Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Monday 9/30! What Are You Reading?

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary! We had another busy week but a nice weekend, and I'm looking forward to our dinner out together tonight. It's especially nice when your kids are old enough that you no longer need a babysitter!

Some good reading at our house last week:
  • I worked steadily on Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andre Makine, but then I wasn't well enough to go to my book group discussion on Wednesday evening (my chronic illness was flared-up). I was about halfway through the novel and enjoying it, but I decided to set it aside and go back to the book I had to set down to read this one! (are you following this?)
  • So, I picked up my Kindle and finished I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. This first memoir by the famed poet just blew me away - it is warm, intelligent, funny, and heart-breaking. I loved it and can't wait to read her other memoirs. I read this book in honor of Banned Books Week.
  • Now, I am reading another book for Banned Books Week, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky. Another gem! This YA novel is fabulous so far.
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading Time and Again by Jack Finney, a classic time travel novel that I enjoyed.
  • Craig, 15, is still working his way through Beowulf for his British Literature class.
To celebrate Banned Books Week last week, I posted:

An Introduction to Banned Books Week

List of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000-2009

Review of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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 Unleashing Readers.)

24 years ago today!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000 - 2009

In honor of Banned Books Week, here is the American Library Association's Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from the last decade (from 2000 - 2009). I have read 27 of them so far and plan to read two more this week (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Perks of Being a Wallflower).  How many of them have you read?

(Seriously? Someone banned In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak? Apparently a lot of someones - crazy).

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrate Banned Books Week 2013!

Banned Books Week is this week, September 22 - 28, 2013, so join in the fun!

The American Library Association explains this annual weeklong celebration:

"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."

I like to join in the celebration by choosing a couple of frequently banned books - one for adults and one for kids/teens/YA - and read and review them this week. I chose my books last week but am running a bit behind now because I had to switch to a book club group book to finish up for Wednesday!

The books I chose for this week are:
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Aneglou
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
These are #6 and #10, respectively, on the ALA's List of Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009. I am about halfway through Angelou's memoir and can't believe I've never read it before! It is just wonderful so far, and I hated to set it aside.

You can also look at Top Ten Banned Books lists by year at the ALA website, so check those out, too, and then choose YOUR book to read to celebrate these fabulous books and the freedom to read anything we want.

What are you reading for Banned Books Week?

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Monday 9/23! What Are You Reading?

Rough start on a Monday. I came downstairs this morning to start my day, and the power went out! Beautiful clear day with sunny skies. My oatmeal was only half-cooked, and I didn’t have time to make my tea. I need my Tangerine-Orange Zinger to start my day! I keep starting to do something and then realize it requires electricity – no laundry, no tea, no internet!! Besides, Cher was on the Today Show this morning with her big comeback concert – I was planning to watch that while I ate breakfast.

Anyway, we had another crazy busy week, with soccer practices and games and another houseful of weekend visitors. So, not as much reading time as we’d like, but we managed some:

  • I finished Hold Fast, an amazing middle-grade novel by Blue Balliet. It combines a mystery with the story of a family who unexpectedly becomes homeless – a clever, warm, suspenseful book that I loved.
  • Next, I decided to choose a couple of books to read for this week’s Banned Books Week celebration, so I started I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou’s famous memoir. I am loving it and can’t believe I waited so long to read it! This is also my very first book downloaded to my new Kindle.
  • Unfortunately, I had to set the memoir aside this weekend and get started on the book for one of my book groups that meets this week: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andre Makine. I’m having a little trouble getting into this one, possibly because its pace and tone are so different from Angelou’s memoir and maybe because I really hate to switch books before I finish one! I need to get moving, though, because I have to finish it by Wednesday and so far, my progress has been very slow!
  • My husband, Ken, is still reading Time and Again by Jack Finney, a classic time travel novel that I enjoyed.
  • Craig, 15, is working his way through Beowulf for his British Literature class – he says it isn’t too bad so far!
  • Jamie, 19, was home from college this weekend to see his grandparents - he says he hasn't had any time at all for fun reading, but there are so many books he wants to get to!
I had little blogging or writing time last week, with our heavy schedule, but I did squeeze in two reviews on Friday:

Review of The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh, a historical novel set in 1877 South Africa.

Review of Hold Fast by Blue Balliet, a powerful middle-grade novel.

I also managed a Weekend Cooking post before everyone got up on Sunday morning!

