Why I Re-read Books

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I’ve heard that a lot of people refuse (or just don’t) re-read books. I’ve never understood this. I agree that there ARE books I will never re-read.

Here are three reasons why I re-read books all the time.

Reason #1 – Books are Friends!

Books (to me) are kind of like friends. When I find a good book, just like when I find a good friend, I want to send time with that book. And yes, that means a re-read.

Reason #2 – Following the Clues

I get more out of the book each time I read it. There are things I miss the first, second, even third time I read a book. Sometimes it might have to do with my own age or situation (at the time when I am reading). But I often find new little insights when I re-read books. Perhaps it’s just a little in-joke put in by the author. Or set-up that later pays off in the climax. These are what make re-reading worth it.

Reason #3 – An Enjoyable Read

I know I’m going to enjoy the book. This is especially true if I’ve already read and re-read this book multiple times. I know this book will be a good one. I’m not going to want to throw the book across the room because the author didn’t live up to their promise of writing a good book. I already know it’s a good book!

Note: This post has been brought to you by the Swallows and Amazons series (by Arthur Ransome). I was first introduced to these books in a Children’s Literature course I took at university. And I loved them. There are some I love better than others. But I recently picked up Swallowdale and Winter Holiday to re-read. 🙂


YOUR TURN…

Do you re-read books? Do you re-read often? What are your favourite books to re-read? Let me know in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

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We Interrupt Your Regular Programming

This is just a quick post to let you know that there is no blog post for today! (Which is a little ironic since this is actually a blog post to tell you that there is no blog post.)

If you’ve seen my most recent Saturday Photo Challenge pic, you may have surmised that I’ve taken to the skies and have flown away from home.

It’s true. (For the time being, at least.)

This means that I’ve definitely not been reading as much as I normally do. You may have even noticed that I’ve even dropped one or two of my Thursday posts already.

I still intend to keep up with my photo challenge on Saturdays. (I have my camera!) And I’ll post book reviews when I have a chance. I’m going to do my best to do the April Middle Grade Carousel Bingo Challenge, but I’m not sure how that will go this month.

So… until next Monday (hopefully!)

Middle Grade Books for Black History Month

Here are some of my favourite recent reads. I didn’t exactly plan them to be for Black History Month, but that’s how it turned out. These are books I’d recommend reading at any time of the year. Note: I read more than this, but I’ve limited my choices to three books that I really enjoyed.


Finding Langston // by Lesa Cline-Ransomefinding-langston

MG, Historical Fiction – 1940s (2018)

I loved this book! And yes, it contains poetry. (I’m not always too crazy about poetry in books.) So, when a book can get me excited about poetry, I consider that to be a well-written book.

I loved Langston! I felt for him as he attempts to navigate the big city of Chicago after coming north with his father. I love the library! I think as soon as the library made an appearance, I KNEW I was going to love this book. I love the character arcs in this book and the friendships that develop. I loved the discoveries made.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it’s only February. [5 stars]


Days of Jubilee // by Patricia C. & Fredrick L. McKissack

days-of-jubileeMG Non-Fiction / Civil War (2003)

I really enjoyed this book that details the events that led up to the Civil War to the Emancipation Proclamation to the 13th Amendment. The authors lay everything out in a clear, easy-to-read way. They also include little stories throughout. One of my favourites involved Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker. Wow! That dressmaker is one smart woman.

And history is not always neat and tidy. People and events are complicated. I liked how the authors didn’t steer away from the complication. But I also like that they didn’t dwell on the ugliness. Instead, they focused on hope for the future.  [5 stars]


Stella by Starlight // by Sharon M. Draper

stella-by-starlightMG,  Historical Fiction – 1930s (2015)

This book opens with a chilling scene of the main character (Stella) witnessing the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross. The main theme deals with fear and how the Klan was trying to intimidate the black families in the community so that they wouldn’t register to vote. The voting scenes were particularly amazing. And I like how Stella starts her own little newspaper (only to be read by one: her!)

I did feel there was a little cohesion lacking in bringing the story together as a whole, which is why I didn’t give the book 5 stars. But it’s an interesting read. And I really enjoyed Stella’s voice.   [4 stars]


YOUR TURN…

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any books that you read for Black History Month? Tell me about them in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Love in Books

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It’s Valentine’s Day! And hearts abound… So, today I’m going to post about some of my favourite books under the theme of L-O-V-E!

*Note: There are so many books I could have listed here. The ones below are really just scratching the surface of this topic.


