Sunday, November 27, 2016

MMGM (11/28/2016): Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Reminder 1: The giveaway of a signed copy of The Secret Keepers ends on Tuesday. Don't miss it! To enter, click here and fill out the form at the bottom of the post.

Reminder 2: If you'd like to know about the best TV show designed for children, but perfect for all ages, then click here.

For MMGM, I'm recommending Greenglass House by Kate Milford.






Here's the publisher's description:

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

This book is perfect to curl up with over the holidays! The visitors to the inn have interesting backstories and personalities. Various in-story objects influence Greenglass House, such as when a book in which the characters tell stories inspires storytelling at the inn, creating an opportunity for guests to reveal more about themselves. Another example is when Milo and Meddy are influenced by a board game to create their own personas, of which Milo's helps him become more brave. An often-discussed topic is the wondering of Milo, who was adopted by his parents, about his birth parents, which is deftly handled. The setting has an interesting past that nicely sets up for the amazing, shocking twist near the end of the book, which just adds to the list of reasons why this book is fabulous!
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Greenglass-House/9780544052703#sthash.tQdk3E59.dpuf
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Greenglass-House/9780544052703#sthash.tQdk3E59.dpuf
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Greenglass-House/9780544052703#sthash.tQdk3E59.dpuf
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Greenglass-House/9780544052703#sthash.tQdk3E59.dpuf
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves. - See more at: http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Greenglass-House/9780544052703#sthash.tQdk3E59.dpuf

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I'm Thankful for Steven Universe

Since today is Thanksgiving, I decided I would talk about something I'm thankful for. However, I'm taking a departure from books to tell you about my favorite children's show of all time: Steven Universe. And if you're reading this thinking, Why would I watch a kids' show when I'm not a kid?, the reason is the same as why you would read a kids' book: because they're great! As is Steven Universe, which has aired on Cartoon Network since 2013 (and which I have watched since shortly before last Thanksgiving).



Above (clockwise from top): Garnet, Pearl, Steven, and Amethyst

The main character of Steven Universe is, unsurprisingly, a 12-year-old boy named Steven. However, Steven is not a normal child: he is half-human and half-Gem, a type of alien. Although Gems are aliens, they possess human forms and seem like humans, but in different colors and with special powers. Steven lives in the town of Beach City with 3 Gems: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. Although Steven is often involved with the Gems, he is also involved with the human residents of Beach City. Now for the reasons why I love Steven Universe:


Great characters. Steven Universe has complex characters with varying personalities and flaws. Steven is a happy kid who tries to see the best in people, but he has trouble living up to the legacy of his mother, a Gem named Rose Quartz. Pearl can be sometimes obsessed with perfection and acts as somewhat as a mother figure of Steven, being very protective of him. Amethyst acts sort of like a sister to Steven, having similar interests to him. however, Amethyst is very self-conscious, especially after the events of "Too Far." Garnet does not talk much during the beginning of the series, but more is revealed about her fierce yet wise personality (as well as her origins) later in the show. I could talk more about each character of Steven Universe, but I will just say that even minor characters are more than just plot devices.

Complex and entertaining story. The story of Steven Universe is extremely interesting. Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are members of the Crystal Gems, a group of Gems dedicated to protecting the Earth. Before the events of the series, Rose Quartz, the leader of the Crystal Gems, fell in love with a human named Greg Universe, a failing singer. Rose Quartz eventually becomes pregnant, but as Gems do not normally reproduce, she cannot exist if Steven does, causing her "death." As the series progresses, more is revealed about the home and history of the Gems, and other Gems come into play. The series has several  shocking revelations, and each one is incredibly interesting (and usually foreshadowed).

Beautiful animation. Steven Universe's animation is fantastic! Characters are drawn beautifully, locations are meticulously crafted, and the style in which the sky is drawn contrasts nicely with the other imagery.

Fabulous score and songs. Steven Universe's score has different instruments and styles for the main characters. For example, Amethyst is often accompanied by drums, Pearl's music involves piano, and Garnet's music involves deep sounds. All of the show's music is beautiful (the piece at the end of "Rose's Scabbard" is amazing), as are the songs. Steven Universe often uses songs in particularly emotional scenes, and not only do the songs accurately portray the emotions, but they are also beautiful and easily get stuck in one's head.

Discussion of important topics and themes. Steven Universe often discusses important themes. The show has many elements of feminism (many main characters are non-objectified women), and characters are diverse racially. The show also prominently discusses LGBT themes (several main characters are lesbian). Finally, Steven Universe also has several topics discussed on a smaller scale, such as family, accepting yourself, and loss.

Steven Universe also has a very calm, relaxing feel, well-crafted foreshadowing (spanning both single episodes and multiple ones), and various other stuff which I'll let you find out for yourself. All in all, Steven Universe is a beautiful show that is fantastic for anyone!

Update (11/25/2016): Several notes:
  • Several streaming services have episodes near the end of double-length season 1/beginning of season 2 out of order. (On Amazon Video, these episodes are "The Return" through "Joy Ride" as listed by Amazon.)
  • "Open Book," "Story for Steven," and "Shirt Club" aired in a different order relative to the other episodes. (The intended order is shown on the page linked below, while footnote 1, or nb 1 next to the episodes, shows the order that occurred.
  • "Say Uncle" is a crossover episode with Uncle Grandpa and is non-canon.
For a correct list of episodes, see this Wikipedia page.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Shannon Messenger's signing!

Here are some photos from Shannon Messenger's signing!






The signing had 150 people, and I stood in line (and got the signed copy of Lodestar that I'm giving away here)!

MMGM (11/21/2016) (plus giveaway): The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (plus a giveaway of a signed copy of The Secret Keepers!)

For today's MMGM, I'm recommending The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. (See the bottom of this post for a giveaway!)




Here's the publisher's description:

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.

As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?

Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society. 

I love this book! One of the best parts of this book is the plot. It is gripping, with many events and discoveries, some small, and some large. The book also has many funny moments, as well as several emotional ones. The villain's plan is complex and very evil. The villain is also interesting, but he does not seem to have been made with weaknesses specifically designed for the main characters. Speaking of the main characters, they have many different well-developed personalities, such as the main character, Reynie, a kind boy who has a balance between audacity and reason. It says a lot that as I am trying to write this review, I keep getting caught up in reading the book!

The author of The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart, has recently released a new book called The Secret Keepers. I have a signed copy of this book that I am giving away. To enter, fill out the form below with your email address and a nickname (it does not need to be your real name, or any name, for that matter). If you win the contest, your nickname will be published on my blog. The contest will end at midnight (12:00 AM) on Tuesday, November 29. Please don't leave you email address in the comments. Please use the form below to enter. Again, you do not need to provide your real name on the form. Your email address will be used to contact you and ask for a shipping address to mail the book to. If you don't get a response from me after the deadline, be sure to check your spam inbox.



Poetry Sunday (11/20/2016): "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lodestar giveaway winners!

The Lodestar giveaway is over! Thanks to everyone who entered! Now for the winners. The winner of the Lodestar giveaway is...

Ravens16!

Congratulations! In addition, through various charades and shenanigans, I have several extra items of swag that I am also giving away to another lucky winner, who is...

 Sydney W.!

Congratulations! Finally, be looking for my next signed book giveaway, coming soon! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MMGM (11/14/2016): The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

P.S. You still have Monday to enter in the giveaway for the signed copy of Lodestar by Shannon Messenger. Click here to enter.

For MMGM, I am recommending an old classic: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.






(Note: The cover above is of the Barnes & Noble Classics edition, which I read as an e-book.)

Today, I'm going to skip the description and make up my own: After her parents died of cholera, rude, grouchy Mary is made to live with her uncle (who is a widower) in his large house known as Misselthwaite Manor. While living there, she gradually becomes happier as she befriends people (such as Martha, a servant in the home, and Dickon, Martha's brother who is 12) and discovers secrets of Misselthwaite Manor, such as the garden of Mary's late aunt, which became locked after Mary's uncle buried the key in grief.

This book was first fully published in 1911, and it has aged remarkably well, becoming one of my favorite books of all time! One thing I loved about this book is how Mary's change of personality is handled gradually, making her seem more realistic. She slowly warms up to the other characters and her new life. Another great part of the book is the setting (specifically, the location.) It is well-described and makes you feel as if you were living there yourself. The story also has many characters with varying personalities, ranging from those who have it in them to be kind, such as Dickon, and those who have to find it for themselves, such as Mary. All in all, The Secret Garden is a masterpiece that is just as good now as it was 105 years ago!

Poetry Sunday (11/13/2016): "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

MMGM (11/7/2016) (plus giveaway): Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (plus a giveaway of a signed copy of Lodestar!)

This is an interesting MMGM for 2 reasons. The first is that I am recommending Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, the author who collects links to the MMGM posts and posts them on her blog, which is how I started getting comments in the first place. The second reason is that I am also giving away a copy of Lodestar, the 5th book in the series, signed by Shannon Messenger!

So, anyway, today I am recommending Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger.




Here's the publisher's description:

In this riveting debut, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world—before the wrong person finds the answer first.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.


Firstly, the fact that I have read this book (488 pages in paperback) and its sequels (Lodestar is 676 pages in hardcover) should tell you that this is one of the most fabulous book series I have ever read. That would be correct! The best part of this series is its complexity (which does not mean that it's confusing; it isn't). The world the characters live in is complex, seeming both awesome and incredibly realistic, with every part of life thought about and made as cool as possible. The characters themselves are complex, always seeming like a real person you could meet, having different personalities and staying true to them. Sophie is brave and still trying to figure out her new life, and Fitz (who is not on the cover) may seem perfect, but you will learn that he isn't in the later books. Not to mention that there are tons of characters not in the book description. Finally, the storyline is complex, full of twists and turns that make you think, "Duh!" while still being shocked. Oh, and, also, the book has just the right balance of hilarity, melancholy, and tension.

The 5th book in the series, Lodestar, was released on Tuesday, November 1, and to celebrate, I am giving away a free copy of Lodestar, signed by Shannon Messenger! One random winner will receive the signed copy of Lodestar. The giveaway will end at 12:00 A.M. (midnight) on Monday, November 14, 2016 (a week from now) Tuesday, November 15, 2016. To enter, fill out the Google Form below. Your nickname will be published on Completely Full Bookshelf if you win, so make sure that it can be publicized. Your email address will not be publicized, and it will only be used to ask you for a shipping address to mail the book to you.

Update (11/7/2016): Just to clarify, your email addresses will never be shared with anyone, and I will delete them as soon as the contest is over.

Update (11/8/2016): The giveaway has been extended one day (to Tuesday, November 15, 2016) to allow for more people to enter!

Update (11/20/2016): The giveaway winners have been posted here!


Poetry Sunday (11/6/2016): "Night Journey" by Theodore Roethke

For Poetry Sunday, I am recommending "Night Journey" by Theodore Roethke. Here is the link. I hope you enjoy it!