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Amber's (scaifea) 2019 Category Challenge

2019 Category Challenge

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Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 3:48pm Top

Hi, everyone!

I'm Amber, and this is my second year with the Category Challenge. I won't set any particular goal for my categories again this year, but instead just list the books I read in each one and see how many I get through.

I'm also going to stick with my Mixed Tape theme for my categories, using only songs that can be found in my iTunes account. I'll try to give a little explanation for my choices if I think they need it, along with my description of the category itself.

Currently Reading:

-Lincoln (CAT#5: The Presidential Challenge)
-Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (CAT#18: Books on Buddhism)
-The Golden Name Day (CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books)
-I Shall Wear Midnight (CAT#21: Discworld Series)
-Breaking Stalin's Nose (CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books + CAT#24: Audiobooks)
-Pawn of Prophecy (CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime)
-The Wise Man's Fear (CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves)
-Still Life (CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves + November AlphaKIT: S)

Edited: Sep 1, 2019, 10:09am Top


1. author uses middle name or initial: This Is Water (by David Foster Wallace)
2. debut novel: Smile
3. about or featuring siblings: All the Crooked Saints
4. book bullet: News of the World
5. mentioned in another book: Nicholas Nickleby (mentioned in Matlida)
6. related to medicine or health: Complications
7. animal in title, cover, significant role: Wish
8. artistic character: The Man Who Was Thursday
9. Eastern European author or setting: The Master and Margarita
10. children's or young adult: Bhimsa the Dancing Bear
11. alliterative title: The Seeing Stone
12. part of a series: The Truth
13. read a CAT: Journey Outside
14. prize-winning book: The Book of Boy (Newbery Honor Book)
15. weather word in title or book involved weather event: Storm Front
16. short stories or essays: Ficciones
17. made into a movie: Lolita
18. fairy tale: Lament
19. graphic novel: A Study in Emerald
20. main title has 6+ words: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
21. cover has at least 2 human figures: The Swerve
22. book in translation: Crime and Punishment
23. food-related title or topic: Naked Lunch
24. LT rating of 4.0+: Howl's Moving Castle
25. title contains homophone word: What the Night Sings

Edited: Dec 7, 2019, 4:29pm Top


January - Your Name in Print: Viking's Dawn (my middle name is Dawn)
February: We Need a Break: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
March: Brexit: A Study in Emerald
April: Tournament of Books: A Visit from the Goon Squad
May: I Could Have Danced All Night: The Jazzman
June: Pick a Card: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
July: All About Birds: Feathers
August: Back to School: Circe
September: Equinox: Ballad
October: Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel
November: Childhood Memories: Educated
December: Title Begins with a Letter in DECEMBER: The Voice That Challenged a Nation

Edited: Nov 26, 2019, 7:55am Top


January: One of the Oldest Members of Your TBR: The Trivium
February: Book You Borrowed But Still Haven't Read: Walford
March: Book Acquired on/for a Special Occasion: This Is Water
April: Book Acquired for a Group Read or Challenge: New and Selected Poems Volume One
May: Book You Keep Looking at but Never Manage to Open: When Breath Becomes Air
June: Book Bullet: News of the World
July: Book by Author with More Than One on TBR: I'm a Stranger Here Myself
August: Book Bought with Excitement but Still Not Read: The Girl with All the Gifts
September: Classic You Feel You Should Read: Emily Dickinson: Letters
October: Book Bought for Visual Appeal: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
November: Book Given to You as a Gift: The Breach
December: Book Bought because Cheap:

Edited: Dec 7, 2019, 4:28pm Top


January - Q & A: Journey Outside by Mary Q. Steele & All the Crooked Saints
February: K & O: Next of Kin & Wish by Barbara O'Connor
March: U & L: Unstoppable & The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
April: B & M: The Mysterious Benedict Society & Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
May: H & V: The Left-Handed Fate & The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
June: J & D: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear & Going Solo by Roald Dahl
July: C & P: Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech & A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
August: N & I: Naturally Tan & The Heart's Invisible Furies
September: F & W: The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry & The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
October: G & T: Art Matters by Neil Gaiman & Turtles All the Way Down
November: S & Y
December: E & R
Year-Long: X & Z: The Christmas Box Collection & The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 2:48pm Top


January - Read a SFF You Meant to Read in 2018: The Man Who Was Thursday
February: Colonization: The Knife of Never Letting Go
March: Mystery/Police Procedural/Detective SFF: Storm Front
April: Sword and Sorcery: The Well of the Unicorn
May: International SFF by Non-US/-UK Author: Ficciones
June: Road Trip: The Weathermonger
July: Space Opera: A Fire Upon the Deep
August: Alternate History: His Majesty's Dragon
September: Series: The Lies of Locke Lamora
October: Comedy: Wintersmith
November: Award Winners:
December: End-of-the-Year Wrap-Up

Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 10:45am Top

Bad Reputation - Joan Jett

CAT #1: 100 Banned Books
This list comes from 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature.

1. Lolita
2. Naked Lunch

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 3:48pm Top

Thursday's Child - David Bowie

CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
I'm officially (sort of) a Newbery Nut - I've read all of the Newbery Medal winners, and now I'm working through the Honor books. I started this project, oh, gosh, 10 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, and I've loved working through these kids' books. There are some stinkers, but I've also met up with some pretty amazing books along the way, too, many that I really wish I'd read when I was little!

1. Journey Outside
2. Leader by Destiny
3. Bhimsa the Dancing Bear
4. Boy with a Pack
5. The Wonderful Year
6. The Night Diary
7. The Book of Boy
8. Merci Suárez Changes Gears (this year's Newbery Medal winner)
9. Young Mac of Fort Vancouver
10. George Washington's World
11. The Heavenly Tenants
12. A String in the Harp
13. Pancakes-Paris
14. Down Ryton Water
15. Have You Seen Tom Thumb?
16. The Jazz Man
17. The Witches of Worm
18. Dogsong
19. Song of the Pines
20. On My Honor
21. Afternoon of the Elves
22. The Winter Room
23. Mountain Born
24. What Hearts
25. Magic Maize
26. The Silver Pencil
27. Feathers
28. Men, Microscopes, and Living Things
29. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
30. The Moved-Outers
31. America Is Born
32. Men of Athens
33. The Avion My Uncle Flew
34. Li Lun, Lad of Courage
35. Dragon's Gate
36. What Jamie Saw
37. Yolanda's Genius
38. The Hidden Treasure of Glaston
39. The Cow-Tail Switch
40. The Great Fire
41. Our Only May Amelia
42. Kildee House
43. Better Known as Johnny Appleseed
44. Hope Was Here
45. A Corner of the Universe
46. The Voice That Challenged a Nation
47. Americans before Columbus
48. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
49. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
50. The Defender

Edited: Dec 25, 2019, 3:25pm Top

Edited: Oct 2, 2019, 7:17am Top

Magic - The Cars

CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn Into a Newt
This one comes from the list curated in The Green Dragon group a few years ago and captained by Morphidae.

1. The Man Who Was Thursday
2. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
3. Storm Front
4. The Firefly's Lovers
5. The Well of the Unicorn
6. Ficciones
7. The Weathermonger
8. His Majesty's Dragon
9. The Master and Margarita
10. The Lies of Locke Lamora

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

The Authority Song - John Mellencamp

CAT#5: The Presidential Challenge
There's an LT group somewhere around here for people reading biographies of all the U.S. presidents. I'm so far behind the group that I haven't really visited over there in a long time, but I'm still plugging along with the challenge.
As for the song choice, well, I was born and raised in Indiana, so John had to show up here at some point...

Edited: Jul 15, 2019, 2:05pm Top

Atom Bomb - Fluke

CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
My best friend and I are working through a *very* long list of sci-fi and fantasy award winners. He's the Keeper of Keys and Grounds with this one, so I couldn't even tell you all of the different awards he's included. I just know that it's LONG.
I chose Atom Bomb because, well, it seems sci-fi-ish, and also it's super catchy.

1. A Fire Upon the Deep

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

Passage to Bangkok - Rush

CAT#7: Agatha Christie - All The Books!
I started this challenge *years* ago (she has more than a few, dontchaknow). I *love* her stuff.
About the song selection: Well, yeah, I know. It's the Thailand Express, not the Orient one, but, Rush has been my jam since high school and had to make the list somewhere.

Edited: Oct 9, 2019, 7:49am Top

Language - Suzanne Vega

CAT#8: Stephen Fry - All The Books!
I love Stephen Fry with a love that burns brighter than a thousand suns. I mean, JEEVES, folks. And his stuff makes me feel so very not very intelligent at times, but he has a fabulous way with language, and I just love him so much.

1. The Ode Less Travelled

Edited: Nov 30, 2019, 2:32pm Top

Sunny Side of the Street - The Pogues

CAT#9: John Boyne - All The Books!
Boyne is one of my favorites, so I need to Read. It. All.
Musical selection is because, well, he's Irish, and also because his work is beautiful but generally not considered to be demonstrably, um, sunny.

1. Next of Kin
2. The Heart's Invisible Furies

Edited: Oct 28, 2019, 4:46pm Top

Tea in the Sahara -The Police

CAT#10: Neil Gaiman - Also All The Things!
I started reading Sandman in college, as it came out each month, and just fell in love with Gaiman's sense of storytelling and his own love for mythology. So, all the things.
Song: More association than anything else for this one; at the time that I was reading Sandman in college, I was also going through an I Only Listen to The Police and Tori Amos and Also NIN phase. So, yeah.

1. A Study in Emerald
2. Art Matters

Edited: Nov 11, 2018, 12:31pm Top

Birdhouse in Your Soul - They Might Be Giants

CAT#11: Christopher Moore - One More All The Things!
Funniest stuff on paper. Love him.
Music: TMBG seemed like a suitably whimsical match with Moore.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra

CAT#12: National Endowment for the Arts Timeless Classics
This may well be the first book list I ever acquired. I don't remember where it came from, but I know that I got it at some point in high school, in the form of a tri-fold pamphlet. I didn't start working through it, though, until around the same time as I started the Newbery winners and the 1001 Children's Books list.
Music: It doesn't get much more timeless or classic than Frank.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

Top of the World - The Carpenters

CAT#13: National Book Award for Fiction
This one seems clear on its own, I guess.
Musical choice: I would think that, were I to win the National Book Award, I may feel thus geographically inclined.

Edited: Apr 5, 2019, 6:14pm Top

You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You - Dean Martin

CAT#14: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Another awards list.
Music: You're nobody til somebody gives you a Pulitzer.

1. A Visit from the Goon Squad

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

Hotel California - The Eagles

CAT#15: Unread Books from my Shelves
I have books on my shelves that have been there, unread, for YEARS. I need to work on that.
Musical selection: My bookshelves are a bit like the Hotel California; books can check in, but some of them probably feel like they'll never be read.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 9:24am Top

Happy - Pharrell Williams

CAT#17: H. H. the 14th Dalai Lama - okay, one more All The Books
I'm a secular Buddhist, although there are days during which I'm not great at it. I'm working on getting through this bibliography, and learning tons along the way.

Edited: Nov 11, 2018, 12:35pm Top

Red Balloon - Charli XCX

CAT#18: Books on Buddhism
I've put together a list of recommended books on buddhism from various sources. Working on that being a good buddhist thing.
Song choice: This one's about being happy, too.

Edited: Feb 24, 2019, 12:40pm Top

Pretty Good Year - Tori Amos

CAT#19: Book-A-Year Challenge
A couple of years ago, I made a list of books by year, just to see both how far back my reading goes and where/when there are gaps. I'm now working on filling in the gaps, so that I'll have read a book from every year for as far back I can go.

1. Crime and Punishment (1866)

Edited: Mar 17, 2019, 12:25pm Top

Fever - Peggy Lee

CAT#20: Shakespeare
I'm doing a full-on reread.
Music selection: I had trouble with this one, so apologies. There *is* a link, though, sort of.

1. The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Edited: Dec 23, 2019, 5:41pm Top

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Öyster Cult

CAT#21: Discworld
I'm working my way through the series.
Song Selection: Death is, so far, my favorite character.

1. Carpe Jugulum
2. The Fifth Elephant
3. The Truth
4. Thief of Time
5. The Last Hero
6. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
7. Night Watch
8. The Wee Free Men
9. Monstrous Regiment
10. A Hat Full of Sky
11. Going Postal
12. Thud!
13. Wintersmith
14. Making Money
15. Unseen Academicals

Edited: Dec 11, 2019, 7:38am Top

CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
I'll list here the books my 10-year-old and I read out loud at night.
Music: Charlie saw me making up this thread, and when I explained what I was doing, he wanted to pick his own song for this category. Seemed fair enough to me. Prince is one of his favorites.

1. The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
2. Treasure of Green Knowe
3. Howl's Moving Castle
4. The Book of Three
5. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
6. The Ghost in the Mirror
7. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
8. Odd and the Frost Giants
9. The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder
10. Inkheart
11. The Doom of the Haunted Opera

Edited: Mar 3, 2019, 5:18pm Top

I'll Fly Away - Alison Krauss

CAT#23: Books I Read with My Mom
My mom and I have a few series that we're reading together. She likes cozy mysteries, so we're working through Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Jenn McKinlay's Library Mystery series, and Maggie Sefton's Yarn Shop Mystery series.
Song: Since Charlie chose his own song, I thought I'd give Mom one of her favorites, too.

1. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

Nov 14, 2018, 8:23am Top

This. Is. Awesome. !!! I love how you've set up your thread and all the book lists you are working on and the genres and the music! So much to love! Going to have a fun time following along, and also since I indulge in lists, you've inspired me to build in some of this to my (not-yet-developed) 2019 thread.

Nov 14, 2018, 8:31am Top

>31 LisaMorr: Oh, yay! I'm so glad you like my not-at-all-insane reading habits! Happy reading in 2019!

Nov 14, 2018, 10:43am Top

>20 scaifea: - Lots of good song selections but this is my favorite from the list! Perfect category for it too. I admire your ambition with 24 categories.

Nov 14, 2018, 2:17pm Top

Love your theme! Good luck with the reading!

Nov 14, 2018, 9:16pm Top

Ha, >21 scaifea: is perfect (and reminiscent of my own bookshelves...) :D Welcome back and have a great reading year!

Nov 15, 2018, 5:30am Top

>33 LittleTaiko: Isn't that a good one? And thanks! It's not as impressive as it seems - I've used the same categories this last year and there are a couple that didn't get any books read...

>34 Tess_W: Thanks!

>35 rabbitprincess: Ha! I think a lot of us have that problem. And thanks!

Nov 15, 2018, 9:14pm Top

Hi Amber, you've listed some great music and, as always, I am in awe of your various challenges and list progression! BTW I love Charlie's song choice!

Nov 16, 2018, 5:26am Top

>37 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy! Happy reading!

Dec 2, 2018, 6:09pm Top

Hi Amber, I love scrolling through your Mixed Tape selections! Good tunes and I see that Charlie has excellent taste in music.

Dec 3, 2018, 5:26am Top

>39 lkernagh: Hi, Lori! And thanks!

Dec 5, 2018, 10:39am Top

Count me in as a fan of your mixtape! :) Happy 2019 reading!

Dec 5, 2018, 11:45am Top

>41 christina_reads: Ha! Thanks, Christina!

Dec 6, 2018, 12:45am Top

Ah, I love musical themes.

Dec 6, 2018, 5:29am Top

>43 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne!

Dec 22, 2018, 4:01am Top

That's a lot of categories! I am an awards list nut too, and I love reading Newbery/Caldecott books, plus we have our own Australian awards. Then the Pulitzer, Man Booker, Miles Franklin - the list goes on! Pretty sure I could read for the rest of my life from awards lists. Looking forward to seeing your reading choices in 2019!

Dec 22, 2018, 8:28am Top

>45 JayneCM: Hello, fellow list-lover! There's something magical about crossing titles off lists, no?

Dec 22, 2018, 9:02am Top

>46 scaifea: Absolutely! And making them too! I am just filling in my BINGO categories - so much fun.

Dec 22, 2018, 9:56am Top

>47 JayneCM: I *love* the planning stage! Happy hunting!

Dec 31, 2018, 8:58am Top

Gook luck Amber. Happy New Year over here, too.

Dec 31, 2018, 9:07am Top

>49 The_Hibernator: Thanks, Rachel!

Dec 31, 2018, 10:08am Top

Very interesting collection of album covers to illustrate your categories. May you find the books that fill them to be interesting too.

Dec 31, 2018, 11:40am Top

Dec 31, 2018, 1:22pm Top

Dec 31, 2018, 2:41pm Top

Jan 3, 2019, 5:09pm Top

1. The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric by Miriam Joseph
CAT#13: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
January TBRCAT: One of the Oldest Member of Your TBR

Well, that wasn't really what I was expecting. The title led me to believe it would be a cool discussion of the nature of language, but it's really just a grammar. And it reads like a grammar (i.e. not all that exciting). *shrug*

Post Note: Why do grammars have to be so dull?! Language is exciting and fun, so what can't the books explaining how they work reflect that? Yoicks.

Jan 3, 2019, 5:13pm Top

>55 scaifea: I saw this title pop up and thought yay! But your review has made me think twice. I agree, I love language and it definitely doesn't need to be dull. And you got through the whole thing?!

Jan 3, 2019, 5:19pm Top

>56 JayneCM: I did get through it, but it wasn't fun, and I admit to a little skimming here and there.

Jan 3, 2019, 6:58pm Top

>55 scaifea: Whew, bullet dodged. I hope your next read is better!

Jan 3, 2019, 8:26pm Top

>58 rabbitprincess: Ha! Yeah, not an excessively auspicious start to the reading year, although at least I feel that I'm made TBR progress, since I can take this one off the shelf and add it to the donate pile. So, there's that, at least, eh?

Jan 4, 2019, 8:14am Top

2. Viking's Dawn by Henry Treece
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
January RandomCAT: Your Name in Print (Dawn is my middle name)

Young Harald and his father, Sigurd, sign up to travel with Thorkell Fairhair on his ship, The Nameless. Harald's father is injured and must be left behind, but Harald voyages with Thorkell and his colorful band of Vikings, meeting with adventures and misfortunes all along the way.
This one was more engaging and entertaining than I suspected it would be. For a children's book, it doesn't sugarcoat Viking life and the ending is bittersweet, which is refreshing, to be honest.

Jan 4, 2019, 5:31pm Top

>60 scaifea: I loved this trilogy when I was younger! Had completely forgotten about it but I just looked it up and it is still in print. I will have to buy it for my boys, but I said no more books this year, but surely if it is not for me it is ok (this is how my brain works!)

We are reading through the 1001 Childrens Books, so definitely need to get it!

Jan 4, 2019, 8:11pm Top

>61 JayneCM: I'm glad to hear that it's still in print (my copy came from the library)!

Edited: Jan 6, 2019, 3:23pm Top

3. Journey Outside by Mary Q. Steele
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
January AlphaKIT: Q
BingoDOG #13: Read a CAT

A boy who has lived his entire life on a raft on a river which flows in a circle through a vast collection of underground caves accidentally finds a way out into the world and goes on a journey of discovery.
This is easily the most philosophical Newbery Honor Book I've ever read; think Plato's Cave for middle grade readers. And you know? It works. Happily recommended.

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 3:02pm Top

Anyone else having trouble posting right now? I've been trying to post a review off and on for an hour now...

ETA: Weird. It kept telling me I had a duplicate post, so I just change it a tiny bit and it posted. *sigh*

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 3:01pm Top

4. Leader by Destiny by Jeanette Eaton
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A biography of George Washington for kids, ostensibly. It's such a shame when biographies are dull and dry. People's lives aren't dull, so how is it that some accounts of those lives are so brain-numbing? And it's an especial tragedy when that biography is intended for kids. Tsk. TSK, I say! *And* this won a Newbery Honor! *Shakes head in dramatic disbelief*

Jan 7, 2019, 5:24pm Top

>65 scaifea: That is a shame! I look to the Newbery for living books for my kids to make history interesting. Nothing worse than boring kids to death and turning them off both history and reading with a dull textbook so I would ordinarily choose books like this. I will have to make sure to avoid this one then!

Jan 7, 2019, 5:28pm Top

>66 JayneCM: Well, it *is* an older one (1939 or so), so it won't be hard to swerve.

Jan 8, 2019, 1:38pm Top

5. Eugenie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac
CAT#24: Audiobooks
In the post-French Revolution town of Saumur, the sweet and naive Eugenie is much sought after as a bride (for her father's money, mostly) although she seems generally unaware of the attention. She, her mother and their one servant lead a sheltered and Spartan life under the miserly and tyrannical gaze of her father, a local baron of the wine trade. When she falls in love with her penniless cousin and gives her savings away to help him, she starts down a path of misery and disappointment.
Well, it's not a happy read, but a well-crafted one, and it includes one of the most easy-to-loathe characters (Eugenie's father) I've ever come across. Recommended, if you like that sort of thing - think Thomas Hardy, but maybe a half-step less dreadfully depressing.

Jan 8, 2019, 3:18pm Top

>68 scaifea: Actually, the time period sounds good to me--and I love Hardy. I'm putting it on my wish list!

Jan 8, 2019, 5:05pm Top

>64 scaifea: I had some problems with LT last night, Amber so I turned it off and all was good this morning.

Jan 8, 2019, 5:12pm Top

>69 Tess_W: I'm not a huge fan of Hardy but I don't hate him, either. And this one won't make my All-Time Favorites list, but it also wasn't horrible. I hope you enjoy it - I suspect as a Hardy fan that you will.

>70 DeltaQueen50: Judy: Yep, it all seems to be back to normal, thank goodness!

Jan 11, 2019, 4:13pm Top

6. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
January SFFKIT: Read a SFF You Meant to Read in 2018

A poet who is converted by Scotland Yard into an undercover policeman trying to take down a group of elite anarchists finds himself thick in their midst, elected to their top council of seven leaders, each going by the name of a different day of the week. As his adventure unfolds, Syme (aka Thursday) begins to question not only his own role in the drama, but the very fabric of the world.
Whoa, this was one crazy ride. I'm not certain that I completely understand what's going on in here, but I do know that it's a complete hoot. Think The Prisoner meets a darker, more urbane Narnia.

Jan 11, 2019, 5:45pm Top

>72 scaifea: - Whoa, this was one crazy ride. I'm not certain that I completely understand what's going on in here, but I do know that it's a complete hoot. - My thoughts exactly!

Jan 11, 2019, 6:44pm Top

>73 LittleTaiko: Ha! I'm glad you liked it too!

Jan 12, 2019, 1:18pm Top

7. The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Rose Rita's best friend, Lewis, is off to summer camp and she's left facing an entire summer of dullness and worry about starting junior high in the fall. But then Mrs. Zimmerman - a good friend who also happens to be a witch - invites her to tag along on a road trip through the Upper Peninsula and things start to look up. Mrs. Zimmerman's trip is brought on by a letter from her recently-deceased acquaintance, who has left her his farm and a particular magic ring, which ends up causing all sorts of trouble for both her and Rose Rita, including some hairy encounters with a nasty old witch, who also wants the ring and has it out for Mrs. Zimmerman.
I love Bellairs' books - great characters, fun stories, and just enough of the scary stuff to be creepy but not enough to keep a 10-year-old up at night. Perfect for bedtime reading with Charlie.

Edited: Jan 12, 2019, 7:02pm Top

>72 scaifea: & >73 LittleTaiko: That one's on my tbr shelves already so I'm glad to see that you both enjoyed it. One of these days I may have to actually get around to reading it myself.

Jan 12, 2019, 4:24pm Top

>76 AHS-Wolfy: Oh, do! It's definitely worth it!

Jan 13, 2019, 12:01am Top

>75 scaifea: We did a re-read of The House With A Clock In Its Walls last year prior to seeing the movie. Such a great book.
I don't have this one though. Another one to look out for!

Jan 13, 2019, 8:41am Top

>78 JayneCM: The House with a Clock in Its Walls is the first in a trilogy, to which this is the third book, so you should check out The Figure in the Shadows (the second in the trilogy) next.

Jan 13, 2019, 10:21am Top

8. Bhimsa the Dancing Bear by Christine Weston
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Two boys and a trained dancing bear go on a walking adventure in India. They meet up with a haughty young prince, a kind philosopher, a troupe of evil robbers, and a hungry tiger before finding their way back home.
*Shrug* It was okay, but not fabulous. A bit dated, I suppose, and the characters a little flat.

Jan 13, 2019, 3:57pm Top

9. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
Granny Weatherwax and her coven vs. an invading group of vampires. Spoiler: Granny wins.
Not the strongest Discworld book so far, but still fairly decent. Granny is, as always, a hoot.

Jan 13, 2019, 4:06pm Top

>81 scaifea: was the outcome ever really in doubt? >;-)

Jan 13, 2019, 4:08pm Top

>82 Helenliz: Ha! That's why I felt safe with such a revealing spoiler.

Edited: Jan 13, 2019, 5:05pm Top

>79 scaifea: How did I not know that?! I will definitely get the other two!

Oh duh, now I re-read your review and think about it, Mrs. Zimmerman - how did I not connect the dots?!

Jan 13, 2019, 6:12pm Top

>84 JayneCM: No worries! I hope you like the rest of the trilogy!

Jan 13, 2019, 8:47pm Top

>85 scaifea: I found the other two at BookDepository - I already have The House. But different covers/publishers!

Is it only me or do other people need all their series to be the same versions?! It really does my head in if they are not, particularly if they are different sizes! Maybe I'm just weird!

Jan 14, 2019, 5:27am Top

>86 JayneCM: Nope, that bothers me, too. And we have different versions of the whole Bellairs collection. Yoicks.

Edited: Jan 19, 2019, 4:42pm Top

10. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
January AlphaKIT: A
BingoDOG #3: Book About/Featuring Siblings

The members of the Soria family specialize in performing miracles, and pilgrims come to the Colorado desert from all over for their services. Lately, though, those pilgrims haven't been leaving, because they find the *second* miracle - which they must perform themselves to rid themselves of their personal darknesses (made flesh by the first miracle) - is not an easy thing to create. The Sorias themselves fear their own darknesses, and when the younger generation starts breaking the taboo of helping the pilgrims heal themselves, old fears and truths start coming out of the woodwork.

I admit that I didn't fall in love with this one as right-from-the-first-page-immediately as I did with the Raven Boys books, but I got there eventually and I do love this story and its characters. Stiefvater is fabulous at what she does (creating amazingly relatable and real characters nestled in a supernatural story that nevertheless seems totally plausible because why not?) and I'll be here for it every time.

Jan 21, 2019, 11:17am Top

11. Boy with a Pack by Stephen W. Meader
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
In the 1830's a young man decides to invest what little savings he has in a peddler's pack and heads west from New England to Ohio. He has all sorts of adventures, both fun and dangerous, along the way, makes new friends, helps various folks out, and decides on a path for his life.
This Newbery Honor book was surprisingly good. Bill - the main character - is easy to root for and the story moves along at a good pace, with some honest-to-goodness seat-edgy moments scattered throughout.

Jan 23, 2019, 8:10am Top

12. The Robber Hotzenplotz by Otfried Preussler
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
After Kasperl's grandmother is robbed of her favorite coffee grinder by the famous Robber Hotzenplotz, Kasperl and his friend, Seppel, set out to find the thief's hideout, but get caught instead and suffer mild torments from Hotzenplotz and his evil wizard friend, Petrosilius Zackleman. There's also a toad/fairy, who gets helped and also helps along the way.
Meh. It was okay, but read more like a parent trying to make up a silly story on the fly at bedtime. Having said that, I think little ones (3-5, maybe) would actually eat this up as a bedtime story.

Jan 30, 2019, 9:34am Top

13. The Wonderful Year by Nancy Barnes
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
11-year-old Ellen Martin is moving with her parents from Kansas to the pioneer mountains of Colorado. She spends a summer adjusting to 'country life,' learning to ride her new bike, and developing a crush on the teenaged British neighbor boy, who sees her as a little kid who is also a fun tomboy type. When Ellen's family move into town in the fall for her schooling, she needs to adjust again, but this time isn't as easy and she falls into a depression from not making new friends and missing her crush, who has went away to school on the east coast.
It started out sweet and mostly harmless, but the story took a weird turn with Ellen's near-obsession with the teen boy, and gets even weirder toward the end when the boy starts seeing the beginnings of a 'pretty girl' in the now-12-year-old Ellen. It's all a little icky, to be honest.

Feb 1, 2019, 6:53am Top

14. Treasure of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Tolly spends his summer holiday at Green Knowe with his great-grandmother, befriends more of the house's ghosts and learns their stories.
I just love this series. So perfectly magic-in-the-everyday-ical. And I love that Charlie is enjoying it, too.

Feb 2, 2019, 5:08pm Top

15. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
CAT#4: Green Dragon 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
February RandomCAT

A crazy ride of a story, in which the Reader is the main character who is simply trying to read a book, but who gets frustrated at every turn and by more and more outlandish disruptions. Each new manuscript promises to be the completion of the previous, but only introduces yet another new book, which, in turn, is cut short and unfinished. Chapters of this main plot (which also contains an Other Reader, with whom the Reader carries out a love story of sorts, and a romp of a detective story as well) alternate with the actual first chapters of the unfinished manuscripts, which themselves leave the (R/r)eader genuinely frustrated and wanting more.
In short, it's a hoot, although it does get a bit bogged down in its own absurdities toward the end, I feel. Think Inspector Clouseau meets Arabian Nights meets a Choose Your Own Adventure book in which all the choices are just tantalizingly out of your reach, and then throw in a healthy pinch of musings on the nature of readers, authors, books, and the act of reading itself.

Feb 3, 2019, 3:23pm Top

Reading Update:
Well, I started Walford, struggled through 40 pages, and called it quits. The writing it just awful and I don't have time for it. I won't count it toward my running total, but I *am* still counting it as my February TBRCAT, because suffering through 40 pages of that is worth counting for something. Ew.

Feb 3, 2019, 3:39pm Top

>94 scaifea: Good call on DNFing that one! Life is too short for struggling through books you're not enjoying.

Feb 3, 2019, 4:21pm Top

Feb 8, 2019, 7:52am Top

16. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
In 1947, a young girl follows her father, brother, and grandmother as they walk from the newly-named Pakistan to India, forced to do so because of their identity as Hindus. Nisha chronicles the journey through her diary entries, addressed to her dead mother.
I wanted to like this one more than I did, because it tells an important story, and also because I think introducing kids to life stories other than those they immediately relate to is crucial. But for some reason the writing just didn't grab me the way I think it should have.

Feb 11, 2019, 10:01am Top

17. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
no CAT - this year's Printz Award winner
A fabulous and fabulously-told story in free verse of Xiomara, a Dominican American teen trying to find her voice as a poet, trying to find her way through her first relationship with a boy, working through her resistance to confirmation classes and her mother's strict faith, and figuring out how to show her twin brother her support as he negotiates his own issues with their strict family and his identity.
This Printz Award winner absolutely deserves the honor. It's an important story and I love that such a character is given a strong voice. I hope that tons of high school students get this one in their hands.

Feb 14, 2019, 7:45am Top

18. The Puppy Place: Cody by Ellen Miles
no CAT - Charlie's read-aloud at bedtime book
Charlie's latest pick to read aloud to us at bedtime. Another cute entry in the series: Charles and Lizzie find an unruly Dalmatian puppy left on their doorstep, so they take him in, train him and find a good home for him, but then the original owners decide the want him back...

Edited: Feb 14, 2019, 4:44pm Top

19. Next of Kin by John Boyne
CAT#9: John Boyne: All the Books!
February AlphaKIT: K

A fantastic thriller about a young Brit who feels cheated out of his rightful inheritance while also hip deep in gambling debts, and a murder plot centered round the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Boyne is fast earning a Can Do No Wrong sticker from me; his children's/middle grade/young adult stuff is so absolutely gorgeous and I was curious about his books for grownups. And I am so incredibly far from disappointed - this book is so full of seat-edgy, stay-up-late-to-read fabulousness that it's not even funny. So it's official: I super-heart John Boyne (I mean, I did before, of course - if you haven't read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket or Stay Where You Are and Then Leave or any of his other kiddo books then you should rectify that immediately - but now I'm ready to declare that love to the world.).

Feb 15, 2019, 5:07pm Top

20. Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
no CAT - this year's Morris Award winner
Darius struggles with depression, bullies at school, his relationship with his father, and his place in his family and the world during a visit to Iran to meet his grandparents.
There are lots of things I liked about this one, and I would have loved it, but I couldn't get to a place where I wasn't annoyed by the main character. There were also a few little, niggling things that irritated: the constant references to Star Trek - a show Darius and his father watch together - and the Lord of the Rings, which he is reading while in Iran. I think they could have worked well, but both were too frequent and way too heavy-handed; I felt like the author was elbowing me in the ribs with every reference, trying to make sure I understood the clever undercurrent. A shame, really, because the topics dealt with are really important ones, but I am comforted by the thought that seem to be in the minority with my quibbles - it won more than one YALSA award this year and that does make me happy.

Feb 18, 2019, 4:53pm Top

21. The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
Vimes reluctantly plays the part of ambassador to a land filled with werewolves, vampires, and dwarfs with a tricky coronation coming up. Tact isn't his strong suit, but he does what he does best, solves the mystery of the stolen ancient bread.
Another fun read in the Discworld. Still not my favorite series ever, but also still a comfy read.

Feb 18, 2019, 5:11pm Top

22. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
February SFFKIT: Colonization
In Prentisstown all men and boys can hear each other's thoughts all the time, and there are no women or girls. Boys become men, in a secret ceremony, on their 13th birthday, but Todd's family want to get him out of town before then. A month before his birthday he discovers something that makes his escape even more important, and once he starts running, it seems he'll never be able to stop, because how can you hide from those who can hear your every thought?
Welp, this is definitely a page-turner and at first I thought I was going to love it absolutely. But then two things kept that love from happening:
1) After a while the whole thing started to seem like a very long episode of The Perils of Penelope; the main characters just keep falling from one urgent danger right into another and eventually it was just exhausting.
2) The dog. Oh, the dog. The best character of the book by far, he's treated so miserably through the whole thing until the ultimate Bad Thing happens and I nearly through the book across the actual room. Just, NOPE.

So I almost didn't even finish it, but then curiosity about how it ended won out over my despair about Manchee. I won't be continuing with the series, though.

Feb 19, 2019, 1:16pm Top

23. The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
BingoDOG#14: Prize Winning Book

Set in the Europe of the Middle Ages, this is the story of a hunchback boy, the pilgrim who takes him into his service, and heir trip from France to Rome (with many stops in between). But it's also about secrets and mysteries, heaven and hell, angels and demons, and miracles of all sorts, both supernatural ones and - the best kind, really - beautiful, everyday ones. Highly, highly recommended.

Feb 20, 2019, 2:15am Top

>100 scaifea: I'm definitely putting John Boyne on my list!

Feb 20, 2019, 5:20am Top

>105 VivienneR: Yay! I hope you love it!

Feb 22, 2019, 7:44am Top

24. Wish by Barbara O'Connor
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
BingoDOG#7: Animal on Cover/In Title/Plays Role
February AlphaKIT: O

Charlie isn't happy about social services taking her from her mother to live with her aunt and uncle in what she thinks of as 'hillbilly land' in the Blue Mountains. She gets in trouble at school for her anger issues and feels that she doesn't need to make an effort here because she'll hopefully be back home soon. In fact, she makes at least one wish every day to that end. But she finds a stray dog, with whom she shares a kindred spirit, and slowly she begins to realize that she may just be home after all.
When I started this one I admit that I wasn't enthusiastic: yet another middle grade book about a kiddo displaced from her home and lashing out at the ones trying to be kind to her. It's been done. Tons, it seems. But in the end, this one wasn't the worst of its kind that I've read, although it does flirt with being too saccharine.

Feb 24, 2019, 12:41pm Top

25. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
CAT#19: Book-A-Year Challenge
BingoDOG#22: Book in Translation

Raskolnikov, a former student now living a destitute life in St. Petersburg, forms a theory of the chosen, genius few, who should be considered above the law for all the good they could do in the world. He fancies himself one of these chosen and decides to test his theory by killing an old hag, to whom he has gone before to pawn various items. The rest of the novel is a study in the psychological effects of his actions and the way his behaviour affects his friends and family.
I admit that I went into this one not expecting to enjoy it much - I assumed it would be a bit of a slog. But, happily, I was absolutely wrong; this is a riveting read that kept me on the edge of my chair. The characters are so vividly created, and I'm impressed with how Dostoyevsky can make Raskolnikov both abohorrent and yet make me constantly worried that he'll get caught.

Feb 24, 2019, 1:59pm Top

26. Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Merci is starting 6th grade and her second year at Seaward Pines Academy, so she's still trying to get used to being a scholarship kid in the midst of the rich students. She also struggles with being assigned as a helper to the new student, dealing with the most popular girl in her grade, who is also a big bully, and working through her feelings about her grandfather's steadily-worsening Alzheimer's Disease.
Despite being another entry in the Not-Rich Kid Outsider Dealing with Rich Kid Bullies category, there's some good stuff in here: the bully business is wrapped up in a surprisingly complex and sensitive way, and the issues with her grandfather and his illness are dealt with in a similarly sensitive and thoughtful manner. It wouldn't have been my pick for the Newbery Medal, but it's still a good read.

Feb 25, 2019, 9:08am Top

27. What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper
BingoDOG#25: Title Contains a Homophone
This is the story of Gerta, who was sent to Theresienstadt, then Auschwitz, and finally Bergen-Belsen, where she liberated and stayed for a year after the end of the war. The novel tells of her childhood and her time in the camps in flashbacks within the setting of her and her fellow former prisoners trying to adjust to their freedom, the new reality of the world, and the process of, essentially, coming back to life. It's a sometimes beautiful, often frightening and sad tale, but, of course, a very important one. I hope it finds its way into school YA collections everywhere and into the hands of their patrons.

Feb 25, 2019, 9:59am Top

28. Big Tree by Mary Buff and Conrad Buff
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Tells the story of a 5000-year-old Redwood Tree, from a seed to the tallest giant in the forest. A bit dated, but it does what it says on the tin, and it's still a nice little story.

Mar 2, 2019, 5:00pm Top

29. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn Into a Newt
March SFFKIT: Mystery/Police Procedural/Detective SFF
BingoDOG#15: Title Contains a Weather Word

Harry Dresden is a private detective who consults for the Chicago P.D. And he's a wizard. He gets pulled into a particularly nasty murder case involving black magic, mobs, prostitutes, and a new illegal drug that promises wizard's sight when taken.
Noir crime novel meets wizard fantasy. A cool idea, and the plot was interesting enough, but I've never been a fan of the misogyny inherent in noir fiction and it's here in spades (the way Butcher has Dresden describe female character made my skin crawl in places, and Dresden's 'old-fashioned good guy' routine is tiresome). That, coupled with the clunky writing of a seemingly not-yet-mature writer makes this one not really a winner for me.

Edited: Mar 3, 2019, 9:38am Top

>112 scaifea: Yes, that was pretty much my reaction, too.

Mar 3, 2019, 12:59pm Top

>113 MissWatson: I'm glad I'm not the only one! I do know that it seems to be a popular series, but I don't really understand why, to be honest.

Mar 3, 2019, 4:35pm Top

30. Young Mac of Fort Vancouver by Mary Jane Carr
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
13-year-old Young Mac (Donald MacDermott) travels to Fort Vancouver at his late father's request for an education. When he arrives he learns that there is no school out this far on the frontier, and although he balks at the idea of staying (when what he really wants to do is join the fur traders with whom he travelled there), he remains for a year in which he does in fact receive an education on the ways of the land. He also does a fair amount of growing up at the fort and makes some important life decisions.
Newbery books that focus on the frontier - and there are a fair few from the early years - are usually not my cuppa, but this one was enjoyable. Good characters and a decent story.

Mar 3, 2019, 4:57pm Top

31. This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
March TBRCAT: Book Acquired on/for a Special Occasion (I'm counting the fact that I was there for the speech itself as the special occasion)
BingoDOG#1: Author uses middle name or initial

Wallace gave this speech at the 2005 Kenyon College Commencement ceremonies. When he did so, I was there, on the platform, sitting just a few feet away from him, along with my fellow Kenyon faculty members. I can easily say that it was one of the most powerful addresses I've ever witnessed, and I'm so thankful that I was able to be there for that moment. I picked up this print version of the speech a couple of years ago and now that I've finally read through it I'll keep it on my desk, close at hand, so that I can revisit it frequently. Yes, it's that moving, and that important. I highly recommend that you find a copy, find a quiet corner somewhere, and let its words and meaning sink into your skin.

Mar 3, 2019, 5:19pm Top

32. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
CAT#23: Books I Read with My Mom
BingoDOG#20: Main Title Has 6 or More Words

Mma Ramotswe deals with a half-naked house intruder, nearly hitting a man on a bicycle with her van, the theft of that van which is so dear to her, and the return to town of her abusive first husband, all while working to solve the case of a man who stole a great deal of money from his employers. Her assistant, Mme Makutsi, also has a lot on her plate: braving a room full of haughty, pretty girls at her new dance class, the introduction of a new teapot to the detective agency (and introducing Mma Ramotswe to the idea that she, Mme Makutsi, doesn't actually like bush tea), and entertaining thoughts of marriage and new shoes...
Another enjoyable addition to this comfy series. I always look forward to spending some time with these lovely people in Gabarone.

Mar 4, 2019, 7:53am Top

33. The Battle of Bubble and Squeak by Philippa Pearce
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A boy gets two gerbils from a friend and so starts the battle between him and his sisters (with the silent support of his step-father) on one side and his mother on the other.
Cute, short, and sweet.

Mar 4, 2019, 2:36pm Top

34. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
CAT#24: Audiobooks
BingoDOG #5: A Book Mentioned in Another Book (this one is read by Matilda)

Nicholas's father left him, his sister, and his mother without a home or any money at all at his death, and so they seek help from a rich uncle, who turns out to be the great villain of the plot. Nicholas must seek his own fortune and meets an outstanding variety of characters along the way, who run the spectrum from angelic to despicable with plenty of comic relief in between. It reads like a Shakespearean comedy on a grand and intricate scale, complete with a coming-of-age story and multiple marriages at the end. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

Mar 4, 2019, 6:23pm Top

>119 scaifea: Moving Nicholas Nickleby farther up the TBR list! I generally enjoy Dickens but somehow haven't gotten to this one yet.

Mar 5, 2019, 5:18am Top

>120 christina_reads: I haven't read a ton of Dickens yet (maybe just three or four novels), but I've loved every one so far, and this one in particular. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Mar 5, 2019, 5:42am Top

>120 christina_reads: >121 scaifea: And they offer themselves so well for adaptation. There's a gorgeous BBC version with Charles Dance as the bad uncle.

Mar 5, 2019, 6:15am Top

>122 MissWatson: I may have to seek that one out - thanks for the tip!

Mar 6, 2019, 11:06am Top

35. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
March AlphaKIT: L

Addie and Meryl are as different as sisters can be - when Meryl is practicing her swordplay and dreaming of battles with dragons, Addie is working on one of her lovely embroidery scenes while keeping one timid eye out for spiders. But when tragedy visits the castle Addie decides to try her own strength, and with some help from the sorcerer, Rhys, she sets out to seek a cure for the Grey Death and to find her own courage.
This one was fabulous and I loved it to bits. The sisters are wonderfully drawn (no damosels in distress here!), the adventures are exciting and well written, and there's just the right amount of romance so that it sweetens the plot but still takes a rightful backseat to Addie's story of questing and growing. Highly recommended.

Edited: Mar 6, 2019, 5:01pm Top

36. A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
CAT#10: Neil Gaiman: Also All the Things!
March RandomCAT: Brexit/Set in an EU Country
BingoDOG#19: Graphic Novel

Sherlock Holmes meets Lovecraft in a way that only Gaiman could have them meet, with a twist that I dare you to see coming. It's fabulous, of course. Because it's Neil.

Mar 6, 2019, 8:01pm Top

>125 scaifea: - I’m collecting references to graphic novels since I don’t read them to fill in my Bingo block. I have liked the Giaman that I’ve read so I’ll keep this in mind.

Mar 7, 2019, 5:18am Top

>126 dudes22: Oh, yay! I hope you love it if you decide to read it!

Mar 7, 2019, 7:30am Top

37. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
BingoDOG#24: Book with LT Rating of 4.0 or More

Three sisters go out to seek their various fortunes in the world, but Sophie thinks adventures aren't for her because traditionally the oldest sister never has adventures. Despite this 'rule,' Sophie manages to get mistakenly cursed by an evil witch and then decides to throw her lot in with the supposedly-evil Wizard Howl and his moving castle on the off chance that he'll help her break the spell. Nothing is as it seems here, not even Sophie, who has no notion at the beginning that she has powerful magic in herownself, and certainly not Howl, who is one of the most exasperating and charming characters around. I love this book so much, and I'm happy to say that Charlie enjoyed it, too (this was a reread for me as our bedtime read-aloud).

Mar 7, 2019, 10:22am Top

>128 scaifea: I adore that book! Still haven't seen the movie, which I've heard is also great, though different.

Mar 7, 2019, 12:56pm Top

>129 christina_reads: Isn't it great?! Have you read the other two books? They're also pretty wonderful. I haven't seen the movie for this one, either, but I've just requested it from the library. I've heard it's really different but fantastic in its own right, and I do love Miyazaki.

Mar 7, 2019, 1:30pm Top

>130 scaifea: I have not read the sequels, but I'm putting them on my TBR list now!

Mar 7, 2019, 2:39pm Top

>131 christina_reads: Woot! I hope you love them!

Mar 7, 2019, 4:45pm Top

I loved the movie of Howl and will need to read the book!

Mar 7, 2019, 6:19pm Top

>133 rabbitprincess: I'm so ridiculously excited for the movie!

Mar 8, 2019, 3:25pm Top

>125 scaifea: & >126 dudes22: - That does sound like a fun way to get the graphic novel bingo square! I don't regularly read graphic novels either so a good recommendation like this one really helps.

Mar 8, 2019, 3:51pm Top

>135 LittleTaiko: Woot! I hope you like it! Are you a Gaiman fan?

Mar 8, 2019, 3:58pm Top

>136 scaifea: - Not sure yet actually. The only book I've read of his was Good Omens which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. Very excited about the TV version that is coming out soon! I am currently reading Norse Mythology and enjoying it quite a bit.

Mar 8, 2019, 6:05pm Top

>137 LittleTaiko: Oooh, then you have a lot of exciting reading ahead of you! He's one of my very favorites. I'm super excited about the Good Omens show, too. The casting looks so fabulous.

Mar 9, 2019, 2:03pm Top

38. The Collectors by Jacqueline West
no CAT - one of the Schneider Award Honor Books for this year
Although he tends to go through life generally unnoticed, Van himself is very good at noticing things. Little things that other people would never see. He finds out one day that he can even see some people whom other, normal, folks can't, and that's where his adventures begin. These usually invisible people are Collectors - they steal away wishes before the Wish Eaters can get them. But Van soon discovers that it's not at all easy to discern which side is the right side in this struggle, and that things like good intentions can have disastrous effects.
I loved this Schneider Honor Book, both for it's excellent and imaginative story, but also - and especially - for how Van is portrayed as a boy who wears hearing aids but how that isn't a major plot point. Van is just Van and his hearing aids are a part of how his life works, NBD. As it should be.

Edited: Mar 11, 2019, 7:20am Top

39. Unstoppable by Bill Nye
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
March AlphaKIT: U

Bill Nye sets out his ideas on how climate change is (a) real (problem), but that it's not quite yet irreversible, and then explains ways in which we can start living a life that helps reverse those changes. I liked this one but I didn't love it as I wanted to, for a couple of reasons: 1) The Preaching-to-the-Choir syndrome (which I fully admit isn't the fault of the book at all) - there wasn't much here that I didn't know already and of course I agree with the arguments completely; and 2) The writing was a little too simplistic and choppy for me. Again, this second point isn't necessarily a bad thing (I think a simple style is likely what Nye was going for, to reach a bigger audience, maybe); it just didn't work for me. My love of Bill Nye remains completely intact, of course, and I do think this is a great book for the proper audience.

Mar 12, 2019, 4:58pm Top

40. Gold Dust by Geraldine McCaughrean
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Maro and Inez one day find a couple of townspeople digging a big hole in front of their father's store, and that signals the beginning of the gold rush for their small Brazilian town. They watch their world crumble around them, not only literally (from all of the holes people continue to dig everywhere), but also socially, politically, mentally, and emotionally.
Hm, yeah. I didn't cotton to this one, really. The black humor seems so depressing for a YA book, and in fact the only thing about this story that seems to mark it as such is the age of the two main characters. In general it has too much of a despondency about it for me, even though the ending brings things back to a 'happier' state.

Mar 17, 2019, 9:32am Top

41. George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A sort of world history for kids, from 1740-1800, set in the timeline of George Washington's life. I didn't expect much going into this Newbery Honor Book, written in 1941, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It ties world events together quite cleverly, and the narrative style is interesting and engaging. My 10-year-old son is interested in history and I think he'll love this one.

Edited: Mar 17, 2019, 9:42am Top

42. The Heavenly Tenants by William Maxwell
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A family whose members all enjoy studying the stars leaves for a three-week vacation, and while they're gone the signs of the zodiac come down to take care of their farm. A strange little story that would have been made much better had it been expanded. As it is, it feels like a sketch of a much longer, much better book.

Mar 17, 2019, 12:25pm Top

43. The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
CAT#20: Shakespeare Re-Read
Not my favorite of Shakespeare's play, but I still like it tons. I agree with the scholarship that it seems pretty clear it's an early work, because of a few awkwardly staged scenes and because it feels like it needs more than a bit of fleshing out. The best part of this play, of course, is Crab and you'll not ever convince me otherwise.

Mar 20, 2019, 7:43am Top

44. The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
No CAT - Schneider Award Book
Mason Buttle is a bit of an outsider: his dyslexia, synesthesia, and over-productive sweat glands make finding friends not an easy thing. He's also different from other kids in that his best friend is dead. While making a few new friends, dealing with the disturbing actions of the local bullies, and trying to figure out what the police detective wants from him, Mason - with some help from a wonderfully supportive teacher - finds his way toward the ability to tell his own truth. I nearly abandoned this one after the first few pages because the narrative voice is so choppy. I realize that it's necessary to capture the voice of the main character, but I didn't think I could endure it for an entire novel. I'm glad I stuck with it, though, because the book, as it turns out, is very good. A great portrayal of a kiddo with learning challenges, and a cool mystery as well.

Mar 25, 2019, 7:44am Top

45. The Truth by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
BingoDOG#12: Part of a Series

Journalism comes to Ankh-Morpork just in time to cover the mysterious switch-o-change-o the Bad Guys do to The Patrician. One of my least favorites in the series so far. It was okay, but not as engaging as some of the others have been, and there weren't any chuckle-out-loud moments here. My biggest issue with this one is that Vetinari seems to act out of character - he's more goofy than intimidatingly sharp, and it's jarring.

Mar 25, 2019, 8:08am Top

46. The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
BingoDOG#21: Cover Has At Least Two Human Figures

Greenblatt tells the story of how Lucretius' epic poem, De Rerum Natura, was rediscovered in the early 1400s by a former scribe to the pope, and how that rediscovery changed the course of human thought. I loved the account of Poggio Bracciolini's life and his passion for unearthing ancient manuscripts, and also how Lucretius, after so many years unknown, made a major comeback in such a fascinating way. The bits describing Lucretius's work itself I admit to skimming, because I'm already fairly well-versed (ooof, apologies) there. Greenblatt tells us that Lucretius' Latin can be quite difficult but also so fantastically beautiful and impressive, and he's absolutely right on both counts.

Edited: Mar 25, 2019, 4:22pm Top

>125 scaifea: - I ended up reading this over the weekend and loved it! Thanks for the recommendation.

Mar 25, 2019, 4:30pm Top

>148 LittleTaiko: YES! I'm so glad you loved it!!

Mar 26, 2019, 11:04am Top

47. A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

A boy visiting Wales while his father has a visiting teaching position there finds Taliesin's harp key. The key somehow shows Peter events in Taliesin's life, as he (Peter) struggles to come to terms with being away from home and the tensions between him and his father and sisters. It's a lovely tale, both the story of the Morgan family and the bits about Taliesin in the past. I particularly enjoyed the homey feel to their interactions with their Welsh neighbors and descriptions of the countryside. However, Peter's sister, Jen, through whose view much of the modern plot was told, was irritating and not at all likable. Also, the story seemed to get bogged down somehow in the middle and the going was painfully slow for a good while. Could have been the narrator (I listened to an audio version); I may have had a better go of it in print.

Mar 27, 2019, 11:08am Top

48. Knight's Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Randal has lived among the castle hounds for most of his young life when the lord of the castle loses him to a traveling bard in a game of chess. He then is handed off to another knight to be a varlet and then a squire in the chance for a better life. Here he becomes fast friends with the lord's grandson and destined to be squire for his companion as they grow. A good tale of two boys coming of age together, knights and wars, and the strong love for one's home. Very well researched and beautifully told, as it seems Sutcliff's stories tend to be.

Mar 29, 2019, 5:48pm Top

49. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
CAT#1: Banned Books
BingoDOG#17: Book Made into a Movie

Hm. Yes, well. The creep and ick factor is definitely there, but there's also fantastic cleverness and absolutely gorgeous prose. I love the complexities and tensions in the narrative, and the strain between the ick and the awe that the book draws out of the reader (or this reader, at least). Having finished it, I'm troubled and giddy, happy and guilty about it, and in absolute awe of Nabokov for making me so.

Mar 30, 2019, 11:37am Top

50. Pancakes-Paris by Claire Huchet Bishop
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A sweet little story about a boy in post-WWII Paris, who is given a box of pancake mix by a kindly American soldier, then spends the rest of the story trying to figure out how to make the pancakes (the instructions are in English) in time for Mardi Gras. Borderline saccharine, but still a nice little read.

Apr 1, 2019, 7:40am Top

51. New and Selected Poems Volume One by Mary Oliver
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
April TBRCAT: Book Acquired for a Group Read or Challenge

Modern poetry (read: anything post-Donne) generally doesn't appeal to me, with a very few exceptions. I'd heard such wonderful things about Oliver's work, though, that I thought I'd better give her a try, but I'm afraid she doesn't quite make it into those very few exceptions for me. Her style didn't grab me, and most of her poems seem to be about nature and Being Outdoors, which just isn't a writing subject that tends to interest me.

Apr 1, 2019, 12:13pm Top

>154 scaifea: - Sorry that one didn't work for you better since I do adore her poems. I'm currently reading some Emily Dickinson poems and she reminds me a bit of Oliver with lots of poems about nature and feelings.

Apr 1, 2019, 12:31pm Top

>155 LittleTaiko: I do enjoy some of Emily's stuff - she doesn't seem to need to write about snakes nearly as much...

Apr 2, 2019, 7:36am Top

52. The Firefly's Lovers and Other Fairy Tales of Old Japan by William Elliot Griffis
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
Does just what it says on the tin. Short narratives with the usual themes and some nice variations.

