Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

Who Broke the Teapot?! – Bill Slavin

26109254Mom is very angry. Her very favorite teapot is broken, and no one is ‘fessing up.

Was it Dad, sitting in his underwear reading the paper?
Was it Cat, who was all tangled up in a ball of yarn?
Was it Baby perched in his highchair?
Or is there a surprising twist to this mystery that teaches Mom a little lesson in anger management?

Bill Slavin takes a sly poke at parents in their less-than-finer moments in this funny and energetic story.

Release date: April 26th, 2016

Thanks to Sylvia at Tundra for sending along the book (and some extra goodies!)!

Children’s books and tea are two of my favourite things, so of course I was excited to hear that there was a children’s book about tea coming out! Sure, it’s technically about a teapot, but that’s close enough for me.

Who Broke the Teapot?! is a delightful rhyming mystery: after a raucous morning, Mom comes down to the kitchen only to find that her favourite teapot has been shattered – and now one is willing to admit they were at fault. It would take a Sherlock Holmes type to figure out whodunit…

The story is fairly short, the rhymes sweet and simple. What makes the book stand out are the illustrations: bold and vibrant, Bill Slavin doesn’t hold back when it comes to colour and even texture. This page, for example, shows Kitty tangled in very real looking wool that makes you want to reach out and untangle her. I also love the cutout letters on the second half of the spread – it looks like a colourful ransom note!

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My only issue with the story was one spread where I wasn’t sure which sentence to read first. If I had been reading it to myself, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but since I was dramatically reading it out loud (in a posh English accent, obviously), I stumbled over the order. After a second read-through, I worked it out and it all flows together nicely.

This will be a fun story to read out loud with children who will delight in shouting “WHO BROKE THE TEAPOT” with increasing volume on every other page (who am I kidding, I also enjoyed having an excuse to shout). Maybe not the best bedtime story, though, because all that yelling may rile them up…

Rating:

4 interrobangs

As a bonus, here’s a recreation of one of my favourite tea-related scenes in all of television history: Sherlock and Moriarty (Moriar-tea!!) in “The Reichenbach Fall“.

Honey, you should see me in a crown

George – Alex Gino

George – Alex Gino

24612624BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

I’ve heard amazing things about George, so when I saw it on sale at a library (I’m the only person I know who can go to a library and buy a book), I picked it up right away.

I don’t know a lot about transgender and transitioning or how terrible it must be to feel like a stranger in your own body. I don’t even know if I have all the right vocabulary to be able to talk about it because I don’t have the personal experience to relate to. But I think everyone can understand the loneliness George feels, and it’s easy to empathize with such a sweet character.

It takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.

It’s hard for George to “come out” to people, and the adults in her life don’t make it any easier by constantly reinforcing the idea that she is a boy. Those are the most heartbreaking moments, which are especially sad because I know there are children out there who actually have to deal with this kind of attitude. I do think it’s lovely that George’s older brother is ultimately so accepting of her, even if her mother takes a while to come around.

I’ve read reviews that complain about the simplicity of the language and the stereotypes (girls like skirts and makeup, etc). 1) I don’t think the language is that simple, given the target audience. And 2) maybe George is the type of girl who DOES like skirts and make up (such creatures do exist).

It’s a short read, but it’s an important one. For all the simplicity of the language, the topic is fairly complex, and I think it was a good step in the right direction.

Rating:

5 interrobangs

If I Had a Gryphon – Vikki VanSickle, illustrated by Cale Atkinson

If I Had a Gryphon – Vikki VanSickle, illustrated by Cale Atkinson

25614173When a kitten sneezes it’s adorable. When a dragon sneezes? It’s a fire hazard!

Sam is already bored of her new pet, a rather sedate hamster. Inspired by her book of mythological creatures, Sam longs for a more exciting pet. But she soon realizes that taking care of these magical beasts might not be as wonderful as she thought. Unicorns are shy, gryphons scare the dogs at the dogpark, and having a fire extinguisher handy at all times makes dragons seem like an awful lot of work. In the end, Sam realizes that her hamster is a pretty sweet and safe pet … or is he?

If I Had a Gryphon is a raucous rhyming read-aloud about fantastical beasts in everyday situations–and the increasingly beleaguered heroine who has to deal with them. The perfect primer on mythological and fantastic beasts for young kids not quite ready for Harry Potter!

