Category Archives: Reason: Vine Review

Second Chances by Valerie Tripp

Second Chances is the second American Girl book about Josefina. This one covers several months following the first book. The end is predictable, but exactly how you want it be. American Girl books are historical fiction for kids done right. I highly recommend this book to tweens. It makes a great family readaloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 25
Pages Read in 2020: 6014
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Stop Staring at Screens by Tanya Goodin

Stop Staring at Screens reads like a series of blog posts. There’s not much new and definitely not much in the way of guidance to help families stop being on electronics all the time. There are a few good ideas in there and it reads super fast so it’s not completely a waste. If you are looking for advice to actually stop staring at screens, however, you can skip this book.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 23
Pages Read in 2020: 5723
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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review, Self-Help/Motivation

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets by Sarah Miller

It was quite a miracle that five little girls born all at once in 1934 survived. The tragedy came when the country of Canada took custody of the girls, separated them from their family, and exhibited them like a sideshow. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets is a very well-written overview of their lives using primary sources. It attempts to give both sides of the story, but is mostly sympathetic to the quintuplets themselves. It reads fast with lots of short chapters. I found it quite fascinating. I recommend it to anyone curious about the Dionne quintuplets’ lives.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 22
Pages Read in 2020: 5579
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Filed under Biography, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review

The Big Break by Megan McDonald

An expanded version of the original first Julie book, The Big Break is all about the 1974 American Girl doll. The story is well-written and has lots of little callouts to the time period. The last couple pages give non-fiction information about life as Julie would’ve experienced it and explains why certain things were included (like Julie struggling with her parents’ divorce and working to get on the boy’s basketball team at school). I recommend this book to kids who enjoy American Girl books. It makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 17
Pages Read in 2020: 4372
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Much Ado About Mean Girls by Ian Doescher

Imagine the entire Mean Girls movie written out like a Shakespeare play complete with the language and rhythms you would expect from William Shakespeare. That’s Much Ado About Mean Girls. It’s utterly fabulous. It’s so funny and reads very quickly. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Shakespeare and enjoyed Mean Girls.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 16
Pages Read in 2020: 4155
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Filed under Play, Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: Vine Review

Duped by Abby Ellin

The author of this book fell for the lies of a narcissist and thought she was going to marry him. This got her interested in the lies people tell and other cases of people being duped by a liar. It turns out it happens a lot. Duped weaves the stories of people who have fallen for the lies of others with facts and statistics on liars, lies, and lying. The writing style is excellent and really draws you in, somehow making the facts and figures just as fascinating as the narratives. I highly recommend this book, particularly if you have ever known a narcissist.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 14
Pages Read in 2020: 3821
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Filed under Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reason: Vine Review

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

Julie Takes a Stand by Megan McDonald

Julie Takes a Stand is the second book about Julie, the American Girl from 1974. Julie participates in the wagon train east to commemorate the bicentennial and then runs for study body president for her elementary school. My sons, especially my 11-year-old, loved the book. American Girl really is historical fiction done right. It tells the story on a kid’s level, but still is as accurate as possible. The last few pages are historical background showing where they got the ideas for what happens to Julie in the book. Julie Takes a Stand makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 124
Pages Read in 2019: 31,734
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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Melody: Never Stop Singing by Denise Lewis Patrick

Melody: Never Stop Singing is the second American Girl book about Melody, an African American girl from 1964. Melody is just turning 10 and learning about some of the more serious concerns in the world. Things addressed include JFK’s assassination, Civil Rights, racism, and difficulties in the inner city black community. Everything is told on a level tweens can understand. My 11-year-old son especially liked it. It makes a great family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 121
Pages Read in 2019: 31,106
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Filed under Children, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review