#FakeReadathon: 7 Books

Sharon and Chris joined us on Sunday for #FakeReadathon and it was fun. I also managed to finish seven books, which was also fun.

Happily Ever After: short stories about characters from The Selection series. It wasn’t bad, a lot of repeat of what happened in earlier books so the stories could be read as a stand-alone.

The Crown: The final book in the selection series. I’m glad it turned out the way I thought it would turn out.

There Is No Darkness: I finally finished this ebook that I started months (a year?) ago? I generally just read a chapter or two every time I traveled, while waiting for inflight wifi to kick in. Yesterday, I decided I was doing to finish it and I did. I don’t really love Science Fiction but I definitely enjoyed it. An interesting coming of age story. (Someone in an Amazon review said the Haldeman brothers wrote this in 1955, almost 20 years before Joe wrote The Forever War. I’m all… Wait, what!?! Goodness… Lorena wasn’t even born? Wait, what?!!! Is this true. Someone remind me to ask Lore about this.)

I checked four children’s picture books out of the library, two picture books and two board books (both Cybils), because I thought I might have a chance to read some new books to Pippin and Squshy when they were hear a couple of weeks ago. I also thought even if that didn’t happen, these might be books I would want to buy them for Christmas. Turns out… it was a mixed bag.

– Dinosaur Dance was boring. Unless your child really LOVES dinosaurs, in which case it’s still boring but your kid will still love it because dinosaurs.
– Look, Look Again was cute and interesting. It’s a fold out style book. The first page shows one… something (a mushroom, a strawberry, an apple, etc.) but when you fold out the connecting page, you see more than one something (and it’s actually a counting book.) Pretty cute. I liked it. I’d buy that.
– A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals. This book is troubling… if you buy it or check it out of the library, read it before you share it with your child. It might be fine, it might not be. Great illustrations but the “hungry lion” eats the cute animals… after the story tricks you into thinking that’s not what is going to happen, it wants you to believe the little animals have just created a surprise party for the hungry lion. Jokes on you because, yea, the hungry lion at the cute animals after all. Very troubling.
– Strictly No Elephants was a good story. Again, great illustrations and nobody gets eaten. The beginning is sad because the child with the pet elephant isn’t allowed to go to the club or party or whatever that the other kids with pets go to. But the child with the elephant meets a child with a skunk who also doesn’t have anyone to play with. They build their own club and make sure EVERYONE is welcome. Really nice story. I’d buy this.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

I can’t believe how good Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus was. I picked it up because the cover was interesting and fun but I almost didn’t read it because I have a huge stack of Cybils that I knew I’d want to get through. TW read it first and said she really liked it, I see why.

A girl with no arms. A boy with Tourette. A fat boy. And, an old wild west style amusement park. Win win win win!

Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale is on the Cybils shortlist in the audiobook category — so we listened to it on audio and I loved every single thing about it. I chuckled at the 70s southern characters. Little Miss Central Florida Tire… baton twirling… hahaha.

But it wasn’t all amusing, either. The three girls had a lot to deal with and they did it together. LOVED IT.

The Voyage to Magical North

Another middle grade fantasy Cybil, The Voyage to Magical North was ok. I wanted to really love it but didn’t particularly like any of the characters until the end of the book.

Maybe I don’t love pirates? Or maybe I don’t love pirate satire for kids? I don’t know, this one just didn’t do it for me. (If you read the next book in the series, I’d love to know why Brine sneezes(d) around magic.)

Shadow Magic and Dream Magic

Shadow Magic is the Cybil, Dream Magic is the sequel. We read them back to back and very quickly. We’d have read another if there was one.

At first, I thought this was going to be just another middle grade fantasy with female characters in the supporting role — turns out, that’s not the case at all. (Though there are more male characters than female, obviously. Because magic is against the law for women and men are the adventurers, etc.)

Good series, the giant bat is cool and so is the troll (I wonder if she’ll be in the next book or if she’s going home. I hope she sticks around.) I’m not a huge fan of the zombies but you can’t have everything, can you?

Two Middle Grade Cybils

Look at me reading all of the Cybils. (Well not all of them, obviously.) These two were good!

I started off kind of grouchy because the main characters in The Evil Wizard Smallbone are all male. All of them. Oh sure, we have a few solid female supporting characters (four, I think) but, bah humbug. Women and girls can be “evil wizards,” too. Whatever. The story was fun and I did like every single character, even if most of them were male. I loved the bookstore and the seals and wolves and the coyotes. Also loved the ending.

I loved everything about The Firefly Code except the ending — and that’s only because I am way too invested in these characters lives and I want to know what happens to them next! (The second book just came out but I can’t reserve it at my library yet and I’m grouchy about that.) This is the story of what happens when you start engineering your kids… the good, the bad, and the downright painful. Science is amazing. Technology is amazing. We can do a lot of good things with both — where you draw the line though, that’s the kicker, isn’t it?

