Friday, February 15, 2019

Young Adult Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places
by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf
on January 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Length: 378 pages

Literary Awards:
Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2015)
Pennsylvania's Young Readers Choice Award Nominee for Young Adults (2016)
Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2016)
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Nominee (2016)
South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult (2017)
Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2017)
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2017)
Lincoln Award Nominee (2017)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for the Best of the Best (2018)

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death. 

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself--a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

My Thoughts:
This book was painful.
I'm quite fond of tragedy but I think this one hit me a little too hard. Everything about this book was beautiful but also so heartbreaking.
You think you'll be okay, because you know from the start that Finch doesn't plan on living, but it will still hurt. A lot. 

Niven did an amazing job of covering mental health as well as the spirit of being a young adult while dealing with difficult life situations in this book. 
I think All the Bright Things has a lot of hard life lessons in it though. Ones like: You may/will get hurt, more than once, in ways that you think you may never heal from. Time does heal though. The memories will always be there, but the pain does lessen, and the best way to deal with it all is just to live. However you can. Just live. 

I personally don't think that anyone that is going through a really rough time and that may be susceptible to low moods should read this until they are in a stable frame of mind. As an adult who has much better control of my emotions now than I did as a teenager, I was still affected pretty deeply by this book. It doesn't have the most positive, uplifting, or happy ending. It doesn't seem very hopeful. It's definitely worth the read though. 

If you're just looking for an ugly cry, this might be the perfect book to choose. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Picture Book Review: Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly
with Winifred Conkling
Illustrated by Laura Freeman
Published by HarperCollins
on January 16, 2018
Genre: Non-fiction, Feminism, History
Length: 40 pages

Literary Awards:
Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrator (2019)

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math... really good.

They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. 

In this illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as "colored computers," and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career. 

My Thoughts:
I have the full length novel somewhere on my TBR shelf waiting to be read but I couldn't pass up reading the picture book to my daughter. I love books like this that show girls that they too can grow up to do amazing things if only they persevere and follow their dreams. 
More so, this picture book is about the four intelligent black women who worked for NASA, doing mathematics, programming their first computer, engineering airplanes and spaceships, and helping the United States to send the first man around Earth and land on the moon.

This picture book only dips into the lives of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden and their accomplishments, which just makes me want to read the full length novel more, but it is a great summary of both the history of  'the Space Race' and these extraordinary women.

It follows a timeline (which is illustrated in the back of the book), starting in 1943 when the first African-American female "computers" were hired at what is now NASA. These women did all the complicated mathematics that we now use actual computers for.
Each of the four women started working for NASA at different times but each played a huge roll in aeronautics and space travel.

Overall, I'm glad to have come across this important book and hope to read and learn more about these women and their contributions soon!

Looking for more biographies of amazing women?
Be sure to check out my reviews for these!

Happy reading!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Non-fiction Book Review: Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages by Gaston Dorren

Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages
by Gaston Dorren
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
on December 4, 2018
Genre: Non-fiction
Length: 320 pages

English is the world language, except that most of the world doesn't speak it--only one in five people does. Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world's 7.4 billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Bengali). Babel whisks the reader on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics or elegant but complicated writing scripts, and mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to the outside world. Among many other things, Babel will teach you why modern Turks can't read books that are a mere 75 years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate "dialects" for men and women. Dorren lets you in on his personal trials and triumphs while studying Vietnamese in Hanoi, debunks ten widespread myths about Chinese characters, and discovers that Swahili became the lingua franca in a part of the world where people routinely speak three or more languages. Witty, fascinating and utterly compelling, Babel will change the way you look at and listen to the world and how it speaks. 

My Thoughts: 
I don't usually review non-fiction unless it's for children but I've been very absorbed in this book lately and had a few things to say about it. 

I've been fascinated by languages lately and have been actively learning a few. I love that the internet bridges the gap between countries and cultures and allows us to converse about things we have in common. Learning new languages has helped me learn more about the world and the cultures and people within it. Likewise, I've learned more about the history of the world and have only wanted to learn more since then. 

That curiosity is why I picked this up as soon as I saw it at my local library. I'd already started learning at least three new languages so I needed something that could teach me a little something about each of them, and more. 
Of course, I skipped around to the languages that most interest me right now, and those that I am studying, but I perused the others as well. 

I was happy to see that some chapters included a lot of history about the language, which was exactly what I was looking for at the time. Other chapters focused on specifics within the language or the author's personal experience with that language. 

As the first book about language that I've picked up to read (besides a dictionary), this was quite informative for me. I've learned a lot more than I would have just studying the languages I'm currently learning and subsequently have learned more about language as a whole as well as that I have a lot more to learn!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2019 Reading Challenge Roundup

Lazy Day Lit's 2019 Reading Challenge Round Up

Who likes reading challenges?!
I may not be the best at keeping up or keeping track of them but I'm going to attempt to try!

I'm also going to challenge myself to continue my 2018 trend of reading out of my comfort zone, to read more of my own books rather than ebooks, arcs, or books from the library, and to read more books set in places around the world. 

The main purpose of this round up is to keep track of the books I read for which challenges throughout the year.
It's woefully empty but hopefully we all have an amazing year full of great books! Happy Reading! 

