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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Favourite Picture Books #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today's list is:

Top Ten Favourite Picture Books

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Every little girl needs this book! This princess does not need saving. Instead, the prince does! When she does indeed do just that, instead of being grateful for saving him he tells her that she is a mess and to come back when she is dressed like a "real" princess. Her response to him is perfect and a good lesson for every girl that looks are not all that, and it's really what someone is like at their heart that matters most.



Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Another Robert Munsch book, and this one is for the boys (although my girls enjoy it, too). It's all about the love that a parent feels for a child and vice versa.


Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Another great story about the love between a parent and child.


Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
This book is hilarious! My kids love it.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
We loved the caterpillar's metamorphosis!


Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
This was a favourite from MY childhood. My kids love her, too. She takes everything literally, and it's so funny!


Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
This is a favourite Dr. Seuss book!


Little Mommy by Sharon Kane
I never liked dolls as a kid, but I loved babies! This book was one of my favourites.


Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
I loved this story of how Mrs. Mallard gets her ducklings to their new home (with no help from Mr. Mallard, who conveniently is "off" for a week!).


Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
I love how the peddlar outsmarts those mischievous monkeys!


So, what are your favourite picture books? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Wrap-up Post #WintersRespite


This is my Wrap-up Post for A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon!


I finished four books:

by Hillary Jordan

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini


Pax
by Sara Pennypacker


I'm still reading:

by L. Frank Baum
[readaloud to my daughter]
(Katie Maguire, Book #1)
by Graham Masterton


The Blood of an Englishman
(Agatha Raisin, Book #25)
by M.C. Beaton
[on my iPod]


I only managed a couple of Twitter updates (I forgot to do the rest!):








Here are the final tallies for the read-a-thon:

Total pages read: 644 pages
Total minutes listened: 29 h and 23 min
Total books finished: 4


I definitely had more listening time than sit-down time for reading!

If I convert the audiobook to pages, that's 273 pages for Frankenstein, 278 pages for Pax, 324 pages for The Kite Runner, and approximately 129 pages for The Blood of an Englishman. That gives a total page count of 1,648. I'm good with that!!

Thanks again to Michelle at Seasons of Reading for hosting!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm still reading: 

Something from the library. I am really enjoying this one, but it's pretty dark and gruesome.

TITLE: White Bones
SERIES: Katie Maguire, Book #1
AUTHOR: Graham Masterton 
PUBLISHER: Head of Zeus
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2013
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 400 pages
GENRE: Mystery
ISBN: 9781781850640
There are things I need to know...

On a farm in southern Ireland, the dismembered bones of eleven women are found in a common grave, buried eight decades ago. Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire is used to bloodshed, but this ivory litter of human remains is unimaginable butchery.

Of other worlds apart from this...

In isolated darkness not far away, an American tourist is at the mercy of a serial killer. His tools are a boning knife, twine, and a doll fashioned from nails and fishhooks. The murder of his victims is second only to the pleasure of their pain.

Darker places inhabited by evil monstrosities...

As an eighty-year-old mystery unfolds, so does a modern-day ritual that's marked Katie Maguire as its next victim. For what happened once in this small picturesque village is happening again. It's more than a series of horrifying crimes. It's tradition.

Take me there.


Something from my bookshelf. This is my vintage 1958 edition, which I've kept from my childhood! There's not even an ISBN # for this edition! I'm reading it aloud to my daughter.

SERIES: Oz, Book #1
AUTHOR: L. Frank Baum 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
PUBLICATION DATE: 1958 (first published May 17, 1900)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 156 pages
GENRE: Children's Fiction, Classics, Fantasy

Join Dorothy Gale, Toto, and all of her friends as they explore the incredible land of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is American's most enduring fairy tale. From the moment Dorothy puts on the silver slippers (changed to ruby slippers by MGM to take advantage of their new advance in movie making: color) until the moment she clicks her heals and returns home to Kansas you will be swept away and captivated by her extraordinary story.

This edition with illustrations by Paul Granger.

I'm listening to:

Something from the library. I needed something light-hearted to balance all the darker books that I've read lately!

SERIES: Agatha Raisin, Book #25
AUTHOR: M.C. Beaton
NARRATOR: Alison Larkin
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: September 16, 2014
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 6 hrs and 50 mins 
GENRE: Mystery/Cozy Mystery
In this irresistible new mystery from New York Times best seller M. C. Beaton, the adorably cranky Agatha Raisin investigates when a local baker is murdered while performing in a seemingly harmless pantomime.

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman…"

Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of Babes in the Woods, Agatha watches as the baker, playing an ogre, struts and threatens on the stage. Then a trapdoor opens…followed by a scream and then silence.

Surely, this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show - and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.



I just finished:

AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
NARRATOR: Khaled Hosseini
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2003
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 12 hrs and 6 mins 
GENRE: Historical Fiction
Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of its monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable and beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara - a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship and betrayal, and about the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons - their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But through the devastation, Khaled Hosseini offers hope for redemption.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

March 2017 Take Control TBR Challenge #TakeControlTBR

This challenge is being hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reader. Here are the details:

Rules

Link-up! This is open to everyone. If you do not have a blog then link your Goodreads account. It is a good idea to friend me if your shelves are private.

Create a Goals/Updates/Results post (can be combined) It can also be a shelf on Goodreads. Be sure to friend me, so I can see it. Friend me: Kimberly

Begins midnight March 1st, 2017 and ends March 31, 2017 at 11:59 pm.

Read/listen to books from your TBR pile.

ALL books/audios must have been published before March 1, 2017. I don’t care where you got them, so old ARCS count too.

Post a review to Goodreads, or your blog then link it to the Rafflecopter for an entry. ( these can be mini review)

You can combine events, challenges etc.

No novellas for this one peeps. Page count must be over 100 pages to qualify.

The rafflecopter will only allow you to enter up to two books daily, so update as soon as you finish a book.

Use hashtag #TakeControlTBR

Twitter Party March 15th @ 7 pm (CST) The Ides of March. Come chat about books you have read and win prizes.

24-hour TBR read-a-thon Saturday, March 18th (sign-up will post in February) Grab your snacks, snuggle up and read until you drop! Instagram challenges and more.

Earn extra entries for participating in the Twitter Party and 24-hour TBR read-a-thon

Rafflecopter will close on April 2, 2017 at midnight and a winner will be chosen within 72 hours. Open internationally as long as Book Depositor ships to you. Prize: New 2016 release valued at up to 20 US dollars. I will do pre-orders as well. (may request eBook copy from Amazon or B&N)

I will update this post with my progress once the challenge starts!

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post

This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:
"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

The weather has been mild, but that streak is about to end. By Tuesday, we will be back to minus double digits.

Waking up to -12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit), and by Wednesday our nights will be twice as cold as that.

As you can see, some of the snow has melted.





"Shane" gifted me with more audiobooks through Audible:

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie

The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer


Thanks, Shane!


I won this paperback (my book of choice up to $5.00) in a giveaway hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know for the 2016 Series Enders Reading Challenge - November Wrap-up:


Thanks again, Sandy!


I bought this hardcover at the dollar store for $3.00. I need to start on this series!

Shadow Play by Iris Johansen 
(Eve Duncan, Book #19)


Did you know that you can download FREE audiobooks with Penguin Random House's Volumes app? Here's what I picked up:

Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
(Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Book #1)


I received this audiobook for review:

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope by Wendy Holden

Thanks again, Tantor Audio!





Recap: Last Week On The Blog


Sunday: Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post
Monday: It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Big Books That I Find Daunting (Are They Worth The Time Investment?)
Wednesday: Waiting On Wednesday: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
Wednesday: Audiobook Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Thursday: Book Review: 4 out of 5 stars for When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Friday: Audiobook Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley


What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Friday, January 27, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley @BlackstoneAudio

TITLE: Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: March 12, 2008 (first published 1818)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 42 mins 
GENRE: Classics, Horror
Dr. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, is consumed by a fanatic desire to create a living being. He fashions an eight-foot-tall creature and succeeds in animating him, but, horrified by his visage, perceives his creation to be a monster and frightens him away. The monster, wandering in search of human companionship, is spurned and repulsed by all he approaches and learns to hate and to kill. He confronts his maker with a terrible choice: unless Frankenstein creates for him a mate, he will go on a rampage of destruction.

Frankenstein, a masterpiece of 19th-century Gothic horror and considered to be the first science-fiction novel, is a subversive tale about the corrupt tendencies in humanity's most "civilized" ambitions.

MY REVIEW:

This gothic classic was a bit of a letdown!

I am sure that we are all familiar with the premise of the story, so I won’t go into too much detail. To recap, Victor Frankenstein uses his mad scientist skills to assemble a creature and bring it to life but is horrified by his own creation. He wants nothing to do with it, and the creature retaliates by killing off his family and friends. The creature returns to Victor and begs him to make a companion for him, someone who will be just like him so that he can know love. In return, he promises to go off with his mate and to leave Victor in peace. Victor does start the process but abandons it, because he is concerned (only just now!!) with the ramifications of his actions. What if the female does not want to be with her mate? Then there will be two hideous creatures that he has brought into the world! Or worse, what if they procreate and bring more monsters into the world? He destroys his work, and the creature vows revenge on Victor’s wedding night.

The story told in epistolary fashion, through a series of letters from Captain Robert Walton to his sister in England, where he tells her about a man that he rescued on his way to the North Pole. The man turns out to be Victor Frankenstein, and he tells his tale to the Captain whose story is relayed in that manner.

I find this a difficult review to write because I didn’t particularly like Victor Frankenstein! In all honesty, I actually LIKED the creature. The third part of the story was my favourite, because it was told from the creature’s perspective. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Shelley beautifully conveys the creature’s sensitive nature and his intelligence, how he studies the family who lives in the hut in the woods. He shows his thoughtfulness by cutting down trees during the night for firewood and leaving it at their door. He learns how to speak through his observations of the family’s interactions with each other. You can feel the pain of his loneliness.

The majority of the story was just “meh” for me. I found that it moved very slowly and felt drawn out. On a positive note, Ms. Shelley’s prose is very beautiful, eloquent, and proper. However, it just didn’t grab me! I think if I had been reading the book, I may have struggled to get through it. It’s times like this when I’m thankful to be listening, because a good narrator can hold your interest. There were three different narrators, and they are all new to me: Anthony Heald (Victor), Simon Templeman (Robert), and Stefan Rudnicki (creature). They all did a great job. Heald wonderfully captured Victor’s constant bemoaning, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I disliked his character! Rudnicki’s low voice was fitting for the creature, as you can see here from this sample of the narration:



I want to watch both the original 1931 Frankenstein movie with Boris Karloff portraying the creature, as well as the 1994 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein starring Robert De Niro as the creature.


MY RATING:
2 stars!! Meh, it was just "okay."

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for When She Woke by Hillary Jordan @Hillary_Jordan @AlgonquinBooks

TITLE: When She Woke
AUTHOR: Hillary Jordan 
PUBLISHER: Algonquin Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 4, 2011
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 344 pages
GENRE: Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 9781565126299
I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.

MY REVIEW:

I really enjoyed this dystopian retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

In this dystopian world, people are melachromed for their crimes. This means that their genetic makeup is altered so that their skin is dyed which marks them in public. Crimes are differentiated by the colour of chroming used. Red is for the most dangerous offenders, with murder convictions. The “blues” are child molesters, and “greens” cover various offences including arson, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. “Yellows” represent the majority of offenders, who are guilty of misdemeanors. After the melachroming procedure, the guilty are released back into society which alleviates the financial burden on the government since they no longer have to house inmates. They need to return for top-up injections every four months, and there is no fear that they will not return as the result of not having the regular injections starts a process of fragmentation which will drive someone to harm or kill themselves. At the end of their sentence (assuming that they haven’t been killed by vigilantes), they return for the melachroming to be reversed.

A sexually transmitted disease called The Great Scourge wiped out much of the human race over a three-year period, and it left many women infertile. To ensure the survival of the human race, abortion was outlawed.