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 Unleashing Readers.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Middle-Grade/Teen Review: Hold Fast

For over a decade, I have been hearing great things about Blue Balliet’s mystery novels. My son read one of them when he was a middle-grader, but I never got around to it myself. I just finished her latest novel, Hold Fast, and absolutely loved it! What took me so long? This novel – appropriate for older middle-grade readers and teens (and adults!) – combines a mystery with a realistic story about a family who suddenly finds themselves homeless, all from the perspective of an eleven-year old girl. It is exciting and suspenseful but also brimming with emotional depth and insights into a world that many young readers know nothing about.

Eleven-year old Early loves her life. She is part of a close-knit family in Chicago, living in a tiny, one-room apartment with her parents and her four-year old brother, Jubilation (Jubie for short). She knows her family doesn’t have much money, but they have love and dreams and books. Early’s parents – and especially her father Dashiel – love to read and share books with their children. Dash also loves to play with words and works as a page at the Chicago Public Library. He dreams of one day getting a degree in library science, and the whole family dreams of one day having a house of their own.

This happy, loving family is shattered when Dash disappears suddenly one icy winter evening on his way home from work. The police aren’t much help – they seem to think Early’s dad left on his own – and before long, Early, her mom, and her little brother lose their apartment and are forced to move to a city shelter. Early’s life falls apart as she is torn from her school, her friends, and the only home she has ever known, all while worrying about her beloved father.

Dash taught his daughter well, though, and Early begins to look for patterns and rhythms in what has happened that might help her find her father. She unravels tiny clues left behind in a desperate search to bring her family back together. As the days turn into weeks and months, though, she is forced to take on more responsibility as her mother falls apart and gives into despair and hopelessness, and the three of them struggle to adjust to life in a shelter.

This incredible novel packs a lot into a few hundred pages. It is a heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) story about family and the meaning of home. It is a suspenseful and complex mystery, filled with surprising twists you will never see coming. It is a realistic portrayal of what life is like for the estimated 30,000 homeless children in Chicago (that’s just in one city!). And it is a love story that attests to the power of words and books. I loved Early’s family and never wanted their story to end.

274 words, Scholastic Press

NOTE: Although this book is marketed to a wide range of middle-grade readers as young as 8, it is most appropriate for those in middle-school or older. The mystery at the heart of the story is fairly complicated, as are the emotions evoked by the plight of the main characters. I also think this book will appeal to teen readers who like realistic fiction, even though the main character is only eleven. And, as an adult, I loved this book and never felt I was being talked down to. I can’t wait to share it with some of my young cousins and nieces. Highly recommended.


Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday 9/16! What Are You Reading?

We had a busy week and a fun weekend. My dad and his wife came to visit this weekend, and we enjoyed watching my son's soccer game Friday night, playing games with the kids, and eating lots of good food! The guys played golf on Saturday, while my step-mom and I visited a lovely natural garden that features local flora.

We also enjoyed our books last week:
  • I finished The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh for my neighborhood book group and enjoyed discussing it. Most of us liked it but didn't love it, though there were some outliers on each end of the spectrum! It's set in 1877, about a young British woman who must emigrate to South Africa. I found the historical context fascinating, as I knew nothing at all about South Africa's distant past.
  • Now that I am caught up (temporarily!) on book group reads, I am reading Hold Fast by Blue Balliet, a middle-grade novel that is part mystery and part realistic story about a family that suddenly find themselves homeless. It is an amazing novel, with plenty of emotional depth and suspense.
  • I started - and finished! - a new audio, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It normally takes me a month or more to finish an audio book, so this is remarkable! True, it is a short novel, but it is also riveting and kept me listening during every spare moment. It helped that my own (old) car was in the shop last week, so I was driving the newer car with the iPod dock.
  • My husband, Ken, is reading Time and Again by Jack Finney, a classic time travel novel that he gave me one Christmas.
  • Since they were here this weekend, I'll include my dad and his wife in our weekly update. They were reading novels by Lee Child and Sandra Brown on their Kindles this weekend. They left with a stack of books rescued from my charity give-away box on Saturday! We all love to share our books.
  • Craig, 15, is reading Beowulf for his Brit Lit class. I remember my older son having trouble with this one at that age - I've never read it myself! Maybe I should download it onto my new Kindle and give it a try while my son is reading it.
I didn't have much writing or blogging time last week but managed a few posts:

Review of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley, a great start to a new series for younger middle-grade readers.

Wrap-Up of Two Writing Challenges

Books Read in August 2013 summary

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 Unleashing Readers.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Books Read in August 2013

August was a good reading month, with plenty of relaxing vacation time, but I didn't read a lot of books. That's because I was focused on longer books for my 2013 Big Book Summer Challenge, so I spent half of the month just working on one book! I also see in looking back at my July 2013 Summary that I cheated a bit (gasp!) - I included an audio book that I ended up not finishing until mid-August.

