Tuesday, August 30, 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 Would Teach if I Were a Teacher
I'm not completely naive: I know that unfortunately, most teachers don't have complete autonomy in choosing texts.  But in an ideal world where I was a teacher, these are the titles I'd require!

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
1. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick My Ass by Meg Medina.  The title alone would get students cheering and interested!  Plus it talks honestly about bullying.

The Harlem HellfightersMarch: Book One (March, #1)
2. The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and/or March by John Lewis... something like these.  Social issues/civil rights/history in graphic novel format.

WonderOut of My MindThe Running Dream
3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio and/or Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and/or The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.  These all bring up the important subject of diversity and not judging people by their exteriors.

4. #scandal by Sarah Ockler.  This one is fun to read and sparks really good discussions about online safety and responsible social media use.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
5. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.  This one would be great to read in a physics class!  With Common Core, teachers of science and math classes now need to incorporate texts into their teaching.

Little Brother
6. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  A good book to start a discussion about information privacy and abuse of technology.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
7. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Young Readers Edition).  Not only does it give a snapshot of one man's WWII experiences, but it talks about resilience in the face of horrific odds.

Velva Jean Learns to Drive (Velva Jean, #1)The Secret Life of Bees
8. Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven and/or The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  I'm from the Carolinas, and these fictional books are pretty spot-on in their representations of the South in different historic periods.

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America
9. Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem.  Maybe I'd just assign excerpts from this one (it's a little long), but it's got a really unique perspective on conservation.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
10. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller.  If I taught at a Christian school.  This is so cool, bringing much relevance to Psalm 23.

And you?  What's your "required reading" for back to school?  Leave a link and I'll certainly visit back!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Today I'm hosting Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews!  I've brought home quite the menagerie of books:  from a sweet children's book to grad school textbooks to baby food cookbooks and more!  To find out the details and to join in the fun yourself, click on the image above.  Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, August 23, 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 That Have Been on My Shelf (Unread) Since Before I Started Book Blogging Three Years Ago
All of these are books that the hubby brought into the marriage.  I'd love to be able to say that I've read every book in our house, but he contributed nearly 500 books to our combined library when we got married seven years ago.  It's going to take me a while!  (I brought about 400 with me when I moved in... and we can't seem to stop buying more.  Now we have a baby, and he (at 4 mo old) already has over thirty books...)

Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
1. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett.  I've already read the first six books in the Discworld series, and enjoyed them.  Need to get back on it!  Hubby brought nearly the whole series to the marriage.

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's NestBeyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
2. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose and Beyond Band of Brothers by Dick Winters.  Hubby loves this miniseries, and also highly recommends the books, so I need to get on these.

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)
3. The Eye of the World (and possibly the following books in the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan.  Hubby has told me numerous times of the fond memories he has of reading these as a teen.  I can tell he wants me to experience them too.

4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  I've read nearly every other Stephen King book ever published.  Seriously.  Except this one.  Let hubby read it first when we bought it, and I got distracted and never got around to it.

Look Homeward, Angel
6. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe.  Every time my mother-in-law would come to visit she'd read a little more in this.  I trust her opinion.

Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)Dawn (The Night Trilogy, #2)Day (The Night Trilogy, #3)
7. Night, Dawn, and Day by Elie Wiesel.  Hubby highly recommends these.  Can't believe I made it through high school without ever being assigned these.

Anna KareninaWar and Peace
9. Anna Karenina and/or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  Who doesn't want to say that they've read these?  And Hubby owned them!

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
10. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz.  The brother-in-law recommended this to Hubby, who bought it and read it and loved it.  My turn!

And you?  What books have you been putting off reading?  Leave a link and I'll be sure to visit!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp | Book Review

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer

The Happiest Baby on the Block was not, unfortunately, the book for me.  It wasn't terribly long or dense, so I stuck with it and finished it, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

As I just mentioned, it wasn't very dense.  That right there is quite an understatement, to be honest.  I think that the entire book could be condensed down to a brochure or pamphlet.  I got the feeling that the author may be trying to make a good living off of a franchise, as he repeatedly mentioned the companion DVD and CD throughout the book.  The more copies of the book, DVD, and CD that he sells, the better.  What's not good:  he's selling all this stuff to completely unsuspecting brand new or to-be parents, who won't know what a load of baloney it is until well after they've paid up and brought home a newborn that doesn't respond to his magic "5 S's."

The Happiest Baby on the Block is full of contradictions.  Dr. Karp repeatedly emphasizes that parents must do the 5 S's in the exact right way in the exact right order... and also repeatedly states that each baby is different and each will have their own unique 5 S's combination that will soothe them.  The subtitle of the book promises a "new way" to calm fussy babies, then the text of the book talks of evolution and how generations past already know of these methods to calm babies.  (He says he had to write the book because this current generation of parents are completely ignorant of how to raise babies, having had no practice with siblings or family before becoming pregnant themselves.)  The author promises to help your baby sleep more soundly and for longer lengths of time, then says that you must wake them to feed them every couple of hours for the first six months of life.

On top of being contradictory in facts, it's also contradictory in ideology.  Many chapters include subheadings that are direct quotes from the Bible, then go on to talk about  evolution.  Those are two things you don't see together very often.  And get this:  I didn't check every single Biblical quote, but I did find at least a couple that were crazy out of context.  For example, the first half of Deuteronomy 31:16 is quoted as a subheading for a section on sharing a bedroom with your infant.  Here's the part they quoted:  "Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers..."  And here's the rest of the verse:  "...and this people will rise up, and play the prostitute after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them."  :/

Overall, this book could have been reduced by about 200 pages and still conveyed the same amount of information.  The author could've also gained more traction with me if he wasn't contradictory and flippant.

*I checked out my copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block from my local library.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

PopSugar Reading Challenge Update!

This week I read The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, which is a self-improvement book.  (It was to teach me to improve my parenting.)

Previously, I've read:
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which is a book based on a fairy tale.

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.

#scandal by Sarah Ockler is a book recommended by someone I just met.

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.

Baby 411 by Ari Brown with Denise Fields, which is a book that's more than 600 pages.

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.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, which is a book with a protagonist who has my occupation.

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.

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza, which is an autobiography.

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.

Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem, which is a book that's guaranteed to bring me joy.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Boy Who was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris | Book Review


Just look at that title!  How could this youth library employee with a male child not love this one??  I read this immediately after pulling it off the holds shelf, and plan to read it to my boy tonight.  It's such a sweet story!  The titular boy, Melvin, wasn't actually 100% raised by librarians- instead, this book tells the story of all the support and encouragement that he received from his three local childrens librarians growing up.  They helped him classify bugs in first grade and ace his science fair in middle school and gave him a part time job in high school.  And the ending is FANTASTIC!  I won't give it away.  It's a picture book- you definitely have enough time to read it and get to the best ending ever.  The titular librarians are librarians I could certainly strive to emulate, and I also hope for my boy that he finds that kind of "second home" in our local library as he grows up.

*I checked out my copy of The Boy Who was Raised by Librarians from my local library- how apropos!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Rosetta Key by William Dietrich | Audiobook Review

The Rosetta Key (Ethan Gage, #2)

Another exciting Ethan Gage adventure!  Just a heads up: this is the second Ethan Gage saga, so there may be spoilers to Napoleon's Pyramids in this review.

I'll admit: it took me a minute to warm up to these books.  I thought that Ethan Gage was a bit pretentious and the story a little implausible in the first book, and had trouble getting past that.  BUT once you decide to just sit back and enjoy the ride, these books are such fun!  Yes, Ethan is still a bit pretentious, but I think that's at least partly due to the historicity of the books.  They're set in the late 1700s, when upper class white males did honestly think themselves better than most other people.  And when Ethan repeatedly refers to himself as a "savant," he's not being snobbish (in that moment); he's using the word in the historic, literal sense, and telling us that he's well-educated and well-read.  The Rosetta Key also continues to be pretty implausible, but it's fiction.  Go ahead and let yourself be carried along on the adventure and you won't regret it!

The Rosetta Key finds Ethan still in the Middle East, but this time in Jerusalem.  He's looking for the Book of Throth, to keep it from falling into the wrong (Napoleon's) hands.  Along the way, he also hopes to find Astiza.  If you remember, he lost her when she fell from the hot air balloon into the Nile.  I assumed her dead.... I have now learned a lesson in keeping up hope!  Especially in fiction.  ;)  Turns out she's alive and well and needs to be found.  Ethan practically singlehandedly fights off the British and the French and the king of Egypt in order to outsmart them all in following the clues and finding the Book of Throth.  (I warned you that it's slightly implausible.)  With this one, though, I let all logic fly out the window and ended up loving seeing how Ethan would tackle each new problem or puzzle that arose.  I cheered for him whenever he'd solve a clue or overcome an obstacle, and laughed at some of his naivete in some social situations.  There's a whole scene involving two women that I found particularly amusing.  :)

Then the book ends... with a heavy hint at the next Ethan Gage adventure!  I've already downloaded The Dakota Cipher to listen to next!  Got to see where that crazy Ethan Gage ends up.

I listened to The Rosetta Key, as opposed to reading a physical book, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The narrator gives Ethan a voice that seems real, and does believable, noncondescending accent for the foreign characters.  The cadence and pacing feel good:  not too fast and not too slow.  I would certainly recommend this audiobook.

*I checked out my copy of The Rosetta Key from my local library.

Tuesday, August 16, 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 for Setting
These ten books have the most awesome settings!  Worth reading just for the "view!"

At Home in Mitford (Mitford Years, #1)
1. The Mitford series books by Jan Karon.  Mitford is based heavily on Blowing Rock, NC, which is the sweetest little town in the mountains.  I love visiting actual Blowing Rock and fictional Mitford.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)
2. The Anne of Green Gables series books by L.M. Montgomery.  Prince Edward Island, a small island off the east coast of Canada.  You'll especially fall in love with all the alternative names that young Anne gives out, such as The Lake of Shining Waters.

The Secret Life of Bees
3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  Out in the country in a very small town in South Carolina.  The author does setting description so well.  You can really feel the humid summer heat when you read it.

Trans-Siberian Express
4. Trans-Siberian Express by Warren Adler.  A train!  The whole entire book is set on a train traveling across Siberia.  Might not be for everyone, but I sure love trains.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #1)
5. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series books by Alexander McCall Smith.  They're set in Gabarone, Botswana.  I didn't have any African countries on my "to visit" list before starting this series- now I kind of want to go to Botswana!

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)
6. The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray.  1920s NYC!  The characters are all young flappers, too, so you get to "see" all the cool speakeasys in these books.

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #1)Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #2)Al Capone Does My Homework (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #3)
7. The Al Capone series books by Gennifer Choldenko.  1930s Alcatraz Island!  The main character's dad works for the prison, so he and his family and all the other employees' families live on the island.

The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7)
8. The Chronicles of Narnia series books by C.S. Lewis.  I want to go to Narnia!  Talking animals and beautiful scenery.

Chocolat (Chocolat, #1)
9. Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  A small village in the countryside of France.  I love the descriptions of the little main street and the villagers themselves.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1)The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant (The V Trilogy, #2)
10. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant and The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanne Wiebe.  A small island off the coast of Maine.  Even though the books are dark and sinister, the island still sounds beautiful.  Too bad I can't visit because of, you know, the evil spirits.

And you?  What books would you recommend on the basis of setting?  Leave a comment and I'll be sure to visit you too!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant | Book Review

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed

This was a really unique and interesting nonfiction, recommended to me by my aunt!  The blurb on the book compared it to a Krakauer book, and I'd mostly agree with that.  It certainly brought the temperate rainforests of British Columbia alive for me, but John Vaillant also maintains an individual writing style.

The Golden Spruce is not only the story of a singular tree; it's also the story of the Haida people and the history of the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest, all intertwined.  The old growth trees of the Pacific Northwest are really, really old, so the book begins way, way back, when people were just starting to populate the area.  It was very interesting to read about the myths and legends traditionally associated with the golden spruce.  I would've appreciated a pronunciation guide, or phonetic spellings of all the words associated with the Haida people... Vaillant provides phonetic spellings for a few of the words, but not many, and they all include a LOT of vowels with not quite enough consonants.  For example, the name of the golden spruce is Kiidk'yaas.

There's also a lot of background on the logging industry in British Columbia.  It takes a unique person to work in that field:  all the loggers interviewed for the book said that they got into the industry because they loved being out in the woods.  Yet, their job is to cut down those woods.

Overarchingly, The Golden Spruce is the story of Grant Hadwin.  He's a logger who starts to see how logging will end eventually- in the total decimation of Canada's beautiful old-growth forests.  I kind of got the feeling from the book that he might have been a little crazy, too.  He decides to cut down the golden spruce in protest, to show how valuable a tree can be.  I say that he's a little crazy, because in order to do this he had to kayak across dangerous water in Canada in February.  I don't know that I'd even want to kayak in Canada in August- too cold!

At times the book felt slightly disjointed, but it did all come together at the end.  I found it all pretty interesting, and remained engaged the whole time.  There are black and white pictures in the middle of the book, so I had to take to the internet to find a color picture of the golden spruce.  Here it is, taken from symphontreemusic.com:

*I checked out my copy of The Golden Spruce from my local library.