24 August 2010

MAILBAGS! (well sort of...)

I couldn't possibly wait any longer for "Mockingjay".  Starting to think it's probably a bit old for my grade 6/7 class.  But I enjoy it and that's enough justification for me :)

"Lost in the Barrens" sounds like it will pair really nicely with the grade 6 First Nations unit.  Eew...I talk about lesson planning the way people talk about wine and food.

Alan Bradley's latest made me break my no hardcover rule (yikes, I've been breaking that rule a lot lately).

After reading Mama's comments I decided to check out the fantastic T.S. Spivet.

20 August 2010

REVIEW: The Complete Persepolis by M. Satrapi

Author:  M. Satrapi
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction, memoir / 341
Publication: Pantheon Books, 2004
Rating:  Bottom shelf 
Source:  Chapter's Indigo
lj's plot in one pot:  This graphic novel features the coming-of-age of Marjane, during the turbulent Islamic Revolution in Iran.

I wanted to like this book...I really did.  Perhaps the graphic aspect made important and tragic events seem trivial, or maybe I'm just super desensitized, but I wasn't moved at all.
The book starts with Marjane as a young child, revealing how Iran used to be, before the Islamic Revolution.  It details her life when she left (for safety and better educational opportunities) for Austria, and her return to Iran.  The author tries to both inform the reader about the Islamic Revolution and give her thoughts about it.  
I'm finding myself with a loss for words (which, if you know me at ALL, indicates a profound moment)...I just simply didn't really like the book.  One redeeming quality was that occasionally, throughout the book, the author/graphic design artist would really let loose and give us a tiny masterpiece (I found these rare gems more moving than any of the text).  This is not the greatest example, but here is one little taste:
 For information on the author / book, click here.

17 August 2010

REVIEW: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by A. Bradley

Author:  A. Bradley
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Humour / 400
Publication: DoubleDay Canada, 2009
Rating:  TOP shelf 
Source:  borrowed from Mom
lj's plot in one pot:  Set in 1950's rural England we meet eleven year old Flavia, a precocious chemistry prodigy; she must solve a murder, one that happened right in her very own cucumber patch.
I love Flavia!  As we speak, Alan Bradley's next adventure featuring Flavia is in transport to my humble abode.  She is one of my favourite protagonists, since, well...I guess Audrey Flowers (from "Come, Thou Tortoise" - ha ha) but before that, I haven't related so whole-heartedly to a character in a long time.  From the name of her steed (a bike called Gladys), to her self-praising exaltation,

I was me.  I was Flavia.  And I loved myself, even if no one else did.  "All hail Flavia!  Flavia forever!"  I shouted, as Gladys and I sped through the Mulford Gates... p.74. 
Isn't she a hoot?  Aside from my blinding love for Flavia, the story was great!  The author seamlessly blends numerous characters' stories together, pulling tales from the past and weaving them brilliantly into the present. 

The observation of the "evil" sisters brought much laughter, and I hope her budding friendship with Inspector Hewitt grows in the series.  

Last, but certainly not least, this fine tale is from a good old Canuck...and recently, I've been trying to maintain a ratio of Canadian books (either in content or author). Any readers have fantastic Canadiana to recommend?

"Seed biscuits and tea and a nice glass of milk for Miss Flavia."
Seed biscuits and milk!  I hated Mrs. Mullet's seed biscuits the way Saint Paul hated sin.  Perhaps even more so.  I wanted to clamber up onto the table, and with a sausage on the end of a fork as my scepter, shout in my best Laurence Olivier voice, "Will no one rid us of this turbulent pastry cook? p.49

Learn more about the fabulous Flavia Sabina de Luce and the author, Alan Bradley, here.

