WWW Wednesdays – August 3 2016

WWW Wednesdays – August 3 2016

A weekly meme revived by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I’m about halfway through two non-fiction books right now – Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano a.k.a. Maria from Sesame Street. It is her autobiography and I am listening to it on my drive to work, which means it is lasting a long time since my commute is all of 15 minutes. She reads the book and I think that adds a lot more since she is telling the story. It is not quite what I expected, a very different kind of autobiography, she is telling it from her point of view as a child/teen so you don’t get any nostalgia or side notes about how life in the 1960s New York City compares to life today. It is all very matter of fact, the way a kid would tell their story.

The other is the latest by Mary Roach – Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. She tries to keep it as light as she can, but when it comes down to it, even though she is avoiding talking about weapons and the actual act of fighting, so much of the science around war is about survival and even discussions about sweating eventually lead to a conversation about horrible ways to die while in the line of duty. It is still fascinating, and I think she tries her best to inject some humor where she can, but it is hard to separate the reality of what happens to these soldiers after she talk with them about diarrhea while on a sniper mission.

Recently Finished:

Filmish: a graphic journey through film by Edward Ross was a fantastic primer on film and film history and film studies. When I first picked up this book, I wondered why Ross didn’t just make a documentary, but then as I read through, I realized it would have been impossible for him to get the rights to all the films he cites in the book. If you love movies, if you love that art of movies and love to sit and think about a film long after the screen has gone dark, this quick read is one you won’t want to miss.

Up Next:

I have SO MANY BOOKS on my desk at work and my temptation is to always reach for the graphic novels first because they take less time to read. I never factor into this equation that I have EVEN MORE graphics on request so by the time I finish these, a new one will be on my desk, pushing the prose novels down the line yet again.
Last month I read Relish by Lucy Knisley and I really enjoyed it so I requested French Milk, one of her earlier publications. It appearedon my desk today, on special loan from another library system so it gets bumped to the top of the pile.

I have been a big BKV fan since I read Y: The Last Man so many years ago and I was so thrilled to see We Stand On Guard on the new book cart at the library, so I immediately snatched it up.

So what are you reading?

What I Read In July

Been awhile since I did one of these! Sorry for abandoning this poor blog! I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting here. Lots of good books, movies and television I’ve been enjoying.

GrootGroot by Jeff Loveness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that a comic book with Groot as the main character would have so many feels?? Great story, fantastic art, and some touching moments.❤

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The Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television SeriesThe Art and Making of Hannibal: The Television Series by Jesse McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love and adore this show SO MUCH. If you are a fan of the ‘Hannibal’ series and always wanted a closer look at the “death tableau” left behind by the season one and two killers, you will probably enjoy this book a little more than I did. I had to use my hand to cover up the images while I read the text as I am a total wuss and easily grossed out.

That being said, the book is a nice addition to your collection if you are a Fannibal BUT if you are a Fannibal, you have probably watched all the special features on your blu-rays and you know pretty much everything that is written in the book. I didn’t find many surprises in here and since it only covers the first two seasons, I found myself wondering what the actors and writers would say about where Season 3 went and thoughts on a (hopefully) fourth season arc.

It’s a nice coffee table book, though you wouldn’t want to leave it out for anyone uninitiated to flip through, because of the graphic images and spoilers.

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Highly Illogical BehaviorHighly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I almost want to give this book an extra star for all the pop culture references, but at the same time I want to subtract that star for that very reason – I’m wondering how many 17 year olds out there would identify with the ST:TNG obsessed kids in this book. And with the throw away lines about ‘Community’ and ‘Adventure Time’, I worry that it is already dated only a few months after being released.

I did enjoy the book though, I liked the story a lot. I actually think it would make a good discussion title for a high school book club – talk about all the different issues each of the kids faces and how they are handling them etc.

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Relish: My Life in the KitchenRelish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love books like this – snippets of memories, totally fun, it’s pretty much like reading a personal blog. It made me hungry and I’m definitely going to try a few of the recipes she included!

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Camp MidnightCamp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great read for the older elementary and early middle school set, all about fitting in and finding your place but not in a heavy handed eye-rolling kind of way.

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What did you read this month?

What I watched in July

What I watched in July

Hot summer days means more movies than the rest of the year. Sitting in the nice cool basement of the house with the lights low is the only way to beat the heat. Nice mix of first time viewings and rewatches here.

Show Me a Hero
Historical dramas are tough, even when you are doing a miniseries and especially when you are dealing with more than just one person’s story. But I do applaud the filmmakers behind this miniseries for trying their best and creating an engaging enough piece that I just watched the whole thing over the course of a few days.

The saddest/scariest thing is that these issues still exist in our country, these attitudes still prevail in the way we think about low-income housing and the people who use it. Even though it takes place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, if you told me this was happening in 2016, I would not have blinked an eye, except to hold back the tears.

Sisters
I saw this movie in theaters and had a lot of fun laughing with a crowded room of people. I don’t feel like it was quite as good the second time, maybe because the shock value had worn off of some of the gags, but I still found myself giggling a lot. You cannot deny the power of Poehler/Fey! And who knew that John Cena was so freakin’ hilarious!

If you get this on blu-ray, make sure you watch ALL THE OUTTAKES! There are some great moments with Fey and Cena. That man has a career in improv if that whole wrestling thing doesn’t pan out.

Finding Nemo
Had to rewatch this classic before heading out to see the sequel. It still holds up well and I love it to pieces. Everyone is cast so perfectly.

Finding Dory
While I was blown away by the sequels to ‘Toy Story’, Pixar’s recent returns haven’t left me as enamored. It was fun to go back and hang out with Marlin, Nemo, and Dory again while making some new friends but this one didn’t quite hit the same level as Nemo for me. But it was close and much better fair than anything else in the theater at that moment, especially for families!

Zootopia
This movie was so well done on so many levels. It managed to stay light and fun while dealing with some very real issues of prejudice and stereotyping. Using animals might seem cute, but it also gave a great way to show inequality and other obstacles while managing not to be heavy handed (pawed?).

Brooklyn
So, after watching a movie like ‘Zootopia’ that was relatively edgy for family fair, I found the well-reviewed ‘Brooklyn’ to be the safest movie I have seen in a long time (yes, that INCLUDES Finding Nemo and Dory!). While the movie was well acted and well directed etc. there is just absolutely nothing new. No surprises, nothing bad happens to this naive Irish girl who makes it on her own in the U.S.. It just made me want to watch ‘An American Tail’…which I think might have had more controversial issues in it!

A League of Their Own
We ran this at the library and had lots of “Oh that is such a great movie!” comments when I told people about it. It really does hold up pretty well. One of the best sports movies I’ve seen and I still find it inspiring.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It had been a LONG time since I had watched this one. It is so freakin’ weird. I still prefer it to the mess that was the Tim Burton movie. Though there is something hilarious about watching Charlie attempt to force Grandpa Joe to take his money to buy tobacco. Still, classic. I love Gene Wilder.

10 Cloverfield Lane
I still can’t decide if I love or hate the last 20 minutes of this movie. The rest of the movie was great, edge of your seat tension, waiting to find out what would happen next.

Also, whoever designed the DVD box art should be fired. The back of the box contained MANY spoilery images! COME ON!

The Sure Thing
I hadn’t seen this one since my John Cusack obsession in 1999 was in full swing (thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank, one of my all time favorites). Andy mentioned it on his blog a few months ago and let me borrow the blu-ray. I feel like it holds up really well, even if it is a bit cliche. I know I was laughing out loud at a few moments.

Ghostbusters (1984)
CLASSIC! Still funny. Though the effects look extra cheesy on a blu-ray LOL. But that doesn’t matter because no one watches this movie for the ghosts, it’s all about the guys.

Voltron (2016)
Not a movie, this is actually a new NETFLIX series, only 11 episodes though and surprisingly solid! Great voice acting and the story was engaging. I had never seen any of the original show so I have nothing to compare it to on that front.

Ghostbusters (2016)
This was such a pleasant surprise! I won’t lie, I assumed it was going to be bad. Not because of the all female leads, but just because I felt the odds were against it. I’m not a huge Paul Feig fan and tend to find his humor too gross. BUT he managed (along with Katie Dippold) to keep this movie about as clean as the original (in other words, most of the dirty jokes will fly over the kids heads). On top of that, they managed to create a fresh, new world with new characters rather than just trying to copy+paste the original into 2016. I left the theater with a big ol’ grin on my face, already thinking of things I hoped would be in the second movie. Best surprise of the summer!