Apr 4, 2019, 7:21am Top

53. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
A re-read for me, but the first time through for Charlie. This isn't my favorite of the Prydain books, but it's still really very good. I think Charlie had a difficult time staying focused for part of it, so we'll see if he chooses to continue with the series.

Edited: Apr 5, 2019, 6:15pm Top

54. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan
CAT#14: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
April RandomCAT: Tournament of Books

Follows the lives of Bennie (a former punk rock guy turned record executive) and Sasha (his assistant who likes stealing things) backwards and forwards through time, picking up the lives of several people attached to them in the process.
Meh. Not my usual cuppa. No real, steady plot and no actually likeable characters. I'm not fond of stories in which characters make poor life decisions, which is essentially what happens on a loop in this one. So, I spent most of the book in a constant state of distaste and exasperation. I want to fall in love with the characters in the books I read (or fall in love with hating them), not be generally irritated by them or just mildly loathe them.
I will say that the writing itself is excellent and for this it certainly deserves its Pulitzer.

Apr 8, 2019, 7:42am Top

55. The Well of the Unicorn by Fletcher Pratt
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
April SFFKIT: Sword and Sorcery

A young man is dispossessed of his family land and sets out to seek his fortune, then gets caught up in a war between a mean king and his overtaxed and unhappy subjects. He's a wizard, sort of, and 'helps' in that way, and then becomes a leader in the war.
Yeah, this one was pretty awful. The characters have absolutely no dimension whatsoever, and the plot of the rebellion and war is set out in absolutely painful dead-horse-beating detail. Just, NOPE.

Apr 9, 2019, 12:45pm Top

56. The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks
BingoDOG#11: Alliterative Title

A young Arthur living at the end of the twelfth century in England is given an obsidian stone by his father's friend, Merlin. In the stone, he sees the life of another, older Arthur, and their two lives are strangely similar.
Meh. I couldn't get into this one much, although in general it was an okay read. I don't see the point of the link between the two Arthurs and that irritated me and spoiled the book for me a bit.

Apr 12, 2019, 8:17am Top

57. Down Ryton Water by E. R. Gaggin
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Follows the pilgrim journey of the Over family from England to the Netherlands, and finally to the New World on board the Mayflower and their struggles to settle there. A good enough read, with characters whom I happily followed along in their stories.

Apr 14, 2019, 1:27pm Top

58. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
Time falls in love with a human, and there is a child. And then The Auditors get involved and things start going pear-shaped. This is one of my favorite of the Discworld books so far: Death (my favorite character) gets a lot of page time, Miss Susan and Nanny Ogg to a crossover bit (I love a good crossover, dontchaknow), and the very last sentence made me close the book, sit back, and smile for a long happy minute. That's always a pretty good sign, really.

Apr 16, 2019, 9:55am Top

59. The Puppy Place: Bear by Ellen Miles
Charlie and Lizzie find a home for a Huskie where he can learn to pull a sled.
Charlie's read-aloud-at-bedtime selection. Cute and short and sweet.

Apr 17, 2019, 12:58pm Top

60. The School at the Chalet by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
A young woman with no parents, a brother abroad, and a sickly younger sister decides to open a boarding school for girls in the Austrian Tyrol. A little too heavy on the saccharine and too light on everything else for me.

Apr 19, 2019, 12:47pm Top

61. How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Hughes turns his hand to writing origin stories for animals. I feel like I should have liked this one more than I did. Then again, nope. I liked it just the right amount, regardless of its author, and honestly, I've read much better animal myths.

Apr 19, 2019, 5:12pm Top

62. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
April AlphaKIT: B

A brilliant philanthropist secretly recruits a group of ultra-smart kids to help him save the world from an equally brilliant bad guy with mind control issues (and machines). I quite liked the beginning, which was satisfyingly mysterious, but the cleverness and suspense got lost somewhere about midway for me. If it had stayed strong throughout, it would have been a nice mix of The Westing Game meets The Prisoner, so it's really too bad that it didn't, to be honest. There's a strong possibility that Middle Grade kiddos would love it, though.

Apr 20, 2019, 6:59am Top

>167 scaifea: - I read the first three before I got bored. Then again, I don't go to middle school.

Apr 20, 2019, 8:20am Top

>168 dudes22: I won't make it past this first one, so yeah.

Apr 25, 2019, 7:49am Top

63. Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
April AlphaKIT: M

In this sequel to Greenglass House, Milo, Meddy, and the old gang reunite to solve another mystery, which is brought on by a heist-gone-wrong. Just as inventive and fun as the first one, with elements of RPGs, the supernatural, and a healthy love of folklore. So much goodness here, folks. Definitely recommended.

Apr 25, 2019, 5:27pm Top

>170 scaifea: Ooh, I recently picked up Greenglass House at a used bookstore and am looking forward to reading it!

Apr 25, 2019, 6:47pm Top

>171 christina_reads: Woot! I hope you love it!

Apr 28, 2019, 4:54pm Top

64. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Romeo and Juliet in a world in which the Noughts (whites) are ruled and oppressed by the Crosses (blacks): the Cross daughter of a leading politician is in love with the Nought son of a member of the resistance. Things start going pear-shaped for them both when legislation makes school desegregation mandatory and Callum (our Romeo) starts attending Sephy's (the Juliet) high school. Intense and engaging; I liked this one, although I thought the tone was a bit uneven - there was a tipping point about halfway through that made the story take a much darker turn than I would have thought possible from language in which the first half was settled. Otherwise, a good read, and I think an interesting one for white privilege kiddos, who may need help seeing things from a not-so-privileged side of vantage.

Apr 28, 2019, 5:50pm Top

65. Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Schneider Honor Book
Moss is a black, gay teen living in Oakland, California. You don't really need much more than that to guess that life isn't easy for him, but then let's add that his father was murdered by the police, because of which Moss now suffers intense anxiety attacks when confronted with the cops or large crowds of protesters. And then his school - beat up and and derelict, with old or completely-missing equipment, books falling apart - decides that random locker searches and metal detectors at the doors are a necessity to keep the student body in check. Moss just wants a normal life, to explore his feelings for his new boyfriend, and to learn to feel comfortable in his own skin, but the world he lives in just doesn't seem to make any of that possible. This one is a doozy, folks. Honest and open and brutal, and it should be required reading for every high school kid in this country.

Apr 29, 2019, 6:42am Top

66. The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
In Holland during the German occupation, a family living in and taking care of a windmill struggle to make ends meet while also helping those with even less. The youngest son discovers a downed American pilot and helps him hide until his family can help get him into allied territory. So many children's books of a certain era are set in WWII Europe and explore the hardships therein, which is understandable, but it's easy to get bogged down in such an embarrassment of riches. This one hits somewhere in the middle of the pile - not exactly weak, but not exactly outstanding, either.

Apr 29, 2019, 1:26pm Top

67. The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
A band of heroes who have gone wrinkly and grey decide on one last hurrah that will allow them to go out with a bang - a very big bang. The Patrician isn't keen on the idea, as it will inadvertently destroy the world, so he sends a small crew in a flying contraption to stop them. More of a novella, really, but a pleasant visit to the Discworld, if a short one, with a few of the major players present.

Apr 29, 2019, 1:57pm Top

68. Witch Child by Celia Rees
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

After her grandmother is tortured and murdered as a witch, Mary Newbury escapes England disguised as a Pilgrim headed for the New World. She finds that her new companions can be just as rigid in their rules and narrow-mindedness, and she must watch herself and hide her abilities as best she can.
Written as a series of diary entries found in later years, this YA novel does a good job of giving a sense of urgency to the story; I found myself rooting for Mary from the first page and worrying for her safety in nearly every page thereafter. It also showcases the ridiculous amount of danger the simple fact of being a woman could place you in and the insanely various forms that danger could take, from childbirth to accusations of witchcraft for appearing to be too smart or too independent for your gender.

May 1, 2019, 7:03am Top

69. Have You Seen Tom Thumb? by Mabel Leigh Hunt
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A biography for kids of Charles Stratton (a.k.a. General Tom Thumb), who was groomed from a young age into an traveling attraction by P.T. Barnum. For its subject matter, this Newbery Honor Book could have been really interesting. Reader, it wasn't.

May 1, 2019, 4:35pm Top

70. Uncle by J. P. Martin
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
A rich elephant riches it up while also being irritated by his poor, trashy neighbors. How is this a fun book for kids, again? The only redeeming quality = the illustrations by Quentin Blake.

May 2, 2019, 6:45am Top

71. The Jazz Man by Mary Hays Weik
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
May RandomCAT

A young boy in living in Harlem spends his days looking out the apartment window across to other windows, keeping up with the neighbors' lives. He's particularly intent on waiting to see who moves into an empty place and is delighted when it turns out to be a jazz pianist. He also struggles with his unhappy parents and is even abandoned by them for a short period (? The narrative is fuzzy here). The premise is good, but the writing is wonky, it seems. Zeke's abandonment seems sudden and not really in line with where the story was going, and then the ending is way too abrupt and pat, making the arc even more strange and difficult to follow.

May 3, 2019, 6:57am Top

72. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
May TBRCAT: Book I Keep Looking at but Never Manage to Open

This memoir of a young neurosurgeon who discovers that the roles have reversed as cancer invades his body was difficult for me to read. I have long had issues with thinking about death, and the thought of terminal illness and time spent in hospitals brings my anxiety-ridden brain to its proverbial knees. I knew going into this one that it would be a rough read for me, but I also knew that I wanted to give it a go because I'd heard so many fantastic things about it. And I found that it was also, unexpectedly - and despite the worries it dredged up for me - an absolute joy to read. What an impressive person Kalanithi was: so driven and compassionate and keen for all sorts of knowledge. His mix of interests and studies in the humanities and sciences shows through so beautifully in his writing. I'm awed by his eloquence, his intelligence and talents, and devastated by the thought of what the world lost when it lost him so early.

May 5, 2019, 7:51am Top

73. My Friend Mr. Leakey by J. B. S. Haldane
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Stories for little ones about a magician named Leakey. Getting silly just right for a kids' book isn't easy, and this book is proof.

May 6, 2019, 3:05pm Top

74. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks
AlphaKIT: Z

Jessica lives in an apartment building with her neglectful mother, and their neighbors include a crazy cat lady/potential witch, a nosy landlady who likes to think of herself as the mothering type, and a boy who used to Jessica's best friend before leaving her for some boys who share his new music interests. Jess is lonely and discontent and interested in witches. So, when she finds an orphaned and ugly kitten in her secret cave hideout behind the building, she decides that it must be possessed because it tells her to do things like lie to people and push her ex-friend's trumpet out of the window. It's a cleverly-told story about a girl who clearly has some emotional issues stemming from the unhealthy relationship she has with her mother, and I really wanted to like it - I've read others of Snyder's books and liked them tons. But I couldn't bring myself to like Jess or any of the other characters, or even the cat, for that matter. So this one fell a little flat for me.

May 7, 2019, 7:13am Top

75. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
May SFFKIT: International SFF by a Non-US/UK Author
BingoDOG#16: Short Stories or Essays

I generally stay away from short stories. For some reason I tend not to enjoy them, but I made an exception here because I've heard so many fantastic things about this particular collection. I'm so very glad that I did. Borges combines fantasy with the world of books in a way that makes me absolutely giddy: reviews of books that don't actually exist, the discovery of an encyclopedia detailing a country that never was, the description of a(n) (possibly) infinite labyrinthine library that includes every possible book that could ever possibly be written,... And he does it all so beautifully. If heaven itself were a book, it would look something like this.

May 7, 2019, 9:02am Top

>184 scaifea: I've just favorited your post. Worth it for the last sentence alone.

May 7, 2019, 9:36am Top

>185 haydninvienna: Aw, thanks for that! I'm happy that you enjoyed my review!

May 7, 2019, 12:54pm Top

>186 scaifea: Borges (and Italo Calvino) give me something that is hard to find elsewhere: a sense of otherness, of being from a different place. Kind of like the peculiar magic in the words "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure dome decree ...". I can't really put it into words. I was trying to find an analogy with C S Lewis's "pure northernness" but on doing a little research I find it doesn't really work. Sorry, this isn't really a terribly satisfactory comment, but I'm not a poet, and I think i'd need to be to get closer to the idea.

May 7, 2019, 1:57pm Top

>184 scaifea: - This sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Definitely something I'll be on the lookout for. You should share your review on the short story thread too as it's always fun to see which collections are worth pursuing.

May 7, 2019, 2:25pm Top

>187 haydninvienna: For me it's akin to a Lit Crit's dream. Very Other, and with lots to unpack and examine.

>188 LittleTaiko: I didn't realize there *was* a short story thread! Ha!

Edited: May 7, 2019, 2:48pm Top

>189 scaifea: - It was something started last year that we ended up continuing this year. I don't tend to read a lot of short stories but it's been fun to discover some that are definitely worth reading.


May 11, 2019, 10:12am Top

76. Dogsong by Gary Paulsen
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Russell is a young boy in an Eskimo village who is unhappy that his people have strayed from their traditions. He takes the village shaman's dogs and sled out alone, on a quest to find his own song.
I've generally enjoyed Paulsen's books, but I couldn't get into this one at all. Just not my cuppa, I suppose.

May 11, 2019, 5:43pm Top

77. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
The Pied Piper, Discworld style, i.e. from the viewpoint of the rats (and a talking cat named Maurice. Because of course.) Fun and silly and with interesting characters, as per usual.

May 12, 2019, 2:18pm Top

78. Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
No CAT - Stonewall Honor Book
12-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's world is turned upside down when a tornado completely destroys her family's home, all while a different kind of storm is raging inside her heart and mind. She likes girls but is terrified to talk to anyone about it, especially now that it feels like her family is pulling away from her, all too preoccupied with putting their lives back together in a way that seems not to need her, and her best friend can't seem to talk about anything but the boy she has a crush on. But then Ivy meets June and the butterflies in her stomach tell her that she has a crush of her own. She works to find a way to tell the world who she really is, and works to figure that out for herself as well.
What a lovely story. A fantastic way to show kiddos who may be going through the same things that they're not alone, and to show everyone else a glimpse into what those kiddos are dealing with. This one definitely goes on my What Should Be Required Reading in All Schools list.

May 12, 2019, 3:37pm Top

79. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
BingoDOG#2: Debut Novel
A graphic novel memoir that describes life in the early 90's as a sixth-through-tenth-grade girl with braces and mean friends and crushes and obnoxious siblings and braces and, well, more braces. I felt like I was reading an account of my own life as an early mouth-full-of-braces teen in the early 90's, cringeworthy in all the right places and hopeful and funny in all the right other places. Fun and funny and thoughtful and true. I loved it.

May 16, 2019, 2:35pm Top

80. Song of the Pines by Walter Havighurst and Marion Havighurst
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
The story of a young man, Nils, and the Norwegian family who adopts him as one of their own as they travel from their homeland to the U.S. to start a new pioneer life in Wisconsin. Not a bad entry in the genre: nothing earth shattering, but it's an interesting story and well-enough paced.

May 16, 2019, 3:06pm Top

81. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Two boys set out for a long summer bike ride to some bluffs in the local state park, but Tony, the daredevil of the two, pushes Joel (who has been hesitant about the whole expedition from the start) to do something Joel knows is too dangerous: go for a swim in the river. Joel has promised his dad not to do anything he shouldn't, but Tony is persistent, and both boys pay for it in different ways, in the end. A short but powerful book that skillfully captures childhood friendships, peer pressures, and survivor's guilt.

May 22, 2019, 7:39am Top

82. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld
Sam Vimes is in hot pursuit of a criminal mastermind when they are both caught in a time hiccup and sucked into the past. They arrive on May 25th, the day of a bloody revolution which Vimes knows all too well because he was there the first time it happened. If he can change history he'll be able to save the lives of good men, but then his own future (wife, soon-to-be-born son,...) may disappear, and anyway it may just take all his efforts just to keep his young, rookie cop self alive.
The absolute best Discworld book I've read so far. So much fabulous going on here. Vimes is at his Vimesiest, which could never be anything but wonderful, and the story has a feeling of everything that came before it being merely a lead-up to this moment.

May 23, 2019, 7:47am Top

83. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard spends her Christmas holiday with her older sister at the huge and labyrinthine museum where their father is curating an exhibit on swords of the world. In her wanderings she finds a boy locked in a room, who asks her to help him escape and find his own, magical sword, which he must give to the One Other in order to defeat the Snow Queen. Ophelia doesn't at all believe in such nonsense, being a scientifically inclined young woman, but little by little, as she helps the boy, she opens her heart to the possibilities of magic, the struggle between good and evil, and her own potential for bravery. I *love* this book. I listened to the audio version a couple of years ago and knew that Charlie would love it, too. (And reader, he did.) It turns out that it's also a really fun book to read aloud to others. Highly recommended.

May 23, 2019, 2:57pm Top

84. Elidor by Alan Garner
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Four siblings stumble into another world and are tasked with guarding four sacred items by bringing them back into this world for safe-keeping. For a year all seems fine, to the point that some of the children start to doubt that it really happened at all, when warriors from the other place break through to steal the treasures. I found this one frustrating to no end. It starts out too abruptly, plonking the reading down into the story with not nearly enough background (I even checked to make sure I wasn't starting a series midway through) and has just as baffling and lose-endy an ending. Shame, really, because the story seems like it could be a really good one.

May 24, 2019, 10:00am Top

85. The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
May AlphaKIT:H

Max is following in his father's footsteps, searching for the three parts of a machine that legend says will end all wars. He's engaged the help of a ship, the Left-Handed Fate, and her crew, including the captain's daughter, Lucy Bluecrowne. But there are others in search of the machine pieces - not to mention that they're in the middle of a war that puts a 12-year-old lieutenant of the U.S. Navy in their path (and on their ship) - and the race to solve the clues, find the pieces, and figure out how to put them together is on. Plenty of fun to be had here: the mysteries, the stories-within-stories, and the magical realism are great. It doesn't quite measure up to her Greenglass House books, though (this is a prequel, of sorts, to those), mostly because I found some of the explanations related to the machine itself to be a little hard to swallow/slightly confused. Still, a good, fun read.

May 26, 2019, 8:46am Top

86. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
May AlphaKIT:V

A novel about a couple's relationship from beginning through the first two years or so, told through dictionary entry definitions. A really cool concept, but it fell a bit flat for me; I think it tried to be too clever (or needed to be better at the poetic bits and just couldn't manage it), and that, in addition to me not particularly liking either of the characters, made for a dissatisfying read.

