Monthly Archives: November 2014

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I was 10 or 11 the first time I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I loved it then and I still love it now. Alice has one amazingly crazy dream beginning with following a white rabbit down a rabbit hole and ending with giving evidence in the trial of a knave who may or may not have stolen some tarts. In between, she eats and drinks things that make her get alternately taller and shorter, attends a mad tea party, meets a 3″ tall smoking caterpillar, and much more. Alice in Wonderland is a fun, quick read for old and young alike!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 118
Pages Read in 2014: 22,537
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Filed under Children, Classic

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

An ill-fated hunt for a giant “sea creature” ends with M. Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned Land being taken aboard that creature, Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, an amazing futuristic (for the late 1800s) submarine. The men are told they can do as they please on board, but they must never leave. During the course of their 20,000 league around the world oceanic adventure, they see sea creatures that had only thus far been dreamed about, hunt in an underwater forest, go through an unknown underground pass between the Red and Mediterranean Seas, visit the ruins of Atlantis, get stranded in an iceberg, fight gigantic cuttlefish, attack a ship, and much more.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne was published almost 150 years ago in 1870, but is still interesting today. The ocean floor still holds mysteries for us and the story is just believable enough to make most of it exciting. Verne let his imagination run wild while writing this book in the first person (from the point of view of M. Aronnax) in the style of a travelogue. On occasion it would get technical about the types of fishes and cetaceans. Sometimes the narrative moved extremely slowly and my mind would wander. The second part (each part is split into 23 relatively short chapters) was much more interesting and exciting than the first. The end is satisfactory, yet still leaves you with questions and things to think about.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 116
Pages Read in 2014: 22,313
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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist, is a collection of clinical stories mostly from the 60s and 70s. Each chapter begins with the story of a person to give an example of some interesting clinical findings. These range from the man who could not distinguish faces at all and literally tried to pick his wife’s head up as if she was a hat to twins who did not understand the concept of math but could come up with prime numbers 20 digits long to a man who, in his old age, believed it was 1945 and he was 19. The stories are, for the most part, fascinating. Occasionally Sacks went into the minute details of the illnesses and his findings. This often caused my attention to wander. Overall, the book is very interesting for anyone interested in medicine or the way the mind works.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 115
Pages Read in 2014: 22,018
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Filed under Non-Fiction

The Adventures of Don and the White Animals by Meir Eshel

Don is a little boy, about 6 years old during the main part of the story, with a unique ability to communicate with animals. He is particularly connected to white animals. The story is told from the viewpoint of his father. Because of his abilities, Don gets into crazy situations such as being grabbed by a circus ape, becoming a jockey at a horse race (yes, at 6 years old), and getting kidnapped by angry circus performers.

The story is cute. My 6 and 8 year old boys enjoyed it. It is completely unbelievable (particularly the horse race part), but that’s okay. The problem I have with the book is the atrocious grammar and the many misspelled words. Often, while reading aloud to my sons, I had to go back and fix what I read because, as written, it made no sense. Tenses changed constantly within paragraphs, and sometimes even within single sentences. This was very distracting and annoying. The ending was quite abrupt and hinted of things to come. As soon as I finished reading, my 8 year old said, “I hope there’s another book!” As far as I can tell there is not. I got The Adventures of Don and the White Animals as a freebie over two years ago and it still appears to be the only book in the planned series.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 114
Pages Read in 2014: 21,785
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Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Picking up right where House of Hades left off, The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan spans the last few days leading up to Gaea’s planned awakening and a few days after. The demigods work to unite the Greek and Roman sides of the gods. Meanwhile, the Romans are planning an attack on the Greeks at Camp Half Blood.

The Blood of Olympus was good, at least for the last third. The first two-thirds was rather repetitive and a little boring. The demigods don’t seem to have changed at all and Percy, in particular, still seems 12. I kind of felt like Riordan ran out of steam about two books ago, but still felt the need to write 500+ page books to finish out the series.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 113
Pages Read in 2014: 21,677
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Filed under Middle Grades

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born a slave. He, like most other slaves, was separated from his mother at an early age. He managed to learn to read and write and eventually escaped, on his second attempt, to the north. He became a well-known abolitionist speaker and continued speaking about his experiences until his death. He wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass about 16 years before the Civil War and so could not give details about his escape. His story is a fascinating look into what slavery was really like for those who lived through it. It’s short and reads fast. A must-read for anyone interested in that time period or wanting to get an inside look into slavery.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2014: 112
Pages Read in 2014: 21,175
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Non-Fiction