Monthly Archives: February 2020

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Aven was born without arms and so she refers to herself as a cactus. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus finds her at the beginning of high school where absolutely nothing seems to be going her way, some things her fault, some things not. She has to learn to trust herself and others and what family really means. For about the first half to two-thirds of the book I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Aven or any of the other characters. I found most of them insufferable. They were mostly just stereotypes. Aven was especially annoying and it’s never a good thing to be really annoyed by the narrator. The last few chapters were a lot better. Still a lot of stereotypes and caricatures, but better. Overall this was just a meh book. I’d only bother to read it if you loved the first book (which I did not read).

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 12
Pages Read in 2020: 3449
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review

The Hero Next Door

The Hero Next Door is a collection of short stories written by award-winning authors and aimed at middle grade readers. Each story includes a diverse group of people, focuses on at least one child, and has a hero doing every day things because something that seems simple to one person can be huge to another. I quite enjoyed most of the stories. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 11
Pages Read in 2020: 3141
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Middle Grades, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review, Short Stories

Joss: Touch the Sky by Erin Falligant

Joss, the 2020 American Girl of the Year, continues her story in Joss: Touch the Sky. She faces a loss of confidence just before the big cheer competition. She learns lessons about disappointment and failure and trusting your team. It’s a great story and my 11 and 13 year old sons really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who likes American Girl books. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 10
Pages Read in 2020: 2875
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Filed under Children, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Joss by Erin Falligant

Joss is the American Girl Girl of the Year for 2020. She likes surfing and cheerleading and can’t decide if she’s really a surfer or really a cheerleader because surely she can’t be both. Joss is the first book all about her. It’s a cute story of friendship and figuring out just who you are. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys American Girl books. It makes a great family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 9
Pages Read in 2020: 2741
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Twilight Rogue by Andrea Pearson

So often a book series will have a great beginning and end, but then loses steam in the middle. Not this one! Twilight Rogue is the third book of the Midnight Chronicles and it’s absolutely fantastic. Two huge things happen that I was seriously not expecting and one of them changes absolutely everything I thought I knew. I love how Abel’s character, including his feelings under that seemingly emotionless exterior, is being developed through this series. The writing is excellent. It’s the kind of story that you just don’t want to put down and leaves you with a book hangover when you’re all done. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes urban fantasy. It’s even better if you’ve read Lizzie’s series first, but that’s not necessary (though I do recommend it).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 8
Pages Read in 2020: 2599
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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: I Like the Series

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton

Aya is an 11-year-old dancer from Aleppo, Syria, forced to flee with her family due to the war. Making their way across the Mediterranean her father is presumed drowned and her mother’s mental health breaks leaving Aya basically in charge of her baby brother. In England they claim asylum and await the verdict of whether they can stay or if they must leave. Aya begins dance classes at a community center with a teacher who was herself a refugee during World War II. The book does a really good job of presenting the concepts of asylum seeker and refugee and what having to flee your home can do to you short and long term in a way that middle grade children – the age the book is aimed at – can understand. The story is told very effectively through both present day narration and flashbacks. It’s very well written. I recommend No Ballet Shoes in Syria to people of all ages.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 7
Pages Read in 2020: 2404
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Filed under Children, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Shrigley Abduction by Abby Ashby and Audrey Jones

I’m not really sure why this book was even written. It’s true crime, but it’s the most boring true crime I have ever read. Basically, guy easily kidnaps girl from school with fake story. Guy fools girl into marrying him. Girl’s family gets made. Court case declares marriage annulled and another court case convicts guy of kidnapping. And that’s pretty much it. Barely any of the book is on the crime. Most of it is the minutiae of the people involved. So many people who really didn’t have to be mentioned or discussed. It just was not an enjoyable book, but rather was quite tedious for the most part. I don’t really recommend it unless you have some urgent need to learn about this particular criminal case.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 6
Pages Read in 2020: 2132
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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, True Crime