Tag Archives: books read

Wondrous Word Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme from Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.  If you want to play along, grab the button, and write a post.

My word this week is from The Journeys of John and Julia in Chapter One by aurelia.

ersatzadj. made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else.

“However, spatial proximity was only the obvious reason for his close relationship with this ersatz grandfather.”

 

What words did you encounter this week?

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Armchair BEA – 2012 – Networking about Books

Armchair BEA is for book bloggers who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York this June (June 4 – 8, 2012).  So we don’t have to miss all the fun – this virtual convention is the place to be!

Have you ever wondered how bloggers get so involved outside the nuts & bolts community of book blogging? Well, now’s your chance to learn from the experts! From partnering with their local indie bookstores to coordinating events at their local libraries, we’ve got tips to share with you to help you become more involved with your local bookish community.  Guest post from top bloggers (Emily from Emily’s Reading Room, Tif from Tif Talks Books and Pam from Bookalicious) about how they were able to work together with their local bookish community to benefit everyone involved.
I don’t feel like I have a lot of experience to talk about with regard to meeting other book bloggers, (which I hope to change in the future) but I have a favorite author signing to share.  I always try to read the books that my daughter is assigned in school so we can talk about them.  She was assigned the book Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, and the author came to her school to answer questions about her book.  That was exciting, but it was even more exciting to be able to meet Ms. Malone one-on-one at our local bookstore and have her sign the book, answer individual questions my daughter and her bestie had, and pose for a picture with them.  Such a great experience for my budding book lover!
Here’s a picture of my lil’ heart with the author.

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May – It’s a Wrap!

Here is a list of the books I read for May – and looking at this list versus the number of reviews I’ve written, is in a word, sad.  I have got to do more review writing!  I get so busy reading that I don’t sit down enough to write more reviews.

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

High Five by Janet Evanovich

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

The Shunning by Beverly Lewis – My Review

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James – Kindle E-Book

Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James – Kindle E-Book

Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

City of Lies by Lian Tanner

Legend by Marie Lu – My Review

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

The Treehouse Book by Pete & Judy Nelson

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer – Kindle E-book – My Review

All Through the Night by Grace Livingston Hill

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Lee Dugard – My Review

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

As you can see, I’ve read almost the entire Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich this month.  Is it possible to read too many of these books?  I saw a read Firebird the other day and my first thought was, “Oh, there’s Lula!”

24 books in May puts me at 87 for the year, a little more than half-way to this year’s goal of reading 150 books!  Another goal I’ve made, mid-year (actually just now), is to write more reviews!!!  :)

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Review – “Life As We Knew It”

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Released: October 2006
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 337
Source: Library

From Goodreads:

“Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.”

My review:

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy dystopian novels, whether they involve zombies or not.  Another blogger, Brittany, read this book before me and said, “It was dystopian without having to go far into the future and very realistic. It really made me think that things like this could really happen and how scary that would be!”  After reading it, I totally agree.  While the story didn’t have super fantastical elements, such as virus’, walking dead, survival camps, mass evacuations or martial law, the very fact that it is realistic is the scary part!

A large meteor hits the moon, and shifts it’s orbit.  As the moon gets closer to earth, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes decimate thousands of acres, cities and even entire states, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, and the government systems are defunct.  Miranda’s mother immediately tasks the family with filling multiple shopping carts with non-perishable food, hygiene products and first aid supplies.   When Miranda’s oldest brother, Matt, returns from college they begin chopping and stockpiling wood, months prior to winter.

As the season’s progress and food sources run low, the electricity is out, natural gas is gone, the well runs dry and schools close down.  The family’s world gets smaller and smaller as communication ceases, gasoline supply is exhausted, the volcanic ash turns the sky gray and the air polluted, the family is confined to their home.  Diseases spread, the volcanic ash has killed their garden and there is no more food to be had, their strength wanes and lack of privacy wears on their disposition.

Miranda’s father and his new wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby, but are unable to reach the kids since the phone system has been down.  As the rare radio station program reads lists of the dead, the future seems very uncertain, and in fact, improbable.  Miranda doesn’t know if her father is dead or alive, if Lisa has had her baby, or if they are even still alive.  As asthma, infections and the flu spread in Miranda’s hometown, the remaining citizens begin leaving for other places in hopes of finding a utopia in the midst of despair.

The scary part of this book is the fact that it is so realistic.  While a zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen, a major depression, or some natural or nuclear disaster is possible, and the results would probably be much the same as a large meteor displacing the moon.  Lack of electricity, sporadic news or  lack of wide spread communication, rations on gas – all of these things have already happened with lesser cause.  (Consider Hurricane Katrina for example.) While this novel is a work of fiction, it deals with a future that could be very realistic.

Now, excuse me while I empty my truck, and head to Sam’s Club to buy in bulk….

I rated this book a 3.5 out of 5.  I enjoyed it.

Other reviews on this book can be found here:

TeenReads

Books N Tea

And the book trailer:

The second book in the Last Survivor series, The Dead and the Gone, also has a book trailer:

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Review – “A Stolen Life”

 

From Goodreads:

“In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.  For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.”

My review:

Before I read A Stolen Life I saw an interview with Jaycee Dugard by Diane Sawyer, and was amazed at her inner strength and positive attitude.  She didn’t act or present herself as a victim, she wasn’t full of hate or regret, but was thankful for her freedom, her family and her daughters.  When I saw her autobiography at the library, I wanted to read it.  If she had presented herself negatively in her interview, I probably wouldn’t have picked up her book.

She describes her abduction and subsequent abuse with candor, but as tastefully as possible.  The book isn’t full of gory sexual details, but she tells you enough to understand her abductor’s sickness and that he is the father of her children.  She misses her mother and sister, but rarely mentions them in her journals because it is so painful.  The book tells the story of her life during her captivity, of the animals that kept her company, her tentative relationship with her abductor’s wife, the birth of her daughters, and her desire for them to learn what they were missing by not being able to attend school.  She had only achieved a fifth grade education before her abduction, but when granted access to the internet for her abductor’s fledgling printing business, she found websites for homeschools that enabled her to educate her daughters beyond her own grade-level.

Her daughter’s were raised to believe she was their sister, and called her Alissa, a name she chose when she was told she could never use or speak of her real name.   While she longed to be the girl’s mother in their minds, she knew that she has to cooperate with her abductor to keep her girl’s safe.  Her first child was born when she was 14 yrs old, and her second child followed two year later.  When she was 29 she finally admitted to concerned officers who she was, and that she was the girl’s biological mother.  Her daughters were 13 and 15 at the time, and had rarely been out of the “secret backyard” that had been their home.

Her story tells of her fears and struggles after her abduction, her feelings about her abductors, her hopes to be reunited with her family, and the reunification with her family after her identity was known.  She shares such a positive outlook on her life, and appreciates her freedom and opportunities that she had given up hope of having ever again.

As a mother, this story scares me nearly to death!  To imagine my daughter going through what Jaycee went through is horrifying – to imagine not being with my daughter for 18 years is grievous.  Its something no family should ever go through.

I rated the book a 3 out of 5.  While the writing style wasn’t extremely compelling, her inner strength and love for her family made for a positive retelling of her life.

 

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Bookish News & Dystopian Novels

I read today that Charlaine Harris plans to end the Sookie Stackhouse series next year.

You can read the GalleyCat article here.  She said her last book, Dead Ever After, would go on sale May 2, 2013.  Deadlocked, the twelfth book in the series was release May 1, 2012, which makes Dead Ever After the thirteenth and final book in this series.

Just this morning I was going through a couple of the many books stored in my garage.  As I go through them I mark if they are part of a series, and if so, what number.  I was surprised at how many long-running series there are.  For example, Rage by Jonathan Kellerman is the 19th book in the Alex Delaware series, and Dead Midnight by Marcia Muller is the 21st book in the Sharon McCone series.  I am starting Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich as we speak.  I love long-running book series, but sometimes they run out of steam long before the author comes to closure with the series.  What are some of the series you’ve read and enjoy?

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20th Century Fox acquires self-published novel Wool by Hugh C. Howey.  Wool is a dystopian novel written in the summer of 2011, and Howey has since written another four books in the series.  Wool was picked up by Century, a division of Random House, and coincidentally the publisher for 50 Shades of Grey.  You can read the first three chapters of Wool here.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired the eBook rights to “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale,” the short story by the late Philip K. Dick that inspired the Total Recall movie in 1990 and an upcoming remake.   See trailer below.

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I have become a big fan of dystopian and zombie novels this year, and here are some of my favorites that I’ve read so far:

  • Passage by Justin Cronin
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
  • Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
  • The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
  • Hollowland byAmanda Hocking
  • Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking
  • Sundered by Shannon Mayer
  • Bound by Shannon Mayer
  • Dauntless by Shannon Mayer

Some that are on my To Be Read (TBR) list are:

  • Wool by Hugh Howey
  • Tomorrow, When the World Began by John Marsden
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Prodigy by Marie Lu
  • Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
  • The Remaining by D. J. Molles
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

I get into a type of book and I run with it – I may spend months reading Sci-Fi, then go straight to murder mysteries, or non-fiction – who knows! Right now I’m in dystopian/zombie mode and Janet Evanovich.  I’ve only got three more to go before I’m done with the Stephanie Plum series, so I’ll have to find something else to get into.  What type of books are you into right now?

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Catching Up – Travels – News – Review

I feel like I’ve been totally out of touch this week!  I’m recovering from acute bronchitis, it’s been a while since I’ve felt that bad!  I didn’t check Facebook or Email, only went somewhere if it was absolutely necessary (doctor, pharmacy, school).  I still feel like I’m coughing up a lung, but I’m pretty sure I’m not dying!  I couldn’t say that for certain on Monday!

I hope everyone had a good weekend, I know that a holiday weekend can be a wonderful family time, and it can also be a time of bittersweet memories.  Thankfully, I still have my mom, mother-in-law and grandmothers.  I know it won’t be that way forever, and I’m very fortunate to have them.  This past week we traveled to GA where one of our daughters and son-in-law are stationed, and spent time with them and our darling grand-daughter for Mother’s Day.

I wrote my Mailbox Monday and Teaser Tuesday posts before we left town, so I was able to simply post them, but haven’t felt like doing much of anything since, compliments of the bronchitis.  Today I’m up and around, and the housework is calling my name.

I’ve come across some interesting things online lately, and thought I’d share a couple of them.

Here’s a neat article about book art at the WebUrbanist website.  See some of the artwork below:

The art on the top left as well as the bottom left is done by Su Blackwell,  top center and right is done by Thomas Allen, and the bottom right is a piece I haven’t been able to credit yet.  Another artist whose work I really like is Brian Dettmer’s.

While I am too attached to books to use them even for the most beautiful art, I love these pieces.  Their websites show a lot of other pieces they’ve done – just amazing!  I love that books are such a fascinating medium.  There are so many old books that no one seems to want that are stored, or left behind, it wonderful that they can be used for something so lovely.  I’ve seen a lot of book crafts on Pinterest, and again, while they are lovely, I’m not sure I could cut up books.  I grew up with a great respect for books, no matter their age.  My mother wouldn’t allow us to turn down the corner to mark our place (which is why I use almost any random thing as a bookmark), lay the books facedown while open, mark in them, or do anything else that might make them less than pristine.  I had a hard time writing or highlighting in my textbooks, thanks to her!

Here’s are some Pinterest finds using books:

 A book/clock using Where The Wild Things Are

Painting on Book Bindings

Book Page Wallpaper

Vintage Book Expandable File

Vintage Book Necklace

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Here’s a news tidbit that made me cringe, considering we spent a couple of days last week on the road and eating fast food – “Teen Finds Finger in Arby’s Sandwich”.  I’m not a fan of fast food normally, but then when you read about stuff like this it makes me positively nauseous.

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I have a few TV shows that I really like, I DVR them, then on a weekend, or unexpected downtime I watch them sans commercials.  I came across a list of the shows cancelled in or after the 2011-2012 season.  Some of my favorites are being cancelled – USA cancelled “In Plain Sight”, TNT cancelled “The Closer”, NBC cancelled “Harry’s Law”, FOX cancelled “Terra Nova” and “Alcatraz”, CBS cancelled “CSI Miami”, and ABC cancelled “Combat Hospital”, “Expedition Impossible”, and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”.  There is a show that’s coming back that I’m excited about is ABC’s “Secret Millionaire”.

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Review: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

As the thirteenth book in the Stephanie Plum series, if you know Stephanie from previous books (or the One For The Money movie), you have a general idea about how this book goes.  Stephanie just wants to do her job.  Her job gets complicated.  She gets in over her head.  Ranger & Morelli work together to rescue her.  And, as always – it’s funny.

Stephanie was a lingerie buyer for a local department store, and when she got laid off she blackmailed her cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a job as a BEA (Bond Enforcement Agent) chasing down skips or FTA’s (Failure to Appear).  She has no training or experience, and another bounty hunter, Ranger, (ex-special forces military, who is totally hot and invests in stocks and real estate) mentors her, and adds an interesting triangle to her on-again off-again relationship with Joe Morelli, plain clothes detective who took her virginity behind a canolli case years before.  Other characters:  Lulu is an ex-hooker who was beaten almost to death, and changed her career path to file clerk at Vincent Plum’s Bail Bonds.  Connie Risolli is Vinnie’s “guard dog” receptionist, and Grandma Mazur moved in with Stephanie’s mom and dad after her husband died, and drives Stephanie’s mother to drink.

The particulars of this book are that Ranger asks Stephanie to visit her ex-husband, Dickie Orr, and plant bugs in his office.  Dickie is a lawyer, and the guy who, as the books say, cheated on her about 15 minutes after their marriage, and who she divorced about 15 minutes after that.  When she goes to his office with her trusty sidekick’s, Lula and Connie, she sees a picture of Dickie with her mortal enemy, Joyce Barnhardt, and goes nuts.  She assaults Dickie in front of multiple witnesses.  The next day Dickie has disappeared, leaving only a trail of blood in his house.  The general public consensus is that Stephanie picked up where she left off at the law office, and eliminated Dickie.  With Joyce generating theories about Stephanie’s guilt and following her every move.  With Dickie’s law partners dropping like flies, disappearing then turning up dead, is Dickie going to show up dead next?  Stephanie has no alibi – will this be the shenanigan that puts her on the wrong side of the law?

Other Reviews:  Book Reporter, Read it, Read it, Loved it, Alison’s Book Marks, and The Book Addict’s Guide.

While all of Janet Evanovich’s books are funny, I found this one less funny than most of them.  I still enjoyed it, and am moving right on to Fearless Fourteen.  So far I have rated this entire series as 4 out of 5 stars, but this one I rated 3 out of 5 stars.

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The Shunning – Review

This is the first book I’ve read by Beverly Lewis, although I’ve heard of her books for years.  I saw the movie trailer for The Shunning, and wanted to read the book before I watched the movie.

The Shunning is the first book in the “Heritage of Lancaster County” series.  It was published in 1997 Bethany House, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group.

This book details the life of a young Amish woman, Katie Lapp.  She lives with her family in Hickory Hollow, and is preparing to wed the widower, Bishop John Beiler, and become mother to his five children.  She is not in love with the Bishop, as her heart belongs to an Amish boy whose life was cut short by tragedy.  But Daniel Fisher is long gone, and with only her memories of him and the music they made (music not belonging to Ausbund, a hymnal filled with songs teaching character), she struggles to move on and fulfill her duty to become a “gut” Amish wife and mother.

