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Showing posts from November, 2011

Book Review: 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form by Dom Sagolla

Dom Sagolla was one of the very first users of Twitter ~ Twitter User #9. In 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form, Sagolla shares some tips on how to work within the short message format common to Twitter and other social media. He also offers a brief glimpse into the creation and development of Twitter, which I found to be quite interesting.

I picked this book up on a whim at the library one day. I figured that perhaps it would offer some innovative ways I could use Twitter to promote my blogs, since that is really the only reason I am on Twitter. But I have to say I was pretty disappointed with the book. It says on the back that the book is "for marketers and business owners" but honestly the examples and ideas Sagolla presents sound more like ways the everyday person can make themselves appear more interesting or cool on Twitter. He never really talks about how to market or promote a brand or product or service in 140 characters or less. So I didn't find …

Picture Book Month: Week Four

November is Picture Book Month, so I've decided to use my weekly recap of what my kids have been reading to highlight picture books. The Picture Book Month website features a calendar that offers themes for each day of the month. So each day, I'm reading a picture book from our shelves that goes along with the theme, and I'll compile the list of books we read here on the weekend (or a Tuesday when I'm running late - Ha!).

November 20: Folk and Fairytales
For this, I decided to go with M's favorite fairytale, Sleeping Beauty. But instead of reading the book we read last week for the dragons theme, I chose a book from our shelf that tells an older version of the fairytale rather than the Disney version. It tells the tale of the baby princess on whom the evil fairy places a curse that she will prick her finger on her 15th birthday and fall asleep for 100 years. This comes to pass and many years later, a prince kisses her and she awakens. They, of course, live happily …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I hope everyone in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We didn't have to travel anywhere, so it was a very relaxing five days for us. My mom and I took the kids to see the Rockettes on Wednesday in Durham. And then she came to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. My husband cooked, so that was nice! We got our Christmas tree up on Friday and the house all decorated throughout the weekend. So it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here...despite the 70 degree days!

The one big surprise is that I didn't really read much or write many blog posts. I figured with time off, I'd do more reading and blogging. But we ended up pretty busy with family stuff so that didn't happen.

I did finally finish reading The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I'll try to write up my review this week.

We're still reading picture books for Picture Book Month, but I didn't get around to writing my recap this weekend so I'll try to do that later today or tomorrow.

I offic…

Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge: My Plan

I'm officially signing up for my first 2012 reading challenge, and it's the one I'm hosting! I'm trying to hold off making a decision about other challenges until mid-December, although I do have a few I'm considering.

Anyway, for this one, there are four levels to choose from:
Elementary - 5 nonfiction books
Diploma - 10 nonfiction books
Bachelor's Degree - 15 nonfiction books
Master's Degree -  25 nonfiction books

I'm going for the Bachelor's Degree, which means I need to read 15 nonfiction books in 2012. Since I'm hosting, I feel like I should try for the highest level, but honestly I also want to be sure I actually complete my own challenge. So I'm going for the next one down.

I don't have an official list of books that I'm going to read because I know I will discover new books throughout the year. But here are some of the books on the list that I'm considering:
Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do abou…

Book Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The story begins with a little girl who is hiding on a ship. It is clear that she has boarded the ship with a woman she calls The Authoress, but after waiting for a very long time, the little girl joins some other children in a game. Soon she is on the dock in Australia, all alone. No one from the ship or the town she has arrived in is there to claim her. The dockmaster and his wife take her in and raise her as their own. They name her Nell because she cannot remember her name. When Nell is 21 years old, her father tells her the truth. This sets the young woman off on a quest to discover who she really is.

In The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton slowly reveals the story through three points of view. First there is the story of Nell's research and travels to England as an adult in the 1970s. Then there is the story of her granddaughter, Cassandra's own travels in 2005 after her grandmother's death, as she tries to fill in the pieces Nell wasn't able to uncover. And finall…

Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge

I've decided to host a challenge to motivate myself and others to read more nonfiction. To make it more of a challenge, the Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge will exclude memoirs, which seem to be the most read type of nonfiction among the book blogs I follow. Instead, we'll focus on learning about a variety of different topics and discovering new facts. The challenge will run from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

What Counts:
- Books can be any format (bound, ebook, audio) but must be written for adults or young adults.
- Books can cover many different topics, including science, technology, religion, sociology, business, biography, politics, economics, history, food, art/design, etc.
- How-to, self-help and travel books are permitted, as long as you actual read them cover to cover, and don't just use them as a reference.
- Crossovers with other challenges are permitted.

