Book Challenge update!

So, it has been a week since I started my personal book challenge and to be honest…it’s not going as well as I would like. So far, I have only read 3 of the 9 books in my challenge. Not for sure if that is going to be enough to finish my challenge by the end of July. With that being said, here is the low-down on 3 of my books.

First, I finished my “book with pictures”. That was an easy one! I chose The Monkey Goes Bananas by C.P. Bloom and it is definitely a book I will purchase for my library this school year. The kids will love the bright colors and simple text. The plot of the monkey trying to get the bananas from a near-by island while outsmarting a shark, is very well done. It seems to be a new updated spin on the  Crocodile and the Monkey folktale. I think this book will engage children and make them predict what the monkey will do next. It also has great examples of cause and effect. I would recommend it for all ages since it is a fun read!

Next, I finished The Giver by Lois Lowry. This was the first book in The Giver trilogy. I read this book A LONG TIME AGO, but with the new movie coming out in August, I thought it was worth a re-read. I think this is a beautifully written book and for the right age child, it is thought provoking. I worry that children too young will read the book and not truly understand the complex nature of Lowry’s words. The thought of a “perfect” society is so scary and yet  Lowry does not shy away from the underlying evil that a society such as this, would bring to those that live there. Her characters are strong and vulnerable all at the same time. It is in their innocence that evil thrives. After watching the trailer for the upcoming movie, I will NOT be seeing it. I feel they strayed WAY off from Lowry’s vision and changed too much for the sake of cinema. So sad!

My third book was the one with the color red on the cover. I chose and finished, Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones. This is the third book in the Charley Davidson Series and I love these books! They are just fun! Charley is the Grim Reaper, yep I said the Grim Reaper. She has a HOTT on again off again relationship with the Son of Satan, a sassy best friend, a cranky uncle, and a Rottweiler as a spiritual guardian…Too much! A quick fun read for anyone that loves the paranormal genre. Personally, I can’t wait to start book four in the series but I have to finish this challenge first!

Whew! I am currently pushing on to In the Woods by Tana French ( haven’t read much genre) and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry(second book in my trilogy) Wish me luck! I have one week and 6 books to go!

So have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your comments!

Happy reading!

I’m BACK!!!

It has been 10 months since I last posted on my blog. That is just terrible!

I would like to say that something major kept me away, but sadly it was just laziness on my part. I let work and daily stresses get in the way of something that I was enjoying. I’m not for sure if anyone was reading the posts, but it was still a fun way for me to feel like I was connecting with other readers. So I am making a vow right now, to check in at least once a month to talk books and maybe more. A good rant can be about more than books and trust me, I can rant! 😉

This past week my 21 year old son found a reading challenge on a Youtube channel, that he started yesterday. The challenge is this: In a week, read the following…1) Start and finish a series 2) Read a book with pictures 3) Read a book with the color red on the cover 4) Read a book someone else picks for you 4) Read a book from a genre that you haven’t read this year 5) Read a book with a movie adaptation 5) A book with Pictures & 6) Read 7 books. All this must be done in 7 days! Are you CRAZY?? As much as I love a good challenge I don’t think I could even do this, and I am a fast reader. However, I was very intrigued by the “challenge idea” and decided I would do it, but I would give myself a little more time. I mean I have to clean house sometime! So here is my personal reading challenge ,using their ideas and adding one of my own.

By the end of July, I will read the following…1) Start and finish a series…The Giver, Gathering Blue, & Messenger by Lois Lowry. 2) Read a book with pictures…The Monkey Goes Bananas by C.P. Bloom 3) Book w/the color red on the cover…Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones 4) Least Read Genre (this one is tough, because I read everything!)…In the Woods by Tana French 5) Movie adaptation book…The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 6) Book picked by someone else (I let my son pick) The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and 7) Book to inspire…So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore. WHEW!!!

I have no idea if I can complete this crazy challenge, but it is sure going to be fun to try! Don’t worry, I promise to give updates on my progress!

If you are up for the challenge, try it with me or come up with your own reading challenge for the next 3 weeks! I look forward to hearing from you and as always…Happy Reading!

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger!

I rarely pick a book because of the title. I usually read the summary, look at some reviews, and read the first page or two, but how could I ever NOT read this book? The title is amazing because who hasn’t wanted to give a guy the finger? I’m kidding, but this title just draws you in and makes you want to read this book. Author Beth Harbison, takes a very typical fiction storyline; girl gets cheated on, is torn between two men, and ultimately finds her true love, and makes it fresh and fun.

I really loved this book because I truly connected with the characters. I really wanted to be a part of the story and interact with these fictional people. To me that is the sign of a good book. Now this is by no means an award winner, but it is a good chic-lit book for those that just want to enjoy a good story. I actually read this book in a day!

The story starts 10 years earlier before the wedding of Quinn Barton and Burke Morrison, her high school love. The problems start when Burke’s brother and Best Man, Frank Morrison, decides to tell Quinn that Burke has not been faithful to her…ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Quinn then decides to call off the wedding and run off to Vegas with FRANK. Can you see where we are going here? Fast forward 10 years and Quinn is alone and living in her hometown running her bridal shop, Talk of the Gown. When both brothers return to town for their Mother’s wedding, Quinn must make a choice…Burke, Frank, or neither. Thankfully, Quinn has her BF Glen to help her through the twists and turns of the drama.

By far, Glenn is my favorite character in the book. At one point, Glenn forces Quinn to do something out of her comfort zone every day…did I mention HE chooses what she is does? Some of what he chooses was when I laughed out loud! He picks everything from speed dating to going COMMANDO for the day! So funny! Every girl needs a Glen and I WANT A Glen!!!

My favorite quote from the book is on page 206 and goes like this…”Interesting how garbled and confusing the past becomes under the anesthesia of time. You try to count the years and make some sense of them, but almost immediately they blur and become one big thing. The past.”  This quote pretty much sums up the book. The book is about Quinn, Burke, and Frank dealing with the past. Their past together and apart. And lets be honest, we all have things in our past that we regret.

I highly recommend this book! It is a feel good, laugh out loud romp that thoroughly entertains! Read it and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading!

Back to School with PICTURE BOOKS!!!

It’s back to school time and I am once again playing in my library. I love this time of year…the library is perfectly set-up, the kids and staff are excited to be in school once again, and I am itchy to find new books for my kiddos.That’s my thing…getting kids to read! I work with a fabulous group of teachers and they do an amazing job in getting the kids the tools they need to grow as readers. My job is to get them to LOVE reading! I want them to find books that not only they can read, but books that spark an interest and a life-long love of reading. In theory, it sounds pretty easy, in the real world…well some days are better than others! 🙂

One of my favorite ways to get kids (K-4) to enjoy reading is by having wonderful picture books in my library. Picture books come in a variety of reading levels, interests, and they are quick to read…they are PERFECT! They can be used in so many different and unique ways. I am always on the search for good ones to share not only with the kids but with teachers as well. Here are a few picture books that I found over  summer break at our public library. I hope you find them as special as I do.

1. The Green Bath by Margaret Mahy/ illustrated by Steven Kellogg. This book is so much fun! All about a little boy and his magic bath tub! I am a huge fan of this author and illustrator! Whenever I see a new book by this pair it just makes me smile. It could be the memories of reading with my own son, but I think they are just that good!

2. This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. This is the winner of the Caldecott Medal for 2013…yeah it’s good! A fish has stolen a hat, but will he get a way with it? Simple story with simple illustrations…perfect in every way.

3. The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Yes, Lemony Snicket has ventured into picture books. This is a sweet simple story about a little boy overcoming his fear of the dark. The dark is actually a main character in the book. Very nicely done, Mr. Snicket!

4. Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira/Illustarted by Poly Bernatene. Wonderful book about a little pig who ribbits. None of the other animals can figure out why the little pig is doing this?  It turns out he just wants a friend. All about the power of friendship and what we will do to make a new friend. Great lesson for all of us.

5. How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans by David LaRochelle/illustated by Mark Fearing. Doesn’t the title just say it all? This is a must read for every picky eater!

6. Friends by Miles van Hout. Illustrations are very simple and child like and there is only one word per page. However, this is a wonderful “feelings” book for kiddos of all ages.

7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt/illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. EVERY art teacher needs this book in their collection. Duncan just wants to color but his crayons have other ideas. Each color has a request/demand for Duncan. How in the world will he make them happy once again? Very cute story on being creative and looking outside the box…the crayon box that is.

8. Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper. This by far, is my favorite! This is a touching book about a little boy and his grandfather. Max always misses his grandpa after he leaves from a visit. Grandpa reminds Max that they share the same moon and it will always follow Max home. When the sky darkens and Max loses sight of the moon he worries that the moon didn’t follow him home after all. The illustrations are beautiful and the words are simple yet inspiring. Wonderful book for all ages…even adults.

