"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, December 15, 2017

End of the Year. A year in books.

Hosted at Perpetual Page Turner

Number Of Books I Read: 156 (so far)
Number of Re-Reads: 2
Genre You Read The Most From: YA (is that a genre?)

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

This is a hard one but I guess the book I told the most people to read because I loved it so much: The One-In-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

 Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North. Instead of being funny, I thought it was stupid.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

 Ordinary Grace by William Krueger

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

YA Fiction: The Hate U Give
Adult Fiction: The One-In-A Million Boy
YA Nonfiction: A Dog in the Cave
Adult Nonfiction: Lab Girl  

5. Best series you in 2017?

Started: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor AND La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman; Mid series: Thick As Thieves by Megan Whelan Turner (5th book in the Queen of Attolia series)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Kent Haruf (Our Souls at Night)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Bull by David Elliott---Greek Mythology, written in verse.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Thick As Thieves by Megan Whelan Turner. It was the first book of the year I just couldn't stop reading. The adventure and the action were tense but not over-the-top.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

It is pretty unlikely I will reread any of the books I read this year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Loving v. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Powell

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

The boy (un-named) in The One-In-A-Million Boy

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Longest: The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner, 563 pages

Shortest: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, 32 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor...it left the reader on a huge cliff-hanger!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Sarai and Lazlo Strange in Strange the Dreamer.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Charlie Dean and John Thomas in The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

YA: John Green (Turtles All the Way Down)
Adult: Sherman Alexie (You Don't Have To Say You Love Me)

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I can't think of any books that someone pressured me to read, but I read books for book clubs which I probably wouldn't have read if not for the club. Here are few book club titles I really enjoyed
The One-In-A-Million Boy
Our Souls At Night
Ordinary Grace
The End of Your Life Book Club
Life After Life

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Um..m---can't think of any crushes on characters this year.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor...I could picture everything and it was wild!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was the Most FUN to Read?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This is a reread for me. Ha ha. What fun!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin Sandler.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade by Heather Schwartz

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

The Shakespeare Timeline Wallbook by Christopher Lloyd

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The March Against Fear by Ann Bashum, the last big march of the Civil Rights era.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I'm terrible of keeping track of these things.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

An announcement with the help of poetry --- how I announced my retirement
Farewell to Muffy with a look at the literature. --- Written the day we put our beloved dog down.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Cavalcade of Authors West in University Place, Washington.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Being asked to be a Cybils Judge because of my book blogging.  I am just finishing up on role as a round 1 judge for junior high/senior high nonfiction books.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I had a really hard time writing reviews this year. I am so far behind of where I want to be with my reviews that i get really frustrated. But then I have to do some self=talk and remind myself that I need not pressure myself. I am doing this at my own volition, so why add stress to myself?

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Saying Goodbye to a Friend ---598 views, 25 comments written after the death of my high school friend.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

The Plot Against America---a cautionary tale
Actually, this post had a lot of views, but not a lot of comments. I wish I knew what people thought when they read it. I compared Trump to Charles Lindbergh.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Once again, I didn't keep track of them.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yes. I finished and made progress on several challenges:
a. To Read all the YMA Winners---100% complete
b. To read all the Printz Award and Honor books of the year --- 80% complete
c. The Big Book Summer Challenge --- Read three books. 
d. Pulitzer Challenge --- read the current winner and make progress on past winners list. Read two.
e. Read Classics Club list ---- Read three classics.

1. One Book I Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be My Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway ---- The National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

I haven't paid attention. Sigh.

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

See above answer.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the Book of Dust series by Pullman AND the second book in the Strange the Dreamer series.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

OK. Let's see if I can commit to reviewing at least half of the books I read. I'll try that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My Year in Books...a meme

Photo Credit: A. Bennett, Chihuly Museum

Let's have some fun and take part in Adam's end of year meme, My Life in Books
The rules? Pretty simple: answer the questions with books you read this year!

In high school I was: a Love Warrior (Glennon Melton)

People might be surprised (that): I Heard God Laughing (poems by Hafiz)

I will never beA Dog in the Cave (Kay Frydenborg)

My fantasy job isLab Girl (Hope Jahren)

At the end of a long day I needHomegoing (Yaa Gyasi)

I hate(d) it:  When We Collided (Emory Lord)

Wish I hadMilk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)

My family reunions areOrdinary Grace (William Krueger)

At a party you’d find me (talking about): News of the World (Paulette Jiles)

I’ve never been toThe (A) Beatles (concert) (Bob Spitz)

A happy day includesHelp. Wow. Thanks. Three Essential Prayers (Anne Lamott)

Motto I live byThe Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in the Game Called Life (Kwame Alexander)

On my bucket list is: (is to see the musical) Hamilton (Martha Brockenbrough)

In my next life, I want to have: (Bernie Sanders Guide to) Political Revolution (Bernie Sanders)

Join in the end of year, life in review, what-books-did-I-read-this-year fun with Adam @Roofbeamreader.

JH/SH Nonfiction...an update

I've submitted lists of my favorite junior high and senior high nonfiction titles submitted for review by Cybils, Round 1 judges. So I actually have an evening where I can relax and not try to frantically read "one more book" before bedtime.

Now I can step back and take a look at what I have done and highlight for you a few of my favorite books.

There were 64 nominated books: 25 junior high and 39 senior. I read all or part of 51 of these books. I got most of the books from my local libraries. Those books not available were supposed to be supplied by publishers, however nine of those books were never sent or haven't arrived yet, so I had to attempt to review them using the LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK feature on Amazon.com. That was less than a satisfactory way to view a book especially since many pages aren't available and often, in the chapters that are supplied, pages are skipped. But I could get the idea how the book was put together and what the writing style was like.

My favorite part of judging these Cybils nominated books is being "forced" to read such a vast variety of topics, ones I likely wouldn't have read if not for this position. I read books about famous historical people, climate change, Civil Rights,  wars, animal behaviors, pirates, politics, chocolate, Holocaust stories, and many books aimed at girls by girls.

Here are links to reviews I've written for a few of the books. I still have several books I hope to review in the future, too.
  • Vincent and Theo---Vincent Van Gogh and his relationship with his brother, Theo.
  • A Dog in the Cave---Research on mankind's relationship with dogs and their forebears, wolves.
  • The Whydah---a pirate ship which was recently found after being sunk 200 years ago.
  • The March Against Fear---the last big march of the Civil Rights era and the beginning of Black Power
  • Uprooted---Japanese Internment during WWII in America
  • Isaac the Alchemist---Isaac Newton, famous for his scientific and mathematical discoveries was interested in alchemy.
  • Double Cross---Deceptive techniques used during wars throughout history. (I know. Can you believe that I found this intersting? Ask my husband. I followed him around the house reading him stuff from the book. Ha!)
  • Girl Code---two high school girls take a computer coding seminar, create a web game, it goes viral!
  • Undefeated---Jim Thorpe and his amazing athletic prowess.
  • Alexander Hamilton---beyond what we learn from the musical.
  • Girl Rising---making education available to girls around the world
Now it is time for the conference calls. All the judges submit their lists. We take a look at the books again and debate and discuss until be come up with a master list of five books for each category.

Monday, December 11, 2017

TTT: Favorite books of the year

Top Ten Tuesday: My favorite books of the year.
Oh gosh. How can I decide? There were so many good books that I read this year. 
How do I narrow  down the lists? 
I know. I'll identify some of my favorites by category, which means the list has more than ten books.

Favorite YA Fiction
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
The Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Favorite Adult Fiction
 The One-In-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Ordinary Grace by Willian Krueger

Favorite YA/MG Nonfiction
The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum
Uprooted by Albert Marrin
Isaac the Alchemist by Mary Losture
The Whydah by Martin Sandler
Girl Rising by Tonya Lee Stone
A Dog in the Cave by Kay Frydenborg
Undefeated by Steve Shienkin
Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Favorite Adult Nonfiction
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
In Our Backyard by Nita Belles
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

What about you? What are some of your favorite books of 2017?

Sunday Salon, on Monday, Dec. 11th

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" display in the New York Macy's store window display
Weather: Clear skies, cold temperatures, frosty mornings. While in New York we experienced a variety of weather: clear and warm, cold and windy, rainy, clear and cold.

Checking out those amazing dinosaur bones.
New York: Last week my sister, Kathy, and I traveled to New York to visit my daughter, Carly, and to experience NYC at Christmas time. What a week!

  • We saw six shows. Count 'em---six: The Play That Went Wrong; Home for the Holidays; Hello Dolly; The Rockette's Christmas Show; Waitress; and Come From Away. The last two shows we saw on Wednesday, one matinee and one evening show, after we stood in line in the cold for two hours to get rush tickets. Both were worth the effort! We even got back stage passes for Home for the Holidays after the show because Kathy is friends with two of the singers, Peter and Evynne Hollens. Fun!
  • We went to two museums: The 9-11 Memorial Museum (Yes, it was very emotional); and The Natural History Museum where we spent most of our time among the dinosaur bones and in the planetarium watching a show about dark matter and the universe, confirming how insignificant we are in the scheme of things.
  • We dined with friends twice: Chris, a Tri-Delta sister of mine, took the train over from NJ and we looked around Rockefeller center before heading to Carmine's for a fabulous feast; Ken and Carol drove over from NJ also for a quick dinner at the Glass House Tavern before we had to jet off to see our last musical of the trip, Come From Away. Thank you friends!
  • We walked half the Brooklyn Bridge and back so we could see the Statue of Liberty in the Harbor and the NYC skyline.
  • We did a bit of shopping, and more window shopping on 5th Avenue and Herrold Square.
  • We attended church at the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church. The early service is in the chapel, but the space is bigger than our sanctuary at home and has a pipe organ. We didn't want to miss out on the first Sunday of Advent. 
  • We stayed in a funky apartment in the Hell's Kitchen district of the city, not too far from Broadway. Carly was able to spend a few nights with us between riding the train back to Yonkers for her classes. We had wonderful food the whole trip, all except for a disgusting breakfast sandwich I bought at Starbucks, of all places!
On the Brooklyn Bridge
Yesterday: I traveled with the church choir to a small town church in Mineral, where they performed a portion of their Christmas cantata for the congregation there. It always feels a little like I have stepped into a Courier and Ives postcard when we arrive in Mineral. Afterwards we dined in a new restaurant in Eatonville, not far from Mineral, with our daughter/son-in-law/grandson, and my second cousin and her husband. Because of this, I didn't get my Sunday Salon written and posted on Sunday!
The 9-11 Museum. Who remembers the color of the sky on the day right before the first plane crashed into one of the towers? None of the tiles are the same color blue.

Carly in front of the building where her classes are taught at Sarah Lawrence University

Chris and me.  Tri-Delta sisters.

The food in NYC is so good. This food shot was taken in Juniors.

My little camera on my phone doesn't do justice to the beauty of the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Kathy and me. Macys in Herrold Square.

Kathy and Peter Hollens back stage after Home for the Holidays.
47 best books: This is the time of year when publications like School Library Journal and the New York Times put out lists of their favorite books of the year. A blogger at BooksAreMyFavourteAnd Best compiled all the lists she could find and listed the books by how many publications each book was named in. The winner, with 23 publications listing it as one of the year's best books, was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I haven't read this book, but it is certainly going on my to-read pile. Check out the rest of the books which got listed on a lot of the "best of" end-of-the-year book lists by clicking on the hyperlink. 

Cybils: my work on this project as Round 1 judge is rapidly coming to an end and I am in a frenzy to read as many of the books as I can in these last few days. Of the 64 books on the list I have read all or a apart of around 45 and I have six books sitting here and one on hold at the library. By Wednesday I have to submit a list of my five to seven books in each category (junior high and senior high nonfiction.) Needless to say I will only have time for a cursory peek at the remaining seven books before then but I am not giving up. Today I found two really great ones and who knows there may be more gems waiting to be discovered.

Books read this week (not Cybils): 
  • Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things by Amy Dickinson...a memoir by the syndicated columnist who writes "Ask Amy." This would make a good discussion book for a book club.
  • The Playbook by Kwame Alexander. 52 rules to follow to score in the game called life. Wonderful!
Currently reading (not counting the Cybils-nominated books):
  • My Brilliant Career. My Classics Club spin book. It is taking a back seat to my other books right now.
  • The Bus 57. A true story about how a crime brought two teenagers together. I've only just started it but am very fascinated by it.
Peter Hollens December Song: In case you aren't familiar with Peter here is his Christmas video from last year. He wrote this song. We saw him perform it at the Home for the Holidays show.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lists! 'Tis the Season

Now that it is December  Best books of the Year lists are starting to show up. I shall attempt to keep a list for you here of as many as I find them. As per usual, my focus shall be on Young Adults but many of these lists are attached to best adult list. All you need to do is trail back on the lists I link.

1. Publisher's Weekly- Best Children's and Young Adult books.
     The list is divided into Picture Books, Middle Grades, and Young Adults. There are 16 YA books identified, only two are nonfiction.

2. School Library Journal. Best Books of 2017.
     Lots of books are listed, they are divided among five categories: Picture books; Chapter books; Middle Grade books; Young Adult books; Nonfiction books.  Eighteen YA titles were listed.

3. National Book Award.
     Young People's Literature division winner: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway.

4. Kirkus Review.
    Broken Down into categories. Long.
5. Audible (Audiobooks). Best YA audiobooks of the year.
     Coming soon

6. New York Times 100 Notable books of 2017. 
     Published Nov. 22, 2017. I don't see any YA titles on here, but I may have missed something.

7. The Washington Post.
    There are several other links to other book lists, though they have a few YA nonfiction selections, no YA fiction made even the Children's list.
8. Best of 2017 Goodreads. Vote now on final round nominees in many categories.

9. 2018 Morris Award finalists.
(Debut YA author) five books on this short list. Award will be selected in Feb. 2018.

