Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Bookshelf: Comics, a Classic, and some Home Decorating!

Hello! I've been reading up a storm lately (when am I not???), especially as we prepare to move into our first house soon (yay!)-I've started diving into the home design section of the library, which has been fun! I've also been speeding through a children's series that I have very conflicted feelings about, and reading some of the latest on one of my favorite superheroes ever. Let's talk books! 

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. So...embarrassingly, the only time I read this amazing book was during my sophomore English class in high school. It's a great book, though, and I've always meant to get back to it, so finally I picked it up again all these years later. Reading this, especially in light of our current cultural climate, I was struck by how profoundly beautiful and timeless Harper Lee's story is. Really, I think everyone should re-read this book and really start discussing it and looking at how we can grow in greater respect of other people while still holding to our convictions. 

The unbeatable squirrel girl : Squirrel meets world, by Shannon Hale. It's no secret that I love Squirrel Girl (she's one of the best superheroes ever-see this post for more on that), and this book just deepened my love for the dorky, ever-awkward Doreen Green. This book is a novel featuring fourteen-year-old Doreen as she moves to a new state and becomes a student at a new school. She awkwardly stumbles around, trying to find her place among cliques in a city that has a lot of problems. As she tries to make the world a better place by discouraging gangs and saving cats, she finds herself taking on the identity of Squirrel Girl. This book was so delightful. It's definitely written at a level for 10 or 12 year olds, but I think any fan of Squirrel Girl can appreciate this fun, upbeat story. 

The unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol. 4: I kissed a squirrel and I liked it, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. And so the adventures of Doreen Green continue. This book, as you may guess from the title, deals with relationships! And there is one little subplot/area that's kind of awkward that I'm not a fan of (it's a monster-human romance), but otherwise, I enjoyed reading about Doreen's attempts at dating. It was kind of hysterical, actually. AND, I learned how to count in binary on my hand, so that's pretty cool. I love that Doreen is a computer science student, and that little tidbits of knowledge about this field are thrown into the stories. 

The unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol. 5: Like I'm the only squirrel in the world, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. OK, so Doreen Green goes to Canada, and it's kind of awesome and hilarious. So many jokes and funny quirks about Canadian life (milk in bags, anyone?). Of course, while Doreen is in Canada on vacation with her mom (Yes!!!! She's back!!!!) and Nancy, chaos erupts in the U.S. Doreen enlists the services of Ant-Man as they battle the villain, and it's great. This was such a fun story, and I loved it. 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, vol. 2-5, by Maryrose Wood. I really enjoyed the first book of this series, so I was very excited to pick up the next several books (sadly, the last book is not in our library system yet)! These books are charming, and I've grown quite fond of the characters and reading about Miss Lumley's adventures as the governess to the Incorrigible children. There are twists and turns of the plot, and there's a mysterious curse that's hanging over a family which they have to find a way to break. These are children's books, so I can read these all fairly quickly, and some parts seem a little predictable, but they're still delightful. BUT, I need to talk about one aspect which made me quite displeased: the casual references to seances and fortune telling. In Book 2, we meet a gypsy fortune teller woman, and at one point, the reader is told that she's distracting the bad guys by performing a seance. Um, no. I can easily see how a young child could read this book and jump to the conclusion that seances are either 1. Not real, or 2. No big deal--when,in fact, they are a big deal, very dangerous, and are a huge offense to God. This wasn't a huge part of Book 2, so I found it quite skippable. Book 3, on the other hand, makes the gypsy woman a big part of the plot, and the climax of the story involves a big ol' seance that she and the heroine have arranged, and I found myself skipping several pages at a time. Thankfully, though, Books 4 and 5 barely had any references to this woman and her work, though I think she might be a pivotal person in Book 6, but I'm not sure. So, while I have enjoyed this series, I would caution just handing them off to your children. Maybe as a read-aloud, where you skip over some stuff and make it clear to your child that fortune telling and seances are not casual and are not good. I don't know, that's up to each couple to discuss and discern.  

Think Small: Make the most of every square foot, by Hearst Books. This was a lovely book with tons of pictures that showed different strategies people have used to make the most of the space in their gorgeous homes. I loved how practical this book was, and how it showed a variety of ways that you can make space seem bigger and use the space you have in extremely efficient ways. This book gave me lots to think about, and I have some ideas now for whenever we move into our first house! 

Create the style you crave on a budget you can afford, by Desha Peacock. This was a very interesting book that featured a variety of different people who talk about the ways in which they decorate and design the interiors of their homes, and how their passions and personalities shine through. There were a lot of good kernels of wisdom about life and home design in this book; here was one of my favorites: 

"In order to rid myself of the anxiety of wondering how I can make room for all my passions, I've started thinking of my life as a quilt of sorts, which is, fittingly, a very feminine art form." ~Robin MacArthur
As much as I liked this book, I do want to mention that some parts of it seemed to dip into New Agey-ish mentalities, which I wasn't a huge fan of. I think one can find good ways to decorate without beckoning the colors to manifest themselves, or whatever the book was talking about doing. Anyways, this was interesting, and I'm glad I picked it up at the library, because there were some neat concepts, and I liked that there was a focus on decorating with a tight budget! 

So Jane: Crafts and recipes for an Austen-inspired life, by Hollie Keith. This is a cute little craft book all about Jane Austen's novels! How cool is that?!?!?! Each chapter of the book focuses on a different novel, with recipes and crafts that are inspired by that particular story. I thought a lot of this stuff was really cute, and some of the ideas I really loved (like the Jane Austen silhouette place mats!). However, I think it would have been neat if there would have been some historically-accurate crafts or projects in this book, too. But, this book is a great place to start if you need ideas for a Jane Austen-themed party. 

The Little Paris Kitchen, by Rachel Khoo. This is a lovely, elegant cookbook with a huge variety of different French recipes. The photographs are simply gorgeous, and the food looks so tasty! One of the things I really love about this cookbook is that while the recipes all look very elegant, some of them actually appear to be very simple and approachable. Also, the author has included a list of some of her favorite food places in Paris at the back of this cookbook, which would have been great to have the last time I was in Europe. Guess this means I have to go back to France someday, right? ;) I'd actually love that a lot. I first went to France when I was 18, and figured, "hey, this is great! I'll knock it off my 'must see' list, so that I can later spend time in other countries!"...and then I proceeded to later on visit France a few more times. What can I say? There are great saints, great food, and some cool attractions in France. 

Thanks for joining me in another one of my reading round-ups! I hope you liked hearing about these different books, and I hope that you have an epic day! 

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