Friday, August 31, 2007

Booking Through Thursday...On Friday

Being that I don't have any reviews for today, I figured I would revert back to my old habit and do a Book Through Thursday meme. Who cares if it's Friday??! Read on...

There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


I don't have nearly enough "reading friends." One of my close friends, Katie, a soon to be elementary ed teacher, reads a lot of the same stuff that I do and is constantly reading, as I am, she just doesn't read the quantity that I do. I don't know many folks that do (except bloggers of course :-). I have a couple of other friends that do read, but it's only once in awhile, so I'm almost alone in the group of readers.

My husband is also usually in the middle of a book, but he only reads right before bed or if we go on a long car trip, so it typically takes him at least a month to get one book done. The only recent exception to that was the latest Harry Potter novel...I think he got that one done in a week or so.

Growing up, my mom read every once in awhile, but it was usually magazines or the newspaper. Same as now, that's all she reads. My dad, shortly before he passed away, had started to get into reading, which was nice. I always wanted him to read his books to me, so he read me the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe (yeah, I was only 8) and then started to read the collected works of Sherlock Holmes. I still have the bookmark in the exact place it was when he died. He only got to page 52. :-(

I really wish my family would read more so they would understand when I was exacted about something that happened in a book or in the book world. At least I can talk about books with Katie or my boss/friend Ami at work. I do have some people!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Takeoffs and Landings

Hmmm. Did I like this book? I'm still pondering that question more than 12 hours after completing it. Haddix put a lot of emotions and information into a relatively short book and though it was very compelling and well written, it just seemed a bit....jammed in there.

Takeoffs and Landings by one of my favorite youth writers, Margaret Peterson Haddix, is a book of intense family emotion. It is told by two siblings in alternating chapters. Chuck is the overweight, geeky older brother that we learn loves art, but is afraid to show that love. Lori is the self-obsessed younger sister that is completely into boys, friends, and parties, and definitely not into Chuck and his weirdness.

Their mother, a motivational speaker and very much resented by Lori, decides to take Chuck and Lori along for one of her 3 city tours in order for them to spend time together and possibly fix their straining relationship. Along the way, huge, emotion ridden fights ensue between Lori and her mom, while Chuck begins to find himself in art museums, hiding, yet learning and loving. By the end of the novel, the broken family almost seems fixed, which is a feat to do in only 201 pages.

Haddix has a magic about her that enables her to create real emotions in her characters that then feel real in her readers. She did that again in this book and I loved it, however I felt it was very rushed and somewhat strange that after all the intensity in hurt and anger that was portrayed only a few pages before, all is well at the end of the book. It needed a good 50-100 more pages to work out those family problems and make that part of the novel feel realistic to me.

Don't forget about my giveaway for Let Them Eat Cake! You have until Sunday to enter here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking for Alaska

Have you ever just been irritated with a book? I'm sure you all have...but I actually made myself finish this one because it won the Printz award and so many bloggers have praised it. I, on the other hand, was bugged beyond belief and cannot say I enjoyed it in the least. For awhile there it reminded me of A Separate Piece, but I actually liked that book! Who knows what my problem was, hopefully I'll get over it soon!

Looking for Alaska by John Green is about strange friendships that unfortunately transpire into tragedy, but also into love between friends. Miles Halter, nicknamed Pudge by his new roommate, has moved from Florida to Alabama in order to attend Culver Creek Academy, a boarding school. He quickly makes friends with his roommate, who insists being called "The Colonel," over cigarettes that Miles really doesn't want to smoke, but does anyways. Through The Colonel, Miles also becomes friends with Takumi, a smart Korean boy, and Alaska, the most gorgeous girl he has ever seen. The year goes on with the group pulling different pranks against the students they've dubbed "The Weekend Warriors," as well as against their headmaster The Eagle.


The group all partake in a lot of smoking, a lot of sex, and a lot of drinking, which unfortunately leads to the demise of one of them. The aftermath of the tragedy is the second part of the book and just made the plot go downhill for me. I usually do not enjoy books with that much vulgarity anyways, but Green wrote it in a way that just made it ok for some reason. I still ended up not enjoying it, but others may. I definitely recommend this book not be read by children under 14.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Green Glass Sea

I really need to stop being judgemental about books, I'm always wrong! The plot description of this book just didn't really interest me, but after seeing positive reviews on several blogs I decided to give it a try. What a surprise it was when I was sucked in from the first page and absolutely fell in love with this book. I cannot wait for the sequel! Not only was the book awesome, but it took place only 10 minutes from my house, which was also very cool.

The Green Glass Sea, written by Ellen Klages, is a book of intrigue and companionship. Dewey is used to being left alone. Her mother has been gone since before she can remember and since the war started her father has been all over the country working on "secret Army stuff." Dewey has stayed with her grandmother during that time, however when her grandmother has a stroke, she must go and live on the Army base in New Mexico with her father. When she arrives, she learns that the Army is working on a secret gadget that is supposed to help them win the war, a gadget which older kids and adults will realize is the atomic bomb. Dewey is left alone a lot of the time while her father is working and though she tries to make friends, most of the girls on the base find her and her obsession with mechanics strange.


When Dewey's father gets called away to Washington, Dewey must move in with the Gordon's. Unfortunately, one of the Gordon's is a girl Dewey's age, Suze, one of Dewey's most notorious tormentors. As the war rages on and their parents are busy trying to fight it, Dewey and Suze work on their friendship and learn that despite their differences, they may just be meant to be friends and their common strengths can help them get through ex


Though many tragedies are spoken of in the chapters of this book, all of them are incredibly realistic and many are true. Though the story is fiction, the history is all fact and these events really took place. I live only 10 minutes from the Trinity site in Alamogordo, where the atomic bomb testing was done. I loved reading a book that described my home and surroundings so well and it was very interesting to read it from a child's perspective. This book was amazing and because of the cliff-hanger at the end, I can't wait for Klages to put out the companion novel. Read this book!
Also, don't forget about my giveaway of Let Them Eat Cake on Sunday! Click here to enter.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Because of Anya

After reading this short book, I love Margaret Peterson Haddix even more as an author than I did before. I LOVE her suspense books and wasn't sure how much I would like a softer, more generalized fiction work from her, however she pulled it off flawlessly and I loved it. My heart went out to Anya and her family and I can only pray for all the families that really do deal with Anya's condition on a daily basis.

Because of Anya is told by two characters, Anya, the title character that is suffering from Alopecia Areata, a condition in which the person loses all of their hair for no real reason, and by Keely, one of the girls in Anya's fourth grade class. At first, when Anya begins losing her hair, she is petrified that the kids at school will find out, her mother buying her a wig almost immediately. Day to day school life becomes incredibly stressful as Anya attempts to make sure that no one knows she is wearing a wig. After a horrible day in gym class when Anya's wig falls off, she is sure no one will ever talk to her again, thinking her some terrible, bald monster.


Keely, typically a follower in the group of popular girls, takes a stand in this book and befriends Anya, letting her know that it's ok that she is different. She helps Anya to understand that the kids are more curious than afraid and if Anya would explain why she didn't have hair anymore, the kids would be more likely to act normal again. The bond between these two girls starts out very small, but quickly grows into a genuine friendship.


I was very impressed at the manner in which Haddix told Anya and Keely's complicated story in such a short book (only 112 pages), but she did it beautifully. I was so sad for Anya, yet so proud of Keely. This is a great selection for anyone liking Haddix's writing style or for young girls enjoying books on friendship and understanding.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake...and a Giveaway!!

I'm typically not a huge fan of the so called "chick-lit" genre of books, however I may just change my tune after having read this book. From the very first page I was drawn into the story and couldn't put it down until I read the very last sentence. I am already hoping the author has a sequel in mind!

Let Them Eat Cake is written by Christian Fiction author Sandra Byrd and chronicles Lexi Stuart over a very difficult few months in her life. Within the first chapter, Lexi loses her job (though she hated it anyways) and learns that her parents are giving her 6 months to find a new place to live, before they sell their house and move away. No matter what Lexi tries, she cannot find and keep a job that she enjoys AND pays the rent, resulting in very low hopes of ever finding a good place to live on her own and finally joining the world of the grown-ups.

Lexi takes a job as a counter assistant at a new French bakery that opens in town, hoping that it will get her closer to actually baking food, a hobby that has turned into a passion. While working her way up in the bakery world, Lexi learns a lot about herself, as well as her long forgotten relationship with God. Little by little Lexi grows as a person and learns that she just may have what it takes to make it in the grown up world after all.

The language in this book simply had me salivating for all things French pastry. I loved the descriptions of the food and the character development was absolutely perfect. Mix a little romance with all the pastry talk and spirituality and Byrd has an incredibly successful novel.
As I said before, I really hope the author plans on writing a sequel because I would love to find out what happens to Lexi and her relationship with God (and food) after this book ended. I was very satisfied with how this book turned out, though am still yearning for some yummy mille-feuilles!

I am holding a giveaway to win your own copy of Let Them Eat Cake, so if you would like a copy of this delicious book that needs to be read, leave me a comment before next Sunday night (I think that's the 2nd). Good luck!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Noah Confessions

This is the perfect example of a book that has a great buildup of mystery, intrigue, and suspense and then slowly lets the reader down with a boring climax and ending. I really didn't enjoy this book, though the premise and thought process of the author seemed great. It was a bit disappointing, I must say.

Barbara Hall is the author of The Noah Confessions and as I said previously, had a great idea for a story in her head. Lynne grew up in fancy Los Angeles, attending a prestigious private school and living with just her father after her mother dies. Lynne feels she is pretty well adjusted and happy with her school, her friends, and her home life...that is until her 16th birthday. Everyone at her school gets a car for their 16th birthday. Everyone. Everyone, except Lynne. Her father had been warning her that she wouldn't be getting a car, but Lynne simply thought that was his way of attempting to surprise her with the gift, she didn't think he actually wouldn't get a car for her. Instead, she receives a dingy, old-looking bird charm bracelet that she just doesn't understand the meaning behind.


When Lynne begins acting out on her father, trying to make him believe her when she says how important receiving a car for her birthday was, he hands her a worn manuscript that her mother wrote when she was a teenager instead, saying that he was supposed to give it to her when she was "losing perspective." Lynne reluctantly takes it and when she begins reading she is amazed at the secrets her mother held all of her life. She is angry at her father for never telling her and angry at her mother for always pretending everything was just fine with her life, when really, it was in pieces.


The book has a very strong appeal at the beginning, drawing the reader in and making them want to quickly read more in order to find out what secrets the manuscript holds, however there is a quick let down once the actual confession is revealed. It left me saying: "that's it?!" It just got more boring for me from there and I did not see how the manuscript brought Lynne closer to her father or her mother after reading it. I was more than a little disappointed in this book, though if you have read it, I would love to hear other opinions.


Picture Book Saturday

Just one book this week, as I have a few other "non-picture book" reviews to post as well. One only has so much time.... I absolutely loved this week's selection, so even if I only have one for you, it's worth your time to go and check it out.

The Boy who was Raised by Librarians is written by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed. It tells the sweet story of a young boy that absolutely loves the library and spends all of his free time there. The librarians, constant helpers that they are, assist the boy with an array of life changing lessons throughout his childhood and young adulthood, ending with the boy eventually becoming a librarian there himself.


The story introduces to children exactly what librarians are to us. Being one, I have many times wanted to find more than patrons actually need, just because I want to know I can find it! This book reminded me so much of myself as a child, as well as an adult librarian. I think this is one of the best picture books I have read this year and look forward to reading more from this first time author. Any child that loves the library will love this book!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Drowned Maiden's Hair

Another fantastic read to mark down for this year! I really think this book should win some type of award for originality...though I'm not very sure if it will. Never do the books I think should win ever actually win anything! At any rate, I really enjoyed this book, from an author I had never read before, and I look forward to seeing more from her.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama was written by Laura Amy Schlitz, a first book for this author, follows 11 year old Maud Mary Flynn, an orphan residing at an academy for girls. Maud is a troublemaker, never stepping down to authority, often finding herself being punished and always being passed over for adoption. When Hyacinth, a rich old woman, arrives at the orphanage in search of a young girl to adopt, Maud has no hope that she'll be chosen, however, she is exactly the girl Hyacinth picks.

Maud is stunned, having been chosen as the girl Hyacinth and her two sisters want to adopt and remains in that state when she arrives at their stately home. At first, life now seems luxurious to Maud and she is determined to be a very good girl, doing whatever the sisters ask of her. When she learns that she was adopted in order to help them perfect the family business, she is still very willing to do whatever she has to, to make the sisters happy. When secrets about what the family business actually is begin to come out, Maud is all to happy to participate...at first. As she gets more and more involved, the readers see Maud's inner conscience begin to work against her and she isn't entirely sure that life at Hyacinth's house is as good as she first thought.

This novel was lovely. Fast paced, original, and exciting. The first sentence: "On the morning of the best day of her life, Maud Flynn was locked in the outhouse, singing, The Battle Hymn of the Republic" reeled me in and I was hooked until the last page. I immediately brought the book to my boss in the children's room (and fellow children's book lover) and told her she absolutely had to read it. Children and adults will be entranced with Maud's story and I definitely recommend you read it...soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Leaving Fishers

After having read most of The Shadow Children series, as well as Running Out of Time, this selection by Margaret Peterson Haddix was a little disappointing. Not quite as thrilling or suspenseful as her other books, Leaving Fishers was more generalized fiction, which is just fine... only not what I've come to expect from this amazing author.

Dorry feels like an outcast at her new school. She doesn't have any friends and no one seems interested in even remotely getting to know her. When Angela, a girl very popular in her own small clique of friends, approaches Dorry and gets her to sit with them at lunch, Dorry is thrilled, if not a little confused. Why her? As the lunch period passes, Dorry learns that Angela and her friends are members of a strong religious group called The Fishers of Men and are interested in getting Dorry to join. At first, Dorry is very skeptical, having never been interested in religion before, but after attending some events and church services, she begins to think she may belong in Fishers after all.

As time passes, Dorry is asked to perform specific tasks for Fishers in order to get in "God's good graces," tasks that are incredibly difficult and often require her to push her family away from her, such as fasting during Thanksgiving. If the tasks are not completed, Dorry is deemed a failure by Angela and must repent immediately. Things with Fishers begin to get more and more intense and pretty soon Dorry feels trapped, only wanting to get her old life back.

I did enjoy the book and felt it was very well written, it simply wasn't very "suspenseful." However, it's possible the author didn't mean for this book to be a novel of suspense, as her others have been, so it could quite possibly have been a success in that. Dorry does, in the end, being to love the real God, not the God that the Fishers have presented. That made me happy and I was overall, very satisfied with this read.

Scrapbooking Contest!!!!

I am definitely an obsessive scrapbooker, though time limits what I can actually create each month. Over at Three Wild Monkeys, she is sponsoring a HUGE scrapbook giveaway, which is right up my alley! Head on over and enter!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From YA to Adult

I just finished the newest Ann Brashares novel, The Last Summer (of You & Me), and it left me kind feeling strange. I can't decide if I enjoyed the book or not, which is especially strange for someone as vocal about books as myself. I absolutely love Brashares Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and this one just felt too different somehow. Too different from her writing style I mean. It played back and forth from intense, serious book to playful, beach read and I'm just feeling a bit stuck in the middle.

Riley and Alice are sisters and have been friends with Paul for almost their entire lives. The three grow up as playmates each summer on Fire Island, where they live on the beach and are the only best friends each other ever knows. The book begins in the summer when the girls are in their mid-twenties and Paul has stayed away from the beach for the last three years. He arrives back on Fire Island distant, though the same Paul. He and Alice, always having a somewhat different bond than he and Riley, begin a relationship, but hide it from Riley in an attempt to not make her feel as if things have changed between the three of them. When Alice finds out that Riley is very ill, she distances herself from Paul, never including him in the news.

By the end of the story, changes have been made in the threesome, most irreparable. They can never again have their Fire Island innocence, except in their memories. This novel is about incredible bonds, both sisterly and friendships, but it is also about the heartache of loss, both emotional and physical. My mind almost hurt after reading this book, because there was no happiness at all. Even in the loving descriptions of the beach and of the Fire Island atmosphere, there was always a lingering sadness in the tone. As you all know, I like my books tragic, but this was almost mournful. The writing and characterization were both beautiful, so you seem my dilemma in stating whether or not I liked this book. I did, but I didn't, let's leave it at t

Monday, August 20, 2007

Penny From Heaven

dBeing a Newbery Honor book, I had to give this book a read. I definitely wasn't disappointed! This was a beautifully written coming-of-age story that children and young adults will be able to enjoy for years to come. Jennifer Holm, author of the Newbery Award winning book, Our May Amelia, is back with another lovely book about children growing up faster than they should have too, but enjoying themselves on the journey.

Penny, a half-Italian girl living with her mother and grandparents in New Jersey, longs to know more about what happened to her father. Her died when she was very young and her mother never speaks of him. The only time Penny is able to hear his name mentioned is when she is over at her Italian grandparents house, where her myriad of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins never fail to talk about her dad. Penny loves spending time in this boisterous household where food is always delicious and her best friend and cousin Frankie spends most of his time.

Unfortunately, Penny's mother doesn't get along with her in-laws and doesn't like Penny spending all of her time over there. As her mother begins dating, Penny tries to break up the dates in order to matchmake between her mother and her father's brother, Dominic. Penny, more than anything, wants her two families to love each other as she loves them. After a tragic accident that puts the use of Penny's arm in jeopardy, the true colors of her family members really begin to shine.

Set in the 1950's this book is so much more than family problems. It has exciting baseball games, friendships, and a mystery of buried treasure. The characters are incredibly real and lovable. Uncle Dominic was probably my favorite of the cast, because of his quirkiness and mystery. This is a true gem of a book.

Loved it!

Oh...I loved this book. I absolutely loved this book. It was on a topic that needed to be written about, at least in the YA genre, for quite a long time and I am so glad that it was this brand-spankin new author that decided to take on the task.

In Does My Head Look Big in This, by Australian author Randa Abdel-Fatthah, Amal, a typical 11th grade girl, is struggling with a very personal decision. Being a Muslim of strong faith, Amal wants to wear her hajib head covering all the time. No, her parents are not forcing her, in fact, they are almost wary of her doing so, this is completely Amal's choice. When she does decide to go forth with her plan to wear the hajib everywhere, except in the company of family, she knows she is setting herself up for prejudice. The headmaster at her private school is not too keen on Amal messing up the uniform system with the hajib, Tia, a snotty girl in Amal's class is set on making her feel like a loser, and Adam, the one boy Amal has had a crush on, seems to like her back, but also is somewhat uncomfortable with the whole religion thing.

Amal stands by the decision she made to wear her faith, quite literally, on her body. She stands up to people that scorn her and when upset, only lets it show to her closest friends and family. This is an incredibly powerful book that is perfect for teens, no matter what they believe in terms of religion. The strength of Amal is beautiful and she is a great role model for teenage girls, struggling to stand up for themselves in a world of peer pressure and designer clothing trends.

This is one of the best teen novels I have read this year and definitely look forward to more works by this author. The character of Amal is exactly who I wish I could have been in high school. I was able to stand up for myself to some extent, but I cared way too much what others thought about my appearance and my personality. I would certainly recommend this book be read by adults and teens everywhere.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Picture Book Saturday!

Since the husband and I are about to take a quick ride to Tucson to pick up a friend from the airport (4 hours each way...I guess that could be qualified as quick...maybe) I only have two picture book reviews for you this week. Both are new to the shelves at my library and I enjoyed both throughly. Hopefully you will too!

Badger's Fancy Meal is both written and illustrated by Keiko Kasza. It has delightfully bright pages, which originally pulled me to choose the book, and a very cute story to match.

Badger has plenty of apples, carrots, and roots in his den, but what he really wants is a fancy meal. He decides to go after three equally delicious meals: a mole taco, a rat burger, and a very fancy rabbit-banana split. Unfortunately for Badger, he misses out on all three, not being quite quick enough to catch the animals he needs to make the dishes. When he makes his way back to the den, he finds a note from the mole, the rat, and the rabbit, thanking him for the lovely dinner of carrots, roots, and apples. Badger decides that from then on he'll just stick to his normal, "un-fancy" diet. A very cute and funny ending!

