Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer Reading 2012

So I have sadly been absent here lately.  Summer is kind of crazy that way.  I have been reading, though, and wanted to update you on my summer reading.  I enjoyed some great ones.  Here is what I read this summer. . .

1.  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua:  nonfiction, book club pick, very interesting.  I think I have some tiger mom tendancies :)
2.  The Shoe Maker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani:  fiction, book club pick, follows the lives of two Italians before WWI as they leave Italy and come to America, fall in love, and face the events of the world
3.  Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare:  fiction, she is not one of my favorite authors, but I kind of got sucked into the series Infernal Devices.  I tried to read her lastest in the Immortal Instruments series, and just had to return it.  A little too much for me, not my style
4. The Forgotten Tales by John Flanagan--short stories about different thing concerning his Ranger's Apprentice series which my family love!
5.  The Grey Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima:  fiction, book 3 in The 7 Realms series.  Not my favorite, but an entertaining series.
6.  A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson:  fiction, love story, not my favorite of her works.  I love her Morning Gift.  This was my least favorite of her adult/young adult books.
7.  The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown: fiction, adult, along the lines of his Davinci Code, good exciting read
8.  Inheritance by Christopher Paolini:  fiction, last in his series.  I have to say I was disappointed in the ending, really??? 800+ pages for that?  It was a good book and a good series, but didn't like how he ended it.
9.  A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson:  fiction, love story, a good read.
10.  Candy Bomber:  The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell:  nonfiction, juvenile, loved this!  Showed me a part of history that I knew nothing about.  It was great!  All my girls and I read it.  They have a picture book about it also that I read to my little boy.  Great, inspirational true story and history lesson.
11.  A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson:  fiction, love story, her Morning Gift is still my favorite, but this was good too.
12.  The Apothecary by Maile Meloy:  fiction, young adult, post WWII about trying to save the world from having another atomic bomb go off.
13.  When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Orsuka:  fiction, adult, about Japanese Americans and how they were made to go into camps during WWII, eye opening to a sad part of our history.
14.  The Confession by Beverly Lewis:  fiction, Christian, we had watched The Shunning on DVD and it had such a drop off ending, I had to read the 2nd and 3rd books.  About an Amish girl who leaves her community.
15.  The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis:  fiction, Christian, 3rd book in The Shunning trilogy.
16.  Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery:  nonfiction, juvineille.  I love older kids nonfiction books.  I think there are some great ones out there that teach amazing things.  Ben and I had watched the HBO movie about Temple Grandin a few months ago, and then I saw this book about her at the library.  Amazing story of a women with autism who worked hard and has succeeded in making life better for animals.  All my girls read it and then we watched the movie together.  Great learning experience for all of them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

I am and, for as long as I can remember, have been a Jane Austen fan.  I have always said that when I go back-to-school to get my masters that I am going to do my thesis on Jane Austen and her love scenes.  I want to just go to England and spend months researching, well, maybe I just want to go to England and spend months.  The time frame for this goal is non-existent.  Maybe when my husband retires, and we can go together.  I will be a 60 year-old grad student, but better late than never, right?  So I am trying to read more non-fiction, and I came across a reference to A Jane Austen Eduction  by William Deresiewicz and thought I would check it out.  I reviewed that in March on this blog and enjoyed it.  Deresiewicz referenced Claire Tomalin's book as being one of the best biographies about Austen, so after reading his book I checked out this one.  It was very good and gave me much more insight into Austen's life and times that I had ever known.  It made me realize how much I didn't know about an author that I thought I knew.  And learning more about something is generally a good thing, so if you love an author, but have never read their biography then I would highly recommend it.  You just never know what you will learn which is the great thing about reading.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our Boys by Joe Drape

Our Boys:  A perfect season on the plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape was excellent.  I am trying to read more non-fiction this year, and this is definitely one of my favorites.  Smith Center is a small town in northern Kansas that has a great football team.  Joe Drape is a writer from New York that did a story on them, and then decided they needed more than just one short story; they needed a book about them, so he moved his wife and young son to this small town of less than 2,000 from Manhattan, New York.  Quite a move.  He went to every practice, coaches meeting, game, and really got to know the team as they tired to win their 5th state championship and make the longest winning streak for a high school team in Kansas.  I was so impressed with the Coaches, players, and the town and how they loved and supported their boys.  It made me want to move to Smith Center also.  This book is about football, but that isn't the whole story.  The whole story is about a coach, school, town and community that loved their boys and wanted to make them a little better every day.  A great read!  Check it out!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda

Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda was my book club's latest pick.  It was a mystery, and that genre is usually not my favorite, but I did enjoy this one.  This starts out in France during World War I.  Jade was an American serving as an ambulance driver.  David is a pilot from England and has just proposed to her, but she has declined him.  As he flies over her to flight the Germans his plane crashes, and she rushes to his side as he is dying.  He has a last request of her.  He has just found out about a brother he never knew he had in Africa, and he feels his father's death there was not an accident.  He asks her to find his brother and resolve what happened to his father.  Haunted by David's request and her memories of war, Jade heads to Africa under the guise of being a reporter for a magazine.  She makes new friends, gets reunited with old, and encounters many dangerous animals including the human kind in her quest to honor David's last request.  A good mystery read with lots of information about Africa.  There are six in this Jade Del Cameron series thus far, and I would like to read the rest.

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz was a very interesting read.  It was one modern man's take on 6 of Jane Austen's novels and what he learned from them.  William Deresiewicz was a graduate student and reading Austen for his classes and his dissertation.  He dissects each book and tells what he learned about life from Austen.  From Emma he learns that everyday things matter--the small and simple things and people make the difference.  From Pride and Prejudice he learns about growing up.  Learning to learn is the lesson from Northanger Abbey.   Mansfield Park is about being good.  Persuasion teaches him about true friends, and Sense and Sensibility is about falling in love.  He applies these to his life at the time and not only tells Austen's story, but his own.  Being a huge Austen fan, I enjoyed this non-fiction book. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale is the second book by Hale about the imaginary Austenland.  A place in England that Austen fans can go and spend 2 weeks in Austen's time--the clothes, the manners, the etiquette, the romance.  I liked her original Austenland, but is wasn't my absolute favorite.  I liked this one much better.  The main character is Charlotte--a divorced mother of 2 who is trying to come to grips with what happened to her fairytale life.  Why did her husband leave her?  Why didn't she see it coming?  What is she now and where does she belong?  Well, she discovered that one of her goals was to read Jane Austen, and she never has.  She checks out the books and becomes hooked.  She wants to go to England--get away from it all and see where Jane Austen wrote and lived.  Her travel agent goes a step farther and recommends Pembrook Park where Charlotte can live like Emma or Elizabeth would have for 2 weeks.  There are actors set up for each women visiting, their own version of Mr. Darcy, but things do not appear as they seem (dead bodies in the attic?), and not everything turns out as it should, maybe it turns out better.  A Jane Austen type mystery that is hard to put down. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, Ranger's Apprentice #10 by John Flanagan

So I just finished the last book in the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan.  The Emperor of Nihon-Ja is book 10 in the series.  I was sad to see this series end, but Flanagan came out with another book about the series The Ranger's Apprentice:  The Lost Stories which my kids have read and tell me it is very good.  That is next on my list to read.  I have loved this series.  It was exciting, clean, interesting, with a tiny touch of romance, funny, and very entertaining.  My husband, and my 14, 11, and 9 year old girls have read the whole series also and all give glowing reports.  I can't' wait until my little boy is old enough to read them because I would really say this is a good series for boys, and I know he will love them too.