Etiquette and Espionage

While we are dedicated patrons to our favorite library of all times, we also love to visit our local small town library. The selection might be a bit smaller but they are friendly, helpful, and have a nice mix of old and new books. We never leave empty handed! One of the best ways we can help our local library is by pushing those circulation numbers up. We try to do our part.

In the children’s department, they have a small display of books that are a part of NC’s Battle of the Books. We are a homeschool family and the Battle of the Books in our home is a hearty discussion on who is first to read a book. Or perhaps a heated debate on which author is better. As I am always looking for new reads, I check the Battle of the Books stash each time we go.

It has lead me to some great reads such as Counting by 7s (I think everyone should read this) and Brown Girl Dreaming. So a few weeks ago, I noticed Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger and it looked like a book my two older girls would enjoy.

Sophronia Temminnick is being sent away to finishing school. It is high time she learned to curtsy, make herself presentable and well, not be such a trouble to her mother. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your average finishing school. Yes, Sophornia will learn all the skills and arts of a fine lady but her education goes a bit further. Finishing at this school means dealing out death.

Etiquette and Espionage had me doubting from the beginning if I could enjoy this young adult Victorian steampunk novel. The story seemed a bit slow and I wasn’t finding the characters engaging. I hate to leave a book unfinished so I pushed through. Expectations, I think, are what made this a disappointing read. After reading the book synopsis, I was expecting a bit more in terms of this “finishing” school. For me it all seemed a bit shallow. Despite the subject matter this is not a dark, gruesome read. It is more a lighthearted, fun read about an ordinary, young girl who finds a place to belong. For the young adult audience, character development and conflict should have been fleshed out a bit more.

If you have teens who enjoy steampunk and fantasy, then Etiquette and Espionage could be a an enjoyable read. This is not a deep, powerful read but would serve well as a read for a long weekend or rainy afternoon.. I have no hesitation sharing this with my oldest girls. Etiquette and Espionage is Book One of a series. If you enjoy it, you might want to check out the others.

Have you read Etiquette and Espionage? Thoughts? Where do you find new books to read?

Read Aloud Thursday – January 2016 Selections

Reading aloud is one of my most favorite things to share with my  children. It seems to get more challenging each year to keep it a priority. However, if all else fails, we at least read a chapter before bed!

This month we have been able to complete two selections and have begun our third.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket (Caleb Krisp) was a random selection from the library. When we make a run to our favorite library, I spend a good bit of time searching the shelves in hopes of coming home with a bounty to satisfy my tribe. A few weeks ago the cover of Ivy Pocket caught my eye and when reading that she had the “instincts of a sedated cow”, I had a feeling that Pocket would be perfect for a read aloud.

Ivy Pocket is young English maid who is quiet unique in personality. She is sassy, confident, naive, and most definitely quirky. She is more than happy to step in and help others with her creative and quite unusual remedies. Cheesecake for sunburn, anyone? She is annoying but you can’t help but like her.

She is definitely not the one you would give a rare, priceless, mysterious and cursed diamond necklace, too, right? This is exactly what the Duchess of Trinity chooses to do. She hires Ivy to hand deliver The Clock Diamond to a “dear friend’s” granddaughter on her birthday. No matter what, Ivy should protect The Clock Diamond, tell no one she has it, and never wear the diamond  necklace.

Then the excitement and mystery begins. The Duchess of Trinity is murdered, Ivy doesn’t follow the rules regarding the necklace, and she develops quite the appetite for raw potatoes. There is a bit of magic, ghosts do make an appearance. and we find that Ivy has a wide range of instincts.

There were times when reading Ivy Pocket that I felt it I had to read “monstrously” one more time, I was going to slam the book closed. However, you really can’t help but like Ivy Pocket. Take away the murder, the diamond, the ghosts…and you simply have a young girl who is longing for a place to belong, a family, a home.

