Friday, November 29, 2013

No Angel - Theresa Sneed

Summary: Jonathan Stewart is not at all happy about having to return to earth as a guardian angel, but it's required of all post-mortal spirits to fulfill at least one angel guardianship. Fortunately, on the Guardians Unlimited application, he had the good sense to request a client with early-marked-death status, so he believes that while his stay on earth will be most unpleasant, at least it will be short. What he doesn't know is that a spirit with EMD status can choose his or her time of death Jonathan's client, Celeste Knight, has a mind of her own and refuses death at every turn, leaving him stuck as her guardian angel-in a place he only wanted to forget. (Image and summary from goodreads.com)

My Review:  Jonathan Stewart, a fastidious, order-loving angel, didn't enjoy his time on earth, which ended early, and he isn't happy about having to return as a guardian angel.  Apparently, he is so unhappy about it that he allows his devotion to efficiency, order, and rule-following to completely fly out the window as he fulfills the obligation, taking no time whatsoever to learn the ropes in the hopes that his client will just choose to die at the first opportunity.

I had a really difficult time with this book.  I felt like Sneed assumed that I knew what she meant, and the disjointed writing, the ridiculous amount of acronyms used (that made no sense to me at all), and the fractured story lines just made it unpleasant.  This book was chosen for our book club, otherwise, I would have abandoned it within the first few chapters. 

Sometimes, books from first-time authors take a chapter or two to find their rhythm and end up being a very pleasant read.  Unfortunately, I feel like this needed a few more good editing sessions, and perhaps a different review group to make it sensible. 

My Rating:  Two stars

For the sensitive reader:  Squeaky clean.  I think there's one kiss.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving, Readers, from all of us at Reading for Sanity.  We are grateful for so much, and you are definitely on that list!  Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Books for Kids


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and not because of the food!  I love the idea of taking an entire day to focus on gratitude.  Especially in a society that is so selfishly driven, focusing on the opposite is so refreshing.

Even better,  I love seeing how my kids respond to the idea of gratitude.  We have a handful of Thanksgiving books that are well-loved, but this list has some I would love to add to our collection.  Head on over to GoodReads to check it out, and let us know in the comments which are your favorites.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Lady and the Poet - Maeve Haran

Summary:  Set against the sumptuousness and intrigues of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, this powerful novel reveals the untold love affair between the famous poet John Donne and Ann More, the passionate woman who, against all odds, became his wife.

Ann More, fiery and spirited daughter of the Mores of Loseley House in Surrey, came to London destined for a life at the court of Queen Elizabeth and an advantageous marriage. There she encountered John Donne, the darkly attractive young poet who was secretary to her uncle, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He was unlike any man she had ever met—angry, clever, witty, and in her eyes, insufferably arrogant and careless of women. Yet as they were thrown together, Donne opened Ann’s eyes to a new world of passion and sensuality.

But John Donne—Catholic by background in an age when it was deadly dangerous, tainted by an alluring hint of scandal—was the kind of man her status-conscious father distrusted and despised.

The Lady and the Poet tells the story of the forbidden love between one of our most admired poets and a girl who dared to rebel against her family and the conventions of her time. They gave up everything to be together and their love knew no bounds. (Image and summary from goodreads.com)

My Review:  Haran's The Lady and the Poet tells the story of John Donne's courtship and marriage to his wife, Ann More.  Not being a lover of poetry, it took me about a third of the book before the name clicked - that yes, I had indeed heard of John Donne before, I was just unfamiliar with his poetry.  

I'm sure that had I been more familiar with Donne's work, this story would have been more compelling.  As it were, I enjoyed the story.   It was a quick read, with just enough suspense (solely pertaining to the matters of the heart) to make it difficult to put down. It was very easy to imagine myself in such constraining social and religious demands, and the fears that Ann has as to her future are very well-written.  I could easily sympathize with her and her sisters.

The only real distraction I had with the story, and this is more my own personal preference, is that Haran strives to capture the language of the time.  I understand why, but it just lies falsely to my inner ears.  The story can stand on its own, I didn't feel like it needed that particular adornment, and so it detracted a bit from my enjoyment.  But I'm picky like that.  If it's not directly called for, or if the author isn't as comfortable writing in a particular way as breathing, I don't think it suits a story.

My Rating: Two and a half stars.  That language knocked it down just a bit.

