Sunday, 23 August 2020

End of summer post...

This is my last week off before I return to work.  I know it’s been a long five-and-a-half months, but believe it or not, I almost feel like I could use an extra week to finish things up.  This is not uncommon at the end of summer break, and of course I’m far more prepared than other years, given that I’ve had all this extra time at home.  I spent a couple of hours this morning finishing up a few tasks that I want to get done before I begin work, like crumbling dried herbs from the garden and cleaning out the fridge.  *Sigh*  It’s a melancholy time, but I’ll do my best to make the most of next week.  

I have three books and an audiobook to tell you about, so I’ll give just a brief summary of each. Last week I read A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan, about a girl named Violet whose family moves to a town called Perfect because her father got a new job.  He is an ophthalmologist and was sought out by the men who run the town, George and Edward Archer.  When they arrive, they are met by these brothers and offered a tea that takes on the flavour of whatever the drinker loves best.  They are then told that they will go blind, but that if they wear the rose-tinted glasses that everyone in the town wears, their vision will be restored.  Everyone loves living in Perfect except Violet, who senses that something weird is going on.  She meets a boy from No Man’s Land, located outside the walls of the town, to whom she feels a connection.  When her father goes missing, she and the boy must work together to try to save him, and the town, before the brothers can go ahead with their evil plan.  This book, while interesting, seemed to take forever to read.  It was well-written, although I felt it borrowed heavily from other classic children’s stories, and the plot moved along at a decent pace, but for some reason I felt that I would never reach the end.  I wanted to read this book because I bought this and the next in the series, The Trouble With Perfect, and I was hoping to be able to recommend them to my junior students.  

I also read a Young Adult book by Sarah Enni, Tell Me Everything.  This novel tells the story of Ivy, a shy artist-type who is beginning to have more intense feelings for her BFF Harrold right before he heads off to what she calls “Smartypants” summer camp.  To fill her time, she discovers an app called VEIL, where local people can post content anonymously.  She checks it all the time, but never posts anything of her own.  When Harold returns from camp and seems more distant, Ivy tries to keep herself busy by identifying some of the posters on the app, and if they are dealing with something difficult, doing something to make them feel better.  While this might seem like a noble idea, things backfire and Ivy must think of a way to fix everything before she loses all the things that mean the most to her.  This was an awesome book!  I thought it dealt with themes of privacy, both on- and off-line, really well, in a way that young people could relate to.  Ivy was into photography as well as other forms of art, and I thought she could be inspirational for students who were also shy creative types.  The story moved at a good pace, but didn’t feel rushed, nor did it drag.  In short, I loved it and will definitely be recommending it to my intermediate students.

And I finally read Kate Di Camillo’s short novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, about a china bunny named Edward who is owned and loved by a little girl named Abilene.  Edward is very pleased with himself, thinking he is quite fine, much better than other toys.  When on a ship with the Tulane family, Edward is lost and has various adventures, some pleasant, some harsh, until he finally learns to love.  What an amazing story, so sweet, and sad, and ultimately uplifting.  I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, and finally sat down and got through it in a day.  The illustrations in my copy are lovely, too, adding even more depth to the story.

And I finished listening to an audiobook last week by Alafair Burke, All Day and a Night, which is part of the “Ellie Hatcher” series.  I have enjoyed standalones by Burke in the past, but this is the first in this series that I’ve listened to, and it was just ok.  The novel opens with psychotherapist Helen Brunswick wrapping up her last client on a Sunday afternoon.  She is hoping to get home in time to enjoy the Oscars Red Carpet pre-show with her kids, but instead meets with a gruesome end.  When convicted murderer Anthony Amaro receives a letter claiming that this murder is connected to the one for which he was convicted eighteen years ago, the NYPD and Utica police must reopen this case, as well as the other five unsolved murders of prostitutes that they thought Amaro was guilty of but for which he was never tried.  Can Ellie and her partner, along with Ellie’s boyfriend, an assistant district attorney, find out who killed Brunswick and the others before more people end up dead?  Not my favourite book, and probably not a series I’d be inclined to turn to, even in times of audiobook desperation.  But who knows… maybe I haven’t hit that level of desperation yet.

That’s all for today.  Stay cool and keep reading!

Bye for now…
Julie

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