Tuesday, March 19, 2013

From the Bookshelves...

Family Audiobook
We have been listening to The Black Cauldron (Book 2 in the Chronicles of Prydain) and just finished the book. I know there are mixed reviews for this series, but so far I am a fan.  The narrator does an amazing job with the different characters and voices - he really brings them to life, and given the sheer number of characters that is quite a talent!  Once that finished we continued on with our Cahill love affair - currently on Book Four of the 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers series, Shatterproof.   I really enjoy this series on audio as well.  Sometimes my mind wanders, but for the most part I'm just as disappointed as the kids when we have to turn the story off and exit the minivan. 

Dad's nightstand
My husband is very slowly making his way through The Game of Thrones series (which is actually not the correct title - the series is actually called A Song of Fire and Ice).  He is currently a fair way into book two, A Clash of Kings.  I've read the entire series and am totally hooked. However, I woudl like to warn would-be readers that "the end" of the series is not the end - there are at least two more books that are yet to be written. However, given the author's age and the length of time it's taken him to write the first set, many fan sites caution that we may never know the end of this story as he envisions it... which is extremely frustrating!  So reader beware.

Mom's arsenal
I have two books to share ...  The first is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  I'm almost done with this novel and while I like it, I also don't like it.  I don't know exactly what that means but that is how I feel about the book.  Usually I can pinpoint my feelings, but with this book the best I can describe my reaction is "torn."  It is for a book discussion so I'm hoping it at least means it will make for an excellent discussion book.  The novel moves back in forth in time, through different perspectives, different locations, and very different writing styles.  I am also (re)reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, which is book one in the His Dark Assassins trilogy, and also a YA book.  I read it while back and am refreshing my memory for an upcoming book discussion at the library.  I really enjoyed this book the first time around and am still enjoying it the second.  I would recommend it for older teens (not middle school) as I think they will appreciate the storyline far more than younger children might. 

My oldest daughter reads many, many books.  One of the novels she is currently working through is Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.  We are using this book as our inspiration historical fiction novel in our writing co-op. My daughter loves this book. I loved this book. All of the girls in the group love this book.  The novel takes place during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, and in addition to being a well-written novel with much to offer by way of literature, the book provides historical information and "jumping off" points for further investigation.  I believe it would be an excellent addition to a History-English program. 

To tie into our history lessons on The West, my daughter is reading Caddie Woodlawn by C.R. Brink.  This story is such a great tale for girls - the main character, Caddie, does not fit into the stereotypical "girl" role (though in my opinion she does fit into the rather stereotypical "rough'n'tumble Western gal"  mold) and challenges traditions left and right.  Best of all, the book is based on the real-life stories from the author's grandmother. My daughter is enjoying the novel immensely, and I would recommend it to any girl (or boy!) from grade 4+. 

My third daughter is also studying The West, and she is reading Little House on the Prairie.  This is not the first time she's read the book, but she is a bit older this time around (I believe she was 6 or 7 the last time we read it) and she is getting far more out of it this go-around.  There's not much I can about Little House that hasn't already been said - a true classic.  Her older sister re-read it last week, and next week the girls will both be creating reports and presentations about life in The West using example from Little House to tie into literature.  This series has so much to offer homeschoolers - it's easy to find resources to use the books for every possible subject. 

Last but not least, my youngest is reading Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary.  This is a funny, engaging read - perfect for younger readers.  This book tells the tale of a contrary third-grader who refuses to learn cursive writing when the rest of her class does.  Her resolve is tested when she must carry notes (all in cursive!) and she worries some may be about her... This book is an excellent choice when you want to fit in a unit that includes reading the novel and completing a book project or book report all in the same week. 

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