Saturday, August 6, 2016

Quick Lit {July 2016}

I've always thought that summers are made for reading.  I've been trying to finish up a class I've been taking, and instead of climbing into my reading chair after the kids are in bed to read a good book, I've had to sit at a desk trying desperately to stay awake enough to finish assignments.  I did, however, manage to sneak in a few:  

And Then There Were None

Written by Agatha Christie

Ten individuals are invited to a mansion on a secluded island only to discover that their host is nowhere to be found.  A recorded message is played accusing each guest of having killed someone in their past.  There is no way to escape from the island, and one by one, the guests are killed.  Interesting mystery that had me guessing throughout the book, but one that I wasn't able to solve.  I had hoped that it would be a bit more of a thriller, but still enjoyed it.
My Rating: 4/5

Salt to the Sea

Written by Ruta Sepetys

A young adult historical fiction narrative following a group of refugees trying to escape East Prussia and the Soviets invasion.  Heartbreaking experiences and secrets haunt them as they do everything within their power to fight their way to freedom and safety.  Beautifully written story of the power of the human spirit.  I have read a lot of World War II historical fiction, but had never heard any stories about the Wilhelm Gustloff or any of the other ships carrying refugees.  Definitely a page turner, and one of the most interesting ones I have read this year.  Highly recommend.
My Rating: 4.5/5
This book is written for young adults, but I would hesitate recommending it to young teenagers due to references to rape and other war atrocities.

The Child Whisperer

Written by Carol Tuttle

Carol Tuttle has spent a lot of time researching in the field of energy profiling, and applies her knowledge of different personalities and temperaments to specific childhood situations in The Child Whisperer.  During the description of each of the personalities and how they relate to the world (socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually), I was able to relate her descriptions to each of my children, and it really helped me be able to see them in a different light.  She really helps the reader understand the gifts that each personality has to offer, and how to let them live true to themselves.  I am normally not a fan of parenting books, but found this one to be helpful.  I didn't agree with everything, but was able to gain some great insights about how to help all of the different personalities in my family.  My sister-in-law has also been reading it, and we've had a great time discussing it.  Perfect for a book club setting.  
My Rating: 4/5

Consider the Blessings

Written by Thomas S. Monson

This was a great collection of stories told by Thomas S. Monson from over the pulpit throughout his many years serving in church leadership for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Each of the stories was an example of God's love for his children and the blessings He sends.  I have always loved his stories, and come away uplifted after hearing them.  This book is one I would like to read as a family.
My Rating: 5.0/5

The Maze Runner

Written by James Dashner

I've been meaning to read The Maze Runner for years, and after a recent glowing recommendation from my teenage nephews, decided to finally read it.  Thomas enters the glade with no memory except for his name.  The new community of teenage boys that he has entered into makes no sense to him, and no one around him is much help in figuring it out.  All he knows is that he wants to be a maze runner, and is determined to find a way out.  Definitely a lot different than I was expecting.  Slow pace at first, but picks up at the end.  It isn't my favorite book, but the ending has left me wanting to continue reading the rest of the series.
My Rating: 3.5/5

What did you read this month?  Be sure to leave a comment with any books that you've been enjoying lately!  

Happy Reading!


Friday, August 5, 2016

New Releases {July/August 2016}

This last month was a fun month for new releases in children's books for us!  Here are a few that we enjoyed!

  Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

Written by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Released August 2, 2016

Both the Mercy Watson series and the continued Tales from Deckawoo Drive have been hits at our house, so I was excited to try this latest book in the series.  Baby Lincoln is probably the most timid of all of the characters in the Deckawoo Drive clan, so I wasn't quite certain how much energy was going to be in the book, or how some of my children were going to respond, but they all enjoyed it and we finished it in one sitting.

Baby Lincoln gets tired of being told what to do by Eugenia all of the time, and decides to go on a "necessary journey".  

Baby packs her bags, buys a train ticket, and sets out on her journey.  Throughout her train ride, she sits by a number of interesting characters that are true to Kate DiCamillo's style.  A man in a fur hat introduces her to the joys of comics (which Eugenia says are a waste of time!), a girl shares her flavored jelly beans, and a little boy traveling alone brings out an unknown talent of storytelling.  By the end of her journey, Baby has discovered a few things about herself, and Eugenia has, as well.  This latest edition is on the sweet and side, which probably won't suit all crowds, but it worked for ours.  Once again, Chris Van Dusen's illustrations do not disappoint.

Coding Projects in Scratch

Written by Jon Woodcock
Published July 5, 2016

I've been on the hunt for STEM activities for my six year old, and this one caught my eye.  Scratch is an online website developed by MIT that allows kids to learn computer coding processes to create their own games and projects.  I had gotten on the website a couple of times to see if I could figure it out enough to get my son started, but felt overwhelmed both times.  

As soon as this book arrived in the mail, my son started poring over it and getting excited about the projects inside.  They are incredibly engaging projects for the ages that the book is geared towards, and have allowed him to learn the program without a problem.  He's had the time of his life, and I love how much he is learning.  This has been an excellent resource, and I highly recommend it!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Written by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Published July 31, 2016

I've been excited to read this one since it was announced months ago.  The main differences between this book and the original seven in the series are that this one is written in play script and that it takes place when all of the main characters (Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco) are older and have children of their own. The main character is Albus Severus Potter, Harry's second son.  

I had a hard time with this one due to the fact that it is written as a play, and doesn't have the same flow as the previous books in the series.  This, along with a few other quirks in the story, caused it to not have the same magic as the original seven for me.  However, I still enjoyed the story, and am glad that I read it.  Out of five stars, I would give it a 3 1/2.  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Follow the Trail: Trucks

July 5, 2016

I am always on the lookout for interactive and sturdy board books to put in my diaper bag.  This series is new to me, but I am glad I found it.  Each page has textured trails for little fingers to follow trucks as they go about their duties, along with nonfiction text describing the different trucks.  All in all, the book has nineteen trails and shapes for fingers to trace and outline.  These are great for practicing pre-writing skills.  I have caught my toddler going through this book multiple times.  I'd like to add the rest of the books in the series to our collection, as well!

What have you been reading?  Have you found a new book that your family has enjoyed?  Please share!

Happy Reading!