Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop, TGIF & Follow Friday

Happy Happy Friday! I am participating in three different blog "hops" this week - so welcome :)

TGIF is hosted by GReads! Her question this week is:

Standalone v. Series: What's Your Stance?

This is a difficult question for me simply because most of the books I have read are standalones. I just haven't picked up many series, however, after entering the blogging world for a little while, I realize that series books seem to be all the rage. I have ordered a few and plan on tackling them this summer. I would have to say I enjoy standalone books more, but I am not sure if that is just because I have not enjoyed enough series - YET!

Next there is the Book Blogger Hop hosted by, another great book blog to check out...her question this week is:

Summer is coming quickly...what 2011 summer release are you most looking forward to?

I am looking more forward to Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I haven't read Linger or Shiver yet, but am getting ready to just in time for Forever's release on July 12th. This looks like an amazing series and I am excited to start and finish it.

Read all about Forever here.

Friday's are also Follow Friday over at and while I am not that into paranormal young adult lit, her blog is awesome :) This week's question is:

Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on, if you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?

Oh geez...only ten? That would be a painful decision! Here is what I am packing:

1. The BFG - Roald Dahl
2. Moon Over Manifest - Clare Vanderpoole
3. Deadly - Julie Chibbaro
4. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
5. Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell
6. Classics from E.B. White - I know, technically more than one book
7. Wolves of Mercy Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater (haven't read yet)
8. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (haven't read yet)
That way, I have some already read, some classics I love, and some new ones :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Club Selections

In lieu of a "Waiting for Wednesday" post, I decided to share some of the upcoming reads that my book club, "The Litwits" are going to be reading over the next few weeks (we are a group of teachers who L-O-V-E to read young adult AND adult novels):


Summary From Goodreads:

The three Andreas sisters grew up in the cloistered household dominated by their Shakespearean professor father, a prominent, eccentric academic whose reverence for the Bard left its imprint on his daughters' names: Rosalind (As You Like It), Bianca (The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordelia (King Lear). The siblings eventually left home and escaped their ponderous monikers with nicknames, but their mother's medical maladies brings them back. Before long, their unwelcome reunion reveals that they all have problems: Rose is force-feeding a troubled relationship; Bean is entangled in a big city case of embezzlement; and unmarried Cordy is pregnant. Eleanor Brown's first fiction has justly won praise as "thought-provoking... poignant... sparkling and devourable."

Check out the Goodreads page for preview of this novel

mary from Goodreads:

In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

Click here for the Goodreads link

Summary from Goodreads:

The Adderhead--his immortality bound in a book by Meggie's father, Mo--has ordered his henchmen to plunder the villages. The peasants' only defense is a band of outlaws led by the Bluejay--Mo's fictitious double, whose identity he has reluctantly adopted. But the Book of Immortality is unraveling, and the Adderhead again fears the White Women of Death. To bring the renegade Bluejay back to repair the book, the Adderhead kidnaps all the children in the kingdom, dooming them to slavery in his silver mines unless Mo surrends. First Dustfinger, now Mo: Can anyone save this cursed story?

Click here for the Goodreads link


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be is a chance for bloggers and readers to share "teasers" from what they are currently reading in hopes to connect others with novels.

The rules are simple:

1-Grab whatever you are currently reading
2-Open to a random page
3-Choose two sentences/passages/teasers and post them
4-Remember not to give any "spoilers!"
5-Give the author/book information so that others can check it out

I am currently reading One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin. This book is very different from other novels I have been reading lately, but I have a feeling that this story is going to have a very interesting and endearing ending to it.

Here are my teasers:

"She felt the way she always felt when her mother went on a trip by plane: slowed way down, like a turtle or a snail. But then another question occurred to her: Do turtles and snails ever feel perky, in their own way?"

"Not once did long-ago Bunny complain about her odd name in that journal. She had too many other things to think about, such as setting broken bones, delivering babies, smoking peace pipes with Native Americans, and cooking for her six children."

YES!! Both of these passages came from the same page :) Happy reading!

The Long Song by Andrea Levy - MUST READ!

I stumbled across this book and wanted to is definitely in my TBR pile, and I imagine all of the historical fiction junkies like me will agree that is sounds amazing.