What Does Not Count:
- Reference books, cookbooks and instruction manuals that are not…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I've been so busy with work this morning, I completely forgot it was Monday! Whoops! Hope you all had a good week. I cannot believe that next week when I write this post, our Christmas tree will be up. It just doesn't seem possible that it's Thanksgiving week already!

For the first time in several weeks, I did not manage to finish a book this week. I did read about 350 pages of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. That's about the number of pages I read in a typical week, but I don't usually read books that are 500+ pages long! So I didn't manage to finish it yet, but I will soon.

I wrote two book reviews last week. The first was for Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. And the second was for Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

For the third week of Picture Book Month, I reviewed all the books my kids and I read that went along with the daily themes: pirates, dragons, pets, bedtime, jungle, school and farm were last week's themes.

I think I've decided …

Picture Book Month: Week Three

November is Picture Book Month, so I've decided to use my weekly recap of what my kids have been reading to highlight picture books. The Picture Book Month website features a calendar that offers themes for each day of the month. So each day, I'm reading a picture book from our shelves that goes along with the theme, and I'll compile the list of books we read here on the weekend.

November 13: Pirates
For the pirates theme, we chose a Peter Pan Jigsaw Book that has been on our shelf for a long time but hasn't been read much. As a matter of fact, we had never even done any of the jigsaw puzzles in it before! It's one of those gifts that was forgotten. So the kids had fun with this book this week. It tells the story of Peter Pan and Wendy and the Lost Boys and, of course, Captain Hook and his pirates. It was fun to read the story to M for the first time, and both kids enjoyed the puzzles.

November 14: Dragons
For dragons, we pulled out one of M's favorites: Sleepin…

Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Throughout history, there are people who stand out, people who excel dramatically more than others, people who would be considered outliers. So what is it that makes a person into an outlier? Are they born with some outstanding quality that no one else has? Are they handed opportunities that others don't receive? Are they simply lucky?

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell explores what really makes someone successful. For many, it's the timing of their birth, whether it be the year or the month that matters most to the career path they take. For others, it's the nature of their culture and the beliefs with which they are raised. For still others, it's a combination of many little things throughout their lives that build and grow to form a foundation on which they are able to rise above the rest of their peers.

Gladwell highlights many fascinating examples from outliers within many different fields such as technology, business, law and sports. I found it…

Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

As children, Larry and Silas are brought together and soon become friends, despite their parents' objections to their spending time together. They enjoy a summer of adventures in the woods around their homes but just as quickly as it begins, the friendship is broken. When they are teenagers, Larry takes a girl on a date to a movie and she goes missing. He is never charged with a crime, but he spends his life isolated from everyone in the small town because of their suspicions. Silas leaves town soon after, but returns as constable many years later. Another girl goes missing and Larry is once again a prime suspect. As Silas tries to uncover the truth of the missing girl, as well as a few other interesting cases, we slowly uncover the details behind their friendship and what tore it apart.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin is a mystery, but definitely not a thriller. It's much quieter than that. Much more literary. I found the story to be compelling and the characte…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you've had a nice week. I am finally able to say I'm not sick. Well, I did still have to use the inhaler this morning, and had my last dose of Prednisone this morning, but I really am feeling much, much better. Finally!

I spent quite a bit of time reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton this week, and finished it on Saturday. I'm so glad I finally read it. What a unique and interesting story.

I wrote up my review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Now I just have a backlog of three more reviews to write. Ugh!

Last week, I also shared Scholastic's list of the Hottest New Children's Books of the 2011 Holiday Season. I'm really hoping to buy books for most of the children on my list. The only issue is knowing what they've already read!

For the second week of Picture Book Month, I reviewed all the books my kids and I read that went along with the daily themes: transportation, birds, monsters, gardens, mice, chic…

Picture Book Month: Week Two

November is Picture Book Month, so I've decided to use my weekly recap of what my kids have been reading to highlight picture books. The Picture Book Month website features a calendar that offers themes for each day of the month. So each day, I'm reading a picture book from our shelves that goes along with the theme, and I'll compile the list of books we read here on the weekend.

November 6: Transportation
When I saw the theme of transportation, I had to pull out Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. This is a book that my husband and I both remember from childhood, so we've shared it with our kids as well. I wasn't feeling well enough to read the entire book to M on the 6th, so instead, we went through each page looking for Goldbug, who hides among the cars and trucks. She went through this exercise several times throughout the week, and I did finally get a chance to read the whole story to her by the end of the week.

