My Top Reads… from 2021

My Top Ten of 2021

It’s so hard to pick, but these are the books that I’ve choosen as my Top Ten Reads for 2021… in no particular order:

1) Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park // For those who love the Little House books!

2) We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly // A sister and two brothers … at the time of the Challenger disaster.

3) Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman // Two unlikely friends escape the disaster at Chernobyl.

4) Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim // The story about an aspiring stand up comedian.

5) Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson // Delightful story about a spunky girl.

6) From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks // A girl corresponds with her dad who is in prison.

7) The Genius Under the Table by Eugene Yelchin // A boy grows up in the 1970s Soviet Union.

8) Three Keys by Kelly Yang // A girl and her family run a hotel in California in the 1990s.

9) Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson // A girl hides in a dream world of drawings.

10) Kid Spy by Mac Barnett // The kid’s a spy for Her Majesty the Queen!

 

My Top Reads… from 2020

I’ve decided to do two lists this year. My top ten favourite reads from this past year, plus the top ten book reviews I posted. You can click on the blue links to read my review from the year. (Please note: there are three books on this list that didn’t actually get reviews. But I had to include them since they deserve to be on the list.)

Which brings us to 20 Books for 2020!

My Favourite Books of 2020…

1) Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green // I think this is the book that surprised me the most. It’s gets the Number 1 position on my list!

2) Hope in the Mail by Wendelin Van Draanen // I don’t think I did a book review on this one, but I loved it! Number 2! I really need to do a book review. This one’s for writers.

3) The Well by Mildred D. Taylor // Very powerful book.

4) Treasures from the Attic by Mirjam Pressler // Another book that I need to write a review for. This is the story that surrounds Anne Frank’s story. Not necessarily for kids. I found this book fascinating.

5) I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted // Historical fiction set during the time of the Apollo 11 Moonlanding.

6) Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien // This one was written for adults. It’s a non-fiction book about the first women pilots, including, but not limited to Amelia Earhart. (I think Louise Thaden is my favourite!)

7) On the Horizon by Lois Lowry // Written in verse and set among the backdrop of World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

8) Until Niagara Falls by Jennifer Maruno // Historical fiction set in Niagara Falls!

9) Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar // I was glad to return to the classroom with Mrs. Jewls.

10) Ebb and Flow by Heather Smith // Another book that caught me by surprise. I really enjoyed this one. 

Top Book Reviews of 2020…

1) Notorious by Gordon Korman // A story about two kids who are trying to solve a mystery surrounding a dog with a “notorious” reputation.

2) Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer and Matthew Holm // Book Three in the graphic novel series about Sunny!

3) All of Me by Chris Baron // Very good book about body image; but also doing something about achieving a healthier weight.

4) The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart // I wasn’t sure this would be any good, but it’s a credit to the series!

5) The Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary // These books are still that good!

6) The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman // Wonderful book with a prince and pauper vibe to it.

7) It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas // Historical fiction set during the Iran Hostage Crisis.

8) Chloe in India by Kate Darnton // American transplant learns about living in India.

9) Mananaland by Pam Munoz Ryan // Fairy tale like quality with a Spanish flair.

10) Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green // This book snuck onto this list, making it the only book that gets a double listing!

I made my Goodreads Reading Challenge!

good-reads2020I always set my Goodreads Goal for 100 books, and it was no different for 2020. However, there was a time when I didn’t think I’d make it due to the library being closed for the pandemic in the spring. But I did it. 101 books for 2020. (Note: I don’t count picture books.)


What was your favourite book from 2020? Your favourite blogpost? Feel free to share links from your own blog, or somebody else’s… Let me know in the comments!

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

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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!

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

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…

Two Different Books, Same Topic

I recently read two middle-grade books that take place during Hurricane Katrina. What an interesting experience to read these books back-to-back.

finding-someplaceFinding Someplace // by Denise Lewis Patrick

Genre: MG, Near-Historical (2015)

My Thoughts: This one had a lot of potential, but it got mixed up with too many characters and too many themes. It’s a book that doesn’t quite know what it is. The main character is Reesie, the only daughter in an African-American family living in New Orleans. It’s her goal in life to be a fashion designer. And guess what? It’s her birthday!

That’s when Hurricane Katrina strikes. So far, so good. We soon learn that she’s terrified of water! (Backstory: She almost drowned in a swimming pool once.) But here’s where things start to go downhill. When there’s water all around her, does she freak out? Does she have a panic attack? No and no. The only other time this fear is mentioned (that I recall) is when her neighbour says something about it toward the end of the book. Like “I noticed you were afraid, Reesie.”

Also, there was also too many characters. So many people came and went. They were developed, then BAM! They were gone. (And don’t get me started on the kiss that was not set up properly.) What I really wanted was to spend more time in the book as she connected with (and possibly have conflict with) Miss Martine!

That said, I did like Reesie! Perhaps they rushed publication on this one? The book needed to be longer in order to deal with everything Denise Lewis Patrick introduced to us. [3 Stars]


zane-and-hurricaneZane and the Hurricane // by Rodman Philbrick

Genre: MG, Near-Historical (2014)

My Thoughts: I read this book after the one above. But this book was so much tighter. In a lot of ways, it was very similar. But there are differences. Zane is half-black and comes from New Hampshire. But guess what? His mom sends him down to visit his great-grandma in New Orleans. And it just happens that this happens right before Hurricane Katrina strikes.

There is an old neighbour character (Tru), and there’s conflict with the sassy girl (Malvina). This book stays pretty much within the time-frame of the hurricane and the day or so after. (Unlike the other book which jumps us to Christmas in New Jersey and then back to New Orleans in the spring. Not necessarily bad in and of itself; but like I said, that book tried to cram too much into not enough pages.)

