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Monday, December 29, 2014

Things I've Read Recently (14)

If you're new around here or I just haven't done one in a while, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review or didn't have enough to say for a full review or had to return to the library because they were overdue, that kind of thing.

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

Published: July 23rd, 2013 by DoubleDay Canada
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: I have 312 written down, but Goodreads has 320
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: I took it out of the library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Callum Harris never wanted to move to Crystal Falls. Neither did Cole, his brawny and fearless older brother. With the recent separation of their parents, the brothers have had quite enough change of late.

But the move turns out to be only the first of many changes in Callum's life. After he plunges headlong over the falls, he wakes up in the hospital to find that life is no longer what it once was: his squabbling parents appear to have reconciled; his brother, an unrepentant jock and serial dater, is paralyzed and bed-ridden in a makeshift hospital room at home; and even Callum himself, always studious and unpopular, is now the object of desire for the two hottest girls in school.

As he adjusts to this surreal new life--a life both exhilarating and terrifying--Callum struggles to reconcile his past memories with a dangerous and uncertain present. Who is he? Where is he? And what, exactly, has he become?

Thoughts: This isn't actually my normal sort of thing. I'm not a huge sci-fi reader (is it still cool to say sci-fi?) reader. This does lean much more to science fiction than paranormal or anything as far as I can tell. It kind of makes me think of Human.4. Not because they're super similiar in premise, but because I have read both and they would probably appeal to similar audiences. I actually bought Human.4 for my cousin last year for Christmas and this would be something I'd consider buying him, too. I do kind of wonder if the cover might turn some readers off, but eh, it's neat anyways.

Hopefully not, though because it's a good book. The premise, now that I'm thinking about books I've read, reminds me a little of Rosebush which I didn't like much but has the same wake up in the hospital not remembering things deal, only this is very much not a straight-forward mystery. I don't want to spoil the plot so that's about all I'm going to say about that. ;)

All in all, I thought the plot was cool and a little surprising considering the back didn't give away anything. I basically read it all in one sitting. It didn't amaze me for some reason that I can't really finger, but was well-written, nothing really bothered me, and I can see a lot of people liking it. This is more of a me thing than a book thing and I'd probably give it a solid three and a half. Recommend.

Let me see... what else do I wanna put here? Eh, you guys probably don't want to hear about my random Christmas books... how about this little cutie?

Queen of the World (Babymouse #1) by Jennifer Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm

Published: December 2005 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Graphic Novel
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 96; I've long sinced returned the book
Part of a series? Yes, there are 18 out, and one coming out in 2015
Got via: The library again.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The adventure? Nothing ever changes, until... Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel with attitude!

Thoughts: I actually got this for an ex-Storytime kid (she grew up on me!) who likes longer books, is a strong reader, but still likes pictures. She's fun :P (She's a wonderful kid, actually.) I try to always pre-read books I send home for her, so I read this, and I'm really glad I did, actually. It's really cute. I love Babymouse's little imagination tangents, and the wonderful writing, and, really, I just liked it a lot. I was very charmed, and I would readily recommend this to kids. Reluctant readers especially would probably like these, too, as would fans of pink. Also I found it a really enjoyable read. The writing was super strong, no dragging like some chapter books can do, and I really just liked it.

Hmm, what now? No, I'll put that one in a different post... oh, I know.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Published: It was originally published in 1889, and I'm not going into all the details.
Genre: Children's Classics/Historical I guess
Binding: Mine was an ebook
Page Count: Again, ebook. Different bindings run from 250-350 pages.
Part of a series? Not really, but there are two "sequels" that were written by one of the translators after the author's death
Got via: A free public domain copy on Amazon, which you can get here.
Or you can buy it from this Amazon listing / Book Depository (I think I have Anne of Green Gables from this collection, and how cute is that?? And it has an introduction by Eva Ibbotson! I want that!) / Indiebound

Summary (from this random goodreads copy that I thought had a cute cover): Heidi, a lively orphan girl, goes to live with her cranky grandfather in a little hut high in the Alps. Soon she is happy and healthy, leading a carefree life with her grandfather, her new friend, Peter, and the goats on the Alm.

But Heidi's happiness is short-lived when she is sent to stay with a rich city family as a companion for a sick girl, Clara. Although she grows fond of the older girl, Heidi is terribly homesick. She eventually returns to the Alps and finds happiness once again in the clean, pure natural mountain setting.

Thoughts: So I was talking about Hello Kitty one evening, as you do,, and I started thinking about the show that was on in the 90s, and looked up a couple episodes, but one that I loved as a kid was the Heidi episode, and I could not find that one to save my life. But thinking about it made me want to read Heidi, so I blew off my homework for a night, and spent an exciting Friday night reading Heidi.

I found a free copy of this on Amazon and just read it on my kindle app on my laptop. I rarely read ebooks, but this was available, and I didn't want to wait, so I read it like that, and it was fine. The Kindle App is pretty neat (and great for homework). The public domain version doesn't have any kind of photo, and the fomatting sometimes is a little wonky, but, again, free.

I owned a copy of Heidi when I was a kid, and read it several times, so this wasn't new to me. Obviously the book from 1889 is a bit dated, and it was a touch more religious than I remembered, but I enjoyed it. It was very nostaligic, and it reminded me of my childhood.

Okay, what else can I stick here... eh, let's go with this:

Don't Pigeonhole Me! by Mo Willems

Published: June 18th, 2013 by Disney Editions
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction
Binding: A giant, heavy, wonderful hardcover
Page Count: Goodreads says 288, but this is like the size of a textbook, so that's a lot of book
Part of a series? Not really.
Got via: I borrowed it from the library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In Don't Pigeonhole Me! Two Decades of the Mo Willems Sketchbook, readers are given a rare glimpse into the mind of the man the New York Times described as "The biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the '00s." Since he was a teenager, Mo has been creating characters and scribbling ideas in the pages of sketchbooks. In the early 1990s, he started self-publishing collections of his drawings, and The Mo Willems Sketchbook was created. What began as a calling card for his work has morphed over the years from a form of therapy, to an opportunity to explore and experiment, to a gift for friends and loved ones. But these sketchbooks have always been (and continue to be) the well from which Mo draws ideas and inspiration.

Want to know where ideas come from? Look inside.

Thoughts: I love Mo Willems' books. I read them at Storytime, I give them to people, I am responsible for our library's collection because I talked so highly of them (no joke), and they just make me so happy. He's awesome.

Now, this is not a book aimed at kids, because his career is not solely about children. He's an artist, and has been for decades, so his work is not just in one genre. So you need to keep in mind that this is a book for adults. Some of it can be shared with kids, but some of it is probably not super appropriate.

However, I found it fascinating to read, and at times, absolutely hilarious. I liked the little glimpses into his life and his creative processes, and I enjoyed watching the evolution of the art. I would definitely recommend this one, and in fact, I gave it to a Storytime parent as soon as I was done it, because she loves his work, too, and I thought she'd like it.

Alrighty, that's a glimpse of what I've been reading lately!

I'm really squeezing this post in because I like to have these up on Mondays and I'm finishing it at nearly 4 in the morning (so pardon my spelling/typing - let me know if you spot typos), but posting this means I posted at least once every month of the year! That's pretty good for me, huh?

We're almost in 2015! I'm going to at the very least try and keep up that schedule of one post a month. I am in school now so that's taking a lot of time, but I will keep trying! Thanks for hanging around another year, guys!

Peace and cookies,