The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

Title: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Genre: Children/YA (Ages 9 on up)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 480

The Gist: Before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society, there was simply a boy named Nicholas Benedict. Meet the boy who started it all….

Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he’s being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances — and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he has one important thing in his favor: He’s a genius.

The Review:  I’ve never read any of Trenton Lee Stewart’s books, so I haven’t read any of the books in his Nicholas Benedict series.  I don’t remember how I discovered The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, but I’m glad I did.  The cover attracted my attention: I love the color scheme and the drawing style.  If I could get this cover poster-size, I would frame it and hang it I think it’s that cool.

I had fun reading The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.  The book deals with bullying so some of the plot is predictable, but Stewart creates distinct characters who creatively deal with their problems in the orphanage.

What I love best about The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is that Nicholas loves to read.  His mind constantly runs and he does not let his narcolepsy stop him from accomplishing his goals.  Instead, he incorporates it into his adventures setting up fail safes in case he falls asleep.  But it’s not just narcolepsy that Nicholas deals with.  The loneliness and trust issues help drive his natural love of reading.  The library becomes his refuge and books become his best friends before he really makes any friends at the orphanage.  And he puts his knowledge to good use in many ways.

While I am not nearly as smart as Nicholas, nor do I have narcolepsy, and I was never an orphan as a child, I can relate to the loneliness and bullying issues.  Like Nicholas, I escaped to books to find solace, to escape, and to acquire knowledge.  As an adult, I enjoyed reading a story whose main character (as a child) falls completely in love with books.  Any adult bookworm who reads The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, will relate in some way to this dynamic: childhood trials feed the inborn desire to read thus creating a life-long love affair with books, words, and learning.

Anyway, that’s how The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict hit me.  Readers of any age will enjoy the danger, the mystery, the secrecy, and the adventures that Trenton Lee Stewart includes in The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.


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How the Author of ‘Quiet’ Delivered a Rousing Speech

Dublin's Weekly FindIn this week’s selection of Dublin’s Weekly Find from 3quarksdaily, Susan Cain, author of Quiet, describes her “Year of Speaking Dangerously,” and how she prepared for her  TED Talk.  Click the link at the end of the excerpt (article originally posted on April 27, 2012) below to read the entire article at The New York Times.

I awoke one January morning from uneasy dreams to find myself transformed. For seven blissful years I had spent my time reading, writing and researching a book about introversion. But the publication date had arrived, the idyll was over and my metamorphosis was complete. I was now that impossibly oxymoronic creature: the Public Introvert. Having never given a single media interview in the first 43 years of my life, I appeared that day on “CBS This Morning” to promote my book, a critique of our overly loquacious culture. Then I shuttled uptown to my publisher’s office to continue talking — for 21 radio interviews. My book is about the power of being quiet. About the perils of a society that appreciates good talkers over good ideas. And about the terrible pressure to entertain, to sell ourselves and never to be visibly anxious. I believe all this passionately — which puts me in an interesting pickle. Promoting my work requires doing the very thing my book questions: putting down my pen and picking up a microphone. Now, in what I’ve come to think of as my Year of Speaking Dangerously, I’ve gone on national TV to talk about being the kind of person who dislikes going on national TV. I let my friends talk me into having a big book party, even though my book advises introverts to stay home on New Year’s Eve if they feel like it (I usually feel like it). And in February I took the stage at the 2012 TED conference before an audience of 1,500 people to critique a society that favors the kind of person who craves an audience.

More from The New York Times here.

Posted by Azra Raza of 3quarksdaily at 6:26 AM on April 28, 2012.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Dublin's Weekly Find


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Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art

Title: Sacré Bleu
Author: Christopher Moore
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 416

The Gist: In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor’s house for help? Who was the crooked little “color man” Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?

These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent’s friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh’s untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

The Review:  I enjoyed Sacré Bleus uniqueness and I’m impressed with Moore’s mix of historical fact with surrealism and fantasy to bring Paris’s late 19th century art world to life.  I will never see another Monet, Van Gogh, or Toulouse Lautrec painting the same way again.  Especially Lautrec.  An added treat: at least in the e-book edition, the paintings throughout the novel are in color and are reproductions of real pieces you can see in a museum.

However, it took some time for me to get into the book.  I don’t know if it’s the book’s pace (it was a little slow to me at first), its strangeness combined with its subject matter or what.  But once I fully suspended my disbelief, I had a great time reading Sacré Bleu.  It’s tawdry, shameless, shamelessly tawdry, and shamelessly irreverent — everything you’ve come to expect in a Christopher Moore novel.  What surprised me about Sacré Bleu is its solid foundation in history and art history with the Impressionists at its center.  Moore poured a lot of research into this novel.

I’m used to reading Moore’s novels Fool, Bite Me, You Suck, and A Dirty Job.  Those books do not have a historical basis if I recall.  Fool is just another take on Shakespeare’s King Lear.  With Sacré Bleu, Moore uses real people, events, and places to create his latest twisted story.  No longer just names listed in a book, in Sacré Bleu Monet, Van Gogh, and Toulouse Lautrec become real people with quirks, bad habits, and great passions.

In Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, Christopher Moore blends surrealism, fantasy, and historical fiction seamlessly together to bend space, time, and memory to bring a subtle creepiness to the story that flows from beginning to end.  Sacré Bleu, a wacky tale, discusses the source of artistic inspiration and the price required to obtain artistic genius.  It’s a story about love, creativity, inspiration, suffering and sacrifice, and the color blue. If you’re a history buff of any sort and like books that slide into odd dimensions or peek behind reality in some way, read Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art.

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Book Reviews, Christopher Moore


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Sunday Salon: Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

Today I’m recovering from Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.  It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next one in October.  I read for two charities: A public library and 4Paws Rescue Team.  While I did not raise a ton of money, I feel good about what I did accomplish.  I even managed to finish Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore, but I’m going to wait until tomorrow to write the review because while I did not make it through the full 24 hours, I did make it to 4am.  I am now operating on about  6 hours of sleep.  My schedule’s little off.

Thank you to everyone who visited my site and visited my site and left comments. That’s really cool.

I am currently reading The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart.

If you would like to check out 4Paws Rescue Team click below.  You can even make a donation if you like.

And now to veg.


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Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon 2012

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon 2012.  It’s taking place tomorrow April 21, 2012 and I start reading at 8 am.  Want to know more about it?  Check it out here. My reading list so far includes:

  1. Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore (I hope to finish this one.)
  2. The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
  3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  4. Lifeboat No. 8 by Elizabeth Kate
  5. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  6. Turned At Dusk by C.C. Hunter
  7. Short Friday by Isaac Bashevis Singer

And I have several additional books to choose from.  In this event, variety is key.  I’m going for a mix of short stories, young adult books, and quick reads in addition to the novels.  The only book  I hope to finish is Sacré Bleu. I also have a variety of snacks on hand and I plan on having a pizza delivered.  Also, I will get up from the couch frequently for short breaks and I have the laser light primed for the cats so I can play laser tag with them during my breaks. How will you manage this read-a-thon?

Hour 1: Finished Taken at Dusk.  Getting a snack.

Hour 3: Into Good Omens kitten asleep on my lap.

Hour 4: Switching to Short Friday for at least one short story.

Hour 6.5: Read two short stories in Short Friday, ate lunch, patted the cats.  Now back to Sacre Bleu.

Hour: 8.5: Cruising along on Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore.  Going to order pizza or something.

Hour 11: Wow!  I’m really into Sacre Bleu now.  It really got rolling.  And it is now raining heavily.

Hour 15.5: I did it! I finished Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore.

Special Update:

BookJourney has pointed out that I do not have a link to one of my causes which is 4Paws Rescue Team.  Here is a pretty graphic and link. (The other is a private library.)


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon


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Octavio Paz Book List

On the Literary Calendar today via LibraryThing: Octavio Paz (1914-1998). The link will take you to for basic information about him.  Octavio Paz, a poet and essayist born in Mexico, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, and you can read his Banquet Speech here.  His numerous works include: The Labyrinth of Solitude, The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957–1987, and The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism.

Gotta a favorite poet?  Feel free to list his or her name in the comments below.  Happy Poetry Month everyone!

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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Book List


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Sunday Salon: Anniversary

Well it’s Sunday once again and today marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. I finished Andrew Wilson’s Shadow Of The Titanic. You can read my review here.  Let me know what you think.

I’m now really into Christopher Moore’s Sacré Blue.  So far, it’s a weird and intriguing tale, but then, what else would I expect from Christopher Moore?

I’m also trying to figure out what to read next or in tandem with Sacré Blue.  I’m in that quandary of I have books I could read, but don’t want to read them now.  And that’s how my TBR list grows.  And grows.

Have a good week everyone!



Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Sunday Salon

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