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Showing posts from July, 2016

2016-2017 School Books

The Painter kids started their new school year this past Monday. I am now the mother/teacher of a seventh grader and a third grader which is rather hard for me to believe. My philosophy with literature is that my kids should have a lot of choice, but that there are some things that are just required too (particularly if it's connected to their history). I'm highlighting some of those required books for the year here. Bit's main focus in history this is year is Ancient Civilizations so she'll be reading  The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh , The Codes of Hammurabi, a lot of Old Testament, and several non-fiction sources on civilizations around the world. I hope my other literature picks for her highlight my attempt to give her some female voices that reflect Ancient civilizations and also that I occasionally wanted her to have a break from the old stuff. LM's main history focus this year is Ancient Greece and Rome. (We did other ancient civilizations la

Shorter Musings

Here are some shorter musings on recent reads. The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaez Tash This novel centers around a boy with a crush on his best friend and his plan to confess his feelings while attending a fan convention in NYC. The characters are quirky and there are some very amusing scenes. I think I probably like this a little less than some of the other books I've recently read centered on fandom because I don't have any experience with conventions of this sort. It was hard to tell how accurate this was, but the main problem is it stressed me out just reading about such a place. However, it's definitely a fun read and I really liked how the author chose to end it. It was refreshing and perfect for the characters. Rescued  by Eliot Schrefer This is the third in a quartet of books Schrefer is writing about apes and their human counterparts. Endangered  and Threatened were both short listed for the National Book Award and I loved both of those bo

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom

For some reason I have lately been out of the loop when it comes to books published by Random House. I think this is because they've been rather noncommittal about putting the children's catalogues up on Edelweiss. As a result, I did not know about this upcoming title until the author, David Neilsen,  contacted me to see if I wanted an ARC. I immediately said yes, because Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom  sounded like a creepily fun book. And so it is. The children of Hardscrabble street have used an old abandoned brick house as an imaginative play area for years. When it finally sells, they mourn the loss. Jerry, Gail, and Nancy inform the mysterious new owner of this when they meet him on his  first day in town. After Dr. Fell moves in, he builds a large intricate playground that is the stuff of childhood dreams. All of the children in the neighborhood immediately begin to play on it. Soon children from other neighborhoods are coming too. The playground is constantly ful

TTT: Books Set Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday  is a Meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish This week's TTT topic: Books Set Outside the US I decided to limit this to realistic fiction. If I were to allow SFF books on to this list, that would be the only genre represented. What are some of your favorite books that take place outside the US?

Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here

Reading Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here  by Anna Breslau was an interesting experience for me. I started thinking I didn't really like it yet felt oddly compelled to keep reading. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Scarlett is a teen obsessed with a recently cancelled TV show about teen werewolves at a boarding school. She is a Big Name Fan in the online fandom for the show, writing well loved popular fanfic and live tweeting every episode when it aired. Now that the show is no more, she feels desolate and like things are slipping away from her. It doesn't help that she pretty much hates her real life where her only two real friends are Avery (a math geek girl form her school) and Ruth (an elderly weed smoking neighbor who likes to garden). When Scarlett attempts to embrace life by talking to the boy she's always liked and is foiled by Avery's popular sister Ashley, Scarlett takes her frustrations to the only place that has ever helped. Scarlett begins writing a new s

WoW: Spindle

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of  Breaking the Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. The world is made safe by a woman...but it is a very big world. It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained. But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her l

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse

I enjoyed Brian Ferrey'  The Vengekeep Prophecies  trilogy, but missed that he had a new book out until I stumbled on  The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse  in the library. I checked it out and then received some encouragement to bump it up my pile from a friend, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Princess Jeniah will become Queen far sooner than anyone was expecting. Yes, the rulers of Monarchy tend to die younger than most, but everyone assumed there would be more time to prepare Jeniah than this. As Jeniah's training hastily begins, she is shown her entire kingdom from atop a tower and gets her first glimpse of Dreadwillow Carse. She is warned never to go there for if a ruler of Monarchy goes to the Carse, the monarchy will fall. In the village next to the Carse there lives a girl named Aon who has a deep secret. She can feel sadness, pain, and mourning where everyone else in the kingdom can only feel joy and happiness. The Carse is a refuge to Aon who goes there to shed her

The Seventh Wish

I always enjoy Kate Messner's books. They make me laugh and cry. I always make it a priority when a new one comes out. I followed the controversy that accompanied the release of The Seventh Wish  closely. I reference that, because as someone who read all of Kate's blog posts (and the comments on them) before reading the book, I found my reading affected by it. That in turn will affect this review. I'm going to attempt to do it in two parts. What you can expect if you go into the book with no knowledge of said controversy, and what you can expect if you do. Either way, you are getting another excellent heartfelt book from a talented thoughtful writer. Charlie is a seventh grader with a passion for Irish dancing, great friends, and a plan to earn more money to buy the best solo dancing dress she possibly can. She often feels the least important in her family. Her older sister Abby has always gotten a lot of attention because of stomach issues. Then it was her senior year a

TTT: Books with Less Than 2000 Ratings on Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday  is a Meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish This Week's TTT Topic: Favorite Books with Less Than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads I really like this bar for highlighting under appreciated books. I was rathe surprised by some of the books I love that have less than 2,000 ratings too. I didn't choose books published in the last two years and decided to focus on older books that I feel need more love.

Shorter Musings: Recent YA Reads

Here are some shorter musings on some recent YA reads. The Lie Tree  by Frances Hardinge I wish someone would have warned me that 2016 was the year the majority of my favorite authors would disappoint me. This book has won a lot of awards (including the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for fiction announced today an hour or so after I finished reading it), yet I feel it is the weakest of all Hardinge's books to date. The concept of the tree itself is intriguing but the way it manifests itself in the narrative is unimpressive. It is a tool of supernatural forces in an otherwise realistic setting that allows the heroine to investigate her father's death, but then conveniently doesn't need to be dealt with further at the end. When you add to that the feeling I could not shake that I was meant to be taking a lesson in how dumb religion is and pure and perfect science is form its thematic presence, well....I lost all tolerance with the book. I would LOVE a book that explores the