But it started so well!

town secrets I love summer for the unlimited reading time! So I’ve been very good about chipping away at the Shelf Control pile. Unfortunately I seem to be acquiring books at a greater rate than I am chipping. Maybe time to get off Book Bub? Not sure I can do it.

See my shelf control post for the summary.

Why I (sort of) recommend it:

So another bit of a let down with this one. It starts out so strong. The characters are well defined. I love how different they are and how they all come from different family backgrounds. As they are work to figure out the puzzle and sneak into the various buildings to do so, I found I couldn’t read fast enough. They had a great friendship and the author created some wonderful dialogues between them. I really got a feel for these boys and loved their banter. Then for some reason, the book took a turn that made me almost wonder if I was still reading the same book. Once the adults came into the picture and started describing the town’s secret, I found myself plodding through. Even though the boys were still integral to the plot, I found the focus shifting from their dynamic to the “intrigue” and it didn’t work for me. I purchased the other three books in the series when I was still caught up in loving the characters and the “Stranger Things” feel of the novel. I now find I’m not that interested. I may give the second one a go but we’ll see.

Rating: Three stars

Recommended for 10+. Boys may particularly relate to the character dynamic.

Love at First Site? Sigh…

warcross (1)Continuing to chip away at my Shelf Control pile.  Read this one in a day.

See my Shelf Control post for the summary.

Why I (sort of) recommend it:

So I was quite eager to read this book as it sounded like it was along the same lines as Ready Player One and Silence of the Six, both books I enjoyed immensely. I should have approached with caution though, as Warcross features a female lead and experience has taught me that a female lead in a YA book (regardless of genre) means romance of some sort. I don’t dislike all romantic elements but they have to be well done and not gratuitous as so often happens. I find authors tend to rush any elements of romance and thus it feels forced and thrown together. That’s what happened with Warcross. I liked Emika and Hideo and given time and attention their relationship might have worked for me, but I never understood how an international Japanese billionaire would fall instantly for a street rat nobody from the US. It was never explained. Hideo was known as a very private man and one of the first rules of meeting him was not to ask about his family. Yet in no time at all he’s introducing Emika to his parents and talking about his brother. Lu also did not take the time to establish and build Emika’s connection with her teammates either. They too took instantly to Emika.

The world of the Warcross game was vivid and very enjoyable, and the imminent threat to Hideo kept me reading. I was especially curious about Zero and was sure I knew who he was. Turned out I was wrong but somehow I still think my guy is involved in the conspiracy.

This book should have been told in two or even three novels. There’s enough material there and I would love to have seen the relationships and characters more drawn out and developed. There’s nothing like a slow burn to make the out come far more satisfying.

My final beef with this book is that it ended at 89% on my Kobo. There I am, thinking I still have 10% to read and expecting a wrap up when boom, no ending at all. The final 10% of the “book” is an excerpt from Legend. Why that is needed I don’t know? I felt cheated.

Not sure if I’m going to seek out the second book or not. Seems to be a trend for me with Marie Lu books. I loved Legend but never finished the trilogy and Young Elites has been awaiting me for ages. The sequel to Warcross (Wildcard) comes out soon though, so I may give it a go.

Rating: Three stars

Suitable for teens. I would advise caution as there’s quite a bit of violence and some fade to black sex.

The Rule of Thre3 (Shelf Control #4)

rule of three

Title: The Rule of Thre3
By: Eric Walters
Published:  2014
Target:  teens

Synopsis (via Goodreads):    One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighbourhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.

How I got it: This one has been on my Kobo for quite some time, so honestly I’m not really sure how I got it.  I think it was one of the ones I saw in a bookstore and took a picture of to remind myself to seek it out digitally.

When I got it:   I want to say 2015?

Why I want to read it:  I think this is another one that was a result of my Ready Player One obsession.  I went looking for others in the same vein.  I love the premise of all computers going down.  I feel like that will be our next World War.  We’re so reliant on the digital world that I’m not sure what anyone would do.  Cyberterrorism has already become a problem because we are at the mercy of machines.  Certainly, no one likes the idea of planes falling out of the sky!  We are now also approaching a second generation that doesn’t know a world without computers and the internet.  I’d love to know what today’s teenager would do if they suddenly didn’t have a smart-phone.  An interesting social experiment at the very least.  Anyway, the whole “what-if” scenario intrigues me so this is next on my list.

On Canada Day – Taking Stock

So it appears that this is about the time of year I return to my blog; after the school year finishes and the craziness dies down. I had the idea to write ahead so things could post even if I didn’t get around to writing something, but you know, best laid plans and all. So here I am looking back on my posts, and only just now realizing how long it’s been since I wrote. So a quick update to get us back into the swing of things.

My resolution to work my way through my enormous “to be read” pile has waned and I have fallen back into my bad habit of stockpiling books. Not as badly as before but I am still adding books at a greater rate than I am reading them.

Looking at my Shelf Control books, I’ve read every book in the Silence of the Six series including all the novellas. Thoroughly enjoyed every one and highly recommend. I didn’t get very far with In Other Lands but my devotion to Sarah Rees Brennan dictates that I will be giving that one another shot. And York? York was incredible and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series (review to come).

I have continued to read as much as possible but have been on a stint of “gripping psychological thrillers” since school ended (some not so thrilling or gripping).

I was also reading recently about the resurgence of the physical book; at least in the UK.  Books stores closing everywhere with the coming of the internet and e-readers and people are starting to realize how much they enjoyed holding a book in their hands. And vinyl is coming back! What’s up with that! Indigo even has a section devoted to it, because you know, they’re not a bookstore anymore apparently. Strange world we live in.

Me, I have to admit I like my digital books, mainly because I can increase the font size and line-spacing and read much, much faster.

So, any preference? Digital or physical? Are there certain situations where you prefer one over the other, or is it a clear preference?

I must admit, when it comes to physical books, I miss the covers and how nice certain books look on my shelves :))

An Admission and a Resolution

new-year-2018-100745093-large I have an addiction. One I’ve had most of my life. Like most addictions, I wasn’t born with it; it developed over time, influenced by external experiences and factors. Although unrecognized at the time, my addiction took hold at the age of eleven. Almost every penny of my modest allowance was being spent on books. I wasn’t at the point where I was borrowing to feed my addiction; but only because they don’t issue credit cards to eleven year olds. Now many might say they also buy a lot of books, it doesn’t mean they have an addiction. Completely possible, but that’s not me. Just like a compulsion to drink, or gamble or play video games, I can’t stop buying books. It wasn’t really too much of a problem until the advent of the internet. Now my addiction can be fed with the click of a button. I finish a book, click a button and am reading the next book within seconds.

need-booksConvenient yes? Read a book, buy your next one. Sure, but for compulsive book buyers it poses quite a problem. I don’t just buy one book, I buy eight. I download cheapies and specials and those that look interesting. I spend time on Amazon and Goodreads checking out all their recommendations and adding to both my Kobo and my Kindle. And I still indulge occasionally in an afternoon at Indigo, adding to my physical library, which is housed on my main floor. I have tried getting books only from the library but I’m not good at waiting for what I want. I’ve tried going cold turkey, telling myself “you may not buy a book until you’ve read what you have” but really that’s just not feasible as long as Dan Brown and Joy Fielding are still writing.

The result. I now have more books than I could every hope to read. I have books I don’t even know I have and, more than once, I’ve purchased the same book twice. Two days ago I sat down to gather some hard stats. With an idea of what I might discover, I created a reading list of all the books in my library I have yet to read. So far I’ve only compiled the books from my electronic devices yet already the numbers are illustrating the stark reality of my addiction. I can only imagine what my list will look like once I add all the physical books from my library. And that only includes books I’m still interested in reading. I figure, at my current reading speed, it will take me five years to read the entire list.

So, a New Year’s resolution. I know I will not be able to stop buying books completely, but I can stop buying everything that looks interesting. I can stop buying a book because I like the size or cover, or because it will look good on my shelf. I can stop buying book 3 of a series if I have yet to start book 2. I can stop looking at the recommendations on Amazon and Goodreads. (Well, that last one might be pushing it, but it’s worth a try). And I can keep the prioritized list visible, working my way through it and crossing off as I go. I love crossing things off a list.

I know that new must-haves will come out, and I will buy them, but if I can redefine what “must-have” means I may stand a chance.

If only I didn’t have to work. It takes up so much reading time!!

The Wonders of Auggie

Wonder_Cover_Art Wonder was recommended to me by a young friend who really enjoyed it and thought I might too. Being the highly intuitive young man that he is, I knew better than to doubt him and downloaded it immediately. Wonder is the story of August, a ten-year-old boy who has been home-schooled his whole life. It’s not like he doesn’t have friends, or is behind intellectually, but still his parents have decided it’s time to go to school. Begin with all the other new kids entering middle school in grade 5. August is adamant about not going. You see, August has what he calls mandibulofacial dysostosis, which, as I read the description, sounded a lot like Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare condition characterized by severe facial deformity. Really he’s just an ordinary ten-year-old but few tend to work their way past the surface to find that out. Auggie’s used to the glances, the second looks, the looking away when people don’t know what to say. Middle school is hard enough as it is without looking different. After meeting the principal and touring the school, Auggie decides to go, beginning a journey that is both touching and inspiring.

What I loved most about this book is that it’s told from a variety of viewpoints. The first section is from Auggie’s point of view, then the same incidents are reviewed and the story is continued from his sister’s point of view. We then hear the story of Auggie’s journey through the first year of middle school from a continuing succession of his classmates and even his sister’s boyfriend, before returning to Auggie. The reader views the same incident from two or three view points, an invaluable lesson for many children as they learn to think outside of themselves.  Also, the author never loses sight of the characters’ voice. I could see and hear these children telling their story; the slang was right, the vocabulary was right, and the actions and uncertainties rang true.

Wonder is a exceptional story from start to finish. One of the most valuable lessons we can pass on to the next generation is to see through another’s eyes; feel what another is feeling and try to understand the reasons for another’s actions and reactions.

Not only does Wonder make us think, and hopefully make our children think, it’s also an enjoyable read. Never did I feel as if I was being preached at, which is what put it over the top for me because, trust me, kids know when they are being preached at.

Ages: 8-12              Rating: 5 stars


My Top 5 Eclipse Books (plus One Play and a Movie)

macbethSo it appears a total solar eclipse is not as rare an occurrence as I thought. One occurs somewhere in the world every eighteen months, so in theory you could make quite a career out of following in the moon if that was your thing. I watched NASA’s eclipse coverage yesterday and once again marveled at the astounding beauty of nature and our world. The view from the Space Station was particularly magnificent to see. I also wondered what the ancients must have thought as the world went black for a good two minutes. The gods/God must have been very angry indeed.

In honour of the occassion, I hunted around for a book to review with Eclipse in the title and racked my memory for eclipse-centric books from my childhood. While there are many that deal with “teaching” children about the phenomenon I was more interested in it as a plot point or a symbolic device. I admit my findings are barebones; there’s somewhat of a gap in this area, making me think that it might be fun to write a novel where an eclipse plays a central role. How I’m not sure yet but with NANoWriMo approaching I’m certainly tossing a variety of plots around. Maybe someone who does follow the moon around?

So here’s the titles I remember reading which either have eclipse in the title or have an eclipse as a plot point of some sort.  The first three were more recent reads, the latter three from my teen years.
eclipse 1) Eclipse by Stephanie Mayer – yes, I know you were all thinking it, and waiting for me to bite the bullet and talk about it. So, yes, number one most commonly known.  While I can’t speak to it first hand (I didn’t get past the beginning of book two) the Twilight wiki claims that the title refers to Jacob calling Edward an eclipse when Bella says Edward is her personal sun. Now that I can get on board with if the first book was anything to go by. Once Bella met Edward she ceased to exist. He eclipsed her. But that’s another rant all its own, so lets move on.

2) Eclipse by Andrea Cheng is the story of a young Hungarian boy growing up in 50’s America. It’s a coming of age story as he must learn to stand up for himself and find a sense of self-worth. The story is not long but I imagine the title refers to how he escapes to the library to read about everything, including eclipses.

3) In the Path of the Eclipse by Stephen King – okay a bit of a cheat here. King did not release a book of this name but according to the Stephen King wiki (sense a pattern here?) it was the original title for what eventually became Delores Claibourne and Gerald’s Game. While I don’t remember Gerald’s Game I do remember that Delores carried out her “plan” during an eclipse.

4) The Secret Mountain by Enid Blyton – while I was enamoured by Enid Blyton as a child (she too will be featured soon) it was her Adventure Series I loved the most. I remember the plot of this one, much as I vaguely remember some of the Secret Seven plots. As an adult reader, I can now see the tremendous colonial mentality at work in this book as the family manages to escape from an African tribe by claiming they will “kill the sun” if not released.

yankee 5) Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain – Our hero, Hank, performs a miracle and blots out the sun in the chapter entitle “Eclipse”. I love Twain!

6) Macbeth by William Shakespeare – I’ve been teaching this play for the past 10 years and I love it more and more each time I read it. At the beginning of Act II Ross says “by the clock, ‘tis day/And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp:” – a wonderful example of pathetic fallacy as Macbeth prepares to kill Duncan (darkness taking over etc.).

ladyhawkeFinally, no eclipse list (even this short one) would be complete without the magnificent Ladyhawke. Yes, not a book, but too good not to mention. Cursed by the evil bishop for the sin of falling in love, Isabeau and Navarre are eternally together, forever apart. By day she is a hawk and he a man, by night he is a wolf and she a woman. At dawn and dusk they can almost touch before they are ripped apart. What they need is nighttime during the day… While the 80’s music has not stood the test of the time, the story is beautiful and Matthew Broderick is at his charming boyish best. This will always be a close-to-my-heart movie.

So obviously not all of the above are considered children’s books (or plays or movies), but then, I never defined my personal childhood bookshelf as containing books adults think are suitable for children. My childhood bookshelf was always comprised of what I was interested in reading, regardless of what was considered appropriate. I read anything and everything in my house when I was growing up, so don’t be surprised to see V.C. Andrews and Agatha Christie show up in the near future.


I really hate that I haven’t been using my site.  It’s actually been over a year!  And it’s not like I haven’t been reading or had things to write about.  Sigh, life just gets away from you but there really are no excuses.  I have plans for what I what to write about so now I just need to get on a roll and make it a routine.

skinSo what is everyone reading?  I am currently in the middle of a great series called The Arc Trilogy by Jessie Daro.  It’s been a long time since i’ve had a book I couldn’t put down.  Part one was devoured in a day.  It’s young adult so may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s a unique an compelling story.

I’ve also starting to realize (being as old school as I am, I’m a little slow on the uptake) how many books are self-published or only published digitally now.  It appears to be a lot easier to get your book out there and into the hands of the masses.  Not necessarily a good thing judging by some of the stuff I’ve found out there, but I’ve also discovered some great reads which probably would never have seen the light of day.  Good Reads has proven to be a great help in this area.  It’s also made me think of digging my old novel out and finishing it off.  Would be great to see people reading it.

So, hope to make my presence more of a common occurrence in the next few months.  The world of books really is a wonderful world to play in!



eighth day

Well, eventhough my plan to post weekly hasn’t worked out, I am writing.  I was hoping to have something up this weekend, but I’m not quite happy with either of the pieces I’m working on.

So, I’ll have something up soon.  In the meantime, I’m reading this amazing series and my students are devouring it.  A little bit of King Arthur and a little bit of parallel times.  An easy read yet a very innovative story.  The Eighth Day by Dianne Salerni.