Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Secret Journal of Brett Colton

"Kathy Colton can't stand her brother Brett.  Her family talks as if he were perfect!  All Kathy knows for sure is that Brett is dead.  He died of leukemia when he was seventeen and she was only two.  But when Kathy turns sixteen, she discovers her brother's hidden journal-a journal written especially for her-and learns about the brother she never know.  At the same time, Kathy is mortified by an assignment to tutor the popular high school quarterback Jason West, a football jock who, even worse, is a Mormon."
          I thought that this book was the perfect girl power book.  It talks a lot about the lessons learned about faith, acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding.  It made me cry...a still has a happy ending though

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mr. Popper's Penguins

by Richard and Florence Atwater

HADYN:  Mr. Popper's was a very good story.  I liked it very much, because there's a husband, named Mr. Popper and he really like the Antarctic, so he asked for a penguin in the mail.  He got a penguin in a box.  He liked it and called it Captain Cook.  The zoo had a penguin that was a girl and they didn't want it, so they sent it to Mr. Popper, and since it was a girl, it laid lots of baby penguins, and they got tons and tons (maybe 10) penguins.  Captain Cook was the father and Greta was the mother and they had a whole lot of penguins and they were great performers so they put them at a stage but at first they were at the wrong auditorium that they had to pay or they had to go to a different theater.  You will like it if you read it.  

REGAN:  We read Mr. Popper's together, and I thought it was a really good book.  It started out as Mrs. Popper and Mr. Popper with their two children.  They got a penguin from Admiral Drake.  They named it Captain Cook.  The zoo gave them another penguin named Greta.  They had a nest in the refrigerator and they got 12 babies.  The penguins liked to walk up stairs and toboggan down.  They became a circus act and they even got sent to jail.  I thought it was a really good book.  That's why I think you should read it.

MARIA:  This was a great book to read.  Not too hard to follow so Hadyn could follow, but funny enough that Regan stayed interested.  It is a Newberry Honors book from 1939.  It's a good get kids ready to go to sleep book, which means I loved it :).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead

So I went to the National Book Festival a couple of weeks ago and heard a book talk by this author. Since I've been living in a cave the last year or so, I didn't know that she'd written the Newbery winner for this year -- this book. She was fantastic. I loved her talk, so I went straight to the library and checked it out. It was well worth a read. The main character is enjoyable. I liked how well-rounded all the characters are and how I came to like them all. The plot is intriguing, too. Recommended.

(This is when I had the epiphany that we'd named 3 of 4 children after characters in
A Wrinkle In Time; if you read the book, you'll see why....)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nancy Drew and the Bungalow Mystery (Book #3)

We started reading this book about a month ago, and we finished it last night. Nancy was on a boat in a storm and a girl saved them from crashing into a rock and her name was Laura.  Laura had a mystery for Nancy.  Two weeks later, Laura came to Nancy to tell her about her strange guardians.  My favorite part of the book was when Laura gave Nancy the aquamarine ring.  I think you should read this book because it's exciting.  Lisa just gave me a whole bunch of Nancy Drew books, so get ready for a whole bunch of Nancy Drew books on the Luke Ladies Book Nook!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I just finished this, again, I've read it many times. It's a young adult book about Sam Westing, master of disguise and game playing, who in his will called 16 heirs to play the "Westing Game" to discover who took his life and figure out the solution, becoming the heir to his money. it's an easy read, and fun. It's fun to try and figure it out. It was made into a movie but I haven't seen it, so I don't know how much it follows the book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Julia Probyn Series

Ann Bridge

This is a series of books written anonymously in the 1950s by a British diplomat's wife. She'd lived all over the world and writes stories set in those places. The collection I found was three books in one (they're out of print, I found this on for really cheap) called
Julia Involved. These three were set in Morocco, Portugal, and Switzerland, respectively.

I liked her writing, and I liked the detail about the places and the events and the politics (a little, not too much!) of the time. It's fascinating how much has changed in 50 years. They're very readable: international intrigue with a little romance thrown in.

I've heard that her other books are great too (she wrote 20-30 of them) but they're all out of print and most of the others besides this series are very pricey. So if you find any Ann Bridge in used bookstores, pick it up and send it to me! :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Known World

by Edward P. Jones
I just finished this last night.  I'm trying to read some of the award-winning books from the library (Pulitzers, National Book Awards, Man Bookers, etc.) and I'm keeping a list so I can create my own library more high school student friendly.  With so many of my friends having high school students, I keep hearing how so many of the "great" books are awful, and that it is difficult to find the reading list books because the library's copies are always checked out. I decided to start my reading now and buy books that are more likely to end up on these reading lists AND that I feel are appropriate to read.  That said, I just finished this one, and found it very interesting.  It won the Pulitzer in 2004, and this is the author's 2nd novel.  (His 1st, Lost in the City, was a National Book Award finalist).
The book is set in the slavery era in Virginia, but is about an aspect of slavery I was not aware of.  Apparently, there were a number of free blacks that were slave owners in the south.  Usually it was second generation freed slaves, whose parents had themselves been slaves and been freed or purchased their freedom. I did not know this happened and imagine it would cause some difficulties in the families.  Anyway, it is written in a really cool way, telling a story, but weaving in what happens in the future to the different characters.  I really enjoyed it.  It supposedly paints a fairly realistic picture of slavery, which I appreciate.  Most interesting were the interactions between the black and white slave owners, as well as the black slave owners relationships (often strained) with their parents.
I thought it was a good book.  I added it to my "buy" list.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Baptism, by George Durrant

This book is about a 7-year-old boy named George who is getting ready to be baptized. One story was about a fire. It was a rainy day, and George and his friends would usually cook potatoes in a bonfire, but it was rainy that day and they tried to chop down trees and build a fire, but the trees were too wet, so they decided to build a bonfire in Alan's barn. The barn caught on fire because they built a fire in there. George hid behind the stove because he knew he was in trouble. Their Mom and Dad talked about what had happened, and George heard that he was too little to know right from wrong, but George knew he really was responsible and had done something wrong. He decided to repent.

I liked this book because it had fun stories.


(This was a fun book, just memories the author had of experiences that prepared him for baptism. I recommend it, especially for boys.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace

written by Donald J. Sobol... reviewed by Regan E. Luke

Do you like mysteries?  I do.  So I decided to read Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace.  It's 10 small stories in one book.  One of my favorites was "The Case of the Crowing Rooster".  It started out that on a "Thursday evening Encyclopedia was trimming the bushes in front of his house when Lisa Periwinkle raced by on her bicycle."  Encyclopedia was wondering why she was in such a hurry.  Encyclopedia went with Lisa to go to the junkyard for a meeting.  When they got there Bugswent with his partner, Bill Canfield, and Bill Canfield had an invention to make the roosters crow.  Encyclopedia figured out that the roosters crowed three times because Bill was hiding it in the darkness because when roosters see light, they crow, so that's how come it crowed.  Bill said that if they gave him $5 to make more fake rooster machines he would give them one.  But Bill was actually just stealing money.  I liked this book because I love mysteries.  I also like it because I like how you get part of the story and you can figure it out on your own or go to the back and see what the answer is.  You should read this fact your whole family should read it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

