Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Born Reading by Jason Boog

Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age -- From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between
Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between by Jason Boog
Touchstone Books, 2014
 

I seriously don’t have enough good things to say about this book. I borrowed this copy from the library, but I already have plans to order a copy to keep, because its an amazing resource. Not just for parents, but for librarians and teachers too. Also, I want to say that of all the read-to-your-kids books that I’ve read, this is one of the few, maybe the only, that actively encourages using the library and talking to librarians. I felt so appreciated.

The book tracks Boog’s reading experiences with his young daughter Olive from her birth to Kindergarten. Along the way, he discusses the importance of interactive reading (if you read anything in this book, make sure its the introduction). He provides awesome booklists for every stage and the pages are filled with reading activities, app activities for parents and children to do together. Its a great way to see literacy intertwined with everyday life. From having books in the bathroom during the potty-training stage, to have books at the dinner table and in the car. His reading relationship with his daughter is commendable. I’d like to say that he’s this generation’s Jim Trelease.

I must sound like such a groupie. But this book is awesome, and I think its one that should find its way into school curriculum for teachers and librarians. I think its really important for all of these figures in a child’s life to bring the same messages and examples at every stage of their lives. I want to know what the parents are reading, what the kids are reading so that I can make sure that my library is stocked with books that will be of value to them. That will help guide their curiosity and enhance their experiences.

The sections on interactive were the most interesting for me. There are about a dozen different tactics to use when reading with your child. From pointing to pictures on a page, to asking questions about the illustrations and the story. This type of reading has been shown to increase IQ points as well as overall reading comprehension level, putting some children ahead 6 to 8 months from their peers. Something so simple can have such a huge impact. I mostly let out a sigh of relief when I realized that this is not only how I read to my son, but also, its how I read during my storytime performances. I like audience participation. I just didn’t realize that it would benefit the kids in such a strong way.

In his own words:

It’s not only important THAT we read with children, but also HOW we read with children. Born Reading will show anyone who loves kids how to make sure the children they care about are building a powerful foundation in literacy from the beginning of life.

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park. Its one of those tragic, teen love stories that you wish would never end. Eleanor has newly been allowed to move back in with her mom, siblings and stepfather. After a terrible fight, he kicked her out and wouldn’t let her come back home. Seeing as how Richie is an abusive drunk, Eleanor’s transition back into her own family was difficult. For fear of inflicting his wrath, she did her best to remain invisible. Invisibility is what she could not produce at school. With bright red hair, and a plump body, Eleanor quickly became a target for the various cliques at the school. But everyday, she rode the bus to and from school with Park. Everyday, Park would read a comic book and one day Eleanor started reading along. Eventually, the two navigated their way towards a budding romance.

 

So much of this book reminded me of my youth. My crushes and even how my current marriage developed over the years. Rowell is a master of subtle emotions. The changes in Eleanor and Park and their feelings for each other happen so gradually, so naturally, that you don’t even realize how perfect it all is, until you take Eleanor’s stepfather into account.

The book is set in the 1980s, so I appreciated the sincerity of the relationship and the lack of technological crutches. Everything came down to looks, tone of voice, body language. This book will resonate greatly with teenagers, although I really only know adults who’ve read it. But it does have all the great elements in it. The mean girls, the abusive stepfather, the misunderstood teenagers trying to figure themselves out in a crazy world and how teenagers are constantly on the edge. They live in the 4-walled bubble of home, but have one foot out the door towards adulthood.

I listened to the audio book version. The authors narrated male and female for the alternating Eleanor and Park chapters. The dual perspective really added to the development of their relationship as they would recap some of the same scenarios from different view points. I sometimes halt at alternating perspectives, because the books tend to get repetitive, but Rowell did a good job of providing original material in each chapter.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Gilmore Girls is Coming to Netflix! (10/01/14)

Brew your coffee, order your pizzas and burgers because Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix on Wednesday Oct. 1st! Nevermind that I already own all 7 seasons on DVD. Nevermind that I’ve already seen every episode about a dozen times and can tell you what will happen in the entire episode just by watching the first 5 minutes. Nevermind all that, because now I can do it all again, without having to constantly get up and chance the disc in the DVD player! Yay!

Via (The Decider)

Book Review: The President’s Hat

The President's Hat

The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

Find this book at your local library

Can one hat make a difference? According to this collection of loosely connected stories, it can. The book starts with Daniel Mercer. He’s an accountant with a happy marriage, and a solid but not really successful career. During a solo and indulgent dinner out, Francois Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him. After the presidential party has left, Daniel discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind on his chair. Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir. As he leaves the restaurant, he begins to feel somehow different and soon his life takes a series of unexpected but welcome turns. Although the story doesn’t end there. The hat then finds itself belonging to a young female writer, a retired perfume designer and so on, changing the lives of all the people who pick up the hat and put it on their head.

