August 28, 2018: Back to School/Learning Freebie (in honor of school starting back up soon, come up with your own topic that fits the theme of school or learning! Books that take place at school/boarding school/during study abroad, books you read in school, textbooks you liked/didn’t like, non-fiction books you loved or want to read, etc.)
I can’t believe that Miss S has turned eight. This whole god-parenting thing has been an incredible blessing for us. Now that she’s eight we can really enjoy a wider range of books together. We now enjoy everything from pictures books to MineCraft guides, to chapter books. Below I’m going to share some of the chapter books we’ve been enjoying as bedtime read alouds (and one bonus book we’ve recently found and really enjoy.)
She’s especially enjoyed the books that make her laugh. Sideways School and Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing were big hits. We also read Fudge-A-Mania which is a sequel to Tales, and she loved that one too! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a classic for Christmas time and funny too. Roger is Going Fishing is one she’s read aloud herself time and time again. It’s a very cute book with lots of action going on on the pages.
What would you add to this list? Are there any chapter books you’d suggest for bedtime read alouds? Please leave me a comment and let me know.
August 21, 2018: Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump
Argh! We’ve all been there, in a reading slump. I’ve talked before about how Robinson Crusoe did me in one year and how a Tom Clancy book pulled me out of it. Below are other books that helped pull me out of reading slumps.
5 Books That Pulled Me Out of Reading Slumps:
The Bear and the Dragon – This is the book I mentioned above, that pulled me out of the post-Crusoe slump. Tom Clancy is always a pretty easy read, so it’s a no brainier that even at a whopping 1137 pages it could pull you out of a slump. (Side note: In my freshman year of high school I got bumped from gifted English to regular English cause the class was too full and I was the last one to test in, due to illness. So totally not my fault, but here I am in regular English one day I’m reading a Tom Clancy book in class and the teacher takes it away. He told me, “You can’t read anything in this class that I can’t understand.” Seriously… the teacher said that… about a Tom Clancy book.)
Moon White: Color Me Enchanted – Sometimes the reading slump is just falling into a series of Okay books. Sometimes just one book after another failing to inspire you. 2012 was that kind of year for me (both before and after Moon White.) I felt a special kind of connection with this book. My story isn’t the same as the stories main character, but I understood her journey very well.
Holes – Holes was a refreshing breath of fresh air in between reading for a tough term in college. I absolutely love Holes and think that everyone should read it middle grades on up. It’s a sweet story of redemption. After all the reading I did for Philosophy class Holes was able to stand up on it’s own with some very profound thoughts about life.
Taliesin or almost anything by Stephen R. Lawhead – Because he is my very favorite author. Reading his books is like coming home.
Dumbheart: A Get Fuzzy Collection – Sometimes your in a slump and you just need to change up the kind of book you’re reading. Nothing quite like turning to your favorite comic strip for some good laughs to cleanse the soul before moving on to other books. This one happened to be a Christmas present and was the first book I actually finished in 2014. 😂
A Book to Pull Me Out of the Next Slump:
Lady of Sherwood (Outlaws of Sherwood Book 1) – I’m saving this one for a special read through. One when I really need to book to sit back and enjoy. This Young Adult retelling of the Robin Hood myth sounds like just the thing next time I’m in a reading slump.
Clod Makes a Friend – a fantastic fun middle grade read, that I cannot praise enough. My review.
Tales of the Not Forgotten – I haven’t written a review of this yet, but it’s a great missionary story book. I read it (almost) in a single sitting and my Grandmother liked it so much she’s already read it twice.
Cinder – Review coming soon! I finally bit the bullet and picked up Cinder and it was everything I hoped it would be.
Roar – Guys I had to wait months for the paperback version, so I know most of the other book bloggers I follow have already read this book. It was amazing, and that last line, gah! It leaves me wanting more.
Ready Player One – Read this one so that we could go see the movie, but then we were so busy when the movie came out we missed it at out local theater.
Unwind – No review yet, but I am planning to review it. I’m still trying to get my head around all the concepts in the book.
Forbidden – I really need to get the next book, because the story feels like it just got started and then the book ended.
Numbers Game – I read the prequel last year as part of the Shattered Worlds boxed set and enjoyed it. A fun YA dystopian read.
Those are my top ten books of 2018. What been the best book you’ve read this year? Let me know in the comments.
June 26, 2018: Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish (Submitted by A Book and a Cup)
I don’t like to DNF (did not finish) or abandon books, but sometimes books and whole series just aren’t worth the effort.
Eight Series I Abandoned:
Clan of the Cave Bear – I read the first two and then realized these were just going to be full of excuses for cavemen to have sex. PASS.
Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever – First a wholly unlikable protagonist who in the first novel rapes someone, then in the second has incest with the product of that union. Yes you read that right and that is why I will not be continuing the series.
The Air Awakens – I just recently read the first two books in the series which came highly recommended, but instead of the sword and sorcery fair I was expecting, it was more like a CW Teen drama.
Ocean’s Justice – I. Just. Don’t. Like. Rape. In any shape. In any form. Even if it’s the female protagonists who is the offender. Read the first one, then immediately deleted the second off the Kindle.
Mary Poppins – There are four of these books. I just can’t believe that. Mary Poppins is not likable enough to really fill one book, let alone four.
The Mortal Instruments – I freely admit the urban fantasy is not my thing, but so many people recommend this series and when I read it they were just coming out with the TV show and it looked interesting. Through out the entire book I kept think that Clary was pretty much dead weight, the story was happening around her. It kept repeating in my head that Buffy did it better.
Avalon Series – The first one is a pretty good book and some would call it a classic, but then the second and third books pretty much repeat the same plot. Somethings just aren’t meant to be recycled.
Fablehaven – Something about this book just rubbed me the wrong way. It was too dark, too occultic and aimed at small children, which I didn’t like.
Bonus Series I Finished But Wished I Hadn’t:
The Dark Tower – After seven books and an incredible build up I was expecting more. The ending just really disappointed. However, the first book is one I would recommend to any fantasy reader.
Rama -The first book is a science fiction classic and one I highly recommend. The rest get steadily worse and by the end I was like; “what did I just read?” I was so disappointed by the ending. It’s possibly the worst end to a series I’ve ever read. Read the first book and then stop. You don’t need the rest of the story. In this case, leaving the rest to your imagination is a good thing.
What are some series you gave up on? Or series you finished but wished you hadn’t? Let me know in the comment and leave me a link to your Top Ten list.
May 22, 2018: Best Character Names (make this as narrow/broad as you’d like)
I really enjoyed creating this list and thinking up all the great feminine characters who I’ve enjoyed over the years and then finding art to go along with all of them. The characters who haven’t been on the big screen yet were a little challenging, and for those characters who do have movie adaptations I tried to stay away from straight up movie art.
A note on the art: I used image for this blog from DeviantArt as noted below. As a creator myself I enjoy it when someone else likes my work, but I want them to credit me, and so in return I credit other creators. And I only used images that had the download link active or I contact the creator for permission to use the image in this blog. A huge shout out goes to Marianna Insomnia Photography for letting me use one of their wonderful photographs!
10 Best (Female) Character Names
Arwen, The Lord of the Rings – I am probably a little biased because it’s my name. Yes, my real name. The one on my drivers license and birth certificate, not just an online alter-ego. Bonus: since we are big LOTR fans our cats are named Frodo, Samwise, Pippin and Sauron.
Nazafareen, The Forth Element – I love this fantasy series by Kat Ross. It’s set in ancient Persian and the heroine is a warrior called a Water Dog.
Katniss, The Hunger Games – I love the earthy name of the heroine and archer, Katniss. It just seem to fit. I also love her sister’s name Prim.
Inej, Six of Crows – Inej is definitely my favorite Dreg. The balance of her skill and her vulnerability is really interesting to me. And I would not want to meet her in a dark alley… of course you probably wouldn’t even see her….
Penny Farthing, Ticker – Her name makes me chuckle. What a great twist of a name for a steampunk novel. I’m sure some cosplayer out there uses this name too. (If you don’t know what a penny farthing is please Google it.)
Auri, The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Auri is so special I don’t even know how to describe her. If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend reading it. It’s a different sort of fantasy novel just the way Auri is a different kind of heroine.
Petra Arkanian, Ender’s Game – I’m a little biased because Petra is also one of my favorite bands from when I was a teen… who am I kidding I still love them. Petra is strong, smart and kind, which is surprising because kindness and battle school don’t really mesh.
Violet Baudelaire, A Series of Unfortunate Events – I’ve always liked the name Violet, it has both colorful and earthy connotations. Violet Baudelaire is a genius, and although her life is pretty rough she never gives up.
Yvaine, Stardust – Some how this is the perfect kind of name for a star. It sounds heavenly.
Haramas, The Saga of the Trillium – Of all three sisters I like the name Haramas the best, although Kadiya and Anigel are interesting names too. Haramas becomes the high priestess/ sorceress and a guardian of ancient knowledge. Plus she’s a total bookworm!
I hope you enjoyed my list. What names would you add? Do you have any particular favorites among female characters? Please let me know in the comments.
