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books & reading nightstand

Nightstand: November 2011

So it’s mere days before Thanksgiving, which is exciting in it’s own right, but it also means that it’s time for me to fill you in on my nightstand! Haven’t done this before? The fabulous ladies at 5 Minutes for Books ask us each month which books we are reading, read recently or plan to read soon – basically this amounts to “What’s on your nightstand right now?” Get it?

When we last nightstanded, I was reading The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent – the story of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. (description from goodreads.com)

I have to say I really kind of adored that book, although it was slow reading at times, it really kept me hooked and the story was just fascinating, though heart breaking. I definitely recommend it!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen SimonsonAfter finishing The Heretic’s Daughter, I had planned to read our November book club pick, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This is the story of Major Ernest Pettigrew, retired, of Edgecombe St. Mary, England, [who] is more than a little dismayed by the sloppy manners, narcissism, and materialism of modern society. The decline of gentility is evident everywhere, from tea bags, to designer sweaters, to racism masquerading as tolerance…

But after about three chapters (or 40 pages or so) I honestly couldn’t read anymore. It is not often that I will put down a book after only a few chapters, but lately I have been thinking that my time is too precious to read books I’m not enjoying. And I wasn’t enjoying this one at all. The book was intended, I think, to be a fairly light-hearted satire, but I found the main character so annoyingly cynical that I couldn’t read it without rolling my eyes at him. I don’t know if the book would have gotten better or if I was being too hard on it. I’d guess there are people who loved it and would enjoy it. But I honestly don’t think I was going to be one of them.

My only reason for reading the book would have been because it was a book club pick and normally I’d give myself a harder time and make myself read it anyway, but I decided to go easy on myself this once because my nightstand is kind of overwhelming me at the moment with books to read and truthfully? There was one book in particular beckoning to me. It’s been sitting there patiently for months, picked up in between books just long enough to read a chapter or so, giggle to myself and then move on to my next mandatory read. Well this month it said, “Um, Jen, knock it off and read me already. You’re gonna love it!”

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen LancasterAnd I totally am! What book am I finally digging into and adoring something fierce? Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. It’s basically the funniest book about dieting that you’ll ever read and I think I especially love it because (especially when it comes to food and dieting) Jen Lancaster and I are kind of kindred spirits. It’s like reading my own thoughts on paper except then sometimes SHE goes to the gym or starts a diet or loses weight and I’m all, “Oh, hey, wait for me!”

I’m kind of hoping that this will be a book that motivates me to finally kick my ass and start eating better and exercising (I’m already trying) and that she doesn’t end the book with, “And then I gave up, who are we kidding, really?” We’ll see…. Either way, as far as book choices go, I’m glad I made this one because I now go to bed at night eager to read!!!!! Instead of “Oh yeah… that book….. Maybe I’m tired?”

So what am I going to read NEXT? Man, guys, I have no idea… There are kind of a million positions I’m being pulled in, but here are some of my ideas:

  • Attempting Wicked by Gregory Maguire again and then possibly reading the rest of the Oz series by him.
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave which I keep hearing is some kind of fantastic
  • Some more funny books like Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin or Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
  • Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi has also been waiting patiently for me for awhile…
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde looks really good – I love his Thursday Next series.
  • And then let’s not even talk about all the OTHER books I own but haven’t read yet and guys, what about the books I WANT to buy? What if I get books for Christmas? If you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know that my TBR pile finally fell over and buried me.

What are you reading right now?

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books & reading memes & carnivals

Kids’ Picks: Berenstain Bears By The Sea

MM is actually just starting to get into picking out his own bedtime stories. For awhile I’d pick the story and there’d be ones he enjoyed more than others but what we read was largely my call. Now he eagerly looks forward to picking out the story and sometimes surprises us by asking for an old favorite – a book we haven’t read in awhile – which is so cool to see that he’s really been paying attention and is starting to form favorites!

Lately it’s been all about The Berenstain Bears around here – we were given a huge pile of children’s books from Dan’s aunt, a lot of which were his as a child at some point, and of course I read a lot of the same books – we were both big Betenstain Bear fans for sure! But neither of us read any of the Step-Into-Reading editions which we’ve also acquired a couple of – and one of MM’s recent favorites is one of these books, called The Berenstain Bears By The Sea.

I love the catchy rhymes in this cute story of the Bear Family’s trip to the beach house. The bear cubs are of course anxious to get out the sea and start swimming, but mama and papa bear insist on getting the beach house ready for the stay, having a snack, and then of course waiting after they eat before swimming. It’s a short read with a good rhythm thanks to the rhyming text. Both Dan and I enjoy reading this one to him and sometimes MM likes to pretend to read it to himself, too. So cute.

I think he must be just as eager to hit the beach as we are, because MM has been asking for this book at naptime and bedtime non-stop lately! Luckily it’s one we both like, too!

What books are your kids reading right now?

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books & reading memes & carnivals

Friday Finds: June 12th

FF2_MdFriday Finds asks:

“What great books did you hear about / discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!”

I’ve stumbled across three prospective books this week, a nice and short list, which is good because my TBR pile on goodreads.com currently has 483 books and I know it’s probably incomplete. Anyhow, here are my three finds from this week:

  1. Haunting Bombay by Shipla Agarwal – Yet another book that I stumbled across at Scrap Girl’s blog Serendipity. She and I seem to have fairly similar book interests because 9 out of 10 times if she likes it, it sounds good to me, too. So not helping the TBR pile but I can’t say I’m complaining (oh by the way – she’s giving away a copy of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen right now – if you haven’t entered yet, there’s still time!). Anyway, about Haunting Bombay – here’s a little description: “In her stunning debut novel Shilpa Agarwal takes on the ghosts that bedevil young Pinky Mittal’s extended family and dispatches them with rambunctious wit and affection. The result is like finely wrought mirror work, a glittering tapestry of vibrant contradictions, characters, and mysteries. Haunting Bombay flirts deliciously with the true spirit of India.”—Aimee Liu, author of Flash House
  2. The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry – This was Jennifer at Snapshot‘s pick for this week’s Children’s Book Carnival on Poetry at 5 Minutes For Books. With over 200 poems by authors like Bill Martin, Jr., Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Margaret Wise Brown, Mother Goose, Jack Prelutsky and Judith Viorst – it just sounds like a wonderful compilation of children’s poetry and Jennifer’s son Kyle loves it – I really want to pick this up to read to MM. The collection is capped off with tributes by Eric Carle and Steven Kellogg, two of Bill Martin Jr’s best-known collaborators. This essential compilation also features original illustrations by award-winning artists, including Ashley Bryan, Lois Ehlert, Steven Kellogg, Chris Raschka, Dan Yaccarino, Nancy Tafuri, and Derek Anderson.
  3. Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love by Patrice Hannon – This was the book Naida at Bookworm quoted in this week’s Teaser Tuesday. “Women have looked to Jane Austen’s heroines as models of appropriate behavior for nearly two centuries. Who better to understand the heart of a heroine than Austen? In this delightful epistolary “what if,” Austen serves as a “Dear Abby” of sorts, using examples from her novels and her life to counsel modern-day heroines in trouble, she also shares with readers a compelling drama playing out in her own drawing room. Witty and wise—and perfectly capturing the tone of the author of Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice—Dear Jane Austen is as satisfying as sitting down to tea with the novelist herself.” – book description on goodreads.com

That’s all for this week – what new books did you find for your TBR pile this week?

Categories
books & reading memes & carnivals

What’s On Your Nightstand: January

February is just around the corner and per usual my nightstand is currently begging for mercy, and more books are on their way. This month I finished reading (and reviewed) Home by Julie Andrews (LOVED IT), The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (liked it, but not as much as I’d expected to) and Wicked by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (which I’ll be reviewing later today, but suffice it to say it was terrific).

