Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15 | Currently Reading

This past week was kind of a blur. I got hit with a vicious cold and my one year old came down with strep throat. (The joys of daycare!) Somehow I managed to publish two reviews. Maybe I need to find myself in a fever state more often!

In case you missed them, I posted my reviews of Wool by Hugh Howey and Earthly Things by Julian Vaughn.

The only book I finished last week was Nick Cutter's The Deep, but it was a good one. If you love horror, this book has some horrible stuff in it. I may actually have to read it again before writing my review.

The Deep by Nick Cutter

It took me quite a while of perusing my bookshelves, my kindle, and goodreads before deciding on the perfect change of pace. I'm now reading Agatha Christie's first Miss Marple book Murder at the Vicarage.

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

I have no idea what I'm planning to read next.

Is it getting cold where you are? We are actually having a little bit of a cool spell here. It's kind of nice! I'm not ready for winter, but I really do love the fall.

What are you reading this week? Be sure to let me know in the comments or leave me a link!

This post is being shared as part of Book Journey's It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Storybook Sunday | School Library Selections

This past week my kiddos made their first visit of the school year to the school library. You can probably tell a lot about my children as readers based on their selections.

My Kindergartener loves to read. His selection was Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

We are big fans of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at our house. We've never read this follow up so it was a perfect choice!

What will you hear when you read this book to a preschool child?

Lots of noise!

Children will chant the rhythmic words. They'll make the sounds the animals make. And they'll pretend to be the zoo animals featured in the book-- look at the last page!

Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle are two of the most respected names in children's education and children's illustrations. This collaboration, their first since the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (published more than thirty years ago and still a best-seller) shows two masters at their best.

A Redbook Children's Picture Book Award winner

The rollicking companion to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I've got to say - I didn't like Polar Bear, Polar Bear much at all. I loved the excitement and glee my son had as he started reading it to me: "Polar bear, polar bear, what do you hear? I hear a lion roaring in my ear." I think those might be the only pages he could fully read, though. The animals and their sounds were kind of weird. I'm not sure what a fluting flamingo or a yelping peacock really sound like. The hippopotamus was exciting. Both the word and the picture, but since the format of these books require you to read the animal name and the sound it makes before seeing the picture of the animal, there is no visual clue to help early readers.  We weren't near as excited by the end of the book. The illustrations were as wonderful as Brown Bear, but the words - not so much.

My oldest son (7), on the other hand, is not a fan of reading. He loves to be read to, but he doesn't like to read. This week he continued a trend he started at the end of the last school year and brought home a joke book: Laughs for a Living: Jokes about Doctors, Teachers, Firefighters, and Other People Who Work.

He's having a good time reading the riddles and the jokes out loud to us, but honestly, the jokes are way over his head. Adult workplace humor is a terrible idea for a kid's joke book, but it's colorful and illustrated, and at least I make a good audience.

We continued on our Magic Tree House journey this week by reading Vacation Under the Volcano. We are also in the middle of reading Day of the Dragon King. These two MTH books are better than the ones we read last week thank goodness. I was getting worried.

I was hoping I could start reading the Goosebumps books to my kids soon so I read the first one Welcome to Dead House just to see how scary it was.

Amanda and Josh Benson move into a new house in Dark Falls, where the residents are all zombies who have died while living in the same house and are preparing to make the Benson family one of them, as they need blood to survive.

This was a really great book, and I absolutely will not be reading it to my kids anytime soon. They would never sleep in their own beds again. Welcome to the Dead House was seriously a beginning horror book. Great job, R.L. Stine, for sure, but I value our sleep. I hope someday - several years from now - I will be able to read these with them. I was too old for these books when they were released so they will be new to me, as well.

Other children's books we read this past week:

100 Book Club Total: 20/100

Did you read any children's books this week? I'd love to hear what you are reading. Let me know in the comments or leave me a link.

This post is being shared as part of Teach Mentor Text's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review | Earthly Things by Julian Vaughn

Earthly Things is a supernatural mystery from Julian Vaughn.

Book Description

Sensitive fourteen-year-old Dexter Bestwick is at the park with his girlfriend Jamie when his father murders him for stealing something from his locked room. Still around after his death to witness the ensuing damages, he aches to protect his first, young love from being a victim. Yet he’s afraid the eternal light will grow brighter and claim him, and that Jamie will soon suffer the same fate...

Earthly Things is a touching and fast-paced supernatural mystery that will appeal to fans of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Julian Vaughn is a pseudonym of author Lee Thompson. I'm a huge Lee Thompson fan, and although he is becoming a master of many genres, his young adult/coming of age stories are where I find him at his best. Books like Before Leonora Wakes, Within This Garden Weeping, and now Earthly Things are among my favorites.

Earthly Things begins with the (almost) coming of age story of Dexter. We find out early on that Dexter is going to die young. The first half of Earthly Things gives us a glimpse into the often heartbreaking and at times endearing life of Dexter.

Dexter does meet an untimely death (this is not really a spoiler, guys), but the first person narrative continues on in the same vein as The Lovely Bones. I loved this point of view. This is not the first time Thompson has tackled a complicated point of view. It is apparently one of his many talents.

Earthly Things is a brutal book at times. It's heartwrenching, but it's also a great mystery and just a really great read. Even though I couldn't relate to the characters because their reality was so far from my own, I still felt connected to them and emotionally invested in them which I attribute to some really great writing.

9/10: Highly Recommended

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On My Wishlist {2}

My wishlist is growing exponentially by the week! I'm not just adding new books; I'm constantly finding older books that somehow escaped my attention. I've decided to start posting the books that make it onto my wishlist each week.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

When Annihilation was first released, I decided it wasn't for me. I've continued to watch the reviews, however, as each book of the trilogy has been released. Now that all three books are out, I'm reconsidering my first judgement. The Southern Reach Trilogy sounds like something I really need to be reading.

Great North Road by Peter F.  Hamilton

In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, AD 2142, Detective Sidney Hurst attends a brutal murder scene. The victim is one of the wealthy North family clones – but none have been reported missing. And the crime's most disturbing aspect is how the victim was killed. Twenty years ago, a North clone billionaire and his household were horrifically murdered in exactly the same manner, on the tropical planet of St Libra. But if the murderer is still at large, was Angela Tramelo wrongly convicted? Tough and confident, she never waivered under interrogation – claiming she alone survived an alien attack. But there is no animal life on St Libra.Investigating this alien threat becomes the Human Defence Agency's top priority. The bio-fuel flowing from St Libra is the lifeblood of Earth's economy and must be secured. So a vast expedition is mounted via the Newcastle gateway, and teams of engineers, support personnel and xenobiologists are dispatched to the planet. Along with their technical advisor, grudgingly released from prison, Angela Tramelo.But the expedition is cut off, deep within St Libra's rainforests. Then the murders begin. Someone or something is picking off the team one by one. Angela insists it's the alien, but her new colleagues aren't so sure. Maybe she did see an alien, or maybe she has other reasons for being on St Libra...

My Goodreads friend Steven Stennett recommended this book to me. This is not something I would normally pick up (mostly due to the cover), but the reviews are pretty outstanding. The cover doesn't scream science fiction to me. It screams military/war fiction, but I suppose the military are taking down the aliens.

City of Stairs by Bennett, Robert Jackson

A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city's proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country's most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.

I've been kind of glossing over this book for one reason or another, but a couple of reviews this week put City of Stairs smack on my radar.

Rebel Nation (Viral Nation, #2) by Shaunta Grimes

Sixteen years ago, a plague wiped out nearly all of humanity. The Company’s vaccine stopped the virus’s spread, but society was irrevocably changed. Those remaining live behind impenetrable city walls, taking daily doses of virus suppressant and relying on The Company for continued protection. They don’t realize that everything they’ve been told is a lie…

Clover Donovan didn’t set out to start a revolution—quiet, autistic, and brilliant, she’s always followed the rules. But that was before they forced her into service for the Time Mariners. Before they condemned her brother to death, compelling him to flee the city to survive. Before she discovered terrifying secrets about The Company.

Clover and the Freaks, her ragtag resistance group, are doing their best to spread the rebellion and stay under The Company’s radar. But when their hideout is discovered, they are forced, once again, to run. Only this time, The Company has special plans for Clover, plans that could risk her life and stop the uprising in its tracks…

How the hell I missed the release of this one is beyond me! If you are a long time follower, you may remember how excited I was about the first one. (My review as well.) This book world can be an odd place sometimes.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird

Secret lives, scandalous turns, and some very funny surprises — these essays by leading kids’ lit bloggers take us behind the scenes of many much-loved children’s books.

Did Laura Ingalls cross paths with a band of mass murderers? Why was a Garth Williams bunny tale dubbed "integrationist propaganda"? For adults who are curious about children’s books and their creators, here are the little-known stories behind the stories. A treasure trove of information for a student, librarian, new parent, or anyone wondering about the post–Harry Potter book biz, Wild Things! draws on the combined knowledge and research of three respected and popular librarian-bloggers. Told in affectionate and lively prose, with numerous never-before-collected anecdotes, this book chronicles some of the feuds and fights, errors and secret messages found in children’s books and brings contemporary illumination to the warm-and-fuzzy bunny world we think we know.

This is a book I would love to read. It was written by three children's book bloggers. I would love to hear their insights on some of our favorite stories.

Shift (Silo, #2) by Hugh Howey

This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling WOOL series. It combines the three Shift books into a single e-book in order to save the reader a few bucks. The saga concludes with DUST, which will be available in late 2013.

In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platform that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.

In the same year, the CBS network re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event.

At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.

After reading and loving Wool {review}, it's a no-brainer to put the followup on to my wishlist.

Are you pining for any of these books (or have you read them already)? I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or recommendations. Which book would you be most likely to read?

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