Saturday, April 26, 2008

Back on the Bookshelf

An unintended result of writing reviews each Monday for the 5 Minutes for Mom column is that I don't write as much here about what I've read "just for fun" or what the kids are reading. I thought I'd do a quick update on books we've enjoyed over the past month or so.

The Quickie
--Hate the name, loved the book. I don't know if I've read James Patterson before, and technically I still haven't read him. I listened to the audiobook. I have enjoyed every audio version I've purchased, but this was especially well-done, with a bit music in the background adding a layer of atmosphere, and Mary Stuart Masterson's deep voice narrating. Just when I thought that I had the plot figured out, it twisted again. It's a real page-turner.

Three Cups of Tea--We read this for our first stab at a semi book group (a book semi-group?). There were just four of us, and we don't have a rigid schedule, but I think we are going to try again with another book soon. I found the first 120 pages of this book impossible to get through. The story was fine, but the writing was odd--like reading Newsweek magazine: "I had fond memories of my childhood," Mortenson recollects. This same disconnect brought on by the fact that it's Mortenson's story written by journalist David Relin also leads to some details about the time and culture that a first-person narrator might omit. It really picked up after the first third of the book, and I'm glad I had the accountability of the book club meeting to encourage me to persevere.

Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck was a nice light read. Amy is a single mother, professional flute player, and a Nancy Drew wannabe. When strange things keep happening to the concertmaster at her new symphony gig, she looks around until she uncovers the truth. She also has to navigate the uncertain waters of dealing with her teen aged daughter. If you are a musician or any type of "artiste," you will probably appreciate the inside humor and references.

Amanda can recommend:

A Practical Guide to Monsters--I think that this was the genesis of the Red Dragon Codex series (which Amanda reviewed HERE). I didn't realize it was in my pile of books, but when I came across it, she read it with a vengeance, wide-eyed and interested in every word.

The Anybodies and the Nobodies by N.E. Bode (just now doing some research, I see that she wrote the book that the Magorium movie was based on)--Amanda loved this imaginative books, and I just noticed that there's a third, the Somebodies, so I know she'll be thrilled to find that out. She had her nose stuck in each of these books until they were finished.

She loves it when all those padded envelopes and boxes full of reviewers' copies of books come to the house. She always asks, "Is it something I can read?" and if it's a children's book, it gets an immediate market test. If she goes for it (and then actually stays interested enough to read it), I know that it's a hit. She snatched up two books from a recent shipment:

Mother Goose Unplucked--This is no fairy tale. This is nursery rhymes for the older elementary set--giving the other side of the stories we all know and love--Little Red Riding Hood, Little Bo Peep, and more. The book also includes activities such as brainteasers, crafts, and recipes.

Science on the Loose
explores science in a wacky fun way. Fun facts are included along with experiments to entice any young Frankenstein.

I've crossed 9 books off my Spring Reading Thing list. I didn't read all of them completely--three were nonfiction books that I reviewed, so I read enough to get the gist of them, and one of the novels I quit about halfway through because it hadn't grabbed me, and I've learned to put aside mediocre books because there are so many great books just waiting to be read.

This is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.


Andrea said...

Is "Quickie" an appropriate read for a 14 year old? She loves suspense, and has read a couple of his "teen" mysteries, but I was wondering if this one would be ok for her to read.

Andrea said...

Actually, I just read about it on Amazon, and it probably woudn't be suitable for her!! :)

Dianne said...

I am so bad about posting reviews but it continues to be a goal of mine.

Tonya said...

Jennifer! Thanks for this wonderful idea on posts. I'll be thrilled to share. I'm a local and moved here for the Magic of Disney. I'll be linking back to your blog soon.

heather said...

My undergrad is in music--I had plans to be a flutist in a symphony. And I grew up on Nancy Drew, so the Hinck book intrigues me, but question: is it light mom-lit?

Katrina said...

Loved reading your book update, and I especially appreciate the kids' books you mentioned. Camden's always looking for the next book to devour.

Kelly said...

As always, great input here! A few books I have been looking at--appreciate your thoughts on them.