Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dunn Family On The Food Nanny

 Oh Dinner, Where Art Thou?
Click the link above to be directed to the  BYUtv site to watch our "stunning" TV debut!

And it's linked to a book!

(Cupcake especially likes the bread dough recipes!)

Our carne asada tacos from the Food Nanny Cookbook were fabulous! (The first time in years that no one complained at dinner. It truly was a miracle!) Liz Edmonds suggest having enough side dishes so that everyone has something they like to eat at dinner. I have been cooking more since the show, but I'm not quite "advanced" enough to do side dishes!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente

Coconut (age 8) loved this book. I only liked it. 3 stars. Maybe three and a half stars.

Twelve year old September is invited by the Green Wind to visit Fairyland. While in Fairyland she has many adventures, does a bit of growing up and overcoming selfishness, and finds out that everything isn't as it seems in the mystical land. She learns that it isn't always easy to do the right thing, and that being a hero takes determination and hard work.

Well written, fabulous vocabulary, engaging illustrations, unexpected occurrences, great adventures.

Coconut is definitely her own person, and I think she identified with the character of September. She had big plans for a book club party for this book . . . and it had lots of potential. We filled the back of the book with food and craft and connection book ideas.

So, why did I give it only three stars (a low rating for me)?  I think because I read it with Coconut rather than Cupcake or Dancegirl. At first glance, it seems like a perfect fit for my eight year old, (even though one of my favorite reviewers Betsey Bird billed it as a 9-12  year old book--most of the books I read with Coconut are billed as 9-12 year old reads)  but as I read it I thought it had too much talk of blood and a somewhat weird occurrence at the end (SEMI SPOILER ALERT) where September and Saturday wrestle and end up with a child (No sex, but what sorts of imagery could be read into THAT?) I couldn't endorse it as a book club party book because I'm not sure other mothers would respond positively. (And I'm not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, and this kept bringing up images of that story, so I had a negative bias at random points in the story)

I will ask Cupcake if she is interested in reading it . . . and see if my opinion changes with a slightly older audience.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Books to Read in 2012 (Fingers crossed)

I have three book clubs to keep up with! Whew. Sometimes it is hard to keep up, but always worth it. Sometimes I just get a "quick read" of the book. This is usually good enough for book club discussion, but sometimes I read something that I want to go back and read again.

So far for 2012, two book clubs have put out some plans for the coming year: 

The Utah County Homeschool Book Club (TJED)
January: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
February: Plutarch's Lives (a selection of lives still TBD)
March: The Law by Bastiat and The Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson
April: The Cleansing of America by Cleon Skousen (but I have read it and gave it one star, so I'm hoping for a change! But if we don't, I'll be happy to be there anyway, this is an awesome group! )

Happy Valley Homeschooler Mom's Night Out (another fantastic group!)
Jan 5- The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
Feb 9- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Mar 8- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Apr 12- Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth
May 10- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Jun 14- TBA
Jul 12- TBA
Aug 9- The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, (my pick!)
Sep 13- Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Oct 11- The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Neighborhood Book Group: 
We take turns choosing each month, so I'm not sure what is coming for 2012! 

The books floating around in my mind to read in 2012:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (this is on hold until I get through David Copperfield, though!) 
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang
Several books by Terry Prachett
(Lords and Ladies, Witches Abroad, Mort, Maskerade, I Shall Wear Midnight, and Maurice and His Amazing Educated Rodents) 
The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer
Archer's Goons by Diana Wynne Jones
Hero and the Crown and the Blue Sword (re-read) by Robin McKinley 

(We'll see how this list goes . . .it's pretty fluid!) 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this on my phone from Audible. FUN! It was creepy, but nothing that my children shouldn't overhear as I listened over my phone while folding laundry. There was some allusion to sex, and a very brief mention of a homosexual attraction, but I had headphones at that time. (I think my children would have missed it anyway if they had overheard.) Also an engaged couple shares an apartment . . .I think that is all the "bad" stuff to worry about children hearing. But there is intense and scary-ish stuff throughout.)

