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Put reading first, with 20 minutes a day spent reading to your children. 
Make it fun and exciting! Be imaginative!

If you read just 1 book a day, you will have read about 365 books in a year. That is 730 books in two years, and 1,095 books in just three years!

 

Book Reviews
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Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin

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Sometimes it's nice to have a palate cleanser and read something unlike what you typically read. While I like female-empowering stories and Young Jane Young has that, its structure and tale are atypical for this teen librarian who reads a whole lot of YA. There are five sections to Young Jane Young. Each section is narrated by a different character who is an important person to a certain life choice (or a result of said life choice), but it also is chronologically stable, as well as solid in its story arc. So while the sections are not told in chronological order, they are told so that we can see the full ripple effect. As such, it reminded me of Cashore's Jane, Unlimited. However, while Jane, Unlimited was not to my liking due to its back-and-forth/wormhole/parallel universes, Young Jane Young executed a "choose your own adventure" style the correct way. The reader sees the choices, nearly, flashing in Aviva/Jane's mind as she has that split-second to make her decision, but Zevin controls the choosing because the ones "un-chosen" are stricken out on the page. We can see that Aviva/Jane knows that she's not making the best choice and that her affair is always a choice, but that she seems to be pulled--and therefore the reader is pulled, too--toward the congressman. The atypical timeline of the five sections allows the reader to see the full picture: yes, poor decisions were made; yes, there were consequences to said decisions; but good things came of them, too; and those good things are now a life of their own and want answers. Real life is like that, too: life is a choose your own adventure: "If you hit snooze one more time, turn to page 4. If you roll out of bed and get ready for work, turn to page 7." And real life continues on with more choices, some good, some bad, with consequences, some disappointing and some less disappointing, with new life, some for the better and some for the worse. That's life. Aviva/Jane finds that out at the ripe age of 20 after a choice is made infamous thanks to the world wide web. Hopefully you can figure it out less publicly.

Ranger In Time Long Road To Freedom
by Kate Messner

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It was about a dog named ranger and some children named Sarah and Jesse.

Count To Ten
by James Patterson

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This book was not up to Patterson's level of attention grapping.

Seveneves
by Neal Stephenson

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A well-crafted story that might have been better served as two separate novels. Difficult to slog through the pages of minute details of orbital mechanics just to get through the story line, when he could have given it the cursory explanation he gave genetic manipulation as that was also necessary to move the story along in places. I also felt it ended rather abruptly and more pages could have been spent developing the new relationships found in the last few pages of the novel. But overall, it was a fun and exciting read that does make you wonder, "What does happen if the moon suddenly gets hit by a cataclysmic agent?"

Refugee
by Alan Gratz

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SO GOOD! Alan Gratz weaves the tales of three families trying to escape their countries into one powerful story. The three stories are in different time frames—one is trying to escape Nazi Germany, one is fleeing Castro’s Cuba, and another is a modern-day Syrian refugee family—but it is masterfully woven together with similar threads picked up in each of the stories. Without being blatant about it, Gratz probes the issue of what foreign policy should be on accepting refugees into the country, and prompts us all, regardless of our stance on immigrants and refugees, to take a look at the individual people and families affected by the topic. Oh, and the last chapter of this book—WOW. Do yourself a favor and read this book today.