For the Sensitive Reader:  John Donne was an incredible poet, but his earlier works (a few of which are included) are quite bawdy.  There are also a few scenes I felt more comfortable skipping over -- Elizabethan England wasn't quite as prudish as Victorian England!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Looking for Alaska - John Green


Summary: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .

After. Nothing is ever the same.
Cover art and summary from Indiebound.org

My Review: Miles Halter is in need of a change. Though smart, Miles is shy and awkward and has difficulty making friends. With great persistence he convinces his parents to let him enter his junior year at an Alabama boarding school.  Once on the boarding school campus Miles life is drastically altered. His roommate, Colonel, and the girl down the hall, Alaska, take him under their wings and suddenly Miles has friends. Miles has always walked the straight and narrow whereas Colonel and Alaska are wild, full of pranks and enjoy smoking and drinking. Yet the friendship develops quickly and is intense.

The book begins with a count down, though the reader is unsure what exactly is being counted down towards. I won’t say either as that information would give away a pivotal moment in the plot line. About two-thirds of the way through the story the count down hits zero and the the event happens which changes everything. The rest of the book is about the after, as Miles and his new found friends search for answers and meaning in life.

This is a wonderful coming-of-age story. It is about teens exploring their individuality, fighting against the currant. It is a story of life and how it feels so indestructible at that age. It is a story about finding meaning in life. It is about overcoming obstacles and making friends, being yourself, exploring emotions. Green brilliantly captures the feelings and emotions of this period of life in his realistic characters. You’ll definitely laugh, you’ll probably cry, and you’ll close the cover with a profound message and some new literary friends that won’t soon be forgotten.

My Rating: 4 Stars

To Sum it up: A realistic coming-of-age story exploring a difficult topic – human mortality.

Sensitive Readers: This one contains drinking, smoking, swearing and sexual exploration. Recommended for 9th grade and up.

Read Kari's review here:  http://readingforsanity.blogspot.com/2014/12/looking-for-alaska-john-greene.html

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mission One of Auggie the Alien - Leah Spiegel and Megan Summers

Summary:   This is the humorous story of a 4th grader, seen through the eyes of a human hybrid alien child, sent to Earth to study our culture - to see if they could coexist with the humans.

Auggie has to try and understand 4th graders slang, body language, and the unwritten protocols of the classroom; all in an attempt to blend in. He upsets his teacher, Mrs. Malumrector, who constantly thinks Auggie’s trying to get smart with her when getting stupid with her would be counterproductive. Not only does Mrs. Malumrector not get Auggie’s literal logic, nor do any of the other students in his class. That is except for Left Hand Chuck who thinks Auggie’s hysterical and helps him by teaching him how to use human slang. 

But if Auggie truly wants to complete his mission of blending in with the other children he needs to cheer for both teams, except if they’re losing. He needs to learn not to wear the ‘P and the J’ with the feet conveniently attached to school because they’re for sleeping in only. That ironically enough, Grandpa isn’t going to faint from low blood pressure even though his eyes often tend to roll upwards whenever Auggie is speaking. ‘Pop-a-Squat’ isn’t a good name for a dog, even though he’s great at it. And under no circumstance is he to bring his pet to school even if his teacher has her own pet there, Emily, another student in his class who is neither a gerbil nor a fish. (Summary and image taken from goodreads.com.  I was provided with a free copy of Mission One of Auggie the Alien in return for my honest review.) 

Elizabeth's Review:  While Auggie's mother may be human, he's been raised by both parents in his father's alien culture.  He looks human (actually, kind of elf-like - I kept picturing a little Legolas), but his alien brain is far more advanced than our own.  Unfortunately, the social training he received was mainly conjecture, and there are bound to be some mix-ups when he enters human society.

To start, no one understands that he's an alien.  Second, they don't get that he eats electricity.  Problems, for sure, but how do you explain to an alien that grandma doesn't mean the Grand woman from Massachusetts?  Or that just because someone rolls their eyes doesn't always signal a dip in blood sugar?

Spiegel and Summers have done a fantastic job with this book.  I was able to tear through it in under an hour, and I laughed heartily more than once.  The only thing that gave me pause was an overt environmentalist spin - that humans are evil, viewed as massacring the planet, and utterly incapable of change.  That just rubs me the wrong way (and it's the main reason I didn't like Happy Feet, either).  There is also a little bit of potty humor, but nothing that would prevent me from handing it off to my son.  On that note … 

Charlie's Review:  It is really good because Auggie does a lot of funny things like jumping into a shark tank.  I would never do that!  Big Al is also really funny.  He likes riddles.  I think Auggie's dog Pop-a-Squat has a weird name.  Before I read it, I didn't think it was going to be good but it was amazing!!  

Our Rating: Four and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  I wasn't a fan of the environmentalist overtones, there is a bit of potty humor (see dog name above), and one of Big Al's riddles is a little scary.  You may want to make sure your kids know that only aliens can survive on electricity, but other than that, it's a great book!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Tis the Season - Shopping for your Book-Loving Friends and Family

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Brad Wirz, the founder and CEO of Gone Reading International, to see if I would review a few of his products.  Given that this is a reading blog, I must admit that I was dubious, until I did a little more research into his company.  

Gone Reading is an organization dedicated to reading and global literacy.  The story is amazing, but I'll let you read it here.   In short, they dedicate all after-tax proceeds to building libraries around the world.  And if there's one thing we're passionate about here, it's reading!  Brad was kind enough to send me a couple items to review, and as the gift-giving season is upon us, I can't let this wonderful organization be ignored!

Gone Reading sent both a book platter and an engagement calendar for me to review.  Please forgive my photos, they certainly don't do these products justice!


Selection of book platters from GoneReading.com 

I love plates, and I have fallen in love with this little platter!  I've found myself looking for excuses to use it, and it's the perfect size for smaller dishes.  Unlike most platters I've seen, it has quite a defined edge, which means my food has stayed put in the platter.  
I took this platter of brownies to a Girls' Night -- the platter got as many raves as the brownies!

I love how subtle and yet defined this platter is!
 This is definitely a platter I would buy on my own. It's solid ceramic, feels quite sturdy, and I look forward to years of use!

The Engagement Calendar that I received is simply breathtaking.  Not only is the paper thick and high quality, the paintings inside are beautiful.
Cover
I wanted to give you a shot of the inside.  I love that there are paintings of women reading throughout the book, as well as quotes regarding reading.  There are also very handy Time Zone sections, a planning section for 2015 (are we there already?!), and notes for expenses.  My husband has taken us to a fully digital calendar, but this is the perfect gift for someone in particular on my list!

Shot of the interior - great amount of room!

Guess what?!  Gone Reading has generously offered Reading for Sanity readers their own discount - 25% off all merchandise from now until the end of the year!  Just enter code:  rfs25 upon checkout. I can't think of a better place to shop for the readers in your life.  Now.  Let's go fund some libraries!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thank you, Barbara Park

I awoke this morning to sad news.  Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones books, passed away after battling cancer.  We are all huge fans of Park and her books in our home, and I can think of many of my son's friends who first cut their chapter-reading teeth on her books.  We are sad to see her go.

However, I am so grateful for Barbara Park's amazing books, and I feel like there may be a Junie B. Marathon coming on in our home soon!

Read her obituary here.  And check out our reviews of Park's books here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

Summary:  "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."

On October 11th, 1943, a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France.  Its pilot and passenger are best friends.  But just one of the girls has a chance at survivial.

Arrested by the Gestapo, "Verity" is given a choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.  They'll get the truth out of her.  Only, it won't be what they expect.  (Summary from back of the book and image from www.amazon.com)

My Review:  I can't stop thinking about this book.  That's how I know it deserves 5 stars.  The two main characters voices ring in my mind while I'm raking leaves, while I'm cooking dinner, while I'm driving.  So many details woven together so seamlessly that, once read, I was compelled to go back and reread sections to make sure I got every last nuance of Wein's storytelling.  I rarely do that.  It's clear to me that she understands how to tell a compelling story.  I don't dare say too much in this review--the beauty of this book is how it unfolds so masterfully, the twists, turns, names.  Everything.

This was a book club pick and made for a fantastic discussion.  The details that make the book all the more enjoyable are that it depicts aspects and people from WWII (representations of them) I hadn't previously read about--most of the WWII stories I know involve males.

And the friendship.  I can't not mention the friendship.  If you've ever had that true best friend, that one that knows you to your core, who understands code phrases and words, who can understand your idiosyncrasies and loves you anyway, you will be able to relate to these two young women.  Only a true friend will understand a desperate plea, one that asks too much, and be able to sacrifice.  Alas, I'm afraid I've said too much.