Release Date: February 9th, 2016

I don’t think I’ve reviewed a picture book on this blog before and honestly, I don’t know why. I love picture books! I have a whole shelf dedicated to them, and most of those books are from the past couple of years, nevermind the amount I collected during my actual childhood.

So, I think it’s about time I started talking about the wonders that can be found in picture books, and what better book to start with than the superb If I Had a Gryphon.

With sweet rhyming prose and an easy, bouncy rhythm, the story follows Sam as she tries to decide what kind of mythical animal she would most like to have – anything but a boring old hamster. I read it to my three nieces (aged 3-9) and we had fun talking about the different creatures and which ones we would personally like to own (I think I settled on unicorn), so it would be a great discussion starter at home or in the classroom.

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Not only does Sam list the usual suspects (what you would normally think of when you think “mythic”) such as unicorns and dragons, but she also mentions kirins and jackalopes and basilisks and many more. I’ve heard people say this is the book you give to a child who is too young for Harry Potter and I couldn’t agree more.

Side note: around the time I received my copy, I was also reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I could not get this precious image of a kirin out of my head.

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I might be a little biased because our intrepid heroine may or may not be named after me (she totally is – read more to find out why), but how flippin’ cute are these illustrations?? Cale Atkinson, who released his debut picture book, To the Sea, this past year, is an up-and-coming illustrator from BC who has already done work for different animation studios and publishers. His characters are precious, from the round-faced Sam to the majestic titular gryphon and all the creatures in between, and they make the words come alive. I was interning at Tundra when the artwork first came in and it’s actually uncanny how much Sam looks like a cartoon version of me, even though I’ve never met Cale – and so, she was named. For your enjoyment, here is a photo of me dressed as my picture book doppleganger:

halloween gryphon

I’m lucky enough to know Vikki in real life, and it’s a good thing I love her first picture book otherwise it would be awkward if we ran into each other (I’ve yet to read any of her novels, but since one is referred to as a middle grade version of Dirty Dancing, I don’t see how I could NOT love them). She is a lovely person and is totally living my dream (children’s book marketer by day, children’s book author by night), and if anyone deserves to have a bestselling picture book (and mermaid-like hair), it’s her. It’s hard to pick the right words when you’re writing a rhyming sequence, but Vikki (with the help of her editor, the awesome Sam Swenson) does a fantastic job, making it look effortless and employing some whimsical words and images along the way, such as tinkling unicorn horseshoes and sasquatches with “burly, curly fur”. If you’ve ever wished for an exciting pet or would have cursed someone to be in Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class, this book is for you.

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Plus the amount of detail is incredible, as I’ve come to expect from all Tundra picture books (photos from my phone don’t do the illustrations justice). If you have a physical copy, remove the dust jacket for a magical surprise!

Rating:

5 interrobangs

End-of-the-Year Survey – 2015

I enjoy filling out surveys, and I (obviously) love books, so this end-of-the-year survey hosted by Jamie (Perpetual Page Turner) is right up my alley! Read on for my answers :)

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Number Of Books You Read: 111 + about 10 manuscripts during my internship (Jan-April)
Number of Re-Reads: 18
Genre You Read The Most From: probably urban fantasy (YA is NOT a category!)

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1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
It’s a cross between Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertali) and Every Word (Ellie Marney).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Bane Chronicles. I mean, I wasn’t really surprised because I haven’t liked the last four Cassandra Clare books I’ve read, but Magnus was always my favourite character.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Raziel Reid) – it got a lot of buzz when it was chosen as one of the finalists for Canada Reads, and that in itself was surprising (in a good way!).

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I’m going to say Every Breath a) because I recommend it on pretty much a monthly basis (technically I read it in 2014, but it was literally the last book I read – I finished it on December 31!) and b) my sister read it and become just as obsessed!

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Best series started: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
Best sequel: Every Word (Ellie Marney)
Best series ender: The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Susin Nielsen. I read literally all her books (including one that’s not even published yet!) this year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Unbearable Lightness – Portia de Rossi

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Every Move (Ellie Marney). I could not move while reading it.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Cinder (Marissa Meyer) because I haven’t picked up the rest of the series yet, and I’ll probably have to re-read it before I continue.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath – Ishbelle Bee

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Book Thief (Markus Zusack) is gorgeous, but it was a re-read. “New” book that was beautifully written: Magonia (Maria Dahvana Headley)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Soulless – Gail Carriger. It has so many things I love in it!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I have seen the aftermath of death, the incredible mechanism of the body laid bare, and I know now that each person is a kind of miracle. A spark nestles like a bird inside our chests, so deep that we can’t find where it lives, but it is everything. It’s what makes us dream and think and feel and laugh and sing. And it is a mystery, and it is mundane, and, above all, it is fragile. Any moment could be our last. – Rachel Watts, Every Word

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
The shortest (not including picture books or comics) was The Little Prince with 98 pages and the longest was the Complete Blooming Goddess Trilogy (Tallulah Darling) with 1080 pages total (it was all one ebook, so if I was counting individual books, it would be Outlander with 850 pages).

