What I'm Reading

My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow 5 out of 5 stars Cookbook
I sat down and read this cookbook last night--actually read it cover to cover all the introductions, thoughts, ingredients, directions, everything. The pictures are stunning, the narrative interesting, and the recipes looks really good (easy, with ingredients I would often normally have on hand or could easily get). I'm just trying the first recipe tonight so I suppose that the rating is still up for debate, but I really thoroughly enjoyed this as a read.

Food Matters by Mark Bittman 4 out of 5 stars Adult Non Fiction
Loved the "eat for the good of your body and the earth" approach and the recipes look rather good as well (I've only tried a few so far--but so far so good).

In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth 4 out of 5 stars Junior Fiction
Really enjoyable read about a young girl's search for her mother (and herself) through Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Women Heroes of World War II by Kathryn Atwood 3 out of 5 stars Adult Non Fiction
Short glimpses at the stories of some known and unknown female heroes from WWII (Europe only). Everything about this book screamed Junior Non Fiction and had it been labeled as such I probably would have given it 4 stars. As an Adult Non Fiction, though, I found the writing far too basic (let’s just assume that as an adult I don’t need to have who Hitler was and what he did explained to me every few pages or that I don’t need to have terms like pacifist defined for me). Still, the stories and the women are extraordinary.

Press Here by Herve Tullet 5 out of 5 stars Picture Book
I read this interactive picture book with my 4-year-old niece who gasped and clapped and giggled all the way through--and then demanded we read it again. Really fun. My favorite picture book of the year (so far).

A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull 3 out of 5 stars Junior Fantasy
Two teenagers who accidently fall into a new world take on a quest to overthrow the most powerful leader in the world. Fun with some interesting mythology woven into the story. However, much of the action feels a bit too easy and repetitive. Still, it is an easy book to recommend to a junior reader.

This Is Why You're Fat by Jackie Warner (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Non Fiction
Readable and easy. This is not about a quick fix but rather a long-term healthy way of living. The food suggestions are easy to incorporate and the ingredients/items can be found easily in my area without spending a lot of money. Similarly, the author offers a wide variety of exercising options and the strength training can be done at home with a set of dumbbells.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
This was my fifth or so reading of this book so that probably tinted my reading a bit. I felt like there were a lot of really profound things to take away from this story but that it falls a bit short as an overall philosophy. I also found the storytelling a little flat and repetitive.

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (2 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Science Fiction
Trella, a scrub who is one of many responsible for cleaning pipes in her dystopian world, finds her isolated life disturbed when she meets a prophet who claims to have information about her past and a way out of her current life. Taking the bait, Trella ends up the unintentional leader of a rebellion. An interesting idea that was, rather unfortunately, not executed well.

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (3 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Spy
Mary, the newest member of an all-female detective agency in Victorian England, is sent on her first, seemingly easy, assignment only to discover a few dangerous secrets about the case and her past life. Not horrible but still rather disappointing.

Dragonfly by Julia Golding (4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fiction

Tashi and Ramil, a princess and prince from different lands, are forced into a political marriage with the hope that the new alliance will save both their lands from destruction by a cruel warlord. It has the general feel of a great epic = adventure and love, but it was perhaps a little heavy handed on the "I refuse to understand other cultures" stances both Tashi and Ramil adopt in the beginning and the end was a bit too neat and fast. Still, it was a lot of fun.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien (3 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Science Fiction
Set in a futuristic world, Gaia's world comes crashing down when her parent's are arrested. As she tries to break in to see/rescue them she is faced with a variety of ethical problems and begins to see the government that rules in a new light. I just didn't care a whole lot for the characters or what was happening--although there are several intriguing issues--and found certain aspects of the story unrealistic--yes I realize it is a sci-fi book.

Dark Life by Kat Falls (4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Science Fiction
Ty, a 15 year old boy who lives on the ocean floor, and Gemma, a fifteen year old girl who lives on land, come together to stop outlaws who are threatening Ty's underwater home and world. Really great characters and story--everything moved along quite nicely.

Some Things Go Together by Charlotte Zolotow (4 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Very Sweet.

Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards (4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Historical Fiction
A fictional account of the Johnstown Flood written in verse. Quite wonderful.

The Darcy Connection by Elizabeth Aston (2 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
A look at the daughters that come out of the marriage of Mr. Collins and Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice). There were a few pages right in the middle that I felt were promising, but then the over-the-top scandal took over and completely ruined the book for me. I just can't seem to connect the characters from P&P as I know them (loyal and good) to these same characters as Aston portrays them (scandalous, unthinking, unkind, absent).

George and Martha Rise and Shine by James Marshall (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Another great set of stories.

George and Martha Back in Town by James Marshall (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book

George and Martha Round and Round by James Marshall (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Just can't pick a favorite out of this series.

