Chasing River

Chasing River

Chasing River is a book I can see myself reading over and over again. In fact, I just finished reading it for the second time. It is the third installment in K.A Tucker’s “Burying Water” series, and I am absolutely obsessed with it. I don’t know if it’s the romance, or the danger, or the traveling, or the totally hot Irish guy, but this one had me hooked as soon as I started it. I love the fact that the story is told from multiple points of view, so that you are able to gain insight into both Amber AND River as characters-separately, and together. I love that the story takes place in Ireland, as it is one destination I would really like to visit. I found myself hanging on to every detail of every landmark or tourist attraction being described, and pictured seeing it for myself one day. I also really love the characters in this book. Each one had his/her place in the book, and it made sense for them to be there. One of the secondary characters (Ivy), is actually cast as the main character in the Fourth Installment “Surviving Ice.” All in all, I love it!! If you’re looking for a series with  a storyline that’s not just romance based, give this one a shot. “Burying Water” is the first, and I promise it won’t disappoint. And once you get there, let me know how you feel about “Chasing River.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

 

Caraval

Caraval book coverEnter the magical world of Caraval, where nothing is what it seems and magic is around every corner. Scarlett Dragna has been writing to Legend, the mysterious game master behind Caraval, since she was a little girl, hoping to receive an invitation to play the game and escape with her sister, Tella, from their abusive father. In order to leave their homeland without their father’s notice, Tella makes a deal with handsome sailor Julian to secure safe passage on his ship to Legend’s island. As the game begins, Scarlett soon discovers it is more than she bargained for. When Tella is kidnapped, Scarlett forms a tentative alliance with Julian to navigate the streets of Caraval, not knowing whom she can trust, and solve a number of clues in order to find Tella and win the game.

I had a major case of TEABS* when I finished this book. I just wanted to stay in Stephanie Garber’s fantasy world and find out what other surprises mastermind Legend has in store for his Caraval guests. Although I found Tella super annoying and sometimes got frustrated with Scarlett as well, I did enjoy the mysterious characters Julian and Legend. As I was reading the book I didn’t quite know what was real and what wasn’t, which made me want to rush through to the end. Recommended for fans of fantasy and romance.

*The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome

Watching Movies With Tweens

Cover of Queen of Katwe DVDIt’s great having kids ages 9 and 12! We’re past the carseat and stroller years, but not quite at the dating and driving stage yet. It’s truly a golden age. My two sons are capable of fixing themselves simple meals and helping around the house. They are smart and funny, and we can have really interesting conversations with them on a variety of topics (and best of all, they still want to talk to us!)

What has become more of a challenge these days is finding movies to watch together. We’ll go to the theatre for blockbusters that need to be seen on the big screen (like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). But at home, we don’t have cable, only Netflix, and we also check out lots of DVDs from the library! The trouble is, they are too old for some movies (we passed on Trolls for instance), and too young for others, at least in my opinion (they claim they are the “only” kids in school who haven’t been allowed to watch Deadpool).

We’ve already seen the most obvious movies for kids their age (think: Marvel, Star Wars franchises, etc.), probably more than once. So lately we’ve been checking out some older films their dad and I loved as kids; some newer ones we missed when they were first released; as well as some non-Disney/Pixar animated movies. Here are some hits and misses:

Beetlejuice—This Tim Burton classic was a definite hit with both my boys. They’ve been singing the Banana Boat Song ever since.

Spirited Away—My 9 year old declared it one of his favourite movies, while my 12 year old (who I thought would appreciate it the most) found there were some plot holes that didn’t sit well with him.

My Neighbor Totoro—This is a cute movie, and probably one my boys would have loved if they’d seen it first when they were a bit younger.

Edward Scissorhands—Another hit.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles—This is an R-rated movie, mainly for a few instances of the F-word. But honestly, I’m not naïve enough to think my kids have never heard the word, so bad language isn’t really a huge concern of mine as a parent when it comes to movies. Besides, if you were Steve Martin’s character, you’d probably drop a few F-bombs too. My boys thought the movie was hilarious.

A Monster Calls—This was a very good movie, though I wasn’t prepared for what a tearjerker it is. You have been warned.

Arrival—I thought this was an excellent movie, and while I’d been advised it was fine for kids (it is), mine found it a bit slow (when I mentioned “aliens” they were probably hoping for something a little more Guardians of the Galaxy).

Ghostbusters—We all enjoyed the rebooted version in theatre last year. Not a single childhood ruined. My boys hadn’t seen the original however, so we checked it out recently. Even with the cheesy special effects, they thought it was terrific (I admit I was never a huge fan, and there are a few scenes that made me cringe while watching with kids).

Queen of Katwe—They both enjoyed this inspiring film, and I noticed they got out the chessboard more in the days after we watched it.

Of course, different families have different definitions of what is appropriate viewing for children under 13, so our choices might not be yours. But rest assured you will find a wide selection of DVDs and Blurays for all tastes at Vaughan Public Libraries. Want even more choices? Check out streaming video available via Hoopla!

A few others that are on my list of possibilities for upcoming family movie nights:

A League of the Their Own

Alien*

Billy Elliot

Napoleon Dynamite

Hidden Figures

*This is an R-Rated film.