My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 18, 2021 / #MustReadin2021

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

First of all, I wanted to share this video playlist. Last year, I wanted to share more of my writings. I need to get out of the mindset that everything I write has to be published or perfect. I think this will actually free up some space inside my head to welcome in more ideas, to get the creative juices flowing, to make writing fun again. These poems were a result of that.

This week I’m sharing My Must Read in 2021 list. (The formatting is horrible with WordPress’s most recent upgrade!)

[Penguin Classics Filipino Novels]

-America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

-The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin

-Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal

-El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal

-Doveglion: Collected Poems by Jose Garcia Villa

[Christopher Pike Adult Novels]

-Sati

-The Season of Passage

-The Listeners

-The Cold One

-The Blind Mirror

-Falling

[Holiday Reads]

-The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

-The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

-Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann and Alexandre Dumas

-The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol

-Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

-The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

-The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

-Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

-Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson

-Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy

-And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

-Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

-Native Son by Richard Wright

-The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

-The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

-Hilo: Gina: The Girl who Broke the World (02/02/21)

-I am Frida Kahlo (Ordinary People Change the World) (03/09/21)

-Science Comics: The Digestive System (03/23/21)

-Tea Dragon Tapestry (06/01/21)- 82 pages read

-Pocket Change Collective: Continuum (06/01/21)

-Pocket Change Collective: Skate for Your Life (06/01/21)

-Science Comics: Spiders: Worldwide Webs (06/22/21)

-Clash (Click) by Kayla Miller (07/06/21)

-Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

-Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

-How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

-Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

-A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

-Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Now for some book reviews…

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51475575-becoming-muhammad-ali&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Becoming Muhammad Ali” src=”https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1585630811l/51475575._SX98_.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51475575-becoming-muhammad-ali”>Becoming Muhammad Ali</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3780.James_Patterson”>James Patterson</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3773411891″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I’m always surprised when I end up enjoying a sports book but I guess good writing will shine through in any genre. And this was a captivating read about Cassius Clay’s childhood before he would be better known as the boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Told in both prose (from the point of view of one of his friends) and poetry (through his eyes) with a smattering of illustrations, readers will be delighted in learning about his life.</a>

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an AdultWild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This has been on my TBR for awhile now and I read this back to back with Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, Peter Sieruta. Both books take on the world of kidlit and their creators but this one focuses more on his experiences reading or rereading the books he loved to his kids or the books he’s been meaning to read. What’s almost unforgivable is that he didn’t read Anne of Green Gables- and chose not to read it although he did start it- so that has completely soured whatever positive associations I had with this book.

Review Notes

***= Liked It

****= Recommended

*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 11, 2021 / Looking Forward

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

Last week, I shared how 2020 went. This week, I’ll be sharing  what I hope 2021 will bring.

My word for 2020 was VISION. And, I think, it’s safe to say, we were all blindsided by everything that’s happened. Originally, I was toying with REVISION for this year but I wanted a more action-oriented word. So, my word for 2021 is REVISE.

Revise is great since it has a writerly definition and also has life applications. If 2020 taught us anything is that anything can happen and we have to be able to revise our expectations and how we do things. One of the things I’m doing differently is trying not to make goals encompassing the entire year since we really need to take things one day at a time. I’m basically just planning until through summer, end of June, and reevaluate from there.

Some goals I have:

-Make writing fun again.

-Find more whimsy and wonder in the world.

-Finish things. Or, See things through.

-Go on an Artist Date at least once a week.

-”Travel” at least once a month and make an itinerary of what I’d do there.

And, of course, I have Reading Goals including to get through my Must Read in 2021, which I’ll share next week!

Now, for some book reviews!

From Archie to ZackFrom Archie to Zack by Vincent X. Kirsch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Archie decides to write Zack letters to let his friend know how he feels but he doesn’t send them, hiding them away instead. But one day, the letters are discovered by their classmates. Even if this was a boy/girl pairing, I’ve come to expect a little bit of teasing that happens when school crushes are revealed. But because this was about two boys, I’ve been sadly conditioned to expect the worse- even in a picture book! Fortunately, this was just a plain cute story that takes place in a more caring and open-minded reality. Outside, InsideOutside, Inside by LeUyen Pham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LeUyen Pham’s picture book about the pandemic is a comforting read for young readers to kind of help them understand what’s going on in the world and to give them a sense that one day this too shall pass. Louise BourgeoisLouise Bourgeois by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Little People, Big Dreams is a biographical series imported from Spain.

