Archive for the ‘Books – Fiction’ Category

I just finished reading All Clear and Blackout, a two-volume novel from Connie Willis’s Oxford Time Travel series.  I also read Firewatch and The Doomsday Book, which are earlier stories in the series.

All Clear and Blackout are about three time traveling historians from the future who get stuck in England during World War II.  The writing is brilliant, the historical information in the books really teach you and make you want to learn more about World War II, and you feel completely engrossed in the story.  I found myself looking up information on the Internet, watching WWII movies, and checking out WWII books from the library.  I found WWII timelines and Eyewitness books to be especially helpful.

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Today, I’ve been knitting and quilting, in preparation for a special baby shower I’m attending on Saturday.  I don’t want to say more, as the mommy-to-be is possibly reading this post.  Let’s just say she can attempt to get some specifics out of her mom, who knows all.

I’ve still got loads of homework to do, but I am really enjoying being on vacation.  I’m reading Bride in the Bargain, by Deeanne Gist, and I just can’t put it down.

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I just finished reading The Undaunted.  800 pages.  Well worth it.

In fact, I couldn’t put the book down.  I had so many plans for the weekend.  They all got pushed aside as I delved into this fabulous book.

It starts with a 6-year-old boy working in coal mines in England.  It follows him as he emigrates to Utah as a teenager.  When he is in his early 20s, he begins a challenging pioneer journey in southern Utah.

In the late 1870s, a group of missionaries/pioneers set out to find a shorter route from Escalante, Utah to the southeastern corner of Utah, near what is now Bluff, Utah.  These families set out on what they thought would be a 6 week trek.  It took 6 months, because they had to build wagon roads through challenging terrain.

It’s a fabulous book filled with historical facts and people (woven into the story with the fictional characters), faith, perseverance, and love.


The author has a great website with photos of the pioneer route landmarks at:  http://www.undaunted-thenovel.com/

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I finally finished reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.  It took me a few days.  When I needed a break (too much suspense), I would sew.  I now have a lovely new dress and two ankle length skirts.  Fun!  I must say that Breaking Dawn was simply fantastic.  I’ll probably read it again, if I don’t re-read the entire series.

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Twilight Series

When I first saw the trailer for the Twilight movie, I thought it was just some random, scary, teen movie.  When I was at a small town Wal-Mart that had several copies of the Twilight books and not much else, I began to wonder at it’s popularity.  After I began reading the first book, Twilight, and absolutely couldn’t put it down, I finally understood.

Stephenie Meyer has written a captivating romantic series about Bella, a human girl, who falls in love with a vampire named Edward in the first book, Twilight.  In the second book, New Moon, things become more complicated as Bella becomes best friends with a werewolf (an enemy of vampires) named Jacob.  The third book, Eclipse, brings the vampires and werewolves together in an effort to protect Bella from Victoria, a hunting vampire. Meyer goes into great detail with feelings, action, and back stories.  You get to know the histories of each of the main characters, such as how Edward became a vampire.  For those of you who are wondering, yes, the books are very romantic, but the characters never go too far.  Edward is a stickler for marriage first.

All that I can say is that I lost sleep reading these books, because I couldn’t put them down.  I can’t wait for the movie to come out in December, and I don’t know how I’ll stand it waiting for the library to get the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, in August.

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When looking for a book to review as an example of a fancy book report for my students to use as a guide when they do their own book reports, I thought of author Nevada Barr. She has a new book coming out April 1. It’s called Winter Study. I decided to review High Country, because I was looking for a book that I had a lot of personal connections to. I wanted to write about my connections, so that my students would include connections in their own book reports.

Here’s my review of High Country:


This book is the twelfth Anna Pigeon novel by Nevada Barr. In almost every book, Anna is at a different National Park. There’s always a crime for her to solve.

In the beginning of High Country, park ranger Anna Pigeon arrives at Yosemite National Park. She’s a law enforcement park ranger who is undercover to find out why four employees have disappeared.

In the middle of the book, Anna’s undercover job is posing as a waitress at the park’s restaurant. The problem is that Anna is a terrible waitress. Meanwhile, she has to investigate the mysterious disappearances of the park employees.

Near the end of the book, Anna has to go on a very long hike into the wilderness of the park, because she has an idea of why the park employees disappeared. Armed with pocketfuls of granola bars, Anna sets off alone into danger in the woods.


High Country takes place at Yosemite National Park during present day. Readers are introduced to the park’s historical buildings, jobs that park employees have, as well as the best hiking, camping, and rock climbing sites in the park.


I connected to Anna in many ways. As a child, I used to visit national parks every summer. It’s great to imagine the beauty of the park as the author describes every detail. I feel like I’m in the mountains with Anna.

I’ve always wanted to be a park ranger. Through Anna’s adventures, I get to live out my dream. Anna deals with campers, views wildlife, and gets to go on amazing hikes.

When I read about Anna’s adventures as a park ranger, as well as Nevada Barr’s beautiful descriptions of our national parks, I am inspired to write my own novels about park rangers. I’m also encouraged to get out into nature and hike, bike, swim, canoe, crawl through caves, and just sit under a shady tree with a book down by a river. It’s always a wonderful and inspiring experience reading a Nevada Barr book.

Character Study:

Anna Pigeon is a very independent person. She’s also very tough and brave. No matter how dangerous a situation is, Anna always manages to hold on, persevere, and pull through. For example, when Anna gets hurt, she continues to work on her own to save someone who is in danger.

Anna’s also a very loving person and a good friend. She has a dog and a cat who she misses when she can’t be around them. Her dog is also a great companion when Anna wants to walk around campsites to meet with park guests. This is her secret way of not letting them know she’s a law enforcement park ranger. That way, the park guests will talk to her like they would any other park guest.

Anna is very intelligent. Through research, observations, interviews of people, and general police knowledge, Anna makes a very good detective. She always figures out who is causing problems and she catches the bad guy by the end of every story.

I’m making a construction paper cube and attaching each section to a different side. It will make a great book report that can be viewed from four sides.

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Veil of Roses


I would like to share a favorite book of mine with you.  Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald is a lovely novel.  It focuses on Tamila, a young woman who grew up in Iran.  She travels to America to stay with her sister.  The goal:  find a Persian-American (Iran-American) husband via an arranged marriage, before her Visa runs out.
As Tamila is introduced to a variety of Iran-American suitors in the evenings, she spends her days attending ESL classes at a local university.  There, she forms friendships that will further shape her outlook on life.  
I loved reading about Tamila’s experiences of so many things that I, as an American woman, never think about.  Tamila finds joy at seeing young girls swinging on a swing-set on a public playground.  That would never have been allowed where she grew up.   
I especially enjoyed the “secret” friendship Tamila begins with Ike, a young American man who works at a coffee shop.  As they chat outside the cafe or he accompanies her to her sister’s house after ESL class.  Tamila begins to fall in love with him.  The struggle is that she is supposed to agree to an arranged marriage with a Persian-American man, yet she has trouble finding one that she would be happy with.
This was a very romantic story, yet “pure” story.  I absolutely adored the ending.  I keep going back to re-read this book again and again, just because of how it makes the rest of Tamila’s experiences worth it.  In addition, I enjoyed learning about Tamila’s culture as she constantly adapted to differences in America. 

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Allah’s Fire


I just finished reading Allah’s Fire by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper.  This inspirational novel focuses on a Special Ops soldier and an American reporter in Lebanon.

John, the soldier, works with his team to locate and shut down the manufacturers of an undetectable type of explosive that was used to bomb a hotel in Beirut.  Liz, the reporter, is trying to find her sister, presumed dead in the blast.

Once I got into the book, it was easy to keep going.  I enjoyed how brave, even though usually foolish, Liz was.  She was willing to venture unaccompanied, at night, into a refugee camp in Lebanon.   It was interesting how the authors did not put John and Liz into the same scenes until midway into the book.  This way, they were able to carefully craft their backgrounds and storylines.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in an inspirational-romance that takes place in the Middle East.  I also look forward to reading the sequel, Island Inferno, by Chuck Holton.

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