Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Fathers Are Coming Home

This, by far, has been my favorite read this week.
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, The Fathers are Coming Home presents various types of fathers returning home to their babies at the end of the day. So sweet, and here is the biggest endorsement:

Baby Reading

Well, I thought there wouldn't be a lot of time to read with our new little one.
However, since I'm a human vending machine, there has been plenty of time to hit the stacks.
I've been reading a lot of magazines, primarily parenting tips and the like. I want to make sure Wyatt has every advantage. :)

I've also been reading plenty of parenting books.
The Babytalk Insider's Guide to Your Baby's First Year has been particularly helpful. It gives real advice that matches up with all of the theories out there. It's helped me make sense of what is what, the myth vs. the reality, so to speak...

I polished off On Becoming Babywise, but I can't seem to get myself on a schedule, so I'm not sure it's going to work so well. My cousin swears by it, as do one million parents worldwide *according to the book. The jury is still out for the Cassady's, though.

And then there has been the reading for fun.

Susane Colasanti, one of my favorite authors, put out a new book - Something Like Fate. It's a love triangle gone wrong. When Lani falls in love with her best friend's boyfriend, she knows that things won't end well. When it turns out that Jason likes her back, they are both headed for trouble. Will Erin and Lani still be friends when things shake out?
Read it to find out!

My other favorite author, Elizabeth Scott, wrote a book called The Unwritten Rule. Oddly enough, it is about a love triangle gone wrong...among best friends, as well.
Even though the two books share the same general plot, each author does a great job of writing complex characters that you can sympathize with...even if they are the bad girls. :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Days of Little Texas

I went to an inservice on Friday, one done by Teri Lesesne from SHSU. I've seen her a million times and always get spectacular ideas. Last year she talked about R. A. Nelson's new title, The Days of Little Texas. I've had the book on my bedside for two ages, but after she talked about it again on Friday, I decided to go ahead an give it a try. The cover is okay. His other covers are better - more interesting. Maybe that's why I stalled?

This book is part spiritual journey, part love story, part ghost story...and all good.

Little Texas is a child prodigy in the preaching circuits. He travels around with Certain Certain, Sugar Tom, and Wanda Joy preaching in the "tabernacle"...a tent that they set up every time they find somewhere new. But Little Texas is starting to find that his gift is abandoning him and with that, new questions arise.

When he is asked to heal a girl one evening, he is afraid. He doesn't think he can do it, she is so sick. He gives it a try and her parents take her away after the "miracle". From then on, he sees her in places that he shouldn't...but is it really her? or his imagination? or something else entirely?

Filled with hilarious sayings and Biblical banter, R.A. Nelson does a great job of drawing in the reader and keeping you hooked until the very last line.

Coffeehouse Angel

Katrina works at her grandmother's coffee shop. It's a shop that has been a part of the small town where she has grown up forever. A new Starbucks type venue has opened up next door, and ever since, Katrina and her grandmother have struggled.

Katrina is opening the store one morning, and she notices a man sleeping in the trash area in the back alley. At first she is frightened for her own safety, but then she is overcome with compassion and she leaves him a cup of joe and some espresso beans. This ends up changing her life forever.

The homeless man is really an angel on a mission, and because of Kat's kindness, she is granted a wish. Through comical circumstances, the wishes keep getting mixed up. Finally, Kat knows her wish and her own mind - she finds strength and a way to help her family all wrapped up in her wish.

This is a cute story, a quick read, perfect for girls who are looking for books on friendship and love.

The Rule of Won

Caleb wants to get back with his girlfriend so badly, that he agrees to join her book club. He is a bit of a slacker, doesn't like to get involved at school , only has a few friends. This girl is the best thing that has happened to him and she is so motivated. If this is her secret, he's willing to be a part of it and maybe learn a few tricks himself.

But the vibe he gets from the first book club meeting is odd. While they're just a club, they insist on calling themselves a crave. The focus of the book club is the next thing that doesn't resonate well with Caleb. The book claims that if you wish something hard enough, it will come true, and if you have power in numbers, you are unstoppable. When people start getting hurt so that the crave's wishes can come true, Caleb seems to be the only one who objects to the methodology.
Will he be able to stop the crave before it's becomes too much?

Told between blog postings and Caleb's narrations, readers will find themselves reading with fury right up to the ending...which will leave them with questions, but not dissatisfied.

