Book Group Sends In Fantasy Reading List

March 3, 2010

The Fantasy First book club is a group that meets in a Barnes & Noble store here in Portland, Oregon. While not officially a mother-daughter book club, the group is comprised of several mother-daughter pairs. The girls are in high school. They focus only on fantasy, and here’s what they’ve been reading:


January:  City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (teen)

February:  Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (teen)

March:  Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris (adult)

April:  A Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (teen)

May:  Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (adult)

June:  Marked by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (teen)

July:  Nightlife by Rob Thurman (adult)

August:  Sabriel by Garth Nix (teen)

September:  King Dork and Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman (teen)

October:  Dog Days by John Levitt (adult)

November:  Maximum Ride: Angel Experiment by James Patterson (teen)

December:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (teen)


January:  Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn (adult)

February:  Percy Jackson and The Olympians series by Rick Riordan (see The Last Olympian movie with the group + then discuss the series at the meeting)

March:  Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (adult)

April:  Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (adult)

May: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (teen)

June: Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (teen)

July: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (teen)

Mother-Daughter Book Club Meeting—Lesser Read Classics

February 9, 2010

Last night my daughter Catherine and I went to our first mother-daughter book club of the year. We had read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, who was a contemporary of Charles Dickens. The book was challenging—it was nearly 500 pages and written in the style popular in the 1860s when writers were paid by the word and published their books by installments in magazines. Because of the length, two of the mother-daughter pairs had not finished it. But whether we finished or not, we all liked what we read, and we had a great discussion of how the book was first published and how excited people were to buy the magazine each time a new installment came out.

Our group also talked about how this book is among the forgotten classics—books from long ago that have stayed in print but for some reason have not made it onto the list of must-read classics. We decided to create our own list of favorites that may fall under this category, and here’s what we came up with:

Lesser-Read Classics

  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (14+)
  • The Adventures of Pinnochio by Carlo Collodi (9-12)
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (14+)
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (9-12)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (14+)
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (9-12)
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (9-12)
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (12+)
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (14+)
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (7-11)
  • Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (14+)

While many of these titles are well known because of the movies made from them, they’re not commonly recommended for reading. I have read many of these to my daughters outside of book club, and I’m looking forward to reading others now that we’ve talked about them. Do you have a book to add to this list? Post a comment below to tell us about it.

NEA’s the Big Read—Look for it in Your Area and Pick Up Free Books to Read

January 15, 2010

The Big Read is a project of the National Endowment for the Arts, and it challenges entire communities  all around the country to read and discuss one book. It’s like a book club expanded to include everyone in a city who wants to participate. In past years, I’ve participated in a similar project here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon called Everybody Reads. The idea is to provide books for the taking through local libraries, then schedule discussion groups, speakers, and other activities related to the theme to create buzz about one topic in the community. For readers and book club fans, it can be pure nirvana to examine an issue through words and then look at it through many different angles.

Here’s more information from the NEA’s website: “Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.”

To find out if your community has a Big Read project scheduled this year, visit the website, then enter your city, state or zip. You can also click on the United States map for an overview of communities all over the country that participate. Participating in the Big Read is a great way to encourage overall literacy.

She Writes Day of Action—Favorite Books Written by Women in 2009

November 13, 2009

Today I’m participating in the She Writes Day of Action. She Writes is a community that gives female authors a place to showcase their work, voice concerns, further their writing skills and more. This Day of Action was conceived as a response to a list that Publisher’s Weekly posted of what it considers to be the best books of 2009. Not one woman, and only one person of color, is included in the top 10. Although the list expands out to 100, and books by women obviously make that list, it seems incredible that not one book written by a woman was considered good enough for the best of the best.