I’m currently reading The Horse & His Boy (book 3 in Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis and Walk Away The Pounds by Leslie Sansone (I know, I’m a little bit obsessed – the book is actually really good so far btw).

And here are the books slated to be read next, some in my possession others on their way here via Amazon.com:

What’s on YOUR nightstand this month?

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books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about for this month’s Children’s Classics carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books. But as I finished reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe last night it occurred to me that it was both a children’s book and a classic – it was simply a slightly older read than the things I’m reading to my own son who is just two years old. Still it does qualify even if I haven’t been reading it with a child (just a child at heart). I do hope to read this to MM when he gets older and I hope he enjoys this story as much as I have.

First, to be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I’d expected to – I read The Magician’s Nephew first and liked it more – but I think that is only because The Magician’s Nephew was a new read for me – The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a story I already knew well, and I’d seen the movie adaptations a couple times. I have a very hard time reading a book whose movie I’ve already seen, but I did read and enjoy this book. It is possible I liked the movie more though – but really, in a book this small, it was easier I think to give more details in the movie, something that rarely happens in a book-to-movie adaptation. The length of the movie and being able to see it all unfold in front of your eyes was magical and the recent movie especially was very well done. So while I did like the book, I think I handicapped my own enjoyment by seeing the movie first.

But I love C.S. Lewis’s writing style and the book is very well written and perfect for children. I think it will be a very fun book to read aloud to my own children someday and the story is truly a classic that anyone can enjoy. I recommend both the book and the movie.

For more reviews of children’s classics, head over to 5 Minutes For Books for a list of participants.

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books & reading

What’s On MY Nightstand: December

It’s the 4th Tuesday in November – you know what that means! It’s TIME TO build a word show you what’s on my nightstand. First I’ll show you the books I’m currently reading and have slated to read, then I’ll show you the books that Santa can feel free to leave under the tree for me this year (the ones I wouldn’t kick out of my nightstand, so to speak). So here’s what I’m reading right now or planning to read very soon:

  • The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis: This book is either the 6th in the series or the 1st depending on how you look at it – it wasn’t written first, but it is supposed to be the story of the dawn of Narnia, how it all began, etc. I’ve decided to read this one first even though it says BOOK SIX in huge letters, the back of the book assures me I can read these books in any order. So there. I’ve read two chapters before and already I’m loving the writing style and the plot. I think I’m really going to enjoy this series.
  • Home: A Memoir Of My Early Years by Julie Andrews: I’ve been wanting to read this since before it came out, so last night when the dh let me take myself to the library I searched the racks in the basement biographies section of the library and THERE IT WAS. I was so excited and I’m looking forward to starting this soon.
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer: I bought this with a gift card my mother sent me for my birthday and I am definitely looking forward to reading it, but I keep putting it down and saying, “Not yet.” I think it’s the knowledge that it’s currently the only book she’s written that I haven’t read – so once I read it, I’m screwed until she writes something new – does that make sense? So I put it down and went to the library to get The Magician’s Nephew and Home and I’ll read this just as soon as I’m brave enough!
  • The No Cry Potty Training Solution by Elizabeth Pantley: I am mostly including this to maybe encourage myself to pick it up and start reading it – it does sound like a great book and probably perfect, but like my son, I’m in denial about the whole potty training thing and it kind of feels like homework, which never encourages me to want to read anything. But there you have it.

Now for the books that I’d most like to find waiting for me on Christmas morning – the ones I’d bake Santa TWO batches of homemade cookies for!

What’s on your nightstand this month?

Categories
books & reading memes & carnivals reviews

What’s On Your Nightstand: October

Last month I said that I planned to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Well Of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, In The Hand Of The Goddess by Tamora Pierce and Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. When I wrote last month’s What’s On Your Nightstand almost none of the books were actually in my possession. Similarly, this month the only book on my TBR list that’s on my nightstand is the book I’m currently reading. But first let’s talk about how I fared in the last month.

  • Jane Eyre I never finished. I really wasn’t enjoying it. It was kind of depressing me and I decided that life was too short to spend reading bad literature. I wrote more on that here.
  • I just finished reading The Well of Lost Plots a couple days ago and LOVED it, but it seems like it took me forever to finish it. Fforde’s books are always so detail-rich and complex in plot that it’s not something I can devour in one sitting. You have to immerse yourself in his world and if you don’t love that world, you probably aren’t going to make it. I LOVE it though so it was well worth the effort. I think this was the best of his books that I’ve read so far. My full review is located here.
  • I am reading In The Hand Of The Goddess right now and liking it a great deal. It’s picking up much quicker than Alanna: The First Adventure did and so it took me no time at all to get hooked on the story. I’m becoming a big fan of Tamora Pierce as well.
  • I hope I read Mayflower this year. I’ve had it for awhile but keep putting off reading it for various reasons but it does look good and it seems like it would be a good book for the fall, but it’s hard to stay committed when I also want to read….

Books To Read Soon

  • American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – I’m hoping to read this next month at some point
  • Tale of Despereaux by Katie DeCamillo – the movie is coming out soon and I want to read the book before I break down and see the movie (which you know I will)
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde – Book number 4 in the Thursday Next series, I swear it’s like crack.
  • Rumors by Anna Godberson – follow up to The Luxe, I’ve been wanting to read this for ages, but the library never seems to have it in stock and of course there are always other books that I want to read, too.
  • How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean – this book has gotten a few bad reviews, but I know it’s one that I’ll need to read for myself or I’ll never be able to let it go, you know?

What’s on YOUR nightstand? Have you blogged about it and linked up @ 5 Minutes For Books yet?

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books & reading reviews

Kids’ Picks: Grumpy Frumpy! Happy Snappy!

My son hasn’t gotten into too many new books since last month’s kids picks a great book carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books EXCEPT this little gem that I picked up at Target in the $1 bin…

He immediately seemed to know that these little guys were “monsters” in a big scary silly voice, though I’m not sure where he learned about monsters in the first place, it’s hilarious to hear him read this. I guess that means it’s hilarious to hear ME read this, since I read it to him first and he now imitates me, but the cool thing is he seems to remember each page, each voice and I think he really gets the idea of the opposites on these pages. Here’s an example from MM The Future Hand Model…

He loves to turn the book upside down on THIS page to show me how it works – how did he figure this out because I’m pretty sure I didn’t teach him that, much like I didn’t teach him his ABCs. This genius little two year old seriously taught himself. I honed it all in, but really, he was the mastermind there. And here. I’m so proud… sniff…

This book is awesome and a short quick read and so fun to make silly voices with. Did I mention it was a DOLLAR?

I’m trying really hard not to show you every page because there must be some copyright thing against that but all the pages are so adorable and my son just LOOOOOVES this book. Here’s him showing you what a grumpy frumpy looks like…

Sort of… He kind of smirked right when I took the picture but trust me, he was Grumpy Frumpy at it’s finest.

What books is your kid reading this month? If you blog about it, make sure to link up here, and also let me know in the comments section!

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books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: Newbery Medal Favorites

The big topic at 5 Minutes for Books this week is Newbery Medal winners. Have you read many of the books that have won a Newbery Medal? Do awards influence which books you will or won’t read? I think for the more official awards like the Newbery or Caldecott – or even the NYT bestsellers, having that recognition would definitely influence me to read a book if I’d maybe been the fence about whether or not to read it, whereas I’ve on occasion opted not to read a book if say, Oprah has it on her book list. Some hype is worthy, some not so much.

I’ve read a good handful of the Newbery award winners, some of which are high up there on my favorite books from when I was a kid. Here are some of my favorite Newbery Award winners:

If I were to make a list of my favorite books from that time period of my life, this would likely be it, so I’d definitely recommend any of them to a young reader or an older reader. I’d be extremely excited if my children chose to read these books someday and may read them again just to brush up on the classics.

Are any of your favorite children’s books a Newbery Medal winner?