Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Progress Report

Goodness! Gone with the Wind has been an absolute slog. But I am proud to say I finally finished Part 1!! Things are FINALLY starting to pick up. Current goal is 150 pages a week which should get me through the book by the end of May.

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

Title: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Pages: 148
Finished: 4/30/17

First Sentence: The train from 'Frisco was very late.

Summary: While traveling to meet her Uncle Henry in California, Dorothy, her friend Zeb, their horse Jim, and Dorothy's kitten named Eureka fall into the Earth during an earthquake. They alight in the land of the Mangaboos, unfeeling vegetable people. There they meet up with the Wizard and set off on a new adventure involving invisible bears, wooden gargoyles, and some dragonettes.

Thoughts: While I don't like this one as much as Ozma of Oz, I did enjoy it. I also really remember this one, which suggests I read it more than once before. I remember being particularly struck by the Mangaboos and the Invisible Valley (the name of which I don't remember). Eureka is not my favorite character. In fact, I can safely say she is my least favorite character in the series up 'til now. Baum warned us about her in his note at the beginning, but I still disliked her intensely.

Some notes:

Continuity Error? Ozma relates that Mombi was the jailor since Ozma's grandfather and the Wizard had no idea. But in Return to Oz, the Wizard had met with Mombi three times according to Glinda's book re: the boy Tip.

Ozma laughing at the weeping Munchkin after the boxing match felt cruel to me. Unless the idea was that the Munchkin was being a wuss? In which case my 21st century sensibilities still say it's cruel.

I'm not going to look it up, but I do wonder what trial was happening at the time this book was written. It seemed an odd addition to the novel otherwise.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Reads

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - Back to the Classics
2. Soar by Joan Bauer - Bluestem Challenge
3. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova - Caudill Challenge
4. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown - Bluestem Challenge
5. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor - Caudill Challenge
6. The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum - Oz Challenge

One adult book this month. Carry over from last month. I'm only 100 pages in, or according to Goodreads, 9% through it. Woof. My mom is enjoying it though. Hopefully things will start to pick up! As before, I plan on reading Gone With the Wind Tuesday through Friday and the rest of the books Saturday through Monday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Title: The Bitter Side of Sweet
Author: Tara Sullivan
Pages: 299
Finished: 4/19/17

First Sentence: I count the things that matter.

Summary: Amadou and his little brother Seydou work as child slaves on a cacao farm on the Ivory Coast. The work is hard, and the bosses are abusive, but the boys have no where to run. That is, until Khadija arrives. Khadija has no intention of being a slave, and even though she keeps getting kicked down, her spirit seeps into Amadou. Perhaps they can escape this hell they live in.

Thoughts: This is the type of book that I hate being on the Caudill list. The list is for 3rd to 8th graders, but this is really only appropriate for perhaps 7th grade and up? Boys get beat for not doing the work. A girl gets raped. It's tough to read. The only way I could continue with this book was by reading the last chapter and the epilogue. I had to know it ended up okay so I could get through the darkness. 

How to Raise and Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Title: How to Raise and Adult
Author: Julie Lythcott-Haims
Pages: 368
Finished: 4/17/17

First Sentence: This is a book about parents who are overinvolved in the lives of their kids.

Summary: Society constantly rags on Millennials. Millennials are entitled. Millennials have no work ethic. Millennials have no life skills. Millennials want recognition for trying hard even if they don't succeed. Julie Lythcott- Haims, a dean of freshmen students at Stanford talks about how this trend happened, why it hurts our kids, and how we can stop it. It's a call to action for a different and probably better way of parenting that seems all but lost in our society today.

Thoughts: First of all, I am a Millennial. I've ALWAYS hated being told all the problems with my generation as though they're all my fault. I never gave myself a trophy for trying. I never falsely built up my self esteem. I didn't put expectations of straight As in every subject so I could get into an amazing school on myself (at least until I was older.) But somehow I'm at fault. 

I'm also a mom of a toddler.

This book was just what I needed at this moment in time. I've told my husband time and again that I want my child to learn how to power through frustration. That I want her to learn from failure rather than fearing failure. That I want her learning life skills, and how to entertain herself. I want her to succeed in life. It's hard to parent that way when society tells you to do it differently. This book really helped confirm to me that I'm doing things right. 

As for how I'm doing as a Millennial, I can say that I was never as bad as many of the examples in this book, though I did have to learn to recognize things I struggled with and how to work through them. 

Ultimately, I think this book should be required reading for anyone who is or wants to be a parent, anyone who works with or wants to work with kids, and perhaps anyone who is a Millennial or is dealing with Millennials in the workforce.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Title: Goodbye Stranger
Author: Rebecca Stead
Pages: 287
Finished: 4/10/17

First Sentence: When she was eight years old, Bridget Barsamian woke up in a hospital, where a doctor told her she shouldn't be alive.

Summary: A book of intertwining stories. Bridge, Tab, and Em have been friends since fourth grade, but now they wonder if their friendship will survive the difficulties of middle school. Sherm writes letters that he never sends to his grandfather who walked out on them. And an unnamed high school student tries to figure out how to deal with how she betrayed her best friend.

Thoughts: This was better than I expected. Not great, but fine. I really liked the way they dealt with the double standards put on girls. Everyone felt age appropriate. Would definitely recommend to middle school kids.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Title: Mercedes Lackey The Fairy Godmother
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Pages: 417
Finished: 4/4/17

First Sentence: This is not the way to spend a beautiful spring morning! Elena Klovis thought, as she peered around the pile of bandboxes in her arms.

Summary: Elena's story seems familiar. Young girl treated as a servant by her stepmother and two stepsisters. She was supposed to be the Kingdom's Cinderella, but the prince happens to be about 10 years younger than her. When her step family tries to outrun their debts leaving Elena behind, she finds herself apprenticed to her Fairy Godmother. And when she becomes a Godmother in turn, it's up to Elena to keep her kingdoms running smoothly even as she bucks Tradition-with-a-capital-T.

Thoughts: First and foremost, I dislike it when the author's name is more prominent than the title. It's the same on the spine. In fact, the sticker that labels this "Fic Lackey" from the library covers most of the title. 


I really loved the premise of the Tradition, i.e. a force that shapes people's lives. It explains the various fairy tales so well, and it's very interesting to see it showing up again and again across the Five Hundred Kingdoms. I also really liked the idea that, if people miss their story, they can become fairy godmothers. Actually, all the explanations worked for me. Overall the book was fine. I enjoyed it plenty. I'll probably check out the rest of the series at some point.