Monthly Archives: June 2014

Anastasia’s Diary by Carol Dommermuth

In reality, the Romanov family burned their diaries some time prior to being assassinated. Anastasia’s Diary by Carol Dommermuth is a fictionalized version of what Anastasia Romanov’s diary might have looked like during the last few months before her father abdicated, beginning just prior to Rasputin’s death, and then on through the first several months of incarceration, first at the palace and then at Tobolsk. The book follows the known events combined with what a 15-16 year old girl would likely be thinking, making it a nice, short introduction to the last months in the Romanovs’ lives.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 61
Pages Read in 2014: 12,829
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Filed under Historical Fiction

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

Ginger Pye is a very smart puppy. Jerry and Rachel Pye are devoted owners and then, on Thanksgiving Day, Ginger suddenly goes missing. The majority of the book is a meandering, often boring, story of looking for the dog. On the plus side, the vocabulary is incredible for a children’s book. Overall, Ginger Pye is just an okay book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 59
Pages Read in 2014: 12,622
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Looking for Alaska by John Green

In typical John Green fashion, Looking for Alaska ripped my heart out and put it in a blender. Miles (Pudge) is a junior at a boarding school for the first time. He was a loner and misfit in his school were he lives, but is a just a misfit in a group of misfits at the boarding school. He’s fascinated by, maybe in love with, Alaska, a girl in the group. The book is split into before and after with the before counting down to a certain day and event and the after trying to make sense of life and what has happened.

Yes, the characters do naughty things much like any group of teenagers with little supervision (they also do good things like study a lot and try really hard to get good grades in their classes). The characters are real (several are probably just like people you know). They make mistakes. Other than (or maybe because of?) the whole heart blender thing, Looking for Alaska is a fabulous book.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 58
Pages Read in 2014: 12,316
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Filed under Realistic Fiction

The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita

The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita certainly has a unique premise. Prospect is an embryo who, through the miracle of science and the Pre-Born Project, gets to spend three weeks inhabiting a temporary body and spending time with “referrals” (some he would be in contact with in his life – like his mother – and others that he likely would never meet but represent different types of people) so he can ultimately make the decision of whether or not he wants to be born.

The book is very engaging. It is fast-paced. The characters are all very different from each other, mostly well rounded, and interesting. It’s a fascinating look at types of people and also points out that scientific experiments that depend on human interaction are completely uncontrollable. The Prospect of My Arrival kept me reading because I really wanted to know if Prospect would choose to be born or to return to the gene pool. I cared about some of the characters. A couple things bothered me, though. The style of writing is difficult sometimes. Every so often, I really felt like there was some deep-voiced announcer in my head patronizingly explaining things to me as I read. Also, the timeline makes no sense. Prospect’s older sister was the first (and apparently only other) pre-born and at the point Prospect is choosing to be born or not, she’s an older teen and yet Trish (the facilitator) says that she conceived the pre-born project three years ago. Very confusing. These are minor, though. The book as a whole is totally worth taking the time to read it.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 56
Pages Read in 2014: 12,002
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Filed under Science Fiction

Vaccine Nation by David Lender

Vaccine Nation by David Lender promised to be a thriller and it did not disappoint. The action started at the beginning and didn’t quit until the very end. Dani North is a documentary filmmaker. Her films are about exposing the drug companies and what they are doing to children through medications and vaccines. Interwoven throughout the story are truths, like vaccine court and that the national vaccine injury compensation fund is funded through a tax on every vaccine administered, all with a backdrop of Senate hearings to possibly remove pharmaceutical company immunity from lawsuits. Throughout the book, Dani is being pursued by hit men sent by a pharmaceutical CEO to prevent her from exposing data from a long-term industry study linking autism to vaccines (and here we have the completely fictional part… though some believe a study like this should be done).

I enjoyed Vaccine Nation very much. The premise was just believable enough and yet unbelievable, too, to make it a perfect thriller.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 55
Pages Read in 2014: 11,735
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Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

I really wanted to like Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. There were bits here and there, mostly anecdotes from his time in the classroom, that were fascinating. Mostly, though, it was just ridiculous, meaningless, rambling drivel. It was very annoying to read due to the many, many quotes without quotation marks. I also felt the constant negativity about himself got old fast. Mr. McCourt was clearly a good teacher and tried hard to teach the kids English in a way they understood no matter their background and previous knowledge. Focusing on that rather than his affairs and perceived failures (many of which weren’t) would have made this a much better book (reducing the amount of foul language would have been nice, too).

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 51
Pages Read in 2014: 11,238
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Filed under Memoir, Non-Fiction

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I knew L. Frank Baum wrote Oz books after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but I had never read any of them after the first nor did I realize just how many there are. I chose The Patchwork Girl of Oz to start my deeper foray into the Land of Oz. In this one, a munchkin wizard illegally brought a girl made out of a patchwork quilt to life and at the same time accidentally froze his wife, Margolotte, and friend, Unc Nunkie, into marble statues. Unc Nunkie’s nephew, Ojo the Unlucky, sets out on an adventure to find the ingredients required for a charm to bring those statues back to life. During his journey, he meets several friends from previous Oz books and some new ones as well.

I absolutely loved The Patchwork Girl of Oz. The story is so fun and engaging it’s hard to believe it was written over 100 years ago. Even though it is the seventh book set in the land of Oz, I did not feel like I was missing anything having only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz before. I am sure this lovely book would be enjoyed greatly by old and young alike. (And, bonus, the Kindle version I got was formatted beautifully – something that doesn’t always happen with classics.)

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 49
Pages Read in 2014: 10,915
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Filed under Classic, Fantasy