up. I consider myself an animal lover. However, this love has never extended to fish. I cannot tell them apart and I cannot keep track of the different species. Even when I am in the middle of a very expensive trip to an aquarium (never my idea) all I can think is, “Its a fish, another fish, yellow fish, big fish.”

However, I stumbled across a video of an octopus doing all kinds of amazing things. Even with my limited oceanic knowledge, I know an octopus when I see one (in a picture). So, my interest in this nebulous “something I didn’t really care about” steered me toward the octopus.


soul

The Soul of an Octopus by Syd Montgomery was everything I thought it might be and more. An enjoyable adventure into the world of the octopus that exposed me to so many mollusk-related things that I didn’t even know existed! My favorite is absolutely that the plural of octopus is not octopi (because you cannot put a Latin ending on a word derived from Greek. I know that sounds stupid and basic – even the author puts this fact on page 1 – but to be able to properly refer to an animal is the beginning of knowing one.

This book follows the author on her journey of discovering the Octopus. She meets and becomes friends with all these sweet and playful creatures by volunteering at her local aquarium and later, learning to scuba dive. I have always said volunteering is the best way to learn something. But, the scuba diving part was difficult for me to read since I am terrified of being underwater in the ocean. Still, her perspective was one of such joy that it was understandable finally to me how people could actually want to scuba. I still don’t want to. And, you can’t make me.

In the end, this book was an enlightening read about the fascinating creature that is the Octopus. More importantly, by reading a book written passionately about something that I was really not interested allowed me to go on a new adventure. This was somewhere I had never gone (and don’t plan to!) but I got to experience her love and gain her insight and information through the book. It will never be the same as being in the embrace of an Octopus but since that interests me as much as doing 100 mile run through the desert (not at all, to be clear) this is as close as I will ever come.


Tell me, please!

What adventure do you not understand? Sky diving? Solo Traveling?

Would you read a book about it?

all ages · historical fiction · Uncategorized

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

I picked this book up because the cover caught my eye. And the tag line on the front reads, “The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog.” I was sold. It took me a fair bit of time to get around to reading it but I just finished it and I must recommend it to all of you. It was a lovely story!

inquisitorstaleThe Inquisitor’s Tale is set in 1242 and features three unique children from different backgrounds and a dog. The dog, Gwenforte, is a white greyhound who has died (don’t stop reading! Remember, its a Holy dog!). The peasant, Jeanne, is fierce and honest and has visions that show her glimpses of the future. Jacob is a young Jewish boy and his story touched my heart the most. Then there is William, a young monk with tremendous strength. These children are “magical” or blessed with “powers” but their story really comes from the people who met them.

The combination of the setting, France in the Medieval Ages, and the way the story unfolds was quite reminiscent of Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales. Throughout the story someone is collecting the stories of these children. We hear about them through a Nun, a Brewster, a Librarian, and many other interesting people all of have gathered in a small French inn. The dog’s story and that of the children was woven together so well and so smoothly. But, I also enjoyed the peek into the mannerisms and lives of all the characters who told their tale.

Adam Gidwitz really captures the time period in this book. If you read the note at the end, the author’s explains the inspiration and background for the story. I didn’t need that to help me understand how much work had gone into this book. The whole thing really felt like I was in Medieval France.

This was a really enjoyable tale. I have a difficult time finding well written Children’s Historical Fiction and this is one of the best I have read yet. The fact that it checks the box in my pre-1500’s When Are You Reading Challenge is just the halo on my holy dog.


Tell me, please!

Children’s Historical Fiction – Does it interest you?