April 24, 2018: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)
I wasn’t really feeling this week’s topic, “Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles”, so I decided to go back and finish a list I started last month.
These are listed in the order I thought them up, and no other.
Books That Surprised Me
Pippi Longstocking – Why? Because I hated it. I love the movie as a child, but when I read the book as an adult I was not impressed.
Robinson Crusoe – Why? Also because I hated it. I’m still convinced that anyone who recommends it has only read the abridged version, or just the first part, or perhaps watched the movie. Because most of the book is rubbish… boring rubbish. It nearly killed my love of read for a whole year.
Mocking Jay – Why? Because of the ending. I didn’t expect the ending to be so real. Unlike most YA series is doesn’t really end on an up note. It ends… well like it should end. With character damaged, scarred, and living with the consequences of all the terrible things that happened to them.
Venom & Vanilla – Why? Because I didn’t expect to like it. I’m not that into Urban Fantasy and I was expecting more Buffy rip-offs (which is how I think of 99% of Urban Fantasy.) Venom & Vanilla was witty and funny and it had a unique premise for the fantasy that was included.
The Dark Tower – Why? Because the ending was so disappointing. Over 7 books with an incredible build up I was expecting an epic fight to the bitter end, what I got felt like more a fizzle out. Instead of fireworks, it was like the carbonation slowly leaking out of your pop bottle.
Mary Poppins – Why? Mary Poppins isn’t actually that nice, she’s vain and disinterested in the children and she is the Queen of gaslighting. Something wonderful and amazing happens and she insists that the children must have imagined it. After reading the book, I would not hire her as a nanny or put her in charge of any children. (It’s free on Kindle Prime Reading right now if you want to check it out for yourself.)
The White Stag – Why? A Newbery Winner that is just a mess of a story. I know the expectations might have been different in 1938, but I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody.
50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know – Why? This one is a little different, because the surprise came when I went to buy textbooks one semester in college to find that our Philosophy book was only $7.99. Kudos to my professor for choosing a book for the class that didn’t break the bank.
Starship Troopers – Why? Because the movie is like 10 pages worth of the material in the book. I was really surprised in the depth of the full story.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Why? Because, the 7 year old is still playing pretend with these characters 6 months after we read the book. Something about Wayside school just ignited her imagination.
That’s it, ten books that surprised me in one way or anther. Have you ever been surprised by a book? Tell me about it in the comments below.
I’m not a big fan of romance books. Occasionally I’ll pick one up, mostly just the ones by my friend Karen Barnett. Also I am not a fan of insta-love and love triangles which seem to be every where in the science fiction and fantasy that I normally read. But this being a love freebie I can go beyond romance books. So for this Top Ten Tuesday I’m going to focus on the most interesting and/or memorable relationships in books that I’ve read.
Listed in the order I thought them up, and no other. 🙂
Top Ten Six Most Interesting Relationships
Culach and Mina – The Forth Talisman series by Kat Ross. This is at the top of the list because I just finished reading Nocturne and Solis by Kat Ross (read my Nocturne review here.) I enjoy the development of this relationship because it’s mature, not in an X-rated sort of way, but in a “we are both adults, we have storied histories, and this is a conscious choice we’ve made” way. It’s so refreshing to read a fantasy story that doesn’t have insta-love or a love triangle.
Catherine and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I read this over a decade ago and it still haunts me. Poor Heathcliff. I still feel his heart break, but his revenge is pretty over-the-top. I know that this whole book is built upon love triangles, which I despise, but it is done in a masterful way. Most writers can’t even scratch the surface of Wuthering Heights.
Aang and Katara – Avatar the Last Airbender. Yes, I know it’s a TV show, but since I have a graphic novel I’m going to count it. I love the slow burn that this relationship has. It’s obvious to the audience that Aang and Katara are meant for each other, but they are only kids and there is a lot of awkwardness and growing up to be done before they can realize their love. It’s great to watch their friendship mature and become love, after-all that it the best way to fall in love (at least in the real world.)
Ruth and Boaz – The Book of Ruth in the Bible. I just finished reading the book of Ruth to the 7 year old (I’ve been working on reading the stories of women in the Bible to her.) This is one of the strangest love stories ever told. She is a poor widow women and a foreigner gleaning in his fields. He takes pity on her and help protect her. Then later she comes and sleeps at his feet, a very strange manner of seduction, and then he has to talk another man out of marrying her. It’s strange, but sweet as well.
