What I've Read

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)Still Life by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel like my review is probably NOT the most accurate because mysteries are generally not my cup of tea, however, Still Life is the exception. Still Life is like a strong cup of Earl Grey with just enough kick and a little sugar thrown into the mix.

The beginning was slow. I'll tell you that right off, but so many first novels in series are slow. The world, characters, and environment have to be set up, understandably. Once you get past the set-up, however, there is no turning back.

The characters are flawed and beautiful. It is quite rare that one finds a novel with characters who are so inherently human that you understand them, even to the point of committing murder. More than anything else, however, Still Life is about relationships. There are breathtaking and sometimes poignant romantic relationships, complex mentor/mentee relationships, and relationships among friends and neighbors in a small town. There are quirky and enigmatic side characters whose stories I so DESPERATELY want to know!

On a technical note, there were some grammatical errors and typos, but Louise Penny's style makes them almost unnoticeable. She switches seamlessly from one perspective to another- sometimes with as many as three or four perspectives on one page. It makes for a fast-paced read.

I will continue this series because I've fallen in love with Three Pines (and who doesn't have at least a little crush on Jean Guy Beauvoir?)




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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Book Love


The Book Hacker is back! Sorry for my temporary absence. In the past few months, I've experienced a break-up, got a new (and AMAZING) job, relocated my entire life, and attempted to adjust to all of it.

I'm so excited that this is my first book to review since my sabbatical. I highly recommend it!


Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent ReadersBook Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've only been on the teacher side of the desk for four years, but I'm thoroughly convinced that this idea is what's going to change education. It would have changed my education for sure. Penny Kittle clearly knows the students of today.

Not only does she enlighten on her philosophy, but she also elaborates on practical ways educators could apply this in the classroom. My whole classroom format will change because I read this book and I believe my students will be better for it.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Not a Drop to Drink

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can
play along!


Just do the following:

Grab your current read.

Open to a random page.

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

From Chapter Twelve of Mindy McGinnis's Not a Drop to Drink


In the dark field, it felt to Lynn like predators 
would see Lucy not only as the easiest target 
but also as Lynn's weakness as well. 
She hoped Lucy could feel the affection 
coursing through her fingers, 
even though the grip on her tiny wrist was iron. 
As I've mentioned before on Twitter, but not on here, I am SO excited about this novel! I got to visit the Dark Days panel at ATBF a couple weeks ago and let me tell you, Mindy McGinnis is incredibly charming and an absolute delight in person. Her dark YA novel sounds like one I can really sink my teeth into. I just got it from Amazon today, so I'll let you know how it goes!



My current thoughts.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Peter Pan

Peter PanPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this before but it's been ages. I love the tale of Peter Pan and Wendy, of the Lost Boys and poor, arrogant Captain Hook, and reading it again via audio certainly gave me a new appreciation for the Boy Who Will Never Grow Up and the Girl Who Wanted to Grow Up.

It's a beautiful story, and the audio, narrated by Jim Dale who also read the Harry Potter audio books, is breathtaking. I wish I had heard this before I read it in book form because it truly is one of those books made to be read aloud. Jim Dale does every single voice differently and is able to capture these personalities with skill and imagination.

Reading this is truly like a return to childhood, to a self you forgot you knew.

Just like Peter, this book awaits children and adults everywhere who may have forgotten the beauty of imagination and the power of hope and joy.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know other reviewers have used words such as "blase" (which, to be fair, is quite 'blase' in and of itself) to describe this novel, but let's get down to the nitty gritty of it all. I know it's the "hip" thing to not like the books everybody else is reading and, honestly, before I picked up one of John Green's novels (this is my first, but NOT my last) I figured he had to be overrated.

I. Was. Wrong.

Write that in your datebooks because I don't say it often, but I was very wrong in my prejudgment of this novel.

Pros:
The characters are charming, poignant, and painfully real. In the face of tragedies too huge for most adults to experience with a smile, they manage to insert light, carefree, intellectual humor. I laughed as much as I cried in this novel, and let me tell you, that's saying something. Green does not romanticize the struggle with cancer, but rather gets deeper into the fact that no matter how old a person is, he or she has an identity. No matter what their struggle, they have a sense of humor and the ability to be a beautiful soul. The love story here is one of the truest and greatest I've ever read, perhaps because of the short time frame, perhaps because of the circumstances. I don't know. Either way, it's a book I will use in my classroom and recommend to anyone I meet.

Cons:
... I can't really think of any, unless you include massive emotional upheaval and tear-wrenching catharsis.

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Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine

Where the Stars Still ShineWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Firstly, I really liked this book. I will probably read it again and I will DEFINITELY use it in my classroom. That being said, there were some weak spots.

Pros: Excellent character development and story arc within a relatively short period of time. The main character experienced major changes from the beginning to the end of the story and showed maturity and growth. Actually, all of the major characters are surprisingly well developed. The imagery Doller uses is phenomenal. She uses lovely and interesting metaphors in her descriptions. It also includes such a beautiful and realistic representation of mental illness that is severely lacking in YA literature. I also love the big crazy Greek family!

Cons: There were some instances where authenticity was an issue for me. I felt like some of Callie's reactions were unrealistic. It seemed to me like she would be the kind of person to push back more during certain instances where in the book she passively went along with it, but at the same time, I understand why she didn't.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Apologies...

Ok. So I lied. I didn't post every day this week. ...

For the Cumbercookie followers out there, here is a full fledged, highly organized, and well-thought-out apology delivered by the oh-so-lovely Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes:


I got lost in a book or two. And I think I might be getting sick and needing extra-ridiculous amounts of sleep.

Also, I got up to 2,500 words in my novel!  

YAY!

Now only about 78,000 more to go! Jeez-a-loo

Anyway, I'm sorry. Expect more and better posts this week!