October 21, 2009

Sorry for the hit and miss posting. I have been trying to shake off a bug, but most days it wins. Today is my best day in almost 2 weeks, so hopefully regular posting will resume next week.

I have three groupings of kids book reviews planned for next week. None are written yet... fingers crossed.

October 20, 2009

Review of: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, old same, in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she's painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Lily narrates Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. She has written her life (from age 5 to age 80) story. The early parts of her story are a bit graphic. Lily holds nothing back when discussing her foot-binding. I actually reached a point where I was preparing to rate Snow Flower and the Secret Fan DNF if the foot-binding part of Lily's story continued for much longer. Amanda J in my Chatting Chicks group told me to stick with it. I'm glad she did and I'm glad I listened to Amanda J. There were only a few more pages about the foot-binding process at that point before the story moved on.

Lily's story is not wholly her own. In particular her life is very much bound together (pun intended) with that of her laotong, Snow Flower. A laotong is explained in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan this way: "A laotong match is as significant as a good marriage," Lily's aunt explained. "A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose – to have sons."

Lily and Snow Flower go through so much together. Births, deaths, sickness, starvation. One misunderstanding of a written message on their fan causes much hurt on both sides. Something that I imagine could happen in this age of so many messages being sent electronically.

I am awarding Snow Flower and the Secret Fan my Hyacinth award.

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
ISBN: 9780812968064
Pages: 269
Published by: Random House Trade Paperbacks (February 21st 2006 (first published 2005))
Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
Grade: A+ What does this grade mean?

Buy Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See:
IndieBound {} Powell's {} Amazon

October 12, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? # 1

This is m very first It's Monday! What are you reading this week? post (hence the # 1 in the post title =) ). J Kaye is our hostess for this weekly event.

Finished last week:
Looking for Alaska by John Green (review coming soon. I've written it, I just haven't posted it yet)

Reading this week:
Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same by Mattox Roesch
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler -- I wasn't intending to read this for a couple of weeks, but I opened it early Sunday and read the first chapter (just a couple of paragraphs) and I found it really hard to stop!

Last week's posts:
Review of: Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer
Review {of sorts} of: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Review of: Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain
Library Loot # 2
Books to Read Before I Die Challenge 2010

Now playing: Carrie Underwood - Lessons Learned
via FoxyTunes

October 8, 2009

Books to Read Before I Die Challenge 2010

Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea is hosting this challenge.
Here are the guidelines - copy/pasted from Diane's blog.
  1. Between now and December 31, 2009, make a list of between 10 and 20 Books to Read Before You Die. (depending on interest, this may be an annual event challenge).
  2. The books on your list can come from your stacks or the library, and be in print or audio format.
  3. Once you've created your post with tentative titles, THEN sign up using Mr. Linky, by pasting the link to your post, along with your name/blog name. This is how you will be registered. Finalize your list by 12/31/09 (no changes to the list after 12/31/09).
  4. NOTE: If you don't have a blog, you can still sign up and join in the fun.
  5. All bloggers who complete the challenge will be entered in giveaway to win an Amazon Gift Card.
  6. Questions/comments, please feel free to comment or email me.
For my list, I went through my To Read/own list on GoodReads. I sorted it oldest to newest (as far as the date that I added them to my account) and picked the first 10 that jumped out at me.

  1. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  2. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  3. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  5. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
  6. Marked by PC Cast and Kristen Cast -- read March 2010
  7. Terminator Salvation by Timothy Zahn -- read February 2010
  8. 50 Harbor Street by Debbie Macomber
  9. 6 Rainier Drive by Debbie Macomber
  10. 74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber
Finalized: December 30, 2009

Library Loot # 2

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva @ A Striped Armchair and Marg @ Reading Adventures that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Library Loot # 1
Here are the books that I have checked out right now:

For the Middle Grade Book Challenge
Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables Novels)
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery, illustrators Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson

Reaghan's current books checked out
Alfie and the Big Boys Smart Dog
Alfie and the Big Boys by Shirley Hughes (is also the illustrator)
Smart Dog by Ralph Leemis, illustrator Chris L Demarest
Random book choices like this are what happen when you set a 3 1/2yo loose in the children's section with "Pick two books" as her only instruction. =)

Checked out for Banned Books Week
And Tango Makes Three
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrator Henry Cole -- We read it during Banned Books Week, but the review won't be posted for another couple of weeks.

