Monthly Archives: December 2012

My favorite books of 2012

I read a lot of books this year, adult and children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, memorable books and others I’d rather forget (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). It was hard to narrow it down to a few favorite and of course, my choices are very subjective and personal. These are books that grabbed my attention from the first few pages, made me laugh or cry or both, made me think, or made me dream by taking me to faraway places. These are all great books in one way or another.

My favorite adult fiction books of 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1) The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
This series includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. I’ll be reviewing the last three books later this week, and in the meantime, you can read my review of The Giver here. Wonderful, wonderful futuristic stories, full of shocking discoveries, adventure, courage, survival and hope. Lois Lowry is a brilliant storyteller and I love the worlds she created. These books are great for young adults (probably age 12 and up), as well as adults, and you can read them again and again and enjoy them just as much. I think that next Christmas, I’ll be asking Santa for these four books so they become part of my personal book collection.

The book thief by Markus Zusack

The book thief by Markus Zusack

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is another young adult book that is perfect for adults too. This is the only book I’ve ever read on World War II that was told from a German citizen’s perspective. This book really touched me in many ways and will stay with me forever. Just like The Giver quartet, I think it deserves its own spot on my bookshelf. You can read my review of The Book Thief here.

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

3) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I also read Catching Fire and Mockinjay but The Hunger Games was my favorite. I found the novels very dark and gruesome, but well told. Suzanne Collins is not as hopeful about the human race as Lois Lowry but she might be more realistic. Who knows what’s in our future, right? Read my review of The Hunger Games. By the way, I do have The Hunger Games trilogy on my bookcase already.

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog’s purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4) A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Alright, technically I finished reading A Dog’s Purpose last December, but since I read the next book in 2012, I’m including both on this list. I loved these books and I’m not even a dog person. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed and I cried some more. If you’re looking for a feel good story, these two books are perfect. Read my reviews of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Yet another book that deserves a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I have never read such an imaginative book when it comes to the way the story is told. Zelznick tells Hugo’s story by alternating between words and pencil illustrations. Unlike picture books, these detailed illustrations tell a specific part of the story instead of using words, giving a full meaning to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Selznick is a pure genius at illustrating and storytelling. Read my review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

My favorite adult non-fiction books of 2012

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

1) Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
If you’re an introvert, you’ll want to read this book. If you’re an extravert, you’ll want to read it too so you give us introverts a break and realize we’re not a bunch of anti-social people. ;-) Read my review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts here.

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

2) Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
If you want to learn more about PTSD (post-trauma syndrome disorder) specifically in U.S. soldiers, this story is it. Told in the first person, it explains the various symptoms, the possible treatments (and how our soldiers are taken care of, for better or worse) and how Tuesday, the golden retriever who was about to fail his training as a service dog, helped Montalvan when he himself was on the verge of giving up. The 5 stars by almost 1000 reviewers on Amazon say it all: this is a must read (read my review of Until Tuesday). And yes, this is the REAL Tuesday on the book cover.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

3) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Miller has been a 6th-grade teacher for about 20 years and has discovered, implemented and refined ways to ignite the love of reading in her students. This book is not just a great tool for teachers but for parents too. Read my review of The Book Whisperer.

My favorite children’s books of 2012

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

1) The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
Well, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Or, is there? These brilliantly rhyming books are meant to become children’s book classics. Read my reviews of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

2) Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
I loved, loved, loved this book (and damn it, it made my choke up!). This is a beautiful story of loneliness and friendship children and adults will love and cherish. Read my review of Pete & Pickles.

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

3) The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed
Berkeley Breathed may be known for his comic strip Opus, but The Last Basselope is a wonderful story about searching for the unknown, finding it, discovering its priceless value and keeping it safe from the rest of the world. Read my review of The Last Basselope.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

4) Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
This has to be one of the funniest children’s books we’ve read this year. When Oliver’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws everything up there, including the kitchen’s sink. My kids and I loved the silliness of this book and we laughed about it for weeks. Read my review of Stuck.

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

5) Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen
“I’m going to eat you for my dinner” says the big wolf to the big moose. But that’s before he realizes that Mucky Moose really, really stinks. My four-year old couldn’t get enough of this story and months later, my kids still quote the book. Read my review of Mucky Moose.

