Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

People ask me all the time what my all-time favorite book is. Well, here it is! I have LOVED Les Misérables for many, many years. I saw the Broadway play when I was younger, and it hooked me. I’ve read this book at least three times. The unabridged version, of course (1,463 pages)! I love, love, love it. Please enjoy my book review of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Did I mention that it’s my FAVORITE book??

Blurb:

“Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.”

My Book Review:

Wow! Where to start? This book is amazing. Simply amazing. It is my all-time favorite book! I LOVE this book! The character development is unsurpassed. Each character comes to life on the page. Hugo’s attention to the details about the characters allows them to become a part of your life. They become beloved friends, hated enemies, and family. These characters don’t disappear with the closing of the book, either. They stay on your mind for days and years after. You wonder about them, long to see them again.

There’s a lot of history in this book. To some people it may be too much, but I love every word of it. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the French Revolution and its key players. Hugo somehow manages to make it exciting. Now, if you’re not really a fan of long history lessons, you may enjoy the (gasp!) abridged version instead. I, however, love the history and the descriptions of the time period. I love the intricacy and craft of Hugo’s writing. No one writes like that anymore, and I wish they did.

Les Misérables is filled with emotion. As you read you’ll feel the whole range of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get angry, and you’ll begin to see your own life differently. You’ll look at how you treat people, and how others are treated. You will feel gratitude for your blessings and circumstances. Yes, there are still unkind people and there are still unjust circumstances, but overall, living conditions have drastically improved since then.

If you want a new friend, one that will be with you for awhile, then this book is for you. You’ll have this friend with you for the rest of your life. It takes a long time to read this book, but while you read it becomes a part of you. I cry the last 200 pages. Seriously. I don’t ever want it to end. Please read this book then call me so we can talk about it! I love this book so much and I highly recommend it!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There are war-time atrocities and themes along with prostitution. Some characters die, and there are other adult themes.)

Recommendation: 16+ years-old

My Rating: 5/5

5 Star Book Review Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak The Rent Collector by Camron Wright  the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
 
This review was first published on 09/24/09; updated on 6/18/18.
 

Book Review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford

Twisted Prey by John Sandford

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Book Review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford

This book just showed up in my mailbox one day. Fun, right? I love surprise bookmail! This may not be my usual genre, but I like to switch things up sometimes. When I was younger I read all the John Grisham and Tom Clancy books. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and this book is the same genre. Check out my book review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford to find out if I liked it!

Blurb:

“Lucas Davenport confronts an old nemesis, now a U.S. senator and more powerful than ever, in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling Prey series.

Lucas Davenport has crossed paths with her before.

A rich psychopath, Taryn Grant had run successfully for the U.S. Senate, where Lucas had predicted she’d fit right in. He’d also been convinced that she was responsible for three murders, though he’d never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath has gotten that kind of rush, though, she often needs another fix, so he knew he might be seeing her again.

He’s right. A federal marshal now, with a very wide scope of investigation, he’s heard rumors that Grant has found her seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—and the contacts she’s made from it—to be very…useful. Pinning those rumors down, however, is likely to be just as difficult as ever, and considerably more dangerous.

But they have unfinished business, he and Grant. It’s time to put an end to it, one way or another.”

My Book Review:

Lucas Davenport must work really hard because there are a bunch of books about him. I liked him as a character. He keeps things real and doesn’t completely overreact to minor situations. Lucas thinks things through, usually, before acting. I love how much he loves his wife. If I had been his wife in this book I think I would have made him stay with me longer, but she’s probably used to it. I like that he’s a strong, capable guy, yet he also has more of a sensitive side.

There were a lot of characters in this book. I hate to admit that I couldn’t keep all of them straight. Between the different government agencies and organizations, I kept forgetting who was who. For the more important characters, though, like Lucas, Bob, and Rae, I didn’t have a problem. Overall, I thought the character development was well done. It’s a bit creepy getting into the minds of psychopaths. Yes, plural. There is more than one in this book.