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud. THAT ENDING. I NEED THE NEXT ONE LIKE NOW.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Wattscroft forever!!! Ellie Marney is in charge of writing all the kissing scenes forever.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Flavia and Dogger from Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket!)

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
My sister told me repeatedly to read a Gail Carriger novel and I’m SO GLAD I read Soulless (and the sequel, Changeless!).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Technically he’s from the end of 2014, but who doesn’t love James Mycroft??

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I flat out sobbed at the end of The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan).

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not published in 2015, but I really enjoyed Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
In terms of being sad, I’d say Why We Broke Up, but if you’re talking about one that beat me down until I finished it, I’d say Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius. I had such high hopes for it because it had such a great concept, but the characters infuriated me.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
This year was the first year I really paid attention to book blogs and really worked on my own reviews. Some of my favourite blogs include: Pop! Goes the Reader, The Broke and the Bookish, A Reader of FictionsSnuggly Oranges, Cuddlebuggery, and, of course Perpetual Page Turner, plus a whole lot more! I also have to shout out to all the blogs I follow/who follow me here :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
Probably my Simon vs review or my extensive review for Every Breath/Every Word.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
The post with the most comments was my Top Ten Books of 2015 from a few weeks ago.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I helped out at OLA which was a really interesting experience, but I also got to meet Alan Bradley at Random House which was really cool (he’s such an adorable old man!).

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Interning at Tundra was definitely a highlight and I got to work on their blog, which was lots of fun!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Finding time to write the reviews in between writing for Mind the Gap/idobi!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Every Word blog tour (most views on one particular day); overall, it was my Blurryface track-by-track review (in terms of views) and top 10 books of 2015 (in terms of comments).

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I’m quite proud of my UK in YA TTT!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Apart from all the blogs I mentioned earlier, I’ve also really enjoyed Book Riot and the read-iculously cheap Book Outlet.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I set 100 books as my Goodreads challenge and surpassed that goal!

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) is going to be the first book I read in 2016.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
I don’t even know if it will come out in 2016, but I’m salivating for the next Lockwood and Co (Jonathan Stroud) book.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Love That Split The World – Emily Henry. It’s been getting a lot of hype and it was the first book to come to mind.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I’m really hoping that Every Move will be published in North America next year so I can complete my collection!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
I’m setting a goal for 120 books, plus one of my resolutions is to read more classics. And my sister and I (and possibly our nine year old niece) are going to do a full Harry Potter re-read which is really exciting.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
The two 2016 books I’ve read so far have been The Serpent King (Jeff Zentner) and Vikki VanSickle’s If I Had a Gryphon (illustrated by Cale Atkinson), both of which I recommend (and will have reviews up in the next couple of months!).

The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Co: The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud

24397043As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests against the psychic agencies throughout London, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness between the team now that Anthony has shared his childhood story, and Lucy is feeling more and more like her true home is at Portland Row.

It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.’s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes’s and Rotwell’s lives.

Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure.

Last year, when I read book two, The Whispering Skull, I told myself to take the third book slowly so that I wouldn’t be quite so impatient for the next installment.

Apparently, I forgot my own advice because I could barely function for the two days I was reading this (I had to be an adult and go to work otherwise I’d have finished it in a day!).

Jonathan Stroud continues to be one of my favourite authors. His characters are sarcastic and smart, brave and bold, and realistic.

Lucy’s jealousy over new-girl Holly is understandable: Holly’s character is presented in such a way that you, as a reader, can’t help being a little suspicious of her too. Also, as a Lucy/Lockwood shipper, I was just as frustrated as Lucy whenever Lockwood seemed to express more interest in Holly’s opinions than in the stalwart Lucy’s.

