Above – Roland Smith

As a mom I have been quite successful at sharing a love of reading with  my children. This success has also given me one of my greatest challenges: finding books for my teenage son to read. This young man loves to read, reads often, and unfortunately for me, he reads fast. When I found Beneath by Roland Smith, well it kept my son in reading material for an afternoon. However, there was to be a sequel to Beneath and, as only I can do, I completely and absolutely forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my library had a copy!

Above immediately jumps back into the action with the lives of two brothers: Coop and Pat. The brothers escaped from an underground cult and turned the information over to  the FBI. Now, Coop and Pat are on the run from the cult leaders. They are joined by Katie, granddaughter of the cult leader, who has spent her entire life beneath. Can these three stay together and stay safe? Will LOD succeed in his plan for a new life with his underground cult?

I will confess that I read Above before it made the rounds with my older kiddos. While the relationship between sons and parents is disappointing, it is one of the reasons why Coop and Pat are such great brothers. No matter what life throws in their path, they have each others back. I love their relationship. Some of their conversations and interactions make me smile and chuckle.

Above provides an enjoyable action and adventure read. While there is conflict and violence, it isn’t overdone.  Even with a male and female interest/relationship, there was no inappropriate content or language. Our library had this shelved in the Young Adult section, but I am unsure why. My eleven year  old daughter even read this with no issues.

I definitely recommend Above if you are looking for books for boys. My girls (11 and up) would recommend it as well. Make sure you read Beneath first!!

Read Alouds – January 2017

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A couple of days  ago, I shared what I had been reading. Naturally, I have been sharing wonderful books with my kiddos, too! Although not as much as I would like.

We have three “groupings” of read alouds currently: Picture Books for my young ones, Chapter Read Aloud for the Younger Half, and Family Read Aloud. Trust me; my big kiddos still gather round for the picture books or snatch them later.

Picture Books

Bear Counts – Several months ago I read Bear Colors. My two year old loved it.  Loved it. So when I saw Bear Counts at the library I grabbed it for him. Yes, he loved this one, too.. I’m not sure if it is the colorful illustrations, the cuddly bear, or the rhyming text but he enjoys it. Fun, colorful, and cute.

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep (Caroline Nastro) – Bear just can’t get to sleep! He decides to take a walk and enjoys the sights of the big city. Will bear ever be ready to snuggle up for the winter? Hibernation and New York City are clearly focal points here. It was not a favorite selection. We read it once and that seemed enough for the kiddos.

A Greyhound, A  Groundhog (Emily Jenkins) – This is a tongue twister book and I have a kiddo who loves them so I just had to request it. Well, I also like groundhogs so this had to be a win, right? Simple text partnered with simple illustrations made for a fun read. The animals are just cute! When I read it aloud my children were eager to see me get a bit tongue tied. While I didn’t get tongue tied we did enjoy this. As my nine year old pointed out “it would be a better tongue twister if you didn’t have pages to turn”. She is correct. Having to turn the pages after just a few words made this an easy one to read. However, you could easily use the book to memorize the tongue twister and then practice saying it quickly. Perfect!  Fun memory work!

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event (Rebecca Bond)-  This book made it home based purely on its cover. A hotel on the edge of a lake was a temporary home to a variety of personalities in the year 1914. The author’s grandfather was five and enjoyed the excitement such an assortment of people brought through the doors. Bond paints a vivid picture with her words of what life was like for Antonio at his hotel. That picture is enhanced with detailed pen and ink illustrations. A fire begins in the woods and those in the hotel head to the lake for safety. They soon are joined by the various animals of the woods that are seeking safety as well. This was an excellent book and my children found it very engaging. Highly recommend!

Younger Kid Read Aloud

We are currently reading the The Railway Children ( E Nesbit). We started it some time ago but with holidays and sickness we have made slow progress.  I don’t want my younger ones to miss out on the favorites I read to my older kiddos years ago. So I try to read books such as this during the morning or at lunch. Often my older ones will join us. Makes me heart smile.

Family Read Alouds

We finished up Ember Falls (S. D. Smith) a couple of weeks ago. My family thoroughly enjoyed The Green Ember and were eager for Book Two to be available. It was great to be back with Heather, Picket, Smalls, and my seven year old’s favorite, Helmer. The feel of Ember Falls was a bit heavier but that reflects well the trouble and hardship that is facing  our rabbit friends. As always, I recommend Smith’s books; they are exciting, adventurous stories with great characters. And I do hope that Smith is working on Book Three.

