Monthly Archives: November 2012

December book list

November was a pretty good month.  It was the first whole we spent in Kansas City.  It snowed one day, for about an hour, but it was very pretty.  Thanksgiving was small, just my husband, Haley, and me.  One of my best friends had another baby boy, hopefully Haley and I can get out to California soon to go meet him.  And I met a woman at the library storytime who invited me to join a mommies’ group and I met some great ladies.  I love being a stay-at-home mom, but it does get a little lonely when you don’t know anyone.  It’s nice for Haley and I to make some friends.

On to the reading, I finished three books: Partials by Dan Wells, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and Maze Runner by James DashnerI was very happy with all three.  Each was the first in a series, so that means more books to look forward to even thought Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) is the only second book already out.  I also started reading Promised byCaragh O’Brien(Book #3 in the Birthmarked Series) and Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.  Clockwork Orange is due back to the library in 4 days and I am on page 15, doesn’t look like it’s going to get finished this time.  Has anyone actually read this book?  It makes no sense!
So November was a good month overall.

For December I already have 6 books to read.

december books

Everlost  Book 1 of the Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman (Loved the UnWind series so much wanted to get another of this author’s books)

The Host by Stephanie Meyer (I read this about 4 years ago, and after seeing the movie preview I felt like reading it again)

Masque of Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Rapture book 4 of the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate

Scorch Trials Book 2 of the Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

Finale Book 4 of the Hush Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick (still waiting for me at the library)

I am still waiting for Prodigy: A Legend Novel by Marie Lu from the library–I am number 25 on the hold list– and Reached (Matched Trilogy Book 3) by Ally Condie– I am 170 on the hold list, seriouly #170! So I might just have to buy Reached since it’s the last in the trilogy  and I don’t think I can wait until 170 other people read it before I get my hands on it.  So that’s more like 9 books to read, the 6 I mentioned, plus the two I have already started (Promised and Clockwork) and Reached.  So with Christmas and New Years we’ll see how many books I get finished.

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Unwholly

Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Book #2 in the Unwind trilogy

ISBN 9781442423688

Kindle Edition

Genre:  Post Apocalyptic Dystopian Society, Young Adult, Science Fiction

If you have not read UnWind you should not read this review, it contains spoilers for the first book.  I will warn before I include spoilers for Unwholly.

UnWholly takes place fairly soon after the ending of Unwind.   Conner is now in charge of the Graveyard.  Risa is paralyzed from the waist down after the Happy Jack explosion and in charge of medical help at the Graveyard.  Levi is trying to lead a normal life after being labeled “The clapper who did not clap.”  We also meet Starky, a storked baby who is grew up knowing his “adoptive” parents saw him more of an obligation than a blessing.    He was scheduled to be unwound but escaped while in transport, much like Conner.  However, unlike Conner, Starky is violent, controlling, manipulative, and dangerous. There is also Miracolina, a tithed child much like Levi, Nelson, the Juvy cop humiliated by Conner during his escape who is out for revenge, and Cam, a new kind of being, made completely of unwound parts.

Shusterman explains in this book how the world we know became the world where post birth abortions became acceptable.  He takes the collapse of the education system in our county and shows the disasterous consequences.  Young adults with no skills, who cannot find jobs, become homeless.  They are angy at the government that failed them and becoming violent and demanding.  A war followed and the worst compromise, unwinding, was the anwer.  I would like to think that our society, that people would never make this choice, but this article and this one show that some would. (Yes I do realize that both articles discuss the same people, but they were from two different times this year so it’s still out there)

*******************SPOILER ************

Shusterman creates such believable characters that I grew to love and hate.  There are few fictional charaters who I hate more than Starky.  Serioulsy, hate the guy.  I read another reviewer says she wanted to rip his throat out with her teeth and I thought, “Yep, pretty much”.  While he does many unforgivable things in the book, what he does to sabotage the Graveyard’s survival is way past awful.  I hate him for leaving all those poor kids to die while saving his own group.  I hope in the next book someone kills him, badly.

These books are so hard to read because the world these kids live in is so depressing, I love how Shusterman creates characters with such a capacity for love and a desire to help each other.  I was not expecting to admire Cam as much as I do, and root for him to find love and acceptance.

I love this series so far.  Shusterman has created such amazing people who have such a power for love in this horrific society.  I cannot wait to read Unsouled, which at this time does not seem to have a release date.  We’re all hoping it’s soon.  If you can’t wait, you can check out UnShattered.  It’s one of those 1.5 novels that have become so popular.  The mini-book (don’t know if that’s what others are calling it, but that’s what I am calling it) shows Levi’s experience before he decided to become a clapper.  Not bad.  It does introduce at least one character that comes to play in UnWholly.  Me, I went and checked out Everlost, the first book in Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker Trilogy.  Hopefully it will be just as good.

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I am thankful for… (in no particular order)

My husband who works hard everyday.
My daughter Haley who is a challenge and a joy. There are no words to explain how much I love her.
The fact that I can stay home with Haley and watch her grow- which refers back to my wonderful husband who works so hard to make that happen.
My parents: my mom who I talk to on the phone several times a week and my dad who I don’t talk to nearly enough.
My brothers, who I rarely talk to at all, but are always in my heart.
My husband’s family. They have accepted me into their family so easily.
My two dogs, who don’t get as much of my attention as they deserve now that I have a toddler to chase around.
My friends, who I miss so much now that I am hundreds of miles away.  I am so happy to have such great friends who send me messages and don’t forget about me.
Facebook and my phone to keep me in touch with my family and friends since I am hundreds of miles away.
And of course, the library and my Kindle for providing me with and endless supply of books to read.
My husband again for buying me my Kindle.

I am sure there are many more things to be thankful for, but I am going to go back to making dinner for which I am also thankful.
Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

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The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter By Kim Edwards

ISBN 0143037145

Genre Fiction

Audio Book

I don’t normally listen to audio books, actually I never do.  I don’t drive for long periods of time on a regular basis.  But when I got to drive from Houston, Texas to Kansas City, Missouri with only my 14 month old daughter and two dogs (my husband was driving the moving truck) it seemed like the best time to bring out a book on tape, well CD actually.  So there I was on a 12+ hour drive with nothing to do but listen to a book.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is about a doctor, David Henry, his wife, Norah Henry, and the nurse Caroline Gil.  On a frozen winter night, Dr. David Henry has to deliver his wife’s baby with the help of his nurse Caroline Gil.  After the birth of their son, who Norah names Paul; David realizes that she was actually pregnant with twins.  While Paul was “perfect” in every way, the baby girl has Down Syndrome.  David makes a quick decision to send the baby girl to a home to be raised, it was said in the book that this was a common practice in the 60s.  He hands her to Caroline to take away and tells his wife the baby girl died.  Caroline takes the baby to the home, but cannot bring herself to leave her there, so she takes her home hoping that David will change his mind.  He does not.  He continues with the lie that the baby died and he and his wife hold a memorial service. Caroline then leaves town with the baby whom she named Phoebe( it was what the mother would have named the baby).

As the story progresses, Caroline raises Phoebe as her own child.  She meets friends and a nice man named Al who offer her love and support.  David and Norah’s life goes a little different.  Norah feels extreme grief over the death of her child.  David’s feelings of guilt cause him to refuse to talk about Phoebe and when Norah says she wants to have another baby, David refuses.  He secretly fears that another baby will also have Down syndrome.  They grow further and further apart with David’s secrets and Norah’s grief.  David throws himself into his work and hobby of photography while Norah and Paul feel neglected.

This book is sad.  Depressing actually.  And not in a good way like Romeo and Juliet or The Book Thief (my review of The Book Thief .  It’s sad like Revolutionary Road, a sad that doesn’t feel cathartic, but in a way that makes you not like people for a little while.  (Disclaimer, I never finished Revolutionary Road because I found it upsetting, but I read the whole summary)  The characters in this book are not likeable.  The author explains David’s decision by explaining that his sister died young, and her death destroyed his mother.  He did not want Norah to go through the same thing.  I do not think this excuses or justifies his actions.  He did not want to go through the pain of losing his daughter.  He was selfish, and continued to act selfishly the rest of the story.

************SPOILER ALERT*************

I cannot get over what Caroline did to Norah.  I am not forgiving what David did, but it seemed like Caroline came off as a good guy and David came off as a bad guy.  David spent the rest of his life feeling guilty, Caroline felt just a little guilty.  Caroline took another woman’s baby.  She took it away knowing Norah had no knowledge of any of this.  Norah thought her baby was dead for over 20 years.  If I was Norah, I would have called the cops and had Caroline arrested for kidnapping.  Maybe she’s a better person than I am allowing Phoebe to remain with the woman she feels is her mother, but I could not be so tolerant.  The more I think about it the more it angers me what Caroline did.  Don’t get me wrong, I am mad at David too, but all Caroline had to do was go to Norah and tell her.   Caroline was selfish.  She was lonely and wanted a baby.  She felt righteous in taking the baby away from the home, but she took the baby away from the mother.  She kept in touch with David through the years, but never thought the best thing to do was go to Norah.  I cannot forgive what Caroline did; my mom says this is what having a baby does to you.  I feel for Norah, it makes my heart hurt.  And that is the main reason I did not like the book.  What David and Caroline did to Norah was unforgivable.

