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review 2018-12-03 20:30
Child detective on the case
Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training - Joris Chamblain,Aurelie Neyret

Cici's Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training is a middle grade graphic novel by Joris Chamblain with illustrations by Aurélie Neyret. The reader follows a little girl named Cici (obviously) who has designs to be a detective and writer hence the writing of her journal (the book flip flops between narrative style and journal style) which is chock full of her observational notes. She lives alone with her mother who she has a strained relationship with (and they haven't even hit the troubled teen years!). Next door is an older woman who is an acclaimed mystery writer and the motivator of Cici's interests. The plot contains solvable (and believable) mysteries for a child detective/writer and are full of imaginative characters. [A/N: The book is divided into sections with discrete (somewhat overlapping) mysteries.] Chamberlain explores but ultimately doesn't solve the mystery of the relationship between the mother and daughter (series teaser?). There's no explanation given (or mention of) the father's absence or why Cici has such a reticence to sharing or even experiencing her feelings. The more I dwell on it the more complex I realize this story line actually is which I think is great in a middle grade novel.

Picking up this particular graphic novel was a roll of the dice for me but I ended up absolutely loving it. The book seems to be set up as the start of a series which I wouldn't be mad about at all. I haven't seen any buzz over this title online as yet but I highly encourage you to pick this one up especially if you've been wanting to dip your toe into the graphic novel pool. The illustrations are GORGEOUS. 10/10


I'd love to have some prints of this artist's work. [Source: GramUnion]


What's Up Next: Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm


What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-04-17 18:29
How to awaken the heart: an instruction manual
How to Love the Empty Air - Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

My pals over at Wunderkind PR sent me a copy of today's book and asked that I give an honest review. Spoiler alert: I said yes. :-)


How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a collection of poetry which primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother (also a writer) and the grief she experienced after her death. Please don't think it's all doom and gloom and buckets of tears (although there is that too) because she also delves into the pockets of happiness that can be found amidst the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so dear. Cristin speaks to that part of the heart that is attuned to the people in our lives who get us so completely that even the idea that they might not be there pulls the air from one's lungs. From her poem "O Laughter" comes this gem: Sometimes the pain bursts out of me like a flock of starlings. Perfection! If I had to express this book in graph form it would be a steep incline immediately followed by a steep decline and finished off with a steady incline that disappears off the side of the page. Simply put, this is an absolutely lovely little book with beautiful prose and if it doesn't stir your heart I wonder if you even have one. 10/10


PS I'd also like to note that 1. I loved the finish on this book. It's like that velvety feeling that some books have and it was an absolute treat to hold it. 2. I enjoyed Cristin's book so much that I'm actively looking to read her other works (including a nonfiction book).

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-03 14:53
What makes us "real"?
The Imaginary - A.F. Harrold,Emily Gravett

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold recalls to mind the memory of childhood and the power (danger?) of imagination. The story revolves around Amanda and her best friend named Rudger. They're typical friends that have lots of imaginary play, get into mischief, and share all of their secrets with one another. The only difference is that no one else can see Rudger because he's Amanda's imaginary friend. This book walks a tightrope between fantasy and reality which at times is quite blurred. This is not a fantasy full of giggles and silliness but one fraught with darkness and fear. There is a threat not only to Amanda and Rudger's friendship but to their very lives...and it's getting closer. This is a book about the true meaning of friendship and to what lengths you will go to preserve it. Also, cats. (I genuinely made a note after reading this book that was simply CATS so clearly that's an important aspect of this book.) I must also point out that the narrative was elevated even further by the fantastic illustrations of Emily Gravett. (I liked her work so much that I sought out her picture books.) I've been recommending this to reluctant readers because I think it's a great way to dip your toe into fantasy and the scary element definitely sells it as well. 9/10




Source: books4yourkids.com



What's Up Next: HiLo series books 1-3 by Jeff Winick


What I'm Currently Reading: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatues by Aaron Mahnke & Haunted Nights: A Horror Writers Association anthology

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-03-01 21:13
Are middle grade books even a thing?
The True Meaning of Smekday - Adam Rex

If you haven't figured it out by now, my other passion besides books are movies. I watched Home which came out last year and starred (the voices of) Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and J. Lo. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was based on a middle grade (I struggled over this designation) novel entitled The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. (Do you see where this post is headed?) Both storylines focus on a little girl named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci as she tries to find her mom in the aftermath of an alien takeover. The aliens are called the Boov and they've corralled the humans into a centralized location and taken over everything. This is where the similarities mostly end. The relationship between Tip and her mom, Lucy, is less than ideal. Her mother drinks a lot, is financially irresponsible, and relies heavily on her daughter who is only eleven. I appreciated that Rex wrote this in a matter-of-fact way. It's a reality that exists for many children and I think realistic relationships such as these are underrepresented. What's important is that despite all of that Tip is determined to find her mother so that they can be reunited. Of course, it's not as easy as that. She's in Philadelphia and the majority of humanity have been sent to Florida. She buys a car with the emergency savings they have in their apartment and sets out with her pet cat, Pig. (That wasn't a typo.) She meets a Boov named J. Lo (Firstly, it's a boy Boov which is awesome. Secondly, the book is actually dedicated to J. Lo and as mentioned above she voices a character (the mom to be exact) in the movie.) who enhances her car so that it hovers. They go on a rollicking, dangerous adventure to find her mom while dodging the Boov and another race of aliens called Gorg (actual race is Nimrogs but they are all named Gorg) who have also arrived to colonize Earth. Rex uses illustration in a clever way throughout the book. There are "polaroids" (pencil drawings) of different parts of their trip as well as comic strip illustrations from J. Lo with written explanations by Tip. It's a quick, fun read that I think would especially benefit reluctant readers. It had a lot of heart and touched on a lot of topics such as substance abuse, race, and loyalty. I really enjoyed it. :-D

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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