Ricky Ricotta's mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

6) Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey
This series gave my eldest his first taste of independent reading of chapter books before he reached the end of kindergarten. He’s since graduated to much longer and intense books but I’ll never forget that this series of books gave him the motivation to read on his own (I wasn’t allowed to read him the books so I read them with his brother). Read my review of Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot here.

Zen ties by Jon Muth

Zen ties by Jon Muth

7) Zen Ties and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
Muth’s watercolors are simply beautiful and his stories teach children about the principles of Zen Buddhism in a very simple way. Stillwater the giant panda is a wonderful teacher. Read my review of Zen Ties.

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

8) The Rotten Ralph books by Jack Bantos
Rotten Ralph is everything you don’t want your kids to be and so, kids love him! Rotten Ralph is a really rotten cat and you wonder if he’ll ever show kindness and consideration for others. Deep underneath that rotten attitude, Rotten Ralph may actually have a heart and a conscience. This is a very funny series that will make you laugh out loud. Read my reviews of several Rotten Ralph books here.

What books have you read this year that turned out to be your favorite? Anything I should put on my to-read list for 2013?

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WordPress weekly photo challenge: My 2012 in pictures

I’m working on compiling a list of my favorite books for 2012 (adult and children’s books) and I hope to share it with you on Monday. In the meantime, I’ll share the year 2012 in pictures.

I actually have two sets of photos to share. The first one, I created on my photography website, so hop on over to view some of my favorite photos I took in 2012. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The set of photos below is more about my life as a mother in 2012. A challenging year for sure, but still full of good things (I’m working on a post about that too). Good reading, lots of love notes, great artwork, food art here  and here, vacation time, family time, outdoor time, yummy food we grew in our garden, powerful quotes, great photos of nature, a random act of kindness on Mother’s Day, and of course, a snake in our yard

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas.

I hope Santa brings you what you asked for and a little bit more.

merry christmas penguins decorations

Merry Christmas!

WWW Wednesdays – December 19, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

If you participate in the WordPress weekly photo challenge and you would like to see my contribution to this week’s theme Delicate, hop on to my photography website.

Again, my WWW Wednesdays update is one day late because it’s been a hectic week so far. I’m mostly done with my Christmas shopping and I’ve started wrapping up some presents, but I haven’t sent most of my Christmas cards yet. Yikes!

My bookshelf

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry– What I’m currently reading 
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, which similarly to her book The Giver, which I read recently, describes a futuristic world. I’m two thirds through and I really like it.

– What I recently finished reading
A Wanted Man by Lee Child. This is the first time I’ve read a Jack Reacher novel. I believe this is the 19th book in the series, so it’s never too late to start! I understand a number of Jack Reacher fans were disappointed but having nothing to compare it to, I liked this book. It was entertaining, it kept me wanting to turn the pages, and it had some twists and turns (some of them predictible, others not so much). The ending left me scractching my head a bit but otherwise I enjoyed reading this story. I definitely want to read the first Jack Reacher novel and see where it all started from. Now, how Tom Cruise managed to be cast to play 6 foot 5 inch tall Reacher, I’m not sure, but I hope he’s planning to buy a pair of stilts!

– What I think I’ll read next
I have two more books by Lois Lowry to finish The Giver Series, so I can’t wait!

My kids’ bookshelf

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear What they’re currently reading
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Who doesn’t love this book? I think I borrow it from the library twice a year and we keep it for about a month.

By the way, to continue with my previous post on my little artists, here’s what my four-year old drew for his book report on this story. This is his rendering of one of the pages inside the book, when the mouse is about to pick the red, ripe strawberry. What a cute little mouse!

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear - child drawing

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear – child drawing

Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear! by Don and Audrey Wood. Until last week, I had no idea this book even existed. What a pity! It’s very sweet and perfect to read around the holidays. It’s going on our list of Christmas books to read every year from now on.

Anatole by Eve Titus– What they recently finished reading
Anatole and Anatole and the Cat by Eve Titus. My six-year old and I love these books! Anatole is a French mouse who decides to stop stealing people’s scraps and instead earn an honest living by tasting the cheese in a cheese factory and leaving notes about its quality. The factory owner soon praises Anatole but his exquisite taste and suggestions but when he asks to meet him, Anatole decides to remain anonymous. Can you blame him? In Anatole and the Cat, poor Anatole’s position at the factory is compromised when a cat starts to roam around at night and Anatole can’t leave accurate notes.

– What I think they’ll read next
I don’t know but I’m sure it will be good stuff. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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