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. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stone Tables by Orson Scott Card

Stone Tables by Orson Scott Card is the Biblical story of Moses--a historical, Biblical fiction.  I really enjoyed it.  I loved Card's Women of Genesis, so I was looking forward to reading this.  Stone Tables was originally a play that was written by Card and produced and performed while he was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He never got to see it.  He expanded and changed the play to write the novel.  I understand there is a soundtrack for the play available.  I really like Card's writing and his interpretation of events.  The relationship between Moses, Aaron, and Miriam is very interesting, complex, and true to life.  Love the relationship of Moses and his wife.  I had always wondered why in Egypt the Pharaoh would accept his daughter just taking a baby out of the water for a son.  Card's take on it is interesting and thought provoking.  I will enjoy reading the account of Moses in the Bible much more now with the pictures and stories in my mind from this book.  Again, it is not scripture, but fiction and is meant to be read and enjoyed as such.

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

This is a non-fiction story of a modern slave and an international art dealer and how their lives come together and how they become friends.  It was very eye opening.  Slavery should have ended with Lincoln ages ago, but it still exists in the deep Louisiana south for Denver until he decides he has had enough and hops a train to Dallas in the 1960's.  Ron Hall had a very simple upbringing, but his luck changed with the chance selling of a piece of art, and his fortunes turned.  The men come from different worlds, but a mission for homeless people and Ron's amazing wife Debbie bring them together.  With each chapter written by one or the other, Ron and Denver tell their story of life, hardship, faith, love, death, and moving on.  I really enjoyed this one.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My 2011 Reading List

Every year it has been my goal to read at least as many books as there will be candles on my birthday cake that year.  Some years I barely make it, and others I go way, way beyond.  This year I went way, way, way beyond  (just saying I am not anywhere near 46 yet :)

I think I can safely recommend all the books that I read this year except Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  It was a book club pick and not a favorite.  A little too teen romance and Twilight ripoff for me.  I also really didn't like Bellwether by Connie Willis.  It was science fiction and just too weird and a little slow for me.  I am not a big fan of that genre.

I think my favorites this year were
The Lemon Tree  by Sandy Tholan
* Unbroken  by Laura Hillenbrand
Dragonfly by Julia Golding
* The Sweetness at the bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
* The Youngest Templar series by Michael Spradlin
* The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan**if you read these, read book #7 after book #4, then go on with 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10.  He wrote that one out of order. 
If you haven't read any of these, I would highly, highly recommend them.  Most of the books I read I have reviewed on this site, so check the sidebar menu if you want to see a specific review.  These books are not in any specific order, just in the order I read them. 

1.  Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
2.  For One More Day  by Mitch Albom
3.  Dragonfly by Julia Golding
4.  The Exiled Queen by Cinda Willimas Chima
5.  The Crossing by Jim Murphy
6.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
7.  Heist Society by Ally Carter
8.  Matched by Allie Condie
9.  The Youngest Templar #1:  The Keeper of the Grail by Michael Spradlin
10.  The Youngest Templar #2:  Trail of Fate by Michael Spradlin 
11.  The Youngest Templar #3:  Orphan of Destiny by Michael Spradlin
12.  Bellwether by Connie Willis *science fiction, not a favorite
13.  Blackveil by Kristen Britain * Green Rider Series #4
14.  The Pioneer Woman:  Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond *I laughed so hard! 
15.  The Ranger's Apprentice #1:  The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
16.  Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare * Infernal Devices Series #1
17.  I'd tell you I love you, but then I 'd have to Kill you  by Ally Carter *Galliger Girls series #1
18.  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
19.  The False Princess by Eilas O'Neal
20.  The Songcatcher by Sharyn McCrumb
21.  Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
22.  The City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare * Immortal Instruments series #4
23.  The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti
24.  Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
25.  Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown
26.  The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
27.  Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfers
28.  Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
29.  My Name is Phillis Wheatley by Afua Cooper
30.  The Ranger's Apprentice #2:  The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan
31.  Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
32.  The Lemon Tree by Sandy Toland
33.  The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
34.  The Ranger's Apprentice #3:  The Icebound Land by John Flanagan
35.  The Ranger's Apprentice #4:  The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan
36.  The Ranger's Apprentice #7:  Erak's Ransom by John Flanagan
37.  The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
38.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
39.  The Ranger's Apprentice #5:  The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan
40.  Sarah:  Women of Genesis by Orson Scott Card
41.  The Ranger's Apprentice #6:  The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan
42.  Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
43.  The Ranger's Apprentice #8:  The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan
44.  Rebekah:  Women of Genesis by Orson Scott Card
45.  Crossed by Allie Condie
46.  Rachel and Leah:  Women of Genesis by Orson Scott Card

I am looking for good reads for 2012, any suggestions?