Besides being a very cute story that kids will get a kick out of, I really did enjoy the beautiful illustrations. Kasza created great pictures that include a small picture of what is happening back at his den while Badger is out chasing prey. It will make kids feel sneaky and cunning to know what is happening to the pursuer of little animals. Overall, a great book.

The Wonderful Thing About Hiccups, written by CeCe Meng and illustrated by Janet Pederson, was another very cute story. Though the title doesn't give it away, the story line actually focuses on the best way to NOT treat a library book. It was very amusing and quite funny.

The story begins with a major case of the hiccups, while at the local library. As the plot progresses, we learn that the narrator wants her own library card, but a big stack of books must be returned on time first, creating a very adventurous book etiquette story. A hippo is involved, as is an ice cream truck and a librarian very afraid of heights. This silly book will have kids laughing all the way through.

The illustrations are great and the story line is very goofy, making for a perfect fit for kids. The book also teaches some rules on how to treat a library book, which is always a nice touch.

Saturday Meme

One of my lovely blogger friends, Becky, posted a fun meme that I just had to steal/borrow. There just haven't been a lot of good booklover memes floating around lately, so when I saw this one, I just had to do it. After you're done with mine, go read Becky's...it's great!


What are you reading right now? I'm reading A Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm and just about to start The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares. I'm also listening to Inkspell by Cornelia Funke each night on my walks.

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that? I have a whole bunch to read! I think the first will be A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Schlitz and then A Swift Pure Cry by Sioban Dowd. I also have new books coming to me in the mail, so that may break up the plans a bit.

What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read? The Great Gatsby or Candide. I know those are two favorites among a lot of literary bloggers, but I hated both. The first I was forced to read in high school and tried several times after that to reread, just to understand why people liked it so much. The second was an assignment in a Lit class in college. Another one I just didn't get and didn't enjoy.

What's the one book you always recommend to just about anyone? I know the question asks for one, but lately I have been equally recommending two books to everyone. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Becky also chose this on her meme) and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Riordan's book I just completed this month, having put it off for awhile. I fell in love with the main character of Percy Jackson and can completely understand why people compare him to Harry Potter. Therefore, with HP ending, I've been telling everyone to read this. Before Percy Jackson came into my life, I was telling everyone to read Zusak's book. It affected me in a way a book never had before and I wanted other people to experience that.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don't they? Well, since I work there...yes they do know me by name. :-) If I didn't work there, I'm sure they would, since I check out about 15 items (at least) a day. Mainly picture books, but still...they would know me. I just started going to the library here on the Air Force base and they are beginning to get to know me as well. The last time I was in there they had just gotten a whole bunch of brand new YA books in...one's I had been looking for...and I just had to check out all of them. All 15. They were laughing at me, not understanding how I would get them all done in two weeks. They'll learn quickly.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don't like it at all? The one series I'm always recommending, but no one ever follows up on, is the Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket. I LOVE those books, but adults don't understand that they could still enjoy them even if they are labeled as "kids" books. I get that a lot, especially at work...when my coworkers see me bringing back YA books or juvenile fiction books, they always pick on me, saying that I read little kid books too much. They don't understand!

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? I read pretty much everywhere. I do read when I eat, but only snacking...like popcorn or something like that at night. I do read when I watch movies, which absolutely drives my husband crazy, though I limit the reading to magazines since I do like to pay attention to what I'm watching. My husband has now made me promise one night a week to him to watch a movie and not read. Hehe...oops...I guess I got out of control. TV is fair game though, I always have a book on hand. On the rarity that I take a bath, I read in there, but it doesn't happen very often. And yes, when I'm on the computer, I do read. It depends on what I'm doing, but I find myself often with school, when I have a paper to write, I reward myself for writing 15 minutes straight, with one book chapter. It seems to work for me! I also read when we're in the car anywhere, when we're at the dog park, on break at work, on my swing, before bed, and listen to books while on walks. Good thing Aaron knew the books came with me when we got married!

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits? Yes, I was picked on for always having my nose in a book. In those 5 minutes before classes started in high school and college I was always reading away...and my study halls were never for messing around, they were for reading. I was a nerd and proud of it.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down? Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah. I loved that book...a review will be up tonight!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Twilight

I can admit when I am wrong, I'm a big person. A grown woman that is allowed to occasionally make quick judgments about books, therefore deciding not to read them and be very, very wrong in her decision. That is the case with Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. Now...I do not read horror books. I don't like them, never have. No Stephen King for me. I have never, ever read a vampire book and had never planned to. Just didn't interest me. Again...I was wrong. Stephanie Meyer has changed my tune. I now yearn for all things Bella and Edward....I'm pining for a vampire and his human girlfriend. I was soooo wrong and I will never judge a book about vampires again. Unless it's by Ann Rice. I draw the line. Just kidding, Just kidding!!! No more judging.

Bella Swan moves to constantly overcast Forks, Washington from sunny Phoenix, Arizona in order to live with her dad, Charlie. Bella is on great terms with her mom, but knows she and her step dad want to travel with his baseball team and with Bella around they feel guilty. Bella, a very mature 17 year old, makes the decision to move to the tiny town of Forks, knowing she'll hate it instantly. She makes a couple of girlfriends pretty quickly, but is incredibly intrigued by a small group of teens that stand out in school. The Cullen family, made up of two girls and three boys, is amazingly beautiful and rich. Everyone in school is in love with them, yet they don't talk to anyone. A complete mystery to the students, especially Bella.

When Edward Cullen becomes her lab partner in Biology, Bella becomes smitten. She can't help herself, he is just so beautiful. Over the course of the semester, Edward reluctantly befriends Bella and they both begin to realize that they're being pulled together by some invisible force. Bella begins learning more and more about Edward and his family, eventually realizing that they are, in fact, vampires. As Bella and Edward become more involved, they soon realize Bella's life is in danger and drastic measures must be taken in order for her to remain alive.

I really, really, really loved this book! I actually listened to the audio book while walking every night and it got me exercising much more than I have been! I really enjoyed Bella's character, strong, mature, yet still anxious and scared about relationships and normal girl things. Edward and Alice were my favorite of the Cullens, though I adored Esme as well. The whole story was just mesmerizing and I am absolutely forcing myself to wait to read/listen to the 2nd in the series. I know if I devour it as quickly as this one, I'll move on to the third and then I'll be left without any to look forward to! I highly recommend this book, though I know I'm one of the last to read it. If you haven't, please pick it up. It's very much worth it!

The Sound of Munich

This is another edition to the Students Across the Seven Seas series, which I am throughly enjoying. Each of these books are about a young woman finding out more about herself than she ever thought possible, while spending a semester of high school overseas.