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What I Read in April

What I Read in April

Not too shabby this month, all things considered (especially since the first week of the month I was out of town and not as much reading happened as I had hoped)

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book though I think having just seen the movie made it a bit easier to digest the “science speak” that happens a lot. Andy Weir’s writing reminded me of Michael Crichton, blending science fact with a little bit of science fiction. I feel like I learned a bit about surviving in a desolate Martian wasteland and had fun too!

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Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall!Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall! by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great book to suggest to fans of ‘Captain Underpants’. I mean, there are killer toilets so half of the book are the evil robots trying to convince Rocket to use the bathroom.

So, yeah, if that is your thing. Or your kid’s thing, there ya go.

Not Angleberger’s greatest, but perfect for the target audience.

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PaxPax by Sara Pennypacker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was beautiful and I’m not even referring to Jon Klassen’s illustrations (which were nice touches, scattered through-out). It was the language of this story, it flowed in such a way that it felt like an old story even though it was brand new. It is a story you will want to read twice, once for the surface tale of Peter and Pax looking for each other and then again for the story within the story, about growing up, moving on, and that we are all looking for something.

The ending is bittersweet but not as sad as it could have been (I know about halfway through I was getting concerned).

This book is for elementary and middle school readers who want a story with emotional depth.

Is it just me or are we entering the age of the great Middle Grade novel?

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To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path AdventureTo Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is ridiculous and I love it!

Whether you know everything there is to know about Hamlet or you maybe read it once when you were in high school, there is plenty to love about this silly retelling.

North does give you little *clues* as to which choices match the original story, though that doesn’t necessarily guarantee this book will take the same paths.

I was laughing out loud as I read this during my lunch break (note: this is a hard book to read during lunch break because you’re flipping back and forth between all of the 700+ pages) and even though I am marking it as “done” I have barely scratched the surface of the endings and paths that I can take. But I think i will return this copy to the library and purchase it for myself later on down the road because this is a keeper!

Can’t wait for the next book, Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure

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Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-StarsNathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars by Nathan Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: Nathan Hale books are DEAR to me, as in I Drop Everything And Read them as soon as they land on my desk. They satisfy the history nerd in me in a way that no other series has. I am in my mid 30s and I have learned more history than I have ever forgotten reading these books.

I grew up on the east coast of the US so my knowledge of Texas history is that Texas exists. The end. I’m sure someone who grew up in Texas might have a different view of this book, but for me it was all knew and fascinating, if a bit insane.

Get this into the hands of any kid who wants to learn about history. Sneak it into the hands of those kids that say they want a war book or a book with fighting (there’s plenty of it but it’s history so it’s good for them). Slip it into the pile of graphic novels that your comic book readers ask for.

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Amulet: Firelight (Amulet, #7)Amulet: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OH MY GOSH THE FEELS!
(completely different feels than Pax, but still, FEELS)
I read this book in a single sitting and now I have to endure the long wait for volume 8…UGH! NO!

Part of me wants the series to end so I can know what is happening. But another part is enjoying the adventure so much, I want it to go forever.

I need to start from the beginning though, it has been so long since I read the first few books.

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I also read Lafcadio Hearn’s “The Faceless Ghost” and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel but the GoodReads review wasn’t pasting right.

WWW Wednesday, April 27 2016

WWW Wednesday, April 27 2016

HEY! Bet you’d thought I had forgotten about this poor blog? I haven’t posted in awhile, even though I have still been reading, watching, and blogging in my spare time.

And there’s nothing like a weekly meme to encourage you to update, yeah? Just stumbled upon this one while browsing my GoodReads. I’ve seen other weekly reading memes, but they seemed to be for people who read must faster than I do and who think about what they will read next in a much more organized fashion. As a librarian, I tend to have a giant stack of books next to me at all times, ranging from children’s literature to teen comic books to adult non-fiction. And just when I think I know what I’m going to read next, that other book I have been waiting for shows up on my desk and I have to drop everything because I must read it right now.

This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words if you wish to join in the fun!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading: I have a bookmark about halfway through The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller which, while technically a children’s non-fiction book, I am really enjoying and is just as long as any of the adult books about the Bordens. I really like how Miller is presenting the case, I don’t know which side she is on but I don’t feel like she is 100% convinced that Lizzie is behind it.

