So, the greatest act of self-care I have indulged in since this year started is listening to Thug Notes: A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature by Sparky Sweets, Ph.D.
In case you’re not familiar with the greatness that is Thug Notes, here is a brief intro, using a story we’re all familiar with:
Maybe three? I dunno; I missed posting this for a while. I have Martin Luther King, Jr. stuff in here, which I think was more than two weeks ago. Whatever, I should be grading.
So, I was overthinking today’s prompt for A Month of Faves as I am wont to do, but decided to just talk about what it asks for: surprise finds this year. since I read across genres but also didn’t really read anything outside of my preferred genres/types of stories this year, these are less books outside my comfort zone and more books I expected exactly nothing from, so was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed them.
So if you have ever read a post on this blog, you will know that I can complicate anything–even something as simple as picking five popular books worth the hype for a month of faves. Because, you know, what constitutes popular? And hype? Is it number of ratings? I mean, what?
I mean, really, it’s not that difficult. What are some books I’ve heard a lot about that were actually as good as people said? STOP MAKING EVERYTHING COMPLICATED, AKILAH.
So without further ado:
I think I have mentioned it before, but Mom (CBS) is one of my favorite shows (and one of the few shows I watch that survived the Great Television Slaughter of 2016. But I digress). Since it comes back tonight (9 p.m. Eastern time!), I figured I’d post some books that people who like the series might enjoy.
Like most boys, he’d grown up believing girls were emotional and fragile little things. Since moving to Kansas it was obvious the women he’d interacted with didn’t know that.
Stepping to a New Day is the seventh book in Beverly Jenkins’s Blessings series, set in the fictional (and delightful) Henry Adams, Kansas.
I have to confess that I haven’t read the other books in the series, which meant it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the story and the rules. However, once I figured out that it’s basically a soap opera with rotating frontburner and backburner characters, I was ALL IN.
I am just going to copy/paste the directions for this one from The Broke and the Bookish:
Thanks to Lenore at Celebrity Readers for suggesting this topic as a new way to talk about underrated books especially when underrated is subjective. An easy way to find this — go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that.
I put together this list a while ago, and I set a bunch of criteria for myself about which books I would include, and I have NO IDEA what they were. Books I haven’t really talked about on the blog before? Books published before 2010? Who knows? All descriptions from Goodreads.
1. Green Thumb by Rob Thomas (creator of Veronica Mars, btw): Thirteen-year-old genius Grady Jacobs thinks junior high is a snore. His radical science experiments have earned him plenty of national awards, but not a lot of friends. So when an invitation comes to join the famous scientist, Dr. Carter, in the Brazilian rain forest, Grady is on the next plane to the Amazon. But Grady’s ultimate field trip turns ultimately awful when he discovers what Dr. Carter is really up to: he isn’t there to save the rain forest — he is there to destroy it! Can one eight-grade science whiz put a stop to Dr. Carter’s evil plans? He can when he is joined by the Urah-Wau tribe of Indians and a supernatural power that no amount of science can ever explain.
# of ratings: 71
My comments: This book is so fun! Adventure stories for the win.
I love audiobooks, but I have to admit that I was nervous to start listening to them. My concern was mostly that I wouldn’t pay attention and would miss a bunch of stuff as a result. However, I found that to be the exact opposite of my experience.
Still, my first foray into audiobooks started with me listening to a book I had already read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I figured that was a safe way to figure out if audiobooks were for me or not. Because, hey, if I found that I couldn’t pay attention, it wouldn’t really matter since I had already read the book.
Well, I paid attention, and I was hooked. In fact, listening to HP in the car is how I finally got my daughter into the books. We listened to the whole series as we did road trips over the course of about a year. We also make it a habit now to check out audiobooks before going on a road trip–whether we wind up listening to them or not.
Audiobooks are a great way to bond with children or other family members because you have a shared reading experience and someone else gets to read to you. So, here are five audiobooks that I recommend for family bonding, using me and my daughter as the foolproof sample:
1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (read by Jim Dale) — I am not 100% in love with Jim Dale as a narrator, mostly because his Hermione and Luna Lovegood are both absolutely horrid. However, his overall narration is pretty good. Plus, the Stephen Fry version isn’t available Stateside. So we just gotta make do with what we got.
