Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TTT: Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

This week's topic was Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (bought, library, review copies)

I picked this up for a classic read-along later this month.


6186357448873The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Purchased for my kiddo and I to read together.  


I Purchased  and also received a copy from the author via her publisher, with a lovely note and dedication.  I'm saving this series for a re-read in September (Once school starts back up and I have time to sit back and enjoy the whole thing.)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik 

This came highly recommended, so I couldn't                                               wait for the library to get a copy.  I'm still working on the review.   


22024488Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

Technically these aren't out yet,  but I pre-ordered both since I really enjoy the author's other books.  

For Review

2330960025205326Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson and Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by Scott Savage

I received Nooks and Crannies from the author following an interview hosted by From The Mixed-Up Files. 

Mysteries of Cove is for a blog tour and review coming up in September.  


23281919Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley Review copy provided by publisher following a blog tour hosted by Word Spelunking.

I'm kind of surprised with the number of books that I've been purchasing lately, but there are so many books coming out that I just couldn't wait for.  Plus, during the summer I try to spend some quality time reading with my kiddo, so I usually hit the used book store, library and stock up on a mix of books.   My review copies have also rounded out the stack too.  

So, what books have you purchased, borrowed or received for review?  Have you read any of the books on my list?  Feel free to comment and post links in the comments.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

MG Mystery: Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson

23309600Published: June 2nd 2015 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genres: MG Mystery
Pages: 336 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Giveaway  copy provided by author following interview hosted by From the Mixed-Up Files

From Goodreads:  "Tabitha Crum is a girl with a big imagination and a love for mystery novels, though her parents think her only talent is being a nuisance. She doesn't have a friend in the world, except her pet mouse, Pemberley, with whom she shares her dingy attic bedroom.

Then, on the heels of a rather devastating announcement made by her mother and father, Tabitha receives a mysterious invitation to the country estate of the wealthy but reclusive Countess of Windermere, whose mansion is rumored to be haunted. There, she finds herself among five other children, none of them sure why they've been summoned. But soon, a very big secret will be revealed— a secret that will change their lives forever and put Tabitha’s investigative skills to the test."

Nooks and Crannies  is the kind of book for fans of  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Westing Game, Matilda and Clue.   There were so many things that I loved about this book.  For starters, that cover,  I love  how a keyhole was incorporated into the title.  Just lovely.  And all the details, Tabitha running with a key in her hand, Pemberly peaking out of the pocket of her apron. The old mansion in the background and the books and cobwebs on the table.  There is a very British feel to the story in the characters and words that Lawson chooses to use to describe the setting,  like this passage "The cobblestone streets in the village of Wilting were made eerie and muted by thick November fog, and clip-clopping carriage horses snorted up and down the road emerging, and disappearing into the mist.  Almost like ghosts, Tabitha mused."   

Lawson created the perfect kind of setting for her murder mystery.  Hollingsworth Hall is a creepy mansion set in the Lake District of England during 1907.  The mansion is filled with hidden passageways, locked doors, a lovely large library and creepy mysterious noises at night.  It's the kind of place that you can just see yourself inside with its long corridors and old paintings on the walls.  There are "plenty of mysteries but no crime" at first,  but then the maid Mary Pettigrew  is possibly murdered and a series of plot twists, dangers and a need to figure out just what this countess has planned for her guests ensues.  

Tabitha is such a wonderful character who reminded me so much of Roald Dahl's Matilda. She has this miserable home life with parents that are unloving, neglectful and downright rotten.  They were set to send her off to an orphanage at the beginning of the story, that is until they thought a weekend at Hollingsworth Hall might turn out to be "profitable." Tabitha's only salvation are a love for reading her Inspector Pensive novels (think Sherlock Holmes) and her friend and confidant Pemberley (kinda like a Watson to her Inspector Pensive).   Having Pemberley as her partner, Tabitha can say all the things she would want to say, but is to shy to say.    Problem is that people think she is talking to herself and this alienates her from making friends. Tabitha is very imaginative, observant, a storyteller and clings to the hope that one day her parents will grow to love her, so she minds what they say, doesn't complain, despite her mother telling her  "You want us to love you, is that right? Love, Tabitha Crum, is to be earned, not given away to just anyone like a festering case of fleas."  You really can't help feeling sorry for how lonely Tabitha is, while despising her parents.  Just look at this quote by Tabitha

"Why, oh why, was it so much easier to interact with Pemberley than with people?  It was desperately confusing to both yearn for others to include you and half wish that they wouldn't." 

 Oh, but all those changes that occurred as Tabitha became this mini inspector putting together the clues to  find out just why they were all summoned to Hollingsworth Hall in the first place, such wonderful character development.  And the Pensive expressions that she recalled from stories dotting the beginning of each chapter, were delightful.  "When hope has left your side, carry on with the assumption that it simply went to fetch a quick bite to eat and will return shortly."

 I highly recommend Nooks and Crannies for someone looking for a story with a classic feel, a strong heroine that you can't help but root for, plus a nice mystery bundled into one.  

Favorite line:

 "if only life were a book, and I could choose precisely what part I played."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MG Fantasy: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

23281919Published: June 2nd 2015 by Dial Books (first published January 1st 2015)  
Genres: MG Fantasy
Pages: 304 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Review copy provided by publisher following a blog tour hosted by Word Spelunking

 Micah is very close to his grandfather Ephraim and loves to listen to him tell stories about a magical place called Circus Mirandus.   He recalls a particular story about a man from the circus who can bend light and is called Lightbender.  Lightbender also owes a debt to his grandfather, because grandfather Ephraim was the one who taught him how to tie a special knot.  In return, Lightbender granted him a miracle, which he could collect whenever he wanted.  When Micah's grandfather becomes ill,  Micah makes plans to visit the circus and collect on that debt.  He believes that the Lightbender's miracle can heal his grandfather.  But, Micah's great aunt Gertrudis moves in, and she thinks that grandfather's stories are "silliness." She is constantly getting in the way of him visiting with his grandfather to get more information about the circus.  Micah turns to Jenny, a girl from school that he is supposed to be helping on their school project for help. Between the two of them, they hope to find out some answers and collect on that debt.  

Circus Mirandus begins as a grandpa is writing a letter to The Lightbender asking him to come because he needs him. Grandpa Emphraim is this kindly old man who has been telling his grandson stories about how he came to know Circus Mirandus.  It's easy to see why his grandson wants to make the story come true in order to save his grandfather.   As I was reading, I couldn't help but want more about Circus Mirandus.  There are pretty cool aspects,  like an invisible tiger guarding the gate, Victoria the flying bird woman and of course the Lightbender.  But, I kept wanting a little more about the circus itself.   Like who is this mysterious person called The Head?  Why was Emphraim considered to be so special?  (Which both were answered by the end of the story).

There are two stories going on at the same time within Circus Mirandus, one during present day and the other a reflection on the past.  The first is Jenny and Micah's quest to find the circus, the second is grandpa Emphraim recalling his trip to the circus when he was ten years old (the same age as Jenny and Micah).  Despite the changes in point of view, the circus is the constant in each of the characters story.  Intermingled is a third one about Victoria,  who has the magical ability to fly with birds.  There is also a a mystery about how she is related to Grandfather Emphraim and Micah, and how this impacts Micah's mission to save his grandfather.  Eventually, I got wrapped up in the mystery and wanted to know more about the Lightbender's magic and why he didn't think that he could keep his promise after all. 

There is a kind of innocence to the story, needing to believe that magic exists and how the circus is for kids "cause adults spoil the mood."  I think it's why Jenny irritated me somewhat during the story though, she was just so rigid in her thinking, and I didn't like that she kept trying to convince Micah that his grandpa "embellished" his stories.  Micah on the other hand,  thought that Jenny just lacked imagination and if she believed a little more,  she could see the circus too.  The other thing that bothered me was how sad the story ended up being.  The message it conveyed of "sometimes we need to let go so others can have their magic" was so sad.   Beasley does make Micah's life better in the end and I think that some of my initial concerns about wanting more circus would be addressed if she were to write a sequel.  

Favorite chapter  "Like a Kettle"

I love the distinction that Beasley uses to distinguish Micah's great-aunt Gertrudis from other women he knows.

"Micah Tuttle knew that most old ladies were pleasant enough.  They knitted warm sweaters and baked cakes with chocolate frosting and played old-fashioned card games at the town social hall.  Sometimes one forgot to put in her fake teeth, like Mrs. Yolane from the post office, or she kept fourteen kooky cats, like Mrs. Rochester from across the street.  But those two were basically chocolate cakes and warm sweaters on the inside. 
               Micah's great-aunt, Gertrudis, was not.  
On the inside, Aunt Gertrudis was probably cough syrup. "