Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Speak

Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson

There are many great books out there. Ones that I absolutely love to read and entertain me from beginning to end. They are an escape from the real world and are the reason I love to read so much.

Then there are books that change the way you see the world. Books that come to life and teach you something new. This is one of these types of books.

I think Laurie Hasle Anderson is a fantastic author. This is the second book of hers that I have read and absolutely loved. Wintergirls was my first experience with her and I knew that I need to read this book after I finished that one. I think she has an amazing way of portraying, not only what it is like to be a teenager, but also what it feels like to be a teenager.

This is a story of a fourteen year old who has a traumatic event occur at a summer party and ends up starting school with no friends and so depressed she barely speaks. It was pretty easy to figure out what had happened to her and it was clear that she was to afraid to speak up and tell people the truth about that night. My heart broke for her that her friends, parents and teachers seemed so oblivious to what was really causing her to act the way she does. I didn't want to put the book down because I wanted someone to reach out to her and discover what was really going on.

It made me think about how I would have reacted to someone like Melinda when I was in High School. Would I have ignored her like everybody else? I wish I could say that I would have reach out to someone like that, but honestly I probably would have reacted the same as the kids in her school. Isn't it easy to assume someone is acting out for attention and not reach down deeper to find the root of the problem?

Anyway, I thought this was a very well written book. Anderson has done a great job of creating a character that you can feel and understand just who she is. 

I would highly recommend this book. The topic is heavy but definitely worth reading and talking about. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy
by Karen Cushman

This was a cute story that followed the life of a fourteen year old girl in the 1200s. As the daughter of the knight she must learn to become a lady and a good wife, even though to her, life as a crusader sounds more exciting. 

This book is written diary style with Catherine recording the events that happen through out the year. Her father's hunt for a husband for her, her brother's visits, village activities and so forth.  I found her character amusing and I enjoyed reading this story.

This book is definitely aimed towards the younger crowd. I found it in the children's section of the library and it is filled with little antidotes that kids would find funny. Including several different references to farting.

I thought this book was a fun way to read about what life in the 1200s might have been like.  I was glad that Catherine has a little spunk to her and wasn't willing to let her fate be decided, completely by others. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Booking Through Thursday- History

This weeks BTT started with some thoughts on the subject history and then posed a question. Here is the post from Booking Through Thursday:
Sometimes I feel like the only person I know who finds reading history fascinating. It’s so full of amazing-yet-true stories of people driven to the edge and how they reacted to it. I keep telling friends that a good history book (as opposed to some of those textbooks in school that are all lists and dates) does everything a good novel does–it grips you with real characters doing amazing things.
Am I REALLY the only person who feels this way? When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.

 And here is my response:

So most of my experience reading historical books has been in school for varies classes. We all know how dull history text books can be. Due to that I do not regular seek out non-fiction, historical books.

But that being said, I love history and find it fascinating. I absolutely adore historical fiction. I really should give historical non-fiction books more of a chance.

I have read a few that I have enjoyed through out the years. I always find the subject matter to be very intriguing but sometimes the writing is still a little too "academic". I want it to read more like a story and less like someones research paper.

The most recent one I read is the Fires of Jubilee by Stephen B. Oates about Nate Turner. You can read my thoughts on the book here.

Funny thing is that I was just talking with my friends to day about different books we like reading and the subject of historical non-fiction came up. My friend recommend a book called The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair the Changed America  by Eric Larson about the First World's Fair and the serial killer who preyed on the women there. It sounds very interesting.

I may have to give History books another look.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Books My Kids Love

Here are a couple books that my kids have been enjoying:

Dear Zoo 
by Rod Campbell

 This lift-the-flap book was a favorite of my oldest boy when he was a toddler. We had to read this book to him every night before bed. Now he can repeat the story to his baby brother which is so cute. We all really love this book.



How to Potty Train Your Monster
by Kelly DiPucchio

We have been Potty training the last couple months so I have checked out many books from the library about this subject but this is by far my favorite. It is cute, fun to read and makes my son giggle. I think it is great!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

This was a really neat book. I have to admit that the cover of this book had me immediately intrigued. A black and white photo of a levitating girl, I could tell that this could be a very interesting read.

The story, itself, turned out to be really fun read. I really enjoyed reading about the peculiar children and thought the idea behind the story was really interesting.

I would have enjoyed the book, even without all the cool pictures through out, but the pictures definitely added to the telling of the story. They were authentic vintage photograph, many of which had a side show feel to them. They actually reminded me of the old circus photos in Water for Elephants but unlike that book they became a central part of the telling of this story. These real photos were used to create a fantastic world about a special group of children. 

I thought it was really neat that the author was able to take these old photos and turn them into an entire story that follows a teenage boy, Jacob, and his search for the truth behind his grandfather's death. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I hope that there is a sequel in the works, because I definitely want to find out what happens next.


For those looking for  good books for kids to read, I thought I should mention that there is some language in this story.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Booking Through Thursday- Fluff

 Here is this week's BTT:

You’ve just had a long, hard, exhausting day, and all you want to do is curl up with something light, fun, easy, fluffy, distracting, and entertaining.   What book do you pick up?


I might be the odd man out here but when I'm exhausted and need to relax I tend to turn on the TV. It is entertaining, distracting and requires no effort.

I don't read many books I would consider Fluffy unless you count all the YA and children's Fiction I read. I really love these Books because they tend to be light, fun, and easy reads. They are the perfect books when I don't want to think to hard and just need something truly entertaining to read.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

To read or Not to read...

So I do this thing where I finish a book even if I end up not liking it. I don't know why but I feel like I need to finish something when I start it. I do the same thing with movies. I think I have only stopped watching maybe 2 movies in my entire life. I'll finish the book or movie and wonder why I waste my time watching/ reading something I didn't enjoy. For some reason I still want to know how the story ends but then it ends and I am left disappointed.

As you know from my last post,  I start reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  and I was excited to see what it was all about. It turns out that I find the whole thing to be silly and the writing to be juvenile. They took Jane Austin's story (which I adore), simplified the writing and added zombie fighting though out. 

I know that Jane Austin can be hard to read because of the language but that style is what gives those stories their charm. I like reading about the characters and discovering who they are. Instead, in this book, you are told what to think of the different characters and the story is so simplified that the characters are uninteresting.

I think that I may break my rule and not finish the book this time. I just don't think I can read anymore. There are so many more books out there that I want to read.

That being said, someone with no experience reading Jane Austin and who enjoys Zombie stories would probably really like this book. It just isn't for me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday


This weeks Book Beginning:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith

I thought that this book sounded like a fun idea. Here is the opening line:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."


Interesting twist on the opening line of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Still not sure whether I'm going to like this new take on one of my favorite stories. At least this sentence gives me and idea of how they are going to fit zombies into this classic.

Looking for some more ideas, you can read other book beginnings at a Few More Pages.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Booking Through Thursday-National Book Week

BTT is an activity this week: 


It’s National Book Week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence as your status


"Brought yeh ter this lot..."


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Ever since the last movie came out I have been itching to read these books again. My Husband had this book sitting on the desk for a class project. Maybe it is a sign. ;-)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Birthday Soup

The other night I was really tired and just not feeling up to reading a bedtime story. One of those nights when my head is pounding and the thought of looking at writing on a page makes me cringe. I asked my son if he would read me a story instead and he was happy to oblige. He is only 3 and doesn't read yet so it is always fun when he "reads" me a story.

He chose the story "Birthday Soup" from the Little Bear collection by Else Holmelund Minarik.


Remember reading those when you were younger? I do.
Honestly, now that I'm all grown up, they are not my favorite stories but my son absolutely adores this collection of stories about Little Bear.

"Birthday Soup" is his favorite. It was so cute to listen to him tell the story. he asks me to read it almost everyday so it was not surprising that he had most of the lines memorized.

It put a smile on my face and my poor head sure did appreciate it.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
By Lisa See

As I mentioned in my previous post I really love this Genre. There is just something about learning about different cultures that I find fascinating.  

I became completely enthralled by the story of Lily and Snow Flower. The author has done a great job of creating a story which brings the characters alive. The story telling creates a vivid image of what their world was like making it easy to understand who they were. They live in a world where the rules dictating their lives were rigid. Despite living in an era where daughters were not treated the same as sons and often were looked upon as a burden to their families, they were able to discover how important love is and the important role they played in others lives.  I couldn't put the book down and was excited to follow them through the different stages of their lives. 

This was a really touching story of friendship and love. Their were so many interesting details about their lives and the rules that dictated their actions.

I really enjoyed this book and I am glad that I "discovered" it at a garage sale. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday


Here is this weeks Book Beginning :

I recently started reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. A couple weeks ago my friend was talking about how they made a movie about this book. I was immediately intrigued because I love a good historical fiction, especially those based in China. I find something about that culture really fascinating. Two days later I found the book at a garage sale for 25 cents and couldn't pass up the deal.

Here are the first few lines:

"I am what they call in our village "one who has not yet died"- a widow, eighty years old. Without my husband, the days are long. I no longer care for the special foods that Peony and the others prepare for me. I no longer look forward to the happy events that settle under our roof so easily. Only the Past interest me now."


This opening immediately grabs my interest. I am excited to hear her story and discover what her past holds. What was her life like and what kind of trials did she face. She has lived a long time so I am sure she has some secrets to share.

Can't wait to read the rest.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Booking Through Thursday- Anticipation


This weeks BTT Question:

What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read?
And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it?
Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?

There have been several books recently that I have really enjoyed and was completely enthralled by the story. In these books I would definitely say that the excitement for the book bloomed during the reading of it.

For me that is a completely different thing then being really excited to read a book. A book I am really excited to read is one that I am anticipating that I will love. Often a sequel to a book I have already read and loved, or a book by an author who I absolutely adore.

The last book I was really excited to read was Fablehaven Book 5: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull. I just fell in love with this series and enjoyed every book. Every time I finished one book, I would be so excited to start the next in the series. I couldn't read them fast enough!

I have a whole list of books to read. Ones that I heard about on other blogs or suggestions from friends, all of which I am eager to read. That being said I don't know if any of them have me itching to get my hands on them, right this instant, so that I can start reading them. Know what I mean?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel


The True Story of Hansel and Gretel; a novel of war and survival
by Louise Murphy

I thought that this was a unique and poignant way to tell a story about the Holocaust. 

We all know what horrific and terrible things happened during World War 2 but for me it became even more real and disturbing, reading about these events. In fact, I had to stop reading before I went to bed at night because I found many of the events to be so heartbreaking.

It is really hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that someone would think to treat another human being in such a despicable way.

This story takes place in German occupied Poland and follows the lives of two Jewish children and the people who are determined to save them, despite the death sentence that they would face if caught. I thought the use of the fairy tale to tell this story was really neat. It was interesting to watch the fairy tale evolve into a tale of survival. 

I learned a lot from this book about not only the treatment of the Jewish people, but the treatment of the Polish. They had such hard lives and lived in such fear, it really was heartbreaking. I definitely shed a few tears for them.

The overall message of this book was the idea that Love is so important and the hope it brings. We all need to be loved and to love in return. Isn't that the truth? It is so important in our lives!

This novel really brought this subject to life for me and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn what it must have been like to live in Poland during World War 2.