Nice enough as a whole

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories
by Kel McDonald (Goodreads Author) (Editor),  Sloane Leong (Goodreads Author) (Editor),  Kate Ashwin (Editor),  Jonah Cabudol-Chalker (Contributor),  Rob Cham (Contributor),  Yiling Changues (Contributor),  Paolo Chikiamco (Goodreads Author) (Contributor),  Diigii Daguna (Contributor),  Brady Evans (Contributor),  Mark Gould (Contributor),  Gen H. (Contributor)

Middle Grade is not something I read a lot, I am pretty set on adult fiction. But this anthology looked interesting. There are some nice stories here and some that I liked less. The artwork spans various types, some of it is very simple, some very nice. The usual mixed bag. The individual stories are generally fairly short, they often also feel unfinished. 

I am disappointed in the choice of settings. Mostly the stories originate from the Philippines, there are a few from Hawaii and one story from Fiji — I had hoped for more variety. Do the Philippines even count a belonging to Oceania? And why is New Zealand mentioned in the blurb? There is no story from New Zealand.

I liked The Legend of Apolaki and Mayari by Kim Miranda. What a pretty story with nice sketches! Brother and sister end up fighting each other, a Filipino folkloric story.

Also pretty good was Nanuae the Sharkboy by Gen H. Set in Hawaii. There is shapeshifting (yay!), sharks (yay!) and the story is told a lot through images instead of text, which was done well. The ending was a bit abrupt.

The Legend of the Coconut Tree by Yiling Changues was that singular story from Fiji. Beautiful artwork. I would call it illustrated poetry? Very pretty, although I am not sure if I understood the ending correctly.

Nice enough as a whole. I would probably recommend this to friends.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Netgalley said yes…

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories (Paperback)
by Kel McDonald

Middle Grade is not something I read a lot, I am pretty set on adult fiction. But this looked good. It‘s an anthology, so I will read this in installments. I am reading so many things at the same time right now, it‘s a little silly. Never mind. I will post updates, as I make my way through this…

Tabi po, A Filipino Story, by Iole Marie Rabor

This one is about paying respect to Philippine folkloric spirits and taking that home to another place. Nicely done, very short. The artwork is very simple black and white lines.

Pele and Poliahu, A Tale of Fire and Ice, by DJ Keawekane

Hawaiian story about a sled race down a mountain. That is the superficial part of it anyway, but anything else would give away too much. A little heavy on the explaining.

The Dancing Princess by Mariel Maranan

Philippines again, this time with a Muslim character. Two girls on an excursion, talking options and meeting mysterious figures. The story was a little allover the place.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Top Ten Tuesday, funnily enough…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic: BOOKS THAT MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD

So not my topic! I like some humour in my books and I do laugh, however comedies are not my thing.

Let‘s start with my favourite book of 2015:

The Martian
by Andy Weir

I read this twice, listened to the audiobook once or twice, watched the movie several times. I love it. And it definitely makes me laugh out loud. Take one smart-arse with a wacky sense of humour, give him some knowledge of botany and mechanical engineering skills, dump him on Mars and abandon him. Watch and be entertained. 

“I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.”

Good thing he has some bad 70s TV shows, Disco and some Hercule Poirot to take his mind of things and a never ending supply of crazy ideas, how to survive until the next mission to Mars arrives to save him…

“I would only be “in command” of the mission if I were the only remaining person. What do you know? I’m in command.”

“Damn it, Jim, I’m a botanist, not a chemist!”

“Yeah. This all sounds like a great idea with no chance of catastrophic failure. That was sarcasm, by the way.”

“How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.” 

“All my brilliant plans foiled by thermodynamics. Damn you, Entropy!”

I thought the snark and humour would get annoying eventually, but they didn’t. Maybe it got old a little, later on in the book, but just a tiny, weeny bit. 

“In your face, Neil Armstrong!” 

“Beers for everyone if I get back to Earth.”

Another very funny book that really cracked me up:

Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson

Not a good choice for reading in public.