George’s character has also evolved. I remember him as being more annoying in the first book, but I think he’s “growing up”. Either that, or Lucy isn’t as bothered by his quirks, which means she’s presenting him in a more favourable light than before. Sometimes I feel like George is the Ron Weasley of the group: he’s a main character and a huge part of the story, but he can sometimes be pushed into the background because of Lucy and Lockwood’s stronger personalities (no offense to either George or Ron, I love them both).

This installment also felt a little scarier. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s common knowledge that poltergeists are terrifying – and that’s exactly what Lockwood & Co are up against. Stroud’s writing continues to shine, drawing you into the story and creating vivid scenes that leave you holding your breath.

Once again, it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and while it’s not as dramatic as the end of the second book, it perfectly whets the appetite for book four (and, hopefully, a fifth book?). And, to be honest, it left me more than a little worried about Lockwood’s fate (I would not put it past Stroud to kill a main character again).

Rating:

5 interrobangs

ARC Review: A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius – Stacey Matson + GIVEAWAY

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius – Stacey Matson

26111783Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can’t come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he’s sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur’s nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?

Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! And thanks to the kind people (especially Kathryn Lynch) at Sourcebooks for providing a giveaway – head to the bottom of the post for your chance to win a copy (open to Canada and the US until November 30th!).

A few months ago, I went on a Susin Nieslen binge, and this would have been the perfect follow-up!

What I liked:

-I’m a sucker for epistolary books to begin with, which is probably one of the reasons why I requested this. It wasn’t just standard journal entries – there were emails and classroom notes and sometimes cute little drawings. Love it!

-the plot was cute and relatively simple, but it had a lot of heart and there were some sad moments. It had that bittersweet quality that, in my opinion, all good contemporary middle grade fiction should have (hence the Susin Nielsen comparison).

-Arthur was a strong character – you really got a sense of his personality from the very first page (check out the excerpt from chapter one at the end of this post!). And while you don’t know much about his dad, there’s enough to form an understanding of their relationship and how it changed after Arthur’s mom died.

-Arthur’s struggle with writing, in particular his great ideas but inability to put them on the page, really spoke to me as an aspiring writer myself. It was easy to relate to him as he tried to figure out a way to get around his writer’s block in time to enter the school story-writing contest.

-his “love interest” Kennedy and rivalry with Robbie Zack was funny and age-appropriate (I sound so old when I say stuff like that). It was cute and innocent and provided a lot of the humour, including Kennedy’s enthusiastic emails.

What I didn’t like:

-Arthur could be frustrating in his obstinate way. I understood that it was a quirk in his personality and all good characters have flaws, but there were a couple of times when I just wanted to yell at him. Like you would with a normal 13 year old, I suppose.

If you’re looking for a quick but satisfying middle grade read, this is a wonderful option! Stacey Matson’s writing is charming and will draw you right into Arthur’s world.

Rating:

4 interrobangs

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius:

The Next Great Bestselling Novel (Title to be announced)

By Arthur Bean

Once upon a time there was

There was once a

A long time ago

Yesterday

Today

America is awesome! This is because

A boy and his unicorn sat on the grass and the unicorn could talk and said

Murder! There’s been a very violent murder!

Dear Ms. Whitehead,

As you know, I haven’t been in class yet, but my next-door neighbor Nicole suggested that I write you a letter since I will be starting soon. I don’t really know what to write to you. Maybe I will tell you a little about myself so that you feel like I started school at the same time as everyone else.

My name is Arthur Aaron Bean, but I normally just go by Arthur. I spent the summer at my grandparents’ house in Balzac. It was a long summer. I actually live in one of the apartment buildings pretty close to the school. I like to knit and watch movies, sometimes at the same time. I’m a very good multi-tasker. I like creative writing, so I hope that we will do that and that I didn’t miss it. I was probably the best writer in my elementary school, and I plan on getting rich as a novelist when I’m a grown-up. I don’t have any siblings, but my cousin Luke is kind of like my twin brother.

My most profound work so far is the heartwarming story called “Sockland.” In this short story, a little boy climbs into the dryer during a game of hide-and-seek with his older brothers. He is accidentally shrunk and crawls through the dryer vent into Sockland. Sockland is a land where missing socks go to live. He enjoys it for a while, but then finds that single socks are very boring, and needs to find a way to get home. He then gets the socks to help him by promising to send their partners through the tunnel, and he crawls back up into the dryer to rejoin humanland.

Mrs. Lewis said it was highly original and that I showed real promise in becoming the next J.K. Rowling. The secretary told me that I’m in a class with some of the people from my elementary school so that I would feel more comfortable. Actually, she didn’t say people, she said some of my friends. This may seem weird, because I wasn’t really friends with a lot of the people in my elementary school. Actually, most of my friends went to the Catholic school next door to our school, and so I saw them all the time. I did have a couple of friends like Oliver, but mostly I wasn’t friends with people in my elementary school class. Besides, who would want to be friends with guys like Robbie Zack? I’m not friends with people who spell thoughts as thots. Good luck with that one. He’s what my mother called “a handful of trouble with a capital T.”

Yours truly,

Arthur Bean

Liebster Award Part 2!

You guys! My ego is going to explode from all this blogger love: I’ve been (re)nominated for the Liebster Award by two people, SJ (Delirious Antidotes) and Cassie (Book Reviews & Haikus)! Thanks so much SJ and Cassie! Please go check out their blogs :)

I love answering random questions, so here we go!

Sidenote: when I was 17-18, I spent half my time on Facebook filling out those random questionnaires that you could post as notes, so this is pretty much my jam.

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Last time, I used the standard turquoise-y one, this time I wanted the pretty pink badge!

Questions from SJ:

1) Let’s kick this off with a little bit of self promotion, as it never did any harm: tell me about a project, website, post etc. that you want to draw attraction to. (URL’s are allowed)

My friend Jane and I are working on a pop culture website which we’re both very excited about! It officially launches on June 1st, but you can check out our snazzy home page here!

2) How did you/do you cope with exam season?

I made a lot of notes. Mostly on graph paper because, for some reason, it helped me focus (I was an English/French major, so I actually had to go out and buy graph paper, come exam time).

3) Who is your favourite band/musician?

How much time do you have?? I can narrow it down to my top five (in no particular order): You Me At Six, Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low, The Maine, and Fall Out Boy.

4) What is your favourite book?

One of my most favourite books of all time is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

5) When did you start blogging?

I started my blog in August 2013. I started talking about books in October 2013, and I’ve been reviewing ARCs/giving books actual ratings since April 2015 (before, I just talked about whether or not I liked the book).

6) What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Everything happens for a reason”. It’s not really advice so much as a proverb (is it even a proverb?) and I know it’s somewhat cliched, but it’s something I hold on to.

7) Explain the title of your blog.

My oldest sister nicknamed me “Bella” when I was little; she still calls me that and so now my three nieces call me “Bella” as well. When she was about three (she just turned nine), my oldest niece figured out that “Bella” and “books” both start with “b”, and thus she christened me “Bellsiebooks”.

8) Tea or coffee?

Tea! I have a borderline absurd collection of tea, but I love it.

9) What is your least “politically correct” opinion?

That’s a tough one…I don’t know how to answer that!

10) What did you think about before you fell asleep last night?

I’ve been telling myself stories to fall asleep ever since I was a child. For years, it’s been how I’ve worked out plot points for the books I’m trying to write.

Questions from Cassie:

1) What are three things you want to do/accomplish in life?

a) Publish a book (multiple books, ideally)
b) Become a kids’ book editor (or work in marketing for kids’ books…I’d take anything at this point)
c) Travel the world

2) Do you have a favorite musical genre and/or musician/band?

Pop-punk and similar genres (pop rock, metal, “emo”, etc). Please see above for my top five bands!

3) What was your first concert?

I saw Bon Jovi on the “One Wild Night” tour in 2001 with my sisters (I was 11).

4) Who is your favorite author? [If you don’t have one, what’s your favorite book genre?]

I love many authors, including Neil Gaiman, Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, and J.K. Rowling. I read a lot of YA (which is a category, not a genre), and I tend to enjoy contemporary or paranormal/supernatural/urban fantasy.

5) What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

I cannot possibly pick just one!! Ella Enchanted has been one of my favourite books for 17 years (I read it when I was 8), but I’m always swooning over some book or another.

6) When do you read most?

When I was working, I’d read on the morning commute and then continued for a bit when I got to work. Since my internship ended a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been reading a lot more at night.

7) What’s your preference: “real” physical books, e-books, audiobooks, or a mix of all of them?

Real books!!! I have a Kindle (which I stole from my dad) for my NetGalley ARCs and I sometimes use my phone if I don’t want to carry the e-reader around, but I much prefer the feel of physical books.

8) If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Telepathy!

9) What fictional character would you like to be friends with most? Why?

Oh, so many! Anyone from the Harry Potter universe, of course, but sometimes I wish I had a tiger friend like Hobbes (he’s furry and good for conversation!). And if we’re going outside of books, then I’d want to be BFF’s with Marceline from Adventure Time because she is my hero.

10) Do you have hobbies besides reading?

I write and I’m a huge music fan, so I’m constantly a) updating my collection or b) attending a concert.

11) What’s your favorite food or drink to have while reading?

I don’t really eat/drink when I’m reading, but I guess tea. And I’ll eat chocolate at any time of the day, so I wouldn’t say no if someone were to hand me a piece of Dairy Milk while I was reading :)

Thanks for reading! And thanks again for the nomination(s)!

You may recall that I was nominated for this award in April, so I’m not going to officially nominate blogs. However, here is a list of the last 10 blogs I followed – you should check them out too!

a bookworm’s escape
aBOOkishOwl
iamkira
thoughts and afterthoughts
Becca and Books
Owls and Things
Just my humble life
Barda Book Talk
Gilmored
Hardcovers and Heroines

Fiction Friday Round-Up – April 10th, 2015

Over the past week-and-a-bit, I’ve read a classic, two ARCs, and a second book in a series! Click the links for full reviews!

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll: “This is a book that speaks to the nonsensical part of me, the part that prefers to fantasize my way into a story rather than, you know, do actual work.”
  • Spelled (ARC) – Betsy Schow: “I love fractured/retellings of fairy tales so I was pretty stoked when my request for this was approved.”
  • The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley: “Flavia continues to be precocious and clever, and I sort of want to be her. Or I’d at least like to understand chemistry the way she does.”
  • The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters (ARC) – M.J. Beaufrand: “I liked the fact that they were in a punk band. These are my people (well, these are the people I wish were my people), and I’ve always loved stories where one or more characters are in a band.”

BONUS:

Last week was Good Friday and I only posted one review (but it was SUCH a good book!):

  • The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan: “I don’t want to spoil anything about this book, but I’m just going to put this out there: it was one of the best endings to a trilogy I’ve read in a long time…”

Until next week, happy reading!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

24213Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground–to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.
The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat–each more eccentric than the last–could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.
In penning this brilliant burlesque of children’s literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, an arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up.

There are, of course, many gorgeous editions of Alice in the world (I have the one illustrated by Oleg Lipchenko), but this is the edition I read. Plus this version has the original – classic – illustrations by John Tenniel.

I’ve read Alice once or twice when I was younger, though I was more familiar with the Disney movie (which, oddly enough, I can barely remember now), but it wasn’t until I had to re-read it in my last year of university (for a children’s lit course which I loved for the reading list, but not so much for the professor who stretched Pinocchio out for two weeks instead of the two days we were supposed to discuss it) that I realized how much I loved it.

This is a book that speaks to the nonsensical part of me, the part that prefers to fantasize my way into a story rather than, you know, do actual work.

I find it interesting how a lot of adaptations combine elements from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. For example, did you know it’s really Humpty Dumpty in Looking Glass who tells Alice about “un-birthdays”? Humpty Dumpty was actually one of my favourite parts of Looking Glass because he’s quite amusing, if a little pompous. The one adaptation I’ve personally seen that remains quite faithful (despite taking some liberties with Alice’s age) is the ballet production.

My least favourite part of Looking Glass, however, is the chapter with the Knight. I can’t even remember if it was a White Knight or a Red Knight, but either way, it was pretty tedious and felt like it lasted longer than necessary.

Wonderland, on the other hand, didn’t really have a “low” moment for me. Maybe it’s because it’s the more familiar story, but it moved quickly and, of course, introduced a lot of the iconic characters: the Mad Hatter and March Hare (and the Dormouse); the Cheshire Cat (with one of my favourite lines: “We’re all mad here”); the Queen, King, and Knave of Hearts, etc.

cheshire cat

I don’t really know what else to say about this book. This is one of those classic pieces of children’s literature that I genuinely love, that I think everyone should read – whether or not you end up enjoying it – if only because it’s a celebration of the power of one’s imagination. It’s quite funny and (obviously) whimsical, but maybe it’s more relatable more if you were an imaginative child (and continue to be an imaginative adult).

Rating:

5 interrobangs