Tag Archives: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

WWW Wednesdays – January 4, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

Happy new year, everyone! I wish you and your close ones plenty of good things for 2012.

My bookshelf

– What I’m currently reading
The 19th wife by David EbershoffThe 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, chosen by my book club for January and a previous New York Times Bestseller. I’ve been reading it for almost two weeks and finally getting close to the end. This book is very long because it’s actually two stories in one. The first one is of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th “official” wife of Brigham Young. She eventually divorced him and campaigned to make polygamy illegal in the U.S., as well as wrote a book about her experience called… Wife No. 19. The second story is that of Jordan Scott, a reject from a Mormon like cult in Arizona, whose mom is accused of killing her husband.

– What I recently finished reading
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. You can read my review here.

– What I think I’ll read next
I’m hoping to be able to read The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson before I have to return it at the library. That’s why I need to finish The 19th Wife before this book is due (I’m really trying).

My kids’ bookshelf

What they’re currently reading
Bunnicula the vampire bunnySeveral books in the Bunnicula & Friends series by James Howe, describing the adventures of Harold the dog, Chester the cat and Bunnicula, a potential vampire bunny who sleeps during the day and makes vegetables turn white by sucking out their juices at night. So far we have read these books and we’re looking forward to reading more if they are available at our library:
Bunnicula & Friends – the Vampire Bunny
Bunnicula & Friends – Rabbit-cadabra!
Bunnicula & Friends – The Fright Before Christmas
Bunnicula & Friends –  Creepy Crawly Birthday

What they recently finished reading
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Hilarious versions of common fairy tales, including the Gingerbread Man who happens to be a Stinky Cheese Man that nobody wants to chase and eat…
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Sylvester the donkey who finds a magic pebble that can make any wish come true. Unfortunately, in a moment of fright, Sylvester requests to be turned into a rock but then can’t hold the pebble to wish himself back to normal again. A great ending happens to this tender story.

– What I think they’ll read next
I just ordered some Richard Scarry books so I hope we get to read a few of them soon.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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Our favorite adult literature and children’s books of 2011

WWW Wednesdays

You may have noticed I didn’t post a WWW Wednesdays update yesterday. I simply ran out of time. It was my mom’s last vacation day with us and I couldn’t find enough time in front of the computer to write up my weekly update.

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

I did want to share with you a wonderful book I just finished a few days ago called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. What an amazing book to learn about this less often told part of history, i.e. Stalin’s own ethnic cleansing of large parts of Eastern Europe that killed 20 million people (he sure got bragging rights over Hitler in the genocide category). Sepetys based her book on her own family’s experiences as well as testimonies from many Lithuanian families. This gives her story a very real feeling when you understand this type of events really happened to millions of uprooted families sent to Siberian forced labor camps. This is a poignant, personal first novel I highly recommend.

Now, instead of doing my weekly WWW Wednesdays update, I thought I’d make a list of our favorite books we read in 2011 and I encourage you to read them too.

My best adult literature book picks of 2011

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. By far the best book I’ve read this year. It made me laugh, it made me cry and made me enjoy a story about dogs when I’m a cat person. Great storytelling.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard. Such a great premise and angle for this murder mystery book. I couldn’t put it down and went on to read book #2 in the series, Never Have I Ever. Read it, you won’t regret it.

Room by Emma Donoghue. The first third of this book (the captivity part) kept me on the edge. The rest of it sucked me right in and surprised me several times on the way. This is a wonderful book on a very painful subject.

My best children’s book picks of 2011

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. Rhyming stories of a tiny mouse outsmarting a terrifying larger than life gruffalo.

 The Mr Putter & Tabby book series by Cynthia Rylant. These are wonderful, funny, kind and sweet stories about Mr Putter, his cat Tabby, his neighbor Mrs Teaberry and her dog Zeke. Our very favorite are Mr Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch, Mr Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears (zing!) and Mr Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish (bat bat bat…).

There Are Cats in This Book and its sequel There Are No Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. These are interactive, hilarious books to read over and over with the kids, even if you’re not a cat person. Kids love to memorize all the lines and read the story on their own, laughing out loud.

What are your favorite book picks for 2011?

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WWW Wednesdays – December 21, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Did you notice I revamped my blog yesterday? What do you think of the new look?

I was going to work on my “101 in 1001” update late last week when, one by one, each member of our family got attacked by the nastiest stomach bug. It looked like we had an exorcist visiting our home and working its anti-demon moves on all of us for several days. As a parent, there’s nothing worse than being sick as a dog when you have to take care of your kids (whether they’re sick or not themselves). We’re now recovering and finding the energy to get out of the house for fresh air. My advice to you: use hand sanitizer everywhere you go! That bug is NASTY.

My bookshelf

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys– What I’m currently reading
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. A fascinating novel written by the descendant of Lithuanian refugees. In 1941, 15-year old Lina and her family are deported to a forced-labor camp in Siberia. I’m a third into the book and even though it’s definitely not a book to put me in the Christmas spirit (interesting to note it arrived at the library right after I finished Man’s Search for Meaning), I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next to Lina and her family.

– What I recently finished reading
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. A fascinating memoir of Frankl’s years spent in various concentration camps during World War II and his analysis of what makes man want to survive such atrocities rather than give up on life. As you read this book, or any book on similar inhumane situations (e.g. genocides, ethnic cleansing, slavery), it’s so hard to believe these still happen in so many places around the world, every day.

– What I think I’ll read next
Deck the Halls by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark. It’s the prequel to The Christmas Thief, which I just read a few weeks ago. Since it’s set around Christmastime I thought it would be a good change from the horrors of the concentration camps at this time of year.

My kids’ bookshelfThe Berenstain Bears save Christmas

What they’re currently reading
Lots of books with a Christmas theme!
The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas by Stan & Jan Berenstain and Michael Berenstain. A great story to remind our little ones what the true spirit of Christmas really. The Berenstain Bears help Santa Bear find it amongst the Christmas gone-crazy lights, shopping and overall holiday extravagance.
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree by Robert Barry. My kids LOVE reading this story. They’re amazed to see how one Christmas treetop that gets chopped because Mr Willowby’s tree is too tall can keep on giving a Christmas tree to so many families. A lovely Christmas story to read all together.
Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini. Papa Moose is taking care of all the Christmas decorations and preparations on his “check” list but his family makes him realize he forgot one crucial item: the Christmas tree. But Papa Moose is here to save Christmas!

What they recently finished reading
How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. I’m not a big Dr Seuss fan (his over-the-top play of words using made-up words usually drive me nuts) but I’ll admit I really like this story, especially around Christmastime. We also watched the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas DVD based on this book and the kids liked it a lot (it’s about 25 minutes, just right for little ones).
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead. A very sweet story about an older gentleman, Amos McGee, who spends time every day with his animal friends at the zoo. When Amos finds himself too sick to go to the zoo, his friends decide to return the favor. 
Look! A book! by Bob Staake. By the author of  The Red Lemon (another great picture book), this is a great seek-and-find adventure picture book with rhyming text and lots of die cuts on every page to find hidden objects and characters. My kids liked reading this book with me and on their own.  
 
– What I think they’ll read next
There are a few books already waiting for us at the library so I’ll have to pick them up by the end of this week and see what great stories are waiting for us.
 
What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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