Monday, April 30, 2012

It's Monday 4/30! What Are You Reading?


Monday already?  The weekend went by in a flash - very busy!  In fact, I've had almost no time for writing reviews the past few weeks, so my backlog keeps growing!  My family and I have been reading, though:
  • I finished the middle-grade novel The Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bill Harley and enjoyed it, though it was different than I expected.
  • Next I read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, a novel which was short-listed for the Man Booker prize.  I'd heard it mentioned on several of my favorite book podcasts, so I requested it from the library.  It was very good, a literary novel but surprisingly engaging and even a bit suspenseful.
  • I am now reading Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson for one of my book groups that meets this week.  I love this book!!  I hate to set it down, have been staying up way too late reading (promising myself, "Just one more page..."), and even trying to squeeze in 5 minutes of reading time wherever I can.  It's hugely suspenseful, about a woman who's lost her memory, so she wakes each morning having no idea who she is or who the man sleeping beside her is.  The bulk of the novel is her journal, where she is trying to put together the puzzle of her past and how she came to be this way.  Fabulous!
  • I am still listening to Liesl and Po, a middle-grade audio by Lauren Oliver which is very good so far.
  • My husband, Ken, finished Black Hills by Dan Simmons, a historical novel set in one of our favorite places, the Black Hills region of South Dakota.  He said it was very good.
  • He is now reading The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman on his Kindle, a novel set during World War II.
  • Jamie, 17, hasn't been reading nearly as much as he usually does because he has just one month left to finish all his school work in time for graduation (he missed over 70 days of school this year due to medical problems), so he's been concentrating on that.  He and I were reading some ancient Persian poetry for his World Lit class last week (it is just as exciting as it sounds).  For fun, he is still re-reading one of his all-time favorite novels Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.
  • Jamie finished An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina, the autobiography that inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda, for his World Lit class.  He said it was an excellent book, fascinating and stunning, and that I have to read it!
  • Craig is reading Attack of the Fiend, Book 4 in The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.  He loves this series!
So, lots of good readings last week, but no blog posts other than my Monday summary! I am hoping to get back on track this week.


What are you and your family reading?


(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kids/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Monday 4/23! What Are Your Reading?


Busy week!  And it's only going to get busier over the next 2 months...my oldest son is graduating from high school, my youngest "graduates" from middle school and is playing the lead in his school musical, soccer season is in full swing...whew!  We had house guests this weekend, too (my mom and her husband), so none of us had much time for books this past week, but here's what we are reading:
  • I finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and loved it.  I went to hear the author talk on Wednesday (the book was our County Reads selection for this year), and he was wonderful - very entertaining, with a great sense of humor!
  • I am now reading a middle-grade novel, The Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bill Harley, a favorite storyteller and entertainer of ours.  It's very good so far but different than I expected.
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading Black Hills by Dan Simmons and enjoying it.  We are now planning to visit the South Dakota Black Hills this summer (he has family there), and he says the novel is making him excited to visit again!
  • Jamie, 17, is still re-reading one of his favorite novels, Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  He hasn't had much reading time lately because he has been back in school most days and trying to catch up so he can graduate on time.
  • Jamie is also reading An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina, an autobiography by the man who inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda, for his World Lit class.  Jamie says it is an eye-opening, fascinating book.  I think I will have to read this one, too!
  • Craig, 14, is reading Book 4 of The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, Attack of the Fiend.  He really enjoys this series!
  • I am listening to Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver on audio, a middle-grade novel about a girl who befriends a ghost.  It's very good so far.
  • And, since my mom is staying with us for a few more days, I will include her in this week's overview.  She borrowed and just started reading The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, based on my recommendation.  She is laughing already!
I posted a review of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid last week but didn't have time for any other blog posts.

What are you and your family reading this week?


(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)


So many gorgeous flowering trees in our neighborhood last week!

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Monday 4/16! What Are You Reading?


We are back home from spring break, after visiting my father-in-law in Oklahoma last week.  It was a good visit but a loooong drive home (mostly in the rain) this weekend.  The weather was so bad, we weren't even able to camp; we had to stay in hotels on the way home.  But now we're home...and facing lots of unpacking and catching up today.


