What I'm Reading Now:

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Henry VI, Part I


Title: Henry VI, Part I

Author: William Shakespeare

Pages: 123

Genre: Play

Grade: B

Synopsis: The play begins at the death of Henry V.  There is some controversy among the noblemen as to whether or not the heir apparent Henry VI is capable of leading the country while they are at war with France.  There are parallel story-lines with the war in France, which includes Joan of Arc's visions and attempts to assist the French in battle and other quarrels and dissension back at home.

My Review: This is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, and many experts believe that he collaborated with other authors in its writing. Nonetheless, I still had to read the play alongside a modern translation/explanation to be able to grasp what was going on. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Confessions: The Private School Murders


Title: Confessions: The Private School Murders

Author: James Patterson

Pages: 7 discs

Genre: Thriller

Grade: B

Synopsis: Wealthy young women are being murdered in Manhattan and the police don't see any correlation between the cases. Tandy Angel fits the potential serial killer's target perfectly, but can she unravel the mystery before she herself gets killed?

My Review: Honestly, I read this book about 6 months ago and hardly remember it, so that may give you an idea about how awesome it is. I didn't read the first book in the series (I didn't even know this book was part of a series until sitting down to write this lame review). Maybe as a series they would be more memorable.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Peter and the Starcatcher


Title: Peter and the Starcatchers

Author: Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: This book tells the story about how Peter became Peter Pan.  Peter is an orphan boy that has been put on a ship with a small group of other orphans to be send to live in a new place.  While on the ship he befriends Molly, who reveals to Peter that the ship is carrying a trunk of priceless stardust.

My Review: I thought that this was a cute story, but was too contrived and forced for my liking.  I think that kids would certainly enjoy it and you know that everything that Dave Barry writes is going to be funny.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Smoky the Cowhorse


Title: Smoky the Cowhorse

Author: Will James

Pages: 310

Genre: Children's Fiction, Newbery Medal

Grade: B+

Synopsis: This is the biography of a great horse that was born free and then tamed by man and enlisted as a cowhorse for many years, before finding a second and third career as well.  Smoky is a very smart horse and is always analyzing his surroundings before making decisions.

My Review: This book took a little bit of effort to get into it, but then I really enjoyed it which surprised me.  I'm typically not all that interested in animal books, but this one is well done.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stargirl


Title: Stargirl

Author: Jerry Spinelli

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Stargirl is not like anybody else.  She wears whatever she wants to school, sings Happy Birthday to kids in the lunchroom while strumming on her banjo and decorates her desk with tablecloth and flowers in each period. The kids at school don't know what to make of her, but eventually she becomes popular for a short period of time until her 5 minutes of fame are up and the cliques at the school begin to shun her again.

My Review:  The novel is a sort of coming-of-age book about a brave, strong, girl who is not afraid to be a non-conformist. It was an easy, thought-provoking read, and quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Vespers Rising (The 39 Clues #11)


Title: Vespers Rising

Authors: Rick Riordan, Peter Lerangis, Gordon Korman, Jude Watson

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: The first 10 books were all focused on the strengths of the Cahill Family and the secrets that were uncovered by Gideon Cahill hundreds of years ago. This, the 11th and final book introduces us to the next threat to the Cahills, the Vespers!

My Review: I didn't love this book, it was too much of a filler book for me.  When the authors saw that the book series that they had been working on for the last few years is coming to an end, they brainstormed ways to keep it going and this is the solution.  While the 39 Clues series has now concluded, the groundwork has been laid for the next series.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sh*t My Dad Says


Title: Sh*t My Dad Says

Author: Justin Halpern

Pages: 159

Genre: Humor

Grade: B

Synopsis: The inspiration for this book was a twitter account that blew up with popularity.  Justin would simply post his father's foul-mouthed rants and quotables. He rode the wave of popularity by gathering everything into this book and connecting it with some personal history.

My Review: As you hopefully gathered from the title of the book itself, this book has loads of language, but it is still pretty dang funny. For a synopsis of the book, look up the @shitmydadsays twitter account and you'll get a taste of what's in the book.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Race For A New Game Machine


Title: The Race For A New Game Machine

Author: David Shippy & Mickie Phipps

Pages: 256

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: IBM was tasked with creating the new cutting-edge microprocessor that was to power the PlayStation 3.  When Microsoft was also searching for designers for their new chip for the Xbox 360, they also turned to the same team at IBM, but had different performance requirements and an even tighter design and manufacturing schedule.