May 28, 2019, 6:56am Top

87. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
no CAT: reread before watching the show
I reread this one so that it would be fresh in my mind for the release of the show. I knew that I loved it, but I'd forgotten the details of that love. Such a great story with fantastic characters. The first time I read it was before I'd ever picked up the first Discworld book, so I didn't really know anything about Pratchett's work. This time though I'm now over halfway through the Discworld series and it's wonderful to see how most of these characters would be right at home in that other world. I even fangirled a bit when Death first comes on the scene here (he's my very favorite in the Discworld series).

May 31, 2019, 2:16pm Top

88. A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

A young boy living in London wants a dog so badly, but there's no space for one in the city. It becomes an obsession for him, one that leads to a scary-but-ultimately-okay accident, and then finally he gets his wish, although it doesn't turn out exactly as he had daydreamed it would.
I've really enjoyed all the other Pearce books I've read, but I struggled to finish this one, and at one point Ben (the boy) makes a decision so irritating (to me, at least) that I very nearly did give up on it. The characters are unlikeable (all but the grandfather, who's a delight), and Ben's pouting and obsessing over a dog quickly became tedious. So I was disappointed in this one, I'm afraid.

Jun 1, 2019, 11:13am Top

89. Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
no CAT: Stonewall Honor Book
Danny Cheng has enough on his plate, with the stress of doing well in school, getting into the college art program he wants, dealing with the looks and attitudes of white people, and trying to work up the courage to tell his best friend, Harry, that he has feelings for him that go beyond friendship. But in addition to all of this, he and his classmates have the anniversary of a friend's suicide coming up, and Danny is also trying to figure out why his parents won't tell him more about his own lost sister, why his father lost his job, and why they need to move away so suddenly. There's so much to unpack in this book: race issues, being a gay, Asian teen, teen suicide and the pressures of school getting into the best colleges, the mystery behind Danny's parents' past. And all of it is so well done here, too. It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I did, I loved every minute of it.

Jun 2, 2019, 9:29am Top

90. News of the World by Paulette Jiles
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
BingoDOG #4: Book Bullet
June TBRCAT: Book Bullet

In the late 1800s, an 70-something widower travels around Texas with a bag full of newspapers, giving readings as a way to spread the news of the world to others. He agrees to transport a 10-year-old girl back to her family after she's been rescued from the Kiowa, who kidnapped her four years earlier. Like many captured children, she doesn't want to be rescued and is an unwilling travelling companion at first, but then they become fast friends who help each other through interesting and sometimes dangerous situations on their way south to her family. Handing her over to her aunt and uncle may prove to be the most difficult part of the task...
I'm generally not a fan of westerns, but I'd heard nothing but amazing things about this one. They were all true. The characters and the story are fascinating and the writing is top notch.

Jun 2, 2019, 12:17pm Top

>205 scaifea: - posted on the June BB thread that I'll be taking a BB for this. Took one for this author earlier this year, so I really should try and read something by her.

Jun 2, 2019, 12:33pm Top

>206 dudes22: I hope you like it!

Jun 6, 2019, 9:17am Top

91. Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Nine-year-old Hillary lives with her parents in their nice home and their lovely garden, which her father keeps immaculate. She goes to school and hangs out with her popular friends and lives in a nice little bubble. The neighbor girl, Mary Kate, lives in a run-down house with her mysterious and rarely-seen mother (her father isn't around), wears raggedy clothing and strange old boots to school, and has no friends because all the girls think she's strange. When Mary Kate invites Hillary over to her yard, which is full of trash and briars and weeds, to see the village that the elves created, Hillary accepts, much to her friends' scorn and disapproval. She gradually becomes friends with the cautious and caustic Mary Kate and spends most of her time with her in the elf village (which she believes in her heart is real), but is never invited inside the house. After Mary Kate stops coming to school and is never in the yard anymore, Hillary braves walking into the dilapidated house to look for her, and in that moment her bubbled life begins to change. Well written, lovingly crafted, and absolutely heartbreaking. An important read for middle grade kiddos.

Jun 6, 2019, 5:18pm Top

92. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
A new witch is born in the Discworld as Tiffany Aching comes into her own by making friends with the Nac Mac Feegle, crossing over into the world of faerie to save her brother from the snow queen, and learns to open her eyes and then open them again. It's enough even to impress the likes of Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. I'm now something like thirty books into the Discworld series and can finally say that I've turned the corner from just fair-to-middlin' enjoying them to actively loving them. Pratchett has hit a stride with these last few books that really works and I hope it continues for the next ten or eleven books.

Jun 6, 2019, 7:36pm Top

93. You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld
no CAT
(I just picked this one up at the library today on a whim)
A collection of Gauld's comics on mostly literary themes. It was a little hit-and-miss for me, but the hits were hilarious and I love his illustrating style.

Jun 10, 2019, 8:23am Top

94. The Winter Room by Gary Paulsen
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

A chronicle of a year in the life of two young brothers growing up on a farm. They learn some hard truths about the toll country living can take, along with the value of stories blended with family history. Farm life isn't sugar-coated here, but even the slaughter of animals in the fall is treated with respect and just the right amount of delicacy. A good introduction to what's it like growing up in the country for kiddos who don't have exposure to such things, plus a nice story for good measure.

Jun 10, 2019, 8:32am Top

95. A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Penelope visits her aunt and uncle at Thackers Manor and finds herself stepping back and forth in time, visiting relatives and residents of the place from three hundred years before, and taking part in helping Mary Queen of Scots try to escape her imprisonment. A Narnia-style story with a history lesson and a hint of romance, too. I would have absolutely loved this one when I was a kid, and I still enjoyed it quite a bit now.

Jun 10, 2019, 8:52am Top

96. The Weathermonger by Peter Dickinson
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
June SFFKIT: Road Trip

A brother and sister barely escape a dystopian England to France after their fellow villagers try to drown them for tinkering with machinery. Something's happened across the entire country so that people have abandoned technology out of fear and have reverted to a Dark Age mentality. The French authorities send the kids back to England to try to discover what has caused such a change, and equips them as best they can for the quest. It helps that Jeff, the brother, has the power to change the weather, which also seems to have come to him (and others in England) as a result of The Changes. They need to make a dangerous cross-country journey to find the source of the change and try to stop it themselves. A fun, not-too-intense dystopian novel (the third in a trilogy, but can easily stand alone), and a neat, Arthurian ending.

Jun 10, 2019, 9:02am Top

97. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
CAT#16: Books from my Read Soon! Shelves
An innkeeper begins to tell his story to a traveling chronicler, and boy is it a doozy of a tale. This has everything I love about excellent fantasy: a cocky but lovable hero who also makes a wonderfully self-deprecating narrator, cool and mysterious monstery bad guys, fabulous back stories and world building, seemingly doomed love,... It's all here and then some. And the writing is so, so fabulous. *happy sigh*

Jun 10, 2019, 9:08am Top

98. Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A farm boy is given a runt of the lamb to raise as his own and the two grow up together, learning their roles and jobs as they go. A sweet story, not too sad or sappy.

Jun 11, 2019, 9:03pm Top

I really love reading your reviews!

Some wonderful bits:

"It's fabulous, of course. Because it's Neil." (having not read any Neil Gaiman yet, but planning on my first this month, this has me excited...)

"and the very last sentence made me close the book, sit back, and smile for a long happy minute. That's always a pretty good sign, really." I've only read one omnibus Pratchett Rincewind the Wizard, and it looks like I need to give Discworld some more time.

And I'll take a BB for Afternoon of the Elves!

Jun 12, 2019, 2:14am Top

>216 LisaMorr: Hard to top "If heaven itself were a book, it would look something like this." (from #75).

Jun 12, 2019, 5:18am Top

>216 LisaMorr: >217 haydninvienna: Aw, thanks so much! It makes me happy that you like them!

>216 LisaMorr: Lisa: I hope you love Gaiman as much as I do - what are you planning on reading this month?

Discworld took me a few before I really started to love them, but now I'm very glad I decided to read through the entire series.

And yay for BBs! I hope you love Afternoon of the Elves.

Jun 12, 2019, 11:08am Top

>218 scaifea: American Gods for the road trip theme in the SFFKIT.

>217 haydninvienna: Definitely another good one!

Jun 12, 2019, 12:04pm Top

>219 LisaMorr: Ooooh, so good! I hope you love it!

Jun 12, 2019, 3:29pm Top

99. Ash Road by Ivan Southall
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
Three boys go camping for a week on their own and accidentally start a fire that sweeps through the dangerously dry outback. The story follows the actions of several families living along Ash Road, how the adults seem to bungle through their instincts to help, and how a handful of children are left alone and possibly trapped by the oncoming flames. A YA thriller, I suppose, but without much in the way of thrilling bits. The writing needed to be more immediate and intense, I think, to pull it off. I love a good disaster/thriller story, but this one lacked the seat-edgy excitement.

Jun 12, 2019, 3:50pm Top

>212 scaifea: I did love that book as a child. It's somewhere on the bookshelves, I wonder if I ought to dig it out again sometime. I don't want to ruin the memory with the actuality though.

Jun 12, 2019, 6:03pm Top

>222 Helenliz: I'm not surprised; I'm certain I would have read and reread and reread it as a kid. It's just the sort of thing I loved.

Jun 13, 2019, 1:51pm Top

100. The Ghost in the Mirror by John Bellairs
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman are on another summer holiday trip together, but this time they get pulled back in time to help Mrs. Zimmerman's magical mentor right a long-ago wrong. If they succeed, they may just be able to return Mrs. Zimmerman to her full witchy powers. Another fun entry in the series. I love that Charlie loves these books, and they're a hoot to read aloud at bedtime.

Jun 13, 2019, 4:10pm Top

101. Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sentō
no CAT: library impulse check-out
Two young travelers spending a few months in Japan buy a camera that allegedly takes photos of yokai (ghosts). They then spend their time visiting potentially haunted sites in search of subjects to photograph, and learn about the culture and folklore of yokai along the way. This was a fun graphic novel and I loved the ghosty folklore, but the story was a bit choppy in places.

Jun 15, 2019, 3:52pm Top

102. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
June RandomCAT: Pick a Card

This one has everything that I should love about a novel: jinn in the modern world, a unique reworking of favorite folktales and fairytales, stories within stories, and an author who is capable of gorgeous wordsmithery. But, well, it just didn't work for me. And that makes me pretty sad. I was so looking forward to a Rushdie version of 1001 Nights, but I didn't like any of the characters and got impatient with the slowness of the prose. Maybe it's just me? At any rate, I won't give up on Rushdie because he's swept me off my feet in the past and I remain hopeful that I'll find that magic with him again.

Jun 16, 2019, 10:18am Top

103. What Hearts by Bruce Brooks

CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

The book follows Asa through his childhood, through multiple moves as his mother leaves his father and remarries to a man who neither understands nor seems to like Asa much at all, through his mother's battles with depression, and through his own struggles with being much more intelligent than his peers, not fitting in, and trying to be as compassionate as he can with everyone around him. It's a lovely story and for the most part it's well told, but for me it doesn't quite work as well as it could, because Asa himself isn't very believable a character. He's very smart for his age, which is fine, but he's also incredibly (in the literal sense of that word) emotionally mature and self-aware. He has a grasp on the motives and emotions of others that no child could possibly have. It's so far from believable that it kept jarring me out of the story, and his insights are so keen that I also don't think this book is Newbery material (it won the Newbery Honor in 1993). If the Printz award had been around then, I could see it in that category, which tends toward more mature content for YA, but it just seems too sophisticated for the Newbery.

Jun 18, 2019, 11:13am Top

104. The Puppy Place: Lucky by Ellen Miles
Charlie's read-aloud at bedtime
Another puppy rescued by Charles and Lizzie Peterson. Charlie really enjoys this series and it's a good one for him to read aloud to us, but I'm getting a bit wearied at this point, and honestly, I think Miles may be, too.

Jun 19, 2019, 11:43am Top

105. Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
no CAT - Stonewall Award
Caroline lives with her father in the U.S. Virgin Islands, gets bullied at school for being different, desperately wants answers for why her mother left and where she went, wonders about the spirits that follow her around but that no one else seems to be able to see, and falls in love with Kalinda, the first friend she's ever had. It's an interesting story, but it feels like there's too much going on at once and that the book can't decide which of the things it's really about. I'm always happy about more LGTBQ+ stories for kids, but that element of the book seemed tagged on and seamy (i.e. not at all seamlessly interwoven). And the ghosts/spirits part felt that way, too, really, although I do wonder if that perception is due to my not being very well versed in the proper cultural references. If so, then yeah, I own up to needing to do more homework to get how the spirits work into things. However, since this is a book intended for a young audience, it would have been a great opportunity to introduce them to such a thing (or at least add some references at the end for further reading). So, great potential here, but I think it needed a bit more polish.

Jun 23, 2019, 3:11pm Top

106. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
June AlphaKIT: J

Set in 1929 (with flashbacks to WWI), this is the first in a series about the eponymous character, a female detective/psychologist of sorts. Here, she's setting up shop in post-war London and taking on one of her first cases: a man suspects his wife of infidelity, but it turns out to be something much different than that, and leads to a much more complex case for Miss Dobbs. It started out a little slow for me (or maybe it was just I who was a little slow to take up the story), but by the halfway point, I was completely absorbed both in the mystery at hand and in Maisie's own fascinating backstory. Lots of levels of storytelling going on here, and it's well done on each one. I'll certainly be seeking out the rest of the series.

Jun 24, 2019, 8:45am Top

107. Magic Maize by Mary Buff and Conrad Buff
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A young Mayan boy helps his family plant crops and tend to their meager farm. One day his older brother brings home some "magic maize" - corn from the gringos, who say it will grow and produce much better than their own - but their father is too distrustful of the white people to use it. So Fabian decides to plant it in secret. This Newbery Honor Book from 1953 feels its age; it's filled with subalterns who can't seem to make ends meet until the White Saviors come to the rescue. Blech.

Jun 24, 2019, 8:52am Top

108. Doraemon by Fujiko F. Fujio
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A robot cat is sent back in time by a boy to help a his (the boy's) grandfather stay out of trouble when *he* (the grandpa) is a kid. (*whew*) Okay, but not earth-shattering.

Jun 24, 2019, 3:24pm Top

109. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
June AlphaKIT: D

Dahl tells of his travels to Africa for his first job, and then his time in the RAF during WWII. Not as interesting, to me, as his account of his earlier years, but still a pretty interesting read.

Jun 27, 2019, 3:23pm Top

110. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
Polly disguises herself as a young man and joins the army in order to find her brother, who she thinks must have been captured. Gradually she finds out that she's not the only recruit with such an idea...
Pratchett mixes Private Benjamin, Viola from Twelfth Night, and a bit of All Quiet on the Western Front, and serves it up on Discworld. Clever, extremely funny, and quite touching as well. I had a great time with this one, and loved all the little twists, and the guest appearance by Vimes, too.

Jun 30, 2019, 9:18am Top

111. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
A brother and sister run away from home to live for a little while in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there, they work to solve the mystery of a statue that may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo, and end their adventure by meeting the rich and slightly eccentric woman who sold the piece to the museum. A re-read for me, but the first time for Charlie; I *love* this book, mostly because I spent a good deal of my childhood daydreaming about secretly exploring public spaces (museums, bookstores, libraries,...) at night. I think Charlie didn't get caught up in the possibilities as much as I did, but he still enjoyed it.

Jun 30, 2019, 9:59am Top

112. Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
BingoDog#18: Fairy Tale, Classic or Reworked
16-year-old Deirdre is super-gifted as a harpist and at everything else she puts her mind to, really. That doesn't meant she doesn't get incredibly nervous before every performance, so much so that she needs to vomit every time before hitting the stage. When a strange (and absolutely gorgeous) boy appears in the restroom to hold her hair during one such regurgitation session, things start getting weird really fast: she keeps finding four-leaf clovers laying around, followed by actual Fair Folk, her annoying aunt becomes even more so on a grand scale, her grandma reacts in a weirdly-hostile way to Strange Gorgeous New Maybe Boyfriend, and her best friend seems to be approaching an awkward declaration of love that Deirdre really doesn't want to deal with at the moment. When the fairies turn dangerous, she needs to decide if she can trust Handsome But Still Sort of Weird Boy, but the most difficult bit may be deciding that she can trust her own self and her abilities. This was much more romance than I usually go for in a novel, but like all other Stiefvater works I've read, it was absolutely excellent and I can't wait to read the second book.

Jun 30, 2019, 3:27pm Top

113. The Silver Pencil by Alice Dalgliesh
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Janet, an English girl growing up in Trinidad, loves to write stories and receives the eponymous writing instrument from her father as a Christmas present. Then he dies unexpectedly, and Janet and her mother set off for England for her schooling, then for America; eventually she ends up in Canada, all the while writing her life into stories along the way.
Meh. Even as I write up this summary I think it sounds like a book I would love. But, reader, I didn't. Nothing in it caught my interest and I was restless-reading through the whole thing. *shrug*

Jun 30, 2019, 8:37pm Top

>236 scaifea: I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one! I really love Stiefvater's Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races, but I've been nervous to try her earlier stuff in case it's not as good. Also, I am totally going to steal the phrase "restless-reading" at >237 scaifea:. It's such a good term!

Jul 1, 2019, 5:22am Top

>238 christina_reads: I'm a *huge* fan of Maggie's Raven Cycle - HUGE. I haven't read The Scorpio Races yet, but I've heard really good things, and I've read All the Crooked Saints and really liked it, too. This one has a great story, even if her writing is clearly not quite up to Raven Cycle greatness just yet. Still worth it. I had a discussion yesterday with a friend and fellow Stiefvater fan who said that Lament was originally supposed to be the first of a trilogy, but Maggie just wrote the second one and then never got round to the third. I've ordered the second one and will definitely read it, but I'm now pretty troubled that I'm going to feel like I'll never get to finish the series...

Steal away - I'm not sure if I've heard that term somewhere else and tucked it into my brain or if I just made it up right there. Either way, you're welcome to it.

Jul 7, 2019, 10:00am Top

114. I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves

A collection of columns Bryson wrote for a British paper on living in the US after moving back to the states from the UK 20 years after leaving. Some laugh-aloud moments and several witty bits, but overall it's not my favorite of Bryson's work. Read straight through, there's just a little too much grousing for my tastes, and it makes Bryson seem more sanctimonious than I hope he actually is.

