What I'm Reading Now:

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Allegiant (Divergent #3)

Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 9 discs?

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Grade: B+

Synopsis: The ruined city of Chicago is still in shambles.  The factions have been replaced with the factionless, but there is a push by many to fight to restore the factions.  This group elects to send a selected group outside the city, including Tris and Four.

My Review: I wasn't sure where this series could go besides more of the same types of conflicts that had been covered in the first could of books.  However, by sending a group outside of the city the story expands and I felt that it became more interesting.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Storm Warning (The 39 Clues #9)

Title: Storm Warning (The 39 Clues Book #9)

Author: Linda Sue Park

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Dan and Amy continue on the clue hunt, but this book contains shocking information about the Madrigals and what their real intent is.

My Review: This book really starts to tie everything together and completely changes the direction of the clue hunt.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Insurgent (Divergent #2)

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Pages: 10 discs?

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Grade: A-

Synopsis: After the Dauntless attack while under simulation serum took place in the last book, Tris and the others are not hiding out with the Amity. While there Erudite and Dauntless traitors attack in an effort to find any Divergent who may be hiding out.

My Review: I actually read this book back in the spring, but failed to put a review together.  I don't remember a ton about the book (beyond the main plot), but I do recall enjoying the book but not as much as the first.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues #8)

Title: The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues #8)

Author: Gordon Korman

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Dan and Amy get into a big argument, Dan runs away and is kidnapped on Tienanmen Square in China by the Kabras.  He ends up in Jonah Wizard's candy factory, where Jonah finds him and hides him from Amy and their au pair Nellie.

My Review: The books are rushing towards the final clues and the end of the clue hunt.  Many more unbelievable occurrences and experiences, but another easy and enjoyable read.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author: David Sedaris

Pages: 6 discs?

Genre: Humor

Grade: B+

Synopsis: This book is a collection of humorous essays written about Sedaris' life, most of them focused on the time period around his move from New York City to Paris.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook version, which the author reads himself, and some of the essays were recorded in front of live audiences.  I enjoy listening to Sedaris. He has a bit of a nasally voice, but his reading and intonation definitely play a role in the humor of the book.

Disclaimer: There is a bit of language, but I don't recall it being too terrible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Viper's Nest (The 39 Clues #7)

Title: The Viper's Nest (The 39 Clues #7)

Author: Peter Lerangis

Pages: 4 discs

Genre: Children's Fiction

Grade: B

Synopsis: Amy and Dan's search for the 39 clues continues.  They've just survived a house fire in Indonesia, that was meant to kill them, but actually killed one of the Lucians (who Amy and Dan never would have guessed was on their side).  The hunt takes them to South Africa and Madagascar, where they continue searching for clues.

My Review: Honestly, I hardly remember this book as they're all starting to run together now.  I think I liked it about as much as all of the other books.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Executioner's Song

Title: The Executioner's Song

Author: Norman Mailer

Pages: 1056

Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize

Grade: A

Synopsis: Gary Gilmore lived in Utah County in 1976 when he robbed two men on separate occasions and then shot them both at point blank.  This is Gilmore's story, from his release from prison, to the murders, then his fight FOR death on death row.  Gilmore was the first person executed in more than 10 years, after the Supreme Court had declared the death penalty constitutional. The lengths to which the Attorney General's office of the State of Utah went to finally execute Gilmore are fascinating, while it seems that everybody else wanted to fight for Gary's life, even though he himself was fighting for his sentence to be served.

My Review: This book was a pretty epic undertaking.  At over 1,000 pages it covers Gilmore's life after being paroled in extreme detail from extensive interviews (both with Gilmore while alive and with his acquaintances after his death), and explores his obsession with his girlfriend Nicole, which in a way led to his killing of two innocent and random victims.

Disclaimer: This book does not hold any punches, nor does it sugar-coat or censor any of Gilmore's letters or interviews.  His letters and conversations with Nicole are often vulgar and the language overall is quite strong.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Author: Amy Chua

Pages: 242

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Everybody knows that Chinese parents in America expect their children to be the best.  What people don't usually see is what goes on behind the scenes.  This book is a look how Amy Chua raised her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, to be the best (at least in everything except gym and athletics). To do this, she and her daughters made tremendous sacrifices, such as having friends outside of school (or having playdates), practice the violin or piano for 6 hours/day, participate in any after-school extra-curricular activities, etc.

My Review: I really enjoyed this book.  It seems to be a very honest account of the things that Amy did right, as well as including the things that she may have done wrong, but she generally leaves the interpretation of her parenting decisions up the reader. From verbal abuse, to forcing her children to practice their instruments in hotel rooms, or wherever they could locate a piano while traveling, this was no holds barred parenting. While I don't subscribe to all of her methods, I was impressed with her dedication to helping her children be the best.  That is something that I can certainly improve upon.