Monday, January 20, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

There were many great books here, but the ones there were two that really wowed me. Infinite Hope is such an amazing and unique way to look at WWII. Ashley Bryan shares his art, letters, and stories from his time during the war. It really brings home that truth that the Black service members were facing racism and segregation within the military while simultaneously fighting for the freedom of others. They were also treated better by Europeans than by their own countrymen. Bryan shares of a time when German prisoners of war were able to sit up in the front of the bus with white soldiers while the Black soldiers were restricted to the back.

Red at the Bone is another fabulous book by Jacqueline Woodson. She tells the story of a family through a variety of voices in the present and past. She uses so few words to tell so much. I had this on my TBR, but had to move it up so I could listen to the next episode in The Stacks podcast. Jason Reynolds had been a guest on an episode talking writing and books, but the next episode was a chat about Red at the Bone with Jason and it was filled with spoilers, so I needed to get reading. This is my new favorite podcast. 

The Coming Week:
I just started Clean Getaway by Nic Stone and it is hard to set aside. I'm really enjoying it. I'm also still reading The Library Book for book club which is very interesting. I also have another pile of chapter books checked out from the library so I might grab a few of those too. Have a great week!

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 5/36
#YARC2020 - 6/55

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons

Title: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons
Creator: Ashli St. Armant, also known as Jazzy Ash
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publisher: Audible
Length: 4 hrs. 5 min.
Genre: Mystery

Summary: Viva Durant, New Orleans’ youngest detective is on a quest to solve a jazzy mystery involving hidden treasure, while exploring the city’s unique culture, history and music. This family-friendly Audible Original features original jazz music from the creator, Ashli St. Armant, and enthusiastic narration from world class Audible narrator, Bahni Turpin. Plucky 14-year-old Viva Durant heads to New Orleans every summer to spend time with her loving but stern grandmother, known as Gram. After Gram reads Viva an article in the local paper about a missing treasure related to the world-famous song, “Miss Mary Mack,” Viva traverses the Crescent City on an epic adventure to solve the mystery. Along the way she meets some of the city’s most colorful characters as her journey takes her to the French Quarter, a jazz club, a creepy cemetery, and even the circus.

Review: From the beginning, this sounded professional. This book comes with all of the bells and whistles one could possibly want. There are sound effects and the narrator does a great job with the various voices in a very natural sounding way. It's hard to believe it's one person.

The story itself is engaging. Viva is captivated by the story of the black dress and silver buttons. This leads her through the streets of New Orleans. Curious, I opened Google Maps and as I suspected, using street view, I could locate and see many of the places Viva was visiting. That's a bonus if readers think to do that. Of course the story was complete and the visuals weren't necessary, but it was certainly a fun activity.

Viva is 14, but to me seemed a bit younger. She is hesitant at the beginning and it's nice to see her becoming more and more independent and adventurous as the story progresses. The mystery has a few twists and turns and kept my attention. It comes in at just over four hours, so is not a big time investment.

If I had a complaint, it was Viva's way of creating a song to memorize facts. The songs were not meant to be very stunning musically, but they were a little annoying after a while. I also didn't understand why one would need memory devices when there is a cell phone handy that can photograph or even make an audio recording or store information in any number of ways. That was one part of the story that seemed to be a bit of a stumble.

Recommendation: This would be an excellent story for people looking for audiobooks that are interesting for a wide range of ages. It would work well for family trips. I feel like teenagers may not be the best audience as they would likely find some of this too contrived, but it's great for elementary ages. I think some adults might also enjoy it for the strolls through New Orleans if nothing else.

 Extra:

 

Monday, January 13, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blog:

Last week in books:
My top reads of the week (5 stars):

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin - Loved this one so much I stayed up until 2 am to finish it - on a school night no less. A modern re-telling of Pride & Prejudice featuring Muslim main characters. It's sweet and funny. This was one of my #MustReadin2020 choices.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams - this was an amazing middle grade and was one of my #MustReadin2020 choices.

Dancing Hands by Margarita Engle illustrated by Rafael López - lovely picture book biography of the pianist Teresa Carreño.

Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell - absolutely hilarious early reader in graphic novel format.

Stormy by Guojing - wordless book about a dog and person finding each other (I cried)

Octopus Stew by Eric Velásquez - hilarious picture book about a family tall tale involving an octopus.

4 stars
The Return by Natalia Chernysheva - picture book that adults will love - nostalgic  

Sweet Dreams, Zaza by Mylo Freeman - sweet bedtime story for littles

The Battle by Karuna Riazi - middle grade sequel to The Gauntlet. Fun and fast moving adventure within a game.

Ice Breaker by Rose Viña illustrated by Claire Almon - great NF picture book biography of Mabel Fairbanks and how she changed figure skating by breaking the racial barriers in skating. I found a video that shares about her figure skating career and her influence on young skaters.

How to Give Your Cat a Bath by Nicola Winstanley illustrated by John Martz - cute and humorous picture book that tells you how to and how not to give your cat a bath.

Where is Mommy? by Pat Cummings - picture book for early readers. A young girl is looking for her mother throughout the house and finding clues.

3 stars
If Monet Painted a Monster
 by Amy Newbold illustrated by Greg Newbold - NF picture book featuring monsters in the style of a variety of artists

The ABCs of What I Can Be by Caitlin McDonagh - picture book featuring a wide variety of careers.

P is for Poppadoms!: An Indian Alphabet Book by Kabir Sehgal illustrated by Sehgal, Hazel Ito

The Coming Week:
I'm listening to Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons. I'm also reading The Library Book for book club which is very interesting. I have a pile of chapter books checked out from the library so I might grab a few of those too.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
#MustReadin2020 - 3/36
#YARC2020 - 6/55

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Year of Reading Asian #YARC2020

I'm going to participate in Year of the Asian Reading Challenge again this year. It's hosted by CW, Lily, Shealea, & Vicky. Last year I read 55 books for YARC so this year I am aiming for the Bengali Tiger level (50 or more). I've already read six books for this year, so it seems like a goal I can meet. 

I am looking forward to reading Loveboat, Taipei within the next week or so and will also be grabbing Yes No Maybe So as soon as it's available. A few others I plan to read are The Henna Wars, Pachinko, and Ruse by Cindy Pon. 

I'm excited to be a part of this challenge. Off I go to read.


Monday, January 6, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blogs:

Last week in books:

I read quite a few historical fiction novels this past week. My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich was a unique look back into Harlem in the 80s. The main character has a very vivid imagination which makes for some at times confusing, but certainly lively narration. Words on Fire was another gmiddle grade lance into the past. This time into Lithuania during Russian occupation when books in the Lithuanian language were illegal. It's a compelling middle grade that will likely be popular. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Pirates was a companion novel to the YA The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, which I really enjoyed last year. It's a bit of a romp in the same style as the first. I was looking for something with a bit of humor following my reading of the adult fiction novel The Nickel Boys. Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, wrote this look into a reform school in Florida. It's grim. No getting around it. The criminal justice system has always been flawed and this is another example of how some people have been affected by the cruelty of it.

Tell Me How You Really Feel was a nice contemporary YA romance with an amazing cover. Lalani of the Distant Sea is a nice middle grade island fantasy. Another middle grade, Midsummer's Mayhem, is a bit of magical realism in a twist on A Midsummer Night's Dream with a healthy dose of baking. I tried the recipe for Chocolate-Chunk Thyme Cookies with Citrus Zest and have eaten way too many cookies in the past 24 hours. I'm not super sold on the addition of thyme, but have been converted to including citrus zest in chocolate chip cookies for sure. Yum.

I Can Write the World is a fantastic picture book about sharing your voice. Party: A Mystery is super fun as far as I'm concerned, but frustrating for those who like stories neatly tied up with a bow by the end. Thanku is an excellent collection of poetry related to thankfulness. It's diverse in a few ways. It has a wide variety of authors, but also of poetry forms. I am eager to share it with students and staff.

