Monthly Archives: February 2017

Ten Tea Parties by Joseph Cummins

We all know about the Boston Tea Party, but it’s not so well known that other colonies participated in tea parties as well. This book includes details on the ones in Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston (they had two), New York, Chestertown (Maryland – that one might not have even happened, but they still celebrate it every Memorial Day), York (Maine), Annapolis, Edenton and Wilmington, and Greenwich (New Jersey). Some were dramatic, some calm, some involved fire, some water, but all were to protest the taxes being imposed by Britain on the increasingly independent American colonies. At the end of the book are brief descriptions of a few other tea parties as well. Ten Tea Parties reads somewhat like a textbook and is a bit dry. For those interested in little known bits of American history, it’s a good read.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 23
Pages Read in 2017: 6749
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (T in AMETHYST)

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Filed under History

The Story of Awkward by RK Ryals

Verbally abused by her bipolar and alcoholic father and mercilessly bullied at school, Peregrine Storke uses her art talent to create Awkward, a world where nothing is wrong and everyone is happy. When she and her best friend’s brother drown in an accident, they are thrown into Awkward where things aren’t quite going so well.

The Story of Awkward is weird. It is also very enjoyable and uses a fairy tale to gently teach a lesson about acceptance and loving yourself. By about a quarter of the way through, I could barely put it down. I recommend it to teens and adults alike!

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 22
Pages Read in 2017: 6525
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (S in AMETHYST)

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Filed under Fairy Tale, Fantasy

The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum

Aimed at kids, The Children’s Homer tells the story of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Given that those are pretty exciting books, it’s just incredble to me how utterly boring the majority of the book is. It is also written in a way that makes it very awkward to read aloud. If it was the only choice for telling these stories to kids, I’d recommend it, but since there are other much better choices, I really do not.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 21
Pages Read in 2017: 6259
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Part of the Boys’ History Curriculum

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Filed under Children, Classic

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell

Soon after the US entered World War II, FDR signed an executive order authorizing the internment of “enemy aliens” in camps. One of these camps, Crystal City, was in Texas near San Antonio. Families were held in Crystal City, mostly Japanese and German, awaiting repatriation to their country of origin. The children in these families were US citizens from birth. Also held at Crystal City were Japanese and Germans brought to the US from Latin America by our government and arrested as illegally in the country as soon as they arrived. Many of the people interned at Crystal City were used in a prisoner exchange program where the US government would exchange a Japanese or German person for an American caught behind enemy lines in Japan or Germany. Some of the people exchanged were those US citizen children.

What happened in Crystal City was disturbing and a bit horrifying (in that it is shocking our government did what it did) and that made the book not so easy to read. The book was extremely well written and expertly wove together the stories of some of the interned families (mainly the children of those families) and one young Jewish woman who escaped Bergen-Belsen by being one of the prisoners exchanged for an American Crystal City inmate. I highly recommend reading it. Even though it is difficult to know what we did, it is also very important so we do not allow history to repeat itself.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 20
Pages Read in 2017: 6127
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: San Antonio Mayor’s Book Club

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Filed under Non-Fiction

Melissa Explains It All by Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart made commercials when she was a little kid, performed on stage as a pre-teen, was the title character on Clarissa Explains It All in her teens, Sabrina on Sabrina the Teenage Witch in her 20s, and Mel on Melissa and Joey in her 30s, and in between all that made some TV movies and started a production company with her mom, too. In her memoir, Melissa Explains It All, she is quite forthcoming about guys and drugs and partying and admits that while she probably wasn’t much different from many 20-somethings she really only made it to adulthood with her squeaky clean image because she never got caught doing naughty things. Now, she’s settled down as a wife and mother, the role she is most proud of in her life. The book is enjoyable and her sarcastic sense of humor comes through in her writing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Melissa Joan Hart!

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 19
Pages Read in 2017: 5710
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (M in AMETHYST)

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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up

A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt

In order to spend a quiet Christmas all by herself, Claire heads to England to stay at her godmother’s house. Her plans are turned completely upside-down when a snowstorm leaves her stranded and she’s rescued by sheep farmer Noah. Things get even more complicated when Noah unexpectedly has to keep his 8-year-old daughter Molly over Christmas and Molly wants Claire to spend her Christmas with them.

A Yorkshire Christmas is a very predictable novella that ends exactly how you want it to. It is total brain candy and very simple, but sometimes that’s a good thing. Also included in the book is a bonus novella, Falling for Christmas. I kind of felt like I was reading the same story a second time, just with slightly different characters, a few details changed, and the child removed from the story. There were a whole lot of typos throughout. If you want a romantic mind vacation, A Yorkshire Christmas is a decent choice.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 18
Pages Read in 2017: 5423
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (Y in AMETHYST)

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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Realistic Fiction

The Key of Kilenya by Andrea Pearson

Jacob is chased into a tree and finds himself in a different world. He is sent on a quest with a young Makalo, Akeno, to take back the key of Kilenya from the evil Lorkons. In the process, he discovers he has magical powers and is the one the Makalos have been waiting for.

I read The Key of Kilenya to my 8 and 10 year old boys and before we finished it, they both wanted to know if there were more books in the series. It is very well written and has lots of exciting action. As is often the case with fantasy books, it is a little bit confusing at first trying to figure out the world it is set in. I highly recommend this book to families with kids. It makes an excellent read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 16
Pages Read in 2017: 4826
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Filed under Fantasy, Middle Grades