Tag Archives: children’s books

Harry Potter Reading Challenge


I couldn’t resist! And yes, I know I’ve been very derelict in keeping my other reading challenge posts updated. But come on! It’s a Harry Potter reading challenge!

I just couldn’t say no. So I’m signing on for this one.

I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (I can remember waiting by the mailbox, eagerly awaiting the delivery of the newest, just-released book – whichever it was depended on the year in memory – and ripping the package open, having already made the entire family promise to leave me alone for the entire day so I could read from beginning to end in absolute bliss.)

I’ve also re-read several of them once or twice now, and I’ve been wanting to sit down and do a re-read from beginning to end.

So, for this challenge, I’m thinking about listening to each of them in audio. Jim Dale, who narrates the books, is a wonderful narrator, and I think this will be a great way to complete this challenge.

The challenge in full is this: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series, anytime beginning August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010.

What are you waiting for? Sign up at GalleySmith’s and come join me in the fun!

Another Book-Buying Binge! (Or, Why I Shouldn’t Go To Costco Anymore)

Yesterday I accidentally indulged in another book-buying binge. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it was totally by accident. I had no intentions of splurging on anything when I entered Costco.

Unfortunately, since it’s summer, the book section at Costco is a dangerous place for a book lover to be. I think the marketing assumption is that in the summer, people buy books to read on the beach or on holidays.

I’m thinking now that those marketing people are geniuses. Either that, or I’m extraordinarily susceptible to marketing ploys. (Okay, so maybe it’s the latter.)

Here’s the stack I came home with:


And here are the covers:

It Would Be Funny... If It Wasn't My Life, by Lisa DowTailSpin, by Catherine CoulterThe Last Oracle, by James RollinsThe Flying Troutmans, by Miriam ToewsWicked: Witch & Curse, by Nancy Holder and Debbie ViguiéThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg LarssonExit Lines, by Joan BarfootThe Society of S, by Susan HubbardThe Year of Disappearances, by Susan HubbardHow To Be Single, by Liz TuccilloThe Book of God and Physics, by Enrique JovenBrainMatics Logic Puzzles, by H. F. UllmannOne Fifth Avenue, by Candace BushnellDK Encyclopedia of Animals, by DK Publishing

I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to read these. I do, however, feel good knowing I now have them on hand, for whenever the right reading mood strikes.

Want to know something even sadder? Do you see the BrainMatics Logic Puzzles? My husband (who happens to be just as bad when it comes to cookbooks, by the way) happened to slip a copy of this one into the cart, too, thinking I’d enjoy it. So we came home with TWO copies. I’m promising myself I won’t give in to temptation again when we go back to Costco to return the duplicate copy.

Do you go on book-buying binges occasionally? Please say yes!

Flash Review: Little Skink’s Tail, by Janet Halfmann

Little Skink’s Tail, by Janet Halfmann

Little Skink's TailWhile Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Little Skink’s Tail follows Little Skink as she daydreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail. The first is too puffy-fluffy, and another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise…and she doesn’t have to dream of tails anymore. The For Creative Minds section has information on tail adaptations and communications and a mix-and-match tail activity.

My thoughts: This is a little gem of a book that accomplishes two things: it tells a wonderful story, and it helps parents explore the world of animals and their tails with their children. The first time I read this book to my son, I was surprised because for some reason, I had expected the book to be non-fiction; instead, it is the delightful story of Little Skink who has to snap off her beautiful bright blue tail in order to escape from danger. The book follows her as she uses her imagination to try on the tails of other animals; the story ends with a happily-ever-after, as Little Skink turns around one day and sees her tail has grown back.

This is a picture book that my son often asks me to re-read, and it has also served as a great way to start an educational (but fun) discussion about why different animals have different tails – what are the different functions of different kinds of tails? Why would switching to a different kind of tail be not only impractical but possibly dangerous? What types of animals are lucky enough to be able to grow back a tail they’ve lost? Little Skink’s Tail is a great picture book that manages to educational, too. It’s no wonder it has won several awards.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

This Week’s Library Loot

I didn’t get a chance to visit the library last week but fortunately (I think) they keep holds for four days and I managed to squeak in at the last minute and pick up another batch of books.

Then the phone rang with another automated message …

So here’s this week’s library loot:

Mystery: The Language of Bees, by Laurie R. King. I’m already sinking my teeth into this one! The latest Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, I’ve been looking forward to its release for a while now.

Mystery: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. I stumbled onto this one at another book blog last week and then, when I was at the library picking up my holds, I saw it in the “New in Books” display! Of course I grabbed it with my hot little hands, and I’m already halfway through it. Flavia de Luce, the 11-year-old narrator is really quite a character! I should be finishing this up soon so watch out for the review.

Paranormal: Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. This is Book One of the series, and has been on my list for a while now.

Paranormal: Frostbite, by Richelle Mead. Book Two of the Vampire Academy series.

Memoir: Heat, by Bill Buford. The subtitle to this one is “An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany”. I’m reading this one for my food blog.

Young adult/Mystery: Dead and Gone, by Norah McClintock. McClintock caught my attention with her Chloe and Levesque mysteries, which I wrote about here. This book is a different series, but I thought I’d like to give it a try.

Young adult: Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson. I can’t remember how this title ended up on my wish list, but now that I have it, it definitely sounds interesting. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings – Spencer, Lola, and Marlene. When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

Paranormal/Thriller: Running Hot, by Jayne Ann Krentz. An Arcane Society novel. I have read one of these previously – at least, I think I have. I vaguely remember it being entertaining but obviously it wasn’t one of those memorable reads (or I’d remember more of it, right?). Still, this one looks good, and I love the term “Arcane Society”.

Children’s book/Mystery: The Mask on the Cruise Ship, by Melanie Jackson. Dinah Galloway is a budding diva, enthusiastic gourmand and amateur detective. This one sounds like fun.

Mystery/Audiobook: The Big Four, by Agatha Christie and narrated by Hugh Fraser. I’m still on my Agatha Christie audiobooks kick.

I’ve been getting so many books at the library lately, I’m not as tempted as I normally am when I’m at a book store or in the book aisle at Costco. The thing with library books is that you only have a limited time to read them … and that’s a scary thought when all the recent additions to my TBR are library books!

Mailbox Monday – May 4

mailboxIt’s Mailbox Monday, when book bloggers talk about the book titles that came to their house that week. Here’s what arrived in the Ms. Bookish household:

Mystery: Long Time No See, by Susan Isaacs. Via Bookmooch. Judith Singer (last seen in Isaacs’ Compromising Positions) is back, this time to investigate the death of Courtney Logan, former investment banker turned suburban mommy.

Memoir: A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle. Via Bookmooch. This is Book 1 of L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journal series. L’Engle is one of my favorite authors, and I’ve been wanting to read her Crosswicks Journal books for quite a while now.

Children’s books: And finally, I bought Books 1 to 3 of The 39 Clues series:

The Maze of Bones (Book One), by Rick Riordan
One False Note (Book Two), by Gordon Korman
The Sword Thief (Book Three), by Peter Lerangis

To check out what other book bloggers received in their mailboxes this past week, make sure to check out The Printed Page!

More Library Decadence

After my recent Library Loot post, I really didn’t think I could have that many more hold requests at the library coming in. I haven’t had a chance to read ANY of the books from that batch, with the exception of an audiobook, a BBC Radio Production of Agatha Christie’s The Caribbean Mystery (it helped get me out of work-brain back into me-brain every night before bed).

Frankly, the only reason I haven’t succumbed to temptation is that I know myself too well – I am weak when it comes to books, and if I pick up something and get engrossed in it, I’m in for a 3:00 a.m. night. (Which is why the next Dewey 24-hour Readathon, I may very well be participating … although Beth F. makes cheerleading sound like fun, too.)

But here I am again, so soon after the last Library Loot post, writing up another one. I received a few more automated calls from the library over the weekend, and by my mental count, was up to about four books ready and available for pickup. I asked my husband to stop in at the library and grab the books for me on his way home from doing the groceries, and he returned with an enormous bag.

So here we go again!

Mysteries by Deborah Crombie

A Finer End

Dreaming of the Bones

Now May You Weep

Water Like a Stone

All Shall Be Well

Kissed a Sad Goodbye

I suspect that another library patron was on a Deborah Crombie kick right around the time I was looking for more of the Kinkaid/James mysteries, and had signed all these out at the same time. And now I’ve done the same – only I hope there aren’t any holds for these as I will probably end up needing to renew at least some of them!

I have a book blogger to thank for my addiction to Deborah Crombie works, of course. I’m holding Cathy of Kittling Books responsible for getting me back into these books; I’d read the very first Kinkaid and James last summer but had then forgotten about the series. Until I read one or two posts by Cathy about them, that is! After reading one of her reviews, I picked up a few more, and I was hooked. (You can read my review of In a Dark House here.)

The Rest of the Batch

Mystery: Death by Bikini, by Linda Gerber. I can’t remember where I first came across this book, but I suspect the title probably leaped out at me and grabbed me. However it happened, I promptly put this book on my i-want list, and must have quickly added it to my holds request the last time I oh-so-recklessly went online at my library.

Children’s books/Fantasy: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. This one is probably self-explanatory. I’d like to read it before I get around to seeing the movie …

Memoir: Growing Up Again, by Mary Tyler Moore. Because I am currently, for some unfathomable (to me) reason, on a celebrity-autobiography kick. Don’t ask me why. All I know is, I’ve also got Julie Andrews, William Shatner and Robert Wagner in a stack here, waiting for me too.

And the Audiobooks:

Of course, my list wouldn’t be complete without some audiobooks. This year is my year of audiobooks – I’ve got a post up my sleeve explaining my reasons why. I like Agatha Christie audiobooks a lot, whether or not they’re those fabulous BBC Radio Production dramatizations:

The Listerdale Mystery and Eleven Other Stories, by Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, by Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser

The Mysterious Mr. Quin, by Agatha Christie, read by Hugh Fraser

And that’s the end of the list … !

I hope to have time during my breaks the next few things to check out everyone else’s Library Loot for this week.

An Embarrassment of Library Riches

It must be some sort of Murphy’s Law applicable to bibliophiles, I think. Work-wise it’s been quiet around here, which is why I’ve been able to keep up with all my reading even through all the renovations around here, instead of being stuck at my desk pounding on deadline after deadline. I always have a stash of books I’ve requested from the library, and during these past few months, my holds have been trickling in.

And now? Well, on Monday I received a veritable flood of assignments and now have three deadlines all falling due next week. Then I received several automated phone messages from the local library, telling me that books I had requested were now on hold for me.

Today I took a break from work and popped over to the library. I needed two bags to hold everything! An embarrassment of riches indeed – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that despite my deadlines, I’ll be able to read most of them. I have three weeks, and I can renew books for two additional three-week periods, provided, of course, that no-one else has put in a request for the titles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll remember to renew any I haven’t read yet online before the due date!

Here’s what I picked up from the library today:

Mystery: Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan. I think I had this on my list as a result of reading about it at Cathy’s Kittling: Books.

Mystery: Now & Then, by Robert B. Parker. More Spenser!

Mystery/Paranormal: Ghost at Work, by Carolyn Hart. This one wasn’t a request. The library had it in a display, so it’s more of an impulse grab.

Nonfiction: Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs, by Albert Jack. Another one that was on display. Simply couldn’t resist.

Chick Lit: Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter. By the author of Flirting with Forty, this definitely looks like a good read, although I’m not sure how it ended up on my hold list.

Mystery: In the Woods, by Tana French. I’d heard so much about this book, and I’d like to read it before French’s new novel, The Likeness, comes out in May (in case it’s really good, in which case I’ll have another book to add to my i-want list).

Nonfiction: Himalaya, by Michael Palin. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while; I love travel books, and like Palin’s humor as well.

Memoir: Up Till Now: The Autobiography, by William Shatner. I came across this a while back while on one of my online book-buying sprees; unfortunately, while Amazon has the hardcover version at a bargain price (in anticipation, I think, of the upcoming release of the trade paperback version), Chapters in Canada didn’t. So I checked the library and put myself in the queue for it. I almost picked it as my Audible selection, but the audiobook is abridged, so I thought I’d go for the longer read instead.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Sins, by Kay Hooper. I haven’t read Blood Dreams, the first in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit trilogy, yet, but I’m hoping that it’s the kind of series you can read out of order.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts. I haven’t read very many Nora Roberts novels, and this one sounds good. It’s the start of the trilogy, so I may be in for more happy reading with this series …

Young adult/Mystery: Break and Enter, by Norah McClintock. I’ve already raved about this series here.

Children’s fiction: The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Howard Whitehouse. I couldn’t resist typing out the full title. I don’t have a clue how I first came across this book, but I suspect all I had to do was read the title and it was writing itself down on my i-want list.

Fantasy/Erotica: Naughty Paris, by Jina Bacarr. I can’t remember where I came across this title, either, but there it was, on my list of requested books. About a woman living in today’s times, a maverick painter in 1889 and a little bit of black magic and (I gather) a whole lot of sex.

Now, if I could just finish up these deadlines so I can succumb to the lure of this embarrassment of library riches!

Book Review: Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

Skeleton CreekSomething mysterious is happening in Skeleton Creek. Something scary. Something sinister.

Ryan came close to it … and nearly died. Now he’s trapped in his house. He can’t trust anyone – not even himself.

He is forbidden from seeing his best friend, Sarah. So while Ryan is isolated and alone, she plunges back into the mystery, putting her life on the line to get to the truth.

Ryan is desperately trying to write down the full story. And while he does, Sarah takes videos of what she finds, then sends him the links so he can watch.

Together, they discover: The past is dangerous. The present is haunted. And the future is deadly

The Snapshot Review

Here’s the Thing: This is definitely one book you shouldn’t be reading by yourself, in the dead of night, with only your computer monitor for company …

BUT: it is absolutely spine-tinglingly delicious when you do.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: This is a fun, innovative and very suspenseful book that seamlessly marries text with video– a fabulous read!

Read the Full Review of Skeleton Creek

Friday Finds – Lots of Fantasies


It’s time for Friday Finds again! Here are the books I’ve discovered this week, that I’d love to add to my TBR pile:

Fantasy/Young adult: Family Bones, by Kimberly Raiser (discovered at Marta’s Meanderings)

Young adult: Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta (discovered at The Children’s Literature Book Club)

Children’s book: Indigo’s Star, by Hilary McKay (discovered at Book Nut)

Contemporary romance: Forbidden Fruit, by Eden Bradley (discovered at Alyssa’s Book Blog)

Nonfiction/Essays: Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, by Neil deGrasse Tyson (discovered at S. Krishna’s Books)

Paranormal romance: The Bride Finder, by Susan Carroll (discovered at Musings of a Bibliophile)

Fantasy: Angels’ Blood, by Nalini Singh (discovered at Literary Escapism)

The following were discovered at Fantasy Book Critic:

Fantasy/Young adult: Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan

Fantasy/Young adult: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, by Beth Fantaskev

Fantasy: Counter Clockwise, by Jason Cockcroft

Fantasy/Anthology: Crime Spells, edited by Martin Greenberg

Fantasy/Children’s book: The Yggyssey, by Daniel Pinkwater

Fantasy: The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry

I know, I know – that’s a whole lot of books. But wow – it’s going to be a great year for reading in 2009!

Friday Finds is hosted every Friday at Should Be Reading , and it’s a great way to check out other bloggers’ reading finds this week and discover some great books.

Review: The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Missing MarquessFrom the Back of book:

When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly sets off to find her. Disguising herself as a widow, Enola embarks on a journey to London, but nothing can prepare her for what awaits. For when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, and must fee murderous villains and try to elude her shrewd older brothers – all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Among all the mayhem, will Enola be able to discover the necessary clues and find her mother?

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Strong, independent and smart, Enola is a very likeable protagonist; pace is fast and intense; the writing paints the world of Sherlock Holmes’ London vividly. Not one, but two mysteries …and there are ciphers!

First Line: "The only light struggles from the few gas street-lamps that remain unbroken, and from pots of fire suspended above the cobblestones, tended by old men selling boiled sea snails outside the public houses." (From the prologue – the rest of the novel is in first person.)

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: A good read, with the action really kicking into high gear as we get further into the story. Very nice wrap-up, too. I finished reading this with a smile, eager to jump into the next book in the series.

Read the Full Review of The Case of the Missing Marquess