Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: The “Mysterious and Intriguing” MG and YA Edition…(featuring a Top Book of 2015!)



Well I hope nobody’s still saddle sore from Friday’s Round-Up because today I have three YA and MG titles that you are definitely going to want to hitch to your TBR post. I received all three from their respective publishers via Netgalley and was pleasantly surprised to find them to be thoroughly enjoyable, with a sense of the unexplained. In fact, I enjoyed one of them so much, it has made my list of TOP BOOKS OF 2015! On that exciting note, let’s ride on in!

First up, we have a YA title featuring multiple contributors and a quick, relatable read.

M is for Autism (The Students of Limpsfield Grange School and Vicky Martin)

Two Sentence Synopsis: M is for autism

M isn’t sure why she sees things differently from other people but it certainly makes things harder for her to fit in with her peers. With the possibility of a medical diagnosis looming, M wonders whether a label will help her blend in…or make her stick out even more.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is unlike any book you’ve read with a main character who displays characteristics on the Autistic Spectrum. For a start, the main character is female, and as you delve into M’s readable-in-one-sitting journey, it is highly likely that you will recognise many of M’s fears, experiences and characteristics as similar to those you might have personally experienced or displayed. With eye-dazzling illustrations dotted throughout giving a glimpse into M’s inner turmoil, this book is a highly polished piece of work that will appeal greatly to teenagers who feel like they don’t fit in, as much as it will to older readers looking for an original take on an “autism” novel. The experiences of M’s mother are also realistically portrayed and it was intriguing to see how M internalised her family’s reactions to her behaviour. I highly recommend this book to everyone: it won’t take you long to get through, but it will leave you with some things to ponder well after you’ve finished.

Brand it with:

Sisters doing it for themselves, square peg/round hole, parental freakouts

Next up, as promised on Friday, we have everyone’s favourite stinky monster: Bigfoot!

Sasquatch (Andrea Schicke Hirsch)

Two Sentence Synopsis:sasquatch

Since his parents’ divorce, Jake elected to live with his dad, which means moving to his late Uncle Horace’s cabin in the deep woods of a tiny town. Uncle Horace was known as the town crackpot because of his fascination with Sasquatch and his belief that one lived in the very woods surrounding Jake’s new home – but with malodorous wafts, strange calls in the night and even stranger happenings when he goes walking in the woods, Jake’s not so sure his uncle was crazy after all.

Muster up the motivation because:

It’s rare to find a YA novel with a strong male protagonist who isn’t either bully or bullied, labelled as a nerd or a jock, and who possesses confidence and the ability to look after himself and manage his own emotions. Plus, it’s about Bigfoots (Bigfeet?). There was something very refreshing about this novel and I suspect it has something to do with the fact that it steered away from the overused YA tropes I’ve mentioned above and just stuck to good old-fashioned, realistic monster hunting. Of course, one can’t spend all one’s time hunting Sasquatch and there are plenty of non-monster related problems that Jake gets himself into with his new neighbours and friends and the book is better for it. The author has managed to blend the “real-life” issues of a young lad with a mythical overlay and realistic characters and the result is a quality read. Overall, this is a fun, engaging novel with a fantasy edge, some satisfying twists and authentic portrayals of teenagers left to their own devices with a mythical beast (possibly) on the loose.

Brand it with:

Who cut the cheese?, love lies bleeding, live and let live, revenge served hot

Finally, onto our middle-grade offering for today and one of my…..TOP BOOKS OF 2015!

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: Twenty Chilling Tales from the Wilderness (Hal Johnson and Tom Mead)

Two Sentence Synopsis: creatures of the lumberwoods 2

Reader, find in this tome the true-life stories of fantastical beasts that roam the North American landscape. From the Gumberoo to the Hodag, and the Snoligoster to the Timberdoodle (although this one only gets a passing mention), everyone’s favourite obscure mythical beasts are given their terrifying due in this not-to-be-missed instructional guide.

Muster up the motivation because:

The disarmingly hilarious turns of phrase, dry humour that creeps up and forces a chuckle and running joke about the French will have you giggling unexpectedly and furrowing your brow by turns in equal measure. This illustrated collection of tall tales is like Monty Python for nine-year-olds. The book is beautifully presented (although I did have MAJOR issues reading this on both Adobe Digital Editions and Bluefire Reader – perhaps due to the large file size) and deserves to be read in print. The individual stories are short enough to dip into before bedtime but long enough to leave a lasting imprint on the individual’s psyche. I’m certain the image of one hunter, returning to civilisation “brokenhearted, with only a timberdoodle in his sack” will be one I cherish for some time to come. Same goes for the killing technique of the deadly Snoligoster, the effect of which, according to the author, is “quite delightful to watch, but also tragic and disgusting”. I heartily recommend this new imagining of an old work to intrepid, confident young readers in about grades 4 to 7, and to adults with a sense of humour of around the same age.

Brand it with:

Tall tales, if you go down to the woods today, instructional guides

So there you have it. I will admit to a bit of cheekiness, hiding one of my TOP BOOKS OF 2015 within a Round-Up, but I like to keep you on your toes and see who’s really paying attention. I have gone on a bit in this Round-Up, but occasionally you find some real gems out there but can’t necessarily fit them in to the individual posting schedule, and these three warrant a bit of long-windedness. I hope you find something here to please.

Until next time,


Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: The Unexpectedly Charming Picture Book Edition…



Saddle up them reading glasses partners, because we’ve got some rustling to do….rustling pages that is! Okay, I’ll give up on the sad dad jokes and just get on with today’s Reading Round-up for the littlies and those that appreciate a charming and quirky picture book. I received each of these titles from their respective publishers via Netgalley.

First up, we have an ingenious book about dads gone astray.

The Bureau of Misplaced Dads (Eric Veille and Pauline Martin)

Two Sentence Synopsis: misplaced dads

When a little boy’s father isn’t where he left him the Bureau of Misplaced Dads steps in to help. But what will happen if the boy can’t find his father amongst the delightful and diverse group of dads waiting to be found?

Muster up the motivation because:

Apart from the charming illustrations and the general sense of realistic whimsy associated with a Bureau of Misplaced Dads (one can’t quite imagine a Bureau of Misplaced Mums, somehow!), this is a fun, original and reassuring take on the common fear of losing a parent. The collection of dads at the Bureau (ranging from Ancient dads of the classical era, to circus dads and everything in between) is hilarious and while the boy never comes close to choosing a replacement father, there’s a subtle undercurrent begging the question regarding the special characteristics of one’s own father when compared to these available specimens. The cheering ending is heart-warming and funny … although I was left wondering how long it would be before the Bureau dads found their owners.

Brand it with:

Lost and found, fathers and sons, bureaucracy gone mad, having a mummy look

Now for a trip into mythology!

I Know Sasquatch (Jess Bradley)

Two Sentence Synopsis: i know a sasquatch

You always thought Sasquatch was a big stinky furball stomping around in the wilderness, am I right? Well, according to this young adventurer, nothing could be further from the truth!

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a delightfully modern take on the legend of the Bigfoot. The Sasquatch himself is so cute and charming that Mad Martha was almost spurred on to make a crochet version of him to join us on the shelf. This would be a fantastic book for young readers investigating myths and legends to explore different ways in which “monsters” have been portrayed over the years. Apart from that, it’s just a fun romp through the woods with a bubble-gum chewing, blue, furry friend.

Brand it with:

Monsters, defying stereotypes, woodland creatures

And finally, one for those who are scared of things that go bump in the night…

Even Monsters Say Goodnight (Doreen Mulryan Marts)

Two Sentence Synopsis:  even monsters say goodnight

When Avery expresses concerns about where monsters might sleep on Halloween, her mother starts to explain the various sleeping habitats of all your favourite monsters. Who’d sleep under a kid’s bed when there are so many other places a monster could choose?

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a wonderful resource for parents of children who are scared of monsters under the bed. In fun, explanatory style Avery’s mother goes through a range of different monsters and explains where they sleep. As the monsters settle down in their abodes, so does little Avery and by the end even Halloween doesn’t seem so scary. The clever use of speech bubbles, text and pictures is appealing and overall this is a polished offering that should earn a regular place in the before-bed rotation.

Brand it with:

Monstrous habitats, Halloween de-scarifying, bedtime rituals

I hope you’ve found something in there to catch your eye. For those looking for books for slightly older readers, stay tuned for a YA Reading Round-Up on Monday (which oddly enough, also features a Sasquatch!).

Until next time,