We enjoyed some good books while we were away:
  • I have been reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  I absolutely LOVE this novel about two children separated by the Japanese internment during World War II.  I just want to keep reading and hate to set it down!  The author is speaking here in my town this week, so I am hoping to attend his talk (this is our County Reads selection).
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading Black Hills, a historical novel by Dan Simmons set in one of our favorite places, where he has family.
  • After finishing The Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell, Jamie, 17, re-read one of his all-time favorite novels, Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.
  • Craig, 14, is reading Book 4 of The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Attack of the Fiend.  I read some of it with him during our trip.  He loves this series!
  • In the car, we finished listening to Ship Breaker by award-winning author Paolo Bagicalupi, a  teen/YA dystopian novel (and a Printz honor winner) that we all enjoyed.  It was dark, action-packed, and gripping.
  • And I read a big stack of magazines in the car.  That's my guilty pleasure for long car rides!  I never have time to look through magazines normally, so they just stack up.  I can't read books in the car without getting sick, but I can manage flipping through magazines, so I enjoyed that little break.
On vacation last week at my father-in-law's, I had plenty of time away from my to-do lists, so I wrote two book reviews:  the audio book Falling Together by Marisa De los Santos and the wonderful middle-grade novel Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood.  I also posted a discussion of the movie The Hunger Games which we finally had a chance to see while we were on vacation!

What are you and your  family reading this week?


(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kids/teen version hosted at Teach Mentor Texts.)



Enjoying a campfire in Tennessee

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Middle-Grade Review: Glory Be

I really enjoyed Glory Be, a middle-grade novel by Augusta Scattergood, set in the summer of 1964 in Mississippi, amidst the growing civil rights conflicts.  It’s kind of like The Help or Mudbound, only told from the innocent perspective of a twelve-year old girl.

Gloriana June Hemphill, aka Glory, has been looking forward to this summer when she finally turns twelve.  She plans to have her birthday party at the community pool, like she does every year, and can’t wait for her southern town’s annual Fourth of July celebration.  But everything seems different this year.  Her 14-year old sister, Jesslyn, who used to be her close friend, is now ignoring her to hang out with her pep squad friends.  Glory’s best friend, Frankie, is acting strangely and repeating things his brother and father say about the black residents of town that make Glory feel uncomfortable.  And the whole town is in an uproar over the northerners staying in their town who are in favor of desegregation.

Glory doesn’t know much about civil rights, but she knows that she loves their colored housekeeper, Emma, like a second mother, and she likes her new friend, Laura, who is from Ohio and visiting with her mother, one of the “northern troublemakers” everyone is talking about.  When her beloved pool closes for no good reason, Glory feels like the summer is ruined, and she can’t figure out why all the adults around her are so upset about the visitors.

I loved this novel.  Glory is a likable main character, and her innocence and naiveté provide a different perspective to the civil rights movement, though the novel also deals with classic growing-up themes.  This is Scattergood’s first novel, and I look forward to reading more from her.

199 pages, Scholastic

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hunger Games movie

Yes, we finally went to see The Hunger Games movie last night, and I am dying to talk about it!

Our whole family read the book (and loved it, of course) - here is my review.  Craig, our 14-year old, got to see the movie the first day it came out, with his entire English class on a field trip, but the rest of us hadn't seen it yet.  We are visiting my father-in-law in Oklahoma and finally had some free time to go to the movies yesterday (a rarity for us!).

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, I was already crying, and Jamie, my 17-year old son, was whispering to me, "I just have to read the whole series again!" (and of course, also making fun of me for crying!).  In fact, I cried three times during the movie, even though I knew what to expect after reading the book.

I thought they did a fabulous job of adapting the book into a movie; it was obvious that Suzanne Collins co-wrote the screenplay and advised on production.  The casting was perfect - every character just seemed to match my mental images.  I especially liked Stanley Tucci as the MC, Caeser Flickerman, with his blue hair and wild enthusiasm.  And, of course, the actors in the main roles of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale were just wonderful.  Lenny Kravitz was an unusual but inspired choice for Cinna.

I loved seeing the Capitol and all of its superficial people brought to life - it was just amazing eye candy!  And, even though I knew what was going to happen, the action in the arena was still horrifying and compelling.

So, overall, a big thumbs up from my family.  Those two and a half hours passed by very quickly (other than my full bladder by the end!).  We can't wait to see Catching Fire!

What did you think of the movie?

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Monday 4/9! What Are You Reading?


Happy spring break!  I hope everyone had a nice Easter.  We were camping Easter morning (but the bunny found us!) and arrived in time for an Easter dinner with my father-in-law in Oklahoma.


Not a lot of time for reading last week, between packing for our trip and several days spent driving (I can't read in the car, unfortunately), though the road trip gave us a chance to listen to audio books.  Here's what we read last week:
  • I just (this morning!) finished The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart.  I was only about halfway through it when my book group met last Wednesday, so I excused myself to the bathroom while they discussed the ending!  I really enjoyed this unique British book about love and relationships with a fabulous sense of humor.
  • My husband, Ken, is reading and enjoying Black Hills by Dan Simmons, a historical novel set in South Dakota's Black Hills, a favorite vacation spot of ours where some of my husband's family lives.
  • Jamie, 17, has no problem reading in the car, so he reads nonstop on road trips!  Before we left home, he read Book 4 of the Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon, Closer.  He loves this series and can't wait for Book 5's release in May!
  • During our drive, Jamie reread one of his favorite series, The Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell.  He read Book 1: Fall of a Kingdom, Book 2: Rise of a Hero, and Book 3: Forging the Sword.  This is one of Jamie's all-time favorites; he really wants his brother to read it.
  • Craig, 14, is reading Book 4 of The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Attack of the Fiend.  This is the furthest he's ever read in a series, so it must be pretty good!
  • And...our audio books!  We finally found our own copy of our family's all-time favorite audio book, Looking for Bobowicz by Daniel Pinkwater, so we started our trip by listening to that...again!  This is probably the 5th time we've listened to it, and we still laughed like crazy.  Many lines from this book have made it into our family lingo.  It's a silly little middle-grade novel, but Daniel Pinkwater is just hilarious - both his writing and his reading of the audio.  Classic.
  • We also started a new teen/YA dystopian audio, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bagicalupi, which won multiple awards.  It is very good so far, a unique story of a grim future on the Gulf Coast with a likable main character.
No time for reviews last week, but I did post my summary of Books Read in March.


What are you and your family reading this week?


(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kid/teen version hosted at Teach Mentor Texts.)


Easter Morning at Wooly Hollow State Park, Arkansas




Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Monday 4/2! What Are You Reading?


Wow, April already.  Funny thing is that it felt like spring in early March and now it feels almost wintry again!  March came in like a lamb and went out like a lion this year!

Very busy week with school stuff, soccer starting, spring break preparations, plus dealing with my younger son's knee injury (still waiting for MRI results to hear how bad it is).  As always, though, our books provided a little respite from the chaos.  Here's what we're reading:
  • I finished - and thoroughly enjoyed - Bill Bryson's memoir of growing up in the 50's, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.  Interesting and very entertaining.
  • I also finished (finally) my audio book, Falling Together by Marisa De los Santos, and enjoyed that one, too.
  • I started a new audio, the middle-grade novel Leisl and Po by Lauren Oliver.  So far, it is reminding me a bit in tone and story of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (which is obviously a compliment!).
  • Next, I read another middle-grade novel, Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood, set in 1964 in Mississippi.  It's a young girl's view of the civil rights battles going on in her small town; it was very good.
  • I am now reading The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart for my neighborhood book group.  It's very good so far, quite amusing.  I waited too long to start it (again!), so I have a lot of reading to do before Wednesday!
  • My husband, Ken, is reading Black Hills by Dan Simmons, a historical novel set in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.  Besides being a good novel so far, this book has special significance for Ken because part of his family lives in that area, which he has visited frequently since he was a kid.  We are thinking of going back this summer.
  • On his Kindle during our son's many medical appointments this week, Ken has been reading The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  I may have to borrow his Kindle so I can read this one!
  • Jamie, 17, finished re-reading The Books of Umber trilogy by P.W. Catanese and moved onto re-reading the Tunnels series by Brian James Williams and Roderick Gordon.  He has read Book 1: Tunnels, Book 2: Deeper, and is now reading Book 3: Freefall.  These are each over 600 pages long!  I read - and enjoyed - Tunnels but have never found the time to tackle the rest of the series.  Jamie says it just gets better and better.
  • For his World Lit class, Jamie is reading An Ordinary Man, an autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the book that inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.  I really want to read this one when he is done with it.  
  • Craig, 14, is reading more than usual because his injury is keeping him off his feet (but he is still going stir-crazy!).  He finished The Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen.
  • With the end of the marking period behind him, Craig went back to continue the longer novel he'd started a few weeks ago, Night of the Soul Stealer by Joseph Delaney, Book 3 of The Last Apprentice series.
I posted one review last week, the teen/YA novel An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.  I also posted lists of the Top Ten Books I'd Like to Play Hooky With and Top Ten Kids/Teen Books I'd Like to Play Hooky With.


And, finally, I am looking for audio book suggestions for our upcoming family road trip and would love to hear your recommendations!


What are you and your family reading this week?


(What are you reading Monday is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, with a kids/teen version hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.)