I also just started To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee because I somehow never read it in high school and I feel like I should. I’m only one chapter in though.

What did you recently finish reading?: Firelight (Amulet #7) by Kazu Kibuishi and oh my gosh, this series just keeps getting better! I did not see that twist coming. This is one of the best fantasy/sci-fi graphic series out there for kids, I’m always recommending it. I just wish it didn’t take so long for the books to come out! UGH!

What do you think you’ll read next?:
Just had a copy of To Be or Not To Be: A chooseable path adventures by Ryan North, William Shakespeare and YOU! and started flipping through it and I am laughing out loud so this might end up jumping to the top of my To-Be-Read pile.

So, what are you reading?

Books read in February

I could go on and on about these Star Wars books for kids that are just SO well done. I might go on about them later in their own post but for now, they will just be mixed in with all these reviews. I did well this month!

Saga, Volume 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh Saga, you are so messed up, I just can’t even. But as you have been so wrong/right since the first issue, it is almost comforting in twisted way. As usual, I couldn’t put down this volume until I finished it and then I was sad it was over again. Lots of twists and turns I did not see coming!

I can’t wait for this series to be over so I can sit and read it all the way through as I am sure I miss so much when it comes to the story/foreshadowing etc but only picking these up every few months.

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Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun middle-grade read that fills in the story between ESB and RotJ for Princess Leia. The “tie-in” to Force Awakens is pretty slim (the prologue/epilogue, only a few pages, make the connection). I thought Castelluccci and Fry captured the voice of characters we already know and did a good job adventuring around the galaxy far far away.

Definitely recommended for Star Wars fans. I hope there are more Princess Leia adventures some day! I would love to see some stories that take place prior to A New Hope (though I know the ‘Rebels’ TV series is using a lot of that time period and Leia makes at least one cameo)

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The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

FINALLY finished this today. I had it as an audiobook and my commute is fairly short now, plus with the week of snow I didn’t get to listen. I’m happy I listened to it rather than continued to read, I think the voices really brought some of the stories to life. The collection gathered stories that had been previously published elsewhere. They weren’t perfect, but it was a great variety and showed King’s range and that he’s still got it.

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Descender, Vol. 1: Tin StarsDescender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of Jeff Lemire, but it was Dustin Nguyen’s artwork that really made this book perfect. In a story about a strange attack by gigantic robots, Nguyen’s gorgeous style (reminiscent of watercolor paintings) keeps the story grounded. I loved this first book and cannot wait to see where the story goes! I already adore Tim-21 and I want to see him save the galaxy!

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last DaysMs. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite volume since the first one, lots of forward momentum with the story and the characters, especially Kamala. I can’t wait to see what happens in Volume 5! Honestly, the weakest thing was the “bonus” comic which was a team up with Spider-Man. It was cute but after the awesome that was the rest of the book, it felt a little out of place.

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Star Wars: Princess LeiaStar Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this comic, far more than I expected. Mark Waid does a wonderful job keeping the action and adventure of the films in this comic, along with creating a good side mission for Princess Leia. I liked that it didn’t depend too much on inside jokes and winks to the rest of the Star Wars universe, which I find can sometimes derail this kinds of collections.

A pleasant surprise! I hope we get more stories of Leia’s solo missions (NOT Solo missions…that’s the realm of fanfic!)

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A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars: Episode IV)A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While not as strong as Angleberger’s RotJ novelization (and that may have more to do with the source material than anything else) Bracken’s take on ANH was a really fun read. This would also be a great book for kids to read and then discuss the different ways to tell a story, especially when it comes to film versus writing.

Bracken’s approach was to break down the story of Star Wars to each of the main trio’s point of view. The first part is all told from Princess Leia’s side, with her getting the quest to take the Death Star plans to General Kenobi and being captured by the Empire. Bracken pulls from not just the film, but the previous novelzations and the radio drama to imagine scenes of what happened to Leia before Luke and Han arrived.

The second part is from Han’s point of view, picking up where we meet him in the movie, in the cantina on Tatooine. The third is Luke’s story, starting right after the escape from the Death Star.

Well written and unique, definitely a must-read for Star Wars fans.

