Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  Title: FangirlAuthor: Rainbow RowellPublisher: St. Martin's GriffinReleased:September 2013Source:I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.Find it on:    They may be identical twins, but Cath and Wren are having completely different experiences during their freshman year of college. Cath is the introverted, bookworm type; she is a popular author of fan fiction. Wren is the outgoing party girl. Each sister is discovering her own, individual identity outside of being seen as a unit, while figuring out how to hold on to her relationship with her family. It doesn't sound like the most unique premise for a coming-of-age story, does it?But this is Rainbow Rowell. Even that which could be deemed "predictable" feels fresh and interesting. I love her characters.…

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Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You by Dan Riskin

  Title: Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill YouAuthor: Dan RiskinPublisher: Touchstone BooksExpected Release:March 4, 2014Source:I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.Find it on:    Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You is full of amazing, curious facts about the plant and animal worlds. And it's set up in humorous way: Each chapter covers one of the seven deadly sins. I love that Dan Riskin includes YouTube links in many of the footnotes, so I could go see what he's describing.However, Riskin is really into the "meat robots" idea: the idea that the way we behave, the way we respond to one another, the way we feel, is all merely a result of our DNA.…

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Review: Trip of the Tongue by Elizabeth Little

  Title: Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's LanguagesAuthor: Elizabeth LittlePublisher: Bloomsbury USAReleased:March 2012Source:I purchased a copy of this book.Find it on:    A "celebration of American multiculturalism," Trip of the Tongue was a fascinating read. Part memoir, part travel book, and a historical and linguistic adventure all rolled in one, Elizabeth Little explores some of the (very numerous!) languages that make up the United States.Little devotes chapters to several Native American languages, French and Louisiana Creole, Gullah (how did I live in Charleston, South Carolina for six years without learning about Gullah?!), Basque, Norwegian, Haitian Creole, and Spanish, while starting off and concluding with English. As she says in the introduction, "the most interesting story English has to…

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Small Fry Saturday: Scarlatti’s Cat

Small Fry Saturday is a meme inspired by The Well-Read Redhead, showcasing books our children enjoy.This week's pick is:  Title: Scarlatti's CatAuthor: Nathaniel LachenmeyerIllustrator: Carlyn BecciaPublisher: Carolrhoda BooksExpected Release:March 1, 2014Source:I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.Find it on:    Scarlatti's Cat grabbed my attention both as a musician and music teacher, and as a parent who appreciates a quality picture book. The book is based on the legendary story behind Domenico Scarlatti's Fugue in G minor and how it became known as the "cat fugue." This fugue is built upon a somewhat unusual set of six notes, which inspired a tale in which Scarlatti composed the piece during an improvisation session after…

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Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  Title: Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodAuthor: Marjane SatrapiPublisher: PantheonReleased:June 2004Source:I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.Find it on:    Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel set during the author's childhood in Iran, with the Islamic Revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq as the book's central events.Before reading this memoir, I knew little about Iran beyond what I've heard on the news over the years. What a shame! This is an ancient, rich culture with a complicated history, with people vastly different than their government.The book has a powerful beginning. Satrapi remembers the way things were before the revolution: secular schools, parties, pop music, regular clothing. She brings us into her world as the people of…

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Review: Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford

Title: Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! Author: Rachel Macy Stafford Publisher: ZondervanReleased: January 7, 2014Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Find it on:      A review by my friend April at The Steadfast Reader piqued my interest in reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. Based on the topic and its angle, I thought I might have a different response to the book. The author admits she has a Type A personality, but an incredibly emotional personality also comes through in her writing. In the chapter about using…

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Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking by Scott Navicky

  Title: Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive ThinkingAuthor: Scott NavickyPublisher: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP)Expected Release:February 17, 2014Source:I received a copy of this book from CCLaP in exchange for my honest review.Find it on the CCLaP website.I don't even know how to begin describing this book on my own, so I'm going to borrow a part of its description from the CCLaP website: Humboldt is a "horticulturally dyslexic" farmboy with an eighth-grade education and a penchant for perpetually misunderstanding, misreading, and misinterpreting the world. When his father's farm is threatened with foreclosure, Humboldt is forced to save it by enrolling in college, leading him on an epic absurdist adventure through Washington politics, New York performance art, Boston blue-bloods,…

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Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

  Title: Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyAuthor: Karen FoxleePublisher: Knopf Books for Young ReadersReleased:January 28, 2014Source:I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.Find it on:    Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a dazzling modern day retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. Her grief still fresh after the recent loss of her mother, Ophelia discovers a boy locked in the museum where her father is working and becomes entangled in a quest to save the world.Full of excitement and magic, Foxlee's storytelling absolutely glitters:This is the kind of superb writing that enchants the reader, making you feel as if you're reading a classic.This book made me cry... more than once.…

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Review: Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish

The short stories in Our Love Could Light the World are so interconnected, the book reads almost like a novel with changing perspectives. This family is full of character and pluck; each member a unique, complex person. Especially the mother, Lavinia. Wow. As soon as I wanted to get all judgy, I'd change my mind. There were times I despised her, loved her, pitied her, and cheered for her. And Angie, the oldest of the five siblings. I so wanted to help her along her way. Some really poor (some downright stupid) choices are made, but I loved how this family plows ahead. Just like real life, these characters have complicated, sometimes messy, relationships, and the decisions they face can rarely…

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Small Fry Saturday: John Coltrane’s Giant Steps

Small Fry Saturday is a meme inspired by The Well-Read Redhead, showcasing books our children enjoy.This week's pick is:  Title: John Coltrane'sGiant StepsAuthor/Illustrator:Chris RaschkaNarrator: Richard AllenPublisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson BooksReleased:July 1, 2002Source:I borrowed this book from my local library.Find it on:    John Coltrane's Giant Steps offered so much more than I expected in a children's book! The CD included with the book is a must; this is really meant to be experienced as an entire package. The CD offers two tracks: one with page turn cues, one without.The story's "performers" are some raindrops on drums, a box playing string bass, a snowflake on piano, and an adorable kitten on tenor sax. (Get it? Raindrops? Snowflake? Kitten?) Narrator Richard Allen has a laid back, very chill style…

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