Posts Tagged 'Reading'

Jill’s Reading Roundup 2011

Happy New Year everybody!  Now that the 2011 is over, it’s time for my annual reading roundup!

Books read:  108 (including one on audio)
Pages read:  24,434 (not including picture books)

Book Breakdown
Picture Book: 31
Juvenile Fiction: 15
Juvenile Nonfiction: 5
Young Adult Fiction: 41
Young Adult Nonfiction: 3
Adult Fiction:  7
Adult Nonfiction: 6

In 2011, I read more adult books because I started attending one of the adult book clubs at my library.  I also reread my top 4 favorite books – 3 for book discussions!  I reread the entire Harry Potter series, which was an amazing decision, to gear up for the final movie, several Rick Riordan books, because they’re as addictive as candy, and near the end of the year, to prepare for the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, I read a bunch of Dr. Seuss books.


Best Contemporary YA (all of these will be books I read in 2011, not necessarily new in 2011)


I read both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door and loved both!  Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope was also an extremely satisfying sequel.




Best Nonfiction Read in 2011:

Both of these were actually kind of surprisingly good.  Lauren Conrad’s Style covers a lot of different areas like makeup, how to pack, essential items for your closet, etc.  I would have loved this when I was a teen.  OK, let’s be honest – I love it now.  I was really impressed with how the book was put together – great pictures, topics broken down into easy-to-read paragraphs – and the writing is very encouraging.  This is a great book for teen girls.

Harry Potter: Film Wizardry surprised me because I kept hearing about Harry Potter: Page to Screen (which I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet) and assumed that one would be much better.  Film Wizardry is a great tribute to the movies.  It’s pretty well organized, has lots of interesting facts I didn’t know, and has a TON of great pictures and even some added pull-out features, like the Marauder’s Map and programs for the Quidditch World Cup and Yule Ball.


Best Historical Fiction

I’ve already gushed about greatness that is Michelle Cooper’s Montmaray series.  Please go read them!  I don’t think they’re getting the attention they deserve.  This is the second one and I loved it even more than the first.  How often does that happen?



Funniest Book

Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is hilarious.  I was looking forward to it since I saw the cover and heard it was basically Miss Teen USA + Lost + Libba Bray.  There’s lots of crazy things going on in this book, including jabs at reality tv, commercialism, beauty products.  I’ve also heard that the audiobook is amazing, which I totally believe since it’s read by Libba Bray.



Best Cover

This is one of my favorite covers of all-time.  It’s just so creepy!  I love this book for the incredibly creepy pictures.





Best Dystopia

This is an older adult book, and it is so good.  I included it when I booktalked dystopias at a high school.  It’s lighter on the science fiction that dystopias tend to be now, but it still has that government controls all feel.  I highly recommend it.




Best Picture Book

One of these is obviously pretty old, but I have developed a new appreciation for The Lorax.  “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” is my favorite line.

Grandpa Green did come out this year, and it’s gorgeous.  I’d expect no less from Lane Smith.



Most Gorgeous All-Around Book

Conor’s mom is sick with cancer and he has been having nightmares lately. Then at 12:07 each night a monster comes. Soon it tells Conor it will tell him 3 stories but after that Conor must tell the monster (which resembles the yew tree near their home) a story- the truth about his nightmare. Through the stories, scenes with Conor & his mom, his grandmother, and his dad who moved away to America with his new family, as well as Conor’s interactions with a bully and his no-longer-a friend Lilly, we see Conor start to understand that the monster was called not to heal his mother as Conor first thought, but to heal him.

The etchings within this book really add to this already gorgeous book.  At the Mock Printz discussion I attended, we easily voted this our winner.  I hope the real Printz committee does too.


Best “I’m not sure what’s going on but I’ll go with it” Book

It’s been awhile since I’ve read Chime by Frannie Billingsley, but even after I’ve had time to think about it, I’m still not sure what genre to really put this in.  Is it historical fiction?  Science fiction?  Fantasy?  We discussed this at the Mock Printz discussion too, and people really emphasized the fairy tale aspect.  All I know is that Chime is a beautifully and uniquely written book.  The story is told in a twisty-turny way that makes the plot kind of confusing to follow, but I loved the way it was written.  Give it a shot, but consider yourself warned- it may be more challenging than most.


Best “Jumped on the Bandwagon” Book

If you were paying attention to anything this year, you would have known that EVERYONE and their MOTHER was reading The Help.  I doubt that any of our many copies have ever been on the shelf.  I hadn’t really been interested in reading it though because, for one, I don’t really read adult books, and two, it was tough to get ahold of.  But when I was in Florida on vacation this summer, my teenage cousin asked if I had read it, and when I said no, she pushed it in my hands and told me I had to.  And as soon as I started, I was quickly drawn into it, and couldn’t put it down.  I really enjoy historical fiction, and I think this does a good job of capturing the heaviness of the Civil Rights Era.  I haven’t seen the movie because it seems from the previews that the movie doesn’t match what I felt the book conveyed.  Maybe I’ll watch it someday.


Best New Series

Percy Jackson is one of my favorite series, so I am on board with continuing his story in whatever way possible.  This year I finally got my hands on the first two in the Heroes of Olympus series.  While I think these two were a little too lengthy, I did enjoy them.  Let’s face it, it’s Rick Riordan, how can I NOT enjoy them?




Nerdiest Book

Not only does this book have a clear goal, is filled with action and excitement, but it’s LOADED with 80’s pop-culture and video-games references.  It’s been getting a lot of buzz, and I really enjoyed it, even more than I expected.  If you’re even remotely nerdy, particularly in the technological sense, you’ll like it.  Easy as that.





So…what great books did you read this year?

– Jill

Recap: Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire, to me, is really when the books start crossing into real YA lit area. It’s much darker, thanks to Voldemort. Also, I would argue that Goblet is really when the whole story of Harry Potter begins. The first 3 books could be viewed as exposition. Sure they have real plots and read individually, but in the whole story arc of the series, doesn’t it boil down to Harry vs Voldemort?

Sigh, this book is so good. Right now I’m after the Quidditch World Cup just before the dark mark is conjured. Ron is fantastic. I love him. Evidence: “Another loud bang echoed from the edge of the wood. Let’s just keep moving, shall we?’ said Ron, and Harry saw him glance edgily at Hermione.”

I love Harry & Ron’s fight.  It’s very realistic – Ron would definitely have gotten jealous of Harry’s attention and it was bound to come out somehow.  I also love that they don’t even really apologize – after the dragon task, Harry realizes how upset it made Ron and they get over it.  Boys are so weird.

Also can I just say that the idea of the Pensieve is awesome.  Of all of the magical objects and concepts J.K. created for this series, that is probably one of my favorites.  The only thing I wonder about is if you put a memory in the Pensieve, would you not remember it anymore?  Or do you have a vague memory of it, but the point of the Pensieve is to save the details?  That would be so cool.  I want one.

From the part of the book when the 3rd task begins, all the way to the end, it’s like a race to the finish.  There’s no stopping!  I remember when I read this book for the first time right when it came out.  This was the first big book I had to wait for and when it finally came, I devoured it.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath when the Triwizard Cup became a portkey.  And when Cedric died!  OMG, it was so QUICK.  I think I reread the section because I couldn’t believe it.  I like that it’s so quick though.  She doesn’t drag it out because Wormtail and Voldemort wouldn’t have taken their time with it.  It’s simple: Kill the spare.  I love the whole last section – Dumbledore’s concern, the confession from Crouch, Dumbledore asking McGonagall to get the dog from the pumpkin patch and taking it to his office, Dumbledore asking Snape to do what he must, etc. etc.  This is the book that sets up the rest of the series.  The entire tone of the series changes once Harry and Cedric are taken from the maze via the portkey.


Now I know it would be hard to adapt a gigantic book into a movie, but wow does this one move fast.  They don’t even really set up going to the Quidditch World Cup, let alone show it.  And if you hadn’t read the book, you probably wouldn’t get the Triwizard Tournament.   I’m still a little unsure about Dumbledore.  He practically manhandles Harry after his name comes out of the goblet.  Not a fan – that’s not what the Dumbledore in my head did.

I do like the casting of Mad-Eye Moody and Rita Skeeter.  Woah, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched this movie apparently.  I totally forgot that they say Ron knew about the dragons and didn’t tell Harry.  But in the book, Ron didn’t know and that’s why he ended up getting over being mad at him!  Ugh.

By the way, did anyone else remember how we met Cedric the first time?  He dropped out of a tree.  My mind instantly made a Edward Cullen joke but it could be because I keep picturing the “Robert is bothered” skits from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  🙂

– Jill

Recap: Chamber of Secrets

Book 2 is starting off as good as I remembered. I think I like it a little better than Sorcerer’s Stone. There’s not as much obvious exposition- just a little more delving into the wizarding world. I had completely forgotten about Floo powder! And this one introduces Dobby (*sob*) and Colin Creevey.

Ooh… you guys… the vanishing cabinet is mentioned!!!!! Chapter 8- Nearly Headless Nick persuades Peeves to drop it over Filch’s office to get Harry out of trouble! Peeves breaks the vanishing cabinet! OMG I had no idea it was even mentioned far back! I am so impressed with J.K.’s ability to tie these things together.

Another thing I love about this book are the mandrakes. They’re so clever and funny! “…in March several of the Mandrakes threw a loud and raucous party in greenhouse 3. This made Professor Sprout very happy. ‘The moment they start trying to move into each other’s pots, we’ll know they’re fully mature.” Hilarious.

Also, has anyone else noticed how Ron is the one to jump to Hermione’s defense all the time? 🙂

So at the end of the book, Harry kind of takes on Lucius Malfoy. He deals with a lot of adults as an equal- not so much like a adult and a 12-year-old. I guess it’s because his parents aren’t around to take him on for him. I suddenly want to write or read critical essays on HP. (Nerd alert!)

I’m not a big fan of the scene in the bookstore- though I do love the part where Draco tears out a page from a book. The movie as a whole is ok. It’s pretty true to the book, which I appreciate, though at times it’s dumbed down a bit & some things aren’t as subtle as they are in the book.

Good things though? Kenneth Branagh is perfect as Professor Lockhart & this is the book/movie where I really started to love Ginny. Lucius Malfoy is also awesome & I’ve watched some of the extras for HP7.1 & he is SO unlike his character.

Ooh sexual tension between Ron & Hermione at the end of this one. Forgot about that. Book 4 was already out by the time the movie was released so I guess they knew it was coming.


So many books

Hooray, I made it through BEDA again this year. Thanks for hanging in there with us everybody!

So now that BEDA is over, maybe I can get back into reading. Here’s what’s currently in a pile by my bed:

– Amelia Lost by Candice Fleming
– Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger
– Abandon by Meg Cabot
– Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway
– Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I’m also already working on these:
– Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
– Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
– Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
– Bumped by Megan McCafferty


– Jill

Reading Like a Grown-Up

I have spent the last few years (well, heck, really my entire life) reading kids books.  I love me a great junior fiction book or young adult book.  But lately, I have been drawn to a lot of adult nonfiction books.  Which is about as far away from my normal reading habits as possible.  My usual Friday afternoon habit at work is to scan the children’s shelves looking for a few interesting things for the weekend.  The past few weeks I have been browsing the adult nonfiction shelves instead!

It is still only February and I have already read 17 adult nonfiction books!!!  So much for my resolution of not reading obsessively this year.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin—-I randomly picked this one up at my library because I was intrigued by the title.  Even as a history major in college, I had never even heard of what is most widely known as “The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” (I actually know an embarrassingly small amount of history).  This blizzard took place in January of 1888 and affected a huge part of the midwest including the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Iowa.  It got its name from the fact that most of the victims of the blizzard were children on their way home from school.

I adored this book!!!  I will admit that the beginning was a little slow, because Laskin spends a lot of time introducing the various groups of people who were affected by the storm.  But once he gets to actually talking about the blizzard itself, the book gets awesome.  I must say that I probably should not have enjoyed reading about horrifying death and destruction, but I found it all so fascinating!  The blizzard occurred on the first warm day after a string of freezing temperatures, so most people were outside without adequate clothing.  Laskin mentions that the blizzard was timed perfectly to hit large groups of people at their most vulnerable.  It hit some places right as people were out doing morning chores, and other places right as children were leaving school.

