Recommendations & Anticipations


Just thought I'd do a quick post about what I've been reading lately (besides Bad Machinery of course).

Library selfie! Book Nerds for life.
We had the happy experience this last weekend of visiting the Bairs! Some of you may remember back when Ashley used to post here on Everead more frequently. (Here are posts by Ashley.) Well, while we were visiting, I read some really good books, of course. Apparently she's been holding out on me.

The Here Comes the ... Cat Series by Deborah Underwood was a huge hit with my kids. We read three of them at the library. Yes, when we visit friends out of state we happily visit their local libraries. These just made us all laugh, and especially tickled Levi, who will be starting first-grade soon. We read The Easter, Valentine, and Tooth Fairy themed ones. I look forward to reading the others.

From the Bair family's personal library I read three Elephant & Piggie books I haven't read yet: I Will Take a Nap, Waiting Is Not Easy, and The Thank You Book. They were all fantastic, of course. I think my favorite of the three is Waiting Is Not Easy. If you have a child who could knock you over with their groans of agony, you will appreciate it. Sad to see the series end, but thankfully its full of great books, and I haven't collected them all yet, so I have some collecting left to do. ;)

I read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant a couple weeks ago, and that was a fun one. A good adventurous graphic novel for the 12+ crowd. It looks like there is a second book, so I'll have to find that one and read it.

A few weeks ago we decided to fast from dairy as a family, to see if it would help our skin problems. Jacob, Jubilee and myself all had some itchiness we were hoping to cure, and my doctor recommended avoiding dairy. So when I delivered all of our cheese and milk and yogurt and so forth to my friend Tara, she let me borrow The New Moosewood Cookbook.Holy Cow it is beautiful! (Beef pun intended, it's a vegetarian cookbook.) It's all hand-drawn as far as I can tell. I feel kind of silly admitting we've only made one recipe from it, but I do not feel silly at all recommending it because lots of the recipes look really really tasty, the book is so beautiful to browse, and the one we tried, Moosewood Fudge Brownies, was delicious. After two weeks dairy free it was apparent that Jubilee's skin was doing better, Jacob's was doing equal or worse and mine was doing equal or maybe a smidge better. So. we're loosening up a little, and letting Benjamin have some of his favorite meals again, but still avoiding dairy because Jubilee is 3 and it's just impossible to take a bite of your preschooler's favorite food right after you tell them they can't have any. It's just heartless.

Along those same lines I also borrowed Disease Proof Your Child from Tara. I've read it before, but reading it again has been a good reminder to me to eat healthy. I tend to go overboard and feel like I can't eat ANYTHING after I read that book, but then I remember that I just have to start where I am (which is what Dr. Fuhrman says to do anyway) and then I end up eating more veggies and being happy about it.

Now for books I haven't read yet:

On our way to visit Ashley in NJ, I gave Benjamin a copy of The Egypt Game to read. I've never read it myself, I just bought a used copy of it because I had seen it recommended and it is a Newbery Honor. Benjamin told me I simply must read it. It looks suspenseful! So I'm looking forward to reading that and discussing with him.

I'm also looking forward to reading A Kingdom Far and Clear, which my brother Ransom got me. I didn't even know that one of my favorite books was part of a trilogy! But apparently it is and now I get to read more in the Swan Lake series. I wanted to read it aloud to the kids at first, so I tried that out, and they didn't bite. Hm. I think it was just a matter of timing and will try again. But I think in the meantime I might have to read it myself. I can't always just be waiting for them to be excited about a read-aloud, even if it was one of my favorites as a child. (More that I've blogged about this book here.)

Also looking forward to reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I dunno if I'll buy it or not. Do you think I should buy it? We have all seven of the series, but none of the other books in the Potter-verse. Are any of them worth it? I'm talking about Tales of Beedle the Bard, Magical Creatures, etc. etc. If you have opinions, please share.

What good books have you read lately? What books are you looking forward to? Don't hold out on me.

p.s. I almost forgot Tikki Tikki Tembo! The Bairs had it checked out from their library and we read it to the kids at least 7 times over the course of a few days. Jubilee especially loved it, but really we all did. I think maybe we need to own that one. It's even better than I remember.

The Best New Series: Bad Machinery

Hi everybody!

Wow, what a month! We had family in town for Benjamin's baptism, then the computer monitor died. On the day we got a new monitor, the internet went down. Once that began to get resolved I left for a week of church Young Women's Camp (read:no internet) HA! So while I've had a lot of fun and some frustration, this blog has been a little neglected. How have YOU been?

Today I wanted to start telling you about one of my new favorite series. It is Bad Machinery, by John Allison.

 Five quick facts:

  1. They are graphic novel/comic format.
  2. They make me laugh a lot. (Think Calvin and Hobbes, The Office, and True Meaning of Smekday.)
  3. The basic premise is that six English pre-teens go about living life and investigating paranormal mysteries.
  4. They have appeared on this blog before, in my 2015 holiday recommendations post, in my announcement of the Cybils shortlist, in my guide for reading books that were first published outside of the USA, and in my post recommending books for teenage boys.
  5. They are a webcomic, originally published in England, and now coming to the USA in print via Oni Press.

When my friend Ashlee asked me for a book recommendation recently, I thought long and hard about it and Bad Machinery came out on top. See, she's back in school and needed something fun to read, to relax with. Usually she loves non-fiction, but her textbooks were enough on that front. I know she loves the humor of The Office, and she loved The True Meaning of Smekday. If you like The Office and Smekday, Bad Machinery is on the right track.

I recommended that Ashlee start with book 2 in the series, The Case of the Good Boy. That's the book I started with, and I was hooked. I had my mom start with book one, The Case of the Team Spirit, and she wasn't immediately on board. I think The Case of the Good Boy is a little more cohesive? So now I recommend it as a starting place. It's the one I started with, and I treated book one as a prequel.

Here are all the books, in order.

Book 1: The Case of the Team Spirit

Book 2: The Case of the Good Boy

Book 3: The Case of The Simple Soul

Book 4: The Case of the Lonely One

Book 5: The Case of the Fire Inside

Book 6: The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor 

The series is now complete with 10 books in print! 

All of the books are available to read online, here, but, the books are even better in print than online. Why? Because they're easier to read, there are extra pages, and the drawings have been re-worked just slightly to make them even better. In my opinion, the paper versions are worth it. In fact that's one reason I reached out to Oni Press and asked if I could work with them on promoting the series. I love that they're available online, and I love that the books are even better. The publisher sent me books 3,4,and 5 (Yay! it was SUCH fun to get that package) and arranged for me to interview John Allison.

I hope you give these books a shot. I hope you encourage your library to buy them. More libraries need to have them, in my opinion.

If you want more about why I love the series, and a taste of John Allison's humor, I have here an interview I did with John Allison himself! And that is just so exciting to me.

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