Hamlet and Ophelia – Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I almost called this Hamlet and himself, because Hamlet seems to love himself so much that he hates himself, but that’s a story for another list. Here I’ll talk about his relationship with Ophelia and how it all went wrong in a hurry. One day Ophelia is expecting to eventually be married to Hamlet and become the future Queen of Denmark, the next she being told to go to a nunnery and that he doesn’t want anything to do with her and then he kills her father. Talk about a bad break up. Poor Ophelia.
Arwen and Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. It seems to me that when the age difference between lovers is something like 2600 years it just make the romance that much more interesting. That and the fact that they have to wait for about 60 years to do anything about their love. In a lot of books I read most characters can’t wait for 1 day, much less over half a century.
I tried really hard to get to ten this week, but just kept coming up blank. I even went back through a lot of my old reviews, and realized that most of the books I read don’t have anything to offer in this realm. (I also didn’t want to have repeats, eg fill the list with Shakespeare.) And I simply haven’t read a lot of the books on the lists of best fictional/literary characters.
So that’s it the top six most interesting relationships in books. What would you add to this list?
December 26, 2017: Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to In 2018 (These could be new releases, or books you resolve to read, ten debuts we are looking forward to, etc.)
Two lists today. One for the books I’ve agreed to read and review in 2018 and one for book I hope to read with Miss S in 2018. Now that she is 7 and her reading skill are blooming and growing like crazy we can enjoy a wider range of book together. We recently finished the Illustrated Classic Edition of Heidi and are currently reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
Solis (The Fourth Talisman Book 2) – I haven’t received confirmation on this one yet, but I am hoping that I’ll get to read and review Solus, the book that follows Nocturne, for the blog tour.
Romanov – Another blog tour I’ve signed up for is Romanov, a fantasy story featuring the famed royal family of Russia. I admit I have a weakness for re-imaginings of the fate of this family, ever since I watched Anastasia as a kid.
The King of Eiselorn – I posted a book blitz about this book and agreed to also read and review it early in 2018. It sounds like an interesting fantasy story and I’m always looking for fantasy by people outside of the USA/UK/Canada.
Illustrated Classic Editions Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn – I know that these books are abridged, but its a good way to introduce her to the classics. And also I’ve collected stacks and stacks of them.
December 19, 2017: Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
Well there are a lot of books I hope Santa brings. 😉 Like any good bookworm I have lists and lists of books. What I really need is for Santa to bring me the time to read everything on my TBR.
Here are 10 of them. (And except for number one they are in no particular order.)
I Hope Santa Brings. . .
Heart and Brain: Body Language: An Awkward Yeti Collection – Heart and Brain: Body Language continues the adventures of the loveably conflicted sentimental Heart and rational Brain, as well as other bodily inhabitants like Gallbladder, Muscle, and Tongue. Warm-hearted and laugh-out-loud funny, these comics bring our inner struggles to vibrant, humorous life.
Firefly: A Celebration (Anniversary Edition) – Titan’s three bestselling Firefly titles collected together at last, just in time for the 10th anniversary of Joss Whedon’s beloved series. This huge, 544 page full colour volume is simply one of the most lavish books ever produced for a TV show, and is presented in a foil-stamped leather-effect binding. Plus, as an exclusive bonus for this edition, a pocket at the back of the book contains 9 frameable photo prints of the cast, featuring rare and previously unseen images, and a facsimile of one of the prop banknotes used in the show.
NeverSea: Echoes of the Lost – Arya thrives under the limitless blue waters of the NeverSea while Peter soars in the clouds high above—both perfectly designed for this harsh new world. Stolen from their families, Arya and Peter were experimented on as young kids. Pushed to their breaking points, they escaped, but at a heavy price—Peter abandoned Arya when she needed him the most. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid meets Peter Pan in this science fiction retelling of two beloved classics. Readers who enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles will love this epic, young adult series.
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Finally a go-to guide to creating and publishing the kind of content that will make your business thrive. Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer. If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) – Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Lady of Sherwood – Robin of Lockesly was neither the son her father wanted, nor the daughter her mother expected. When she refuses an arranged marriage to a harsh and cruel knight, the deadly events that follow change her destiny forever. After a night of tragedy, Robin and the few remaining survivors flee to Nottingham. With a newfound anonymity, they start to live different lives. There, she and her band make mischief, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. But charity isn’t the only thing she wants―she wants revenge.
What to Do When Words Get Ugly – Practical Strategies for Responding Biblically to Gossip, Criticism, and Negative Words. Communication expert Michael Sedler gives readers practical strategies for identifying, counteracting, and responding graciously to gossip, criticism, and negative words. Our words can profoundly hurt–or heal. All of us can learn to build one another up–and stop words that hurt.