10. 2018 YALSA Nonfiction finalists.
(YA nonfiction) five books on this short list. Award will be selected in Feb. 2018.

11. Horn Book Fanfare. 
     The list is a jumble of middle grade and YA titles. It also recognizes nonfiction.

12. NPR Best Books of 2017. 
     There are 20 YA titles on this list but over 300 titles mentioned in all categories.

13. New York Times Notable Children's Books
Seven YA books in addition to several children's and middle grade books.

14. Chicago Public Library---Best Books of 2017.
     Click the link to view the different categories. The teen fiction list contains all the usual suspects and a few surprises.

15. Newsday. Ten best adult books of 2017.

16. 47 Best Books of the Year, compiled by Books Are My Favourite and Best

17. Pierce County Library. (My county in Western Washington) Twelve favorite books by category voted on my library users.

This list will be updated as more Best of lists are published.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Three nonfiction reviews about girls, by girls!

My Cybils reading has taken a bit of a backseat to the rest of my life lately, so I thought I would pause, take a breath, and let you know about three books I am really excited about. Three books about girls by girls. I am inspired and I hope teen readers out there will be, too.

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser
      Andrea and Sophie meet while they are attending a summer camp for girls on how to create computer code. The girls decide to work on their final project together---to create a web-based game. As the girls talk about their interests and hopes for their projects they realized they had similar ideals. They wanted to create a game that would make a difference for girls around the world. They decided, after gaining permission from their program director, to create a game called Tampon Run. As offensive as that sounds, they decided that girls around the world were often not allowed to do things, like go to school, because of taboos around menstruation. The game is not only fun to play, it is educational, as well. Even after graduation from their program the girls continued to work on the game. After its launch the game went viral and the girls were thrown into the spotlight even though they were both high school students who still needed to fulfill their class requirements. Both girls are now in college and wrote the book in alternating chapters about the challenges of being a girl in a male-dominated field.
      I loved this book. It was so real. Girls wanting to make a difference and being willing to break into a field, computer coding, dominated by males. The end of the book even has some basic coding suggestions for girls to use to get started coding themselves. As I read it I couldn't help but think about the AP Computer Programming class at my old school. The class was taught by a male teacher and was dominated by male students. I think the teacher should consider using this book to inspire his students, mainly the girls, to continue in the field.
     (Harper Collins eBook, 2017, checked out remotely from Overdrive)

Earth Hates Me: True Confessions From a Teenage Girl by Ruby Karp
     Ruby Karp is a sixteen-year-old is a comedian, performing at the UCB Theater in New York, an author, writing for Hello Giggles, and a high school student. Earth Hates Me is her first book. It is a combination of memoir and self-help book for teen girls. Ruby has a great sense of humor and this book reflects it.
Ruby advises her peers on the importance of feminism ("not just the Spice Girls version"), how to deal with jealousy and friend break-ups, family life, and much more. The book takes an in-depth look at the effect of social media on modern teens and the growing pressures of choosing the right college and career. Amy Poehler says, "This book is filled with juicy young person wisdom."  With Ruby's powerful underlying message "we are more than just a bunch of dumb teenagers obsessed with our phones," Earth Hates Me is the definitive guide to being a teen in the modern age (GoodReads).
     Even though I am not a teenager, I enjoyed this book immensely. Karp speaks authentically to teenagers and her humor helps the advice she offers to not come across with a heavy-hand or a preachy-voice. I hope that all high school librarians reading this post add this book to their next book order!
     (Running Press eBook, 2017, checked out from Overdrive)

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
     When Sandra was ten-years-old she had a gun held to her head when the refugee camp where she and her family lived was invaded by local terrorists. These men had already killed her younger sister and wounded her mother. Somehow she escaped and was reunited with remnants of her family. Eventually Sandra and her family were granted visas to move to the Untied States as war refugees. Once here she met with new types of problems--- poverty, racism, language, and lack of community. The death of her sister haunted Sandra, also, and she wanted to do something to help refugees around the world and especially in her beloved home country of The Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help from her college and her church Sandra found her voice and became a potent advocate for refugees, even making presentations for the U.N. and the PressCorps where she met Michelle Obama.
     This book is quite different than the other two I highlighted above. It is very inspiring, but also tremendously depressing to read about all the hate in the world and to learn about how it affects children. But I do encourage folks to read it, if for no other reason that to find how one person can make a difference if that person is willing to speak out!
     (Katherine Tegen Books eBook, 2017, checked out from Overdrive)

I am not sure if any of these titles will pass out of Round 1 judging for the Cybils Award but I do encourage you to read all of them. It warms my heart to read three wonderful and empowering books written about girls, by girls.