Shelf Control #284: The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

A programming note: Due to travel plans, I will not be posting a Shelf Control post next week, 9/8/2021. Shelf Control at Bookshelf Fantasies will return 9/15/2021! Meanwhile, if you do a Shelf Control post, please share your link!

Title: The Birchbark House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Published: 1999
Length: 256 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Nineteenth-century American pioneer life was introduced to thousands of young readers by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books. With The Birchbark House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s first novel for young readers, this same slice of history is seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her first step was a hop. The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. We follow Omakayas and her adopted family through a cycle of four seasons in 1847, including the winter, when a historically documented outbreak of smallpox overtook the island.

Readers will be riveted by the daily life of this Native American family, in which tanning moose hides, picking berries, and scaring crows from the cornfield are as commonplace as encounters with bear cubs and fireside ghost stories. Erdrich–a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa–spoke to Ojibwa elders about the spirit and significance of Madeline Island, read letters from travelers, and even spent time with her own children on the island, observing their reactions to woods, stones, crayfish, bear, and deer. The author’s softly hewn pencil drawings infuse life and authenticity to her poetic, exquisitely wrought narrative. Omakayas is an intense, strong, likable character to whom young readers will fully relate–from her mixed emotions about her siblings, to her discovery of her unique talents, to her devotion to her pet crow Andeg, to her budding understanding of death, life, and her role in the natural world. We look forward to reading more about this brave, intuitive girl–and wholeheartedly welcome Erdrich’s future series to the canon of children’s classics. 

How and when I got it:

I picked up a paperback edition many years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and years later, read the series all over again with my daughter. And while these books will always hold a special place in my heart, as an adult I came to understand so much more about the problematic aspects of these books — especially in terms of how the Little House books portray Native Americans and the casual disregard for their rights to the land in the face of expanding white settlement.

Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House books were originally introduced to the world as a Native counterpoint to the Little House books. While the Little House books are not explicitly referenced in these books, The Birchbark House is set in about the same era and presents a different take on the land and the people who reside there.

The Birchbark House is the first in a series of five books focused on young Ojibwa characters and their lives. The books are aimed at a middle grade audience, yet they sounds like they’d make a fascinating read for adults as well.

I really don’t remember exactly when I bought this book, but I know I’ve been intending to read it for a long time now. I think it’s about time that I gave it a chance! Plus, having read a few of Louise Erdrich’s adult novels, I’m confident that the writing in The Birchbark House must be wonderful.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Buy now: Amazon – Book Depository – Bookshop.org

Series wrap-up: The Emily Starr trilogy by L. M. Montgomery

One of my reading goals for 2021 was to read the Emily trilogy by L. M. Montgomery. Check! I just finished up the 3rd book, and I’m still under Emily’s spell. Here’s my reading wrap-up for this lovely trilogy:

Title: Emily of New Moon
Published: 1923
Length: 339 pages
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Emily Starr never knew what it was to be lonely–until her beloved father died. Now Emily’s an orphan, and her mother’s snobbish relatives are taking her to live with them at New Moon Farm. She’s sure she won’t be happy. Emily deals with stiff, stern Aunt Elizabeth and her malicious classmates by holding her head high and using her quick wit. Things begin to change when she makes friends, with Teddy, who does marvelous drawings; with Perry, who’s sailed all over the world with his father yet has never been to school; and above all, with Ilse, a tomboy with a blazing temper. Amazingly, Emily finds New Moon beautiful and fascinating. With new friends and adventures, Emily might someday think of herself as Emily of New Moon.

Emily of New Moon introduces us to the unforgettable Emily Byrd Starr. Orphaned at age 10, Emily is taken in by her late mother’s side of the family, who disowned her mother years earlier when she eloped with Emily’s father. Suddenly uprooted, Emily settles into life at the beautiful New Moon with her spinster aunts, Elizabeth and Laura, and her impish cousin Jimmy. Despite her heartbreak over losing her father, Emily is soon enchanted by the loveliness of the farm and its surroundings, and settles in — with challenges — to her new home.

Emily is feisty and sensitive, speaks her mind, and doesn’t back down. She’s also highly imaginative and inquisitive, and — like Anne in Anne of Green Gables — delights in imbuing the natural world around her with fanciful names and personalities. For the first time in her life, Emily also has friends and classmates, and gets into wonderful adventures with Ilse, Teddy, and Perry. Most of all, Emily lets her secret ambition to become a “poetess” flourish, and uses every scrap of paper she can find to record her poems and stories.