The plot seemed plausible, most of the time. Just like some of the current movies, they have to throw in a few things to make the hero seem a bit more powerful than he really is. I’m fine with it. Sometimes it makes me roll my eyes and laugh a little, but it’s fine. I get it. It’s a little scary to think that someone would really do something like this in order to gain power.

There’s a lot of action in this book. Murders, car crashes, disguised assassins shooting up hotel rooms, muggings, secret plots, and hidden files are just a few. Be prepared for quite a ride! It made me very happy for my nice, quiet life. Haha! Not that four kids make for a quiet life, but that we aren’t involved in anything like this. Ever. Thank goodness!

Overall, I liked the story. I liked the complexity of it, and I liked trying to figure it all out. For me personally, there was way too much profanity. I lost track of how many “f” words there are. Maybe it was to try and develop the characters, but I think the same purpose could be achieved in a different way. I also figured out that I don’t like watching people die like that. It was quite gruesome.

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s a lot of profanity, including dozens of “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is a lot of violence. Included are multiple murders, some of which are quite detailed and gruesome.  There is also a mugging, car crashes, and gun violence.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5 (I lowered my rating to 3 because of all the profanity.)

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

 

Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

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Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

This book just showed up in the mail one day! Fun, right? I love bookmail, and surprise bookmail is even better! Needless to say, I was excited to read this. I’m always looking for fun, new middle-grader reads, and I had high hopes for this one. What could be more magical than a carnival at night with the lights, rides, acts, animals, interesting people, and yummy smells? Check out my book review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron to see what I thought!

Blurb:

“Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie—this time by the seashore in South Devon. And they’re incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that’s come to town. There are rides, games, and acrobats, The House of Mirrors—and even a psychic, with a beautiful wagon all her own.

In a visit to the psychic’s wagon, while Tess is being hypnotized, the wagon seems to move. Before Tess can shake herself out of the hypnosis, before Max can do anything, they seem to be travelling—along with the rest of the carnival—too quickly for the two of them to jump out. But where are they going and what awaits them? Will they be caught in a world different from their own? And do the Baranova twins, acrobats who miss their sister almost as much as Tess and Max miss their family, hold the keys to the mystery?

Internationally bestselling author Amy Ephron returns with a companion novel to The Castle in the Mist and creates a magical tale filled with adventure, mystery, fantasy, family, and fun.”

My Book Review:

Let me start off by saying that as I read I got the feeling that there was a book previous to this one. I didn’t know for sure that there is another book until after I finished this one. There may have been some things I would have understood more if I had read the first book. This book starts out as an adventure when Tess and Max’s mom drops them off at the airport. They fly by themselves from the United States to England. They’re going to stay with their Aunt Evie  for the summer.

Aunt Evie seems like the perfect, fun aunt. She has a fun cottage by the ocean and picks up tickets to the zoo on the way home from the airport. While at the zoo, strange things start to happen. The zookeeper allows her to run in for just a few minutes, 6 ½ to be exact. In those 6 ½ minutes she sees a baby tiger in pain and pulls a pin out of its paw. I think that’s exciting, but what? I’ve never been to a zoo that has the tigers available to touch through a rod iron fence. I’m good with fantasy though, so ok, I’ll keep reading. I didn’t quite understand the reason behind the 6 ½ minutes, but I figured it’d be explained later on.

The next day, Aunt Evie takes the kids to a roadside carnival. She allows them to spend most of the day by themselves while she checks out a local antique store. The plan is that she’ll meet them at 1:30 by the big dinosaur. Well, a lot happens before 1:30! It gets a little weird! Tess goes into a psychic’s trailer to be hypnotized and the carnival ends up moving. Magically. In minutes the kids are transported to who-knows-where. The strange thing is that it’s not the same carnival they end up in.

Honestly, from here on out I was a bit confused. The characters that the kids meet are fun and interesting, especially Tatiana, Alexei, Tara, Anna, and Julian. Maybe it’s my old brain (but I usually like middle-grader books!), but I just didn’t understand. Why? How? What purpose? The carnival moved, but they ended up at a different carnival. So, they had to be the ones to move, not the carnival, right? They kept talking about a ghost carnival, but which one was the ghost carnival? Was it the second one or the third one, or both?

The whole part about them escaping really confused me. What? You want two kids and a horse to do what? How? The 6 ½ minute thing was used a few more times, but never explained, so that was a big hole. Also, how time worked at the different carnivals confused me. I don’t want to give anything away, but it just really didn’t make sense.

The writing is descriptive and engaging and the characters are fun and personable. This book has so much potential! Unfortunately, it just falls flat. There are a bunch of holes and unanswered questions, and I felt like things weren’t explained well enough. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know that I’m good with middle-grader books. I’ve read and loved many of them. This one, however, just has too many holes. I would also recommend reading the first book because it may answer some of the questions I had. I’m going to hand it to my nine-year-old, have her read it, and I’ll let you know what she says.  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean! There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There are a few kind of tense, scary-ish parts.)

Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th grades) and up

My Rating: 3/5 

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2JFmRwg

 

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Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman  Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
 

Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Have you seen the movie? Then you need to read the book! It’s better, of course! Dan Brown is so good at creating this world where you get caught up in the suspense and the mystery. He masterfully connects the mysterious to the symbolic, and then adds just enough reality to make you really wonder. Is this true? If you’re looking for a fast, entertaining, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you. I hope you enjoy my book review of The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Blurb:

“An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe.

An astonishing truth concealed for centuries…unveiled at last.

As millions of readers around the globe have already discovered, The Da Vinci Code is a reading experience unlike any other. Simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail, Dan Brown’s novel is a thrilling masterpiece—from its opening pages to its stunning conclusion.”

My Book Review:

This is an oldie but goodie. If you can believe it, this is one of the first books I reviewed, way back in April of 2009! My reviews looked very different back then, so I’m updating it today in hopes of making it more readable and helpful. I really enjoyed this book. If you can remember when it came out, there were lots of History Channel documentaries about the Knights of the Templar and the theory behind this book.  I have to admit that I was enthralled. Is any of it true? Probably not, but it makes for a very engaging story!

This is a definite thriller that keeps you reading. The curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris is brutally murdered and positioned in a strange and symbolic way—in the Louvre. American professor Robert Langdon happens to be in Paris and is awakened by the French police at his hotel room. They ask for his help in solving the murder. Langdon goes to the Louvre and surveys the gruesome murder scene.

Unfortunately for Langdon, this is only the beginning of his adventure. The police turn on Langdon and accuse him of the murder; Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, helps him escape. They go together to put the pieces of the mystery together. While trying to solve the mystery, they run into many twists and turns. They also learn why they were both picked for this adventure.

I really liked this book. I had watched the movie first, so some of the surprises weren’t surprises, but it was still really good. It’s so interesting how Dan Brown meshes the symbolic with mystery, reality, and the truth. He adds just enough truth to make it seem plausible. It leaves you wondering if he found some secret, ancient document that provided him with the information.

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining, high-action book for summer, check out The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I think you’ll enjoy it! Have you already read this book? What did you think??

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There’s very little profanity and no “intimacy” in this book. There is, however, some violence including a gruesome murder, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Jm1ynm

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

 
This review was first published on 4/28/09; updated on 6/7/18.
 

Book Review of Unshattered by Carol J. Decker

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Book Review of Unshattered by Carol J. Decker

I’m speechless. Seriously. This story is so amazing and inspiring. Carol went through the unimaginable and was able to overcome. For anyone going through a trial (Pretty much everyone, right?), this book is a must! As I read this book I found a profound sense of gratitude for those everyday things that I take for granted. My life has been changed for the better. I hope you enjoy my book review of Unshattered  by Carol J. Decker.