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Small Island introduced Andrea Levy to America and was acclaimed as “a triumph” (San Francisco Chronicle). It won both the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and has sold over a million copies worldwide. With The Long Song, Levy once again reinvents the historical novel.

Told in the irresistibly willful and intimate voice of Miss July, with some editorial assistance from her son, Thomas, The Long Song is at once defiant, funny, and shocking. The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.”

Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love.

Goodreads Link

Here is an alternate cover, but I like the other one better!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and is a chance for bloggers to see what others are reading, add more to our "To Be Read Piles," and brag about what we were able to get during the week. I like to also add in what I am reading and what I plan to start soon as well :)

I was so excited on Friday when the UPS truck showed up with this ARC from Simon & Schuster:

If you saw my post over the weekend I explained how bummed I was because this is the third book in The Skinjacker Trilogy and I haven't read the first two - darn, now I have to buy more books :)

My kids got tons of books this week, as we visited the aquarium and it was Easter, but I didn't order anything (much to my husband's amusement!)

I was also able to snag a free Nookbook:

I am currently reading One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin :

Story: When a mysterious man arrives one day on Orange Street, the children who live on the block try to find out who he is and why he’s there. Little do they know that his story—and the story of a very old orange tree—connects to each of their personal worries in ways they never could have imagined. From impressing friends to dealing with an expanding family to understanding a younger sibling’s illness, the characters’ storylines come together around that orange tree.

Taking place over the course of a day and a half, Joanne Rocklin’s masterful novel deftly builds a story about family, childhood anxieties, and the importance of connection. In the end the fate of the tree (and the kids who care for it) reminds us of the magic of the everyday and of the rich history all around us.

Story behind the story: A note from author Joanne Rocklin:
"I wanted to write about the magic of the ordinary. So I began with an old orange tree, like the one in my L.A. backyard.
I wanted to write about kids with secrets. I myself was once a kid with secrets.

I wanted to write about pets, birds, insects, rodents. About forgetting, and remembering again.

I wanted to write about the history of a place, how a street is like a book of stories, all different, yet bound together.

Surprise! One amazing morning, these stories became intertwined. A surprise to me, too, which is what makes writing itself so magical."

Happy Reading!

Easter = More Books for My Boys!

Happy Easter Everyone!

Just to keep it "bookish," below are some of the books my boys received in their Easter baskets :)

Yep, even Easter will have to do with books in my house!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On My Wishlist...

"On My Wishlist" is a weekly meme hosted by the Book Chick City blog. It's a chance to list all the books that you desperately want to read, but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new, or forthcoming.

Here is what I am dying to read and don't yet have:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Book Summary (from Goodreads):

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire gene
ticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Book Summary (from Goodreads):

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Book Summary (from Goodreads):

When Louise Lambert receives a mysterious invitation to a traveling vintage fashion sale in the mail, her normal life in suburban Connecticut is magically transformed into a time traveling adventure.

After a brief encounter with two witchy salesladies and donning an evening gown that once belonged to a beautiful silent film star, Louise suddenly finds herself onboard a luxurious cruise ship in 1912. As Alice Baxter, the silent film star, Louise enjoys her access to an extensive closet of gorgeous vintage gowns and begins to get a feel for the challenges and the glamour of life during this decadent era. Until she realizes that she's not just on any ship-- she's on the Titanic!

Will Louise be able to save herself and change the course of history, or are she and her film star alter ego, destined to go down with a sinking ship in the most infamous sea disaster of the 20th century.

Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson Review

I picked up this novel really because after reading a few THICK books, I needed something light, short, and quick to read. I was able to finish it in one afternoon so that was refreshing! Plus, after looking at my Goodreads challenge and seeing how behind I am, I needed something that would push my number up, and quick! Plus, it is a read that qualifies for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge as well.

Book Summary:

In Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson, Rebecca is a young girl living in Canada with her father and stepmother. She isn't like other girls her age, who are interested in boys and celebrities - she is interested in dogs and sled racing. She spends her days in school, daydreaming about how she is going to get her dad to let her race and her nights training puppies, doing dog-related chores, and dreaming of making it big as a real musher.

Rebecca goes through a few trials and tribulations with her dogs, everything from a neighbor who lets them lose to wild animals that threaten them along the trails. She even has a somewhat close encounter with a pack of wolves while camping overnight. Throughout all of these, she still rises to the occasion and strives to prove to her father and stepmother that she is ready to run the real race.

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book - I recently read a similar book, Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O'Dell and I feel as if I kept comparing the two as I read. Dogsled Dreams was a good read, and it did capture what I believe would be the true feelings and emotions of a young girl who was dying to dogsled race, but I just never could really connect to Rebecca. Her emotions didn't feel deep enough, her disappointments weren't my disappointments, and her anger at the break-up of her parents just wasn't genuine feeling. There were a few scenes where she was angry at her stepmother, Heather, for moving in and "messing everything up" but being that her stepmother played a very small role in the novel, it never felt "real." Her relationship with her father and best friend, Jackie, were a little more true. I could have dealt without the stepmother storyline.

The best part of the novel was probably the dogs themselves, but that also had its pitfalls - when you got to know one of the dogs, such as Apollo, something would happen that would take them out of the main storyline so it was hard to invest much emotion there either. I am an animal sympathizer, so that is probably why they were a highlight in the novel.

I was disappointed in the lack of detail regarding the setting. Set in Canada, in the wilderness, the opportunity was there to really reveal what it is like to live there to the reader, but that really didn't happen - the most I got was some minimal descriptions of the trails.

Overall, for a debuting author, this book is "okay" but I am disappointed - I really had big hopes for this quick read, but it just fell short of my expectations. I would be interested in reading something else from this debuting author to see if her writing style evolves.
Terry Lynn Johnson's Website
Goodreads Link
Dogsled Dreams Facebook Page
Author's Blog

Friday, April 22, 2011

ARC - EVERFOUND by Neal Shusterman

I received this advanced readers' copy today from Simon & Schuster and am totally stoked about it...there is only one problem, I haven't read the first two yet! Bummer, now I have to order more books...:-)

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro - Book Review

Book Summary:

Deadly is the tale of a Prudence, young girl living in New York in the early 1900s. While she sits in Ms. Browning's school learning the ins and outs to becoming a lady, she daydreams about doing something more with her life than getting married and having babies. As she practices as a midwife with her mother, she learns that there is much more to being a human than meets the eye. It is these experiences that plant a seed in her to learn more about the sciences.

Prudence lands a job as an assistant to one of the chiefs at the Department of Health and Sanitation and spends all of her time involved in the case of "Typhoid Mary." It is through this case that she realizes her strengths and weaknesses, and learns about what roles men and women are expected to play during this time period. She begins realizing what a career in medicine and science would mean for her and how she should navigate to that goal.

Another storyline involves the whereabouts of her father, who went to fight in the Spanish-American War but never returned. She and her mother spend their days waiting for him to come back home, and without spoiling the ending to this story, they do learn his whereabouts.

Through all of the ups and downs, Prudence makes a pledge to herself that says:

"As I write it out now, I extend my promise: For Papa, for Benny, for all the girls and babies who've died in childbirth, I'll research the body - how it works, what sickens us, how to prevent those deaths that come to early. I'll find answers to the questions that have haunted me for years."

My Thoughts:

Deadly shows the evolution of Prudence into a young woman as she follows her dreams. I truly loved it for many reasons. First, I love historical fiction and this is set in a very interesting time in the United States - the early 1900s when women struggled in many ways. Second, I am getting more and more interested in books that deal with science and medicine as it evolved throughout history. This novel reminded me very much of Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman, which I also adored.

Deadly also focuses on science pretty heavily. Throughout the book there are awesome illustrations that accompany what is being described, as if Prudence herself was drawing these in her tablets. The illustrations definitely add a lot to the novel.

Another aspect of this novel that I loved was the setting - New York in the early 1900s. If there is ever a setting that could have supported the scientific questions of the day this was it. In the beginning, there is a description of a dog stopping to use the bathroom on the street and Prudence sees what is left behind and she describes the worms that are remaining. New York during this time was unclean, and that really does support the premise of the novel.

Interestingly enough, in the author's note in the back it states that the author had heard of the urban legend "Typhoid Mary" many times and when she stumbled upon the real Typhoid Mary in her research, she realized that the real story of this poor Irish immigrant needed to be told. While she is not the main character in the book, Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary) certainly does play a central role.

I highly recommend this one - a great, quick, and interesting read.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the novel:

"The pursuit of knowledge is happiness, my friend. We women must allow ourselves that." (Anushka p. 164)

"My family is one of pioneers. My grandfather left his home with his baby and his wife and came to America. What did it take for him to do that? He left his own parents, and his aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, a language he knew and a farm he loved. My father left a wife and young child to go to another country and fight a war. I don't see how my family members tore themselves from the lives and people they loved, in order to press themselves into a new world. Why does a person have to leave so much behind when they make one decision over another?" (Prudence p. 204)

"Then I saw why she cried - she had sacrificed for her children, she had lost one of us, I was all she had left. And I had done something to make her proud. I felt a great warmth in my chest, an honor. She honored me with her pride." (Prudence p. 220)

"I sometimes felt as if I am an outline of myself, and each thing I learn from him is like a colored piece of yarn that gets knitted inside that outline, filling me, making me more defined." (Prudence p. 226)

"We walked across town in silence, our human failings a sort of truce between us." (Prudence p. 272)

Happy Reading :)

TGIF, Follow Friday, and Book Blogger Hop - 4/22

Happy Happy Friday! I am participating in three different blog "hops" this week - so welcome :)

TGIF is hosted by GReads! Her question this week is:

How do you feel about explicit content and language in young adult books?

To be honest, I just don't see a place for it - it doesn't add anything to a book (in my opinion) and exposes our kids to things that they just don't need to be exposed to. I understand that this is day-to-day reality for many kids, but literature should not be one more place where they get it. I also happen to believe that there isn't a place for explicitness in adult literature either - some of the best stories and movies out there are as clean as can be, and I don't feel like a novel is made better just because it is racy. All just my opinion, but I will skip obscene part in movies and books - just not my style!

Next there is the Book Blogger Hop hosted
by, another great book blog to check out...her question this week is:

If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?

I absolutely do this...I read one Emily Giffin book last summer and went out and bought all that I could find - and I loved all of them! I also love Lois Lowry, so her books are always winners for me. Laurie Halse Anderson is another favorite with her Revolutionary War trilogy. I love finding an author I really like - and it is interesting to read a bunch by an author and see how different and alike each book is.

Friday's are also Follow Friday over at and while I am not that into paranormal young adult lit, her blog is awesome :)

This week's question is not book related:

What is currently on your playlist?

This question is very telling about the place in my life right now...on my playlist (and in my CD player in my car) are the following:
  • Kid's All-Sing Along
  • Duck, Duck, Goose - Book on Tape
  • Green Eggs and Ham - Book on Tape
  • George Strait (for those rare moments when the kids are NOT in the car)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - Eve by Anna Carey

I usually don't go for books set in the future, but this one did catch my attention. I was drawn to the cover first, but then the summary sounded like a great read. I did preorder it, and it should be out in October.

Book Summary (from Goodreads):

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Spring Break Style...

One of the perks of being a teacher is having time off throughout the year...and yes, I feel as most teachers do - we desperately need this time off in able to recuperate enough to go back into the classroom and face 100 middle-school students! We love what we do, but a break every once in a while is nice.

This spring break has been very low-key...we do have a big day trip planned, but it has been nice to do small trips - farmer's market, library, and just hanging around the house outside enjoying the spring weather. Here are some of the highlights...

We have watched one movie, we got the Cars on blue-ray so that was fun. Boy #2 lasted about 5 minutes.

Boy #2 loves picking dandelions and eating them...

Boy #1 picked a flower for mommy...

Boy #2 is very helpful in the garden...he loves to scoop dirt and eat his shovel.

Blowing bubbles is always good for killing some time...

This is Boy #2 when I told him it was time to come in..

He quickly recovered after a good lunch :)

Day #2 when I told him it would be a bit before we went out...notice the shoes in hand.

Boy #1 finding creative ways to read the Nook. We did get some new Easter books...

We made root-beer floats - this is the first time he has tasted soda, although he was much more into the ice cream as you can see.

And it wouldn't be a house with two boys if there wasn't some wrestling.

Align CenterAnd it's only Wednesday! Spring Break Part Deux coming soon...