Monday, January 9, 2012

The Westing Game

Well, I know this blog hasn't been used much lately, but I had a baby 3 weeks ago and have discovered that reading while I'm nursing helps keep me sane (especially in the middle of the night). So Anna, make sure you're well stocked on good books to read!

Newberry Award Winner

This was a great book! I have to admit when I first started reading it I was a little skeptical. It's a murder mystery with a lot of adult characters for a Children's novel, well, a lot of characters in general. It was hard to keep them all straight, especially since the author switches perspectives constantly, and most the characters I didn't even like. But I stuck with it and I was glad I did! You get to know the characters as they get to know each other and every single character has an arc, changing throughout the story. The plot is just predictable enough that you feel ahead of the game, yet there were startling surprises throughout and a terrific ending. I highly recommend this as a book that makes you think and keeps you guessing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

Reading level: ages 8-10

Very exciting plot and characters. Piper is a girl who can fly, and turns out to be exactly what her friends, who also have special abilities, need her to be. She takes them all to new heights because she brings out the best in others and believes in them.

I loved getting caught up in this adventure!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Water Seeker by Kimberly Holt

This book was intriguing from the very first page. The story is propelled by a surreal force, and is very surprising to the very end. The setting is based in in early 1800s with the early movements west and the man character's father is a douser who travels from farm to farm locating sources of water for wells. Intrigued? Well there is more... much more! But you will have to read it to find out.

I would recommend "Water Seeker" to YA because there are some heftier topics covered. There are references to family abuse and many of the characters die in unnatural ways (I don't want to reveal too much). That being said, the entire story is not gruesome, and overall I found this story rather uplifting and entertaining.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Book 2 of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series
~279 pages~Rating 10 out of 10
Percy Jackson has almost made it through the whole year without being attacked by monsters. Almost. On the last day of school an innocent game of dodge ball turns into a fight between Percy and some Mean Cannibal Giants. Annabeth comes to the rescue, but the real reason she came is the magical boundary line around Camp Half Blood have been Poisoned by an a Mysterious Enemy. The only antidote to save Camp Half Blood is the Golden Fleece. Percy and his friends set out on yet another amazing quest to save the day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I like the new background!

Hey fellow booklovers!

As much as I love recommending books that I've read I find it even more fun to discuss them! This is my thought. We can take turns choosing a book we've read at the beginning of the month and all have a discussion about it at the end of the month. I know we don't all have time to read a book every month (at least I don't), but you'll just have to avoid reading the discussion posts if you didn't read the book and don't want spoilers.

I don't personally know very many of you, but I'm excited to discuss books with people in different stages of life and with different perspectives than me. Besides, I've found you all have impeccable taste :)

So, since it's practically still the beginning of November I'm going to choose a book for this month. I will discuss it at the end of the month with whoever would like to join me!

And the book is...

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I did a post on this book a couple of months ago and would love to discuss it!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dragonology Chronicles: The Dragon's Eye by Dugald A. Steer

219 pg. rating 10 out of 10
This book is the first of a series I believe and is very good
If you are interested in dragons you might want to consider this book
It also contains info on dragons.Okay here is my summary of the beginning:
The dragons eye,said only to show the true dragon masters reflection.
But danger is lurking at Sir Ernest Drakes boarding school where young pupils learn
the basics of dragonology.A evil man and a scheming woman are teamed up to find the dragons eye.Sir Ernest Drake along with 2 of his students set out to stop them...
So think about reading this book by Dugald A. Steer!!And if you want more facts you can find some more informative reading such as:The Complete Book of Dragons,The Dragonology Handbook,and Tracking and Taming Dragons.