I would not read this book again and would not refer it to a friend.  It wasn’t actually bad, but I don’t feel it has anything to offer.  I probably would not have finished it if not for the very long drive.

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Library Day

I love the local libraries. I go online, request a few titles, and when they’re ready I get an email to come pick them up. I don’t really like browsing the stacks–not too easy with a 14 month old in tow– so it’s awesome the I can do most of it online.

It’s not that we never spend time in the library, Haley and I go twice a week for Baby Storytime. 30 mins of stories, songs, rhymes and playtime with 20 ish other babies. And a great opportunity for me to get to know other mommies in my area.

Wow, I am sounding like a commercial.  I promise I don’t work for the library, but that would be way cool.  I might look into that…  Just wanted to share what I am sure many know, but forget about.

So here is my most recent check out list and I have two or three waiting for me. I have a month to get these read so I better get going. I know Clockwork Orange is going to take some time.

Partials by Dan Wells

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I also checked out the The Little Mermaid DVD. It had been so long since I saw that movie. It still makes me cry. You know the part where King Triton says “There’s only one problem… How much I’m going to miss her” and then he turns her into a human. Tears welling in my eyes. I looked on Netflix, at Redbox, at my local Walmarts and Targets and on Amazon. Not readily available. But lo and behold, it was at the library. Love it! And ( I am going to repeat this many many times) it was FREE. I will probably end up buying it someday, but not today.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

                       

I have heard about his book for longer than I can remember.  Apparently it’s some kind of “cult classic” or something, I don’t know.  Truthfully the real reason I got this book is because the movie is coming out soon and I am very excited to see Emma Watson in a role other than Hermione.  I love her! And as I have said before, I have this problem where I have to read the book before I see the movie.  Anyway, I got this book from the library (love the library, I request a book and BAM it’s there in a few days and it’s FREE!) and read it pretty quickly.  It’s an epistolary novel, but written more like a diary.  The main character Charlie is writing to some unknown person about his life.  As you probably already guessed from the title, Charlie is a wallflower.  He is an introvert who is socially inept.  He is the youngest of three.  His older brother is the star football player who goes off to college on a full ride scholarship.  His sister is smart and beautiful and well liked at school.  And then there’s Charlie.  His only real friend William killed himself the year before.  Now he is starting high school with no friends.  He is determined to be more social this year and “participate” as his high school English teacher encourages.

I am still not sure if I liked this book.  It was interesting enough to finish.  And I might reread it.  Charlie is a typical introverted, awkward leading character.  He did remind me of a more innocent, nicer Holden from Catcher in the Rye and the author does refer to this character and this book.  He also reminds me of the main character from Almost Famous, William Miller. SoI had Patrick Fugit’s face in my head the whole book.

He was also in White Oleander which was a fantastic book and movie.   If he was younger I think he would have been a good actor for this part.

Charlie’s goal this year is to become more outgoing and make friends.  He quickly makes friends with Patrick and Sam and they bring him into their group.  They are all seniors while Charlie is a freshman.  They get him drunk, stoned, and hooked on cigarettes.  I didn’t really like all that.  And I was surprised that Charlie never seemed to have a curfew.  And while they are supposed to be such great friends of his, they often overlook him.  They don’t call him on this birthday.  And Charlie is a great friend to Sam and Patrick.

What Charlie is really supposed to learn from this group is that everyone is a little different.  We all have our idiosyncrasies.  His friends don’t teach him much, though, about how to be more outgoing.  He still simply reacts to what is happening around him, usually by doing what he thinks other people want him to do. Sam often tells him what he has done wrong, but provides little help on how to change. Charlie didn’t grow much as a character and now that all his friends have graduated, he will probably have a hard time during his sophomore year.  He does learn something rather important about his childhood in this book.  It’s something the author foreshadows from time to time.  But while this is a major revelation, it doesn’t change Charlie now that he knows.

I tell my students that sometimes the author reveals the theme by what the characters learn, and sometimes by what the characters are supposed to learn.  Maybe the theme of this book is shown by what Charlie is supposed to learn.  He is supposed to learn that he has good qualities that are valuable in a friend, that his wants are important and not just to follow what everyone else wants, that he needs to go after what is important to him.  I would love to have a friend like Charlie.  He is observant so he know people really well and he’ll help his friends in any way he can.  He just needs to be a little stronger and not be afraid to stand up for himself.

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