Tag Archives: 2 Stars

The Legend of King Arthur by Stephen Klein

The Legend of King Arthur is an overview of the King Arthur legends including the actual history leading up to when historians believe the real King Arthur lived and notes on when certain characters first appeared in the stories. The information provided in the book was quite interesting, but the author repeated himself over and over like a high schooler needing to pad an essay to reach the required length. The whole thing could have been about a third as long. The grammar was atrocious. There were many extra commas where they didn’t belong, tenses that changed in the middle of sentences, and pronouns that often did not match the sex of the character being referred to. Occasionally, the author would switch to an alternate spelling of a character’s name and then the next time return to the original spelling. Many times the author would write something and then in the next sentence write, “Therefore…” and draw some conclusion that actually didn’t make sense with the other information given. Somehow, the author made the Arthurian legends rather tedious and boring, probably because of the extreme repetition (how many times did I need to be reminded of the names of Morgause’s sons?). The final conclusion at the end of the book summed up everything that had been explained in the previous more than 100 pages and almost could have been all that was needed at all. Overall, this book is just in extreme need of an editor. Because of this, I cannot recommend anyone take the time to read it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 103
Pages Read in 2017: 28,575
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

Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner

Since the Bloody Coup, Killdeer and Billycan have ruled the Catacombs with an iron fist, but still rats are disappearing without a trace. After Clover is named as The Chosen One, her uncle Juniper must hurry up the plans to overthrow Killdeer and move the rats to the much more pleasant Nightshade City.

I have noticed that there seems to be some unspoken rule that graphic violence is not okay in books for kids unless the characters are animals. This book has some very graphic violence going on between the anthropomorphic rats. The chapters are also overly long with each chapter being 25-30 pages. This made the flow of the book awkward. My 9- and 11-year-old boys were happy when we finished the book, not because they enjoyed it, but because it was over, and said they did not want to finish the series. I don’t really recommend reading Nightshade City.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 99
Pages Read in 2017: 27,935
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

Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Alison wakes up in a mental hospital and slowly her memories begin to come back. As far as she can recall, she got in a fight with Tori, punched her, Tori disintegrated, and Alison went nuts. Alison has always known there was something weird about herself – letters are colors and have personalities, sounds are visible, and so on – but disintegrating someone with her mind goes beyond anything she can imagine.

Ultraviolet started out kind of slow, but still interesting, especially since my daughter has synesthesia (though, later in the book, in my daughter’s experience with multiple types of synesthesia at once, the portrayal of what it’s like to be a synesthete was not even remotely accurate). Eventually, the whole story just completely went off the rails and became a complete mess. I felt like the book was trying to be multiple stories at once and it just really didn’t work. By the last quarter, I couldn’t get the guy from the History Channel saying, “Aliens!” out of my head as the book went from a little odd to completely weird. I do not really recommend anyone take the time to read it and I will most definitely not be reading the second book in the series.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 96
Pages Read in 2017: 27,048
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (U in RUBY)

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Filed under Science 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

Into the Shadows by Harriet Parke

Emmaline, David, Elsa, and Micah have escaped from the compound, but they are being hunted by the Earth Protection Agency. David’s parents, John and Joan, follow them through the hole in the fence and attempt to throw the EPA agents off the little family’s trail.

I really liked the first Agenda 21 book and had high hopes for Into the Shadows, but it just wasn’t very good. There were giant plot holes that left me yelling in my head (and occasionally out loud) about how it didn’t make sense. For example, the little family walked for days and were still very near the mansion where the compound leaders live and the farm commune where the food is grown. That’s fine and explained by saying the river they were following meanders. The problem is, they ended up being taken in by an elderly couple. The elderly couple lived in a cave right by the mansion and farm commune and yet, somehow, they escaped detection for 17 years. Emmaline is constantly worried that their presence would bring the Earth Protection Agency people to the elderly couple. While that could happen, if they had survived without being discovered for almost two decades, why in the world would they be likely to suddenly be found just because the little family was there. The way the points of view switched was good except for one thing. The Emmaline chapters were told in first person while all other were in third person. That was actually rather annoying to me. Then there was the preachiness. The book would be going along fine and then there would be a section with hit-you-over-the-head “this is what you must learn from what you are reading” preaching (religious and political). I never quite figured out why the insistence that people only would want to be free if they knew their history (after all, Emmaline wanted to be free before she ever learned any of the history). The characters are all very flat. They never changed and most of them were quite dull. Many parts of the story moved very slowly. It’s a dystopian novel about running from human predators and learning how to live in the mostly uninhabited wild world. It should have been anything but slow. The afterword was written by Glenn Beck and warned of the evils of Agenda 21. Into the Shadows was a definite disappointment. I don’t really recommend reading it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 37
Pages Read in 2017: 10,820
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (I in AQUAMARINE)

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Filed under Dystopian

The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum

Aimed at kids, The Children’s Homer tells the story of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Given that those are pretty exciting books, it’s just incredble to me how utterly boring the majority of the book is. It is also written in a way that makes it very awkward to read aloud. If it was the only choice for telling these stories to kids, I’d recommend it, but since there are other much better choices, I really do not.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 21
Pages Read in 2017: 6259
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Part of the Boys’ History Curriculum

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Filed under Children, Classic

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman. She was given advice to change it. The real story was just a tiny part of what she had written. Thank goodness she followed the advice! Go Set a Watchman does a lot of lecturing. The points about racism and bigotry get rather muddled up and lost in those lectures. The good parts are when Jean Louise (Scout) is remembering things that happened in her childhood. The biggest value I see in this somewhat polished rough draft is in studying how a writer can take the story they planned to tell and transform it into a very different, yet still with a few basic similarities, amazing, prize-winning, enduring novel.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 11
Pages Read in 2017: 3608
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (G in GARNET)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction