Monday, February 29, 2016

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Nine-year-old Starla, main character of Whistling Past the Graveyard, reminded me of Scout Finch! :)

It's the 1960s and Starla decides to run away from her strict grandmother. She heads to Nashville where her mother lives. On the way, she's picked up by Eula, a black lady with a white baby.

A delightful and solid story. Recommended!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

I'm glad my mom trained me to write thank you notes. A gift shows that someone thought of me and took the time and energy to give me something they thought I would like. It's only polite to thank them. Plus, it's good for my own heart to remember that everything is a gift and I'm really not entitled to anything.

In response to unfortunate events and circumstances, John Kralik vows to write a thank you note a day. The effect that this has on his own emotional well-being, his relationships, and his business is inspiring and encouraging. You might just want to write a thank you note after you read this book. :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta

A science fiction novel that takes us to a time and place where water is scarce and rationing is a must. Seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio is the daughter of a tea ceremony master and she is undergoing training to become a tea master herself. Her father lets her in on a big family secret which, if it gets out, has the potential to ruin them.

Just a so-so read for me. I ended up skimming about the last third of the book.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthoy Doerr

I could not get into Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. I tried. So many people, including my mother, loved it.

This title is self-explanatory as Four Seasons in Rome is about the year Doerr and his family lived in Rome. His sons were six months old at the time they moved there. Rome is not my favorite city in Italy, but I would take being in Italy over not being in Italy. It was fun to re-visit places and names. This book made for an enjoyable trip back to Rome.

Monday, February 15, 2016

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

As I've mentioned here before, most of the books that I read are checked out from the library. Once in awhile, I will find a note left by a previous reader. Sometimes the reader points out some misspellings. Once someone left a post-it warning that read to the effect of "Do not read this book! It'll be a waste of your time!" I found myself trusting the note and reader and put that book back on the shelf.

When I opened up this book, someone had written this in pencil across the top of the Introduction: "WARNING: Intro contains spoilers." I felt very thankful for that warning because I usually read Introductions.

This is a spooky, mysterious, and creepy book. Three survivors of a mass family poisoning live together in the family house. That's about all I can tell you. I will reiterate that this is a spooky book and I would not read it before going to bed. However, I did look forward to reading it during daylight hours.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck

Reading Walkable City was a bit out of my reading comfort zone as I've never read a book about city planning before. So I learned a lot and didn't understand other things, but overall, this was an okay book to read, and it definitely encouraged me to walk to the places that I can walk to.

PS: Here's a neat website to check out: Walk Score. It will let you know how walkable your neighborhood is.

Monday, February 8, 2016

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Miranda is a sixth grader living in New York City. Her mom is preparing to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. Her friend gets punched for no reason and then stops talking to Miranda. Miranda receives a mysterious letter. What is going on?

A short, but sweet Young Adult book, this novel is unlike any that I've read because of the characters, the plot, and.....the time travel. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers: A Guide to Surviving the Toddler Years by Dawn Dais

I really liked Dawn's book, The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby's First Year. She is funny and thoughtful. She also doesn't claim to know all of the answers. For suggestions, she relies on fellow moms and mental health professionals.

In this book, she delves into the toddler years with chapters like "You're too old for this" and "You suck at this" and "Your judging of other parents comes back to haunt you." Part memoir and part parenting guide, this book will surely normalize any parent's experience of living with and caring for a toddler.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Stevenson is a lawyer who seeks to right the wrongs in the justice system, one case at a time. He writes about how he became involved in this work and he describes many of his cases. He includes so many cases though that it becomes a bit overwhelming at times. I needed to read this book very slowly and take many breaks because the content was painful and hard to read at times.

If you are looking for a lighthearted read, avoid reading Just Mercy. However, if you are willing to sit a little bit outside of your comfort zone and learn more about our justice system, I would recommend slowly reading Just Mercy.