Monthly Archives: November 2017

How (Not) to Kiss Your Dog by Susan Lash

Jenny’s brother Jack adopts Albert, a rather hyper Jack Rusell terrier. Meanwhile, their grandmother has surgery. Mayhem ensues.

How (Not) to Kiss Your Dog was one of those books that is just meh. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either. There were quite a few spelling and grammar errors. One scene, that was really not necessary for the rest of the book, was rather inappropriate for a middle grades book (at school in homeroom a word commonly used as a swear word was used by the “bad” kid in a way he could get away with, but was still intended to get a rise out of everyone). I can’t say I recommend reading this book, but I don’t totally not either. There are a lot of better books out there though, so I’d probably skip it.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 159
Pages Read in 2017: 42,981
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Filed under Middle Grades

Zera and the Green Man by Sandra Knauf

Zera talks to plants and they talk back. Her guardian, her uncle, is a biotech engineer mixing things like cows and potatoes to make beefy fries. After being visited by the Green Man, Zera knows she must try to stop her uncle.

I really did not like Zera and the Green Man. I very rarely give a book 1 star, but this one earned it. The first half was pretty much okay. And then it just went nuts. I felt like the book was trying to be multiple types of books (and failed miserably at the combination). Sometimes it was sci-fi. Sometimes it was mystical fantasy. Sometimes it was a thriller. Sometimes it was a heavy-handed lecture about how horrible genetic modification is and the dangers of global warming. The writing was not very good, particularly when the lectures droned on. I was hoping the ending would redeem it, but no such luck. The ending was extremely poorly done and rather dumb. I most definitely do NOT recommend this book.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 158
Pages Read in 2017: 42,827
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (Z in TOPAZ)

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Filed under Fantasy

One Nation by Ben Carson

One Nation is a lot of rambling about how we need to fix America. The anecdotes don’t always make sense in the context of the chapter. Some of the facts (and understanding of scientific concepts) are just plain wrong. He claims to be moderate, but clearly is not. While I do agree with quite a bit of what he wrote, I found his “action items” to be lacking and it ended up being more of a giant whine than anything else. I could only take the book in small doses. I don’t particularly recommend reading it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 157
Pages Read in 2017: 42,452
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: A to Z Authors (C)

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Filed under Non-Fiction

The Toaster Oven Mocks Me by Steve Margolis

Steve Margolis sees letters and numbers as colors (among other things). For many years he thought this was so strange that he expended huge amounts of mental energy covering up his weirdness. In reality, while seeing letters and numbers as colors is unusual, it is a documented neurological condition called synesthesia. What a synesthete experiences is different from other synesthetes, but they all have in common some sort of crossed senses. The Toaster Oven Mocks Me is the author’s story of dealing with synesthesia. The book caught my eye because my daughter has synesthesia (ever tried to make sense of math problems when two numbers are dating, two other numbers are fighting, and they all appear in different colors?). It was pretty well written, in a conversational tone like the author was just sharing his life with colors one on one. There were occasional grammar errors. It’s short so it reads fast. It absolutely must be read on a device with color as the colors of letters are very important to his story. I recommend this book to anyone who knows someone with or is interested in synesthesia (though it might annoy another synesthete because as my daughter said, “Those colors are all wrong!”).

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 156
Pages Read in 2017: 42,203
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (T in TOPAZ)

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Filed under Memoir

Play Dead by Leslie O’Kane

Allida Babcock is a dog therapist in Boulder. After an appearance on a radio show, she ends up with a series of clients that all seem interested in one particular dog… with two dead owners. Allida is convinced both owners were murdered and investigates the case.

While I enjoyed Play Dead while I was reading it, I just wasn’t excited about picking it up to start reading. The main character was a know-it-all and didn’t seem to have a sense of humor at all. She kind of grated on my nerves. I was a bit surprised by the ending so that was good. It’s a decent enough brain candy read, but not one I’d go out of my way to choose. It’s the first in a series. I won’t be reading any more.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 155
Pages Read in 2017: 42,046
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (P in TOPAZ)

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Filed under Mystery

Princesses Don’t Become Engineers by Aya Ling

Princess Elaine is much more than just a pretty face. She is an inventor and wants to learn. When she barely makes it into the university, she is determined to study hard so she is allowed to stay and finish her course of study so she can become an engineer.

Princesses Don’t Become Engineers is an adorable book. Elaine is not your typical princess, but she is truly lovable. My 9 and 11-year-old boys loved the book and when I finished reading it to them, they both said it was such a good story. They really loved how it ended. They were really hoping it would end that way. I highly recommend this book to middle grade kids (even though the main character is a princess, it’s definitely not just for girls!). It makes a lovely family read aloud.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 154
Pages Read in 2017: 41,763
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Some time in the future, aliens are using humans as hosts. They are inserted and become the conciousness, essentially replacing the human. After insertion, Wanderer is surprised to find Melanie still in her head, refusing to be erased. When Wanderer and Melanie decide to find Melanie’s family, they must convince the humans they mean no harm and figure out how to navigate the very different world of humans.

Other than being agonizingly slow on occasion, The Host is an excellent book. It makes you ponder questions like what makes a person and what makes someone fall in love. Sometimes it was hard to put down. The characters are very well developed and I found myself caring very much what happened to them and hoping they could all somehow end up happy. I recommend reading this book to older teens and up.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 153
Pages Read in 2017: 41,541
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: 52 Books Bingo (Bestseller written in spouse or child birth year – Adrian, 2008)

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Filed under Science Fiction