I’ve had no such difficulty finding excellent books written by women this year that are great for mother-daughter book clubs. In fact, most of the books I have reviewed and recommended this year are written by women. Here’s my Top 10:

Al Capone Shines Shoes

Al Capone Shines My Shoes—Gennifer Choldenko


Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different—Kristin Tubb

Dear Big V

Dear Big V—Ellen Leroe

Dear Pen Pal

Dear Pen Pal—Heather Vogel Frederick

Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout—L. K. Madigan

Moira Leahy

The Last Will of Moira Leahy—Therese Walsh


North of Beautiful—Justina Chen Headley

Operation Redwood

Operation Redwood—S. Terrell French


Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning—Danette Haworth

Water Steps

Water Steps—A. LaFaye

This doesn’t mean that men are not writing books that appeal to mothers and daughters, because they do. And in fact, my list of favorite authors for mother-daughter book clubs includes a healthy mix of both genders. I’ve always stressed to my daughters that gender shouldn’t be a consideration for competence, and that they should form opinions of others by their actions.

Even so, some days prompt a sense of solidarity with certain groups and today is the day for women writers. I’m headed to Powell’s this afternoon to drop off a few brochures about mother-daughter book clubs. I’ll just have to pick up a book written by a woman while I’m there. The difficulty will be in limiting myself to just one.

If you’d like to find out about books written by members of She Writes, click on over and peruse the images on the banner. My book, Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs is there, along with many other excellent selections.

Radical Parenting Lists 10 Great Book Websites for Teens

November 9, 2009



Looking for websites to help you find books for teens? Radical Parenting has posted a guest column called 10 Great Book Websites for Teens by Jennifer Wagner of Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology and writer of a Parenting Teens page on the Examiner.

I’m excited that my website, Mother Daughter Book is listed, and there’s also a lot of other great sites I regularly visit to get ideas for books like Teen Reads and ReaderGirlz. There are also new sites to me that I can’t wait to check out, like Reading Rants! Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists! and Teen Ink Book Reviews. Click here to read the article and find out about all of the recommended book websites.

Book Lists on Flashlight Worthy

November 6, 2009

Flashlight Worthy

I recently was introduced to a Web site called Flashlight Worthy Books, which has tons of recommended books in lots of categories. I have spent some time checking it out, and if I didn’t stop myself I could easily spend all day there clicking on list after list. Flashlight Worthy says it has over 300 lists of books in more than 50 categores. There’s none on mother-daughter book clubs yet, but I hope to change that soon (more on that later).

One thing I like about Flashlight Worthy Books is that you can research books without knowing a specific title. That solves the problem of finding new books when you don’t know what you’re looking for. Each book at Flashlight Worthy includes a synopsis along with a link to, where you can buy the book or even just peruse the reviews.

Here’s a sampling of some of the featured lists on the site:

Favorite Reissues of Neglected Books

9 Children’s Novels Both Boys and Girls Will Love to Hear

The 10 Best Books of 2009 for Book Clubs

The Best Children’s Fantasy for Adults

Obviously, there are many more lists you can check out. Here’s where I’d like your help. I plan to create a list for mother-daughter book clubs to submit to the site. I have books in mind, but if you have a title you think makes a great mother-daughter book club selection, list it in the comments here and I’ll add it to the list. Tell me what ages you think the book is appropriate for.

Celebrate Teen Read Week with a Good Teen Book

October 19, 2009

Today marks the start of Teen Read Week, which is sponsored by the American Library Association. If you’re looking for inspiration for good titles for teens, you can check out the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten and top ten books from past years on the ALA’s site. There are several books on the list I’d really like to check out soon.

The Teen Read Week theme this year is “Read Beyond Reality,” so I thought I would offer a few books that I can recommend along those lines.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I’m even more a fan of this writer after I heard him speak at Wordstock in Portland. In Absolutely True Diary Alexie brings readers into the reality of the Spokane Indian Reservation. My review.

The Fetch

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb. Enter the reality of the being sent to Earth to fetch souls as they are leaving their bodies in death. Then go along with hi as he takes a journey into the world of the Russia during the days of the revolution in the early 1900s. My review.


Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak takes you into the mind of Cameron Wolfe, who longs to show the girl his brother dumped that he loves her. My review.

Goth Girl Rising

Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga takes us into Kyra’s world of goth girls and graphic novels. My review.


Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is a total fantasy world, where castle doors open into new kingdoms. My review.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Find out what it’s like to live in a crumbling castle in the English countryside. My review.


North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley. What would it be like to live with a birthmark covering much of your face? My review.

The Real Real

The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Find out about the reality of reality TV shows. My review.

Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson. Callie finds solace through music as she moves from town to town with her mother. My review.


Torched by April Henry. What would it be like to be part of an eco-terrorist group? My review.

Middle Grade Book Challenge

August 26, 2009

MG Book Challenge

I’ve never participated in a book challenge, but I’ve decided to join my friends Julie at Booking Mama and Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelf by embarking on the Middle Grade Book Challenge.

My goal is to read one or two middle grade books each month, then post a review about it. I often do that anyway, so this will keep me on my toes reading and posting about middle grade books. These are the kinds of books that will appeal to readers aged 8 to 12, and of course I plan to pick books that will also appeal to those readers’ moms. Also, by participating in the challenge I let you in on more links to more reviews each month. Lots of middle grade book suggestions are already up at Better With Books, the blog hosting the challenge. If you have a book to recommend for me, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

15 Books on Facebook

August 24, 2009

I just got a post from a friend on Facebook who took the 15 Books Challenge. The idea is to list the top books that will stick (or have stuck) with you for years. I’ll go one step further. I’m listing my top favorites as well as favorites for mother-daughter book clubs. If you’d like to check out the Facebook page and post your own list, here’s the link. 15 Books on Facebook.

Here are the rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

My favorites:

  1. The Book Thief—Markus Zusak
  2. Huckleberry Finn—Mark Twain
  3. A Winter’s Tale—Mark Helprin
  4. Burr—Gore Vidal
  5. Gone With the Wind—Margaret Mitchell
  6. Outlander—Diana Gabaldon
  7. Stone’s Fall—Iain Pears
  8. A Lesson Before Dying—Ernest J. Gaines
  9. Prodigal Summer—Barbara Kingsolver
  10. The World is Flat—Thomas Friedman
  11. The Count of Monte Cristo—Alexandre Dumas
  12. A Tale of Two Cities—Charles Dickens
  13. Meely LaBauve—Ken Wells
  14. The Pillars of the Earth—Ken Follett
  15. Wild Life—Molly Gloss

Mother-daughter book club favorites:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird—Harper Lee
  2. Boy—Roald Dahl
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian—Sherman Alexie
  4. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging—Louise Rennison
  5. A Year Down Yonder—Richard Peck
  6. Framed—Frank Cottrell Boyce
  7. Flipped—Wendelin Van Drannen
  8. Al Capone Does My Shirts—Jennifer Choldenko
  9. A Northern Light—Jennifer Donnelly
  10. Tangerine—Edward Bloor
  11. Zlata’s Diary—Zlata Filipovic
  12. The House of the Scorpion—Nancy Farmer
  13. Hattie Big Sky—Kirby Larson
  14. Light Years—Tammar Stein
  15. Caddie Woodlawn—Carol Ryrie Brink


Author Kim Culbertson’s Summer Reading List

June 19, 2009

Kim Culbertson

Kim Culbertson, author of Songs for a Teenage Nomad (which is a great summer read too), has sent in her summer reading list for herself and her daughter. She says it’s a partial reading list, but it’s certainly ambitious.  Here it is:

My five year old daughter and I are looking forward to reading (and re-reading):
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
The Girl and The Elephant by Nicole de Cock
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Ella Sets Sail Carmela and Steve D’Amico
Anything Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig
Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
An assortment of Beatrix Potter

YA books I plan to read this summer:
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
King Dork by Frank Portman

And those grown-up books I’m looking forward to:
How To Buy A Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson (I’ll re-read this for my book club in August!)
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
The Scenic Route by Binnie Kirshenbaum