Our current family read aloud is The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau). This is the story of two children, Lina and Doon, who live in the city of Ember. Ember is an underground city built 200 years before by the Builders. Things are not going well in Ember as supplies are running out and no ones seems to care. Lina and Doon work together using  pieces of instructions left by the Builders to find a way to save the people of Ember. We are over halfway through this book and the children are eager to see how this all ends. When we began reading it, I was reminded a bit of The Giver (Lois Lowry). The purpose behind the two communities was different but  there are similarities in the people and their mindset. I am looking forward to a bit of discussion with my older people.

As we head into February, I want to do better are reading to my little ones. I have to purpose to take a moment, slow down from the busyness, and just enjoy a few good book with my young ones. And I need to start looking for the next family read aloud?

Thanks to Amy at Hope is the Word for  letting us join her in the Read Aloud Roundup!

 

What’s On My Nightstand

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Last year I failed at my plans to share about the books I was reading regularly. I  told myself that I would do better in 2017. What’s On Your Nightstand is a great way to hold myself accountable, so I am going to try to participate each month.

What I Read in January:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Katarina Bivald) – This was recommended on my library’s website. I perused a few reviews and saw it compared to 84 Charing Cross Road (which I loved) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (another book  I loved). I had no expectations that this would be a gripping, powerful story. I was looking for a light enjoyable book that used the love of literature as an element of the story.

Unfortunately this was a disappointment. The main character, Sara, was not interesting or engaging. While other characters added some life to the story, you never learn enough about them to pull it all together. I cringed at the depiction of “Christians”. The weak pastor who is lead by the uptight town busybody. There is also much focus on various views of appropriate relationships. This is one selection that I can not recommend. I may need to re-read 84 Charing Cross Road.

The Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly) – It is no secret that I am drawn to stories set during World War II. Naturally, I had to read Lilac Girls. Lilac Girls brings together the lives a New York socialite, a Polish teenager, and a young, female German doctor. The story travels from New York, Poland, France, and the concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

For me. this story lacked a continuity and depth compared to other WWII books I have read. What I found interesting is a fact I realized when I finished the book. The New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person; her name and work for those ladies that suffered in Ravensbrück was new to me. I wonder if she would be pleased with how she was portrayed?

Trouble (Gary D. Schmidt) – Can we go wrong with Mr. Schmidt? I do not think so. Trouble introduces us to Henry Smith. Henry is from a well-established family in Maine. His life is forever changed when his brother, Franklin, is hit by a car.  Henry is driven to hike Mt. Katahdin to try to make sense of what has happened. This is a story of grief, hurt, friendship, sacrifice, prejudice, and love. Henry learns that Trouble can’t be kept away.

My teens and I all enjoyed reading Trouble. Schmidt has a gift at telling a moving story in a subtle way. As always a bit of comic relief is offered up to balance the emotional impact of the story. I also appreciate books that give some great male characters for me teen son to read.

Counting Thyme (Melanie Conklin) – I read a bit about this several months ago and passed over it. Then I saw a review of it at Semicolon and was swayed to give it a go.  Thyme, age 12, I think, has to move across the country so her brother, 5, can have cancer treatment. Thyme struggles with wanting to go back home and knowing her brother needs to be here.

Conklin does an excellent job of showing the various aspects of Thyme’s relationships, struggles, and emotions. The other characters in the story are engaging. I must confess that I wish I had a Ravioli. It is a sweet story of a family that is facing a serious struggle and need each other to stand strong. An excellent middle grade read. There is a bit of young “romance” that is handled appropriately and sweetly. Just noting that for those who prefer books with no romantic leanings.

What will I be reading in February? /So far I have these selected:

  • The Woman in Cabin 10 (started tonight and not sure if I will push through)
  • Above – Roland Smith
  • Gertie’s Leap to Greatness  – Kate Beasley
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers

I have a few more requested but I’m not sure if they will be available in February or not.

What is on your nightstand?
What's On Your Nightstand

(Pop back in  later this week when I’ll share what I have been reading aloud with my children.)

 

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