This is a truly lovely book, very similar to Anne of Green Gables in spirit and tone. The author once again gives us a young girl with a sharp, expressive mind and a will of her own as a main character. The book is full of sweetness and whimsy, but we also feel Emily’s sorrow and pain as she navigates a world that isn’t always kind to her. There are memorable characters and escapades, and as in the author’s other works. Prince Edward Island is brought to life through Emily’s eyes.

Title: Emily Climbs
Published: 1925
Length: 325 pages
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Emily Starr was born with the desire to write. As an orphan living on New Moon Farm, writing helped her face the difficult, lonely times. But now all her friends are going away to high school in nearby Shrewsbury, and her old-fashioned, tyrannical aunt Elizabeth will only let her go if she promises to stop writing! All the same, this is the first step in Emily’s climb to success. Once in town, Emily’s activities set the Shrewsbury gossips buzzing. But Emily and her friends are confident — Ilse’s a born actress, Teddy’s set to be a great artist, and roguish Perry has the makings of a brilliant lawyer. When Emily has her poems published and writes for the town newspaper, success seems to be on its way — and with it the first whispers of romance. Then Emily is offered a fabulous opportunity, and she must decide if she wants to change her life forever.

The second book in the Emily trilogy covers Emily’s teen years as she attends high school in the nearby town of Shrewsbury. While Emily is desperate to further her education and hone her writing craft, she dreads being forced to board with her judgmental, restrictive Aunt Ruth. Plus, as part of being allowed to attend high school, Emily has had to promise not to write fiction during the three years of her schooling, which is a really tough pill for her to swallow. Still, she has her diaries and her poetry, and starts writing newspaper articles as well.

As the years go by, Emily and her friends grow and have more adventures, and Emily has some initial success as a writer when magazines begin publishing her submissions, sometimes even for money. Meanwhile, she has her first suitors, but her heart really belongs to the boy she’s grown up with.

I really enjoyed book #2, although one of the romantic situations involves a much older cousin-by-marriage and is kind of icky (although Emily, bless her heart, doesn’t understand at all that there’s a romantic interest there.) While he is never inappropriate, his interest is obvious, and seen through today’s lens, it feels way too much like grooming. So icky. (Granted, the book was written 100 years ago, so perspectives on this sort of thing would certainly have been different).

Even as she gets older, Emily is still a dreamer, and it’s lovely to see her view of the world around her. Like Anne (of Green Gables), she sees magic and beauty in the world, and is driven by the need to describe what she experiences through her writing.

By the end of Emily Climbs, Emily has finished school and set her course for the future. It’s charming to see the choices she makes and the life she envisions for herself.

Title: Emily’s Quest
Published: 1927
Length: 258 pages
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Emily Starr and Teddy Kent have been friends since childhood, and as Teddy is about to leave to further his education as an artist, Emily believes that their friendship is blossoming into something more. On his last night at home, they vow to think of each other when they see the star Vega of the Lyre.

As Emily grows as a writer and learns to deal with the loneliness of having her closest friends gone, life at New Moon changes. Mr. Carpenter, Emily’s most truthful critic and favorite teacher dies (warning Emily, even as he dies to “Beware — of — italics.”). She becomes closer to Dean Priest, even as she fears he wants love when she only has friendship to give. Worst of all, Emily and Teddy become distant as he focuses on building his career and she hides her feelings behind pride.

Oh, this book grabbed me and put my heart through the wringer! So many emotions! Emily grows into her young womanhood in Emily’s Quest, and it’s both sad and inspiring in so many ways.

Although she’s been offered an opportunity to pursue a career in New York, Emily knows in her heart that she belongs at New Moon, and that this is where her joy and creative inspiration live. She continues to live with her aunts and cousin in the family home and enjoys the natural beauty of her world. Her writing gets accepted by more and more magazines, and she actually earns enough to pay back the stuffy aunts and uncles who paid for her earlier education.

But Emily is lonely without her closest friends. She has many suitors, none of whom really stir her feelings enough to accept their proposals. Her older cousin Dean provides companionship, and it’s clear that he loves her. Emily is very fond of him and loves his friendship, but I started to hate him. He’s so disparaging of Emily’s work, to the point that he pretty much eviscerates her:

“Her pretty cobwebs—” ah, there it was. That was all Emily heard. She did not even realize that he was telling her he thought her a beautiful woman.

“Do you think what I write is nothing but cobwebs, Dean?” she asked chokingly.

Dean looked surprised, doing it very well. “Star, what else is it? What do you think it is yourself? I’m glad you can amuse yourself by writing. It’s a splendid thing to have a little hobby of the kind. And if you can pick up a few shekels by it—well, that’s all very well too in this kind of a world. But I’d hate to have you dream of being a Brontë or an Austen—and wake to find you’d wasted your youth on a dream.”

“I don’t fancy myself a Brontë or an Austen,” said Emily. “But you didn’t talk like that long ago, Dean. You used to think then I could do something some day.”

“We don’t bruise the pretty visions of a child,” said Dean. “But it’s foolish to carry childish dreams over into maturity. Better face facts. You write charming things of their kind, Emily. Be content with that and don’t waste your best years yearning for the unattainable or striving to reach some height far beyond your grasp.”

Ugh. If Dean Priest was standing in front of me, I think I’d have to punch him in the face. Because of a series of events that start with Dean telling Emily that her work is basically trash, Emily goes through one of the worst periods of her life, and eventually accepts Dean’s proposal of marriage, thinking she can have a happy life with him. Fortunately, she realizes what we readers have known all along — her heart has always belonged to Teddy Kent, the boy she’s loved since childhood.

Sadly, the course of true love never did run smooth, and there’s more heartbreak ahead. I can’t tell you how completely wrung out my feelings were, reading Emily’s ups and downs, and at times, hurting so much for her that I wanted to go hide with my head under a pillow.

But fear not, there’s a happy ending! I wish the ending had been given a little more time to breathe, but it was joyful nonetheless, and that’s really all I wanted — for Emily to find the happiness she deserves.

Wrapping it all up…

The fact that I was so caught up in Emily’s life shows what a magnificently written set of books this is! There’s something incredibly beautiful about following Emily’s story from girlhood through her teens and into womanhood, seeing all the different stages of her life, and experiencing how her childhood hopes and dreams evolve over time, making her the woman she finally becomes.

It’s a lovely journey, and Emily is a fabulous character. She has the starry-eyed joy that we see in Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), but her story takes its own path. While initially feeling like a similar book about an orphaned girl finding a new family, Emily becomes someone unique and worth knowing in her own right. I love her imagination and joy as a child, and how her love of the world around her infuses her writing and her ability to love others.

The books are filled with memorable quirky characters, and the setting on Prince Edward Island is so lovingly drawn that I could visualize everything Emily sees. (PEI is going to be a travel goal for me!)

I’m so thrilled that I read the Emily trilogy, and I know in my heart that these are books I’ll come back to again and again.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Kid-Lit Books Written Before I Was Born

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books Written Before I Was Born.

Oh dear. Is this topic just an under-handed way to get me to disclose how old I am???? Because I’ll tell you, relative to the majority of the book bloggers I know, sometimes I feel like I’m ANCIENT. (OK, so I’m in my 50s, which isn’t completely over the hill just yet!)

Anyhoo… I thought I’d zoom in on children’s books, written before I was born, that stand the test of time! Almost all of these are books that I read myself as a child, and then shared with my own kids too.

  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (1952)
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Syndey Taylor (1951)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (1962)
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960)
  • Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss (1962)
  • Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager (1956)

Honorable mention: I’d include these books as well, but I didn’t read them until I was an adult! Still, they definitely belong on a list of favorite children’s books — and they were certainly written before I was born:

  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (1950)
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (1908)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (1954)

Are any of these your favorites too?

What books written before you were born do you really love?

Please share your link so I can check out your top 10!

Shelf Control #250: The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Search for Delicious
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Published: 1969
Length: 167 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Prime Minister is compiling a dictionary, and when no one at court can agree on the meaning of “delicious,” the King sends his twelve-year-old messenger, Gaylen, to poll the citizenry. Gaylen soon discovers that the entire kingdom is on the brink of civil war, and must enlist help to define “delicious” and save the country. 

Synopsis from Scholastic.com:

Which food should stand for “delicious” in the new dictionary? No one at the royal castle can agree, and so Gaylen, a skinny boy of twelve and the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant, is sent off to poll the kingdom. Traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow — Gaylen finds more than he expected. It seems that the search for “delicious” had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.

Gaylen’s quest leads him through a wonderland full of fascinating people, ancient dwarfs, odd woodland creatures, and more. He meets the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest, and Canto, a minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and gives him a peculiar good-luck charm. Can he find the meaning of “delicious” and save the kingdom at the same time?

In The Search for Delicious, the award-winning author of Tuck Everlasting and other beloved books has created a magical world full of surprises and a tale brimming with excitement. Delighted readers will be reluctant to turn the last page of this imaginative, fast-paced fantasy.

