Thursday, 31 August 2017

SLJ's Top 100 Must-Have YA Books

You can only imagine how excited I was to find this list this week. SLJ's 2015 attempt to list the books that would fill out the 100 YA books that (American) librarians should fill their shelves with- as voted by 300 librarians. Naturally, I had to check it out straight away and Listmania it. 


1 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (1/7)
2 The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins 
(see my review)
3 Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
4 The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (see my review)
5 Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
6 The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak
7 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (see my review)
8 Divergent series - Veronica Roth
9 The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky (see my review)
10 Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
11 Looking for Alaska - John Green
12 Monster - Walter Dean Myers
13 The Giver - Lois Lowry (see my review)
14 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
15 The Maze Runner - James Dashner
16 Graceling - Kristin Cashore
17 Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
18 Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
19 Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
20 I’ll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson
21 The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton (see my review)
22 If I Stay - Gayle Forman
23 Legend - Marie Lu
24 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
25 Feed - M.T. Anderson
26 We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
27 Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card
28 Crank - Ellen Hopkins 




29 Unwind - Neal Shusterman
30 Cinder - Marissa Meyer
31 Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
32 American Born Chinese - Gene Luen Yang
33 Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (see my review)
34 Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli
35 Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
36 Every Day - David Levithan
37 Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
38 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (see my review)
39 The Selection - Kiera Cass
40 A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L’Engle (see my review)
41 Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
42 Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith
43 Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan
44 City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
45 Eragon - Christopher Paolini
46 The Crossover - Kwame Alexander
47 Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
48 Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan
49 Winger - Andrew Smith
50 Hatchet - Gary Paulsen (see my review)
51 The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart
52 Wonder - R.J. Palacio (see my review)
53 Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins





54 The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
55 A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (see my review)
56 Ash - Malinda Lo
57 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
58 Sold - Patricia McCormick
59 The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
60 Brown Girl Dreaming.- Jacqueline Woodson (see my review)
61 Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
62 Matched - Ally Condie
63 Paper Towns - John Green
64 Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
65 Forever - Judy Blume
66 Gabi, a Girl in Pieces - Isabel Quintero

67 I Am the Messenger - Marcus Zusak (see my review)
68 It’s Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini
69 Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
70 Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
71 The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey
72 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
73 Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta
74 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (see my review)
75 Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - Marjane Satrapi
76 The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
77 The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
78 An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
79 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank (see my review)
80 Bone Gap - Laura Ruby
81 Maximum Ride - James Patterson
82 Sabriel - Garth Nix
83 Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli




84 The First Part Last -Angela Johnson
85 The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer
86 The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater
87 Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass - Meg Medina
88 Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
89 Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
90 Delirium - Lauren Oliver
91 Hate List - Jennifer Brown
92 Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
93 A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
94 A Northern Light - Jennifer Donnelly
95 Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
96 Ask the Passengers - A.S. King
97 Grave Mercy -Robin LaFevers
98 How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff (see my review)
99 More Happy Than Not - Adam Silvera
100 All American Boys - Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

25/100

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ethel & Ernest


Ethel & Ernest is a graphic memoir by well regarded, multi-awarded  Raymond Briggs. It tells the story of his parents marriage and lives from the time they meet in 1928 to their deaths in 1971.

I've read a few of Raymond Briggs' books now. Probably my favourite so far has been When the Wind Blows, which I read for the first time just a few months ago and I feel the need to reread it, think about it some more and do a post about it. I have also read Burglar Bill, Fungus the Bogeyman and Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age.

I must say that I have a bit of a hit and miss relationship with Raymond Briggs. Sadly Ethel & Ernest was more of a miss for me. I wanted to like it. I expected to like it more. Lauren from Lauren and the Books recently included it in her Mid Year Best Books of 2017, it was a reread for her, and she feels so kindly towards it that she wants everyone to love it too. I wish I had.


Ethel was a ladies maid when she caught Ernest's eye as he rode past on his bike.

Certainly Ethel & Ernest has the gentle charm of Raymond Briggs' rather distinctive cartoon strip artwork. And there are a few moments of wry humour, but I just didn't get a great feeling for the characters of Ethel or Ernest. The book felt more like a vehicle for the historical facts- which I did particularly enjoy. 

Ernest was a milkman, he was a Labour voter true to his working class roots, and he was always reading the paper and commenting on the news of the day. There were quite a few fascinating details about life in London especially during the war. Of course young Raymond was evacuated to the countryside to escape the Blitz, but it was the small details that were especially intriguing to me.

Scrap metal such as gates and saucepans were collected for the war effort, said to be turned into Spitfires. (What became of the gates and railings is even worse that that)
Baths were allowed to be 5 inches deep. Even the baths at Buckingham Palace had the 5 inch lines on them!
I also learnt about the Beveridge Report (1942) which was instrumental in setting up essential social welfare still in existence in the UK. Sick pay, unemployment benefits, government pensions and free, universal health care were all thought up during the rationing and hardships of World War II!

I'm going to seek out the 2016 movie, with Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent voicing Ethel and Ernest, it looks lovely.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Roald Dahl's most famous and beloved stories. There have been two wonderful film versions made, and many people rate it as their favourite Dahl story. I've seen both the movies (quite a few times) and read the book twice, and while I liked the story well enough I didn't love reading the book that much. So recently (well actually last year - as I just found this post written languishing unpublished) when it came time to re-read the final of the six Dahl titles for my 1001 quest I was a bit hesitant, and not all that keen. But then I had the rather brilliant idea to listen to it instead. My Roald Dahl Audio Collection has James Bolam reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he does a fine job of it, although I was secretly disappointed not to have the Eric Idle version.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is of course the story of Little Charlie Bucket, who lives with his parents and four grandparents in a two room house. The family are terribly poor, all trying to survive on the meagre wage that Charlie's father earns putting the tops on toothpaste tubes at the toothpaste factory. The family subsist on bread and margarine for breakfast, boiled potatoes and cabbage for lunch and watery cabbage soup for dinner. "Sundays were a bit better..... everyone could have a second helping." The Buckets saved up each year and Charlie is able to have a single chocolate bar on his birthday which he nibbles at and makes last for a few weeks.

The family follow the big news when Willy Wonka starts his competition to find five golden tickets that will allow each of the winners entry to his usually out of bounds factory on one special day only. Four impossibly named children win tickets - Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee. There is only one ticket left to win. It's no secret I suspect that Charlie finds that very last golden ticket. More than half the story is the action and delights when the five children and their parents, or grandfather Joe in Charlie's case, tour the factory.

And what a factory it is- the factory itself is a masterpiece of Dahl's imagination. That chocolate mixed by waterfall is the best chocolate in the world. The various rooms. The buttons on the Great Glass Elevator. Sugar-Coated Pencils for Sucking. Luminous Lollies for Eating in Bed at Night. Rainbow Drops -Suck Them and You can Spit in Six Different Colours. The Oompa-Loompas, how Willy Wonka rescued them from all the dangers of Oompa-Loompa Land- the snozzwangers and hornswogglers.

I was glad that I took the time to listen to the audio, it was a lovely experience. I then rematched the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Master Wicker. We should rewatch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sometime soon.

RN did a great story about the Roald Dahl Museum to coincide with Roald Dahl Day last month (2016). Naturally it's rather high on my travel wish list.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

50 Children's Books to Save My Life

Tygertale is a great blog about brilliant children's books that I came across recently while I was scouring the internet after reading Elidor (for which I hope to do a review soonish). Tygertale's Elidor post is especially interesting and graphically beautiful  and soon of course I was peering about Tygertale site and found this list. I knew it had to become a Listmania list. 


I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith


The Earthsea Cycle - Ursula Le Guin (I've read the first one, and don't have the will to carry on)


Blackhearts over Battersea - Joan Aiken


Gormenghast Trilogy - Melvyn Peake


The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (see my review)


The Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder


Alice Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll


Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stephenson


The Railway Children - E. Nesbit


Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie 


The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley


Watership Down - Richard Adams (see my review)


Charlotte Sometimes - Penelope Farmer


The Changes Trilogy - Peter Dickinson




The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum (well most of it, I think I ran out of steam)


Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery


The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness


Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson


Kensuke's Kingdom - Michael Morpurgo (see my review)


Ballet Shoes - Noel Streatfeild (see my review)

A Traveller in Time - Alison Uttley


Life: An Exploded Diagram - Mal Peet


The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton


Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh (see my review)


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Ian Fleming (see my review)


The Dark is Rising Sequence - Susan Cooper


Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd




Ink heart - Cornelia Funke


To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee


What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge 


The Family from One End Street - Eve Garnett


Are you there God, It's Me Margaret? - Judy Blume (see my review)


The Book Thief - Markus Zusak


The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier (see my review)


The Letter for the King - Tonke Dragt


The Mouse and his Child - Russell Hoban (see my review)


Smith - Leon Garfield 


Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith


The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald (see my review)


Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift (well most of it, I think I ran out of steam)


Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner (see my review)


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne (see my review)


The Otterbury Incident - Cecil Day-Lewis


Uncle - J.P. Martin


Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Warrior Scarlet - Rosemary Sutcliffe


Mary Poppins - P.L. Travers


The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - Hugh Lofting


The Fantastic Four Vol 1. - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby


A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett




25/50 (ish, there's a few sneaky series in there)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying



I've been intrigued by this book for a while now. Seems like everyone has read it, and everyone has an opinion on her Methods. Some of it sounds rather far fetched, so (this time last year!) it was time to check it out for myself. I bought the book at the start of last year- even though it seems counterintuitive to buy a decluttering book, I feel like I should be borrowing it from the library instead of adding to the (largely book) clutter that needs to be tidied.


I could do with some Life Changing, I imagine we all could. Marie Kondo (who uses her nickname KonMari) promises great things.



The KonMari Method is a simple, smart and effective way to banish clutter forever. Start by discarding. Then organise your space, thoroughly, completely in one go. If you adopt this strategy, you'll never revert to clutter again. 

But it's not just a tidier house she's promising. It's self help, self-actualisation through tidying.



when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don't, what you should and shouldn't do. 

Tidying must start with discarding. It all needs to happen in one mammoth one time effort which Marie suggests will take about six months.



The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart.

Sort by category, not by location. And you must, must, must tidy in the right order- clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items and then sentimental items and keepsakes. Naturally, there are then subcategories within these categories.


All you need to do is look at each item, one at a time, and decide whether or not to keep it and where to put it.


It's rather pivotal that she has turned the decision "Should I throw this dress out?" around to become "Should I keep this ornament?" which is where the much derided "Does this jumper/book/pillow spark joy?" comes from.



Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.

KonMari doesn't encourage her clients to listen to music while they work, and listening to the TV is "out of the question". Oh and you'll need a bright early start.


When I've been considering her method in any of the dozens of articles I've read I have wondered about being wasteful, but KonMari tells us that we can't "be distracted by thoughts of being wasteful". Yes, I see why she would say that, and I have seen some of those hoarders on tv saying that they are keeping things for recycling or environmental reasons, but I think it is a consideration. I think we do need to be mindful about what we do with waste. Clothes are fairly easy - we can all donate them to charities, but what about things that are valuable, just not to you? Should these things just be tossed in landfill? It seems ridiculous to do so as polar bears are dying out and the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching.


KonMari is ruthless here.



To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To throw away what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. 
And I think she does just throw things out. There was a lot of measuring of progress in garbage bags.


Let them go, with gratitude.

She's very big on folding. "By nearly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage." But then she goes way beyond natty Japanese space saving methods.


The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies. 
There is then a written folding tutorial which gets rather complex. Thankfully for the more visual processors amongst us Gwyneth Paltrow is all over this at her GOOP site and has an illustrated video guide to folding.

I hadn't been aware that my socks needed to rest when they were not helping me walk in my shoes!





I've actually made quite a bit of progress in my War on Clutter in the past year. Most of it wasn't due to the KonMari method, but reading this book really did help me in the pre-contemplation stage.

And now by the Life Changing Magic of not tidying this post and posting it in the last year I can manage to actually post something for Women in Translation Month 2017 without really trying. 


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Book Launch - The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear

Last week I was very lucky and got to attend the regional launch of The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear. 




This was a very special event. The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear is the first book published by Dirt Lane Press, a new publisher based in Orange, NSW. Naturally I became a friend of Dirt Lane Press as soon as I heard about it last year. 



There was lots of delicious, organic local wine. I believe that there was white wine as well, but I didn't notice. 


I don't believe I'd had this before,
but took quite a liking to it 
Special guest Freya Blackwood
was there to launch the book


Mark MacLeod, Margrete Lamond and Heather Vallance
 The launch was held at the new Botanica Flora, and was also the opening of an exhibition of the gorgeous art work Heather Vallance made for The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear.





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Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly memenow hosted by WestMetroMommy

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Better Reading Australia's Top 50 Kids Books 2017

Better Reading is a great Australian website promote books and reading to everyone. This list is the results of their poll for the Top 50 Kids Books of 2017.

Ranger's Apprentice The Tournament at Gorlan - John Flanagan
Ranger's Apprentice The Ruins of Gorlan - John Flanagan
The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
Matilda - Roald Dahl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
The 13-Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton (see my review)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney
The BFG - Roald Dahl
Dork Diaries - Rachel Renée Russell




Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
The Bad Guys Episode 1 - Aaron Blabey
Alice-Miranda at School - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda on Holiday - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda at Sea - Jacqueline Harvey
WeirDo - Anh Do (see my review)
WeirDo 2 Even Weirder! - Anh Do
WeirDo 3 Extra Weird! - Anh Do
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
Skyfire - Michael Adams
Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz (see my review)
The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
The Turners - Mick Elliot
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Wonder - R.J. Palacio (see my review)
Oh, The Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss
Awful Auntie - David Walliams (see my review)
The World's Worst Childern - David Walliams
Once - Morris Gleitzman




The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (see my review)
Charlie and the War against the Grannies - Alan Brough (see my review)
The Adventures of Captain Underpants - Dav Pilkey
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
Unreal! - Paul Jennings
Friday Barnes Girl Detective - R.A. Spratt
Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne
Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden
Heroes of Olympus The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
Deltora Quest Series 1 - Emily Rodda
Geronimo Stiltion Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye
The Silent Invasion - James Bradley
Tales of a Fourth Grade  Nothing - Judy Blume
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (see my review)
Holes - Louis Sachar (see my review)
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates - L. Pichon (see my review)
The Witches - Roald Dahl (see my review)

28/50

Always more books you haven't heard of...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Women in Translation Month 2017




The other day I was very excited to learn about Women in Translation month from Russell over on his youtube channel Ink and Paper Blog. I really do enjoy reading books in translation, but had somehow never heard of Women in Translation month before.

Women in Translation Month was started in 2014 by Meytal Radzinski at Biblibio  to highlight the joys of reading books originally written in languages other than English.

While I really enjoy reading books In Translation (see my In Translation tag, although embarrassingly few are by female writers), I also enjoy thinking about books In Translation, and have done a few posts exploring these ideas before. It kicked off for me in December 2013 with an article about Why Don't French Books Sell Abroad? and I thought long and hard about it, and it gave me an excuse to use some more of my Paris pics. 

Books in translation are important. They give us a perspective beyond that of English language works, a small window looking outwards from our big Anglophone world. Plus they're interesting and fun.

Rather incredibly "about half of all the books available in translation around the world have been translated from English, and only 6% are translated into English"! (Found in Translation 2014), so obviously it's important to support the authors, translators and publishers that create that 6%. We don't like to open our non-English window very wide- we've just opened a crack. 

Now to find some time to read at least one book in translation this month. Some of the books that I have already  in the house that are calling to me.






Monday, 7 August 2017

Banksy Does New York



I love watching something interesting when I do the ironing. Often it's the French News, other times I watch something I've taped from the tv. Generally documentary or something light, I prefer to enjoy fiction when I have the opportunity to sit on the couch and fully enjoy it. Last night I watched Banksy Does New York. I quite like Banksy. I like his artistic style, his incorporation of the site he uses and signs or objects already present, I generally like his political messages, and I like his humour. He has a great twitter feed. I am astonished that he has maintained his anonymity in the modern world. That must be incredibly difficult to do.

I've watched other documentaries on Banksy before, but recently came across Banksy Does New York on ABC 2. In October 2013 Banksy did a month long residency in New York, and created a new art work every day. He would put clues up on his twitter account each day and New York would go out looking for it. Of course word would spread like wildfire on social media and crowds of people would go Banksy hunting.  One of the commentators called it the first hipster scavenger hunt which is possibly rather true. The response of the established art world and art journalism was especially interesting (yes they completely ignored the art taking the city by storm for a month).

Apparently you can be a Banksy hunter. I was hoping to see one when I went to London in 2013 but it wasn't to be. And if the folks in London act at all like the people in New York then I see why. Often these works were painted over within hours, or defaced by jealous and stupid "graffiti artists", or removed so that they could be sold. A Banksy art work is often a fleeting experience.

Banksy Does New York was fascinating, it made the ironing fly by. It's about art, politics, history, animal rights, philanthropy, greed, urban decay and renewal, even Nazis. Life really. In Australia it's available on ABC iView until Aug 20.



Thursday, 3 August 2017

10 Must-Read Books That Should be Mandatory Reading in High School

I just came across this very interesting list this morning. It wasn't at all what I suspected. Just a little list, a mere ten books, and still with four that I've never heard of. 


The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Citizen - Claudia Rankine



The House of Spirits - Isabel Allende

Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood - Marjane Satrapi

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler 

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (see my review)

Angels in America - Tonu Kushner

3/10

It's nice to see The Handmaid's Tale cropping up on lots of lists lately. I need to reread it sometime soon, I read it way back in the 80s I think. Naturally I also need to make some time to watch the series. Persepolis is on lots of lists too. I bought it, I need to read it.