Year in Review 2013

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As I have for the past few years, I have spent the last few days reflecting on my reading year. This year wasn’t great. I didn’t meet any of my reading goals.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Dana has read 27 books toward her goal of 52 books.
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  • Total number of books read: 27.
  • Fiction books: 19.
  • Nonfiction books: 6.
  • Memoirs: 2.
  • YA books: 7.
  • Audio books: 2.
  • Digital books: 10.
  • DailyLit books: 0.
  • Books reread: 5.

Favorite Reads of the Year (in no particular order):

  1. Moloka’i, Alan Brennert
  2. Divergent, Veronica Roth
  3. The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
  4. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  5. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  6. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce
  7. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  8. Smart Soapmaking and Milk Soapmaking, Anne L. Watson

Least Favorite Books (although this is relative because I didn’t have any less than 3-star books):

  1. Making Soaps & Scents, Catherine Bardey
  2. Delirium, Lauren Oliver

Favorite Book Meme of the Year: Top Ten Tuesdays.

Favorite Reading Challenge: The Mixing it Up Challenge (for at least making me thinking about going outside my usual reading comfort zones).

Favorite Blog Posts (again, in no particular order):

Here is my Where Are Your Reading 2012 Challenge map:


View 2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

I finished a re-read of Wuthering Heights recently, bringing my total to 27 books for the year. I don’t think I’ll finish anything else before the end of the year, so I’m calling it at 27. I have some hopes that if I buckle down, I can finish A Great and Terrible Beauty, but not high hopes.

In addition to not meeting my goal of reading 52 books, I also did not complete any of the challenges I set for myself. I think I over-committed myself on the challenges for sure, but I really did think I could meet the challenges. They didn’t seem onerous. I have decided to limit myself a bit more this year and just try to read things that look interesting.

I am also not going to host any challenges this year, as I find I am a terrible challenge host. I don’t think I peeked in after January, mainly because folks didn’t seem too interested in the challenge. I think I’d rather just participate in other challenges than host them.

There are good reasons for my failure to meet my reading goals. This year I moved and started a new job. I am not being too hard on myself because it was a huge adjustment. I moved 1000 miles from Roswell, GA (suburb of Atlanta) to Worcester, MA in central Massachusetts. We are all very happy in our new digs, and I love my new job.

In my previous job, I rode the bus to work, and my commute was typically 30 minutes each morning on the bus. I was able to get in a lot of reading that way, and I think my lack of commute now is a considerable factor in the number of books I was able to read. We moved here in June, and from that time onward, my commute was typically five minutes. The only way I could stretch it would be to walk, which I have done when the weather is nice, but it’s not conducive to reading. I actually can read and walk at the same time, but it’s better to have your wits about you. Even riding the bus, I only took about five minutes to get to work, but now that I’m carpooling with a coworker, it’s downright rude to think about. Essentially, one hour of reading time I used to have has been taken away. What I need to do is dedicate that reading time each day at home, even if I have to set a timer. I have often said that if something is important to you, you will make time for it. Well, reading is obviously important to me, but I have not been making as much time for it as I previously have done.

I’m looking forward to trying again to read a book a week this coming year.

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Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior: A NovelBarbara Kingsolver’s latest novel [amazon asin=0062124269&text=Flight Behavior] opens as Dellarobia Turnbow, unhappily married at the age of 17 after a pregnancy scare, is on her way to meet up with a telephone repairman with the express purpose of cheating on her husband. Before she reaches her destination, she is confronted with the arresting sight of trees aflame with monarch butterflies. Spooked by the vision, which she considers a sign, she returns to her mother-in-law’s house to pick up her children and go back home.

Others in her small town view the strange butterflies as a sign of God’s providence. The butterflies’ appearance sparks a national news story. Monarch butterflies are, of course, native to Mexico and unheard of in the small town of Feathertown, Tennessee. What could be driving them to Appalachia? Scientists visiting the town set up a lab in the Turnbows’ barn, pulling Dellarobia further into their work. The scientists discover that the monarchs’ appearance is the result of global warming, but the populace of Feathertown doesn’t believe it. Over the course of the novel, Dellarobia’s life in Feathertown is reflected in the butterflies’ existence. Dellarobia wonders, “Why did the one rare, spectacular thing in her life have to be a sickness of nature?”

Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. She has a way with words that is frankly gorgeous. I marvel at her writing. However, I had trouble getting into this book. I didn’t find myself too interested in Dellarobia. I think Barbara Kingsolver has a gift for character development, and I could clearly see Dellarobia as a real person. I didn’t relate to her in the same way I have other characters she has created. [amazon asin=0060786507&text=The Poisonwood Bible] is one of my favorite books, and [amazon asin=006210392X&text=The Bean Trees] is another I enjoyed quite a lot. I also appreciate Kingsolver’s purposeful use of symbolism and metaphor to convey much larger ideas (brilliantly executed in The Poisonwood Bible). This book starts kind of slowly, but the beautiful writing and description should keep readers going in spite of the slow start.

Rating: ★★★★½

Learn more about Barbara Kingsolver at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

TLC Tour HostBarbara’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, November 6th: A Reader of Fictions

Wednesday, November 7th: Dolce Bellezza

Thursday, November 8th: The Blog of Lit Wits

Monday, November 12th: Caribousmom

Tuesday, November 13th: Bookish Habits

Wednesday, November 14th: 50 Books Project

Thursday, November 15th: Unabridged Chick

Monday, November 26th: Book Snob

Tuesday, November 27th: What She Read … – joint review

Wednesday, November 28th: Becca’s Byline

Thursday, November 29th: A Patchwork of Books

Wednesday, December 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, December 6th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness

Tuesday, December 11th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, December 12th: Tina’s Books Reviews

Thursday, December 13th: Seaside Book Corner

Monday, December 17th: 50 Books Project

Friday, December 21st: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

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Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya

Bless Me, UltimaThe tenth grade curriculum where I now teach includes Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me, Ultima. I had never read the book before, and I managed to stay right with the students as we read. There is something to be said for reading alongside students instead of in advance. On this particular occasion, I did it out of necessity rather than design. I usually try to read in advance, but constraints on my time have made that hard. I enjoyed the novel very much, and it was a nice segue from The Catcher in the Rye, which we just studied, to Macbeth, which we will study next. For this particular novel, it was nice to experience the unfolding of the story right alongside the students.

Bless Me, Ultima is a semi-autobiographical novel (something Anaya admits), so my students and I used a biographical lens to study the novel. Like Anaya, Antonio was a young boy living in New Mexico. He feels a great deal of conflict over his path in life. Should he become a vaquero and wander the llano like his father’s family, the Márez? Or should he become a farmer, like his mother’s brothers, the Lunas? His mother wishes for him to become a priest of the Lunas. Or does his path lay on a completely different road? At his mother’s insistence, the family takes in the elderly curandera Ultima, who was present at the birth of Antonio and his siblings. She is a wise healer, and she shows Antonio her healing ways. The two grow close, and he helps her as she is persuaded to use her healing arts to cure victims of witchcraft. Antonio discovers much about the mysteries of life, God, and magic over the course of the two years Ultima lives with his family.

One of my favorite parts of much literature in this genre, and in particular, Chicano and other Latino literature, is the magical realism. I feel that the magical realism in Latino literature is almost always more seamlessly executed and accepted by the characters (and, as a result, the reader) than it is in other types of literature. As I read this novel, it wasn’t hard to accept the notion that of course witchcraft was real, and there were those who used their powers for good, and others who used their powers for evil. And of course, there was a magical Golden Carp who might be part of Antonio’s religious destiny. And of course, small children were religious philosophers who pushed Antonio’s thinking through their clear conclusions about God and the Golden Carp.

Anaya has no trouble bringing his New Mexican llano to life. I grew up in Colorado, and I have been to New Mexico many times. The flat llano was easy for me to picture even without Anaya’s help, but he brings the setting to life through his descriptions of the flat land, the scrubby cacti and yucca plants, the big sky, and the river. There are elements of a traditional shoot-em-up Western, too, as the Márez vaqueros ride in and the evil Tenorio chases people in his quest for vengeance. But what ties all of it together is Ultima and Antonio’s respect for the beauty and utility of the land.

This novel was chosen as a Big Read selection, and here is a video that might interest you. I love Anaya’s bolo tie and tennis shoes. Cute!

Rating: ★★★★★

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from my school as part of my curriculum materials.

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The Cutting Season, Attica Locke

The Cutting SeasonAttica Locke’s novel The Cutting Season is the story of Caren Gray, who manages the plantation Belle Vie on the shores of the Mississippi River, south of Baton Rouge, for its current owners, the Clancey family. Caren’s family and Clanceys have been entwined since the Civil War, when Caren’s ancestor Jason worked on the grounds of the plantation, cutting sugar cane, as the Clanceys’ ancestor William Tynan acted as overseer of the property. When the plantation’s owners left the plantation, it was seized by the federal government. William Tynan acquired the plantation in 1872. Jason went missing, and his ultimate fate remains a mystery. At the opening of the novel, Caren and the rest of the Belle Vie staff are preparing for another busy day at the plantation when Caren discovers the body of a young woman on the plantation grounds, near the old slave cabins. The woman turns out to be Inés Avalo, an undocumented field worker for Groveland Corporation, a large agriculture corporation that owns the fields of sugar cane that border the plantation. Caren finds herself inextricably involved in the resulting investigation, and the ghosts of the plantation’s past come back to haunt the present.

This novel is an interesting exploration of several issues: the legacy of slavery and injustice, the consequences of the growth of big agriculture, the tension between preserving history versus the economical needs of society. Caren Gray is a likable heroine, and the story moves at a good pace. The descriptions are vivid, and the atmosphere pure Southern gothic (in the best way). While the mystery alone was good, and I really wanted to keep turning pages to find out what would happen and whodunnit, I admit my favorite part of the novel was the historical aspect. I really wished that Caren had been more curious about her family history and the history of the plantation. She didn’t seem interested until looking into the past might help her understand present events. I don’t think I could have lived in a place like Belle Vie, particularly knowing my family had also lived there for generations, without being more curious. I’m not sure I found all of Caren’s connections plausible—her daughter’s father works in the Obama administration—but it did make an interesting statement about the arc of race relations in our country since the Civil War. Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the state of Louisiana also makes a small but important impression on the events in the novel.

I was interested to discover that Locke was inspired to create Belle Vie after attending an interracial wedding at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. The idea of such a marriage in that location provoked an emotional conflict in the author, who told NPR, “I felt this tear inside—there’s no way to not feel the beauty of it because it is so stunning. But it also kind of made my stomach turn, because of what it represented.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

Full disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Because of the general mystery and gothic elements, I’m counting this book toward the R.I.P. Challenge (even though it wasn’t on my original list of challenge books) and as the modern fiction selection for the Mixing it Up Challenge. I said I would make soap inspired by each book I read for the R.I.P. Challenge, so look for my Vanilla Sugar soap (including pics) inspired by the sugar cane fields around Belle Vie some time this weekend. It won’t be ready for at least four weeks after it’s made. Biography below courtesy of TLC Book Tours.

About Attica Locke

Black Water Rising, Attica Locke’s first novel, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in the UK in 2010. It was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Strand Magazine Critics Award. Black Water Rising was also a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

Attica Locke has spent many years working as a screenwriter, penning movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, and Dreamworks.  She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

A native of Houston, Texas, Attica now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is a member of the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most recently, she wrote the introduction for the UK publication of Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying. Her second book, The Cutting Season, was published by HarperCollins / and Dennis Lehane in September 2012.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Attica’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, September 18th: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, September 19th: Books and Movies

Thursday, September 20th: A Patchwork of Books

Monday, September 24th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, September 25th: Helen’s Book Blog

Wednesday, September 26th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, September 27th: Dwell in Possibility

Tuesday, October 2nd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, October 10th: The Blog of Lit Wits

Thursday, October 11th: Book Him Danno!

Friday, October 12th: The House of Crime and Mystery

Thursday, October 25th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

TBD: Stephanie’s Written Word

TBD: In the Next Room

TBD: Psychotic State

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe book club at my school, which I advise, elected to read Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower for its first book. We plan to go see the movie after we finish the book. I had wanted to read the book for a long time.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel about high school freshman Charlie’s adjustment to high school, including finding friends, his first crush, and dealing with some difficult issues. Early in the book, Charlie explains he is writing these letters to an anonymous reader because he heard the reader is a good person. Charlie has recently lost a good friend to suicide and is worried about high school, especially finding friends. At one of the first football games, he befriends Patrick, a boy in his shop class, and Patrick’s stepsister Sam, both of whom are seniors. As he grows closer to the two and becomes part of their circle, he learns how to stop standing on the fringes of life and “participate.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the book to me was that it was set in 1991-1992, which was my sophomore year of college, and was particularly memorable. It was my favorite year of college, and consequently, one of my favorite years of life. I was 20 for most of that school year. What a great age to be. And over half my life ago, now. 😥  I spent a lot of time that year listening to some of the new music coming out of Seattle, as well as some older (but new to me) favorites from the Pretenders, the Replacements, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, REM, and the Rolling Stones. One of my favorite parts of this book was the mixtape Charlie gave Patrick. I remember spending hours making mixtapes for my friends. You can make Spotify playlists in a matter of minutes. It’s not the same.

The book deals honestly with issues such as homosexuality, casual sex, drug use, suicide, abortion, and sexual abuse. In fact, if I have one criticism for the book, it’s that the entire kitchen sink of major teen issues was thrown at Charlie, and I’m not sure it’s common for most teens to experience every bad thing that can happen. However, I also admit I was sheltered. But still.

I can see why this book would appeal to teens, and I really enjoyed it myself. I found Charlie to be a likable character, though the book reminded me a great deal of The Catcher in the Rye. Charlie is not quite as friendless or annoying as Holden (though I admit I feel more empathy for Holden than annoyance with him). I have to admit I had trouble seeing him as a wallflower. It seemed to me as if he were a keen observer, but he participated plenty, in my opinion. Much more than I did as a teen—which could be why I had trouble seeing him on the sidelines of life.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie with the book club. I hope it’s good!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros’s modern classic, [amazon asin=0679734775&text=The House on Mango Street] is a collection of vignettes in the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina growing up in Chicago. She is discovering who she is as well as who she wants to be and what she wants from life. Cisneros’s background as a poet shines in some of the vignettes, which have beautiful phrasing and eloquence.

All ninth grade students and advisors at my school read this book this summer as part of our exploration of the motif of community. It is an interesting choice because Esperanza is of the community of Mango Street and while she recognizes the truth of this, she also wishes she could change it. She has dreams of having her own house, somewhere else. The 25th anniversary edition of this book has an interesting introduction written by Cisneros that offers a great deal of insight into Esperanza’s story. While it’s foolish to imagine that writers are always writing about their own lives or are allowing their protagonists to stand in for them in their stories, in the case of The House on Mango Street, it might be true, and after reading the novel, I felt especially happy for Cisneros because she describes her house near San Antonio, Texas, and I had the sense that little Esperanza, whose dreams and fears I came to care about so much, eventually got her wish. I won’t go so far as to say that everyone can relate to The House on Mango Street. I think you have to have grown up not getting everything you wanted and knowing that there was a place for you that was better and was all your own. This book does have interesting things to say about community—how it is established, what holds it together, and what it means to feel like an outsider in your community and yet still realize it’s a part of who you are.

Cisneros’s writing is gorgeous. The House on Mango Street is a quick read that many should be able to digest in one sitting. I took two mainly because I wanted to stretch it out. I think many students have begun studying this book in middle school, and perhaps that is because Esperanza is about that age, but I’m not sure middle schoolers would appreciate it. I’m not really sure high school students would. At least not all of them. I think this book is best appreciated by readers who have some distance between their current and childhood selves and can reflect on their own Mango Streets.

Rating: ★★★★★

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The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green’s YA novel [amazon asin=0525478817&text=The Fault in Our Stars] was recently named one of the 100 Best Ever Teen Novels. The novel’s protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, is a sixteen-year-old girl with an incurable cancer. She meets seventeen-year-old cancer survivor Augustus Waters at a support group for teens with cancer. Hesitant to become too close to Augustus and worried over how her death would affect him (Hazel memorably describes herself at one point in the novel as a grenade), she eventually succumbs to Augustus’s charms as they connect over Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. Augustus uses his Genie Foundation wish on a trip to Amsterdam with Hazel so that she can find out from Peter Van Houten what happens to the other characters in his novel after his protagonist, Anna, dies. The rest of the story doesn’t turn out as Hazel expected—in every single way.

Wow. John Green has to be one of the best writers of YA fiction. I can give no higher praise than that he reminds me Judy Blume in his ability to capture teenagers as they really are. Hazel and Augustus are charming and precocious, but not in an annoying way. I had the sense as I read that they had so much time to contemplate the big questions and in facing death had simply grown up more than your average teenagers. They have a rare joy for life that I would imagine only young people who have faced their own mortality might have. They are delightful, and I felt if I had been their age and known them for real, I hoped they’d have let me in their circle to be their friend. The Fault in Our Stars is a gorgeous novel, beautifully written, tightly plotted, and poignant and funny. I think its place in NPR’s list is well deserved.

You have to check out this excellent review of the book at Forever Young Adult. Posh cast it better than I could imagine, so I’ll beg off that responsibility (which I have been horrible about remembering to do, anyway).

Rating: ★★★★★

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my public library.

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Making Soaps & Scents, Catherine Bardey

Making Soaps & Scents : Soaps, Shampoos, Perfumes & Splashes You Can Make At HomeOn my last trip to the local library, I checked out Catherine Bardey’s [amazon asin=1579120598&text=Making Soaps and Scents], thinking I could learn a few more recipes and tips for my new soap-making endeavor. The book is exactly what it advertises in the title—instructions for how to make soap and scents.

The Good: There are quite a few good ideas in this book, a helpful troubleshooting section (so if something goes wrong, you can determine what the problem is and whether you can fix it/how to fix it), a standard SAP index for figuring out how much lye and water to use depending on the oil type, and nice historical information (how well documented? not sure…). There are quite a few interesting variations, and Bardey includes recipes for shampoo bars and hair rinses—interesting idea. I love my shampoo, so I’ll have to think about it, but it could definitely be a fun gift. In addition, the scent section is interesting. I’m interested in trying solid perfumes, and she had no recipes for that, but who knew cologne could be made with vodka? Probably everyone but me, but I learned something, and that’s good. There is a healthy list of resources, but given the book is now thirteen years old, I’ll bet many of them are no longer available.

The bad: Almost all the soap recipes are based on her vegetable basic soap recipe or her animal basic soap recipe. She uses vegetable shortening in her soap, and I’ve heard of other folks using that, but what if I don’t want Crisco® in my soap? I would basically need to ditch the recipe and start with my own basic oil mixture and her additives, by which time, I may have created some sort of Frankenstein monster soap that won’t play nice with the additives (for all I know). I would have liked to have seen more variety in the recipes, and more discussion of the variety of oils. She doesn’t help out with that much aside from the SAP value chart in the back, and even then, there is no discussion of why you might use one oil over another and how that might impact your recipe. Which is huge! Another quibble I have with the book is that it is an odd size: 9.5 x 4.7 x 0.8 inches. In shape, it has roughly the same dimensions, length and width, as a standard envelope. That limited the size of the pictures. Soap-making books should have a ton of pictures, and this one has some good pictures, but not enough of them. I want to see more. A final quibble: no mention of using a stick blender to help you reach trace faster. In fact, Bardey discourages using hand mixers. Almost every website and book I’ve looked at recommends using stick blenders. I can’t believe that so many excellent soap-makers are wrong. Plus, my own experience is that it worked great. I can’t see why she discourages the use of anything but a wooden or stainless steel spoon. Seems odd to me, and I’d hate for a beginner to be put off soap-making by following that recommendation and finding the process more difficult and perhaps giving up. I know I wouldn’t want to be stirring the soap forever before something happened. Screw that.