Jul 7, 2019, 3:50pm Top

115. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
July RandomCAT: All about Birds

When a new boy starts at Frannie's school, everyone takes notice, because he's the only white boy there. Some think he doesn't belong in this school or in this part of town at all. Frannie isn't sure what to think of him, but she knows what it's like to be the new kid, and since her brother is deaf, she also experience how kids treat Different every day. So, Frannie juggles life at school negotiating a new friendship with the Jesus Boy (the nickname by general consensus for the new kid), dealing with the angry bully, and sorting through her best friend's religious near-fanaticism. She's not without worries at home, either: although part of a loving and generally happy family, she's troubled that her mother is again pregnant when previous pregnancies have failed and left her (mother) depressed and weak. But Frannie's teacher has had them read some Dickinson, and Frannie uses everything going on around her to try to suss out the meaning of how hope can be a thing with feathers.
Short but powerful, this story packs a ton into its just over 100 pages. Still, somehow it doesn't feel as if it's overdoing anything, and all the elements are blended well. A good story, with characters who are comfortably genuine. Definitely recommended for kiddos and adults alike.

Jul 8, 2019, 8:56am Top

116. The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
A group of young friends turn a small, deserted chapel into a theater and put on plays for their community.
Meh. Typical fare for its time, which tends toward the edge of Saccharine Cliff.

Jul 9, 2019, 10:38am Top

117. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
A runt of a boy with a weak leg goes off into the forest to visit the cabin his father left behind and for a bit of a break from his harsh stepfather; on his way through the snow of the over-long winter, he runs into an eagle, a bear and a fox, and he soon realizes that they are not exactly what they seem.
A reread for me, but the first time round for Charlie (my 10-year-old son). He watched Good Omens with us and fell in love with it, and he's been interested in reading The Sandman for a couple of years now (he can read whatever he likes as long as he agrees to talk with me about it, but in this case we chatted about the potential scariness level of a few things and he decided on his own to wait a bit longer before giving it a go), and was really excited when I pulled this one off the shelf as a suggestion for our next bedtime read-aloud selection. He *loved* it, as he is also a huge fan of Norse mythology, and of course Gaiman absolutely shines at playing with myth. It seems pretty clear to me that he (Gaiman, not Charlie, although it's true with the kiddo as well) just simply loves mythology of any kind, and that love and reverence comes through so beautifully in his stories. And as a classicist who also loves all kinds of myths, that makes me happy. I think it's safe to say that a new Gaiman fan has been born in Charlie, and that makes me happy, too.

Jul 12, 2019, 8:05am Top

118. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
No CAT: one of this year's Morris Award finalists
Tells in a mix of free verse and prose the story of Artemesia Gentileschi, a teenage girl living in Rome in the 1600s and learning to paint from her father, who exploits her talents for his own benefit. Artemsia lives in a world which was made for and revolves around men, and where nearly every situation holds some sort of danger for women. She learns the horribly real truth of this when another painter comes into her father's studio and invades her life. She learns how a woman must negotiate such a life through remembered stories her mother told her before she died, of brave women who stood up for themselves and others.
This one is powerfully told and beautifully written, and treats a difficult subject boldly, balancing harsh truths with a wonderful talent for storytelling. McCullough does a great job of interweaving the mother's stories perfectly with Artemisia's own tale, so that each informs and lifts up the other. Highly recommended.

Jul 15, 2019, 2:05pm Top

119. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
CAT#6: Hugo, Nebula, and Other SF and Fantasy Award Winners
July SFFKIT: Space Opera

In the far future, the universe is divided into Thought Zones, and one's level of intelligence depends on where in those zones you are. When the Straumli unwittingly (sort of) unleash a big-brained Thing, stuff goes really, really wrong. And then there's two or three other story lines on other worlds, but I'm not gonna try to summarize those, because I really didn't like it enough to bother. Big ol' space operas just generally aren't my jam, I guess. The few that I've enjoyed have been so fabulously written that I didn't mind that they're spacey. This one does what annoys me most about the genre: it takes way too much time describing in a level of detail that makes my eyes cross just How Things Work. Generally I don't care How Things Work; I just want to know what the characters are doing within a world that just works without me knowing HOW it works. *sigh*

Jul 15, 2019, 2:30pm Top

120. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
Tiffany Aching sets off to apprentice as a witch, but something follows her and threatens to take over her mind. The Wee Free Men have sworn to protect her, though, so she'll have to deal with them while doing the saving herself, of course (with just a bit of help from Granny Weatherwax).
Loved it. Tiffany and Granny are two of my favorite Discworld characters, and stories with them in it always make for great reading.

Jul 15, 2019, 2:53pm Top

121. Men, Microscopes, and Living Things by Katherine Shippen
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A short history of the study of biology, via chapter-by-chapter mini-biographies of the people who invented it and added discoveries to it.
Not a bad kid's book on the subject, to be honest, and not all that dated for a 1955 Newbery Honor Book. At least, I know I learned a couple of things I didn't know before, and my mind didn't wander too much.

Jul 15, 2019, 3:18pm Top

122. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Set in Zimbabwe in the 2194, the story follows the three overprotected siblings of General Matsika, who leave their mansion to explore the city for the first time. They are nearly immediately kidnapped, forced into slavery, and then escape only to find themselves held against their will in three other, very different circumstances before finally finding their way back to their parents and safety with the help of three detectives with incredible special abilities.
This Newbery Honor Book has an interesting way of blending a vision of the future with the traditions of Zimbabwe's past, and the plot and characters are engaging and fun to follow, too. I'm still thinking through my thoughts about this being written (in the mid-90s) by a white woman and how that affects the story; I would love to read a response to the book by a POC, or better yet, read a retelling or a sequel by the same.

Jul 16, 2019, 10:29am Top

123. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
On Charlotte's first day at boarding school she feels out of place and unsure of who she really is, but when she wakes up the next morning in the same bed only 40 years in the past, she becomes even more unsure of her own identity. She spends most of the school year, then, switching places each night with Clare, a boarding school girl from the past, and it seems a fun adventure until Clare and her sister are sent to stay somewhere off the grounds, which strands Charlotte in the past and Clare in the future.
A fair-to-middling time travel book for Middle Graders, which is somewhat saved by the interesting plot twist at the end. I think it could have been a much more interesting story if we could also get Clare's point of view as well as Charlottes, perhaps in alternate chapters.

Jul 16, 2019, 10:49am Top

124. Hurrah for St. Trinian's by Ronald Searle
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A collection of comics about a group of absolutely horrid (but in a funny way?) boarding school girls behaving badly (but, again, funny?).
*shrug* It didn't tickle my sense of humor, I guess.

Jul 19, 2019, 10:43am Top

125. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
BingoDog#6: Topic/Character Related to Medicine/Health
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves

Gawande, a surgeon, argues that medicine isn't an exact science and therefore mistakes are inevitable. He then explores the line between that potential for error and the humanity necessary to make doctors good at what they do.
This is a good, interesting read with all sorts of worthy insights, and Gawande is an excellent writer. My only issue with it is that I have Surgery/Hospital Fear, and his anecdotes supporting the message of medicine as not infallible really didn't help that. It's, of course, my own shortcoming and not the book's, and I can otherwise happily recommend it.

Jul 22, 2019, 1:51pm Top

126. Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
July AlphaKIT: C

Dallas and Florida - the Trouble Twins, as the couple who run the orphanage call them - are taken in by an older couple, who want young companions on the canoe and bird-watching trips they're planning. The twins are slow to trust adults, since they've been placed in several homes with people who have mistreated and exploited them and then sent them back to the orphanage, where they don't fare much better. But Tiller and Sairy (the older couple with whom they are now staying) are kind and loving and patient, and they live in Ruby Holler, a utopia of woods and streams and wilderness, and between the people and the setting, the kiddos learn to trust and love.
I normally really enjoy Creech's books, but this one was a little too much: the kids were a little too exasperating, the mean adults a little too cardboardy-mean, the good adults a little too quirky in their niceness, and the ending a little too pat. Still, the story itself is interesting enough to have kept me engaged and helped me look past the saccharine parts.

Jul 22, 2019, 1:55pm Top

127. The Moved-Outers by Florence Crannell Means
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Follows the story of a Japanese-American family who are forced to move into a detention camp during WWII.
Not a terrible treatment of the subject, but the insistent patriotism of the main characters, despite all they go through, is a little grating and rings a little false.

Jul 26, 2019, 1:03pm Top

128. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
July AlphaKIT: P

Absolutely stunning, this one. The writing is excellent and the story is devastatingly good. Warning: you'll need tissues. Lots of tissues. A boy, whose mother is dying with cancer, is visited by a monster at night. The monster tells the boy three stories and in return demands that the boy tells his own truth in the form of the fourth story. The line between reality and what's happening in the boy's head - and the line between boy and monster - blurs throughout, and the boy's truth is where those tissues will come in handy.

Jul 26, 2019, 1:16pm Top

>254 scaifea: - Wow! Book bullet for me. I read another of Patrick Ness's books and liked it and you make this sound like something I'd like.

Jul 26, 2019, 1:17pm Top

>255 dudes22: I hope you love it as much as I did! But get those tissues ready...

Jul 26, 2019, 1:20pm Top

>254 scaifea: - I was going to take a BB for this except I already have it on my "recommended" list from a few years ago. Guess I should think about reading it.

Jul 29, 2019, 8:48am Top

129. Damsel by Elana K. Arnold
no CAT - one of this year's Printz Honor Books
For Prince Emory to become king, he must travel to a far land, defeat a dragon, rescue a damsel, and bring her back to his kingdom to be his queen. This is how generations of kings have become rulers in the kingdom of Harding. But when Emory rescues Ama, who doesn't remember anything at all before then, Ama begins to question her past, her role in the tradition, and Emory's true motivation for slaying the dragon.
The story is a clever one - I love a good rule-breaking, I-don't-want-to-be-a-princess princess - but the execution felt off. I'm generally not at all a prude about sex in books, but the encounters in this one seemed unnecessarily, um, something. Not graphic, really, but just, well, crude? Maybe just unnecessary. I will say that the author does a good job of making the reader really uncomfortable for the damsel, and she achieves this mostly through making Emory an absolute tool and in a very realistic way. I think the not-really-graphic-but-something's-off-about-it sex bits are a part of that, and they work in that way, sort of, but I think I still could have done without them. I'm fixating on this, aren't I? Apologies. One more thing that bothered me: the ending was too abrupt and oddly violent (oddly in the sense that the character who commits the troubling violence doesn't seem the type to do so at all right up until it happens, and so I was jarred out of the narrative because of it). I think the main issue, for me, was that Arnold is trying to go dark with this one, but approaches it in the wrong way, so instead of profound and intense, she ends up with troubling and ew.

Jul 29, 2019, 9:08am Top

130. Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
no CAT - one of this year's Morris Award Finalists
A college freshman - a gay figure skating champ/hockey player from Georgia - adjusts to life on a small Massachusetts college campus, makes friends with his new teammates, bakes pies like a pro, struggles to overcome his fears in the rink, and copes with it all by keeping a vlog. Oh, and he's pretty sure he's falling for the hockey team captain, although he's also pretty sure he's straight (the captain that is).
Oh gosh, I loved this one! Bitty (the main character) is all kinds of adorable and funny, as are all of his teammates, who are a fantastic mix of typical crude college dudes and lovable & fierce friends who have each other's backs no matter what. I love that they accept Bitty as gay when he comes out to them as a matter of course, and that his sexual identity is just one of many Life as a College Kid topics. The love story is equally sweet, and Ukazu makes it so easy to root for both Bitty and Jack. Definitely recommended.

Jul 31, 2019, 10:46am Top

131. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
CAT#1: 100 Banned Books
BingoDog#23: Food-Related Title of Topic

The story of a drug addict and his haze-filled travels (there's more to it, of course, but, well, yeah).
I'm glad I read it, because I know that Burroughs was a huge influence on other authors whom I love (HST, in particular) and I really like tracing that sort of thing back, but otherwise I can't really say that I enjoyed this one. Dark and weird without the manic, this-is-nuts-but-I-love-it quality that HST can bring.

Aug 5, 2019, 8:16am Top

132. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
A confidence trickster (Moist von Lipwig) runs out of luck and is faced with the hangman's noose when the Patrician makes him an offer he can't refuse - the job of Postmaster to a post office system in complete disarray. He finds stacks of letters, mountains of letters, that were never delivered, and they're not happy about it (the letters, that is). There's also the clacks system, run by corrupt businessmen who are essentially killing their workers with their slipshod approach to running and maintaining the towers. Moist's job is to get the post office up and running again, and he decides to take on the big corporate bullies, too, and beat them at their own game.
A solid entry in the Discworld series; I love the new character of Moist (I'm a sucker for the rascally, too-clever-for-his-own-good types) and I hope he shows up again soon.

Aug 5, 2019, 8:54am Top

133. The Ghost of Thomas Kemp by Penelope Lively
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
James and his family move into an old cottage, in which James gets the attic for his bedroom. It's been closed off for years, and when the workers open it up to renovate, they unwittingly let loose the spirit of a sorcerer, Thomas Kemp, from the 1660s. The spirit is moody and demanding, and tries to get James to help him re-establish his business in the village. When James resists, Thomas gets testy and starts breaking things, for which James gets blamed by his parents. He finds a local carpenter who is also a bit of an expert on spirits on the side, and together they try to put the ghost to rest.
This is a great ghost story for kids - it's fun and well-written, and the characters are interesting and easy to become friends with, plus the story isn't scary really at all. Definitely recommended.

Aug 5, 2019, 4:41pm Top

134. Naturally Tan by Tan France
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
August AlphaKIT: N

My 10yo son and I both absolutely adore Queer Eye, and watching it together has led to so many fantastic conversations about acceptance and loving kindness and self-care and self-love. I'm so grateful and happy that this show exists and that the cast are all so loving and open. And so this memoir-loving gal was delighted to get her hands on this book; reader, it doesn't disappoint. France tells us about growing up as South Asian and gay in the UK and about the struggles inherent in negotiating those qualities with the world, then moves on to moving to the states, starting multiple businesses, battling the immense stress caused by running those businesses, and finally, of course, getting cast and being a member of the QE show. He manages to be honest about himself and the world as he sees it in a lovely and gracious way, and walks the humble-and-grateful line without tipping over into humble-brag territory or insincerity at all. It's well done and engaging, and (as all honestly-written memoirs are, I believe) brave, and I'm grateful to Mr. France for sharing a bit of his life with us.

Aug 10, 2019, 3:32pm Top

135. America Is Born by Gerald W. Johnson
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A history of the United States (and a bit about Canada as well), from Columbus to the end of the American Revolution, and written for what we now call Middle Grade kiddos. For being written in the 1950's, it's honestly not too bad, although there are a few bits that are definitely dated. It's thorough without being dry, and that's an accomplishment in itself.

Aug 11, 2019, 9:31am Top

136. The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder by John Bellairs
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Jonathan and Lewis travel to Europe to visit Jonathan's cousin, Pelly, and while staying at Pelly's old manor house, Lewis and his new friend, Bertie, accidentally release an evil witch-finder ghost on the grounds.
We love Bellairs and Charlie has really been enjoying them as our occasional bedtime read-alouds, but this one got a bit too creepy for him in the middle. We took a break for a couple of days and then he wanted to get back to it, and we were able to finish it then. It's good knowing that everything always turns out right in the end, and I think that helped. The characters are great and the stories are fun, so I suspect that Charlie will choose to continue with the series.

Aug 19, 2019, 1:22pm Top

137. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
August SFFKIT: Alternative History

Fantasy/alternative history in which the Napoleonic Wars are fought with the added force of a Dragon Corps. Laurence is a Navy captain who find himself forced into a change of career when the dragon egg his ship's crew found on a captured French vessel hatches and chooses him as its handler. The change means quite a bit of adjustment for Laurence, since the Dragon Corps have very different ideas about how things are done and aren't easily moved to accept outsiders, but his fast-growing friendship with Temeraire (the dragon) makes it worth the life upheaval.
I enjoyed this one a great deal (which isn't at all surprising, since I absolutely loved Novik's Uprooted), and I'd give it 10/10, except that the battle scenes went on too long for me. That sort of thing makes me go cross-eyed very quickly, and I'm not interested enough in it to make an effort at understanding what's happening. So for me the story got bogged down with the battle bits, but was otherwise excellent. I love Laurence and Temeraire, and their relationship is wonderfully developed.

Aug 19, 2019, 2:00pm Top

138. A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
No CAT: one of this year's Printz Honor Books
High school senior Annabelle decides to deal with a recent tragedy in her life by running from Seattle to D.C. with the help of her grandpa, who follows her in his RV, and her friends and family, who set up GoFundMe pages and handle the PR side of things. The novel is a chronicle of her journey, both physical and mental/emotional as she works through the deep anxiety and depression brought on by what she's endured.
This is one of those I-Wanted-To-Like-It-So-Much-More-Than-I-Did books, sadly. The subject (gun violence and its toll on young people) is so important right now, and I love that there are YA books out there trying to deal with it, but this one fell short for me. Two main things made me not absolutely love it: 1) the actual Tragedy isn't revealed right away, but is instead teased throughout the book, so that the reader only gets hints of it up until nearly the very end. I get that this is a device used to make the reader's experience mirror Annabelle's shyness about dealing with what's happened and her gradual growth into a strength that allows her to face the past, but it's drawn out too much here, so much so that I felt toyed with: okay, okay, I get that we don't get to know what happened just yet; I don't need constant reminders that I'm not allowed to know; 2) Annabelle suffers from some pretty intense anxiety issues, which makes sense based on the character Caletti builds and what she's experienced, but this, too, feels like it suffers from Beaten Dead Horse Syndrome. Again, I get that it's an important part of the story, but I think it needed a lighter touch. As it stands, it bogs down the plot movement and becomes more distracting than helpful. In the end, it's a good story and an important one, but it just trips over itself a bit getting there.

Aug 19, 2019, 2:19pm Top

139. Dreamtime: Aboriginal Stories by Oodgeroo
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
The author recounts her childhood on Stradbroke Island, off the Australian coast.
It's fine, I guess, and the stories are somewhat interesting, but it can get a bit preachy and historically I don't respond well to that sort of thing. *shudders*

Aug 22, 2019, 11:27am Top

140. Men of Athens by Olivia Coolidge
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A dramatic history of the golden years of Ancient Athens, retold for kiddos. This Newbery Honor Book from 1963 was fair-to-middlin'. Could have been more engaging (I mean honestly, the subject matter is fabulous all on its own!), if the language wasn't so stilted in places.

Aug 25, 2019, 3:57pm Top

141. The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
CAT#15: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
August TBRCAT: Book Bought with Excitement but Still Not Read

A cool twist on the traditional zombie thriller, with nods to ancient Greek and Roman literature? Yes, please. Equal parts fascinating, terrifying, and surprisingly touching, this one had me rooting for and horrified by every character, and racing to turn every page to get to an ending that is hugely satisfying. Highly recommended.

Aug 30, 2019, 7:11am Top

142. Jennings and Darbishire by Anthony Buckeridge
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Two boys in an English boarding school get up to all sorts of well-natured shenanigans. A fun little book with slightly flat yet still enjoyable characters and a predictable but cozy plot: the boys are prone to trouble but not malice, and the teachers are stern yet loving. Idyllic early 20th century boarding school hijinx.

Aug 30, 2019, 7:20am Top

143. Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
no CAT
(I saw this one in a Book Riot New Books list and thought it looked interesting)
A strange little MG graphic novel about a late-night run for fast food by a group of school kids that turns into a run for their lives against taco bag squid bees that are replicating and therefore distorting and destroying the world. Weird but also kind of fun. Possibly a little too scary for the more timid MG readers, though.

Aug 31, 2019, 4:04pm Top

144. Circe by Madeline Miller
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
August RandomCAT: Back to School

A retelling of the Circe myth, with ample gap filling. I love it when great authors play with mythology, and this is exactly that. Miller is excellent at both and I love what she's done with Circe as a character: strong yet emotionally accessible and just vulnerable enough to be relatable and believable. As someone with a classics degree, Miller knows what she's about and in general manages to stay true to the stories and characters while manipulating them to her own ends. Highly recommended.

I chose this one for the Back to School RandomCAT because I used to assign such modern retellings of Greek myths in my Classical Mythology classes, and I would absolutely have assigned this one.

Sep 1, 2019, 10:11am Top

145. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
CAT#4: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Turn into a Newt
BingoDOG#9: Eastern European Author or Setting

A novel in which the Devil comes to Moscow to play mischief on literary types and is accompanied by a talking, boozy black cat? My first reaction was, Yes, please! I thought I'd absolutely love this one because it seems that it would be weird in all the right ways for me, but I'm sad that I didn't. Love it, I mean. Maybe because I'm not keen to understand the political protesty background? Maybe because Russian lit has never been my absolute favorite (although there are a couple that I did very much enjoy)? I feel I've failed some test somewhere with this one, but, well, *shrug*.

And with that one, I'm finished with the Bingo Challenge! Woot!!

Sep 1, 2019, 10:51am Top

>274 scaifea: Congrats on finishing the bingo challenge! I've tried The Master and Margarita before but really need to buy a copy to spend the right amount of time with it. Also have to figure out which translation I'd like. How was yours?

Sep 1, 2019, 11:24am Top

>275 rabbitprincess: I'm wondering if part of my issue with the book *was* the translation, which did seem a little stilted. Maybe stay clear of this one?

Sep 1, 2019, 1:01pm Top

>276 scaifea: Is that the Pevear and Volonkhosky translation? Looks like it from the cover image.

Sep 1, 2019, 6:38pm Top

Sep 3, 2019, 8:16am Top

I adored Circe. Always good to see other people enjoying it. Telling a story you already know in a new way is a skill.

Sep 3, 2019, 8:17am Top

>279 Helenliz: Definitely a skill, I agree.

Sep 9, 2019, 7:45am Top

146. The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A young boy from Wyoming breaks his leg and falls into a kind of depression because of it. To help him break out of his feelings of helplessness, his parents decide to take him to France (this is just after WWII and his father is still stationed there). He stays for the summer with his uncle in the south of France, helps him build a glider airplane, and gets mixed up with a Nazi in hiding looking for buried treasure.
This is a pretty fun one, really. There's suspense and mystery in the story about the Nazi, but the best bit is that John learns some French, bit by bit, throughout the book, and so can young readers right along with him, so that by the end they can read the letter John writes to his mother, in simple and understandable French. Pretty cool.

Edited: Sep 9, 2019, 1:33pm Top

147. I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis
no CAT: Charlie wanted me to read this one
A surprisingly compelling account of the attacks on the Twin Towers, geared as an introduction on the subject for lower-end Middle Grade kids. It would be a great way to start a conversation about what happened that day and how much of an impact it had on so many people. I would likely never have picked this one up, but Charlie read it and asked me about how I remembered the day. We had a really good conversation, and then he said that he thought I might like the book (he loved it), so of course I had to read it. (I take book recommendations from my favorite kiddo very seriously.)

Sep 9, 2019, 3:01pm Top

148. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
CAT#24: Audiobooks
Orïsha is a land held under the thumb of a brutal ruler, who, years earlier, gained control over his people by banning magic, slaughtering all magi, and oppressing their children. But when Zélie, the daughter of one of the murdered magi women, discovers a chance to bring back all magic, she, her brother, and their unlikely companion, Amari - princess of the land and daughter to the tyrant - set out on a near-impossible journey to set the world right again.
This is Black Girl Magic at a wonderfully literal level. Every female character in here is strong and fierce, yet still beautifully human in her hesitations and insecurities (read: fierce yet utterly believable and relatable). Just a couple of small things kept this one from being a 10/10 for me (the middle dragged just slightly, and I though the love interest stories weren't really necessary), but the story was fabulous, the characters perfectly drawn, and best of all, this is a much-needed addition to a too-small pool of books into which young black women can look and find themselves staring fiercely back. More of this, please, yes!!
Also, I listened to the audio version, and I can't recommend it enough. Gorgeously done and well deserving of the awards it has garnered.

Edited: Sep 10, 2019, 5:37pm Top

149. Emily Dickinson: Letters collected and edited by Emily Fragos
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
September TBRCAT: Classic I Feel I Should Read

I have a sentimental spot in my heart for letters, so I went in already loving this collection of Dickinson's correspondence and kept on loving it throughout. The balance between candid and styled, personal and performed in published letters makes me giddy. I also love spending some time in the writer's daily life, and Emily's life is such a lovely one to visit. Recommended, for certain.

Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 4:45pm Top

>281 scaifea:

This is lurking somewhere on my shelves and it sounds like it would be worth pulling out sometime.

>283 scaifea:

That's one to track down as well.

Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 8:21pm Top

>285 hailelib: I hope you love them both!

Sep 13, 2019, 8:20am Top

150. Thud! by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
Commander Vimes vs. Trolls vs. Dwarfs and their ancient feud. Also vs. an ancient evil that is stalking around Ankh-Morpork. Spoiler: Vimes wins, because, well, Vimes.
Vimes and his city watch have really grown on me, to the point that I just love them all tons, and their stories are always a hoot. Vimes is gruff and irritable and angry and sharp and also a big old softy, and who wouldn't love that?! Highly recommended.

Sep 15, 2019, 10:41am Top

151. I, Claudia by Mary McCoy
no CAT: one of this year's Printz Honor Books
I, Claudius meets Watergate meets Clueless, or Cruel Intentions, or something. I felt repeatedly thwacked over the head with the references and parallels to the Roman Empire and at the same time completely uninterested in the plot. So this one didn't work for me.

Edited: Sep 16, 2019, 7:10am Top

152. Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
September RandomCAT: Equinox

James plays the bagpipes, and he's extremely good at it. So good, in fact, that the special conservatory where he attends high school doesn't have an instructor good enough to teach him. But he didn't choose the Thornking-Ash School of Music to help his playing; he's there because of a girl. Because of course he is. And the two of them are mixed up with the Them, who chase teens with exceptional musical abilities. But James becomes more involved with the Fey than even he would have guessed at this new school, and becomes torn between his oldest friend/object of his unrequited interest, and his new and also very interesting friend, who happens to be a leanan sidhe. They're all in danger when they discover that the queen of Faerie is planning something big with the horned king of the dead, and James will have to make some tough decisions before it's all over.
I enjoyed this one a good deal, and it's a great follow-up to Lament. Stiefvater has fast become one of my favorites because she has that fabulous talent of blending the supernatural into the real world so effortlessly, and her love of myth and folklore shows, and I love her for that.

Sep 17, 2019, 7:24am Top

153. A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff
no CAT: found on a New Releases list
A free-verse novel about a young Irish girl living with her father and younger sister on a poor bit of land during the Irish Land Wars. This small girl with not even shoes on her feet learns to stand up to the English Lord demanding rent they can't pay, as she fights to save her family farm.
Simply and beautifully told. Anna is a strong and smart character, and you'll root for her from the beginning. It's also a great introduction for kiddos to this bit of history, and Giff includes actual photos of families being evicted from the time. Definitely recommended.

Sep 17, 2019, 7:49am Top

I love all your reads - so to my taste!

>249 scaifea: Whenever I see this book, I start singing The Cure song in my head! I love how they wrote a song based on a children's book.

>254 scaifea: I have this on my TBR but only found out recently that it was actually a concept by Siobhan Dowd. It was to be her next book so she had it outlined before her death. So Patrick Ness became the writer for her idea, apparently somewhat reluctantly as he was unsure of doing her justice. From all I have heard, he did.

>273 scaifea: I LOVE Greek mythology retellings. I would love to hear what you would recommend - both adult and children as my boys love them too.

Sep 17, 2019, 8:06am Top

>291 JayneCM: Hi, Jane!

I love the Cure but didn't make the connection! Ha! That's awesome!

Ness wrote a lovely forward about the Dowd bit. So touching.

Have you read Miller's Song of Achilles? It's so excellent. And Neil Gaiman does amazing stuff with all sorts of mythology, not just classical, so I'd recommend his stuff, too, especially all of Sandman.

Sep 19, 2019, 6:21am Top

154. The 18th Emergency by Betsy Byars
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A short novel about a middle school boy dealing with the fear of being stalked by a school bully. At just 120 pages and taking place over the course of two days, this one is a vignette of how roller-coaster-like middle school can be, and how sometimes adults don't remember or understand how life-and-death those emotions and situations can seem.

Sep 21, 2019, 10:49am Top

155. Down with Skool! by Geoffrey Willans
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Written from the viewpoint (complete with bad spelling) of one of its students, this is a guide to living at St. Custard's boarding school, and is apparently the first of a series of such books. I'm afraid the charms of this one are lost on me.

Sep 25, 2019, 4:54pm Top

156. Li Lun, Lad of Courage by Carolyn Treffinger
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
A young boy is shamed by his father for being too afraid to go on the family fishing boat with him, who makes him take seven grains of rice up the mountain to plant and harvest. Li Lun braves the elements and lives on his own for four months, determined to bring a successful rice harvest back down the mountain to prove his worth.
Meh. A bit dated and not overly engaging. Certainly not one of the better Newbery Honor Books.

Sep 26, 2019, 7:24am Top

>292 scaifea: I have Song of Achilles and Circe on my TBR. I will definitely look into the Neil Gaiman ones as well. Thanks!

Sep 26, 2019, 7:26am Top

>296 JayneCM: You're welcome!

Oct 2, 2019, 7:17am Top

157. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
CAT#4: 1001 Fantasy Books You Must Read Before You Turn Into a Newt
September SFFKIT: Series

A fantasy romp involving a too-smart-for-his-own-good thief up against impossible odds, with cool world building and unseen twists everywhere you turn the page? Yes, please! Megan Whalen Turner's Thief series meets Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles, but with more blood and swear words. So, yeah, definitely recommended, and I will absolutely be continuing with the trilogy.

Oct 3, 2019, 5:54am Top

>298 scaifea: Always glad to see someone pick up and enjoy a book in this series. Guess it's time to pass on my usual warning though that the 2nd book does end on a cliff-hanger so you might want to have the 3rd somewhere close by for when you get around to it.

Oct 3, 2019, 6:23am Top

>299 AHS-Wolfy: Oooh, good advice - thanks! I'm so far behind in my challenge stack (this was only the first of my September reads - yoicks) that it'll be a little while before I can get back to the series, but I definitely want to.

Oct 7, 2019, 2:26pm Top

158. Dragon's Gate by Laurence Yep
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Otter travels from China to the States to join his father and uncle in the land of the Golden Mountain. But all he finds there is bitter cold and unfair working conditions as the white men overwork and exploit the Asian workers who are building a train tunnel through the mountain. Still, he manages to learn some valuable life lessons, including how to stand up for what's right in the face of terrifying authority, and by the time he begins his journey back home, he is ready to take that fight back to the Manchu.
This Newbery Honor book was fair but not earth-shattering. I admit to falling in and out of attention as I listened to it, although it did have its occasional gripping moments.

Oct 7, 2019, 2:49pm Top

159. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
October SFFKIT: Comedy

Tiffany Aching is a nearly 13-year-old girl who made a minor misjudgement and danced when she should have stayed still. For any normal 13-year-old girl, this would be a simple, silly mistake (or, honestly, no mistake at all) and life would go on. But Tiffany is a witch, and a right powerful one at that, and the dancing she did was at the Winter Morris Dance, and her partner was the Wintersmith. So now, unless she can fix her mistake, lots of folks will likely freeze to death under the snow that keeps piling on when it rightly should be spring. Oh, and the flakes all look like her.
The Aching books are fast becoming some of my favorite in the Discworld series, with Tiffany herself being such a fantastic character and the support players including Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and the adorable and hilarious Feegles. Such a fun and happy-making read.

Oct 7, 2019, 3:03pm Top

160. What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

A young boy, his mom, and his baby sister flee from the abusive Van, after Jamie (the boy) sees Van throw his baby sister across the room. They move into a tiny trailer out in the middle of nowhere and both Jamie and his mother struggle to sort out their emotions and fears, while Jamie's mother also struggles to make ends meet.
A powerful subject and a fair-to-middling treatment. Still, possibly a good introduction to breaching the subject with young minds.

Oct 9, 2019, 7:51am Top

161. The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
CAT#8: Stephen Fry: All the Books!
September AlphaKIT: F

An exhortation to everyone that anyone could - and everyone should - write poetry. Fry sets out a course on the various meters, styles, and techniques, including brief histories, a scattering of close readings for snippets of poems, and exercises for the reader to try. He does it all with his usual wit and charm and gleeful cleverness.
I admit that Fry would likely be annoyed with me, because I didn't follow along as I was meant to do: I didn't do any of the poetry-writing exercises, because 1) despite the title, I wasn't expecting a crash course on actually creating poems, and 2) I completely enjoyed thinking about poetry from a different approach. I love reading what people have to say *about* poetry (close readings and such, discussions of how the conjunction of meter and word choice flavor meaning,...), and I was absolutely giddy at the prospect of reading what Fry has to say about those things. Reading his approach to how to *write* the stuff (which includes significant bits of those things I love mentioned above) was absolutely enjoyable without me even touching a pencil. As someone with a degree in English and also a more-than-average knowledge of how to write poetry in Latin (no, really, I have the grad school course work to prove it), most of the technical bits on the various meters and how they work wasn't news, but he does such a lovely job of it that I enjoyed the review. So, maybe I didn't do the book properly, but I still loved it and I definitely recommend it, either for folks like me, who just like reading about poetry and what others think about it, or for those wanting to learn how the innards of poetry work, or for those who want to try their hand at creating the stuff.

Oct 11, 2019, 2:54pm Top

>304 scaifea:

You made Fry's book sound like a very interesting way of getting into poetry. Since the local library has a copy I'm taking a look at it.

Oct 11, 2019, 4:13pm Top

>305 hailelib: Woot! I hope you enjoy it!

Oct 11, 2019, 4:17pm Top

162. Yolanda's Genius by Carol Fenner
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Yolanda is big for her age, but she knows how to handle herself when the 'whale' jokes happen. She's smart but surly, and she doesn't really have any friends. Her little brother is quiet and has trouble reading, but Yolanda becomes convinced that he is a genius with their father's old harmonica, so she sets out to create a scheme that will convince her mother he needs special schooling to foster his gift.
There were things I really appreciated about this book, but then there were others that I really didn't. From the start, I didn't at all like Yolanda's character; I assumed that the story was traveling along the 'closed-off and prone-to-roughness kid learns to open up and empathize' theme so prevalent in Newbery Honor books, but Yolanda remains fairly selfish, unsympathizing, and unsympathetic throughout. The ending was abrupt and too pat, with a last-minute attempt to make Yolanda seem as if she has changed (although not done well enough for me to buy it). There are also a few threads to the story that fail to connect by the end, which leaves the whole thing feeling incomplete. And then the narrator made some strange choices in the character-voice department, making one fifth-grade girl sound like an old diner waitress with a decades-long smoking habit. Strange.
All this is too bad, really, because of the good things here: Yolanda's little brother and his musical abilities are nicely painted, especially in contrast to his struggles with reading and speaking. It seems clear that he's on the autism scale, and although his mother doesn't seem to want to admit that, he finds a strong ally in a speech therapist at school, and that relationship (although not completely fleshed out) is nicely portrayed. Also, Yolanda's family is made up of her mother and her aunt, who are self-made black women from Chicago and are easily members of the upper-middle class there. What I love about this is that it's presented as no big deal, as in clearly achievable to the point that it's not something to make the focus of the story. Most Middle Grade books featuring black families seem to revolve around those families living in poor neighborhoods and struggling financially, and those stories are important, yes, but it's also important to show other possibilities and other realities to young readers of color. I want them to live in a world in which successful women of color are so commonplace that that idea takes a far back seat to the rest of the story in the books those young readers read. So I'd like to see more of this, but I'd also like this particular story to live up to this background setting.

Oct 16, 2019, 5:08pm Top

163. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
September AlphaKIT: W

The story centers around Lenore Beadsman, a slightly neurotic young woman with a lackluster job by choice, who is in a relationship with her boss (editor of a literary magazine who is in therapy for various reasons himself), looking for her grandmother (who suddenly disappeared from her nursing home), dealing with her rich CEO dad (who resents her for rejecting the family privilege), and coping with a pet bird that abruptly decided to start talking. It's not surprising that there are just bunches to unpack here: Wittgenstein is present is a big way (meaning = function drives much of the dialogue and thought of the characters). There are stories within stories, various modes and methods of presenting the main story, and strange characters doing strange things. It's smart and funny (although Wallace's brand of humor may not be for everyone) and weird in a good way. Think Philip K. Dick if PKD were much less self-serious.

Oct 17, 2019, 4:06pm Top

>251 scaifea: Your review of Complications sent me running to find out more!

Edited: Oct 17, 2019, 4:12pm Top

>304 scaifea: Also very interested in The Ode Less Travelled -- Stephen Fry is always entertaining and your recommendation is very encouraging! Clever concept for a book.

Oct 17, 2019, 6:23pm Top

>309 pammab: I hope you love it!

