Posts Tagged ‘book response’

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.


I finished:

murder at the vicarageMurder at the Vicarage by Agathy Christie – Doing lots of mowing this week gave me lots of time to listen to this audio from SYNC YA.  It was a delight to listen to.  I love Miss Marple and her keen observations–though if I lived in her village, I’d probably think she was a busybody when she turned her skills on my life!

and the mountains echoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – This is my favorite of the three Hosseini books I’ve read.  The end was bittersweet, and I definitely wanted to read more about some of the characters.

save meSave Me by Lisa Scottoline – Everything that could go wrong when Rose volunteers at her daughters school does go wrong–bullying girls, an explosion, a missing/injured child, lawsuits and possible criminal charges.  Then Rose turns into an amateur detective and brings the true bad guys to justice.  I liked it.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I’m up to 72%, but the story is bogging down with more political theory and lots of mooning over each other by Marius and Cosette.  In this section, I’m most impressed with Eponine’s bravery.  She protects Marius and Cosette from a gang of six robbers (including her father) who have just escaped from prison.

complete idiot's guide to publishing children's booksThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown – I’ve just started another text in my crash course on freelance writing.  Now to start getting all these ideas that are swirling around my head down on paper and out into the world.

Coming up…

confessions of a murder suspectConfessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson – I just transferred this one to my iPod to listen to while I run and do other mindless tasks.  The heat and humidity kept me from running this morning, but I have something to listen to when I do get on the road!

I’ll continue reading the books I’m in the middle of.  I also have another book by Lisa Scottoline that I will start.

History Is So Bugged!

buggedI’ve been around long enough to learn that my history classes in school left out a lot of history. Kings and generals, battles and revolutions certainly shape history, but did you know that tiny bugs played their role as well? Nope?  Neither did I. Or at least I didn’t until I read Sarah Albee’s Bugged: How Insects Changed History (Scholastic 2014).

It is indeed “swarming with facts,” as the cover proclaims.  Not just any facts–it is packed with facts that are shocking and disgusting and gross.  There is mayhem and death and destruction on every page that is guaranteed to make you itch–if you can manage to scratch between peals of laughter. Did you know that bugs were once used as a form of execution? (Read all about it on page 100). You may even discover that your favorite red sports drink or cherry ice cream or pink blush contain dyes made from squashed bugs. (Read about it on page 20.)

Bugs have done dastardly things–devour food crops and spread deadly diseases–that have changed the course of battles and wiped out large numbers of people.  Albee digs to find the traces of bugs behind some of the most dramatic events of history, from ancient times to modern history, and from the Far East to the New World. I just wish my history textbooks in class could have been as much fun to read as this one was.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.


It may have been because I was procrastinating other things, but this was a good reading week for me.  I finished up several books that I had been reading for quite a while and started several others.  Now if I can just crank up the writing to match for this coming week!

I finished…

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I finished this last Monday morning.  The audio was excellent, but I am glad I had read the text first.  Hearing the words after reading them highlighted details that I missed or sped through when I first read it.  I defnintely want to read Rose Under Fire.

2014 childrens writers market2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market edited by Chuck Sambuchino – Okay, confession time.  I didn’t read every description of every publisher, agent, and magazine, but I did glance through them and looked up a few using the subject and age level indexes.  Once I get my writing going, I will want to invest in a yearly subscription to refer to.  I learned much from the articles and interviews in the first half of the book.

buggedBugged!  How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee – My view of history will never be the same.  It’s too bad that history textbooks can’t have this much fun with history.

anne of green gablesAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Anne Shirley kept me good company this week as I ran, mowed, cleaned, and canned salsa.  This story has long been one of my favorites that I revisit again and again.  I enjoyed listening to Anne’s scrapes and kindred spirits and imaginative stories just as much as reading them.  Of course, now I want to go back and read the rest of the series.

heaven is for realHeaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent – I didn’t intend to reread this book this week, but it was lying around and I found myself picking it up. (My husband’s Sunday School class is getting ready to start it.)  Once again I found myself captivated and wondering at the experiences of this little boy.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I’m up to 70% of the way through despite getting bogged down in another detour, this one about slang and a history of language and politics.  I would have found the sland discussion interesting, but my French is not good enough to get the points he was making.  I don’t think the English translation caught the whole of it.

murder at the vicarageMurder at the Vicarage by Agathy Christie – I also downloaded this title from Sync YA over the summer.  I love Agatha Christie mysteries. Even though I very likely read it long ago, I don’t remember the end, so I get to enjoy it all over again–and it is a Miss Marple mystery.  She’s my favorite.

and the mountains echoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – This is breathtaking so far.  I love how Hosseini’s writing sweeps me out of my world and into one that is so very different.  After reading his books, I would love to see the country and people of Afghanistan.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to visit in real life right now, but I am grateful that he shares his vision of it through his stories.

Coming up…

I will finish the books I’m in the middle of.  I also want to catch up with my blogging and writing in general.  I have a couple of books that a friend lent me that I’d like to pick up next. I am hoping for a productive week for both reading and writing!

What good books are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.


I got some writing done, I canned more tomatoes and pasta sauce.  I battled yellow jackets and baby snakes.  I even read some.  Here are the books that joined me through this week.

I finished…

cup of our lifeThe Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp – I’ve been using this book for my morning devotions the past six weeks.  I’ve used it before, but since I’m at a different place in my life, the reflections are still fresh and relevant.  Once again, I am moved by the symbolism of a cup for many things in my life.

staff of serapisStaff of Serapis by Rick Riordan – I found this one while poking around on Amazon looking for something else.  I still have to wait until October for The Blood of Olympus, but this long short story–or is it a short novella–might hold me over until then.  This time Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane come together to defeat a monster that combines Greek and Egyptian elements.  The question remains, is Riordan just teasing us with these shorts, or is he planning another series joining the Greek demigods and the Egyptian magicians?

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I know this is one reason my reading (in terms of number of books) has slowed down.  I have spent quite a bit of time this week with Gavroche (a Paris street urchin) as he rescued his unknown younger brothers and escaping from prison with Thenadier.  He may be a rascal and the “master of the house,”  but he does have street smarts.  I am now 67% of the way through.  I’m still working to finish it by the end of the year.

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I am almost done–just 25 minutes or so left.  I loved Morven Christie’s narration of Queenie/Julie.  She wrung every drop of emotion out of the character without being overwrought.  Then when Lucy Gaskell started narrating Maddy’s/Kitty Hawk’s part, I was blown away.  Her voice brought Maddy to life in my mind.  I will be sad to finish with this story again.

2014 childrens writers market2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market edited by Chuck Sambuchino – I have learned so much from reading the articles and interviews–making the most of conferences, creating compelling characters, taking the plunge into self-publishing, and more.  I am almost through the informational part for writing craft and business and to the list of publishers, agents, editors, magazines.

buggedBugged!  How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee – I am having too much fun reading this one.  I have to bite my tongue to keep from sharing gross facts about bugs and the diseases they spread at inopportune times.  Even though much of the information is groww, I find myself laughing, too.


How to Write Successful Fundraising Appeals by Mal Warwick – This one is due back at the library today, and I think I’m going to hand it back in unread.  My heart is with writing stories–both fiction and nonfiction–not in copywriting.  If that opportunity presents itself, I know where I can get the book if I want to learn it later.

Coming up…

I am nearly finished with several books.  I’m not sure what I what I will grab off the shelf next.  I will choose another audio book from the ones I downloaded from Sync YA earlier this summer.  I’m looking for something lighter after the intensity of Code Name Verity.  I’ve also been picking up Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, so it may be next up, too.

Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth

praying in colorPraying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God is not just a book to read.  Sybil MacBeth invites you to grab some markers or colored pencils or pens or even crayons and a sheet of paper and give expression to your prayers in a new way.

I appreciate how she shares her own spiritual journey in coming to doodle as a form of payer.  I often feel inadequate when I pray.  Sitting in silence didn’t often work for me unless I had a pen and notebook and could write my prayers.  Even though I do write to express myself, sometmes words don’t seem to be enough to still my frantic thoughts.

I dug out and sharpened my color pencils.  I grabbed my notebook.  I began to doodle and pray in color myself.  It is not instantly comfortable for me, but I am finding value in it.  I have to remind myself (and MacBeth emphasizes the point) that artistic talent is not the point.  The point is to hold someone or something in the presence of God.  In some ways, the practice reminds me of the exploring I’ve done with using doodling as a means of taking notes on what I read or hear.  The visualization is a different way of thinking as well as praying.

I found the book easy to read.  The short chapters are focused and sprinkled with many examples–both in anecdotes and in actual icons created by praying in color.  She starts with her journey of using doodles to pray for others.   As the book continues, she shares many other ways to doodle with other ways of praying and entering into Scripture.

Not only do I look forward to what I will learn from this experience, but I am also excited to share it with the teenagers in the Sunday School class I teach.  I hope they find it a way to come before God, too.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.


Now that school is back in for my daughter, I’m back to trying to balance my reading and my writing…and gardening.  The tomato plants have exploded with ripe, juicy Roma tomatoes that we transform into salsa and pizza sauce and pasta sauce.  Let’s not even talk about the fresh corn, cantaloupe, bell peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers.  We even still have broccoli!  Even so, I managed to finish two books last week and make progress with more.

I finished …

handbook of magazine article writingWriter’s Digest of Magazine Article Writing edited by Michelle Ruberg – Some of the information in this guide repeated what I had read in my previous books in my freelance writing crash course.  Not surprising since the people who wrote the books I read earlier contributed to this book as well.  I appreciated hearing it again (It’s starting to sink in.), and there was enough new information to make it worth while to read.  Following the advice I’ve been reading, I received my first assignment from an editor last week!

praying in colorPraying in Color:  Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth – Not only did I finish reading this book, I’ve been exploring praying in color myself.  It is a very different way for me to pray since I have always been more comfortable with writing than drawing, but I am eager to explore more.  I plan to write a more thorough reflection on the book and my explorations later this week.  Meanwhile, I’ve sharpened the colored pencils!

I’m currently reading ….

les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo – The story is picking up again and so is my reading.  My favorite part from this week’s reading was when Jean Valjean stopped a pickpocket in his tracks and then gave the thief the purse he was trying to steal.  Then the thief lost the wallet to a young pickpocket, who gave the purse to an old man who had nothing.  My goal is to finish this by the end of the year.  I will need to spend more time with it than I have been.

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – The audio is excellent and gets better by the minute.  I’m nearing the end of Queenie’s story, and the narration is heart-wrenching to listen to.  I can’t wait to hear how Maddie’s story is narrated.

2014 childrens writers market2014 Children’s Writer’s & illustrator’s Market edited by Chuck Sambuchino – I knew this was a comprehensive list of publishers, agents, and magazines for the children’s market, but I did not realize how much practical advice and tips it contained as well.  I’m learning so much!

buggedBugged:  How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee – i don’t know how it happened, but nonfiction today is much better than back in the day when the children’s librarian at my public library had to beg me to read nonfiction.  (I reluctantly tried mythology and biographies, but not much else.)  I always thought I would want to write fiction (and I do), but I would also love to write nonfiction like this.  It’s not only “swarming with facts” (as the cover proclaims), but it’s funny.

Coming up …

how to write successful fundraising appealsHow to Write Successful Fundraising Appeals by Mal Warwick – It’s another book in my crash course (almost all of them from my local library).  The copywriting I am most interested in doing is for not-for-profits.  Having worked for both secular and religious not-for-profits, I know fundraising is a fact of life for them.  I like the idea of using my writing to help causes I support, too.  Since I keep putting off opening this one, I know where I want to spend my time writing.

What are you reading this week?

July Books Read

July has been an interesting read.  In addition to reading different books than my usual fare, I vacationed in Charleston, SC, with my family.  It was hard not to star every title as one of my favorites this month.

93) *The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking

94) *The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – haunting and lovely

95) *Missing Microbes by Martin J. Blaser – I pointed out this book to my daughter while we were waiting in line to check out books at the library.  She grabbed it to add to our stack, but I ended up reading it.  Who know microbes could be so fascinating?

96) Getting Started as a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly – I learned much from this one, and am still learning thanks to the resources shared in the end.  There is solid information on both the writing and business aspects of freelance writing.

97) The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell – Packed with information and humor, this guide shows wanna-be writers like me how to get started and persevere.

98) *Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger – I loved this conclusion to the Origami Yoda series.  Help for the rebels comes from an unexpected source as they fight the evils of standardized testing.

99)  *I’d Tell You I’d Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter – My daughter has been begging me to read this series for years. Once Sync YA offered it as a free download earlier this summer, I put it on my iPod.  I probably ran more in the month of July just so I could listen to it.  I loved how Cammie and her friends put their super spy skills to use solving the biggest mystery of all time–boys.  The humor was spot on.

100) Fidelity:  Five Stories by Wendell Berry – I was not familiar with Berry’s fiction until my former pastor brought this by to share with me.  I fell in love with the people and place of Port William.  I took a long time to finish this one because I wanted to savor each story and not rush to the next one.

What were your favorite reads for July?  What are you looking forward to reading in August?

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Poliser_SummerLettingGo_jkt_website_207_1Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go (Algonquin 2014) will haunt me in all the best ways long after I turn the last page.  If you are looking for THE book to take to the beach or to the pool with you this summer, this is it.  Even if you are nowhere near a beach or pool, this hopeful, heartbreaking story will transport you there.

Francesca (known as Frankie) Schnell has been stuck in her life ever since she let her little brother SImon drown four years ago.  Now that she is about to turn sixteen, things are changing whether she wants them to or not.  Her best friend Lisette is dating Bradley, the boy Francesca likes.  Then another Frankie–Frankie Sky–shows up and cracks open questions that Francesca may never be able to answer.

One of the things I love about this book is the questions that it raises.  What is Frankie Sky’s connection to Simon?  What happens after we die?  There are more than enough coincidences to make Francesca–and readers–wonder, but the questions linger instead of being neatly answered.  It is in the asking and living of the questions that Francesca begins to live again and to let go of the guilt that plagues her.

How can you not love characters that live in these pages?  I love Francesca’s awkwardness and confusion and courage.  She’s not perfect, but she is willing to step up and do the hard things.  Frankie Sky is a whirlwind of energy and mystery–a four-year-old that is wise and stubborn beyond his years even when he tries to fly.  It is definitely Francesca’s story, but I love the supporting characters just as much, from the mysterious neighbor Mrs. Merrill to the struggling Mrs. Schyler.  Even the parents come across as real people–a welcome presence in a YA novel.  Oh yes, there just might be even a little romance.

Now I hope I can talk my daughter into reading it, but I may have ruined my chances by raving too much about it.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.


After the flurry of completing 4-H projects last week, we are ready to celebrate at our county fair this week.  I don’t submit any entries for the fair, but I sure am proud of the sewing my daughter has done this year.  Last week was a better reading week.

I finished…

casual vacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – You can read my review by clicking on the title.  (Yes, I am finally getting back to writing book reviews on my blog.)  I was blown away by its humor and tragedy and human frailty.  It was filled with characters I won’t soon forget.

imageW.A.R.P. The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer – I hope to write a review of this one soon, but I enjoyed this audio book.  There were so many twists and turns at the end that I got dizzy.  I’m looking forward to Chevron’s next adventure.

summer of letting goThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – I finished this heart-breaking, hope-inspiring book Sunday afternoon.  It is the perfect summer read, portraying a summer filled with hope, loss, change, and love.  I hope to write a review of it as well this week.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo – I managed to read a few more chapters and get back to Jean Valjean and Cosette.  They are my favorite parts of the story.

id tell you i love youI’d Tell You I’d Love You But I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter – My daughter has raved about this series for years, and now that I was able to download it from SYNC YA earlier this summer, I’m finally getting around to reading it.  Can I just say, I want to go t spy school.

Coming up…

I will be starting Teachers Write this week (hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor TextsKate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles and an amazing cast of authors), so I will be doing lots of writing in addition to catching up on book reviews.  I’m heading to the library tomorrow to pick up these two books:

  • Getting Started As a Freelance Writer by Robert Bly
  • The Renegade Writer:  A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formicelli and Diana Burrell

What are you reading this week?

Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

casual vacancyI’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter series ever since my first year of teaching when a student presented a book report on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I stood in line at midnight release parties to ge the latest book as soon as it came out.  So when I heard that JK Rowling had written another book after finishing the Harry Potter series, I knew I wanted to read it.  I just didn’t get around to it until now.

Someone donated A Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown, and Co., 2012) in a box of books for our Little Free Library.  I have to confess that I snagged it out to read before placing it in the library.  I am so glad I did.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Even though A Casual Vacancy is set in a small English village, I felt right at home.  Pragford reminded me of many small towns I have lived in.  I guess people don’t change that much around the world.

The death of Barry Fairbrother sets off a chain of reactions that both reveal and shift the existing faultlines in the relationships of the characters.  At first I found it difficult to keep track of the many different characters affected by Fairbrother’s death, but soon I was making connections between them as Rowling skillfully wove their stories together.  Many times the characters were not even aware of the threads connecting them in unsuspecting ways.

The novel begins and ends with tragedy, but along the way it is filled with humor.  That humor is needed as Rowling gives an unflinching look at some of the more selfish motivations shared by many of us.  The good people of Pragford have never forgiven the poor people of the Fields (mainly government subsidized housing) for being thrust upon them.  The good people of Pragford are ready to do almost anything to remove the Fields filled with undesirable people from their picture-perfect village.  Of course, Pragford is only picture-perfect as long as no one looks too closely or digs too deeply for long-buried secrets.

Even though A Casual Vacancy is filled with Muggles only, I loved every page.  It is not a book for every fan of Harry Potter, especially younger fans.  Rowling gives an unflinching glimpse of real life–including the darker side of drug abuse and promiscuity and violence.  I will be looking for her latest books, published under a pen name, to see what else she can pull out of her pen.

1 2 3 49