The Verdict: This book has some good information, but it’s not for beginners, and is really not diverse enough to be worth hunting down to add to your collection. I found Basic Soap Making by Elizabeth Letcavage and Patsy Buck much more helpful for beginners as well as as a great addition to a more experienced soap-maker’s library. It has more variety in terms of recipes and more helpful information and pictures. I still learned some interesting information from Making Soaps & Scents, and for that reason, I think it’s worth checking out of the library (if your library has it), but it’s not the kind of book I’d consult more than once (well, maybe the troubleshooting section, but that’s it).

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreOK, I admit that I did not read this book in the hardcover edition linked to the left. I first encountered the story of [amazon asin=1442457023&text=The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore] in the form of the short film, and then downloaded the iPad app. If you have an iPad, do yourself a favor and download this wonderful multimedia children’s story, especially if you are a book nerd. You’ll love the story. It was written for you.

The story begins as Mr. Morris Lessmore is writing his story in the French Quarter of New Orleans when he is beset by a hurricane that rips the very words from his pages. Despondent, he doesn’t know where to go or what to do. Suddenly, he sees a beautiful girl being carried by flying books. Noticing Morris’s despair, she sends him her favorite book, and he follows the book to a magical library where he becomes caretaker and lends books to other folks who need them.

This is a fantastic story about the power of reading. The film is perhaps even better than the book, as it tells the story about the importance of words without using any words at all. I love the messages about how we breathe new life into old books and make them live again by reading them, and that they live in us and in turn give us life. The animation in the film is beautiful, and it reminds me of the opening story sequence in the movie Up. The digital storybook on the iPad has a narrator who reads the story, and you can interact with elements on each page. For example, on the page when Morris first enters the library, you can touch the books and hear famous lines from classic literature. You can write on Morris’s book. You can spell out words with the alphabet cereal Morris feeds the books. It’s an amazing immersive experience. My eight-year-old son loved it. We sat down and read it together this afternoon, and of course, it took him only a minute to figure out how to manipulate the book. The book is currently $4.99 in the App Store. If you have an iPad, do yourself a favor and get it.

Rating: ★★★★★

This book counts as my fantasy/sci-fi selection for the Mixing it Up Challenge.

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Basic Soap Making, Elizabeth Letcavage and Patsy Buck

[amazon asin=0811735737&text=Basic Soap Making] by Elizabeth Letcavage and Patsy Buck is a quick, easy-to-read basic instruction manual for beginners to homemade soap making. The book includes basic instructions for several kinds of soap as well as great information about handling lye and making your own mold and cutter (those wooden molds are very expensive!). The photographs are great, and the step-by-step directions seemed very easy to follow. I can’t wait to get started now!

I decided I wanted to learn to make soap, and the recipes I’ve found online and pinned on Pinterest look wonderful, but they’re not very basic, and I am definitely not sure I’m ready for them without trying more basic recipes first. I have always been a fan of homemade soap, and one of my favorite products is this great Dead Sea mud/spearmint/lavender soap I bought at the Riverside Farmers’ Market in Roswell. I can still order this soap online via the seller’s website for a fairly reasonable price, but seeing all her wares made me want to try making soap myself, and I especially wanted to see if I could learn to make soap as well as she does. The nice thing about making your own soap is that you can scent it with essential oils in your own favorite scents, and you can give soap as gifts, too.

It’s going to be a while before I can try my first batch, but I am really itching to start after reading this great little instruction manual.

Rating: ★★★★★

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