Jan 30, 2013

What are you reading Wednesday?

I can't believe this is my first WAYRW for 2013. This is my favourite kind of post to make, I love hearing what everyone else is reading!

I pre-ordered a bunch of books that were released yesterday on January 29th. I bought three, 'Til The World Ends, The Archived, and the newest Flavia de Luce mystery, Speaking From Among The Bones. I think this is some kind of record. I might break it on August 15th though, when two Isabelle Arsenault books will be released, as well as a Stan Rogers picture book (he was a famous Canadian folk singer for those of you non-Canucks) and a new Stella story.

Have you ever pre-ordered multiple books on the same day? What's your record?

I decided to go with the Flavia de Luce book today! I recently read through the first four books and there is so much to savour in each one.  This one is off to an excellent start, much like Flavia's precocious self.

The cover worries me as it looks like one of my favourite supporting characters, Gladys the bicycle, may be injured.

I bought Silverlicious so long ago but we just read it tonight. I loved how they went through so many holidays- and the notes Pinkalicious wrote were pretty cute.

What are you reading this cold Wednesday?

Jan 29, 2013

'Til The World Ends

'Til The World Ends (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall

Published by: Harlequin Luna

Published on: January 29, 2013

Ages: Adult

Provided by the publisher for review through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.



Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa

 Julie Kagawa is a master at short stories. So far she has three series: The Iron Fey, the spinoff Call of the Forgotten (including The Lost Prince which I reviewed), and the Blood of Eden series (including The Immortal Rules which I reviewed). For each series she kindly releases short novellas which feature supporting characters and help fulfill her fans' cravings! She has put all of that experience into crafting a satisfying prequel to The Immortal Rules in Dawn of Eden.

Kylie was in medical school when the  Red Lung virus hit- and she was one of the 16% who survived infection. While doing what she can in a clinic, she meets Ben Archer, who brings the horrors of the outside world to her attention. Kylie and Ben decide to make a run for Ben's family farm, meeting both rabids and the benevolent and mysterious K on the way. I doubt it's a coincidence that Ben shares his surname with the farmers in The Immortal Rules.

Kylie and Ben's journey is fraught with danger, and yet Kagawa draws two strong characters and gives us great background for her Blood of Eden series - my favourite of all she has written. Although her other series are YA, this one is definitely more adult. Only four months until The Eternity Cure is released!

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre
Gold-hearted thief Mari Thistle is just trying to survive and keep her siblings alive when she gets caught up in a dangerous coup being staged by Thorne Goodman. They play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a bossman and his henchmen in a world ravaged by chemical spills and corporate cronyism. Mari is the yin to Thorne's yang and their chemistry is palpable. This series reminds me a lot of Caragh O'Brien's Birthmarked. The problem is, Aguirre is a little too good at a cliffhanger. I don't know if there will be a continuation of this story but I really hope there is, and I'll be biting my nails until I know.

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall
The sun's power lead to a shock that changed the earth and its atmosphere. Aftershocks in the form of dangerous sun storms still threaten humanity. When exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation, people either become ill and die, or become Kinetics. Sarah and Ian have both become Kinetics, and now they need to fight a rogue government agent for their freedom.  Clunky exposition and irregular pacing can't hide the likeability of Sarah or the potential this idea has. This is like X-Men but the powers are more mental than physical. Can Sarah and Ian find others who are trying to save the world?

Until now, Kagawa's novellas have been released as standalone e-novellas. Combining one with short stories from another bestselling science fiction author and an up-and-comer is a great way to introduce the reader to other similar reads.  Here's hoping this isn't a one-off idea.

Jan 27, 2013

Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2013

These are the children's books I am looking forward to over the next few months. What are you waiting for?


Red Kite, Blue Kite  (January 22, 2013) by Ji-Li Jiang and Greg Ruth
I think that this book about a boy during the Cultural Revolution in China will be fascinating.


Where Do You Look? (February 12, 2013) by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
This looks like a great introduction to the intricacies of homonyms  in English.


In Lucia's Neighborhood   (March 1, 2013) by Pat Shewchuk and Mark Colek
This looks like a great book to help my son understand Grade 1 social studies themes about citizenship.