>310 pammab: Fry is the absolute best!

Oct 21, 2019, 7:55am Top

164. The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M. Jewett
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Hugh is taken by his father (who is fleeing England on charges of treason) to live with the monks at the Abbey at Glastonbury. He finds a happy home there among the scribes and scholars, and makes friends with another young resident and an old, crazy hermit. Between the three of them, they stumble into a search for the Holy Grail, which they believe to be hidden on the monastery grounds.
A solid entry in the Newbery Honor Book ranks, with interesting characters and a fair mystery.

Oct 21, 2019, 8:09am Top

165. Hocus Pocus & the All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
October RandomCAT: Knock-offs, Follow-ups, Tributes, Parodies

A novelization of the movie, plus a sequel to the film.
Meh. Certainly not high literature, and the sequel story isn't fabulous, but it was a fun enough way to spend a couple of hours.

Oct 28, 2019, 7:44am Top

166. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
October TBRCAT: Book Bought for Visual Appeal

Johannes Cabal wants to make a deal with the devil. Again. The first time he traded his soul for the secrets of necromancy, but this time he wants his soul back. Satan makes a wager with him that he can't get 100 souls to fatten the ranks within a year's time, and even gives him an evil carnival and hellish minions to help. Johannes races against the clock - and his own skewed-yet-still-existent morals - to fill his quota and win back his soul.
Dark and funny and touching; Howard manages to create a character who raises the dead, betrays his own brother, scorns those less intelligent than himself, and isn't afraid to kill (although he does find it distasteful), and yet still makes him absolutely lovable. You'll be rooting for him while being slightly troubled that you are. Perfection.

Oct 28, 2019, 4:47pm Top

167. Art Matters by Neil Gaiman
CAT#10: Neil Gaiman - Also All the Things!
October AlphaKIT: G

A couple of short essays illustrated by the amazing Chris Riddell. Like all of Gaiman's stuff, it's excellent.

Oct 28, 2019, 5:03pm Top

168. The Terrible Two Get Worse by Mac Barnett
no CAT: Charlie's read-aloud at bedtime book
The second book in a Middle Grade series about two pranksters and what happens when they go far enough to get their principal fired. This was Charlie's most recent read aloud book and it was as good as the first. Funny and clever and a complete hoot.

Oct 29, 2019, 5:02pm Top

>314 scaifea: - That one was so much fun!

Oct 30, 2019, 5:25am Top

>317 LittleTaiko: Wasn't it, though? I need to get round to the rest of the series at some point.

Oct 30, 2019, 6:37am Top

>314 scaifea: that sounds fascinating, if rather odd. Odd not necessarily being a bad thing, of course.

Oct 30, 2019, 7:29am Top

>319 Helenliz: Yep. It's odd but in the really clever way, which is what makes it fabulous.

Oct 30, 2019, 8:10am Top

169. The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
A boy dies while saving his chronically ill little brother from a fire, and the younger one follows him in death soon after. They find themselves in an afterlife world just as the older boy had described in tales to the younger, and they fight on the side of good against the evil tyrant of the land. It's a sweet story and very well told, and I very much enjoyed it right up to the ending, which make me deeply uncomfortable. The close relationship between the boys is lovely up to a point, but I'm troubled by the message sent to young readers at the end: The older boy is dying/paralysed for life after a fight with a dragon and wants to end it so he can move on to the next stage of the afterlife; the younger brother doesn't want to be without him and so agrees to commit suicide along with him. Apologies to those who love this classic and think it's a tale of devoted love between brothers, but that ending just creeps me out completely.

Oct 30, 2019, 8:20am Top

170. The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories by Harold Courtlander
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A collection of traditional stories from West African. Fun and interesting - I always love a good Anansi story and he's nicely represented here.

Nov 1, 2019, 7:00am Top

171. Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! by Scott McCormick
no CAT: Charlie's read-aloud at bedtime
It has become tradition that Charlie reads this one out loud to us at bedtime for Halloween. So hilarious and fun. We all love this series tons.

Nov 4, 2019, 8:07am Top

172. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
October AlphaKIT: T

A teen with some mental health issues reunites with a childhood friend, whose billionaire dad has gone missing and is presumed to be running from the law for billionaire-like crimes. So, romance/missing person mystery. There are good elements here: the way Aza describes her struggles with her mental health feel accurate and real, and I think that makes this an important read for students. Otherwise, I wasn't ever hooked on the story, and the teen characters (and I think this is maybe a common thing for Green) were a bit too much on the precocious side. I'm not against young characters who are smart and witty and talented and maybe slightly more worldly wise than one would expect in real life, but, um, all of them? All the time? It's distracting and belief-suspendy.

Nov 7, 2019, 6:40pm Top

173. Educated by Tara Westover
CAT#24: Audiobooks
November RandomCAT: Childhood Memories

A woman's account of how she grew up in a radically conservative and abusive Mormon household, was kept out of school, and yet managed to break free of her family and earn a doctorate at Trinity College. At turns horrific, fascinating, eloquent and compelling, this is most definitely a worthwhile read.

Nov 12, 2019, 7:47am Top

174. Maria Escapes by Gillian Avery
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
Orphaned Maria feels overwhelmed and out of place in her new boarding school, so she runs away to stay with her uncle, a warden at Cambridge, gets tutored along with the neighbor boys (sons of a professor), and becomes fascinated with the history of a local manor house and its family. Her researches into that history get her into all sorts of scrapes and leads her on several adventures.
This one didn't fully grab my attention but it wasn't the worst of its kind, either, and honestly it has aged pretty well, I think. Recommended if you like this sort of thing.

Edited: Nov 12, 2019, 4:34pm Top

175. The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

An okay introduction for middle grade students to the Chicago fire and its immediate aftermath. Not exactly gripping, as I would think it certainly could have been, but it also seems to be pitched at just the right level in the amount of content and detail it gives.

Nov 16, 2019, 12:04pm Top

176. Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

May Amelia lives with her parents and seven older brothers on their Washington state homestead in the late 1800's. She struggles against the idea that she should learn to be a proper young lady and that she's not supposed to do all the things her brothers can, and hopes that the baby her mother is carrying will be another girl so that she won't feel so alone.
Think Little House on the Prairie, but with Finnish immigrants in the Northwest. If you like Wilder's books, chances are good that you'd enjoy this one, too, which Holm wrote based on her great-aunt's actual diary entries.

Nov 17, 2019, 11:03am Top

177. Kildee House by Rutherford Montgomery
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
Jerome Kildee retires from his monument sculpting business, builds a small house up against a redwood tree in the middle of the California acres he's purchased, and plans on living the life of of hermit/philosopher. He didn't count on becoming host to several families of racoons and skunks, nor did he foresee befriending young Emma Lou, his neighbor from down the hill, but when he does so, his quiet retirement turns into a bustling life full of new friends, and he decides that he doesn't mind the change in plans at all.
A sweet, cozy little story that makes living in a tiny cabin and cuddling up with a skunk seem not all that crazy, really.

Nov 23, 2019, 11:21am Top

178. Better Known as Johnny Appleseed by Mabel Leigh Hunt
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
This Newbery Honor Book from 1950 is a biography of Johnny Appleseed for kids. It's not bad, but the language hasn't aged well and I suspect it wouldn't go over too well with the kiddos today.

Nov 23, 2019, 11:48am Top

179. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
Meggie's father, Mo, is *very* good at reading aloud. So good, in fact, that he can read things right out of books. This isn't always a fun or good thing, though, as Meggie discovers when a mysterious man shows up on their doorstep in the middle of the night and sends them all on a dangerous adventure. I *love* books that are about both the everyday magic of books and reading (books can transport you to other worlds,...) and also about books and readers actually being magic, and this one is at the top of that list. The main characters clearly love books in a way that makes me love them both, and the author, too, does a great job of sharing that same love. Definitely recommended.

Edited: Nov 23, 2019, 8:48pm Top

>331 scaifea: I think I must be up to four reading alouds of Inkheart by now. I just love it! I adore books about books, in any format. I will probably read it again next year as it will hit two of my categories - middle grade and books in translation. And just because we love it at our house!

Nov 24, 2019, 8:46am Top

>332 JayneCM: It's so *so* good, isn't it? And perfect for reading aloud, of course!

Nov 24, 2019, 4:46pm Top

180. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
Moist von Lipwig lives for risk, impossible odds, and the view from the point of no return, but being in charge of Ankh-Morpork's Post Office no longer gives him such satisfaction. Good thing, then, that one of the city's biggest banks needs a new chairman and is in all sorts of trouble. Throw in the threat of an approaching group of golden golems and the suspicion that the Patrician is pulling all the strings (including Moist's, as usual), and Moist may just get what he wants, to his very possible misfortune.
Moist has fast become one of my favorite Discworld characters, and he remains firmly in that position after this entry in the series. Interesting twists, excellent wordplay, and equally fantastic characters. I loved it.

Nov 26, 2019, 7:55am Top

181. The Breach by Patrick Lee
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
November TBRCAT: Book Given to Me As a Gift

Thrillers are not my usual fare, but this one was given to me as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and so I thought I should give it a go. The writing was...not great, the characters flat and unevolving, and I'm sure that if I let myself examine the plot beyond a quick glance it would be easy to find a bucketload of holes. But. BUT. Somehow or other - reader, brace yourself - I *enjoyed* it. The story was so over-the-top ridiculous and the twists so crazy and unlikely that I couldn't help but be entertained. Normally the faults I listed above would have me running in any direction that constituted Away, but I just kept wondering what could possibly happen next. So, high literature it most certainly ain't, and don't expect much at all from the characters, but the plotline itself is worth the teeth-gritting in the other categories. Guardedly recommended.

Nov 30, 2019, 2:03pm Top

182. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Since she was a premature baby in the NICU and was abandoned by her mother, Hope has lived with her Aunt Addie, and since Addie is a cook who travels from job to job, Hope has lived in many places and is becoming a fairly good traveling waitress, too. She loves Addie, but hates all the uprooting, and is convinced that she will hate their latest relocation - a small town in Wisconsin. But when the owner of the restaurant where they work announces that he's running against the corrupt mayor in the upcoming election, Hope finds herself involved in this place and its people more than she would ever have guessed.
A lovely and sweet story that doesn't get too saccharine, with nicely developed characters and a thoughtful message. Definitely recommended.

Nov 30, 2019, 2:33pm Top

183. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
CAT#9: John Boyne - All The Books!
This novel follows the life of Cyril Avery from his birth in Dublin in the 1940s through his travels in Europe and the U.S., and then back to Dublin for his later years. It follows the hardships and heartaches he suffers growing up gay in Ireland and doing his best to hide that from everyone, and my heart broke and suffered with his and cheered him on through his small triumphs and eventual happiness. Like every other of Boyne's works I've read, this one blew me away. It's gorgeous in its every turn of phrase, in its characters and how they weave in and out of each other's stories. It is fantastic and beautiful and clever and funny and gut-wrenching and gleeful-making. My favorite read of the year and will easily remain one of my favorite reads for long after.

Nov 30, 2019, 3:04pm Top

184. Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
A teenage boy travels back in time and finds himself in the middle of the Children's Crusade in 1212. He quickly becomes an advocate for the children and an important member of the group, helping them through famine, disease, and battles with local peasants and townspeople. He never believes in the mission, really, and from the beginning something doesn't feel right to him about the entire business, so he works to discover what the wrongness is and then fights for the safety of the children.
It was rough at the beginning (the book jumps right into the story without any sort of lead-up or introduction to the characters or situation, and not in a way that seems well thought-out), but once the story gets going, it's a decent one.

Nov 30, 2019, 3:19pm Top

185. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl
CAT#16: Books from My Read Soon! Shelves
Dahl is one of my very favorite children's books authors, but his short stories for grown-ups don't seem to do much for me. *shrug*

Dec 4, 2019, 3:57pm Top

186. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Hattie Owen spends one memorable summer getting to know her Uncle Adam, about whose existence she only just found out from her family. He's been in a special school for the mentally challenged since Hattie was just a baby, but the school has closed and so Adam - a 21-year-old with the mind of a child - is coming home. Adam and Hattie soon become close friends, but Hattie discovers the true meaning of Adam's particular needs one dramatic night at the traveling fair, and that night and the events that follow will change all of their lives forever.
A good story well told, in which both Adam's and Hattie's characters are believably portrayed. Recommended.

Dec 4, 2019, 4:16pm Top

187. My Great-Grandfather and I by James Kruss
CAT#3: 1001 Children's Books
A boy stays with his great-grandfather and his grandmother while his sisters are recovering from the measles, and he and his great-grandfather spend their days making up stories and poems.
Meh. This one just didn't catch my attention at all, I'm afraid. Maybe it just hasn't aged well...?

Dec 7, 2019, 4:40pm Top

188. The Voice That Challenged a Nation by Russell Freedman
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

A biography of Marian Anderson, the singer who broke barriers for the Civil Rights Movement and also for people of color in the music industry and sang one famous Easter Sunday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Intended for young people, this book is a good introduction to Anderson and her influence, although it can be a bit dry at times.

Dec 9, 2019, 8:18am Top

189. Americans before Columbus by Elizabeth Chesley Baity
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Book
A history of the pro-Columbus Americas intended for children. Pretty darned dry for a kid's book, to be honest. I suspect there are better ones out there at this point.

Dec 10, 2019, 7:06pm Top

>331 scaifea: What a nice review of Inkheart! It sounds like the sort of book I'm in the mood for recently, so I may have another go of it.

Dec 11, 2019, 5:22am Top

>344 pammab: Oh, yay! I hope you love it this time around!

Dec 11, 2019, 7:38am Top

190. The Doom of the Haunted Opera by John Bellairs
CAT#22: Books Read Aloud with Charlie at Bedtime
When Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman leave town for an old friend's funeral, Lewis and Rose Rita think they'll have a quiet couple of weeks researching a school project on the local defunct opera house. They're wrong, of course, because the opera house is haunted, of course.
We love this series for its great characters and its spooky-but-not-too-scary atmosphere. Perfect for kiddos who like supernatural sorts of stories but don't actually like to be scared.

Dec 21, 2019, 9:10pm Top

>331 scaifea: Inkheart has been sitting on my shelves for ages. It was much loved by my daughters, but they left the book here with me when they moved out. I really should put it on my 2020 reading list!

Dec 23, 2019, 4:29pm Top

>347 mathgirl40: You definitely should!!

Dec 23, 2019, 5:41pm Top

191. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
CAT#21: Discworld Series
The authorities of Ankh-Morpork try to tame football and make it an official sport, but he wizards are involved, so it quickly becomes absurdly complex and ridiculous. And then there's the strange new fellow working in the candleworks in the basements of UU, and his appearance will also complicate things in some interesting ways.
I never thought that a wizard book would become one of my favorite of the Discworld series, but, well, here we are. Nutt and Glenda immediately became well-loved characters and they made me love this book despite the presence of both Rincewind and sports.

Dec 24, 2019, 9:21am Top

192. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

When a new minister moves into a small Maine town, his son finds it difficult to adjust to the attitudes he finds there. But then he meets and finds a friend in Lizzie Bright, who is also on the margins of this small-town society.
This one started out as a usual outsider-kids-meet-and-find-comfort-in-their-friendship, but toward the end it took a turn for the much more serious. It's a good read, but I did find that change in tone a bit abrupt.

Dec 24, 2019, 2:02pm Top

193. The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
no CAT: Charlie recommended
A cool concept mystery novel for MG readers, in which the characters' 'real names' have been protected, along with many other details about their lives, and the author himself hides his own identity and periodically harangues his reader for reading such a secret book. I'd summarize the plot but, well, it's secret.
Charlie read and absolutely loved this book and wanted me to read it too. So, of course, I did, and I'm glad for it. A fun story with some cool twists in the telling of it.

Dec 24, 2019, 3:46pm Top

194. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
no CAT: Christmas re-read
I try to re-read this one every year. It's one of my very favorite things, and I can't thank Linda (laytonwoman3rd) enough for sending it our way a few years ago. Here's my original review:

"Gosh, but I love this one. It makes me alternately sad and near-deliriously happy, and it's so, so beautifully written. Such a treat."

This time around I'll add that this line, "As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes," and the ending just break me and my poor heart in half every time.

Dec 25, 2019, 3:26pm Top

195. The Bonny Pit Laddie by Frederick Grice
CAT #3: 1001 Children's Books
Dick assumes that living in a mining town means that he'll soon be asked to leave school and start working in the pit like his father and brother before him, but his encounter with the mining boss, encouragement from his teacher and his grandmother, and a near-deadly accident in the mines themselves start him to thinking that his may be a live outside the pit town in which he's grown up.
I enjoyed this one much more than I expected to; it's well-written, the characters are strong and likable, and the story is nicely paced. Recommended.

Dec 26, 2019, 2:48am Top

>353 scaifea: You always seem to be able to get hold of all the OOP books that I cannot find for love or money! How do you do it?!

Dec 26, 2019, 8:19am Top

>354 JayneCM: This one I found through Inter-Library Loan, plus we have an amazing library system here in Ohio. Believe me, I'm extremely grateful for it!

Dec 26, 2019, 8:25am Top

>355 scaifea: Very lucky indeed! I guess our pool of books to draw on is just smaller in Australia and it is very dependent on which books libraries deem are worth keeping.

Dec 30, 2019, 10:28am Top

196. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
CAT#2: Newbery Honor Books
CAT#24: Audiobooks

Follows nearly-12-year-old Calpurnia Tate, living in post Civil War Texas, as she discovers the joys of Darwinism and scientific observation, new ways to negotiate life with a bushel of brothers, and an unexpected friendship with her gruff-on-the-outside grandfather.
I liked this one okay, but the narration was...not great, and that put me off more than just reading it myself likely would have. *shrug*

Dec 31, 2019, 3:48pm Top

197. The Defender by Nicholas Kalashnikoff
CAT #2: Newbery Honor Books
A man living in the mountains in Siberia struggles against village rumors and fights loneliness by befriending the wild rams also living in the mountains.
Too simple and saccharine for my tastes.

Dec 31, 2019, 5:18pm Top

198. Lumberjanes #1: Beware the Holy Kitten by Noelle Stevenson et al.
no CAT: re-read
A re-read for me. I loved it the first time and intended to continue with the series and somehow just didn't. So this is a re-read to prep for the second one. My original mini-review:

A group of adorably quirky girls discover that their summer camp isn't terribly normal. They, however, seem very much up to the challenge.
I loved it. The banter among the campers is fast and funny and it's easy to fall in love with all the characters immediately.

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