Nothing But Ghosts

Katie's mother has died. She is learning to live again, but slowly. She and her father rely on each other, each complete with their own little idiosyncrasies. They are making it, but barely.

Katie works for a millionaire that she has never met. She works in the garden, completing whatever tasks are handed down for that day. As part of a crew, she gets interaction with other people and she is able to physically exhaust herself everyday.

But something troubles Katie and as she begins to research Miss Martine's life at the local library (with the help of a glam librarian), she finds herself in the middle of a mystery.

Told with Kephart's usually sensitive touch and well written plot, readers will find themselves drawn into this gentle story that is complete with danger and intrigue.

The Everafter

Madison is floating. She isn't dead, yet she isn't one of the undead. We have no idea how she died, or if she is even dead. We are on a journey of discovery right along side Madison as she figures out what is going in. Amy Huntley's new book, The Everafter, will interest you and make you ponder life after death.

When Madison starts noticing different objects that are floating around her, she figures out that if she touches the object she is taken back to that particular scene in her life. As she touches more and more objects, she sees more of her life and questions what exactly is going on. She is left to sort out regrets and joys of her life...and then it dawns on her that she is no longer alive - that is why she is left in this place, finding objects and being taken back in time. But how will she get out of this place and move on to the Everafter?

Reminiscent of Zevin's Elsewhere, readers will be intrigued with this story about friendship, family, falling in love, and loss.

The Help

Very rarely do I choose to read "adult" fiction. But since everyone on the planet has something to say about The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I decided to give it a try.

I am so glad that I did. Thought it is technically classified as adult fiction, I'm positive that YA could read it and be equally enthralled. While reading it, I was repeatedly surprised that the things described happened - not ages ago in a far away place - but instead, only a decade before I was born.

Stockett draws us in by telling us a story using three different narrators, two black maids and one wealthy white lady, each with a perspective that will keep you turning pages to see what happens next. You like each character equally and you get quickly invested in their personalities...I was so invested that I stayed up reading until 2am in order to finish the book, something I haven't been compelled to do since college.

Stockett weaves together the story of life in the south, racial injustices, relationships with "the help", and the struggle to recognize that people are people and all are created equally. There are a lot of characters who choose NOT to see this, but these three ladies are committed to making that the truth. Through their telling, readers are introduced to friendship, love, heartbreak, and the struggle to do what is right. It is good food for thought. While it would be easy to demonize this way of life, Stockett also shows us kindness and goodness in the relationships presented.

This is an amazing read and I highly, highly recommend it!
It made me want to go back and read Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Girl in the Arena

I took a self proclaimed snow day today, and I used it to finish up Lise Haines novel Girl in the Arena.

With a hook like:
Neo-gladiator could I walk away from it?
It's compelling. Haines kept me turning pages right up until the end.

Lyn is our main character. She has had seven gladiator fathers in her lifetime. When the seventh father is killed in battle, due to an odd circumstance, Lyn finds herself betrothed to her father's killer. Rough day.

Her mother has been a proud Glad wife and has always lived the Glad culture. She doesn't know anything else. With the death of her seventh husband, she is forbidden, by the code book, to marry another. She isn't able to handle that.

While Lyn is busy managing so many other things: the household, her mother, her brother with a disability, a seed begins to take root in her mind. She should fight her "fiance" for her freedom.

Page turning.

I will say the end was a little too pat, but don't let that detract from the book as a whole. I think Haines is on to something here...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Woods Runner

Gary Paulsen has long been a favorite of mine. His best work, in my opinion, is still his autobio My Life in Dog Years...some may disagree, but that is my truth.

This month he is speaking at the DMA's Arts and Letters Live Event, and I have tickets. The focus of his talk will be on his newest release, Woods Runner, so I decided to give it a read.

Set during the Revolutionary War, Paulsen weaves part story and part historical data into a fascinating plot. Our main character, Samuel, returns home from hunting to find his family has been taken captive by the Red Coats. Without much choice, he follows their trail across the country, hoping to find them still alive. Along the way, he encounters several characters and events that force him to think about the war and what revolution means. Between every chapter, Paulsen includes historical data about the Revolution and other wars, factual reading that is compelling but true. This formula keeps the pages turning!

While it's not one of my all time favorite books, I wasn't disappointed in Woods Runner. It is classic survivalist Paulsen literature.