Katie is preparing for her upcoming wedding, and seeks her mother’s wedding dress in the attic, and with it, she finds a tiny baby’s dress – made of beautiful rose-colored satin.  The name “Katherine Mayfield” is stitched in the facing of the dress.  Why would her mother have something like this, something so “English”, and obviously not for a Plain child?  When she asks her mother about the dress, Rebecca faints, and the next day refuses to discuss it.

As Katie struggles with her “sins”, loving beautiful clothing, loving the guitar belonging to Daniel, and continuing to play and sing the songs they wrote together, she feels more than ever that she will never be a good enough Amish woman to fit in with her community, much less the wife of a bishop.

When a long black limousine shows up in Hickory Hollow, with an English woman looking for someone named Rebecca who has a daughter in her early 20′s, people in the community begin to ask questions.  When a letter is delivered to Katie’s mom, Rebecca, from the English woman, Laura Mayfield-Bennett, Katie feels that her parents are hiding things from her that would explain her struggles.  Will her questions and struggles drive a wedge between herself and her family, her church and the Amish community?  Will she be punished with the Meinding , a shunning from the entire community?

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 My thoughts on The Shunning:  While I am not familiar with all the customs of the Amish, I  was raised in a highly religious/conservative home.  I remember when people, even family members, left our church and chose another path, we were pressured to cut ties with them.  I can’t imagine my childhood curiosity, and grown-up questions being the cause of a complete shunning by my family, and the people I was closest to in our church community.  While Katie struggles with her questions and doubts, even knowing that the Meinding is possible, she is truly trying to seek answers for herself.  Others in the community label her as rebellious and unrepentant, but her struggle to understand are clear.  As the first book in a trilogy, I know there are many loose ends that will be settled in the following novels.  I was sad along with Katie as she made her choices, knowing that it was possible she would never be able to see or speak to her family and friends again, not even her mother or her lifelong best friend.  But I also understood her questions, and her journey to find the answers.

Even if this is not a genre you typically find yourself reading, being drawn into the story is easy.  You begin to know the characters, and become invested in their life.

I give this book a 3.5/5 rating.  If I had not seen the movie preview, I might not have ever sought out this book/author, but now that I’ve finished this portion of the story, I plan to read The Confession, and The Reckoning as well.

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Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I’ve been on a Stephanie Plum kick, so this teaser is from High Five by Janet Evanovich.

“This call’s about exercise.  Um, I could use some.”

“Now?”

“No, in the morning.  I want to go running, and I’m looking for a partner.”

“You’re not looking for a partner, you’re looking for an enforcer.  You hate to run.  You must be worried about getting into that little black dress. What did you eat just now?  Piece of cake?  Candy bar?

“Everything,” I said.  “I just ate everything.”

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World Book Night – Update

Today I picked up my box of books from the local Barnes & Noble for World Book Night next week!  If you haven’t heard of WBN, it’s an annual celebration designed to spread the love of reading and books.  It is held in the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland.  This date also commemorates the passing of Cervantes and the birth and death of Shakespeare.   Next week I will get to give out free books in my small community, to anyone who is interested!  I’m considering going door to door giving out books, or perhaps setting up in my favorite coffee shop with a lapel pin, a large sign, and a table full of books (and coffee).  There is almost nothing more exciting to a devoted reader and book lover than the chance to share that love with others.

Are any of you WBN book givers?  If so, I’d love to hear which book you chose to give away.  There was a list of 30 books to choose from, and you had to list your first, second and third choice book, when applying to be a book giver.  I haven’t read all of the books on the list yet, but I plan to!

What is your favorite book in this list, and why?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Wintergirls by Laurie Anderson

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Little Bee by Chris Cleve

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Blood Work by Michael Connolly

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Zeitoun by Dave Eggars

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Stand by Stephen King

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

See the list of books and cover art at the WBN website here.

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