Blurb:

“On June 10, 2008, Carol Decker walked through the hospital doors a healthy woman with flu-like symptoms and early labor contractions. Three months later, she returned home a blind triple-amputee struggling to bond with a daughter she would never see.

Unshattered: Overcoming Tragedy and Choosing a Beautiful Life recounts Carol’s fight for survival against sepsis and its life-shattering complications. From excruciating skin grafts to learning how to function in daily life without lower legs, a left hand, or her sight, Carol takes us on a personal and raw yet inspiring journey. She travels through the darkness of trauma, anxiety, and depression to arrive, literally, at the peak of a mountain with a heart full of gratitude and love.

More than a story of triumph over tragedy, the book offers inspiring life lessons and insights that can help readers to do more than endure unimaginable pain and darkness in their own lives. This book can give them the perspective and strength to pick up the pieces of their own tragedies and choose a life of healing, purpose, and joy—a beautiful life.”

My Book Review:

Although I try to be grateful for all that I have, I know there are still so many things I take for granted. I have the ability to see, hear, walk on my two feet, and type with my two hands and ten fingers. Brushing my teeth is a piece of cake. When I need to go somewhere I hop in my car and drive there, or I walk or ride my bike. I get to see the beautiful faces of my husband and children all day long. Cooking dinner may not be my favorite thing, but I get to do it for my family each day.

Carol Decker doesn’t have many of these opportunities. The story she tells of her illness and consequential disabilities brought me to tears several times. I cannot imagine going through what she did. About the same time this was going on, my fourth baby was born 5 ½ weeks early. She was in the NICU for 15 days, and it was awful. I had three kids at home, and one of them had strep, so I couldn’t even enlist the help of babysitters. My husband would go see her on his lunch break and I’d go up to the hospital when he got home. This one thing was so hard for me, and this was only one small part of what Carol went through.

Her writing is engaging and well written. She just sucks you right into her story. It’s a fast, easy read, but there isn’t anything fast or easy about her story. It’s amazing. Seriously amazing. Her ability to pull herself out of this tragedy and find light and positivity is an example to all. It would have been so easy for her to give up and live life as a victim, but she chose to live instead. This is such a powerful lesson!

I loved, loved, loved this book! I will be recommending it to everyone I see, I’m sure. And my three oldest children will be reading this book for sure. This past year has been rough for my oldest, and I think he will really benefit from her positive attitude, hard work, and accomplishments. Unshattered is a book that doesn’t leave you when you close the final page. I finished it last night, but haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In my prayers last night I thanked my Heavenly Father for all my blessings. I am so full of gratitude for all that I have, and I will not be taking the little things for granted anymore.

What can you learn from this book? So many things! Never give up, find the joy in the simplest of things, and have a positive attitude. Surround yourself with good people, it’s okay to ask for help, allow people to help you, and work hard for your dreams and goals. Life is hard and not fair—get over it and move forward with gratitude and hope. Family is everything.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. However, there are some graphic descriptions of medical procedures, and suicide is discussed.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:https://amzn.to/2xL38Kf 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin  Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley
 

Book Review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger

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Book Review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger

With all the scary stuff that happens around the world, it’s easy to worry about it. It’s easy to get scared by it, and allow it to creep into your daily thoughts. Well, I wish I could help you out with that, but unfortunately, I can’t. This book may make it worse. Sorry! Honestly, it’s a little disconcerting. It’s like watching an episode of 24 play out. However, instead of Jack Bauer you have TV documentary maker Nathalie Thompson and her crew trying to piece it all together. And with that, I hope you enjoy my book review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger.

Blurb:

A FOREIGN CHEMICAL AGENT IS FOUND ON BRITISH SOIL

CAN IT BE STOPPED IN TIME IN A RACE AGAINST BIOTERROR?