Do, please, pick up this book.  It's difficult at times to get vested, to trust your narrator, but I can't help but try to persuade you to persist.

So. Worth. The. Read.

For the sensitive reader:  There are a handful of swear words, brief descriptions of torture, and verbal abuse.  All in all, considering the prisoner of war scenario, the book is very tastefully done.

Rating: 5 Stars--I don't give these out often so take note!

Sum it up: An intriguing, plot-twisting tale of two friends caught in the fallout of WWII.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Journey to Galumphagos - Seth Eisner


Summary: Life can be tough for a loner like Emily. She’s had enough of being the perfect target for bullies. She persuades her brother and sister to run away with her to Galumphagos Island, a paradise on earth. But they find out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the street, or even the other side of the ocean. They need all their courage and cleverness — and a little luck, too — to get out of the mess they landed in. Seth Eisner blends fantastic creatures, exotic travel, non-stop action, and humor in his story about three young children who learn that real courage isn’t just about adventures. It’s usually about ordinary things, like asking that other lonely girl if you can share her lunch table. Journey to Galumphagos is sure to entertain both adults and children.

Summary and cover art from Virtualaurthorbooktours.com. Book received free in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: Honestly I was not greatly impressed with Journey to Galumphagos. I found the characters to be flat, the story line to be lacking in emotion and the greener grass adage to be overplayed. But to be fair there are very few children's books that are able to crossover and appeal greatly to adults. Realizing I am not the target audience for this title I decided to read it to my two children, ages 11 and 8. To my surprise they were delighted with this story and thus the review below is not mine but that of my children.

Amelie, age 8, liked that the story was full of adventure. She stated that the author's writing provided plenty of detail to bring the tale to life, helping her form a picture of both the characters and the setting. She also thought the simple pencil sketch illustrations added to the story. She found the tale to be funny but also mentioned that there were some serious moments mixed in. Her favorite part was the surprise ending of the story, which involves peanut butter sandwiches. She said she could relate to the elder sister because this character loves to read just like her. When asked to rate the book she replied "somewhere between a 4 and a 5".

Caleb, age 11, enjoyed the fantasy element within the story. He felt that the author was very creative as he came up with his own original characters instead of relying on "the magic of wizards or witches". Caleb found the story to be interesting throughout and full of surprises. He appreciated that there was a boy character along with the sisters. His only complaint was that the story was too short and did not fully conclude. He would very much like to read a sequel to this book. He gave the title a solid 4 stars.

Rating:  4 stars -- I would have said maybe a 2.5 but the kids seem to agree that this one deserves at least 4 stars so 4 it is.

To Sum it up: A tale full of adventure and fantasy sure to delight children. Hand this one straight over to the kids as they are sure to find it much more enjoyable than you will as an adult.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo - Are You in the Loop?

NaNoWriMo - it's not only baffling visually, I'm still at a loss of how to pronounce it.  Know what it is?  November is National Novel Writing Month - and it's a pretty big deal in the writing world!  The goal is to write a novel - 50,000 words or more within the month, and if you choose, submit it to the nanowrimo.org website to win.

But, I've always wondered how good some of these novels are.  True, the first drafts are probably throw-aways, but Mental Floss (I love their twitter feed.  It makes me feel smart!) did the work and put together a list of some novels which were penned during NaNoWriMo.

Check it out here, then come back and tell us: have you read any of these?  Which are your favorites?  Are YOU participating in NaNoWriMo?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab - Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Summary:  Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!  (Image and summary from goodreads.com.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.)

My Review:  Nick and Tesla have every right to be grumpy.  Their parents, governmental agriculturalists, are off in Uzbekistan researching and observing soybeans, and instead of being sent to one of their responsible relatives, they've been packed off to spend their summer with their Uncle Newt - who is eccentric, to be kind.  We first meet Newt glued to his basement floor by his own (malfunctioning) spray-on clothing.  Nick and Tesla are only in California for a matter of hours before they find themselves embroiled in a dilemma, which soon spirals into a mystery, complete with dark SUVs following them around.  Hopefully, their wits, along with their scientific knowledge and invention, will get them through the worst!

This was such a fun book.  Well-written, just enough mystery to keep a child engrossed without being too intense, but funny at the same time.  Even better, and this is what sold my boy, Pflugfelder and Hockensmith have included detailed (and illustrated) instructions on how to build a few of Nick and Tesla's inventions. I can see this being a series that my kids will enjoy for a long time, and it's one I feel comfortable with them reading.  Uncle Newt, the ridiculous uncle charged with their care, may not be as present as a parent would hope, but what presence he has, he is proven to be more adept at this guardianship than first glance would suggest.  Nick and Tesla are bright, well-behaved, work well together (with a little family-based ribbing), and are good thinkers.  I've noticed a difference in my kids' behavior when they read books with stinkers for protagonists, they tend to adopt some of those qualities.  The reverse is true ... and I'd be fine with having these kids as mine.  They even enlist parental help for their inventions when necessary!

My Rating:  Five stars.  I can't wait for Book Two in this series!

For the sensitive reader:  Nick and Tesla are temporarily kidnapped, but they escape and rescue their friends and another girl in the process.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Push Back - D.P. Davidson

Summary:  It's been eight years since Kale disappeared under her stepfather's nose, and in that time she and her husband Adam have made a home and started a family, though not in the way they had expected.

The promise of the little girl with green eyes is still a dream, but they face an even greater challenge when Kale's stepfather decides to proceed with his deadly intentions. 

Afraid to face him directly Kale and her family attempt to derail his scheme from the shadows, but when her future is threatened she finally understands what it means to lose everything and decides to push back. (Summary and image taken from goodreads.com

My Review:  Adam and Kale haven't forgotten about the threat of The General, but in the eight years since their last massive encounter, they haven't been idle, either.  Their family isn't the one they have dreamed of, but it is the family that they need, and it's the perfect family to stop The General and his horrifying plans, once and for all.

From the very start, it's obvious that this book has ramped it up a notch.  The stakes are higher, the final battle is coming, and Davidson has infused that urgency throughout the book.  There are more characters this time around, and they are a fun bunch to get to know.  The relationship that Adam and Kale have with one another, and with their family is very real and so tender that it was a pleasure to read.

Davidson has done a great job taking the world she created in Push and wrapping it up.  The timeline in this novel ebbs and flows, at times rushing so quickly I had difficulty keeping up, but while it may not be my preference, it suits the storyline.   As with Push, it left me wanting more, but satisfied with how the story ends.

My Rating:  Three and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  The battle scenes are much more intense, but Davidson's goal of not writing anything her kids couldn't read stands.   

Monday, November 4, 2013

Reading and Children - Tips and Tricks

I love books.  I love everything about them, and I love sharing them with my family.  Mindy sent me this incredible article from Bright Horizons about how to foster that love of books with your children, and it got me thinking.  For the whole article, check it out HERE.  For my own tips and tricks, keep on reading!

Make the Library an Adventure -  Whether your library has an amazing kids' section, or a shelf or two, do your best to make it an outing you share with your kids.  It makes a perfect "date" to browse new titles with just you and your child.  Enlist the librarians' help in finding new treasures.  And above all, let them have their own library card!  Even if they never use it (because you're checking out all the books), it's so amazing to see their pride.

Our former library had this miniature model of how the library used to look, and my kids loved turning on the lights and taking a peek at the grandeur of the old building.  It was a must-see every visit!
Read with your Kids -  I know, I know.  This piece of advice is everywhere. And it's such a no-brainer … of course you should read with your kids!  However, I've found myself forgetting the joy in sharing a story with my oldest reader (in second grade, but reading above that).  Just recently, we solved a bad day by picking up a chapter book he hadn't shown interest in (he thought it was too hard), and just reading it together.  I made him promise he wouldn't read ahead without me after a few chapters, and left the room.  No surprise, when I came back, he had torn through two more chapters and was fully engrossed.

Reading with your kids not only teaches them fluency in reading, but it helps them form the images in their minds.  Instead of concentrating on how the words ought to be constructed and pronounced, they get to immerse themselves in the story.  And who doesn't love getting lost in a really great story!?

Play Up their Interests -  Have a space-obsessed kid?  Help him check out a book or two!  History buff?  Magic Treehouse, there you go!  Science?  Why, hello Ms. Frizzle!   It is so much fun to see my kids get all giddy over a book that they've picked out, and over a subject that they want to research.  Even more fun, help them make a book using the facts they've learned.  I have quite a few of these treasures in my files, and they make me tear up every time I see them.  The pride on my kids' faces as they present me with a book they wrote all on their own - kind of worth every tantrum that week!

