Category: Reading

The Museum of Extraordinary ThingsThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alice Hoffman does it again! I am always certain of a deep and interesting read if I pick up something she’s written.

This one has well researched historical events and has thrown in the fictional characters making a seamless story. I loved the main characters who felt real, flaws and all.

Of course, this book drew me in as the main character posed as a mermaid. My inner mermaid was overjoyed and scared for this girl as she attempted to fool the public for her father’s museum of defected folks that he revamped into scientific anomalies. In the mermaid’s case, webbed fingers, has her dad putting her in water most of her life.

The story was played against a backdrop of labor strikes and unhealthy work conditions that causes fires. The other main character is a young man whose father seems deeply depressed. The world has treated his people horrendously. This young man’s story plays out near the mermaid’s. Though the romance doesn’t happen through most of the book, and it doesn’t take over the story, get ready, love happens. But it helps the story.

I don’t know why I don’t want to give this five stars. It is a story I will remember. I guess because overall, it left me depressed. And I wanted more of the happiness these people deserved. Maybe a book two will bring them back? It is depressing history, but necessary to read and learn from. Please give it a read if you get the chance. I was able to pick this up from our e-library. Best way to read books that are normally too expensive for my taste. Enjoy.

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BluffBluff by Lenore Skomal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Even now, several days later, I have a hard time letting this one go. And still, I can’t think of how to do it justice. I’m giving it 4.75 stars. I can’t even tell you why I don’t want to give it five I will remember it for a long time. No cliffhangers, strong fem main character–though she is in a coma.

It may be the extra people that came in about 50% in. I know their perspectives helped move the plot forward but at times that was jarring. The other thing is something that would be a spoiler that I don’t want to show.

Still, a lot of heavy topics got discussed from differing points of view. None of them are easy topics, no easy answers. The reader may or may not agree with the answers given.

Okay, okay. I’ve decided it is worth the 5 stars. Read the blurb then read the book. Let me know what you think of it.

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The Screwtape LettersThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ralph Cosham was the narrator of the edition I was able to obtain from the Overdrive library. I know it can’t be very interesting reading letters. There were no characters to play or give variety to the story. So I can’t say if he was good at what he did or not. I just found it BORING! Like a guy reading letters.

I read this a million years ago as a teen/young adult. I can sincerely say that it was the C.S. Lewis books that gave me my healthy agonistic views. They still stand, so those of you that praise the man really haven’t read his fiction. These were on my mother’s approved list along with Pilgrim’s Progress. The sci-fi was excellent. And are there, like all sci-fi, to make a person think. This book was clever in its format of letters to tell the advice, though from a negative viewpoint. This may be the Cobert Report of its time. I understand sarcasm but I find it the least effective way to prove a point. I think I liked it more as a young person. Now I just couldn’t get into it or find anything redeeming. Now I was just bored, clever negative letters aside. And it was overwhelmingly male.

It is, on the other hand, a bit of a depiction of World War II and the men who fought it in, like my dad. Much reflected tales he told of his own journeys in war. How easy it is to forget the lessons we learned as children when faced with constant death and killing.

It’s worth the read. Just not a second time.

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Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost StoriesHorton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, here is a special book! A long lost treasure. And you know what? I couldn’t wait to read it. I had to read the first story out loud to the dog. I don’t think she appreciated the subtleties of the story. And my throat hurt since I haven’t read aloud in years!

What made this book a treasure is the Introduction. It told about this book and other stories. Then having a deeper understanding of where the stories came from made the reader even more happy to see how wonderful and crazy Dr. Seuss’s stories were.

And it isn’t just crazy. zaniness Ted’s stories there are always little morals or thought processes for the reader to get into and squeeze the life out of.

I hope you are able to get this book to enjoy.

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Stand Tall, Molly Lou MelonStand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, there are tons of five-star ratings for this book. Yeah, it’s cute, though it reminds me of Doctor Suess’s characters. Maybe a Who of Whoville?

This little girl has the stack against her. Her grandma gives her good advice. But the next part makes me question everything. Her talents save her from a bully. What about the kids that don’t know their own talents? How will they win over the bully?

Maybe I’m just having a bad day in my reviewing? I just didn’t enjoy this book, nor could I see my kids, when they were little, liking this book.

I’ll go sit in the corner until I feel better, I guess as it seems most everyone else loves this book. Enjoy!

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Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-loving Rubber Ball (Toys, #4)Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-loving Rubber Ball by Emily Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some books offer depth or poetry. I hate to admit that the story here is overdone. But the pictures make up for it. Unfortunately, I don’t think this book would have gotten home. I think my kids would have liked it but would have left it to be reshelved. As an adult, I appreciate the artwork and would love to have it around to practice drawing/coloring some of these illustrations. It is through that aspect that I give it four stars.

Maybe kids that don’t live where it snows would find this interesting? I wish I could say more about this. I’m sure other love this and I’m just missing something here.

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The Night WorldThe Night World by Mordicai Gerstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This won’t go down as a favorite for me. But I think it would have been a good one for my young children. We aren’t good sleepers in my family. We like to stay awake forever. Darkness does not mean the end of the day. It just means you need other sources of light.

Pages and pages of dark pictures are annoying to me, like a lack of color. Still, if you live in the country like we did back then, and how I live now, knowing what lives in the darkness, as far as the animal life you don’t see in the daytime, that might be outside is a great way to teach about nocturnal animals.

If a child is having problems with fear of the dark, this might be a fun book to bring about that discussion.

As for me, I read it late at night it stayed with me through my insomnia. When I just can’t handle that darkness staring at me, I find I need the colorful pages at the end of the book. So I will pull up a nature show on Netflix. A soothing narrator keeps me away from the millions of thoughts, the colors and life help me relax and soon I am ready to sleep. Too bad we didn’t have such things when my kids were young. Meanwhile, a book with the promise of sunrise could help all of us. And for that, it is worth buying for some families.

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Bittersweet (China Bayles, #23)Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My librarian suggested this book knowing I wanted to try a ‘real’ book written by and starring a strong female. Now that I am finished with it I can say I did enjoy much of it. (I had to renew it–six weeks!)

“Oh, but here comes her complaints…” I hear some of you saying. And, yes, I do have some negatives.

The very beginning. I think it is highly unnecessary. When you read the Prologue you’re given the answer to the whole mystery. Many call this a cozy mystery. What, I ask you, is cozy about murder? Not just one but TWO? What is cozy about people who think more about money than the environment that we all have to live in humans, fauna, and flora alike?

At least the author uses this as an educational moment. That is what brought it up to four stars. Otherwise, I would have said I was rather bored. Though the excitement of the mystery gets wrapped up, the parts of the book I cared about, the main character’s mother’s husband’s health. It is the cliffhanger of that issue that brings this rating down to a three again. I didn’t like this story where the men of this book were being talked about. If women can grow, let’s show that men can grow, too. Many have been raised with sisters or single moms so they know the issues and don’t need to be cavemen.

I loved learning about the herbs and plants.

I never knew about the shooting-fish-in-the-barrel type hunting and moving the game to places they shouldn’t inhabit and the problems that brings. I will have to look into our area and see if that is here. I don’t have a problem with hunters. I hope we never get desperate enough to look to that as a food source, but if we do I guess I will have to accept it. Plenty of people around here do that for their food source. There are laws to keep it safe and less draining on the environment while filling the freezers with protein for cold winters. I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like the texture of meat, not a preachy one telling others what they should or shouldn’t eat. Anyway, the things I learned here made the rating roundup.

I don’t like to cook. Most of the foods in the recipes here did not appeal to me but I take no points away from the book for these. There are people who will love that aspect. I do appreciate that most of the recipes are at the back of the book where they don’t interrupt the story flow.

One more thing, I did get my eyes checked and will be getting new glasses soon. Meanwhile, I couldn’t read the hardback for very long at a time. Luckily, the Kindle version was available on our e-library to borrow. Once into that version, I was able to immerse in the story and rest my eyes as needed.

Check it out and tell me what you think of this book, regardless of version

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Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War IIElephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Constantine Croke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love elephants. Such smart sensitive beings. And this book is by a woman so it sort of fit my requirements of reading diet. The guy was a human being who cared, so I dismissed my final mission of female main character. Besides, it is about WWII so the chances of the main character being female was diminished as women were back then.

The writing was dry, historic. I wish there was a way to get into it all more deeply. It seemed to be a his-story. Bits about elephants were interesting but I wanted more. I wanted to know more about his wife who seemed very much of kindred spirit.

Still, had I not read the book, I wouldn’t have known about how the elephants helped in the second world war.

Many people have given this book high ratings. Maybe you will, too.

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The Blessing Way (Navajo Mysteries, #1)The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Narrated by George Guidall, I nearly gave this book back to Audible. He was a very boring narrator. But I got used to him and near the end, he started using some expression in his voice. I had the Kindle version but wanted to be busy with my hands while listening. I didn’t want to follow the text. So I stuck with it.

Two things against this book before I even got started so take this with that grain of salt. First, it doesn’t fit with my goal of reading women authors/women main characters. Second, I’m not much on mysteries. Most mysteries are murders. You know, I think better mysteries are those we live with every day. ‘Where’d I leave my keys or glasses?’

Since my friend gave me the CD of the next in the series I wanted to read the first book before diving in. I had ordered this from the library but Amazon told me I already had the book, so I canceled the loan.

I know this is a popular series and the plus is how well this author presents the Navajo people. Take a look. You might love it.

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