How and when I got it:

My sister sent me a hardcover copy of this book (with the cover shown above) a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The only Natalie Babbitt book I’ve read is Tuck Everlasting, which I really liked. My sister insists that we read The Search for Delicious as children, but I’m sure I’ve never even heard of it! Sisters… never too old to disagree! In any case, she says that this was one of her favorite childhood books, and has been pushing me to read it.

The plot does sound charming, and while I don’t read a lot of children’s lit these days, for the sake of family peace, I probably should make time for this one.

There are many different editions that have been released over the years — this one with a mermaid makes me so much more interested in reading the book!

Have you read The Search for Delicious? Does it sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #218: Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.pngTitle: Rooftoppers
Author: Katherine Rundell
Published: 2013
Length: 286 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

“The beauty of sky, music, and the belief in ‘extraordinary things’ triumph in this whimsical and magical tale” (Publishers Weekly) about a girl in search of her past who discovers a secret rooftop world in Paris.

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck that left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive—but “almost impossible” means “still possible.” And you should never ignore a possible.

So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian, threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, they takes matters into their own hands and flee to Paris to look for Sophie’s mother, starting with the only clue they have—the address of the cello maker.

Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers—urchins who live in the hidden spaces above the city. Together they scour the city in a search for Sophie’s mother—but can they find her before Sophie is caught and sent back to London? Or, more importantly, before she loses hope?

Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials series, calls Rooftoppers “the work of a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination.”

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy several years ago, thinking it would be a good choice to read with my son. He didn’t bite, though, and I never ended up reading it on my own.

Why I want to read it:

I don’t remember how this book came to my attention, but I remember reading about it somewhere and thinking that it sounded like a sweet and magical adventure — and the fact that Philip Pullman recommends it doesn’t hurt a bit!

What do you think? Would you read this book? 

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #209: Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising, #1) by Susan Cooper

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising, #1)
Author: Susan Cooper
Published: 1965
Length: 196 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that — the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril. This is the first volume of Susan Cooper’s brilliant and absorbing fantasy sequence known as The Dark Is Rising.

How and when I got it:

We’ve had a copy of this book in my house for at least 15 years or more!

Why I want to read it:

I was looking for something relatively happy and light for this week’s Shelf Control post (to contrast with how dismal and dark real life is these days…) — and while this doesn’t exactly scream sunshine and roses, it’s a classic children’s fantasy series, which sounds like lots of fun.

True confession time — I actually started this with my son about six years ago, and we quit after the first few chapters. Neither of us felt much interest at the time, but that may be because it just didn’t suit our mood or wasn’t a great pick to read aloud together. In any case, we put it aside, but I’ve always felt like I should go back to it and see it through.

What do you think? Would you read this book? 

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Middle Grade Book Review: Broken Strings by Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer

Synopsis:

A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil’s Arithmetic and Hana’s Suitcase.

It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.

Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

My thoughts:

Broken Strings is a layered, thoughtful, and ultimately uplifting book about the power of family, memory, and music. Set only months after the terrible events of 9/11, the story follows Shirli and her middle school classmates, all of whom experienced some of the horror of living through 9/11, whether through images on TV, or seeing the towers fall from across the Hudson River, or having lost friends or family in the attacks.

Now, six months later, the school readies for its spring musical production, Fiddler on the Roof. Shirli is initially disappointed not to get the flashier role of Hodel, the daughter in the musical with the best solo, but she grows to appreciate her role as Golde, especially since it means spending hours working with the adorable Ben, who has the star role of Tevye, Golde’s husband.

Shirli knows from her parents that her grandfather’s parents’ families were originally from Eastern Europe and lived through some of the pogroms that took place in the time period of Fiddler, so she begins to ask him questions in hopes of better understanding the characters. And although she’s aware that Zayde survived the Holocaust and bears a concentration camp tattoo on his arm, he’s never spoken of his experiences to her or to anyone else in the family. But as she visits Zayde, little by little he begins to share the story of what happened to his family during the Holocaust, and why he has never played his violin or even listened to music in all the years since.

There’s so much to love about Broken Strings. First, it’s a sweet story about middle school friendship and crushes, about talent and hard work and ambition, and about dedication to one’s passions. At the same time, it’s about family, the power of love, and the devastation of loss and memories too painful to bring into the light of day. And finally, it’s about the healing power of sharing oneself and one’s stories, about making connections, and about rising above hatred to find common ground in even unlikely places.

