Mount TBR Challenge 2017: I’m Climbing On Again!

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Even though I only discovered this challenge this year, I have found it so useful that I’m hopping on board again for 2017.  Bev at My Reader’s Block is a challenge queen and hosts this one yearly to get people motivated to start tackling their ever-growing TBR piles.  This year I signed up at the lowest level, Pike’s Peak, or 12 books and I have just recently achieved it, with a few extras added to the tally by the end of the year hopefully.  If you are interested in the challenge, just click on the image above to be taken to the sign up page, where you can find all the information about rules and restrictions and, most importantly, challenge levels.

I have decided in 2017 that I am going to once again attempt the lowest level of Pike’s Peak.  Twelve books was manageable this year, and I think committing to one book a month isn’t so daunting that I’ll feel too much pressure, but will nonetheless make a dint in my TBR stack.  I’m actually so motivated to keep at this challenge that I’ve already chosen the twelve books I’d like to tackle!

2017-mount-tbr-challenge-books-2

They are, in no particular order…

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

A middle grade fantasy romp that I wanted to read for ages, so decided to chuck it in with a laybuy I was putting on at Big W.  I really wanted the edition with the prettier cover, but I saw my chance to own it and took it.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

A middle grade historical mystery that came out slightly after the first book in the Wells & Wong series by Robin Stevens.  I finally scored this one as a birthday gift, but haven’t got to it yet.

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne

A middle grade yokai story.  I stumbled across the first three books in this series at the Library cast-off book shop and picked them up because I just couldn’t walk past any book featuring Japanese ghosties.  I’ve been desperately wanting to have at this series, so I’m making the time in 2017. Hopefully I’ll finish the three books I’ve got, not just this first one.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

A middle grade mystery featuring smugglers!  I first put this on pre-order back in mid 2014, when it was originally released.  I put the pre-order on the paperback, which was releasing in the middle of 2015.  I figured I could wait that long.  Then the release date got pushed out to September of 2015.  I was tetchy, but accepted this.  THEN the release date got pushed out to September 2016!  Needless to say, I was cheesed.  It finally arrived last month, so since I’ve been waiting on it so long, it’s going in the challenge.  It has since won some awards though, so it should be worth the wait.

Home to Mother by Doris Pilkington

This is the children’s edition of the story of Australia’s Stolen Generations, immortalised in the book and film Rabbit-Proof Fence.  I spotted this one in an op-shop last week and snapped it up.

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

This is the second book in the Jackaby fantasy mystery series.  I pre-ordered this one a while back, since I enjoyed the first book.  My anticipation has waned somewhat during the wait (and I think the third book is out now too), but if I don’t add this one to the challenge, it may continue to be overlooked.

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Sideways Stories from Wayside School from so many different bloggers that when I saw this one at the Library cast-off bookshop I snapped it up.  Louis Sachar is always a fun read, so I don’t think I can go too far wrong here.

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant

I bought this one from the BD when I was in need of some bookish retail therapy.  Just haven’t got around to it yet.

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

I had seen this little early middle grade title on a couple of “recommended” lists and then it popped up at Booktopia for two bucks or some other ridiculously cheap price so I had to have it.  I initially thought this was set in Japan, but on closer inspection, it’s actually India.  Not sure how I made that error, given the author’s obviously Indian (and super awesome!) surname.

The Bromeliad by Terry Pratchet

This is the omnibus edition made up of Truckers, Diggers and Wings.  I have read Terry Pratchet’s Discworld books before but never loved his work, but when I heard about this trilogy (maybe from SteJ at Book to the Future?) I thought I might investigate.  After reading a preview of the first chapter and finding myself guffawing after the first page, I decided I had to have it.

Henry and the Guardians of the Lost by Jenny Nimmo

We shelf denizens looooove Jenny Nimmo.  It started many years ago with the Snow Spider Trilogy, when we were fascinated by all things Welsh, and we have devoured a good section of her back catalogue since.  This one is a late 2016 release, so we grabbed it from the BD in one of those “retail therapy” moments.

The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer

This is an Aussie middle grade fantasy/mythology tome that I had had my eye on since its release.  It came up in the bargain section of Booktopia ages ago and I grabbed it.  Having re-read the blurb, I noticed it’s by the same author as Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children which I found a bit tropey and pedestrian, but hopefully this one will be more up my street.

So there you have it!  My goals for TBR tackling for 2017.  A couple of these books are quite short, so I may be able to sneak in a few extras – I’ve got plenty to choose from! – but we’ll see how we go.

Are you participating in this challenge this year, or are you thinking about it for next year?  Have you read any of the books that I want to attempt?  Let me know!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

My Life According to Books 2013: Fun for an otherwise ordinary Wednesday…

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Ah, a bit of fun for a Wednesday – I’ve recently stumbled across this fantastic little quiz put out by the good folks over at Pop Culture NerdIn a yearly tradition, we are all invited to finish the sentences using the titles of books you have read since January 1st of this year.  Being the thrill-seeking, adrenalin junkie that I am, I felt the need to have a crack at it!

My to-do list looks like: Absent in the Spring (Mary Westmacott)

If a peeping Tom peeked into my bedroom, he’d: Cringe (Sarah Brown)

If Martians meet me they’d think: [I was the product of a] Deranged Marriage (Sushi Das)

My doctor is always telling me: [to take] The Psychopath Test (Jon Ronson)

absent in the springcringederanged-marriage   psychopath test

The weirdest thing that happened this past week: It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Ned Vizzini)

I often daydream about: Underwater Dogs (Seth Casteel)

The (US) government shutdown makes me: Everwild (Neal Shusterman)

If I win the lottery, I’d: [have a] Slice of No. 1 Celebration (Alexander McCall Smith)

its kind of a funny story underwater dogs everwild  slice of celebration

My superpower is: Voodoo Paper Dolls (Kwei-Lin Lum)

I knew I was a book lover when: [I realised] I’m Stuck in Your Kindle (Wally Otto)

My blogging experience has been: A Very Unusual Pursuit (Catherine Jinks)

voodoo paper dollsstuck in your kindlevery unusual pursuit

This is super fun! Click on the book covers for their Goodreads links if your appetite has been whetted by this incomparable level of titular intrigue.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Speculative Sequels…

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toptentuesday

A fine afternoon to you all – as you can probably guess from the title of this post, it’s time for one of my random occasional jaunts into meme territory, namely the ever-popular Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and The Bookish! This week’s topic is…..

BOOKS THAT I WISH HAD A SEQUEL

While most of these books are for the very young (or young at heart), I believe that they could all have done with a nicely marketed follow-up title.  I have given my suggestions (and in some cases, possible synopsises synopsi plot descriptions), but please feel free to add your own if any better ideas spring to mind.

oh the places youll go1. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss

This seems to be a perennial favourite on my TTT lists…I would like to see a sequel to this one that honours the parents and caregivers who read this one over and over to their offspring, titled….

Oh, the Places I’LL Go Once You Kids Have Moved Out

mrs queen 2

2. Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

This was a great little read, but I would like to see a sequel that is in keeping with the aftermath of most of my journeys on public transport, titled….

Mrs Queen Takes Two Aspirin and Has A Good Lie Down

guernsey3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary-Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This one, despite being a firm favourite of mine, is unlikely ever to get a sequel given that the author has since passed on, but I would like to see something to bring the story into the new millenium, titled….

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’s Organic Vegan Cookbook (for iPad)

goodnightmrtom4. Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian

A childhood favourite that I discovered (and loved!) as a grown-up.  Once again, in deference to the experience of parents everywhere, I would love to see a range of increasingly short and frustrating sequels to this one titled….

Mr Tom, Can You Read Me A Story?

Mr Tom, Can I Have A Glass of Water?

Mr Tom, I Need to Go to the Toilet…

and finishing up with Mr Tom Needs A Good Stiff Drink

 

curious incident5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

A bestseller if ever there was one, and I would love to see intrepid Christopher Boone turn his detective wiles to a sequel for the feline fanciers amongst us, titled….

The Puzzling Occurence of Cat Sick in My Slipper

phantomtollbooth

6. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I would love to see this classic of silliness and punnery followed up by something a bit more sensible and dour, titled….

The Ph-inancially Viable Tollbooth:  A No-Nonsense Guide to Beating Rising Travel Costs

wherethewildthingsare7. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Once again, I’d love to see this children’s classic tackle some of the problems that more modern children (and their imaginary friends) may be facing, in a sequel titled….

Where the Wild Things Were: Children’s Excessive Screen Time and the Demise of the Mythical Creature

harold and the purple crayon

8. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

The oft-told tale of the small child and his creative spirit….I would be hoping for a sequel in a sort of “Where is he now?” type of vein, titled…

Harold and the Neutral Paintbrush.…being a memoir of a young graffiti offender’s participation in community beautification programs

whereisthegreensheep

9.  Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

For this fun and frolicky tale, I’d love to see the sequel that charts the farmer’s instant emotional reaction on discovering that s/he is missing a sheep, titled….

Who Left the Bloody Gate Open?

and finally,

neverending story10. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

I don’t have a suggested title for this one, but if it doesn’t have a sequel it’s just a case of false advertising really.

So that’s my two bob’s worth – feel free to chime in with your own suggested titles – I’d love to hear from you!

Oh look, here’s a large enticing button…

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Until next time, my friends!

Bruce

Read it if….:A Two-for-One Deal

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Today must be your lucky day – two reviews in the one post! You’re welcome.

Has anyone else noticed that books featuring a main character who exhibits behaviours characteristic of the Autism Spectrum are having a bit of a heyday at present?  I’ve recently read and enjoyed a number of these including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The London Eye Mystery.  This past fortnight, however, I  picked up two books in this category without knowing it, and I now present to you a double Read-it-if…on the theme of fabulous diversity.

The first, Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork (isn’t that a fantastic name?!), features 17 year old Marcelo facing the unsavoury prospect of having to work in the mailroom of his father’s law firm during his summer holiday.  The story chronicles the ups and downs of Marcelo’s introduction to the “real world” as he develops a friendship with Jasmine, boss of the mailroom, and makes some difficult decisions about how to act when faced with some unexpected and potentially volatile information.

marcelo in the real world

Read it if:

* you have ever actually lived, or have ever wanted to live, in a treehouse

* you suspect that some people use the term “the real world” instead of saying “things that you aren’t grown-up enough to know about yet”

*you’ve ever made a friend in an unlikely circumstance; or conversely, if you have ever trusted the wrong person

* you believe that you do not fit neatly under a label that has been applied to you, and that this is not a bad thing

This story flowed nicely and engaged me immediately – there is nothing spectacular that singles this book out as one to read above the many other titles out there, but it is certainly a solid story with sensitively drawn characters and believable scenarios.

The plot of the second book, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, came as an utter surprise to me because I was mistakenly under the impression (after a clearly brief reading of the blurb and a filtered glimpse at the picture on the cover) that this was to be a story about World War II.  Now although stories  set in World War II are particular favourites of mine, The Rosie Project had plenty of charm to alleviate my ever-so-slight disappointment at my own mistaken conjecturing.

Don Tillman is an associate professor of genetics at a Melbourne university who decides that in order to meet the perfect mate, he must resort to designing and distributing a questionnaire to root out any undesirable candidates and reliably lead him toward “The One”.  Enter Rosie, who Don mistakenly assumes is an eager candidate, and watch as the hijinks unfold.  The book follows the developing friendship between Don and Rosie, with chuckle-inducing results.

rosie project

Read it if:

*you have a very particular wish-list to which any aspiring love-match must conform

* you possess the ability to unintentionally amuse others by your actions or words

*you are a moderate-alcohol-consumer, non-smoker and eater of meat

*you’re looking for a nice light romantic comedy with a difference

I found this book both humorous and believeable, even though some of the situations, particularly with regard to Don’s ability to learn new skills, are beyond the bounds of reasonable expectation.  This is a good pick-up, put-down read for those days when you just want a brain break.

The interesting thing about these two books is that while they can be categorised as “Aspie” books, neither main character conforms to that particular label.  Both characters realise that they seem to be wired differently from the common herd, but Marcelo notes that his behaviours don’t fit the diagnosis, and Don is not aware that his behaviours fit the label (despite giving a memorable lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome in one scene of the book!).  In both books, the characters’ personality really drives the narrative, rather than the label of Asperger’s, which I thought worked very well.

Until next time,

Bruce

Read it if…: A Juicy Double Review

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It’s that time again! Today I have a special treat – two reviews for the price of one post.  I believe it suits the festive snowy vibe that has recently come over this blog….actually, the snow is a feeble attempt to hit back at the disgusting heat we are experiencing in my neck of the shelf at the moment. Oh, Summer, why do you torment us so?

But! To business! My first musings centre around an extraordinary and engaging tome, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, by Italo Calvino.  This strange reading experience is certainly like nothing I have ever read and follows the story of you, the Reader, who on picking up a novel – in fact, this very novel! – at the bookstore, find an error in your copy.  The story centres around your attempts to track down a clean copy of the novel, and takes you on a wild goose chase across a wide range of genres.

if on a winters

Read it if:

  • you enjoy books that require you to forget the outside world and focus your attention solely on the world of the text
  • you get excited about thick, complex prose that flows around you like golden syrup over pancakes
  • you don’t mind being deliberately disrupted just when the story gets interesting

This was a very different, interesting reading experience, although I did find it required a large amount of my concentration.  On the plus side, it is definitely a book that can be picked up and put down without fear of losing one’s place, and as such may best suit the reader who has several books on the go at once.

Book number two is a sweet little (literally, little!) tale of a young lad who is a hero in his own lunch hour (or bedtime, as the case may be), The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey.

the-amber-amulet

Read it if:

  • you have ever wanted to don a cape and mask and secretly set the world to rights
  • you have a pet that has ever embarrassed you at a key social moment
  • you’ve ever experienced the guilt of accidentally doing the wrong thing while trying to do the right thing
  • you believe in the healing properties of amber…and friendship

This is a fantastic and short read – I snuck a peek at it while my fleshling owner was busy tending to the youngling’s bath and managed to finish it before they had finished! It’s also beautifully illustrated, which adds an extra touch of luxury to the look of the tome.  This one is definitely worth a look.

Until next time,

Bruce