What I'm Reading

This week I finished All the Light We Cannot See. It was AMAZING!!

I won't give any spoilers but will say that the characters that I thought would suffer a tragic demise did not. And that made me happy. There were quite a few times when my eyes got a little wet, and I had to stop reading and catch my breath. Excellent story telling.

And then in a 2 day period I read and finished The Book of Speculation.

This debut novel by Erika Swyler was breathtaking!! After my first day of reading, that night when I went to bed, I actually had a dream about Simon Watson. I have NEVER had a dream about a fictional book character before. I could not shake the story from my mind. The next day I pretty much binge read. I just had to know more about these characters and the ties that bound them all together.  Simon is a librarian who in the beginning of the book gets downsized. 

The Book of Speculation is a log from a traveling carnival dating back to the 1700's. Simon gets sent the book from a bookseller who somehow figures out that a name in the book was Simon's grandmother and through some research tracks down Simon and send him the book. Simon discovers that the book does in fact contain information about his ancestors, which calls his attention to a freaky coincidence: generations of circus mermaids (related along the female line) all died by drowning on July 24th, which is the date his mother, a former circus mermaid, also drowned when he was a child. 

Side note: Not mermaids like this:

But are "mermaids" in the sense that they can hold their breath for a really long time and swim around sexily underwater in clingy white dresses. Oh and apparently can't drown until a seemingly random July 24th. 

Okay, for lack of spoilers, I'll stop there. But I loved this book.

Once I was finished with The Book of Speculation I decided to try out some Zombie lit. I chose Zone One by Colson Whitehead. 

From the publisher:

In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. 

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. 

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world. 

And then things start to go wrong. 

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral, Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.

 

Blah blah blah. Sounds great, right? I think I made it 3 chapters before I had enough. Done. Enough. Maybe I need to give it a little bit longer, but I honestly don't have time to read bad books. Yell

So today I started a book that had been on my TBR (to be read) shelf for a few months, and it finally became available.

 

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica started off reminding me of The Girl on the Train, which I did not love. But its switched gears and seems to be picking up steam and I think it holds a lot of promise. I'm sure I will have it finished by next Wednesday. 

 

What have you been reading??

What I'm Reading

I've been reading a lot and it's been GREAT!! I love a good story and I've got some fantastic ones for you this week!!

I read and totally loved The Martian by Andy Weir.

The story is simple: A manned mission to Mars, Ares 3, has to evacuate the red planet in a big hurry thanks to a dust-storm. Mark Watney, resident smart-ass, botanist and mechanical engineer, gets lost in the ensuing chaos. The rest of the crew makes the tough choice and leaves Mars without him. They think he is dead. Mark, left to fend for himself, deals with life on Mars with no obvious way to survive long enough for NASA to rescue him.

Watney is a Space MacGuyver. No joke.

And his sarcastic sense of humor had me laughing out loud in situations that were really quite dire.

The movie adaptation of The Martian comes out this fall and I'm so excited to see it!!

 

Okay, so what else have I been reading?

I've been reading Big Little Lies by one of my favorite authors Liane Moriatry.

I'm only 8 chapters in and she's doing one heck of a job setting up what I know will be a huge plot twist. She does a very good job with doing that. We're dealing with a murder, that much I know. And a bunch of Kindergarten moms ranging in age from 24-40. She's working on building character development so I'm learning all about what makes these women tick. Of course secrets are going to come out, and then the shocking truth will be revealed. 

The kids and I have also been reading Serafina and the Black Cloak. Actually Haley has already finished it.

The rest of us are about 50% finished with it. It's a quirky story about a girl who lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate. Serafina finds out that she's not who she thought she was, and she is befriended by George Vanderbilt's nephew Braeden (who is a fictional character.)

It's an okay story. The middle part (which is where we are now) is really dragging on for me, but the kids don't seem to mind, so it's all good.

 

Have you read The Martian or have you seen the trailer for the movie? Check the trailer out below and let me know your thoughts!

Ninja books for kids

Ninjas are as popular as ever with kids.  The Lego Ninjago series is a big hit in our libraries, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still have a following, (especially in my house, Ella LOVES the TMNT.)  Here is a list of picture book and juvenile fiction ninja titles published most recently:

 

 Ninja Bunny by Jennifer Gray Olson. 

A little rabbit tries to follow the rules in order to become a "super awesome ninja," but discovers that his book is wrong about one very important thing.

 

 My Grandma's a Ninja by Todd Tarpley ; illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou. 

When Ethan's grandma suggests they take a zip line to school, Ethan realizes that his grandma is a little different. In fact, she's a ninja! Ethan is soon the hit of the school when his grandma drops from the ceiling at show-and-tell, and teaches the kids karate moves and how to do backflips in slow motion. But when his grandma deflates his team's soccer ball, everyone is upset--including Ethan. Why can't he just have a regular grandma? But when Ethan tries out his new karate moves during the championship game, he's happy that his grandma isn't ordinary.

 

 Little Kunoichi, the Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida. 

Little Kunoichi, a young ninja in training, is frustrated. Inspired by tiny Chibi Samurai's practice and skills, she works harder than ever--and makes a friend. Together, they show the power of perseverance, hard work, and cooperation when they wow the crowd at the Autumn Festival.

 

 Dojo Daycare by Chris Tougas. 

One morning, six young ninjas are dropped off at Dojo Daycare. As soon as their ninja moms and ninja dads have left: KABOOM! KAPOW! The ninja boys and girls kick, push, punch, and quickly turn the place upside down in a full-blown ninja riot. Try as he might, the hapless master can't control the children, and the disaster plays out through lunchtime and story time. No one heeds the master's repeated mantra of honor, kindness, and respect-- until one little ninja steps up and rallies his ninja pals to undo all that they have done, just in time for pickup.

 

 Ninja Boy Goes to School by Nathan D. Wilson. 

A little boy explains what it's like to go to school--when you're a ninja.

 

 Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!by Todd Tuell ; illustrated by Tad Carpenter. 

Illustrations and simple, rhyming text reveal a young ninja who uses his special moves to sneak up on the family dog, take a cookie from his brother, and escape Granny's kisses, but before day is done he meets his match.

 

 Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz. 

In this twist on "Little Red Riding Hood," a certain wolf trains to be a ninja in order to catch his prey, but he is not the only one mastering a martial art.

 

 Ninja!by Arree Chung. 

A ninja must be strong, courageous, and silent! He creeps through the house on a secret mission. There may be obstacles! But have no fear--a true ninja can overcome all challenges.

 

But not only primary readers are interested in Ninja stories! Check out these great titles for the older readers in your life!

 Get Mooned by Kevin Serwacki and Chris Pallace.

Best friends and ninjas-in-training Joey and Johnny are sent on a special mission to investigate their rival ninja school's use of advanced technological weapons.

 

 The Sweetest Heist in Historyby Octavia Spencer ; illustrations by Vivienne To. 

On a trip to New York City to visit Randi's aunt, the ninja detective trio explores Randi's old neighborhood in Brooklyn, where they uncover an art heist involving FabergeĢ eggs. Except no one will believe them. So they'll just have to catch the criminals in the act.

 

 The Ninja Librarians : the Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey.

Dorrie and her brother Marcus accidently open a portal to Petrarch's Library, where they discover a secret society of warrior librarians who travel in time, protecting the world's greatest thinkers from torture and death for sharing knowledge and ideas.

 

So what do you think?? Any of these ninja books sound like something your child would like to read??

Special thanks to HCPLC for helping to curate this great list!