January 2014 Reading Wrap Up

Seven books read this month! Bout of Books 9.0 definitely helped give me a jump on my reading this year, but considering how insanely busy I was the last couple of weeks, I still think 2014 is off to a great start.

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Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

  Title: Let's Explore Diabetes with OwlsAuthor: David SedarisPublisher: Little, Brown and CompanyReleased:April 23, 2013Source:I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.Find it on:    It's been too long since I've read a book by David Sedaris. I'd forgotten what a fabulous storyteller he is. The versatile, autobiographical essays in Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls tell of the things that lie beneath seemingly ordinary (and some not-so-ordinary) moments in our lives."Think Differenter" was one of my favorites; a brilliant social commentary on our tendency to become obsessed with technology. And "I Break For Traditional Marriage" was a delightfully twisted, demented piece of satire reminiscent of Mark Twain's "The War Prayer" and Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." Even the essays which seemed to…

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Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: How to Create An Image Map

An image map allows you to place more than one hyperlink on a single image. It also gives you the freedom to choose the position of those hyperlinks.Are you thinking of the possibilities here? Image maps are especially handy for those of us who like to include screenshots of our virtual (or real) bookshelves in our posts! Or for those end of the read-a-thon/month/year summary posts we book bloggers tend to do. No more HTML tables to get each book cover line up just so. Image maps will revolutionize your book bloggy life!This Mini Bloggiesta challenge will teach you to create an image map using Image Map Tool, my favorite (and free) online image mapping tool. This might look a little long, complicated,…

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Review & Songlist: Women Float by Maureen Foley

It's no secret: I love CCLaP titles. So I was crazy excited when asked to be a part of a tour for Maureen Foley's Women Float! Yesterday Kit at Lesbrary posted an audio excerpt of the book. Today, Maureen was kind enough to write up a song list to include with my review today, which I've compiled into a YouTube playlist if you'd like to take a listen (see below)! Tomorrow, hop over to Ryan at WordPlaySound for a special podcast.  Title: Women FloatAuthor: Maureen FoleyPublisher: CCLaP (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography)Released:May 27, 2013Source:I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.Find it on:    Win's mom abandoned her shortly after Win's ninth birthday. Not only was she…

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The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings

In The Year of Learning Dangerously, Quinn Cummings chronicles her family's decision to take her daughter out of public school and homeschool for a year. It starts off great. Cummings addresses her reasons for choosing to homeschool, as well as some of the concerns parents (and other people) have. I especially appreciated her comebacks to the tired "what about socialization?" questions and comments. And there are plenty of witty moments like that, moments all of us who homeschool can relate to. But shortly after the opening few chapters, I started to have mixed feelings about the book. What bothered me is this: While exploring some of the different homeschooling styles, she seemed to purposefully seek out minority fringe groups rather…

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Review: Wild Boy by Mary Losure

  Title: Wild BoyAuthor: Mary LosurePublisher: CandlewickReleased:March 26, 2013Source:I received a copy of this book from the publisher after winning a giveaway hosted by Laura at Book Snob. A review was not expected or requested.Find it on:    Wild Boy tells "the real life of the savage of Aveyron," a feral child found living in the woods in France around 1800. Upon his discovery, he was examined, studied, and attempts were made to civilize him. He was given the name Victor and thankfully, he also found someone who cared for him as if he were family.I love the narrative non-fiction style of this book, the way it reads like fiction. Details about Victor's life are always appropriate for the intended age group (10…

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Review: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

  Title: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the VoidAuthor: Mary RoachPublisher: W. W. Norton & CompanyReleased:August 2, 2010Source:I borrowed this book from my local library.Find it on:    I've been wanting to read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach ever since Leah at Books Speak Volumes reviewed it. Well, Andy Weir's The Martian put me on a space kick, so I found this one at the library and read it last week during Bout of Books.Packing for Mars is all about space travel, its history, its future, and how getting to space and living in zero gravity affect the human body. I had countless moments of "oh, okay, that actually makes perfect sense" which made me wonder, why have these things…

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The Martian by Andy Weir

Believing he is dead, Mark Watney's crew leaves him behind as they are forced to make an emergency evacuation. But Watney survives, and finds he is completely alone and stranded... on Mars. The Martian details his determination to beat impossible odds and attempt to survive. Watney makes MacGyver's ingenuity seem like child's play, and Tom Hanks's situation in Castaway feel like a dream vacation. Andy Weir knows how to write for the layperson and gives his main character a wonderfully quirky sense of humor (Watney calls his habitat "Little HAB on the Prairie" hahaha). Scientific and technical details are never tedious. There was not one moment I felt bogged down; in fact, I was completely absorbed, flipping page after page,…

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Review: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

  Title: The Trumpet of the SwanAuthor: E.B. WhitePublisher: HarperCollinsReleased:originally published in 1948Source:I purchased this book.Find it on:    Louis the trumpeter swan was born mute. His only chance a living a normal life was to find a way to communicate. His father steals a trumpet, which Louis learns to play. It becomes his substitute voice, his claim to fame, and the instrument with which he courts the love of his life.The Trumpet of the Swan is the first novel we've read aloud. As in, not a picture book, but an actual novel. So exciting! We finished reading it the day after Christmas.Me: What did you think of The Trumpet of the Swan?C (age 4 1/2): It was gooooooooood. Let's read it again!Me: What…

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Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

  Title: Interpreter of MaladiesAuthor: Jhumpa LahiriPublisher: Mariner BooksReleased:June 1, 1999Source:I purchased this book.Find it on:    I love fiction that teaches me something, and Interpreter of Maladies showed me just how little I know about India. Through Jhumpa Lahiri's characters I learned about the Partition of India, arranged marriages and matchmakers, that the old caste system lingers on in society, that Hindu families have rice ceremonies for their babies, and so on. I was constantly pausing to Google something, to find out more.These short stories exude the richness of a variety of cultures and customs native to India, but also portray how quickly those traditions can change after emigration. The parents in the title story are second-generation immigrants, but seem as far removed from…

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