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Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Hi. It's March. Yowza. Sorry. I have been so bad at posting about the books that I have read in 2017. But, I am here now, so let's just get to it, eh? I can't wait to show you some of the books that I have read!

The City of Ember // Jeanne DuPrau

Genre: Science Fiction (Young Adult) 
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

My thoughts: I read this book with my students as a read aloud novel this year and I am so happy that I did! I can't believe that I hadn't read this book, but I loved it and so did my sixth graders. This book was one of the beginnings of the "dystopian society" novels and I loved the idea behind it. The book is nowhere near perfect, but it is a great book for young readers and really well done. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “The trouble with anger is, it gets hold of you. And then you aren't the master of yourself anymore. Anger is. And when anger is the boss, you get unintended consequences.”

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women 

Genre: Nonfiction (Religion) 
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: At the Pulpit showcases the tradition of Latter-day Saint women's preaching and instruction by presenting 54 speeches given from 1831 to 2016, with selections from every decade since the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The discourses, given by women both well known and obscure, represent just some of the many contributions of women to Latter-day Saint thought. In addition to being a scholarly history, At the Pulpit is intended as a resource for contemporary Latter-day Saints as they study, speak, teach, and lead. These discourses allow readers to hear the historical and contemporary voices of Latter-day Saint women--voices that resound with experience, wisdom, and authority.

My thoughts:  I was given this book to review (posted about it here) and I am so glad that I did! I love hearing from strong women of faith and I have loved to hear their thoughts throughout the church's history. Their words are strong, powerful, and incredible insightful. I loved to highlight this book as I was reading and preparing for General Conference. I am a little bit of a feminist, so I want to hear from other strong women and this was the perfect example of this. This is a great book to read over a few months on Sundays or for Sunday studies. 

Favorite Quote from the book: "Our challenge as members of the Church is for all of us to learn from each other, that we may all love each other and grow together."-Chieko N. Okazaki 

Await Your Reply: Dan Chaon 

Genre: Realistic Fiction 
Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: The lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways and with unexpected consequences. Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can't stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years.A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher.  My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. 

My thoughts: I truly cannot decide how I feel about this book. In some regards, I genuinely enjoyed the brilliance of the inter-twining of these three characters. In another point, I found that I was a little confused and bored of what was happening. I couldn't seem to put the book down, though, so that's a great point. Overall, I think, I enjoyed the novel. But there was definitely something "off" about it and I can't place why? 

Favorite Quote from the book: “I never wanted to get to a point in my life where I knew what was going to happen next. I felt like most people just couldn't wait until they found themselves settled down into a routine and they didn't have to think about the next day, or the next year, or the next decade because it was all planned out for them. I can't understand how people can settle for having just one life.”

Edenbrooke: Julianne Donaldson 

 Genre: Historical Fiction (Romance) 
Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. 

My thoughts:  I tend to get discouraged by this foofy old romantic novels because they tend to not be written very well. This one was very different though. I read this novel while on an airplane and I finished it in one sentence. I genuinely enjoyed the story line and the characters. I thought it was very well written and I absolutely LOVED it. I could not put it down. This is the perfect read for something a little light-hearted and not too serious. A perfect poolside novel that will have you all happy inside :). I loved the letters that were written and the sweetness that was encompassed in this novel. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“I hope you do not let anyone else's expectations direct the course of your life.”
The Chosen One: Carol Lynch Williams 

Genre: Realistic Fiction (Young Adult) 
Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. 
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

My thoughts: I had no idea that this was a young adult novel until I began reading it. As such, it definitely was written like a young adult novel! It was a quick read (I truly read it in an hour and a half) and definitely did not go into detail regarding details about polygamy. Because of that, I tried to judge this as a young adult novel, rather than simple fiction, so I gave it a 3. The storyline was a little boring and all over the place and the lack of character development was annoying. With that being said, I thought that it was interesting and had a fluid story--enough where I finished it!

Favorite Quote from the book: I'd never seen so many books. Never. The sight made my eyes water. I mean, tear right up.

The Weight of Silence: Heather Gudenkauf

Genre: Realistic Fiction// Mystery 
Rating: 2/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice. Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor. Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

My thoughts: Meh. Could not even get through this novel. I only got about halfway through it in a month. I went to book club a little discouraged that I hadn't finished it, but I received the same feedback from the other ladies while there, so I did not feel like i had missed out on much. I am one of those people who really wants to finish novels once I start them, but I think I subconsciously knew that this book wasn't going to get any better, so I just stopped it. I have decided to not waste time on bad books anymore. What's the point? This is one of those novels that has a better synopsis than the actual story.

Favorite Quote from the book: “Every five-year-old kid should have a pair of happy pajamas. ”

Gratitude: Oliver Sacks 

Genre: Nonfiction  
Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: A deeply moving testimony and celebration of how to embrace life.
In January 2015, Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and he shared this news in a New York Times essay that inspired readers all over the world: "I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.... Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
My thoughts:  I don't know if it's a subconscious need to "live life to the fullest" right now, but I am reading all of these "bucket list" type books. Why? No idea. I loved that this was such a short read. It is the perfect bedtime book because it does not require much thought and it isn't too overwhelming in material. I loved what Oliver had to say about life and death and all that encompasses it. I genuinely enjoyed how honest and real it was. I did not love it as much as "When Breath Becomes Air", but I did enjoy it wholeheartedly. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi 

Genre: Nonfiction 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. 

My thoughts: I absolutely loved this book! I felt like it evoked an authenticity and intelligence that other "bucket list" novels don't necessarily portray. I loved to hear about all that Paul accomplished in his life--and it made me want to get up off my butt and do it! I was amused and impressed with his level of maturity after being diagnosed, at the same time, feeling the rawness of his anger and frustration. I'm not entirely sure why I loved this novel so much, but I couldn't put it down. Well written and well done.

Favorite Quote from the book: “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

What books did you read in the past couple of months?

I am currently reading "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson for March Book Club and reading "Truly, Madly, Guilty" by Lianne Moriarty on my own.

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