Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Peterson

9780345496867_p0_v1_s550x406Synopsis: Mice live in a dangerous world full of predators, cold, heat, and floods. They have built a society in small cities around the world, and they have the Mouse Guard to watch the paths between the cities. Unfortunately, a traitor has entered their midst, and they must protect their cities from invasion by traitor mice.

My Thoughts: I bought this book because I could see how beautiful the artwork was and because my friends suggested it to me as a fantastic kids book that could come with a children’s RPG. I thought it would be a good gift for my step-son-to-be. We have yet to play the game, but I was a little disappointed in the book. My step-son-to-be is almost to the level where he can read the book himself, which makes it a great purchase for him, but I found the storyline a little lacking in plot. That, of course, is true of many books appropriate for a gifted 5 and a half year old to read himself. I will encourage him to read it, though I am uninterested in reading any further in the series myself.

I give 3.5 stars because I loved the artwork and feel that it really is appropriate for the child for whom I bought it.

3 and half snowflakes

Get Ready to Get Pregnant, by Michael C. Lu

9780061740305_p0_v1_s550x406Summary: In Get Ready to Get Pregnant, Dr. Lu provides a lot of important information for women who wish to become pregnant within the next several months (longer, if you plan on getting down to a target weight before getting pregnant, as he suggests).

My Thoughts: Although the information was interesting and informative at times, I feel that Dr. Lu was a bit of a fear-monger. Is my child really going to have diabetes if I do not get my weight down before getting pregnant? Maybe. Maybe not. Then again, some of the information was quite useful – such as the information on what kinds of foods to eat. Other information was stuff I already knew, and I just ended up skimming a lot of chapters. So, it’s a good, very basic, book for people who want to get pregnant, but I suggest not letting it scare you.

3 and half snowflakes

Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann

51rjdnbi1il-_sl500_Summary: In the 1920s, the Osage Indians of Oklahoma were the richest people per capita due to the discovery of oil on their land. The federal government decided that the Osage were not “fit” to make monetary decisions on their own, and they were appointed legal guardians who did anything but guard the safety of their legal charges. Over a period of several years, many rich Osage were murdered (or died suspiciously) in what appears to be a conspiracy among legal guardians to gain control of the wealth. Outlining malicious greed and terror, Killers of the Flower Moon begins by following a specific set of murders that the FBI “solved.” Grann then continues the book by describing his own research into other mysterious deaths that happened around the same time.
My Thoughts: This book is engaging and terrifying at the same time. It’s sadly too easy to believe that people appointed to be “guardians” would act so despicably. It is disgusting and bigoted that the federal government claimed the Osage needed guardians to begin with. Such a tragic story. But one that I think every American should read to understand how the government has treated Native Americans.

5 snowflakes

Against the Tide, by Tui T. Sutherland

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Summary: Against the Tide is the fifth book in Spirit Animals, a middle-grade fantasy series imagined by Brandon Mull. The first one is called Wild Born, by Brandon Mull. The story picks up where book four left off. The team is looking for the amulets from other Great Beasts while trying to figure out if they have a mole in their midst.

My Thoughts: Spirit Animals is such an adorable series appropriate for middle-school-age kids. I plan on giving the first in the series to my 8-year-old step-daughter. It may be slightly above her reading level, but it’s the right level to challenge a second or third grader.

I love that Spirit Animals is written by different authors for each book – it introduces new authors to me. Against the Tide did not disappoint. I had some good laughs and was engaged the entire time. The story-line is not predictable, despite being appropriate for younger children. I am excited to get the next in the series, and will certainly look at what other books Sutherland has written.

The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova

510cvzpkoll-_sl500_Synopsis: Alexandria leaves her home in America to travel Bulgaria and teach. But on her first day there, she runs into a mysterious family, whose bag she accidentally “steals.” When she discovers how valuable the contents are, she feels she has to find the family and return the bag personally. However, the family is difficult to find and she is led on a wild goose chase looking for them. All the while, strange people are following and threatening her.

 

My Thoughts: This is Kostova’s attempt to do for Bulgaria what she did for Istanbul in The Historian. I was hoping this book would turn out as good as The Historian, but it fell flat for me. What was the point of the plot again? It was a bit silly. And so wordy. I was hoping there’d be a fascinating big reveal at the end that would make this 18.5 hour audiobook worthwhile, but the ending was about as mediocre as the middle. Despite this total meh-ness, I give the book 3.5 snowflakes instead of only three because the book was interesting at times, and the writing flowed well.

3 and half snowflakes

 

 

Roots, by Alex Haley

51aejpwqdol-_sl500_Synopsis:┬áThis is the epic story following the lineage of Kunta Kinte, who was kidnapped as a teenager from his home in Africa to be a slave in the US. His family is dramatically followed down the line to Alex Haley, the author. In fact, this turned out to be false – the story was plagiarized (including some of the characters) from a lesser known book, and Alex Haley apparently didn’t know much about his African ancestors.

My Thoughts: I can’t say much about my thoughts because I know they are colored too much by my disgust at Haley’s plagiarism. Regardless, he told the story well, and it was heartbreaking and sweet all at once. This was an incredibly character-driven novel, and I was interested especially in the earlier generations, though I felt it started to lag a bit at the end.

This book only gets three stars despite being a good story with fantastic characters because it was plagiarized.

3 snowflakes

 

 

Incarceration Nations, by Baz Dreisinger

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Synopsis: Dr. Dreisinger travels to different prisons around the world, giving 2-day seminars to the prisoners and comparing the pros and cons of each prison system.
My Thoughts: I admit this book wasn’t quite what I expected. I expected it to have more complaints (with evidence) about the problems of over-incarceration. Although it did contain such comments, that was not the point of the book. It was a fascinating description of different prisons throughout the world and what they were doing right (and wrong) in rehabilitating their inmates. She left some prisons feeling uplifted and left others feeling quite depressed. I found the book quite interesting even if it wasn’t quite what I expected.
I give this book 4 snowflakes for interest level and fluidity of writing
four snowflakes