Tag Archives: #amreading

Perfect. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Perfect Cecilia Ahern

Perfect by Cecilia Ahern

She was once thought of as Perfect. By her boyfriend, by her teachers, by her sister and by her classmates. Then she was branded as Flawed

One of the last things Celestine North’s mom told her to do was run. Run from Bosco Crevan Celestine ran and hiding at her grandfather’s farm put his life in jeopardy and sent him to Highland Castle. So Celestine is on the run again.

She desperately wants to find Carrick, but instead, he finds her. He takes her to a “safe” place, but they both know that being safe and hidden is not what they want. But leaving safety is a tough decision when your face is plastered on every newscast and billboard as a dangerous criminal and there are whistleblowers looking for you everywhere. 

Perfect. A Propensity to Discuss review.

And then there is the issue of trust. The only people she knows with absolute certainty that she can trust are her mom, dad, and sister and she can’t risk her life or theirs to be near them. She is basically on her own, with Carrick by her side, even when small doubts about him trickle in. She has become the face of a very quiet, very hopeful revolution and it is not something she takes lightly. But the thought that she has no one to trust terrifies her, almost as much as Mary May and Bosco Craven do.

Cecilia Ahern has created a Perfect sequel to the unputdownable Flawed (click here for my review of Flawed) I received this book last night and finished it this afternoon. It was also really unputdownable for me. It was so good that I may go back and read both of them again, and I very rarely, if ever, re-read books. There are just too many others to get out there waiting. But this series, to me, is that great!

Flawed and Perfect are absolutely my favorite dystopian story ever. And I love dystopian novels and have read more than my fair share of them. These are not-to-be-missed books!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Female of the Species

I have a confession. You have probably noticed, but here goes. When I find an author that I like, I read everything they have written and will write in the future.

That said, having read and loved A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, I knew I would have to read her other books. So I just finished The Female of the Species and it did not disappoint.

It has been said that we all have our own demons to face and we can either fight or flee. For the main characters in this story, the demons seem to be close to winning. Close, but not quite victorious.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Alex Craft’s demons rule her life. Her older sister, Anna had always been her protector. She protected Alex from the world and from their alcoholic mother. Alex’s mother saw only her absent father in Alex and poured on to her all the anger that she could not show to her AWOL husband. But Anna was murdered and Alex bears the burden of her death as an albatross around her neck. She talks to no one. She has no friends. She goes to school, comes home, eats, studies, reads, and sleeps and does it again the next day. She has a mere existence, not a life.

Jack’s demons lie in the poverty that his parents can not overcome. He loves them, knows they do everything they can to make life better, but there is just no getting ahead. So leaving this town by way of a college scholarship is the demon that dominates his need to be the best in athletics, in classes, in life. Branley, his best friend since childhood knows everything about him and even though other people come in and out of their lives, Branley is one of the constants in Jack’s life, even when he knows it isn’t for the best.

Peekay’s demons are in her nickname. She is a “PK” or Preacher’s Kid. Peekay has a strong faith but living up to being a PK in a very small town where everyone knows your business is extremely difficult. And when her long-time boyfriend Adam leaves her for Branley, she is back to just being Peekay, having lost the title of Adam’s girlfriend. Her biggest demon is that she doesn’t allow herself to be who she is, just who everyone else needs her to be.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Dark and emotionally challenging with some brutality, but with a lesson in vengeance, forgiveness, and acceptance the story of Alex, Jack and Peekay’s battle against their demons is a book that everyone needs to read. Whatever your own demons, this book shows how cathartic it can be to rid yourself of your demons, even if the cost of doing so is beyond what you can imagine or think you can handle.

When you consider the extreme contrast in setting, characters, and plot between this book and A Madness so Discreet, it is impossible to compare one to the other and to ensure that if you like one of them that you will like the other. However, McGinnis’ writing is quite mesmerizing. “Every day the sun rises and the wind bottle empties and his sits there wondering where his life went wrong until it sets again.” Her writing is beautiful, even when the subject isn’t. This is absolutely an author I will continue to read.

 

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!