Make it a Family Affair - Reading is great for some one-on-one time, but how wonderful is it to sit down with the whole family and read a book?  We love read-athons at our house, and while I admit that some turn into sugar fests, my kids love them whether or not we have treats.  It's so much fun to see the older kids get so happy "helping" the younger kids read a book, and the younger kids are so thrilled to be included.  And who doesn't love a great pillow fort?!

Make Reading Time a Daily Occurrence -  We have a strict lights-out policy at our house, and my kids are well-trained to know that if they want to read, they need to be in bed at least twenty minutes before then.  Even my two year old enjoys the time to read by himself (as evidenced by the 32 books we pulled out of his bed a few days ago), and it helps calm their minds before bed.  Sometimes.  My son has broken lights-out on more than one occasion because he "couldn't find a stopping place".  (That was my favorite excuse, too.  Still is, in fact!)  More than that, though, we encourage our kids to grab a book on the way to a doctor's appointment, or on any errand that involves time in the car.  It's tricky sometimes keeping track of the car books, but they take such pride in having their own distraction.

I'd love to hear your tricks on helping your children love reading.  Whatever way you choose to go, make sure you've got a book in hand! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

What's in My Stack: The Mindy Edition

Hey RFSers!  This is Mindy!  I know, right?  The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I am, in fact, alive and kicking.   I haven't been reading a lot of adult fiction lately, and feel a bit out of the book loop when it comes to grown up reads.  Instead, I've been spending a lot of my free time reading to my kids and re-reading some of my most recent favorites - The Giver, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Delirium, Cinder, Scarlet, Enclave, Outpost, Divergent, and Insurgent.  I've even been spending time with Pittacus Lore. It's definitely low-stress reading, which is exactly what I need right now in my stack.

A lot of my favorite series are ending soon, and some have just released (or will soon be releasing) new books.  Here is what I'm looking forward to reading in the next few months:

ALLEGIANT, the final book in the Divergent Trilogy, came out last week and I finally have it!  I'm re-reading the DIVERGENT and INSURGENT, so I haven't cracked it yet...but soon.  Very soon.  If you've been waiting to read it till all the books were released...now is the time.  Generally, I'm not a fan of e-books, but I do enjoy when an author releases a side story to enhance the book -- or a story told from another character's perspective.  I call them e-bits.  There are several of these types of e-bits available for this series.  You can purchase Four's version of the knife throwing scene - here - and another from his perspective here.  Three more e-bits are scheduled to be released in the next few months, leading up to the March 2014 release of the Divergent movie in theaters March 2014.  Fans of the series can watch the trailer here, but new readers beware -- it does contain some spoilers!

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HORDE, the final book in the Razorland Trilogy is out!  I loved reading ENCLAVE and OUTPOST  (and e-book Endurance) and can't wait to see what happens next.

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CRESS, is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and, unfortunately, I'll have to wait a bit before this book is actually IN my stack.  It comes out early next year.  CINDER and SCARLET (Elizabeth's review) were so amazing that I might die of impatience before February 2014.
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UNITED WE SPY, the final book in the Gallagher Girls Series about a finishing school that is secretly a high secret spy academy. If the sixth book is anything like the first five (I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You / Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover, Only the Good Spy Young, and Out of Sight, Out of Time) then I'll be a happy camper.

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THE FALL OF FIVE, is the fourth book of (likely) five in the Lorien Legacies.  I've really enjoyed disappearing into the the previous books (I am Number Four, The Power of Six, and The Rise of Nine (unreviewed), as well as several sidestories in e-book form), so this one should make for a fun afternoon.

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GRACELING.  Okay, so I'm planning to re-read this one. I loved it last time, and I'm sure I'll love it again...but I need to refresh my memory so that I can properly read FIRE (Kari's review) and BITTERBLUE  (follow-ups in the Graceling Realm).

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So...that's my stack.  You probably noticed a theme.  What can I say? Even when I'm not blogging, I still read to feed my sanity.   Right now, my sanity wants fun, adventure, romance, and feminine characters that kick butt.  These books have all that and more.  Time to dive in!

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