Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri



A Field Guide to Awkward Silences   

      Although I am not most original person in the world, I really appreciate how odd and quirky some people are. Maybe this is one of the reasons I became a middle school teacher? I can handle and appreciate awkward sometimes; most times in fact.  This book made me laugh a lot. This is a collection of essays written by Alexandra Petri- whom I think I would have a lot of laughs with. (Provably with me smiling and laughing while not being brave enough to go along with her weirdness- or vice versa.)
       Occasionally, when someone finds out that I penpal, they will say something like, "Oh, you penpal? Like in writing letters with paper and stuff? That's weird cool." Then they run. Ha ha. No, they just smile and look at me strangely. I think Petri has gotten that look many times too. The book tells many awkward moments or times that she has just realized that things were different for her than for some other people. I enjoyed reading her adventures. (Timmy REALLY enjoyed some of her puns.)
   I would recommend this to anyone who might want a laugh. Definitely some great nerd material in there too- Jeopardy, Star Wars, puns, etc. 
     This book was also great for my reading challenges- It was in my to be read pile and the Monthly Keyword for March (Sillence).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Old Fox Deceiv'd by Martha Grimes

The Old Fox Deceiv'd (Richard Jury, #2) 
   Well, I have found the first book of the year that I didn't like.  Why didn't I like it? Here are a few reasons:
1) The murder in the book happens in the first chapter. I found that I still didn't care who the murderer was by about 200 pages in. I think I need some more of an emotional investment in the victim.
2) I wasn't too invested in any of the characters. 
3) Maybe I'm just not up to date with my British names/vocabulary? 
  
    There was just something about this book I could not get into. Originally, I wondered if it might have been because the book was the 2nd book in a series, but the book didn't seem to reference too much about any previous cases.
     This book also fulfilled another book for the February Keyword Reading Challenge (Deception). Up Next: A Field Guide to Awkward Silences (Silence) by Alexandra Petri

Reading Challenges:
Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge: 2/12
Goodreads Challenge-11 /50
Mount TBR- 7/24

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Netgalley Review Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal'd by Mary Losure

   
Product Details  

    Mary Losure writes non-fiction for children. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I thought that it might be something that Timmy might enjoy too. I was happy when I was chosen to review it. (I might try to get Timothy to review it as well so they can get an idea of what the "target audience" thinks.) 
      Other than Newtonian physics, I didn't know too much about Isaac Newton. This book talks about some of his laws of physics, but mostly discusses his role as an alchemist. There are a few things that I really enjoyed about the book. The first was that it gives a lot of information about what Isaac was like as a person. As a music teacher, there are many times that I notice that my students have an idea about who famous composers are, or what they did, but they do not really have any idea how these people fit into "the big picture" historically. These composers just seem like facts in a book rather than people. It was nice to for me to hear about Isaac's quirks and personality traits, as well information about his family and living conditions. Ms. Losure also explains some of the concepts that were known/unknown in the time period that Newton was living in (Ex. how a prism works- what Newton discovered vs. what was thought at the time or how planets moved through space)
     Another thing I enjoyed was that it was a quick, easy, entertaining read. I wondered if Tim would understand some of the more technical information, like some of the symbols used in Alchemy, but there were definitely science-related things that he will find very interesting, like the information on simple machines. Towards the end of the book, the author tells how some of the discoveries made by Newton have been used in other scientific successes (like sending a rocket into space).  Ms. Losure also wrote a few blurbs that kind of challenged kids to come up with their own discoveries and inquiries.  I also enjoyed her mention of some of the interesting resources she used and the supplemental material at the end of the book. 
     I would recommend this to children who like biographies and science. I will ask Tim to give his opinion here on the blog when he is finished with the book. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the digital copy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Secrets of Nanreath Hall

     Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff follows the story of the Trenowyth family, through 2 generations. I tend to really enjoy stories that are told from different perspectives and then connect in the middle somewhere. This book was a little different because it simultaneously told the stories of Kitty Trenowyth and her daughter, Anna Trenowyth. The fact that the story shared a setting during 2 different time periods was a little different than some other novels I've read.
     Kitty's story is set in pre-WWI England. Lady Katherine Trenoqyth is the daughter of an aristocratic family and, as such, has set expectations for her life. When she meets painter, Simon Halliday, she has decisions to make about what type of life she really wants to have and what consequences those choices might have.
       Anna Trenowyth's story occurs during WWII. She serves as a nurse for the Red Cross and is unexpectedly is assigned to service at Nanreath Hall, her dead mother's childhood home. Raised by family friends, Anna's new assignment will give her an opportunity to learn about her mom and the relatives she had never met. 
    Overall, this book kept me interested in each character and curious to what would happen next. I looked forward to reading it each night and would be interested in reading another book by this author. 
Secrets of Nanreath Hall
Goodreads Challenge- 9/50
Mount TBR- 6/24

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ensnared by Rita Stradling

   The only positive thing about being stuck at home with the flu has been the ability to read a lot. My latest conquest is Ensnared by Rita Stradling. I received my ARC from NetGalley.  This is the cover that my digital copy had, but Ms. Stradling also has another cover option on her webpage. I REALLY like this one though. It immediately caught my attention on NetGalley and when I read that Ensnared was a modern telling of Beauty and the Beast, it appealed to me more.  Since we're doing Beauty and the Beast, Jr. for our school musical,I my interest was piqued and I requested it.
Ensnared 

Ensnared is about a woman named Alainn Murphy whose father, Connor Murphy, has been commissioned to create a robot for the rich recluse, Lorccan Garbhan. Connor's robot, Rose, has been designed to be as human as possible but it seems like there are still a few issues that need to be worked out before his deadline to Lorccan. After asking for an extension of time, and being denied, Alainn agrees to temporarily switch places with Rose (who was designed to look like Alainn) until repairs could be completed. Unfortunately, she is unsure what Rose's purpose is at the Garbhan household. 
    Although it was pretty different than what I originally expected, I thought that the concept was pretty interesting. Alainn discovers that she is the only human in the house other than Lorccan, but there are plenty of other robots. The book brought up some ethical questions about AI and human interaction with automatons.Be forewarned- there are a few "steamy" sections in this book. I thought about recommending this book to some of my students and then realized that that wouldn't be the best idea.. lol. There are a few characters/questions I would've liked to have seen developed more, but overall, it was a quick read that I enjoyed. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. 

Goodreads Challenge- 8/50

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sparks and Shadows by Kendrick von Schiller

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     I won this autographed book from Goodreads a while back.(In addition to that, the author was super sweet and included a little note to me in the package.) This beautiful cover has been calling to me from my "to be read" shelf for a while. I wasn't sure what I would think of the book since I don't really read too much fantasy. I really enjoyed it.
    Sparks and Shadows is about a girl, Fura Feier, who finds herself homeless after an explosion takes the life of her family. She is taken in by Apallo and a group of people she works with at a local Renaissance festival, she finds herself in a whole new world- literally.  She finds herself questioning where she belongs and who she really is as she finds herself on the run with Kiyani, a man who is many ways her opposite, but seemingly her only "friend." She discovers that the tale of the Sect of Seven, telling of 7 lords of elemental magic who rule the world together in harmony, has been thrown out of balance when the Nyte Fyre prophecy, declaring that one will rule over all seems to be beginning.
     I liked this book a lot. I really enjoyed the world of Izandüre. As a person who doesn't read a lot of fantasy, I enjoyed the creativity of each realm and letting my imagination picture each place.  There were a few interactions between Kiyani and Fura that got a little repetitive, but I think that those recurrences helped develop some character traits of both.  There were also a few characters I would've liked to learn more about, like Rhyne, but I'm wondering if I will see more of him in book 2.  I would like to read the second book of this series when it comes out. Thanks for the giveaway.

Reading Challenge Updates:
Keyword Reading Challenge: 2/12
Mount TBR: 5/24
Goodreads Challenge: 7/50
    

Monday, January 30, 2017

Resolved by Lina Abujamra

Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe 
     I just finished reading Resolved by Lina Abujamra.I received a copy of this book through Goodreads via Baker Publishing Group.  This book asks readers to examine their resolve in living out their faith. Abujamra challenges Christians to resolve to 10 things in order to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus.  These include: Believe Then It Looks Ridiculous, Love When It's Inconvenient, Obey When It's Not Popular, Yield When It's My Right, Speak Up When It's Easier Not To, Give When I Barely Have Enough, Be in Community When I'd Rather Be Alone, have Joy When Life is Depressing, Hope When it Hurts, and Rest in the Midst of Chaos.
     There were some things in this book that I thought were really simply said but there were also some good reminders, thinking points and nice challenges.  I thought it might be a great book for new believers, but I wonder if they might feel a little lost with some of the Bible references. 
     One thing I appreciated about this book was Abujamra's application of living her faith. As an ER doctor, she often relates some of these points to her job. It is nice to see some real world application of her points and examples. There are many times where I have learned about my faith through interactions with people in my profession, so I appreciated hearing her experiences. 

Reading Challenge Updates:
Keyword Reading Challenge: 1/12 (2 books in the first month, but 1 out of 12 months is completed)
Mount TBR: 4/24
Goodreads Challenge: 6/50