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Lafayette in the Somewhat United StatesLafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really glad I listened to this book rather than reading it. Even though it is only 268 pages, it isn’t a quick read, with so many names and dates being thrown at you. It has been a long time since I revisited American history and even longer since I thought about the Revolutionary War. This book taught me more than I ever knew about MY OWN COUNTRY’S HISTORY! It was a little depressing to realize how little I knew.

But I loved the audiobook because Sarah Vowell reads it, with her own unique voice, and has a cast of famous actors that lend their voices and help you keep some of the “characters” straight. (Nick Offerman as George Washington is now my official voice for Washington.)

So if you feel like being reminded of how much history you have forgotten (or maybe you were never taught) this is a great listen for your commute (especially if you are like me and live on the east coast and regularly drive past some of the Revolutionary war battle fields)

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So You Want to Be a Jedi? (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cannot say enough about these Star Wars books written by some of my favorite children’s authors. Adam Gidwitz’s take on ‘Empire Strikes Back’ not only puts YOU in the role of Luke Skywalker, telling his story from first person, it also provides lessons on how to be a Jedi, teaching the reader ways to calm their mind, meditate, think before acting, and focus.

If you know a kid/were a kid who loves Star Wars, this series is a great way to explore the many ways a story can be told.

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Books read in January 2016

This was an off month for me because I *started* a lot of books and either didn’t read them fast enough and had to return them (so they will show up on the list later on) or they were huge disappointments so I didn’t technically *finish* them. And then there was another book that I enjoyed but it’s not really a “sit and read” kind of book so it might get returned and picked up later.

Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (Star Wars: Episode VI)Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The bar has been set VERY high for all future Star Wars novelizations. This isn’t just a straight retelling of what you saw on the screen, this is clearly a labor of love. Angleberger is a fan and it shows. This reminded me of the radio dramas, with lots of extra bits of story and ideas that you can only include because of the format. The inclusion of the storyboard sketches and McQuarrie artwork makes this a must have for Star Wars fans of all ages. It is a book a child could read on their own, but it would be even more fun to snuggle up and read together with a friend, a sibling, or parent.

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Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop!Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop! by Michael Ian Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This would be a really fun book for a storytime if you feel comfortable scatting in front of a group and could get all the instruments or sound effects to play. It would actually make a fun little play. It wasn’t as good as some of Black’s other picture books, but definitely cute. I could see this being a hit as a family read aloud.

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Bream Gives Me HiccupsBream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Stopped on page 125, just not feeling it. I really enjoyed listening to Jesse Eisenberg on NPR a few months ago reading selections from the book, but sitting down to read it, even knowing how Eisenberg sounds, I just wasn’t thrilled or amused enough to keep reading. I might like listening to it if Eisenberg reads it, but I’ve got too many other books right now to keep trying to get through this one.

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The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 1The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, Part 1 by Kanata Konami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So cute !! We had watched some of the anime so it was fun to read the whole story. Chi is definitely every kitten ever. Must read for anyone with a cat!

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The NestThe Nest by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, if it says anything about this book – I had to stop reading last night because it was getting late and I was starting to fall asleep but as soon as I woke up this morning, I felt compelled to finish it.

I don’t want to give too much away, other reviews have said it better. This is a children’s story, but in the classic vein of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the “be careful what you wish for” dark fable that stays with you. Give it to a kid who likes those kinds of darker stories…

If you liked the movie Labyrinth or the book A Monster Calls or The Rest of Us Just Live Here, I think you will enjoy this book as it tackles similar themes.

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The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I was really enjoying this book until the stupid “going to be a love triangle later” moment. It’s the end of the world, she is fighting to survive in a Earth that has been taken over by aliens, ALIENS THAT HAVE KIDNAPPED HER BROTHER…but oh this boy has puppy dog eyes and I want to make out with him and now I’m so embarrassed that he might have seen my body when he was patching up my gunshot wounds. BLAH! I kinda rage!quit this one. Might come back after the request list goes away so I can try to finish it because it was really good until then.

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Fox Tossing, Firework Boxing, and Other Curious Pastimes from the Far Corners of HistoryFox Tossing, Firework Boxing, and Other Curious Pastimes from the Far Corners of History by Edward Brooke-Hitching

Fun book to pick up and flip through, though I want to read some other books now and let this one sit for a bit. You can only read so much about how awful humans were to animals before you need a break (while bear baiting bothered me a lot, the “baby boxing” at the Naval Academy amused me to no end…I’m a bad person)

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