2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Stacy Renee has read 3 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Predetermined TBR
(to choose at my discretion)



2018: 61/1001
2019: 62/1001

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell 

1001 Books to Read Before You Grow Up List
2018: 143/1001

Beat the Backlist challenge:
(I'm only counting books that I already own for this challenge) 

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (ebook)

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge

*Little Leaders:Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison (children's)
*Babel:Around the World in Twenty Languages by Gaston Dorren
 *Becoming by Michelle Obama 
*Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (children's)
*Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vasti Harrison (children's)
The A-Z of Wonder Women by Yvonne Lin 

New to Me Authors

Carl Hiaasen
Jennifer Niven
Gaston Dorren
Vashti Harrison
Michelle Obama
Margot Lee Shetterly

Book to Movie Adaptations
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (upcoming)
Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham (Masterpiece theater series)
Dry by Neal Shusterman (upcoming)

Thanks for checking out my reading progress! Have a great day! 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Picture Book Review: Harold Loves His Woolly Hat by Vern Kousky

Harold Loves His Woolly Hat
by Vern Kousky
Published by Schwartz & Wade Books
on December 11, 2018
Length: 40 pages

In this sweet picture book that celebrates selflessness and the joy of helping others, a little bear named Harold loses his beloved woolly hat--only to discover that others need it more. 

What makes a bear special? For Harold, it is his beloved striped woolly hat. He wears it when he sleeps, when he goes to school, and even when he takes his monthly bath. But when a crow whisks the hat off his head and high up into a nest, Harold doesn't feel so special anymore. He tries everything to get it back--offering the crow blueberries, worms, and even shiny objects--but alas, the crow will not budge. Turns out that the hat has a new special purpose: keeping three baby crows warm. This heartwarming picture book features an irresistible bear and gently reinforces the notion that it doesn't matter what you have, it's who you are that matters. 

My Thoughts:
This was such a touching little story!
Harold loves his woolly hat and thinks that it makes him special and sets him apart from the other bears. He wears his hat always, even during his once monthly bath, but when a crow swoops down and steals it away, Harold must do whatever he can to get it back. Harold tries to trade for his hat, but nothing he offers will sway the old crow. Of course, Harold perseveres, only to find that things are not quite as he originally perceived and his warm woolly hat was needed by others. 

I love that this story progresses from Harold being quite upset about his hat to learning compassion. Not only does he understand why his hat is needed by others, but he then goes out of his way to help further, proving that he really is a special bear. My daughter thought it was super sweet that he wanted to help towards the end.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

2019 PopSugar Reading Challenge

I have never participated in this challenge before but I like the idea of loose prompts that I can choose books for so I thought I'd give it a whirl this year. 

I thought it would help to give myself a few choices for each criteria to hopefully help me cross them off the list throughout the year! I'm also being a stickler and mostly choosing from my 2019 TBR so some prompts may be left empty. 

A book becoming a movie in 2019
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

A book that makes me nostalgic
Rascal by Sterling North

A book written by a musician

A book you think should be turned into a movie
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads
1984 by George Orwell

A book with a plant in the title or on the cover
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A reread of a favorite book

A book about a hobby
Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages by Gaston Dorren (My most recently acquired hobby is learning languages!)

A book you meant to read in 2018
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title

A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Circe by Madeline Miller
Aru Shaw and the End of Time by Roshani Chokski

A book published posthumously
Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie

A retelling of a classic

A book with a question in the title
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

A book set on college or university campus

A book about someone with a superpower

A book told from multiple POVs

A book set in space

A book by two female authors

A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title

A book set in Scandinavia
Beartown by Frederik Bachman 
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

A book that takes place in a single day
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

A debut novel

A book that's published in 2019
The Wicked King by Holly Black

A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Kenny and the Dragon by Tony Diterlizzi
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

A book recommended by a celebrity you admire

A book with LOVE in the title
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

A book featuring an amateur detective

A book about family

A book author from Asia, Africa, or South America

A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title
The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A book that includes a wedding

A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter
The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden
Mr. Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

A ghost story
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

A book with a two-word title
Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham (CR)
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
On Writing by Stephen King

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

A novel based on a true story

A book revolving around a puzzle or game

Your favorite prompt from a past PopSugar Reading Challenge

I'm adding the advanced options as well but I don't think I'll be able to read any of these without buying or borrowing. 

A "cli-fi" (climate fiction) book
Dry by Neal Shusterman (currently reading)

A "choose your own adventure" book

An "own voices" book
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokski

Read a book during the season it's set in
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Beartown by Fredrick Bachman

A LitRPG book

A book with no chapters / unusual chapter headings / unconventionally numbered chapters 
(I'll have to look through my tbr pile)

Two books that share the same title #1 & #2

A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom

A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent

I'll be editing this throughout the year to cross off what I've read!
I'm also not against recommendations for the empty categories!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Picture Book Review: Dragons Love Tacos 2 by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel
Series: Dragons Love Tacos #2
Written by Adam Rubin
Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Published by Dial Books
on May 2, 2017
Length: 48 pages

The hilarious sequel to the smokin' hot New York Times best seller, perfect for story time.

New alert! It has hust been discovered that there are NO MORE TACOS left anywhere in the world. This is a huge problem because, as you know, dragons love tacos. If only there was a way for the dragons to travel back in time before tacos went extinct. Then they could grab lots of tacos and bring them back! It's the perfect plan, as long as there's no spicy salsa. You remember what happened last time...

The award-winning creators of Robo-Sauce and Secret Pizza Party return with a gut-bustingly hilarious companion to the bestselling phenomenon Dragons Love Tacos

My Thoughts:
We return to the world of taco loving dragons in this fun sequel to Dragons Love Tacos. The problem? There are no tacos! Oh, the tragedy! But not to worry! We can always travel back in time to when taco supplies were not depleted! Then we can save the tacos and plant taco trees! 
Sound good?

There's plenty of fun to be had with all these taco obsessed dragons wandering about. Join our dragon friends in the search for all the tacos and take a trip through time while you're at it. This sequel is just plain silly at times but still a hoot to read! 

Be sure to check out my review for the first book in the series: 

Looking for more storybooks about dragons?
Check out my reviews by clicking on a book below! 


Happy reading!