Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Reading list for March

Back in January, the magnificent MJ of Infomaniac challenged us, her readers, to read as many books as we could and talk about them in March.

Well, I was quite impressed at the amount of reading the others had done, and on such a wide range of topics. Some have even read more than ten books so far! I, on the other hand, managed to read one book in January, and have only managed to read about a quarter of the way through a second, very large book on art & architecture. I confess that I am spending a lot of time staring at the stunning pictures and ruminating over the history, interpretations, facts, and perspectives over the art and architecture presented in the book, and I find it all so enjoyable.

Unfortunately, that puts me behind, and I do feel a bit silly having read only one and a quarter books after two months for the book challenge. Luckily for me, I found and read two more books on leap day, and I am counting them for the book challenge, so it's three and a quarter books for me. And let me just say up front that the last two books were more poetry and art in nature,  but I found them to be wonderful reads and will share them here.

The first book that I read was a gift from a friend who knows of my interest in things of a creepy, horror nature, my run ins with the supernatural, and my fascination with local history, culture, and beliefs.

Do I believe in the supernatural? I believe that there are things that we cannot perceive because we don't have the tools nor senses to detect them. And just because we can't see nor feel something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You can't see the wind, but you can feel it; you can't see the stars in the daytime, but they're out there beyond the glare of the sun; you can't see atoms but they are all around and within us, interacting to make us and the whole world around us.  Energy cannot be created or destroyed but it can only change into matter and back. And what are we but matter and energy, made up of the stuff of stars? And it's stars we return to in the cycle of the cosmos, in an order we've yet to fully understand.

Let me just clear one thing now. Just because I've had run ins with the supernatural does not mean that I actively seek it out. I have a noninterference policy with the supernatural. I don't bother them, and they don't bother me. Let sleeping dogs lie. They might bite if you wake them up! This advice holds especially true when dealing with hellhounds.

Okay, enough rambling and back to the book reviews. The first book that I finished for the challenge is called Chicago Haunts Ghostly Lore of the Windy City by Ursula Bielski.
As far as a collection of ghost stories, I can honestly say that I've read better and more scary stories elsewhere. But there are still a few interesting stories in this book. And I love the descriptions and noted locations of the reportedly haunted sights, neighborhoods, buildings, and cemeteries.

My favorite things about this book are that locations and history is given in regards to some of the reportedly haunted sightings, making for a roadmap of sorts of the haunted places in Chicago. I think it would've been better to actually include a map of the locations of Chicago hauntings to make for a very interactive experience when one does happen to visit Chicago and has time and an inkling to seek out the haunted sights. The few pictures included in the book add value and perspective to the stories. But I honestly believe that more fotos of the haunted spots would've done so much more to enrich the book.

Would I have picked this book out on my own? Probably not. But as a gift, it was a very nice thought and I did learn some fascinating things about Chicago and its history, culture, superstitions, and beliefs. And the most fascinating story for me is the one about Inez Clarke: A little girl who was supposedly killed by lightning or disease, buried with a life sized statue to mark her grave, and the statue reportedly disappears or moves around the cemetery. Real or not, whenever I'll go back to visit Chicago, I'll try to see the statue, because it looks beautiful and is such a wonderfully crafted piece of art.

I will not talk about the second book, because I'm still reading it, and it's a really big book! It's a book on art & architecture, and I find it quite enjoyable and a pleasure to read. When I've finished reading this book, I'll be sure to share my thoughts.

Moving on, we come to the third and fourth books that I actually finished reading on leap day, just in time for the book challenge March review. I actually came across these books when I was shopping for groceries, and I thought they would make great gifts for some friends who visited over the winter.

Just to be sure, I read both books and I'm pretty sure that my friends would enjoy them. These books have very colorful artwork and beautiful poetic prose. One is serene and calming, sweetly soothing like a lullaby. The other is bold and lively, fun and entertaining, sure to put a smile on one's face.

The third book that I read is Goodnight Little One by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Rebecca Elliot.
Some might say this is a children's book--okay, so most would say it is a children's book, but I liked it very much. Hey! Don't judge me! This is a legitimate book, a hardcover edition! And I'm pretty sure my friends kids would love reading it.

28 pages from the cover page art to the last page, and 33 lines of text, a wonderful blend of artwork and rhymes makes for a very enjoyable, sweet read, appropriate for bedtime reading, out loud to the little ones or by oneself. It can also be a pleasant read any time of day or night. How could it not be with poetry like:

Little monkey in the tree,
Swinging there so merrily.
Throwing coconuts at the skies,
Little monkey
     close your eyes.

Sweet, soft rhymes meant to lull one to comfort and sleep are well combined with beautiful artwork that makes one feel peaceful, happy, and content. I like this book a lot and recommend it for little readers or as one to read to little ones. The artwork is very pleasing, serene, and charming.

The fourth and final book that I read for the challenge is called Underpants thunderpants! ¡Mis calzotruenos! words by/texto de Peter Bently and pictures by/illustraciones de Deborah Melmon.

What makes this book fascinating is that the story is told in both English and Spanish. It starts with:

One day
When the weather is
sunny and fine,
Dog hangs his
out on the line

Era un dia soleado
y chucho salio al jardin.
Los calzoncillos
iba a tender,
tenia una coleccion sin fin!

But thunder and lightning
soon fill up the sky.
underpants thunderpants!
Look at them fly!

Pero pronto el cielo
de tremendas nubes se cubrio.
Rayos y truenos!
¡Mis calzotruenos!
¡La tormenta mis calzoncillos
se llevo!

The story is hilarious and the illustrations make the story fun and lively, providing very funny pictures of what's going on in the story.  I should warn you that this story does deal with underpants humor, and there is a scene that mentions potty humor, so those of a delicate nature might want to screen this book to decide whether or not it's for you (or the little one you would read this to). I think it's fine, and adds a bit of edge to an otherwise imaginative story of what happens to a dog's underpants when a thunderstorm blows them away.

The book does not say what happens to dog after his underpants are blown away--does he obtain more or does he decide that going commando--wearing no underpants--is the way for him. We can only speculate. But what I find fascinating are the many places and living things that are affected by contact with the flying underpants. A original and creative story with fun illustrations, Underpants thunderpants makes for an entertaining read that I would recommend to little readers who enjoy a good laugh and the silly things in life.

And there you have it. The reading list of the books I've completed for the challenge. I've a few lined up for the next review, and hopefully by then, I'll have completed the arts & architecture book and I'll have a review of it to share. Until then, if you can read, then please share with us what you've read and join the book challenge. More importantly, read for yourself, and if the opportunity arises, read to a little one and help them enjoy the wonderful gift of reading and sharing stories.

Related Links
Reading list for May


  1. Underpants Thunderpants sounds brilliant! One for Babyzilla, perhaps? Although, like you, I shall have to read it first (not least so that it can count towards my 'books read this year' list.

    I do enjoy a good supernatural mysteries book, too. I like to see if I can spot anyone I know!

    1. IDV, Underpants Thunderpants was a pleasant surprise! I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up, but those pages with the rhymes & illustrations made me laugh, & I'm sure the little ones will enjoy it.

      Speaking of recognizing people from printed material, true story: I actually recognized a former coworker in a police blotter who was arrested (& later prosecuted & jailed) for identity theft & fraud. I used to think she was incompetent at her job. Now I know it's because she wasn't trained nor certified to do the job in the first place!

    2. The Mistress likes the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. Highly amusing for one (like me) who appreciates juvenile humour.

    3. MJ, Thanks for the Captain Underpants recommendation! It looks perfect for my little readers & for me to enjoy!

  2. Sigh. You could have stayed in the One Read Book club with me, but no... off you go stacking up y'books leaving me to be a dunce on my own.
    AND, surely reading your epic posts at the beginning of the year counts as reading a book????? I will wait for Mistress MJ to adjudicate on this matter.

    1. Scarlet, Finding those two children's books while shopping for groceries was an unexpected bonus! They were in the clearance aisle when I passed by & I thought they'd make great, fun reading material for my little friends. I screened them to be sure they were appropriate & then realized that I could count them as books read, so I added them to the list for the challenge review. Thus, I wouldn't look lazy & low brow with just my one ghost stories book. At least your book is classy, if not, sophisticated or more cultured compared to mine.

      My posts definitely qualify as novellas, or at the very least, treatises & essays on the human condition. Anyone who manages to read through them deserves a gold star!

    2. Does one qualify for the One Read Book Club if they are reading multiple volumes of the Master & Commander series? I'm asking for "a friend."

    3. LX, I think each volume in a series should count as a separate book, since they aren't bound/stuck together like a collection in one big book, say like the Bible or some sort of anthology.

  3. I shall add your posts to my list then! Thank you!
    I have dipped into some calligraphy books as well... and an Oscar Wilde quotation book...
    I shall go and pick up a novel right now!

    1. The calligraphy books seem like wonderful art books to me! And an Oscar Wilde quotation book sounds delightfully entertaining. I look forward to learning what your views are on them.

  4. Nice assortment!

    Horror? Then you might like Horrorstör. I discovered it through one of Mr Device's book posts. Very enjoyable.

    1. Thank you for the great recommendation,LX! I like books that are original & creative in their storytelling, & this one looks just right!

  5. It’s important to read to little ones and to get them interested in books as soon as possible.

    If you have any concerns about whether a book is suitable for a child of a certain age, try consulting Common Sense Media. It’s good for reviewing films, TV shows, games, etc., too.

    1. MJ, Thank you for the link & great advice! The Common Sense Media looks to be a very useful tool for screening appropriate material for little ones. And you're right, children who are read to become great readers, and literacy is an essential life skill and key to success.

  6. Not underpant-related but of interest…

    For young readers (ages 4-8) who like picture books, The Mistress recommends the Scaredy Squirrel books by Canadian, Melanie Watt.

    Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of many things: germs, monsters, killer bees, Bigfoot, falling coconuts.

    He is afraid to leave his nest but you never know what can happen when your routine gets shaken up.

    An animated cartoon is based on these books but the books are MUCH better than the TV show. I’ve read every book!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, MJ. Scaredy Squirrel looks awesome, & his adventures sound like fun & great reading material, a great gift idea for the little ones & readers of all ages.