My children all loved Ivy Pocket. There was always a bit of laughter each night I read. Anyone But Ivy Pocket ends clearly leading into another Ivy book and no doubt my children will want to read it. I would love to listen to this book on audio with a good British accent.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics was just finished up a couple of nights ago. This book by Chris Grabenstein was highly anticipated by my kiddos after reading Escape from Lemoncello’s Library over the summer. Once again we have Mr. Lemoncello leading an exciting game but this time it isn’t limited to contestants in Alexandriaville, Ohio. Library lovers from all over the country compete to earn a spot in the Lemoncello Library Olympics. Kyle Keeley and his friends return to hold on the champion title.

But can Kyle and his team prove to be the champions? Competition this time around is harder than ever. Despite intensive after school training, Kyle isn’t sure that he deserves a spot on the team. Will he risk going from champion to chump?

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics once again brings a plethora of literary references and book titles.  Questions, games, and riddles are the highlight with Mr. Lemoncello.  It doesn’t take long to realize that banned books and censorship is the underlying emphasis of the Library Olympics.  A worthy point of discussion, indeed.

As with Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library there is a lovely book list of all the books referenced. And, of course, a riddle for the reader to solve as well. I have a kiddo who claimed the book as I finished so she could get started on finding a solution.

Overall, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics is a fun read that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you have an avid reader or a reluctant one, Lemoncello is a great addition to the book basket. I love how the Lemoncello celebrates the diversity of readers. Everyone can enjoy a good read. For us, Library Olympics didn’t seem to have the same quality/amount of riddles and puzzles as the first Lemoncello book. A few of my kiddos were a bit disappointed. However, we definitely recommend this family friendly read!

And our current read is Leepike Ridge by N. D. Wilson. We are only a few chapters in but we are hooked. I love the way Wilson writes.  I don’t think this will disappoint.

I also need to select a read aloud for my younger crew and one that ties in with our history.

What are you reading?

Jack (Ballads from the Hearth – Book 1)

One of the perks to having a friend who is an author is the sneak peeks and never having to be without a little something to read. Chautona Havig, author of favorites such as Everard and For Keeps, has a new book that was released TODAY!! (Make sure you don’t miss the Release Party!)

Jack (Ballads from the Hearth) is a bit of a unique tale inspired by a ballad, “Cowboy Jack” and Shakespeare’s, Much Ado About Nothing. Yes. Lonely cowboy meets Shakespeare.

Jack Clausen has faced difficult and harsh circumstances in his life. Circumstances that have driven him to a hard, lonely, quiet life of a cowboy. Jack is content with a life of working hard alongside his horse, Sadie, and the Lord. However, when Jack least expects it, life takes a sharp turn and forces this lonely cowboy to question his life….and his heart.

Hazel Meissner is young woman who finds herself drawn to the quiet cowboy. Jack and Hazel soon find themselves with strong feelings toward one another and are looking toward a future together. Life does not always go as planned and love is not without its challenges. Jack and Hazel find themselves faced with lies, deceit, broken trust, and devastating hurt. Is there any future with Hazel for this lonely cowboy?

While Jack’s and Hazel’s story appears to take center stage in this tale, it doesn’t take the reader long to find another couple that demands attention: Deborah and Dirk. Friends of Jack and Hazel, the duo’s dynamic discourse in insults and bickering is a constant theme through the book. They are quiet the contrast to Jack and Hazel and definitely provide plenty of comic relief.

I must confess that I struggled “liking” the characters in Jack. In different situations, they did not respond as I expected or wanted them to. At times I found myself frustrated. Isn’t that life, though? We see others’ lives playing out before us and we think we know exactly what they should do next or how a certain situation should be handled. Thankfully, I am not in control of those lives before me because I would most definitely miss the beauty of forgiveness, grace, and strength. Thanks for the reminder, Jack.

If you are looking for a light-hearted read with a message of forgiveness flowing underneath, consider adding Jack to your To Read list. It is perfect for a rainy afternoon or a chilly evening by the fire.

Disclaimers: I received a copy of this book, Jack (Ballads from the Hearth, Book 1) in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. Any opinions I have expressed are fully my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.