I read this originally for Paris in July, but I never got around to reviewing it. I picked this book up as a spur of the moment decision. I was on my lunch hour at the library and I needed something to read. To that effect, the book found me as serendipitously as the hat found its owners. This book was a very enjoyable read. Each person the hat connected with had a lifetime’s worth of stories, layers and complexities. I like that no two stories followed the same path. The hat did bring a vote of confidence, a change of pattern for all these people. Its funny how much the small things in our life shape the larger aspects that we outwardly display to our friends, colleagues and family. I liked the overall message of this book as well. Although Daniel viewed the hat as a crutch for his success, he really didn’t need the hat at all. He just needed a vote of confidence, which is really what everyone needs to make better decisions in their lives.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Book review: All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

All Joy and No Fun: the Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior

Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2014]

Find this book at your local library

This book is a mix of scientific studies & personal anecdotes that gives this book a unique look into the lives if parents. It’s not an advice book. Just a heartfelt account of why and how children effect our lives so strongly from birth. It also discusses the roles of modern patenting & its evolution over time.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by the author. As a new mom, my son was a year old when I first listened to this book, the stories and science resonated sharply with me. I think this should be given to all new parents, or expecting parents. Its offers such a better and objective perspective of the strain and struggles of parenting on the parents. So much of parenting is focused on the fetus, the infant, the toddler and the teen. This book does a great job filling in that void.

Although its been a few months since I last visited this book, I think it has impacted my parenting philosophy in little ways. For one, I make sure to my relationship with my husband a priority and I really don’t stress over the small chores of daily life. I enjoy every moment I have with my family. One of Senior’s most prominent facts is that the year after a child is born, is usually the year when happiness in marriage starts its slow decline. According to the author, it happens anyway, but there’s a sharp dip right after a new child is born. New and fussy infants do put a huge strain on parents. You question things about yourself and your spouse you never even realized existed. But, I think the true test comes with handling these hurdles.

This is a funny, insightful and fairly accurate book of what happens after the kids are born. There is so much in this book that resonated with me, that helped me understand that what I was going through was normal and that I wasn’t alone in those feelings and thoughts. It is not a parenting book or a how-to manual. Just a simple analysis of different studies, polls and anecdotes of what this generation’s parents are experiencing.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

Chatto and Windus, 1935

Find this book at your local library

This book tells the story of the Karol family. Boris, Bella and their daughter Helene move from Kiev to St. Petersburg to Finland to Paris as the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution unfold and force the family to flee their homes.  This book is a wonderful study of filial relationships, financial hardships and just how deep levels of denial can seep throughout a family.

Some have said that this book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s life. If its that’s the case, it breaks my heart. The young girl in the story is ever searching for love and acceptance from her parents. Her father is distant, gambling and turn a blind eye to her mother’s affairs. Her mother, is cruel, unloving and always out of arm’s reach. The only person that makes young Helene’s life bearable is her governess, Mademoiselle Rose.

The character of Bella was the most interesting. There are a number of commonalities between Bella and Anna Karenina. The unfaithfulness, the self-indulgence, the lack of maternal instincts, the narcissism and the negative consequences of their actions on the family. A character as complex as Bella must have been something of a novelty at the time this novel was written. Bella defies the stereotypes of happy housewife. She lives for pleasure, luxury and contentment. Lonely Helene merely gets in her war. As the novel progresses, we see Helene age, mature and begin to define herself within the world her parents have created. Her character development is given the most attention, as most of the novel is told through her perspective.

This is a very deep and thoughtful account of a very dysfunctional family. The era in which it takes place adds extra layers of complexity to the characters and their struggles. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. And to think, I picked it up on a whim at the bookstore all because of the Eiffel Tower on the cover. It’s actually quite misleading, as very little of the book takes place in Paris. It’s mostly Russia and Finland. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful novel.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Library Stories from August

Library news round-up. A random collection of funny, introspective, and thought-provoking stories about libraries from August. You can go here for a larger list from OEDb.org.

  1. 10 books about libraries and librarians
  2. 15 incredibly specific special collections
  3. 10 Remarkably Free Digital Tools for Educators and Students
  4. 10 Best Wearable Tech Devices for Back to School
  5. 7 Things Librarians Are Tired of Hearing
  6. 7 Scenes from Great Literature in Legos
  7. All the Big Five now offer ebooks to libraries
  8. The secret libraries of London
  9. IFLA report on worldwide ebook lending
  10. How to make a makerspace
  11. Assessing flipped and gamified instruction
  12. K–12 librarians you should follow on Twitter
  13. 200 years ago: The burning of the Library of Congress
  14. 62 of the world’s most beautiful libraries
  15. Giant medieval manuscripts
  16. The public library wants to be your office
  17. This Librarian Is Not Impressed With Your Digital, No-Books Library
  18. What belongs in the children’s library?
  19. Teen services in a rural library
  20. 10 people the library can’t live without
  21. Working abroad as a librarian
  22. Bigger programs are not always better
  23. Ferguson library becomes a refuge
  24. Digital citizenship and public libraries
  25. The first audiobooks
  26. Services and programs for children with disabilities
  27. 10 libraries to visit with Google Street View
  28. Streaming media and the future of libraries
  29. Librarianship unplugged
  30. So you want to be a corporate librarian?
  31. Deciphering the Next Big Thing | Leading From the Library
  32. NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition
  33. Take the Library Disaster Readiness Test
  34. Timeline of the history of information: 2,500,000 BCE through 2014 AD…!

Book Review: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3)

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Disney Hyperion Books, [2013]

Find this book at your local library

******This review may contain spoilers if you have not read books 1 or 2 of the Heist Society Series.*****

If there is any one book where I could just insert myself into the narrative and partake in all the fun and glory, it would be the Heist Society series by Ally Carter. You can click on the links to read my reviews for books 1 (Heist Society) and 2 (Uncommon Criminals).

Katerina Bishop and her crew are back in yet another heist caper. It’s another high stakes game, but this time its Hale caught in the crossfire after his grandmother passes away. At the start of book 3, Katerina and Hale have finally proclaimed their feelings for another despite their incredibly different upbringing. Katerina in a world of thieves and Hale in a world of luxury. When Hale’s grandmother dies and he is given responsibility of Hale Enterprises, Katerina’s instincts kick in, as she determines that Hale is the mark of a con. Now its up to her and her friends to figure out how to save Hale, without telling him and breaking his heart at the truth.

Just like the previous books, this one is full of wit, teenage angst and frustrations, adventure and mystery. I think of the three, this one is my favorite. They keep getting better and better. The plot never went the way I expected it to. The ending took me by surprise, and all the twists and turns were incredibly fun to keep up with. I think I read this book in an entire weekend, I really didn’t want to put it down. This one definitely delves more into the character development of Hale, and there is a lot of Uncle Eddie. It’s a nice change of pace from the previous Katerina-centric books. Either way, it’s a fun Ocean’s 11 series for teens and adults. My only question is when will we see the movie?

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Dutton Books c2012.

ISBN: 9780525478812

Find this book at your local library

Really…what am I going to say about this book that hasn’t been said already? This was my first John Green book. Thus far, its been the only John Green book. I may be in the minority here, but I wasn’t totally swept up in the book. I can give you one reason. Peter Van Houten. I was totally into the story, into the characters, very much involved with the story until they went to Amsterdam and met him. Everything fell apart at that point.

So, for those who haven’t read the book yet, here is a brief summary:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (Goodreads summary)

Augustus and Hazel are incredibly well written and complex characters. Their developing love story is tragic but surprisingly uplifting to observe. That these two kids can be dealing with something so serious as cancer with a balance sense of humor, fear, and compassion is very touching. Told mostly through the perspective of Hazel, the narrative reads more like a series of journal entries. I liked Hazel as the narrator a lot. She felt very realistic to me. Overall, I think it’s a really well written book with a wonderful story to tell. It didn’t blow me out of the water, but I am more curious about Green’s other books. I’m just not sure which one to jump into next.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Flirting with French by William Alexander

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart by William Alexander

Algonquin Books, Sept 2014

Find this book at your local library

William Alexander has a desire that many, many Francophiles share with him.

Some Americans want to visit France. Some want to live in France. I want to be French.

Thus, this book chronicles his attempts at learning French, learning to play boules and understanding the people and the culture. What I appreciated the most about this book is that it totally different from every other I-want-to-be-French memoir I have read. And I have read plenty. What makes this book so different are the lessons in linguistics and the history of language that are laid out throughout the book. Alexander is an incredibly charming narrator. He has a sly, self-deprecating wit that makes this book very relatable. Its like having a conversation with a friend. He’s a happily married 57-year-old going on 58 who wants to learn French. The fact that his wife is indifferent to the whole situation is amusing to me. That most of his struggles and hardships of learning the language at home, and not in France make the book all the more approachable.

He goes through a number of obstacles in his attempts to learn French, including some very serious heart conditions and surgeries. Although he touches upon this subject lightly and with good humor. He learns the language through a number of formats. He studies by book at home, with the Rosetta Stone, with immersion classes and French pen-pals. He joins a French meet-up group in his local New York. He even goes to France for a 2-week all French immersion class with a rather random group of travelers. He covers a lot of group with pop linguistic history as well as discussing how and why human being are able to learn language. This is an interesting and informative read. Anyone learning a language can very easily relate to Alexander’s experiences, frustrations and achievements. This is a great book, and not just for Francophiles, but for anyone learning a new language.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.