Thursday, September 30, 2010

By the Numbers
Three-Quarters of 2010

Total books read year-to-date: 59. (I read twenty-five of those - nearly half - after July 1. That makes me hopeful that I can at least exceed the numbers of the past three years - 83 books in 2009, 80 books in 2008, and 76 books in 2007 - if I cannot meet my goal of 104 books for the year.)

Fiction: 52.
Non-fiction: 7.

Historical fiction: 13.

Published in 2010: 16.
Published prior to 1990: 6.

Young adult: 27.
Juvenile: 6.

Read with the fifth grade book group: 7.
Read with the "book lunch girls": 8.
Read with my book club: 5.
Read with the Book Buddies: 3.

5-star rating: 6.
(Those were The Happiness Project, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, To Kill a Mockingbird, Slob, A Northern Light, and Harriet the Spy.)
4-star rating: 30.
3-star rating: 21.
2-star rating: 2.

What are your reading numbers for 2010 so far?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Tuesday ... Where Are You?

Hosted by raidergirl3 at
An Adventure in Reading.

Today I am in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1941.
(I am reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.)

What's On Your Nightstand?

Hosted by 5 Minutes for Books

I'm hoping to quickly finish two books that I've been working on for a couple of weeks:

Once I'm done with those, I want to get started on my Fall into Reading list. Among the titles I'm most excited to read:

Buster Midnight's Cafe by Sandra Dallas is the October pick for the "book lunch girls," so it's on my nightstand too, as is The Hourglass Door, which will be a re-read for me, since it's the next book for my "Teaching through Literature Discussions" class.

Check out what's on other people's nightstands here.

Counting Down and Wondering

I just realized that the Countdown Challenge ends in less than two weeks - on 10/10/10. As I need to read eight more books to complete the challenge, I guess I'd better get focused! Do you have any great recommendations for short, quick reads published in 2004, 2005, or 2006?

In visiting the challenge blog and 1 more chapter, the blog of the host, 3M (Michelle), this morning, I also realize that I haven't seen 3M around the blogosphere for a while. (Her latest post is dated April 2, 2010.) I'm wondering if everything is okay with her. Does anyone know?

9/9/09 to 10/10/10
Tracking My Progress

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting Away with Murder
by Chris Crowe

Subtitled The True Story of the Emmett Till Case.
Published in 2003. 128 pages (including Time Line, Bibliography, Additional Resources, and For Further Reading).

This young adult book provides a very readable and meaningful account of this lesser-known* catalyst to the Civil Rights Movement!

I particularly love the concluding words: Emmett Till's mother is quoted as saying in 1955, "The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all." The author then concludes, "It still is the business of us all."

I was lucky enough to hear the author, Chris Crowe, talk about the book this week at the first meeting of a "Teaching through Literature Discussions" class I'm taking through a neighboring school district. (A big thank you to Becky at One Literature Nut for bringing the class to my attention!)

A few of the insights I got from his presentation include the importance of understanding context in analyzing history (even if he realized that no teenager was going to sit through pages and pages about slavery and the concept of "separate but equal" before getting to the heart of Emmett Till's story) and the importance of careful documentation. I also enjoyed hearing about some of Crowe's experiences in researching the book and about what's happened with the case since his book was published, including the fact that Emmett's casket is on its way to the Smithsonian.

Crowe has also written a historical fiction novel about the Emmett Till murder called Mississippi Trial, 1955 - which he jokingly refers to the football player's trick of using the same paper for two classes - which I've added to my to-read list.

*At least to me. I'm sad to say that I don't remember ever hearing about this event until I read this book.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Speak Loudly

The opinion piece that re-opened the controversy.

Speak author Laurie Halse Anderson's response.

Thoughts and more thoughts from author Shannon Hale.

My review of Speak from April 2008
and another post I wrote about teen dating violence.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010

September 22 - December 20
Hosted by Katrina at Callapiddar Days

I'm excited to focus on reading for the next thirteen weeks while I enjoy the changing seasons! Here's my list - an eclectic mix of twenty-six books from my nearly-endless to-read list, an average of two books for each week of the challenge:

Among these titles are my picks for the YA-D2 challenge, some of the current Salt Lake County Reader's Choice nominees, the Book Buddies selections for November and December, and some of The Contemps. Dewey's Read-a-Thon occurs during this challenge - on October 9 - so I hope to get several of the books on my list read that day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer

Published in 2005. 356 pages.

I would not have ever read this book if it hadn't been September's pick for the "book lunch girls." I'd seen it around - but because I was put off by the cover, I wasn't interested enough to even find out the subject. This is part of the description on goodreads:

Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, and pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Unique and compelling, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was the perfect read for the weekend of the ninth anniversary of 9/11. I found it to be sad as well as healing.

In some ways, this book reminded me of Slob. It also made me think of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Here is Tricia's enthusiastic review at Library Queue. Melissa at Book Nut was somewhat indifferent in her review.

A friend told me that she'd heard that a movie was going to be made of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Here is the IMDb entry. It will be interesting to see how the book transfers to the screen.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman

Published in 2009. 355 pages.