The characters are all well-drawn and realistic, and it’s beautiful to see how Zayde influences those around him by reaching across divides and making friends. Shirli is a lovely main character, and I appreciated how well the authors show both her insecurities and her devotion to her friends and family.

Broken Strings is really a special book. Highly recommended for middle grade readers as well as the adults in their lives.

With special thanks to Jill of Jill’s Book Blog, whose wonderful review first brought this book to my attention. Check it out, here.

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Broken Strings
Authors: Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication date: September 10, 2019
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Middle grade fiction
Source: Library

The Monday Check-In ~ 7/22/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’m away on a mini-road trip for most of this week, so my online presence will probably be pretty minimal. I’m off in search of sunnier scenery — I’ve had enough fog for one summer, thank you very much!

 

 

 

 

 

A programming note:

Since I’ll be away, there won’t be a Shelf Control post this week. Yes, I could set it up in advance. But hey, it’s a vacation week! So no, I’m not going to stress about it. Shelf Control will be back next week!

 

 

 

 

 

What did I read during the last week?

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer: A fun Outlander-flavored contemporary romance. My review is here.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery: I finished the audiobook of the 5th book in the Anne of Green Gables series. It’s quite a shift, seeing Anne as a contented wife, rather than as a young girl or a college student or a teacher. These books are consistently delightful, and the audiobook editions I’ve been listening to are so well done!

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth: A really good, twisty mystery/family drama. My review is here.

Read but not reviewed:

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant: I always love her writing, but in this case, I just didn’t get it. Maybe because it riffs off of Lovecraftian themes, and I’ve never read Lovecraft — in any case, I feel like the point of this story went over my head. Still creepy, but not her best.

Book group update:

We finished our group read of A Fugitive Green, an Outlander-world novella available in the Seven Stones to Stand or Fall collection. A great story, finally giving Hal and Minnie’s backstory. A must-not-miss for Outlander fans!

Fresh Catch:

Once again, I had some credits to use on Amazon, so here’s what I got:

I’ve read Thunderhead already, but needed my own copy so I can do a re-read before book #3 comes out later this year. And even though I haven’t started Illuminae yet, I know I’ll want to read the whole trilogy in one big binge, so now I’m ready!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev: Just starting!

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery: Onward with book #6! I started this one as soon as I finished the previous, but I doubt I’ll make much progress while traveling this week. Loving this series!

Ongoing reads:

One ongoing book group read right now:

  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection. We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week, and we’re just about at the halfway mark!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 7/15/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Wilder Girls by Rory Power: I had very mixed feelings about this YA horror story. (But oh, what an amazing cover!) My review is here.

Circe by Madeline Miller: Absolutely gorgeous. I adored the audiobook. My thoughts are here.

Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin: A fun, quick read. My review is here.

In children’s books:

I read Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. Once again, thanks to Hopewell’s Public Library of Life for the recommendation. It’s a perfect companion while reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, reviewed here.

Fresh Catch:

I treated myself to the hardcover version of Mira Grant’s newest novella. I love the look of it!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer: Hey, it’s summer, and I need a break from serious reads! The story of an Outlander fan who heads to Scotland to find her very own Jamie Fraser just checks all sorts of boxes for me.

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery: Back to Anne! This is the 5th book in the Anne of Green Gables series, which I am utterly adoring.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection. Finishing this week!
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 7/8/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Weekend visitors, 4th of July — it’s been a busy week!

What did I read during the last week?

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe: A terrific follow-up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. My review is here.

Hope Rides Again by Andrew Shaffer: Another great Obama/Biden action-adventure story. My review is here.

The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger: Steamy alien fun! My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery: I’ve now listened to half the series! I’m loving these books so much. Taking a short break to listen to a few other pending titles, but then I’ll be back for book #5.

In graphic novels:

We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish: Totally adorable aliens inhabiting an Earth after humans. (Check out the link above for Hope Rides Again for thoughts on this book too.)

Runaways, Volume 3: That Was Yesterday by Rainbow Rowell: Always good fun checking in with the Runaways.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung: Ever read a book and think throughout, “hey, that’s me!”? Yup. Reading this book was exactly that. Adorable, and yet with an important kernel of truth too.

Fresh Catch:

Oooh. Doesn’t this look good?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Wilder Girls by Rory Power: I’ve just barely started… but I’m already intrigued!

Now playing via audiobook:

Circe by Madeline Miller: My book group’s pick for July. Loving it so far!

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection.
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1