Goerge and Martha One Fine Day  by James Marshall (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
I continune to love George and Martha.

George and Martha  by James Marshall (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Somehow this is my first reading of the George and Martha books. Loved this one. Clever and Fun.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Lovely writing and lovely illustrations. Excellent bedtime book.

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson (3 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
Adrienne, the much put upon heroine, is forced to choose between her drab life (plus a boy whom she loves but who doesn't see her) and the mysteries of the sea (mermaids). Neither good or bad--largely forgettable.

The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley (2 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Historical Fiction
Kat travels to London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in an attempt to discover the secrets of her past. The two biggest hang-ups for me: the language was an annoying mix of modern English with a few aye's thrown in and I felt confused on Kat's motive (why London, why drag her hearing-impaired sister to a place that would so obviously be bad for her, does she want to get married or not--she wavers between declarations that she never will and worrying that no one would want her).

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthall & Tom Lichtenheld (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
Fun and clever. A book that begs to be read aloud by two readers.

Sarah by Orson Scott Card (3 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
I liked it but didn't love it--I found the part in Egypt to be so dull that I wanted to walk away from the book. Qira, perhaps overly flawed, was the most interesting character and her parts in the book flew by for me. Other than that, I also enjoyed the few things that were added that only an LDS audience would even see much less understand--a bit of fun for me.

How We Fight by Dominic Tierney (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Non Fiction
A look at the way Americans approach and pursue two basic types of warfare (or military intervention): interstate war and nation building. I learned some interesting and fascinating things about some of the wars we have fought and had quite a few aha moments regarding how we have fought them. Very readable.

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo (4 out of 5 stars) Junior Fantasy
After the discover of his "magically" abilities, Charlie Bone is sent off to a boarding school run by some pretty evil figures where he and his new friends must figure out the mystery of the baby who was traded. Lots of similarities to Harry Potter but still original enough to be quite enjoyable.

Holes by Louis Sachar (4 out of 5 stars) Junior Fiction
Stanley, sent to a correctional facility in the Texas desert when he is wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes, gains a friend, learns a bit about who he is, and overcomes the curse of his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" in this fantastic and fantastical Newbery Award winner. Loved it!

The Girls by Lori Lansens (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
A fictional account of twin girls joined at the head written as if it is an autobiography. Both heartbreaking and joyful, this book is gripping.

The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater (4 out of 5 stars) Junior Fantasy
While moving with his family from Chicago to Los Angeles, Neddie is given an Indian turtle artifact that is supposed to help the owner of the artifact save the world--if only he knew how it is supposed to work. Completely fun and nutty. A great book to read aloud.

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Nonfiction
I like this book more than four stars but not quite a five (I wasn't always sure about the organization of the book--what was trying to be said overall) but I have also marked it as a favorite and really wish the book I read was mine so I could have marked it up. A collection of Madeleine L'Engles' thoughts collected, I believe, from journals that she kept. Quite insightful, very interesting, and just simply so often lovely. I especially enjoyed her thoughts on ontology, silence, the responsibility of authors to children, and creativity.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
When the king's priest have divined that the prince's bride will come from Mount Eskel--an area largely thought be socially backwards--a Princess Academy is set up to make sure all the girls from the territory will be prepared to meet the prince. Miri, one of the girls selected to attend the academy, must face a cruel headmistress, bitter competition, a torn heart, and then a much more real danger at the academy all while trying to find her place in Mount Eskel and secure the future of her family. So really fun and lovely.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (2 out of 5 stars) Junior Fantasy
Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane set out on a quest to save the world from Chaos and some Egyptian gods. Unfortunately the rather familiar plotline fell rather flat as did the characters whose "voices" were so similar that I had a hard time differentiating between who was supposed to be speaking--an African American teenage and a British teenager should "sound/feel" significantly different don't you think? I also felt like the constant disrespect that the teens showed to every person, demon, god, or thing they met was disturbing and tiresome. And I had a hard time buying the ages that the two characters were supposed to be--they felt much older in the way they acted and what they accomplished.

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (4 out of 5 stars) Junior Historical-Fiction
Based on the true story of Helmuth Hubener, an LDS German schoolboy, and his fight to bring truth to the German people during WWII. Thoughtfully written.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (5 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
Set primarily in Hong Kong during the 1920s this is the story of the beautiful Kitty, her adulterous affair, and the after effects that take her and her husband into the middle of a cholera epidemic. More than that, though, it is about the maturation of Kitty from frivolous, silly girl to at least an attempt at being her own woman who has gained a deeper understanding of what it is to love and be loved. Wonderfully written. A book that begs to be discussed. (I LOVED the movie as well)

Tears of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (3 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
In the second installation of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Precious Ramotswe tackles cases about a missing American and a wandering wife but really with no twists and turns in the mysteries, this book is much less about detecting as it is about the down to earth goodness of Precious. A bit of a warm embrace, this quick read was a really nice read.

