Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Torn (The Missing Book 4) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Torn (The Missing, #4)
This is the 4th book in The Missing series.  It follows 13 year old Jonah and his sister Katherine as they travel back in time to 1611 to repair problems there due to Second, a rogue time traveler.
They land on Henry Hudson's ship looking for the northwest passage, and since John Hudson is missing, Jonah fills in for him, complete with a handy Elucidator provided disguise.  Despite the sabotage, mutiny, and murder on the high seas, Jonah and Katherine manage once again to save the day - and all of time, from Second's nefarious plans. 
The accuracy of the historical research helps to lend a realistic twist to this time traveling adventure. 
I enjoyed it and highly recommend it

Monday, September 26, 2011

fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse

fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science

This is such a sad story!  Lucia tells of her childhood and how her parents raised her and her brother and sister in the Christian Science religion.  Her father was a Christian Science "Practitioner" and the family moved to London for a few years where the children went to Christian Science boarding schools.  Most of the book, however, deals with Lucia's mother's illness - which according to Christian Science, does not exist, and the way her family dealt with her illness and death. 
I do not understand why anyone would forgo medical care when they are dying just for the sake of a religious belief.  It just goes to show that there is a very fine line between religious belief and stupidity - a thought that came to me today when I read about the Tibetan monks who self-immolated as a form of protest.
My favorite quote from the book is from a Presbyterian minister who Lucia spoke to about her mother's illness and Christian Science beliefs and her refusal of medical treatment.   He told her "When someone is drowning, he - or she - will grab on to the closest thing in reach. And they will hold on for dear life..., even if that thing doesn't float." 
This book is wonderfully written and very touching.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alcatraz Versus The Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz #2: Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones

This is book two about Alcatraz, a 13 year old oculator and a Smedry with the dread talent of breaking things.  Once again, he battles the Evil Librarians in a humerous and breath-taking adventure.  Accompanied by Bastille and her mother, his midget uncle Kaz and his cousin Australia, whose talent is to wake up ugly, they battle through the dread library of Alexandria and so on. 
Great book.  :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Great Mystery by Travis Slone

The Great Mystery by Travis Slone

I received this book as a goodreads firstreads to review.
It is the author's first book and is written as an allegorical tale.
In this story Eva and Amir travel through the world and time in search of the Great Mystery that will unite the world. In the end, they find the answer that they were seeking. It was not what they were expecting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School by Alexandra Robbins

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School

This book is like a reality show about high school. 
It follows real high school students who are in various social groups - a loner, a popular bitch, a nerd, a new girl, a gamer, a wierd girl and a band geek - all from different schools and cities - through a school year and looks at their social interactions and those of the other groups in their schools. 
I am a teacher and a mother and I have seen much of the social activity that the author discusses and I think this book does a great job of showing and addressing the issues.
I found it fascinating and I think it should be required reading for all educators. 
Her research about social groups and how our brains are wired for conformity is fascinating and her challenges to the students and one teacher who are the characters that she followed in this book helped them to change their social statuses and their outlooks on life and relationships. 
I highly recommend this book and I enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

This is such an interesting book! 
Joshua Foer is a science reporter who went to the 2005 US Memory Championship in order to write about it.  He met several memory champs who assured him that anyone could do what they do and he set off to train to compete in the memory championship himself.  This book tells about his year of memory training and the interesting people who he met as part of his research including the man who inspired the movie "Rainman" and a man who could not remember anything for longer than a minute or two.  Joshua presents his research in an easy to read and interesting way.  I learned a lot from this book. I had never before heard of chicken sexing and would not have imagined that it had any connection with being a chess master, but now I know these things. You can too if you read this book.
I was also fascinated with the way that writing and reading has evolved over the years. Joshua shares some memorization techniques that he used and that can be helpful to students who need to memorize material for school.  Unfortunately, these techniques won't help us to remember daily things like where we left the car keys or why we opened the refrigerator. 
I have to return this book to the library, but I am so impressed with it that I may buy myself a copy of it to re-read and refer to and I plan to read more about memory and how it works.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

The Preacher's Bride
I really enjoyed this historical romance set in 17th century England. Elizabeth choses to care for the children of a widower and through the story we learn about how life was during that time as well as the political and religious tension between the Puritans and the Anglicans. Elizabeth finds herself falling in love with the preacher whose children she cares for, but can the man, who is grieving for his wife who died in childbirth ever love again?  This book is fraught with peril, heartache, and a passion for serving the Lord.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life

Rafe Khatchadorian is in 6th grade along with his imaginary friend Leonardo The Silent.
When Leo challenges Rafe to try to break every rule in the school rulebook, Rafe is up for the challenge. 
With lots of cartoons, rather remnicient of Diary of a Wimpy kid - but with lots more text and plot, this book follows Rafe through his doomed 6th grade year.  Pursued by a bully at school, and a bully for a soon to be step-dad, with a mom who works all the time, Rafe is not having a good year.  But the Rules Aren't For Everyone challenge makes his life more interesting, albeit more treacherous. 
This is a cute and fun read for the 4th through 6th grade crowd.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham

Theodore Boone: The Abduction

This is the second book that John Grisham has written about Theodore Boone who is a 13 year old son of two lawyers.  Theodore is a detective/lawyer himself who wants to be a judge because "In what other job can an entire room of people, regardless of their age, job or education, be required to stand in solemn respect as you enter the room?  Theo could think of only three - queen of England, president of the United States, and judge."  In this book, Theodore's friend April has disappeared and is presumed to have been kidnapped by her uncle who had been her pen pal and who had recently escaped from prison.  The book is well written and exciting and I was laughing out loud at the scene with the parrot in Animal Court.  I loved the book and thought it was fantastic!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel
This book begins when Rose is 8 years old and she finds that she can taste the emotions of the cooks in the foods that she eats.  Her mother's lemon cake tastes "empty" and makes her feel bad.  She discovers that all foods give her the emotions of the chefs who cooked them and she can even tell where the foods came from.  This leads her to quite a bit of distress and she gratefully eats processed foods that were never touched by human hands.  The story is intriguing and well told, but gets a little confusing about her brother Joseph, who also has a "gift" and is also depressed.  Apparantly her whole family is hiding secrets and her brother's secret is hiding.  I enjoyed the book and read the whole thing in a few hours. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Be Now, Buddy What by Dan Spencer

Be Now, Buddy What

A naked man falls out of a clear sky with a sonic boom, creates a crater, and is totally unharmed except that he has amnesia.  The narrator of this story is a news reporter who happened to be close by when it happened and the story became his.  The man became known as Buddy What, and the amateur video by a tourist of his fall from the sky soon became viral on the internet.  Buddy decides if he cannot find out who he is, he will discover his purpose, which, after soul searching while living under an almond tree, he decides is to dispense his brand of wisdom, which garners a cult following. 
Seen as a reluctant messiah, Buddy and the narrator travel the world sharing his 10 philosophies of life, the last of which is "And at all times, be now." 
The book is a self declared "satire about fame, the news media, organized religion, the internet, and people who let strangers into their homes." 
I enjoyed Buddy's sayings about religion and the world and thought they were very funny.
This book reminded me a bit of the movie K-Pax and I think this book would make a really good movie if it is done right.
I got this book free to review through goodreads.

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

I never would have imagined that an astronomy book would be funny, well written and intriguing, but this one really is.I really enjoyed this fascinating book about how Pluto got demoted from planethood.
I found the arguements about how to define the word planet, and the need to "hide" one's scientific discovery while investigating it lest others steal it along w/ the possiblity that someone else might simultaneously discover the same thing, intriguing. I also enjoyed Mike's inclusion of his private life and sharing about the birth and enjoyment of his daughter made this book more fun and intersting to read. Seeing how much technology has changed lately and how it has changed our view of the universe and what we know about it is amazing. I had no idea that an astronomy book would be this interesting and funny and fun to read. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz #1:  Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

On his thirteenth birthday, Alcatraz Smedry recieves a mysterious package containing a bag of sand.  After that, the life of this clutzy 13 year old who has been shuffled from foster home to foster home his entire life, changes completely.  He learns that the world that he lives in is the Hushlands, which is controlled by Evil Librarians who control the information that people receive thus, creating the reality which they want people to believe in.  Alcatraz learns that he is an Oculator with the talent of breaking things and he goes on an adventure with his grandfather, two uncles, and a 13 year old girl named Bastille to of course, save the world from the Evil Librarians. 
The author interrupts each chapter with humerous narration that the younger audience may not understand all the references to, but the older generation will enjoy. 
This is a humerous, well written fantasy and I totally loved it and look forward to reading the other books in this series. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Winter of our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale by Susan Maushart

The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone)Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale

This story follows a Australian single mom of 3 as she bribes her three teenage children and herself to give up technology in the home including cell phones, computers, tv and anything with screens.  I found the beginning of the book rather slow going, but it got better. The author includes some very interesting research on the effect of media on learning - some positive and some negative, the fact that we can't really multi-task efficiently even though we think we can, studies that showed that some schools that gave students laptops did not show any measurable increse in learning, and other interesting bytes of info.
I found the study that links higher rates of autism to higher rates of screen time very interesting. It does not claim that screened media causes autism, but that it may be a trigger and may contribute to the problem. 
During "The Experiment", the author's children got better sleep, had family meals together, found that they enjoyed board games, singing around the piano and socializing w/ friends IRL, and her son re-discovered his clarinet, learned Jazz, and started a band.  They all benefitted from "The Experiment" of no technology in the home, sometimes in very unexpected ways. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the mother who stayed by laura furrman

The Mother Who Stayed
I got this book free from goodreads to review.  It contains 3 trios of short stores.  The stories are extremely well written, very descriptive, and rather disturbing.  I found them to be a bit confusing and disjointed as well.  I liked the last story the best, but it was disturbing, as all of them were in some way.
The stories are all about women but they are not all about mothers.  There is bad parenting, mothers who abandon their children and women who are not mothers but pretend to be or perhaps act motherly.
The "mother who stayed" is apparantly the only good mother in the book, and her story, told in brief diary exerpts is not terribly interesting. 
The book seems rather degrading to mothers in general.