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

389 pg. rating 9.9 out of 10.
It is a book that has the characters from 3 other Shanon Hale books:
The Goose Girl,Enna Burning,and River Secrets +a few new characters
but it is a really good book.A young forest girl named Rin goes with her brother to
the city for a change,but War may be approaching and things are getting dangerous.
When the king and some soldiers go to investigate a mysterious village fire,they are attacked from an unknown source.The queen and 2 friends go to track the attackers Rin follows...Okay that is my little summary of the beginning but it is definitely not the end of this epic adventure!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I recently read this book and I would have to say it is a must read! It was a whole new twist on writing that I really enjoyed. The book is around 600 pages but almost 300 are full of the authors original drawings. It's almost like a novel/graphic novel all combined into one book. If you are looking for a good book to read choose this one! :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Hey everyone!

I finally got a job teaching fourth grade this upcoming school year. Since this will be my first year teaching I need to build a classroom library pronto! I'm going to go through this whole blog and write down what's already been suggested, but does anyone have suggestions for books that are good for the fourth grade level that they haven't already posted about? What books did you/your children like to read in fourth grade? I'd love to hear your ideas! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang

Ages 12-adult

When Ji-Li was a small girl in Shanghai, China, she believed that Chairman Mao and the Communist Party had saved China and that she was very lucky to live there. She was happy, smart, a star pupil admired by her teachers and fellow students. Her family was financially secure and had good standing. Then in 1966, when Ji-Li was 12 years old the Cultural Revolution began and her world began to crumble. It was interesting to read how the government began systematically restricting more and more freedoms and the devastating effect it had on the people. This book is written from the perspective of a child who grew up very quickly as she had to become the care taker of her family. Despite all that the author has been through, she still considers herself quite blessed. She says, "After surviving the Cultural Revolution, I find myself more sensitive to the beauty of the human spirit". Ji-Li faced her trials with courage. This book is a quick and interesting read.

Jungle Doctor (Series) by Paul White

Ages 9-12 years

Paul White is an Australian doctor who went to Africa in 1938 to work as a doctor and serve as a missionary to the people of Tanzania. This series of books is based on his experiences in Africa and began as a radio show in the 1940's and was later compiled into these 20 books. The book I read is called Jungle Doctor's Enemies and was about a little blind boy Mubofu who secretly brought children from a hostile village to the hospital for treatment during a measles outbreak. He selflessly helped save many lives, but then mysteriously disappeared. What a touching story to read about the compassion that this little blind orphan had for the suffering of others. I don't want to spoil the story, but this is a good book to read with a tissue in hand.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out of Darkness by Russell Freedman

Reading level: 3rd grade-
76 pages
This is a brief biography about Louis Braille and his development of the Braille system of reading for the blind. Louis was three when he was blinded by an infection in his corneas. I learned a lot from reading this book and it really opened my eyes.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Reading level: 6th grade-
Pages: 240 ish

I picked this book up because I though it was about a blind boy, but turned out the boy was legally blind and the story is more centered around soccer and football. This book has won several awards and is also on Barnes and Nobles summer reading list.
Honestly I found the story a little bizarre. It is about a 7th grade boy who moved with his family from Houston to Tangerine, Florida (hence the title). The events that follow are struggling with a school, a jerk older brother that is the football star, the school falling into a sinkhole, killer mosquitoes and jewel thieves.
I won't read this one again, and i wouldn't recommend it unless you had an interest in soccer. This would probably appeal to a teen aged boy, but then again the twists and turns really made the plot interesting.

Charlotte's Rose by A.E. Cannon

Reading level: 5th grade-
230 ish pages
This is a story about a girl who crossed the plains with the Mormon pioneers to Utah with her father. During the journey one of the ladies traveling with the company dies in child birth and the father of the baby, being emotional distraught, will not care for the baby. Thirteen-year-old Charlotte volunteers to care for the infant when nobody else will. Her sacrifice in this journey is increased with this responsibility and naturally she undergoes much growth.
I actually read through the night finishing this book by flash light.
I recommended this book to Mom and the only thing she didn't like about it is a derogatory past is revealed about one of the company. Something that really didn't have any bearing on the story and seemed very out of place.

Wesley the Owl by Stacy O'Brien

Age: Adult
about 200 pgs

Sarah recommended this book to me and I found it enlightening and very interesting. This a memoir written about a biologist who adopts an injured baby barn owl. Written from a scientists point of view, this book includes many insights to animal behavior. But what is surprising (even to the author) is the relationship that would develop between Stacy and Wesley.

Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl

Age level: 4th grade to adult
214 pages

This book was recommended to me by Mom and is an interesting twist on fairy tale stories. The story is about an orphan girl who watches over twelve geese. Before her mother died she promised her that if she always treated the geese well they would protect her and keep her from want. The goose girl, Alexandria is also given three magic gifts from a hag she gives her meal to: the gift of beauty, enchanted hair that golden dust falls from and when she cries her tears become diamonds. Obviously the rumors attract the attention of royalty: a prince of one kingdom and a king of another.
This tale is full of surprises and humor (rather I found the plot very amusing). Thanks for the recommendation Mom!
Another book by this author I hope to read is called "Woman in the Wall"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead
197 pages
reading level: 4-6 grade ish
2010 Newbery Award winner

I first noticed this book in the bookstore last year, but I didn't think it looked remotely interesting, so I ignored it. Then while I was supposed to be studying in the library a couple of weeks ago I just happened to walk past the Newbery display and was surprised to see this there. I picked it up just to read the back, but the back had nothing but reviews. So in a very non-committal way I cracked open the cover just to read the front page. It hooked me! I sat down on the ground and read for two hours. It is amazing. It is 92% contemporary realistic fiction, and 8% (the main part of the plot) blow-your-mind-away, mysterious, almost weird, modern fantasy/science fiction.  That is all I can say at present, as this book is too good to divulge any aspect the plot. You just have to read it for yourself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Ok, I know this blog is about books, but I just want to say I also LOVE reading blogs! I feel like blogs are a way for people to connect in a way that people have stopped connecting - through writing and reading each others' words. And my latest and greatest discovery is the cooking blog! I honestly could spend hours searching for something to make - and enjoying it! (Cookbooks terrify me) Cooking blogs are personal, and by the time I'm done reading the recipe I feel like the dish is being recommended by an old friend. So, I am sharing with you the link for a great cooking blog that also so happens to be having a fabulous giveaway right now!

This is just one of a few cooking blogs that has turned me from my ramon noodle ways and made my dad admit that he no longer fears for my husband's health and well being. Happy reading! (/cooking)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Building Your Personal Library - The Cheap Way!

 Hello friends!

I don't have a particular book to recommend right now, but I'll probably be posting on this one soon. I'm half way through and am loving it so far, but curious to see how it will line up with the movie in the end. I got this at the BYU bookstore the other day for $3.00. Not bad! They have a table at the end of children's section with a bunch of great deals on children's lit. I'm holding off on building my personal library right now in anticipation of the flood that will inevitably come if I get a teaching job next year. I want to know which grade level to start with. But I thought I'd share some places that I've found -and a lot of teachers use - to get cheap books.

A. D.I. - So good! Check out the children's section of the books next time you go. They have great books - often Newbury winners - at a great price. With a little digging you can get books in good condition ranging from $.50 to $4.00 for a really fat, popular, hardcover book in perfect condition.

B. Libraries - Libraries periodically get rid of old books either by giving them away, or by selling them for cheap.

C. The BYU bookstore - New book. Tuck Everlasting. $3.00. Enough said.

D. Amazon - My husband got me the entire Percy Jackson series for Christmas and the price was less than half on Amazon than at Borders (I think I'm a little anti-large book chains).

Well, hopefully that's helpful to some of you. Happy library building!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Daily Universe Article: Religion Professors Discuss Books with Religious Impact

This article is on the front page of the paper today and I enjoyed it. It gave me some good ideas for more books to read.

Click here to read the article

I recently read Enzio Busche's book "yearning for the living God" (mentioned in the article). I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de luce Mystery by Alan Bradley

Reading level adult
number of pages 385
published by Bantam Books

I just finished reading a new mystery described as an "enthralling mystery", "a rich literary delight", "a quirky, delightful whodunit" about a little girl about the age of eleven who is both irresistible and incorrigible, a sleuth and a budding scientist. The story takes place in the summer of 1950 in England in a once -grand mansion where Flavia lives with her father and two older sisters. This wonderfully told tale begins when a dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. This is the beginning of a series of events that was delicious to read and impossible to stop turning the pages to the very end. There were no slow or dragging parts to the story. Once begun, I was simply pulled in and enjoyed every twist and turn. I am happy to see that the second book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag is due out this month.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Reading level: 6th grade
Hardcover 383 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2003

This book is amazing! So well written, the characters just come to life as you read. It's based on an old Grimms fairytale, but I had never even heard of it till I read this book.

Ok, the real reason I'm writing about this book - funny story. I'm doing student teaching in 6th grade right now and my mentor teacher wanted to get the kids more excited about AR (reading program), so we both did a couple of book talks (basically introducing a book in an appealing way) in front of the class. I told them about this book and read a short passage, but I was worried none of the boys would want to read it. I thought about adding a blurb about it not being just a girl book, but decided not to, just to see what would happen. Turns out my boys were clambering for this book! I didn't have a single girl ask me for it, but several boys were searching the book shelf saying, "who took Goose Girl?" It made me sooooo happy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

David Wiesner

I am a firm believer in quality picture books. There was nothing that made my childrens' lit teacher madder than to hear someone excuse a poor quality book as being "good enough for children" (as Anna can attest), and pointed out the wealth of high quality picture books out there. These books are a combination of meaningful art that enhances the text, and a compelling dramatic question. I found myself discovering picture books as an adult that I love for their literary value, rather than sentimentality. One of my most exciting discoveries was David Weisner.

Anna already wrote about his wordless picture book Flotsam. It's a Caldecott award winner and is absolutely genius.

 Another wordless picture book, a Caldecott honor book, and probably my favorite of all his books is Sector 7. It's the story of a boy who goes on a field trip to the Empire State building and ends up messing with the production of a cloud factory. I love his wordless picture books because so much is left to fill in with your imagination, but his other books are fabulous too.

Tuesday is a bizarre, delightful little tale about the strange things that happen on - you guessed it! - Tuesday. I'm pretty sure this book only has three words in it, so I'm not quite sure which category it belongs to.

 The Three Pigs is the classic tale as you've never read it before. Basically, it's the pigs' escape from the world of 2-D animation and their ability to make friends that conquers the wolf in the end. These two are also Caldecott award winners.

And finally there's June 29, 1999. This one's more of a classic picture book than the others, but it definitely has that unique Wiesner style. The main character sends vegetables into the sky as a science experiment - with large results. My favorite part about this story is the hilarious twist at the end. 

So, next time you're at the library, for your kids or for yourself, stop by the picture book section and enjoy a sample of quality literature from David Wiesner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

122 Pages
Reading Level: adult ? (I think it's not really complex, so anyone could read it)

SO this book is really NOT my type of book (uplifting/feel good, non-fantasy, non-romantic), but I really enjoyed this Christmas story, here in the middle of March. AND I must admit- I even cried. It's a sweet story about how service can change people's lives. It was a quick read with a great message. It left me wanting to be better, but still feeling good. I'm hoping to pick up the sequel at the library and possibly I'll eventually branch out to some of the author's other books.

Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad

Reading level: age 8-10
167 pages

I inhaled this book (from start to finish in just a couple of hours) and it was wonderful. It was very quick to read but was well written. To me this means that story allows me to make a connection with the characters and who they are as well being able to discover subtle themes and beautiful messages.