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks (2 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
Recently accepted as an apprentice into a powerful artistic house, Melkin Womper and his friends quickly become embroiled in a new world of imagination (talking houses, magical pigments, and mythical monsters), possibility (the ability to enter the worlds depicted by paintings—such a great concept), and danger (bullies—and all the above) as the fight between Rainbow Revolution and the Fifth Mystery escalates. As you would imagine, it is up to this teenage boy to save the world. This is such a great and interesting idea. Sadly, this book fails completely in plot and character development.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker (2 out of 5 stars) Junior Fantasy
Cute premise but a bit on the boring side with dialogue that was truly really, really bad.

The Killer Angels by Micahel Shaara (3 out of 5 stars) Adult Historical Fiction
Despite the excellent writing, I just couldn't find it within myself to more than like this book. I think it just fell to much in between two genres. On the one hand there was a lot of information about tactics that made me wish I was reading a non-fiction book that could discuss the pros and cons and the what-ifs more thorough. On the other hand it was at its heart a historical fiction (a genre I love) but rather than place a fictional character into historical scenes we were given fictional conversations and fiction thoughts assigned by the author to real individuals. It somehow just didn't strike me right.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (4 out of 5 stars) Adult Chick Lit
A bit of mindless fun--although I didn't love the ending which was too quick and unrealistic.

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost (4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Historical Fiction--in verse
I really love books written in verse and in so many ways this one is a stunner--and set in such an important time period for our nation (this would make such an incredible book group read). The one thing that I didn't care for (and really I think there was only one thing) was the idea running in between a few lines that women either "rock the cradle" or "rock the boat;" and that women who choose to rock the cradle are choosing (either by choice or nature) a monotonous life that requires no use one's mind--although there is not an overly strong pushing of this last idea. I think this does an incredible disservice to women of past generations and the women of rising generations who have and will rock both the "cradle" and the "boat." It is not entirely necessary to choose one or the other. A short 3 or so hour read.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman(4 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
I thoroughly enjoyed how this book was told from 4 different perspectives and how reading from these different perspectives slowly unlocked the mysteries of what was really going on--somehow I didn't know to expect a bit of fantasy in this realistic fiction. The writing is very enjoyable and strong (I especially liked the sections written in verse). However, I didn't entirely love any of the characters and it bothered me how long it took Tennyson and Bronte to figure things out completely. Some good ethical questions are brought into the plot, as well, making this book all the more enjoyable.

Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski (2 out of 5 stars) Adult Fiction
Just entirely too much violence (physical and sexual) with too little credibility.

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade (2 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Science Fiction

I think there are many young boys who would really enjoy this book, I however found it to be rather unimaginative and sometimes not terribly well written. I also found it difficult dealing with so much of the worst of humanity with no explanation of motive (of either the goodies or the baddies).

Super Human by Michael Carroll (1 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
It may be that some boys who are really into super heroes would really get into this book (may even get some non-reading teens to pick up a book--which would be fabulous). But as for me, I felt the entire book was entirely unsatisfying. There were obnoxious characters who rather than learning from mistakes (or too-large egos) succeed and get even more obnoxious. There were plot holes and unrealistic happening (as in time lines not matching up). And the ending left far more answers unanswered than answered (I expect this is because there is a sequel coming)

One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days by Rita Gray (4 out of 5 stars) Junior Nonfiction--poetry
Lovely poems and even lovelier illustrations.

Matched by Ally Condie (3 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Science Fiction
With the entire set up of the community coming from the pages of The Giver, I suppose I was destined to like this book. What I didn't care for was the love triangle (do all YA books need love triangles to be popular these days?), the lack of any real action/movement--the story line occasionally came across as dull, and the fact that it is a trilogy (I'm beginning to love stand-alone books all the more because authors are able to give me a complete story in one book rather than dragging it out over years and years). It was a strong, fun book to read and it has left me intrigued enough to be looking for the next installation--probably.

Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson (5 out of 5 stars) Picture Book
So Cute!

More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Utah Women by Christy Karras (1 out of 5 stars) Adult Nonfiction
I felt like I was reading poorly written high school essays that had been lifted almost directly from an encyclopedia. The essays were nearly nothing but a list of accomplishments (sometimes out of order) with no real emotion. I wanted so much more about the feelings and thoughts of these women. It also felt poorly researched--little depth--and that many of these women weren't all that remarkable. I wouldn't have finished the book except we are reading it for book group and it is so short.

Middleworld by Jon Voelkel (2 out of 5 stars) Young Adult Fantasy
No Young Adult book should take me almost 2 weeks to read. I found this one obnoxious (mostly Max) and predictable.