Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Parents out there--Please make reading a top priority in your home. Reading is the foundation for success in all school subjects. Read aloud to your children, no child is too old to read to. Jim Trelease, a reading advocate, recommends reading interesting newspaper articles, etc. to teenage children while they are doing the dishes. Check out his website at www.trelease-on-reading.com Younger children who can read still enjoy being read to. Children can listen and understand books that they can not read themselves. Buy your kids books, enforce daily reading time most school's recommend, and model good reading behavior.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas to all my many followers! (okay, it's just the one! Thanks, friend)

I have been busy with back to school activities, then I have started working part-time (because as my husband so kindly pointed out, I don't get paid to read), and then there

is Christmas! I love celebrating Christ's birth, I don't like all the expectations women especially, feel. Cookies, gifts, shopping (which I hate, unless it's for books), cards, all the false cheer, etc.

Since my last post, I have read 80 books! My favorites are:

The Overachievers, the Secret Lives of Driven Kids, by Alexandra Robbins (All that stress on our children today, comes at a price)

Steig Larsson's trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's nest (A very, interesting, readable thriller)

My Teenage Were-Wolf, A Mother, A Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence, by Lauren Kessler (The Teenage years are the most important for establishing the mother-daughter relationship you will have with your adult daughter)

Made by Hand, Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder (A man after my own heart)

The Taste of Good Fruit by MaRita Teague (Christian Fiction has always inspired me! A reminder of Who we should lean on in times of trouble)

The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson (Angel Experiment, School's Out Forever, Saving the World & Other Extreme Sports, The Final Warning, Max, & Fang) (YA, fun, positive, empowering, fantasy)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (A classic everyone should read)

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (Narnia, meets Harry Potter all grown-up)

The Seven Realms, The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima (YA Fantasy doesn't get any better)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (An interesting take on mental illness and people struggling to fit in to the world)

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (The movie was good, the book is GREAT. Football, poverty, class relations and life)

Blood Oath (The President's Vampire) by Christopher Farnsworth (A vampire Assassin bound to the President. I want more books!)

Well, that's all for now. Keep reading. Your commets are welcome.

Happy New Year! and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

One Foot in the Grave, A Night Huntress Book by Jeaniene Frost

This is more vampire romance. My family thinks I'm obsessed. Maybe I am, but I'd like to state for the record that I loved vampires long before Twilight (which I, of course, read in it's entirety). I read Bram Stoker's Dracula and everything Anne Rice wrote.

This is Book 2 in the Night Huntress Series, a fact that I had a hard time figuring out. No where on the book or in the library catalog does it state which book is which, but the Night Huntress books obviously build on one another and it would be confusing to read them out of order. Book Publishers--please indicate somewhere on the books which book in the series it is so I don't have to compare publishing dates!

Okay, now about the book. Half-vampire, Cat, in order to protect everyone she loves, leaves her vampire, lover, Bones. The book covers more supernatural intrigue and the reunion of Cat and Bones. No real surprises here, interesting and fun. I have an issue with the outfits the author has Cat wearing. This is supposed to be a romance, which mostly women read. So why is Cat dressed like a slut wearing what is basically no more than a swimsuit and high heels to fight vampires with? I also thought the sex scenes were a bit much--most of the time I think less is more with sex scenes. I'm not looking to read porn, which this book seemed like at times. Yes, I will probably read the other two books in the series anyway. I like the characters and how they are trying to work out a life together.

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong
A 2011 Rebecca Caudill book

I really liked this book for young readers. I find myself thinking about it several days after I finished it, even as I read another book. It follows a family as they sail the Bahamas after the tragic death of their mother. The author only gives you just enough information and leaves you to think/wonder about the rest. The sailing and island tropics descriptions make this a great summer read. Take it along on vacation. I thought the stranded on the island part was a bit common, but the rest of the book was wonderful. I definitely recommend it. This is also a book boys might like.

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost
A spin off novel from the Night Huntress Series

This is vampire/supernatural romance. This book is based on the Heroine of the Night Huntress Series' best friend, Denise. Denise has had enough of the supernatural world and tries to avoid it after her husband is killed. She is drawn back in when her family is being killed by some supernatural being. She enlists the help of her best friend's, husband's' best friend and fellow vampire, Spade. The story line/action is interesting. This author's romance is a little on the weak side, but still good. Her supernatural writing is better. Overall, not classic fiction by any means, but a fun book.

Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan

Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan
Book 1 in The Saga of Darren Shan

This is a Vampire book for Younger Readers. I decided I wanted to read the book after seeing the movie The Vampire's Assistant. The book is the first of 12 books in the series, the Saga of Darren Shan. The Vampire's Assistant is actually the second book in the series--the movie covers more than the first book. I actually didn' t like the movie. It was campy and the effects were really stupid, plus toward the end the plot seemed muddled. I wanted to see if the books were better.

The movie follows the book fairly closely. There are some differences. I did like the book better. The author tried to make the book kind of creepy and for a young reader it probably would have been a bit creepy. I thought the freak show, Cirque Du Freak, was stupid, but I liked the main character, Darren and his interactions with his friends, parents, sister, and the vampire. I'm intrigued enough that I will probably read the next book.

I would recommend this book for grade/early middle school boys. I also think it would be a lot of fun for a parent to read aloud to a child at Halloween; parents of boys that are reluctant to read especially.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sorceress by Michael Scott

Book 3 in the Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series
Young Adult Fantasy

The more I read this series the more I like it. In this book the Dark Elders, two evil immortals, and other more ancient beings are all still after Nicholas Flamel, his wife-Perenelle, and the twins of legend-Josh and Sophie. Sophie is reluctantly taking on her powers and duty, has been trained in two of the five elemental magics, and now has all of the witch of Endor's memories. Josh's powers have finally been awakened, but by an evil God of War who gave him his war knowledge in the awakening. They hope to be trained in water magic in this book, are still running from evil. Nicholas desperately wants to get to Perenelle, who is imprisoned, by the Dark Elders.

The book really pulls you in. It has just the right amount of action. Some books have so much action after a while it is tiring to read. This book balances the action with intrigue and leaves you wanting to know more. Will the twins save the world from the evil immortals, will Josh resist the powers of evil that seem to be pulling him, will Nicholas and Perenelle die before they get the formula back, and what will happen with the swords? So much still to learn, but enough to keep you interested. My only negative comment is that there are so many gods, creatures, immortals, etc. that it is hard to keep them all straight.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Book 5 in the Vampire Academy Series
This series is marketed to young adult readers

Rose is a Dhampir born to a race of people who live their lives guarding the weaker and frail Morai. Morai are the good, born vampires that do not kill. As Rose is preparing to graduate high school with her best friend, Lissa, a Morai princess, she is determined to find a way to save her formed boyfriend, Dimitri. Dimitri is now an evil, turned, vampire, a Strigoi, and is out to kill Rose.

The book resolves very little in the overall story and doesn't quite give the type of emotional pay off I wanted. Rose's live seems to be on hold. Interesting, but not very satisfying. I hope the story doesn't get drawn out forever. The Morai, Dhampir race relationships are interesting. As are the Dhampir lives and the choices they make, especially the woman. I'll be waiting for book 6.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Currently reading

No I do not only read young adult, vampire, and romance books. I am also working my way through:

Wilderness Warrior, Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
The Jesus I Never Knew
Jane Eyre

These books just take me a while to get through. When I get tired of them I grab a quick, fun read. Wilderness Warrior is over 800 pages. Check back for review of these books.

Night Huntress Series, Halfway to the Grave

This is the first book in the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost. It is a vampire romance. I have always loved romance and vampire books (I've read all the Anne Rice books). So, of course, I loved the Twilight books. This series has less of the destiny-type romance and more action. The main character, Cat, is a tough half-human half-vampire. She was raised to hate vampires and has been out killing them since she was 16. That is until she meet Bones, a Vampire who hunts bad vampires. She finds out a lot about herself and killing vampires and along the way discovers that all Vampires aren't that bad. A good, fun read. It is romance so definitely for adults only. It's interesting enough that I want to know more about Cat and Bones' adventures so I've ordered the second book in the series, One Foot in the Grave, from the Library.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Magician by Michael Scott

Book 2 in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series

This is a "young adult" book, but it has so much depth it probably could be an adult book. I certainly loved it as much as the first book in the series, The Alchemyst. In this book Sophie's powers have been Awakened, but her twin brother, Josh's have not. Sophie has begun her training in elemental magic and Josh feels left out and jealous. Meanwhile the two, along with Nicholas Flamel and the Vampire Warrior are being pursued by other's serving Dark Masters out to harm them. A thrilling, exciting, escape into a world of immortals, magic, and Elders.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

This in another Lincoln book for 2011. The Story is about Brittany, a popular, rich, white girl and Alex a poor, Hispanic, gang member. I liked the way the author discusses the way the classes did or did not interact. It is a good message for teen to read about. The story is interesting. Brittany's home life is not as perfect as she makes it out to be and Alex has his own secrets. The two getting together and discovering their similarities despite their different backgrounds is great. I do have a problem with the fact that Brittany dates Alex knowing he is a gang member, knowing that he carries illegal guns, and possibly is involved in other illegal activities. Lots of girls and women all ready date boys and men thinking they will change. In the book Alex does change, but in real life that thinking usually leads to heartbreak. Brittany puts herself in danger dating Alex. In addition, they have sex while they are still in high school. Yes, I know that kind of thing goes on, but do we have to put it out their in front of kids so often it seems like the normal thing to do; instead of waiting until they are older. They did practice safe sex, but it still disturbed me.

In all, I think it sends the wrong message. I would not recommend kids in middle school/teens read this book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You Suck, A Love Story by Christopher Moore

This is the follow-up to his book, Bloodsucking Fiends. Vampire Jody, tired of being a vampire alone, turned her boyfriend, who decides he wants to be called Vampire Flood, into a vampire too. Vampire Flood finds a new minion, Abby Normal, a Goth 16 year old, to help with the day stuff. The vampires are still dealing with being vampires and worrying about the elder vampire, who is still out to get them. Tommy's (Vampire Flood) co-workers are still up to no good in this book as well.

The plot seems to be a little weaker in this book, but there are a lot more laughs. At one point I was laughing so hard I thought I might wake up the kids. Abby Normal's journal entries are are so funny. A very entertaining book.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

This is a goofy, funny, quirky vampire book and it is great. I'll start out by saying that I love vampire books. I like the characters fighting the evil in themselves and all the unique, supernatural, mystical stuff that goes along with it. This book is all that and FUNNY! I read it snatching chapters here and there as I could and stayed up late two nights in a row to finish it in two days. Finally a book about a women vampire and her human minion/love interest. The minion’s character and his work buddies' are great. I particularly liked the wiser than anyone homeless man, The Emperor and his troops-- two dogs. The dialog is smart and funny. I started on the 2nd book immediately.
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Book 1 in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series
A 2011 Rebecca Caudill Book

Rebecca Caudill Books are a yearly list of books voted on as the years best for Children in grades 4-6. A lot of them are also great reads for adults.

I liked this book. There was so much in this story; it is truly like the author took you to another world. I cared about the Characters and the story line. There was action, but not too much. Brother and sister twins stumble into a secret, supernatural world filled with immortal beings, magic, and alchemysts that have found the secret to immortality. The twins discover they have powerful magical potential and the ability to either save or destroy the world. A good, fun read.

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo
Book 8, the final book, in the Charlie Bone Series

I was disappointed with this book, but it doesn't surprise me. The last few books in this series weren’t very good either. It is like all the joy of writing left the author and she was just writing to finish the series. After an eight book build up, the ending to the story was uneventful. The character's interaction and work together against the evil Bloors and their school was weak in this book as well. I was left with questions that should have been answered, like what was Charlie's mom doing the entire time she was on her 2nd honeymoon? The first few books are good, but if you are like me and MUST finish all books in a series, I wouldn't waste your time on this series.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
A 2011 Abraham Lincoln Book

The 2011 Abraham Lincoln Books are a kind of best books of the year for teen readers. I've discovered that there are a lot of great children and young adult books. They are usually quick reads, which is great for a busy Mom, plus they usually end with a happy ending or at least something not depressing. There is enough to be depressed about in the world. Books are my escape--I want it to be happy! The added bonus is that you know what your children are reading and can discuss your favorites with them. It's a great bonding time.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the charectors and the situations. I liked that the main character was a strong, independent women, but I have a few reservations. The heroine stated throughout the book that she wouldn't marry, but she never stated why. It seemed weird to me. The book left the main characters' situation unresolved and I found myself looking forward to the next book in the series, however, I discovered that the heroine and hero I was interested in weren’t going to be in the next book. Instead it was about an evil character I did NOT want to learn more about.

Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead
Book 5 in the Georgina Kincaid, Succubus series.

This is definitely an adult book. It is an easy, quick read, though. I love Richelle Mead's lively, quirky characters and unique situations. The series is fantasy Romance, both genres I love. The tension between a soul-steeling, demonic temptress, who is really kind-hearted, and the human she loves, but can't ever even kiss is great. I always finish the books immediately wanting to know more.

A Promise of Hope by Amy Clipston
Book 2 in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series

This is a Christian, fiction book. I like to read Amish, religious, fiction because it takes the reader to a simple, wholesome, kinder way of living. The Christian part is a good reminder of how to live your faith on a daily basis. That said, I found this book a bit boring. It was last summer when I read book 1, A Gift of Grace, and I found I couldn't remember the characters or the situations. Plus I kept confusing this series with another Amish series I read. In this book, the main character has just lost her husband and the book spends way too much time whining over that loss. Overall--It was okay, but not great.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
A 2011 Abraham Lincoln Book

I love this book. It takes the reader to a place not to many of us know much about--a modern day Indian reservation. The book is about a boy in high school's quest to get a good education and basically survive life on the reservation. It can be sad and depressing in parts, but is told with such skill that it leaves the reader engrossed and wanting to know more. It reminded me of Angela’s Ashes in that way.

Burned by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Book 7 in the House of the Night Series

This is a series marketed to teen readers. It is a vampire book, but I find it to be more about Earth Spirituality and Goddess worship than vampires. In the series, some kids, at about high school age, start transforming into vampires. They then have to leave regular school and attend classes at the house of the night. The women at the house of the night serve the high positions with the men as their devoted protectors/followers. I like the devotion the heroes in the story have to the heroine, the strong friendships between the main characters, and the fun exchanges. The story is basically good vs. evil. This book, while good, left me feeling a bit unfulfilled. It seems to be drawing the story out a bit too long. Just get on with the thrilling conclusion!

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Book 10 in the Sookie Stackhouse Series

Sookie Stackhouse novels are adult, vampire, fantasy. They have spawned the HBO series, True Blood. I am completely obsessed with this series. I love the quirky, sparkly cover art, the characters, and mostly Sookie herself. The extraordinary situations she finds herself in are exciting and fun to read. Sookie just wants to be a regular person, get married, and have kids, but her mind reading talent/disability keeps her from that and draws her into the world of the supernatural. Sookie is strong and weak, ordinary and unusual, good and often not good and always entertaining. In this installment, vampire politics continue to be an issue along with the Fae and of course Sookie's life is endangered again. I'd like a bit more romance for Sookie, but overall VERY entertaining! When does Book 11 come out?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

I have just recently discovered this wonderful, classic cookbook. Okay, it wasn't until I saw the Movie Julie and Julia that I even thought about checking this cookbook out. I wasn't even too thrilled to see the movie, but their aren't that many choices when looking for a movie for Family Movie Night. After seeing the movie, I was inspired to try the cookbook. I checked it out of the Library first and read all the introduction parts. I was hooked! I dashed out to Target and found a hardcover for 30% off. I have so far made a Gratin and am now smelling the wonderful smells of Braised Sauerkraut with salt marinated pork roast. I can't wait to try it. I am not going to try every recipe, but their are lots I am going to try. I love to cook, but am by no means a gourmet. Plus I tend to be a bit picky, so I passed this up for years. I have discovered that this book teaches you how to cook just good food--stuff for company or Sunday dinner.

Update: The Braised Sauerkraut was very good! It took a good part of the day since it had to cook for 5 hours, but it was so worth it. It is so fun to be able to cook food as good as you get in a restaurant yourself, (and in some cases even better than restaurant food). I haven't had time to try anything else, but I hope to soon.

Half The Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity For Women Worldwide

April 18, 2010 I finished Half The Sky, Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This is one of those books when you first look at it you think it will be a boring, preachy, book trying to depress you about the world's problems. I wouldn't have picked it up except my sister gave it to me. I COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. This book is well written, combining facts with research and real women's stories. It opened my eyes to the complex problems of women forced into prostitution, of rape, maternal mortality, of women with Fistulas, and of genital cutting. The book's authors have traveled extensively and talked with the mostly rural, uneducated women and their problems. A great section in the end lists ways to get involved and web sites to look at. I definately recommend this book to anyone who has read Three Cups of Tea.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Walden by Henry David Thoreau--I finally finished this after two years on March 31, 2010. I would read for a while and then put it down for months. I'm glad I finally finished it, but there were lots of passages that were sooo boring! Things like the color of the pond, the depth of the pond, the appearance of ice bubbles in the pond and on and on and on. I did like his ideas of living simply with what you have and appreciating the nature that is around us.

Our Boys, A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape--I finished it April 6, 2010. This was a great, feel good book. Anyone who likes football and/or has children that are in sports should read this. I loved reading about life in rural Kansas. The story is about how a small rural town's high school football team managed to have the nation's longest high school winning streak. I got it for my husband who wasn't interested then started reading it myself and couldn't put it down. I talked about it so much my husband might as well of read it.