Sunday, 18 February 2018

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

By: EK Johnston
Published: October 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Press
Source: Bought
Rating: 5/5







About

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Honestly the first thing that got me interested in this book was the fact that it was a YA set in Canada! Those are so rare and so hard to find that I KNEW I had to read this book!

I also have a fascination with Canadian history and the different factors that have lead to Canada being the way it is (and the problems that are present). So the idea of an alternate history of Canada sounded so cool. I couldn't wait to see how changing one aspect in the past would create a completely different Canada to the one we know now. 

Personally, I think that the world building in this novel was very well done and also very unique. I am very well acquainted with Canadian history and traditions so it was super fun to see what things disappeared and what things got carried through as a result of the change in history. Things like the Log Driver's Waltz and summers up at the cottage were carried through even as other things were vastly different. As well, I felt like the book did a good job of not brushing over Canada's racist and unjust past- it was mentioned and talked about by the characters- but at the same time the plot wasn't bogged down by constant analysis of how unjust Canada is/was. 

Another thing I didn't expect going into this book was the LGBTQ+ representation but I thought it was very well written. The characters where so realistic and well-rounded. None of them were confined to a stereotypical portrayal of their orientation or one aspect of their personality. For anyone who is interested this book has lesbian, bisexual, intersex and demi representation in the main cast. 

I would highly recommend this book if you like reading YA set in Canada, historical fiction/romance or are looking for some good LGBTQ representation!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

5 Picture Books For Learning


Today I thought I would share 5 picture books I read in January with my students! They love being read to and I love reading out loud so books are a regular part of our routine. In January I used these 5 picture books to help my students understand new ideas


What Do You Do with an Idea?
What Do You Do with an Idea?

We read this book in science to help us understand where our ideas come from, how it feels when we make fun of others ideas, and what good group work looks like ! My students loved the illustrations!

What Do You Do with a Problem?
What Do You Do with a Problem?
We read this book because I noticed students were having difficulty problem solving and would get upset when things weren't working out. They loved how a problem turned into an opportunity in this book and now we refer back to this book whenever we need a reminder.

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Rosie Revere, Engineer
This book served as some reinforcement on the lesson of group work and how we should respond to the ideas of others. We have also been doing a lot of building in science so it gave the kids an idea of what sort of things they can invent

Iggy Peck, Architect
Iggy Peck, Architect
Its been so much fun to connect our building unit with literature and Iggy Peck was a perfect way to do that! The kids also recognized Rosie in his class which I thought was cool because it shows they are paying attention!

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree
Lastly we read the giving tree as we talked about kindness, giving to others, recognizing the good works others do and how we can be kind to our classmates. Many of my students had already read this book but they never turn down an opportunity to be read to!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Invictus


Invictus

By: Ryan Graudin
Published: September 26th, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Bought
Rating: 5/5

About 
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 

Goodreads



My Thoughts

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of Ryan's very first book way back when and its been so amazing to follow her career since then! Way back then we talked a lot about Doctor Who together so I was pretty excited to find out that Ryan was going to be writing a book about time travelling thieves- I knew the story was in good hands!

I LOVED all the characters in this novel. They were so well fleshed out and 3 dimensional. Each of them had their quirks, their strengths and their weaknesses but the best thing was seeing how they came together to form their own little family aboard a their time travelling space ship. I couldn't even pick a favourite character because I loved all of them for different reasons! 

But the other highlight of this book was the storyline. Even though it was full of fun and interesting characters this book had a seriously awesome plot about the end of the world as we know it! Someone Ryan manages to create this fun, fluffy atmosphere of love and adventure between the crew, while they also have to deal with the potential collapse and end of the universe. I don't know how she manages to write such a fun book with such an intense plot but it was amazing!

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Doctor Who, time travel, found families, friendships and historic elements in their novels!


Monday, 30 October 2017

Pumpkin Spice Secrets

Pumpkin Spice Secrets 


By: Hillary Homzie 
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: September 12th, 2017
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (thank you!)
My Rating: 3.5/5


"Swirl books are the perfect flavor: A sweet blend of friends, crushes, and fun. Curl up and take a sip! 

Synopsis

Just as Maddie picks up her favorite pumpkin spice drink from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute guy standing behind her! Luckily, her embarrassment evaporates into a crush when she starts chatting with him -- his name is Jacob, and he's just starting in her grade at her middle school. 

But before Maddie can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush -- on the same guy! Maddie doesn’t want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over her crush soon, right? 

Add major school stress to Maddie's secret, and it's a recipe for disaster. Can she keep her cool and work things out with both Jacob and Jana before it all turns into a total mess?"

My Thoughts

I was asked to review this book by the Canadian distributor, this in no way influenced my review

The audience of this book is definitely younger then I am but I tried to take a more balanced approached when I was reviewing. I did really enjoy it but I think the story would have a lot more impact for the target age (middle school).

First off the title and cover of this book are so cute! I could definitely see kids picking this book up just because of that which is always a great thing- kids have to pick up the books in order to read them! The other great thing is that this is a series of books (A Swirl Novel), which are all themed after hot drinks!

Even though this books seems like it would just be super cute and fluffy, it deals with some pretty important things for middle grade students but it doesn't come off as too patronizing. I love how Maddie was so concerned about her friends, and at times was a little over dramatic. That's so realistic and I feel like a lot of my students can relate to being in similar situations- a first big crush, trouble with friends and trying to balance all of that with school and home life. I also found her anxiety around debate was something that a lot of people can relate too!

The other characters were also very well written: Jacob was a sweetheart and a little bit confused about what was going on most of the time, Jana was a lionhearted and made things happen! Each of them had their own strengths and weaknesses (sometimes the same thing was both) and they had to figure out how to work with who they were. 

I LOVED that the sort of message behind this book wasn't about trying to change who you are to fit it. Middle school is such a tough time and lots of things tell people that who they are isn't enough. This book celebrates the uniqueness of each character and shows how when they are themselves, they can truly shine. The teacher in me loves this message and wants all my students to understand it- what better way to teach then to read a book!

I would definitely recommend this book to teachers who want to add to their classroom library, parents looking to get their kids into reading and to kids who want a realistic but fun book about being in middle school, having crushes, and friendships!




I recreated the cover of this book and then realized my hands were upside down compared to the actual cover!










Below I have two special extras to share thanks to the wonderful people at Thomas Allen & Son. The first is MY favourite drink recipe:





And the second is an sneak peek at Book 2 in the series- Peppermint Cocoa Crushes- Enjoy!