The Blood King (Red Proxy Book 1) – Lord Fathim is 278 years old. In that time, he’s learned a thing or two about conquest. He’s going to put that knowledge to good use. He’s ruled his country for centuries, and his plot to take over the rest of the world is ripening. He has one small problem, though: he’s going insane. The Proxy system which has lengthened his life is also breaking his mind.
The Neverland Wars – Magic can do a lot―give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home. However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe.
Bonus: I have to have a least one kids book on my wishlist. (Actually I have a whole separate list for those, but here’s one I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree Christmas morning.)
Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story – Astronaut Mark Kelly flew with “mice-tronauts” on his first spaceflight aboard space shuttle Endeavour in 2001. Mousetronaut tells the story of a small mouse that wants nothing more than to travel to outer space. The little mouse works as hard as the bigger mice to show readiness for the mission . . . and is chosen for the flight! While in space, the astronauts are busy with their mission when disaster strikes—and only the smallest member of the crew can save the day. With lively illustrations by award-winning artist C. F. Payne, Mousetronaut is a charming tale of perseverance, courage, and the importance of the small!
What books do you hope to find under the tree come Christmas morning? Leave me a comment to let me know.
October 3, 2017:Top Ten Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends (Which characters do you have crushes on?)
I’m going off topic again, and going to skip the book boyfriend in order to go back and do the character topic from last week. Ten Books That Feature Characters ____________: Examples: Ten books that feature black main characters, characters who hold interesting jobs, characters who have a mental illness, characters that are adopted, characters that play sports, etc, etc. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!
Now that I’ve read some of the other posts from last week I’m feeling a bit more inspired. (Plus my husband is such a total heartthrob I don’t need a book boyfriend 😉 )
This list is in the order they came to mind. It’s not a ranking of their survival skills.
Top Ten Survivors
Brian from Hatchet – The quintessential wilderness survival book. Brian is lost in the woods with only a handful of supplies and a hatchet after the small plane he was in crashes into a lake in the Canadian wilderness. If you haven’t read it you are missing out. I enjoyed it as a young teen and again as an adult.
Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins – Another YA Classic, and another book I enjoyed both as an adult and when I was younger. Left alone on an island after her tribe moves away Karana is forced to find a way to survive alone against the forces of nature, wild dogs and loneliness.
Sam from My Side of the Mountain – So a lot of these are simply classics. In this story Sam feels crowded in the small apartment in NY so he runs away and finds a home in the Catskill Mountains inside a hollowed out tree. The kid in me get excited just thinking about Sam’s adventure.
Katniss from the Hunger Games – Notice how I specified, Hunger Games, when it’s because of the skills Katniss learned in the wildness, where she hunts and forages for food for her family that she survives the first games. Even using the wilderness again some of her opponents.
Matt from Sign of the Beaver – Matt and his father build a frontier cabin and then Matt’s fathers leaves to go get the rest of the family. Leaving 13 year old Matt to fend for himself, but what’s a boy suppose to do when the weeks, and it seems that his family will never come back.
Minnow from The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – A book I just recently devoured, uh I mean read. I started to read the excerpt and couldn’t stop. The cover is deceiving because one of the defining characteristics of Minnow, is that she has no hands. She survives when her hands are taken from her by the cruel cult leader, she survives to runaway from the cult’s wilderness homestead in the middle of winter, and in jail the girl with no hands learns to kick-butt. A powerful story.
Marie Dorion from A Name of Her Own – Jane Kirkpatrick always does a great job of making history come alive, but there is something special about this story of the Astor party and Marie’s survival on the second cross-country trip to the Oregon country after Lewis and Clark’s journey.
Jonnie from Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 – My husband rolled his eyes when I told him this was going to be on my list. But he’s only seen the movie, and has not read the book, which is so much better. Although, Barry Pepper is Jonnie in my mind, he fits the part so well. Jonnie survives not only in the fringes of the wildness, but also in an alien concentration camp, torture and more.
Heidi and Peter in Courage Mountain – I read the novelization of this movie before seeing the movie. In fact, I read it several times. Heidi and Peter are forced to help a group of girls cross the alps during World War II. There’s danger a plenty and a young Charlie Sheen, back when he was hot and not crazy, in the pictures in the middle part of the book.
The Swiss Family Robinson – Now here I’m cheating a little because I have only read the abridged version and then seen the movie. But when it comes to surviving and thriving in the meanwhile no one comes to mind like the Swiss Family Robinson.
Note: No Robinson Crusoe is NOT on this list, and that’s on purpose. Have you read that book? It’s rubbish! I’m still convinced that everyone else has read the abridged version or stopped after part one (he actually on the island for only a short amount of time.)