Posted in Book Reviews

First Five Books of 2016

“It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor,” said Miss Matty softly, as we settled ourselves in the counting-house. “I only hope it is not improper; so many pleasant things are!”

-Cranford

This first post beginning the discussion of the books I read in 2016 is long overdue, but here I am at last! I just now decided that I’m going to do something different this year by starting each of these posts with a quote from my favorite of the five books I read in the current post, so…enjoy!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

  1. Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George – My mom, sisters and I listened to this series on audiobook together. This is the third book in the series and I believe a fourth was published recently. It is an enjoyable series with sassy characters and interesting plot twists, but I’ll admit that I remember little of the content a few months after listening. In conclusion, I have enjoyed listening to these books, but I’m in no hurry to read them again.
  2. * Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – THIS. BOOK. I am a total sucker for the classics, so if you don’t read “the old-fashioned books” then you will not understand my love for this novel. Needless to say, Elizabeth Gaskell is by far one of my top favorite authors and this book of hers does not disappoint. Cranford focuses on a small town, the majority of which are older women who are either single or widowed. The result are many shenanigans, misunderstandings and scandals–basically, I was laughing out loud pretty often–but at the end of the day, I was also tearing up at the tender hearts these women had when faced with the everyday trials of their time. Gaskell does such a beautiful job of creating both hilarious and witty conversations and moving descriptions of a character’s death. I am already itching to read it again (and I don’t often re-read books).
  3. * The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – We read this together for school (back when I was homeschooled 😉 ) and it was my little brother’s first time hearing the story. This series is a must-read for anyone who claims to love reading good literature. I enjoyed reading this book for the second time and recalling the differences between the book and the movie. To me, the Pevensie children will always be those brothers and sisters I grew up with…even though I never met them.
  4. Not a Nickel to Spare by Perry Nodelman – This is a Dear Canada book about a Jewish girl living in Ontario during the Great Depression. Growing up, I hadn’t realized how badly the Great Depression hit Canada along with the United States. But an even more devastating discovery was the discrimination some Canadians held against Jews. Certain places specifically banned Jews from entering–including a beach!–and there were gangs that gathered to threaten and hurt any Jews they came across. It was a fragile time between the world wars when people were unsure just how worse life would get before it got better. I really enjoyed learning more about this time period while reading this book.
  5. Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements – My family loves listening to books by Andrew Clements in the car. While none of his works can ever beat Frindle, Janitor’s Boy was still a funny and heart-warming story about a boy embarrassed about his dad’s job. Until he realizes just how hard his dad works and how unappreciated he is. One of my (many) pet peeves is children being unnecessarily embarrassed by their parents, but this book held the most perfect response to such behavior. In the end, the janitor’s boy told his class that he wants to be a janitor when he grows up–just like his dad.

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Advertisements
Posted in The Ponderings of Life

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today I published my first blog post on For a Thousand Words.

In one year I have written 30 blog posts exactly (not including this one) and I have 30+ e-mail/Wordpress.com followers. It has been one fun year filled with accomplishments and failures, hard work and rewards! I enjoy blogging more than I thought I would, but even more, I found a lot more to say than I ever thought I would. Over the past six months I have not posted as often as I would have liked, though, so I will try and do better this semester.

To celebrate my blog’s anniversary, I’m going to give you a brief variety of information.

First, I would like to give you an update on my reading and writing. I just finished book #16 of 40 and I have four library books to work on, so I hope to catch up on my reading soon! As for writing, it’s a bit of a longer story. To start off, I recently gave myself a sort of scheduled plan for the next few months. I have a lot of different projects in the works, so I wanted to organize and prioritize. For the month of August, my goal is to finish going through The Whistler Daughters once and then send it my excellent editor, Aunt Andrea. I only have three chapters left, so I think that goal will be completed in time! For the month of September, I want to finish re-reading what I’ve already written for Bridget’s Journey the Sequel (my NaNo 2015 novel) and finish writing it. Even though I would love to finish this in a month, I honestly don’t know how long it will take me. I’m only halfway through the sequel, so there is still a lot of story left to figure out and write before it is finished. But as long as I stay focused, I should have it done in time for NaNoWriMo in November. Assuming I finish writing the sequel in September, I want to outline my NaNo novel during the month of October. Then, I would be able to start writing it during November. I’ll keep you updated on how it all goes!

Second, I have some great news! Bridget’s Journey is FREE once again on Kindle this weekend ONLY! Today, tomorrow and Sunday it’s available to download on your Kindle or Kindle app for free, so go get it and tell your friends! 🙂

Bridget's Journey Free on Kindle.jpg

Third, I would like to finish this anniversary post with a few of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite authors. Enjoy!

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. ~Jane Austen

I’ll not listen to reason… reason always means what someone else has got to say. ~Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

The thing is, if in your life, you never got any bad news, never got weary, never got the wind knocked out of you, well, there would be nothing left in this world to move you. And there would be no reason at all to well up in a teary smile and hold on tight to everything you love. I know now that that’s the whole point. That’s the whole point to everything. -Beth Seidel Levine

Posted in Book Reviews

Fifth Five Books of 2015

Hello, readers!

I recently finished reading book 15 of the 40 I want to read this year. I don’t have much left of summer to catch up, so I might have to adjust my goal back down to 30 again. Only time will tell!

Here are books 21-25 that I read from July to September in 2015. To read about the other books I read in 2015, you can check out books 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-15 here and 16-20 here. After this one, there will be only ONE more blog post left before I’ve told you about all the books I read in 2015! Then I will be able to start telling you about what I read in 2016. 🙂

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

21. The Great Railroad Race by Kristiana Gregory – Part of the Dear America series, this book took place during the 1860s when the government hired workers to join both sides of the railroad to make one long railroad running across the United States. This was an educating and entertaining story with a twist I’ve never seen done before. I’m not saying that plot twists don’t usually surprise me, because most of the time they do, but this was a different kind of twist that changed the dynamic of the main character’s relationship with someone else. Overall, a very fun read.

22. * When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine – This book along with Willow Run was one of my favorite books that I read last year, so it really deserves two stars next to it! World War 1 is my favorite time period, so I always love any book I can get my hands on  that takes place during that time in history. This book is also part of the Dear America series and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I cared more for these characters than I had for any character in a Dear America book for a while. It was also different than your typical Dear America novel because the main character was 17 instead of the typical 12-14 age range. Being older myself, it was a nice change. I liked–no, loved!–this book so much, I wrote a review for it on Amazon. You can read it below:

I Will Read This One Again and Again

I am very fascinated with all things World War 1 right now and am hoping to write a novel of my own in this time period someday. Recently, I decided to find all Dear America books on this subject and read them for fun and for inspiration. This book did not disappoint in the least! I learned so many new things about World War 1 and what life was like in New England during the war. I learned about “hello girls” and how they played a major part in the victories on the Western Front. Simone Spencer was a delightful character who grew and learned at the same rate as me. Because I am French-Canadian myself, I loved all the French aspects thrown into this story.
Thank you, Mrs. Levine, for giving us this beautiful peek into the past!

23. A Country of Our Own by Karleen Bradford – This is a Dear Canada I bought for myself while visiting Montreal last summer and was the first brand new book in the series I had bought in Canada instead of getting used on Amazon. It’s about how Canada became an independent country from Great Britain (though still a British Commonwealth) in 1867. It was an interesting and fun read as well, giving a peek into what it was like when Ottawa became the country’s capital instead of the expected Montreal or Quebec City.

24. * Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington – We read this one for school with Mom. It’s an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life. When we started, we thought for some reason we were reading about George Washington Carver, the peanut guy, so we kept waiting for Booker T. Washington to talk about peanuts. 😉 Well, let’s just say he never talked about peanuts. But he did talk about slavery. Not only was Booker T. Washington freed after the end of the Civil War, but he went back home after going to college and educated the children from his hometown. He taught black people all over the United States throughout his life that just because they were now freed from slavery, didn’t mean they could right away have all the privileges the white people had. They first needed to educate themselves as they should have been years before in order to reach their full potential and gain respect. A quote from the book that accurately portrays the story’s theme is below:

“It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.” -Booker T. Washington

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an African American’s perspective of what life was like after the Civil War and what his people need to do to mend the warped view white people had of black people in America.

25. Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff – Another of Patricia Reilly Giff’s books that takes place in World War II. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Lily’s Crossing and Willow Run, so I didn’t write a review for it on Amazon. Though there wasn’t much to the story line, I always enjoy a good historical. There was a little bit of the ghost element, which was okay, but maybe could have played a bigger part in the plot itself. One of my main problems with it was that it ended too fast. I know I have a problem in terms of over describing in my books, but the last two or three chapters, the part of the book we’d been waiting 200 pages for, happened perfectly, but way too fast. I wanted to delve more into her thought process, her emotions as one event happened after the other, but the pacing was so fast, we didn’t have enough time to analyze each situation. So, that was too bad.

 

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in Book Reviews

First Five Books of 2015

My goal this year, or New Year’s Resolution you could say, is to read 40 books in 2015. Last year, my goal was 30 books and I finished Emma by Jane Austen December 31st, right before the end of 2014! My hope is to build my way up and finish 50 books in 2016. I was 7 books short of 50 in 2013 and hope not to fall so sadly short this time around! So far I have read 23 books this year. That means I have to read 16 books in 4 months, before 2015 ends!! It will be hard, but I know I can do it!

Since I am reading so much, I thought I might give you the list of books I’ve read and what I thought of each of them. Here are the first five I finished in January-March:

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

  1. * The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This is a book that a friend gave to me for my birthday last year. She wanted me to read it because it was one of her favorites. I’ll just start by saying it was a looong book, BUT–it was well worth it! I love historical fiction and the World War II era fascinates me and to read about a girl who loves books just as much as I do, if not more? What more could I ask for? This book gave me a completely different perspective on Nazi Germany. Not all the Germans were as bad as Hitler and the Nazis. Many were victims just as much as the British, French, Austrians, etc., around Europe were. This book also showed me what everyday life was like in Nazi Germany. Growing up with Liesel, the main character, was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, there was one detriment to this book. It had a lot of language. It bothered me a lot and would have prevented me from finishing it if it hadn’t been recommended so highly (and I’m very glad I did finish it!). Although it was at times hard to stand, the language fit the setting around it, considering they led some pretty awful lives. Not that that is an excuse, but I suppose they did say a lot of bad words back then (as they do now :\).
  2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – This book I read for school. I loved the first chapter…but I didn’t love it so much after that. His poetical way of writing was beautiful and inspiring, but the overall story was not very…happy. In fact, it’s a rather depressing book. I did, however, enjoy discovering the character of Hester Prynne’s little girl, Pearl, a lot. The book somewhat portrays her as a devil-child since she was born out of wedlock, but we readers know the truth. She’s just a stubborn, selfish toddler. Having watched Jonathan grow up, I know what toddlers are like and how children at her age think. She’s no more “devilish” than any other stubborn child, really. However, she was really clever and perceptive for her age and loved her mother (in her own way) very much, which intrigued me.
  3. * The Death of My Country by Maxine Trottier (part of the Dear Canada series) – This book is about the French and Indian War, particularly when the British take over Quebec City in the mid-1700s. Having been born in Quebec myself (and because the French and Indian War has always fascinated me), I loved learning more about my province and its history. It was interesting to see how the British took over the French’s city and started turning Canada into the mostly English country it is today. At one point, the main character writes in her diary that Quebec is no longer French, but English now that the British have invaded. In a way, she was right, but in another way, she was wrong. Quebec today is still very much French, but the rest of Canada is very much English.
  4. Look to the Hills by Patricia C. McKissak (part of the Dear America series) – This book is about a black girl who is a companion to a French girl who sails across the Atlantic and moves to Niagara in search for her missing brother. In this book, the main character discovers that no matter how close she and her mistress are and how kind she is to her, she will never really be independent and free while she is her companion. This book showed a different perspective on slaves while still emphasizing the need for their freedom.
  5. Mandie and the Medicine Man by Lois Gladys Leppard (part of the Mandie mystery series) – I love the Mandie series and this was another great mystery with Mandie and her friends, both white and Cherokee, searching for the group of people tearing down their new hospital.

Well, that’s all for now!

* (Books that I absolutely recommend to anyone have a * next to them!)