Archive | December, 2014

Better than a Hallmark Movie

5 Dec

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Last week, Skyping with my sister, we laughed to discover that we were both reading My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories written by Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White.

Now, I love a good holiday tear-jerker and Christmas With Holly  is a cult classic within the basset hound community.

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But I would turn off Christmas with Holl to read these stories. The blurb says, “If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES”.  But this book is no Hallmark Christmas movie. The stories are edgier than Hallmark would ever dare to be, yet still carry the hopes of the holiday season. Magic, humor, reality all mingle together to make a great collection of stories.

So, for a few hours, turn off the Hallmark Channel and pick up My True Love Gave to Me.

2015 Morris Award Finalists

4 Dec

2015 Morris Award Finalists

The Carnival at Bray written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books.

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In 1993, the grunge movement is at its height and Maggie Lynch is living comfortably in Chicago, near Nanny Ei and Uncle Kevin, her musical guru. After her impulsive mother marries and moves the family to a tiny Irish village, Maggie struggles to adjust to the changing world around her.

I just put this on hold today. this title is new to me.

 

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

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Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat.

 

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press.

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Aspiring poet Gabi Hernandez is having a complicated senior year: One of her best friends is pregnant, and the other just came out. Even as her mother worries that she will become a “bad” girl, Gabi adds romance and the quest for college to her already full plate.

I’ve had this out from the library for a while, but have yet to read it, though it has just moved to the top of the pile.

 

The Scar Boys written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing.

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In a college admission essay, Harry Jones reveals the physical and psychological scars of his childhood and the solace and self-confidence he found in friendship and punk music.

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press.

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Born with a pair of wings, sixteen-year-old Ava Lavender inherits a rich family history and a legacy of heartbreak. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel, can Ava survive his obsession intact?

I’ve had this out from the library for a while, but have yet to read it, though it has also just moved to the top of the pile.

Physicist, cosmologist, astronaut

3 Dec

I’m currently thinking of revamping my biography unit. This is always daunting because it is so easy and comfortable to do things the way they’ve been done before. But I think this is a necessary step to take to make it better for  both the kids and for me.

I am always on the lookout for good biographies, either chapter books or picture books. It’s the writing that matters. And I’ve found a trio of good ones.

Albie’s First Word, by Jacqueline Tourville and Wynne Evans, is a fictionalized account the oft hear tale of the young Albert Einstein who didn’t talk until after he’d turned three.Unknown

The book goes through the concerns Einstein’s parents had that compelled them to take young Albert to a doctor, who prescribes experiences like taking him to the symphony and exposing him to new places, people and things. The illustrations give context and Albert’s eye are riveting. You can see the wisdom  and curiosity in them that will turn Albie into Albert Einstein. The endpapers are pages from Einstein’s actual notebooks and the Author’s Note provides more detailed biographical information.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson follows Carl from his days star-gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space.

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The back matter in this book includes an Author’s Note, a bibliography, and source notes. Fortunately, there aren’t billions & billions of them. ha ha.

Finally, for older or more confident readers we have a new biography of Sally Ride.

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Sally Ride: Life on a Mission by Sue Macy goes beyond her role as an astronaut. Did you know that,  in her lifetime, she was also a nationally ranked tennis player, a physicist who enjoyed reading Shakespeare, a university professor, the founder of a company that helped inspire girls and young women to pursue careers in science and math, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom? A readable biography and  an excellent example of a woman who excelled in Science & Math.

Holiday Postal Traditions: A Slice of Life Story

2 Dec

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My goal the week after Thanksgiving is to get the Christmas cards and packages in the mail. All of my family lives in Canada so packages must be mailed by December 10th, accruing ti USPS, but I like things to have time to sit under the tree. We have had years of packages arriving at the last possible moment and that os stressful for the sender.

Yesterday, I mailed off the first packages. I knit socks for my dad & a hat and mittens for my mother. I also sent a package to an online friend in England, who is part of my wider basset hound community. Right now the basset community is going crazy over red trapper hats from Target. Morse the basset doesn’t know this is coming, but I can picture him walking across the fields of  Devon wearing it.

My wackiest holiday postal tradition is the Daily Drool Howliday Card Exchange. Every year the Daily Drool, an online basset list serve, organizes a card exchange. everyone creates a holiday card with their bassets in it. You sign up for on of three lists (full, medium or short) and the are sent a pdf of ready to print  Avery 5160 labels with the names and addresses of the other participants. every year, I get around 100 basset themed holiday cards and decorate my house with them.

What is your wackiest holiday tradition?

Death’s Handmaidens

1 Dec

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This weekend, I read the third and final book in Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series.  It was a little slow at first, but once the action picked up, it did not fail to please.  And surprise. This was, perhaps, the most anticipated sequel for me this year and I feel rather satisfied with the ending, though I’m sad that the series is over.

I was completely immersed in the world of 15th century Brittany and even fantasized about being able to join a convent of assassin nuns.

Annith’s story in Mortal Heart  is different from the two previous books because she was convent raised. Throughout the previous two books, Annith plays a part, but here, we finally get to hear her story. When she finds out she is being groomed to be the next Seeress of the convent, she is spurred to action to discover her past and take control of her future. This is a more reflective book, with Annith frankly sharing her devotion to Mortain. She is not afraid to talk of her religious devotion. Though she does not possess the same gifts as Ismae and Sybella, her devotion is its own sort of gift and the source of her strength.

Historical fiction, which a little fantasy thrown in, this has been a wonderful series. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these books yet, I highly recommend them.

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