Book Chat

Reading Log: September 2014

Whew, what a month! Another whirlwind, but I still had lots of good time for reading. The Newbery Challenge has really reinvigorated my love for Children’s Lit… this month’s count was 6 books!  I decided to add another page to my Archives… so if you want to see my Nerdbery Challenge progress, check it out here!

Below is my Reading Log for September 2014, with my thoughts about each book to help me remember what I read.  I’ve included all the books that I’ve read or finished during the month (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  And of course I keep track of my rating on the grade system, the binding, genre, etc… just for fun!

September 2014

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.
F = Fiction, HF = Historical Fiction, NF = NonFiction, YA = Young Adult,
CL = Children’s Lit, B/M = Bio/Memoir, SFF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre

 

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul,
by Melodie Beattie
1/1/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
SH
Deep Black Sea,
by David Salkin
7/25/14 9/18/14 B+
K
SFF
The Wednesday Wars,
by Gary Schmidt
8/27/14 9/16/14 A
K
CL
A Year Down Yonder,
by Richard Peck
9/1/14 9/4/14 A
HB
CL
The Rosie Project,
by Graeme Simison
9/4/14 9/5/14 A+
K
F
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,
by Gabrielle Zevin
9/5/14 9/6/14 A+
K
F
Bridge to Terabithia,
by Katherine Paterson
9/8/14 9/13/14 A+
PB
CL
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices,
written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows
9/13/14 9/13/14 A
LB
CL
A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers,
written by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen
9/13/14 9/13/14 B
LB
CL
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village,
written by Laura Amy Schiltz and illustrated by Robert Byrd
9/13/14 9/13/14 A+
LB
HF
Flora and Ulysses,
by Kate DiCamillo
9/14/14 9/21/14 B+
LB
CL
How to Catch a Frog,
by Heather Ross
9/15/14 9/20/14 A+
HB
M
The Truth About Forever,
by Sarah Dessen
9/20/14 Still Reading TBD
LB
YA
Quilt As You Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters,
by Jera Brandvig
9/21/14 9/21/14 A
PB
C

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store,
by Robin Sloan
9/28/14 Still Reading TBD
K
F
Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History,
by Andrew Carroll
9/29/14 Still Reading TBD
K
NF

Thoughts:

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul, by Melodie Beattie – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // January 2014 Reading Log

Still reading for my 2014 resolution… I am still catching up on the days I missed, but the nights that I pick it back up are always worth it. It’s hard to stick to a routine for an entire year, but I’m trying to get back on track.

 …

Deep Black Sea, by David Salkin – B+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Fun summer read… a deep sea research mission goes awry when one crew member starts experimenting on his colleagues. The buildup was pretty slow and I couldn’t help but cringe at the juvenile sexual tension and women (scientists and doctors) who cried at the drop of a hat. You never saw Dr. Beverly Crusher crying over her patients in deep space! But as it kept going, it got more enjoyable. The mad scientist was really fun to follow, and the science experiment gone wrong was satisfyingly gruesome. The oceans are so fascinating, and it’s cool that the author is a diver and you could tell that lots of research went into making the spooky stuff reasonable. I absolutely hate scary movies, but the horror book genre is growing on me… I blame my job!

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

I kept hearing buzz about this book, and it was available through Kindle Unlimited, so even though it’s a Newbery Honor book instead of a winner, I gave it a try and was not disappointed! I imagined Fred Savage from The Wonder Years narrating this whole book, and it’s got the same vibe – a plucky middle schooler just trying to survive the school year during the Vietnam War years, with plenty of funny adventures, a few poignant moments, and a bit of Shakespeare thrown in for good measure. There’s even a tightwad father and flower child sister. At first I wasn’t quite sure if I’d enjoy the book, honestly because kids who “hate” their teachers are usually not my cup of tea, but it really grew on me. I’m not sure how realistic it would be for a thirteen-year-old to latch onto Shakespeare and enjoy it so much, but it was fun nonetheless. And I always love a happy ending.

 …

A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck – A

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Newbery Winner for 2000, the sequel to A Long Way from Chicago (a Newbery Honor winner). I didn’t read the first book and didn’t know what to expect from this one, but in a word: delightful! This is one of those rambling narratives full of small-town antics that don’t seem to be about much at all but a collection of stories about a teenager living with her grandmother during the Great Depression. But there’s so much to be read between the lines… a lot of “show don’t tell” that I would have HATED to study during school, so I’m actually glad I read it as an adult and never had to teach it or read it as a student. It was nice just to enjoy it without thinking of all the literary devices used and how to parse it out into a lesson plan… and it was just plain enjoyable to read. The grandmother is such a lovable gruff old curmedgeon with “eyes in the back of her heart.” And somehow that very last line was so satisfying… but of course made me feel like a hypocrite because I criticized The Witch of Blackbird Pond for the very same ending… and yet I loved it this time around! Go figure.

 …

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

If you like Big Bang Theory, feel free to read this entire book in Sheldon’s voice. If you don’t, like me, but still can’t get his voice out of your head, try to think of the actor as a person instead of his character and eventually you will love the main character Don. It worked for me! I heard mixed reviews of this book but I could not put it down… I loved it! It was quirky and hilarious and endearing, and I try not to throw those words around lightly. I loved that Don is “off,” most likely due to Asperger’s, although it’s never stated outright. Certainly not a perfect book, but I was on quite a high after the happy ending, so it’s an A plus from me! (Small Rant Ahead: I keep getting upset about overly critical reviews on GoodReads over and over, yet I can’t stop myself from reading them when I add books to my profile. When will I learn?? And because of all those reviews, I just have to say this: I’m sure Don is probably not a perfect example of Asperger’s… but who says a book with a “different’ main character has to represent an entire population who may be the same kind of different?? Rant over.)

 …

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

You could call this book pandering because it involves almost all of my favorite elements in a contemporary literary romance: a curmudgeon widower, an orphan, a stolen rare book, a struggling book store, the publishing industry, even an island. And yet, even as the plot unfolds in ways both expected and unexpected, it always remained in the realm of real life and never felt too sentimental. The third person narration felt somewhat removed from the characters, but more in an everything’s-going-to-work-out reassuring kind of way, almost like a fairy tale. It was just a ton of fun to read, with a subtle mystery in the background, likable characters in the foreground, and all of it swirling around in the book-publishing world (which is even more fun now that I’m working there too).

 …

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Another novel my fourth grade class read, and one I was glad to read again. I remembered the sad ending but always thought it was very confusing and abrupt… this time around, there was a lot more closure. The illustrations by Donna Diamond were beautiful and fit perfectly. Powerful stuff and a great portrait of an impoverished family.

 …

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows – A

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

I avoided this one for a while because I wasn’t sure I wanted to read poetry… but this is so much fun! Each poem is meant to be read by two people, so I couldn’t resist making hubby read Book Lice with me. The illustrations are awesome and so technical. It’s hard not to think of all the science lesson rabbit holes you could go down while sharing this book with a classroom.

 …

A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, written by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen – B

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

I… did not get it. The illustrations are gorgeous but the poems are way out-there. It’s the same “nonsense” style that’s found in Alice in Wonderland that a lot of people love, but I just don’t have the patience for it. Maybe it was because I didn’t know anything about William Blake… after reading up on him, the trippy poems make more sense but without context it’s quite odd. I didn’t hate it, it just didn’t click for me. I quite liked a couple poems, though, especially Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way. I love the illustrations (by the same team that did A Peaceable Kingdom) and this is the only book to ever win both the Newbery Award and the Caldecott Medal. But man, they really need to add some historical background for the layman like me… at the very least a short introduction would be much appreciated!

 …

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, written by Laura Amy Schiltz and illustrated by Robert Byrd – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

I didn’t know what to expect from this one, but I really liked it! A librarian wrote these nineteen monologues for her students learning about the Medieval Ages, and you can tell. It’s very well thought out and organized, with a big map showing all the characters, notations to explain definitions, and a few pages interspersed throughout for historical context. Very informative but still a compelling story of the intertwined characters. I’ve never fancied acting, but I loved reading this just to learn more!

 …

Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo – B+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

2014 Newbery Winner. First, the good: the characters were fun and realistic while still a bit wacky. The squirrel as sudden superhero was charming. The integration of comic book-style illustrations was very effective. The plot was fun and straightforward while still including some subtle issues about kids dealing with divorce and loneliness. But for all the good, I was mostly meh by the end. It’s very cute and entertaining, but it just didn’t resonate. I feel that way with a lot of Kate DiCamillo’s work – it’s great for middle grade readers and includes plenty to discuss in the classroom, but somehow her books haven’t made a lasting impression.

How to Catch a Frog, by Heather Ross – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

I loved the conversational tone of this memoir by the famed fabric designer Heather Ross. She didn’t start with her childhood and march in a straight line of events to the present day, but jumped around connecting the threads, which made so much sense to me. I always get bored of the young-childhood phase and want to skip to adolescence and young adulthood, but this style kept me interested and allowed lots of connections and consequences to unfold naturally. Plus, her life is genuinely interesting and anything but orderly, with both of her intellectual parents basically neglecting her and her twin sister’s wellbeing and focusing on idealistic pursuits such as “living off the land.” It was fascinating to read about her family’s dynamics and how she made it to adulthood and marriage and motherhood with her humor intact. The cherry on top was meeting Heather Ross at CraftSouth for a book signing – she is so down to earth and kind, and it was just really cool to meet her. Plus she drew a mama kitty with kittens for me on the spot!

 …

The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

I’ve long heard Sarah Dessen praised as the queen of YA Lit, so I picked this one up at the library. So far, very engaging – it’s been my breakfast book to read in bits every morning.

 …

Quilt As You Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters, by Jera Brandvig – A

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Great showcase of one quilt-as-you-go technique with a few different variations. It’s one of those techniques that’s easy to improvise and go beyond the projects included in the book, which I really like. Love the project ideas, although the color choices could’ve been punchier for my tastes. I was disappointed that you still have to baste and quilt the back to the front after you make the top… so it’s really not completed after you “quilt as you go.” The very first quilting book I ever bought is still the best QAYG book I own – Crazy Shortcut Quilts. Even though the style is definitely not modern, you actually have a completed quilt at the end. You do have to use sashing, which is one limitation, but QAYG Modern also includes sashing as an option but not in place of basting and quilting (minimally) to have a finished quilt. Still a fun book with a great idea, so I’m glad I own it and I’ll be trying at least one of the projects for sure.

 …

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store, by Robin Sloan – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Another title I’ve heard a lot of good things about, so I decided to give it a shot. Haven’t had much time to delve into it yet.

 …

Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, by Andrew Carroll – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Remember the couple titles I read for the Blogging for Books program? Yeah… this is one of those and it just dropped off my radar entirely. I think it’s because I have to use my OverDrive app to read it, which is normally the app I use for audiobooks, so when I want to read an ebook I instinctively go toward Kindle. But the premise is really interesting – touring America’s landmarks where forgotten pieces of history have happened. Determined to devote some time to reading this soon!

 …

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of September.  Anyone reading a good book?

6 thoughts on “Reading Log: September 2014

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