“In this new series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream.”

These are simple biographies to introduce young readers to these people.

The books include a timeline and photos. John LennonJohn Lennon by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think I somehow managed to unlearn things about John Lennon’s life after reading this book which is a shame since I’m such a huge fan of this series- even the board book versions which they simplify the biographies even more. I feel like if you can’t write about certain major events in someone’s life because it’s a children’s book then maybe it shouldn’t be written for that audience. Amari and the Night BrothersAmari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Harry Potter and Nevermoor will want to get their hands on this first book in a new trilogy.

Amari is invited to try out for the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and, despite the dangers, she realizes it’s the only way to discover what really happened to her older brother who mysteriously disappeared.

With a whole new world to discover, she’ll also come face to face with the harsh truth that not all monsters are the scary ones out there that we’ve grown to fear but they can be everyday people who choose to mistreat you based on how you look

This is a fun fantasy full of magic and adventure with a welcome social commentary.

Comes out January 19th. https://bookshop.org/books/amari-and-…

I listened to the audiobook version which was wonderfully narrated by Imani Parks.

https://libro.fm/audiobooks/978006305… Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's LiteratureWild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5. I’d been meaning to read this for awhile and am glad I finally did. It had interesting trivia and behind the scenes info about KidLit creators. But the format felt too bloggy (which is understandable since the writers are/were all bloggers) and made me crave more. And, surprisingly, considering how snail paced the publishing world sometimes feel, some parts felt outdated already. The best thing about this book, though, is that you’re bound to get some great recommendations! Review Notes ***= Liked It ****= Recommended *****= Favorite You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 4, 2021 / December 2020 & Year-End Review

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

It’s 2021! I hope it’ll be a happy and healthy time for all of us!

Before we ring in the new year with book reviews, here’s my recap of December.

I actually love the days leading up to January 1st because I love lists, reflecting on the year past and looking forward.

One of my main accomplishments of the year was…

…Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel where I was able to film 100 episodes of book reviews and shared a couple of my poems I wrote last year- “The Boy who Loved Books” and The Boy who Loved Christmas.”

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Instead of the usual recap, I’ll just share this list I made of 20 Good Things in 2020…

And, because I’m trying to simplify my life so I can move on and do other things, I decided to just share this page from my bullet journal…

In 2020, I read 471 books. The breakdown is:
17- Adult novels
19- Adult non-fiction
29- Graphic novels
70- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
319- Picture Books and Board Books
17- Young Adult novels

of which
119- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)
53- Audio Books

You can read My Favorite Books of 2020 here.

And, now for some book reviews…

Find FergusFind Fergus by Mike Boldt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful seek-and-find book that breaks down the fourth wall. A book guaranteed to make any readers go back and start it again.

This Is Your TimeThis Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A small book with a big message, this letter (of simple text paired with photos) from a civil rights hero will inspire readers young and old to do their part.

Reflections on the Artist's WayReflections on the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick inspiring listen by the author of The Artist’s Way which comprises of a recorded live lecture and then an interview. You wouldn’t have had to read the book to appreciate this.

 

 

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Favorite Books of 2020

It may come as no surprise that My Favorite Adult Non-Fiction Book, My Favorite Audio Book, and My Favorite Overall Book of 2020 is…

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey with Michaela Angela Davis.

You can read my review of it here.

You can watch my review of it here.

My Favorite Adult Fiction of 2020 is…

The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Change comes when people want enough.”

Adding this to my most favorite favorites list. Magical and romantic. A fun and heartwarming fantasy celebrating acceptance of one another’s differences with a gay love story at its core and the Antichrist thrown in for good measure. It’s like if Harry Potter was written by Jasper Fforde.

My Favorite Graphic Novel of 2020 is…

Dragon HoopsDragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliant! Absolutely exhilarating and I don’t event like sports. Gene Yang expertly tells the story of a high school basketball team as it sets out to prove themselves victorious in a documentary style way. Mix in a dark incident of a key figure in the team that cast a shadow over everything it does and a conflict with the narrator himself (in this case, Yang) about how to tell the best but truthful story and trying to balance his personal life, teaching job, and writing career, reading this graphic novel is like watching an actual basketball game play out, enjoying all the ups and downs to the last possible second.

My Favorite Picture Book of 2020 is…

The Blue HouseThe Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know where my review of this book went. But I loved the language used (especially “raged”) and the details in the illustrations (the boy has long hair!) and the wonderful similarities to Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. My Favorite Non-Fiction Picture Book of 2020 is… Your Place in the UniverseYour Place in the Universe by Jason Chin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely stunning! Jason Chin scores yet one again with his latest nonfiction picture book as he tackles the scale and scope of things from kids on Earth to the furthest distance we can observe light years away. The mind-boggling concepts of space and time just shows how much wonder there is out there if we just take the time to look. My Favorite Middle Grade Novel of 2020 is… Lupe Wong Won't DanceLupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lupe Wong is half-Chinese, half-Mexican, opinionated, and determined to get straight A’s in order to meet her baseball hero. What she isn’t is a dancer. So when she finds out that square dancing is their next unit in gym class and potentially foiling her plans, she makes it her mission to try and stop it. The results are hysterical and unexpected. Donna Barba Higuera hits a home-run with her debut middle grade novel full of humor and heart. My Favorite Middle Grade Non-Fiction of 2020 is…
and…

…which also features My Favorite Young Adult Non-Fiction Book of 2020.

My Favorite Young Adult Novel that I read in 2020 that was actually published in 2019 is Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. For some reason, I didn’t write a review of it even though it gave me lots to think about.

At this point, I wanted to give a shout-out to these amazing audio book narrators (who isn’t Mariah Carey, of course): Bahni Turpin, Ramon de Ocampo, and Guy Lockard.

My Favorite Reading Challenge I did is Reading the Rainbow BINGO.

What were your Favorite Reads of 2020?

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 28, 2020

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme! You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel. IMG_20200512_233344_369

This is the last #IMWAYR of 2020! This is like the loose ends edition before I do the year-end recaps which I’ll be posting in the upcoming days.

The kid’s books I read recently have been reviewed in my YouTube channel so I can reach my goal of 100 videos. So do check them out!

Some of you may know that one of my favorite books of all time is Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (translated by Stephen Mitchell). I love giving it away- and in fact I’m giving a copy as a gift to someone today.

I’ve also been rereading it every year for awhile now and it affects me differently every time. I honestly thought I wouldn’t read it this year because 2020 has also been a thief of traditions. But I ended up waking up early this morning and it called to me. And as I read it, I decided I would mark my copy with the lines that affected me this go around. (I had previously given another copy with such annotations.) As I was finishing it, I wrote this brief review: “Electrifying. Came along at just the right time… Like a friend who sees you for everything that you are and is ok with the imperfections (because nobody is perfect) and sees in you something good and something great that you yourself maybe haven’t glimpsed yet. I’m always impressed that it tackles so many topics- even if it’s not really about it- that speaks to the readers.”

On Fairy-StoriesOn Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was planning on doing a self-directed study of fairy tales in 2021 and I stumbled upon this essay when seeking out books to read for it. Not surprising, he has very insightful thoughts on fairy tales. I really enjoyed the knowledge he imparted in this. How to Raise an Elephant (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #21)How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For some reason, I thought I’d already written a review of this but here I am trying to recall what I would have typed. It’s still nice to visit the Mma Ramotswe and the gang but it’s starting too feel more of an obligation. I mean, I’ve read all 21 of these novels, 3 out of 4 of the kid novels, and sought out the ones I could find of the short stories so I’ll probably end up reading this until the conclusion which I kind of hope is near. But then maybe I’ll end up missing it once it’s done. My gripe has been the problems haven’t really been that interesting and certain situations just seem like fillers and then things just get resolved so hurriedly. A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas StoriesA Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m glad that I picked this as my Christmas read. While some may say these stories are too sentimental and saccharine, it was comforting to have something old-fashioned to read. When and why did we decide it was uncool to have values and to think kindly of others? As the holidays have become too commercial (and I’ll be the first to admit I do love presents)- even this year when some people (and I’m not faulting anyone for this because we all have to cope somehow) are buying more things to make up for what a tough year it’s been- it’s refreshing to be reminded of the things that truly matter and how much of a difference we can make to others if we truly reach out and help one another.