In The Sound of Munich, which is written by Suzanne Nelson, Siena, a granola loving, free spirit from California, wins a scholarship to spend a semester in Munich, Germany. She is especially excited about this, because her father (who died when she was very young) had relatives from Germany. She felt strongly about learning more about her past while she was studying in the foreign city.

While in Germany, Siena meets a love interest in her resident advisor (a definite no-no), finds two brand new best friends, and sets out on a mission to meet the man that smuggled her father and grandparents across the Berlin Wall. Siena learns more about her family and her own self worth than ever before and has a blast doing so.

The Sound of Munich is very much like the other books in the S.A.S.S. series. A small bit of romance, a lot of soul searching, and a ton of information about foreign places. I feel like I'm visiting them myself, through the high school students' eyes. This was good read, which I would recommend for anyone looking for something quick and light.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anne of Green Gables

I was in the mood for a little classic reading, so I quickly picked up an old favorite. I'm typically not a fan of "classics" in the general meaning, but when they are fun and light, as Anne very much is, I enjoy the book and speed through it. I hadn't visited this book in quite some time, so I was glad to read it again and remember everything I loved about Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables was written by L.M. Montgomery back in the early 1900's. It begins with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert making the decision to adopt a boy from an orphanage, in order to help with the work around the farm. When Matthew goes to retrieve the boy from the train station, he is shocked to discover 11 year old Anne. Red headed and blue eyed, Anne was sent for the Cuthbert's instead of a boy. After much discussion the couple decide to keep and raise Anne, without really knowing what they are in for.

Young Anne is incredibly curious, precocious, and an absolute motormouth. She has a tendency to make silly mistakes such as dying her hair green, sending her best friend home drunk off wine when she thought she was serving cordial, and falling off the roof. She tries very hard to please the Cuthbert's and as much trouble as she is, they grow to love her as their own child. The reader gets to experience Anne and her adventures over the course of 5 years, each more imaginative and adventurous than the last.

I really love this story and am looking forward to reading the sequels that were subsequently written. I've never read past Anne of Green Gables and believe this would be a good time to see where else the author takes the red head. This is a classic that will live on for many years, enjoyed by many.

High Stakes

As a writer of Christian fiction, I really enjoy Kathy Herman. I feel her books are not only written with the power of the Lord in mind, but also with the power of a great imagination. High Stakes, the 4th book in the Baxter series, was very typical Kathy Herman, and very enjoyable.

Angie Marks, a pierced and tattooed girl of 18, arrives in Baxter with no money, no luggage, and a simple mission. Learn as much about Dennis Lawton as she possibly can. The townspeople of Baxter are very wary of Angie, because of her rough appearance and are not quick to help her. The wealthy Patrick Bailey, Dennis Lawton's grandfather, believes there is nothing wrong with Angie's appearance that would inhibit her thinking and ends up hiring her as his live-in housekeeper, much to the dismay of his family and the rest of Baxter. When people begin suffering rattlesnake bites by strategically placed snakes and a local man ends up dead, the town automatically starts to suspect Angie. She looks the part and just showed up in town recently, leading them to believe she has a hand in all the violence. We aren't given a glimpse into Angie's mission until about 3/4 of the way through the book, but when we do, though it may be somewhat expected, the true creator of violence is also revealed.

I enjoyed this book, as much as it is predictable. It is good, honest Christian fiction, with a nice, clean plot line. I enjoy series novels and as this is the second to last in the series, I'm still liking the Baxter books just as much as with Book 1. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a little light reading, spun with a bit of mystery and thrills.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Contest!

Win a bag of books over at Long and Short Reviews! Just head on over there, read the simple instructions and you're entered! Very cool!

Contest

Becky over at In The Pages is offering a great Pay It Forward Giveaway! Head on over and enter!

Stargirl

I have read some reviews about this book and most weren't thrilled with Spinelli's story. I, of course, had to find out for myself and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I really enjoyed this book, as unrealistic as it may be and once I was finished, was quite glad that I read it.

Stargirl, written by Jerry Spinelli, follows Leo, an ordinary student at Mica High School. Everyone at Mica is ordinary. Normal by most people's standards. When Stargirl, a new student at Mica, shows up and is anything but ordinary, no one knows how to react. Is she for real? Is she a plant at the school to mix things up? Is she an alien? Leo is incredibly intrigued by Stargirl and as the school year progresses, the pair end up as a couple. Leo is pretty much ok with Stargirl's "differences" until the entire school starts to shun them. When Leo becomes an outcast as well, he asks Stargirl to do the unthinkable. Be normal. This changes everything and the outcome is anything but what Leo could expect.

The story of Leo and Stargirl was not exactly realistic. Though I haven't been in high school for quite awhile, I know that if someone is a complete outcast, as Stargirl certainly was, a normal, almost geeky boy like Leo probably would not be keen on making himself known as the one who befriended the weirdo. Kids want to fit in, no matter how much they deny it. However, I do think the story was sweet and I think the character of Stargirl was very refreshing. I look forward to reading the sequel once it's published.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Welcome to Camden Falls

Ok, I'll admit it. I loved the Babysitter's Club series when I was younger. Loved it. I had every single book, special book, mystery book, Superspecial...every one (up to like 126, then I lost interest). Then stupid me went and sold them at a garage sale. What I was thinking, I don't know, but now I find myself scouring thrift stores for old copies, just to have possession of them again (NOT the ones with the new covers...yuck). Well now, Ms. Martin has introduced us to another series, one that centers on orphaned girls and their new life in a small town. Is it up to the Babysitter's Club level in my eyes? No. :-(

Welcome to Camden Falls follows Flora and Ruby as they move from the only home they've ever known to Camden Falls. They are going to live with their grandmother, Min, after their parents tragically die in a car accident. The girls are frightened and worried, as anyone would be, but they seem to handle the transition well. The girls and Min will live in a house connected to 8 other houses, which is lovingly named The Row Houses. All the neighbors love each other and have block parties all the time. Camden Falls is a lovely small town, where everyone knows everyone else and goes into Min's store, Needle and Thread to share the local gossip and to chat. The girls quickly make a myriad of friends, solve a mystery, and mourn their parents all in just about 125 pages.


This series could be great...I'll have to read the next installment to truly judge, but I think waay too much happened in the first novel. It got confusing at times. Were Flora and Ruby trying to deal with their parent's deaths or were they trying to solve the mystery of a shoplifter? Was Flora helping a neighbor starting to lose his mind to dementia or was she busy with sewing projects. Too much happening and too many characters had starring roles. However, Martin did that with the Babysitter's Club and I enjoyed that, so we'll see what happens after I read a couple more in the series.

The People of Sparks

I knew I would get hooked on Jeanne DuPrau's Ember series and I was right, however I wasn't entirely sold on the second book in the series...and a little disappointingly so. I liked it, I just got a little bored throughout the middle and was pretty much ready for it to be over by the time I turned the last page.

