Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Book I Plan to Read on Maternity Leave
(It's supposed to be Top Ten Books I Plan to Read at the Beach, but I'm not going to the beach this summer.  I did, however, have a baby and will be reading while nursing!  These are the next ten books on my epically long to-read list.)

1. Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts by Chip Kidd

2. Lines for All Occasions: Pickups & Come-Ons: Pithy Proclamations for All About You * All About Me * Context-Specific * People-Specific * Coitus Seeking * Famous Flirtations

3. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

4. Storm Warning: Whether Global Recession, Terrorist Threats, or Devastating Natural Disasters, These Ominous Shadows Must Bring Us Back to the Gospel by Billy Graham

5. The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess- In Her Own Words by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

Image result for geography of you and me smith
6. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

7. The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien

8. For This Child I Prayed by Stormie Omartian

9. The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

Image result for baby 411 brown
10. Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year by Ari Brown

And you?  What books do you plan to read this summer (at the beach or otherwhere)?  Leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to visit!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

PopSugar Reading Challenge Update!



This week I read Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem, which is a book that was guaranteed to bring me joy.  (I'd read an excerpt last year and really liked it, so I knew that I'd like the whole book.  And it featured polar bears, which I love almost as much as panda bears.)  I also read I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza, which is an autobiography of his year as a teacher at Northeast High in Philadelphia.

Previously, I've read:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which is a YA bestseller.

Journal of Major George Washington, 1754 by George Washington, which is a book translated to English.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which is a book set in Europe.

The Fireflies Book by Brett Ortler, which is a book that's under 150 pages.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a New York Times bestseller.

Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg with Brooke Siem, which is a book I can finish in a day.

Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide to Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One by Jenna Von Oy, which is a book written by a celebrity.

Meridian by Josin L. McQuein, which is a science-fiction novel.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo with Robert Bucknam, which is a book recommended by a family member.

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, which is a graphic novel.

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner, which is a book that takes place during Summer.

What We Lost in the Dark by Jacquelyn Mitchard, which is a murder mystery.

Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh, which is a dystopian novel.

The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a book with a blue cover.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, which is a book from the library.

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a book about a culture I'm unfamiliar with.

Mama Tried by Emily Flake, which is a satirical book.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, which is a book that takes place on an island.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High by Tony Danza | Book Review

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High

So this was interesting right from the prologue!  I knew Tony Danza was a pretty successful TV star, but I hadn't seen any of his stuff.  (Still haven't, but I hope to remedy that soon.)  Well, the prologue explains that at age 60 he had a TV show cancelled, and he was thinking of what to do next and he remembered his childhood career aspiration to be a teacher.  He's famous Tony Danza, so a whole team of people help make that dream come true for him, and he's given one 10th grade English class for one year at an urban Philadelphia high school.  (A compromise:  he did have to be ok with a film crew taping the experience for a documentary.)

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had was fascinating!  I thought it was pretty accurate in capturing the attitudes of urban teens.  (I work with urban teens, and "recognized" many of the teens in Tony's class.)  It was also very eye-opening to see how things work in big inner-city school.  Northeast High is HUGE.  I think it's got a larger student body than the university I attended:  3600 students and about 200 teachers!  Every teacher is responsible for upwards of 150 students each year, and they're responsible for much more than just their subject matter.  Many students come into the building each day carrying a LOT of baggage.  They come from broken or non-existent homes, they have IEPs (special education needs), they have legal woes.  The teachers are expected to be educators and counselors.  Tony only has one class and the rest of the day free, but he takes on an unofficial "advisory" group of teens who eat their lunches in his room.  In the book names or other other distinguishing facts are changed, but he is still able to share some stories of impact about teens he works with in this group.  He also talks about the very real "adoption fantasy" that often hits adults who work with troubled youth:  the desire to fix their lives for them, even to the point of the help intruding on their own out-of-work life.

By the end of the book I was finding it a little hard to swallow all the success stories that Tony shares.  Seems like he became some kind of miracle worker.  For example, veteran teachers at Northeast tell him that end-of-year finals rarely happen because the kids can't be motivated, and many of them skip the last few weeks.  Tony not only gives an end-of-year exam, but all of his students come to class for it and all of them pass it.  I've never had a group of 26 at-risk youth come together for anything before!  

Overall though, the book is very well written and highly readable.  You'll probably find yourself cheering for Tony, and falling in love with some of the kids.  I would recommend!

*I checked out my copy of I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had from my local library at the recommendation of my aunt!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem | Book Review

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America

Such a good book!  And this time, I actually knew this beforehand.  If you read my reviews regularly, you might know that I have a tendency to read books without a single glance at the back cover, and get surprised quite often.  But this time I had already read a chapter excerpt from the book months ago and had liked it, so I had a feeling I'd like the whole book.

The author had noticed that his infant daughter's world was filled to the brim with wild animals.  They were on her clothes and her bedding and in her picture books.  They were not, however, actually, physically present in her world.  She'd never seen anything more wild than a pet dog.  So the author set out to find out what was happening with wild animals in America, and to expose his daughter to them.

Wild Ones has three parts:  Bears, Butterflies, and Birds.  The author travels to Canada to find out about polar bear conservation efforts in a place called Churchhill, then to California to find out about butterfly conservation, and finally to Florida to learn about whooping crane conservation.  He is able to take his toddler daughter on day trips to see polar bears and butterflies, but it turned out the whooping crane set-up was too tentative to plan for with a toddler.  But that ended up totally not being the main point of the book.

Jon Mooallem did a fantastic job of remaining neutral in tone as he wrote about three different groups' conservation efforts.  I learned so much and never once felt "preached to," the way you sometimes do with these save-the-animals books.  The hubby has very, very strong opinions on stuff like this (he would say he's "anti-hippie/let-nature-run-it's-course") and I felt comfortable recommending this book to him.  It's fascinating to learn what's being done; the lengths that some people are going to in order to save some iconic species, like the polar bear.  And the author doesn't just stop with describing current efforts- he also talks about past efforts, the current outlook for the species in question, and what more or less could be done.  He talks with conservationists who are working their tails off because they honestly believe that their small group can save a whole species, and he talks with conservationists who honestly acknowledge that they're barely a stop-gap in the decline of the species.

Because Mooallem isn't a scientist himself, but a "regular folk" like you and me, this book is highly readable.  I highly recommend it!  I will warn you, though:  you might be left, like me, with a strong desire to travel to Canada to see polar bears.  :)

*I own my copy of Wild Ones.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time has Passed

I Like You: Hospitality Under the InfluenceHolidays on Ice
1. Books by the Sedaris family (such as I Like You by Amy Sedaris and Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris).  I gave them consistent 4 and 5 (out of 5) star ratings, but my tastes in humor have changed quite a bit.  I think I even weeded the Sedaris books that I owned out of my collection.

America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
2. America (The Book) by Jon Stewart.  I found this hilarious back in college; now I find it misinformative.

Gaps In Stone Walls
3. Gaps in Stone Walls by John Neufeld.  I only gave this one 2 of 5 stars, but now I think it deserves more.  Very cool how the author works in a little-known fact about deafness on Martha's Vineyard, and how he writes dialogue to indicate whether a character is speaking aloud or signing.

And Then There Were None
4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  I only gave it 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads, but it's undeniably a classic.  And I read it twice!  If it was so bad, why would I reread it?

Among Friends
5. Among Friends by Caroline B. Cooney.  For whatever reason, I only gave this one 2 of 5 stars on Goodreads.  Maybe I was feeling pretentious that day?  I think I read this one three or more times throughout my teen years!  Big Caroline B. Cooney fan.

Burning Rainbow Farm
6. Burning Rainbow Farm by Dean Kuipers.  I'm seeing a trend here... my political ideologies were much different in college, and I thought this was a good rally point book.  A few years ago I weeded this one from my personal collection.

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7. Search for Paradise by Vance Ferrell.  I gave this one 4 of 5 stars as a fiction book... then found out that it's actually religious propaganda.  Can't say the propaganda was all that effective if I didn't even recognize it as that.

The Kite Runner
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  This one perplexed me- I was scanning through my "Read" shelf on Goodreads for this list and saw that I'd only given this one 1 of 5 stars and I can't for the life of me remember why.  I know it's practically a classic and makes all the recommended reading lists, so now I feel like I want to give it another try.

Into the Wild
9. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  I only gave this one 2 of 5 stars, but I loved the movie enough to buy the soundtrack!  I usually like books more than movies, so perhaps I need to give this one another try as well.

A Million Little Pieces
10. A Million Little Pieces by John Frey.  Deception!  I gave this one 4 of 5 stars when I thought it was a memoir.  Found out years later that it's mostly fiction.  Boo!

And those are just the first ten books that I came upon on my Goodreads "Read" shelf that I'd change my mind on.  There's probably more, but that'll do for now.  And you?  What books have you had a change of heart about?  I enjoy visiting others' top tens, so please leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to stop by!

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard | Book Review

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly, #2)
(I just love the covers to the books in this series!)

Last Thursday I posted a review of Strange and Ever After to Tynga's Reviews, and in the interest of thoroughness I'm now posting reviews of the first two books in the trilogy, Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  I originally read A Darkness Strange and Lovely in October 2013, gave it 5 of 5 stars, and here is what I wrote:

Paris! Now the awesome kick-ass Spirit Hunters are in Paris! This book made my day. It's a sequel, so all the main players are back: Eleanor and Joseph and Daniel and Jie. And we get some new characters, one of which is impish and (I imagine) good looking and snarky and I love that. Add nineteenth century Paris and ball gowns and a dirigible... It almost doesn't matter what the plot is anymore! However, a warning: the end is absolutely completely undeniably non existent. None! It's a trilogy, so we know there's a third book to wrap it up, but COME ON!!! Nothing?!? Complete cliff hanger!!! It's a good thing this book rocked so hard or I'd have docked it stars for leaving me hanging.

*I checked out my copy of A Darkness Strange and Lovely from my local library.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book Review

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

Yesterday I posted a review of Strange and Ever After to Tynga's Reviews, and in the interest of thoroughness I'm now posting reviews of the first two books in the trilogy, Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  I originally read Something Strange and Deadly in October 2013, gave it 4 of 5 stars, and here is what I wrote:

This book was fantastic!!! I almost never pick up books involving the undead, but I am so glad I picked up this one. I started the sequel immediately; didn't even pause to write this review right off!

Before I even started the book I was totally in love with the cover. I read the hardcover & the cover is swoon-worthy. 

The book itself: Eleanor has just come of age. Her family's wealth is gone, following the death of her father six years prior. Her older brother has mysteriously disappeared after a trip to Egypt. Her mother is trying very hard to keep up the high society facade, and to marry Eleanor off to a wealthy bachelor. While all of these things are playing in Eleanor's personal household, Philadelphia is playing host to the first World's Fair (1876) and is under a plague of corpses rising from the grave, hungry for living flesh. 

Something Strange & Deadly is full of action and intrigue. I loved loved loved how spunky Eleanor was! She will stop at nothing to find her brother & bring him back. The only reason this book didn't get five stars is that I feel there could have been a bit more background/explanation to some plot points. For instance: no one seems to think it abnormal that thousands of corpses are reanimating. Also, it was really really hard to get a feel on some of the interesting secondary characters such as Daniel, Joseph, and Jie. I'm hoping the second book in the series goes a little deeper. But overall the book is just superb & I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. 

A word to the wise: Susan Dennard pulls no punches! There's one or two really graphic undead attacks, so this book isn't for the faint at heart. And don't expect any "happily ever after." No character is "safe" from the undead. (Can't say anything more without giving the review a spoiler alert!)

*I checked out my copy of Something Strange and Deadly from my local library.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard | Book Review

Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews talking about this great trilogy wrap-up!  Click on the cover image to find out more!

(I will post reviews of the first two books in the trilogy Friday and Monday, so keep posted!)

*I received my copy of Strange and Ever After from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.  Thank you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim
I almost always read books on recommendation; these are the top ten books I picked up on a whim- mostly at the library and sometimes at a bookstore.

Shovel Ready (Spademan, #1)Near Enemy (Spademan, #2)
1. Shovel Ready and Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh.  Picked these off of the Blogging For Books website.

Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide To Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One
2. Situation Momedy by Jenna Von Oy.  Picked up this one at the library while pregnant.  I think pregnancy led to more impulse reads than anything else so far in my life.

Penguins with People Problems
3. Penguins With People Problems by Mary Laura Philpott.  Wowbrary impulse request, because my sister and I love love love penguins.

Food: A Love Story
4. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan.  Impulse pick from Blogging for Books website.  The hubby and I love Jim Gaffigan, and his book turned out to be just as good as his stand-up!

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers
5. The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch.  Impulse request from Wowbrary, because of my work in the makerspace at my library.  I loved it and ended up recommending that all my makerspace coworkers read it too!

Honey: A Selection of More than 80 Delicious Savory & Sweet Recipes
6. Honey by Hattie Ellis.  This cookbook was an impulse request from Wowbrary, because the hubby and I were trying to cut sugar from our diets, but I have a sweet tooth.  This was so much more than "just" a cookbook- I also learned so much about honey types and honey production in it!  And it had gorgeous photographs of the recipes.

Letters from Father Christmas
7. Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The hubby and I love love love Tolkien, but somehow neither of us had heard of this children's book!  Impulse library pick-up.

Patches of Godlight: Father Tim's Favorite Quotes
8. Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon.  This peripheral Mitford book had escaped my attention, and I LOVE the Mitford books!  Impulse buy at a library book sale in Blowing Rock, NC, which is Mitford.

The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
9. The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn.  Impulse Wowbrary request, and boy was it fascinating!

Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong
10. Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds.  Impulse library pick-up; I was intrigued by the title.  Turned out to be really interesting, and I went on to recommend it to many others!

And you?  What have you impulsively picked up and enjoyed lately?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

PopSugar Reading Challenge Update!


This week I read the Journal of Major George Washington, 1754, which is a book translated to English.  (Yes, I know that doesn't sound quite right.  Turns out the original (English) journal was confiscated by the French in 1754, translated to French, the original destroyed/lost, then the French one was "discovered" and translated back to English in the 20th century.  So it's a book translated to English!)  I also read The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, which is a graphic novel.

Previously, I've read:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which is a YA bestseller.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which is a book set in Europe.

The Fireflies Book by Brett Ortler, which is a book that's under 150 pages.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a New York Times bestseller.

Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg with Brooke Siem, which is a book I can finish in a day.

Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide to Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One by Jenna Von Oy, which is a book written by a celebrity.

Meridian by Josin L. McQuein, which is a science-fiction novel.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo with Robert Bucknam, which is a book recommended by a family member.

Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner, which is a book that takes place during Summer.

What We Lost in the Dark by Jacquelyn Mitchard, which is a murder mystery.

Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh, which is a dystopian novel.

The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a book with a blue cover.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, which is a book from the library.

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a book about a culture I'm unfamiliar with.

Mama Tried by Emily Flake, which is a satirical book.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, which is a book that takes place on an island.