Monthly Archives: June 2017

Viking Warrior by Judson Roberts

Halfdan is the son of an Irish princess and a Danish chieftan, but because his mother was a slave, Halfdan is also. As his father is dying, his mother makes a bargain requiring the chieftain to recognize Halfdan as his son and make him a free man. He must then learn they ways of a world that had always been closed off to him.

Viking Warrior, the first of the Strongbow Saga, is an excellent book written in a way that makes you feel as if you are there in the middle of the action. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and will likely read the rest of the books in the series. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Vikings or studying Viking history.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 92
Pages Read in 2017: 25,802
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Pre-reading for Cameron for Next School Year

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Filed under Historical Fiction

Horrible Histories: Vicious Vikings by Terry Deary

Horrible Histories: Vicious Vikings is a fun to read history of Vikings aimed at kids. It is light on facts and heavy on entertainment, but gets the basic information across. The Kindle version is a bit annoying since it just looks almost like scans of the pages of the book. Some of the writing is underneath pictures making it hard to read and the quizzes are difficult because you have to go back and forth between the pages to see the answers. It’s good enough for a kid interested in Vikings, but I’d recommend getting the paper version rather than buying it for the Kindle.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 91(this book is not counted toward annual total)
Pages Read in 2017: 25,493
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Pre-reading for Fritz for Next School Year

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Filed under Non-Fiction

Princess by Jean Sasson

Princess is the true story of one of the many Saudi Arabian princesses growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It is a collection of stories, many of which illustrate the problems with being female in a male dominated society. It’s an interesting glimpse into a few years in the life of mostly wealthy Saudis. I recommend reading it.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 91
Pages Read in 2017: 25,254
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Pre-reading for Cameron for Next School Year

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Filed under Non-Fiction

The Golden Symbol by Andrea Pearson

The Lorkon are coming for the final battle, but Jacob and his friends must first find the potion recipe hidden by Onyev long ago that will allow them to turn the Lorkon back into humans able to be killed. Once the recipe has been found, they must gather the ingredients and make the potion before the Lorkon arrive.

The Golden Symbol is the sixth and final book in the Kilenya series. It’s action packed and just as exciting as all the others. The writing is excellent and my 8- and 10-year-old sons and I all enjoyed it. Even though I knew how it would turn out, there were times I wasn’t sure the ending would be at all happy. I highly recommend this book and the whole Kilenya series to kids and adults. It makes an excellent family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 90
Pages Read in 2017: 24,950
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

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Michael and his friends spend all their free time in the Sleep, the VirtNet, playing virtual reality video games and hanging out. When VirtNet security asks Michael to use his coding and hacking skills to track down Kaine, a man hidden somewhere inside trying to implement the Mortality Doctrine, the three teens embark on an exciting and dangerous journey that often seems more real than not.

The Eye of Minds is a seriously weird book. It took me quite a while to get into it, but at nearly halfways through it became much more interesting and I could barely put it down. I totally didn’t see the ending coming. I recommend this book to young adults and adults who enjoy sci-fi.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 89
Pages Read in 2017: 24,598
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (E in PEARL)

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Filed under Science Fiction

Remaining Me by Ansandra Woodman

Taylor’s life dramatically changes when her mother marries the amazing and rich Chad. It soon becomes clear that Chad is neither amazing nor rich, but, as a narcissist, he certainly makes sure to appear that way to everyone outside of his house. Taylor is his favorite target, refusing to allow her to do things that make her happy while simultaneously telling other people Taylor is difficult and just doesn’t want to do those things anymore. Once it becomes clear her mother will never side with her and feeling completely worthless, Taylor turns to drugs and alcohol until an observant and kind school librarian steps in with help.

The author of Remaining Me clearly has experience with a narcissist. Some of the things Chad said and did are exactly like things a friend’s narcissist ex-husband said and did. The emptiness apparent in Taylor’s mother’s actions is spot on for someone who has been verbally and emotionally beaten down. Taylor’s emotions and pain jump out of the pages making you want to hug her and save her from her horrible home life. The book is the story of Taylor’s young life, told from Taylor’s point of view at 17-years-old as she’s thinking about how she got where she is now. It’s very engaging and sucked me right in. Possibly because I supported my friend through her divorce, the whole thing rang very true and hurt my heart and affected me in ways that likely made the book that much better. The author is certainly an excellent storyteller.

So why didn’t I give it 5 stars? I really, really wanted to. It deserves 5 stars and with some editing, it would be. I debated between 3 and 4 stars because the errors are just that bad, but the story itself is so incredibly good, I went with 4 stars. There are an abundance of grammar mistakes. In many, many places there are words that do not belong. Often, I could figure out how the sentence was written originally because of words left in during the editing process (the final sentences were always better). At least one character’s middle name changed. A couple other details changed as well. Not related to the editing issues, I personally felt the last chapter was completely unnecessary. The second to last chapter had a good, not tied up with a bow everything is happy and awesome, but, rather, hopeful, ending that fit the rest of the book very well. The final chapter kind of tried to do the tying up with a bow and it fell flat because Chad’s abuse will affect Taylor and her mother and her baby brother and sister forever. It’s really unfortunate that the editing errors in the book caused the rating to drop because this is a really excellent story and I highly recommend reading it.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 88
Pages Read in 2017: 24,260
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (R in PEARL)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax

Gladie has moved in with her grandmother in a quiet little town in order to join the family business of being a matchmaker. Her plans get a little derailed when dead bodies start piling up, there are crazy people across the street, and two hot men are vying for her attention.

Parts of the story were good. Unfortunately, the not so good parts far exceeded the good ones. The writing was a bit juvenile (though the book is clearly for adults). For example, at one point it says she had a mouthful of chili cheese dog in her mouth. Glad the author cleared up for us that her mouthful was actually in her mouth. At times it really needed an editor or better proofreading. In addition to grammar mistakes, there were occasional missing words. Usually, that is not a huge deal and I can overlook it, but one time, the missing word completely changed the meaning of the sentence. A character said she did see the person who threw a frozen knish at her, but the context of the rest of the conversation made it clear that the word not was missing and she actually did not see the person. The timeline was often very strange even though the reader is constantly being reminded of the timeline. Sometimes the action that is packed into a certain amount of time is simply impossible just by adding the times given. The sexy chief of police usually is intelligent, but on one specific occasion, he’s completely dumb. They go to talk to someone and the flowers in her many pots on the porch are dead. Instead of concluding that she is no longer living there, the police chief, Spencer, decides to stake out her house and await her return because there is still furniture inside after all. That stakeout seems to last a few hours, but based on the other things they did and when they returned home that day, it couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes or an hour. Spencer eventually concludes she must not be coming back because the flowers are dead. I’m pretty sure the stakeout was only included to get in a slightly amusing scene of Gladie peeing in the woods with Spencer’s back to her and then to add in Gladie snuggling up to Spencer to take a nap. The book is often all over the place throwing in storylines that it forgets about and then picks up later. It was extremely predictable. I figured out who did it early on and that’s saying something since I tend to be a very trusting reader and rarely figure things out before the big reveal (and the big reveal in this book was incredibly long and tedious). Some random amusing bits are thrown in, but overall it’s just not a very interesting book. It didn’t draw me into the story or make me care about the characters. An Affair to Dismember is the first in a series, but I most definitely won’t be reading any more of them since this first one really was not worth the time it took to read it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 87
Pages Read in 2017: 24,025
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (A in PEARL)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction