Tag Archives: 2 Stars

God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark

God’s Battalions takes the view that the Crusaders were completely justified after being pushed so hard by the terrible Muslims who were invading their territory. The chapters where the author stuck to facts and what happened on the various Crusades were very good. The chapters attempting to prove his thesis were not. He’d “prove” his point by grabbing onto one single thing that didn’t necessarily prove what he was trying to prove (for example, the Muslims were “backward” because they did not like to use wheeled things like carts as the Europeans did, but instead stuck to the camels they were already familiar with – making it clear that camels were far inferior to carts). Often he stated that most historians say one thing, but this one single historian says this other thing and so obviously the one is correct (because what they said agrees with his thesis) and all the rest are wrong. There are many logical fallacies throughout the book. I actually had my 16-year-old son read this book as a critical thinking exercise, finding the problems with it. For that, it is an excellent resource. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 166
Pages Read in 2017: 44,742
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Pre-reading for Cameron for This School Year

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Filed under Non-Fiction

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

Out of Play by Joy Norstrom

Gillian is not happy in her marriage. Her husband, Ralph, spends all his free time LARPing. When Gillian’s therapist suggests she try LARPing herself, Gillian volunteers as a kitchen wench without telling Ralph.

Out of Play wouldn’t have been so bad if Gillian (who was the narrator) hadn’t been so thoroughly unlikable. She was whiny, condescending toward her husband, refused to even consider looking at things from Ralph’s point of view, and was determined to hate LARPing from the beginning because obviously (to her) all their problems were his and his LARPing’s fault. At the very end, the author threw in something that wasn’t even really part of the story to make it end a certain way (presumably heading toward a fixed marriage). I found that addition jarring. The only good parts were the descriptions of the LARP and the people there. I don’t really recommend reading this book.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 152
Pages Read in 2017: 40,890
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (O in TOPAZ)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Last Shot by Mike Faricy

Dev Haskell is a private investigator who is more interested in beautiful women and drinking than investigating most of the time. After he refuses to take Desi on as a client and then she’s found shot to death, he decides to find out what is really going on even though he won’t be paid for it.

I always grab the Dev Haskell mysteries when they are free on Kindle. They are pretty funny, though quite repetitive. I found this one to be rather boring, though, and often chose to read something else instead. It’s decent enough as a mind vacation, but I don’t really recommend this one. There are other books in the series that are much better.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 139
Pages Read in 2017: 37,755
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (L in OPAL)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Any Way You Dream It by Monique McDonell

Lucy needs a fake fiance for her high school reunion. Chase says he’s not the relationship type, but he’s willing to pretend for a weekend.

Any Way You Dream It was completely predictable and ended exactly how I wanted it to. Unfortunately getting to that end was somewhat painful. The book is in great need of an editor. There were occasional stretches that were fine, but then there’d be several errors a page for a while. Occasionally I had no idea what the author even meant. Things went on a bit too long, too, like the author was just trying to stretch the length. It’s the second in a series, but there is no need to read the first book first. I only recommend Any Way You Dream It to people wanting a total mind vacation who don’t mind grammar and spelling errors.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 130
Pages Read in 2017: 35,499
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (A in SAPPHIRE)

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

Scaly Tale, Ripley’s Bureau of Investigation

The first Ripley’s Bureau of Investigation book, Scaly Tale, is the story of teens searching for the lizard man. The story itself is pretty dumb (my 9- and 11-year-old sons agree), but the many facts included on the side and at the end were quite interesting and made it a bit more worth reading. I recommend it for kids who like Ripley’s Believe it Or Not factoids.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 128
Pages Read in 2017: 34,915
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Bedtime Story for the Boys

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Filed under Children

Wild Thing by Dandi Daley Mackall

Winnie loved horses. Ever since her mom died and they left their ranch, she’s dreamed of owning a horse again. She finally gets her chance with a wild white Arabian, but she knows that as soon as she gentles the horse, she’ll have to sell her to make back the investment.

There was so much about Wild Thing that was just ridiculous. The character names were based on what kind of animal they liked. Winnie for hoses, Barker for dogs, Catman for cats, Lizzie for lizards. The story was incredibly predictable. So much so that my 11-year-old accurately guessed what would happen in each chapter before we read them. I felt like the author wanted the book to have religious elements and so stuck things in, creating an awkward in-your-face experience. The story was very sweet, however, I just don’t recommend reading it.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 126
Pages Read in 2017: 34,496
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