2. The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park (read by Lana Quintal) — She is hilarious. Also, you can easily listen to multiple books in the series because they’re so short.
3. The Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look (read by LeUyen Pham) — Also hilarious. Also really short.
4. Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money by Christopher Paul Curtis (read by Joe Holt) — Super hilarious. Also, there is a sequel, but my library doesn’t have it in audio form which is the saddest sad to ever sad.
5. Witch Week and Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (read by Gerard Doyle) — These were less funny and more completely engaging and enthralling. Also, there are more books in the Chrestomanci series, but those are the only two we listened to, so I can’t rec the whole series. Plus, the other books may have different narrators and Gerard Doyle is perfection.
I should also note that we listened to most of these books when my daughter was a teenager even though a lot of them are kiddie lit and not YA.
I belong to two book clubs: one that meets during the school year and is full of awesome moms (The No Rules Book Club) and one that meets during the summer and is full of awesome grad students/academics (Children’s Lit Summer Reading Book Club). The school year one meets once a month from September – May and the summer one meets every week (give or take one or two) May – August.
The pros of being in a book club include getting together with awesome people to talk about books, eating delicious food, and being exposed to books I might not otherwise read. The biggest con to being in book club is assigned reading. Just like in school, sometimes I like the book and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I’m fine with reading something that someone else has picked while other times I just want to read the book I want to read.
Unfortunately, I have a reputation in the No Rules club for not liking the books. However, it’s not that I don’t like them. It’s more that I’m just critical of them. I studied literature and creative writing. I don’t read like normal people.
And to prove that I don’t always hate the books, I have compiled a list of five book club books I dug that I would not have picked up on my own:
1. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty — I saw lots of people posting about this after I read it. But I still probably would have skipped it. Not YA and I don’t really care about stories focused on marriage.
2. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford — This was nowhere near on my radar.
3. One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern — See #2.
4. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd — See #2. Also, this is a book about slavery. I do NOT read books about slavery anymore.
5. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (read by Edward Hermann) — A biography of a WWII vet? Absolutely not my thing. Also, I found this book completely boring when I tried to read it on paper, so I checked out the audiobook because sometimes the medium matters and wound up completely into it. Edward Hermann is FANTASTIC. I would listen to anything else he narrates. Plus also, I almost put this on the audiobook list above because my daughter listened to a little bit with me and was also intrigued (not enough to make me wait to listen to it with her, however, hence its exclusion from the list).
Bonus: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale — See #2. This is also now one of my favorite books of all time and therefore further proof that sometimes magic can happen in book club.
Okay, party people, tell me what audiobooks you recommend for family bonding and/or a book club pick someone else chose that you wound up digging.
This past week, I finished:
2.5 stars, rounding down
This was fine but VERY backdoor pilot. The whole purpose was to introduce Raven who has her own series, Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 1: Captain Raven and the All-Girl Pirate Crew. So there’s that.
Hot tip: This book is super gay, which I’m sure the shippers will love, especially because the subtext is actually addressed at the end of the book.
As always, the artwork is great, and Adrienne and Bedelia are A+–when we actually get to see them together.
Ah, yes, back to the things I love in this series. Also: Devin! I love him. Good stuff with the sisters here and a fun side adventure with Sparky showing just how badass she can be. Yay Sparky!
Last week, I posted:
Still going with the A to Z challenge!
[wrap-up-posts week=”15″ year=”2016″ category=”Blogging A to Z” listtype=”ul”]
As of today, I’m reading:
True story: I was all set to finish up Necessary Endings, but then I lost it. In my house. Turns out that it fell behind my bed–on the side I didn’t check. I only found it because I changed my sheets this weekend. Amazing. So! This week! I vow to finish!
My daughter read and loved Furiously Happy, so I promised her I would read it after she finished it. She finished and immediately told me to get started, so that’s happening this week. I’m on the first story of Demigods & Magicians and enjoying it so far.
Oh, and of course the Hamiltome, Hamilton: The Revolution. Was there any doubt?
Happy reading, everyone!