Marko Monday [32] - The Wonky Donkey

Man, oh man, it's been a while since I've shared a Marko Monday post!  As soon as The Wonky Donkey arrived in the mail, I just knew that it would be the next book I'd post on here.  In all honesty, Marko's love for books has been a bit hit and miss lately -- he still loves to sit and read on his own, but is less and less inclined to be read to.  Even bedtime stories are usually him "reading" to us -- and sometimes I suspect it's a bedtime stalling technique because his version of the book is about 50 times longer than our version!  But when The Wonky Donkey arrived in the mail, he asked me to read it to him right away and giggled along with the story.  We had previously watched the Scottish grandma reading to her grandson on YouTube (video linked below) so he knew what to expect from the story, but it was still a lot of fun to read along and try to say the tongue twisting lines as quickly as possible. 

Last month, Marko started kindergarten! I'm still in disbelief that my little man is so grown up but I have been absolutely blown away by his maturity in tackling this big life change. Of course, there's still lots of room for growth (like remembering to bring home his jacket and all his Tupperwares) but I've loved watching his world open up. He has a new best friend (the first friend that isn't a child of a friend of ours) and his teacher says that the two of them are stuck like glue to each other and will be BFFs for life. He survived his first field trip to the apple farm where they learned about the life cycle of a seed and the importance of bees, although he brought home a diagram he'd assembled and apparently the life cycle starts with an apple pie. If the next 13 years are as awesome as the first two months of kindergarten have been, BRING IT ON. Marko can handle it.

And, as promised earlier, here's the Scottish grandma -- I dare you not to giggle uncontrollably while watching her try to read The Wonky Donkey!

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea - Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea the story of a Muslim American teenager in 2002, just after 9/11. Shirin's character is loosely based on Tahereh's own teenage self and her book is a fictionalized autobiography, as Shirin also loves to breakdance and shares many experiences that the author suffered through in an America that became deathly afraid of terrorism and anyone that seemed "different."  As a proud hajib-wearing Muslim teenager, Shirin's strength is so admirable and I found her character incredibly inspirational.  She's a bit abrasive because she speaks her mind but she's also incredibly proud to be herself, even if being herself makes it harder for people to accept her as she is.

I've read a few #ownvoices books this year and this one is the best one I've read.  Although I'm not a Muslim American teenager, I feel like this book would have been really helpful to read in a post 9/11 world, not only for Muslim teenagers who experienced the world looking at them differently, but also for non-American teenagers to read and understand why so many of the racist assumptions about Muslim people are so, so wrong.

It's always interesting to see an author depart from the type of writing that has made them famous.  A Very Large Expanse of Sea is NOTHING like the Shatter Me trilogy, but in the best possible way.  Tahereh has demonstrated that she can do no wrong when it comes to writing a brilliant story.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Next Person You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

Oh Mitch Albom, what do you do to my heart?

Twice this year, I have had my heart torn out by one of his books.  Earlier this year, I read The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, which is now one of my favourite books of all time.  Then, I found out that there would be a sequel to The Five People You Meet in Heaven, another of my favourite books of all time.  I decided to reread Five People before I dove into the sequel and I'm so glad that I did.  The first book tells the story of someone making the journey into heaven and encountering five people along the way who are all people he knew or met during his live and each person has a lesson to teach him about his life.  The second book takes us along a similar journey and the main character is one from the first book (I won't say who so that I don't spoil anything!)  When I read the first book, I was on a ferry and I sobbed my heart out in public ... so I made sure I read the second book in the comfort of home, armed with tea and tissues, and let's just say that I'm glad I wasn't such a mess in public this time!  Mitch Albom knows how to write a soul-crushing story ... he rips my heart out, stomps on it, and then stomps on it one more time for good measure.  Yet I always keep coming back for more because he's such an incredible storyteller.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Broken Things - Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall remains one of my all-time favourite books. Delirium stole my heart and the follow-up books were solid. Yet, for some reason, every other Lauren Oliver book that I've read since then has fallen somewhat flat for me. I keep going back to her work, desperate for that insta-love that I felt during the opening pages of Before I Fall.

Broken Things started out promising with the story of a teenage girl who had been murdered and her friends were suspects. I immediately felt like it was going to be a reincarnation of Before I Fall because the girls weren't all that likeable and the girl who died even less so. But it quickly morphed into a magical realism story that fell absolutely flat for me. It reminded me a lot of The Hazel Wood, which I really didn't like when I read it a couple of months ago. The chapters are also intermingled with excerpts from a fictional fantasy novel and fan fiction that the characters wrote based on the novel, which reminded me of Fangirl (again, not my favourite book). So for fans who want The Hazel Wood blended with Fangirl, this book may be totally your cup of tea, but it wasn't mine.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Books On My Fall Reading List

Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl!  This week's topic is the ten books that I'm looking forward to reading this fall.  There is nothing that I enjoy more than making a list of books to read, even if most of the time I don't end up reading my planned books at all!

1. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
I had originally planned to read both Mistborn books in September, but I already know that I'm not going to make that goal. I needed a breather after finishing The Well of Ascension, but I know that I'll be finishing up this beautiful trilogy before winter arrives.

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I picked this up over the summer and was enjoying it and I'm not entirely sure why I set it aside.  I really do want to read this book, and possibly even the second one if I enjoy it.

3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is the Big Book Buddy Read on Instagram in October and there's a bookstagrammer who set up a group chat to discuss the book as well. It's one of the 18 books I planned to read in 2018 (as are all the ones above, and some others on this list) so I gotta get going on this list if I'm going to finish it (and one of these years I would like to actually do that!)

4. Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Another book from my 2018 list but it's a little ghosty or creepy, so I think it'll be perfect for October.

5. Wildcard by Marie Lu
This arrived in the mail this week and I'm already so tempted to crack it open. But I'm reading only contemporaries this week so I have to wait.  But next week it's ON.

6. Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema
This book was on my list of 16 books to read in 2016.  2016.  I cannot go into 2019 without reading this book.

7. The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch
White Oleander is one of my top, top favourite books of all time and I can't believe that I have had this book for close to a year, yet it remains unread. I feel like this would be a good November book?  Crisp and cold outside with a Russian Revolution setting?

8. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
This is another top priority book for me in the coming months as I REALLY want to watch the TV show!

9. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Totally knocking this series off the list when my copy arrives.

10. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
See above!

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I Do Not Trust You - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for I Do Not Trust You by writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz.

About the book:
Memphis "M" Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she's awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M's tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can't trust him.
Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

About the authors:
LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.
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Saving Winslow - Sharon Creech

One of my favourite things about middle grade is how sweet and innocent the stories are.  Saving Winslow is exactly that: sweet and innocent.

I've read a couple of Sharon Creech's books and enjoyed them both so I knew I would enjoy this one too.  Then I saw that the book is recommended for fans of Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan and my expectations went through the roof.  While I wouldn't saw I loved Saving Winslow as much as its comparison stories, it was still super sweet and gave me all the warm fuzzies.  There is something super sweet about a child's relationship with their first pet.  Winslow is a donkey, and a sickly one at that who isn't expected to live long.  I suppose this is where the comparison to Charlotte's Web comes in because, just like Wilbur, Winslow is constantly on the verge of not staying alive until the end of the book.  I didn't connect with Winslow the same way I connected to Ivan though, so that comparison fell a bit flat for me.

If you like your middle grade sweet and innocent and you enjoy a good animal story, then do yourself a favour and pick up Saving Winslow.

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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