The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of …etc.

I finally read a book from the Cybils shortlist! Can you believe it? We’re almost nine months into 2017 and I think it’s my first. Ugh. Oy. I miss YA, middle grade, and children’s fiction. Sigh.

Worse yet, I did not love The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice. In fact, I came close to saying I hated it. TW read it first and when I asked her how it was, she said it was “OK” but she made that face that means she didn’t/doesn’t like something. I see now why she felt that way.

I wanted to love it. It’s a CYBIL for goodness sake. I liked the kids, I liked the dragon and the goblin and even the ogre. The bad guys were well-written bad guys. But… the slavery storyline.

I understand why the author decided to write this (sort of) but I just kept picturing some middle school or late elementary school kid reading this and I do not think it was the right story. It certainly wasn’t the right ending. I mean do we really want to teach kids that the white powerful man only abolishes slavery because it won’t have any negative effect on his wallet or his kingdom because his kingdom doesn’t really have slaves anyway? (Yes, I know this is actually fairly true but the way it was told in the story actually celebrated the King’s decision without pointing out the problems with his decision. It’s a very shallow dive into this very complex issue.)

Also, the whole part of the story where the progressive white girl and the goblin (ugh) had to explain to the slave boy why slavery was bad and convince him (trick him?) into believing he shouldn’t be a slave boy. Really? We really need to perpetuate the idea that slaves liked being slaves and without the benevolent white folks dragging them out of slavery they’d still be there?

OK I didn’t mean to write all of this… clearly, since it’s a jumble. I could write more but I won’t because … whatever.

The adventure was fun. The kids, the dragon, the goblin, (and even the ogre) were fun. If you could strip out the underlying badly told aspects about slavery it would be a terrific book.

The Sweetest Sound

I have no idea why The Sweetest Sound was on my library cart. Maybe I impulse picked it up from some random display at the library? Or maybe I saw it on some book list and reserved it? Weird.

It’s a middle grade fiction about a very shy girl and her hidden talent (singing) and overcoming fears and growing up. It was … ok. Not great, not horrible.

The Lotterys Plus One

I’m not sure what I expected from a children’s book written by Emma Donoghue but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t The Lotterys Plus One. Oh sure, I expected an LGBTQ family but this family? Not so much, lol.

There are FOUR parents, a lesbian couple and a gay couple. They have quirky names like PopCorn and CardaMom. The kids are all named after trees, except for Briar… she changed her name to Brian, and while she is adamant about NOT being a GIRl, she’s also not saying she’s a BOY. Gender is hard, or really simple — take your pick, both are true.

Besides the fact that there are eight zillion people in this book, all with quirky names, and you have to try to keep track of who is who you also have to deal with the fact that the family has weird names for EVERYTHING. Family meetings are called “fleetings,” the back porch of the house is called the “derriere,” the extra bedroom is called “spare oom,” something isn’t excellent, it’s egg salad… this is all a little overwheling. It’s fun, but on top of the all of the weird family names, it’s messy.

In fact everything about this book is messy, which is why you should absolutely read it.

The family is super messy and quirky and I kind of love them, even if I could do without the weird/cutesy names. The children came to the family in a variety of ways and have a variety of ethnicity, personalities, (and some issues.) Some were biological to some of the parents. One has what’s probably ADHD, one is a shaken baby.

And then there’s the grandfather… the one who has messy problems of his own, the least of which is that he’s an old white conservative dude from a small town in Canada and he things families should be made up of one man, one woman, and hopefully the same race/ethnicity. He also thinks people should behave in more traditional ways. And, there’s more… he is the plus one in this story, and he is what drives the plot line.

Donoghue throws a lot into this one tiny book and in the end, I loved it. I could do with fewer odd names/language choices but I get it. The family is quirky. I’ll take them as they are (and TW says there are or will be more books, so I’ll read them.)

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics

Here’s where I talk about missing our beloved Glenview Public Library

We wanted to listen to the new Mr. Lemoncello book on audio because the first one was so much fun. So, I looked at the Alachua County Library to reserve it on CD. They had no CD versions. So, I reserved it for Overdrive. It arrived, fairly promptly but the check out time was HORRENDOUS… a week? 10 days? I don’t know but NOT long enough. No big deal, I thought because I can just renew it, like I could with Overdrive books checked out from the Glenview library.

Hahaha. Not so much.

I had to actually RE-RESERVE it and wait for it to be re-delivered to me. THAT WAS ANNOYING and FRUSTRATING and I MISS THE GLENVIEW LIBRARY SYSTEM. (Though I do also appreciate Alachua County’s library… the auto-renew thing is awesome. I love that.)

Anyway, about Mr Lemoncello’s Library Olympics… totally fun. Obviously. I highly recommend it.