Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Red Reads Mo Willems

After we put the kids to bed tonight we could hear Red up in his room just laughing his head off and reading the Mo Willems book There is a Bird on Your Head. It was just too funny for us to sit downstairs and listen so I went upstairs with my camera in hand.
It took him a good 5 minutes to read and he did not laugh as loud as he was before I started filming but it is still cute. If you've read the book you will realize he took some liberties but I think that is bound to happen since he can't read yet and this is all coming from memory after only hearing it read to him once.
video

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tender Morsels

Title: Tender Morsels
Author: Margo Lanagan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 436
Published: 2008
Date Finished: 2 Feb 2009
My Rating: 1 Star
Challenges: Library, New Author, 100, Young Adult


After enduring many unspeakable cruelties, Liga is granted a magical safe haven to live in and raise her two daughters. They live in this alternate reality free from anyone or anything cruel or unkind. Others begin to find ways of entering this magic haven and soon the barrier between the two worlds begins to break.
I heard so much praise about this book that I was very eager to read it. Unfortunately, this book turned out to be one that I did not enjoy at all and really probably should have stopped reading.
Tender Morsels takes the story of Snow White and Rose Red and turns it into something crude and grotesque. Child molestation, and gang rape against both male and female characters are just two examples of the events that left me feeling sick after reading. Pretty much all of the male characters could think of nothing but getting into the pants or skirts of women and I had to read about it over and over and over again. I got tired of reading about all these horny guys and bears. Yes, bears.
I've read so much praise describing this book as beautiful and moving but I found nothing beautiful at all and the story just grew tedious the more I read.
A book that is loved by many but that I found disturbing and uncomfortable to read.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trouble

Title: Trouble
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Genre: Young Adult
Pages:297
Published: 2008
Date Finished: 22 Jan 2008
My Rating: 4 Stars
Challenges: Library, New Author, 100+, Young Adult


From the publisher:
Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry’s older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin’s preparatory school, and the tragedy sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the town where Henry’s family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry does the only thing he feels he can: he sets off for Mt. Katahdin, which he and Franklin had planned to climb together. One July morning, he strikes out for Maine with his best friend and the loveable stray, Black Dog, in tow. But when they encounter Chay Chouan on the road, fleeing demons of his own, Henry learns that turning a blind eye to Trouble only brings Trouble closer.

While reading Gary D. Schmidt's Trouble I kept thinking it was one of the best YA novels I've read in a long time. I attribute that mostly to the writing which was just excellent and kept me reading. There were however some elements in the story that just did not seem to work. I've decided to break this review down into likes and dislikes, starting with the dislikes.

-Predictable. I had the story figured out pretty early on. It seemed so obvious that I don't know if the author intentionally wrote it so the reader would know long before the characters or not.
-Author tried too hard to teach a lesson. At times I felt Schmidt stretched the bounds of telling a story too far in his attempts to make a point. Everyone was either good or evil depending on your perspective. Rich white people vs. poor Cambodian immigrants. I got he was trying to develop this story about racial tension but there was no middle ground and no explanation as to why they hated each other so much.
-Too many coincidences. The plethora of coincidences really stretched the boundary of believability for me at times.

While these things did bother me at times I was usually able to overlook them while I read because there was so much about the story that I was really enjoying.

-Characters. Many of the characters left a strong impression and Schmidt did an excellent job of creating them with a sense of time and place.
-Relationships. I loved the relationships between the characters. The family dynamic within Henry's family, Henry's conflicted feelings towards his brother and the relationship between Henry and his best friend Sanborn were all excellently executed.
-Emotion. This book was filled to the hilt with emotion at times. The emotions ran the gamut from disgust to sorrow to happiness and humor. It all made for really good reading.

Overall, I say this book is definitely worth reading and I am glad I picked it up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday President Lincoln

Today marks the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Birth. Born to poor, illiterate parents in Kentucky, Lincoln grew up to become our nations most written about and most mythologized president.
My family had big plans to visit many of the Lincoln historical sites in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois this year. Now that my husband has lost his job those plans are up in the air and at the moment, not likely to happen. Instead I will content myself with reading about Lincoln in a few of the hundreds of books that have been written about him.

Title: Lincoln, A Photobiography
Author: Russel Freedman
Genre: Non-Fiction, Juvenile
Pages: 150
Published:1987
Date Finished: 8 Feb 2009
My Rating: 4 Stars

Challenges:Library, 100+, New Author, Civil War, In their Shoes, Decades

Awarded the Newbery Medal in 1988 Freedman's photobiography of the 16th President of the United States chronicles Lincoln's early life in Kentucky and Indiana to his untimely death just days following the end of the Civil War.
This book did an excellent job of touching on all the aspects of Lincoln's life without getting boring or overwhelming the reader. I felt the author took a no nonsense sort of approach to Lincoln and did an excellent job at breaking through many of the myths that surround Lincoln.
I enjoyed reading about Lincoln's politics and his struggle with finding good Generals to lead the war. Lincoln had no intentions of ending slavery when he took office as President. His goal was to preserve the Union and keep slavery from spreading into new territories and states. Lincoln believed that if slavery could be contained to the south it would eventually die out on its own. Eventually Lincoln came to realize that it was absurd to fight the war without destroying the institution that had caused it and he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation.
The dozens of pictures and photographs enhance the narrative by giving a visual look at Lincoln and his life.
An excellent and quick introduction to the life of President Abraham Lincoln.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've been Spotlighted!

I am very excited, a little embarrassed and a little humbled that Natasha from Maw Books interviewed me for her new reader spotlight feature. Embarrassed because I just knew she was going to dig up that comment about boobs that I left on her blog. :-) And humbled because Natasha is a big player in the book blogging community and a lot of people read her blog.
Thanks Natasha!

If you read the interview and or notice the new baby ticker widget on the sidebar, you'll realize I am expecting a baby. We are very excited about this but I am having some horrible morning sickness. I've been able to get a lot of reading in but have not been getting reviews or other content posted here. Hopefully I'll be feeling better soon and will get caught up on reviews etc.

Monday, February 2, 2009

January 2009 Reading Review

Books read in January: 10
Yearly book count: 10
Pages read in January: 2608
Yearly page count: 2608

Juvenile Fiction:
Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

YA Fiction:
Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt

Adult Fiction:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows (re-read for book club, old review)
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes

Adult Non-Fiction:
Mountain Home by Wilma Dykeman and Jim Stokely
Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longoworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy Cordery

Ratings:
5 Stars:
2 (Chains, One Fine Day)
4 Stars:
4 (Greetings from Nowhere, Mountain Home, Trouble, Ballet Shoes)
3 Stars:
3 (Diamond Willow, Coraline, Alice)
2 Stars:
0
1 Star:
0

January Challenge Update
Trying to decided how to update challenges. For now I will just list which ones I read a book for during the month.
Numbers: 1/5
Chunkster: 1/3
Dewey's Books: 1/5
What's in a Name?: 1/6
Decades: 2/9
RYOB: 2/15
YA: 1/12
In Their Shoes: 1/5
New Author: 8/50
Library: 7/50
100+: 10/101

Not a bad start to the year. Hope I can keep up the pace as this year is shaping up to be pretty eventful for my family.