Checked out for myself
Looking for Alaska Pride and Prejudice The Eleanor Roosevelt Girls
Looking for Alaska by John Green -- because I took a quiz and Looking for Alaska was my result.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- because I am 33 and have never read any Jane Austen and Eva (@ A Striped Armchair) though this was a good place to start.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Girls by Bonnie Charles Bluh -- I searched Eleanor Roosevelt on my library's website and this is one of the books that came up. Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday is October 11, 1884; she has been a heroine of mine since 5th grade when I did a report on her for Social Studies. I wish I still had that report.

Book images and links provided by GoodReads.com

October 7, 2009

Review of: Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain

Bundle of Trouble begins with Kate Connolly at home on bed rest. She and her husband, Jim, get a phone call that leads them to wonder if the body that was recovered from San Fransisco Bay is Jim's brother, George. Kate goes on to get involved in the investigation of 3 murders.

Kate desperately wants to NOT go back to work after her 6 week maternity leave is over. She falls in love with the idea of becoming a Private Investigator after learning that established PI, Galigani, makes $200 an hour. Kate sees it as a challenge and away for her to earn money while still being with her new baby, Laurie.

First-time mom Kate Connolly is bringing up baby- and bringing down a killer.

Kate Connolly may have found the perfect work-from-home Mommy job: private investigator. After all, the hours are flexible, she can bring the baby along on stake-outs, and if you-re going to be up all night anyway, you might as well solve some crimes. But when a body is pulled from San Francisco Bay that may be her brother-in-law, Kate must crack the case faster than you can say "diaper rash" in order to keep her family together.
Author Sheldon Siegel (Judgment Day) calls Bundle of Trouble "Deftly plotted". I completely agree. I've read a lot of mysteries (especially cozies) and I can sometimes pick out the kill way before the protagonist even suspects them. That was NOT the case with Bundle of Trouble. I did suspect the person who ends up being the guilty party, but they were not the only one I suspected (right along with Kate).

Because of Diana Orgain's Bundle of Trouble, I ignored my family for an entire afternoon. I ended up throwing together a last minute dinner of grilled cheese, oops! I will definitely be looking out for #2 in the Maternal Instincts Mystery series.

Title: Bundle of Trouble (A Maternal Instincts Mystery)
Author: Diana Orgain
ISBN: 9780425229248
Pages: 304
Published by: Berkley Prime Crime (August 4, 2009)
Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Cozy, Part of a Series
Grade: A+ What does this grade mean?

Other reviews:
Julie @ Booking Mama
Laura @ I'm Booking It
A Real Librarian @ Confessions of a Real Librarian
For more reviews search book blogs.

Books in this series:

Bundle of Trouble**
Motherhood is Murder (being released March 2010)
**This review.

Buy Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain:
IndieBound {} Powell's {} Amazon

October 6, 2009

Review {of sorts} of: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Books like Lord of the Flies are hard for me to 'review'. They're classics. Most of us read them in high school, often with a teacher prompting us about themes, symbols and such.

Not me! I don't share this with many, but I dropped out of high school in my junior year. (I did get my GED a couple of years later, but still.) Lord of the Flies was not a book I got to read with the benefit of a prompting English teacher.

That aside, I really enjoyed Lord of the Flies. I read it and then the Cliffs Notes version, just to get a handle on themes, symbols. As I've already said, I find it hard (and a little unnecessary?) to do a 'review' of books that have been around as long as Lord of the Flies. I did enjoy reading it. I felt for Piggy and Ralph, disliked Jack and his crew.

My next 'classic' read will be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.

Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse,Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic. And now readers can own it in a beautifully designed hardcover edition worthy of its stature.
Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
ISBN: 9780399529207
Pages: 336
Published by: Perigee Trade (October 28th 2003 (first published 1954))
Genre(s): Fiction, Classic Lit, Young Adult
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
Grade: B+ What does this grade mean?

Buy Lord of the Flies by William Golding:
IndieBound {} Powell's {} Amazon

October 5, 2009

Review of: Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer

As I said to more than a couple of people on Twitter in the few days following finishing reading Flashforward, this book 'made my head go boom'. This was my first time reading something by Robert J Sawyer. Yes, there were parts that I didn't get, what could I expect from a book centered around two physicists.

