book review MG fiction

Book Review- The Spinner of Dreams

New from the author of The Land of Yesterday another awesome imaginative tale to delight your middle grade readers. I read this awhile ago and somehow just blanked on writing a review. I remember giving it 5 stars on Goodreads, but somehow dropped the ball on the actual review. Today is this books birthday so there is no better time to sing it’s praises.

Annalise Meriwether was cursed at birth by the Fate Spinner. I loved that we have a main character filled with anxiety that conquers all the obstacles set her in path. Readers who love a fantasy world full of good vs. evil will gobble this story right up!

Reynolds has expertly woven together a world filled with real problems and a girl with animal friends. In this world neuro-diversity is just one part of people and is not how they are defined. I loved it.

book review nonfiction

Book Review: The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World

Fun Fact about Kindle books: If the library book is open on your kindle it won’t get sucked back to the library until you exit out of it.
Ok, on to this review. As the quote on the cover says, It is deeply unsettling to contemplate the water rising enough to erase most of our coastlines. Sure, you may hear a snippet on the news from time to time, but mostly we’re all just living our lives ignoring the elephant in the room.
Jeff Goodell did an enormous amount of research pulling this book together. On the one hand, I’m a little jealous of the travel that he got to do in the name of research. On the other hand, those places might disappear in fifty years.
The narrative starts and ends in Miami, where the author takes us on a journey to describe the impact of rising seas. The US east coast will get hit hard, partly due to a lot of infrastructure at sea level and from the slowing of the Gulf Stream. We will lose Miami first, with streets flooding regularly during high tides and the sewers becoming overwhelmed. The city is trying to keep a lid on what the future will bring as they don’t want to devalue the real estate market. Also, most of those rich guys won’t be alive when this happens and are just literally riding the wave while they can.
My takeaway is that living in the center of the US on a mountain is your best long term real estate investment. In other parts of the world, staying above sea level will be a challenge as the seas claim land. Our world is in trouble, and it will only get smaller and more dangerous if we don’t act soon.

book review romance

Book Review: The Bride Test

Is this book the equivalent to a gateway drug in the Romance genre? Maybe, yes.

If you read Romance you probably already know the genius of Helen Hoang from The Kiss Quotient. If not, and you are thinking of dipping your toes into the Romance Pool, this is a great story to begin reading.

The mail-order bride premise gave me pause and since I haven’t read a ton of Romance yet, I was hesitant at the start. I mean, in this day and age that kind of plot could quickly devolve into some kind of patriarchal fantasy. But- guys, it’s smart. Both main characters even acknowledge the weirdness in this day and age. I loved it.

Here’s the quick synopsis: Esme Tran has lived her entire life in Vietnam and is working at a hotel  when a woman approaches her with the idea that she go to America and marry her son. Esme doesn’t have much to lose, so she takes the chance and goes.  Khai  isn’t too thrilled with his Mom’s idea either but is also willing to see how it plays out. Right away the reader can see that they are meant for each other.

This is a fun, light read for an afternoon where you just want to escape your own world for a bit.

book review fiction

Book Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles

“As we count up the memories from one journey, we head off on another. Remembering those who went ahead. Remembering those who will follow after. And someday, we will meet all those people again, out beyond the horizon.” 
― Hiro Arikawa, The Travelling Cat Chronicles

I often recommend books as a “beach read” or “brain candy”. Not this one. You need to be in the right mental space for this novel. It’s heavy and intense in all the best ways. By the time you close the last page you feel like you lived through something.

This is a story of a man and his cat, and what they will do to stay together for as long as is possible.  As a cat person this story made perfect sense to me, many pages were funny enough that I laughed out loud and quite a few were read through tears. There is a sort of grim truthfulness to the tone of his words. The sense of hope with a background feeling of loss just envelopes the story like a veil of honesty.

I loved it.

book review mythology nonfiction

Book Review- I Know What I Saw: Modern Day Encounters

Ok, so this is a Cryptozoology book. Don’t click away just yet.

Everyone I know has seen something or heard something they couldn’t explain. You were driving most likely and saw this thing on the side of the road, it doesn’t look quite right, and when you get a closer look it is something you’ve never seen before. You know it’s real. You go through the entire range of emotions, are you crazy? Could it be a trick of the light? Is it some kind of joke or hoax? In the end, you only know for sure that you aren’t wrong, it is real and if you tell anyone they laugh at the thought.