When film director Nathalie Thompson is commissioned to make a programme on bioterrorism, a sudden Ebola outbreak takes her on a dangerous detour to Central Africa. Posing as a Western activist and campaigner for the rights of Africans, Nathalie must investigate the involvement of a Zimbabwean terrorist group.

But when a young colleague unearths a suspicious laboratory in eastern Java that may be producing biochemical weapons, Nathalie is immersed in a violent world of corruption and bioterrorism, which is closer to home than she thinks.

My Book Review:

Wow. Let’s just say I like living in a very quiet, small town. I like staying at home with my kids, reviewing books, and proofreading. I even like subbing at the school once in awhile. Yep, I like my quiet, seemingly boring life. I don’t want to find myself in the middle of extremist groups or world-wide scams. Nope, I’m perfectly fine right here, thank you!

That’s not what Nathalie Thompson thinks, though. She sure is willing to insert herself right into the middle of everything! I like her as a character. She’s strong and brave, and she’s intelligent. She may put herself at risk, but it’s always for the sake of a good story. I think her character is well developed and believable. Her colleagues are also well developed. I liked how they all fit together, and think their different personalities worked together well. Each character has strengths and weaknesses, which makes them more realistic.

I found the story itself to be quite disconcerting. It’s uncomfortable to know that people can have such sinister plots. Of course I know there are people out there that think that way, but I don’t want to think about it. Dwelling on it just increases my anxiety.  The way the story was set up seemed plausible and a bit frightening. I liked the writing style and thought it did a good job of sucking me in and grabbing hold. You could say it may be a little too realistic.

I couldn’t put this book down. I liked the twists and turns and how everything fit together. And then the last line happens. What?!? I hated the ending. Well, the last line. I read it at least three times trying to see if I missed something or misinterpreted it. Nope, that’s the ending. Ugh. Not a fan. And I just don’t get it. Someone please help me out here! Why???

The copy of the book that I read was on my Kindle. I don’t know if I had an unproofed ARC, it didn’t say, but it was a bit challenging to read because there weren’t any chapter breaks. There also weren’t any breaks when it changed from one character to another. It would change from one character to another mid-line. I obviously figured it out, but having breaks would make it flow much better. It would make it much easier to read.

If you’re looking for a good summer, intense read, this book is for you! And if you read it, please let me know what you thought about the end line!

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. There are also quite a few adult themes including terrorism and bioterrorism.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I would have given it  4/5, but I really hated that ending line.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2kCYXXx

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry 

 

The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor

The Man Who Lived Twice Final Cover

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Book Review of The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor

I love learning about the American Revolution. It’s my favorite history subject to learn about. The American Civil War comes second on my list. So when the chance came to write a book review for The Man Who Lived Twice by David Taylor, I got excited. I haven’t read any books where the main character fights for the Confederacy, so I got really excited. With such a compelling teaser, I had to jump on the opportunity. 

Blurb:

“A hero to General Robert E. Lee and a legend to the gullible hillbillies under his command in the American Civil War, ‘Ole St Lege’ charged with the Light Brigade in the Crimea, defended the bullet strewn barricades in the Indian Mutiny and hacked his way through the Second Opium War. Yet the Cornish mercenary that fought so valiantly for the Confederate cause was a wanted criminal, a fraudster who bankrupted his own father.

In his search for redemption, Colonel George St Leger Grenfell leads suicidal cavalry charges, soars precariously over enemy lines in a balloon, rides the rails to the Old West and sees the inside of several appalling prison cells before his fortune changes. As he travels the length and breadth of the continent, he meets the characters who made, marred and mythologised American history: the business tycoons and social reformers as well as the back-shooting gunslinger and Lincoln conspirators. Finally, he is granted his fondest wish. A second chance in life.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I love learning about the American Civil War. I haven’t ever read a book written from the Confederacy point of view, so I was excited to read it. George St Leger Grenfell is a person I’ve never heard of. Apparently he didn’t start out as the greatest man. He made a lot of poor choices and came to regret some of them.

The book starts out talking about Major General Robert Ross commanding his British troops in August of 1814. His troops pretty much walk into Washington and burn the Capital building with books from the Library of Congress (gasp!). The troops waded through James Madison’s personal items to take souvenirs. One of them found some papers written by James Madison; they stated the reasons the Americans declared war on the British in 1812.

From there it skips to 1862, where George Grenfell is fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. I hate to admit how confused I was reading this part. There are a lot of characters and I could not remember who was who. I’m not familiar with very many military terms, so I got a bit lost. I did catch that Grenfell was the main character and that he was English. I also gathered that he had a past that he seemed to be running from. The character development for Grenfell was pretty good. It takes about half of the book before you see the whole picture, but in the end I thought Grenfell was well developed.

I liked the part about Rose Greenhow and her daughter Rosie. Both of them were also well developed. The very intimate letters written between George and Rose were quite racy. Wow! (I’m still blushing…) What I really liked about Rose was that she was a spy! Seriously? I had no idea that women were spies back in the 19th century. Now I need to do a little research and find out if there are books about other women spies.

The story takes you many different places, and sometimes I found it a little difficult to follow. The author has quite the vocabulary! I had to look up a bunch of words because I didn’t know what they meant. This Grenfell guy had quite an exciting life! It’s neat that the story is based on a real man. I cringed a little bit at the end because of his feelings toward a certain someone, but I guess you never know. The meeting at the very end was a bit corny, but it would be quite an experience to have! (Sorry for being vague, but I don’t want to give anything away…)

Overall, I liked the book. I did find it quite confusing at times, but it’s probably my lack of understanding military terms. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and that became a bit tricky too sometimes. In the end, I thought it was quite an adventure, and I liked that he tried to make things right. I always enjoy learning about new people, and I’m glad to have learned at least a little about George St Leger Grenfell.

Content Rating RRating: R (There is a little bit of profanity. There’s also some “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Much of it occurs in wartime, so there is a lot of violence including war atrocities, bombings, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2INVPGJ

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak I Am David by Anne Holm  1776 by David McCullough
 
 

Make a Teacher Happy: Prevent Summer Brain (Part 2)!

Prevent Summer Brain

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Make a Teacher Happy: Prevent Summer Brain (Part 2)

Yay for summer! The kids get to wake up early, do chores, and read for hours. Then they have time to work on their science fair projects for the upcoming school year. After that they read some more, and then they help with dinner, laundry, and yard work without complaint. Hmmmm……maybe in a fairy tale land! If your family is like most families, this isn’t even close! Many kids don’t pick up a book the whole summer (gasp!). By the time school rolls around, they have forgotten much of what they worked so hard on the previous school year. This is called SUMMER BRAIN. Let’s prevent summer brain this summer!

How do we prevent summer brain? 

1. READ

Yep, simple as that. Kids need to read at least 20 min each day. My kids read 30 min each day. Go to the library and get lots of books. Or go to the bookstore and let them pick out one new book. Have them pick a book from each genre. Try out an audio book. Have a neighborhood book swap (more on this coming soon…). Or start a neighborhood Book Club! Make reading fun! Read outside, inside, at the park, or in a tent. And for sure, download my monthly summer Reading Challenge! Click here to download June’s BINGO challenge!

2. Daily Homework

I know, I’m the meanest mom because I make my kids do homework throughout the summer! I’ve had my kids doing summer homework since preschool, so they just expect it now. It might be a hard adjustment if you’re starting in 4th or 5th grade, but it’s ok, they’ll get used to it. I’ve tried a bunch of different things. I’ve used workbooks, I’ve printed off my own weekly packets, and I’ve tried online programs.

