Children's books, YA, mysteries, art books & more.
I didn't read the back cover. Which isn't a crime, it just meant I initially thought this book was about the hopeless battle against the alien invaders, the Luyten. And it is. But there's also another story in there. The story which is obvious from the title.
It's sci-fi in the manner of Star Trek Next Generation: full of quandaries that tackle hard questions related to our humanity surrounded by technological innovations that spark curiosity and "what if's". If I had a sci-fi-loving book group, I'd read it and discuss it.
If you like John Ringo, give this one a try.
Whoever it was who wrote a post about Rachel Bach's Fortune's Pawn, thank you. I nabbed the first book, immersed myself in it, had a delightful time, and then cursed the fact that you hadn't also included a warning to make sure the entire series was on hand before starting to read the first one due to the cliff-hanger style endings. So...
WARNING: Have the entire trilogy on hand before you read the first one.
What is it? A series of three books, in order: Fortune's Pawn, Honour's Knight, and Heaven's Queen. And it's a space opera, which, as a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's books, is a genre I adore. And, neither here nor there, the author is from Georgia and I have a soft spot in my heart for Georgia. But don't base your reading decision on that, since it pretty much all takes place in outer space on ships and planets you've never heard of. Plus I didn't even realize the fact until I reached the end of the book and read the author's blurb where I learned something else interesting: Rachel Bach writes fantasy under the name of Rachel Aaron. So you can guess what I'll be reading next... And in one of those strange coincidences that the universe sends, she is also the author of the non-fiction book for writers: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, which I was already vaguely familiar with.
And in case you read it and like the characters and world, it's worth noting that it is written with the potential of more books. No clue if she'll write those books or if the publisher will go for publishing them, but even though the trilogy ends neatly and tidily, the potential is clearly there in the author's head for more.
5 = If I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one suitcase full of books, this book would come. Assuming of course that the suitcase functions like the Tardis (unlimited space inside) so I wouldn't need the space for something more practical like a book on how to survive while stranded on a desert island. Seriously, though, to get a 5 it must be an Double R&B: a Re-read, a Recommended without hesitation, and a Buy (or at least dream of buying depending on the price).
4 = I'd happily read it again and recommend it to someone, but I might not buy it full price.
3 = I don't regret reading it--but I wouldn't necessarily read it again.
2 = I really could have used my time better.
1 = This book isn't recommended and I probably never even reached the end nor bothered to write a review.
A story about perseverance for budding--or flourishing--engineers, both big and small. Engibear sets out to create a "Bearbot" to help him get his work done. The book counts through the various prototypes and why each doesn't work until the engineer finally is successful with Bearbot Type Ten. Benjamin Johnston's illustrations feature design schematics, diagrams, blueprints, and colorful workshop scenes that children will delight in looking at again and again.
In fact, it's the illustrations that pulled me to the book (I'd seen some of Benjamin Johnston's portfolio images online somewhere and remembered them) and they give it a five star ranking (reserved only for books that I would like to have as part of my permanent collection). The images are gorgeous combinations of science, comedy, and explosions with a touch of graphic novel mixed in. Their complexity is what gives repeat readers a new experience again and again. Just the end pages could require a half hour of pursuing to see all the details.
Cathy, guest reviewer at Children's Books Daily, says about reading the book with her 5 year old son, "We read that Bearbot’s legs are made of 'carbon-fibre segmented flexible cable with internal stabilisers'. There’s no way that the junior engineer understands this, but they are the kind of words that are sheer pleasure to roll around in his mouth. They will inevitably be incorporated into the next Lego project. Then one day he may even figure out what they mean." This is a book that has the ability to grow, with different ages pulling different information and messages from it. And it has a sequel! How awesome is that? (Cathy's review also links to an interesting interview with the author, so follow the tangent, it's fun to see photos of the original inspiration.)
A rhyming picture book about the power and destruction of an Australian bushfire with watercolor illustrations by Bruce Whatley featuring hard-hitting scenes like woods in flame, completely destroyed homes, crying families, fire-fighters at work, and animal rescuers in action. Despite the hard reality of the topic, the author and illustrator manage to end with a reminder that "King fire" only temporarily triumphs.
For those who live in an area with bush fires or who have children who have experienced bush fires, this book would be a great addition to your library shelves and way to start conversations or prepare children for fire season.
An interesting note about how the illustrations are done: instead of making them have a bleed, the original pencil outline for the main illustration box is shown along with the ragged brush strokes that spill out from it around the edges.
I should write a lot but I'll not. Suffice to say the rhyme I loved, especially the play between line lengths (and the part about the cliff).
Gus Gordon's illustrations were quite a sensation, with mixed styles combined into a single creation.
I loved the pictures, I loved the rhyme--this book is definitely worth your time.
Just an all-around fun read that's packed full of rhyming descriptions accurate to bat behavior but mixed with a fun fantasy about what a bat concert would be like. My favorite thing about the text is how Brian Lies describes the various styles of music:
Next up, there's a country song--
some lonesome bat done someone wrong.
As the styles of music shift, the acrylic paintings also adjust in tone and color so that the rhyming lines and images combine to really give a feel for the the mood of that music. This book would be great for a music teacher wanting to talk about different musical genres or a science teacher wanting to talk about sound waves and chiroptera.
Of the books I've read this month, this is one of the most text heavy, with most pages featuring one 4-line stanza but some pages featuring up to two stanzas (8 lines) but since the text is fun to read, it doesn't feel overwhelming.
It's a beautiful day of blue sky and white clouds when a storm rolls in. This rhyming picture book shares the entire experience of the storm for a farm family using 119 words arranged into simple, carefully selected phrases. The scratchboard and watercolor illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner Beth Krommes feature such things as idyllic country scenes, farm animals, and a puppy and child playing in the ensuing mud.
One of the really nice touches to this book is that the illustrations span even the publication and acknowledgement pages...and the truth is that I love this book for the illustrations, especially the arial views. Beth Krommes' style, media, and technique are unique unique and a bit reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints and books like Ed Emberly's Drummer Hoff.
This is a book meant to be poured over slowly--although if you read it through cover to cover it has a lively rhyme with lots of six item lists. The pattern is "Look! A ______! A ______! A ______! A ______! A ______! A ______!" with a little round hole next to each named item. Peaking through the hole is a picture of the item from the next page--but when you do turn the page, the item suddenly disappears into the clutter of an action-packed scene that has another poetic "find" command. Transportation? Underwater castles? Amusement parks? Haunted houses? This book has it all. Bob Staake's illustrations are colorful and done in a flat, graphic designer style with lots of humorous touches throughout.
I love fairy-tale retellings. Anything that takes the classic story, the classic characters and develops them a bit more, pulls back the curtains a bit wider. This is one such book. It's a collaborative effort. Two poets and an illustrator. Fifteen classic tales with two poems for each--one by each poet. Some present a different point of view (one of the poems about Sleeping Beauty is the wicked fairy moaning about the failure of her spell due to "a stupid kiss", another is about a pea stuck under a mattress missing the others from his pod), some are the main characters just sharing their thoughts in order to present story events in a slightly different light.
If you liked Mirror Mirror, the book with the reversing fairy tale poems, chances are you'll like this one too.
Do you love words, both old and new? If so, Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus is a good book for you. You'll be the one with a "snip-snap grin" as you flip through the pages and practice your tail spin. If movement or sound is your delight, this one has both--no need to listen while sitting tight. Kinetic kids can shiver and loop as they let their inner dino out of the coop. The alliteration is pretty insane and almost every spread has a great refrain that readers will memorize and say by heart...just read the book once, that's a good start. There's one page, about a third of the way in, that reminds me of another book that left me with a grin: The Farmer's Away, Baa! Neigh! Love the dino rumpus for the dino words, the flow of the sounds, or the review you've heard, but equal to all are the pictures you see, pictures by Guy Parker-Rees. Pictures with colors bright, ending with dinos curled up tight...
Fans of Toy Story will like this rhyming wake-up story where toys set off for a drive across the room to the windowsill to watch the sunrise. On my inattentive first read through I didn't realize it was the toys doing the driving until close to the end of the book. The "Honk Honk! Beep Beep!" refrain scattered throughout will be fun for kids to jump in and say.
"Down on the farm there's plenty to do, like fixing machines and hosing out poo." It's a wacky rhyming tale of what happens when Rosie the dairy cow steps in to help with the hay harvest in the face of imminent rainfall. Lots of kid humor (like spinning the cat so her claws can cut the hay) and unique illustrations that merge photographs with digital drawings to create a lively, eclectic collage style.