31 December 2010

2010 Superlatives! What were our favorite books of this past year?

There are so many possible way to look at a year full of reading! Let's look at the year behind us in as many ways as we can!

Feel free to copy my questions and answer only the ones that are applicable to you and post your reply as a comment to this thread!

What was the best Fictional book you read?

What was the best Non Fiction book you read?

What was the best book you liked but didn't expect to like?

What was the best book series you read?

How many books did you re-read this year?
Name the best book that you re-read this year.

Was there a title that everyone else loved but you just couldn't get into even though you tried?

What was the best book that held a bit of mystery?

What was the best self-help/philosophy/religion title you read?

What was the best poli-sci title?

What was the best parenting advice book that you read?

What was the best book that you finally read but had been meaning to for years?

What was the best book in a genre you'd never tried reading before?

What was the best hobby/how-to book that you read?

What book challenged you to change something about yourself?

What book from this year do you think you could read again already?

What title made you cry the hardest?

What title made you laugh the hardest?

What was the best juvenile/children's title?

What was the best book someone gave you?

What was the best book that someone recommended to you?

What is the title you have most recommended to others?

What is the best book you read to someone else?

What title is most necessary to have on your personally definitive shelf of books; one you couldn't be without?

What book do you wish you hadn't read?

How many books did you read this year?

Do you track your reading? How?

29 December 2010

Have you read a book or genre this year that is new or different for you?

I love to find things that I didn't expect to like! I like to challenge myself with new things. Has anyone found a genre or a particular book that they didn't expect to like but did like? Tell us about it!

Letters Of A Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Rupert Stewart

What a delightful book! Elinore Pruitt Rupert Stewart was a prolific writer of letters. After her husband died, leaving her with a young infant, she decided to head west and see as much of the world as possible.

After a bout of flu she was advised that she should travel out to Wyoming as she was supposed to fare better there. On a whim she contacted a man who was advertising for a housekeeper. She moved from Denver to Wyoming, near the Bad Land hills.

This book is a collection of letters which she wrote to a dear friend and former employer in Denver. Over the course of the letters on learns bits and pieces about her life...a few secrets even. If you've never read this type of book or if you just think you might not be interested, I would still encourage you to broaden your reading horizons and read this little gem.

At only 112 pages it is certainly a page-turner. I couldn't wait to see what Elinore and her gang might be upt to next. The best part is that she is quite the humorist. Not only does she find humor in many things, she is also able to convey humor through her writing. What a talent! How pleased must have been those people to whom she wrote letters! I can only imagine what a pleasure it must have been to know her. With such a bright and giving spirit, those around her must truly have been blessed.

She, too, was blessed. Moving to Wyoming brought her to a land that was much less inhabited than where she had previously lived. She had to learn new ways. She also learned independence as she was also on a quest to prove her own homestead! In the course of doing that she also made many life-long friends and found that she did not have to be always so fiercely independent because she was surrounded by people who loved her and cared for her.

27 December 2010

Our initial impression of VTech's Vreader...

V.Reader Animated E-Book System - PinkWell, here we are, only two days out from Christmas Day. Our darling 4 1/2 year old received her VReader on Christmas Day, from us. I am back to give our impression of it so far.

We didn't really find time to do much with it until very late last night. I was going to look at it a bit while she had a late snack of peppermint ice cream. Before I knew it she had finished and was back to me just as I was about to start playing with it.

I handed it over to her. We bought her five cartridges/titles for it, plus the one it came with. The titles we own are: Shrek, Toy Story 3, Olivia, Dora and Tinkerbell. The age spectrum varies a lot among those titles. I was eager to see the representation of various age levels. I was pleased to find that Shrek is much more difficult than some of the other titles. I believe it has the highest age rating; it is ages 5-7. Toy Story 3 has an age rating of 3-5. While Toy Story 3 was relatively easy/babyish for her, it was still fun and I believe engagin if not exactly challenging. This means the creators pulled together a pretty good package. The Shrek title will certainly last her a LONG time. Some of it is easy enough for her to do now but some will take her a while to master and that is good.

We'd played with the demo units in the stores this Christmas season. But demo units such as the stores had are not really definitive. There just wasn't enough variety in what it allowed the user to do. So far it seems that every title has the option of reading the title story or having the unit read it aloud to you. Each title also appears to have a lot of games, say, perhaps about 10-12, associated with the story! I was really surprised by the number of activities included in each title!

I think this unit is going to last her a long time. I believe we will end up buying a lot more titles. Our little one is a big reader. She is already reading 3 and 4 letter words on her own and I recently caught her decoding the word "chapter" as she tried to read a book herself! I love that she loves to read. I think her VReader is going to be a lovely compliment to her homeschooling as well as her personal enjoyment of books.

26 December 2010

So far I haven't strayed from posting strictly book reviews.

Pentago CE Game from Mindtwister USA travel versionI am going to post our favorite new board game because some of you may be interested in hearing about it.
I think it will become a new favorite for many of us. We love strategy games that don't tend to involve luck. This game has won many awards and is worthy of them!
I will include a link for an online version of it:

02 December 2010

An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List by Laurie Notaro

All right, I hate to admit it. Laurie Notaro makes me laugh. She can be vulgar and childish, yes; even irreverent.. That is the reason for my reticence. However, she can also really make me giggle.
 An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List
I'll also admit I have had greater enjoyment from other books she has written. Parts of this book were taken from various other books she wrote in the past; this is a compilation with some new material also, I believe.

In this book, Laurie shares that she is a clear-lights person with regard to Christmas trees and that she is "tired of living a brightly colored lie." She just isn't afraid to "call them as she sees them"; she says exactly what is on her mind. She writes things that some people would be embarrassed to think. And so I laugh.

Here is what happens when she looks to her fiance for some encouragement after meeting his family for the first time at their family Christmas celebration: "'This is horrible, they hate me,' I told him as I handed over some of the presents. 'I think I'd rather have my next Pap smear broadcast over satellite TV or have my credit report published in the paper or just about anything than go back in there." A bit later, whlie explaining how she ruined the entire holiday she writes "I had completely destroyed the family's holiday even further than I had when they thought I was a pregnant, homeless stripper with knotted hair."

I really enjoyed her spiel about hating Kmart stores and then finding that she was forced to shop at one on Christmas Eve one year. I have rated this title 3.5* out of 5.0.

01 December 2010

All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall

All Shook Up
I found out about this book through our son, Matthew. This book is proposed for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award for 2011. Matthew's school gave a presentation to fourth graders highlighting some of the proposed titles of the Caudill Award for this year. ALL SHOOK UP is one of the books that interested him.

Josh Greenwood is a 13 year old boy who lives in Boston with his mom. When Josh's mom's mother falls and injures herself badly he learns that he must visit his dad for an extended time. His grandma lives in Florida and his mom is going to have to visit there to assist her with her recuperation. Josh's dad lives in Chicago which means that Josh will have to sign up to attend school there, away from all of his friends.

Upon arriving in Chicago it isn't long before Josh finds out that the shoe store his dad worked for has gone out of business and his dad is now making money doing gigs...singing as Elvis. Now, while this might sound pretty cool to some adults, Josh is extremely embarrassed at even the thought of it.

While living in Chicago Josh meets his dad's new girlfriend Viv, and her daughter, Ivory, as well as an elderly neighbor who is making his dad's Elvis-scarves for his stage shows.

The story is told through the eyes of a 13 year old. It's not deep, but it does remind one of how simple the viewpoint of a young teen can be. That said, there is a bit of character growth by the end of the book. I actually thought the book might be a bit more exciting than it was. The story does see Josh make a pretty bad decision that affected his dad worse than his dad's actions were affecting him. There is some resolution to that situation though and it certainly provides a point for discussion with younger readers. One interesting point occurs when Halloween sneaks up on them and they are not prepared; this finds Josh scrambling for a costume and he spends a bit of time wearing some of his dad's Elvis clothing. After doing so he finds that he actually had a bit of fun with it and begins to see things from his dad's side a bit more.

My son doesn't know that I have read the book. I bought the ebook for my NOOK. I also bought a hardcover version for him for Christmas. I think he will really enjoy the book and he'll be surprised to hear that Mom has already read it. If he saves enough to buy a NOOK (he received a gift card for B&N for is birthday) he will be pleased to find that he can read the ebook too!

I am rating this book a 3.5 on a 5.0 scale.
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