The Coming Week:
I'm reading The Battle by Karuna Riazi and am not sure what else I'll start on, but I'm sure I'll find something fun. Have a great week filled with lovely reading.

Reading Challenge Updates: 
Goodreads Challenge 2019 - 10/500
Diversity on the Shelf 2019 - 8/250

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Update and Goals


I have certainly read a few books this year. I'm no longer on an award committee, but I did join the children's literature committee for the Wisconsin State Reading Association. That requires quite a bit of reading too, so again, there were piles of books all over my house. I also read for reviewing over at Rich in Color. More piles. Clearly, reading is my favorite hobby.

I was participating in a few challenges. One was my own goal, which I exceeded mostly because of the committee I joined mid-year. Another was the Year of Reading Asian Challenge (YARC2019). For that I read 55 books. 

There were many here that I loved and am very glad to have read most of these. Darius is one of my all time favorites. Pie in the Sky has such an awesome cake recipe that I used twice. The story is also great. We had a great discussion of Patron Saints over at Rich in Color. Nina Soni is an excellent early chapter book. We had the author visit us many years ago and she is wonderful. I met the author of Symptoms of a Heartbreak in New York while I was there on vacation. So fun. I read Wicked Fox while in NYC. Loved it. Other Words for Home touched me. After visiting Japan, I Love You So Mochi was a fun way to revisit it in my head. Like a Love Story is an amazing novel and helps readers experience and learn about the AIDS crisis. So many of these books made an impression on me, but I have shared about them on the blog in the past. Any of them would be worth taking a look at if you haven't read them yet. It looks like YARC2020 is going to be a thing, so watch for it here and on Twitter.


I shared my favorite YA reads from 2019 over at Rich in Color a few weeks ago. 


I shared about my #MustReadin2019 challenge earlier this week. I ended with 27/30 read, so I was pretty happy with that. Ultimately, the last three were books I couldn't get through our library, but perhaps they will be available in the future.

I already made my #MustReadin2020 list and I look forward to getting started. 


I wish everyone an excellent year of reading in 2020. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

If you go to my Goodreads account, you can see what I have read recently & click on the books to learn more.

On the Blogs:

Last week in books:

This was the pile I had at the beginning of winter break. I haven't read all of them in the past week, but I have made added a few and ultimately have made a big dent in the pile. Several of them I shared last Monday and here are the others I finished over this week:


Feel Free was on of my #MustReadin2019 books. It is a great collection of Zadie Smiths' essays

Dear Sweet Pea is a nice middle grade book about a girl who is dealing with the aftermath of a divorce while navigating changing friendships. 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a sequel to Children of Blood and Bone that I was eagerly awaiting. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was certainly full of excitement and adventure.

Gender Queer was shelved in the adult graphic novel section at our library, but could very well be in the YA. It is a memoir that shares the author's search for gender identity. I found it to be very helpful. I know someone who had shared many of these same experiences so it was interesting to see that on the page.

White Fragility was as I expected. I've seen videos and have read some of the essays written by the author. It's a good book to really get white people thinking. It provides some vocabulary for things I have experienced. I appreciate this call to action. She points to us to do the work within and we might not be able to talk others into it, but by seeing the change in us, others may follow.

Trust Exercise - this is a very unique novel that one the National Book Award. I wrote a review of it on Goodreads, but summed up, if you like to admire technique and construction of fiction, you may want to read it. Otherwise, it may annoy or even bore you as I've noticed in other reviews. I appreciated some aspects of it and that was mostly in the craft.

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter - this is a humorous collection of essays that shape a memoir. 

The Coming Week:
Up next I have Indian Horse, The Nickel Boys and a few other novels sitting around. I will see how much more I can fit into the last three days of vacation. Happy reading!

Reading Challenge Updates: 
Goodreads Challenge 2019 - 915/550
Diversity on the Shelf 2019 - 345/275
#MustReadin2019 - 27/30