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Review: Annika Riz, Math Whiz

August 1, 2014

Annika Riz

Annika Riz loves math – it’s her favorite part of the school day.  When her teacher tells her about a city wide sudoku contest being sponsored by the public library, she’s determined to win.  Maybe her friends Izzy and Kelsey will see just how cool math is.  Kelsey and Izzy support her efforts but still don’t get her fascination with math.

Annika’s third grade class is sponsoring a cookie selling booth at the school carnival.  When the cookies they bake turn out disastrous, Annika and her friends decide to make lemonade to sell along with the cookies.  They start out by selling the lemonade for 25¢ a glass but Annika quickly shows them they’re losing money at that price.

Annika Riz, Math Whiz, by Claudia Mills, is the second book in the Franklin School Friends series and it is absolutely delightful!  One of my favorite things about this series is the fact that friends Annika, Izzy, and Kelsey are very different and are always kind to and supportive of each other.

I also love that the book features a female enjoying math!  It shows ways math can be fun – sudoku – and how it can be useful – baking and setting prices.

The Franklin School Friends series is a fun series with some great messages.  Rob Shepperson‘s great illustrations add to the fun! I hope young male readers won’t avoid them because of the female protagonist.   I recommend both Annika Riz, Math Whiz and Kelsey Green, Reading Queen for early readers!

Illustration by Rob Shepperson

Illustration by Rob Shepperson

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Let the Tornado Come

July 31, 2014

Let the Tornado Come

If anyone saw her, they’d think Rita Zoey Chin has a terrific life and she does, now.  Things weren’t always as they are now, though.   The happily married author had a long journey to get where she is today.

Chin’s childhood was rough.  Abused as a child and caught in the middle of her parents’ ugly divorce, she ended up on the streets, prostituting herself and using drugs.  She finally dug herself out of that hole but, even as things appeared good on the outside, she remained broken on the outside.  All that changed when she met Claret – a horse she wouldn’t give up on.

I love memoirs so I was really excited to read Let the Tornado Come by Rita Zoey Chin.  The fact that Chin is a poet is reflected in her gorgeous writing.  The writing sucked me in from the very beginning and Chin’s tragic, heartbreaking story kept me riveted throughout the book, yet I never felt fully immersed in her world.  I liked this book a great deal but would be lying if I said I loved it.

Chin tells her story in the present day with flashbacks to the past.  The present day is written in past tense while her childhood is written in the present tense and that felt a little awkward to me.  I also think the beautiful writing made me feel like I was watching from afar rather than experiencing Chin’s story.  Those two quibbles are minor, though, and didn’t keep me from enjoying this book.  If you like memoirs, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Let the Tornado Come.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 30, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

These week’s words came from Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen.

1. grotty – “We stayed at the edge of the gentrification, though, in the grotty section overrun with strip malls and payday advance shops.”

I love the sound of this word and think I can use it!  Grotty means wretchedly shabby: of poor quality.


2. enjamb – “One slip of paper caught my eye because, unlike the rest, it was dated 1918, and because it was enjambed like a poem.”

Enjambment means the running over of a sentence from one verse or couplet into another so that closely related words fall in different lines.


3. polonaise – “She’d reread all of the Little House books, which she practically knew by heart anyway, all those images of salt pork nestled in baked beans, shanties covered in tar paper, and polonaise dresses poufed out with hoop skirts, and had reconciled herself to the news that the books had been essentially cowritten.”

Polonaise means an elaborate short-sleeved overdress with a fitted waist and a draped cutaway overskirt.  They look pretty uncomfortable to me.




What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: A Bintel Brief

July 29, 2014

A Bintel Brief

A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck is a graphic novel based on an advice column in The Forward, a Yiddish-language newspaper published in New York City.  During the early part of the twentieth century, letters to the advice column were answered by the editor, Adraham Cahan.  The letters were mostly written by new immigrants and topics ranged from marriage to finances to faith to adjusting to their new country.  Finck chose a handful of letters from that time period to adapt and illustrate in her book.

I wasn’t familiar with The Forward or its advice column prior to reading this book so it really didn’t strike a chord with me like I thought it would.  It was a quick read and I did enjoy it but I didn’t love it.  Finck’s illustrations are detailed and lovely but I think color would have enhanced them and the book.

A Bintel Brief interiorWhile I didn’t love the book, I would recommend A Bintel Brief to those interested in that time period or The Forward.

I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Mailbox Monday

July 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday July 28

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   Another week has flown by.  There wasn’t much going on around here last week but that’s okay by me.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox:




Did you find any goodies in your mailbox last week?

At the movies: The Fault in Our Stars

July 25, 2014
tags: ,

The Fault in Our Stars movie

One of my favorite books of 2013 was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  It’s the story of Hazel and Augustus, a couple of teens with cancer who choose to focus on living rather than dying.  They’re brave and face life with a sense of humor and find a way to love amid all their suffering.

When I heard they were making a movie from such a wonderful book, I’ll admit that I was somewhat apprehensive, especially after I saw the casting.  The actors weren’t what I’d pictured as I read the book.  I really called that wrong, though, because Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort were terrific in this movie – they were Hazel and Gus to me before it was all over with – and they had just the right chemistry.

It’s been over a year since I read the book so I don’t remember the small details but can tell you the movie is true to the basic story.  I did notice a few issues with the medical stuff – Hazel says she’s having an MRI while she’s having a CT scan – but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie at all.  I love the story and the characters, particularly Gus – I wish there was a little Gus in everyone.

The Fault in Our Stars has a little humor, a little romance, and a lot of heart.  Even though I knew what was going to happen, I sobbed throughout the movie.  Everyone needs to see this movie – in the theater or at home.  Be sure to have plenty of tissues handy when you do!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review: Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty

July 24, 2014

Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty

When Diane Keaton found herself included on a list entitled Top 10 Female Celebrities Who Are Ugly No Matter What Hollywood Says, it got her thinking about beauty.   She wondered what constitutes beauty and why and she shares her thoughts in Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty.

Keaton starts out by talking about beauty fading during the aging process and meanders for a while, covering topics like her passion for renovating houses, shopping at Victoria’s Secret with her daughter, and paintings of our forefathers.  She writes of celebrities she admires mainly because they’re comfortable in their own skin and dare to push the envelope.  She also writes about her personal style which is rather quirky.

I’ve been a fan of Keaton’s since I saw Annie Hall when I was in college and was thrilled to hear her speak at BEA a few years ago.  She came across as genuine and heartfelt so I was really looking forward to reading Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty.  I’m sorry to say the book was just okay for me.  It did have a few high notes but I found it to be rambling and disjointed.   It felt like she sat down and wrote her thoughts out without tying them together.

I enjoyed Keaton’s narration of the book.  It felt like she was talking to me because she read with humor and emotion.  The audio is on 4CDs and last 5 hours so it’s worth giving a try if you’re curious about it.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

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