August 2018 Recap | Public Speaking + Even More Middle-Grade Reviews
I had the opportunity to represent my workplace by presenting an award at a primary school assembly, and hosting a children’s award ceremony. So I feel proud of my achievements and recognised for working hard. This has been especially lovely since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE kids and got to work with them a lot. I also went for a job interview for which I was unsuccessful. I’m actually glad that this ended up just being interview experience, because I was terrified about putting my hand up for such a big position. I’m currently taking on more and more leadership responsibilities, which involves thinking about my work and my colleagues in a totally new way. The challenge scares me because for the longest time I simply wanted to survive work rather than thrive. So we’ll just have to see where this journey takes me.
I’m starting to realise that imposter syndrome and critical self talk is a fact of life when you’re a creativeperson. Doesn’t make it suck any less though. How do you deal with things like this? I’ve found @nina_lacour ‘s instagram posts extremely encouraging.
August Reading Highlights
The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth (The Sinclair’s Mysteries #2) by Katherine Woodfine ★★★★★. The Sinclair’s Mysteries series goes from strength to strength. The stakes are high and the tension is palpable. I think book two is still my favourite after finishing the series.
A Stitch in Timeby Daphne Kalmar ★★★★☆. This very short, sad story follows eleven-year-old Donut after she’s orphaned. I read it in one sitting, engrossed by the imagery.
The Secret of the Night Trainby Slyvia Bishop ★★★★☆. A rollicking, hilarious mystery/adventure! I think this book would suit 5 to 9-year-olds best, although it succeeded in entertaining me thoroughly. Keep an eye on Sister Marguerite – she’s just so adorable and quickly became my favourite character.
Be Brave Be Bold Be You: The No BS Guide to Living with a Mental Illness and Succeeding at Lifeby Megan Coburn ★★★★☆. This coffee table book tells the affirming, inspiring stories of people living with a variety of mental illnesses. They share the techniques and habits that helped them grow healthy and stay healthy. There should be way more stories like this available for people of all ages. While this isn’t a deeply informative book, it would make a good gift for people who prefer one-sitting easy reads.
August Reading Lowlights
Wave Me Goodbyeby Jacqueline Wilson ★★★☆☆. Maybe my expectations were too high, but reading my first book by Jacqueline Wilson was a let-down. I felt that given the heft of this historical middle-grade novel, there was nowhere near enough payoff. I didn’t find any of the characters likeable (although Jacqueline Wilson nails the realistically greedy, self-obsessed child archetype). I didn’t feel as though Wave Me Goodbye contributed anything new or meaningful to the cannon of WWII fiction, or gave me any reason to care about the characters. Should I give Jacqueline Wilson another shot and try a different title?
The Listby Patricia Forde ★★☆☆☆. 10 out of 10 for original concept. However, I felt totally alienated by the level of violence in this middle-grade novel – The List depicts torture, suicide, and execution, failing in my opinion to give enough explanation to help young readers understand these traumatising events. For YA readers of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies or Veronica Roth’s Divergent, The List would be a stimulating read. I just feel like the target readership is inappropriate. Just to be clear, I rated this book two stars predominantly because the genre and storyline were not my cup of tea. DISCUSSION SECTION >> I’m interested to know what you think about violent junior fiction. Where, in your opinion, is the line? Do you think my reaction to unjustified, unexplained suicide in a kid’s book is founded, or an issue of censorship? I believe there’s an enormous difference between explicitly depicting gratuitous violence for the sake of raising plot tension, and sensitively raising awareness of a real trauma that may have affected a child.
The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)by Soman Chainani ★★★★☆. I didn’t feel like adding this book to my highlights because I’m still making my mind up about it. There are so many clever and gripping aspects, including awesome character development and an inventive twist on the fairytale genre saturating the shelves. I want to see where the author takes this story, and what sort of statements about gender inequality he ends up making.
Ms. Rapscott’s Girls (Ms. Rapscott’s Girls #1) by Elise Primavera ★★★☆☆. Ms. Rapscott is the new Mary Poppins or Ms. Frizzle – unreasonable, magical, and perilous. This was an enjoyable little adventure. I think readers aged 5-9 would have a marvellous time at the Great Rapscott’s School for the Daughters of Busy Parents. However, it just didn’t have enough depth or heart to hook me as an adult reader. I would love to know more about Ms. Rapscott – something that would make her special and admirable rather than an airheaded risk taker. All in all, it’s a cute book.