Saturday, April 30, 2011

Greg Mortenson

This is a CBS News link about the author of Stones Into Schools  and Three Cups of Tea Greg Mortenson  I truly hope the story that is depicted here is false. But as I highly recommend these books to people I feel I needed to post the link so that you can make your own decisions.  I loved what this man was doing for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan I hope that he is a least doing some of what he says with all the money that people are giving him.  Education is a powerful thing and can help many people, change can only occur when people are able to have information that is useful and can make them better people.

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress by: Tina Ferraro  Nicolette was dumped two days before the prom.  She cannot bear to let go of the perfect dress though and it still hangs on her door to remind her of the prom that never was.  Her mom made a joke and hung a list on the refrigerator that was to find the top ten ways to use her dress.  In trying to forget what could have been with the perfect guy Nicolette is forced to face more important things in her life, her mom not making house payments, asking her dad (whom she does not talk to) for money, asking her best friend's brother for help.  This is a classic teen novel with teen crushes and falling for the guy you didn't think you would.  I admit you found my secret love of teen novels with this one.  It is just a classic girl falls for the guy she least expected to kind of book. And I think they are great!  It would be a fun read for anyone from upper middle school and up.  I think these books are funny and just a quick (really it only took me 2 hours to read) read.  So if you are looking for something just to lighten your reading up, this one is cute.


Blackwater by: Eve Bunting  Brodie is hoping for a normal fun summer in his town of El Camino.  He wants to travel with his friend down the Blackwater River and be adventurous 13 year olds. He is really upset when his cousin Alex has to come live with his family and he is told her can no longer go on the trip. He tries to make the best of it and teach Alex to swim, but the events that take place that morning change his whole summer and life forever. Brodie sees the girl he really likes out on the rock in the pond with another boy and he decides to play a trick on them, things get bad when Pauline and Ottis fall into the river and are killed.  Alex makes up a story to tell the police and Brodie to scared to do anything else just goes along with it. But someone knows and keeps leaving things for Brodie to find urging him to tell the truth. Will Brodie make the right decision to tell the truth or leave things the way the are? This book was one that would make anyone who read it think. I really don't know if I think that 5th graders are ready for a book like this, yes it has a good moral, tell the truth, but it has really deep life issues that maybe some 5th graders would not be ready for. I would think it would be a great read for a middle school student though who might be able to handle the sensitive issues of death and a person feeling that they are responsible for others deaths.

Journey to the RIver Sea

Journey to the River Sea by: Eva Ibbotson  Maia is an orphan who finally finds out that she has a home. She is excited to travel to the Amazon along with Miss Minton to meet her new family. Her uncle and aunt and her twin cousins. As she travels along the River Sea she imagines the possibilities of having a loving family and living in an interesting place.  She is sad and miserable when she reaches her family to find that none of these things are true.  Her aunt is strange and does not let anyone out of the house and her cousins treat her very badly.  She does make friends and is soon embarking on complicated series of events to help her two new friends to find happy lives as well. Miss Minton helps her along the way. I really liked this book.  It was pretty long for the 5th grade reading level that it is designed for. 298 pages) But if a 5th or 6h grader really liked reading it is an easy read for them.  The story line was great and the events that the character Maia has in her life make for wanting to finish the book to find out what is going to happen next.   I really liked the character of the governess Miss Minton.  She was really strict but had  a great heart and really cared for Maia. The way the book ends was something that made me happy at the end.

Monday, April 25, 2011

She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty  by: Siri Mitchell  It is the 1890s and Clara Carter is told by her Father and Aunt that she will be debuting early.  She is surprised by this development and not prepared as she was planning to attend the university instead.  She is told that she must do this so that she can save her family's name and snag the heir of a great fortune. As her debut year progresses she is very confused about things and how her closest friend is behaving, and feeling very uncertain of what she really wants in life. She meets Henry  whom she has a lot in common with, but he is the brother of the man her aunt and father want her to marry. What choice will she make in the end? I really liked this simple quick love story. :) It made me happy I did not live in a time where marriages were made in this manner and sad for all the women who had to live this way, (especially the corsets!).  If you want a quick love story this is the one for you.

Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real by: Todd Burpo  This was the story of Todd Burpo's son, Colton, who had an emergency appendectomy.  While he was in surgery he claims to his parents that he went to heaven and sat on Jesus' lap, met John the Baptist, his still born sister, and many other hard to imagine events. Colton was only 3 at the time and the events that he was able to describe were quite astonishing.  This story tells of how Colton relayed the events to his parents and their struggle to understand what happened to him.  I found this story very interesting. I am not quite sure I believe it, honestly I want to believe that this child was able to see Jesus because of the wonderful things he said about what heaven was like.  Do I think that he went to heaven really and saw the Apocalypse and every event he was able to describe I have no idea.  I think that God works through people to bring others to him and feel that if this child's story is able to do that then that is great, but like I said I am having a really hard time believing that it actually happened only because of the extreme astonishment of all the events he describes. If anyone reads it and has a comment or thought just post it.

The Last Summer (of You & Me)

The Last Summer (of You & Me) by: Ann Brashares  Alice and Riley are sisters that spend their summers at their families beach house every year. They have a mutual friend named Paul who has not returned to the beach in a few summers.  Until this summer when they are in their 20s.  Alice and Riley both have different relationships with Paul and they both find him special in different ways.  When Alice finally realizes her true feelings for Paul, something happens with Riley.  Is their sisterhood more important than Paul and Alice, can Alice handle the new Paul and not be able to share what has gone on with Riley? This was a terrific story of taking care of family, and finding yourself again when times are tough. I really enjoyed the story this book told and was waiting to see what would happen, I found myself rooting for Alice and Paul throughout the book even when I didn't think it would work out.  Side note: Ann Brashares also wrote The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THe Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter  Abbie is a normal girl who is trying to hide a big secret. Her and her family are witches. It is not easy hiding this secret whenever you sneeze you end up floating to the ceiling and when your brother gets mad his changes into a wolf. Join Abbie as she navigates school and home friendships and family.  This book was great for grades 4 and 5! I loved the funny characters and thought that the story line was fun.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen  Claire is a Waverley which in the small town she lives in is something different. She has a garden in her backyard that holds magic. If you eat the apples from her tree you are told something about your future.  She is living alone in her grandmothers house and hates it when people leave.  Sydney, Claire's sister, is back home after 10 years and Claire is afraid that she will leave again.  Sydney insists she is here to stay.  Claire is also afraid to love anyone for fear that they will leave her like many people in her life.  This is a story of healing, sisters and love.  It is a magical journey of healing as well.  I really liked the story this book told. That no matter what you can overcome the past and find a happy future.  That it is okay to love and to forgive the past of people when before you could not because you did not understand.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard by. Alan Bradley  This is another installment in the Flavia de Luce series. It follows Flavia on another of her many mysteries.  This time Flavia is trying to help a Gypsy woman find the truth in an old story that she was responsible for the missing baby years ago. Because it is a mystery I am not going to tell you any more, read it to find out!  Alan Bradley again gives us a fun story of 11 year old Flavia working her detective skills in spite of the Inspector Hewitt.  I loved hearing of more of her adventures.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Kiss in Time

A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn Talia is a princess who never gets to do anything or be alone because of the curse placed on her as an infant.  She is never to touch a spindle for fear that she will fall into a deep sleep and have to wait for her true loves kiss.  Jack is a boy that is touring Europe and is bored until he goes off on his own and finds a place with a bunch of sleeping people. He decides to kiss the beautiful princess and is amazed when she wakes up. EVEN more amazed when he realizes he is stuck with her.  Talia is confused after sleeping for 300 years and waking up in a strange new world. This story follows them on their adventures to see if they really are true loves!  I thought this book was a funny retake on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.  It was full of humor and normal everyday teenage things.  Did they really fall in love in the end? You will have to read for yourself. I plan to go on and read the rest of Alex Flinn's different fairy tales so be ready for lots of reviews of her!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.  Emily comes to Mullaby, North Carolina when her mother passes away to live with her grandfather that she did not even know that she had.  She knows there are strange things happening around her but cannot explain them.  She meets some of the people who live there that knew her mother and finds out that as a young girl her mother was not the same person that Emily knows her mother to be as an adult.  One of the first people to be kind to her is Julia, who we find out is baking in hope that someone might return to her.  This story has many interesting characters who you want good things to happen to. While Emily tries to find out just what everyone is upset with her mother for she finds that many unexplained things happen in this town.  I loved how this story kept me guessing right up to the end.  I did not want to put it down because I wanted to see just how things were going to work out for the characters in the book. I wanted things to make the characters happy and loved the little twists that were in the book.  The little magical touches that the author added were really great.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Secret Lives of Dresses

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean.  Dora is trying to figure out just what she wants out of life. She is graduating early from college and applying to grad school, while working in a coffee shop.  She has a crush on her boss but does not know if the way he flirts with her is real.  Her grandmother, who raised her, unexpectedly has stroke and Dora returns home to care for her. While there she decides to run her grandmothers vintage dress shop.  While helping a customer she is asked about if the dress has a secret life!  She has no idea that her grandmother has been selling her dresses, with some of them having a secret life for the customer to take home.  This story is about finding out who you are and about finding someone you love too, as Dora meets a friend of her grandmother (Con) that is also someone she could love. As the story unfolds you see the path you know she has to take and you just hope that she will take it.  I LOVED this book.  It was a perfect story to read to make you happy and sad (in a good way).  It had a couple twists that I was not thinking were going to happen and I think that that is what made this story so endearing, because that is how life is.  This story also makes you ask the question, "If your clothes were to tell a story, what would they say?".  I recommend this book highly to anyone!! And the author Erin McKean also has a blog about vintage clothes if you are interested.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Romeo and Juliet Code

Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone was a book about a girl who is sent to live with her aunt, uncle, and grandmother that she has never met in the United States. This book takes place during  World War II, and is an interesting story of a girl trying to figure out why her parents left her to live with people that she has never met and where they have gone off to.  She meets an interesting boy that lives in the house as well and they set off on an quest to find out what her parents are doing, they discover a code that her uncle and father are using to talk back and forth, and are able to figure out the secret about what her mom and dad are up to.  It is a surprising twist to what is going on.  In the end she finds out that she is loved and that who she thought her dad was really wasn't so.  It was a great book for 10-13 year olds.

Deep Down Popular

Deep Down Popular  by Phoebe Stone was definitely not what I thought it would be.  It was a story about a not popular girl who has a crush on the most popular boy in her school.  Well, this boy suffers an injury that makes him have to wear a brace on his leg. He slowly becomes less popular and becomes friends with Jesse Lou.  Jesse Lou was hesitant at first to befriend Conrad but in the end they develop a great friendship.  I think I was assuming this book was going to be about the normal popular teen crowd and was pleasantly surprised by the actual story.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson was a terrific read.  This book tells the story of  Major Ernest Pettigrew who finds new life when he falls in love with a Pakistani shop keeper in his village.  It tells the trials that he faces as he becomes friends with her due to the towns deep rooted prejudices against her because she is foreign. It amazed me as the story plays out to see that while we consider ourselves to accept people, there is still a deep feeling of being around ones kind.  It also shows the relationship between Major Pettigrew and his son as his son feels his dad is aging and begins to feel the need to take care of him.  I really liked how in the end Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali decide that despite what everyone else thinks they want to be together and he shows that he is willing to fight for her and their relationship.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrieta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot  is one of the most interesting books I read.   It tells the story of the woman who's cells are responsible for many of the vaccines we use today.  She has saved many lives with her cells. The only problem is that she never knew it, her family never knew it, and she never got the credit for it that she deserved.  Henrietta was an African American woman in the late 1940s that was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  She went to the doctor and they took some of her cells without her knowledge.  These cells were "magic", they reproduced in a lab, these cells were used to test vaccines and many other things, they were sold across the world to different labs, and they were used in many ways.   Henrietta did not know that her cells were being used and she did not survive her cancer.  This story fascinated me.  Knowing that people were making profits from taking cells from someone who did not have any knowledge of it. The amazing story of how her cells saved people, and also the sad and troubled life her family lived. I loved this book for what it was, a document of an amazing life of someone who saved many people without even knowing it.  I think everyone especially women should read this book.

Greg Mortenson

SO I decided to start with two of my all time favorite books.  I read these a while ago, but they are still very important to me.  Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson are fantastic.  These books tell the story of Greg Mortenson's choice to empower girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan by building schools for them to attend.  What struck me about these books is the selflessness that Mr. Mortenson shares, he starts with a failure to be able to accomplish what is is wanting to do, climb K2, and ends with changing the lives of many children.  These two books document his tremendous journey to help children with no schools, have a place to learn and thrive. The stories of where children are attending school, or not attending,  are heartbreaking when we think of all the things that we take for granted here in the United States. The stories of the trials that he faced in creating schools and making these schools happen despite them are tremendous.  I also was struck by how thankful each and every person that he helped was, they really wanted these schools and were willing to do what they had to to get them built.  Then when they were done the joy that the people had for just a building for them to use and learn in was tremendous. Mortenson's willingness to put himself into harms way at times and to be away fro his family to help these children is tremendous and the wonderful gift of learning that he gave these students in a country where most people do not want to go is fantastic.  I recommend these books to anyone who wants to see what the power of learning really is and what you can do for others if you just give of yourself.


So I decided that since I read so much I would start a blog that tells about the books I am reading. Why you ask should anyone care about what I am reading?  Answer: I don't know?  I just think that it will be fun to write reviews of the books that I have read. Maybe someone will find my blog and find a great new book to read, maybe it will help me remember the books I read better, and maybe it will just be something fun for me to do. AND if anyone want to post a great book they read let me know and then we can share the love of reading together. So here it is and here I go!!