Which is Round? Which is Bigger?  (March 1, 2013) by Mineko Mamada

I am excited for this translation from the Japanese original! 

Sorting through Spring (March 12, 2013) by Lizann Flatt and Ashley Barron

This sweet-looking tale of math in nature will look great on my kids' shelves. 


Mr. Flux (April 1, 2013) by Kyo Maclear and Matte Stephens
I love every word Kyo Maclear has ever published- and I cannot imagine that this will make me less fond of her work.

The Dark (April 2, 2013) by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen 
The heavyweight author and illustrator together? You can't go wrong!

Queenie: One Elephant's Story (June 11, 2013) by Corinne Fenton and Peter Gouldthorpe
The famous elephant incident is sure to spur ethical discussions.

Count the Monkeys (June 25, 2012) by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell
This preschool math book looks adorable!

Brush of the Gods (June 25, 2012) by Lenore Look and Meilo So
My son will start learning kanji, the Japanese version of Chinese characters, in April, and this will be a great history of the characters in English.


Once Upon a Northern Night (August 1, 2013) by Jean E. Pendizwol and Isabelle Arsenault
I love rosy cheeked characters and Isabelle Arsenault, so the cover is making me very happy already.

Making Contact: Marconi Goes Wireless (August 6, 2013) by Monica Kulling and Richard Rudnicki
I am looking forward to the latest in Kulling's series about amazing inventors.

If there is a picture book you are eagerly anticipating I would love it if you added to the Goodreads List of Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2013. My picks are a little lonely at the moment!

Jan 26, 2013

Toads on Toast

Toads on Toast (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by:  Linda Bailey

Illustrated by: Colin Jack

Published by: Kids Can Press, Ltd.

Published on: September 1, 2012

Ages:  3+

Linda Bailey is the author of the series about the mischevious mutt, Stanley. Stanley's adventures are all about how to get into and out of trouble- and Bailey is never afraid to go a little darker than most picture books would.

In this book the ennui-ridden Fox gets new culinary inspiration from some new cookbooks (the bookstore owner giving Fox the stinkeye for trying before buying is a favourite scene). This means he's off to find some young toads for dinner. But young toads mean one thing -  a protective mama toad. Will Fox get his delicious dinner? Will Mamma Toad sacrifice herself to save her alieneseque young? There's real tension before we get the answers.

The inclusion of a recipeat the back (toad is luckily scratched off the ingredient list) is a great addition, and my kids had fun cutting holes in the bread for our version of Toad in the Hole.

This is the thirty-second book I have reviewed for the Sixth Canadian Book Challenge

Jan 21, 2013

Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World

Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Jacqueline K. Ogburn

Illustrated by: Chris Raschka

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Published on: January 3, 2012

Ages: 3+

What's your endearment? I call adult friends hon and darling, and my kids are chibis or, inspired by a certain picture book, Stinky Face.

Both my kids and I love to hear what endearments other families have. How fabulous is this book? It teaches us just that, in a trip around the world. Sometimes simple is best, and this is really just a simple, quality book that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I love the way the different languages are incorporated- they use the local characters, whether Hindi varnamala or Slovak alphabet, then an English pronunciation guide, and then a translation. I love that Ogburn included all those different characters! An extra bonus is the geographical attention paid, as Ogburn makes it clear that some countries have a number of different languages (like Eithiopia)

My son loves that some Chilean parents call their babies "little fatty" (and who doesn't love those fat pre-crawling thighs?) and my daughter was quite taken with the Finnish endearment "hug bunny". I like them all. :)

Raschka's diverse cast of kids and parents really adds to the endearing qualities of the book. So many different people with all colours and shapes of hair - and every single one is cute.

This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by The LibrarYAn.

Jan 20, 2013

The Beautiful Mystery

The Beautiful Mystery  (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Louise Penny

Published by: St. Martin's Press

Published on: August 28, 2012

Ages: Adult

I think I may have been the last Canadian to know about Louise Penny. After The Beautiful Mystery came out last summer, I noticed it was on the Globe & Mail Canadian bestseller list as well as the New York Times list. I figured that meant it was probably available to me on Kindle. That sounds like a bad reason to buy a book, but beggars can't be choosers and it is so hard to get adult new releases from Canada abroad. Luckily children's books are easier to get ahold of.

