Weekly reading, vol. 2

I’ve finished reorganizing my work library, which is great! I’m exhausted, but very excited for the students to finally get in there and mess around with the books. My new library computer also showed up on Friday which means I can finally add in the new students, update records, finish adding in new books, etc. Library opens in ONE WEEK! Goodness.

Meanwhile, I’ve been vegging out on TV between doing school projects. I’ve started the first season of Elementary and it is SO GREAT. Watched six episodes in a day and a half and I can’t get enough. It makes me want to read the Sherlock Holmes series again, something I haven’t felt pulled to in over three years. Huzzah!

I have, of course, also been reading books! I did the picture book section at work this past week and kept stopping to read them, which was entirely unproductive but a lot of fun.

Books Read

Weekly reading, vol. 2Willie's Not the Hugging Kind by Joyce Durham Barrett
Published: HarperCollins Publishers (1989), Hardcover, 32pg
Source: Library
Genres: Children's, Fiction

Willie's best friend Jo-Jo thinks hugging is silly, so Willie stops hugging everybody but he soon misses giving and getting hugs from his family.

This is about a kid who stops letting people hug him because a friend said it was uncool. I liked that it crammed a lot of important issues in so few pages: peer pressure, growing up, family, emotions! The ending made me tear up, too.

Weekly reading, vol. 2Marianthe's Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories by Aliki
Published: Greenwillow Books (1998), Hardcover, 64pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Children's

Returning to her own childhood for inspiration, Aliki has created an exceptional sixty-four-page book that presents Marianthe's story -- her present and her past. In Painted Words, Marianthe's paintings help her to become less of an outsider as she struggles to adjust to a new language and a new school. Under the guidance of her teacher, who understands that there is more than one way to tell a story, Mari makes pictures to illustrate the history of her family, and eventually begins to decipher the meaning of words. In Spoken Memories, a proud Mari is finally able to use her new words to narrate the sequence of paintings she created, and share with her classmates her memories of her homeland and the events that brought her family to their new country. 00-01 Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award Reading List

We have so many Aliki books in the library! But they’re kinda hit-or-miss with me; this duology was a hit. The first, Painted Words, is about a girl who moves to the US and, as she doesn’t speak English, learns to communicate with her class through paintings. The second, Spoken Memories, is after she learns English and tells her story using her drawings from the first book. It’s very touching and I liked how it was told from Marianthe’s POV instead of an outsider’s.

Weekly reading, vol. 2From Far Away by Robert Munsch, Saoussan Askar
Published: Annick Press (1995), Paperback, 24pg
Source: Library
Genres: Non-Fiction, Children's, Memoir

Based on a true story, Saoussan and her family flee a war-torn Lebanon, where bombs and gunshots were part of a daily life. Now safe in her new country, Saoussan starts school. But not knowing any English made the simplest things difficult: to go to the washroom, Saoussan would crawl to the door when the teacher's head was turned and wait until someone opened it. Saoussan must adapt to a new culture in a much safer world.

This is based on a letter the author received from a young girl named Saoussan! She and her family came to the US from Lebanon when Saoussan was in 1st grade; the story is about how Saoussan adjusted to her new home. It’s not the best-written story ever, because it was actually written by a 3rd grader! But I think it’s neat that Saoussan wrote her own book and the art is super cute.

Weekly reading, vol. 2Petronella by Jay Williams
Published: Parents Magazine Press (1970), Hardcover, 33pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Children's

Princess Petronella challenges the mysterious enchanter Albion for a prince's freedom. She attempts a daring escape--but is she rescuing the right man? A modern fantasy classic, full of wit and surprise, with an admirable heroine and spectacular new illustrations.

The copy in our library has the original 1970s art that, honestly, reminded me of Terry Gilliam’s art from the same time period. In a good way! It’s the kind of psychedelic that scared me as a kid, and I can see why they made a new edition with child-friendlier art. The story, though, is fabulous! It’s about a princess who sets out to seek her fortune and along the way meets a wizard with a very interesting hat. If ever I find a copy of this in the wild I’m buying it for my own collection.

Weekly reading, vol. 2The Green Mill Murder (Phryne Fisher #5) by Kerry Greenwood
Published: Poisoned Pen Press (1993), eBook, 173pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Phryne Fisher is doing one of her favorite things --dancing at the Green Mill (Melbourne's premier dance hall) to the music of Tintagel Stone's Jazzmakers, the band who taught St Vitus how to dance. And she's wearing a sparkling lobelia-coloured georgette dress. Nothing can flap the unflappable Phryne--especially on a dance floor with so many delectable partners. Nothing except death, that is.
The dance competition is trailing into its last hours when suddenly, in the middle of "Bye Bye Blackbird" a figure slumps to the ground. No shot was heard. Phryne, conscious of how narrowly the missile missed her own bare shoulder, back, and dress, investigates.
This leads her into the dark smoky jazz clubs of Fitzroy, into the arms of eloquent strangers, and finally into the the sky, as she follows a complicated family tragedy of the great War and the damaged men who came back from ANZAC cove.
Phryne flies her Gypsy Moth Rigel into the Autralian Alps, where she meets a hermit with a dog called Lucky and a wombat living under his bunk....and risks her life on the love between brothers.

Previous thoughts about this book still apply, though, tbh, not super impressed with character development, of which there is none. Also, probably not a good sign when even the detective gets bored with the mystery halfway through the book and leaves to do something else. I already knew the solution to the mystery, so I gotta have something else to keep me interested, and there wasn’t much but some descriptions of fabulous dresses. The TV show actually does a good job of giving the characters more background/depth than what might be found in the books. Phryne is so much a shiny surface that it’s hard to see beneath to the person inside sometimes; a good actress can help a lot with that, I think.

Weekly reading, vol. 2A Note in the Margin (A Note in the Margin #1) by Isabelle Rowan
Published: Dreamspinner Press (2009), eBook, 276pg
Source: Scribd
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, GLBTQ

John McCann, a man who judges life by the tally of an accounts ledger, has a supreme goal in life: To achieve, live, and enjoy the rarified executive lifestyle. But he's encountered one problem: The migraines are going to continue to get worse unless you make some major changes in your lifestyle. What you need is a 'sea change'… Perhaps buy a nice little business in the country, settle down, something easier to occupy your time…
While John knows the doctor is right, he just can't resign from the job he's fought so hard for. He decides the sacrifice of taking a year's leave of absence won't interfere too much with his plans, and so he finds himself running Margins, a cozy little bookstore, with the help of the former owner's son, Jamie. John expects to put in his year, get his stress under control, and then get back to business.
What John doesn't expect is how Margins and its denizens draw him in, particularly the quiet, disheveled man who takes refuge in the old leather chair in the second-hand book section. John's plans for an unattached year of simple business crumble when he meets David and is forced to reevaluate life, love and what he really wants from both. John and David are forced to come to terms with their pasts as they struggle to determine what possible future they might build together.

I was super on board with this book: high-strung CEO type is forced into taking a year off for his health. He buys a bookstore! And meets somebody! There is angst and romance! It’s set in Australia! Great stuff, right? But actually it turns out the story is not about the high-strung CEO dude recovering from his brain trying to escape his head; it’s actually about his boyfriend coming back from having a breakdown and becoming homeless and having many terrible things happen to him. Not exactly the fun bookstore romance I thought I was getting, though it’s a good enough story in its own right.

I found myself sucked into the story, but I didn’t entirely love the writing style. It’s very slow-paced, the sexytimes are not super sexy, and idk if it’s because the characters are in their 40s-50s or if it’s because the author is not a gay man or what, but they have weirdly dated ideas about what it means to be a man in love with another man. Like, they can’t say they love each other, apparently? (Is that a real thing dudes believe? idk.)

Currently Reading

traitor's moon Traitor’s Moon by Lynn Flewelling | Goodreads | fantasy, GLBTQ
Splurged on this because I really wanted to continue the series and I had a gift card, so why not? It’s book three in the Nightrunner series and I’m very much enjoying it! Not only are Alec and Seregil finally romantically involved (AND KISSING) but the first 30% is basically a travel story. I find fantasy travel stories very relaxing apparently? Even though I KNOW terribly angsty things are going to happen, I immediately relax whenever I read a chapter or two. Will be interesting to see if that stays true as the angst starts amping up!

What have you read this week?

1 thought on “Weekly reading, vol. 2”

  1. Road trip stories in general are my fave. I also love Traitor’s Moon because it’s full of MACHINATIONS and machinations are the best in fantasy books. See also: Goblin Emperor & Queen’s Thief series.

    Meanwhile, do you follow the Elementary writers on Twitter? You should. They are charming. Proof: https://twitter.com/elementarystaff/status/624362437261725696 Further proof: http://www.ew.com/article/2013/10/11/elementary-sleepy-hollow-twitter-feud

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