Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Mapmakers Trilogy

Last summer, I stumbled across in the first book in the Mapmakers Trilogy at my local bookstore. It was the cover that caught my eye, but as soon as I started reading I knew this would be one of those series that would become a lifelong favorite.

I read the first book (The Glass Sentence) last summer and loved it. The world building was fantastic, the characters unique and dynamic, and the premise so captivating. I waited eagerly for, The Golden Specific, the second in the series, and read it in the fall. Then of course, I pre-ordered the final installment, The Crimson Skew, and had to wait for what felt like forever for it to come out in July of this year. When it arrived on my doorstep, I realized that I really didn't remember a lot of the details from the first two in the series, so I put it aside and decided to re-read them before I dove into the final chapter.

I'm not usually the type to re-read a series just to continue reading the next book, but this turned out to be such a good idea. Because the world building is so complex, it really helped me to remember those details that I needed to know when reading the third book. 

I don't want to reveal anything specific from the third book because so much of it only exists because of events in the first and second book, but I do highly recommend this series. It's young adult, but I did recommend it to one of my fourth graders this year and he loved the series as well, so it could definitely appeal to more mature readers in the middle grade age range. I also think that it appeals to readers my age and older who love Harry Potter and similar types of series. I would definitely put it up there with some of my other favorite fantasy series, such as The All Souls Trilogy (a great October read) and The Paper Magician Trilogy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Children's Review: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony

You may remember my excitement last summer when I discovered a new favorite in children's chapter book series. Piper Green is a spunky, sassy, tell-it-like-it-is kinda girl, and that makes her my kind of character. So when the latest in the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series was announced I was more than happy to take a sneak peek at it so I could warn you that this is a book you should be buying for all the young readers in your life when it's released on August 16th. You can read my review of the first two books in the series here. 

In this adventure, Piper is feeling a little jealous. When she sees that another girl on the island is getting a pony, she hopes that her friends in the fairy tree will grant her wish. But does she get a pony? No! All she gets its a whistle. Then one day, while Piper is helping her dad with their lobster traps, her whistle comes in handy in unexpected ways. I loved that in this installment Piper was dealing with some emotions that we all experience -- and that her mistakes will help young readers to realize that everyone feels both positive and negative emotions. It also encourages readers to realize that when you keep an open mind great things can happen! I highly recommend this for readers in the 2nd-4th grade age-range, and I think it would make a great bedtime read aloud as well!

P.S. If you're a teacher looking for classroom ideas, my friend Lorraine has some great classroom connections to go along with this text!

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

Title: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony
Author: Ellen Potter
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Expected Publication Date: August 16th, 2016
ISBN: 0553499327
Format: e-book
Source: Netgalley

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Hi there!

It's been over a month since I last posted... oops! More life updates to come next week, but thanks for sticking around!

Whether or not you are a dedicated Harry Potter fan, you must have heard of this summer's biggest release: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I've mentioned this before, but I could definitely be described as a Harry Potter fanatic. I first read the books when I was about nine years old, and have re-read the entire series close to ten times. I love Harry Potter trivia, I watch the movies pretty frequently, and I'm always using Hermione as an example of a role model for my students. I'm part of what's referred to as the Harry Potter Generation, which means that I essentially grew up with the story and the series played a significant role in shaping my reading identity.

So, it goes without saying that the moment I heard about the new release, I pre-ordered a copy (that was back in February) and I spent the intervening months excitedly awaiting the release. 

There's one thing that I want to make clear to those who have not yet read the book, because I think that sometimes publishers, in all their eagerness, forget to really advertise the little details that are important to avid fans. This happened with Go Set a Watchman, the unedited first draft manuscript from Harper Lee, which was unfairly advertised as the prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and which caused significant uproar to those who were unaware of that when they read it, only to find out that an iconic character (Atticus Finch) was portrayed quite differently (read: negatively). I avoided reading Go Set a Watchman because I was really unsure about the ethics of publishing it (did Harper Lee really give permission? I felt like she was taken advantage of) and I didn't want the characters that I knew and loved to be spoiled for me.

I've heard that some people are, quite rightly, feeling hesitant about reading The Cursed Child for similar reasons. If that's you, I can say that I believe it is 100% worth reading, but that you should be well-aware of the facts first:

This wasn't written by J.K. Rowling. It's not actually the eighth story, but it is a continuation of the book for the next generation. It was based on the epilogue from the seventh book, so it is founded in the facts that J.K. has laid out concerning the later happenings in the wizarding world. It's also a play script, for the production taking place in London right now. So you can imagine that the reading experience is not going to be quite the same. 

That being said, I do highly recommend it for all fans, if not for the experience of delving into that world again -- because let's face it, J.K. has left us with just the seven books and seems perfectly content with that decision.

If you've read it/have no interest in reading it/don't care about spoilers (because, SPOILER ALERT!), read on!

I'm not going to summarize the entire book for you, but here are my top five thoughts immediately after reading:

(1) Draco Malfoy, I always knew you'd be redeemed! 

(2) Scorpius Malfoy is far and away my favorite character. Please let's be friends in real life.

(3) You can absolutely tell this was not written by J.K. Her style is extremely unique and the voice of the main characters was just not there. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were all pretty off -- but especially Ron. That was the disappointing part, in my opinion.

(3) Interesting that Voldemort had a child. I always thought that he was not interested in liaisons because he was too narcissistic/power hungry and would be absolutely jealous if any child of his threatened his rightful place as the Dark Lord. Also, Bellatrix Lestrange was practically throwing herself at him the entire series and he was quite obviously slightly annoyed with her eagerness -- I find it a little hard to believe that he would have had a child with her. 

(4) The thought of different realities, influenced by the tiniest change in events during the fourth year, was really fascinating to me. Cedric, a death eater? The return of Umbridge? (Ugh, thanks but no thanks). 

(5) Not to mention the different storylines for Ron and Hermione's romance -- I like the original version the best. 

Of course, I've only read it the once (and in a span of three hours) so I plan on re-reading more slowly next week so that I can see how my thoughts change.

If you've read the book and would like to debate the finer points of fan theories with me, feel free to email me at I'd love to hear from you!