3. Limit Screen Time

I know this one is difficult! My rule is no more than one hour per day. It’s rough sometimes, but it’s doable. And I do fudge it sometimes. If they don’t use any screen time for a couple of days, and want an extra hour the next day, I’m fine with that. I’ve seen examples of parents not giving out the wi-fi password until reading, homework, and daily chore is done for the day. I  think that’s a great idea! Or, if they have friends over and have been outside for hours then want to watch a movie, I’m fine with that too. Of course, the online games I just posted count as screen time; the Khan academy would not count as screen time for me because it’s their math homework. 

3. Chores

Haha! This one is a mom’s best friend! My kids also need to do their daily chore before they can play. (I know! I’m so mean!) Divide up the chores however you want. Some days are super quick and other days I make them work harder.

To-Do-Chart-Cute-Animals-Website-Images-000-Image1 Need a cute Chore Chart? This One is adorable! And so is This One 

4. Fun Activities

Even just getting out and having fun is better for the brain than watching tv or playing video games! This Summer Calendar is so cute and is a great way to organize fun activities. 

FREEBIE - Summer Bucket List - pin Click here for this fun Freebie Summer Bucket List!

I hope this helps!!! Let’s prevent summer brain this year and send our kids back to school prepared and on track to learn! Do you have any resources that I missed? Or have questions on how I get my kids to do all this? Email me!

 

 

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

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Book Review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but it wasn’t the adventure I found in its pages. Wow! What a ride! I hope you enjoy m book review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern.

Blurb:

“A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands.  But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion.  Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.  As  Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

Madame Tulip and the Bones of Chance is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.”

My Book Review:

Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball and could predict the future. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then other times I’m happy to be surprised. If you could see what was coming would you do things differently? Would it change how you live your life, how you treat people, and how you react? Would it make you second guess yourself? A little deep, I know, but it makes me curious.

Derry is a fun character. I like how particular she is about her Madam Tulip costume and props. She has a cute personality. Derry is not particularly intuitive when it comes to herself and how others feel about her. She tends to miss major clues. When it comes to other people, though, she does a little better. Sometimes I thought she acted as a strong character, and other times I was a bit disappointed by her lack of action.

I am not one to believe in crystal balls or tarot cards. Unfortunately, Madam Tulip would not see me in her booth. She does make for a fun character though. The story line is pretty good. There were a few side stories that didn’t really add to the plot line, but I guess they gave you a little more insight into Derry’s life. It’s well written and exciting. There are some crazy twists; I thought one of them was a bit unbelievable, but by then I was into the story and couldn’t put it down.

I liked the writing style, the descriptions, and the character development. There were a lot of characters, though, and I could not keep them straight. Even at the end I had a difficult time remembering who certain characters were. I liked Bruce a lot, and think that maybe Derry should pay a little more attention to him.

Overall, this is a fun and entertaining read. I’d read more of the Madam Tulip books.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s only a little bit of profanity in this book. There isn’t any “intimacy.” Although there is some brief violence, it isn’t overly graphic.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2J1cvdr

Disclosure: I did receive a free book in exchange for my honest review. This did not sway my opinion in any way.

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the book thief by markus zusak An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
 

Book Review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD

Boying Up by Mayim Bialik

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Book Review of Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant by Mayim Bialik, Phd

Ugh! The dreaded talk. You know the one. The talk that everyone should have with their kids. The one where you have to use real names for body parts and go into details about the birds and the bees. Yeah, I know that talk. My husband and I decided that he would talk with our boys and I would talk with our girls. We have two of each. He’s already talked with our boys, and I have had the talk with one of our girls. One more to go for me. This book is great for a follow-up of that talk. Here’s my book review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD.

Blurb:

“Growing from a boy into a man is no simple feat. Bodies are changing, social circles are evolving, hair is appearing in places it never was before—and on top of it all, there’s the ever-present pressure to conform to the typical idea of what it means to be ‘manly’ and masculine. But it’s easier to Boy Up if you’re armed with facts.

Want to know why your voice cracks like that? What you should eat to build muscle, or how to talk to someone you have a crush on? How about if someone bullies you or spreads rumors about you?