The People of Sparks is the second book in the Ember series, created by Jeanne DuPrau. In this installment, Lina and Doon, as well as their fellow citizens, have made it out of Ember and now are looking for food and shelter. It appears that the entire "above" world is empty, until they happen upon the people of Sparks. Sparks is a struggling town, one of the only one's left after the great Disaster, but they welcome the people of Ember. They share their food and their homes and begin teaching them how to farm and subsist on their own, with the promise that the Emberites will move on after 6 months due to the drastic depletion of the Spark's food supply. They agree to this, until they learn that six months will be in the dead of winter, meaning no food could possibly grow and no shelters could be built out of snow covered wood. The people of Ember start to believe that the people of Sparks are sending them off to freeze and starve to death. Arguments between the two groups ensue and acts of violence are committed against each other. Lina and Doon must find a way to end the fighting before a real war is begun.

I think this book had great potential, but it just didn't completely follow through. At least not for me. As I said, I was a little bored...not quite enough action happening for my liking. I still enjoyed the story and enjoyed the introduction of new characters into the mix and very much look forward to reading the next in the series.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Picture Book Saturday Returns!!

I have been feeling slightly under the weather since about two weeks ago, having no energy and last Saturday my weekly Picture Book post just got pushed to the back burner. To make up for that, this week I'll give you a (almost) a double dose. 5 books reviewed! Hopefully you'll find something good!

Wolves by Emily Gravett was hilarious! This is definitely a visual book (the author also did the illustrations) and one meant to be read outloud. Please, please, please go check it out with your kids (or by yourself :-)!!!

Rabbit heads to the library to find a book to read, choosing one on wolves. He walks around reading the book, learning all about wolves and what they like to eat, oblivious that a big wolf is behind him the whole time. And that's all I can say because I'll give away the surprise ending! If your children are sensitive, Ms. Gravett has created an alternate ending for you!


Next, we have Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show by Lisa Campbell Ernst. I think I enjoyed this book because it was so incredibly ridiculous. A feature that always makes books fun!

Since the day she was born, Hannah has dreamed of being a cowgirl. She loves all things about the Wild West and practices roping and cattle driving every day (with hamsters of course). The only problem is, Hannah lives in the city! Her parents decide it would be alright for Hannah to go visit her Uncle Coot's ranch and try her hand at being a real-live cowgirl. When Hannah arrives, Uncle Coot doesn't believe she can do any real cowgirl things and only gives her a bunch of boring chores to complete. When a mysterious herd shows up in the fields, Hannah finds out that with her quick thinking, she just may be able to save the day.

The illustrations, also done by Lisa Campbell Ernst fit very well with the story and will have you laughing out loud. I really enjoyed this one!

Not Norman written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Noah Jones was delightful. I especially enjoyed the simple illustrations with bold and very bright colors.
A young boy (never named in the story) gets a fish for his birthday, who he proceeds to name Norman. He is not happy. He wanted any other pet besides a fish, but a fish is just what he ends up with. The boy tries to figure out a way to trade Norman for another, more interesting pet, even bringing him to show and tell to try and swap Norman with one of his friends pets. While the boy is trying to get rid of Norman, he starts to learn what a good pet Norman can be and even begins to like him, finally realizing that he wouldn't trade Norman for any other pet in the world.

This is a great "first fish" story. Lots of children want dogs or cats as a first pet, but get fish instead. Fish are seemingly easier and though they may seem boring, can be anything but. I really enjoyed Not Norman and hope you will as well!

Pigs Can't Fly, written and illustrated by Ben Cort, was very cute. Not fantastically cute, but almost there. The illustrations were great and the story was good, just a lot like many other books I've read in the past. Still worth reading though!

Little Pig is bored with being a pig. He thinks that pigs never get to do anything fun and sets out to transform himself into a more "fun" animal. He tries being a giraffe by walking around on stilts. Nobody buys it. He tries being a zebra by painting on stripes, but nobody buys that either (and Elephant just sprays him with water, washing it all away). After trying several other animals and learning in the process that he definitely cannot fly, Little Pig decides that being a pig isn't so boring after all.

I'm sure we can all think of a few books that are similar to this one's plot line, but it was still enjoyable. Little Pig was very innocent and sweet and I liked him as a main character. Fun!

Finally, The Terrible Underpants, written and illustrated by Kaz Cook, was AMAZING!!! I laughed SO hard when I read this, not believing someone actually wrote a book about bad underwear. You have to run to the library and check it out, you can't miss this one!

Wanda-Linda (and her sidekick, a wombat) have quite the problem. Wanda-Linda is out of clean underwear! Her mother forces her to wear an old, baggy, ugly pair that Wanda-Linda is mortified to even own, saying that no one will even know Wanda-Linda has them on. Well the young girl knows better! She puts on the old, baggy, ugly pair and soon has managed to show them to the whole world...completely on accident.

I thought this book was hilarious and throughly enjoyed it. I have, however, read other reviews that weren't so stellar. I had fun though and you should use your own judgement as to whether or not you want to check it out...though my own recommendation is to go for it!

























Friday, August 10, 2007

Marley & Me

I am so glad I used this book as a substitute in my Non-Fiction Five challenge. It was such a delight to read...I constantly had a smile on my face. I had heard so many wonderful things about this memoir, however just hadn't bothered checking it out of the library and now that I have, I can't wait to talk about it to as many people as possible. See, I have my own "Marley" at home and it gives me just the warmest feeling to know that someone loves their dog, even being a member of the "Bad Dog Club," as much as I love mine. Look for some pictures of my own "Marley" at the end of the post.

Marley & Me is written by John Grogan, the owner of the precocious Marley. He and his wife, Jenny, purchased the yellow lab from a breeder early on in their marriage, after being given a "clearance" price for that particular puppy. Marley grows with the couple, moving residences, participating in family raising and basically destroying things (though John and Jenny seem incredibly patient). This is, as the book's slogan states, the world's worst dog. It is also one of the best. Marley always keeps the family laughing, except when they're crying about something else he had broken or messed up in some. His terrifying fear of thunderstorms was somewhat comical, yet heartbreaking when he would harm himself trying to get away from the thunder. Marley was a family's worst nightmare, but the best thing that could happen to them as well.

I loved this book, I really did. I sat down and read it in one sitting, as it read like a quick novel, rather than a drawn out memoir. I would have loved to have seen pictures of Marley in action included in the pages, rather than only on the inside front and back over (which was mostly covered due to the stuck on dust cover). I'm sure he was a very photogenic dog, loving the limelight as he did! I really enjoyed reading about Marley's life and if you need a good laugh and a quick read, I completely encourage you to pick this up. Now for pictures of our "Marley, " meet Shae.