Check out all the books I have reviewed on the blog by clicking this link.

https://propensitytodiscuss.wordpress.com/book-reviews-list/

The Miniaturist. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Miniaturist

Yes, I am a librarian/media specialist. And yes, I buy books for the media center all the time (you can read about that process in this post). And yes, I LOVE to read but very rarely do I have the time to read at work. I am usually helping students with computer issues, teaching kids and adults how to use computers to do exactly what they want (sounds strange for high school students and teachers to need that help, but you’d be surprised), helping students find the right book to read and a myriad of other tasks.

So if I ever take out a book during the day and take the time to stop and read, it is a REALLY good book and it has bewitched me, body and soul as Mr. Darcy so eloquently put it.  The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is one of those books. I could not get enough of it. I could not put it down. I read every spare minute. So what had my attention, you ask?

When Petronella “Nella” Oortman turns 18, her mother arranges for her to marry Johannes Brandt of Amsterdam, who is in his late 30s, to save their family after Nella’s father drank away most of their money and then died, leaving them nearly destitute. Nella met Johannes a couple of times before the marriage but basically knows very little about him.

The Miniaturist. A Propensity to Discuss review.

When she arrives in Amsterdam, she is met at the house by his sister Marin, who in most aspects is the head of the house, Otto, a former slave from Surinam who was freed by Johannes and Cornelia, the maid. The fact that Marin takes the lead of the house is damaging to Nella’s already low self-esteem. Add to this a husband who is rarely home and does not interact with his wife when he is there and Nella cannot figure our where she belongs in this new life she is supposed to forge.

When Johannes presents her with a miniature replica of their home as a wedding gift, she is not only confused by the gift that she sees as a toy but also angry that he would think so little of her as to believe she would be interested in such an expensive waste of time and money.

However, when Marin gives her the name of a miniaturist in Amsterdam and money of her own to pay for the items, she decides to hire out pieces for the house. When she receives the items that she ordered, she also receives pieces that she did not order and that seem to mock her life and her situation. Nella, furious, sends word to the miniaturist not to send anything else.

But as Nella’s life becomes more complicated, the miniatures keep coming and seem to not just mock her life, but to foretell it. While terrified of what the miniaturist will send next and yet terrified that no more will arrive, Nella sets out to get her life, her marriage, and her house in order, just as the walls seem to be falling down around her.

Detailed and intriguing, this novel deposits you smack in the middle of a macabre world of 1860s Amsterdam where the citizens are encouraged or maybe somewhat commanded by the Church to spy on their neighbors and to turn them in for anything that the Church deems impure, even the “idol worship” of gingerbread men and dolls, not to mention the “wickedness” of money, though no Priest would ever turn down a quickly palmed bribe.

This beautiful work is a rich tapestry of history, intrigue, love, hatred and family and exactly to what lengths people will go to protect those they love and seek vengeance against those believed to have inflicted harm or wrongdoing against them.

The Miniaturist. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Burton first saw the dollhouse owned by Petronella Oortman (above) which does actually exist in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and decided to tell a fictional story about its owner. And I am so very happy that she did.

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!

Check out all the books I have reviewed on the blog by clicking this link.

The audio version of The Miniaturist read by Davina Porter is also available. 

A Madness So Discreet. A Propensity to Discuss review.

A Madness So Discreet

Perfectly sane, Grace Mae leaves behind the life of a wealthy socialite and enters a horror filled existence when she is banished to an insane asylum for a reason thoroughly out of her control. Feeling that she has nothing to live for and certainly nothing to offer, she closes herself and her voice off from those around her.

When she is pushed beyond the limit of what she can withstand, she strikes out and is sent to the dungeon where she meets someone who changes the course of her life forever. Enter a very forward-thinking doctor who uses the clues left behind at the scenes of murder victims to identify their killers. Grace, in her new-found life, the doctor believes, can help him.

From the first few pages of A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, I was completely mesmerized. I hated to put it down and when I had to, I could hardly wait to pick it up again. McGinnis did a remarkable job developing the characters for this story, as well as giving them social and moral dilemmas that show how they react to working for the right reasons, even if they may be morally or ethically questionable.

Add the rich history of the ethics, or lack thereof, in asylums in the late 1800s and you have a story that vividly brings to light what fate those with mental illnesses, those who were easily disposed of by their wealthy families, and those who were chronically ill had to face.  Throw in the beginnings of forensic science and several main characters that you come to know and love and you have one really great book on your hands.

This is an unputdownable, must read!

If you are interested in the audio version of A Madness so Discreet performed by Brittany Pressley, I do recommend this as well. I both listened and read because I did not want to be away from Grace for long periods of time!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products! 

 

 

Behind Closed Doors anything is possible…

Unputdownable. I have used this term before, but boy, oh boy, just ask my family about this one! I had headphones in my ears at every opportunity this weekend so that I could get to the end of this book and see the characters safely to the other side! There was no way for me to let this one sit unfinished for any length of time.

Jack and Grace are the perfect married couple. Just ask Adam and Diane, they see it every time they share a meal with them. Jack is always so attentive to Grace, doesn’t let her lift a finger without his help. They reminisce about their trips and the way they met. Friends Esther and Diane would love to get to know Grace better, but she just seems to be joined at the hip to Jack. You never see her without him.

Grace always finds a reason to cancel plans to meet Diane and Esther alone for lunch. They never see her in town. She doesn’t have a cell phone or even her own email address. Add to the fact that she quit her job to be a stay at home wife and Esther just doesn’t believe the fairy tale is real. There is something that just doesn’t sit right in her mind.

Behind Closed Doors anything is possible...A Propensity to Discuss review.

Then there is Millie, Grace’s sister who is 17 years her junior and has Downs Syndrome. Esther and Diane are amazed that Jack is so excited to have Millie come to live with them. It is so unusual to find a man whose love is so unconditional. But Behind Closed Doors, something nefarious lurks.

Is the fairy tale real? Or is something sinister about? On reading/hearing the first two chapters, a feeling of ill-will hits you and you know that all is not as it seems. But there is no way of guessing just how evil one person could be.

The character development in this book is so rich and so intense that I found myself cringing and holding my breath. Torment comes in all shapes and sizes, in all manners of people. And if no one would believe the truth, where is a person to turn for help?

This one is an absolute must read! Or a must listen! I chose the audio version which was read impeccably by Georgia Maguire. She brings every character to life with amazing skill, variation, and inflection. You can almost see the characters in your mind as you listen. This is a great book to listen to if you have never tried an audio book before. With a run time of 8 hours 23 minutes, it won’t take a ton of time, but trust me, you’ll wish it went on for longer!

On a side note, I have seen this book compared to Gone Girl, but I have to disagree. While the psychological thriller aspect is much the same, there are characters in this book to whom you can actually relate and pull for and fight for and love. Not so with Gone Girl. So while the idea of someone pulling off a psychologically heinous act on someone else is there, this book has many more redeeming qualities. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Gone Girl, I just really LOVE Behind Closed Doors!

Interested in other psychological thrillers? Check out this post….7 Books And 2 Series That Will Keep You Up At Night

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

 

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted

If you read my post  One note that rocked my world…for the best, you know that I was allowed to read anything I wanted. As an adult, a teacher, and still a voracious reader, I have come to realize how important reading is to education, growth, and mental development. That being said, the reasons I let my kids read anything they wanted is that I came to realize why my parents did the same for me.

Why am I worried about this, you ask? Kids today don’t read! No, no! Not so fast with that assumption! A study of more than 6,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center proves that Millennials are reading more books than the over-30 crowd. (LaFrance) My worry is that so many parents are blocking kids from reading what they want and that not only terrifies me, but it drives me crazy! Here are my reasons why:

(1) Reading teaches more than any teacher ever will.

Put your claws up, I’m a teacher, too, so I am NOT taking away anything from teachers! Teachers are amazing! But reading, well, reading is so much more!

Think about it this way. A student picks up a fiction book and starts to read. Maybe the book is set in Australia. Does he learn anything about Australia? Yes, climate, culture, the people. A whole geography lesson…and no one forced him to learn it. Another student is reading a fictional account of a girl in North Korea and her eyes are opened to other places where freedom is not something to take for granted.

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

There are only so many teacher lectures that will get through to students, and then they have to start seeing things for themselves and experiencing them in order to be able to really understand them. Short of traveling to Australia or North Korea (good luck with that one) reading leads them into that understanding. Even if it is fictional, it has to have a plausibility of truth and that truth is where learning lies.

(2) Reading encourages imagination.