Using her own experience as a mom of boys and plenty of scientific information, Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist and star of The Big Bang Theory, talks about what it means to grow from a boy to a man biologically, psychologically and sociologically.

Want to be brave, bold and brilliant? You can! Start by reading this book.”

My Book Review:

This book is packed with great information! Mayim Bialik does not mince words. She speaks boldly and bravely about everything that happens when boys grow into men. The first thing she discusses is anatomy for boys and girls. There are even drawings to go along with it. It’s very straightforward and accurate. She uses the correct names for everything and says it like it is. I like that she even goes into the science of X and Y chromosomes and DNA.

Throughout the book, Mayim talks a lot about how everyone is different. She discusses how there isn’t one right way to be a boy. It’s so good to hear because there are stereotypes for boys just like there are for girls. She talks about how it’s ok for boys to like different things and look different from each other. Not all boys need to like cars and sports.

I love the section on how to take care of their bodies. I think all YA boys need to read this section. Seriously. I know they want to survive on soda pop and candy bars. Mayim goes into a lot of detail about how much water to drink each day, proper nutrition, and mindfulness when eating. She also talks about the importance of exercising. She gives lots of different ways to exercise; it doesn’t need to be football practice for every boy.

Mayim doesn’t stop there. I loved the chapter on how boys learn. She is a neuroscientist, so she has very detailed and interesting scientific facts. One thing I thought was really good was when she discussed the culture of media among boys and how they like video games and such. I guess there is actually science behind why boys get all competitive and like to win.

She does talk about why some boys are more bothered by violence and other things in media. I agree that there are different sensitivity levels. I also think that sometimes that is because children are desensitized by watching violence and more adult themes when they are too young. I don’t allow my children to watch PG-13 movies until they are 13. And even then, there are certain movies I won’t let them watch until they are older.

How boys love is the next chapter in the book. Mayim goes into intimacy, but intimacy as in getting to know someone well and making ourselves vulnerable. She talks about relationships with family and friends and how those can change over time. One thing she goes into more detail about is “Brotherhood” and boys as “their buddies, their bros, their homeboys, their dudes, their posse.” There are lots of different places that boys can find their peeps.

Then, yes, Mayim discusses the science of romance. I think it’s great to point these things out to boys so they understand what they’re experiencing. She talks about physical things that happen when boys are around someone they may be interested in. Things like sweating, dry mouth, and babbling. Ha! It’s good to know it happens to boys too. She goes into greater detail about attraction, dating, and courtship. This includes physical “intimacy.”

I know it’s hard for most parents to discuss this with their children. It is for me! It’s essential, though. Mayim goes into detail about it, of course using correct body part names and how it occurs. One thing she stresses is that it does feel good, but it is primarily to make babies. And that if you are doing it, you will most likely make a baby at some point. This is a good reminder for teenagers with raging hormones.

She talks about how waiting until marriage used to be the norm, but isn’t as common now.  We have stressed to our children that waiting until marriage is important. I think it’s important because it is so intimate. There are emotions and feelings that occur when people are intimate in that way, and being in a stable, strong relationship is important. Then, if babies come, there is already a foundation for that family. She also discusses that it’s a special thing; it’s not evil and you shouldn’t be afraid of it either. But use precautions. Be safe.

This book goes deep into many things that are difficult to talk about. It’s very informative. Although there is a lot of information, good and very detailed information, Mayim does a great job of making it accessible. Her writing is so easy to read; it’s not awkward or scary or anything. This book should be used as a companion to a parental discussion. It would be great to have your son read a chapter and discuss it, or discuss it at the end. Boys and dads could read it together. My boys might die if I read it with them.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (This book goes in depth about human anatomy and physical “intimacy.” It’s the birds and the bees talk plus a whole lot more.)

Recommendation: YA (I would strongly recommend that parents either read it before or with their boys. Only parents know what each child can handle.)

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2LbCHAe

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore the hundred dresses  To the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger