27 February 2017

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Mini-Reviews and Books on My Radar

 Book reviews and previewsNot much of interest happening around here, and I consider that to be a good thing. We managed to turn off the news a few times this week so we could watch a few television shows, listen to some music, and catch up on our reading. Ahhh, feels good.

Getting organized (again): I have officially declared myself to be a total failure when it comes to organizing my books. Actually it's worse than that: I'm not trying to organize my books, I just want to keep track of them, all of them -- print, audio, and e.

The problem boils down to one thing. When I have free time, I really would rather be doing almost anything else besides entering books into an app. I haven't completely given up on my dream of creating a unified database, but I recognize this is going to be a lifelong struggle.

Mini-Reviews of Last Week's Books

 Book reviews and previews
  • Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (Putnam; 9780399162107): I used to say that books don't make me cry, but that was before I started reading Alex George. His characters are so real to me, I'm completely and utterly emotionally attached to them. This strong, authentic story of loss and growth, of being boys, of finding hope and embracing life against all odds simmers slowly in my heart, and Liam, Robert, and Nathan (and even Hollis) will remain with me as I continue to strive to set my own kites free. One of the best books I'll read all year from one of my favorite authors. Buy this book, read this book (and keep those tissues handy).
  • Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin (Katherine Tegen Books; 9780062458544): I had mixed success with this novel in verse, which is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in contemporary times in the Mideast (Israel and Palestine). Laskin did a good job emphasizing the similarities between the lives of the Jewish girl and Muslim boy (such as sitting down for family dinners) and highlighting the idea that each generation is a little more tolerant than the one before it. In addition, I enjoyed finding the places where the novel subtly echoed the original play ("I hate the parting / the sorrow of it / the fear / tomorrow will never come"). On the other hand, there was so much teen angst I found my attention wandering, and I'm not sure I bought the ending. Read this with reduced expectations.
  • Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli (Clarion Books; 9780547483931): This  beautifully illustrated middle grade graphic novel is the story of a mermaid who discovers there is more to life and the world than the aquarium, in which she lives. It's a coming-of-age story, with a strong theme of friendship, that will capture young readers' imaginations. The plot advances mostly through the drawings, which are rich in ocean colors and convincingly convey emotion and movement. The story line of the mermaid's keeper could have been a little better developed, but I'm still recommending the book.
What I'm Listening to Now / Reading Plans

 Book reviews and previews
  • The Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan (Recorded Books), read by Tim Gerard Reynolds: My current listen is making it very difficult for me to work. I am so invested in this fantasy world and the characters, I just have to know what happens next. This is not magic wand fantasy but a medieval-like world with elves, dwarfs, and wizards; kings, a clergy, and commoners; politics, war, and love. If you like epic fantasy, you'll like Sullivan, and narrator Reynolds has nailed the characters' personalities and the pace of the story.
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina A. Henriquez (Knopf; 9780385350846): This novel about a Mexican family looking for hope and miracles in America is next up in my print reading. Although published in 2014, this story of immigration promises to be especially relevant in the context of today's political atmosphere.
  • All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 9780544824249): Next up on my eReader is this contemporary story about family, adulthood, and discovering what's really important. I gave high marks to a couple of Attenberg's earlier novels (for example, The Middlesteins) and am expecting a sharp, smart, and sometimes humorous look at modern-day life.
What's Up This Week

I have a review and giveaway of a fun middle grade book tomorrow, a photo on Wednesday, and a themed reading list later in the week. Saturday, of course, will be something foodie.


Kailana 2/27/17, 7:11 AM  

Okay, I am going to take a chance on Setting Free the Kites on audio, then.

Sarah's Book Shelves 2/27/17, 7:37 AM  

I just read All Grown Up and I'd say this ("a sharp, smart, and sometimes humorous look at modern-day life") is pretty accurate. I loved it. Some people may get frustrated with Andrea, but I loved it.

You've also got me curious about Alex George...I've been seeing that book around quite a bit.

Susie | Novel Visits 2/27/17, 8:50 AM  

The Book of Unknown Americans really is a perfect read for right now. It's a great story!

The organization piece is so hard. I put together a simple database on Google Docs that is working pretty well for me at the moment. But, you're right. It's no fun!

Lindsey 2/27/17, 9:05 AM  

Yay for The Book of Unknown Americans! I thought it was such a great story.

The organization thing is tough. Maybe try to log them in as soon as you get them while listening to an audiobook?

bermudaonion 2/27/17, 9:43 AM  

I can't believe I've never read Alex George! The Book of Unknown Americans does sound very relevant today.

Vicki 2/27/17, 10:19 AM  

I've got Setting Free The Kites and Ronit & Jamil on my tbr list at the library.

Unknown 2/27/17, 11:31 AM  

I basically use my blog as my organizer of my reading - I don't keep a lot of books on hand. I usually donate them to the library. Have a great week Beth!

Laurel-Rain Snow 2/27/17, 12:06 PM  

All Grown Up is on my list. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your week.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 2/27/17, 12:40 PM  

I will definitely look for Setting Free the Kites. Thank you for the rave review.

Unknown 2/27/17, 1:00 PM  

I'm in the middle of Setting Free the Kites, and yes I love it so very much. I'm already worried about it ending.
I don't receive as many books as you, but yes I do try to put them in a spread sheet as soon as possible. It's the only chance I've got!!

Katherine P 2/27/17, 5:02 PM  

I've battled with book organizing too and haven't done particularly well. I've finally just had to keep it simple and make a couple of lists of books that I want to read or need to read and not worry too much about anything else. There's just so many books and so many formats that I've given up. Plus reading is just way more fun!

Yvonne 2/27/17, 6:03 PM  

I hope you enjoy your selections for this week. Good luck with the organizing. It sounds like a mammoth task!

Greg 2/27/17, 6:40 PM  

Fish Girl looks like a really cute middle grade book about mermaids. And Rise of Empire- hmm I'm not familiar with Sullivan although I THINK I've seen his books, just haven't explored them further. I'll have to take a look at his stuff.

Happy reading this week!

Unknown 2/27/17, 9:06 PM  

I can't wait to read Setting Free the Kites. It sounds delightful. Happy Reading!

Mystica 2/27/17, 9:58 PM  

I'm intrigued by the title The Book of Unknown Americans. Sounds good.

Bibliophile 2/28/17, 2:52 AM  

I took the opportunity and catalogued all my books the last time I moved house and have been diligent about adding any new volume to my database ever since. I would love to get them all organised through an app that just reads off the isbn, but I currently have around 2000 books and, like you, I feel I have better things to do than cataloguing books in my free time, so I guess the old Excel file will just have to do.
Rise of Empires sounds like a great read/listen.
Happy reading!

Yvonne 2/28/17, 7:43 AM  

I used to love organizing my books, but now I keep organizing and not getting anywhere. I'd rather actually be reading.

Hope yo have a great week!

(Diane) bookchickdi 2/28/17, 7:14 PM  

I'm so looking forward to Alex George's book. I loved The Good American.

Iliana 3/2/17, 4:47 PM  

I've had my eye on Setting Free the Kites but I'll keep in mind to keep the tissues nearby!

Daryl 3/3/17, 1:15 PM  

oh yes several here i will add to my TBR .... your book organizing reminds me of my own epic undertaking organizing my photos ...

Darlene 3/5/17, 1:32 PM  

I enjoy immigration stories. The Book of Unknown Americans looks good. Hope you enjoy it!

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