Cluster Review (October Wrap-Up): Dracula, Planet of the Apes, & Cloud Atlas

Yesterday, October 31st, I finished reading Cloud Atlas, which is a cause for celebration for several reasons. For one, it was my 72nd book of the year which means I have OFFICIALLY met my reading goal for this year! And two, I’ve been struggling to get through this book since July, so I’m also celebrating the fact that I’m finally able to read something new.

I’m doing three books at once in this review also for two reasons: One, I was unable to post a review last week and so I’m a week behind in my reviews. Two, I was voraciously reading at the end of October in order to meet my annual goal and to power through as many sci-fi novels as I can (also part of my annual goal). There are only a couple months left in the year, so I’m trying to commit as fully as I can to the goals I set to get out of my reading comfort zone this year.

My feelings about these three books are… complex…

Top 5 Saturday: Books with an Animal on the Cover

Welcome to my first Top 5 Saturday! This is a weekly challenge hosted by Devouring Books, and this week’s challenge is about books with an animal on the cover.

In order to make my list, I first made a different list of all the books I’ve read and liked that have animals on the cover. And then I narrowed it down to my top five based on how much I like the story as well as the cover. Here’s my list…

Book Review: “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North

One of my reading goals this year has been to read more science fiction because it’s not a genre I normally gravitate toward. The premise of “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” sounded really intriguing, so I was excited to finally be able to download this one on Audible. However, if anything, my experience reading this book only reinforced why I don’t normally read sci-fi… It wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t great either.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” tells the story of Harry, a man who never really dies, but continues to relive his life over and over again. It’s kind of like “Groundhog Day,” but

Book Review: “A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book” by Phil Bildner

Over the summer, I made it my goal to read every book of which I have a novel set in my classroom. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use them this year (it’s looking like I won’t since I don’t currently teach students in-person), but I figured if I could read each one and document my thoughts on them then I would be better prepared to lead book clubs (sometimes called literature circles) when the opportunity arose. I managed to read through most of them early this summer, but I kept putting this one off. It seemed very sports-centric and I was initially put off by this. It didn’t seem like anything that would interest me, so I was a little apprehensive about starting it. However, I could not have been more wrong. This book ended up being one of my favorites of all of the novel sets I have in my classroom. It did feature sports, but in a way that tied in to all of the other storylines and themes and made it feel worthwhile. With a diverse cast of characters and so much heart, this is easily one of the best children’s books I’ve read this year.

Spoiler-Free Review: “A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book” is a story about a fifth grade year full of changes, surprises, and growth…

Book Review: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Though the audiobook version of “Little Women” clocks in at a daunting 19 hours and 37 minutes, it didn’t feel long at all as I enjoyed living life through the March sisters’ eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed this classic novel, and am excited to finally be able watch the most recent movie adaptation! I wanted to wait to watch the movie until I had read the book, and I’m excited to see how they adapted such a classic (and long) novel. While there are certainly some themes and plot events that are a little outdated, I felt that overall it was largely ahead of its time and an important piece of work that paved the way for women in literature (both authors and the possibilities for female characters).

Spoiler-Free Review: “Little Women” is a classic novel about family, growing up, and friendship…

Beginning of the Year Read-Alouds

As a teacher, the first week of school is an exciting, insane, and busy time (especially when beginning the year virtually!). It’s a time for getting to know new students, building classroom community, practicing routines, and establishing expectations. One of my favorite ways to accomplish all of these things is through picture books…

Book Review: “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” by Liane Moriarty

I was really excited to finally get to listen to this audiobook. The second audiobook I ever listened to was “What Alice Forgot,” also written by Liana Moriarty and narrated by Tamara Lovatt Smith! I loved “What Alice Forgot,” and Tamara Lovatt Smith was an incredible narrator (with a great Australian accent), so I couldn’t wait to experience this author-narrator team again. The summary describing a hypnotherapist, her new lover, and his stalker who is already stalking the main character without her realizing it was so intriguing. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. Nothing really happened beyond the blurb on the back of the book; I kept waiting for more to happen but it never did. That being said, it was still entertaining enough and the hypnotherapy aspect was interesting and unique. Continue reading below to see my full thoughts on this book.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” is a light novel with an interesting premise that doesn’t live up to its potential…

Cluster Review #4 (Books #12, #21, #22, and #25 of 2020)

Welcome to cluster review number four! This cluster of books I read while in the midst of binge reading many children’s books (mostly historical fiction). I was desperately reading as many children’s books as I could in order to figure out which (if any) I could use in a virtual learning setting (only one, it turns out. Though hopefully more this year!). In this post I will be reviewing the adult/young adult books I was able to read for my own enjoyment during this time. It was nice to have so much time to read, and overall I really enjoyed the books I ended up reading! They were a nice escape from our new normal. (There is actually one additional book that I read during this time, which is “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. I enjoyed this one so much that I am planning on reviewing it separately at a later time, so keep an eye out for that!)…

Book Review: “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell

If you listen to audiobooks, when do you most often listen to them? For me, I typically listen to them in my car during my commute to work. However, since starting to work from home in the spring, my consumption of audiobooks has drastically decreased. I realized that I really missed this effortless way to read (especially as I hit a slump in my reading of physical books as well), and so I’ve been trying to find a way to get into listening to books again that works with my new quarantine lifestyle. I’ve discovered that it’s a great way to make chores more pleasant! Not only that, but it actually motivates me to clean, do laundry, dishes, etc. because it gives me an excuse to keep listening to my audiobook! My apartment is the cleanest it’s been in months now. I chose “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell as my most recent listen because I listened to another book of hers earlier this year and loved it. And I’m so glad I did; it sucked me in right away and way very hard to “put down.”

Spoiler-Free Review: “I Found You” is an intriguing and suspenseful novel that will hold your attention all the way to the end…

Book Review: “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate

“The One and Only Ivan” is a book that’s been on my radar for quite a while, and I was so excited to finally get to read it! I’ve heard great things, but I tend to be apprehensive about books featuring talking animals. However, this book was filled with so much heart and wit, I couldn’t help but love it.

Spoiler-Free Review: Based on a true story, “The One and Only Ivan” is a story full of heart about a silverback gorilla named Ivan…