"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Slaughterhouse-Five---reading a banned book for Banned Books Week

It is Banned Books Week. Every year at this time I like to exert my freedom-to-read-what-I-want by selecting a book which has been, at one time or another, a banned or challenged book. This year I selected Kurt Vonnegut's famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. This is one of the great ironies of life---the book which is around 250 pages long, is actually a very short audiobook. It was only 6 hours long which I was able to complete in a just few trips back and forth to see my new grandson. What took be so long to listen to this classic, identified as one of Modern Library Top 100 novels of the 20th Century?

Whenever I read a book which has been identified as a banned book, I find myself contemplating this question as I read, "Why would anyone want to ban this book?" The answer was very apparent to me with this one.  Published in 1969, at the height of both the anti-war and the hippie movements, Slaughterhouse-Five is very trippy. In typical Vonnegut style, the book is often vulgar and unconventional.  He doesn't even try to make it acceptable to prudes and over-protective parents who think they can save their children and society in general by not allowing their children, or anyone's children, from reading the book. Yet, Slaughterhouse-Five begs to be discussed and taught in a classroom setting. As soon as someone says to children that they have to read something, out come the folks who want to ban the book.

If you don't know anything about Slaughterhouse-Five, I encourage you to read the summary of it. Here is a pretty good summary at Goodreads. Vonnegut served in the Second World War and was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the fire-bombing of the city by the Allies. Though not autobiographical, one gets the distinct impression that Vonnegut knew what he was talking about as we see the events as they unfold for Billy Pilgrim. Pilgrim becomes completely unstuck from time as he travels back and forth from the events in 1944 in Dresden and 1967 when he is abducted to the planet Tralfamadore by aliens, and points of time in between. The reader is never quite sure if Billy is just crazy or if he really was abducted because the story, like Billy's life is so fractured.

This absurdist novel was immediately embraced by a country in the midst of another war, Vietnam, in 1970. War is absurd and the little guy, who is the one who fights and dies, is truly the pawn of those in power who sit back and make their moves. This message rang true to America's counter-culturalists, and I suspect it would ring true today as people contemplate the bluster we are hearing from Trump and President of North Korea. But, unfortunately, I don't think the book is read or taught often anymore. This is one of the big problems for a banned or challenged book---school boards are much less likely to approve books which will draw criticism from parents (tax-payers.)

Since I listened to the audiobook I had no idea that the first chapter wasn't actually a preface. In the first chapter Vonnegut talks as himself about the writing process and how he finally decided how to put his story of the fire-bombing of Dresden forward. Unlike most novels the reader is always aware of Vonnegut in this one since he is the narrator. About the book Vonnegut said, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters."  The novel, as absurd and humorous as it is, seems extremely impactful and, I suspect, memorable. It may have taken me forty-seven years to get to it, but I am glad I finally read it and will recommend it to others to do the same.

Read a banned book! Words have power! Here is a list of Top Ten Challenged books last year:

Monday, September 25, 2017

TTT: My favorite banned/challenged books of the past five years

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday: (I am going off the chart since it is Banned Books Week, September 24-30)

My favorite YA frequently banned/challenged books, 2012-2016 

  1. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  2. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language
  3. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)
  5. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: religious viewpoint
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  10. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
    What is your favorite banned/challenged book?

Banned Books Week Sept 24-30---Celebrate the right to read!

This week I am going to read a banned book.


Because I can and because I think censorship hurts us all.

To make my selection I visited the American Library Association's frequently banned or challenged lists from the past few years. From these lists, I will select a book I haven't read before. 
Which of these should I select? 
  • Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: offensive language, unsuited for age group
  • Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reason: political viewpoint, racism, violence
  • A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  • And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  • Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”)
  • Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence
  • The Holy Bible
    Reasons: religious viewpoint
All these books have been on the top ten banned/challenged books list at least once in the past five years. Ridiculous!

I always told my students, if they don't like a book that they checked out, bring it back. But don't make a fuss about it. Just because you don't like doesn't mean it isn't a good one for someone else.

In addition to reading one or more of the above books, I will listen to an audiobook of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It was the 46th most challenged book of the decade, 2000-09.

Join me. Read a banned book this week!

Tackle Your TBR Challenge

Tackle Your TBR Challenge ended yesterday and boy was I successful, though one indicator would beg to differ. But I get a head of myself. Here is how the two weeks went: nine books completed in either print or audio format. Three additional books started but not completed yet. For more analysis, check below the chart.

Title (Author) Audio(A) Print(P)
Comp. Date
Print Pages/ Audio Time
Total Pages
Total Time
1. News of the World (Jiles) A
6 hrs. 1 min.

