Tag Archives: Book reviews

More brief book reviews: Our House is on Fire – by Malena Ernman; The City in the Middle of the Night – by Charlie Jane Anders; Big Burn – by Lesley Choyce; The Stationery Shop – by Marjan Kamali

These are brief reviews of four more of the books I’ve read in the 52BookClub challenge and the Indigo reading challenge.

Title: Our House is on Fire: scenes of a family and a planet in crisis

Author: by Malena & Beta Ernman, Svante & Greta Thunberg

Published: March 5, 2020

The climate change is a big deal – as in, CRISIS – and this Swedish family, specifically 15-year-old Greta, has made more of the planet’s population aware of the seriousness of it in the recent past – and ongoing.

This book is written mainly by her mother and is in scenes rather than chapters. Readers are taken through the past few years so that we get to know Greta, her family, and her cause. Her passion for saving our planet is real, the crisis is real, the need for change is real. There is not much time left to make a positive and effective difference.
I read this book for the Indigo 2021 challenge and used it for the prompt “a book about helping the e
nvironment.”

 

Title: The City in the Middle of the Night

Author: Charlie Jane Anders

Published: February 12, 2019

This is one of the strangest books I have ever read — and I had to finish it! It’s a story about a planet that’s dying, a society with strict, regimented rules and traditions, and a rebel named Sophie who is their unrealized way to change. This is a story to get pulled into and when it ends it leaves you wishing for more.
I chose this book for the Indigo reading challen
ge, prompt “A book by a trans* or nonbinary author.”

 

 

Title: Big Burn

Author: Lesley Choyce

Published: May, 1995

Although this little book was written in 1995, it is still valid today with regard to pollution of soil, water and air, and the ill effects that has on wildlife and human health.
Two teenagers meet and become great friends, while taking on a big business that is polluting the environment. Both their families have been deeply affected by the secrets and underhandedness of the companies they had b
een involved with, and it is time to do something about it.

I used this book for the 52BooksClub challenge, prompt #52 – featuring the environment.”

 

Title: The Stationery Shop

Author: Marjan Kamali

Published: April 6, 2021

This is such a beautiful and heart-wrenching story of young love in Iran during a politically tumultuous time in 1953. Teenagers Roya and Bahman are deeply in love but his mother fiercely disapproves, although Roya does what she can to please her. The day they are going to start a life together everything changes for them.
This story takes the reader through the early days of their relationship, and then decades later to an emotional ending and surprising twist. Excellent!
Included is a section Topics and Questions for Discussion. I used this book for the 52BookClub reading challenge, prompt #11 – “Book with discussion questions inside.”

 

Perhaps you have enjoyed one or more of the above books. If so, any comments on them?

Thanks for reading, and … now get lost in a good book! 🙂

 

4 new brief book reviews: The Tale of Despereaux – Kate DiCamillo; Someone To Watch Over Me – Jill Churchill; The Pursuit of Happyness – Chris Gardner; White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo

Reading is my go-to thing, more than ever. Although I’m painting on Thursdays again I’m keeping up my close relationship with books. Here I’m continuing to tell you about the books I’ve read for the reading challenges. Perhaps you have read some of them.

Title: The Tale of Despereaux

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Published: September 9, 2008

This is the four-part sweet story of a teeny, tiny mouse – Despereaux – who fell in love with a human princess. Because of that, and not repenting of it, he was condemned to the castle dungeon where rats lived and mice died. Despereaux proved to be clever and brave, not only for himself but for the princess who was in danger. Enjoyable black and white illustrations.
In the 52books challenge, I used it for prompt “author with a 9-letter last name,” but it could also fit four other prompts.

Title: Someone To Watch Over Me

Author: Jill Churchill

Published: September 3, 2002

I read this book for an extra challenge prompt (author or character with a floral name) for 52booksclub, and found it to be quite enjoyable. A brother and sister – Robert and Lily Brewster – who were once wealthy, now lived in their uncle’s mansion after the Crash of 1929. Robert finds a man’s mummified body in the old icehouse, and soon after that another man’s body was found in the woods. New to the community, the Brewsters tried to help the police chief solve the mysteries.