The Renegades
by Marissa Meyer

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I didn't think I would like Renegades. I'm not super into Marvel or DC, I didn't like Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, and I didn't think I was in the mood for a sci-fi. But, y'all. This book! First of all, I love when audiobook directors choose to go with multiple readers when the narration is from different characters every other chapter or so. And that's how they did it with Renegades: one actor for Nova's POV and another for Adrian's POV. They each do an excellent job with inflections and vocal tics and differing the pitch according different characters speaking. They could have read a bit faster, but that's what the speed-up option is for. 4.75/5 stars. Secondly, I could NOT predict what was going to happen. As the Queen of Predictions (my mother can't stand going to the movies with me because I tend to whisper my predictions throughout the movie, and I'm right 85% of the time), I had the hardest time deciphering what I thought Nova would do: would she realize the plight of the Renegades and discard her Anarchist upbringing? Or would she stay true to her Anarchist philosophies and truly destroy the Renegades from the inside? How would a potential budding romance affect her heart? Her logic? Her understanding of the Renegades and life in general? AND THEN THAT FINAL PLOT TWIST IN THE LAST PAGE(S)!!!!! OHMIGOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I figured when we learned about [redacted for spoilers] that something would come of it, but NOT THAT!! Thirdly, the cognitive dissonance and philosophical discussions that Nova-- and therefore the reader-- engage in are excellent in regards to good vs. evil. But what I absolutely love is that Meyer incorporates the gray area. We are not all good nor all bad, but we exist in a gray area that is largely influenced by our choices. This is explicitly stated in a scene with Max, but is further explored at the amusement park. This is not something that we get in a lot of, and it made my English teacher heart soar! (This also makes it an excellent book to study for the classroom!) The only downside is that there are moments when the maturity of the characters is inconsistent. They really have no idea how to do surveillance. It doesn't make sense with their background. And it seems fishy that the Council would let them do it without any sort of training. They are all incredibly naive in that portion of the story. And yet, at other times, they are mature beyond their years, especially as Danna too quickly moves beyond petty dislike of Nova and as Adrian interacts with Max and the birthday party kids. This doesn't distract from the book too much; instead, it was just annoying whenever I noticed something that was middle school behavior or adult behavior instead of high school behavior. In all, I loved Renegades so much that I got fed up with only listening to the audiobook that I download the ebook from Overdrive/Libby to read between the times when I was able to listen so that I could get to the ending --and the reveal to my unknowns concerns predictions-- more quickly!

Happy Birthday bad kitty
by Nick Bruel

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It was funny and I like cats.

The Alamo cat
by Rita Kerr

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It was funny and sad at the same time.

Lady Travelers Guide To Larceny With A Dashing Stranger
by Victoria Alexander

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Romance. Willie and Dante both claim a lost painting. She received it from her grandmother. He claims it was stolen from his family museum. It is currently held as collateral for a loan her deceased husband took out. She is leading a group of women travelers through Europe stopping in Venice where she plans to recover the painting. Dante joins the tour with his sister and niece. Typical adventures from there.

The Crown's Game
by Evelyn Skye

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I avoided The Crown's Game for too long because I thought it was going to be a Hunger Games repeat. I was SO wrong! It's 1825, in Russia, and Vika and Nikolai are the only two individuals in Russia who have innate, magical abilities. They are each being raised to become the Tsar's Enchanter. However, only one of them can have that title. To determine who gets it, the Tsar begins the Game wherein only one can survive. However, that game + duel to the death + the only one left living is the winner is where the similarities with The Hunger Games ends. Instead of outright warfare, Nikolai and Vika try to out-do the other in feats of magic to help the tsarevich celebrate his impending birthday. There might be some underhanded violence, though, too, since only one can come out alive and the victor. There's some falling in love, some beautiful magic, some blossoming friendships, some betrayals, and some Lady Macbeth-like behavior from a younger sister all while the Game is taking place. But dystopian violence is never present. Skye does an EXCELLENT job at executing third-person omniscient narration (the best I've read in a very long time), and the short chapters help her accomplish this. There is lots of action and very little ruminating, which will make The Crown's Game a hit with reluctant readers. And the small pinches of romance (which seem hoaky at the beginning) won't deter boys from reading it. If you prefer high fantasy over contemporary fantasies, you would still enjoy The Crown's Game. The non-British setting is similar in it unfamiliarity as an epic realm would be. And if you like historical fiction, specifically set in Russia, you'll still enjoy The Crown's Game because Sky was a Russian history/literature major at Stanford, so she has done her homework (literally!) in regards to the historical facts. The only thing I disliked was the actor's accent(s) for the audiobook. When he reads narration, he affects a slight Russian accent and makes it more pronounced when reading dialogue. This is annoying, as is the Russian accent. I'm not super familiar with Russian accents, but it was just unnecessary. Do yourself a favor and read the book; don't listen to the audio version. Now, on to the sequel!
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