16. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Children's Books, Elizabeth, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, 312 pages, read by Elizabeth, on 06/10/2013

I recently had the great pleasure to listen to the audiobook version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. This audiobook won the 2009 Audie Award for Best Audiobook. The story itself won a plethora of awards including the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 2009 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel and even more award nominations. This whimsical audiobook, narrated by the author, is sure to delight older children, young adults and adults.
I had read the print version of The Graveyard Book before. It tells the story of Nobody Owens, who was left in the care of the ghosts and other creatures of a very old graveyard after his parents’ murder. The murderer spends years searching for Nobody, who is protected by his new family of ghosts, vampires and other graveyard creatures. Nobody eventually faces down his parents’ murderer. This is a story of family, friendship and, ultimately, growing up.
The audiobook, narrated by Gaiman himself, is delightful. Gaiman’s performance is (predictably) perfect. I highly recommend The Graveyard Book in any format, but the audiobook is superb.

03. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg., 163 pages, read by Kira, on 05/31/2013

What a delightful book!  I’m so glad our challenge this month was award winners for Teens & Children’s.  I’ve read a bunch of well written charming titles.

I’d read one review of “The View from Saturday” where the reviewer said she read this book every year, and I’d read “From the Mixed Up Files…” by Konigsburg previously, and liked it, but didn’t find it stellar.  Well this book was a surprise.  Four children in the sixth grade each struggle with different changes in their lives (divorce, new country, etc).  They come together to form the Team named the Souls to compete in Academic trivia competitions across the state of New York.  Initially, it appears to be the story of these 4 children, but gradually you realize it is also the story of their teacher, Mrs. Olinksy who has returned to teaching again after a car accident that left her a paraplegic in a wheel-chair.  I’d like to reread this title and read it with my husband.  If you like Louis Sachar, you should give this title a try!



03. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, 182 pages, read by Kira, on 05/25/2013

WinnDixie1 Because-Of-Winn-Dixie-3-T5CPEU88EA-1024x768 Much different, lighter, from her The tale of Despereaux, which I found to be a little dark.  Its the story of Opal, a preacher’s daughter, who’s mom left when she was 3.  Opal and her dad have just moved to a new town, and through her dog “Winn Dixie” Opal is able to make friends with all sorts of people.  The best “scene” was when her dog, started chasing a mouse through the win dix famchurch. A short feel-good novel.

24. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, 377 pages, read by Kira, on 05/23/2013

percy-jackson-and-the-lightning-thief-1-19-10     Fast paced, enjoyed the concept of the 12 camp cabins each one for a different member of the Greek pantheon.  I would like to see the camp.  Alexandra_Daddario_in_Percy_Jackson_and_the_Olympians__The_Lightning_Thief_Wallpaper_2_1280It lightning_thief_hd_wallpaper_thumbwas really obvious which god’s son he was, but enjoyable to watch him and his mates discover his heritage. I really liked the book, until somewhere right towards the end, after Percy battles Ares, somehow things didn’t really fit.  I thought for sure I’d want to start right in on the next book in the series, but afpercy-jackson-and-the-olympians-the-lightning-thief-920160ter I finished I changed my mind.  Maybe it was the author’s attempt at bridging to the next book, lightning_thief_ukthat percywas weak.

18. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, NonFiction · Tags:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, 266 pages, read by Angie, on 05/18/2013

I am so glad narrative nonfiction is becoming the “in” thing because it is so much more interesting to read than boring old regular nonfiction! This book is as compelling as any novel I have read. Sheinkin did an amazing job researching the events and the people that led up to the creation of the bomb. I can’t imagine all the FBI files he had to read to get some of this stuff. In Bomb, he takes a look at how the Americans started the race to beat the Germans to the atomic bomb and how the Russians stole the plans. We get first-hand accounts of the events and what the people involved thought at the time. It was truly fascinating and hard to put down.

This is a 2013 Newbery Honor Book, the 2013 Sibert Medal Winner, and a 2012 National Book Award finalist.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, 275 pages, read by Kira, on 05/14/2013


Tom-boy Caddie Woodlawn, is growing up on the froncaddytier in Wisconsin.

I really empathized with Caddie, when her Mom punished her harshly, but Not her brothers, because “she was a girl and should have known better”.  However, her father punishes the boys.

I liked the fact that when Caddie starts doing more domestic activities, that her brothers follow her, because they’re pals.


The author tells more and shows less, leading to a quaint, less accessible read.  The story got better as it progressed.

09. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira, Romance · Tags:

The witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare., 272 pages, read by Kira, on 05/08/2013

WitchBlackbird8 witchblvpwitch-of-blackbird-pondA delightful tale – Kit travels to Puritan New England from Barbedos, after her grandfather dies.  She must learn to adjust to new strict norms, but befriends an older Quaker woman (believed to be a witch) who lives out by Blackbird Pond.

I wish the book had more of an epilogue, I’m tempted to write one myself.

Wordle-The-Witch-of-Blackbird-Pond Dolphin map

06. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Tracy · Tags:

The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Beth Krush (Illustrations), Joe Krush (Illustrations), 192 pages, read by Tracy, on 05/03/2013

I don’t remember if I ever read this award winning children’s book but it does explain a few things about the disappearance of items in your home. How many times have you misplaced something and found it in a completely different spot? Have you walked down your hallway and felt a warm spot? Does your elderly aunt talk to herself? You may have a family of Borrowers in your house. They are harmless and are in danger of being seen by “a human bean”. Arrietty is the young daughter of the Clock family, they live under the clock, and she is seen by a young boy. He is a nice bean but the adults in the house are not. Arrietty wants to live outdoors where she can run and enjoy the flowers. She may get her wish.

16. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry · Tags:

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 02/16/2012

This novel written in verse tells the story of Ha and her family as they flee Saigon and come to America. It is a story of survival and struggle. It is beautifully written and the sparseness of the verse makes the story that much more poignant. In Saigon, Ha’s family listens to the bombs fall daily, they wait for a father’s return even though they fear he is gone forever. They are smart and capable people in Saigon. Then one day they decide to leave on a Navy ship as Saigon is falling to the Communists. They arrive in America and are sponsored by a family in Alabama. Life in America is not easy. They do not know the language and are considered dumb; they are teased and taunted by their peers. They had to leave everything they knew behind.

I think the fact that this book is written in verse makes it that much more powerful. I don’t think the story would have resonated as much if it was written in a traditional manner. Lai is able to convey every emotion and heartache of the family’s journey through the verse as well as their hope for their future. It is a powerful book on a powerful subject. This is a very fast read, but you really do want to take your time and pour over the language.

19. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Multicultural Fiction · Tags: ,

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, 280 pages, read by Angie, on 01/07/2012

This is a wonderful book about a young girl (Sal) coming to terms with her mother leaving her and her father. She relives her mother’s journey through a roadtrip with her grandparents and comes to terms with it through the story of her friend Phoebe. Phoebe is a bit crazy and overdramatic but I liked her as I liked all the characters in this book. It is a beautiful story about sorrow and loss and forgiveness. The language just flows so beautifully as you read it; you can almost hear someone telling the story to you as you travel. Very enjoyable.