6 hrs. 1 min
2. The Pearl Thief (Wein) P
325 p.
325 p.

3. Biography of the Beatles (Spitz) A
10 hrs. 10 min.

16 hrs. 11 min
4. Crossing Ebenezzer Creek (Bolden) P
100 p.
425 p.

5. Ordering of Love: New and Collected Poems (L'Engle) P
385 p.
810 p.

6. The Fashion Committee (Juby) P
307 p.
1117 p.

7. H is for Hawk (MacDonald) A
11 hrs. 6 min.

27 hrs. 17 min.
8. Landscape with Invisible Hand (Anderson) A
3 hrs. 14 min.

30 hrs. 31 min.
9. The End of Your Life Book Club (Schwalbe) A
9 hrs. 40 min.

40 hrs. 11 min.
10. Wonderful Tonight (Boyd) P
307 p.
1424 p.

11. Cries of the Spirit (Editor- Sewell) P
30 p.
1454 p.

12. The Once and Future King (White) P
23 p.
1477 p.


1477 p.
40 hrs. 11 min.

Leading up to my success was the fact that I was already reading/listening to the first five books on the list when the challenge started on September 11th. I counted them because I finished them in the challenges time frame.

There is no way in a million years that I should have been able to listen to 40 hours of audiobooks in two weeks except for one small (HUGE) detail---on September 13th my first grandchild was born. He and his parents live about 45 minutes from here and I drove back and forth to their house every day but one. I listen to audiobooks while I drive. So that car time should account for around 20 hours of the 40. Next, and this sounds like I am cheating on my calculations, when I listen to an e-audiobook (as compared to one in CD format) I usually bump up the listening speed to 1.25. That means that the 40 hours that I listed was actually closer to 32 or 33 hours (I can't figure out the math exactly.) Suffice it to say the 40 hours isn't quite as impressive as it sounds.

When I started the challenge I said I had 52 books on my "To Read" category on Goodreads. Now I am down to 49. What? That doesn't sound like the numbers match, right?  My problem is that I couldn't help but ADD books to my Goodreads account these past two weeks. I went through and added the book club selections as far into the future as I know and I added a few titles that other bloggers mentioned this week.  I also didn't mention that I have several TBR piles and only certain books are listed on the Goodreads account. First, I have my Classics Club list which started out as 50 classic books I want to be sure to read in my lifetime. I keep adding to it but right now I have 44 unread books on it. The Once and Future King falls into that category. I also have the Pulitzer Challenge with 15 past winners identified as books I want to read. None of the books I read for this challenge came from this list. And finally, I have the books which I have laying around the house in piles, many aren't on any of the three other lists, but I clearly want to read them since I bought them. Confusing, huh?

My favorite books read during this challenge? News of the World, The Pearl Thief, and The End of Your Life Book Club. All were very different and so well written. My least favorite was Crossing Ebenezer Creek. I actually didn't finish the book and I sent it back to the library that way. It was written in such a confusing manner I couldn't figure out if the story was in present time, a past recollection, or a future time. Egad. Editors think about that when you publish books and help the readers by changing fonts or something.

I want to thank Tressa at Wishful Endings for hosting this challenge.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Salon....WELCOME, IAN edition

Don and Ian. Don was supposed to be watching the Seahawks football game, but was admiring Ian instead.
Weather: Beautiful day. Sunny and warm. It was cool and rainy the past week but we hear that summer-ish weather will be with us this coming week. There is still time to enjoy being outdoors.
Me and Ian, on the day of his birth
Welcome, Ian. Our grandson was born on Sept. 13th to our daughter and son-in law, Rita and Daniel. Ian weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs. 9 oz. after a relatively short labor. The new family is adjusting well. I've been on grandma duty most days...making meals and helping with laundry and offering my limited advice, but mostly doing baby-admiring whenever possible. Right now Ian and his parents are visiting us, their first time since his birth, for brunch and football game viewing (Go Seahawks!) We already love this little guy so much and are so proud of his parents.
Our daughter with her baby. Such a little snuggler.
In addition to baby-admiring, I've been reading. About the only other thing I've been doing these past two weeks is reading and listening to audiobooks. In fact, in the past two weeks, since my last Sunday post, I've finished a record-breaking ten nine books. It helps that almost half of them were audiobooks that I listened to as I drove back and forth from Rita and Dan's home everyday. It helped that I had committed to a reading challenge to read books from my to-be-read (TBR) list, which ends today.

  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles...(Audiobook) Set in Texas during the few years after the Civil War. Two misfits and thrown together by circumstances beyond their control and they come to rely on one another for support. Read my review by clicking on the hyperlinked title. both Don and I really enjoyed this book.
  • The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein...(Print) Set in Scotland in the late 1930s before WWII. It is part historical fiction, part mystery, and part coming-of-age tale. This is the second best YA book I've read all year. Once again click the title (hyperlinked) for my review.
  • The Biography of the Beatles by Bob Spitz...(Audiobook) Feeding my Beatlemania I listened to an abridged version of the 900+ page book. I'm not quite full yet, but getting closer.
  • Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden...(Print, did-not-finish). The plot is set during the Civil War when freed slaves were allowed to drown at Ebenezer Creek by the Yankee soldiers who were supposed to be protecting them. The book was written in a very confusing fashion so I decided to abandon it mid-book, though I am interested in the topic.
  • The Ordering of Love: New and Collected Poems by Madeleine L'Engle...(Print) I started this book over six weeks ago. I found a poem in it which I adapted as An Ode for Ian.
  • The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby...(Print) A quick YA read set in a community on Vancouver island. Two high school students, Charlie and John, vie for the one fashion scholarship to attend an arts school. I liked this book a lot, and I didn't expect that I would. I read it very fast, in one day.
  • H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald...(Audiobook) A memoir. The author's father dies and in an effort to deal with her grief, Helen decides that she should train a goshawk, the largest hawk in Britain. The book isn't just about the training, but also about memories, grief, acceptance of self, and surprisingly, about T.H. White, the author of The Once and Future King, who also trained a goshawk back in his day. I liked this audiobook but I am not sure I would recommend the book to casual readers.
  • Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson...(Audiobook) Sci-Fi, novella, satire. Anderson has a funny, yet depressing novel here about our world when aliens take over. I laughed and moaned. Short. Only 3+ hrs of listening.
  • The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe...(Audiobook) Mary Anne Schwalbe, Will's mother, has cancer. The two decide to start a two-person book club so they can discuss books while they wait for her appointments. This book is so tender and thoughtful. It is an upcoming book club selection, and yes, the irony is not lost on me. I highly recommend it.
  • Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd...(Print) Pattie Boyd was married to both George Harrison AND Eric Clapton. She was the muse for several well-known songs by these famous musicians. This book is about her life and what it was like living with these famous, but troubled men. I've wanted to read this for a long time but selected it now because of my current Beatles-craze.
Currently reading:
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  After reading H is for Hawk, I decided I need to read this classic book which has been on my TBR pile for years. (Print, 5%)
  • Cries of the Spirit: More Than 300 Poems In Celebration of Women's Spirituality edited by Mary Sewell. (Print, 9%)
Ian and his dad. Love!
Inside these lines: NFL's response to the Trump speech saying that NFL players who don't stand for the National Anthem are Sons of B**ches and should be fired. I think this is a class act from the NFL---calling for unity and good sportsmanship. Click this link.
Luna, the dog, is not getting the attention she craves.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Friday Quotes: The End of Your Life Book Club

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now---

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Book Beginning:
We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's outpatient care center. The coffee isn't so good, and the hot chocolate is worse. But if, as Mom and I discovered, you push the "mocha" button, you see how two not-very-good things can come together to make something quite delicious.
Friday 56:
Mom loved Marjorie Morningstar. That much I knew. How much she was or was not Marorie Morningstar herself remained her secret.
Comment: As the title implies Will's mother has cancer. They both love to read so they decide to start a book club of two. While they sit at her many appointments they decide to talk about the books they are reading. Marjorie Morningstar was his mother's favorite book when she was younger. Years ago I gave this book to my mother, even though I hadn't read it. She and I are both in book clubs in our separate towns. We often talk about the books we are reading and those we are discussing on our clubs. She liked this book a lot, though she told me, it isn't as much about the books as it is about the relationship between Will and his mother.

