TBR Friday: Book Uncle and Me

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TBR Friday

Welcome to my first TBR Friday for 2017!  I have made it a goal to read at least one book from my TBR stack each month, with a goal of completing Pike’s Peak level – 12 books – on Bev’s Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017 by the end of the year.  Today’s book is not only going to count toward that challenge, but also Bev’s Colour Coded Challenge, the Epistolary Reading Challenge AND the PopSugar Reading Challenge in category five: a book written by a person of colour!  Boom!

Today’s book is Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Nine-year-old Yasmin intends to read a book a day for the rest of her life. Book Uncle, who runs a free lending library on the street corner, always has the perfect book for her. But when Book Uncle seems to be in trouble, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something. With the elections coming up and the grown-ups busy with their own affairs, what difference can Yasmin and her friends possibly make? Will they get help from Karate Samuel, the eccentric superstar who’s standing for Mayor? Yasmin gets to work, ideas begin to fly like feathers, and soon everything starts to spin – out of control.

book uncle and me.jpg

Ten Second Synopsis:
Yasmin has a goal to read a book a day for the rest of her life, ably aided by Book Uncle, the man who runs a free little lending library on the corner of Yasmin’s street. When Book Uncle receives a notice from the Council that he must close his book stand, Yasmin must find a way to change Council’s mind and bring books back to her community.

Time on the TBR Shelf:

About six months or so.

Acquired:

Purchased from Booktopia’s bargain section after recently having put it on my TBR list.

Reason I haven’t read it yet:

It’s short, easily readable and therefore easy to ignore.

Best Bits:

  • Even though this is a short book, it’s chock full of underlying social issues and culturally interesting elements just ripe for discussion by young readers
  • Yasmin is delightfully flawed and determined and compassionate and an all around charming heroine.  She speaks without thinking, then feels guilty for it, then tries to rectify her mistakes, then manages to mobilise a whole lot of strangers to her cause simply through her passion for it. If you are looking for realistic female protagonists in early chapter books, then look no further!
  • This book celebrates books and the people who read them.  It celebrates the power of books to change people’s lives in big and small ways, and to bring people together who otherwise have little in common.
  • This book wasn’t written to be a “diverse” book, but if you aren’t an Indian person reading it, it certainly fulfills that criteria.  The story itself is completely transferable to any Western classroom in which civic education is a priority, but there are also lots of parts of the story that will inspire discussion about difference – particularly issues of access to free lending library resources and election processes.

Less Impressive Bits:

  • None.

On reflection, was this worth buying?

Yes.

Where to now for this tome?

I may donate this one to the mini-fleshling’s school library.

If you would like to check out my progress in each of my various challenges you can check them out in the links in the header, under 2017 Challenges

 colour-coded-reading-challenge epistolatory-reading-challenge-2017

Until next time,

Bruce

 

A Non-Fiction Read-it-if Review: If You Find This Letter…

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image image

Welcome to another Read-it-if review, this time featuring a memoir of sorts, which I received from the publisher via Netgalley.  I’m also submitting this one for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader.  I can’t remember whether I mentioned that I would be doing this challenge, but I signed up at Explorer level, which is 6-10 books.  If you’d like to find out more about the challenge, you can click on the challenge image at the top of this post.

But back to business.  Today’s book grew out of a blog that the author began in an effort to reconnect with herself and find some purpose in her life.  It’s called If You Find This Letter: One Girl’s Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers and it’s by Hannah Brencher.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange–she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled If you find this letter, it’s for you on the front and left it behind.

When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city–in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.

Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew.

There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world,and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.

 if you find this letterRead it if:

* you like reading memoirs by people who have just barely cracked the quarter century in years on this planet

* you like wacky blog ideas that morph into meaningful projects in the real world

* you like your memoirs to deeply explore the author’s relationships and personal reflections

* you enjoy the idea of randomly leaving stuff behind for others to find (or as I like to call it, “guerrilla kindness” or “littering mindfully”)

It was for just this last reason that I picked up this book.  Having featured books about yarn-bombing on the blog before, I am clearly one of those creatures that gets a kick out of people secretly leaving some little treasure (be it letter, crocheted door knob cosy or book) for some unsuspecting passer-by to find and enjoy.  I was really hoping that this book would be something akin to a cross between yarn-bombing in letter format and the worldwide art and connection project begun by one man, known as PostSecret.  (If you don’t know what PostSecret is, please check it out. It’s worth a look, for certain).  Unfortunately, it read more like the developmentally typical learnings of a reasonably sheltered young woman in her twenties.  Not what I was hoping for, by any means.

The actual letter project, in which Hannah puts out the invitation for anyone who wants a handwritten love letter from her to apply via her website, really takes a back seat in this memoir to a whole bunch of other happenings in Hannah’s life.  I suspect that the idea was to show that she herself was reaching out to strangers in this way because of her own sense of disconnection, but a lot of the stuff that she talks about seemed to me to be pretty typical of anyone between the ages of about 18 and 30 who is trying to carve out an adult identity and some existential equilibrium.  I really wanted to read more about the letter project, and let that speak for itself, than find out about her involvement in a volunteer service project, and a whole bunch of Faith related personal reflection.

Did you notice that Faith-with-a-capital-F?  Yes, this is another blurb which I fear has mislead me and caused me to pick up a book that I probably would have passed on otherwise.  That last line in the blurb –  “If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world,and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started” – is not referring to her faith in humanity.  It’s her Faith, as in her personal relationship with God.  Now, I’ve mentioned before, that the fleshlings who own my shelf have a Christian leaning – they are even Catholics (of the rare non-lapsed variety), as is Hannah herself – so we have no objection to religious content per se in a book.  What really gets on my horns though, is when blurbs don’t make this clear.  If they said this was going to be a God book I could have made an informed decision.  But they didn’t.  So I got stuck wading through a whole lot of “Hannah returning home” (in the Catholic sense, not in the literal sense – in the literal sense, we get a nice little story about one Thanksgiving where Hannah is literally not allowed to return home. Not sure why it was included really), when I was really in the mood for “interesting social connection project”.

Now, don’t let my negativity bring you down.  Others have read this book and called it “inspiring” and “captivating”.  I would suggest reading it if it sounds interesting and make up your own mind.  But I suspect that not all blog projects need to be made into a book. At least, not a book in a memoir format.  For my (non-existent) money, I would have liked to have seen a lot more focus on the project and the benefits contained therein for not just the author, but some of the recipients of letters, and a bit less on the life-reflections of someone who seems to be a reasonably typical example of this particular age group.

Until next time,

Bruce

Fiction in 50 February Challenge: Sincerely Yours…

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fiction in 50Welcome to the February edition of Fiction in 50, where young and old, novice and master, serious and slightly silly, gather to share their golden nuggets of micro-narrative. If you’d like to join in, simply create a piece of fiction or poetry in 50 words or less using this month’s prompt and post a link to your work of genius in the comments of this post. If you want to share on twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #Fi50.  To find out more about the challenge and future prompts, simply click on the large attractive button at the beginning of this post.  This month’s prompt is…

imageAnd I have titled my contribution:

Shuffling Off This Mundane Coil

Shaz,

I can’t go on.  Don’t try to stop me. I’m going to a better place.

Jodz.

Dear Jodie,

I have received your resignation and we at Kwiki-shop Groceries wish you the best in pursuing an acting career.  We will all say we knew you before you were famous!

Sharon

(Manager)

Keen-eyed readers will note that this is actually 51 words (again!).  The last time I asked for editing suggestions I received a slew of excellent thoughts, so feel free to pitch in and let me know where I could lose a word or two and get under the required 50 words.

Next month’s prompt will be…

kernel of truth

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s contributions this month (especially any newbies!)

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Just Couldn’t Put It Down Giveaway Hop!

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Just-Couldn't-Put-It-Down-July

Welcome to my stop on the Just Couldn’t Put It Down July Giveaway Hop hosted by Stuck in Books!  The hop runs from July 7th to July 20th and features lots of bloggers giving away copies of books they consider to be gripping reads, so don’t forget to check out the linky at the end of this post so you can hop around and try your hand at winning more cool stuff!

The book I am offering today is a middle-grade fantasy book that is told in a series of letters, emails and newspaper cuttings and features pages full of awesome illustration.  I speak, of course of the first book in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series by Kate Klise – Dying to Meet You.

dying to meet you

Once-famous author of children’s ghost stories, Ignatius B. Grumply decides to rent a holiday house for the summer in order to finish writing (well, start writing, actually) his first book in 20 years.  Unfortunately for Ignatius, 43 Old Cemetery Road is already occupied – by 11-year-old Seymour, his cat, Shadow, and the ghost of the previous owner, Olive Spence (who also just happens to be an avid writer. And 197 years old).  So begins an unmissable correspondence betwixt old man and young lad, in which house rules are established and everyone tries to muddle along together.  That is, until Seymour gets word that his parents (who ran off on a lecture tour abroad, leaving Seymour at home) have decided to demolish number 43 – will Seymour and Olive be able to convince I.B. Grumply to help them find a way to save their home?

If I had discovered this book when I was an eight or nine year old, it would have immediately become one of those books that I read and re-read and re-read until the pages were all dog-eared, vegemite stains covered the edges of the pages and the covers were all bloated from having been repeatedly dropped in the bath.  It has all the hallmarks of a modern classic for the younger end of the middle-grade age group – humour, punny names, easy to follow text, eye-catching illustrations, formatting that spurs the imagination, as well as a story featuring ghosts, grumpy (and absent) grown-ups and a big old house with oodles of history.

I’ve immediately purchased the rest of the books in the series (not something I do often, I assure you!) and now I am giving one lucky reader the chance to experience this fun, fantastical series too.

So here’s my giveaway:

ONE winner can choose EITHER:

* paperback copies of the first two books in the series – Dying to Meet You and Over My Dead Body

OR

* a hardback copy of book number one – Dying to Meet You

The giveaway is open internationally, provided the Book Depository ships to your country for free.  Other Ts and Cs are available to view in the rafflecopter form.

click to enter button

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck! Don’t forget to hop around to the other participating blogs. You can find the full list here:

Powered by Linky Tools Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Until next time,

Bruce  

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Haiku Review and Giveaway: The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets…

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Welcome, one and all, to my stop on the Stanley and Katrina Book Blast Tour for their fantabulous book The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets!  You can get all the info about the book and giveaway below.
TPPotPoP as I like to call it, is an insightful and sometimes scandalous peek into the secret lives of two pets, the next door neighbour’s guinea pig and an inquisitive bird.  The book is made up of the private correspondence of Stanley (dog) and Katrina (upwardly mobile feline) as they tussle over the various issues that arise between all cohabiting couples.  The illustrations perfectly complement the light tone of the booK. This is sure to be a winner with all those who can’t resist a book pawthored by animals!
Curt correspondence
betwixt canine and feline
Guess who gets their way?
Might I suggest that this would also makes good present for some of the middle grade mini-fleshlings of your acquaintance?
Until next time,
Bruce

Celebrating 

Stanley and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge are celebrating their one year blogiversary (click here to read their inaugural post) by hosting their very own “Book Blasty Tour”. Thank you for taking the time to visit this special stop along their tour. 


About the Book

Title: The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets

Authors: Stanley & Katrina, Pet Authors

Illustrator: Miro Chun

Year published:  2012

Updates: This book was updated in September of 2013 with a new cover, interior illustrations, and a sneak peek of book #2 in the series.

Publisher: CreateSpace

Number of pages: 106

Recommended ages: 5+ 

Summary (Amazon): After three years of living under the same roof as the dog in the house, Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge decides to write a letter to her canine housemate, Stanley. Katrina loves treats, naps and bossing the dog around. Stanley loves snow, attention and turkey. The diva kitty, Katrina, will have none of Stanley’s antics and most certainly will not stand for him eating her food. The only reasonable solution is to take him to Kitty Court.

Amazon U.S. * Amazon U.K. * Amazon Canada 

 Barnes & Noble *  Leanpub(digital formats) 


The Buzz

“The book is really humorous. It is unique in a manner where you see the cat and dog communicating with each other about themselves, their likes, and dislikes in a letter form. The narrator’s tidbits add to the charm of the book. The contrasting characters and their individual personalities have been etched well. The author has put the perspective of the pets in the forefront and written a unique and excellent book for children.” ~ Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite


We enjoyed this book tremendously! It charmed us, made us laugh, and kept us wanting to read more. A tip of the hat to the pair of pets whose rivalry leads the story along its delightful course.~ Amazon Reviewer


About the Authors: Stanley & Katrina

Stanley is a three-year-old black Labrador/Rottweiler mix who does his best to ignore Katrina.
Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge is an eight-year-old grey tabby cat who loves her toy mouse.
They would love to tell you where they live but all they know is that they live in a tan house. For more information about Stanley & Katrina, please visit their website, www.StanleyAndKatrina.com.

* Free Printables For This Book! *

Kid Lit Printables has created fun and FREE printables for The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. Click here to view all available printables, now. 


Stanley & Katrina’s 

Book Blasty Tour Stops(2013)

November 8


* $25 Book Blasty Tour Giveaway *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs:November 8  to November 30, 11:59 pm, 2013 
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget above or by clicking here.
Terms and Conditions: A randomly drawn winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send us an email at stanleyandkatrina (at) gmail (dot) com.
* This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Stanley & Katrina. *

Read it if……: Dear Everybody

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Evenin’ all! It’s that time again – those few moments that you devote to discovering a new reading opportunity. Today’s offering is Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball, which is a complicated but quick read that tracks a fictional series of letters written by the main character, Jonathan Bender, to seemingly everybody in his life (including his old high school….no, not the students, the actual building) just prior to his suicide.  So not really a beach or holiday read, but certainly one that delivers in the high-emotions department.

I nearly didn’t pick this one up because while reading the blurb for one of the author’s other books, I came across the bizarre line “possibly the saddest book ever written”……I’m not quite sure who the publishers thought would be excited enough by that line to purchase the book (“Oh I can’t wait to get this home and start vicariously experiencing agonising despair!!”), but enticing as the suggestion was, I thought I’d begin my relationship with Kimball in a less dramatic, though still fairly sombre, reading experience.

dear everybody

It’s clear from the introduction by the main character’s brother (he who has compiled the letters and other documents into the form presented to the reader) that Jonathan always experienced life a little differently from the common herd.   However, the nature of his mental illness or personality issue is never made explicit.  I think this helps the overall reading experience because the reader isn’t restricted to thinking of Jonathan in terms of a label.  But in short…..

READ IT IF:…..

* you are looking for something with a bit of depth and substance

* you enjoy books in letter-format

* you are prepared to experience a bit of sadness, empathy or reflection on negative experiences

Once again, I feel the need to put up a bit of a flag to warn the unwary, so…..

DON’T READ IT IF:

* you are in a state of great emotional imbalance

* you have any kind of issue with reading about suicide or its aftermath

* you are looking for something light, fluffy, and preferably containing jolly conversations between charming spinsters who knit woollen coats for teacup poodles

I can’t pretend that I enjoyed this one – I don’t feel it’s the kind of book that one should enjoy….but it was definitely worth picking up.  I’m not sure whether I want to progress to Kimball’s other tome – that saddest one ever written – but I’d love to hear opinions of any other readers who have read Kimball’s work and how they found it.

Until next time,

Bruce