Monday, April 23, 2018

Mix It Up! - Hervé Tullet

24870197Summary:  Watch colors splatter, mix, and transform, all the touch of a finger.  Follow the directions and turn the page: Magic and fun await! (image from goodreads.com)

My Review:  Mix it Up! is a companion book to the award-winnning Press Here I reviewed last week (read that here).  The two books don't necessarily have to be read in order, but this one does lead with the words "It's that time again!". Both books are interactive, in that they require the reader to follow some basic instructions on each page.

Mix It Up! builds on the interactivity of Press Here by introducing readers to the concept of mixing colors.  First your child invites all the colors out to play by tapping the page.  Out they come, a little shy at first.  When all colors are present an accounted for, they are asked to place a hand on the page, close their eyes and count to five.  Magically, the next page contains a white void in the paint, the size of a child's hand.  Next, the reader gets to mixing, use their finger to blend primary colors into secondary colors, and then mixing in white or black to make them darker or lighter.  Then things get a little wackier.  For example, what happens if you shake the page with yellow and blue, or tip the page with blue and red!?  What does smearing your hand across a page of colors do?  Does slamming the book closed and pushing down really hard do anything?  It's all great fun.

Mix It Up! is a great way to help children discover a world of color-mixing fun.  This has been my five year old's requested bedtime story (along with Press Here) since they came in the mail a week or so ago).  She loves 'dipping' her finger in one color and 'dabbing' it on another' and shaking and slamming and tilting the book like crazy. Even my eight year old takes her turn.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to give their kid a creativity boost and/or inject a little variety in their bedtime story routine.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: Have at it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Press Here - Hervé Tullet

Image result for press here imageSummary: Press Here.  That's right.  Just press the Yellow Dot.  And turn the page.  (Image from goodreads.com)

My Review:  Okay, so I recognize that the "summary" up top isn't really a summary.  It's just what's on the back of the book. I'll try to give you a better summary.

Press Here is an ingeniously interactive book for younger children and early readers that has won multiple 'Book of the Year' awards and is a NYT bestseller.  It begins with a small yellow dot in the center of the page, much like the cover image, with the simple instructions: Press Here.  Readers are invited to follow the instructions and turn the page, and lo, and behold, one yellow dot is now two yellow dots.  Similar instructions follow.  Rub the dot gently to change it's color. Tap five times to make five dots.  Shake the book and the dots move around.  Tilt the book and they slide this way and that.  Press hard.  Tap.  Blow.  Clap!  Each interaction produced a different result but they all had one thing in common -- my youngest was all over it!  She gleefully followed every action and expectantly waited for me to turn the page.

In hindsight, I should have purchased this book as soon as my kiddos could follow basic instructions, but even though I got in the game a little late, my five-year old still loves it and I even found my eight-year old sitting in giving it a good shake.  And lest you worry, the book is well bound, with a thicker than normal front and back cover, so it stands up to a good jostling.  I recommend this book to anyone with little kids, especially those who might struggle to sit still for a more standard story.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  I will admit that it goes against my nature to violently shake a book.  I'm working on it, but it does make me wince.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Guilty Pleasure - Amy Kaufman

Summary: The first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise, America's favorite guilty pleasure

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers' lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show's popularity and relevance has only grown--more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show's reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans--dubbed "Bachelor Nation"--come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties. 

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise--ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show's inner workings: what it's like to be trapped in the mansion "bubble"; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite. 

Kaufman also explores what our fascination means, culturally: what the show says about the way we view so-called ideal suitors, our subconscious yearning for fairy-tale romance, and how this enduring television show has shaped society's feelings about love, marriage, and feminism by appealing to a marriage plot that's as old as Jane Austen. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: So here’s the deal (and I feel like I need to make this statement right at the top lest I embarrass myself by even posting this review at all) I’m not one of those hardcore Bachelor Nation people. Sure, I’ve seen some recent episodes, but as far as one of those people who knows every single bachelor or bachelorette since the beginning of time? No. Or one of those people who attends (let alone hosts) a viewing party? No. Or even one of those people who watch every episode live? Nope. So you may be thinking that I’m not the best person to write about this book, right? Now hey. I wouldn’t go that far. I love reading about culture and cultural phenomena, and this book was the perfect insight as to why All the People in the Whole Land just can’t get enough of this very obviously fake rendition of not-so-modern love.

The book starts off with a history of reality dating shows (none of which I’ve seen), and goes through all the precursors to The Bachelor and Bachelor-adjacent shows. It’s so interesting, really, because it seems that everyone thought this would always be a bad idea, and yet here it is—the most popular reality television show ever. And it basically has a cult following. Everybody watches it, even if they don’t admit it (or so Kaufman tells us). Also, I loved that she has short celebrity sections at the beginning of each chapter where various celebrities tell why they love the show and how embarrassing it is and yet they just can’t look away. In fact, many fans seem to love to hate The Bachelor as much as the love to love The Bachelor.
               
One of the things that drew me to this book was how it addresses the cultural phenomenon of the series. It’s just everywhere. The show itself has three different shows a year, at least, and so fans are never left very long without an upcoming show. In addition, they have interesting ways of keeping people hooked—they use contestants from previous seasons to be the lead in their next season, which creates continuity. Or they’ll just use someone completely new (I don’t know how long it’s been since they’ve done this. Again, I’m not as familiar with the series as die-hard fans). Or they’ll bring someone from the past to surprise the viewers and refresh the goings-on. Apparently that is what happened with this past season of The Bachelor. Despite all of these somewhat tepid mix-ups, the series is actually very formulaic, and I loved that Kaufman had so much insight into the background and editing and production of the show. Her access to the people in the industry because of who she is and what she does as a living really made for an interesting read. I think it also helped bring to light some things that readers would not have seen if it weren’t for her access and research. She talked to a ton of Bachelors/Bachelorettes as well, and many of them have written books about their experiences as well (I have not read any of them, but there are a ton), which she has read. I felt like she was pretty much an aficionado and that made it super interesting.

One of the things I had hoped would happen was that we would learn some juicy details behind the scenes. I was certainly not disappointed! Although I rarely knew what Bachelors or Bachelorettes she was talking about (especially in older seasons) I loved hearing what really goes on in the production and what happens to the contestants during and after the show. Spoiler: it’s as big of a train wreck as you might expect. I mean, yeah, they all go on there to get Instagram followers and live their dream of hawking crap on social media, but there’s more about that as well.

The book itself has a fun tone—it’s well-written, it’s funny, it’s honest, it’s eye-opening. I actually really enjoyed it. I do wish that more juicy secrets had been told, because if you’re reading this kind of thing, why not?  I do think those were probably in the books the contestants wrote, whereas this was a book about the show itself—the culture, the hype, the psychology behind why it’s so popular, and the inner workings. Don’t get me wrong—plenty of juiciness abounds! Even if you’re not a huge die-hard Bachelor fan, I think you’ll enjoy it, especially if you‘re like me and you’re just fascinated about why reality TV is as popular as it is.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and discussion of sex in this book, but it’s not seriously raunchy.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover

west_9780399590504_jkt_all_r2.jpgSummary: Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom.  Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head for the hills" bag.  In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father's junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment and so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism.  The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with the news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life.  She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University.  There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University.  Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled to far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention.  It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you.  With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it.  (Summary from book flap - Image from tarawestover.com)

My Review:  You guys.  I can't even.  I just.  Wow!   I haven't read a book like this one in a very long time.  If.  Ever.  Thus, I am reduced to communicating in sentence fragments.  My desire to adequately articulate my thoughts about what I've just read is overwhelming.  I will try.  I really want to get this right but will probably fall short.  Because. Holy. Cow.

Educated tells the intensely riveting story of a young girl raised in an oppressively fundamentalist household (see disclaimer), and her struggle for survival, self-expression, and transformation.  I didn't want to put it down.  I did, because I had to feed my kids and drive them places, but it was never far from my mind or my fingertips.  In the quiet moments I managed to carve out for myself, I devoured it, and when I wasn't reading it, I was raving about it to my husband, children, and friends (basically, anyone who felt even remotely obligated to listen to me).  Though I have finished reading it, I am by no means finished with it.

I feel a decidedly large measure of guilt when I say that I love this book.  I'm not sure that love is really the right word for something so awful.  I feel consumed by it.  Chewed up and spit out.  Forever altered by the experience.  To say that her family issues were complex and deeply troubling, would be a massive understatement. Her trials were painful, confusing, and destructive, yet they were also formative and instructive.  The only comfort I find in the horror of her experience, is that either in spite of it or because of it, a thoughtful, passionate, educated woman clawed her way out of the muck.  It was strangely inspiring.  If she can do what she did, with that childhood, then I have no excuses.

Westover is an phenomenal writer -- and not in the relative-to-what-she-has-been-through sense, though no one can deny that her achievements in that regard are truly impressive.  She's just a flat out amazing writer that effortlessly draws you into her history.  I felt like a silent bystander in her life and was often flush with fear, anger, and sadness on her behalf, my heart pounding wildly in my chest or aching as hers must have been.  I was impressed at her intentional evaluation of her own perspective, and that she consulted other members of her family in an effort to give the most accurate account possible,, even adding footnotes where accounts differ. As with real life, I couldn't predict what would happen next and was constantly surprised, knocked back on my heels and reeling.  Even days later, I still feel a ghost of adrenaline coursing through me when I try to talk about this book.

I was incredibly moved by the people who served as anchors in Tara's life: her brother Tyler, who encouraged her desire to leave and learn; her college bishop, who listened; her BYU professor, and his determination to help her see her own worth; her Cambridge adviser, who saw her potential and found a way; the roommates, who stayed and helped when they might justifiably been scared away; and the siblings and extended family members who didn't abandon her.  I can only imagine what her life might have been like without them.  I say this not to take away any measure of the author's own achievement, but simply to highlight the invaluable nature of being active participants in the human experience and reaching out to those who seem ready to pack it in.

There is much that could be said about the actual events in the book, the betrayals and accidents, abuse and illnesses, or the intentions and motivations of specific family members, but as I am still processing it, I wouldn't be able to do it justice...and it would be really long. You will just have to read Educated for yourself and lend your perspective to the conversation.  Instead, I will leave you with my highest recommendation and with some of my favorite quotes from the book that, for me, are the essence of her journey:

  • "Tyler stood to go.  "There's a world out there, Tara," he said. "And it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in  your ear.""
  • "I'd always known that my father believed in a different God.  As a child, I'd been aware that although my family attended the same church as everyone in our town, our religion was not the same."
  • "Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself.  My life was narrated for me by others.  Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute.  It never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs."
  • "I'd come to BYU to study music, so that one day I could direct a church choir.  But that semester-- the fall of my junior year -- I didn't enroll in a single music course.  I couldn't have explained why I dropped advanced music theory in favor of geography and comparative politics, or gave up sight-singing to take History of the Jews.  But when I'd seen those courses in the catalog, and read their titles aloud, I had felt something infinite, and I wanted a taste of that infinity."
  • "A gust of wind swept over the parapet and Dr. Kerry teetered, clutching the wall. I stepped up onto the ridge so he could flatten himself  against the buttress.  He stared at me, waiting for an explanation.  "I've roofed my share of hay sheds, " I said finally. "So your legs are stronger? Is that why you can stand in this wind?"  "I can stand in this wind, because I'm not trying to stand in it," I said.  "The wind is just wind.  You could withstand these gust on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air.  There is no difference.  Except the difference you make in your head.""
  • "I knew what it was to have a misconception corrected -- a misconception of such magnitude that shifting it shifted the world."

and my personal favorite...

  • "You are not fool's gold, shining only under a particular light.  Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.  It was always in you.  Not in Cambridge.  In you. You are gold.  And returning to BYU, or even to that mountain you came from, will not change who you are.  It may change how others see you, it may even change how you see yourself -- even gold appears dull in some lighting -- but that is the illusion.  And it always was."
Now, we're back to me.  Just read it. It's stunning, gut-wrenching, and worth every second. 

DISCLAIMER:  I am a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormon, if you will).  The author of this book was raised in an extremely fundamentalist Mormon household, and the "gospel" preached by her father bears little to no resemblance to the mainstream religion in which I was brought up.  Indeed, if it weren't for some of the common vernacular and occasional mention of shared scripture or church history, I would never have imagined that the twisted faith of her father and my own had sprung from the same roots.  Those hoping for a book denouncing the Mormon faith will not find it.  Those hoping for a book singing its praises will leave unsatisfied.  It is, as the author states at the very beginning of her book, "..not about Mormonism.  Neither is it about any other form of religious belief.  In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not."  Personally, I felt that the author was fair and accurate in any discussion of the mainstream Mormon faith.

My Rating: 5 Shiny Gold Stars.  Seriously.

For the sensitive reader:  Tara's childhood was not pretty and trigger warnings abound.  There are graphic descriptions of physical and emotional abuse as well as physical injuries.  There are also several instances of profane and racist language used by certain family members, but I felt they were necessary to accurately portray her home life (and I rarely find that type of thing necessary)


Friday, April 13, 2018

20 Quirks and Strange Habits of Famous Writers

Thanks to the awesome Jack Milgram for sharing this with us!


Infographic by Jack Milgram Custom-Writing.Org

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The In-Case-of-Emergency Workbook: An Essential Life Organizer for You and Yours - Vicki Hinze

Summary: While recovering from an unforeseen medical emergency, author Vicki Hinze realized just how little her family knew about the practical but necessary information of routine and everyday life—doctors’ names, insurance policies, location of the will, information about the mortgage, passwords, accounts, etc. If her family had floundered this much when they could still ask her for answers, she wondered just how difficult it would be for them if they couldn’t ask, or if she wasn’t in a position to tell them.

With the The In-Case-of-Emergency Workbook, Vicki has created a space to capture all of this vital information so that families and loved ones like hers will have the necessary tools to handle affairs properly and without anxiety—in case of an emergency. Sections contained in this invaluable booklet includes:

Financial
Medical
Legal
Auto
Passwords
Personal requests
And more
 (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: A few years back I went to Germany with a few friends. I was super excited to go, as you might imagine, but it was also frightening. What if something happened to me? What if I died and no one knew how to access any of my passwords or accounts or important things? Although these things had been at the back of my mind, they hadn’t really been on my immediate radar until I was preparing for this trip. Since then my husband has traveled for work and such, and the same questions have plagued me—what if something happened to him and I didn’t know how to access any of his accounts? I’m in charge of doing most of our billing, but there are things that he deals with as well. How would I access his work benefits? His 401k? What other things do I not know about? It’s overwhelming to think about all of the things there are that I wouldn’t know about if something were to happen to one of us, let alone the grief and horror of the actual event. I’ve often thought about compiling something that includes all of our pertinent information, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I do have something basic I created, but I know it doesn’t cover nearly everything.

So this book. It was exactly what I needed. It was awesome—it covered so many things in a very basic, accessible, easy-to-use format. I hadn't even thought of many of the things that Hinze had made into complete sections. Now don’t get me wrong—it feels weird writing down passwords and account numbers and compiling them all in one place. This is not a book that you leave lying around. Oh no. This is a book you keep locked up in a safe or lockbox (which she discusses, of course). However, I think it’s invaluable. Were something to happen to me, I am definitely glad that I have filled this book out. I think that anyone dealing with my affairs would be so grateful to have it. A few thoughts that weren’t included in the book but as a PSA I am including them here:

1.      My husband needs a copy of this book as well. Although we share a lot of our financial information, there are many sections (medical, passwords, personal requests, etc.) where he would need his own. This is a book that everyone should have.
2.      You should use a sharp pencil to fill this book out. You need a pencil so that you can erase and change things as necessary, and a sharp pencil so that you can make sure everything is written legibly. Oh, and you should write legibly.
3.      This book takes some time to fill out. There is so much information in it—stuff to look up, stuff to double check, and it’s just overwhelming. Maybe you can plow through it in one night, but I would give yourself a little time just because there is so much to do. Again, there were quite a few things I had to look up and find information for (unless you have all your account numbers and licenses and tax information memorized and accessible off the top of your head. Which you don’t.).

This is really one of those books that I am glad that I have. It’s useful, it’s to-the-point, and I think it fulfilled a need in my life that I’ve had a long time. I feel like having this book is part of being a responsible adult. Which we all want to be, right?

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species - Mark Remy

Summary:  The North American Runner has evolved greatly over the years, adapting to changes in environment, including new threats, technologies, food sources, and fashion.  These mysterious, brightly clad creatures live side by side with humans, but how many of us truly understand them? With this comprehensive guide to the 23 subspecies of  runners (ranging from The Newbie to The Gear Addict), humor writer Mark Remy presents the tools to observe and communicate with runners in their natural habitat.  (Summary from back of book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species is a tongue-in-cheek field guide written from the perspective of a "runner anthropologist" who claims to have studied all twenty-three subspecies of runner in their natural habitat.  I knew from the second page that I was going to enjoy myself with this one.  You see, on the second page there is a diagram so hilariously spot-on that I laughed out loud...in the library.

Once I had a chance to really sit down and read it, I was floored by the authors grasp of all things running and the different types of runners.  Mark Remy really did compile a field guide that, in the first section, lists twenty three different types of runners, complete with their scientific names, distinguishing characteristics, appearance, habitat, feeding behaviors, sounds, mating call, running style, closest relatives, enemies and threats.  Using this guide I was able to correctly identify my three brothers (all different subspecies of runners) and myself.  If you are curious, I'm the Adventure Racer, while my brothers Mike, Matt, and Mark are, respectively, the Barefoot Runner, Trail Runner, and Weird Runner turned Dad Runner.  Some other subspecies include: Serial Marathoner, Gear Addict, Bucket Lister, Newbie, Grizzled Vet, Fashion Mag Runner, and...well, there are more but you get the idea.  Remy's insight and observations on each subspecies were both clever and unnervingly accurate with the perfect amount of satirical humor.  And his footnotes?  Don't even get me started.  HI-LARIOUS.

The second section of the book covers topics like diet and nutrition, physiology and psychology, social behavior and mating habits (some double entendre). At first glance, you'd think these topics were drier than a bone, when in reality they were just as entertaining as the rest of the book  And if that's not enough -- diagrams, tables, special notes, and fun facts are scattered throughout the book to further your understanding of runners as a species (see page 115, Social Hierarchies and Running Shorts).

The final section of the book contains some tips for humans living among and observing runners.  It tackles tough topics like what to do if you encounter a runner in the wild, how to attract a runner (I'll give you a hint: It involves standing very still with a cup of water and works best within the vicinity of a marathon course), and how to best photograph runners in their natural habitat (use a tree stand, if tracking the elusive Trail Runner).  It even comes with a convenient checklist so you can check off each runner subspecies as you encounter them

This book was clearly written by a man with a fantastic sense of humor, who knows his runners and running in general.  It isn't really meant to be informational, but I did learn a few things as I laughed my way through it.  I would highly recommend this book to any runners or friends and family of runners.  It would make a great gift or novelty book for the runner in your life.

Update:  While running an errand this morning, I spotted two of a more common species -- the Mom Runner.  Better check that off my list!

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  One brief, slightly risque discussion of the courtship and mating habits of runners.   

Friday, April 6, 2018

Ink and Bone - Lisa Unger

Summary: In this explosive psychological thriller by New York Timesbestselling author Lisa Unger, a young woman’s mysterious gift forces her into the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance.

For as long as she can remember, twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has been able to see into the future. She dreams about events before they occur and sees beyond the physical world, unconsciously using her power to make supernatural things happen.

But Finley can’t control these powers—and there’s only one person who can help. So Finley moves to The Hollows, a small town in upstate New York where her grandmother lives, a renowned seer who can finally teach Finley how to use her gift.

A gift that is proving to be both a blessing and a curse, as Finley lands in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving a young girl who has been missing for ten months and the police have all but given up hope.

With time running out there’s only so much Finley can do as The Hollows begins to reveal its true colors. As she digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, nothing is what it seems. But one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: I’m pretty excited to tell you about this book­—it’s totally my jam (and maybe yours, too!). I read it quickly, but also not. I don’t know if you’re like this, but when there’s a book I really like I equally don’t want to stop reading but also don’t want to keep reading because then it’s over and then I’m sad. Now let’s get this straight right now—this isn’t some epic and sweeping classic that is so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching that everyone still says it’s their favorite book (here’s looking at you, To Kill a Mockingbird,). But it is fast-paced and interesting with a story that has some good twists and turns. It has some great characters—flawed and believable—and a fun historical element to it that adds interest and depth.

I have to admit that I’m a pretty grounded-in-reality kind of person. I am extremely logical. I’m not one of those people who just do whatever they want because their heart says it. I carefully plan, I rely on logic, and it usually works out for me. However, in my reading I like a touch of magic. No, this does not mean that I want wizards. We’ve been over this. I don’t really love fantasy. But a psychically gifted girl and her grandma that work with a detective to solve crimes? Yes. Yes please. I love that kind of stuff. So this book really did it for me. It had a spooky mystery and it involved some interesting people. Some of these people are interesting in a way that I won’t get into because it was kind of a surprise. But the addition of them was awesome as well.

One of the strengths of Ink and Bone was the creation of The Hollows, where most of the novel takes place. I think a critical part of creating a novel is creating an atmosphere. Because of the paranormal nature this book, atmosphere was everything. I loved that The Hollows was an actual character, and one that played a huge part. I don’t live in a place with hundreds of years of history, and so I’m always fascinated by places that do have that kind of background and depth. I can appreciate the weight of the events that happened and the impact they have had on a place, especially when these events affect and shape long-term residents and their relationship to one another. I think this kind of atmospheric creation is essential in order to maintain a creepy feeling surrounding a mystery in a place—you have to be able to believe that there are more than just humans who are forces for good or evil in a story such as this. It’s a fun balance between reality and that almost-untouchable hint of magic that maybe exists, maybe doesn’t, but certainly leaves an open question.

I’ve read quite a few crime and mystery books, and I’ve found that sometimes things get muddy at the apex. I don’t know if the author is writing so quickly to get all of her thoughts down, or maybe I skip through it, or maybe I just really want such depth and details and I don’t always get it. For instance—a whole book will be leading up to one moment, and this moment is supposed to be the resolution of it all. So many times I feel like I am left a little confused or maybe even just let down, like the apex moment didn’t live up to the rest of the book. That’s totally disappointing, right? That’s not how I felt about this book, which was great .There was one point that I was kind of confused at what I thought was a resolution, but it was later described more fully and so I am happy about that. I don’t like to be left confused. Especially when I have so much emotional investment in a story and its resolution.

If you are into crime/mystery and thrillers, I think this is a great book. I wish it was the start of a new series! Alas, I think it’s a standalone. But it’s a good one. And it’s a fast, fun read.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: I was happily surprised by the lack of language and sex in this book. There is some violence, but it is not horrific and I would say for the genre, it is very tame. Overall I would give this book a PG rating.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa De La Cruz


Summary:  Their romance shaped a nation.  The rest was history.

1777, Albany, New York

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about, preparing for one of the New York society’s biggest events: the Schuyler’s grand ball.  Descended from the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelic, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival those of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, Eliza can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man.  Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company.  And when Alex and Eliza meet on that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.  (Summary from book flap – Image from goodreads.com)
My Review:  I snapped up this book at our local library the second I heard of its existence, because I could hardly pass up the chance to read a little more about one of America’s famous romantic couples: Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of the Treasury; and Elizabeth (Schuyler) Hamilton, his wife.  According to the author, Melissa De La Cruz, “Not much is known about Alex & Eliza’s romance, except that they fell hard and fast and were so in love that Eliza carried a poem he wrote for her in a necklace that she wore until the day she died.”   After seeing the Broadway musical based on Hamilton's life, De La Cruz was swept up in the magic of it all and decided to write, in her words, a “fictional embellishment” of their story. 
Alex & Eliza: A Love Story, takes place between the fall of 1777 and winter of 1780 in the newly liberated American colonies.  As such, it only encompasses a small part of the couple’s story, which begins with a tense altercation at a winter's ball that places Hamilton in an unsavory light.  Through a not-so-chance-encounter on a deserted road and several interactions thereafter, Eliza is minded to think better of the man she has heard is no better than a fatherless scoundrel.  As the couple grows closer, challenges arise that seem insurmountable and require a great deal of brash heroics before everything is said and done.  As far as I could tell, De Le Cruz used key historical details (people, places, events) to craft her story, while the rest is entertaining, but fictional.  There was some adorable romantic tension between the two main characters, something that can be hard to achieve when most of your readers already know how the story ends.  All in all, it wasn’t earth shattering, but it was fun YA reading and an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.  I’d recommend this book to anyone who’d like a little more Alex and Eliza in their lives. 
My Rating:  3.75 Stars
For the sensitive reader:  There might have been one or two bad words.  One mildly written attempted rape scene.  One allusion to sex (not descriptive—really more of a nightgown-drop-fade-to-black kind of moment). 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Annihilation - Jeff Vandermeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
 (Summary and image from goodreads.com)

Review: Hm.

So, Me upon finishing this book: I have no idea what on earth I just read.
Also me upon finishing this book: I better read the other two books in the series.

It's been a few weeks since I've read this first book, and I've got to admit, I still have no idea what on earth I just read. Was it exquisitely written? Yes. Was it otherworldly? Yes. Was it overwhelmingly confusing? Yes, but I also got the feeling that that was 100% by design. The world that Vandermeer has begun to create in Annihilation defies description and logic. 

No one knows how Area X was formed, it just appeared without warning, slamming a border down that cost thousands of people their lives. Eleven expeditions have been sent into the area to learn, but none have been successful. This expedition is comprised all of women, with the hope that their unique talents and abilities will unlock the mysteries of the geography. 

Tasked with finding a lighthouse, our main character finds herself inexorably drawn to the tower - a spiraling staircase that descends deep into the earth. There are mysteries there. Words, growing out of the walls. A creature which can't be described, only experienced. Spores, which may be changing her. 

Seriously guys, this book plays with your head. It's so gorgeously written, so complex and detailed and still so vague. I've looked up stuff online, I've read the next book, and for the life of me, I'm still so perplexed! Why don't the characters have names? What is Area X? What was the catalyst? Why so much hypnosis? 

I don't have the answers. I have questions upon questions, but is this a book I'd recommend? Honestly, I think I would. 

Rating: Four stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Proceed with caution. There's some vile language, unnecessary sex scene (in a flashback), and some murders.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Tuscan Child - Rhys Bowen

Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.


Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.


Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now… (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve read any of my reviews, I (and pretty much everybody else in The Land), totally love historical fiction right now. It seems to be stronger than ever, right? Especially historical fiction that takes place in the World Wars. It’s just really exceptional, I think. I feel like although I’ve read a few historical fiction novels from World War I, the vast majority of what I’ve read is from World War II. And much of it is women-centered. Which I love. Did you know that most readers are—by far—women? It’s not even close who is doing the reading, so it’s about time some super awesome female heroines emerge in historical fiction.

I have to admit, however, that while I love me some World War historical fiction, sometimes it just gets so sad it’s hard to read. Almost every time I pick up a new book I love it, and I’m always glad I did, but it doesn’t come without some pain. The suffering was just so horrible from every side—the soldiers, the occupied, the people at home, the concentration camps, the children, the aftermath…it just isn’t happy. It wasn’t that long ago, either, which I think makes it even more poignant. I have several grandparents—as does my husband—who served in World War II. That I have talked with family members about their experiences in these very situations makes it more real and also unbelievable. We must not repeat this history, RIGHT?

I did enjoy this story. I’m a sucker for a good time hop (a fact that regular readers probably also know). If done well, it gives you the opportunity to see into the past but also understand the connections between what happened then and what’s happening now. It’s the benefit of understanding the rest of the situation, and what became of the people, their lives, their families, their legacy after the initial story took place. Bowen did a good job of creating two interesting stories that kept me interested and going, and is obviously an experienced author who knows when to leave you hanging and when to finish out a scene. I did have one problem with the time hopping, though. The end of the book (and I’m trying to be vague here, because it’s a surprise) seemed a little bit of a jump to me. I’m not sure that the people in the future would have been able to make the intuitive leaps necessary to arrive at the ending of the story. It was a huge leap and that made the whole thing a little bit clunky and a little presumptuous given all the circumstances.

Although Bowen is obviously a seasoned author with some very popular books under her belt, I wouldn’t consider the writing to be stellar. Sometimes it felt a little coerced. Conversations were not always natural and sometimes the descriptions and narration was a little cheesy—exclamation points, stating the obvious, etc. It was just a little clunky at times. It’s still enjoyable, with a good story. It just wasn’t as effortless and flawless as some I’ve read. That being said, if you’re into the historical fiction genre, and you’re a fan of Bowen’s work (as so many are), you should check this out. It’s certainly a worthy and interesting addition to the historical fiction realm.

My Review: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean, although there are some hints of sex and also war violence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa De La Cruz

Summary:  Darcy Fitzwilliam is twenty-nine, beautiful, successful, and brilliant.  She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones -- one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding).  Darcy's never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else's drama, an never goes home for Christmas if she can help it.  But when her mother falls ill, she goes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets Luke Bennet, the smart sardonic slacker son of their neighbor.  Luke is thirty-two and has never left home.  He's a carpenter who makes beautiful furniture and is content with his simple life.  He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other.  When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it's just another one-night stand.  But why can't she stop thinking of Luke?  What is it about him?  And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way? 

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is a sweet, sexy, and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  As you might have guessed, I picked up this book based solely on its title, as I am wont to do when it comes to anything even remotely Jane Austen.  My hopes have been decidedly dashed of late when it comes to retellings (ahem, here and here) and so I was taking a bit of a chance but figured I’d either get a super cute Christmas retelling or a hot hot mess.  Alas, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a little bit of both. 

As I didn’t read the flap before starting the book, I was a little surprised at some of the character transformations.  Instead of Fitzwilliam Darcy we have Darcy Fitzwilliam a rich, successful woman returning home to her quaint hometown of Pemberley for Christmas.  Elizabeth Bennet is now Luke Bennet, a humble carpenter content to live a small-town life.   And Charles Bingley transforms into Bingley Charles, still Darcy’s best guy friend, who only has eyes for Jane, or rather Jim, Bennet.   In this book it is Mr. Fitzwilliam (Darcy’s father) who is the obsessive parent, rather than Mrs. Bennet.  And don’t even get me started on Charlotte Collins.  I was delighted with some of the changes and less delighted with others, but it definitely made for a fresh take on an oft-redone story. 

After a good chunk of the characters were established, the story took off at a good clip.  There was a deliciously intense, if entirely drunken, kiss under the mistletoe between two arch nemeses, accompanied by some lovely sparks.  I thoroughly appreciated that the author managed to create chemistry between the main characters, yet only alluded to sex without actually having to make it part of the written story, an art that is sadly lacking in many YA authors’ repertoires.  

At a certain point in the book, Darcy undergoes a character shift so dramatic I nearly got whiplash.  It felt disingenuous and attempts to explain it later in the book did little to assuage my neck pain.   About halfway through the book, I felt my interest in the story start to decline -- the chemistry that had once sizzled fell flat, Darcy’s indecision bordered on tedious, and in the last three chapters it all just full-on tanked.   This book probably only took me a few hours to read and ordinarily finishing an entire book in one sitting leaves me feeling pretty good, but I closed this one feeling decidedly unsatisfied.  It held some promise but failed to deliver. 

My Rating: 2.25 Stars. 

For the sensitive reader:  Some profanity (of the H and G-d variety) peppered throughout.  One use of an A-word derivative.  Plenty of ill-advised alcohol consumption.  One non-traditional romantic relationship that is neither avoided nor overly explored. It just is.  Some undressing and allusion to sex between main characters but no actual discussion of it. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Artemis - Andy Weir





Summary: Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first. Summary and image from goodreads.com.

Review: Show of hands, who fell in love with Weir's writing after reading The Martian? Granted, the language was terrible. Like, really, really bad. But the blend of science, reality, just a hint of space opera, and the accessibility won me over, bad language and all. It was easily one of my favorite books that year. 

I had similarly high hopes for Artemis. The plot is a little different this time around, taking the reader to a more understood science-fiction-based world. Jazz lives on the moon, and has for the majority of her life. She's a smalltime smuggler who is approached to commit a tiny act of sabotage. Of course, things blow up in her face -- and on the moon, that's even more risky. 

However, this departure didn't appeal to me as much as Weir's first book did. I couldn't quite empathize with Jazz like I knew I was supposed to. I found her grating, unrealistic (which, to be fair, happens a lot when men try to write believable women), and somehow flat. The storyline itself was intriguing, but it didn't have the same grip on my attention that Weir has had on the past. Was it entertaining? Sure. Definitely a quick read, and I don't regret that I read it. But was it on the same level as The Martian? No. Certainly not.

This one fell short of the mark for me. I know I tend to be a harsher critic when I'm excited about an author, so I want to know what you think. Did you give it a shot? Am I off base? Let me know in the comments below.

Rating: Three stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Definitely PG-13.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) - Jonathan Stroud

Summary: A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: My husband has been bugging me about reading this book for months now. Months and months. It started out subtly—suggesting it, saying he liked it, etc., and then escalated to him buying it and putting it on my reading table (At the head of the line! He was cutting in line!). It’s not that I didn’t want to read it or was putting it off, but it obviously felt like that to him. Anyway, so I finally got to a place where I was ready for it. I have enjoyed lots of books that my husband has recommended, because although we don’t necessarily read the same kinds of books, there is some overlap, and when he recommends something to me, I’m always excited to discover something that possibly hadn’t been on my radar.

So. He has been telling me I would really like this book. And he was right! I did. I’ve come to like creepy things in my old age. I think it’s often tempting to overlook and dismiss YA Fic creepiness. I mean, its kid stuff, right? Not so. Many many books I have read that are creepy are YA Fic, and I really like it when it is. Being YA Fic I think they’re able to avoid some of what adult genre authors think they need in a scary book—gore, language, unnecessary violence. YA Fic, because of the nature of it, is able to breeze past this in a way that hints at it and certainly has some description, but is also able to leave just enough bite to it to give it some impact. YA Fic readers can handle quite a bit of scariness, and for me, it’s pretty much just the right amount. I felt like The Screaming Staircase was comfortably in this place—it had some really scary parts. They weren’t horrifying to the point of distasteful, but they were horrifying in a fun way. I liked the creepy vibe. Plus, I really think ghosts are fun. These ghosts were so well-thought out and the world building so good that it didn’t just feel like an alternate history, it felt like something that could have happened and possibly just been skipped over in the mainstream history books. You know paranormal fiction is good when the descriptions and world building are such that it feels authentic and as if it fits in smoothly to the already-existing environment.

I really liked the characters in this book. True to the case of many YA Fic books, they weren’t extremely detailed and layered, but there was enough there to produce some meaty content. It’s exciting that there are more books in this series because I think there will be lots of opportunities for getting to know these fun characters and seeing them interact with one another and with the ghosts. The ghosts were fun characters, too—just the right amount of humanness to be a little chilling. It’s a perfect rainy day or October read. Or, you know, a random Tuesday when it just seems right to have a little creepiness in your life.

This book is a few years old and therefore I feel like it has flown under the radar in some ways. It has some really good acclaim and Stroud is no novice author. Perhaps you’ve heard of it and I have just been living in oblivion. If you are into YA Fic, especially of the paranormal ilk (and ghosts are so fun and refreshing after the onslaught of vampires and other creatures like that) you should definitely check it out. It was definitely a fun, fast read, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the series. Which we own. Which my husband will probably start not-so-subtly moving to my nightstand. But I’ll be glad for the distraction!

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some ghost violence and descriptions of violence, but it is rather clean. There is also some mild language.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha

Summary: Sometimes it's easy to forget the things that make us smile.  Sometimes it's tempting to feel that the world is falling apart.  But awesome things are all around us:

- Popping bubble wrap
- The smell of rain on a hot sidewalk
- Hitting a bunch of green lights in a row
- Waking up and realizing it's Saturday
- Fixing electronics by smacking them
- Picking the perfect nacho off someone else's plate

The Book of Awesome reminds us that the best things in life are free.  Based on the award-winning blog 1000awesomethings.com, it's a high five for humanity and a big celebration of life's little moments.  With wise, witty observations, The Book of Awesome is filled with smile-inducing musings that make you feel like a kid looking at the world for the first time.  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  The Book of Awesome is the brain baby of a blogger named Neil Pashricha who wanted to find joy in the everyday moments that we often overlook, so he started a blog about the all little things that delight us.  Sounds great, right? Here are a few examples (mostly selected at random):
  • Catching someone singing in their car and sharing a laugh with them
  • High tens
  • The thank you wave when you let someone merge in front of you
  • Finding the last item of your size at the store
  • The smell of gasoline*
  • Using Q-tips the way you’re not supposed to use them.
  • Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying
  • Using all the different soaps and shampoos in someone else’s shower
  • Sweatpants
  • When there is ice cream left at the bottom of the cone. 

Now, as you can see, Neil doesn’t delve too deep, passing over the joys of hearing a baby bust a gut laughing or watching your toddler take their first steps for the decidedly less monumental.  Instead, he focuses on highlighting the often-overlooked, wildly unappreciated pleasures of the human experience.  I absolutely love the concept, applaud the author’s effort to bring more light into the world, and even identified with the majority of his “awesome” experiences, but sadly have some issues with the execution.  Here’s why: 

Some of Neil’s entries were short and sweet – I could read them swiftly, smile and nod in agreement (yes, that IS awesome!) and then move on, but on far too many occasions he expounded for pages about some awesome thing that didn’t quite seem to merit the tremendous word count.   Reading the longer entries felt like Neil was writing to reach a word quota rather than convey an idea.  Ultimately, I think I would have preferred this content in its original format – blog post.  In that way, I could read one post a day and be gently reminded to look for the small and simple signs of joy in the world around me.  As a book, well, I felt bludgeoned over the head with it.   By the time I was halfway through I was just reading to finish.  Slogging.  And if you’ve ever slog read, you’ll know that it’s exhausting.  I finally stopped about 20 pages from the end, because it took me that long to call time of death.  Life is too short to read books you don’t want to read. 

All that unpleasantness having been said, if you’d like to read a little more about Neil and check out his blog you can head on over to http://1000awesomethings.com/ .  He seems like a pretty nice guy who is committed to doing some pretty awesome things.  Just because I didn’t like the book doesn’t mean I don’t think his ideas are AWESOME!**

*Whaaaat?  Neil and I are totally at odds with this one.
**Here's hoping I got all those double negatives right...but just in case I didn’t that was supposed to be a compliment.  He seems cool.

My Rating: 2.75 Stars (great concept but annoyingly long-winded execution)
For the sensitive reader:  Nothing I can think of….

Monday, March 19, 2018

All Fish Faces: Photos and Fun Facts about Tropical Reef Fish - Tam Warner Minton

Summary: Photography and Fun Facts about tropical reef fish, ALL FISH FACES will entertain people of all ages! Getting to know our underwater world is a fascinating journey into the unknown! It is so important to introduce children, kids, and adults to our ocean and its animals so we can protect it for future generations. 10% of profits will go to the Marine Megafauna Foundation so they can continue their scientific research to protect our oceans and ocean giants. (Summary and image from goodreads.com.  I was provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.)

Review: I read a book!! I read a book!! Guys, since starting this new assignment (teaching AP Government and AP Economics at our local high school), I haven't read anything except for text books and essays that need to be graded! It's been really difficult, and I apologize to the amazingly talented (and patient) Tam Minton for being so understanding.

I'm the parent to three budding scientists, and one of those has decided that marine biology is her calling in life. Never mind the fact that the one time we took her to the ocean, she wouldn't get within 20 feet of the water, that's what she wants to do. And I'm sure there are ways to overcome that. It's not like she's leaving for grad school tomorrow! However, this aspiring marine biologist of mine has a deep love for conservation and preservation of our Earth, and is absolutely fascinated with the beauty (bizarre and conventional) that our oceans hold. 

So, what does this say about this book? Well ... part of the reason (aside from balancing teaching and parenting) that this book review took as long as it did was because my little girl absconded with the book within seconds of its arrival and refused to give it back.  The photos that Minton has captured and shared seem to jump off the pages. Their vibrant colors and the unique expressions of each fish are so incredible, I can understand why my daughter wasn't quite ready to share. But the photos are really only part of this book's charm. Tidbits about the species of fish highlighted, conservation efforts anyone (even those of us not lucky enough to live near the ocean) can take, and information regarding sustainable fishing are all shared appropriately for the age intended. It doesn't come across as preachy, or as condescending, rather as useful and necessary information anyone should be armed with. BUT. What good is it to hear from me? Let's hear from the marine biologist to be:

Clara's Review: Honestly, I thought ALL FISH FACES would be worse than it actually was. It's really good, but that's probably because I LOVE marine biology right now. It has some tough words, but I think it would be okay for younger readers. Some people might like the Scorpion Fish section because to look at the pictures, you have to find the fish. It has good tips on how to save the ocean.

It has some amazing pictures, facts, captions, and more! Each fish even has its section.

Me again: I asked the girl why she thought the book would be worse, apparently, author bios aren't her thing yet!! Ha!

Rating: Five Stars

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