Monday, September 18, 2017

TTT: YA books I want to read this fall in prep for YMA

Top Ten Tuesday: YA books I still want to read this fall before the YMA in January.
(If you have read any of these titles, please let me know what you thought of it.)
1. Landscape with Invisible Hand
by M.T. Anderson
(Five starred reviews; amazing author, Sci-Fi; 
likely the first on the list I will get to since I just bought a copy on Audible)
2. A Face Like Glass
by Frances Hardinge
(Another five starred review book; this author is always winning awards in UK. 
Will this be the year she wins one in the US?)
3. Long Way Down 
by Jason Reynolds
(This book has five starred reviews and it won't be published until mid-October; 
it is about the effects of pulling the trigger on a gun and is written in free verse.)
4. Genuine Fraud
by E. Lockhart
(With four starred reviews this psychological thriller is calling my name.)
5. They Both Die At the End
by Adam Silvera
(Another four starred review book. Silvera is on a roll. This is his second YA publish in 2017.)
6. You Bring the Distant Near
by Mitali Perkins
(An immigrant's story. This one has already earned four starred reviews.)
7. The 57 Bus
by Dashka Slater
(A true story about two teens who got together because of a crime. 
This will be published in October and has eared three starred reviews so far.)
8. Borne
by Jeff VanderMeer
(This is the book I am most excited about on my whole list. One reviewer said this, "A dystopia novel written with impeccable weirdness." I can't tell from my records if it has three or four starred reviews, either way, this book has been getting a lot of national press and I look forward to reading it. Oh, guess what, I just figured out that this book isn't a YA title. I still want to read it, but not for the YMA books.)
9. Spinning
by Tillie Walden
(A graphic memoir about a dancer who also has to come to terms with her sexuality. So far it has earned three starred reviews.)
10. Wild Beauty
by Anna-Marie McLemore
(This three starred review book is set to come out in October and is filled with magical realism. I loved her last book, When the Moon Was Ours.)

((The publications which review YA books and award starred reviews for their favorites are: Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, and VOYA.))

***So far the only book I know of which has earned the complete seven starred reviews this year is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is not on my list because I've already read it.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

News of the World...a wonderful audiobook

Title: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Setting: Post Civil War, Reconstruction Texas in 1870.

Main Characters: 
  • Captain Jefferson Kidd, an elderly widower who participated and fought in three wars, is now an itinerant who makes a living by traveling around Northern Texas, reading the news to people hungry for a connection to the rest of the world.
  • Johanna, a rescued ten-year-old girl who was captured four years ago by Kiowa raiders after they killed her family. She no longer speaks English and is completely wild.
     The plot is remarkably simple. Captain Kidd is asked to deliver Johanna to her only living relatives 400 miles over rough and dangerous terrain, one filled with natural barriers (rivers, deserts) and man-made obstacles (political and financial.) Johanna, who completely embraced the Kiowa culture, does not want to go. She wants to return to "her people", her Indian father and mother. She is wild by many standards: eating with her hands, throwing away her shoes, preferring the floor to a bed. But she is smart about nature, knows how to handle a revolver, and is a good problem solver. Nevertheless, as the miles pass, Capt. Kidd and Johanna form a bond of friendship and comradery. 

Themes: What makes a family? How is trust developed? How far does responsibility go? What does honor look like? The importance of balanced news. And historically, what was life like in Texas in the 1870s

Awards: National Book Finalist 2016. Spur Nominee 2017 (Western writing.)

About the author: Paulette Jiles is also a poet. She researches her topics extensively and picks her words carefully. When asked, at the National Book Award ceremony, who she writes her books for, Jiles said she writes for herself. In fact, she said, she enjoys rereading her books and looking for typos.

The audiobooks: You know, if you are a reader of this blog, that I like listening to audiobooks, so it won't surprise you that I selected to listen rather then read News of the World. But actually my decision to choose the audiobook was even more calculating than usual. I first read about ten pages of the print version and was frustrated by the lack of quotation marks. I like the fiction I read to use proper punctuation and will often get frustrated without it. I'm not saying I was frustrated by the print edition of News of the World, it just had that potential so I decided to switch to the audiobook. And the decision was a good one. First, I got to share the book experience with Don. We listened to it as we drove to Oregon and back last weekend. Don loves Western fiction and knows much more about the history of the US Army than me. Secondly, the audiobook narrator, Grover Gardner, had a perfect voice for the book. He has a real folksy style that comes across as authentic for the time and the setting. Thirdly, since the book is short (213 pages) the audiobook isn't prohibitive in terms of time. It is only 6 hours long, perfect for a short road trip.

Review: I really, really enjoyed this book. Capt. Kidd was a complex character. The peeks at historical events: War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Reconstruction Texas, were fascinating but not overwhelming. Both Captain Kidd and Johanna were misfits in a world where they no longer fit. I found myself cheering for these underdogs and for their unlikely triumphs.

What I learned: In addition to the peeks at historical events I learned that Johanna's difficulty assimilating back into life after the time she spent with Kiowa tribe was not unique. Research done by Jiles on the topic revealed that children who were captured and raised by Indians then rescued and returned to their original culture, did not assimilate well. Even if they only lived in the Native-American culture for just a year, they felt like misfits for the rest of their lives once they were returned to their families. One of the characters in book explained it this way, "In their minds they went. When they came back they were unfinished. They are forever falling." The book has a lot of heart and it touched mine.

Rating: 5 stars.
Edition: News of the World, Paulette Jiles, Brilliance Audio. 2016.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Welcome, Ian!

Welcome to our family, Ian.

Ian Bennett Adams born September 13, 2017
Parents, Dan and Rita Adams.
Grandparents: Rick and Nancy Adams / Don and Anne Bennett (us)

For I.B.A., 13th September, 2017

Ian Bennett Adams is here,
Sing joy, rejoice and celebrate!
For perfect love doth cast out fear;
All heaven laughs to mark this date,
Rejoice, rejoice,
With merry voice,
A guardian angel takes his place
To help this darling grow in grace.

Ian Bennett Adams has come!
His rosy lips move: taste and see!
He makes this groping world his home;
He curls his fingers, sucks with glee,
Is here, is here,
Beloved and dear
To all he made to watch and wait.
Rejoice! Rejoice! and celebrate!

(Adapted from the poem:
For M.S.J., 20th June, 1968
by Madeleine L'Engle)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein---a review and Book Beginnings quote

The year is 1938, right before the outbreak of WWII. The setting is an estate near Perth, Scotland, which is a bit northwest of Edinburgh. The main character is Julie Beaufort-Stuart, the fifteen year old granddaughter of the Earl of Strathfearn. Julie is home from school on a summer holiday to help her mother and grandmother close-up the estate after her grandfather's death. It will be her last summer on the estate and she wants to make the most of it. But the very first day she is home, while idling alongside the river which meanders near the estate, Julie is clobbered over the head and left for dead. If not for the assistance of some Travellers, camping on the estate with prearranged permission, Julie might very well have died. Because no one knew her identity, Julie was treated very poorly at the hospital, showing the level of prejudice against Travellers in the community at large. Eventually Julie regains consciousness and she is returned to her family, but she has no memory of her attacker or the circumstances leading up to being bludgeoned. In an oddly coincidental turn, just as Julie is returned home, the archivist working on her grandfather's estate disappears. Everyone fears that he is dead.

Thus begins a story which is part murder mystery and part coming-of-age tale. Julie and her brother Jamie meet and befriend the twins, Travellers who saved her life, Ellen and Euan. They all work to prove to the police that the twins did not murder the archivist and attempt to murder Julie. In the process they uncover a mystery which involves river pearls from the Earl's estate, pearls which can be traced back to Mary Queen of Scots.

In case you think you recognize the name Julie Beaufort-Stuart, if you read Code Name Verity, a Printz Honor book published in 2012, she was the protagonist of that book who was working as a British spy and was captured by the Nazis. The Pearl Thief is considered a prequel of Code Name Verity, but it very easily reads as a stand alone, though we do see the beginnings of Julie's skills as a first rate snoop and the makings of a spy. It is a very different book from CNV, in a lot of ways I liked it better, and that is saying a lot. In The Pearl Thief we meet a girl who is just coming into her own. She is trying to figure out issues related to friendship and prejudice, class and privilege, sexuality and manipulation. In a lot of ways Julie is an unreliable narrator but as she learns things, we do too. I loved her voice and seeing things through her eyes. The climax, which comes very late in the story, was a shocker to me, one I didn't see coming at all. Amal El-Mohtar, writing a review of PT for NPR said this about the two books, "It's an enormously different book from Code Name Verity — but across time, space, and genres, they slip off their gloves and hold hands." Isn't that a lovely description?

In the notes at the end of the book, Elizabeth Wein explains the research she conducted for this book centering on two unknown issues to me: the lives of Travellers (gypsies) and the difficulties that have befallen them since modern technology has altered the way people live today; and the plight of the river mussels, the makers of the beautiful river pearls. Pollution and population growth have led to a situation most dire and now the few remaining mussels are protected against harvesting and it is illegal to sell the pearls, even ones that have been in families for years. I enjoy learning something new when I read a book and The Pearl Thief sure fit that bill. Plus, and this is always a bonus for me, the book was filled with poetry, especially poems by the famous Scots poet, Robert Burns. Loved it!

Book Beginnings quote:
'You're a brave lassie.' That was what my grandfather told me as he gave me his shotgun.
Friday 56 quote:
And then among the piles of paper on the desk I was startled to see something I recognized.
Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Edition: Print
Challenge: Read Books from Your TBR pile, Sept. 11-24.
Mock Printz recommendation: Yes