Recent reading for me:
I finally read The Book Thief. My sister recommended it to me ages ago, but I didn't get to it until last month, when Anne and Betsy both read it, too, for a book club. We all loved it. Heartbreaking, of course, and beautiful. I wasn't sure, initially, that I would like the writing style, but I ended up loving it. It was appropriate given the narrator, and it worked. Worked really, really well. Great book.
Recent read-alouds with Ramona:
Pie by Sarah Weeks. Sweet, funny, and touching. Ramona and I both loved it. Bonus: includes pie recipes.
Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors. This one was a pretty cute mystery, and Ramona thoroughly enjoyed it, but I couldn't quite get past one thing.
Okay, you've been warned.
The thing I couldn't get past was this: the opening of the book makes a point -- a huge point, a very pointed point -- about the fact that this will not be a Sad Dog Story. You will not fall in love with this dog only to have it die in the end, we are told. And that is true. The dog does not die. The dog lives happily ever after.
We then meet Homer Pudding and find out that his beloved Uncle Drake has died in a horrid accident. He was eaten by a giant tortoise, the newspaper reports. The tortoise was spotted with Uncle Drake's legs sticking out of his mouth. "Yeah, right," Ramona and I snorted. Since a tortoise couldn't possibly eat a person, and since we were just assured that this would not be a Sad Dog Story, we foolishly assumed it would also not be a Sad Uncle Story. We kept thinking that Uncle Drake would turn up alive at the end, fighting off the villain, solving the mystery, returning everything to order and explaining the so-called man-eating tortoise. Well, the man-eating tortoise was explained. He was a mutant, and he really did eat Uncle Drake. Silly, but icky enough that it might bother a younger or extremely sensitive child.
I seem to be the only person in the world bothered by this, though, so feel free to ignore me. Maybe I'm the extremely sensitive child.
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Ramona and I both really enjoyed this one. Historical fiction, plucky heroine, bravery and self-sacrifice, adventure and suspense. Some romance, too (some of which made us giggle when it tilted slightly in the direction of a Harlequin, though it was nicely handled overall.) Must address the phenomenon of Attraction to The Bad Boy, though. I am foundationally unable to keep my mouth shut when a heroine describes her guy as both dangerous and irresistable.
Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn. There are no words to express how much Ramona and I love Tumtum and Nutmeg. One can never have too much Tumtum or Nutmeg, and Tumtum doesn't make me talk about Bad Boys. Gotta love him for that.