Posts Tagged ‘Heather Gudenkauf’

Tuesdays are hard for me. We have faculty meetings on Tuesdays which keep me at work up to two hours late add that to my 30 minute commute and any errands I have to run and the mess that I-77 leading into Charlotte becomes in the afternoons, then you’ll understand why it’s all I can do to eat a dinner and then fall asleep with the fork still in my mouth. My TTT will most likely come more and more on Wednesdays and usually a week later than what they are doing over at The Broke and The Bookish. (*note, I started this post on Wednesday night and I came into my office to look up a menu for a local Greek restaurant and discovered that I had never finished the post (a impromtu tennis game pulled me away mid-post Wednesday night) and so now you’ll see just how late I can be…)

I have read 69 (I know, right, that number seems so small) since I started Bookjackets in January 2011. Picking out ten favorites was harder than I thought that it would be! I started by circling the ones I loved and then I had to compare them up against each other and give them ratings based on things like “characterization” “plot” “readability”, etc. to get it narrowed down to the following ten:

10. If You Want Me To Stay by Michael Parker, Read February 7-8 2012, 5/5 Stars
I read this book for a program I was involved in at the local public library. The program involved a group of us reading the same book about some aspect of North Carolina culture and then inviting in a guest lecturer to discuss the book and the themes and the history of NC with us. This was my favorite book from the series.

9. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Read February-March 2011, 4/5 Stars
This was another book that we read for the same NC Culture series, but I had read this one about a year before the series actually started. When my dad gave me a nook color for my 26th birthday this was the first book I read on the e-reader. Read more about that adventure here.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, Read April 2011, 4/5 Stars
I read this book over spring break my first year of working as a librarian in public schools. I was back in my favorite town, Greensboro, NC where I had gone to college and graduate school and where my boyfriend was still in college and I loved the feeling of being “home” and I associate that feeling with this book. I also loved the book, it is a good mystery and our sleuth, Flavia De Luce, is such a scamp I dare you not to love her instantly.

7. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games, Read November 2010, 5/5 Stars
Catching Fire, Read in April 2011, 5/5 Stars
Mockingjay, Read in May 2011, 4/5 Stars
Read about my love for this series here.

6. The Weight of Silence/These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
The Weight of Silence, Read in July 2011, 3/5 stars
These Things Hidden, Read in July 2011, 5/5 stars
I read these over the summer after my first year in public education. I had greatly disliked the first place I worked at and I was in the process of quitting and moving to a new place of employment. I was having a difficult time telling my uber-scary boss that I was splitting, but these books were such a good escape for me at the end of the day, I truly value them for helping me get through that rough time.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Read in April 2012, 5/5 Stars
Just. So. Damn. Funny. And honest. I love Tina Fey. She is my celebrity crush. She is so beautiful and funny and smart and nerdy and I want to be her. I loved this book because it was purely Tina Fey being open and honest about what it’s like being a woman working in a man’s world.

4. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan, Read in in late January/Early February 2012, 4/5 Stars
I received a ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press and I wanted to do a good job of reviewing it, even if I disliked the book. This was the first time I had been asked to review a book for the blog, so I knew I couldn’t blow it. I ended up loving the book and I was pretty pleased with the review I put out. Read the review here.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, 5/5 Stars
I. Loved. This. Book. Read about how much I loved it here. I even voted it my #1 book of 2011!

2. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, Read in July 2012, 5/5 Stars
This is a more recent read. I had been hearing a little bit about it and I knew I wanted to read it because I love local authors and books set in my state. I was in love with this book from page one. Read my review here. Also, my book club has chosen to read this one in January 2013 and I’m hoping to get Cash to Skype with us, he tweeted me that he would!! Read the review here.

1. Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis, Read in February 2011 , 5/5 Stars
Again, I am super partial to local authors and Jenn Pharr Davis is one of my favorites! This is the story of a gal who sets out to thru-hike the entire AT by herself and she accomplishes her goal and tells us about all of the incidents she survives in this awesome book. This is a fun read and an encouraging read. I recently saw that there is a new book out by her husband, Brew Davis, that chronicles the hike that landed her the world-record of the fastest thru-hike of the AT which she did in an amazing 46 days!


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It has been forever and a day since I have written a post, but it has been a heck of a few months for me. Since school got out G and I decided to spend the majority of our summer in the NC Mountains. I had hoped to be able to leave the school that I was at and move, preferably west. Before we left for the mountains, I had not heard anything from any of the schools I applied to so we decided to stick it out where we were for another year and then I would try again next summer. However, the townhouse that we were living in was way too expensive for what we got and we started to have some major problems with the Home Owners Association. So, we put a deposit down for a great stand alone house just down the road. It was roomier, cheaper and without an overbearing HOA. We had been in the mountains for a few weeks when I got a phone call to interview for a middle school position one county over from where we were (in the mountains). I interviewed and the very next day the principal called and offered me the position!

Great, but this meant that we just lost $900 in the deposit and we had to move across the state in about one week! Eek! In the end, we worked it all out and got moved (though it was a nightmare!) and I started my first day as a middle school librarian yesterday!

I love to read the daring librarian blog and I enjoy writing this blog (when I’m not rushing to move across North Carolina, that is!) and so I have decided to start a new blog that focuses on school librarianship. I wanted to do this last year and I rue the fact that I did not. However, I am now in a new school and at a new level and even though this will be my second year as an official, licensed librarian it still feels like I am a first year. The other blog (which I haven’t started yet so I don’t have a URL to share) will chronicle the year ahead. I will be sharing daily life as a MS librarian, relevant articles and issues in school librarianship as well as in public education in general, reviews of YA novels and anything library related.

But, back to this blog…

What have I been reading since I last wrote… Hmm, let me see… the last post I made was about Jodi Picoult’s Sing You Home. It feels like so long ago that I read that book (and it kind of was- almost two months)! I read Finding Grace (which I won in a giveaway on GoodReads, so exciting), A Discovery of Witches, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Wench, A Visit From The Goon Squad, These Things Hidden, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Romiette and Julio (for the Battle of the Books competition this year. Another exciting thing about moving up to MS is that I get to coach a BOB team!), and I am currently reading the very lengthy first book in the Outlander series, aptly named Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Since it has been so long, I decided to not just pick one to write about, but rather to do a quick review of each one (save for Outlander since I have not finished it yet, but so far I am loving the book!)

Finding Grace by Sarah Pawley
I liked this book. I liked it. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I liked it. The main character, Grace, strongly reminded me of myself. She was a very precocious farm girl who loved to read. When her overbearing family attempted to force her into marriage, she runs away to Chicago to live with her older brother who had also fled the farm. There she meets and falls for an older man. However, as typical of stories, her past comes back to haunt her. I found this book to be typical. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened in it. It was well written but it didn’t grab me, and in fact, it took me a while to buckle down and finish it.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I was so excited to read this book. I read about it on IndieBound as it was a recommended on and then it became a top wished-for book on there. I knew it would be great! It has vampires! It has witches! It has England! It has LIBRARIES! I did not like this book. It felt ridiculous and forced and it was nothing more than a grown-up version of Twilight. I skimmed the last fifty pages because I was so ready to read something, ANYTHING, else. which leads us to the next book I read, and enjoyed…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book was sent to me as a gift from my aunt who loved it. I took it with me to the beach and I ended up reading it all in one day. It wasn’t anything super special and I’m not exactly sure why it won the Pulitzer, but it was a good, quick and engaging read. It is confusing at times and it is told from multiple perspectives (but not in the Jodi Picoult way that I enjoy (see the review for These Things Hidden below). And as soon as you think that Oscar is going to be okay, he’s not. And that shouldn’t have surprised and affected me as much as it did since the book tells me that his life is going to be brief.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
This is another one that I had been excited to get my paws on since IndieBound raved about it. This one was good. It was so odd though. I finished this book in a chair on a riverbank in the NC Mountains. A man in a kayak rowed by and asked me what I was reading about. And I told him that I honestly was not sure! It’s bizarre and confusing and fun. When I was in Asheville I went to my very favorite bookstore and it was a recommended read there. Good choice, good read, but be warned, you will be craving lemon cake for weeks! (I had to cave in and bake one). Also, check out Synesthesia.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I bought this one from a used bookstore. It caught my eye in Barnes and Noble one night and the cover said something about how this book is good for those that also enjoyed The Help (which you know I did as I named it my book of the year for 2010, yes even though it was released in 2009- get over it!). Since the cover promised a likeness to one of my favorite books I added it to my to-read list and finally caved and bought it when I realized that the library was never going to get their copy back. It was mediocre. I didn’t care much about the characters. And, it was nothing like The Help. Yeah, okay, so it dealt with slavery. So? Just because there is a book with African American women in it it automatically has to be like The Help? Don’t think so.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I first heard about this book from a Kindergarten teacher at my old school. She said she really enjoyed it and read it in her book club but she would really like to go back and read it again since everything kind of comes together in the end. Knowing each of the characters and how they connect to the main character, I totally see what she means. I then heard about this book on GoodReads as it was the book of the month pick for July. This book was my second Pulitzer winner I read this summer. I must say I enjoyed this one MUCH more than I did Oscar Wao. Beware though before going in that there are many, many characters in this book. So many that I had to make a character map that expanded into more than one page. All of the characters all are connected through the main one. Super confusing if you don’t read carefully, so do- I highly recommend this book!

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
If I have to choose one book to recommend from the list it’s this one. A mystery of sorts told through multi-character POVs (in a good Jodi Picoult way) with a surprise twist at the end. As soon as I finished this one I gave it to G’s mom to read and she devoured it in a day. I am so excited to read her other book The Weight of Silence

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Common sense information. I wouldn’t bother.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
This was the first Battle of the Books book I read. I just have to say that I am so thankful that not all YA novels are written this poorly, especially Drapers books! Her Hazelwood Trilogy is wildly popular and she wins so many Coretta Scott King awards I had such high hopes for this book. I saw what Draper was attempting to do here, but in my humble opinion she failed. It was a great idea, but it lacked any reality and I don’t think that teens are going to swallow this book. To me, it felt as if Draper wasn’t giving any intelligence credit to youngsters. I can only hope that the rest of the BOB books are better than this one. What a chore to get through.

Enough for now I have again written too much. I will try to write more frequently and smaller posts. Next up, my review of Outlander, stay tuned!

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