39 Clues Books 1-3

Scholastic scheme or not. I've enjoyed this series. I've been listening to them while I clean. The reader is really good. Each book is by a different author. The first author is one that Matt really likes. One and Three were better than Two. I'm looking forward to many more hours of entertainment!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Okay, here's my latest read. It is all the rage right now, at least around here, with the youth. I borrowed it from the library and found it in the young adult section. I really liked it. It is set in the future in the wasteland that was once the United States. In an effort by "The Capitol" to keep the outlying districts aware of their weakness and subservience, the Hunger Games are created. It is a bit brutal...a fight to the death by teenagers chosen by lottery from each district. It is sort of a spin on our increasing addiction to reality TV, I suppose. Anyway, it's one of those books you read without having to think to much, but it really draws you in. I finished very quickly, in fact, I had it at the house when we had everyone over for Memorial Day, and before I even got a chance to start it, Lisa borrowed it (to save the 100+ person wait list at the library) and read it, then Andrew and Dave read it. This was all within a week. So, I guess I'm not the only one who got into it. As of today, I am #117 on the library's wait list for book 2 of the series, Catching Fire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I can't remember the author. I think it's Alan Something? Maybe not. Anyway, it's about an English boy and his parents who move into a new house. They're trying to deal with fixing up the place, a premature baby, and all the adjustments involved. Meanwhile, the boy finds a mysterious visitor in the crumbling old garage....

I liked this book because of the relationship between the boy and his parents and his new sister. They were under stress, but underlying it all was love. Too many books about kids portray the parents as clueless or uncaring, but this one didn't. Plus it had a supernatural, mysterious twist that still doesn't entirely make sense to me that made the book memorable.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Affinities and Other Short stories
by: Mary Roberts Rinehart

I picked this book up somewhere, I was drawn to the old cover as well as the authoress. At the time I thought it was Radcliffe not Rinehart. Radcliff is mentioned in Jane Austen's books. I began reading the first story titled Affinities and was a little shocked at the story line as it was married couples going out for a secret picnic with other people's spouses. This was especially troublesome to me after seeing that it was first published in 1909. I paused in my reading to do a quick wikipidea search on the author to rule out any Nora Roberts of the 1900's. I was reassured by what I found on the web and picked up the book again. It took me maybe an hour and a half to read the entire story and I'm so glad I did. It had a good moral and I had a good laugh after it was all said and done. The first thing I thought when I was done reading it was, my grandmother would love this story!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Secret Life of Bees

This book is by Sue Monk Kidd, who it says lives in Charleston. Maybe Kellie will run into her :). Anyway, it's set in South Carolina (they mention Goose Creek!) in 1964 as the Civil Rights Act was signed. It's about a white 14 year old girl named Lily, and her colored nanny/housekeeper Rosleen. Lily runs away from home and takes Rosleen with her, after Rosleen got herself in trouble when trying to register to vote. They end up in the home of three colored sisters, one of whom is a beekeeper. The sisters let them stay. It's about Lily coming to terms with her childhood, her mother, her father, and the changing world; she has a policeman tell her she's lowered herself by living with these ladies, yet she finds she likes being there better than she ever liked her own home. There is swearing in it.

I'm now reading The Help, as Maria suggested, which is very good, and it's interesting to read these two books about the same subject - civil rights and segregation in the South in the early '60s. It would be interesting to hear what someone who lived in that era - hint, hint Mom - has to say about it, I'm sure that Utah/Idaho were far different from the South at that time. Was anything in Idaho/Utah even segregated?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Forest Born

I just finished Forest Born, by Shannon Hale. She's LDS (I'm almost positive) and her books are great (nothing religious at all, I just read her little summary about herself). This is the fourth in a series, the first is Goose Girl, then Enna Burning, then River Secrets. She also wrote The Princess Academy. It's taken me a while to read each one, just not enough time, but once I get about halfway through it's so hard to stop! The endings are all really good, and often surprising. Thanks, Deb, for tipping me off to her books! And letting me borrow one :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Miracle at Speedy Motors

by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the 8th or 9th book in his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. I love them. They're not difficult reads but they aren't light-minded either. The characters are well drawn. I love getting a glimpse of Botswanan culture, and sometimes, they are laugh-out-loud funny. I recommend them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nancy Drew and Fablehaven

Hi! This is Regan and Hadyn. We just finished the first book of Nancy Drew. (Editor's note: Regan's comments are in green and Hadyn's are in purple.) It was about three people who stole some furniture from the Topham's. I liked the book very much. Nancy was trying to find the clock the thieves took in a van. The secret was really mysterious. Inside of the clock was Josiah Crowley's notebook that said that another will was made. The Topham family wanted to destroy the will because they didn't get any money. You should read this book. I got another Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Wooden Lady, from the library on April 9th, yesteday. I can't wait to read it. I want to read another Nancy Drew book as soon as possible. I hope the mystery will be mysterious and I bet I'll like it a lot. (Editors note, again: This is how every conversation goes in my house :) If I could have figured out how to type two sentences on top of one another I would have done so, just to make the convo more realistic. The girls LOVED Nancy Drew. Regan and I went to the library yesterday, and I taught her how to use the computers to find and/0r request books from other libraries as well. She's has a list of which ones she wants to read next. Hard enough to be challenging for Regan to read on her own, but easy enough language for them to follow the story when I read it out loud. Now we're on to Charlotte's Web, then back to Nancy Drew #2...)

I'm sure you've all already finished this, since I believe I am the last person on the planet to read it, but I really enjoyed it. A good fantasy, without the weird sci-fi stuff. It was easy to read and didn't take a lot of thinking, which is nice every now and then. I have actually requested the 2nd book from the library, so that tells you something, I guess. I also told the story to Regan, and now she has confiscated my copy and is reading it as well. I'm not sure she has the staying power to read that long of a book, but I don't mind that she does read it. There is one chapter where the plot gets a little scary. Not too bad. I'd still read it to Regan, but not as a bedtime story. Maybe an after school story for that chapter. This author lives in Utah, around the Point of the Mountain. Wave says the author is actually going to do a book signing at Joplin sometime soon. Regan and I might just have to crash that party... If you have been living on another planet and haven't read this one yet (as I was), I do recommend it. It's perfect for just picking up when you have 10 minutes here and there to read. Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard by Fan Shen

I just finished reading this for a book club I'm in, and I really liked it. It is written by Fan Shen, who was a pre-teen when Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution "hit" China, and was a avid supporter of the revolution and the Communist party. He quickly became disenchanted as he witnessed and took part in the reality of it. Fan Shen's autobiography tells of all the years he spent in China, assigned to various jobs, no longer believing in the Communist regime, but unable to protest without losing his life. It is so fascinating as a first-hand account of Communism, but it reads like a novel. So interesting. It's one you can't put down. Fan Shen, the author now lives and teaches college in the US. I think it is out of print now, but I was able to find a copy at the library.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell

This is supposed to be her masterpiece. It's mostly about a girl and her father and what happens when he decides (after being a widower for many years) to remarry. It's very slow-paced, which is fine in the beginning when you're still getting a feel for the characters and the setting. It starts to drag, though, when the action gets going, and you want to know how things are going to resolve themselves and she takes 300 pages to do it!

The main problem: Gaskell died before she finished the book! No one told me and the story ends with only a chapter or two to go. It was really frustrating after investing myself for 650 pages. Maybe other versions have added an ending, but mine didn't.

But I've got my name in for the DVD at the library. I've heard the movie version is very good, so if you don't want to slog through the text, that is another option because it really is a good story. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I am not quite done with this one yet, but if I didn't have to put it down, I wouldn't. It is an awesome book. Our book club read it last month, but I am only just now getting to it. It is based in the deep south of Mississippi, during the days of MLK. It is about the racial tensions of the time, mostly through the perception of the black maids in a town. It switches around from chapter to chapter telling the story in a different maid's "voice", or that of a young society woman who is getting tired of how the "help" is being treated, and is secretly writing a book about it. Anyway, it is really well-written, not too wordy, but interesting. It is on the best seller list, so if you are like me and borrow from the library, you'll probably have a bit of a wait, but it is well worth it.