Imagination is a good thing. Kids who have a good imagination are capable of entertaining themselves, and for tired parents, parents who need some adult conversations, or parents who don’t want children who are completely dependent on them for everything, that is a great skill to develop.

Kids who have great imaginations grow up to be adults who are capable of thinking outside the box, a skill that is highly sought after by employers.

(3) Reading helps develop better writing skills and strengthens critical thinking skills.

While thinking outside the box is a great skill, being able to write well and get those thoughts across is just as important when looking for a job. Not to mention getting through high school and college.

There are basically 6 actionable critical thinking skills for which employers look: Interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and self-regulation. All of these can be fine-tuned through independent reading. Every single one. (Tilus)

(4) For readers, it is not the words, but the story.

“But some books have bad words! And what about ‘inappropriate’ content?” To this my answer has a few parts:

(a) No matter how protective you are, your child is going to hear/read/ and yes, even say those words eventually.

(b) Avid readers generally gloss over the actual words in a story and it is the content they concentrate on, not the individual words.

(c) Read the book at the same time and if there is content that makes you uncomfortable, talk with them openly and honestly about it. That is so much healthier than the head in the sand approach to sensitive topics.

Wouldn’t you rather your kids learn the truth from you rather than the generally uneducated gossiping and giggling in the school bathroom?

(5) Gives them more to talk about and encourages maturity and by the way, the world does not shield them.

Need something interesting to talk to your kids about during dinner that they won’t roll their eyes and tell you things like “I’m fine. School is fine. My friends are fine.”

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

Remember I said you could read the same book?  Imagine the conversations from that. No eye rolling (unless you come out with a plot-spoiler).

When was the last time the public as a whole did everything in their power to shield a young child from the realities of the world? Have you seen the news? They show pretty much anything they want these days with a simple “This video may be hard for some viewers to watch” statement. Have you seen what is on TV? Oh. My. Goodness. I do not profess to be a prude by any means, but there are just some things I don’t want to see at 7:30 p.m.

Also, when was the last time you went to a sporting event? The language! So, if you don’t want your child to see and hear these things, are you going to be there with a blindfold and sound-masking headphones for your child every second of every day?

If not, then you need to teach them the good, bad and the ugly long before they reach kindergarten and keep on teaching it to them. Then trust that you have instilled in them a healthy dose of rational “this is good…that is bad…that is disgusting” ideology and let them out of that bubble!

(6) I would rather they know what they are reading is allowed and they can (had to) discuss it with me.

I have a student (I’ll refer to her as Suzy) who loves to read and loves to discuss books with me. One day one of her parents called to tell me that Suzy was far too young to have checked out a certain book and could not believe that it was even an option in the school library.

Parent: That book is full of sex scenes and profanity and people having affairs. I am appalled that you have the nerve to even own that book!

Me: So, you’ve read it, then?

Parent: No, my spouse read part of it and it was so terrible, it was not even finished.

Me: I was wondering, because I have read it and I don’t remember any sex, there were no extra-marital affairs and very little profanity, that I remember.

I then explained the “Not the words, but the story” theory. The parent stated that this 11th-grade student was not mature/smart enough to understand that “real people don’t act like that.”

In the end, Suzy was not allowed to have the book checked out, even though her prior conversations with me about the book allowed me to know that she did, in fact, know that it was a work of fiction, that what they were doing was morally wrong and that, yes, in fact, some people do act like that.

One of my initial reactions is to think “Wow, you don’t have any faith in your own parenting skills, do you?”

Trust your child. Talk to them about the book. Explain why you have reservations, and allow them to make their own decisions. I mean, surely no one reads a book about a fictional bank robbery to learn to become a bank robber. Do they?

7 reasons I let my kids read any book they wanted. A Propensity to Discuss post.

(7) Reading fiction promotes empathy.

A study by P. Matthijs Bal and Martijn Veltkamp entitled How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? finds that reading fiction allows us the ability to empathize with others, which improves our social interactions.

This, my friends, is a total parenting WIN-WIN-WIN situation! Are you wondering how this could be? Follow me here.

First, teenagers are still working on the whole empathy thing. They don’t really have their full-tilt, completely functioning, everything works as it will in a few years brain yet. So, eye-rolling is going to happen, but with empathy, perhaps they can start to see your side of the argument about things like curfew, as well.

Second, the more empathy they learn, the more likely they are to consider the feelings of others. Not just other students, but their teachers, their siblings, their parents…see where this is headed?

Third (and there are probably more), they begin to see how their actions affect those around them. How many of you see a piece of paper on the floor at work and leave it there? How many teenagers leave it? Most of them do. But people who empathize with others may look at that and think, there is no reason why I can’t pick that up. There is one company that leaves a piece of trash on the floor as a test. If the applicant doesn’t pick it up, they don’t get the job. This shows both the level of empathy and work ethic of the applicant. In other words “It is my job to help everyone else around here.”

Whew…that’s a lot of reasoning! So, yes, I was allowed to read anything I wanted to read. Yes, my kids were allowed to read anything they wanted to read. Yes, they had to read…even during the summer. But I also read with them and to them and I read my own books while they were reading. We have even had great road trips with audio books for company. Also, they had to discuss their reading with me as they read. This encouraged conversations with them then and now about anything and everything.

So I hope that you will keep on reading, and I hope that you will encourage your kids to read anything they like. Because if they like it, they will read it. Then they will keep going back for more. The more you/they read, the more you/they benefit.

Happy reading!

Let me know what you think!  Do/did your kids read anything and everything? And what about when you were growing up?

 

Citations:

3 Simple Steps to A Well-Read Life. (2016, August 11). Retrieved September 05, 2016, from https://www.bookofthemonth.com/magazine/post/159

Bal, P. M., & Veltkamp, M. (2013, January 30). How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. Retrieved September 06, 2016, from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055341

LaFrance, A. (2014, September 10). Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations. Retrieved September 07, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/millennials-are-out-reading-older-generations/379934/

Tilus, G. (2012, November 12). 6 Critical Thinking Skills You Need to Master Now. Retrieved September 07, 2016, from http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/critical-thinking-skills-you-need-to-master-now/

A little good advice, a lot of fun, and a really good read. A Propensity to Discuss Review. How may we hate you?

A little good advice, a lot of fun, and a really good read.

Let’s be honest, here. We all like to read funny stories about stupid things people do and say. It makes us feel somewhat better about ourselves. Helps us know that we aren’t the only ones who have done things to embarrass ourselves. (Yes, I have. No, I’m not telling!)

So when I got the chance to read and review “How may we help hate you : Notes from the Concierge Desk” by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe, I expected a lot of stories about crazy people and dumb actions. What I found instead was a lot of really good information. And, yes, quite a few funny stories about crazy people.

A little good advice, a lot of fun, and a really good read. A Propensity to Discuss Review. How may we hate you?

Honestly, there is some good advice in this book written by two aspiring actor/comedians who need to eat and pay rent and therefore need a job that pays actual money. Because in their words, they are not to be trusted with keeping small humans alive and food service wasn’t really their calling, so hotel concierge it is.

Now, take into consideration that I am heading off to my first visit to NYC soon and they happen to work in NYC, so I got a bit of the lowdown on how to tackle the Big Apple. And how to make friends with the concierge and not get on his or her nerves. A huge plus!

The manager of the hotel where they work knows all about their book, but before that he knew about the blog they started which is still up and running here. The blog received some critical acclaim…and by that I mean there were a great many critics, many of whom work in other hotels. (Personally, I think they are just upset they didn’t think of creating the blog and writing the book themselves.)

The biggest takeaway from this book and the blog? BE NICE. Just because someone is being paid to help you does not give you the right to be nasty to them. After all, I believe in the saying from William H Swanson’s 33 Unwritten Rules of Management, “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).”

On that note, I think that every person should be required to work at least 2-3 months in some type of customer service job. It would teach everyone how to treat other people. There is something to be said for treating others the way you want to be treated.

Short of working a customer oriented job, read this book! It will (hopefully) teach you a little bit about how to treat others, especially those who are paid to smile and be nice to you no matter how rude you are to them. Plus you’ll learn a little about NYC and you will laugh. You will laugh a lot!

4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

A solid 4 stars! A Propensity to Discuss Review.

 

Blogging for Books Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Blogging for Books Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure. A Propensity to Discuss Review.