“Is it raining out?’ the reception girl asked brightly as I filled in the registration card between sneezes and pauses to wipe water from my face with the back of my arm. ‘No, my ship sank and I had to swim the last seven miles.” 

I am not sure how funny this one is — I tead it in 2011, so my memory is a little fuzzy. But my quote sounds absurd enough…

Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Unsettling, Witty Answers to Questions You Never Thought You Wanted to Ask
by New Scientist

A treasure trove of trivia. If you want to dazzle people at parties with superfluous knowledge, learn this book by heart and you are set.

“Because cats always land on their feet and toast always lands buttered side down, you can construct a perpetual motion machine by simply strapping a slice of buttered toast to a cat’s back. When the cat is dropped it will remain suspended and revolve indefinitely due to the opposing forces.”

page 72

Somehow I don’t think my cat would have seen the funny side of it, if I had tossed him from our balcony with a slice of toast strapped to his back. Tempting.

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart
by Kory Merritt

“Beware ye of little nerve,
for there is a Story out there,
lurking in the brambles,
and it knows your name.”

Soundtrack: Hotel California.

Our guys are stuck in a weird guesthouse in the middle of a creepy swamp. To pay their bills, the have to tell stories to the innkeeper and his wife. 

The Ice Cream Story, eep! Great details, laughed quite a bit. So true, as well!

Ok, Alien Abduction Story, panel 47… Who is the guy on the bottom left, next to Elvis?

Liked the artwork, liked the font, liked the stories and the monsters, was thoroughly entertained.

I am not absolutely sure, what age this is aimed at. Best guess is Middle Grade, based on the bio of the author. 

What’s It All About
by Michael Caine

Biographies are not really my genre, but this was an entertaining and funny book. The most vividly remembered parts of this book are his early years, for example London during WWII and his early excursions with Peter O’Toole. I am never quite sure — is he serious or is he taking the piss?

Ok, that‘s it for this week, just five books instead of 10. That makes me pretty even with my really long list from last week… 😝

Top Ten Tuesday, the Mardi Gras edition

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honor of Mardi Gras)

Purple-ish backlog…

The Killing Dance (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #6)
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Finally there is a resolution to the dating drama. Werewolf or vampire? I think a threesome would have been a nice outcome! But no, instead we are having big relationship troubles and jealousy. We’ll see how that’ll work out. Very hot sex scene. I will never look at my bathtub the same way again.


Once Bitten, Twice Shy
by Christina Courtenay

Cute story, although one wonders how often one woman can be kidnapped over the course of two-hundred pages. Pretty silly plot twists and I agree with other reviewers that the story bordered on the ridiculous side. Most of the side characters were so over the top, they were more like caricatures than anything else, with the impulse control and common sense of five year olds. And the ending left me pretty unsatisfied.


Marry in Haste
by Christina Courtenay

Silly, shallow and entertaining. Nice, mindless brain candy. Marriage of convenience well done.


Yellow-ish backlog…

Monday Mourning (Temperance Brennan, #7)
by Kathy Reichs

Her 7th book. The first 4 were brilliant. By no. 7 the the excitement has gone. Perhaps I got too used to the character. Or the storylines are really not as suspenseful anymore. I am not sure. My interest lasted longer than with Patricia Cornwell though.


The Blessing Stone
by Barbara Wood

Several short stories, loosely connected by the wanderings of the Blessing Stone through the ages. I liked the earlier stories, but the further on we got in history, the more boring I found the stories. Towards the end I was skimming quite a bit. I did finish, but I was pretty under-whelmed.


The Walking Dead #1
by Robert Kirkman

At first I was a bit confused, because Rick doesn’t look like Rick. And then I wanted to smack myself, because the comic came before the TV series.

I really like the black-white-and-grey pencil work. Minimalistic, but great in telling the story. Very good artwork. By now I made it to volume 15…


The Leopard Prince (Princes Trilogy, #2)
by Elizabeth Hoyt

After the carriage wreck and a bit before the horses ran away, Lady Georgina Maitland noticed that her land steward was a man.

First sentence

Decent world-building, the first few pages had me giggling immediately. Good backstory, interwoven well with the main plot. The evil landowner is very evil indeed. The main characters are colourful and well drawn. Georgina and Harry are likeable and believable. For a historical romance the usual tropes are fairly mild and not too annoying. Sexy times are sexy. Surprisingly good plot. Not terribly suspenseful, although I had a few “Oh no!”-moments. 


Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)
by Kim Harrison

This book was boring and the main character was not interesting. Potential for great world building, but it was not happening. The narrative was flat, not funny and sloooooow and I have the sneaking suspicion that Rachel is really stupid, not just clumsy. Jenks was the only redeeming factor. The relationship with Ivy really ticked me off. It was a major struggle to finish this book and I doubt it very much that I will pick up another book of this series.


The Painter
by Will Davenport

The first paragraph made me smile. Unexpected opening. An interesting read. I thought the end was a bit rushed. Very funny in parts – I nearly peed myself when I read the passage with Rembrandt’s smelly shoe… Rembrandt’s character was really well developped and very plausible.


Green-ish backlog…

Throne of Jade (Temeraire, #2)
by Naomi Novik

Patrick O’Brien meets Anne McCaffrey. This picks up right where the first book ended. Old-fashioned feel to it, meshes well with other period-dramas I have read of that time. The naval jargon sounds true. Excellent world-building, great scenic descriptions. Good fight and battle scenes. Great travel narrative. However, there can be too much of a good thing. So much detail all the time got a bit boring and I did some skimming to get to the more action-packed bits faster. Those were always excellent.

The plot as such was good, but there were no great surprises. The characters were all pretty formulaic and stereotypical. None of them went through any noteworthy growing pains. I never managed to develop an emotional attachment to Laurence or Temeraire. And all other charaters were merely decorative anyway.

I read through the blurbs of all consecutive novels and quite a few of the reviews. Each book seems to be covering another continent and in at least every other book Laurence seems to be threatened with court-martial and an excecution. Sounds a bit tedious. 


A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)
by Sue Grafton

The first one of this very good crime series. Short and sweet. I keep picturing Holly Hunter in the title role. I even figured out who-dunnit for once, and why! Well, ok, only about half way through the book.

I eventually read 10 books of this series, mostly out of order. Not bad as a whole!


One For The Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)
by Janet Evanovich

Pretty entertaining, but it did not rock my boat. I never continued with the series.


Freya of the Seven Isles
by Joseph Conrad

I liked the prose, the characters were vivid and the setting was great. For someone whose first or second language was not English, Conrad wrote in it beautifully. I am not a big fan of using letters as a plot device to bring the narrative forward, but other than that I enjoyed this story very much, despite the tragic ending.


Mortal Sins (World of the Lupi, #5)
by Eileen Wilks

The story centered around Lily and Rule, it is set in the here and now, werewolves play a large part of it and the plot that developed in Blood Lines is picked up again. It’s a cop story with shapeshifters, ghosts and magic. I liked the new characters, especially the cops and FBI agents. A nice addition to Wilks’ world.


Immersed (The Clockwork Siren, #1)
by Katie Hayoz

Well written, vivid imagery, enticing main character, good backstory, well-paced, not too predictable. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, so I can’t say if the setting worked for that. I liked it. The world building was great, I was transported there right away, down to the muck squelching in my boots. I would wish for more details on the automatons, to flesh out the imagery. Nice touch of explaining a little bit about Chicago before the start of the story.

Small set of characters, likeable, believable, nobody is silly or too stupid to live… I am not into mermaids as a rule, but here they were nicely evil and not the too sweet Disney version. Dark mermaids and Steampunk, I could do more of that!


Ok, Top Fifteen Wednesday — I got carried away! It was really hard to find purple covers on my shelf!

TopTenTuesday – Top Ten Books Published Before I was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This Week’s Topic: Books Written Before I Was Born

Oh boy. That will be some seriously old tomes! Let‘s see… As usual, I‘ll skip those books I posted here before.

Der kleine Wassermann (The Little Water Sprite), published in 1956
by Otfried Preußler,  Winnie Gayler (Illustrator) 

My favourite Otfried Preußler book as a child, loved it even more than „The Little Witch“. Loved it, loved, loved it! My fascination with books set under water obviously started early. Maybe this book is why? Huh, never thought of that before!