The thing that I could’t wrap my head around was just how fast it happened.  There are numerous eyewitness accounts that say they could see a gray mass in the sky and then BAM it just hit!  Most people died within yards of their house because visibility was so bad.  There were many sad instances of people trying to walk less than a quarter of a mile and never making it.

I liked the book so much that I interlibrary loaned another book about the blizzard called In All Its Fury: The Great Blizzard of 1888 and I am super excited to read it because I think it is mainly composed of first hand accounts of the storm.

The Pioneer Woman:  Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond—-Ree Drummond is the author of The Pioneer Woman blog where she posts pictures of her life on the ranch along with funny stories and delicious looking recipes.  I had never visited her blog before I read the book, but I saw the cover when it came in to the library and immediately put myself first in line to check it out.

Man, did I love this book.  It is basically a nonfiction romance novel.  It tells the story of how Ree, a vegetarian city girl, fell in love with her (literally) cowboy husband.  It is basically a story of my dream come true (I don’t know why, but I totally have a thing for cowboys).  I loved that fact that she never calls her husband by name, he is always referred to as Marlboro Man, and he retains a sense of mysterious sexiness throughout where you never really find out a lot about him, just enough to know that yes, I would totally marry him if I had the chance.  And reading the last part of the book, reinforced the fact that I never, ever want to have kids.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert—-Speaking of marriage…I had already read Eat, Pray, Love and enjoyed it, so I was excited about reading Gilbert’s other book.  Committed is about how Gilbert and her partner Felipe, both of whom have decided to never marry again, are forced to marry in order for Felipe to be allowed into the US.  While waiting for all the immigration proceedings to get cleared up, Gilbert researched as much as she could about marriage and ended up with the basis for this book.

I really found this book interesting because I tend to be much more in Gilbert’s camp when it comes to marriage.  I am not saying that I will never get married, but right now, I just don’t think it seems like the right fit for me.  (I know I just said a few paragraphs ago that I want to marry a cowboy, but since that is probably not a possibility…) I have been on my own for a long time now and I really love my independence.  When I think about sharing my life with another person, it makes me shudder instead of all the happy thoughts that should come my way.  I’m sure that will change someday, but I have one married friend who is very jealous of my single life and keeps telling me, “listen Jen, you have got it made.  Don’t get married just because everyone else is doing it.”

In the book, Gilbert makes some very good points about the history of marriage and how the ideas and concepts surrounding it have been constantly changing.  I also liked how she interwove the story of what she and Felipe had to deal with while waiting for their own marriage.  After reading about how they met in Eat, Pray, Love I enjoyed learning the rest of their story.  It felt like a nice wrap up to the other book.

So, that is what I have been up to for the past few weeks.  Hopefully all of you have been reading great books as well!


Congratulations ALA Youth Media Award Winners!

I had a rough morning today that involved no internet and lots of cat pee, so I completely spaced out the fact that the YMAs were announced today!!  I logged onto Twitter over my lunch break and was like, “Holy Crap!”  I win the bad librarian award for totally forgetting about this.

I would just like to say that I am pretty happy with the winners.  I am deeply saddened that Keeper by Kathi Appelt wasn’t recognized.  But, maybe it’s better that it can be like my own secret book and only I know how phenomenal is really is.

But I will admit that I am kind of writing this post to toot my own horn (just a little).  I recently posted my list of favorite books that I’ve read this year.  Shockingly, that list included the Sibert award winner, the Geisel award winner, and the Newbery winner!!!  I will admit that I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the buzz this year, so I wasn’t aware who the frontrunners were, but I think that Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool came out of nowhere for the Newbery.  I am so happy that it won!!!  Great book!  I would highly recommend it.  When you pick it up and start to read, you automatically think, “oh, this is written like a Newbery.”  And I mean that in a great way, not a bad way.

I would also like to say, “Way to go Bink and Gollie!!!!!”  If you haven’t read this book, you are really missing out.  Go to a bookstore and pick it up now!  It will only take you 15 minutes to read it, but you should really read it a couple times to really appreciate the awesomeness of the illustrations and to pick up on all the dry humor of the text.  I haven’t purchased a book in a really long time (okay, a non-used/Goodwill book in a really long time) and I am seriously considering buying Bink and Gollie.

So, I hope you will all go out and read the winners, because they are fantastic.  Hats off to the ALA committees for their great choices!


Jen’s Reading Roundup 2010

Well, when I actually added up all the books that I’ve read this year, it is a little embarrassing.  It is actually a lot embarrassing.  It pretty much proves the fact that I don’t really have a life outside of books.  Granted, I am a pretty fast reader, but that really is no excuse for reading 581 books in a year.

581 is actually an underestimation of the real number because it doesn’t include some of the books that I re-read this year.  It also doesn’t include any of the picture books I read for storytimes or just for fun.

Well, here is a list of how the numbers breakdown:

Adult Fiction–36

Adult NonFiction–34

Adult Graphic Novels–2

YA Fiction–115

YA NonFiction–3

YA  Graphic Novels–12

JFiction (includes chapter books and beginning chapter books)–243

J Graphic Novels–10

J NonFiction–102

NonFiction Picture Books-24

I am impressed with how many adult books I read this year, especially nonfiction.  I am really enjoying reading adult nonfiction books.  So far, I have only read one book in 2011 and it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (which is awesome by the way) and it was an adult nonfiction book, so I am sure that I will continue to branch out into more grownup books this year.  I didn’t really meet any of my other goals from last year.  I haven’t really read too many “boy books” or very many classics.  Oh well, I can always work on that this year.

I wanted to list off some of the real standout, amazing books that I really loved reading this year.  Some of them are 2010 releases, and some of them are older books that I’ve read for the first time.  Like I’ve mentioned before, my tastes are not what anyone would consider “highbrow” so these books might not be award worthy, but they really stood out to me, which in a field of 581 books is pretty impressive.  And sorry, but the list is really LONG.

All of the Humphrey books by Betty G. Birney (Surprises According to Humphrey was my fave)  (J fiction)

Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale  (YA graphic novel)

Heist Society by Ally Carter  (YA fiction)

Truce by Jim Murphy   (J nonfiction)

Making the Rounds With Oscar by Dr. David Dosa  (Adult nonfiction)

Dragonfly by Julia Golding  (YA fiction)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin  (J fiction)

Both Agency books by Y.S. Lee  (YA fiction)

Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper  (J fiction)

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg  (YA fiction)

Crunch by Leslie Connor  (J fiction)

Beastly by Alex Flinn  (YA fiction)

The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye by Nancy Springer  (YA fiction)

Dark Life by Kat Falls  (YA fiction)

The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor  (YA fiction)

Kakapo Rescue:  Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery  (J nonfiction)

Scumble by Ingrid Law  (J fiction)

Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan  (J fiction)

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass  (J fiction)

Clementine:  Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker  (J fiction)

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach  (Adult nonfiction)

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost  (J fiction)

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo  (J fiction)

Keeper by Kathi Appelt  (J fiction)

The Memory Bank by Carolyn Coman  (J fiction)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool  (YA fiction)

Whew!  That was a long list!  I would highly recommend any of those books because they are all awesome, but I know not everyone might love them as much as I do.  There have also been a few books that stand out from the past year for not-so-good reasons.  The following is a list of books that I really, really, really disliked.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much for me to really loathe a book, so these books might be well loved by others, even though they didn’t give me any enjoyment at all.  Here is a list of books that I wish I had never wasted the time to read.

Dark Song by Gail Giles  (YA fiction)

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff  (YA fiction)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott  (YA fiction)

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams  (YA fiction)

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller  (YA fiction)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins  (YA fiction)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins  (YA fiction)

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine Mccaughrean  (YA fiction)

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson  (J fiction)

The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penny  (Adult nonfiction)

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott  (YA fiction)

Well, this post is already appallingly long, so I will wrap it up and say that I hope all of you read some awesome books this year, and happy reading for 2011!!!


P.S.  I think my reading goal for this year is to just read 200 books.  I am a little worn out after this year, so I am going to be a little more selective about what I choose to read and not just read everything I buy for the library 🙂