So, here is what I (really) read in August:
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin, the Big Book that kept me busy all during my vacation (Iowa)
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, Book 2 in Chaos Walking trilogy and another Big Book
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, on audio - that was my cheat - oops! (England)

And that was it for August, just four books. I spent most of the month reading those first two books. They were both well worth the time investment! My favorite? Hmmm...tough one...probably The Ask and the Answer because I am really enjoying that series - can't wait to read Book 3!

Update on 2013 Reading Challenges:
I added only one new state (Iowa) to my 2013 Where Are You Reading Challenge. I read two more books off my TBR shelves (my Big Books all tend to be from the TBR shelves because I set them aside until I have time to read them!), bringing the total up to 13 so far this year for my 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge.

Which books did you most enjoy reading in August?

Middle-Grade Review: Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year

We are big fans of Grammy Award-winning Bill Harley in our family; he is a singer, storyteller, author, and all-around entertainer. Even though my sons are now in their mid to late teens, listening to a Bill Harley story can still make them laugh out loud – and he has the same effect on my husband and I!  I previously reviewed another Bill Harley middle-grade novel, Night of the Spadefoot Toads, and his Dear Santa picture book remains among our favorite holiday books. So, I was thrilled to hear he’d written a new middle-grade novel, Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, which is also the start of new series. I loved this novel; reading it is like listening to Bill Harley tell his stories in my head!

Charlie Bumpers is a normal kid, getting ready to start fourth grade. As the novel opens, he is frantically trying to clean his room before his mom comes home (he ends up clearing the mess out from the closet and moving it under the bed). His big brother, Matt, is always on his back and loves to tease him. His little sister, Mabel, can be cute sometimes, but she’s also very loud and can not keep a secret! Charlie’s room-cleaning comes to an abrupt stop when his mom gets home and announces that she found out who Charlie’s teacher will be this year: Mrs. Burke.

Charlie’s mom is excited because Mrs. Burke was named Teacher of the Year last year, but Charlie knows he is doomed. What his mom doesn’t know is that there was an “incident” last year when Charlie ended up throwing a sneaker that hit Mrs. Burke in the head (it’s a long story). Now, he knows she hates him, and fourth grade is ruined. Even worse, his best friend, Tommy, is in a different class.

Charlie does his best to make a good impression on Mrs. Burke and start the year off right, but things never turn out the way he intended. Somehow, Charlie always ends up in trouble – with Mrs. Burke, with his classmates, and even with the new gym teacher, Mr. Shuler, aka General Shuler, Intergalatic Supreme Commander of Soccer Balls. How will Charlie ever survive the whole year when he can barely get through the first week?

The writing and story in this novel are pitch-perfect for younger middle-grade readers. Charlie and his friends feel like real kids, struggling with real problems. As always, Harley captures childhood perfectly, with a nice dose of his trademark humor and plenty of warmth. This series is sure to be a hit with kids who like reading about real-life kids like themselves and fans of the Horrible Harry series who are a little older now.

138 pages, Peachtree Publishers

Check out Bill Harley's Charlie Bumpers website, including a book trailer. 

If you have never heard Bill Harley perform before, listen to him tell one of his classic kid stories, Zanzibar:


Monday, September 9, 2013

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

Ahhh....Monday, and all is quiet here at home. I enjoyed my first week alone last week, with the kids back at school and tried hard to keep the stress levels down and the vacation mindset alive! I did a lot of writing (check back tomorrow when I will recap how I did in two writing challenges) and tried to get caught up on a lot of things that I got behind on during the summer. I also spent a lot of time out on our deck, manages a couple of walks, and finally began watching some of the TED talks my husband has been telling me about - I'm hooked!

We enjoyed plenty of reading last week:
  • I finished Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge, an excellent memoir about a boy who grew up in foster care. It was an emotionally moving book, and I can't wait to talk about it at my library's book discussion group this week.
  • I also finished A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer, the teen/YA audio book I've been listening to this summer. It's a post-apocalyptic tale of a teen girl and her younger brother making their way across the country after a viral pandemic kills 95% of the population. I really liked it and enjoyed the audio production.
  • I am now reading The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh for my nieghborhood book group, also this week. It's about a young British woman in the 1870's who emigrates to South Africa to marry a man she barely knows. I'm enjoying it so far, but I better start reading faster if I want to finish it by Wednesday!
  • My husband, Ken, finished Break No Bones by Kathy Reich. This was the first Reich novel that any of us have read - this series is the basis for the TV show Bones - and Ken said it was very good though different from the TV show.
  • He just started Time and Again by Jack Finney, a classic time travel novel that Ken gave me for Christmas one year. I hope he likes it as much as I did.
  • Jamie, 19, probably hasn't had much personal reading time at all lately - he is busy with college and friends!
  • Craig, 15, got his reading list for this year's Brit Lit class. He's not too excited, but I am! Lots of excellent novels on the list, both classics and modern, and I think he may actually enjoy some of them (though he'd never admit that). So far, they are discussing their summer reads, The Lord of the Flies and The Housekeeper and the Professor. And guess what? His first writing assignments are blog posts for their classroom blog! I like this teacher.
My writing challenges kept me busy with other writing projects, but I managed a few book blog posts:

Review of The Time Machine, a new audio production of H.G. Wells' classic story.

Snapshot Saturday, in case you want to see pictures of my recent vacation in Cape Cod and Maine.

Wrap-up of My Big Book Summer Challenge - if you were participating in the challenge, be sure to link your own wrap-up post to the challenge page. There is also a separate list of links for reviews of Big Books. If you didn't participate, check out some of the reviews listed to get some ideas for your own Big Book reads!

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 Unleashing Readers.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Monday 9/2! What Are You Reading?

Happy September! Fall is my favorite season, so I am happy that September is here. We had another very busy week, capped off by a frantic Friday after my college son spent much of the previous night/early morning in the ER. Just stupid college stuff! Thank goodness, his injury isn't quite as bad as first thought, and it looks like he won't need surgery, but he has a torn tendon in his finger that needs to be kept splinted for 6 weeks. Both he and his brother spent the holiday weekend at the beach with friends, so my husband and I had a lovely, quiet respite for a few days - just what we needed! They both return today (college son only long enough to do laundry and refill his medicines), so we will be returning to the real world, but we enjoyed our quiet downtime together.

Not a lot of time for reading last week, but we all managed some:
  • I finished The Ask and the Answer (see my review) by Patrick Ness and loved it as much as the first book. This Chaos Walking YA trilogy is fabulous! I can't wait to read the third and final book.
  • I squeezed in a short middle-grade novel before turning to my book group obligations for September. I read Charlie Bumpers vs. Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley, one of our all-time favorite authors/singers/storytellers. It was excellent - reading it was like listening to Harley tell one of his stories from his own childhood.
  • I am now reading Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge, a memoir for my library's discussion group. The author was taken from his young, mentally ill mother at the age of 7 and grew up in foster homes and horrible child welfare institutions. Amazingly, he grew into a caring, intelligent adult who is devoting his life to helping abandoned and foster children. I'm a little more than halfway through, and it is both horrifying and hopeful.
  • I am still listening to a teen/YA audio, A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer, the post-apocalyptic journey of a teen sister and her younger brother across the country to find their remaining family. It's been excellent all the way through - I'm on the last CD now!
  • My husband, Ken, finished Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag and enjoyed it.
  • Ken is now reading Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs, one of the novels that inspired the TV show Bones (a favorite in our house). We've been meaning to try the series for ages and found a couple of Reichs' novels in the bargain bin on vacation.
  • Jamie, 19, is still reading Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling, book 1 of The Nightrunner series. I doubt he had much reading time this weekend at the beach with all of his best friends! Now that he's back at school, his reading time will be filled with chemistry and calculus instead of fantasy.
  • Craig, 15, finished The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa just in time before school started on Wednesday! He didn't love it, but he said it was OK- I want to read it when he's done using it for school. He won't read anything unless it is assigned to him, so I am hoping his Brit Lit teacher this year will come up with some good novels for his class!
Thanks to school starting up again, I was able to get back to some writing this week, including these posts:

I signed up for Two Writing Challenges to help jump-start my fall writing season (kids back in school - yay!)

Book Adaptations on TV - looks like a good season coming up!

Weekend Cooking, with a couple of quick, healthy dinner ideas for back-to-school time.

 Review of Defending Jacob, a suspenseful and disturbing legal drama.

Review of The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, book 2 in the Chaos Walking YA trilogy.

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 Unleashing Readers.)

If you have been participating in the Big Book Summer Challenge, summer is officially over after today! Be sure to add your links for any Big Book reviews to the review link list on the challenge page. Later today or tomorrow, I will post a summary post with another link list for your own wrap-up posts.