Die kleine Hexe (The Little Witch), published in 1957
by Otfried Preußler

How I loved this book as a child! I read it over and over and over again! Great stuff.

Now to some grown-up stuff… no particular order!

Orlando, published in 1928
by Virginia Woolf

I read this twice, first as a teenager and then again in 2008, as a gropwn-up. It’s a strange book. I fluctuated between being in love with the writing and being bored. Great idea. I liked the movie adaptation with Tilda Swinton, it captures the feel of the book pretty well. And I definitely understood the book much better the second time around. As a teenager I was mostly confused by the mysterious sex change.

King Rat (Asia Saga, #4), published in 1962
by James Clavell

I read this a very long time ago, so my memory is very, very faint. I remember one scene, where the protagonist is hunting rats underneath his prison hut. The rest is pretty much gone. Maybe it’s time for a re-read. I can‘t remember if I read Tai-Pan, but I most definitely read Shogun, several times…

Dracula, published in 1897
by Bram Stoker

I read this For the first time in my late teens, probably. That is when my lifelong obsession with vampires started. This should be required reading for any vampire fan. Followed by mandatory watching of all of Christoper Lee’s Dracula impersonations, rounded off by Gary Oldman as the famous count.

The creepiness of this book has stayed with me through the years. The description of Dracula’s look—his hairy palms where always especially off-putting—the weirdness of his brides, the atmospheric setting….

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, published 1901
by Thomas Mann

A trip down memory lane. When I started German Lit in highschool, our teacher gave us this scary list of books we had to read or else. This was on it and the size of it made it scarier still. I read this in the late 80s, so memories are very dim. But to this day I remember how great this book was, how I loved to read about the lives of some of these characters. I never touched this book again and I don’t think I ever will. I am too scared I wouldn’t like it anymore and I don’t want to destroy my feel-good-vibe.

Der Tod in Venedig, published in 1911
by Thomas Mann

This novella is not an easy text for casual reading. I had to slow down my usual speed a lot to understand what I was reading. And to give justice to the beautiful language. Ultimately, this novel was a mixture of beautiful language and boredom. Since this novella is one of Mann’s most important works, I would say that the issue is mine! The subject of the novella was also way outside of my comfort zone. Aschenbach’s obsessive fascination with the boy Tazio was of no value to me. I was uncomfortable with the sexual undertones. From now on I will always see Thomas Mann as a tragic person. I didn’t really like this one.

Der Untertan, published in 1918
by Heinrich Mann

“Man of Straw” is a sharp indictment of the Wilhelmine regime and a chilling warning against the joint elevation of militarism and commercial values.

From the English book blurb

This is Thomas Mann‘s older brother. I fully expected to be bored silly, but I ended up liking it. Very good writing — in German. Can‘t say anything about the translation.

Brave New World, published in 1932
by Aldous Huxley

I read this about 30 years ago, give or take. I struggled with understanding it and remember that I found it hard to get into it. But I liked the concept of the story and ultimately liked the book quite a bit. I think it should be recommended reading for anybody interested in SF that predicts how our society could develop in the not to far away future. Especially nowadays, with the advances being made in cloning, I think this book gains even more importance.

Nackt unter Wölfen, published in 1958
by Bruno Apitz

I read this as a teenager, working my way through my parent’s bookshelf. A pretty gruesome read, when you are that age. Apitz was a prisoner in Buchenwald himself and the story is inspired by a child that was hidden there by the prisoners, so I would assume it has a fair bit of authenticity.

So, that‘s it for this Top Ten Tuesday. I am surprised that I found this many books that I liked (Mostly).

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Week’s Topic: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020. Create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.)… Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! 

Well, I am done with looking at my reading from 2020 and generally try to use memes to find a more interesting way of posting my backlog to this blog. So, how about new-to-me authors that got 5 stars from me, regardless of the year I read them in (and with reviews that I haven‘t posted here yet…).

  1. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, read in 2003

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story…..
Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling. This, by the way, is the author of “Chocolat“.

2. Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead, #1) by Jesse Petersen, read in 2012

Great fun. Don’t let the zombies get your brains. If you liked the film Zombieland, this is for you. I already read the second book of the series and it was so-so. This time around I liked two main characters much better. Classic plot — outbreat, lots of gore, shooting, biting, brains and running. Don’t expext any deep thoughts.

3. iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson (Author),  Mike Allred (Illustrator),  Laura Allred (Colorist),  Todd Klein (Letterer), read in 2018

I really like the artwork. No, I love it. The further I got into this, the more I liked it. I could just stop myself from getting the next volume, while I was still reading this one. I compromised, it’s on my wishlist. It didn‘t help that there were some teasers at the end of this volume. Grrrr.

The characters are spot-on anatomically and consistent, the women (mostly) don‘t look like bimbos, the guys (mostly) look like nerds, I really like the colour work as well… it‘s refreshing.

On top of that there is a good plot with a decent set-up, excellent humour and nice world building somewhere in the middle. I was sucked into the story right away. And I want to continue so much. But first I need to read a ton of other comics… I joined up at comiXology. I am so doomed! Who mentioned this website anyway? You are fired!

Did I mention that I really like the artwork? 5 stars with brains on top.

4. Regeneration (Regeneration, #1) by Pat Barker, read in 1995

The Regeneration Trilogy: I read these books in the late ’90s, after Ghost Road was first published. I was in love with the British war poets of WWI at the time and this fit right in. I don’t remember many details, but these books were great reads. Very athmospheric, accessible and captivating main characters, I suffered with them every step of the way.

P.S.: The movie is also very good.

5. First Contact (In Her Name: The Last War, #1) by Michael R. Hicks, read in 2012

Great space opera with epic battles. Great pacing, a lot of suspense, very graphic, believable, hard to put down. 

A little confusing at times: The multitude of characters. Sometimes I had to go back a page or so to remind myself from whose perspective the story is being told. But eventually, as I got deeper into the plot, it stopped being an issue.

The characters are well drawn and believable. They are also interesting and not one-dimensional at all. I wouldn’t mind meeting some of them in real life. Even the aliens aren’t just the big, evil monsters, but actual personalities.

6. Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1) by Kelly Meding, read in 2010

My reason for choosing this book: The blurp recommending it on the front cover was by Patricia Briggs.

Geat fun! I almost read it in a day. The next one of the series is out already and I will definitely get it. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey…

Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

7. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells, read in 2017

This was fun, especially the inner monologue of our Murderbot. 

In just 160 pages the author managed to build a believable world with lively and varied characters and an entertaining plot. This is a winner!

And in their corner all they had was Murderbot, who just wanted everyone to shut up and leave it alone so it could watch the entertainment feed all day.

That could be me on any given day. 

Lots of potential. Is Murderbot a real person or not? The awkwardness of the crew, trying to figure out the correct way of interacting with Murderbot, once they realized that perhaps there is a person behind that opaque faceplate, was pretty priceless. 

And Murderbot’s horror at their attempts to interact! Talking to the humans! And feelings, oh no! 

I tried not to assign a gender to Murderbot. I don’t want to use “it” as a personal pronoun and I am not a fan of “they”. Tricky. I am leaning towards using “him”, not quite sure why. Well, actually, because I pictured him as the android in the Prometheus movies, aka Michael Fassbender.

8. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, read in the early 1980s

I read this in my early teens, several times. And then I read a ton of other horse-related YA novels. I guess it is a phase all reading girls go through, same as playing with Barbie dolls. I loved it very much.

9. Dragonclaw (The Witches of Eileanan, # 1) by Kate Forsyth, read in 2005

Well drawn characters, good story telling, started the second book immediately after putting this one down. The only thing that annoyed me – the characters speak with a Scottish accent. I found that very distracting, but got used to it eventually. I had one of my Scottish work colleagues read out some passages to me one day, which was pretty funny….