Love Between Friends

Anne of Green Gables // by L.M. Montgomery
Frog and Toad are Friends // by Arnold Lobel
Bridge to Terabithia // by Katherine Paterson
Charlotte’s Web // by E.B. White
Maniac Magee // by Jerry Spinelli


Sibling Love

Little Women // by Louisa May Alcott
The Penderwicks // by Jeanne Birdsall
Till We Have Faces // by C.S. Lewis
Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry // by Mildred D. Taylor
A Wrinkle in Time // by Madeleine L’Engle


Romantic Love

The Blue Castle // by L.M. Montgomery
Jane Eyre // by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice // by Jane Austen


YOUR TURN… What are your favourite books about love? Whether it’s brotherly love, romantic love, or true friendship… Let me know in the comments.

 

Are You an Emotional Reader?

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I have a question for you… Do you get emotional when you read books? Do laugh out loud (or even silently) when you read a funny scene? Do you cry when something devastating happens to the main character? Do you blush when the protagonist ends up in an embarrassing situation?

I’m an emotional reader. To me, when a book can make me laugh or cry, that’s a good book. But I’ve heard others tell me they’re not emotional readers. It’s just the way they are.

So, that made me curious about you as readers. Which kind of reader are you?

Take the poll below…

And then talk to me in the comments! Let me know what kind of emotional reader you are…

A Few of My Favourite Reads… from 2018

My Favourite Reads of 2018! Click on any of the titles below to read my reviews…

84, Charing Cross Road | A Tale of Two Cities | Winnie’s Great War |

Louisiana’s Way Home | Code Name VerityCaroline |

The Duchess of Bloomsbury StreetThe Snow ChildOkay For NowSquint

goodreads2018Also, I made my Goodreads Reading Challenge. 100 books for 2018. Actually it’s 102 books, but I’m still reading one book so ???. Maybe I’ll squeak another read in before the new year!

In addition to writing reviews, I also wrote some discussion posts… I always find it interesting what other people bring to a topic. So, what were the most popular discussion posts from my own blog? Here are the top five posts that you (my blog readers) liked 🙂


What was your favourite post from 2018? From your own blog, or somebody else’s… Let me know in the comments!

 

5 Quotes about Books

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Here are five quotes about books and reading…

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

–Jane Austen

“We read to know that we are not alone.”

–William Nicholson

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

–Marcel Proust

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”

–Chinese Proverb

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

–C.S. Lewis

5 Reasons Why I Liked Winnie’s Great War

Here’s a book that I hoped I would like that actually lived up to expectations. While it’s written for the MG crowd, it’s definitely meant for more than just kids.

And yes, I think I’ll give this book 5 Stars!

Here are my 5 reasons why I loved this book…

Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut

Winnies-great-war#1 – Winnie!

What a delightful bear! She’s so curious and kind. I love how she’s able to speak to all the animals and how the authors relate this to the Great War itself. This could be heavy-handed, but it’s not. It’s just right.

The part of the book that describes her antics at sea is cute! And I especially liked the story when Harry makes a bet. He bets the general that Winnie can find a hidden sock at their training facilities in England. Does Winnie win Harry’s bet? I’m not telling!

#2 – The Illustrations

The illustrations by Sophie Blackall are enchanting. I wish there were more of them! Especially as this is a book I could see reading to kids. They’re all black and white sketches. There are some delightful full-page spreads… Of Winnie at the train station when she first meets Harry; of Winnie and Harry at Stonehenge; of Winnie when she first comes to the zoo.

#3 – The History

I love history. So, I loved all the history in this book. World War I has always fascinated me, so I definitely liked reading about that aspect of it. It’s not heavily about the war since Winnie doesn’t actually experience life in the trenches. (There’s a moment where Harry realizes what that would mean, and so he makes the very hard decision to leave Winnie in the care of the London Zoo.)

There’s also the history of Winnie, herself… and how she came to inspire one of the most famous fictional bears in history! There’s a section at the back of the book that has pictures of Harry and of the diary entry where he notes that he bought Winnie for $20. There’s also a photo of Christopher Robin Milne standing next to the real Winnie at the zoo! Oh, my… they really did let people into the enclosure with a bear!

Note: One of the authors (and the narrator of the story) is Lindsay Mattick who is Harry Colebourne’s great-granddaughter.

#4 – The Inter-Narrations

I really enjoyed when the mom (who’s telling the story to her son) gives us a little taste of what’s true in the story!

These little interjections are set apart in italics. Sometimes Cole (the son) will interrupt his mom’s story to ask about something. I liked how the book was able to deal with some of the tougher issues using this device.

#5 – The Literary Allusions to A.A. Milne’s Classic

Reading this book includes the wonderful experience of finding little Easter eggs that allude to A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh! But I’m glad they’re not over-done. In fact, some people may not even notice them. If you love Pooh Bear, they’re subtle, but they’re there. (And yes, as soon as I finished this book, I just had re-read Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh!)


