My Top Ten Reads… from 2019

So many good books read in 2019! It was hard to pick only ten. But I did it. Click on any of the titles below to read my reviews…

The Strangers* | The Best Christmas Pageant Ever | Brave | Birdie | Planet Earth is Blue | El Deafo | Pay Attention, Carter Jones | Front DeskFinding Langston | Arcady’s Goal

Untitled-2

I made my Goodreads Reading Challenge! 100 books for 2019. Once again, I actually read over my goal with 108… Not bad, eh?

This year, I didn’t do as many discussion posts… but I did manage to squeak in a few. As always, I loved hearing what other people bring to a topic. Here are the top three posts that you (my blog readers) liked 🙂


What was your favourite post from 2019? Your favourite book? Feel free to share links from your own blog, or somebody else’s… Let me know in the comments!

Books About Photography + Giveaway

20191214ma_2953

As a photographer, I’m always interested in reading about other photographers. So, this week’s post is a list of books about photography.

**NOTE ABOUT GIVEAWAY** I do have a giveaway with this post! For details, see the bottom of the page.


Hot Cocoa Hearts // by Suzanne Nelson

hot-cocoa-heartsMG, Contemporary (2015)

Ever since the death of her grandmother, Emery Mason has become a scrooge about Christmas. Problem is, Em’s family runs the Santa booth at the mall where she has to play the role of an elf. And then there’s Alex who runs the hot chocolate stand. He’s going to make it his goal to try to change her mind.

Photography Connection: Em loves to take photos with her mom’s old camera. She captures images at the mall to show the “unhappiness” that comes along with the Christmas season: crying children, unhappy babies, tired out old ladies. But in true Hallmark-fashion, by the end of the book, that all changes! [3 stars]


The Pompeii Disaster // by Dan Gutman

pompeii-disasterMG, Contemporary/Time Travel (2018)

Note: This book is technically the third book in a series. The Flashback Four are a group of kids that time travel to various important events in history to… get this… take a photograph of said event. This book’s focus: Pompeii. And as you can probably guess, things won’t go smoothly with a volcano about to erupt.

Photography Connection: Of all the books on my list, this is probably the least photography-ish. Yes, the kids have to take a picture of the historical event, but that’s about it. But, I’ve included it in my list because it is kind of neat to think of having a photograph of Mount Vesuvius about to bury the city of Pompeii in ash. Wow, just wow! [3 stars]


Counting on Grace // by Elizabeth Wintrop

counting-on-graceMG, Historical – 1910 (2006)

When Grace gets yanked out of school to go work in the mill, her teacher is furious. How will these children ever get an education, especially when Grace is one of her best students… What’s this? Grace is one of the best students in the whole school? Suddenly, Grace wants to learn. She wants to be a teacher herself, but it won’t happen if she must work in the cotton mills for the rest of her life.

Photography Connection: This story is a fictional account of those haunting cotton mill photos taken by Lewis Hine in the early 20th century. About half-way through the book, Mr. Hines shows up at the mill with his camera to photograph Grace and the other children who work at the mill. The book also includes a scene where he shows Grace how he develops his glass slides! [4.5 stars]


Northern Exposures // by Eric Walters

northern-exposuresMG, Contemporary (2001)

This was a fun story about a boy who wins a photography contest by mistake! The prize? Photography the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. And because he’s not really a photographer, he has some madcap adventures. Not to mention, the other people in his group are a bunch of senior citizens! I enjoyed learning about polar bears and getting a little geography/history lesson (which I see as fun!) about Churchill. Plus, as a photographer, I would have loved to be on this trip with Kevin and all the senior citizens!

Photography Connection: The photography contest… Oh, and because the book was first published in 2001, I loved all the film-talk… digital photography wasn’t really a thing back then! So, it definitely brought me back to the days when I first started taking serious photos with my SLR camera. [3.5 stars]


Half a Chance // by Cynthia Lord

half-a-chanceMG, Contemporary (2014)

Lucy is the daughter of a professional photographer who is judging a competition for children photographers. She decides to covertly enter the contest. She enlists the help of the kid next door, Nate. This book also has a connection to loons and loon-watching. I loved that aspect of the book, as well as the plot that revolved around Nate’s grandmother (who suffers from dementia).

Photography Connection: I really liked the photography treasure hunt! My favourite shot was the one they take up on the mountain. I like how the competition turns out (won’t spoil it!). I felt that it was fairly realistic and also satisfying. [4.5 stars]


YOUR TURN…

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

**GIVEAWAY!**

Since this is a photography book and I’m a photographer, I’m giving away one of my 2020 Photography Calendars… **ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE**.

Note: Entries must have a valid U.S. or Canadian address. If, for some reason, you cannot use the form below, leave me a comment in the comment section below.

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

Why I Re-read Books

20170925ma_4835

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

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

20190213ma_0307

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?

20171201ma_5322

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

bookquote1

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!