Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Books, 2013

Okay, here's my Best of 2013 list -- all of the books that earned five stars from me on Goodreads this year.  I put an asterisk next to ones that were re-reads for me.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Mariana by Monica Dickens
*A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
*Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
*Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alverez
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Emma by Jane Austen

Night by Elie Wiesel
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
*A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
*From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg
*Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
*The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
*The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
*The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager

Graphic Novels:
Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson
Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt
Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson
Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
Building Stories by Chris Ware

My Reading Year, 2013

The only official goal I set this year was on Goodreads, where I challenged myself to read 100 books in 2013.  (This sounds like a lot, but I read so many kids/YA books, including graphic novels, that this is a reasonable goal for me.)  I made it!  I read 140 books in 2013.  Here's a break-down of those books:  47 grown-up books, 33 YA books, and 60 "kid lit" books.  Also, 13 of those 138 books were re-reads for me.

I always have a goal to read aloud with my kids, and I did pretty well with this.  I read 14 chapter books aloud to them this year, and we listened to 7 audiobooks this summer.

I read quite a few books this year that I've been meaning to read for awhile, and most of them ended up on my "favorites" list for the year (see my next post).  I am very happy to say I have finally read Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, a book my husband has been encouraging me to read since I met him; we visited the Vonnegut Library in Indianapolis this summer, so it was good timing.  I am especially proud to have completed No Plot? No Problem! along with writing a NaNoWriMo "novel" in November.  I've been meaning to try this forever!

However, I have many Persephone books, but I only read three of them this year.  I think I'll set a goal to double that number next year.

I just counted, and 26 of the books I read this year are ones I'd truly consider "shelf-sitters."  Not bad!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Stacks Unwrapped, 2013

Skye's book stack (age 14)

Felix's book stack (age 9)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Stacks 2013

Here they are.  One for Skye, and one for Felix.
Stay tuned to see the unwrapped versions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I Read in 2013

For me:
1. The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days (Ian Frazier)
2. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty (Greg Neri & Randy DuBurke)
3. Emma (Jane Austen)
4. Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides)
5. Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (Lila Quintero Weaver)
6. Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple)
7. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Paul Torday)
8. The Sisters Brothers (Patrick deWitt)
9. Which Way to the Wild West?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About Westward Expansion (Steve Sheinkin)
10. A Brief History of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals, #1) (Michelle Cooper)
11. Dimanche and Other Stories (Irène Némirovsky)
12. Twelve Kinds of Ice (Ellen Bryan Obed & Barbara McClintock)
13. Life After Life (Kate Atkinson)
14. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym)
15 Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)
16. The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (Jennifer Worth)
17. Every Eye (Isobel English)
18.  Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ben Fountain)
19. The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship (Jeffrey Zaslow)
20. Mr. Fox (Helen Oyeyemi)
21. Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri)
22. 11/22/63 (Stephen King)
23. This One is Mine (Maria Semple)
24. Building Stories (Chris Ware)
25. Trains and Lovers (Alexander McCall Smith)
26. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (Lucy Knisley)
27. Mariana (Monica Dickens)
28. When I Forgot (Elina Hirvonen)
29. The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut)
30. Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1) (Louise Penny)
31. Iron Lake (Cork O'Connor, #1) (William Kent Krueger)
32. A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2) (Louise Penny)
33. Rez Life (David Treuer)
34. Tenth of December (George Saunders)
35. The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (George Saunders)
36. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
37. Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)
38. The Animals in that Country (Margaret Atwood)
39. Night Film (Marisha Pessl)
40. Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year (Ramsey Beyer)
41. One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street (Joanne Rocklin)
42. The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (A.S. Byatt)
43. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)
44. No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days (Chris Baty)
45. Stitches: a handbook on meaning, hope, and repair (Anne Lamott)
46. The Cuckoo's Calling (Robert Galbraith/J. K. Rowling)
47. Attachments (Rainbow Rowell)
48. A Christmas Guest (Anne Perry)
49. Cinderella: The Graphic Novel (Beth Bracken & Jeffrey Stewart Timmins)
50. The Florist's Daughter (Patricia Hampl)
51. Lips Touch: Three Times (Laini Taylor)
52. The Elements of Style Illustrated (William Strunk, E.B. White & Maira Kalman)

For/with Skye (grades 8-9):
1. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel (Hope Larson)
2. Everybody Sees the Ants (A.S. King)
3. Chiggers (Hope Larson)
4. Foiled #2: Curses! Foiled Again (Jane Yolen)
5. Giants Beware! (Jorge Aguirre & Rafael Rosado)
6. The Order of the Stick #4: Don't Split the Party (Rich Burlew)
7. Hereville #2: How Mirka Met a Meteorite (Barry Deutsch)
8. Friends with Boys (Faith Erin Hicks)
9. In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez)
10. The Order of the Stick #D: Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales (Rich Burlew)
11. Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (Laini Taylor)
12. The Frog Princess (E.D. Baker)
13. Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen)
14. Hilda and the Midnight Giant (Luke Pearson)
15. Hilda and the Bird Parade (Luke Pearson)
16. A Midsummer Night's Dream (William Shakespeare)
17. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Jon Krakauer)
18. A Tale Dark and Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)
19. Hairspray: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Hit Broadway Musical (Mark O'Donnell)
20. Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) (Marissa Meyer)
21. Jane, the Fox & Me (Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault)
22. Night (Elie Wiesel)
23. Hilda and the Troll (Luke Pearson)

With Skye (grades 8-9) and Felix (grades 2-3):
1. Knight's Castle (Edward Eager)
2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Kate DiCamillo)
3. Pinocchio (Carlo Collodi)
4. 43 Old Cemetery Road #3: Till Death Do Us Bark (Kate Klise & M. Sarah Klise)
5. The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate)
6. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #3: The Unseen Guest (Maryrose Wood)
7. Jackie & Me (Dan Gutman)
8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)
9. James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
10. The BFG (Roald Dahl)
11. The Lemonade War (Jacqueline Davies)
12. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
13. The House at Pooh Corner (A.A. Milne)
14. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
15. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook (Joanne Rocklin)
16. Stuart Little (E.B. White)
17. 43 Old Cemetery Road #4: The Phantom of the Post Office (Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise)
18. The Trumpet of the Swan (E.B. White)
19. Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) (Patricia C. Wrede)
20. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente)
21. Warriors #1: Into the Wild (Erin Hunter)
22. The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Tom Angleberger)
23. Warriors #2: Fire and Ice (Erin Hunter)

With Felix (grades 2-3):
1. Rosalie, My Rosalie (Jacquelyn Mitchard)
2. A Dog on His Own (Mary Jane Auch)
3. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #5: Raining Cats and Detectives (Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue)
4. The Secret of the Stone Frog (David Nytra)
5. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #1: Hamster and Cheese (Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue)
6. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #2: And Then There Were Gnomes (Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue)
7. Calvin Coconut #2: The Zippy Fix (Graham Salisbury)
8. Bad Kitty: School Daze (Nick Bruel)
9. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #3: The Ferret's a Foot (Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue)
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book #1) (Jeff Kinney)
11. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye #4: Fish You Were Here (Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue)
12. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2: Rodrick Rules (Jeff Kinney)
13. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3: The Last Straw (Jeff Kinney)
14. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4: Dog Days (Jeff Kinney)
15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5: The Ugly Truth (Jeff Kinney)
16. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid #6: Cabin Fever (Jeff Kinney)
17. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel (Jeff Kinney)
18. Calvin and Hobbes: Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (Bill Watterson)
19. The Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery (Doreen Cronin)
20. Aliens on Vacation (Clete Smith)
21. Alvin Ho #3: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes (Lenore Look)
22. The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary (Jeff Kinney)
23. The Talented Clementine (Clementine, #2) (Sara Pennypacker)
24. Clementine's Letter (Sara Pennypacker)
25. My Weirder School #7: Miss Kraft Is Daft! (Dan Gutman)
26. My Weird Writing Tips (Dan Gutman)
27. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8: Hard Luck (Jeff Kinney)
28. The Extraordinary Adventures Of Ordinary Basil (Wiley Miller)
29. When Santa Fell To Earth (Cornelia Funke)
30. Fortunately, the Milk (Neil Gaiman)

For Kids Book Club (ages 8-12):
1. A Dog on His Own (Mary Jane Auch)
2. Top of the Order (John Coy)
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book #1) (Jeff Kinney)
4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick)
5. James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
6. One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams-Garcia)
7. Okay for Now (Gary D. Schmidt)

For Teen Book Club (ages 12+):
1. Everybody Sees the Ants (A.S. King)
2. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
3. Reached (Ally Condie)
4. Ask The Passengers (A.S. King)
5. Please Ignore Vera Dietz (A.S. King)
6. The Books of Umber #1: Happenstance Found (P.W. Catanese)
7. How to Save a Life (Sara Zarr)
8. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi)
9. Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (Laini Taylor)
10. A Tale Dark and Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)
11. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
12. Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Picture Books with Felix

One of my reading goals for 2013 is to read more picture books with my kids again, especially with Felix.  They both still enjoy them, and I hope they will throughout their lifetimes.

So far this January, Felix and I have read three together:

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

"Step gently out, be still, and watch a single blade of grass."

Helen Frost wrote two novels in poetry for young people that my daughter and I loved:  Diamond Willow and Hidden.  When we looked for more information about her, we found this picture book.  Step Gently Out uses beautiful photos by Rick Lieder as illustrations for a gorgeous poem by Frost about insects.  Felix was a little intimidated -- he's hated insects ever since being stung by a hornet a couple of years ago -- but the photos are so up-close and detailed that he couldn't help but be intrigued.  The last two pages give more information about each of the tiny creatures that are mentioned in the poem.

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury

"Once upon a time, there were three cuddly little wolves with soft fur and fluffy tails who lived with their mother."

I always cheer when I see Helen Oxenbury's illustrations!  She is marvelous, gentle and fun.  In this twist on the story of the Three Little Pigs, there are lots of funny changes to talk about and predictions to make.  The wolves start by building a brick house, but the Big Bad Pig knocks it down with a sledgehammer.  What will they all try next?  And how will this tale end?  Felix and I had fun spotting the china teapot the wolves saved from the pig's destruction on many of the pages.

Moose, Goose and Little Nobody by Ellen Raskin

One day a big wind blew.
Trees fell and a gas pump flew.
From somewhere a red roof
spun through the air
and came down with a

"What is that?" said Moose to Goose.

Felix loved this one!  Ellen Raskin is silly and adores playing with words.  For more about this book (and to see some of the great illustrations), check out this review on one of my favorite blogs, Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves.