July 5, 2015

First Sunday Daughter Reviews

I know kids are supposed to be reading in the summer. And we even signed them up for the summer reading program, and I put it on their list of chores every morning. But these girls here at home are not readers this summer.

I don't know what I can do about that. Change the wifi password every day? Rewards? (The library program isn't helping this year.) I lead by example: I read for a good hour or so every evening (when they're not bugging me). But the lure of the tablets and the TV and the computer is just too strong around here (and it doesn't help that I'm gone for 7 hours three days a week).

M did text me that she read and really loved this:

And K and Hubby are about halfway through reading this (which K complains is often boring, but is still sticking with it):
But that's about all that's being read.

How do you manage summer reading so that it actually gets done?

July 3, 2015

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

by Jaqueline Kelly
First sentence: "To my great astonishment, I saw my first snowfall on New Year's Day of 1900."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: It's a bit old-fashioned and there are a lot of scientific words, but if you've got that sort of 9 year old reader, it'd be perfect for them. It's in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the library.
Others in the series: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

I was super excited to find out that my favorite scientific Texan was back in a second installment. I really adored Calpurnia the first time around, and was very excited to spend more time with her. It's 1900, and Calpurnia is doing her best to keep up with her scientific studies with her grandpa. It's hard, especially with pressure from both her parents to be more ladylike. Calpurnia would much rather be tromping around the forests and swamps near their central Texas home, collecting specimens. Or studying the stars and weather.

Then a hurricane hits Galveston (a fact which sent me to Google to find out if it was real. It was.), and Calpurnia's life changes. In to town blows an older cousin (who is, understandably, distraught) and a veterinarian. All of a sudden, Calpurnia has found a calling. The problem? She has to fight to let people even consider the idea of her wanting to be a vet.

Much like the first one, the charm in this is in the narration. Calpurnia is such a delight to spend a book with. This time, I felt her frustration and pain at being a second-class citizen, in her school, in her house, around the town. It seems that everyone, except grandpa, decided already that girls can't do anything non-girly, and it was a wall Calpurnia kept banging up against. I admired her perseverance in breaking down barriers.

Also, like the first one, I thoroughly enjoyed all the science and the little historical details that Kelly uses to make Texas in 1900 come alive.

Delightful.

June 30, 2015

June 2015 Wrap Up

Ah, summer! I love you. (I really do.) Swimming, flowers growing, ice cream and watermelon, never having to worry about being cold...

And less time to read, but that's really okay.

My favorite for the month? Interestingly enough, it's an adult book. That so very rarely happens.

Uprooted
As for the rest:

Graphic Novel
Dragons Beware!
Avengers: Rage of Ultron
Adult
The Viscount Who Loved Me
YA
The Truth Comission
Spelled
The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

The Heart of Betrayal
The Wrath and the Dawn
Deadly Design

Magonia
Bone Gap
The Darkest Part of the Forest
Kissing in America

Middle Grade
The Marvels
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Non-Fiction

As You Wish (audio book)
Enchanted Air

What was your favorite this month?

June 29, 2015

The Heart of Betrayal

by Mary E. Pearson
First sentence: "
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Release date: July 7, 2015
Others in the series: The Kiss of Deception
Content: There's violence, and a hint at sex (but none actual). It's kind of slow moving, and complex, but it should be find for the younger end of the age range. It's in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Spoilers for The Kiss of Deception. You've been warned.

Lia is a prisoner in the "barbaric" country of Venda, having been kidnapped by Kaden, the assassin, and dragged there as a prize for the Komizar, Vendan's ruler. Venda doesn't take prisoners; their reputation for violence is well-deserved. But because Kaden has a thing for Lia, so he made an exception.

Lia regrets that now.

It doesn't help that Rafe -- the prince Lia was initially supposed to marry and whom she fell in love with when they were both pretending to be commoners -- is also a prisoner in Venda, masquerading as an inept emissary. They have to keep it under wraps that they know each other (let alone that they care for each other), or they are both dead.

And that's just the beginning.

It's a twisty, turn-y maze of lies, double crossing, manipulation, maneuvering, and deception, and I loved every minute. Even the love triangle, which could have been trite, worked to Pearson's advantage. Kaden and Rafe play off each other, and I truly didn't care, really, which one Lia "ended" up with. (Honestly: the woman is her own woman, and doesn't need either of them. You go girl!) There was complexities to the relationships that Lia had with both of them, and even though Pearson wrote that Rafe was Lia's True Love, I never felt that that relationship defined her.

But what intrigued me most was Lia's role in Venda, how she plays against the Komizar, trying to outsmart him, using his weaknesses (of which there are few) to her advantage. The Komizar is the primary villain, but Pearson gives him layers; he's not simply an Evil Dictator Overlord (though there is some of that). Additionally, there was an element of prophecy to the book that could have been oppressive and lame, but I felt Pearson even worked that to her advantage. And Pearson is still ruthless: killing people right and left.

Of course, this ended on a cliff-hanger, and I have to WAIT until the next one comes out. Which is always the most difficult part.

Excellent.

June 26, 2015

As You Wish

Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden
read by Cary Elwes (with other actors/directors/etc. reading their contributions)
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There's nothing "objectionable", though the reading level is probably that of high school. It's in the biography and film sections of the bookstore, but I'd give it to anyone who has a interest in the movie (especially if they are big fans).

I'm late to this party, since this book came out last October. But, I've had my eye on it, mostly because I have loved the movie for years (and am constantly surprised how many of my regular daily sayings are actually lines from this movie) and finally got my hands on the audio book.

There's not much to say about the content: Cary Elwes was asked at the 25th anniversary screening of the movie what he took away from the making of it. He came up with (in his words) a lame answer, and this book was born out of his desire to really detail what the experience meant to him. He got contributions from the actors who are still alive, and a book was born.

It's not brilliant writing by any stretch of the imagination. But, it is chock-full of fun trivia (yes, I did watch the movie again, spouting out all the wonderful tidbits I've learned. My family was patient with me.) and delightful stories.

But, the best thing? (And the reason I'd recommend the audio over the print?) Cary Elwes is a brilliant narrator. Not just his regular voice, but he does a spot-on American accent (several, in fact), and he is just a delightful narrator to spend six hours with.

At the very least, it'll make you smile. And that, I think, is worth it.