Monthly Archives: January 2017

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman. She was given advice to change it. The real story was just a tiny part of what she had written. Thank goodness she followed the advice! Go Set a Watchman does a lot of lecturing. The points about racism and bigotry get rather muddled up and lost in those lectures. The good parts are when Jean Louise (Scout) is remembering things that happened in her childhood. The biggest value I see in this somewhat polished rough draft is in studying how a writer can take the story they planned to tell and transform it into a very different, yet still with a few basic similarities, amazing, prize-winning, enduring novel.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 11
Pages Read in 2017: 3608
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (G in GARNET)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Nelson Mandela: A Life Inspired by Gillian Kendall and Wyatt North

Nelson Mandela was an amazing man. Nelson Mandela: A Life Inspired tells the story of his life from childhood through death. It is well written and told in a way that draws you into the story. I highly recommend reading this book to learn more about Mandela and also South African history.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 10
Pages Read in 2017: 3320
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (N in GARNET)

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Filed under Biography

Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford

Allyson is shocked to discover she can breathe fire and is even more shocked when her friend Beth informs her it’s because she is half dragon. And her friend is half troll. And there are more part mythical creatures running around out there. When Steve, who is part unicorn, goes missing, Beth is implicated and may be sentenced to death for it. Allyson and Beth set off to find Steve. They discover a Kin kidnapping ring and there is much more to it than they thought.

I really enjoyed Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon. It was full of action. It was fun to watch as Allyson learned what it means to be half dragon and to discover what she can do. The writing was good and the book is edited well. I highly recommend reading it!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 9
Pages Read in 2017: 3113
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (A in GARNET)

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Filed under Fantasy

Rena’s Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam

Rena was one of the first women to arrive at Auschwitz in 1942. Somehow she survived the concentration camps, through the Death March, and to liberation. Her story is incredible. Her will to live and keep her sister alive is inspiring. The majority of the story is told using Rena’s words with footnotes explaining some of the people, places, and things she mentioned. At the beginning, however, the secondary author, the one doing the interviewing, put herself in the voice of Rena and alternated back and forth between past and present tense and first and third person. It was irritating and though she did it on purpose, I think it detracted significantly from the book and was relieved when she settled into just using Rena’s words. I still highly recommend reading Rena’s Promise.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 8
Pages Read in 2017: 2900
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (R in GARNET)

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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Memoir, Non-Fiction

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Sixty years after the collapse of the then-new Israel, the Jews in Alaska are facing another expulsion. A man turns up dead in his apartment and leads Detective Landsman on a journey to find who killed him, why, and who else was in on it.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was long and drawn out and often not very interesting. When it was interesting, it was excellent. It’s just that that was only about half the time. The writing was generally very good, though the repetitive “he said in American” after every curse word (particularly through the first half of the book) got old. The big reveal/twist of who did it was foreshadowed a little too strongly making the actual moment kind of a flop. It’s a fine enough book, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read it.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 7
Pages Read in 2017: 2612
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Mind Voyages Challenge (Moon #1); with my husband

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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Mystery, Science Fiction

Every Day is a Holiday by George Mahood

George Mahood set out to celebrate a holiday every day for 6 months and chronicle his experience. The result was often quite amusing, particularly given his lovely British sense of humor. Sometimes he provided interesting information about the background of holidays. My only complaint is he didn’t include every day. Every Day Is a Holiday is a fun read. I totally recommend it.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 6
Pages Read in 2017: 2177
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (E in GARNET)

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Filed under Humor, Memoir

The Rabbit Ate My Flip-Flops by Rachel Elizabeth Cole

While Drew and Libby’s parents attend a conference in Hawaii, the kids go camping with their grandparents. Of course Libby can’t bear to leave Tiny behind, so she sneaks him into the RV. Rabbits aren’t usually camping companions and when you add in the grandparents’ super controlling friend Sheila and her very rabbit-allergic husband, it looks like it will be the worst vacation ever for Drew.

We enjoyed the first The Rabbit Ate My… book a lot and while The Rabbit Ate My Flip-Flops wasn’t quite as good, it still made a fun bedtime read aloud for my boys. The characters are quite well-developed for a children’s book. I recommend this book to pre-teen kids and to families for a read aloud. It’s not really necessary to read the first book for this one to make sense.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 5
Pages Read in 2017: 1851
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: To read to the boys

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Filed under Middle Grades