Also, I love the message that kindness begets kindness and can lead to a chain reaction. And recipients should never feel like charity cases because it means that someone was thinking of them and just wants to make a moment in their life a bit better than before. Review Notes ***= Liked It ****= Recommended *****= Favorite You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 14, 2020

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel.

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I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday.

Your Place in the UniverseYour Place in the Universe by Jason Chin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely stunning! Jason Chin scores yet one again with his latest nonfiction picture book as he tackles the scale and scope of things from kids on Earth to the furthest distance we can observe light years away. The mind-boggling concepts of space and time just shows how much wonder there is out there if we just take the time to look.

I continued my obsessive Agatha Christie reading. I decided after awhile to not continue with the new Hercule Poirot mysteries since I wasn’t happy with the writing. There are just too many books to settle for not enjoying the time reading. Unfortunately, I seem to be reading lots of less enjoyable books lately as you can tell!

Murder, She Said: The Quotable Miss MarpleMurder, She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A collection of quotes by Agatha Christie’s second most famous detective.

 

The Monogram Murders (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries, #1)The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite writers of all time. Hercule Poirot is one of my favorite characters of all time. I’d read all of Christie’s mystery novels and I’ve been going back to her work and characters for comfort this year. I started out with Charles Osborne’s novelizations of three of her plays. And, fittingly for the centennial of the famous detective’s debut, I told myself I’d read Sophie Hannah’s continuation of Poirot stories.

It was great to see to him again but his sidekick was infuriatingly dense. I was kind of hoping he’d be a one-off character but, alas, it seems like he’s going to be the new Hastings/Japp in this series.

The mystery was sort of too convoluted and not in the satisfying way. And there were way too many confessions that weren’t confessions and the actual truth that I was tempted to give up 3/4 of the way through.

I’ll continue reading the rest of the series for Poirot and hope it gets better.

Closed Casket (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries, #2)Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This new series of Hercule Poirot novels is like when a show you love gets revived but all the actors can’t be part of it in the same capacity as its original run. As a fan, you stick with it hoping that it will somehow recapture the magic but two episodes in, you find it dragging and when you keep checking the time, you see you still have a ways to go before finishing this particular episode.

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I just decided to copy and paste my text message to my sister who asked what I thought of the book and have it serve as my book review because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone:

It was an unnecessary read. It kind of dragged in the middle but then it’s another story of a straight white guy with emotional problems trying to save the world and get the girl but at least this time [the author] was trying to diversify [the world he created.]

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Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- November 30, 2020/ November 2020 Review

(Well, I just don’t know what’s going on with WordPress. Sorry for the wonky formatting!)

<img class=”alignnone wp-image-13759″ src=”https://thechroniclesofachildrensbookwriter.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/new-2020-imwayr-button.png&#8221; alt=”New-2020-IMWAYR-Button” width=”500″ height=”500″> Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzwkskc3D7u_UMIj7NsiTwA/videos&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>my YouTube channel.</a>

<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzwkskc3D7u_UMIj7NsiTwA/videos&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><img class=” size-full wp-image-13936 aligncenter” src=”https://thechroniclesofachildrensbookwriter.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/img_20200512_233344_369.jpg&#8221; alt=”IMG_20200512_233344_369″ width=”496″ height=”585″></a>

I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday. My goal is to have 100 episodes by the end of the year. I’m currently at 89!

Since my last post, a new president has been announced. Hooray! The news was definitely something I was grateful for. I felt a weight I didn’t even realize I was carrying lifted off me. And the lack of news (or, tweets) from them except the building of the transitional team has been refreshing. I’m kind of waiting to see what deplorable things the current people in power will do in their final days. I have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty.

And, I’m definitely not one of those people who think “Oh, everything is fixed now.” We still work to do- much more now that we have to clean up all the mess of the last four years. But I have to remind me: one day at a time.

Here in Portland, we’re in a “pause” since Covid-19 cases have been increasing. When this all first started, one of the things I was grateful for was that at least it wasn’t during the gloomy gray days of winter. And, now, we’re heading into that.

I do have to say I’m in another one of my funk since it’s been super busy and stressful at work. And, I was on a roll with sticking to good habits for awhile but I fell off that wagon mid-month. Overall, I have to say November has been bleak.

So far this year, I’ve read 446 books. The breakdown is:
12- Adult novels
16- Adult non-fiction
29- Graphic novels
69- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
302- Picture Books and Board Books
17- Young Adult novels

of which
116- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)
48- Audio Books

A couple of highlights this month- and I was wracking my brain until the last moment to come up with something- were:

1. I applied for a writing scholarship. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m proud of myself for at least putting myself out there. (I just wish I had the energy to actually write more.)

2. Since there’s no traveling this year, I figured it was a  good time for a staycation- or, in this case, an explore-cation. I’d never been to Rocky Butte which is “practically” just up the road from me. It was an easy trek although very circuitous and you get lovely views while on top.

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The following is what I’ve read- and haven’t read- recently.

For some reason, I’ve been trying to “complete” my series reading.

While I wait to get my hands on Alexander McCall Smith’s latest No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel, How to Raise an Elephant, I ended up seeking hard-to-find short stories featuring those characters. I was successful in reading a few- and I’ll include the links in case any of you are fans and have the desire to read them-…

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-“Special Seasonal No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Story”- Parts 1, 2, and 3

“A Precious Christmas”

-“The No. 1 Lady Detective’s New Year Resolutions

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… and am finding it hard to track the following, which is frustrating me!

-Short story from The Cleverness of Ladies– the fact I don’t even know the title is frustrating!

-“Mma Ramotswe and Rra Burns”- The link to the author’s website no longer works!

-The two stories in The Slice of No.1 Celebration Storybook: Fifteen years with Mma Ramotswe

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13343102-the-great-cake-mystery&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”The Great Cake Mystery (Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Cases #1)” src=”https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1333584953l/13343102._SX98_.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13343102-the-great-cake-mystery”>The Great Cake Mystery</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4738.Alexander_McCall_Smith”>Alexander McCall Smith</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/322341414″>2 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I’ve been reading the regular series for years now so it was interesting to see a prequel series aimed for a younger audience. Here, Precious Ramotswe’s love for solving mysteries and helping others is born. It was also nice to see her father after hearing of him for so long!</a>

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15980000-precious-and-the-mystery-of-meerkat-hill&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill (Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Cases, #2)” src=”https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1346511057l/15980000._SX98_.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15980000-precious-and-the-mystery-of-meerkat-hill”>Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4738.Alexander_McCall_Smith”>Alexander McCall Smith</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3654044329″>3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This series, unfortunately, did not catch on. And, I have to admit, I wasn’t really a fan so I guess I wasn’t that invested in reading the entire series. But, I have a “completist” mindset so I had to find and read this after realizing I had read books one and three in the series and not this one. Oddly, enough, I found this to be the strongest of the three!<br /><br />There is a fourth book in the series but that’s oddly hard to find!</a>

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18427388-precious-and-the-mystery-of-the-missing-lion&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion (Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Cases, #3)” src=”https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1378136593l/18427388._SX98_.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18427388-precious-and-the-mystery-of-the-missing-lion”>Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4738.Alexander_McCall_Smith”>Alexander McCall Smith</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1169977959″>3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Young Precious Ramotswe is back in a new adventure. Usually set in her hometown of Botswana, she gets to spend some time with her Aunt who runs a safari camp. There, exciting things are happening as a movie is being filmed featuring a lion actor. It’s up to Precious to help when the animal star suddenly goes missing.<br /><br />Charming text. Unique illustrations. Not too scary situations but plenty of small excitements. My only complaint is that everything ties up too nicely.</a>

And, since I’m always tweaking my To Be Read list up to the last minute, I decided to add a new reading challenge- to read all of Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot novels- to celebrate the centennial of the detective’s debut!

But until then, I ended up reading two unpublished Poirot stories from Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran. They were “The Capture of Cerberus” which was just an alternate version of the short story of the same name included in The Labours of Hercules and “The Incident of the Dog’s Ball” which was a shorter version of what would become Dumb Witness.

And, apparently, there’s another of the detective’s cases floating around that I need to find “Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly.” I wonder how this was recently unearthed? It’s exciting to think how many more lost Christie stories are out there!

