The Marvels

I started reading The Marvels by Brian Selznick back in March, and tore through the pictures. Then I got to the text and read maybe 20 pages and got bored. The book lived in my car for almost a month. I even changed my Goodreads to mark it DNF (did not finish). For some reason, however, I was drawn back to the book on Thursday.

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I stayed up way too late reading. Since it had been almost a month since I began the book I had forgotten who was who, so I kept having to flip back. In the end, I really liked it! I like the construction of The Invention of Hugo Cabret more than The Marvels (I still haven’t read Wonderstruck) since the text was interspersed with the pictures, and the pictures are really Selznick’s strength.

I don’t want to summarize too much, because I’m afraid I’m going to give away the twists. Check out the blurbs on Goodreads, but for goodness sake, don’t read the 1 star reviews. Makes me sad for humanity. So many close minded people out there.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: Book with pictures

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge: Book over 600 pages

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ

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The Art Forger

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On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

*Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com

I wanted to like this book. I really did. There were some details I found intriguing, mostly the passages about the artwork and the process of forging painting traditional oil paintings. I also liked that I recognized most of the places mentioned. I used to live just down the street from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where the heist this story is inspired by takes place.

However, I did not like Claire at all. Not that you have to necessarily like the characters you read about, but she felt flat. This could also be due to the narrator. I found the narrator’s voice grating and the character of Claire is already annoying, so an annoying narrator only emphasized the annoyingness. As I said earlier, the only redeeming qualities (since I don’t buy the love interests or friendships or the ease of which Claire is able to find her information) are the details surrounding art. Shapiro clearly did a lot of research in painting, art history and forgery. I have to admit I never thought about the possibility of forgeries hanging in museums, but clearly it happens!

This is Shapiro’s debut novel, so maybe her other books will be better, but I felt the characterizations were all over the place. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but I also felt Claire was not a reliable narrator. By the end she seems to believe many of her own lies about the forgery. Because of this, I’m including The Art Forger as my PopSugar unreliable narrator selection.

Challenge!

Call me crazy, but I decided to start two other reading challenges. I’m going to try and make the books I read count towards all three, but sometimes that just won’t work. Why, do you ask? A coworker of mine is doing Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and we’ve compared some notes. Once I started looking at that challenge I realized I could easily fit in many of the books I’ve already read. Also, planning out the challenges got me out of my reading rut (for now at least).

Where does the third challenge come from? I frequently peruse the Modern Mrs. Darcy website and realized it wouldn’t be much extra reading to add her challenge into the mix. So there you have it. I now have three spreadsheets* going in my Google Drive and I think I’m having more fun trying to place (and find) various books in the challenge than I am actually reading the books! Hopefully the excitement will keep going.

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

PopSugar Reading Challenge (my spreadsheet here)

*someone in the Goodreads PopSugar Reading Challenge group shared their spreadsheet and I used it for all my reading challenges. I wish I could take credit for this, but my spreadsheet skills are not so great.

Baby Storytime: 19

Opening Song

Action Rhyme:

Open Them, Shut Them

Book:

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Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Song:

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Action Rhyme:

“These are Baby’s Fingers”

These are baby’s fingers (touch child’s fingers)

These are baby’s toes, (touch child’s toes)

This is baby’s belly button, (touch child’s tummy)

Round and round it goes! (gently tickle child’s tummy)

Feltboard:

“Tiny Tim”

Shared Book:

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Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Action Rhyme:

“Round and Round the Garden”

Round and round the garden, (make a circle in child’s palm)

Goes the teddy bear.

One step, two steps, (fingers walk up child’s arm)

Tickle you under there. (tickle child under arm)

Round and round the haystack, (make a circle in child’s other palm)

Goes the little mouse.

One step, two steps, (fingers walk up child’s arm)

Into his little house. (tickle child under arm).

Feltboard:

“Five Green and Speckled Frogs”

Book:

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Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox

Closing Song

Heartwood Hotel: A True Home

A friend of mine from grad school posted on Instagram that she was approved for a NetGalley copy of Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan and I decided I had to try as well. I am so pumped about the third installment of Crazy Rich Asians! Anyway, once I got into NetGalley (it had been a while) I poked around and found a few more books that might fit into my goals of 1) reading more juvenile books this year and 2) could fit the PopSugar Reading Challenge checklist. One of which is Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George.

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The story centers around orphaned mouse Mona who finds herself carried away in a storm and finds refuge in a fantastical hotel called Heartwood Hotel. Readers meet sweet woodland creatures (like Mrs. Prickles the cook, Tilly the squirrel maid and owner Mr. Heartwood the badger), go on brave adventures with Mona, and learn about Mona’s family and past.


One Goodreads reviewer compared Heartwood Hotel to The Wind in the Willows, and while I see his point, I disagree. Mostly because the writing and characterizations are lacking. While Heartwood Hotel is no The Wind in the Willows it is a sweet and enjoyable read. I foresee those who like Critter Club and Puppy Place and The Saddle Club snapping these up. The fact that the book is an ARC and already a “book one” tells me publishers are also seeing the connections.

Baby Storytime: 18

Opening Song

Action Rhyme:

Open Them, Shut Them

Song:

“Itsy Bitsy Spider”

Book:

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I’m Dirty by Kate McCullan

Feltboard:

“Tiny Tim”

Action Rhyme/Tickle:

“Let’s Go Riding in an Elevator”

Let’s go riding in an elevator (hold child in front of you on lap)

Let’s go riding in an elevator.

First floor, (at first floor start to lift child up, raising a bit at each floor)

Second floor,

Third floor,

Fourth floor,

Doooowwwwwwnnnnn!

Shared Book:

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Big Little by Leslie Patricelli

Action Rhyme:

“I am Big, Big, Big”

I am big, big, big (stretch hands to sides)

I am small, small, small (crouch down)

I am short, short, short (stay crouched)

I am tall, tall, tall (stretch up)

I am fast, fast, fast (roll arms (like during wheels on the bus) fast)

I am slow, slow, slow (roll arms slow)

I say yes, yes, yes (nod head)

And sometimes I say no, no, no (shake head)

*we had some older babies/toddlers, today, otherwise I would skip last two lines*

Shared Book:

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Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe by Tana Hoban

Closing Song