Sawdust in His Shoes

Sawdust in His Shoes by Eloise McGraw Jarvis.

One minute Joe is on top of the world – fame, applause, friends – the next he is orphaned, homeless, and unemployed. When his father is killed, Joe hopes he’ll be able to stay in the circus and live with an old friend. But the court needs time to consider the matter. Soon the circus must move on and Joe is shoved into a boys’ home. Joe decides to set off on his own instead, but it’s only after meeting an extraordinary ordinary family that things finally start looking up.

A few years ago I read another book by Jarvis and really enjoyed it. (The Golden Goblet) When I heard she had a new book out, I was pleased but surprised. She must be pretty lucky to be writing new stuff so long after her previous book. It turns out that this is a new edition of her very first novel, which explains its old-fashioned feel. It’s set during the height of the traveling circus, when tractors were replacing horse drawn plows, when telephones were on the party line and no television existed. A circus was seen as glamorous and exotic, not quite respectable.

Joe is a brash, daring kid with a quick temper. He’s kind of a mess when his dad dies. It takes a family like the Dawsons to help him heal.

I really enjoyed this book. It did take me a little while to get into it, but that might have been me. Once I got started, the story moved well enough. I think most lids would like this one. It was clean and perfect for your animal loving kids. It would be good one to read aloud too.

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What are you reading this weekend?

One of the reasons I haven’t posted much lately is that I haven’t been reading much. I’m not even going to try to catch up on what I have finished, but things are slowly looking up this week and I have a few books I’m working on.

The first is one for review called .Sawdust in His Shoes by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. I was excited to win this one from Library Thing because I’ve read one of her books before and really liked it. This one is about a boy who grew up in the circus. It has a very old-fashioned feel to it, but I don’t mean that in a bad way.

I’m also rereading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It was our pick for book club in July. I was really into it but then I just got too depressed to finish. And I’m listening to a nonfiction book called Frontier Grit about pioneer women. Great stories but too much moralizing.

So what are you reading? Have a good weekend.

The Time Hunters – A Review

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The Time Hunters, book 1 

by Carl Ashmore

Becky is a typical thirteen year old girl. She likes Facebook, gossiping and plenty of sleep. So when she and her brother, Joe, are invited to stay with their ‘loony’ Uncle Percy at his stately home, she thinks it’ll be the worst summer ever. What she doesn’t realise is that Bowen Hall is also home to a baby Triceratops, two Sabre-tooth tigers and the mythic hero, Will Scarlet… 

‘The Time Hunters’ is a thrilling adventure that takes Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy and Will on a quest through time to find the legendary Golden Fleece. 

The Clock is ticking…. 

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Becky and Joe are sent off to spend the summer with their Uncle Percy, whom they’ve never met. Neither is very excited about it, but it turns out to be the most exciting thing that could have happened to them – and something that could change their lives forever.

This is actually a tricky book for me to review. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy it. I did. Rather, it’s because I’m not the target audience. This is clearly written for younger readers. I wish I could have given it to a young teen and asked them what they thought. For me, I thought it was pretty over the top, a little too much going on in here and not enough character development. But it wasn’t written for me.

The book has plenty that would have appealed to my kids when they were younger – the idea of time travel, the fun look at classic myths and the twists the writer includes, and hey, dinosaurs. What kids wouldn’t enjoy that? I liked that the writer looked at time travel from a kid’s eye. Most adult time travel books have them going back to see famous historical events like Washington crossing the Delaware or the Battle of Hastings. But kids would absolutely be more interested in dinosaurs, in events they have personal knowledge of, or things that affected their family. I felt that was very real.

That said, I hope that as the series progresses we see some character development. Becky and Joe are pretty typical siblings – they don’t get along great most of the time. Joe is very much treated like he’s too young to understand what’s going on while Becky gets the full explanation. I’m not sure that’s completely fair. There’s only two years separating the kids. I’d like to see their relationship develop and the kids mature. With the big reveal near the end of the book, there’s certainly room for some growth.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for parents with kids about 9 – 13. As it is, I don’t think I’ll be reading more, but it was a fun read.

 

Review: Heap House

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Title: Heap House (The Iremonger Trilogy)

Author: Edward Carey

Synopsis: Clod is an Iremonger. He lives in the Heaps, a vast sea of lost and discarded items collected from all over London. At the centre is Heap House, a puzzle of houses, castles, homes and mysteries reclaimed from the city and built into a living maze of staircases and scurrying rats.

The Iremongers are a mean and cruel family, robust and hardworking, but Clod has an illness. He can hear the objects whispering. His birth object, a universal bath plug, says ‘James Henry’, Cousin Tummis’s tap is squeaking ‘Hilary Evelyn Ward-Jackson’ and something in the attic is shouting ‘Robert Burrington‘ and it sounds angry.

A storm is brewing over Heap House. The Iremongers are growing restless and the whispers are getting louder. When Clod meets Lucy Pennant, a girl newly arrived from the city, everything changes. The secrets that bind Heap House together begin to unravel to reveal a dark truth that threatens to destroy Clod’s world.

My thoughts:

What a weird book! I don’t remember how this one made it on to my TBR list, but I’m kind of glad it did.

It’s sort of a cross between Tim Burton and Oliver Twist. It’s set in a strange version of Victorian England. Clod, and yes, the spelling is intentional, is an orphan part of a wealthy but strange family that makes their living exploiting the poor and claiming their trash. It’s made them rich but set them apart in the most bizarre ways. The whole book is just really hard to describe.

Clod is definitely the best of a bad bunch though, and I really wanted to see him escape from this horrible life. I loved Lucy, and I can’t wait to see how she shakes things up. It definitely ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

I am going to finish this series, but I didn’t love it enough that I’m just dying to get the next book. I got this one from the library and I didn’t like it enough to buy it. I am honestly unsure how kids will like it. I think the kids who like the Tim Burton kind of feel will enjoy it. It’s a little Lemony Snicket like, so if you’re into that vibe, you’d probably enjoy it too.

Working on a Biography Giveaway!

Who likes free books? Dumb question, right? Who doesn’t? My plan is to usher in the new year with a book giveaway. Right now, I have a stack of books waiting for a new home. Here’s the list so far, but it may change.

Free Swag: 

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker by David J. Skal

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew by Max Egremont

Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family by Shelley Emling

All these were ARCs that I would like to share with someone else, and they’re all biographies.  Plus some grammar-themed children’s books.

Grammaropolis Presents Nelson the Noun

Grammaropolis Presents Vinny the Action Verb & Lucy the Linking Verb

Also a few bookmarks, stickers, maybe a trading card or two, and one steampunk coloring book

It’s a small stack of books so far, but if you’d like to donate some goodies for the giveaway, I’d love to feature budding authors, small publishers, illustrators and so on.

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How to enter:

  1. Follow my blog.
  2. Follow me on Twitter @cindy_bohn
  3. Comment below with your favorite book from 2016

Make sure you tell me your user name. You can enter all three ways, but there will only be one winner. The contest runs until January 2 at noon, MST. Good luck to all of you!