Evidence is the twenty-fourth of Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels. This one features a grisly, twisted murder for homicide cop Milo Sturgis to solve with his psychologist friend's help. While the story is told in first person from Alex's point of view, the focus was really on Milo, with Alex accompanying him to crime scenes and interrogations. Half-brothers Moses Reed and Aaron Fox from True Detectives also make an appearance.

I enjoyed the escapism that this novel provided. I enjoyed even more the subtle social commentary about excessive materialism.



The YA Dystopian Reading Challenge

October 1-December 19
Hosted by Bart's Bookshelf
For Information and Sign-Ups

I am not sure how many young adult dystopian books I can realistically read between October 1 and December 19, but I just can't pass up this challenge. Luckily for me, "Level One" requires that participants read only one novel. "Level Two" requires just two to four novels, while "Level Three" requires at least five.

I would love to think that I can participate at "Level Three" - but that's probably wishful thinking. There are, however, definitely at least five young adult dystopian novels that I'd like to read - and Bart's Bookshelf has a list of 50+ Fantastic Young Adult Dystopian Novels if I run out of ideas of my own! Here are ten from my to-read list:
  • Candor by Pam Bachorz

  • City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau

  • The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

  • The Declaration by Gemma Malley

  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld

  • Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

  • Genesis by Bernard Beckett

  • Matched by Ally Condie

  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner

  • Messenger by Lois Lowry

Monday, September 06, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

Published in 2010. 310 pages.

First line from Will Grayson (upper case): When I was little, my dad used to tell me, "Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."

First line from will grayson (lower case): i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a collaboration between John Green, who wrote the odd-numbered chapters from the viewpoint of Will Grayson (upper case), and David Levithan, who wrote the even-numbered chapters from the viewpoint of will grayson (lower case).

I've only read one other book from each of these writers - John Green's An Abundance of Katherines and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - but I really loved both of those. When I heard about this collaborative effort, I knew that I had to read it!

From John Green's website:

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.

From the first page, I adored this book! I laughed, and I cried. I cringed, and I cheered. The overall concept - as well as every character, every scene, every word - was perfectly conceived and executed. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is simply amazing!

Note: The language and some discussions of sexuality are definitely R-rated.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

Published in 2010. 322 pages.

I love Cinderella stories. Pink is my favorite color. I'm all about "girl power." Combine all three of these elements and you've got a book that I'm sure to love!

The goodreads site describes The Cinderella Society as follows:

Sixteen-year-old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.

This young adult novel was a quick read, and I had a hard time putting it down. There was so much that I really enjoyed, including a good-looking but flawed boyfriend and a wise grandmother, and I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I definitely plan to read the sequel, Cindy on a Mission, when it is published next year.

In the final analysis, though, I wish that the book had been a little more focused, that it had had a little more oomph. I was a bit disappointed. I just wanted a little more.

By the way, my 19-year-old and 14-year-old daughters both loved the book!

For more information, check out the following:


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Library Loot - September 1

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg and Claire to encourage bloggers to share what they’ve checked out from the library.

I am reading a faster pace than I was earlier this year, but is it fast enough to justify getting seven new books this week? I guess we'll see!

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
(This one was a Cybils finalist last year,
and it's a now a Beehive award nominee.)

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford
(This one was a Cybils finalist last year.
It's also the first in a series, with the third installment
on The Contemps list for release next summer.)

Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean
(I saw the film version of this one a week or so ago
and am interested in reading the book.)

Deception by Jonathan Kellerman
(This is the latest installment - the 25th! - in the Alex Delaware series.)

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
(This one was on the "new releases" shelf,
and I couldn't resist picking it up.)

Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson
(This is the sequel to If You Come Softly - which I still have checked out from the library from a previous visit. Hopefully I will get to them both shortly!)

Austenland by Shannon Hale
(I have never read any of Jane Austen's books. But I've recently seen both a play and a film version of Pride and Prejudice, and hearing that Shannon Hale is currently working on a sequel to Austenland, I decided that it was time for me to read it.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Books and Reading and
More Books and More Reading

With the kids back in school and autumn weather just around the corner, it seems that there is a lot happening in the reading world. I am so very excited!

(Click on the buttons for more information.)

September 22 - December 20

October 9

Take The Contemps Challenge!

2011 Nominees

What books or reading events are you excited about?

I Am Scout by Charles J. Shields

Subtitled The Biography of Harper Lee.
Published in 2008.
246 pages (including Notes, Bibliography, and Index).

I Am Scout is Charles J. Shields' adaptation for young adult readers of his New York Times bestseller Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. I read it in conjunction with a re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird for the 50th anniversary of the classic American novel. I also watched the 1962 film.

The goodreads description of the book concludes, "Anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird will appreciate this glimpse into the life of its fascinating author." I certainly did! Particularly interesting to me was information about Lee's role in researching Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and why Lee never wrote a second novel.

I am the host for my book club's September meeting, and earlier this summer I chose To Kill a Mockingbird as our book for the month. I suggested that club members also read I Am Scout (as well as Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I haven't been able to get my hands on yet) to add to our discussion. I'm looking forward to it!


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

For the Record

I loved it! I thought it was nearly perfect!
(I'll post a more detailed review later!)