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text 2017-09-05 13:10
Children Books I've Read Recently

Recently I decided to go on a binge of reading children stories. I was just in a nostalgic mood and ended up reading some books I never got around to reading when I was younger, and some that are newer published.

 

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) 

#1 (4 stars)

I was browsing through the kid section of the overdrive library, because I was in the mood for some children/middle grade (possibly nostalgic stuff from my past) and I saw the cover for this book. I thought it looked cute, so I checked it out. I liked it. I think it was silly and fun, and of course cute. I'm in my 30s, but I like to believe I still have a firm grasp on my inner child. I can still relate to younger characters. In the case of these two, I can relate to their imagination and how they get along with family; especially annoying a sibling.

 

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The Adventures of Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey

#1 (5 stars)

I think this book is fun, silly, weird, but I can see why it is a hit or miss with some people. I enjoyed the artwork.

 

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Scream Street by Tommy Donbavand

Fang of the Vampire #1 (5 stars)

 

I thought this series looked interesting and it turned out pretty fun and cute.

Blood of the Witch #2 (4 stars)

I'm on the fence if I liked this one better than the first one or not. It was quite silly, but not in a bad way, and the author is obviously going with his own vampire lore of how vampires are made

and cured.

(spoiler show)

At least they don't sparkle. ha ha

A fun, quick paced read.

 

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The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, Salvatore Murdocca (Illustrator)

 

Dinosaurs Before Dark #1 (4 stars)

I never read this series as a kid. It is just one of the ones I over looked and never thought about. But I thought this was cute and fun, especially for the age group it is intended for. The only reason adult me would give it a lower rating is because I would love more details and I believe even as a child reading this, more details couldn't hurt!

The Knight at Dawn #2 (3 Stars)

The only reason I give the volumes after #1 a 3 star instead of a 4 star is because of the repetitiveness. The summery of past books within the new story would be really helpful for a person who hasn't read the series in a long time. I will give this series that! So I understand why it happens, but it takes something from me as an adult reader.

However the books are cute and fun. I can relate to them, even as an adult, because I love books and would love to be in their shoes, to see all the worlds in the books, and who wouldn't want a magic tree house?

Mummies In The Morning #3 (3 Stars)

Now that I have finished the 3rd book in the series, I am starting to wonder... is the magic tree house really there, or are the children making up everything in their heads? Either way, I really like it!

Pirates Past Noon #4 (3 Stars)

So now we know who "M" is. I still wonder if the children are making up everything in their minds. Imagination is a powerful thing! Either way, this series is really fun. Sure, it's simple and short for adult readers, but that is completely fine by me! It is nice to sit down with some books without all the young adult drama. Also, I feel like these "children" books and other nostalgia type books are really good when you are in a reading slump.

 

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

#1 (4 stars)

I think I would have rated this higher if the kid hadn't been such a brat. I know kids can be bratty, but he seemed way over the top! I would even say he has a meanness to him and doesn't care what the coincidences of his actions are. I felt sorry for his so called best friend.

I do like diary format in books. I might read more in the series. I hope he grows as a character as the series goes on.

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review 2017-08-06 19:37
Nothing
Nothing - Annie Barrows

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss.]

Well, this book captures ‘nothing’, which is both good (the character Charlotte intends to show nothing exciting happens in her life, and she does that well), and not so good, because in the end, it made for a fairly plotless novel that read like a journal, quite slice-of-life, and it wasn’t exactly exciting. So I’m on the fence here, in that I get the intention, but don’t really enjoy it?

The author nailed the ‘teenager narrator voice’—also both a good and a bad thing: good for characterisation, bad for... hm, let’s say that 20 years later, it’s not particularly interesting (yep, I wasn’t interesting myself in my teens, hah). The intended audience being YA, possibly the latter won’t be too much of a problem, as younger readers may relate to Charlotte’s views on life... or maybe not? I tended to like Frankie more, in any case, because at least she sometimes -does- things, and tries to initiate change.