My Review: Ok, so the writing itself could have used some touching up and condensing, but the back story and technical aspects of this book were very interesting.  A lot of the book was focused on the relationships between the design teams, but the parts that I found most interesting were details about the performance, technical requirements and how Microsoft and Sony each approached the design process. That said, a good portion of the technical topics were over my head.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Little House on the Prairie


Title: Little House on the Prairie

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Laura's family sells their little log house in Wisconsin and then Pa Ingalls packs the wagon and he, Ma, Mary, Laura and baby Carrie travel to Kansas in Indian Country. They're some of the first settlers there and it's a lot of work for Pa to build them a cabin.

My Review: I never watched this show growing up, and I'm not sure if I ever read the book either.  Both Ada and I listened to this book and really enjoyed it.  It's a great book to introduce the kids to the pioneers and stories about how the early settlers had to live and a taste of life without cars, tvs, spaceships and other such modern conveniences.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Always Time To Die


Title: Always Time To Die

Author: Elizabeth Lowell

Pages: 344

Genre: Mystery

Grade: B

Synopsis: Carly May has been hired by the aging matriarch of the powerful Quintrell family in New Mexico to write a family history. As Carly begins to uncover skeletons in the family's closet, she becomes the target of violence from somebody who is trying to keep these secrets hidden.

My Review: I enjoyed this book, but my main complaint was with the complexity of the plot.  The family history and details were intricately laid out, and these details were critical to unraveling the mystery.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dimanche and Other Stories


Title: Dimanche & Other Stories

Author: Irene Nemirovsky

Pages: 8 discs?

Genre: Short Stories

Grade: F

Synopsis: This is a collection of 10 short stories written generally in the 1930s and set in Paris.

My Review: I made it through a couple of the stories when I realized that I had no interest in making it through any more of them.  They just did not pique my interest.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Four: A Divergent Collection


Title: Four: A Divergent Collection

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 6 discs

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Grade: B

Synopsis: The Divergent Series is essentially three books, and this 4th book stands apart as a review of the series from Four's point of view.  It goes into more details about Four's upbringing and him picking the Dauntless as well as his time in the Dauntless as a leader.

My Review: I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more had I read it right after finishing the Divergent Series. However, I could barely remember the earlier books in the series, so I didn't always remember the experiences that were being referenced in this alternate point of view.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Killing Lincoln


Title: Killing Lincoln - The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

Author: Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

Pages: 324

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade: A

Synopsis: We all know how this book ends, but the stories and history surrounding the assassination of the 16th president are a little less well-known. This book covers the last days of the civil war, to the celebration of the end of the war in Washington DC to the death of Lincoln and the manhunt for his killer.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook version of this book and it was read by Bill O'Reilly, whose buttery voice was soothing and calming. Aside from Bill's voice, my opinion of him is not the strongest, so I have hesitated to read these books written by him, mostly because I was not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the easy readability of the books and by how much I enjoyed it. I have great respect for any author that can produce an enjoyable work of non-fiction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

From Heart to Heart

Title: From Heart to Heart

Author: Russell M. Nelson

Pages: 481

Genre: Autobiography

Grade: A

Synopsis: This is the autobiography of Russell M. Nelson, written at the urging of President Spencer W. Kimball. It covers Nelson's life up until the late 1970's, which was before his calling to the Quorum of the Twelve.  The book covers Nelson's early life in Salt Lake City, college and medical school at the University of Utah, his work on the first heart-lung machine, his professional life, church responsibilities and callings and his family.  He was a world-renowned heart surgeon who was able to balance a very demanding occupation with demanding callings as a Stake President and General Sunday School President, among many others.

My Review: This book was absolutely fantastic.  If you can get your hands on a copy (you can find it in the Church History Library), then it is well worth your time.  It was written for his family, but is an inspiring read for anybody.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Into the Gauntlet (The 39 Clues #10)


Title: Into the Gauntlet (The 39 Clues, Book #10)

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Pages: 6 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: A-

Synopsis: Dan and Amy are nearing the completion of the clue hunt.  The hunt has led to the secret ancestral island of the Cahill family, but they need everybody's help to unlock the island's secrets.

My Review: Good news readers, this is the last book in this series so you will not have to suffer through any more of these reviews. This book was a fitting ending to the series.  Ada loved the series, I enjoyed it as well.