Current Winter Reads

My resolution for the last year has been continuously reading. Which means that every night I read for at least thirty minutes. This year I resolved to start adding in weekend reading, which means every time during the day on a weekend that I go to grab my iPad or phone, I instead grab a book. Which means I’ve read quite a few books over the past two months! This post is as much for me as anyone else, because I forget what I’ve read and will go to read a book again multiple times (for example, Delicious! A book by Ruth Reichl that I almost bought this past week. Yup, I’ve already read it). Here is my quick review of the books.

The Giver of Stars: I don’t know if this was the actual intent of the story, but what I really enjoyed about this book was the drive of the characters to bring education to rural areas. Through treacherous conditions, difficult antagonists, and class related struggles, the main characters worked to create a real moving library in Kentucky. And it’s based on a true story!

Messenger of Truth: While each Maisie Dobbs book has an element of mystery, what I’ve enjoyed even more is the scope of understanding that Jacqueline Winspear brings to the time period of the stories. Each story is connected to the next, and you see the characters triumph and also fall in different ways as they deal with the aftermath of The Great War.

An Incomplete Revenge: Continuing with what I said before about Maisie Dobbs books, this story shows the stereotyping and fear that can come from wars and the ramifications and devastation of those fears. I was honestly shocked about the turn of events in this one.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain: A novel that interweaves multiple stories that almost seem like separate short soliloquies, but they eventually start running closer and closer together until you have the singular conclusion. I had a little trouble following it at certain points, but it was an incredibly unique read.

Conviction: I read this so fast, because I had to find out what happened at the end! The main character is incredibly flawed, but embraces the flaws so relentlessly that you root for her to figure out the mystery and to make it to the other side.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home: I was worried that this book was going to be incredibly sad, but at the end I felt incredibly uplifted. The sense of peace that the author not only found, but creates through the true story will stay with you a long time after you read it. I could honestly read it again.

The Last House Guest: A mystery that cuts back and forth from a year earlier and then present day, the main character tries to piece together the death of her friend, while also trying to overcome her struggles in a small town that she can’t seem to leave.

The Great Alone: This is one you’ll want to set aside a long time to read. It’s long. It’s at times, tiring. I may have skipped to the end to see if the characters were going to come out on the other side of the enormous walls they were up against. It is definitely an investment of time, but it is worth it. Kristin Hannah creates characters so intricately that you not only become invested, but you seek to understand who they are from the beginning to the end.

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Summer to Fall Reads

Reading is still our favorite wind down activity, and while my to read list is longer than what I’ve read, I’m steadily working through my pile. Here are my July to October reads!

Tip of the Iceberg

An excellent travel read. It takes you on an exploration of Alaska and gives you insight into many of the less traveled roads. My favorite story from the book involves two baby bears, an island, and a getaway boat!

The Night Tiger

A fictional mystery weaved with Chinese cultural traditions. It is insightful, captivating, and will keep you guessing until the end. It has three parallel stories that interweave throughout and come to connection at the end…which I realized was a theme of my reading…

Inland

This novel had two intertwined stories that are running kind of parallel in time line, but not exactly? I enjoyed the story, but did have to go back and read several sections. I was also reading it exclusively at night and kept falling asleep while I read it, so that probably didn’t help either. It expertly captures the vast and deserted sense of the “Wild West” in the 1800s.

The Ride of a Lifetime

I found this after coming across an interview with Robert Iger about Disney and crisis communication. I enjoyed the interview so much that I immediately ordered the book. I read the book in one weekend and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you love Disney like we do, have an interest in their organization, and want a behind the scenes look, you’ll love it to. It also gave me great material to discuss with my students!

J has worked his way through the first six 39 clues books and is now reading Percy Jackson. The perils of being the youngest, he wants to keep up with all his older cousins and brother and he’s not interested in reading Henry Huggins anymore, much to my dismay.

A is anxiously awaiting for several of his favorite series to release new books, and has read in the meantime several books including; Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli, Ungifted by Gordon Korman, and Regifted by Gordon Korman. However, he would want to share that his very favorite read and re-read of the season is Mike Lowery’s latest book: Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Beasts!

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Currently reading…summer edition

A bit of what we’ve been reading this summer….

We are all about the series this summer! And a Crisis Communication Textbook. Ha! Along with the boys’ reads and my work read, here are some of the other books I’ve read from May-July.