The awkwardness of relationships is also well-portrayed, for instance Charlotte’s relationship with Sid, how they met through internet and kept texting each other, and Charlotte likes him but is convinced they’ll never met and it’s doomed to fail anyway, and so on.

Of course, the book shows that the ‘nothing’ Charlotte complains about isn’t such a truth; little things happen, opportunities arise, the girls are just so convinced their lives are boring that they don’t notice those things are being important, through the way they add up. But that’s also something I wasn’t really at ease with.

First, the girls are quite similar, and it was difficult at times to know if a chapter was about Frankie or Charlotte (at some point I just went with 3rd person = Frankie, 1st person = Charlotte); they’re not helped in that by their common background, there isn’t much diversity in here, nor in the friends they mention, most often in passing.

Second, there’s a subplot that Charlotte sort of... brushes over as if it was trivial, and I’m sorry, no, I don’t think anyone would go through such an event and then just leave for home and not realise even for five minutes that what they did was awesome and, yes, important.

That’s the part where Charlotte prevents a school friend from getting raped by a boy who clearly saw she was drunk and didn’t know what she was doing anymore. Way to trivialise attempted rape, and way to show how selfish and shitty a person can be, I mean, hello Charlotte who won’t stay with her because, oh my God, then she has to tell her parents she was at a party and her parents will think she was drinking too and she’ll be grounded... Yeah. I get it, ‘nothing’ happens in your privileged little life. And let’s not mention the ‘wai things would be more interesting if we were gay’. Nope, no love from me, girl. Can we stop using LGBT relationships as plot devices, and use such characters as, you know, people with personalities?

(spoiler show)



Conclusion: At least it was a quick read, and points for writing teenager characters fairly well, but I can’t say I enjoyed reading Charlotte’s parts.

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review 2017-06-26 06:11
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer,Annie Barrows

I don't really remember liking this book when I first read it (I didn't dislike it either though). I do remember distinctly thinking Dawsey was a 70-year-old man. Spoilers (but not really), he's not and this time around I caught all the references to how he's not 70 years old. But his character really feels like a 70 year old man.

 

I mostly reread this one because it was available on Overdrive and I needed something easy to pick up and put down when it's slow at work. If you liked this, give 84, Charing Cross Road a try. It's like Guernsey, but better. And real.

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review 2016-01-11 17:55
M. A. Shaffer, A. Barrows "Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Literatury i Placka z Kartoflanych Obierek"
Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Literatury i Placka z Kartoflanych Obierek - Annie Barrows,Mary Ann Shaffer

Juliet Ashton, młoda pisarka, autorka książek o okupacji, szuka pomysłów do kolejnej publikacji. Niespodziewanie dostaje list od Dawseya Adamsa. Mężczyzna, zafascynowany twórczością Charlesa Lamba, prosi ją o pomoc. Wspomina także o Stowarzyszeniu Miłośników Literatury i Placka z Kartoflanych Obierek, założonym przez mieszkańców wyspy Guernsey z powodu pieczonego prosiaka. Zaintrygowana Juliet nawiązuje korespondencję z Dawseyem i pozostałymi członkami grupy. Decyduje się również odwiedzić ich osobiście. Mieszkańcy wyspy, dowiedziawszy się, że zbiera materiały do nowej książki, chętnie dzielą się z nią wspomnieniami z okresu okupacji. Juliet bierze też udział w zebraniach Stowarzyszenia i pomaga w opiece nad czteroletnią Kit - córką Elizabeth (wywiezionej do obozu koncentracyjnego) i niemieckiego żołnierza.

 

Książka, napisana w formie listów, jest pełna ciepła i humoru. Mimo nieustannie powracających motywów związanych z okupacją, całość tchnie optymizmem, uderzająca jest pogoda ducha bohaterów i nadzieja na powrót do względnej normalności. Wzrusza, porusza, zmusza do refleksji, ale momentami również rozśmiesza. Szczególnie zabawne okazało się zebranie Stowarzyszenia, podczas którego Jonas Skeeter miał podzielić się swoimi wrażeniami z lektury "Rozmyślań" Marka Aureliusza:

 

Stanął na środku pokoju, ponuro rozejrzał się po obecnych i oznajmił, że nie zamierzał przychodzić, a tego głupiego Marka Aureliusza przeczytał tylko dlatego, iż napuścił go jego najstarszy, najlepszy i b y ł y przyjaciel, Woodrow Cutter. [...] Przełknąłem zatem dumę i przeczytałem tę głupią książkę. A teraz mówię przy wszystkich i głośno: Wstydź się Woodrow! Jak mogłeś wcisnąć coś takiego najlepszemu przyjacielowi!