Pretty eclectic list of the ages, from my teens to now…

August Wrap-up

Here is my August 2020:

Buddy reads:
– Limit, TBR challenge, carry-over, not terribly keen to continue. Put it back on my bookshelf for now. Sorry!
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Zombie, ebook, ★★★★☆, fantasy, betrayal, scheming, revenge, politics.
– Hell’s Aquarium, ebook, ★★★¼☆, Shark Week, Lost World at the bottom of the sea. Very bloody, pulp fiction at its best. The writing is not quite as great, but ok-ish.
– Sharkantula: Shark. Tarantula. Sharkantula., ebook, ★☆☆☆☆, Shark Week. Oh boy, not good. Don‘t bother. DNF at 48%.

Solo reads:
– A Stone Sat Still, ebook, ★★★★★, cute picture book for ages 3-5.
– The Furthest Station, audio, ★★★★☆, in-between novella with Peter and the crew. Goodness with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.
– 50 Klassiker: Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass, paper, library, ★★★☆☆, essays about 50 important male (eye-roll), German authors.
– Leberkäsjunkie, audio, library, ★½ ☆☆☆, cosy mystery, DNF around 40%, mildly funny, caricature of Bavarian smalltown life.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Secret Invasion, ebook, ★★★★★, alien invasion in the Marvelverse. Colourful fun.
– BLAME! Vol. 3, ebook, ★★★☆☆, more fighting and silicone life.
– Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction, ebook, ★★☆☆☆, blocky and flat artwork, too much narration, unexciting plot. Not for me. 

Limit by Frank Schätzing Leberkäsjunkie (Franz Eberhofer, #7) by Rita Falk The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson Hell's Aquarium (Meg #4) by Steve Alten 50 Klassiker Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass by Joachim Scholl Sharkantula (B-Movie Novels #1) by Essel Pratt The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5) by Ben Aaronovitch BLAME! Vol. 3 by Tsutomu Nihei Hellboy Volume 1 Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis 

Sitting at the dock of the bay…. no, wait… stone…

A Stone Sat Still
by Brendan Wenzel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Cute little story about various animals hanging out on a stone. It offers each of them something different, but always stays a constant in the world. Nice one.

Wenzel’s poem focuses on how point of view affects experience. This time, his subject is a humble stone: 

A stone sat still
with the water, grass, and dirt,
and it was as it was
where it was in the world. 

In each spread or vignette, a different wild creature encounters the round rock. […]

Have you ever seen such a place? Wenzel asks. Look closely, his words say: even the most seemingly insignificant bits of Earth offer splendor. The wonderful mixed-media creatures and their encounters entertain, while bigger ideas suggest all kinds of conversations about perception and perspective, wildlife and habitat, local and global change, and eternity and evanescence. 

Ages 3–5.

(Text in Italics from here: https://brendanwenzel.info/books/a-stone-sat-still/)

I am partial to the otters and the cat, although the whole book makes me happy.

#HarryPotterAtHome

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
by J.K. Rowling,  Jim Kay (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Harry Potter at Home and the Illustrated Version

Radcliffe and a bunch or other actors read Harry Potter at home and we get to share the experience:
https://www.wizardingworld.com/news/i…

Individual chapter videos:
https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters

Radcliffe started with Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived and did a great job.

Chapter Two: The Vanishing Glass was read by Noma Dumezweni. She was fantastic and so much fun to watch, whilst reading it…

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Chapter Three: The Letters from No One, read by Eddie Redmayne, very good job! The Dursleys are so abominable! My cheeks were hurting from laughing so much… 

Other good ones… Stephen Fry does a great Hagrid! Whoopi Goldberg brought a bit of an American twang to the proceedings… David Tennant was very good. And David Beckham as Lee Jordan, doing the commentary for Harry‘s first Quidditch match, was a brilliant bit of casting. Hugh Bonneville, also a good one… And Tom Felton is a bit of a book torturer, apparently…

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Chapter Sixteen… Kenneth Brannagh, very good job!

It was a nice touch for the last chapter to have it read by three different families—one from London, one from NY and the third from Belfast. 

Rowling reading the last few pages was the icing on the cake. Difficult with the current controversy about her. Generally though I really liked this read-along via video, keeping pace with the illustrated version.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone