Monthly Archives: February 2019

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory

Written in diary format by a twelve-year-old girl, Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie tells of the trek along the Oregon Trail to a new home. It goes pretty much as playing Oregon Trail did in elementary school. A lot of people die, most of the animals die, wagons get swept away while fording the rivers, and so on. It’s a fun, easy read. The back contains historical information and pictures. I highly recommend it to kids learning about the pioneers and traveling west.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 25
Pages Read in 2019: 7235
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Women Under the Knife by Ann Dally

Surgery was pretty crazy in the 1800s and early 1900s and Women Under the Knife discusses cases and opinions related to it. I’m not sure if the author was trying to make the point that surgeons operated on both men and women so it really wasn’t significant that women underwent more surgeries than men (the majority of the additional surgeries were gynecological) or that men, and particularly male surgeons, were misogynists and so operated so much on women for that reason. Sometimes it felt like she was making one of those points and sometimes the other and that she didn’t really make either point in the end. It was often dreadfully boring and read like someone’s doctoral thesis. When she was discussing case studies, however, it was fabulous and very interesting. She really should have stuck more to those. I don’t really recommend or not recommend this book either way. It would probably be best skimmed to just read about the surgical cases.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 24
Pages Read in 2019: 7024
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer by Janet and Geoff Benge

David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer tells of how an ambitious Scottish boy ended up a doctor and great African explorer. It’s written on a middle grade level and covers the basics of Livingstone’s life very well. It focuses heavily on his missionary work and glosses over his exploration leaving a fairly unbalanced picture, however. I do recommend it, though, for kids studying Livingstone or Africa.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 23
Pages Read in 2019: 6692
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Filed under Biography, Middle Grades, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Culinary Reactions by Simon Quellen Field

Ever wondered what happens to your food as you prepare it? Culinary Reactions explains all the science. I learned quite a few things. The author’s sense of humor, particularly in some of the included recipes, is fabulous. As a added bonus, the author’s adorable little parrot makes several appearances in photos. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about what’s going on in their kitchen.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 22
Pages Read in 2019: 6478
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

China’s Son by Da Chen

Da Chen grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution. Due to his ancestry, he lost a lot of opportunities he otherwise would have had. China’s Son is his memoir of the years under Mao and just after the leader’s death. I found it to be fascinating. The writing is very good, often using similes and metaphors to create lovely word pictures. It reads quickly. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Cultural Revolution. This book makes a good addition to Red Scarf Girl as they cover life in very different locations of the country and positions in life during the same time period.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 21
Pages Read in 2019: 6220
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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Candy Bombers by Robert Elmer

Candy Bombers is a middle grade historical fiction book about the Berlin Airlift and dropping candy for the children in the Soviet sector at the beginning of the Cold War. The story is very simple and doesn’t really focus much on the candy bombing (it’s more of a backdrop). The transitions from one scene to the next very often are difficult to follow (could be an issue with how the book ended up when it was made into an ebook as there are some formatting issues). It’s an okay book, but there are better out there set in the same time period.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 20
Pages Read in 2019: 5982
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz

Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson

In 1912, the work week of the mill workers of Lawrence, Massachusetts, was reduced by two hours and so the people went on strike. Bread and Roses, Too is historical fiction focused on two children, one a schoolgirl and sister and daughter of strikers and the other a mill worker and striker himself. The story is told beautifully. It is sometimes a little slow, but that fits the story very well. The ending is absolutely perfect. At the end there is a historical note that reveals that most of the backdrop of the story is completely true (and explains a bit of what is not). I highly recommend this book to middle grade kids learning about the industrial revolution or strikes.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 19
Pages Read in 2019: 5821
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Pre-Reading for Fritz