Shae is a crazy dog in every sense. She has boundless energy and throws her 55lb body at everyone who walks in the door. Good thing she has some terrier in her or she would be huge! She starts her hello wiggle from her tail and it works it's way all the tip of her nose. She wiggles her backside so hard that she often smacks herself in the eye with her tail. It's quite funny! She is house broken, yet can't break herself of digging in the backyard. If there's dirt, she'll dig. Just like Marley, Shae feels the need to take a gallon of water from her dish, in her mouth, and carry it with her through the house, spilling it everywhere. Unlike Marley, Shae is not a purebred Lab, but a mixed breed, Pit Bull terrier, the former making her feared of by many. The only thing this dog will do is lick you to death. She is definitely a lapdog, though not of the right size whatsoever. She will lick away tears and make you laugh until you cry all over again. She is our sweet, demonic, Shae.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Challenge Updates

Well, since I just joined a new challenge (that being the New Authors Challenge), I figured it was time for some challenge updates. I recently completed the Summer Reading Challenge, having read 13 books for that. I didn't get to Inkspell since it was constantly checked out at my library, but I did read both of my bonus/alternate selections, so it evened out just fine.

As for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, we are nearing the end of our journey with just August and September left. My August selection just wasn't my cup of tea at the time (no pun intended), so used an alternate I've been meaning to read. Though Marley & Me is not exactly heavy non-fiction, it is something I can relate to as I have a Marley myself. Crazy dog syndrome! I just started it and am really looking forward to finishing it.

I just added two bonus/alternate books to my New Author Challenge list.

I am two books in to the year-long Book Award Challenge and am trying to stick to the "one book a month" deal. We'll see how that goes.

I think that's it! I am really looking forward to any fall challenges and of course will probably join them all. What can I say? Addiction maybe?

Criss Cross

When I signed up for the Book Awards Challenge, I was really looking forward to catching up on a lot of Newbery winners that I just haven't gotten to in the last few years. The first book I read, the 6th HP novel, was a reread and as fantastic as ever. My second selection however....a whole other story. Maybe I'm just blind, but I didn't get the point of the story whatsoever. I didn't understand the journeys the characters were supposedly taking and I certainly don't understand why this book won a Newbery. I like to think that as an obsessive reader I can gauge different depths within a story, but this one just went waaay over my head. Maybe one of my blogger friends (Becky perhaps :-) could explain it to me!

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, focuses on two central characters, while revolving between a multitude of secondary characters. Debbie and Harry, both 14 years old, feel like they are meant to be more. Debbie wishes to be another person completely and Harry simply feels as if he is unfinished somehow. Both do some deep soul searching while Harry learns to play the guitar and Debbie loses a precious locket, which is then passed around by different characters in the book.

The story is told in small vignettes and at times poems with small pictures often thrown in. I just didn't get it and it's driving me nuts!! I have never run across an award winning book that I was so confused as to why it won the award. I have often disagreed with award choices, my own opinion of course, but this one...this one I just was utterly confused. Again, if you "got" the book and you understood it...and even liked it, fill me in please. At any rate, book #2 of the Book Award Challenge is complete.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New Challenge Alert!!!!

Just what I need...another new challenge (and I'm being serious). I love challenges because they motivate me to read books that I've planned on reading for some time, but just haven't picked up for some reason or another. Motivation is great! This challenge, hosted by Sycorax Pine, is a New Authors Challenge. Follow the link to the actual challenge and you'll find detailed instructions, but the basics are simple. The challenge runs September-February and in that time you should read 6 books by new authors. You can read 6 different new authors, a book each, or multiple works of just a few authors, your choice. Make sure you go to the original post and sign up! I know how you all looooove your challenges! I'm with you! My list is as follows:

1. Gary Schmidt- The Wednesday Wars
2. Donna Fleisher- Warrior's Heart
3. Eoin Colfer- Artemis Fowl
4. Phillip Pullman- The Golden Compass
5. Anne Bartlett- Knitting: A Novel
6. Eoin Colfer- Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
Alternates/Bonus
7. Shannon Hale- The Princess Academy
8. Jeanne Birdsall- The Penderwicks

I may add alternates or bonus books at another time, but for now, this is the list. I can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Lightning Thief

Well it's official. I have fallen in love with Percy Jackson. Sorry Aaron, I know we've only been married a few months, but you've been replaced by a 12 year old fictional character. Haha, I loved this book! As so many of you knew I would, I have become utterly addicted to the Percy Jackson books and I've only just begun. I cannot wait to get to the 2nd and will probably devour it just as fast as I did the first!

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, is the first in his "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. It all begins with 12 year old Percy Jackson at his boarding school for troubled kids. Throughout the beginning of the novel, Percy slowly discovers his true heritage and the reason why things haven't gone right for most of his life. Percy's mother is a normal human being, but his father is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Percy is a Half-Blood and because of a current war between the Gods, he is in incredible danger. Percy, with the help of who he thought was his Greek mythology teacher, begins training at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp (and year-round camp for some) of children of Gods. He then is sent on a quest to retrieve a possession of Zeus's before the entire world is taken over by a war of the Gods. With his companions, Grover, a young satyr, and Annabeth, Athena's daughter, Percy learns more about being a Half-Blood than he ever thought he would and learns a lot about himself along the way. This book is filled with action...tons of monster attacks and for a Greek mythology lover like myself, it was a great match of youth fiction and great myths. I had a blast reading it!

Honestly, I can say that this is some of the best fiction I've read in a long time. I know Percy Jackson has been compared to Harry Potter in many ways and I can certainly see why. Both boys are on a constant quest with their friends, to save lives and to find their own true identities. I am very surprised that these novels have not gotten bigger than they are. I know that in our blogging circle they are very popular, but I have never heard children at my library refer to them and as of now, that's going to change! I can't wait to spread the word about Percy!

Sunrise

My lovely, sweet husband bought this book for me when it first came out, but I am just now getting around to picking it up off my shelf. It was typical Karen Kingsbury, which was a good thing I guess. I have to say though, as much as I love the Baxter family and that series, I'm getting a little tired of Dayne and Katie. I thought since the last series (Fame, Forever, etc.) was based on them, this new one would take a different direction, but I guess not. And that's ok, not complaining, just a little tired of the same ol' stuff you know? I still love Karen's books, I just am looking for something else. Something a little meatier, like Divine. I loved that one and it was definitely meaty!

In Sunrise, Dayne and Katie are finally engaged and attempting to plan a wedding while eluding the paparazzi. Much easier said than done, as they have had to make extremely secretive plans with a lucrative Hollywood wedding planner to keep things quiet. Katie is also wrestling with the idea of becoming an actress in a big movie, opposite Dayne. Always wanting to stay out of the limelight, Katie has to do some serious soul searching to decide if she should follow her dreams and thrust herself into that same limelight she wants to stay out of. While all of this is going on John Baxter and his friend Elaine's friendship continues to grow stronger and they try to figure out if either are ready for an actual relationship to begin. Cody Coleman, living with Katie and the Flanigans, relapses and must use the love of the Lord to work through his alcoholism. A lot going on in this book!

What I love about Karen Kingsbury is that she doesn't "tiptoe" around the fact that she is a Christian author. She blatantly puts it out there on almost every, single page, having her characters pray or talk about the power of God in one's life. I love that! The one thing I don't love is that most of her recent books have been parts of a series and they are published so close together that they tend to get a little repetitive. I'm looking forward to the stand alone novel she has coming out this fall. Overall this was a good book and if you enjoy Kingsbury, I recommend picking it up. If you have never read her before I recommend starting with the Redemption series, just so you'll know who all the characters are.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Book of Story Beginnings

This book made it on to our library shelves a month or so ago and I with my ever growing fascination of books about magic, it seemed like it would be a great read. Though a little disappointed in some parts, overall, I thought it was very creative and enjoyable.

The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup begins when young Lucy Martin moves to Iowa with her family and into an old farmhouse her dad inherited from his Aunt Lavonne. While living there, Lucy hopes to dissolve the mystery of Lavonne's brother's disappearance back in 1914 where Lavonne swore he rowed off the yard and into the sea...in the middle of Iowa. Lucy finds the Book of Story Beginnings and discovers different stories that Oscar wrote, ending with rowing off into a vast ocean. Lucy begins to get suspicious and begins her own story, creating a girl whose father is a magician. Lucy's father soon becomes a magician! Unfortunately, though Lucy learns the Book of Story Beginnings actually makes the stories become reality, her magician father transforms himself into a bird and flies away! Lucy, with a little help from a friend, must find a way to reverse the stories, ultimately getting her father back.

The characters in this book were great! Some were funny, some very serious, and the plot flow always took me somewhere I least expected. The only part I was somewhat disappointed in was the introduction of the King and Queen on the island. Though the characters were well thought out and enjoyable, I wished the plot had gone somewhere else. Overall though, I really enjoyed the book and got my fill of magic for the day!

Giveaway Winner

The winner of The Red Tent is....Michelle!!! YAY!!!! I threw all of your names in a hat and she was the winner! I already emailed you Michelle, so just email me back with your snail mail address and it will be sent to you ASAP. Congrats!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Giveaway!

It's your last chance to enter my The Red Tent giveaway! I'll be drawing a name tomorrow night and posting the winner Monday morning, so look out for that. If you haven't entered yet and would like to, comment on this post or the original by tomorrow night please. Thanks!

The City of Ember

So many people are feeling sad because the craziness of Harry Potter is over and they think they have nothing left to read. I also was wondering what series might capture me in the same way Potter did, realizing none could have quite that effect, but still be heart grabbing. Well, I've found two! The first being the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, beginning with The Lightening Thief, which I'll review in a few days and the second being the Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau, beginning with The City of Ember. This book was totally original and I was quick to read through it, wanting to know what happened at the end. Of course, if you've read the book, you know the author left a wicked cliffhanger, so I have to hurry and check out the second one!

Nighttime is no stranger to Ember. In fact, it is always nighttime in Ember, though members of the city turn the huge lamps on during the day in order to conduct business and allow the citizens of Ember to enjoy a normal life. Beyond the lights lie the Unknown Regions, intense areas of vast darkness where many venture, but none make it past. The entire city truly believes that Ember is the only city on earth, until a couple of young, intelligent kids earn their jobs and begin an investigation that will forever change Ember.

Like all 12 year olds, when young Lina Mayfield and Doon Harrow begin their jobs working for the city, they are both curious about how the city actually operates. They quickly become knowledgeable on the extreme shortage of supplies with Ember and are determined to find a way out for help, even with the Mayor and practically the whole town working against them. Using a ripped up note Lina's grandmother found, the pair start piecing together clues as to how to save Ember and also begin to realize just what kind of city Ember is.

As I said, this book was totally original and I am so sorry I didn't pick it up before. I loved every minute and cannot wait to get to book number 2. I simply cannot imagine living my entire life in a city like Ember, but I'm really enjoying reading about it! If you're mourning Harry Potter being done, try this out. Or give Rick Riordan's series a try, that one is great as well!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rules

What a gem this book was! I had heard a lot about it when I first started blogging, but just got to it this past week. I really enjoyed it and was touched by the beautiful story Cynthia Lord told.

Rules follows 12 year old Catherine as she goes through a life changing summer. Catherine often plays babysitter to her autistic brother, David and is quite resentful of that. She feels she is the only one that watches him well enough to prevent embarrassing disasters in public or when friends are over and has created a series of rules for David to follow so he won't "get confused." One of the most prominent rules is "no toys in the fish tank" followed by "only take your pants off if Mom or the doctor tell you to." Catherine wants David to be normal so badly that her life revolves around him and the rules.

When Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic that cannot speak, she begins realizing that maybe "normal" is harder to define than she thought. Jason surely seems normal, even if he can't talk or walk. Does that mean David, with his autism, may also be normal? Catherine spends a lot of time growing up over the course of the book, with the help of Jason and her little brother.

Catherine was such a real little girl, with feelings that I can imagine any sibling of an autistic child would feel. It is obvious she loves her brother very much and would do anything to make life easier for him, while making life easier for herself as well. The reader also gets a touch of innocent romance when Catherine starts having a little crush on Jason, telling herself that the thought alone is crazy. That part of the plot does not develop into anything major and rightfully so. I can definitely believe that this book deserved the Newbery Honor award and am so glad I picked it up finally.

HP Spoiler Week, Question 3

Spoiler Alert!!!
Spoiler Alert!!!
Spoiler Alert!!!
Spoiler Alert!!!





A lot has been written in blogdom about the epilogue. So, what did YOU think? Was it sappy? A fitting end? Not enough? Opinions, please, and why do you feel the way you do??



I was "satisfied" with the epilogue. As a complete bookworm and lover of all things Harry Potter, I could critique it for days on end, but I'm not the writer and I really don't want to do that. There were certain things I was glad Rowling included, for example the names of Harry and Ginny's children, the representation of an understanding between Harry and Draco, and the update on Neville. I would have loved more detail, such as who the new headmaster of Hogwarts was, what Hagrid was up to, etc. etc. etc. And of course I would have rather Teddy be heading off to school with his parents watching, but we've gone over that several times already. I read the epilogue slowly, crying the whole time, but with a big smile on my face. I was satisfied and happy. No more critique needed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Books Read in July

July was a busy reading month for me! Here's what I accomplished:

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
The 6th Target by James Patterson
What I call Life by Jill Wolfson
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Westminster Abby by Michol Ostow
Getting the Boot by Peggy Strauss
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
Spain or Shine by Michelle Jellen
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down by Neta Jackson
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

That's 17 books, not bad, though I've been trying to make 20 each month. So far, only April has been a goal-met month. Oh well! I'm still reading lots!