Monday, December 31, 2012

Nonfiction/Nonmemoir Reading Challenge 2013

I am going to participate in this challenge.  Given that I like memoirs, this may be quite the challenge for me!

There are different levels of challenge . . . I am going to modestly aim for the Bachelor's Degree level of 15 Nonfiction books for 2013.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reading Suggestions for My Nephew in the 5th Grade

I have been reading some juvenile and middle school fiction recently, as well.  Here are some suggestions that my nephew, who is in the fifth grade, may enjoy.

(As a note, there is nothing to do with Lexiles in this list.  It is simply a list of books that I think he might enjoy reading at this time.)

 Three titles I think my nephew would enjoy reading:

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit by Tommy Greenwald.
Charlie Joe does not like to read.  He likes to be funny in school.   He doesn't put a lot of effort into his schoolwork . . . until, his grades are going down, and he is threatened with being sent to a camp that focuses on reading!   He makes a deal with his parents about getting his grades up . . . and he will do almost anything for extra credit!   I found this a humorous read.

Homesick by Kate Klise
This book takes place in 1983 in a somewhat fictional town in southwest Missouri.   Benny's mom has just left because she is sick of her husband's (Benny's dad) hoarding.  He hoards everything, and can't even really hold down a job because he is afraid to leave his house is alone (paranoid that someone will rob it).   Benny tries to keep his room clean, but then his dad takes down his bedroom door.  Meanwhile, a good friend has started a local radio station and gives Benny (who is in sixth grade) a part-time job.   Read this book to see how all of the problems begin to be resolved in a few very dramatic ways!

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
This story of a fifth grade classroom, told through the eyes of various students, is great.   It is funny and sad at the same time.   I highly recommend this one to my nephew if he has not yet read it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Teen/YA Fiction Titles Recently Read

First, I do apologize for not updating this blog in quite some time.  We moved 1800 miles from where we were the last time I posted on here.  Life has been busy.  My laptop also developed a severe problem which is still being solved.   This has been a mixed blessing.  Mixed because I've had less chance to be on the Internet in general, but good, because I have been able to devote more time to reading!  In 2011, I read 75 books in total . . . a very low number for me.  It is still November in 2012, but I am nearing the 130 mark in my total.

Here are some of the Teen/YA title I have read in the last six weeks or so (with a few comments):

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - I started telling my husband about this one, and he said that it is good that we have such books.  It reminds us about how fortunate we are to have our freedom.   The US had been decimated in  a war, and now the President/dictator has made everything about "morals" and "family."  But what is family, really?  And should single parents be punished unfairly for decisions made 18 years earlier?   It is a lot to think about.   I am looking forward to the sequel . . . which, according the cover, might take place in Chicago.

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins - I also read the first book, Ashfall, earlier this year. I really liked the first book, but didn't care for this second one nearly so much.  The first one ended much more hopefully, which this second one truly leaves the reader hanging after a lot of truly awful scenes throughout the book.  That said, I will read the third one when it comes out.  The whole story is about a teen who survives a lot of things after a giant dormant volcano erupts and sends the midwest into an ice age.
Here is my brief review of Ashfall:

Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky - After reading dystopian fiction, this book was a nice change!  I think my 13 year old niece would like this book.   A high school sophomore can see and talk to ghosts, while her dad is a mortician.   I really recommend this book for tweens and young teens.  It is a nice blend of the freaky, the scary and family and friendships.  

Courtships and Curses by Marissa Doyle - Historical fiction with a little magic.  It takes place in London during "the Season".  Sophie has come out in society.   People are surprised to see her, and looking so good, because they heard she'd become less intelligent and "hump-backed" from her illness.  No one know she's a witch, too, and Sophie thinks this doesn't matter because not only did her leg (but not her brain or her back, people!) become lame from her bout with polio, but she thinks she has lost her magic, too.   I really, really enjoyed this book.  (I would actually recommend this one to my niece as well.) 

Yesterday by C. K. Kelly Martin - Another vaguely dystopian fiction . . . except much of the book doesn't really take place in the future.  It is more about time travel . . . Freya now lives in 1985, but she knows something isn't right.  She still has memories that were supposed to have been wiped, but they weren't totally gone.  

All These Lives by Sarah Wylie - Not dystopian!   Dani's twin sister has leukemia.   Dani's mother always told Dani that she had nine lives because they've survived an accident years before.  Now, Dani believes that if she tries to kill herself, that she'd be able to pass her life onto her sister.   She survives every attempt, a little worse for wear.   Obviously, Dani feels responsible for her sister's life.   Overall, a very well-written book.

A World Away by Nancy Grossman - Amish girl leave Iowa for the Chicago suburbs for her Rumschpringe! She is trying to figure out where she truly belongs in life, with a few surprises along the way.  I really enjoyed this book, and couldn't put it down until the end.

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught - Told from the POV of a protagonist with schizophrenia.  It was quite an experience to read this book.   I highly recommend it.

Choke by Diana Lopez - A story about girls who are befriended by the new girl in school who seems very cool and rather exotic.  She always wears scarves around her neck . . . it turns out she chokes to get high.  I had no idea this is a "thing."

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle - I thought I would like this book as being a combo Amish/Vampire/Dystopian novel.   I am not altogether sure I liked it at all.  The vampires are very Stoker-ish or maybe they even reminded me more of the vampires in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot.  Which took me back to my young teenage years when I had insomia due to reading 'Salem's Lot at 9 pm.  I read The Hallowed Ones at night, and then was imagining all sorts of odd things . . . and the head of our bed is against a window.   Oops.   Maybe I would have liked it better in the bright light of a sunny day!  Pretty much, there is something like a vampire infection spreading through the country, and the rural Amish community is not safe from it.

Epitaph Road  by David Patenaude - I actually enjoyed this dystopian novel.   The premise is that less than a hundred years from now, a virus will sweep the world - one that only kills males.   Women will be able to rule the world much more peacefully . . . but not all is as perfect as it seems.   I recommend this one.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo - Aliens.  Sort of.   Not zombies.  I appreciate aliens more than zombies, I have discovered.  This is an interesting read.

Friday, March 23, 2012

2004 Favorite Reads List

Here is my list of "Favorite Reads" from 2004 (in alphabetical order, chosen from more than 150 book that I had read or listened to for the first time that year):

The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (Fiction, 2004)

Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot (Fiction, 2004) [Note: I met the author in person that year.]

Dark Tower series by Stephen King (Fiction, 1982-2004)

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeffry Lindsay (Fiction, 2004) [Note: Loved the audio cd. Do not love the tv show.]

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown (Fiction, 2003)

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin (YA Fiction, 2004)

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Juvenile/YA Fiction, 2003)

Millbank; Or Roger Irving's Ward by Mary J. Holmes (Fiction, 1871)

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding (Fiction, 2004)

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (Fiction, 2004)

Thinner Than Thou by Kit Reed (Fiction, 2004)

Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson (Fiction, 2004)

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (Nonfiction, 2003)

The Weight-Loss Diaries by Courtney Rubin (Nonfiction, 2004)

What are Presidents Made of? by Enoch Piven (Picture Book, 2004)

Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson (YA Fiction, 2000-2002)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dreaming in English by Laura Fitzgerald

First of all, I wish I had won this book from the Early Reviewers [LibraryThing]. . . alas, I was not picked for it, though I had read the first book, "Veil of Roses", five years ago or so. Anyway, of course my local library had this book and the first one as the author is local to my present location. Five years ago, I had now idea I'd been moving to Tucson the next year. . . but that is another story. I am still hoping to meet the author one of these days.

I love the character of Tami, and how she develops in this book. She learns to really fight for her freedom and not to give up. I love the relationship between her and Ike. I enjoy how Tami sees the world, too. What sticks with me after finishing "Dreaming in English" are a few things in particular. For instance, Tami points out that Americans seem to find it odd that when you have guests visit, you must have a "giant bowl" of fruit when you serve tea as well as nuts (in our household - my husband is persian-american - because of my nut allergies, bowls of nuts are verboten). I have learned how to serve giants bowls of fruit! Another thing thing that sticks with me are the places and locations specific to Tucson that are mentioned throughout the book. It makes it fun if you can really see the places in your mind. . . but if you've never been to Tucson, it should not take away from your reading experience, either.

I might have missed something, but Alibaba (the local Tucson restaurant) is never mentioned in this book, nor any of the middle eastern stores (we have one we go to on occasion.) I though that was kind of weird . . . I mean, I know my husband's opinion on their (Alibaba's) food, service, ambiance, etc, but apparently none of these characters ever go there? Hmmm.

I,too, hope there might be a third book someday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Today [the day I wrote the review and posted on LibraryThing], at the grocery store, I saw vitamin C tablets. My first impulse was to stock up and buy them all . . . which sums up the impact this book had on me this week. Near the end of the book, the local doctor explains that a lot of people had scurvy and the vitamin C was worth its weight in gold.

Overall, this disaster novel was powerful . . . I could not put it down and stayed up half of the night to finish it. Every few years, a disaster (particularly earth science-related) book gets my attention that pulls me in immediately. I look forward to the sequel.

I have to agree with another reviewer, in that I wish we had a chance to get to know the protagonist, Alex, a little more in the time before the disaster (the huge dormant volcano under Yellowstone blows, and Iowa is in the "red zone"). We get hints as to his previous life, but they are brief and fleeting. What we know most is that he is good at tae kwan do, because that comes in handy in his travels to reconnect with his family.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller

Here is are the links to the book posts about Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller that I posted to my other blog:

I will also post soon about some other books I have read recently!