November 7: Birds
For this t…

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

As Henry Lee walks past the Panama Hotel, a landmark that has been boarded up for decades, he is pulled into the excitement of the crowd that has gathered to see what has been found locked away in the basement all these years. It turns out that the belongings of many Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II were stored in the basement and never reclaimed after the war. This discovery takes Henry back to his childhood in the 1940s, and his loving friendship with Keiko, a Japanese girl who was lost to him during the war.

In Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford has developed a wonderful story of friendship, family, history, and the struggle between two generations with different beliefs. He easily transitions from the 1940s, when Henry befriends Keiko, the only other Asian at his all-white private school, to the 1980s, when a grown Henry finds himself searching for a lost treasure among the bags at the hotel. We slowly learn more about Henry…

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

I'm joining one last reading challenge for 2011. It's the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge hosted by The True Book Addict at The Christmas Spirit blog. The challenge runs from November 21, 2011 through January 6, 2012. I've decided to join at the Candy Cane Level, which means I need to read one Christmas book during this period. I'm also signing up for the additional Visions of Sugar Plums level, which means I need to read Christmas books with my children and share what we read.

For the one adult novel, I'm going to read Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett, which I got from NetGalley. I'm looking forward to it because I read another Christmas book by Bennett last year (The Christmas Gift) and really enjoyed it.

For the books I read with my kids, I'm sure the list will vary. But here are the ones we have on our shelves and will definitely read:
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. MooreThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Christmas Magic by Lau…

The Hottest New Children's Books of the 2011 Holiday Season

I can't believe how quickly the holiday season seems to be approaching. And I haven't even started Christmas shopping yet! Not a single gift bought. Yikes! So when I received this information from Scholastic, I was very excited as I love to give books as Christmas gifts for kids.

This is a list of the books the children’s book experts from Scholastic Book Clubs and Scholastic Book Fairs believe will be the most popular new children’s books for the 2011 holiday season. I'll definitely be using these lists as a guide to purchase books for my kids, and the other children I buy for this year!

Scholastic’s Holiday Gift List for Kids

Picture Books
10 Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Simon & Schuster)Can You See What I See? Toyland Express written and illustrated by Walter Wick (Scholastic)If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (HarperCollins)The Man in the Moon written and illustrated by William Joyce (Simon …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you've had a great week. I, unfortunately, have not. I started the week not feeling well and have gotten progressively worse as the week has gone on. I went to the doctor on Saturday and got some prescription cough medicine and antihistamine but I swear I'm worse now! I'm starting to wonder if I should just go back to the Mucinex D I was taking before I went to the doctor! I do have antibiotics now, too, since it seems to have turned into a sinus infection. I took the second dose today so hopefully I'll be on the mend soon...

So what does that have to do with books? Well, it means I had absolutely no energy, as the week wore on, to think clearly and write up reviews. I now have a backlog of three books I need to review. I rarely do this because I have a hard time remembering what I wanted to write about. But hopefully when I finally feel up to writing, I'll remember!

I finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell last week. I also finished Crooked Le…

Picture Book Month: Week One

November is Picture Book Month, so I've decided to use my weekly recap of what my kids have been reading to highlight picture books. The Picture Book Month website features a calendar that offers themes for each day of the month. So each day, I'm reading a picture book from our shelves that goes along with the theme, and I'll compile the list of books we read here on the weekend.

November 1: Alphabet
For this theme, we chose what I consider to be one of the best ABC books out there: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I just love the fact that it incorporates both capital letters (in the text) and lower case letters (in the illustrations) so kids can see both and make the connections. I also love the rhythm of the story: "A told B and B told C I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree!" It's just so fun to read. And this week, M read the entire book all by herself, so it was even more fun to listen to!

November 2: Outer Space
C's school is having their Scholas…

Month in Review: October 2011

It's hard to believe October has come and gone already. It will be Christmas before we know it! And I've been seeing announcements about 2012 reading challenges in my Google Reader feed already. I just can't bring myself to sign up for anything yet, though! I'm determined to wait until December to sign up for the new year's challenges.

Here's what happened in October in terms of reading and reviewing. I participated in three different read-a-thons so I got a lot of reading done.

Books Read in October: 7
I read seven books in October. Six were fiction novels:
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Beyond the Darkness by Leonard D. Hilley, II
Commune of Women by Suzan Still
The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

And one was a memoir:
Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans

Reviews Written: 7
This month, I wrote seven reviews. The first is for a book I read in Sept…