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Friday, August 29, 2014

I hated this book: Gone with the Wind

You guys I finally finished Gone with the Wind! Phew. I'm so glad that's over.

Gone with the Wind cover
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This image is not a fair representation
of what lies inside.  
It was very well written, highly informative, and fascinating. But despite its literary merit I will here assert the validity of my own emotional response, and say . . . I hated it.

I couldn't relate to Scarlett very well. I don't think you're really supposed to relate to her, but that's not the point. The point is the whole book is about her crazy, stressful life and how she overcomes hardship and tragedies of all kinds. That sounds great, but ugh it just was not great for me! I was totally stressed out reading this book. Especially when she first returns to Tara. I put the book down to do dishes. I saw the crusted rice on the bottom of my rice cooker and thought, "That's perfectly good rice! We should just soak it again and eat it. It will save us from starvation!" Rinsed rice down sink. Felt horrible about it.

Anyway, it's easy to see why this book is a classic -- why it has endured the test of time so well. I learned quite a bit about the Civil War and race relations in the South at that time, and it was enjoyable to do so. :) But, yeah. I hate Scarlett. I've decided that it must be because I'm like India Wilkes (at least when it comes to how I feel about Scarlett). Also hated Ashley. Rhett's alright. Melanie just keeps getting more awesome, throughout.

I know for sure that part of my problem was the sheer length of this book. I borrowed a copy from my friend Katie and couldn't even bring myself to begin reading it until I downloaded a free sample of the e-book. I got into the book and interested in it and then I could stand to heft it. (Let me toss in a couple affiliate links to the e-book, in case you want to go that route. Here's one: Gone with the Wind. Here's two: Gone with the Wind.)

Have you read it? Did you enjoy it? I really must know WHY you love it, if you do. Many friends have told me they love it, and now I want to hear ALL about how you overcame all your chances to hate Scarlett and liked this book. Ready? Go!

Me and Scarlett, showing our disdain at #DBF2014
p.s. Yes, I saw the movie once, many years ago. Don't remember much from it, but I can still say the book was better than the movie.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've been told I must read

top ten tuesday everead books
Apparently Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by the bloggers at The Broke and The Bookish. I thought I would give it a try! This week's prompt is to name the . . .

"Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You Must Read"

1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson -- My husband, Jacob, tells me often that I need to read this, the second installment in the Stormlight Archive. I liked the first book, this is Jacob's favorite series, and I want to read it. It's just soooo looong. I'll get over it and read the book soon.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer -- Heard so many good things about this one online that I told my sister she should read it. She did and loved it. When I was at her place (during the family reunion) she lent me the book. But then my mom stole it and read it and my other sisters did, too. But that's ok; I'm all about sharing the love.

3. Blackmoore: a proper romance by Julianne Donaldson -- Ashley recommended this one here on Everead not long ago. And she was about the 20th person I had heard say that they loved it and it was Soo Good. So, yeah. It's a good, clean, period romance! It's gonna be great.

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio - I actually heard so much good about this book that I bought it for my friend Rachel for her birthday. She loved it and told me I have to read it for sure. I think she's right because I'm still hearing about how good and moving this book is.

5. Boenhoeffer: pastor, martyr, prophet, spy by Eric Mataxas -- My friend Ashlee was just gushing about this one. To be fair, I don't remember if she actually indicted me to read it. But the point got across. I have actually started this one, in fact! But it is flying in a holding pattern while I read Gone With The Wind for book club next month.

6. Mindset: the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck -- Lindsay keeps mentioning the awesomeness of this book and recommending it to everyone. It seems like the kind of psychology book I would love. Lindsay also introduced me to Gretchen Rubin, whose happiness books I have read and loved.

7. Taking charge of your fertility by Toni Weschler - My friend Kate has recommended this one to me as an awesome book, even though I don't consider my fertility out of control. Kate's got a great taste for motherhood non-fiction and hasn't steered me wrong in the past. (She gave me Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding at the perfect moment.) She said this one is just all-around good education for women about the reproductive system.

8. Maus by Art Spiegelman -- Guys. I have to read this book! Marie told me so, and Ashley, and I don't even know how many other people. But most importantly, my own conscience. I mean, how can you claim to love graphic novels and not have read the one graphic novel that everyone else has read? Well. I can and I do, but I also intend to fill this gap in my education.

9.Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge - Aislin (who has impeccable taste and an incorrigible reading habit) told me to read this book ages ago and Amy seconded the recommendation. I will do it someday! Don't remember anything about what the book is supposed to be about, now.

10. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - See above about Aislin's recommendation. And this one also won a Pulizer prize?! So.. it's probably a good book.

Okay, so here is your chance to tell me what YOU think I must read! I am very interested in this. (And I know there is a picture book about sheep that Ashley told me I must read, but I can't think of the name of it now!) So. Fill me in. What is missing from this list?
p.s. If this is your first time at Everead, you are specially invited to my About page! Post yer comment and then I'll meet ya there (so to speak).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Books for a 13 year old boy: 10 exciting titles to keep him reading

The guest of honor
This morning my friend Trish asked me for book recommendations for her 13-year-old son. I love this age! It has happened to me more than once that someone will ask what I've read lately, I'll respond, gushing about a book, and then they'll nod and say, "My son likes that one."

Middle grade books are so great!  I'm really proud of myself for keeping this list to ten titles, because I feel like I could go on forever.

You can probably find most of these in your local library. I own several of them, if you want to borrow. ;) But if you want to buy through my affiliate links I earn a small commission. Click the titles if you want to shop through Amazon; click the pictures if you want to shop Barnes and Noble.

Trish said her son likes Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, Daniel X, and the Legend series by Mary Lu, among others. He "says he likes anything . . . [but] I feel like he's difficult to please. He likes books to be quick paced and exciting."

Well here you go! 10 exciting titles to keep him reading. 

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

leviathan westerfeld books for 13 yr old
Awesome steampunk series set in WWI. Great characters, great inventions, great pace and suspense. My full review is here, and Ashley's is here

Cold Cereal (The Cold Cereal Saga) by Adam Rex

cold cereal rex books for 13 yr old
The premise here is that the cold cereal company really is adding "magic in every bite" -- and that comes with some negative side effects and nefarious motives. I read and loved the first one; Jacob has finished the whole trilogy.

The Complete Alcatraz by Brandon Sanderson

alcatraz sanderson books for 13 yr old

Alcatraz Smedry has gotta save the world. Thankfully he's got some of the Smedry talent -- like the ability to always be late, the ability to break everything . . . this could get crazy. You might find this one as Alcatraz Vs. The Evil Librarians in the local library. That's the one I've got on my shelf. Butif you want the later volumes of the story, they've only been published as part of the compilation. 
charlotte doyle avi books for 13 yr old
This one is a Newbery Honor and all around awesome historical adventure.Headed home from finishing school Charlotte ends up making the trans-atlantic journey alone with a crew of mutinous sailors and the formidable Captain Jaggery. It is the favorite book of my cousin Andrew

Wildfire Run  by Dee Garretson

wildfire run garretson books for 13 yr old
I love recommending this book. It is short, well written, and totally gripping. Our young protagonists are caught by the forces of nature. He is the son of the President of the United States, and she has a kitten to look out for that plays in to the story.

skull rock aronson books for 13 yr old
This one is non-fiction, just to mix things up a little. ;) It is an amazing story featuring a boy and his dad finding a crazy-old skull.  I read this book, re-read the best parts, and then I literally telephoned people and told them they had to read it. The book is loaded with color photographs, which I couldn't transfer over the phone.

crogan schweizer books for 13 yr old
Pirates! This is a series of graphic novels with an interesting style. The premise is that a dad is telling his sons the story of one of their ancestors -- and we get everything from pirates to patriots. Crogan's Vengeance is the first book and I don't see it on Amazon.

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel

bad island tennapel books for 13 yr old
Another graphic novel I love. (I also like TenNapel's Ghostopolis.) This is all I'm gonna say: Family vacation gone wrong.

astronaut academy roman books 13 yr old

This one is just silly. I love it! The premise is that Hakata Soy is headed to boarding school . . . in space. My full review here. The sequel is good, too.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

smekday rex books for 13 yr old

I've lost count of how many times I've recommended this book (both on this blog and in person). I definitely put it in my list for 14 year old boys.  So crazy, so funny, so Boov. The premise is that aliens took over earth. That was horrible! Until other aliens took it over from them and we realized the first aliens were pretty darn awesome, actually.

Now tell me friends, what books should we add to this list?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stanley the Builder

A while back I participated in the Instagram challenge for Armchair BEA. (Thanks Jenni for turning me on to it.)
I had a lot of fun, and even won two books!

What is your #currentbookmark ?
Benjamin's was a 3x5 card
with the word "bookmark"written on it. 
We won Stanley the Builder and Stanley's Garage from Peachtree Publishers. They are based in Atlanta, so that's awesome. The books arrived; let me tell you what you don't see in this cover image. The book covers are puffy. Just a little bit of dimension is added to them with some padding, and it is one of those details that makes a book stand out. Literally.

The boys liked Stanley the Builder the best, so I asked them what their favorite parts of the book were.

Stanley the Builder
by William Bee

Benjamin said his favorite part was "orange juice" (Stanley enjoys some refreshment, on the job). Levi said his favorite part was "putting the windows in the house." I don't think he had ever thought about that detail of home building before. Relatedly, my favorite aspect of the book was that it went through all the steps of building a house, not just the ones you typically think of. (Ok, I guess not ALL, but more than usual!)

Bold lines, simple patterns, fun details. We loved the books. I guessed the reading level on these to be about at a "Level 2," appropriate for first graders. According to the publishers I was right, it's Fountas & Pinnell Grade: 1. (Unfortunately when I suggested that Benjamin help me read it the second time around he started whining. So he lost the privilege of re-reading the books with me and Levi. Don't worry, I caught him looking at them again another day.)

Let me give you my affiliate links, in case you want to buy a copy for a kiddo you love. If you use these links to make a purchase, I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting me as I support books!
Stanley the Builder (at B&N)
Stanley the Builder (at Amazon)

Levi doesn't ever let me put a bookmark in this one!
(Part of the Knuffle Bunny series)
p.s. My instagram is @everead, of course, if you care to follow along.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Story from Grandma - One way to keep 13 kids seated and happy

On our recent vacation I saw a fun example of storytelling. I had been looking forward to hearing more bedtime stories from grandpa at the Stewart family reunion, but that didn't work out this time around. He did tell the kids a good long story in the daytime, though, I'm happy to say.

At the reunion there were a baker's dozen cousins and most of them were under 6 (see photographic evidence below).  We had an evening up the canyon and had some songs from grandpa, an awesome family tree activity, and a cook out. The event that stole my heart, though, was a quick story that grandma told the kids while Uncle Jonathan got something out of the car.

Story Club entertain kids with a long joke

Grandpa announced to this crew, "Ok kids, Grandma's got a surprise for you!" .

"No, I'm not ready yet." Grandma said. Then she whispered with Uncle Jonathan and sent him to get something.

"Ok kids, everybody come sit down. While we wait I will tell you a story..."

She told the story, a long joke really, about a wide mouthed frog. It was great, with the physical element. I loved the story and the kids did too. After that, Levi was playing around talking like a wide mouth frog.

The killer thing is, I can't even remember what the "surprise" was that came afterwards. Haha!

Have you heard the joke before? If you had to entertain this crew for a few minutes, what would you try?

After you comment, visit (or re-visit) another post about storytelling, and more info about Story Club (the e-book I'm working on).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Perfect Pick for a Mothers' Book Club -- Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent

Baby Catcher Peggy Vincent Mothers Book Club
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
Amazon affiliate link

This was an absorbing and awesome book. In it, Peggy Vincent remembers her career as a nurse and then as a midwife, catching babies. A new birth story unfolds in every chapter and they seamlessly incorporate the context of Peggy's life and career. She includes the birth stories of her own children.

It was just so awesome and inspiring to read all these birth stories. I would say it was a good ratio of scary/sad/tense stories to just plain awesome ones. Now, that said I still don't recommend reading it while you're pregnant. I mean, I wouldn't! I can't stand to read about pregnancy and labor while I'm down in it. If you're pregnant I recommend these books.

Anyway, this book made me laugh. It made me sad without making me cry. And it was so unbelievable that I had to read bits out loud to Jacob, like, "Listen to this!"  Baby Catcher was really un-put-down-able. It's like, "Hang on,  somebody is about get born . . ." every chapter. Haha!

I picked it up because Anya chose it for book club -- I'm looking forward to our discussion on Thursday. I expect we'll all talk about the most memorable stories, about Peggy Vincent's career path, and about our own experiences with birth. It should be awesome.

And here is the question I know you are asking yourself: "Is this book going to force a childbirth message down my throat?" The answer is no. Most of the stories are about home births in the Berkeley, CA area from the early 80's to the 90's. But Peggy doesn't push the message that one way to give birth is the best. Her message is "All birth is normal until proven otherwise."

The birth stories in this book are so interesting. And Peggy's own story is fascinating as well. I definitely recommend Baby Catcher. 
*Couldn't seem to find this one on Barnes and Noble, so I've just got an Amazon affiliate link for you today. If you buy it, I hope you like it just as much as I did! (If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking through one of my affiliate links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

Just had to add:
Baby Catcher Peggy Vincent Mothers Book Club
A freshly caught baby

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Post by Ashley

I've taken "a light summer read" to new levels this past month. About a year ago, I stumbled across this series of books grouped under the category of "A Proper Romance," meaning, the book is a romance, but it's full of proper, chaste, upright behavior. And I have to say, I've loved them. Some are forgettable, some are memorable, all of them are page-turning "I cannot make dinner because I have to finish reading this story!" kinds of books.

The Proper Romance books are Edenbrooke and Blackmoore, written by Julianne Donaldson (both stand-alone novels) as well as Longing for Home and its sequel Hope Springs by Sarah M. Eden. I have read all but Hope Springs, which I'm pretty eager to get my hands on. And the problem with reading a couple good books by an author is that you then feel compelled to read all the books that author's written. So add to that list Seeking Persephone, Courting Miss Lancaster, and The Kiss of a Stranger, also by Sarah M. Eden.

They have all been very fun books. Seriously fun. I highly recommend them all if you, like me, adore a good love story minus the steam and clothing removal. A love story like Jane Austen used to write. Not that the characters in these books really compare to the complexity of a good Jane Austen, but ya know. They're just good, addictive fun.

*Note from Alysa: The above images are affiliate links to Barnes and Noble. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission. I've heard such good things about the Proper Romance books! I think I'd like to start with Edenbrooke -- I seem to remember it coming out first. Here is an affiliate link to Amazon, in case you prefer to shop there. ;)
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