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Showing posts from March, 2014

Week in Review

       Happy Monday! I hope you've had a great week. We are on spring break this week, so we spent most of the day exploring the city of Raleigh. We went to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences today, and then walked around the NC State Capitol. Then we went to Krispy Kreme for an afternoon snack and to watch them make donuts. It was a great start to our break! Tomorrow, we're off to the zoo. I'm continuing with the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2014 Decluttering Challenge . Last week, I mentioned that I'm going to host a giveaway of four advanced readers. I haven't managed to put up that post, as I was trying to get through Middle Grade March first. So, watch for that giveaway to start later this week!       Blog Posts and Reviews  I was hoping to finish all of my middle grade reviews last week, but I only managed to write two: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon Reading I finished reading The

Book Review: Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

Zora Neale Hurston is an author who is best known for her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God . Zora and Me is a middle grade novel by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon that imagines Zora as a young girl who loves to tell stories. It all starts when Sonny Wrapped wrestles an alligator... and loses. Then Zora and her friends meet a man who turns up dead soon after. A mystery ensues, and Zora has a theory: a half gator, half man creature is to blame. Zora and Me is a book that was part of my son's Battle of the Books. It's a historical novel that takes place in the 1960s. There are issues of racial segregation and discrimination, bringing some of the issues of that time to life for young readers. I will note that the n-word is used in this novel, in an appropriate context, but it was a bit jarring for me and led to some questioning in my mind as to whether to call it out and explain it to my 9 year old who read this book. I have not, but I'm still wondering if it might w

Book Retreat: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Hà is a 10 year old girl growing up in Saigon, Vietnam, during the 1970s. She has a loving family, a best friend and her own papaya tree. But then the Vietnam War gets too close to home, and Saigon falls. Hà and her family must flee on a ship that leads them to the United States. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a wonderful middle grade book that introduces the Vietnam War and the struggles of refugees through verse. Told from the viewpoint of a girl who has to leave her home and try to fit into a completely different culture, the novel should appeal to young readers. My 9 year old son, C, really enjoyed this book, which honestly was a surprise to both of us! The fact that it is told in verse exposes young readers to a different type of literature, but it's the story of Hà that will resonate with readers. Here is a girl who is very bright and does well in school while living in Vietnam, but because of language barriers, she has a tough time in school in the Uni

Week in Review

       Welcome back to another week in review. The big news this week is that my son's team WON their school's Battle of the Books on Friday!! I was so proud of all of them. You can check out my recap of the Battle here . It was an amazing experience. If you have a child who loves to read, I highly recommend they participate in it if their school offers it. I'm still moving along with the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2014 Decluttering Challenge . My latest decision is that I'm going to host a giveaway of four advanced readers. I've been posting other books on Paperback Swap and sending others to Goodwill, but I can't do that with the ARCs so I'm going to have a giveaway. I'll put up that post later this week, so watch for it!       Blog Posts and Reviews  Once again, I only managed one review last week. It was of a Christian picture book called I Am Strong! I Am Smart by Fay Klingler. I also posted about Battle of the Books, as I mentioned above. I w

Battle of the Books

If you've been reading this blog for the last several months, you should know that my 9-year-old son, C, was participating in his school's Battle of the Books. It all started in October, when he was placed on a team of five 4th graders. They called themselves Team Bookmasters, and they were one of 16 teams in the school, all made up of 4th or 5th graders. All of the participants were required to read a set of 8 books. There were an additional 10 books that the team had to read but they were able to divvy them up among the team members. This meant that each of the kids on C's team had to read at least 10 books. C made it through 10 (there they are in the picture!). Two of the kids on his team read all 18! Starting in January, they met on a weekly basis to practice answering questions about the books. On Friday, they had the actual Battle of the Books. It was very exciting! Each team sat in a circle with a white board and marker. There were judges assigned to each tea

Book Review: I Am Strong! I Am Smart! by Fay A. Klingler

Lu has a wonderful relationship with her Grandma May, who lives with her family. They play card games each day and they enjoy their time together. Grandma May imparts much advice onto Lu, helping her through frustrations at home and tough situations at school. But then, Grandma May has a stroke. I Am Strong! I Am Smart! by Fay A. Klingler is a sweet Christian story about a young girl and her grandmother. It is about a child learning that she is special and beautiful because she is created by God. It is about the power of words for both good and evil. And it is about a grandmother struggling to overcome the frustration of the aftermath of a stroke, with a little help from her granddaughter. I don't generally read or review Christian books, but this was a nice story that I plan to pass along to my mother and my daughter to read together. My rating: 4/5 Visit the author's website View the trailer:

Week in Review

       And today, we're back to sleet. Sleet two weeks ago, 73 degrees last Monday, sleet again today. Where on earth is Spring???? Anyway, I mentioned last week that I had joined in the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2014 Decluttering Challenge . My office is almost completely decluttered! I just have a couple more spots to deal with. One of the things I did is pull a bunch of books off my shelves and put them on Paperback Swap. I have others that have been listed there for a long time. I think I'm going to take them off the list and take them to Goodwill at this point. I thought about having a giveaway, but then I'd have to pay to ship a huge box of books to someone!! Blog Posts and Reviews  I only managed to publish one review this past week. It's a review of a middle grade fiction book called Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. I plan to work on more of the middle grade reviews this week. I really need to catch up! And for those of you who are wondering when I'm

Book Review: Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Thirteen year old Samuel lives with his parents in a settlement on the American frontier in the 1700s. He has grown up in the woods and learned how to track and hunt animals. His parents aren't as comfortable in the woods, so Samuel provides food for his family and their neighbors. But while out on a hunt one day, his entire settlement is burned to the ground, most of the people are slaughtered and left for Samuel to find. But his parents are not there. He finds tracks that make him believe his parents have been captured, so he sets off on a journey to find them. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen is an intense middle grade novel that gets into some gritty details about the Revolutionary War. Paulsen ends each chapter of this novel with a page of nonfiction notes about the war. Most of these notes relate in some way to the story that preceded them. I found the combination of Samuel's story and these nonfiction notes to be a great way to give a lot of detail about the war withou

Week in Review

       Last Monday I was complaining about sleet. Today, it was about 73 degrees and sunny. Yahoo! Much better! I've had a very productive week, but not necessarily with regards to reading and blogging. I have two completely separate projects going on right now. First, I started a new workout program from Fitness Blender and completed the first week of workouts. Yay me! And second, I joined in the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2014 Decluttering Challenge . I've managed to fill up four bags of trash and an additional four bags of stuff that I took over to Goodwill. This included a bag of children's books that my kids finally parted with and a bag of really old adult books that have been sitting around collecting dust for years. Now on to my reading and blogging recap... Blog Posts and Reviews  I put up my February Month in Review post last week. I also wrote a review of Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I really loved. This week, I will be working on the other reviews t

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

The dystopian city of Chicago is composed of five factions. Each year, all of the 16 year olds are given an aptitude test to determine which of the five factions they belong in. These teens then choose the factions where they will live out the rest of their lives. It may be the one in which they grew up, or it may be another. In Veronica Roth's Divergent , Beatrice Prior has never felt comfortable in the Abnegation faction, where the focus is on selflessness. She hopes the test will help her decide where she does belong, but something doesn't work out quite right, and she isn't given a definite answer. Instead, she learns she is something called Divergent. With this knowledge, Beatrice chooses Dauntless (the brave) as her faction and renames herself Tris. She devotes herself to making it through the tough initiation in her new faction, while hiding her Divergent status from those who would do her harm. I don't read a lot of young adult novels, but this one has be

Month in Review - February

Here's a recap of my reading and reviewing for February. This is pretty simple, but I figure if I keep my monthly recaps simple, I'll actually publish them!! BOOKS READ IN FEBRUARY: 4 REVIEWS WRITTEN IN FEBRUARY: 3 The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin - reviewed The Free by Willy Vlautin - read and reviewed The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalb - read and reviewed Divergent by Veronica Roth - read Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai - read YEAR-TO-DATE TOTALS: Total Books Read: 11 Total Reviews: 8 Historical Fiction: 2 Middle-Grade Fiction: 6 Young Adult: 1 Contemporary Fiction: 1 Mystery/Thriller: 0 Nonfiction:0 Memoir: 1 For review: 2 For book club: 2 For me: 7

Week in Review

       It's Monday again! And it's sleeting again. Yuck! Where is Spring??? My kids had to come home three hours early today because of the possibility of ice on the roads later. Yesterday, it was 70 degrees and sunny, and we spent hours outside walking, biking and playing. Anyway, on to my reading recap... Middle Grade March Readathon I decided to participate in a readathon over the weekend. It was a last-minute decision, but I'm glad I did it. There's also a month-long middle grade celebration called Middle Grade March that I'll be joining in. I figure it will give me a good reason to finish off all the books on C's Battle of the Books list. And the actual battle is this month, so it's good timing! For the readathon, I read Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen and made it about halfway through Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. Blog Posts and Reviews In addition to posting about Middle Grade March , I also put up a review of The End of