 

Co zatem łączy miłośników literatury, placek z kartoflanych obierek i pieczonego prosiaka? Przekonajcie się sami, polecam!

 

 
Source: ogrodksiazek.blogspot.com/2014/09/m-shaffer-barrows-stowarzyszenie.html
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review 2016-01-01 14:40
"The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - epistolary novel packed with strong voices and deep emotions
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer,Annie Barrows

About forty-five minutes in to this eight hour novel, I was on the verge of giving up. I liked the writing and the pace but I couldn't engage with the apparently privileged middle-class characters sharing light-weight banter about publishing and book tours, immediately after the end of World War Two. They and the book  seemed to lack substance and I was getting ready to move on. I promised myself that I'd stop after ninety minutes if things didn't get better.

 

They did get better. Dramatically better. So much so that I feel I would have missed something quite special if I hadn't persisted.

 

Looking back, I realise that the light-weight banter I was unsatisfied by was a forced cheerfulness shared by old friends trying to come to terms with the end of hard times and discovering that, once something bad has happened to you, it becomes part of you. You carry it with you like a scar or a shrapnel in your flesh. It is has changed you, is part of you but, with the help of light-weight banter and the love of good friends, need not define who you are going to become.

 

I started to engage with the book as soon as the letters from Guernsey started to arrive. These were people I wanted to know and who had stories that I wanted to hear.

 

As they were meant to, each letter pulled me further and further into the world of the Islanders and fed my hunger to know what the German occupation had been like for them: what they had done, what they had lost, whether and how they could build a future for themselves from the ruins of the war.

 

The audiobook format is a perfect match for the epistolary novel form, with different narrators bringing each correspondent alive. Every narrator did a splendid job in creating a sense of identity and growing intimacy as the novel unfolded.

 

Normally, I don't do well with novel about the behaviour of the Germans in World War II. Too many books seem to glory in the details of the atrocities or push for the easy-to-claim-in-retrospect moral high ground. What I found compelling about this book was the very personal nature of the disclosures, grounded in individual experiences where one has to decide whether to do what is right or what is safe, where one becomes or is made, more or less human by each decision and where the highest form of bravery is not giving way to despair in the face of inhuman behaviour.

 

There are many passages in this book that moved me to tears; many stories that I know will stay with me, even though I would rather not have them in my head. So much for the book being too light-weight.

 

Yet this book in neither a dirge nor a lament. It is a book about the joy of life and love as much as it is about sorrow and loss. There is a love story, delicate, slight but wondrous all the same, at the centre of this book. There are also friendships and kindnesses that lift the spirit.

 

By the end of the book, I began to wish that I too could visit this version of Guernsey and become an honorary  member of its literary society.

 

I've seen some reviews that criticise the novel for not being focused enough on books, implying that the title and the literary society are marketing gimmicks disguising an entirely different type of novel.

 

I understand this view but I don't share it. The book does not focus on books. It focuses on readers, on why they read and why they need to talk to others about what they have read. 

 

I came to understand how a single line from Shakespeare can "who says most when he says the least" can help a man crystallise his reaction to calamity and face it with greater calm, how the letters of a man dead for centuries can guide a lost and damaged reader back into society and how a tale written for a grieving child can bring hope and happiness years later.

 

In my view, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" holds up reading and discussing with others what one has read, as an activity that can sustain humanity in the face of brutality, not by providing an escape route but by refreshing the roots of our humanity: a shared human condition, a shared and constantly evolving imagination and the ability to surface truth and emotion and give them their due.

 

I recommend this wonderful book to anyone who loves life and books and the readers who connect the two.

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