I hope you find something in this list to share with your own children, grandchildren, or your students. They are all wonderful stories that need to be shared with those we love.

Happy reading!!!

Vampires, and Zombies, and Shifters…OH MY!!!

Yes, I’ll admit it…I have a thing for Vampires. I‘m not talking Twilight vamps, however I have read the Twilight books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I’m talking dark, scary, sexy vampires. The ones that come out only at night and hide in the shadows waiting for their victims. The ones that grab onto a person’s very soul by just holding their eyes in a stare. I’m talking Bram Stoker’s Draculabeautiful, mysterious, and deadly! Now as much as I love the vampires, I also have a keen affection for all the supernatural/paranormal in literature. I find that I can escape into this world and forget about the daily stresses.  Inside these books…anything can happen!

This brings me to one of my favorite paranormal writers, Laurell K. Hamilton. I discovered her Anita Blake series right after my mother passed away.  I was in true need of an escape from real life. A time where not thinking about myself and my pain was of the essence. I had grief in my reality, so I needed an outlet of fantasy to take it all away.  If only for a few hours. Isn’t that what a good book is suppose to do? Maybe this is all a little too Freudian, so I’ll just move on.

There are 22 books in the Anita Blake series and I’m here to write about number 22…Affliction. Now, I have read them all and I have to say Hamilton lost me about 3/4 of the way through the series. The writing became well…you know how Shades of Grey was called “Mommy Porn”? I think you could call this series, “Paranormal Porn”. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little dirty dirty in my reading but only up to a point. The books were just too much…Sex that is and not much story. I missed the action and the characters I had come to know and love. FYI..it didn’t stop me from reading them. 😉

However, I am happy to report that  Laurell K. Hamilton turned it around in #22. She got back to the amazing characters she created in Guilty Pleasures, especially Anita and Jean- Claude.  I LOVE me some Jean-Claude! He is the perfect vampire character, in my opinion. He is aristocratic, HOTT, and FRENCH! He can be ruthless to those against him, but he has a love for Anita that is interminable …he is perfection! Oh and the way he talks…ooh la la!!! However, he is only one of the many men Anita has at her beck and call. There are so many throughout the series that I can’t even begin to list them.  They consist of vampires, were-animals, a serial killer, and just normal guys.  Men either love her or hate her.

Anita Blake is a kick-%$@ sort of girl who goes up against anything and everything. She faces her demons head on only thinking of the destruction of evil and the kill. This time she might just be out matched. She has faced zombies before, but these aren’t the normal zombies she has destroyed previously. These Zombies are being controlled by someone. Making it so they can hunt in daylight and making them super fast, like a vampire. This is a new trial for Anita and it will take her, the local police and all her men to fight this evil. I am leery to write more, because you know I hate to give things away. I want every reader to experience the book themselves, so I’ll stop.

Keep this in mind…this is a series I would recommend to SERIOUS paranormal readers. It is a fun and exciting ride and once you jump into Anita Blake’s world…you won’t want to jump out!

Happy Reading!

 

Zero Tolerance…Wonderful Kid’s Book!

Zero Tolerance…we hear it more and more within our schools. Today, it is that all important document that sets the standard of behavior in schools, elementary to high school. Items that we, as children would never think to take to school, are now listed for parents along with the yearly supply list. Bring it to school and you are out!  Sadly, due to so many disturbing violent events in our schools, it is a necessity and just can’t be avoided. My purpose is not to preach on school violence but to let you in on a wonderful new book on this very topic.

Claudia Mills has brought to life the issue of zero tolerance in schools in her new book, Zero Tolerance. She has taken a policy issue in a middle school setting and instead of using the “bad kid” or “bad boy” shifted the focus to a straight A, quiet, well-liked, talented, student leader that is female. Mills lets us, the reader, in on just what happens when adults look only at the rules and not the whole of the situation. It is perfectly executed in this readers opinion. I know I said this is a children’s book and I would recommend it for 5th grade and up. This book needs a reader that can really understand what the characters are facing and can read deeply enough into the text to connect with the characters…they need a little life experience to do that. I always say, “just because you can read the words, doesn’t mean that you can understand the meaning behind them.”

The book opens with seventh grader Sierra Shepard in the office talking to the principal, Mr. Besser,  about a new program to help all students keep up with their school work. Of course, she is well received by the principal and school secretary…she is the perfect student! While she is sitting in the office she sees Luke Bishop brought in for fighting. Luke is the “bad boy” that we all knew and saw at our own school. He makes Sierra uncomfortable, but not because he is in trouble all the time but because she doesn’t understand why he is always in trouble. To Sierra adults are to be respected and never second guessed.  After she leaves the office Sierra goes to lunch with her friends and this is where her trouble begins. As Sierra opens her lunch bag she realizes that she took her mother’s lunch by mistake. She dumps the entire contents of the bag on the lunch table and BOOM…a paring knife falls out!

     “Sierra stared at the paring knife as if a coiled serpent had appeared from her mother’s lunch bag, poised and   ready to spring.”        pg 11, Zero Tolerance

Immediately, Sierra must make a decision…turn in the knife or put it back in the bag and forget all about it. I can tell you that she does the right thing and turns it into the adults. Those same adults whom she has always trusted to help her. Could this be a mistake? Things do not go well for Sierra from this point on. She sees a side of “school justice” that she never realized existed. She is thrown into a whirlwind of broken rules, arguments, and a media storm. This is a huge wake-up call for Sierra! She starts to see everyone in her life in a whole new way…her parents, Mr. Besser (the principal), Ms. Lin (secretary), Luke Bishop and most of all herself. This story is about more than a school policy, but about true justice and how far we would go to get it.

I wish I could have this book  in my school library, but my kids are just too young. I will however recommend it to all the teachers and parents of older kids. But even if you don’t have kids, READ this book! It is very very good!

Happy Reading!!

Murder, Mayhem, and Grief…Two books, One Theme!

This past Spring one of my 4th grade boys asked me if I ever DIDN’T like a book. I found this to be an interesting question, because the answer is, “of course there are books I don’t like!”. But I was curious as to why he asked me that particular question. He said, “Well, you are always so excited about everything you read to us and you are always telling us what books are good, that I just figured you liked every book.” WOW! What a reminder of the influence we adults play in the lives of kiddos. I went on to have this awesome conversation with this kid about books…my likes and dislikes and his own book interest…likes and dislikes. I think we both got something out of it, but I bring this up because this is a conversation that has been on my mind recently…Do I like everything I read? Here is what I have come up with so far.

Yes, I believe I DO like everything I read, in some way. Every book has something of worth to the reader. I am a lover of stories and I love going into that world of fiction.  To me, it is extremely difficult to commit to a book and when finished not have something that you liked. Come on…you know you agree! 🙂

I think from now on, I will put books I read in the following categories:

  • Books I LOVE and will read again and again
  • Books I LOVE, but will just recommend to others to read
  • Books that I liked
  • Books that were popular, so I read it
  • Books that while I finished it I really didn’t enjoy

There you go! But enough of  the incite into my book selections and on to the books up for discussion! The first of these I’ll say,  I LOVED and will recommend it to others and the other one, I didn’t enjoy, but you might. So here we go!

First up, HeartSick by Chelsea Cain. This book was published in 2007 as the next “Silence of the Lamb”. Now I don’t know if I would compare the two, because other than having a serial killer I didn’t see much of a comparison, but that it for each reader to decide. I however enjoyed this book a lot! There were points in this book that I had to close my eyes to get the disturbing visual out of my head. Gretchen Lowell is NOT your everyday serial killer! Let’s just say, she is VERY creative in her torture.

I don’t want to say much because I do not want to spoil the book for anyone, but this is a gripping crime novel that does not disappoint! The characters are wonderful and so different from other crime novels. I have to say that while reading this story, I found the characters to be fascinating. They were all messed up and gritty…LOVE IT!!!  Oh yeah, I almost forgot…there are 2 serial killers in this book! This is a must read!

The next book is Good Grief by Lolly Winston and while it is well written, it was not a favorite of mine. This book is about Sophie Stanton, a 36 year old woman who after being married for 3 years finds herself a widow. The book, as expected,  is about her dealing with this terrible grief of losing her husband, but not only that loss, but the loss of her job, home, and basically everything from her old life.

At times, it was all a little TOO much for this reader. I didn’t like the main character of Sophie. I found her weak, wish-washy, and I had a hard time relating to the character.  She seemed to let her life fall apart in the weirdest ways…ways I didn’t understand. I also found the supporting characters to be a little over the top and really didn’t like any of them or care about what happened to them in the end. There were some touching and funny moments; Sophie going to work in her bathrobe and slippers, but overall I just didn’t connect. I know I am being a little rough on this book, but it just left me feeling empty and I don’t like that feeling. 😦

So readers, pick one and give it a try! Just be sure to share you thoughts with me!

Happy Reading!