It was a fun thing to be forced to listen to the conclusion (and not peek at the end!).  I thought I had it figured out, but I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. . . and satisfied. The characters were consistent and well developed as well as interesting to "get to know". The story lines were complex and intertwined in fascinating ways. The end was a bit "Dickensian" for my taste, but I have to admit I liked having all the loose ends tied up at the story's conclusion. (It's so refreshing to read a book that actually ends, without alluding to a sequel.)

I oftentimes seem to need a "purpose" to my reading. (I'm the queen of multi tasking: Is is educational? Will it help me become a better person? a more literate person? Is this something I want my children to read and I'm reading it to screen it first?  . . . ) This was simply fun (escape) reading/listening, chosen because I enjoyed the Forgotten Garden when my neighborhood book club read it earlier this year, and wanted to try some more "adult" fiction. The goodreads and amazon reviews indicated I could trust this author to deliver another fascinating story.  I enjoyed it and my kitchen enjoyed the extra bit of cleaning as I sought a productive excuse to keep listening.

View all my reviews

What We Are Reading This Week (or so) December 16, 2011

I can't figure out how to get pictures of the book covers onto the blog! I've done it before, so I know I can do it . . . I'd just rather take the time to write about books rather than figure out technical stuff! 

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Yep, the Boy and I are still reading Sea of Trolls. We are inching toward the end, but we don't read every day, due to early morning seminary . . . it is a fun book, and was a great match up with our Story of the World co op readings on "The Arrival of the Norsemen" and "The First Kings of England."

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
I'm reading this with the Ballerina!! Whoo hoo!!!! She told me several months ago that she wanted me to stop reading to her in the mornings. It was heartbreaking for me. The extra 15 minutes of laying in bed was not attractive enough for her. She said she would just rather get up.  But, while at the book store, we were negotiating about something (I don't even remember what!) and she said, "I'll let you start reading to me again.... if I can pick the book." DONE DEAL!!

We are only one day in . . . it is the story of some modern day girls descended from Medusa  that have some special powers beyond human abilities. We are hoping that it is a "girl power" version of Rick Riordan's The Lightening Thief. She is a busy girl with early morning seminary and two hours of practicing to get done in the mornings, so consistency will be a potential obstacle.

She reminded me that I only have to read aloud the first 100 pages, and then she gets to read the book on her own. I reminded her that is true, but I get to pick the next book! (I'm going with the Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry next. It was the book she "almost" picked, so I'm hoping to keep her interested in me reading to her!) She does listen to our lunch time and night time read alouds, (if she is home!) so I haven't lost her completely, but there is something AMAZING about having a book you are reading one on one with your child.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Prachett
Cupcake and I are reading this . . . I just finished it, laughing the whole time. We are going to read it as a companion book when our Scholar Lit class studies Macbeth, (which won't be until this summer) but I wanted to read and talk about it with Cupcake in advance. (It isn't a children's book, and there are one or two parts that will require some discussion and explanation i.e. the feudal/medieval droit de signeur ... no inappropriate details are given in the book, but I DEFINITELY want to talk about it together)

Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
This was on a Beehive Book Award nominee for 2010. I really enjoyed the writing, and especially enjoyed the relationships between the characters . . . they seemed so real! An impressive feat, when those  characters include a talking tin spider, a gypsy boy and a heroic, but impetuous girl. The Coconut and I are half way through. Our next book is Anne of Green Gables. I was reading it to Cupcake, but just kept thinking "I need to read this with Coconut!" Since Cupcake has listened to Anne years ago, she was content to put it aside and start up something new.

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald
This was such a lucky and fun find! I was digging around for some new Christmas picture books for our Advent tradition (more on that in another post!) and discovered this delightful book, by the author of the whimsical Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series (a family favorite!).
Nancy and her little sister Plum (short for Pamela) are orphans who are kept at a boarding home, managed by the rotten Mrs. Monday. Despite their hardships, Nancy and Plum are happy, smart, loving and kind. Each chapter builds on the next, but each chapter is an individual adventure that Nancy and Plum complete. We are halfway through, and really enjoying it! Lala loves it. She has been sleeping with the doll we made at her Little House on the Prairie book club party, and this book has doll making in it, so she is already planning another doll making session when we do a Nancy and Plum book club party.

I'm reading/just finished:
Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (for the second time in 6 weeks. . . it is THE BEST BOOK ON DISCUSSING BOOKS with children I have ever read! I'm reading it twice to really let it sink it.

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans (a book club pick for January . . . I actually liked it, even though I don't usually go for this type of book).

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
I got this in our White Elephant exchange for HVH Mom's night out book club. Ilima always chooses books that spark conversation for the HVH book club. This is a Young Adult (and quite fun) read. It was a finalist for the National Book Award (young adult division). Dancegirl saw it sitting out and said, "This looks like something I would like." (I think she will like it a lot.) It has quite a bit of (clean) romance, quite a bit of mystery, lots of suspense, friends that help and support each other and lots of girl power.

Enter Three Witches Caroline Cooney
Another Macbeth companion book. I'm having trouble loving this book (likely because I loved Wyrd Sisters so much!) but I think it will appeal to Dancegirl at my house, so I'm sticking with it so we can use it to discuss Macbeth. (So far, our companions will be Serena by Ron Rash [the short story); Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa M. Klein, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, and Enter Three Witches . . . I'll write more about that this summer . . . I'm excited for my turn to come around again!)

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
I spend a week doing some background reading, and when I finally started, I learned that I need to be sitting in my study area at my big table and not in my nice warm bed to be able to get anything out of this! My dear friend Heather calls this her favorite book, and chose it for our HVH pick in February (and will tell us why this is her favorite book during our discussion.) ß

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Boy and the Ballerina read this for a scholar class, so I decided to read it along with them. They are finished, but I'm still plugging along. I'm reading it on my phone with my Kindle app. So fun! I love how I can read it on the iPad, and it will find my starting spot when I switch devices and read it on my phone. I like reading with a pen in my hand and annotating my books, and I don't have that part worked out on my "devices" (I know you can do it, there is just something about the connection to my brain that involves holding a pen!) So, I'm just reading "digitally" a bit at a time. I read five or six books at a time, so reading them all on a device would be a smart idea, but I just can't seem to do it!

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I'm listening to this on my phone. I had to speed the narration to 1. 75 listening speed, because I can't peek at the end and I can't wait to find out if my theory is correct. It distorts the voice a bit but it I'm getting through it pretty quickly. I listen at night when I "put my house to bed" and whenever I do laundry and if I happen to find myself alone in the car.

Lots of Christmas picture books . . . more on that later! I need to do a post of our super favorite Christmas picture books!

Various Homeschool Books . . . but . . .I don't have time to think about that now!
We are on our way to meet Jessica Day George at our co-op Girl's Writing Club (The Pickwick Society) more on that later, too. (Hopefully with a picture!)

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

We finished Huckleberry Finn yesterday. We read the last five or six chapters  . . . laughing and giggling the entire time!  All five of my "pumpkins" said they liked the book, but that Tom Sawyer was better.

Hmm... I wonder if Tom Sawyer is better or if our reading patterns for each book influenced their ratings.
When Brent and I watched the first four seasons (in the space of two weeks)  of Lost we really liked it. Then when we had to wait a week between each episode, we lost interest. We decided to wait until the series was finished, and then watch it ... we still have not finished it, though!

We were VERY consistent reading Tom Sawyer every day at lunchtime, and we've been reading Huck Finn sporadically over several months (at least once per week . . . ). So I can't decide. Both are good books, and I'm glad we read them.

Our next lunch time History Read Aloud is going to be The Boy Knight, A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty. We are studying Medieval history with our home school co op, and this will be a perfect  fit. G. A. Henty books are historically accurate (for the most part) and full of adventure. I think it will be great fun!
Related Posts with Thumbnails