About the Night

A story about star crossed lovers, who are forever changed by the divide of Jerusalem. It is sad in parts, but so wonderfully written and insightful. You’ll remember it long after you read it.

Park Avenue Summer

Perfect for summer, this story is historical fiction of sorts, featuring an up and coming photographer and the editor who changed the entire direction of the original Cosmopolitan magazine.

The Murmur of Bees

This by far one of my favorite reads of the year. I don’t want to give anything away, but essentially it is about a baby who is found and taken in by a family, and his journey with and apart from them. It’s a story about the strong ties of family and overcoming adversity.

Cat Among the Pigeons

My most current Agatha Christie read. It is a mystery (obviously) surrounding a school setting, with a murderous hunt for treasure.

A Piece of the World

Another historical fiction based on Andrew Wyeth’s inspiration for the painting Christina’s World, this was a very interesting read. So much so that I now have the Museum of Modern Art on my list to go see the painting in person.

Maisie Dobbs

This has been on my list for awhile. I’m a fan of Forever 35 podcast, and one of the hosts has talked about this series being her favorite, and they interviewed the author. It is kind of along the lines of Agatha Christie, but it has a much more personal connection to the investigator. It is also set in a very specific time period (right after World War I), and the author does a lovely job of intertwining the effects of the war with the mystery.

A has read every Percy Jackson book, and is re-reading the ones discussing Greek mythology:

Mythology was one of my favorite classes in high school and college, so we’ve had lots of fun discussions about the different myths!

J’s series of the summer has been Harry Potter. We are only letting him read books 1-3 for now, but this is the first time (and he loves to read) that he is reading everywhere we go. In the car, waiting at the pool, first thing when he gets up in the morning:

He’s been asking to watch The Chamber of Secrets all week, so this past weekend we watched it:

He was so excited! His favorite characters right now are Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall. And Harry Potter, of course. We are still debating if he can watch the third movie, but he’s already planning to go back and read the first three again.

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Current Reads

Besides reading my textbook for the new course I’m teaching this fall, we’ve been reading a whole bunch of books around here, so I thought it would be a good idea to update our current reading list and reviews!

In December I read (my heaviest reading month of the year because I’m off work for several weeks):

One Day in December. Good romantic read, it got a little tedious towards the end, but if you like the movie Serendipity (which is one of my all time favorites), then this book is definitely for you.

Where the Crawdads Sing. Set in North Carolina, the tale of a girl who grows up in the marshes it runs parallel to a modern day mystery. Absolutely amazing, perfection. You must, must read this book, just prepare to not be able to put it down once you start.

Less. The story of a middle aged man, who upon learning his previous partner is to be married, says yes to all of the speech requests he received and sets off to travel the world. This was okay, I thought it was going to be more about travel, and it was more of a romance of love loss, and love rediscovered.

The Mystery of the Blue Train. An good Agatha Christie read, that if you liked Murder on the Orient Express, you’ll like this one.

In January I read:

Why Didn’t they ask Evans? An excellent Agatha Christie read that threw me off completely. I thought I had it figured out and I was wrong!

The Library Book. I discussed all about this book in a previous post. It is absolutely lovely, and I love to mix in nonfiction with fiction reads.

The Nightingale. Set in France during WWII this is the story of two sisters during the German occupation of France. Oh my goodness. This was incredibly captivating. It is sad, heart wrenching, but a powerful story.

In February I read:

The Proposal. Set in LA, this is a fun romantic fiction that supports the power of friendship and the power of food (two of my favorite things).

Oishinbo: Sake. These manga are a fun insight into Japanese food and culture. I’m steadily working my way through all of them.

The Storytellers Secret. Set in India it follows the paths of a grieving woman and her Grandmother’s tale that she has never learned until now. It is so incredibly well written that I stayed up extra late several nights to complete it.

And the boys wanted to share their current favorite series!

A just finished ALL and I mean ALL of the Percy Jackson series, including the original series and The Heroes of Olympus. The stories are based on mythology (Greek, Norse, Roman, etc….he said it really covers all of them). Mythology was one of my very favorite subjects in school, so I’ve loved discussing the stories with him!

And J, well he has read over 500 books or chapters within the last six weeks. He did wonderfully with his school’s reading program and we are so proud of him! To encourage his reading, I bought him Henry Huggins, because the story is about a boy and his dog. I thought he would like it, but he didn’t just like it, he loved it. Of all the books he’s read, this is one of the first that he really discusses without any prompting at all.

Happy Reading!

 

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