Monthly Archives: March 2015

Karate Kick by Matt Christopher/Stephanie Peters

Cole is an 11 year old karate student getting ready to test for his green belt. In Karate Kick, he is confronted by a bully, helps someone come back to karate, steals something and has to make up for it, and discovers that jealousy is useless. The tone is sometimes preachy. The book seems to assume the reader has martial arts experience or knowledge, but unlike other sports, martial arts vary by discipline and even by dojo. Belt colors don’t always go in the same order and kata and block, kick, punch, and stance names are not always the same. Because if this, it was often confusing for my children who have been taking martial arts for almost a year and a half. Overall, an okay book with a nice, feel good ending.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 24
Pages Read in 2015: 7297
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Children

Hybrid by Brian O’Grady

Are you a good mutant or a bad mutant? That is the question to ask as terrorists attempt to release a virus that infects and either kills or changes you into a sort of mind-reading, powerful superhuman. Amanda Flynn thought she was the only one to ever survive the disease called EDH1. As it turns out, she’s not the only one and while she has made the choice to be a good mutant, others most definitely have not. It’s a race against time to stop the terrorists from releasing the virus and killing the majority of the population of the United States.

I enjoyed Hybrid by Brian O’Grady a lot. The action was pretty much non-stop. Occasionally the words were incorrect but still actual words so spell check wouldn’t catch the mistake (like latter instead of later). There were a whole lot of characters and sometimes it was hard to keep track of who was who, especially since nearly every chapter (and some were very, very short) focused on a different person or group of people and it could be several chapters before going back to a scene from a previous chapter. Other than those issues, it was a great book!

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 23
Pages Read in 2015: 7165
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book with a one-word title

Leave a comment

Filed under Thriller

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

In this second Austenland book by Shannon Hale, recently divorced Charlotte, mom of two, travels to Pembrook Park for a two week stay at Austenland. Returning characters include Mr. and Mrs. Wattlesbrook, Miss Elizabeth Charming, and Colonel Andrews. This time, however, all is not well. Colonel Andrews plants an old murder mystery for the guests to solve and instigates games such as Bloody Murder. But, when Charlotte thinks she touched a real dead body, things at Austenland take a bit of a sinister turn.

I thought this second Austenland book was much better than the first. They are only loosely related (location and a few characters) so reading the first book before reading this one is definitely not necessary. Midnight in Austenland has creepy parts (but not too creepy), romance, a few surprises, and both Regency-appropriate and decidedly Regency-inappropriate events. The end is wonderfully sappy and sweet. A must read for fans of Jane Austen or Shannon Hale!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 22
Pages Read in 2015: 6770
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

1 Comment

Filed under Realistic Fiction

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

The Well-Trained Mind by mother and daughter team Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise is the go to “bible” for many classical homeschoolers. The book is divided into four sections, the first three based on the trivium. The first part is for grammar stage which is kindergarten to 4th grade, the second part is for logic stage which is 5th to 8th grade, the third part is for rhetoric stage which is 9th to 12th grade, and the fourth part includes practical tips for running your homeschool. The first three parts are divided into subjects and give curriculum suggestions (sometime multiple) for each subject and direction on how to implement them the “classical” way. The third (current) edition was published about 6 years ago. Some suggestions are out of date and there are new, better options available, but, for the most part, you can start classical homeschooling using The Well-Trained Mind. One note to keep in mind, however, is the time amounts given for each subject are estimates only and, particularly in the lower grades, are probably on the high end.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 20
Pages Read in 2015: 6387
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book with more than 500 pages

Leave a comment

Filed under Non-Fiction

Mr Swirlee by Mike Faricy

Note: I chose this book based solely on the cover and title (and the fact that it was free). I did not read any reviews or even the description before reading it.

Dev Haskell is a private investigator who ends up getting more than he bargained for when he’s hired by the unlikable Mr. Swirlee to investigate a hit and run. Soon, there’s a few murders, an arson, and Dev is running from the police while trying to figure out what is going on.

Mr Swirlee by Mike Faricy is a good book. It’s outlandish at times, and a bit predictable, but it is still enjoyable. There is a bit more profanity than I like in a book and the amount of drinking (and casual sex – no details, thankfully) is insane. The ending is really what ruined it for me, though. It was going along and all of a sudden it fast forwarded a month and sort of tied up the loose ends without explaining how they were tied up. It’s almost like the author had no idea how to end a book and instead of going on for too long, didn’t go on long enough. For a quick, brain candy read, Mr Swirlee is a decent choice.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 18
Pages Read in 2015: 5493
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book based entirely on its cover

Leave a comment

Filed under Realistic Fiction

Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure by Becca C. Smith

Because 11-year-old Alexis Tappendorf’s parents are spending the summer doing mysterious research, they leave Alexis with her Great-Aunt Mae in Virginia. Alexis learns about Beale’s Treasure, pirate treasure supposedly buried somewhere near Aunt Mae’s house. Alexis and her new friend Olivia have to solve some ciphers to locate the treasure and then beat the evil mayor’s family to get to it.

Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale’s Treasure by Becca C. Smith is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, making it fun reading for kids as well as parents. Here and there a word is in the wrong tense, but for the most part it is extremely well written. We were disappointed with the end, however, since it ends on a cliffhanger with a set up for a second book but it appears no second book has been written.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 17
Pages Read in 2015: 5181
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle Grades

Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams is a cultural history of some of the elements on the periodic table. They are in no particular order. Stories are included on how any given element affected societies, were named, were discovered, and so on. The tone is conversational and the stories are almost always interesting. The book is long and full of information so it is not a quick read, but you will no doubt learning something (or many things) from it!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 16
Pages Read in 2015: 4918
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Non-Fiction