Monday, August 31, 2020

August Reading

 August Reading:

     Hello! As school is approaching my mind is all over the place.  Maybe later I'll write a post about teaching during the time of a pandemic, but I just can't right now. To say I'm conflicted about how I feel about returning to school in an understatement. I hope you all know that I truly love my job and my students, and miss them dearly, but I also have concerns for myself and my own family. Sigh. I'd appreciate your prayers about this. On to books, which are way less scary...

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    This was a book on Tim's options for required summer reading. As I mentioned in my July post, I like to read at least 1 book with the boys and talk about it with them/see what they're being asked to read. This is the book Tim chose, which was a bit of a surprise to me, but it ended up being a good choice. Frank Li is a Korean-American whose parents came to the United States from South Korea. They own a store where the father is always working to try to provide a good life for his family. Monthly, they attend "The Gathering," where all of the Korean families who came to the US around the same time meet for dinner at one of the houses of the families. Frank is a kid in his senior year of high school- dealing with preparing for college, learning how to manage relationships and, in his case, struggling to distinctly feel both Korean and American at the same time. In addition to these struggles, Frank also runs into a problem when he starts becoming interested in a girl named Brit. She seems like the perfect girl, except for one thing-she's white. He's fine with it, but his parents would not be since they expect him to marry a Korean girl, most likely a Korean American girl, which were pretty scarce in his area.  He knows this will be a problem because his sister, Hanna, was already disowned for dating and then marrying a black man. To complicate his feelings even more, Frank's best friend is Q, a black boy in his grade. His parents like Q because he's "not like other blacks." One night at The Gathering he realizes that a lot of his acquaintances, who might even be able to be considered friends, have some of the same problems. For example, his friend Joy has been sneaking around dating a Chinese guy named Wu for the past few years. He and Joy decide to pretend to be dating each other to mollify their parents and also allow them to sneak out with their significant others for dates.

         This book provided a lot of opportunity for discussion, especially during these times were racial tension is so obvious. We talked about racial issues at school, expectations for certain cultures, how Tim thinks we'd react if he brought home a girl that was from a different culture, parental expectations, dating (which he hasn't done), pressures of being a teen, honestly, how the events of the story may feel from the teen's/parent's point of view, etc. It was actually pretty cool to hear his opinions. We had a socially distanced dinner where 2 of my former students came to visit. They are Indian and the topic of arranged marriages came up. Tim heard that conversation as well so we also discussed that. We both thought the ending kind of wrapped up too quickly, but there's a second book so maybe that's why it was done that way. 

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This was a book for my Bee Hive Book Club. The main character, Weylyn Grey, is quite unusual. First of all, when his parents died in a car accident, he went into the woods and was raised by wolves. Secondly, he seems to have a connection with the weather.  When he was a teenager, he became friends with an 11 year old named Mary, who met him while she was delivering meat to him from her father's butcher shop. This relationship drives a lot of the book. The story is told from the perspectives of different characters that meet Weylyn throughout his life: Mary- whom I've already mentioned, Roarke- a teenage boy who meets Weylen as an older adult. He meets him after a dare from some of his friends. Lydia- Whose family were foster parents for Weylyn for a while. Bobby Quinn Jr- The mayor of a small town who contacts Weylyn to see if he can help with preparations for hurricanes in the area, and Duanne Fordham- a logger in Montana. Then there's Merlin, Weylyn's horned pig and a few other likeable characters (and maybe 1 or two unlikable ones) thrown into the mix. I thought this book would be a little too "fantasy" for me, but I found it kind of touching in some ways. I actually stopped reading for a few days because I didn't want the story to be done. There are some questions I still have about the story and some things you don't ever get answered but it didn't stop me from liking the book. The other people in my book club who read the book before me also really enjoyed it.

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Have you ever wondered what it would take for you to be happier in your everyday life? Well, Gretchen Rubin spent a lot of time thinking about improving herself and seeing if she could increase her level of daily happiness. She decided to take a year to focus on 11 different areas, one per month. (The last month she was implementing all the rules/attempts from the 11 previous months together.)  Some of the areas she examined were her marriage, parenthood, work, eternity, etc. She laughed at the fact that she wasn't really unhappy, but she also realized her moods affected everybody around her and she could probably improve on how she related to people.

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       I'm reading this book with David. It is about 3 kids who discover 3 kids with their same names and birthdays have been kidnapped. They think this is very strange, but get very disturbed when their mother then needs to take an emergency trip from work and leaves them with a family they don't really know at all. It becomes obvious that something is not right and the kids, along with the help of Natalie Morales (the girl whose mother they are staying with), try to figure out the whole situation. This book was pretty good. It might be bad for kids who are afraid that something could happen to a parent because one parent has died and the other goes missing. Natalie's parents are also split up. This is the first book in the series. David has already started the second book and is enjoying it a lot.


 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

July reading

July Reading


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 I have a "to read" shelf in my bedroom. It houses any books I've picked up anywhere and deemed readable. This one has been there for a while. I have no idea where I got it, but I finally got around to reading it. It tells the story of Harry Clifton's life through various characters who are intertwined somewhere along the way. When I picked it up, I had no idea that it was the beginning of a series. I will definitely consider reading the rest of the series. 

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 I do remember where I got this one.  A few years ago we went up to York, Maine. We were eating out at a restaurant with my parents and Timmy saw a basket of books that you could take/leave. He immediately grabbed this out of the basket. He read it and thought "it was okay." Me too. It was about a set of siblings who spend the summer at their grandmother's inn, which is supposedly haunted.  They figure it might be fun (and good for business) if they bring the old ghosts back into play so they set up some pranks to liven the place up. Unfortunately, their behavior sets other things into motion and the real hauntings begin again. Not really my type of book, but it was okay. Nothing too scary or graphic for a younger audience compared to books written now.

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I always enjoy a good Harlan Coben book. The Bayes are a couple who are concerned about their son, Adam, after his personality changes after the suicide of one of his best friends. Despite their best efforts, they feel like they are losing the kid he used to be. He has closed off and they decide that they need to dig a little to be 100% sure that things are okay. So, they install software on his computer and phone that gives them access to everything he is doing. The Bayes realize fairly soon that things are not okay and he is involved with some things that they never had even considered. 
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Lisa Scottoline is another one of my favorites. Mary DiNunzio has just been promoted to a partner in her law firm when a 13 year old girl approaches the firm to hire them to solve the murder of her sister. There are a few problems with this. The first is that the case is already solved. Someone who already confessed to the crime is already convicted and serving time, but Allegra (the girl) believes that they have the wrong man. Another problem is that Allegra's family, the Gardners, do not agree with this investigation and do multiple things to prevent it from happening, including having the young girl committed. 
 
I received this from NetGalley. This is a memoir about growing up in a segregated community of Mill Creek. I thought about this book as a snapshot of a certain period of time for this family. I got a good sense of who this family was and some of the things that affected their lives, but there was something else I wanted in the book. Maybe I was missing some background information that would've made me appreciate the book more or maybe I was hoping for more explanations, I don't quite know what it was. This book was just alright for me. I read this for my Keyword Reading Challenge.
 
Strength of character is something that is important to me. I'm always curious to read books about character to read stories about people of character, opinions of what creates good character and tips for working with other people.   This was another book I received from NetGalley. There were things I liked and disliked about this book. I suppose it was less "disliking" as much as not being able to relate. The authors of this book both have military backgrounds and connections with West Point so many of the points in this book and examples have do to with the military.  I have very little experience with the military and, although I appreciate the people who serve and enjoyed reading some stories that I had not previously heard, I just couldn't really relate 100%. I agreed with how they broke down character into many different traits- strengths of the head, heart and gut. There were other examples that weren't based in the military that were more relatable to me. I also like that they have suggestions for how to work on your character and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. I might buy this for a friend, but it wasn't really a great book for me.
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 Every summer I try to read at least 1 summer reading book with my boys. This was a choice from my 12 year old's book list. I will say that I have one of the most innocent 12 year old boyss on the planet. lol. We read this together and enjoyed it. It is about a girl names Violet who was found as an infant, abandoned in a hotel at Eerie-on-Sea. The disappearance of her parents is somehow tied to the mysterious sea creature, the malamander. She enlists the help of Herbie Lemon, also an orphan, who is working as the Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. This is the first book of a series. We will most likely read the second book to see what happens next with Violet and Herbie.
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 It has been a long while since I read "World Without End."  Would I be able to return to the story? Admittedly, I couldn't remember a lot of the story off the top of my head, but as soon as I started reading and Kingsbridge was reintroduced, much of the last 2 books came flooding back. I was immediately pulled back into this time period and into the lives of these characters. Ken Follett is just a master storyteller in my opinion. In a time where my mind is racing with all the "Are we going back to school?" thoughts during Covid... I loved plopping a 900 page book onto my lap and knowing that my mind could be in another place for a while. 
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        I had read about this book in a blog post about "feel good stories" or something like that, maybe "books that won't completely depress you during a pandemic." Ha ha. Soon after I read the post, this book popped up in a book exchange group in my town and I snatched it up. The book is about a man who decides he wants to walk the Appalachian Trail when he discovers a trail leading to the Appalachian Trail near his house. He does some research and offers the opportunity of hiking with him to some of his friends. The book follows his travels, challenges, successes and inner thoughts during the whole process. Tim read this before I did because he ran out of books. He said it was just "ok" and that the author "tried too hard to be funny/cool."  When I started reading it, I thought he was hilarious but noticed that his opinions of people were sometimes unfiltered, which I think is what slightly offended Tim. I thought the information about the trail itself, the environmental issues, information about the park services, and specifics about individual locations (including some near me) made this book very interesting.

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 48/60

Keyword Reading Challenge: 7/12