Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is a collection of stories about wild animals. There are several stories about Mowgli, the man cub who is adopted by a wolf, a story about a white seal, the story of the mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a story about elephant workers, and more. Most of the stories are kind of random and a bit strange, interspersed with vaguely related poem/songs. I did not find the book to be very enjoyable.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 49
Pages Read in 2015: 13,124
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Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten

Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten follows deer named Bambi from his birth through adulthood. Bambi experiences many adventures and learns about all the creatures of the forest as well as the dreaded Him (hunters) as he struggles to survive. Bambi is a good, albeit depressing, book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 48
Pages Read in 2015: 12,990
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King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green is a retelling of the King Arthur stories for children. The stories follow many years in the course of the Kingdom of Logres from Merlin’s creation of the round table to the downfall of the kingdom due to the relationship between Launcelot and Guinevere (which is dealt with very appropriately for child readers). The epilogue leaves the reader wondering if King Arthur is truly dead or not and whether, one day, Logres will return. Sometimes the stories are a little graphic, but for the most part this is a great collection of stories.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 47
Pages Read in 2015: 12,716
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Filed under Children, Classic

Snake Oil by T. Ford

Third grader Justin Calloway has a big problem. He has some major test anxiety and keeps doing poorly on his tests. He discovers the solution to his problem on the back of a Rubberband Man comic: Snake Oil, guaranteed to increase your test scores. He orders it and it seems to work. Meanwhile, Justin is trying to find out if the rumor that the old lady down the street has a stuffed dead cat is true. Little does he know the old lady down the street holds the key to some crazy side effects from the snake oil.

In the book it very clearly states that Justin is in the 3rd grade, which would be 8 or 9 years old. In other places, however, blurbs about the book say he is 11 or 12 (his behavior is consistent with a 3rd grader). This is just one of the problems with this book. Right at the beginning it says he has a math test and then suddenly he took a science test instead and did well enough on it that his friend could come spend the night. I read the book out loud to my boys and they liked the story. It was cute, albeit a bit weird. But it is not a book I could just hand to my kid to read. The whole time I had to edit just to make it coherent. There were quotation marks out of place, tenses would change randomly, point of view changed a few times, the same thing would be repeated slightly differently over and over and over in a conversation. It was a mess. I felt like I was reading a rough draft of a book that could be very good. The way it is currently, I simply cannot recommend Snake Oil by T. Ford.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 46
Pages Read in 2015: 12,331
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Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Maisie Brown’s middle name literally is Danger, but she’s not Dangerous. Not until astronaut boot camp that is. Maisie’s a half-Latina, one-armed, homeschooled girl living a quiet life in Salt Lake City. She wants to be an astronaut and when the chance to win three weeks at space camp comes in a cereal box, she enters the contest. At astronaut boot camp she meets Wilder, a super rich hot guy with a sinister father, Mi-Sun, an 11-year-old, Jacques, a whiz at Name That Tune, and Ruth, who is no fan of Maisie. The five of them get the chance to go up a space elevator where they are infected with alien tokens that change them in very specific ways. One becomes a thinker and leader of the fireteam, one develops brute strength, one can build his own body armor with his skin, one can shoot anything faster and harder than a gun, and one can suddenly understand the inner workings of technology. Suddenly, Maisie’s life is a bit too exciting and dangerous, particularly when it becomes her job to save the world. Literally.

Dangerous by Shannon Hale is an amazing book. The romance between Maisie and Wilder is perfect and the non-romance between Maisie and her best friend Luther is hilarious. It’s nice that she is homeschooled but is a normal person. Homeschooling is just how she happens to be educated (like the vast majority of real life homeshoolers). As always, Shannon Hale describes things vividly bringing the story to life in the mind. I found myself thinking more than once that the book would make a pretty good movie. I could barely put the book down (which does get a bit annoying when reading at night… “just one more chapter” turns into 10 or 12). I highly recommend this book!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 44
Pages Read in 2015: 12,013
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book by a female author

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Filed under Science Fiction

Psych’s Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified by Shawn Spencer with Burton Guster

Become a fake detective (the psychic part, fake or not, is up to you) just by reading Psych’s Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified by Shawn Spencer with Burton Guster (who don’t actually exist outside of a TV show). Actually, you only have to read page 1 to become a detective because Shawn says so. Topics include setting up shop, picking your sidekick (who is definitely not a partner), working with cops and coroners of all kinds, and wrapping up your case with an awesome breakdown. There are recipes by Harry Spencer (bath salts) and Mr. Yang (twice baked potatoes) and magazine articles about/by such annoyances as Declan Rand and Cameron Luntz and an illuminating interview with Chief Vick and her sister, Commander Dunlap. Sprinkled throughout are very important quizzes (you must pass to be a detective… or not since you became a detective on page 1) and thumbprint doodles from the creative brain (and thumb) of Juliet O’Hara. This book is, as one would expect, hilarious. A must read for Psychos and fans of delicious flavor.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 43
Pages Read in 2015: 11,605
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book based on or turned into a TV show

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Filed under Self-Help/Motivation

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Alec and a giant black stallion are shipwrecked on a small island. Slowly, the two become friends and the wild horse allows Alec to ride him. Once they get home, Alec’s neighbor encourages Alec to learn to race the Black. After a while, a reporter learns about the Black and Alec finds himself invited to race the two best horses in horseracing.

The Black Stallion was a fine book, but I didn’t love it. It was just okay. There wasn’t anything wrong with the book. I was just not interested in the subject matter. It would be an excellent book for anyone who loves horses.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 42
Pages Read in 2015: 11,315
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book with a color in the title

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Filed under Classic