Books · Uncategorized

Slowly But Surely…

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The school year is now in full swing and I am ready to get back into my personal reading habits. The first few weeks of school involve a lot of adjustment and resting once I finally get home. As I am beginning to settle into what will be my new routine I feel myself craving to be lost in a good book. Over the summer I was constantly reading. Some weeks I finished two or more books and now it’s been a while since I’ve been able to catch some solid reading time.

This week I’m going to get back into my Book Challenge mode and pick up where I left off. Currently, I’m about one-third of the way through The Crown, the last book in The Selection series by Kiera Cass. This has been one of the first series I’ve EVER finished. I am so bad about reading consecutive books with the same characters so I’m excited to say that probably by the end of the week I will have finished this series. I was able to read this series because I alternated between a book from the series and a book from my challenge. I didn’t read the whole series straight through.

Next on my TBR list is a new in 2016 book: Tru and Nelle by G.Neri. This book is about the real life friendship of Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. I cannot tell you how pumped I am for this book! I was at a professional development session this summer where a librarian book-talked this book and I immediately tracked down a copy for me. I can’t wait to read it and review it for you!

Following those two reads I’m looking at Murder on the Orient Express as my mystery novel for the book challenge. I am in love with Agatha Christie’s books. I don’t mind that her books were written in the 1930’s. In my mind, she is still the Queen of Mystery and I don’t think that will ever change. My favorite mystery book of all time was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I’ve heard that Murder on the Orient Express is just as captivating.

So there is a quick update on my reading life and what I hope to accomplish by the end of September. I need to get back to reading constantly and not let my job interfere with something I love so much.

What books are you hoping to read soon?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

24 Book Challenge: A Book Recommended By a Friend

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This is book #11 from The Ameri Brit Mom 24 Book Challenge in 2016. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, or outside influences.

Title: The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate

Publisher: Harper 

Copyright Date: 2012

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My husband recommended this book to me a few months ago. It is one he plans to read with his fourth grade students this upcoming school year. This was a quick and easy read appropriate for use in the late-elementary classroom. It only took me two days to read through all three hundred pages of this text because I was hooked into the story line and the pace of the book kept my interest.

Ivan is a silver back gorilla. He lives in a cage at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s domain is surrounded by other animals and friends that he communicates with regularly, but he is the only gorilla. Julia’s father works maintenance for the mall and most nights she tags along to his shift with him. As her father works Julia can be found near the animal cages working with paints and sketching. Over time, Ivan builds a relationship with Julia and she even teaches him to finger paint.

One day a new elephant, Ruby, joins the animals at Big Top. At first, Ivan isn’t sure what to think about this small elephant, but because of his strong and patient heart he makes a promise to take care of her.

As a silver back gorilla Ivan is a born leader. It is with his instincts to protect that he devises a plan that enlists Julia and her father. And in his act of love for Ruby he helps her out of a dangerous situation.

The One and Only Ivan is a story of friendship and the bonds formed between an unlikely duo. Ivan will stop at anything to make sure Ruby is safe from the owners of the mall. Even if it costs him all he has.

This was an incredibly cute and endearing tale that should be shared with children of all ages. It was no surprise to me to see that the book had won the Newberry Medal. Every reader needs to periodically return to the stories that caused them to first fall in love with reading. This was one of those books for me.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

24 Book Challenge: The First Book in a Series

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This is book #6 from The Ameri Brit Mom 24 Book Challenge in 2016. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, or outside influences.

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Teen

Copyright Date: 2012

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Picture credit: Goodreads

For the past couple of years The Selection series has been really popular among the ninth grade girls in my English classes. I’ve watched this series turn reluctant female readers into confident ones as they devour the pages quickly and with excitement. Whenever someone prepares to present about this book there is always another student in the room who gasps, “I loved that book!” uncontrollably. As a result of all the love this book gets in my classroom this title has been on my TBR (To-Be-Read) list for a while so I was excited to get it out of the queue.

America Singer lives with her family in the country of Illea. She is from one of the lowest castes in the nation where she is being trained to work as a musician. Over the past several years she has fallen in love with Aspen, a boy of an even lower caste, but they have found ways to kindle their star crossed love without suspicion.

Things are going well for the love birds until news comes out that Prince Maxon will be hosting a selection at the royal palace to seek out a wife. The promise of wealth and power for the family of the chosen wife as well as her mother’s own urging cause America to put her name in the running to represent her province in The Selection. When she is chosen to embark on the adventure to the crown America is torn apart, but she puts her family  before her own desires. Soon after her arrival to the palace it becomes clear that she is a front runner for Prince Maxon’s affection and she pays the price of his feelings with her relationships with the other girls in the contest, her forbidden love for Aspen, and the dangerous rebel attacks on the palace during her stay.

The Selection was a mash up between a couple of popular stories. When trying to explain the plot to my husband I drew multiple comparisons to well known tales/shows such as The Bachelor, The Hunger Games, and the story of Queen Esther from the Bible.

The Bachelor

Some parallels which can be drawn between The Selection and The Bachelor would be that the Prince of Illea has come of age and is need of a bride. Instead of going about the dating process the traditional way Prince Maxon undergoes a live televised program where he will court thirty-five women (one from each of the provinces.) The process will eventually lead to the selection of a wife.

The Hunger Games

The Selection is similar to The Hunger Games in that it is set in futuristic America. China has defeated our country before being invaded and overtaken by the troops of Lord Illea, the namesake of the newly formed nation. There is also a strict caste system in place across the country. And along the lines of the districts in Panem from The Hunger Games, each of the provinces of Illea will have a woman chosen at random to represent their province in the Selection. Much like Katniss Everdeen, America Singer is reluctant to be called upon to represent her home on the televised competition, but discovers that she is a natural and finds herself successful.

Queen Esther

The last comparison I made between the book and a famous story is that of Queen Esther. The process for determining a wife for the eligible Prince Maxon is reflective of the process that Esther took part in to win the heart of King Xerxes. The women are all brought to the palace and treated royally. Each woman is at the beck and call of the young prince and spends her days waiting for the privilege to spend one-on-one time with the heir to the country’s throne. Also, like Queen Esther, America Singer shows that she is not romanced by the wealth and power of the prince and oftentimes breaks the rules of the game by asserting her will without fear of consequence.

This was a very quick read. The author drew me into the plot from page one and didn’t let up until the abrupt ending. This is the first book in a series and so the ending was not clean and tidy. Most of the loose ends were left dangling. The rest of the series includes: The Elite, The One, The Heir, and The Crown (to be relased in May.) It’s clear to me why young adult readers have been flocking to this series. And now that I’m attached to America, Prince Maxon, Lady Marlee, and Aspen I’m looking forward to continuing the series!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Books · Uncategorized

24 Book Challenge: A Book That Was Turned Into a Movie

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This is book #4 from The Ameri Brit Mom 24 Book Challenge in 2016. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, or outside influences.

Title: The Mortal Instruments Book One: The City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Copyright Date: 2007

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This book was read a little out of order. It had been my original goal to read my books in the order in which they appear on the 24 Book Challenge, however, the library took longer than expected to get me my book #3, so I jumped ahead to #4. I’ve already begun reading a book written the year that I was born and I can’t wait to reveal more about the novel to you in the future. But, today the spotlight is on City of Bones.

First of all, this book is endorsed by The Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight Trilogy and other popular books. She is the queen of the supernatural YA novel, and anything with her endorsement stamped on the front cover is worth a second glance.

Second of all, City of Bones is one of those books as a teacher that I’ve seen a lot of. Students tend to put this book on hold in the library and then read it within a week. I’ve also noticed the fandom which has risen from the students who start this engaging series. So many of the kids who get their hands on book one seem to continue through this series or others by the author. It’s been quite the phenomenon so it’s no surprise that this book has been on my TBR list for over a year. Now, with this reading challenge I’m able to really mark some of those titles off my list.

Thirdly, I would say that although my name may not be synonymous with Stephenie Meyer, I would agree wholeheartedly with her endorsement of the book. There is a unique draw to the world of this novel crafted by this author. This is a book that draws you in from the beginning and keeps you hooked all the way through. There is a good balance of action, romance, and detail. I’ve summed it up to others on social media as a cross between the wizarding world of Harry Potter and the magic world parallel to our own of Percy Jackson.

Clary is an average sixteen year old until she isn’t anymore.

While out at a teen night club in New York City she becomes a witness to a murder that the rest of the club is oblivious to. At first, she doesn’t know how to explain the fact that she could see what others could not, but before long she is drawn into a world of Shadowhunters, demons, forsaken, and other out-of-this-world beings.

The next day Clary learns that her mother is missing and that there may be a connection between what she witnessed the night before and the assumed abduction of her mother. Jace Wayland, a Shadowhunter from the night club, takes Clary under his wing and teaches her about the dangerous and fascinating world that co-exists with the world she had always known. Through a series of events Clary begins to learn that those she has always trusted may be the biggest threat to her life. She also learns that her mother may have been keeping some rather large secrets of her own.

Throughout the book, Clary begins to trust Jace and his circle of friends and embarks down the road to finding her mother along with them. Violence and pain pave the way of their journey, but Clary begins to figure out her role in this world she has only just discovered.

Like I stated earlier, this book has a perfect blend of action, romance, and detail. Throughout the book major plot twists keep you on the edge of your seat and the ending is far from obvious. With this being a series, the ending is not complete. Clare does wrap this novel up well, but you will want to put the second book, City of Ashes, on hold because this book leads so nicely into the second one.

Now, I’m off to find a copy of the movie!!