Hannah Payne is a 26-year-old woman, who had a religious upbringing. An attraction develops between her and the married pastor of her church. Their affair results in a pregnancy. If she has the baby, she must name the father as this is a government requirement to ensure that the child is supported. As she knows that there is no way that she can reveal her beloved’s identity, she chooses to have an abortion without his knowledge. Her crime comes to light, and she is charged with the murder of her unborn child. Because she refuses to identify the child’s father and the abortionist, a six-year penalty is added to her ten-year sentence. After a 30-day period of incarceration in the Chrome Ward of Crawford State Prison in Texas after the melachroming procedure (which is broadcast on television to the public, like a 24/7 reality tv show), she is released and arrangements are made for her to be taken into a program at The Straight Path facility. She rebels against their religious and disturbing teachings which amount to brainwashing, and she leaves voluntarily. The outside world is a dangerous place for Chromes, because they are typically ostracized and cannot get jobs to support themselves. A secret society of pro-choice feminists finds Hannah and offers her a risky option to reverse the procedure, which means fleeing the United States and to never have contact with anyone from her past. Can she turn her back on her loved ones forever?

I loved Hannah’s transformation from an obedient and submissive young lady to a confident woman who took charge of her decisions. I am surprised with some of her decisions towards the end of the book, but it was fitting with her transition and self-discovery.

Hillary Jordan is a new-to-me author, and I really enjoyed her sophomore book. Now I want to read her debut, Mudbound!

MY RATING:



4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR if you enjoy dystopia!

This book qualifies as:
Task #3 for my Goodreads Winter Seasonal Scavenger Challenge - Skiing

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Pax by Sara Pennypacker @sarapennypacker @HarperAudio

TITLE: Pax
PUBLISHER: HarperAudio
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2016
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 5 hrs and 35 mins 
GENRE: Childrens/Middle Grade Fiction
Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.

At his grandfather's house 300 miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be - with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own....

From best-selling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the essential truths that define us and the devastating costs of war. Pax is destined to become a beloved classic.

MY REVIEW:

I have a soft spot for animal stories, and this one broke my heart! This is a 2016 National Book Award nominee for Young People’s Literature.

Peter is a 12-year-old boy, who finds an orphaned fox cub that is just 16 days old. He tells his father that he is going to keep it, and he names the fox Paxton or “Pax” for short. The two become so close that, at times, Peter feels himself merge with Pax, seeing the world through the fox’s eyes. When Peter’s father volunteers to serve in the war, it means that not only does Peter have to move 300 miles away to live with his grandfather but also that it is time to return Pax to the wild. Peter’s father drives out to a remote area, and Peter takes Pax’s favourite toy and throws it as far as he can into the woods. Pax runs after it to retrieve it, thinking that it is a game, but then Pax hears the vehicle drive away. Pax returns to the road just in time to watch the vehicle drive off without him.My heart just broke for Pax and Peter! 

I loved the author’s dual narration of both Peter and Pax. Leaving Pax behind tears out Peter’s heart, and he realizes that it was wrong to leave his best friend and playmate behind. He is determined to go back home to find Pax, making the long trek on foot. It isn’t long before he takes a tumble and breaks his foot. He was trying to cut across private property, and the homeowner is a bit of a recluse. Vola was a medic in the war, and she had to kill. For that, she has never forgiven herself and she doesn’t think she’s fit to be around other people and has isolated herself from the world. We also learn about the heartbreaking fatal accident of Peter’s mother, and his guilt over that. This is an integral part of the story, because Peter’s contact with this woman sets in motion her healing process as well as his own. Simultaneously, Pax must learn how to survive in the wild and has to learn to follow his instincts.

There is so much more to this story than just Peter and Pax. It is about loyalty, survival, sacrifice, compassion, and forgiveness. The ending totally broke me and was very emotional. I think that it was fitting to the theme of the book, and the only thing that I would change would be to end with Pax’s narrative. I need an Epilogue, Ms. Pennypacker! I know this book is considered middle-grade fiction, but I’m glad that I vetted this one before reading it aloud to my nine-year-old daughter. I think she would have found the story too upsetting, so just a caution if you have sensitive kids. I think this story would be a great novel study for a Grade 5 classroom!

Memorable quote:


“but distrust is no match for kindness administered consistently and unmeasured, especially in creatures new to the world.”

Narrator Michael Curran-Dorsano is new to me, and he was a real treat! His voice was very moving and fitting to the characters, and I found it hard to stop listening. Here is a sample of the narration:



MY RATING:

5 stars!! It was superb, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys animal stories!

This book qualifies as:

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