Friday, May 18, 2012

What is Literacy & The Book Whisperer

I have now returned to school after 14 weeks of placement. This means I have significantly less time to read purely for pleasure and now have some required books to read in connection with my courses. However I am taking a course on Language, Learning, and Literacy. So our class is having a lot of interesting discussions on literacy in our country (Canada) and ways we can incorporate literacy into therapy (speech) sessions. I hope to bring some of those topics here to discuss how you feel about them.

Our discussion was about What is Literacy through the books we treasured in our childhood or as we developed into the reader we are today. A lot of my early memories of books and the books I favoured involved other people, like my mother reading it to be before I could read it myself, of a teacher reading it to the class, of reading it with a group of peers and trying to figure out what it meant, of it being a gift from someone special, etc. Do you have some special books in your life that are special because of a connection to other people?

We also talked about things that attracted us to literacy, e.g. the cover, illustrations, being interactive, the search of knowledge, the idea of being like the big kids/not "being a baby" (not being able to read), independance, etc. What drew you to literacy? What pushed you away?


As part of this class we are also reading the book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller in the form of several book clubs/groups. We will read one chapter a week for the next 7 weeks and I will do my best to post each week my thoughts and feelings about that section of the book and I'd love it if you would join me.

Read along with me or read it all and once it is up to you. However I ask that you will only impart your opinions week by week on the chapter being discussed to keep spoilers to a minimum. Or just let me know as a comment to this post if you have read this book and what you thought about it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: The Last Heiress

Title: The Last Heiress
Author: Bertrice Small
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: paperback
Published: 2005
Rating: 3/5

Elizabeth Meredith, the youngest daughter of Rosamund Bolton, is nothing like her sensible sisters. Impatient with fancy manners and careful speech, the young beauty has shunned the royal court in favor of a quiet life at Friarsgate. That is, until she learns that in order to protect the future of the land she loves, she must venture into the court of King Henry VIII to find a suitable husband. Elizabeth quickly scandalizes the royal court by forging a friendship with the king's friend Anne Boleyn and by indulging in a delicious flirtation with Flynn Stewart, a bastard brother of King James V of Scotland. But her real future lies back at Friarsgate, where her admitted weakness for Scots sends her into the strong arms of Baen MacColl. Yet Elizabeth's greatest passion is for her lands; and Baen MacColl's loyalties may lie elsewhere. Can Elizabeth and Baen overcome the barriers that threaten to separate them? And can Elizabeth, by following the calling of her heart, still protect Friarsgate?

This book, the fourth and final of the Friarsgate Inheritance series begins with Elizabeth as a young woman in her twenties who has been the Lady of Friarsgate since she was 14 managing her land and sheep with the help of her steward Edmund Bolton and a variety of servants. For the future of the property it is necessary for there to be heirs to pass down Friarsgate to when Elizabeth can no longer care for it, however Elizabeth would gladly never marry as she is very independent and her first love has always been Friarsgate, which was passed down to her by her mother after her elder sister refused to take on the responsibility of it.

Setting: The characters of this book travel back and forth from Friarsgate in Cumbria on the border of Engand and Scotland, Claven's Carn in Scotland near the border, Greyhaven in the Scottish Highlands, King Henry VIII's court at Greenwich and London, England, and several mansions owned by Elizabeth's uncle also in England. Everything takes place between the winter of 1530 and June 1536 during the reign of King Henry VIII specifically during the time he was still married but no longer with Katherine of Aragon to the end of his time with Anne Boleyn.

Characters: There are so many characters either directly included or just mentioned that I lost count. The main character however is Elizabeth the daughter of Rosamund Bolton (previous Lady of Friarsgate) and the late Owein Meredith (a welsh countryman turned knight of King James IV). Elizabeth has two elder sisters Philippa (now Countess of Witten) and Banon, and with her mother's second marriage to Laird Logan Hepburn she now has four younger half brothers; James, Tavis, Edmund, and Alexander, and one stepbrother John from Logan's first marriage. While still at Friarsgate she meets Baen MacColl, the Scottish bastard son of the Colin Hay (Lord of Greyhaven), and Tora Gunn who has come to purchase some of Friarsgate's well known sheep. In order to find a husband for Elizabeth she goes to King Henry VIII's court with her uncle Thomas Bolton (Lord Cambridge) where she meets the King, his mistress Anne Boleyn and Flynn Stewart the half-brother and messenger of Scotland's King James V.

Age Recommendation: Due to some explicit sexually graphic content, I would recommend this book first and foremost to adults but could also be read by some mature young adults.

Overall, I enjoyed this book however it took me ages to read. This was primarily due to originally reading this book only aloud back and forth with my mother. Click here for more details on that. However with me moving around for college placements, and work schedules it just didn't work out. We then decided to divide the book and read 3 chapters each week (only about 70 pages) on our own then on Sundays we would discuss what had happened, who the new characters were, etc. more like a book club. This worked a LOT better as you can see since we finally finished the book, together!

I read some other reviews (mostly one liners on Goodreads) of this book before & while I was reading this book and there was a lot of talk of this book being very repetitive, especially for those who have read the previous three books. However what I guessed they might have been referring to, I found really useful. I haven't read the previous books so I found the explanations of who everyone was in Elizabeth's family really helped me to understand where everyone fit in and some of what happened in the past in order to better understand the dynamics between some of the characters.

I feel this book is fine as a stand alone and I only decreased my star rating do to the excessive detail Bertrice Small goes into the bedroom scenes that I found somewhat unnecessary although that might be what some are looking for in a romance novel which is definitely more romance than historical. I do however plan to go back and read the rest of the series as I would like to read more about what Elizabeth's mother was like when she was younger as well as the years prior to this book when Elizabeth is growing up.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Buddy Reads - Divergent and City of Bones

 In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

I just finished reading this book and I loved it. I will hopefully have a review of it up soon (as I seem to be saying a lot - to myself anyways - oh dear). It is the first in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth and I would definitely recommend that everyone who likes dystopian type books to pick up this one if you haven't already. If you haven't read it yet, or are currently reading it here's a link to the Buddy Read thread I have been participating in to discuss the book.


When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Although I have owned for some time now the box set of the first three of this series (The Mortal Instruments) and have recently acquired both the fourth book "City of Fallen Souls" and the first of the prequel series (Infernal Devices) "Clockwork Angel" I have yet to read any of them or anything by Cassandra Clare for that matter. I have heard a lot of good things about her work. So I decided to start in on this series with City of Bones thanks to the starting of a  Buddy Read for the book that you are all welcome to join in on. The more the merrier to discuss City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.


If you have read either of these books leave me a comment about what you thought about them (without leaving too many spoilers) and/or if you are a member of Goodreads feel free to stop by either of the buddy reads threads I have mentioned! Hope to see you there! (or here!) :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Chat: Desert Island Books

Hey guys! So I was over at The Book Rat blog and Misty started the Book Chat off with 5 "books" you would take with you if you found yourself deserted on an island (and someone else already brought all the survival stuff lol). Here are the categories and what I chose (bending the rules a bit of course):
  1. A Book you've read before and want to re-read...
  2. A Book you've never read and have always been meaning to read...
  3. A Childhood favourite...
  4. A Series or a Book that has been recommended to you a lot...
  5. A Freebie (choose anything you like)

  1. This is a hard one. Even though I have read a lot of great books I always prefer reading something for the first time rather than re-reading it so there aren't many I have re-read (or would want to). I guess if I had to pick one though I'd go with Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I read this book originally in high school where I did a book presentation, an essay, and no doubt some other analysis, but that was awhile ago and I think it may deserve a re-read or two (or more depending on how long I am stuck on the island). Also the copy I have once was my Grandmother's, who is no longer with us, so it would be comforting to have with me.
  2. I liked where Misty was going with this one so I think I shall follow suit and choose The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I own a copy (not the one pictured) but haven't read most of it. I picture reading it on the island and when I got bored then we (whoever is on the island with me, or me myself and I) could act out the plays.
  3. My childhood favourite is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. For no other reason than I remember really enjoying this book as a child and the land Milo enters when the Phantom Tollbooth appears in his room...
  4. The Series I would choose would be The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories... so for this "book" I guess I'd have a massive bind-up that includes the first 56 "original" Nancy Drew stories by Carolyn Keene. I've read most (if not all) of them at one point or another, mostly as a child, and really adore Nancy and her friends/family as characters. May not want to carry around this bind-up though lol.
  5. My last choice would be a bind up (again lol) of The Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherfurd which includes The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland. I haven't read either of these books but they are so massive I figure why not give them a go on a deserted island... and I'd learn (somewhat) a large chunk of the history of Ireland at the same time. (just in case our saviors are Irish ;) )
 Check out Misty at The Book Rat's Blog/Vlog post here, and in the comments bellow let me know what books/series you would take with you! (or leave a link to your own blog post!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Progress: Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Since the gripping conclusion of Once a Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother's prophesy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision - one so terrible that it could destroy her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady's maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice.

This is the sequel to Once a Witch also by Carolyn MacCullough and is the continuation of the story of Tamsin Greene, a girl brought up in a family of Talented witches and led to believe she had no Talent at all. Talent in this case is a skill of magic that a person is able to perform. Each member of Tamsin's family as a different Talent, for example her mother can move so quickly she seems to disappear from one location and appear in another, her father can control the weather, her sister can influence others to do as she pleases or make inanimate objects repeat what they have "overheard".

The main themes in this book (and the series as a whole) are family rivalries, magic, time travel, and the struggle to find one's own greater purpose in life.

I am currently 55% through this book and so far I am enjoying it quite a bit, It is a fairly quick read and if I had more time to devote to reading it I'd be finished by now. I haven't heard if Carolyn MacCullough plans to make it a trilogy but I will most definitely keep an eye out just in case. From other reviews, however, I have hear that how this book ends (although I don't yet know how it does) would not be conducive to continuing into another book.

Leave a comment below if you would be interested in reading a review of this book when I have finished reading it, or if you have read it and what you thought about it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Current Reads

Here's what I am currently reading, who knew there would be so many! 
  1.  Garden of Evil by Dave Martin
    Started: June 20, 2011
    Completed: who knows
    Genre: Science Fiction
    (Make Your Own Adventure - not enjoying style)
  2. The Last Heiress by Bertrice Small
    Started: June 22, 2011
    Completed: 58%
    Genre: Historical Romance
    (Private Group Read: 2-3 chapters per week)
  3. Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
    Started: February 5, 2012
    Completed: 31%
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    (Has been pushed aside more than once by other books)
  4. Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
    Started: April 26, 2012
    Completed: 9%
    Genre: YA/Fantasy
  5. Paper Towns by John Green
    Started: April 28, 2012
    Completed: 28%
    Genre: YA/Contemporary Romance - Audiobook
  6. Divergent by Veronica Roth
    Started: April 30, 2012
    Completed: 18%
    Genre: YA/Dystopian
    (Goodreads Buddy Read: at own pace)
Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Not like them? Also what are feelings towards books that allow you to "Make your own adventure", where you read so far and then are given a choice that sends you to different sections of the book based on the choice you make.

Updates, updates, updates...

Hello world, how's it hanging?

As you may have noticed I still haven't posted much here. If you are extremely astute you will have seen that I have been updating my challenges page as I read more books. I have however started many more challenges (through which I haven't listed but will mention more fully in an upcoming post. My alphabet challenge, in my opinion, is going will and is looking optimistic that this year I will be able to successfully complete it.

If you haven't already moved over to check out my YouTube channel please do so as you will find a variety of book reviews, and book haul shown there. Also keep an eye out for my April Wrap-up video that will be posted soon as well as a May TBR (to be read) video that will update you on what I am currently reading as well as a couple other books I hope to start and finish by the end of May.

Also at any time you can check out what I've read and am reading on Goodreads or for any other random updates Twitter.