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? Did you love it as much as me? Let me know in the comments!

Books About the First World War

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Did you know?

This year marks 100 years after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Wow! Has it really been that long ago?

I came across two books about World War I this year. I didn’t seek them out on purpose. But then somebody mentioned the anniversary was coming up. I started to think of all the World War I books I’ve read or studied. To be honest, there aren’t that many. I’m not even sure I’ve read All Quiet on the Western Front, which is probably one of the most famous books about World War I. I know I’ve seen the movie, and it’s been part of any discussion I’ve had when it comes to literature about the Great War.

So, here are some books that I’ve read this year…


The Button War // by Avi

button-warMG, Historical Fiction (2018)

This book deals with some very troubling aspects of war. It centers around a group of boys who are collecting buttons from the various soldiers coming through their village in Poland. Whoever finds the BEST button will be king! (One of the boys reminded me of Jack in Lord of the Flies. The main character was more of a Ralph character.)

The book is very interesting on the historical side of things, and I would recommend this to anybody who wants to read something something a little different about World War I. While it’s written for kids, it’s definitely meant for a more mature reader as it deals with death. Yes, there’s a lot of death in this book. [4 stars]

You can read my full review here.


Silent in an Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell // by Jack Batten

silent-in-an-evil-timeChildren’s Non-Fiction / Biography (2007)

Going into this book, all I really knew was Cavell’s famous quote: “Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness to anyone.” That, and I knew she was a nurse. (Oh, and I also knew about how her story ends, but I won’t spoil this if you don’t know her story.)

First, let me say that when I was a child, I had a hyper-fascination with Florence Nightingale. This is the Florence Nightingale of Belgium (even though, like Nightingale, she’s actually British) and of the First World War. And then, she’s also a spy!

Yet, such an unassuming spy who hide British and French soldiers from the German invaders. Again, this book is also for more mature readers. [4 stars]


Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut

Winnies-great-warMG,  Historical Fiction (2018)

This book doesn’t have too much of what it was like in the trenches during the war. Rather, it focuses on Winnie, the black bear who became the mascot of the Canadian cavalry regiment as they trained for trench warfare. Since she doesn’t actually head over to France, we get to follow her to her new home at the London Zoo. And of course, we get to meet the famous Christopher Robin who calls his own bear after her: Winnie-the-Pooh. I loved this book!! [5 stars]

Full review coming soon!


tortoise-and-soldierThe Tortoise and the Soldier // by Michael Foreman

MG, Historical Fiction (2016)

This was an interesting book. It’s about an young, aspiring newspaper reporter who comes into contact with a World War I veteran named Henry and his pet tortoise, Ali Pasha. Every Sunday, Trevor gets more of Henry’s story… About how he joined the British Navy and eventually rescued the tortoise during a battle.

The book is told through diary entries, as well as through Henry telling his story. This is one book about World War I that doesn’t focus on the Western Front!

Bonus points to this book for being about a REAL guy named Henry and his REAL tortoise, Ali Pasha! [3.5 stars]


Rilla of Ingleside // by L.M. Montgomery

Rilla_of_InglesideYA, Coming of Age (1921)

This is one of my favourite novels, period. It’s set on the Canadian homefront during World War I. Part of what makes this book so wonderful is that it was written and published so close to the events of the war! (No historical anachronisms in this book!)

For fans of Anne of Green Gables, this is the story of Anne’s young daughter. She’s only 14 (almost 15!) at the beginning of the war. One by one, she and the ladies of the house watch brothers, sons, and friends go off to war. They’ll be home by Christmas! Of course, the war lasts a whole lot longer than that.

This book focuses on what it’s like to grow up and come of age under the shadow of wartime. Like all those who were on the Canadian homefront, Rilla must rally and find out what she can do help the war effort. This isn’t always easy, especially when she’s happens upon a poor orphaned war-baby… [5 stars!]


YOUR TURN…

Have you read any of these books? Are there other WWI books that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

5 Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Like Nancy Drew… But I Do!

20181025ma_5554**WARNING: I do not recommend reading this blog post if you’re actually in the target audience for Nancy Drew. (Although, do kids age 10-12 even read blog posts like this?)**

I’m going to do a little twist on my 5 Reasons posts. Let me say this first: I love Nancy Drew! I devoured these books when I was a pre-teen. I loved Nancy’s confidence and independence. I loved the friendship of Bess and George and how they’re always there for Nancy. I love Ned and how he was able to add that little bit of romance to the stories. And I loved the mysteries.

But…

I’ve been rereading some of those mysteries and I realize that… well, they are not the great literature I once thought they were. Reading them through the eyes of an adult… well, if they weren’t filled with nostalgia, I’d probably DNF pretty quickly.

But…

I will still recommend these books to young people. And I have actually recommended these books to young people. Why? Because there’s something in Nancy Drew that transcends the “badness” of the books. So, before I go on, let me tell you what I mean about badness…

1) Nancy Drew, meet Mary Sue

(This point even rhymes!)

If you don’t know what a Mary Sue is… she’s basically perfect in every way. Wait! Take out the basically. Mary Sues are perfect. No flaws. Period.

“Gee, golly, gosh, gloriosky,” thought Mary Sue as she stepped on the bridge of the Enterprise. “Here I am, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet – only fifteen and a half years old.”  This is from a parody of a Star Trek fanfic story. And it’s where we get the name Mary Sue. (This Mary Sue is so Mary Sue-ish that she manages to impress Spock with her flawless logic.)

But as you will see, the Mary Sue trope happened long before with another character. You got it: Nancy Drew.

Now, to be strictly true to the definition, a Mary Sue is also a character that wows canon characters that have come before her (or him, since a Mary Sue can also be male). Okay, so the Nancy Drew mysteries don’t quite do this. It’s not like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple or Father Brown pop in to be impressed by Nancy’s sleuthing skills. (This isn’t fan fic!) But Mr. Carson Drew is a good stand-in. He’s always described as the best lawyer in River Heights… which is somehow connected to him solving mysteries himself (I guess, legal mysteries?) And yes, Mr. Drew is certainly impressed with the skills of his 18-year-old daughter.

Consider Book #10 – Password to Larkspur Lane – Nancy wins first prize for a flower arrangement. (Actually, this part of the plot is not necessary to the actual story!) Why does she have to WIN?

2) The Writing is Kind of… (Ahem) Bad

Yikes! I hate to say this, but the writing is actually quite bad. There is no subtext. No subtlety. And there are way too many adverbs. Here, I’ll give you an example:

Nancy did not reply immediately, but her chums noticed that she appeared to scan the woods searchingly.

“You don’t really think he might be hiding along this road, do you?” Bess demanded anxiously.

#7 – The Clue in the Diary (Chapter XIV, 1931 edition)

Talk about unnecessary adverbs: Searchingly? Really? How else would you scan the woods?? And Bess’s remark is already tinged with anxiety, you don’t need to tell us that!

3) Full of Coincidence

Nancy has more luck than a leprechaun. Clues just fall into her lap! Let’s go again with Book #10 – Password to Larkspur Lane. A homing pigeon JUST HAPPENS to fall into the yard at the Drews’ home. Nancy just happens to know that there’s a special organization that you call if a homing pigeon were ever to fall into your lap. She just happens to see Dr. Spire being “kidnapped”. Then Hannah Gruen just happens to have a fall going down the stairs so that they need to go to the doctor’s house to have her checked out. And while they’re there, Nancy just happens to take a phone call, which just happens to have a similar message to the message found on the homing pigeon. Need I go on?

That’s A LOT of coincidence. A little too much.

And here’s the thing that I love. The author knows this. I love how she (he, actually, since the ghostwriter on this book was Walter Karig) makes Nancy say: “This mystery just dropped into my lap.” 😉

4) Events Don’t Flow from One Book to the Next

In #16 – The Clue of the Tapping Heels, Nancy learns Morse code and tap dancing. But neither of these ever come into any of the other books… at least, not that I can remember.

It’s kind of like each book re-sets at the end. This is probably due to the many different writers who wrote under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Also, it means that the books can be read out of order. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing!)

However, the result of this is that there is no growth for Nancy or any of her pals from book to book.

(One slight exception to this rule may be the character Helen. She appears in the early books and her big change is the fact that she gets married. But she soon disappears from the books after this happens.)

5) Not Very Realistic

Nancy is 18 and she drives around in her convertible (or roadster, depending on when you read the books). She doesn’t have a job. She isn’t going to school.

And she’s ALWAYS 18! Meaning, she must solve at least one mystery a week for us to get to 52 books for the year. (And no, the series doesn’t stop at 52). Rarely do we ever (do we ever?) get holidays or winter or anything like that.

How is this even possible?!


Final Thoughts

So, yeah. There you have it. Five perfectly good reasons why I shouldn’t like Nancy Drew. And yet, I do. I love the Nancy Drew books in spite of these failings. (And even now, I love them for these failings.)

P.S. The photo that accompanies this blog post is of my first Nancy Drew book. #16! It was given to me by a friend for my eleventh birthday. It was my introduction to the world of Nancy Drew!