Over the summer I kept seeing commercials for the new ABC show called FLASHFORWARD. I'm a LOSTie so I was interested in this new show by some of the same people. The I read that the show FLASHFORWARD was based on Robert J Sawyer's book of the same name. I'm one of those people that likes to read the book before seeing the movie that's based on it. I felt the same about Flashforward (and The Vampire Diaries). According to an article I read, Mr. Sawyer has been in negotiations for a TV show based on this book since it's release in 1999.
What would you do if you got a glimpse of your own personal future and it looked bleak? Try to change things, or accept that the future is unchangeable and make the best of it? In Flashforward, Nobel-hungry physicists conducting an unimaginably high-energy experiment accidentally induce a global consciousness shift. In an instant, everyone on Earth is "flashed forward" 21 years, experiencing several minutes of the future. But while everyone is, literally, out of their minds, their bodies drop unconscious; when the world reawakens, car wrecks, botched surgeries, falls, and other mishaps add up to massive death and destruction.

Slowly, as recovery efforts continue, people realize that during the Flashforward (as it comes to be called) they experienced a vision of the future. The range of visions is astounding--those who would be asleep in the future saw psychedelic dream landscapes, while others saw nothing at all (presumably they'd be dead). But those who saw everyday life 20 years hence have to come to grips with evidence of dreams forsaken (or realized). Soon, the physicists who caused the Flashforward are struggling to help the world decide whether the future is changeable--and whether the experiment is worth repeating. Robert J. Sawyer has captured a truly compelling idea with Flashforward, and he fully explores what such an event might mean to humanity. Fans will find this to be his best work to date, although the ending seems rushed after a detailed buildup. --Therese Littleton

I am awarding Flashforward my Hyacinth award. You will be seeing more of these in the coming weeks. =)

Title: Flashforward
Author: Robert J Sawyer
ISBN: 9780312867126
Pages: 320
Published by: Tor (June 12, 1999)
Genre(s): SciFi
Grade: A What does this grade mean?

Buy Flashforward by Robert J Sawyer:
IndieBound {} Powell's {} Amazon

October 3, 2009

Centuries Reading Challenge

I'm joining another challenge!

Centuries Reading Challenge
Host: Becky of Becky's Book Reviews
Length: All of 2010 (finish at your own pace)
Required Books: 3 to 6

Becky is hosting the Centuries in Reading Challenge.

This post will pretty much remain dormant until January.

October 1, 2009

Challenge update

So, here we are with 3 months left in the year of 2009. I haven't done a Challenge Update in months (?March) so I thought I should update on those I've completed and those I am... conceding defeat.

So, I joined a billion challenges (okay, around 18), some I've quietly deleted over the intervening months, those that are left I will post below along with links to my posts, the host posts and my status in that particular challenge.

  • 2009 Pub Challenge -- my post -- host -- 9/9 read
  • 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge -- my post -- host -- I've borrowed and read 12/12 books from my library. My 3yo has borrowed and read 6 so far (she keeps wanting the same 2 books over and over so her total isn't very high).
  • 2009 Young Adult Challenge -- my post -- host -- 12/12
  • Scott Westerfeld Mini-Challenge -- my post -- host -- 2/2
  • Winter Holiday Reading Challenge -- my post -- host -- I read 4 books, plus one anthology. There was not specific # required.

Still Chugging Along:
  • 100+ Reading Challenge -- my post -- host -- 64/100 as of 10-1-09
  • John Steinbeck Mini-Challenge -- my post -- host -- 0/2
  • Middle Grade Book Challenge -- my post -- host -- 0/12

Conceding Defeat:

Hopefully I will not over extend myself in 2010. What I WILL do in 2010 is see the first part of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the theater. =)

Reading Wrap-Up for September

Since I find myself borrowing more and more books from the library for Reaghan (my 3yo daughter) my wrap-up posts are now going to be broken down into 2 sections. Books I read/listened to myself and those that I read to or listened to with Reaghan.

If I have already written and posted the review I will link the title to that review. =)

Books I finished in September 2009
Books I read to Reaghan
  • DW's Lost Blankie by Marc Brown
  • Arthur's Birthday Surprise by Marc Brown
  • Arthur's Computer Disaster by Marc Brown
  • Clifford's Halloween by Norman Bridwell
  • The Very Noisy Night by Diana Hendry
  • What Alvin Wanted by Holly Keller
  • Pumpkin Moon by Tim Preston
  • Safari Animals by Paul Hess

IMPORTANT: Kylee's Journal Disclosure

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kylee's Journal would like everyone to know that the books reviewed on my blog were either provided to me by the publisher/the author for free OR were purchased by me OR were borrowed from the library. Books recieved for free do not get special treatment, if I don't like something, I either will not finish it (DNF) or I will struggle through to the end; both get reviews posted here.