Title: The Pursuit of Happyness

Author: Chris Gardner

Published: October 24, 2006

Having seen the movie starring Will Smith, I was pleased to have found the book. I used it for the 52BooksClub reading challenge, prompt #31 – Book that shares a similar title to another book. (The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy)
Chris Gardner lived through an unenviable childhood of poverty and abuse, shuttled from one family to another. His mother was the person he most loved, but who was not always able to be there for or with him. It was she who planted in him the desire to succeed in life, and the belief that he could succeed in a big way. This is his story of how that transpired, and it is told in an open, honest, raw way, foul language and questionable behaviour included. It is a true rags-to-riches story, and the promise of a boy-to-man to always be there for his future children.


Title: White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Author: Robin DiAngelo

Published: June 26, 2018

This is a difficult book for me to review as it is told from the viewpoint of someone who teaches others how to define and expose racism that seems to be in everyone, and how to recognize it. She then explains ways to deal with it in oneself and when noticing it in others. It is rather like a textbook in content and presentation, but still is interesting, educational, and helpful.

I chose this book for the Indigo reading challenge for prompt “A book to build your antiracist reading list.”

So… have you? Read any of these, I mean? Or maybe they are on your TBR list? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for stopping in, and … Happy Reading! 🙂

4 Brief Book Reviews: Reagandoodle and Little Buddy – Sandi Swiridoff; Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt; The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson; My Sister the Moon – Sue Harrison

Wow! This past week went quickly and I realized I hadn’t posted another set of reviews for you. So, here it is.

Title: Reagandoodle and Little Buddy: The True Story of a Labradoodle and His Toddler Best Friend

Author: Sandi Swiridoff

Published: October 2, 2018

I chose this book for the 52Bookclub challenge, prompt “featuring adoption.”

This is such a fun story, a serious story but told from the voice of the dog which makes it quite enjoyable. The main focus of this true story is fostering and adoption – fostering Little Buddy and other children, and including the adoption of Reagandoodle, a labradoodle. It is gorgeously illustrated with photography of the boy and dog together in many situations, in matching outfits. Fun, sweet, a forever friendship.
“A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to help support children in foster care.”

Title: Angela’s Ashes

Author: Frank McCourt

Published: November 30, 1999

This is a raw, truthful, very revealing memoir set mainly in Ireland. The poverty the author lived through in his childhood was ghastly and painful to read about, and the fact that he survived at all is amazing. He tells of the extremes of poverty and the negligence of his alcoholic father who failed to provide for his family even when he’d manage to land a job for a few weeks. His mother suffered greatly, several of his siblings died, he himself almost succumbed to typhoid. Even with all this, the story is such a good read by a man who was brave enough to share it.

I used this book for The 52Bookclub challenge for two prompts – “Related to the word “fire””, and for the club’s March mini-challenge prompt “Set in Ireland.”

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Author: Kim Michele Richardson

Published: May 7, 2019

This is such a good book written from facts – as in book women and blue-skinned families of Kentucky. In this fictional account, a young woman and her father, both of the generational line of blue people, live in poverty as did many families in the hills of Kentucky. We read how blue people were feared and treated with prejudice, but were kind and gentle themselves. The blue lady is a book woman who rides her feisty mule to remote homes, schools, and small communities to deliver library books for loan. Her work is difficult and dangerous, but she loves it, although her life and safety are threatened. She feels ashamed of her blue skin and expects to never have a home and family of her own. Sad, bad, and surprising things happen, all making this a fabulous story. There is an author’s note at the end which provides further information of interest.

I chose this book for The 52BookClub challenge for the May mini-challenge, prompt “a book published in spring – any year.”

Title: My Sister The Moon

Author: Sue Harrison

Published: February 13, 1992

This is the second book in the Ivory Carver series, a saga based in prehistoric Alaska. In this story the second generation is featured, the children of the main characters in the first book, and focuses mainly on Kiin (pronounced keen) who is an unwanted daughter. She is strong in spirit, brave in character, and sharp in mind – and has to be in order to survive the abuse and hatred of her father and brother. It is not her fault that she, and not her brother, was the firstborn, but beliefs and superstitions make her life extremely hard.
This is a difficult story to read at times, but it is so well researched and written that it is a totally believable historical fiction. The characters were invented, but the history surrounding them was not.
I am eager to read book three.

I used this book for the 52bookclub challenge, prompt #48 – “a cover with a woman facing away”; and for the Indigo 2021 reading challenge, prompt “a book to help you escape to another world.” (in this case it is the prehistoric world)

Have you read any of the above books yet?

Thanks for reading, and … Blessings on your day! 🙂

Brief Book Reviews: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; The Answer is … Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek; The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Hi Everyone!

Here are brief reviews of four more of the books I’ve read for the challenges this year. I’m a little later with this than I planned to be, and more are coming.

Title: Catherine, Called Birdy

Author: Karen Cushman

Published: July 2019

This is an interesting fictional journal by a young girl in medieval times. Intriguing, funny, full of angst – the diary tells of Catherine’s hilarious attempts to not be betrothed to anyone not of her own choosing. Her father has other ideas, usually uninteresting, well-off, older men. The entries also tell of the poor life she lived and what life was like then.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge for prompt #42 – “An epistolary,” and also for the Indigo reading challenge for the prompt “a prize-winning book” as it was a Newbery honor book.

Title: My Brilliant Friend

Author: Elena Ferrante

Published: September 2012

Two girls from poor families in Italy compete with one another and cheer each other on through childhood, school years, and eventually different paths in adulthood. It is a story of privilege and wealth, poverty and hard work, adolescent discoveries and rivalries, love, and hard decisions. The characters draw the reader into their lives and earn her/his interest and caring. Interesting story.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for prompt #9 – “set in a Mediterranean country”, and in the Indigo 2021 reading challenge for prompt “a book in another format: (eBook/audiobook).”

Title: The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life

Author: Alex Trebek

Published: July 2020

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy game show host, was a Canadian who made his mark and became well loved and respected by millions of people in Canada and the US. In this memoir he talks about things openly, things from his own life experience, including his decades of hosting a popular quiz show and the many steps he took to get there. Very interesting, touching, informative.

I chose this book as my read in the 52BookClub for prompt #14 – “written by an author over 65 (when published).” Alex Trebek was 79 when his book was published.

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Published: February 2020

In the 1980’s several young women in one small town were murdered, and the body of a missing girl was never found. Over 30 years later, Carly, the niece of the missing girl, begins investigating by taking a job as night clerk in the Sun Down Motel where her aunt had worked that shift. Strange and creepy things happen, and Carly finds herself involved in a dangerous situation when she becomes suspicious of a certain man. This is an intriguing story in which reality and the supernatural collide. The reader is taken back and forth over time lines in following the story from different viewpoints of both Carly and her aunt from years before. A little creepy, a little strange, a lot mysterious and clue-seeking combine to make this a good murder mystery with a serious twist.

This book is my choice for prompt #40 – “Found via Bookstagram” for the 52BookClub challenge.

Have you read, or are you interested in reading any of these?

Thanks for reading, and … Blessings on your day!

A champagne rejection

Hello my dear readers and friends!

Lately, I’ve been more absorbed in my own writing so haven’t been posting here on a regular basis. Gosh, it’s hard to do it all! I have an update for you today.

I’m still keeping up in the 12×12 challenge, having drafted a new story each month – January through October – a few of those drafts being very skimpy. A few months I’ve come up with more than one, and I have yet to write a new one for November.

Another part of 12×12 is revision. Each month we are to try to revise a manuscript as well, and they don’t have to be ones we’ve written during 12×12. As long as we are revising one of our stories it’s acceptable. I’ve not kept up in that department, although I have tackled a few.

An added bonus is that we receive badges when we write or revise, so I’ve kept up the monthly drafts for the fun of getting those.

Let me see … my count to date is 20 new drafts and 4 revisions! That’s better than what I did when I participated in 2012 and in 2016. When we reach the end of December we get a place on the winners’ wall if we’ve written 12 or more drafts over the twelve months, no matter in what month they were written. I’m so happy to know I’ll be on that wall this year. My thought right now is that I’ll join 12×12 in 2018 and spend much more time on the drafts I already have, working them into polished manuscripts ready for submitting.

 

 

Now, here’s the really exciting part. This week I sent my very first query to an agent I admire. Within two hours I heard back. You may be thinking I’m excited because the agent answered positively wanting to represent me, but no. The reply was full of good advice and suggestions for the story I’d included. That, my friends, is called a “champagne rejection” – and I’d received one on my first agent query ever! I am not discouraged. I’ll try again later after applying myself to the rewrite and looking over my other manuscripts, too. And, a writer friend suggested to keep an open mind because there may be other agents with whom I could have a good working relationship. Oh alright.  😉

I’m also keeping up on reading books when I can. To see my total thus far you can check my “Books I read in 2017.” After adding a book to my list I write a brief review of it in Goodreads where I have surpassed my reading challenge goal of 200 long ago, doubling it, with mostly picture books. Yep! I love to read.

Are you taking writing challenges? Or reading challenges?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

 

Quiz: What percent royal are you?

I have a confession. I’m feeling a little burned out with reading books for reviews and posting two a week. There’s a lot going on these days in my life – including our youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding in about two weeks! Yes, about 16 months ago she met the love of her life and it was an instant connection. They were engaged five months after that, and soon … my “baby” will be a married woman! I’ll share some about it here when that exciting weekend is over.

Alas, I’m not even getting to my own writing, and I have yet to come up with a new story draft for this month of 12×12. This week at home I’m trying to get refreshed and have not pushed myself to keep up with computer stuff. Part of that includes that I’ve started doing Zumba. (Dance exercise) I am not nearly active enough anymore, usually sitting too much at the computer. Apparently the saying now is “sitting is the new cigarette.” Yikes! Means that it’s unhealthy to sit too much. And we know it is. Anyway, Zumba is a fun and challenging workout, my body is complaining at doing what it’s no longer used to doing and I’m enjoying it anyway despite the ouches.

 

 

 

A few days ago my husband and I got away for a day to visit his sister and brother-in-law in their new house in the port town of Lunenburg, N.S. Wow! Gorgeous, and with a close view of the water and the tall ships anchored there for a few days on their sail to different ports. We took the short walk around town and my sister-in-law and I went into a little dress shop. Lo! and behold! I found a dress to wear to my daughter’s wedding! What a load off my mind that was. The following day I bought shoes to go with it, usually quite an ordeal but this time it was easy and painless. I’ll be able to show up at my daughter’s wedding after all. 🙂

Now, I have a quiz for you to do. As you read in my subject line, it’s to find out what percent royal you are. 😉  Just follow THIS LINK to do the quiz. Afterward I hope you will come back here to comment so I can know your quiz results. Here’s mine, silly but fun:

100%    You must be a long lost member of the royal family! Everyone bow down because we found the real Queen—and long may you reign! Now all you have to do is find your happily ever after…by reading ROMANCING THE THRONE!

I haven’t read Romancing the Throne. Have you? If so, should I? Did you like it?

SO if I’m 100% royal … where is my entourage? including someone to do the housework so I can write, and I’d like a chauffeur, please.  🙂 (laughing but .. wouldn’t it be nice…)

What are you doing this season? And … what percent royal are you?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Exciting schedule for July!

Today I have exciting news for you about my blog schedule for July. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, I will have fun things happening just a little different from my usual schedule.

I am involved in two blog tours for an author who has THREE picture books being released this month. THREE! (can you say WOW!) A blog tour is the same idea as a traditional book tour except it is virtual. Instead of going from bookstore to bookstore or library to wherever the author can arrange to build awareness about her/his new book, it’s done on the Internet. On other people’s blogs there can be reviews, interviews, other fun things to promote the book, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m devoting most of my blog posts in July to Susanna Leonard Hill, her three new books, her two illustrators – Daniel Wiseman and Erica Sirotich – and other fun promotional things.

Oh, and did I mention giveaways? No? Well, there are going to be giveaways!  Yes! Somebody, and it could be YOU, is going to win a book! Actually, three of you are each going to win a book. Three new books, three winners! And Susanna has offered to sign and personalize them for you! You could win a book for a child you know and love, or for a school library, or your local public library, or for someone on the other end of the spectrum who still just loves books but now needs them to be much simpler and easier to read … with lots of pictures. (Picture books aren’t just for kiddies, you know.)

So, do come back Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and any day in between for fun stuff. Please leave comments, enter the draws, send your friends here, too, and share about all this on your social media. Let’s give a huge show of support for these creatives.  Thank you so much!

Do you ever help promote books by mentioning them on your social media?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