16 August 2010

REVIEW: The Passage by J. Cronin

Title:  The Passage
Author:  J. Cronin
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Science Fiction / 766
Publication: DoubleDay Canada, 2010
Rating:  4th shelf 
Source:  Chapters Indigo
lj's plot in one pot:  A mix of the vampire phenomenon, social commentary with a Jason Bourne-ish / conspiracy theory note; this story tells what happens when the American army, in trying to create a supersoldier, succeeds, only to find that they have become the enemy.
This was one long book.  And unfortunately, its length wasn't entirely necessary.  So we start with some FBI-types trying to get a bunch of death-row inmates to sign over their lives to test some funky Bolivian bat virus to see if it makes people immortal.  BIG SURPRISE - it works and the convicts (being bad people before) turn on the the mad scientists, using some sort of mind control.  And that's one piece of the book that I really didn't like.  There was a lot of voodoo / mind control / semi-spirituality flying about.  Check out my status update when I was on page 210 (a mere third of the way in):
"Starting to see a lot of mystical happenings - Doyle knowing right where Wolgast is, Lacey finding the Chalet, etc. Wasn't prepared for this side of things. I'm worried there is going to be some cheesy ending where the subjects/vampires reacquaint with their humanity...I hope not!"

Ha ha, I wasn't totally off, but I don't want to give away too much.  

Aside from the overly mystical nature of the book at times, I quite enjoyed it.  It was hard to let go of the main characters when the plot skips ahead a century (echos of Tragically Hip???)  Unfortunately, the new primary characters (except for Amy) are kind of generic and didn't really grab me.  The 'ending' left a lot to be desired...I think there was some unnecessary cruelty, but I'm a suck.

I'd recommend this book to some, but not all of my friends; hopefully this mini-review will help you make the right decision.

"Grief was a place, Sara understood, where a person went alone.  It was like a room without doors, and what happened in that room, all the anger and the pain you felt, was meant to stay there, nobody's business but yours" p.326

For info on the book / author, click here
For a funsie companion site to the book, click here (and then find the link for a first time visitor).

09 August 2010


So I went a little crazy shopping online...but some can be justified (see above)

Click the title for purchasing info (also links to author / book websites)

 book website
 An odd little book for young adults - I'm hoping it will snag some readers :)

A classic!!! I need to read this one in a jiffy (I know, I know...I saw the movie as a youngster and loved it, so I'm assuming the book is way fantastico)

Oppel - Airborn
author website
Heard really good things about this award winner.  However it is on a lot of lists of "books for boys" and this rubs me the wrong way, but that is another whole can of worms.

 Given my love for wordplay and grammar, I'm hoping this one lives up to my expectations.

Never really got into the graphic novel scene, but a lot of YA books are headed this way, and this story sounds evocative.

Gaiman (editor) - Stories
editor's website
Not sure how I stumbled upon this little gem, but I do love short stories and this one packs a punch.  Oh wait a tic, it must be through "Coraline".  A book which I haven't yet read.  Oh well, I have a good feeling about both :)

Martel - Life of Pi
publisher's website
I haven't read this award winner yet,  but I have no doubts that is will astound and amaze...okay, well maybe not that, but I'm psyched to start.

03 August 2010

REVIEW: Come, Thou Tortoise by J. Grant

Author:  J. Grant
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Humour / 432
Publication: Knopf Canada, 2010
Rating:  Top shelf 
Source:  borrowed from sis
lj's plot in one pot: With help from her pet tortoise, Winnifred, Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly), a hilariously punny twenty-something, comes to deal with tragedy in her own unique (and full of word play) way.
I love this book!  The narrators (Audrey and Winnifred) are hilarious, sweet, and real.  They fear things that I fear, but more importantly, they rejoice in things I love - word play and puns :)

Although the subject matter is actually quite dark (all the more realistic for the majority of us), this book is full of mirth and had me laughing out loud in bed.  Audrey's trials, though sometimes heart-wrenching,  often end up with hilarious results.  The case of the missing mouse (cheeky souris) and the neighbour's biography stood out the most to me as being something I could get caught up in (both as a child and now).  Her occasional use of French (as in Pardon-moi - not as in ****) brought a smile to my face - especially in the case of the douze-aout (or rather the Doozoo - LOVE IT!).

Anyway, enough of me ranting.  Seriously, stop reading this and please read this lovely book.  For realsies.  Scram.

"That's why he didn't fly.  He was about to get on the plane at Heathrow, but then he was sick in the bathroom.
Heathrow-up airport.
I think about how I would like to cut down the legs [of Uncle Thoby's chair] ... so that when and if Uncle Thoby ever shows up, only his head will be visible over the table." p.211
For more info on Jessica Grant, click here.

For more info on the book, click here.