Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mary Poppins

by P.L. Travers
published: Peter Davies, 1956 (originally 1934)
pages 206

Mary Poppins is practically perfect in every way and her skills as a nanny prove just that to the Banks children: Jane, Michael, John and Barbara.  She is kind but stern and never sees anything out of the ordinary.  As a matter of fact, every time the children try to explain to her that she might be, she doesn't know what they are talking about. Mary Poppins and the Banks children go on many adventures and meet some interesting people, this book is one of those stories.

The world might be smitten with Mary Poppins, but I can't seem to completely wrap my head around this original version of her.  Sure she is memorizing and adventurous, but she also seem uncharacteristically harsh.  When I imagined Mary Poppins, I remembered her being incredibly kind and sweet, but I might just be confusing that idea with not having a backbone.  I do know that Jane and Michael Banks needed a rather firm nanny, what with all the running away and everything.  Still, I'm a little disappointed that the Mary Poppins in my head does not match the original make.

Other the other hand, the adventures had were quite entertaining and very intriguing.  I loved that some of the adventures did not center around Jane and Michael at all.  A couple happened on Mary Poppin's off day and one occurred with a dog.  There's a story of a dancing cow and one of the stars in the sky.  I think they were all creatively crafted and enjoyable to read.

One thing I did find interesting was the fact that Jane and Michael Banks have younger siblings, twins: John and Barbara.  While most of the book revolved around Mary and the eldest Banks children, the twins get their own chapter.  This story was one of my favorite.  I thought it was quite funny and adorable to see what kind of mischief the twins get up to and to whom they talk.

It'll be some time before I get to another Mary Poppins book, but I might just pick another one up.

Stars: 3/5


"When Mary Poppins is about, her young charges never tell where the real world merges into make-believe.  Neither can the reader, and that is one of the hallmarks of good fantasy."
     -- The New York Times

There is an extraordinary charm about these books...They are whimsical, sentimental [and] also funny, imaginative, poetical and genuinely creative."
     --The New York Evening Post

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Things On My Reading Wishlist

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. I would like to read books set during the Industrial Revolution, either in London or New York.  I find that time period fascinating and would love to read more about characters during this time.

2. I would like to read a book with a teenage sleuth.  I love Nancy Drew, but I think there is potential for more in this genre.

3. I think I would like to read a story where the protagonist doesn't win, or at least the protagonist isn't who the reader thinks it is.  I think that would be very interesting because in some ways the protagonist always wins.

4. A book in which one of the characters discovers a new world or a new way to look at the world they know would be really cool. Think Narnia or Mortal Instruments.

5.  I would love to see a book that takes an important historical event and tell it differently, whether it was completely skewed by society or there were factors that didn't make it to the public.  I want to see an alternate side to that event.

6. I would like to read more novels where the main character is a nerd, in what ever capacity they want to be a nerd: television, books, manga, cosplay, comic books... I don't care but I don't think there are enough books out there that proudly display the habits of being a nerd.

7.  I'd like to see more books with sibling relationships.  I enjoy the romance in most books I read, but I don't see enough sibling relationships that are the crux of the story.

8.  I've always loved the idea of a gap year, but since I never had one, I'd like to read about one.  The character could join the peace corp or go traveling across Europe or get a job at the local 7-11, I don't care but I'd love to read about it.

9. More history!  I want to read a book set during the Civil War.  I loved studying this war in school, I find it utterly fascinating and would love to read a book that is set during this time period.

10. I want to read a book that is set in a different country, but not from the perspective of an American or set in America but from the perspective of someone who isn't an American.  Either of these would be so interesting.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Notable Quotable: Lewis Carroll (#28)

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?'"
     --Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead
published: Wendy Lamb Books, 2009
pages: 199

Miranda knows the streets of her Manhattan neighborhood even though she's only in sixth grade.  Her world is full of safe places and people to avoid, like the laughing man on the corner.  She has it all figured out, until one day her life starts to unravel.  Her best friend gets punched by a stranger and begins to shut her out.  She discovers a note written on a tiny piece of paper warning her and asking her for help.  The notes keep coming and Miranda starts to realize that whoever is leaving them knows all about her and actually needs her help.  She has to make a decision whether or not to help the mysterious letter writer, but what will she choose and will she make her choice too late.

Even though I guessed the plot-twist early on in the story, I enjoyed it no less than I would have otherwise.  I thought it was cute and interesting and very creative.  The fact that Miranda is narrating the letter she won't write to a mysterious person is also incredibly intriguing.  I really liked that everything about this story kept me wanting to know more, to understand where the story was going and why Miranda was telling the story in the first place and to who she was or wasn't telling the story.  I had all these questions and more, and they were all answered, but I had to wait patiently for the answers.

I also really enjoyed that the titles of each chapter were categories that could have shown up in Pyramid, the game show.  I thought it was a creative way to tie in a couple unlikely aspects of this book.

I loved learning about the characters from Miranda's point of view. She had a very clever way of describing people and explaining what thought was weird. For example, why Sal wouldn't talk to her anymore and why Colin started hanging out with her and another friend a lot.  All of her thoughts and feelings were very reminiscent of a twelve year old.  The aging of the characters was excellent, I really thought a twelve year old was talking to me.

It's no wonder that Rebecca Stead received the 2010 Newberry award for this book.  She knocked it out of the park.  I look forward to checking out more of her work, that's for sure.

Stars: 5/5


"When all the side walk characters from Miranda's Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, ""
     -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Closing revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made, their reverberations giving plenty of impetus for the reader to go back to the beginning and catch what was missed."
      --The Horn Book magazine, starred review

"This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers."
     --School Library Journal, starred review

This is an Eclectic Reader 2014 Challenge book!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Debuts I'm Excited for

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It is always hard to do a list like this because I don't read synopses so these picks are purely on the cover and/or title since all of these are new authors.

1. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
2. Gilded by Christina L. Farley
3. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

4. The Islands at the End of The World by Austin Aslan
5. Hexed by Michelle Krys
6. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

7. Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
8. Wordless by Adrianne Strickland
9. The Break-up Artist by Phillip Siegal 

10. Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
11. Something Real by Heather Demetrios
12. My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Notable Quotable: Henrik Ibsen (#27)

"If I'm ever to reach any understanding of myself and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone."
     --A Doll's House

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater
Published: Scholastic, 2012
Pages: 409

Blue Sargent may come from a clairvoyant family but she does not have the gift herself.  She does, however, have the ability to enhance others' gifts just by standing in the same room.  She cannot see spirits nor can she feel them, that is until one speaks directly to her. Blue discovers that the spirit is a rich student, from the local private school, named Gansey.  She has made it a point to stay away from these boys because they always spelled trouble.  However, her life begins to cross paths with Gansey and his gang of Raven Boys in unpredictable ways.  Blue finds herself becoming more and more involved in their strange and sometimes sinister world, unsure if she will be able to escape.

This book was surprisingly wonderful.  I really had no expectations going into this novel, so it was a lovely surprise.  The characters were well developed and relatable.  I particularly liked Blue and Gansey, but thought as if Adam and Ronan were guys I could have known in high school. I liked that Gansey is incredibly nice even if there are times when he is unintentionally condescending.

The mythology is fascinating and relatively uncommon and even though I felt confused for quite a bit of the story, it compelled me to keep reading.  The paranormal aspect of the story was intriguing, especially Blue's abilities compared to her family's abilities.  It's interesting that the powers complement each other and Blue's power is very helpful in unlikely moments.

Maggie Stiefvater has worked magic into this story and I cannot wait to find out what happens next. Needless to say, I will definitely be checking out the rest of this series even if I have to wait for it.

Stars: 5/5


"One unexpected and wonderful surprise after another...a marvel of imagination."
     --Booklist, starred review

"Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought."
     --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Haunting...a tour de force of characterization."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Incredibly rich and unique...a supernatural thriller of a different flavor."
     --School Library Journal, starred review

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Notable Quotable: Kate DiCamillo (#26)

"There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it."
     --Because of Winn-Dixie

Bonus: Top Books I Want to Read in 2014

Going with the I-have-way-too-many-books-that-I-own-that-I-haven't-read theme, all of these books will be from that pile.
In no particular order!

1. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
4. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
5. The End Games by T. Michael Martin
6. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
7. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
8. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
9. Matched by Ally Condie
10. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Bonus: books I don't own that I want to read this year

11. Champion by Marie Lu
12. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
13. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
14. Cress by Marissa Meyer
15. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
16. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Challenges 2014

Let's get right to it!  My book challenges for 2014.

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 , hosted by Book'd Out.

This challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 2014.  Create a blog post committing to your participation.  You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advanced.  You have to read a book from each of the genres listed below.  You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just complete the challenge by December 31st 2014.  Each time you read and review a book as part of this challenge, make sure you identify it by adding either a direct statement or the challenge image badge to the post.

The Categories:

1. Award Winning - When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Newberry)
2. True Crime (non-fiction) -
3. Romantic Comedy - The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick 
4. Alternate Historical Fiction - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
5. Graphic Novel - A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle adapted by Hope Larson
6. Cosy Mystery Fiction - The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
7. Gothic Fiction -
8. War/Military Fiction -
9. Anthology -
10. Medical Thriller Fiction - The Maze Runner by James Dashner (The trilogy really)
11. Travel (Non-fiction) -
12. Published in 2014 - Cress by Marissa Meyer

The Book List Challenge 

I've been reading off a book list since 2007 and last year I read quite a few from the list.  This year I would like to continue to read more books off of it. There are over 450 books, so it shouldn't be a problem. It's the Teenreads Ultimate Reading List if you'd like to take a look.

My goal is 10 books off the list this year.

1. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
2. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
3. A Wrinkle in Time: Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle adapted by Hope Larson
4. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
5. Cress by Marissa Meyer
6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (reread)
7. Dare Me by Megan Abbott
8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
9. Champion by Marie Lu
10. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
11. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
12. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
13. Messenger by Lois Lowry
14. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
15. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
16. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
17. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
20. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
21. Every Day by David Levithan
22. The Death Cure by James Dashner
23. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black 
24. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Last year, I participated in five different challenges that pushed me to read more, which I thought was always a good thing. However, my reading habits crossed the dangerous line and it began to feel like a chore.  There were so many books I had to read that qualified for each challenge.  The pressure was so much that I stopped enjoying reading for a while and started to read slower. This affected my weekly book review, which hasn't really been weekly as of late. Because of all of this, I did not complete two of the challenges that I signed up for this year. And it bothers me.

So for those reasons, I'm making some changes for 2014.

First, I've decided to only do two challenges this year: one that I've done every year since the beginning of this bog and one that will further the conquest of that giant book list I took on as a sophomore in high school.

Also, the weekly book reviews will be no more, I will read at my own pace and enjoy my reading and review the books once I've finished them.  I love this blog but I also want to love my reading time.  I will still be posting regularly, only the content will be slightly different, depending on the week.

Thanks for bearing with me through these changes.  They'll help me and hopefully make this blog better too.
As always, happy reading!