I really enjoyed the character dynamics between Tru, Malvina, and Zane. We got to know them and care about them. We wanted them to survive! [4 Stars]


So, if you have to pick between these two books? I’d definitely go with the second one by Rodman Philbrick. The one by Denise Lewis Patrick had potential, but (unfortunately) it did not live up to that potential. I wish it was so much more! Zane, on the other hand, was well-written and knew what it was going for.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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

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!

 

Scenes from a Book #3

Another of my favourite Christmas scenes in a book…

3 – Little Women // by Louisa May Alcott

Little WomenI love the Christmas sequence that opens Alcott’s masterpiece. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbles Jo. And then on Christmas morning, as they’re about to enjoy their Christmas breakfast, Marmee comes and spoils it all. She suggests they give their breakfast to a poor hungry family!

The girls know their duty, and they agree to the charity. And they end up doing it cheerfully. Later in the day, they go on to giving a performance. And after the performance, there’s a surprise waiting for them them…

The Scene:

It was like Marmee to get up a little treat for them, but anything so fine as this was unheard of since the departed days of plenty. There was ice cream, actually two dishes of it, pink and white, and cake and fruit and distracting French bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers.

It quite took their breath away, and they stared first at the table and then at their mother, who looked as if she enjoyed it immensely.

“Is it fairies?” asked Amy.

“Santa Claus,” said Beth.

“Mother did it.” And Meg smiled her sweetest, in spite of her gray beard and white eyebrows.

“Aunt March had a good fit and sent the supper,” cried Jo, with a sudden inspiration.

“All wrong. Old Mr. Laurence sent it,” replied Mrs. March.

“The Laurence boy’s grandfather! What in the world put such a thing into his head? We don’t know him!” exclaimed Meg.

“Hannah told one of his servants about your breakfast party. He is an odd old gentleman, but that pleased him. He knew my father years ago, and he sent me a polite note this afternoon, saying he hoped I would allow him to express his friendly feeling toward my children by sending them a few trifles in honor of the day. I could not refuse, and so you have a little feast at night to make up for the bread-and-milk breakfast.”

Little Women, Chapter 2


What I Love About this Scene

I just love the March sisters. I like how each of their personalities come out in the above passage as they’re trying to figure out WHO gave them the breakfast party.

I also love how they do a really hard thing at the beginning of the book. They give up something they want. This leads to an even better surprise!

And I love how this is an excellent introduction to Laurie!

Scenes from a Book #2

Here’s another of my favourite Christmas scenes from a book… this one comes from the prairies.

Little House on the Prairie // Laura Ingalls Wilder

little-houseIn this Christmas story, Laura and Mary are worried that with all the rain, Santa Claus won’t be able to get to the little house. But then, on Christmas Eve, who should show up but Mr. Edwards! And he’s brought them Santa’s gifts…

The Scene:

Mr. Edwards came and sat on the floor by their bed, and he answered every question they asked him. They honestly tried not to look at Ma, and they didn’t quite see what she was doing. …

Well, the first thing Santa Claus said was, “Hello, Edwards!” (“Did he know you?” Mary asked, and Laura asked, “How did you know he was really Santa Claus?” Mr. Edwards said that Santa Claus knew everybody. And he had recognized Santa at once by his whiskers. Santa had the longest, thickest, whitest set of whiskers west of the Mississippi.) …

Then Santa Claus said: “I understand you’re living now down along the Verdigris River. Have you ever met up, down yonder, with two little young girls named Mary and Laura?”

“I surely am acquainted with them,” Mr. Edwards replied.

“It rests heavy on my mind,” said Santa Claus. “They are both of them sweet, pretty, good little young things, and I know they are expecting me. I surely do hate to disappoint two good little girls like them. Yet with the water up the way it is, I can’t ever make it across that creek. I can figure no way whatsoever to get to their cabin this year. Edwards,” Santa Claus said, “Would you do me the favor to fetch them their gifts this one time?”

“I’ll do that, and with pleasure,” Mr. Edwards told him. …

And Santa Claus uncinched the pack and looked through it, and he took out the presents for Mary and Laura.

“Oh, what are they?” Laura cried; but Mary asked, “Then what did he do?”

Then he shook hands with Mr. Edwards, and he swung up on his fine bay horse. Santa Claus rode well for a man of his weight and build. And he tucked his long, white whiskers under his bandana. “So long, Edwards,” he said, and he rode away on the Fort Dodge trail, leading his pack-mule and whistling.

Laura and Mary were silent an instant, thinking of that.

Then Ma said, “You may look now, girls.”

Something was shining bright in the top of Laura’s stocking. She squealed and jumped out of bed. So did Mary, but Laura beat her to the fireplace. And the shining thing was a glittering new tin cup.

Mary had one exactly like it.

These new tin cups were their very own. Now they each had a cup to drink out of. Laura jumped up and down and shouted and laughed, but Mary stood still and looked with shining eyes at her own tin cup. …

There never had been such a Christmas.

Little House on the Prairie, Chapter 19

What I Love About this Scene

I love the friendship Mr. Edwards displays for this family. He knows how dangerous it is to cross the river, but he does it anyway… for Laura and Mary. (While “Santa” couldn’t make it across the raging river, Mr. Edward could and did!) And it’s amazing how he makes it into an experience for the girls. A whole story! (I also love how Wilder includes the little questions the girls have when they see a potential plot hole in his story. But Mr. Edwards never missed a beat.)

I also love how Laura and Mary are thrilled with the simple gifts they receive: their tin cups, candy, a little cake made with white sugar, and a penny each! What bounty!