28. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Pretenders by Lisi Harrison, 292 pages, read by Sarah, on 10/17/2013

This book is told through journal entries from 5 different people attending high school during their freshman year.  Each one of them has an interesting back story that leads them to intertwine with the others.  Secret crushes (and obsessions!), a gay friend, movie-star wanna-be’s, basketball stars, hurt feelings, muddled grades, previous home-schooled experience….these kids have a lot on their plates.  AND they are each pretending to have it all together on the outside, while things are really falling apart.

This was a pretty good book, but confusing to keep track of who was talking during each chapter.  There didn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to the order of their freshman year being told out during the book.  The ending is a cliff hanger that screams for a sequel, so if you can’t stand to wait….read this after the next one comes out!!

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, NonFiction, Sarah

Unveiling Grace by Lynn K. Wilder, 367 pages, read by Sarah, on 09/27/2013

  This book was fascinating to me.  Lynn Wilder and her husband joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) when they were newly married as a result of a couple of young men knocking at their door to share their testimony.  Lynn is an educator who is world renowned for her special education ideas and work with special needs children.  For 30 years, she raised her children to believe that if they worked hard enough, gave to the temple, and followed their callings with the church, that they would go to heaven.  Mind you, there are different levels of heaven in the Mormon church.  More good works equals a higher ranking in heaven.  Through a series of God-moments, trials, and tribulations, God reveals to Lynn’s son, Micah, that Jesus Christ is the only one to follow; not Joseph Smith’s teachings.  Lynn’s family is thrown into turmoil as they try to figure out the truth.

I had several close Mormon friends when I was growing up and this book opened my eyes to many of the things that go on behind closed doors in that church.  It really held my attention.  I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the Mormon church or evangelical Christians.

 

 

19. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah

Mr. Terupt Falls Again by Rob Buyea, 356 pages, read by Sarah, on 09/14/2013

This sequel is good, but not as engaging as the first one (Because of Mr. Terupt).  Mr. Terupt is a teacher who gets to move up with his fifth graders into the sixth grade and his projects are just as challenging as last year.  The same seven students are followed with many storylines including getting in with the wrong crowd, abandonment, ladies growing up, finding out truths from the past, and land wars.  Each of the children mature even more this year and have a special project planned for the end of the year that will leave everyone smiling.  I recommend it, but…I listened to it with my 4th grade son and 6th grade daughter.  A few parts made me uncomfortable to hear with my son, but he took it in stride.  Guess mom needs to grow up!

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult, 477 pages, read by Sarah, on 08/27/2013

I seem destined to pick books told from different viewpoints!  Charlotte’s second pregnancy seems to be going perfectly fine until an ultrasound shows that her daughter has a brittle bone disease and has already broken 7 bones while still in the womb.  Willow is extremely fragile so her older sister, Amelia, can not play with her normally or share her love of ice-skating with her.  Through a series of unfortunate events, it becomes clear that this family is struggling financially and emotionally to deal with the day to day tasks.  An opportunity arises that might give them a way to provide for Willow for the rest of her life, but is it worth trading off important relationships?  This story is very moving and really makes you think about what you would do for YOUR loved one if you were in the same situation.  This story is not for the faint of heart.

09. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Romance, Sarah, Teen Books

The Originals by Cat Patrick, 398 pages, read by Sarah, on 08/08/2013

The Originals is not your typical high school romance.  Triplet “sisters” (really clones) are raised together using one identity that the rest of the world sees.  Elizabeth Best.  They split their day into thirds with only one sister out in the world at a time.  This works for them until a switch, a sweet guy, and a desire for individuality overcomes them.  This was a really good read with drama, tension, and mystery as the reader tries to figure out what the Mom is really all about.  This just goes to show that three girls who look alike on the outside couldn’t be more different on the inside each with their own quirks and unique personalities.

31. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Sarah · Tags:

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, 269 pages, read by Sarah , on 07/26/2013

Because of Mr. Terupt is a wonderful book that will leave you smiling (or crying, as the case may be!)  Mr. Terupt is a fifth grade teacher in his first year and his class is full of children with a range of personal issues that they are dealing with.  Some of the kids think he will be easy to fool since he is new, but Mr. Terupt proves to be very perceptive and deals with the kids in a mellow manner.  When he is finished, the kids know that he still loves them, and they know that their behavior will not be accepted.  Each of the kids form a special bond with Mr. Terupt, because they understand that he really cares about them.  Relationships break and form, kids learn more about themselves, and forgiveness is key to happiness.

Mr. Terupt reminded me of a couple of teachers I had the pleasure of working with.  My kids and I listened to the book on cd version and many times had to sit in the garage for “just a few more minutes!” to find out what was going to happen next.  I really liked how Mr. Buyea wrote from the viewpoint of each child in the class.  It was fun to listen to the different characters and see what each one of them was experiencing in the different situations.  We highly recommend this book!

Pie

29. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah · Tags:

Pie by Sarah Weeks, 183 pages, read by Sarah, on 05/08/2013

pieAlice’s best friend, Aunt Polly, was a kind-hearted woman who made pies and forged friendships like no other.  When she dies, she leaves her award-winning pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo.  Alice is left in charge of Lardo, Lardo disappears, pie making fever abounds as a pie baking contest looms closer, Charlie works with Alice to find the cat thief, and Alice comes to realize that her gifts are worth sharing.  Aunt Polly always brought out the best in people, even in her death.

This was a slower moving book but it had a great message.  I enjoyed the peek into the future in the epilogue.  This was a 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award Nominee.

21. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt, 312 pages, read by Sarah, on 05/21/2013

going vint.

After a break-up with her cheating boyfriend, Mallory swears off of all modern technology until she can complete a list.  Her list is borrowed from her Grandma’s junior year in high school and includes such things as make a homecoming dress and find a steady.  Mallory learns a lot about herself and her family during her two week quest to go vintage and live like they did in the ’60’s.  She thinks that being a teenager was so much easier during that time, but she learns that adolescence is hard regardless of the time period.

I enjoyed the bantering between Mallory and her younger sister.  They had a great relationship and were able to tell each other what they really thought without fear of losing each other.  Also, Oliver’s unique personality added charm and comedic relief.  I enjoyed Going Vintage.

26. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Christian, Fiction, Romance, Sarah

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury, 320 pages, read by Sarah, on 04/25/2013

If you had only one chance to meet up with your childhood sweetheart, would you take it?  Even if it meant admitting that you’ve made some poor choices along the way?  Ellie was forced to move from Georgia to California with her father when she was fifteen years old.  She lost touch with her mother and her best friend, Nolan, for eleven years.  Nolan has grown closer to God during this time, but Ellie has decidchanceed that God can’t possibly love her for so many terrible things to happen to her.  They made a pact the night before Ellie left that in eleven years they would return to their spot in the park to dig up letters that they wrote to each other that night.  Will they keep that pact?  Or let the time slip away from them forever?

This book was emotionally and spiritually very powerful.  God is willing to give us a chance if we just give him the opportunity to work in our hearts.  I highly recommend it.

 

 

15. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Sarah

Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock, 305 pages, read by Sarah, on 04/12/2013

hw7.plTerri Blackstock does an excellent job of weaving a tangled web of clues for the reader to use in figuring out who framed Jay in his soon-to-be ex-wife’s murder.  Jay’s three sisters and ex-cop guy-friend form a motley crew who take in all the clues and head in a totally different direction than the police.  Can they figure it out in time to save Jay’s five-year-old son?  This book was a page turner.  I would say more, but I don’t want to ruin anything!!  Enjoy!

12. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, 73 pages, read by Sarah, on 04/10/2013

hw7.plPearl is a young lady who lives with her mom and grandma as a group of three.  At school, she believes that she is a group of one, but through a series of events she realizes that her group of one has expanded to include classmates.  This is a heart wrenching story written in verse through Pearl’s viewpoint as she struggles with rhyming in school when her grandma taught her that free unrhymed verse can tell a story much more effectively, sometimes.  This story really touched my heart as the little girl has to deal with her grandma’s decline.  I recommend reading it with a kleenax ready!

07. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah · Tags: ,

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer, 250 pages, read by Sarah, on 03/06/2013

Foster is the best cupcake baker in West Virginia, but she is hiding a secret she is too embarrassed to admit.  She and her mother have just escaped a rough relationship and have started fresh in this little town named Culpepper.  The town boasts a prison, Angry Wayne’s restaurant, a church for sale, and a haven house for prisoners’ families to stay in while visiting.  Foster and her mother have won their way into the town’s hearts with their hard work, perseverance, and dedication.  Foster wants to be the first kid on the Food Network with her own show, so often she will practice her shtick with the stuffed catfish on the wall of their borrowed trailer.  Good stuff.

I really enjoyed this 2013-2014 Mark Twain Award nominee.  The author connects you to Foster immediately and you can’t help but root for her.  If you believe in yourself and work hard, then you can be successful at anything you put your mind to.

28. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Christian, Drama, Fiction, Romance, Sarah · Tags:

Don't Tell a Soul by Tiffany L. Warren, 281 pages, read by Sarah, on 02/21/2013

dont tellThree best friends whose lives are intricately tied together through a Sister to Sister group in their church have been through some real trials in their lives.  A cheating, wife-beating husband, recent divorce, tempting potential lovers, an 11 year old son with serious anger issues, a possible threat to one’s marriage, being stranded on an island in a storm with the choir director….these are just a few of the issues that Pam, Taylor, and Yvonne have to deal with.  When a lovely girl, Eva, shows up at their church meeting needing food, Yvonne is more than happy to assist her and reach out with kindness.  But can Eva’s past derail all that Yvonne has hoped for?  Can Taylor forgive her baby’s daddy?  Can Pam stay strong in the face of temptation?

This book surprised me with its frankness in dealing with serious problems in relationships.  It was a bit confusing at first because each chapter is told from a different woman’s point of view and you don’t really know the connection between the ladies early on.  It mixes street-wise folk with shouting-hallelujah folk and is heavy on pushing that Jesus will help you through it all.  All in all, it was a good read that kept you guessing.

30. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Sarah · Tags:

Barn Boot Blues by Catherine Friend, 142 pages, read by Sarah, on 01/26/2013

hw7.plWhat if your parents got a crazy idea that they can manage a small farm in the middle of nowhere, and they drag you away from the only life you ever knew in the bustle of the city?  That is exactly what happens to 12 year old Taylor McNamara just before starting school.  Will the chicken poop flying everywhere and the bloating sheep get her down?  Will she survive embarrassing moments of farm mishaps that leave their evidence on her stylish clothing?  Will her friends help her succeed in convincing her parents that the farm life is not for them?

Taylor was a believable pre-teen who only wanted to be accepted in her new school, be able to make friends, and survive the chore of taking care of 74 farm animals.  Her new friends are great; trying to help her in any way that they can.  Taylor’s parents sound like typical adults who try something new, discover it is going to be stressful, and forget about the kid for a while.  I like how the author let you in on the parents’ relationship throughout the story, too.  All in all, it was a good book that I would recommend for tweens (especially if they are interested in the perils of farm life!)