Do we laugh because we are uncomfortable with the unknown? Mostly, yes, I think so. Can there be animals that we don’t know about? Why is that so far fetched?

Linda Godfrey compiled an entire book of first person experiences that are recent. This isn’t that book you checked out of the library as a kid with the blurry Loch Ness Monster pictures. Everything from dire dogs to deer people and of course Bigfoot gets some coverage within this book.

I think it is a worthwhile project to chronicle sightings that otherwise get immediately dismissed from the public. No one knows how many, if any of these sightings are true, but they are abundant and I do think we owe it to our neighbors to keep an open mind.

Even if you aren’t a squatch enthusiast, no one knows this area quite like Linda. You’ll find these accounts interesting and thought-provoking no matter whether you want to believe or not.

book review nonfiction

Book Review: An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic

You don’t need to be familiar with The Odyssey to enjoy this book. By the time you finish this, you may want to read it. The author is a classics professor. Dad starts attending his lectures on The Odyssey. The book chronicles the themed cruise that they go on together. And it is almost a mini classics class for the reader.
Since I’ll be rereading it with my son this year and I did enjoy listening in to the lecture/discussions between the father and son in this memoir. I think when I am rereading I’m going to see a bunch of viewpoints that I missed the two times through, thanks to Mendelsohn’s descriptions. For one thing, how did I miss that one of the main themes of The Odyssey is the father/son relationship? I never thought about the story that way at all.
I’ll tell you that the circle back/time-jumping narrative confused me at first until I realized that the author was telling his story in parallel to The Odyssey. The long passages lifted out of the original were often a perfect fit for the modern part of the story.
Even if you have no intention of ever reading The Odyssey, this crash course in Greek philology is well worth your reading time. The first 100 pages or so are a bit meandering, but if you stick with it, you’ll be glad to see the author and his father to the inevitable end of their story.

book review nonfiction

Book Review: Puzzle-lopedia

Puzzlelopedia August 20, 2019

This is so fun. I love a good puzzle book and this one works with a huge age spread. Do you need to cut off the screens in your home prior to the beginning of school? You can preorder this now and be all set to get those brains back to working with a pencil and paper. (I’m looking at you, grown ups!) Netflix will still be there this Winter.

O/T Workman Publishing sent me this book to review if I liked it, and I do. Also, even more O/T Workman books have the best smell when they’re new. Just FYI. I don’t know if it’s the paper or the ink or both?

So, puzzles. You’ve got Mind Bending logic games, word games, picture puzzles, mazes, Sudoku, riddles, word searches, hidden pictures, anagrams, code breaking, tongue twisters, it’s all here. I’m using my copy as our waiting room/ waiting in the car book.

Two thumbs up from us!

Audiobook book review Politics

Book Review- Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future

I ended up listening to this book through Hoopla because although I have 2 library cards, I was not going to get this book for months. Pete read it himself and did an okay job. He isn’t a professional reader, but it is his story and therefore it sounds best in his voice even if he hesitates far to often for an audiobook.

Comparing the writing style to most of the other books I’ve read leads me to believe that Pete actually wrote this himself. He did study literature at Harvard so I’m pretty sure writing this book didn’t put him far out of wheelhouse. His wheelhouse includes lots of things that will check boxes for Republicans and Democrats, he served in the military, speaks like seven languages, and most importantly his tone isn’t antagonistic in any way.

He’s a smart guy for sure, he has great ideas, and people like him. I don’t know if that will be enough to boost him into Washington this time. I think he’d make a great Vice President or cabinet member.

As I’m typing this, word is that Mayor Pete is one of the eight Democrats to qualify for the September debates. I think if you liked him in the debates, this book fills in the rest of what you’ll need to know before the election.

book review Politics

Book Review: Where We Go from Here

This is Bernie’s story since the 2016 election. It reads like a bunch of blog posts to me. I guess that’s why it gets a bit repetitive. I feel like this would have been a better read right when it was published. Now, admittedly, I’m a bit over the gory details of 2016. It happened. Let’s figure out 2020.

Anyhow, if you aren’t sure if you are indeed a Bernie fan this should give you enough info to figure things out. I mean this book needed an editor. It’s all humble brag/ stuff you’ve hear sound bites of over and over. If you missed it in one chapter, don’t worry he’ll remind you again in another.

I know these “running for President” books aren’t literature, but they should at least be readable bios.