Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Hollow Boy
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Pages: 374
Finished: July 13, 2017

First Sentence: I think it was only at the very end of the Lavender Lodge job, when we were fighting for our lives in that unholy guesthouse, that I glimpsed Lockwood & Co. working together perfectly for the first time.

Summary: Six months after closing the black market ring on sources, Lucy, Lockwood, and George are at it again. This time, they're busy solving a case of bloody footprints on a staircase while Chelsea is being evacuated due to a mass haunting event.

Thoughts: The good - I was hooked from the beginning. The first two books took a few chapters to get my interest, but this one had me from the first. I like that Lucy is developing her Talent. I like the intrigue Stroud is building around the big agencies. I LOVE the ghosts, though I have to admit, I may have been terrified to grab something from downstairs at 11 PM last night after putting the book down for a moment.

The disappointing - Lucy vs. Holly. Holly was incredibly capable and helpful to them. And she wasn't mean or sarcastic until Lucy reacted poorly to her (which was two seconds after meeting her). I hate the girl on girl rivalry in so many of these books. Girls do have good relationships with other girls where they talk about things other than boys and clothes and makeup. Also, I dislike how much Lucy looks down on people for dressing well or looking put together.

Other than those nitpicks though, I really enjoyed this book. I have to keep myself from running out and grabbing the fourth one right away!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

House Arrest by K. A. Holt

Title: House Arrest
Author: K.A. Holt
Pages: 196
Finished: July 9, 2017

First Sentence: Boys don't write in journals, / unless it's court ordered.

Summary: Timothy's baby brother is sick. Timothy's baby brother is so sick he breathes with a breathing tube also known as a trache. Timothy's father walked out on his family. Timothy's family doesn't have enough money to pay for all the help Levi needs. So one day, Timothy steals a wallet and buys medicine for his brother. This book is the consequence of that decision. Timothy is now under house arrest and must write in this journal every day.

Thoughts: This book punched me in the gut. Hard. Don't get me wrong! It was amazing. But it was brutal. A great illustration that no matter how hard someone works, sometimes they're in a hole they can't get out of.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Who Was Louis Braille? by Martha Frith

Title: Who Was Louis Braille?
Author: Margaret Frith
Finished: July 8, 2017

First Sentence: When Louis Braille was three years old, he had a terrible accident that left him blind.

Summary: This slim volume in the Who Was series follows the life of Louis Braille and how he developed the Braille writing system for those who are blind.

Thoughts: I help kids find books in this series daily, yet this is the first time I've read one of the books. I was pleasantly surprised. The information is solid, but simple enough for third and fourth graders to enjoy. The book reads like a story, so it remains interesting enough for younger kids. Definitely a great addition to elementary non-fiction literature.

Read for my Bluestem Challenge

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Thomas the Rhymer by Elen Kushner

Title: Thomas the Rhymer
Author: Elen Kushner
Pages: 258
Finished: July 8, 2017

First Sentence: I'm not a teller of tales, not like the Rhymer.

Summary: (from Goodreads) A minstrel lives by his words, his tunes, and sometimes by his lies. But when the bold and gifted young Thomas the Rhymer awakens the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland, he finds that words are not enough to keep him from his fate. As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence—and captivity—he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen’s parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie.
Thoughts: I will freely admit, most of my negative thoughts towards this come from the fact that I was expecting something completely different. One of my favorite legends is Tam Lin. I've read many adaptations of the Tam Lin tale and was told that Thomas the Rhymer is similar. The problem is, the part I love most about Tam Lin is Janet. And Elspeth was no Janet.

I found the use of the different narrators interesting, though it didn't do too much for me in the story. I wasn't a huge fan of Thomas though. He just wasn't all that sympathetic to me. I also wasn't a huge fan of Elspeth. The best parts of the book? Fairyland and the riddles in Fairyland.

Read for the Retelling Challenge.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Title: The Miracle Morning
Author: Hal Elrod
Pages: 140
Finished: July 2, 2017

Summary: Hal Elrod talks about the six most effective habits one can and should use to reach their full potential in life.

Thoughts: This book has been floating around the bullet journal community for some time. I finally grabbed it because the ideas sounded good. Suffice it to say, I really didn't need to read the book. All the information floating around the web hit the main points of the book without the sales pitch and constant reminders of the low points in his life.

Honestly though, some parts of the book did have their merits. The suggestions for how to actually stay awake after waking up early though again you could find this online. He goes into more detail about the various steps to the Miracle Morning than I did find online, but again, most of this could be easily researched once you know what those steps are. The only value in this book for me was the motivation to get going.

In all honesty though, I'd say go to his website (just google Miracle Morning) sign up for the freebies, and look at the quickstart guide. Skip the book entirely.

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Whispering Skull
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Pages: 435
Finished: June 29, 2017

First Sentence: "Don't look now," Lockwood said.

Summary: (from Goodreads)

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.
Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

Thoughts: I almost put this one down in the first chapter. I find the posturing between the Lockwood Agency and Fittes to be really obnoxious. But my desire to find out anything we can about the Problem kept me reading.

I honestly had a hard time putting this one down. I will freely admit, I'm not a huge fan of horror. I don't like reading ghost stories at night etc. But I stayed up to finish this one just to see what happened. I really like the idea of modernish day London with ghosts. Sadly, the third one is not in at my library so I have it on hold.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July Reads

1. Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner - Retellings Challenge
2. Who was Louis Braille by Margaret Frith - Bluestem Challenge
3. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier - Retellings Challenge
4. House Arrest by K. A. Holt - Caudill Challenge
5. Hilo: The Boy who Crashed to Earth by Judi Winick - Bluestem Challenge
6. Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton - Caudill Challenge
7. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
8. The Odyssey by Homer - Back to the Classics Challenge
9. The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L Frank Baum - Wizard of Oz Challenge
10. Catch - 22 by Joseph Heller - Back to the Classics Challenge

Ahahahahah! Look at that stack of books! It's enormous, and there is no way I'm reading it in a month. Focus is on the Bluestems and Caudills, the Oz book, Catch-22, and Thomas the Rhymer. You'll notice I picked two slim novels for the Bluestems, and the Caudill titled House Arrest is in verse.

I am also reading Miracle Morning in the mornings. It's a book I picked up for personal development, and while it reads like a sales pitch, some of the ideas are great. So I'm going to continue reading that in the morning as one of the parts to my morning routine. Once I finish that (which should take the week), I'm going to plug The Odyssey in there instead. I expect this to be a 9 week endeavor.

The Marillier was a can't help myself. I've always seen it categorized as an adult novel, but my library has it set as a Teen novel. I'm counting it for my Retelling Challenge regardless.

ALSO, there's an 11th book that will probably end up on this list. I'm continuing a children's series called the Lockwood and Company series. I have book three on hold and will probably push all reading aside to finish it because the books are mild horror books and therefore have to be read as quickly as possible so I don't get too freaked out.

And now off to the reading!