When I got this book I read 2 pages in and decided I needed to read the rest of the series first, and I am really glad I did. I started with Still Life and read through them all.

The first book of this mystery series starts us off kind of like Desperate Housewives, but much better. A recently departed village woman guides us to her friends and the investigation of her murder by Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. It is like a traditional whodunit in  a tiny English village or manor estate, where all of the players are known to each other. After a while you start to fall in love with the village and the people in it, from the B&B owners to the grumpy old poet. 

The interesting thing about this village is it is an English-speaking one, in Québec. This means that although it is linguistically accessible to Canadians from outside Québec, the people within it are the minority in their province. This is something that I can relate to, being an English-speaker and now minority despite the privilege of my native language when I lived in Canada. To be honest, the plight of the Anglo minority in la belle province has never been something I've thought about before. Penny does an excellent job of weaving in history, cultural tensions, and creating so many different viewpoints of the same issues through the distinct voices of her characters. 

Despite how much love I have for the village of Three Pines, my two favourites in this series are when Inspector Gamache is outside the village investigating other issues. Bury Your Dead, the sixth in the series, takes place in Québec city while Gamache, on leave from work after a disastrous incident occurs, sticks his head into a centuries-old mystery involving Samuel de Champlain, while working through personal and work issues. That book was just breathtaking, and it was amazing the way Penny pulled all those strings of history together.

The Beautiful Mystery is set in a remote monastery only accessible by boat. Despite its remoteness, Gamache's family and past are catching up with him and with his colleague Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

The monastery is famous for a recording they made of the monks chanting. The money and fame prove challenging to these few monks who are squirreled away from secular life. Their beautiful monastery's foundations are cracking, both literally and figuratively. Gamache and Beauvoir enter the monastery to solve the murder of one of these monks, but also end up pondering their own relationship as well as the events that have lead them to this point in time.

Once again, Penny is able to weave in threads of history with observations on the current world. If the slightest bit of fame and money can tear apart this band of brothers, what must it do to reality tv stars? It's also pretty amazing the way she can portray a person's passion for religion without being preachy. Somehow she has gotten everyone's view on the church into the book, from the man who dedicates his life to it to the atheist, without making anyone look wrong.

More than any other book in the Gamache series this one ends on a cliffhanger, however. After being able to skip right through the first 8 books it is tough to wait a year for the next book, How The Light Gets In.

This is the thirty-first book I have reviewed for the Sixth Canadian Book Challenge

Jan 14, 2013



Written by: Coleen Paratore

Illustrated by: Clare Fennell

Published by: Little Pickle Press

Published on: July 16, 2012

Ages: 3+

When I bought BIG, I wasn't really sure what it was about. I was scrolling through the Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book nominations and my daughter made me stop on this. She chose it for the bright beautiful cover (and the button sun, she loves that button sun!). I knew nothing but the title so I thought that maybe it was about size comparisons or measurements.

Both size comparisons and measurements feature in the background of Fennell's mixed media illustrations, but the message is that it's not the size of a body, it's the size of one's heart that matters. Small actions can be big when they have a big impact, and anyone is capable of a big action.

I was so pleased that my daughter picked out a perfect companion book for the first grade social studies curriculum I am using. One of the main objectives is to find one's place in their world, the first step toward global citizenship. As Paratore says, "Big is being a valuable member of your family, school, and neighborhood."

Fennell's characters give lots of good ideas of acts of kindness that kids can do to be truly big at heart. Those little acts add up to a lot of change in the world! We were happy to see lots of diversity in the kids featured in this book too, there are so few picture books with kids that look like mine.

Check out the adorable book trailer too!

This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by 100 Scope Notes.


Jan 12, 2013

Kidlit Business

I just signed up for the 2013 Comment Challenge, hosted by MotherReader and Lee of I'm Here, I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? This seems to be an annual tradition and it is my second time in on the action. I had a blast last year and I cannot wait to connect with old kidlit friends and make new ones this year too!

What is the comment challenge? Basically, you pledge to comment on 5 kidlit-related blogs a day for 21 days, the time it takes to make a new habit stick. See more info here and sign up at Lee's blog!

Also, I am brainstorming ideas for what to do for International Book Giving Day, coming up soon on February 14th.  How are you going to participate? Have you signed up yet?

Last, but definitely not least, I am knee-deep in discussions for Round 2 of the Nonfiction Picture Book award for the Cybils. Have you seen the shortlist yet? Somehow we intrepid second rounders have to pick a winner from these awesome books! We're not the only panel that has a shortlist that features two books from the same contributor (Melissa Sweet in our case)- can you spot the others? I always wonder how book creators feel when their products are competing against each other. Maybe like I would if Canada played Japan in women's soccer!

Hope you are participating in one of these great events too!

Jan 10, 2013

Can I Play Too?

Can I Play Too? (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Mo Willems

Published by: Disney Book Group

Published on: June 8, 2010

Ages: 2+

Happy Year of the Snake! Japan uses the Chinese zodiac as well, although our new year starts on Jan. 1, not at the lunar new year, which begins later in the year (February 10 this year!). Mostly that just means putting cute animals on our New Year's cards though!

I love seasonal reads, and this one, though offbeat, fits the bill. A snake joins best friends Elephant and Piggie in this edition of their adventures.

The Elephant and Piggie series is one of the best early reader series out there. Like all the others in the series, Can I Play Too? is funny, engaging, and shows realistic dilemmas and friendships. It works as both a read-aloud for younger kids and as a first reader for kindergarten and early elementary students.

Elephant and Piggie are playing when they meet a snake, who wants to join them. But it can be hard to play with a snake, not because Willems' adorable version is poisonous or prone to asphyxiation of others, but because snakes don't have hands!

But that won't stop this pair of friends, they brainstorm and come up with a way to play with their new friend.

My son read it to us kindly and enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed having it read to us. This is definitely a great early reader!

Jan 4, 2013

Poetry Friday: Noisy Poems for a Busy Day


Written by: Robert Heidbreder

Illustrated by: Lori Joy Smith

Published by: Kids Can Press

 Published on: September 1, 2012

 Ages: 4+

Provided by the publisher for review through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.


It's been so long since I blogged my list of the best picture books of 2012- it's been a long time since I took such a long break from blogging, and I missed it! We had a great Christmas and now we are in the Japanese holiday season- a long stretch of winter holidays over New Year's, which has the food and family of Christmas in the west. We are lucky that we get both but it's a little overwhelming!

 My son who has the best immune system of anyone I've ever met and who has never missed a day of kindergarten for sickness in 3 years, got sick immediately after hospitals and clinics closed for the New Year's holiday. "Hospitals close?" I can hear you non-Japanese residents saying in disbelief. Yes. There is a system in my city of one of each type of clinic being open on a holiday, at least. But still, it's a bad time of year to be ill.  Plus I need to keep lovely daughter away from him so she went on her first sleepover and has been relegated to being stuck outside for the last week. Lucky duck!

 To bring the outdoors in to my son I read this lovely book of poems. We have been Robert Heidbreder fans since reading Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, which we loved for its movement-inspiring rhythms. 

 Noisy Poems for a Busy Day captures that joy of action as well as the wonder of even the most humble of every day actions such as teeth brushing. My favourite poem in the collection, Cloud Watch, is about doing nothing but staring at the sky.

 Heidbreder brings us through a typical preschooler's day, from morning to bedtime, stopping at all the fun parts of the day. My children liked the poem Dinner Time best- I'm sure you can see why!

 Scrunchy munch-up. /Sloppy slurp. /Swibble down. /Big belch-BURP!/  "What do you say?"/ "Excuse me!"

 Lori Joy Smith's mouthless children are adorable and her backgrounds, especially the lovely clouds, bring a perfect sense of whimsy to this book of verse.

 This is my contribution to Poetry Friday, being hosted this week by Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme