Sunday, 17 February 2019

Book talk on a long winter weekend...

It’s Family Day weekend and I’m enjoying the thought that I have an extra day off tomorrow to do whatever I want, which will surely include not only cleaning the house, but also a few additional hours of reading!  I have a cup of steaming chai tea and a yummy Date Bar in front of me… delicious! I'm using a different mug today, one that I bought up in Owen Sound a few years ago made by one of their local artists, Kate McLaren (http://artistscoop.ca/project/kate-mclaren/).  The design is wonderful, but I hardly ever use it for some reason. I ran a Cup and Mug Drive at school for our local Soup Kitchen, so in the past two weeks, I’ve been collecting mugs, sorting mugs, and wrapping mugs, and seemingly doing little else.  I went through the many, many mugs that I have at home to consider which ones I could donate and which ones I absolutely HAD to keep, which made me think about what makes a mug worthy of home shelf space. For me, a mug has to have an appealing design; basically, it has to look good.  I have fairly small hands, so a mug also has to fit well in them, as I often like to cradle my mug in my hands for warmth. The handle has to feel right, too; it can’t be too wide or too narrow, it can’t jut out too far or be too small to fit at least three fingers. And it has to sit right on my bottom lip while I'm sipping;  the ceramic can’t be too thick, but I also don’t like cups that are made of very thin glass, either. So I’m going to test this mug out and see if it passes the “Keep” test… So far, the design is beautiful, a handmade mug depicting a windswept fir tree on a desolate landscape. It is perfectly rounded so it fits well in my hands. It is easy and enjoyable to drink from.  Hmmm… it passes all the tests so far, so I wonder why I never use it. Maybe it is difficult to wash, the final criteria for “the perfect mug”. I guess I’ll find that out when I finish my tea, but so far, I'm having a delightful sipping experience!
Enough about mugs and tea.  Let’s talk about books! I read another Young Adult book last week to check whether it would be appropriate for my library.  Karen McManus’ debut novel One Of Us Is Lying is a high school whodunnit involving characters similar to the cast of the 1980s movie “The Breakfast Club”, and it was awesome!  Five teens are given after-school detentions for bringing cell phones to class, phones that aren’t even theirs. During the detention, one of the the students has a severe allergic reaction and ends up dead.  The other four are suspects, but who could have done this, and why? Told from the points of view of the four suspects, Addy the Beauty, Bronwyn the Brain, Carter the Jock and Nate the Criminal, details about their high school and home life experiences are filled in, as well as their experiences with Simon, their dead classmate, who was anything but an angel.  Simon ran a weekly online gossip column about his fellow classmates, revealing personal and often highly sensitive details about the lives of individuals, making him less than popular and more than a little feared. Police focus their investigation on the four students who were with Simon at the time of his death and seem determined to pin the crime on one of them.  Although they barely know each other, they must learn to work together to find out who the real killer is, while also doing their best to stay off the police radar as much as possible. This book was great for a number of reasons. It was a real whodunnit in the tradition of Agatha Christie (think And Then There Were None) or the game Clue (“Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick”).  It kept this reader guessing until the last chapter. I liked that it was told from various points of view so I felt that I was getting to know each character and experiencing along with them the frustration at the stalled investigation.  It was a bit over-the-top, but not entirely unbelievable, and while I think some of the content was too mature for my students, I would recommend it to anyone from grade 9 up. It was a perfect read for this week because it was really interesting and made me want to read (I had a “snow day” on Tuesday and was totally housebound, so I was happy to spend many hours reading!).  It included a love story for Valentine’s Day, it was also about family for Family Day, and about unexpected friendships. And while most of the story took place between September and November, the final chapter was dated February 16, and I finished the book on February 15, which was a bit of a coincidence. I would recommend this book to adults as well as teens, and would advise that you not be put off by the similarity to “The Breakfast Club”, as I initially was.  While it is a bit of a retelling, it is so very much more!
That’s all for today.  Happy Family Day weekend, and remember to make time to read on your extra day off!  
Bye for now…
Julie

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