Aside from my “completist” reading, I also read other short stories. From Asian Children’s Favorite Stories:  A Treasury of Folktales from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, I read the ones from my home country, “Baka the Cow and Kalabaw the Water Buffalo” and “The Golden Ring.” Maybe no one told me stories growing up but I’d never heard of these! Not that they were particularly interesting.

{This collection was weird because there’s an newer edition of the book with the same title and slightly different subtitle and has less stories.)

<em>Review Notes</em>

***= Liked It

****= Recommended

*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7247248-earl&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>my Goodreads page</a>.

<p style=”text-align:center;”><em><strong>Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!</strong></em></p>

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- November 9, 2020 / October 2020 Review

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel.

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I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday.

Here’s a recent video where I reviewed the newer titles in the Pocket Change Collective series:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jJaQ8BzXf4

My goal is to have 100 videos by the end of the year and I’m currently at 83!

I’m typing this in early November so I won’t go into what may or may have happened already with the election. I’m focusing solely in recapping how October went.

I still haven’t written anything new but I have been submitting to agents and entering contests. While I haven’t had any good news, I’m proud of myself for putting myself out there more than any other years.

I also completed a reading committee commitment I had for the year.

And, I may have forgotten to mention in last month’s recap, that I’m a Round 2 Judge for CYBILS in the Nonfiction categories. I love being part of it.

I realized I completed a few of my reading goals- to read 52 middle grade novels (currently 65, although I do lump early chapter books here as well) and 104 nonfiction picture books (currently 107, although I include other nonfiction formats here as well except adult).

I also read all of the LGBTQ picture books Publishers Weekly shared in this article. You can watch the video reviews on my previous blog post. And, a pleasant surprise to me, an extremely rare (at least for US readers) Agatha Christie short story was included in a recent anthology of hers making me officially complete my Agatha Christie reading challenge!

With that being said, I decided to postpone another one of my reading challenge- to read all of the Filipino books Penguin Classics had published over the years. I just don’t have the focus to do so!

So far this year, I’ve read 422 books. The breakdown is:
10- Adult novels
15- Adult non-fiction
26- Graphic novels
65- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
291- Picture Books and Board Books
15- Young Adult novels

of which
107- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)
48- Audio Books

And, now for some book reviews!

First up, I wanted to share Christine Platt’s wonderful early chapter book series, Ana & Andrew. I was hooked on the first title and sought out the other seven. (Some if not all of them are available in Spanish as well.) Twins Ana and Andrew are your typical kids having lots of fun with their family and friends but what makes the stories unique is that these adventures tend to celebrate something about their Black culture. For example, in A Day at the Museum, their Grandma visits them and surprises them with a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In others, they go to Ghana during their dad’s business trip and they celebrate Carnival when visiting family in Trinidad! Full color illustrations and short chapters with predictable texts in each book will hook readers into the series.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1)The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For fans of the Harry Potter novels looking for another series to sink their teeth into- or for fantasy readers who don’t want to deal with problematic authors- Jessica Townshend’s Nevermoor fits the bill. Morrigan Crow is a cursed child and the only way to save her life is to stowaway to another land and become part of a magical society. But there is a great evil threatening to destroy both worlds and it has a very dangerous connection with Morrigan.

I started reading this thinking the third book was going to be the final installment in the series which isn’t the case. That’s a bad thing because I hate waiting for the next books in a series. But this is a good thing because I don’t have to say goodbye to this world anytime soon!

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #2)Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

School is in session for Morrigan Crow and her friends but not only do they have to worry about grades and homework, they also have to keep Morrigan’s true identity a secret. When someone starts blackmailing them, their already fragile relationships become even more strained. Readers will be once again enchanted by all the wonder- both light and dark- that Jessica Townshend has infused in the world she created.

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan CrowHollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had to immediately start reading- or listening, in my case- this as soon as it came out. Nevermoor is dealing with a mysterious plague that’s causing panic and hysteria. Morrigan Crow, who is still learning to master her power, must decide at what cost to her and those she love if she’s ready to bargain with the devil to find a cure.

And, now, I must wait years for the next book…

I decided to read all of Charles Osborne’s novelizations of Agatha Christie’s plays. One of them I reviewed already but am sharing again plus I’m including my review of his “biographical companion” to her life and works.

Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot, #45.5)Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie and adapted by Charles Osborne. This was originally a play but adapted as a novel featuring Hercule Poirot, one of my favorite literary characters by one of my favorite writers of all time. While it doesn’t come close to Christie’s genius, it was still a nice faithful tribute, staying true to the character. Also, Charles Osborne wasn’t just a random guy chosen to take on such a daunting task to bring back the famous Belgian detective but he had written a very superb and comprehensive biography of the brilliant writer- “The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie”.

The Unexpected GuestThe Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read. Interesting in the sense that I wasn’t sure how to feel about this book. Did I dislike it and, if so, did I dislike it as much as Passenger to Frankfurt? Did I resign myself to liking it for being not at all what I expected but hating it when it kept becoming something else entirely? There were definitely lots of twists and turns which shows how genius Agatha Christie’s mind was but it was too convoluted for my taste.

Spider's WebSpider’s Web by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now this was fun! With all the murder she wrote, people may have a hard time believing that Agatha Christie had a great sense of humor. In this novel adaptation of a play, Charles Osborne was able to capture the farce of it all. Oddly enough, it also contained one of Christie’s darkest plot reveals. I would have loved to see this acted out on stage!

The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie: A Biographical Companion to the Works of Agatha ChristieThe Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie: A Biographical Companion to the Works of Agatha Christie by Charles Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had copies of this book over the years depending on how fanatic I was about my Agatha Christie obsession. I loved it as a resource of her novels (without ruining the surprise of any of them) and all the adaptations of her stories (up to the book’s publication). It also provided a biography of Agatha Christie’s life. A must have for Agatha Christie fans and Charles Osborne really knew his stuff. He also adapted three of her plays into novels.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- November 2, 2020

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel.

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I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday.

Recent Blog Posts:

Earlier this year, Publishers Weekly had an article on LGBTQ+ Books releasing in 2020. I wanted to make sure to read all the picture books, at least, and do video book reviews. I’m pleased to say I completed this reading challenge and I wanted to share the list- and my reviews- with you this week.
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/82962-reading-with-pride-lgbtq-books-2020.html

I’ll start with my latest video.

Were I Not a Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry
The Fighting Infantryman

Plenty of Hugs

Ellen DeGeneres (People of Pride series)

The One and Only Dylan St. Claire

The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish

Pride 1 2 3

Papa, Daddy, and Riley

Be Amazing: A History of Pride

I’m Not a Girl: A Transgender Story

Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness
Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg

Auntie Uncle

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

My Maddy

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- October 26, 2020

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel.

IMG_20200512_233344_369

I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday.

Recent Blog Posts:
Review: The Meaning of Mariah Carey

You can watch my video review of it:

This week’s IMWAYR is a missmash of reviews.

I reviewed Race Cars by Jenny Devenny on the latest episode of Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/ryZZVM5Wge0

I read the original screenplay of her film Glitter: “All that Glitters” by Cheryl L. West. It was fun to read one of the original intentions of the film.

I was pleased that there was a new Agatha Christie collection recently published- Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery– that included a previously unreleased short story (at least here in the US) called “Christmas Adventure” that I’d been wanting to read to officially complete my Agatha Christie reading challenge. And, I read it so my completist personality is very happy! (Last year, they released another collection- The Last Seance: Tales of the Supernatural– with another previously unreleased short story called “The Wife of Kenite” which I also read.)

I accidentally reread an Agatha Christie play adapted into a novel by Charles Osborne.
Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot, #45.5)Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie and adapted by Charles Osborne. This was originally a play but adapted as a novel featuring Hercule Poirot, one of my favorite literary characters by one of my favorite writers of all time. While it doesn’t come close to Christie’s genius, it was still a nice faithful tribute, staying true to the character. Also, Charles Osborne wasn’t just a random guy chosen to take on such a daunting task to bring back the famous Belgian detective but he had written a very superb and comprehensive biography of the brilliant writer- “The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie”.

Another reading challenge I updated was my National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Reading Challenge: Jason Reynolds with the release of Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. Here’s my video review of it:

Here are some of my other video reviews:

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles with illustrations by Bryan Collier

-Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Bigger and Badder Editions (series) by Nathan Hale

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!