Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Blogger - Joshua Howe

Josh, my guest blogger
I have two books remaining on my summer list and two weeks left before school...one of those books is The Grapes of Wrath so I am thinking this might not happen but I am up for the challenge.  I just finished Dead End in Norvelt, Jack Gantos's book that won the Newbery Medal this year.  It took me a couple of extra days because my nephew Josh asked to borrow it and I couldn't turn him down so I let him take it.  He read it three times in two days.  Yeah. Being the good aunt/teacher that I am, I asked him to write the review!  Here are his thoughts.

Hi, my name is Josh.  I like to read a lot.  I'm also going into 7th grade.

Dead End in Norvelt is about a boy who has been grounded for the summer.  But instead of sitting in his room all summer long he helps an old woman named Miss Volker.  Soon there is an evil person who has come into town.  Who is it?

I really liked this book a lot.  The book had a little bit of mystery to it.  There were some funny bits in it.  For example, there was a part of the book that said the dad told his son (Jack Gantos) the secret to catching a deer is not farting.  I would suggest this book to people who like stories based on childhoods of real lives.

Now, because I am a really super proud aunt and Josh was my first nephew ever, here are the mandatory embarrassing pictures...of both of us.

I knew I had a reader from day one...

Josh and I share a love of pirates...
and straws make great swords!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Ends

Slowly, slowly, I am making my way back to Los Angeles.  I'm spending my last week of vacation back home with my family.  While in Boston, I managed to complete my entire list of to-dos, thanks in large part to my lovely sister who drove me around during my last weekend to check off the remaining items.  Surprisingly, I was able to book end my trip with two literary visits.  The first was the site of ducks along the Charles, where the famous ducks from Make Way for Ducklings started their family.  The last was a trip to visit e.e.cummings grave at the Forest Hills Cemetery.  Boston, thanks for welcoming me back, for being so wonderfully charming, for the hugs, the friendship, the inspiration to keep on keeping on, and for great beer. *smirk

Where the ducks begin, my first day back

The beautiful home where I stayed all summer
A sculpture built honoring e.e.cummings
A poem inside the tree
full poem here: http://goo.gl/oZhAB

A plaque explaining it all

Duck Island at the Public Garden

The view from my Swan Boat ride

Sunday, August 5, 2012


In addition to all my summer reading I have been scouring the internet for a poem/quote/etc. to read at my best friend's wedding next weekend.  I looked at a bunch of quotes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez first, well, just because.  I won't be using this one, but it reminded me how much I loved his book Love in the Time of Cholera, and just like The Book Thief, it is a story whose characters sit in my soul long after reading.  In the spirit of being moved by words today, I thought I would share how the great Gabo so perfectly describes true love.

“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”

Not a kids book, I know, but I also know that those who read this blog love books. So, there ya go.  Add that to your bucket list of books to read, and don't even bother seeing the movie.

The Pure Bliss of Ignorance

Read and loved, a closed book.
I have marched through my reading list this summer like a pro, knocking out the first three books in just three weeks.  However, I didn't have my 4th book ready when I finished the 3rd so I strayed from the list when I found The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on the shelf of my "summer home."  This book has waited patiently on my to-be-read list for so long I can't remember when I even learned about it.

It is one of those books that for some reason I knew about but didn't know about.  I knew I needed to read it but had no idea what it was about.  In a way, I like these surprise books.  The ones that you know nothing about and so you walk into their world with eyes wide open and you are caught up in the pure gratification of learning about the book.  With these books, ignorance is truly bliss.

I just finished The Book Thief.  I started it on a hot, sticky, perfectly miserable east coast day.  I read it on the subway with all the other hot, sticky, perfectly miserable east coast commuters.  I finished it on the couch, just now, where even the turning of pages was an invitation to start sweating all over again.  When I turned the last page, feet kicked up, hair trying to avoid sticking to my neck, I laid the book on my chest and let out a deep breath.  I didn't realize I had been holding it for so long.

For those of you who already know what The Book Thief is about, you won't be upset when I say I'm not even going to write about the content.  For those of you who have no idea and who want to read a book that is soul-shaking, I will simply tell you to read this.  In this review I have no intention of telling you the plot, the setting, or even about the characters because I want you to walk into the world of Liesel Meminger with your eyes, arms, and heart wide open.

This won't give anything away.  But I loved this so much I took a
picture while reading these words to remember forever.

I can tell you that while reading this book I was moved so much that I often had to close the book and just sit still.  While absorbing the story, I remembered all the things that make this world worth being in.  The story encouraged me to take risks I wasn't sure I was ready to take.  There is a quote on the front of the book from the New York Times which says, "It's the kind of book that can be LIFE CHANGING."  It is.  I am grateful for the power of words, the inspiration that comes from one person taking the chance to tell a story, and for this book.  Read it. You will love it.