Tag Archives: entertainment

Book Review

Anglerberger, Tom:

I am still reading books by Tom from our library.  I’m down to just the last two books by him.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda 4)

They didn’t have #3 at the library, so I skipped right to #4.  This one is named for Jabba, but he doesn’t actually show up until the end of the book.  I’m not giving away who the person is behind Jabba the Puppet, but it ends up helping the children out.  The children have lost their extra curricular activities, and they have to go to extra classes that prepare them for the end of year testing.  The children not only don’t like the classes, they think the classes are making them dumber.  They all join up together and everyone, not just Dwight, has finger puppets.  The kids all form their own Origami Rebel Alliance and decide to find a way to stop the extra study class and bring back their extracurriculars.  This book ends with the principal agreeing to talk to the school board and try to come up with a solution to their issue, but nothing is decided or fixed for the kids.

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (Origami Yoda 5)

This one picks up right where the other left off, except this time the case file has been stolen by someone (it’s not revealed until the end, so I don’t want to spoil it), and that person gives the journal to the principal.  The principal ends up helping the children and working with them to convince the school board that the extra classes are hurting them and they shouldn’t have to take them.  This entire series seemed to be one big fight against standardized testing.  I hate those tests, and I don’t think they tell us anything about how our schools are doing.  The children spend most of the year learning that things that will be on the tests instead of learning to explore and learn things on their own.  They aren’t ever allowed to follow an idea or a passion for something and see where it ends up or what happens because those things won’t be on the mandatory testing, so they can’t spend time studying those things or learning about them and seeing where they take them.  Overall, these books are great, and I’m sure the number of fans that he has speaks for themselves, but if you haven’t heard of them and you have an elementary/middle schooler, I think they would love these!!

The Rat with the Human Face: The Qwikpick Papers

There are at least 3 Qwikpick Paper books, and this is the second one.  It’s about 3 friends who hang out at the Qwikpick convenient store in their town.  The kids are from very different backgrounds, but they are friends and they have formed a society for adventure.  They hear someone talking about seeing a rat with a human face, and they decide they need to investigate.  Their parents are clueless and don’t seem to care what they do, or care too much about how they behave without finding out who their children really are.  I think this is a theme in the books from him that I’ve read so far.  I know that the ways these parents behave is definitely not the way I would react or treat any of my kids.  Anyway, this book was good and it kind of left me on a cliff-hanger where the club is concerned, and i want to know what’s going to happen.

Clarkson, Sally:

The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey

I started this book in January, and i have read one chapter each month.  This kind of walks you through each month with ways to be present with your family, how to create traditions with your kids, and how to show hospitality to those around you in each month.  I have read another of her books, and she seems to make her life almost an unattainable goal, and I have to remind myself that I don’t have the same personality that she does, and understand that everything at her house is probably not as perfect as it seems at first glance.  Overall, it was a great book… it’s short, but I stretched it out so I could concentrate on each month this year as it came.  I really enjoyed it.

Hartley – Brewer, Elizabeth:

Raising Happy Kids: Over 100 Tips For Parents And Teachers

I’m not sure I would say that I loved this book.  I liked it, and I thought it had some good things in it, but it’s just like any other parenting book to me.  It had a lot of examples of real people, which I liked, but it also had unrealistic ways of talking to your children, in my opinion.  I wouldn’t ever say things the way she encouraged us to talk.  We just don’t communicate in that formal way.  There are some aspects that I will remember and use, but overall it is pretty much the same as any parenting book I’ve read.

Smith, Angie:

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms:
I got this book as part of an online study with my friend who lived in Turkey the same time we did.  I ended up not being able to participate in the study because I wasn’t able to get online every week, but I loved the book and the facebook discussion.  This book really made me think about the things that I fear and how I can do better at letting go of those things and not letting them take over my life.  This book is great for individual reading, but it is also great for small group discussions.  I recommend this for anyone also, not just women.

Book Review

Anderson, Laurie Halse:

Catalyst was definitely NOT a juvenile fiction book.  This book was in the juvenile fiction section, but immediately I thought the language used in the book was definitely not something I would think would be read before Junior High at the youngest.  I think 8th to 9th grade is the youngest that someone should be to read this book.  However, regardless of that part, the book was a great book.  It was well-written and the characters were so real and awesome.  I just loved the book.  It definitely wasn’t a happy ending book or a happy middle or beginning for that matter, but it is a realistic fiction book, and I loved it!!  If you have a highschooler, or even older teenager, I think they would love this book!

Angleberger, Tom:

I already knew a lot about Tom Angleberger.  My boys have all of the Origami Yoda books and a couple others of his.  We surprised them one night and drove down to VA from MD to a book signing and got all of their copies signed.  Tom was really nice and the boys loved it.  Since I haven’t found my external harddrive yet with all of those pictures on it, I can’t share one here, but as soon as I find it, I’ll edit this post and add the picture of all of them together.  Anyway… our library has a lot of his books, but not all of them.  I’ll just review them in the order I read them.

Inspector Flytrap in The President’s Mane Is Missing (Book 2) is definitely for younger elementary and beginning readers.  It has a silly story that I think this age group can appreciate.  I didn’t find it appealing at all, as an adult.  The jokes were very silly, but again, I know they will work for their target age group.  There is a venus flytrap who is trying to solve the problem of how to get rid of a giant fly from Venus…. a Venus Fly!  All kinds of things pop up to get in the way of his quest.  It is great for 5-7 years old.  And even younger for read-alouds.

Inspector Flytrap in the Goat Who Chewed Too Much (Book 3) This is just more of the same.  The flytrap is in a pot, of course, so he can’t move around without his goat assistant to push him around on a skateboard.  In this one, his goat is accused of a crime and arrested, and Inspector Flytrap has to find the read criminal and save his goat.  Perfect for pre-school read-aloud and beginner readers.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda 1)  This is the first book in the Origami Yoda series.  It is about a group of middle school students, specifically a boy named Tommy, who create a case file to determine whether or not a finger puppet named Origami Yoda is actually using the force to give advice.  The owner of Origami Yoda is Dwight, and he doesn’t really give an answer about this at all, so it’s just Tommy and his friends telling stories about what Origami Yoda has done for them and they use these stories to determine if he is “real” or not.  It was a great book and I think it’ll be good for anyone who can read the words.  All the way to adults, because I found myself smiling as a read and rooting for them to get the answers they wanted.  It really set up the series well, and it a great book for any Star Wars fans… young or old!

Darth Paper Strikes Back: An Origami Yoda Book This is the second book in the series, and I think I liked it more than the first one.  He didn’t have to spend as much time learning who all the kids were because we had already met them in the first book.  This time one of the other kids, Harvey, has decided to make a Darth Vader finger puppet, called Darth Paper.  He goes around telling people how bad Origami Yoda/Dwight’s advice is and pretty much tries to sabotage everything.  This book is a little more serious to me, as an adult, because Dwight says something, as Origami Yoda, to a student, and when the principal hears about it, they consider it to be a threat and they suspend Dwight and the school board is going to determine if he needs to go to a school for “troubled” kids or if he can continue at the current school.  So Tommy uses the case file this time to get more stories to present to the school board and try to save Dwight.  Harvey seems to be sabotaging all of their efforts, and we find out at the end if it works or not…. a great book for any age!

I have more books by Tom Angleberger to read, but I haven’t finished them yet, so I’m just going to share these reviews and start the next review with those books… so more Tom to come… stay tuned!!

As always, you can see everything I’m currently reading and find my profile on goodreadsHappy Reading!!!

Little Women

 I had never read Little Women.  I kind of knew what it was about because I had heard references to it, and maybe it was assigned to me in High School, but I didn’t read much of the things I was assigned to read, so I had never read it.  I almost didn’t want to read it this time, but it was next in line at the library, and if I want to finish this challenge, I have to read it, so I got it.  First of all, it was really long and the words were TINY on the pages.  I was so worried that I wouldn’t like the book and wouldn’t want to finish reading it.  And I did feel that way at the beginning, but that was because I couldn’t keep all of the characters straight.  Once I was able to tell them apart, they came to life.  I had a lot of fun reading the book and was actually telling my family members about the characters like they were read people.  I was anxious to finish because I knew that Jo would eventually fall in love and I couldn’t wait to meet the man who would match her.  I was not dissapointed, and I loved the book a lot.

I immediately went and watched the 1994 movie on Amazon as soon as I had finished the book.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the movie, but again, I enjoyed it.  The book is so long, and the movie couldn’t possibly tell everything that happened in the book, but I think they did a good job or getting the point of the book across.  I also loved the acting in the movie.  It was weird to see all of those big-named actors in this movie when they were so young.


I decided to give Little Women it’s own review because it is such an iconic book and I got so caught up in the March family that I felt like they deserved their own post!   I loved how the girls were all so different yet they were each special in their own ways.  I think that’s what made them easy to love.  Their parents were wonderful and way ahead of their peers in their thinking on women’s rights.  I’m sure that was Louisa May Alcott’s way of bringing out her own thoughts on women’s rights, but since I know nothing of her life, that might not be accurate.  I just assumed she patterned Jo after herself because she was a writer, but that too is just conjecture and might not be true at all.  I definitely saw a lot of myself in Jo.

The only part of the movie that I didn’t like was the end.  The end of the book showed all of the March family together years after Jo’s marriage, and they all had children running around and Meg’s twins were 9 or 10, I think.  I was looking forward to seeing them all together like that in the movie, but it didn’t happen.  It ended with Jo getting engaged.  It was still a good movie, just not the ending I was hoping to see.  The book was better, overall, but that’s also because you can always get inside the characters better in a book, so they are generally better than the movie.

Now that Little Women is behind me, I’ll move ahead to the next library book.  I hope it’s just as good!!

Click here to see what I’m reading now!!

Weekly Book Review – Oct 9

I thought it would be easier to just review books once a week.  Since I’m reading the library books and many of them are so short, it didn’t make sense to review one or two books at a time, because I would be doing mulitple review in one day.  So here are all of the books I’ve read over the last few weeks to get us caught up.

Adderson, Caroline:

Caroline Adderson has one book in our library.  It was so funny I found myself laughing out loud once or twice and multiple times I would read passages out loud to my family members who happen to be around when I was reading.  It was an adorable book that I think would keep any kid interested.  It’s clearly part of a series, but I had no problems catching right up and figuring out who everyone was.

Adler, David A.:

I’m sure many of you have heard of Cam Jansen, or at least you have if you’ve read any children’s books over the last 37 years.  The first Cam Jansen book, The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds, was published in 1980.  WOW!  

David Adler is the next author at our library.   According to goodreads, he has written and published 34 Cam Jansen books and 20 Young Cam Jansen books.  Our library has one of those and 4 of the Cam books.  They are really short and quick reads, and just perfect for early readers.  I gave them all five stars because they are wonderful for their target audience.  My favorite aspect of them is at the end of each book, there will be a “click quiz”.  The main reason Cam is able to solve so many mysteries is because she has a photographic memory, and so she says “click” and takes a mental picture of something she really wants to remember.  At the end of each book there are questions about one of the pictures in the book.  A kind of quiz to see how much you can remember.  I’m horrible at this even when I know I should pay attention to the pictures because there will be a quiz!  Also, you can read these books in any order you want.  Our library only had numbers 20, 25, 26, and 30 in the original series, and book #6 in the Young Cam Jansen series.  Their titles are below, but like I said, they can be read in any order.  They are just wonderful!  

Now, the other book in our library by David Adler is so different.  Don’t Talk to Me About the War is realistic historical fiction.  He took the year 1940 in the Bronx, and turned it into a wonderful history lesson and a lesson about growing up during that time.  His main character was a boy named Tommy, and we get to see the development of the United State’s involvement in World War II through his eyes.  We see his unwillingness to discuss anything about the war at the beginning because it was happening somewhere else and didn’t have anything to do with America.  He was mostly just copying what his father was saying.  His father had fought in World War I, so he had firsthand knowledge of what war “in the trenches” was like.  

Tommy just goes about his normal days of going to school, coming home, and listening to the radio with his parents in the evenings.  Tommy seems so normal, and I think that aspect of his character made him so easy to relate to.  I found myself wondering if my grandmother thought some of the same things as she was growing up at this time.  Tommy was born in 1927, and my grandmother was born in 1924, so they were around the same age.  

I love history in general, so I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this book up.  I knew it was next in my library journey, so I picked it up.  It’s also crazy that the boys and I have been listening to a new audible production of The Home Front: Life in American During WWII.  The very first episode of that production talked about Roosevelt using the radio to communicate with the American people.  It talked about his “fireside chats” he would have over the radio, and in the book Tommy and his parents sit down and listen to a fireside chat one night.  

Another thing that happened in 1940, and what really made Tommy start discussing the war, was the rescue of allied forces at Dunkirk.  Tommy’s friend, Beth, was kind of obsessed with the war, and every morning she would read newspapers before school, and because of his relationship with Beth, Tommy began to learn more and more about what was happening in Europe.  He also had another friend, Sarah, whose family had fled Nazi Germany and eventually made it to NY.  She was in their school, but other than Beth and Tommy, she didn’t have many friends.  

I love how real everything seemed in this book and how I could picture the different areas of the Bronx even though I’ve never been there.  I definitely recommend this book for any age, although I’m sure it’s written for 2nd-5th graders or something.  It is a great book for children and adults.  

Adler, Susan S.:

I never had those American Girl dolls.  I had a Real Baby, that my children still find terrifying, and I had cabbage patch kids.  So I missed all of the American Girl things for the most part.  There are two books in our library (so far) about the American Girls.  These two, written by Susan Adler, were next in my reading schedule.  Meet Samantha and Samantha Learns a Lesson.  These books are set in the early 1900s, and after the story is over, there is a section at the back of the books that tells more about what school and life was like during this time.  The basic premise of the first story is that Samantha is living with her grandmother and she befriends a servant girl who lives and works at the house next door.  Her new friend opens her eyes to what life must be like for poor people.  Nellie is sent to work for Samantha’s neighbors because her family doesn’t have enough money to feed all of the children.  So they send Nellie off to work so that she can make money.  In the second book, Nellie and her whole family move out near Samantha and they all go to work for a different family.  Samantha’s grandmother helped arrange the move, and Samantha is so excited for Nellie to finally be able to go to school.  Nellie is a lot older than the children in the 3rd grade because she’s never been to school, and they treat her very badly.  Samantha learns what is happening and helps her friend by teaching her after Nellie finishes her work.  Samantha also defends Nellie from the bullies and has to defend herself when the other girls want to know why Samantha is being friendly to “the poor servants”.  This is a good book to start a dialogue about treating people the same no matter their circumstances.  It shows that children can work hard to make a difference for the people around them instead of waiting until they are older.  I liked them both.

Airgood, Ellen:

Prairie Evers is the only book the library has by Ellen Airgood.  It was a wonderful book about a girl who discovers that change isn’t always bad.  Prairie is an only child and lived with her parents and her grandmother.  Her grandmother homeschools her, and it seems like she does a great job of it.  Prairie gets to learn whatever she’s interested in and she and her grandmother read all the time, and go on adventures around their home.  Prairie’s parents move them from North Carolina to New York (upstate), and her grandmother decides that she can’t stay there because she misses NC too much.  So she moves back home, at the same time, Prairie learns that her parents are planning to send her to school for the first time in her life.  This is a great book about her dealing with these changes and learning that just because something is different doesn’t mean it will be worse.  I really liked this book even though it made me cry (that’s usually a deal breaker for me).

Alcott, Louisa May:

I know this name is familiar to almost everyone, but I had never read anything by her.  Our library only has two books by her in the children’s section.  An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving and Little Women.  I read An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving first and I’m still reading Little Women, so that review will come later.  This book was just a cute little story about a large family in the late 1800s.  The mother and two oldest daughters are getting things ready for Thanksgiving in a couple of days.  The mother receives word that her mother is sick and she needs to go to her as soon as possible.  The mother and father leave with the baby and leave the other kids there alone.  The two oldest girls decide to make the Thanksgiving meal even though they are alone.  The parents come back on Thanksgiving day and they arrive with news and a big surprise.  The story was cute and light-hearted.  I liked it, and I’m ready for Little Women!

Video Games

The boys and I have been watching a lot of youtube videos.  They watch more than me, but I recently started trying to watch their favorites so we could discuss them together.  They seem to really like the videos where people play games and video themselves playing.  At first, this seemed weird to me, but as Price pointed out, the people who are really good at making the viewer feel like they’re part of the story are the best ones to watch, and the ones with the most followers on youtube.

Anyway, this got us thinking about them making videos of us playing games.  I wanted to get in on the action, so I started looking at software to record the computer screen while you play.  We have finally figured out how to record the xbox one while they play, so we should have some videos posted really soon.

Wesley wants to build things on minecraft and video himself building them so others can make the things he builds.  He’s great at it, and very fast… we just have to record him doing it and figure out the editing so we can post it.

Price wants to do all kinds of games and make videos of himself playing those.

I decided to get in on the action and play the one game I actually have played before.  The Sims… they are on the 4th version of this game, and I’ve played every version they’ve released since Price was a baby.  I don’t get to play very often anymore, and I actually have relegated all of my playing to the weekends when I have time.  So my plan is to play The Sims 4 and record myself playing.  I tried a little this weekend and have one video that I like and is ready to go.  I’m not going to be loading that video just yet, as I want to have enough that I can release one a week and not miss any weeks.  So I will probably release the first one in a few more weeks.  So far, this process has been free, but the software I’m using to edit the videos is super easy, but only a trial version.  Apparently there will be a watermark on it when I finally publish it, but that’ll be okay for the first few videos.  I’m still not sure that I want to spend the money on the software for something that is just going to be a hobby.  We will see what I decide.

Anyway, stay tuned here for our youtube videos to be shared and then you can follow the link from here and like our videos and subscribe to our channels (if you subscribe, you will get a notification every time a new video is loaded).  If you don’t play The Sims 4, you might not like the first few videos where I’m creating the character and moving her into her apartment, but after that, it will hopefully be like a reality show! 🙂  Only not real reality 🙂

The Copernicus Legacy: The Serpent’s Curse… and Droon

Book Number 2 of the Copernicus series!  I’ll continue my review of The Serpent’s Curse in a minute, but first I learned more about the author.

I didn’t realize that Tony Abbott (the author of this series), is also the author of another series with over 40 books in it.  It’s called The Secrets of Droon and follow two boys and a girl who find a magical entrance to the land of Droon in the basement of one of their houses and thus begins many adventures for the three of them.  Our library only has one of these books, and it happens to be #20.   I know we’ve bought the first book in this series, or I’ve at least seen it in other libraries before, but our library doesn’t have it.  So I read book #20, In the Ice Caves of Krog.  It was really good, but was definitely for a younger audience.  It is for about 3rd grade reading level, and I think that is a good age for this series.  The book would be really exciting and fast paced for this age group.  I’m sure it’s a great series for young readers who are looking to move up to chapter books.

NOW… back to Copernicus!

These books are written for a 4th-5th grade reading level, but they are really long, so I would say a mature 4th grader.  They are also great for adults who want to read good stories that don’t seem to be as predictable as I first thought.  They are constantly moving and there is constant action.  These children (and various adults around them) are flying all over Europe and some of Asia in this latest book.  We begin in New York, where they were headed to when the last book ended.  Although, I discovered that there was a smaller book in between books 1 and 2, but I don’t think I missed much by not reading it.

Here come the spoilers…

The entire story line of the series is that Copernicus invented and used  a time machine and then decided it didn’t ever need to be used again so he took the machine apart and sent the 12 relics from the machine to people he knew who would guard them and pass them down from guardian to guardian.  So far, it seems that each book will be about one of the relics.  In the first book, it was pretty straightforward for this type of book and it went about like I expected.  The kids, and Wade’s dad, got the first relic and started the search for the second one.  This second book, however, doesn’t follow what I thought would be the standard form of each book.  They do spend the whole book looking for the second relic and during the search for the relic, and Darrell’s mom (who’s been kidnapped by the Order), they fly all over Russia and even to Venice and London once or twice.  However, I fully expected them to get the second relic at the end of the book and follow it to the third one and so on… BUT… the Order ends up with the relic at the end and they end the book being kind of unsure where to go next because without the second relic, they aren’t sure how to find the third.  They do come up with a plan before the book ends, so I’m sure that’s where the third one will begin, but something else happened at the end that I’m not sure about and I guess that’s why you’d need to keep reading.  To find out how Becca ended up going back in time, but not really.  I think there are 4 books in this series so far, and I think in between each book there is a smaller book about one of the kids.  The book I missed in between 1 and 2 was about Wade, and I think the one between 2 and 3 is about Becca.  I do want to keep reading these books, but they aren’t in our library and the reason I read them to begin with was because I’m trying to read all of the Children’s Fictions books in our library.  So, I’ll request that the library purchase the rest of the series and see if that becomes a possibility.  We will see… in the mean time, feel free to see what I’m reading next from the library over at my goodreads account!

Library Challenge Book Count: 3 total

The Forbidden Stone – The Copernicus Legacy Book 1

I finished the book this morning, and I literally have a timer set to go to the library as soon as it opens and get the next one.  This book was nonstop action from the very beginning. There are some spoilers coming up, so feel free to stop reading and go get your own copy to read before continuing.  The kids in this book were so unique and each one had their own voice and distinct personality.  I think a sign of great fiction is once you get to know the characters you can identify who is speaking just by what they say.  You don’t have to be told who is speaking.  It was completely true with this book.  Wade started out as the main character, but you quickly find out that nearly everyone in this book gets their own section told from their point of view.  Even the “bad guys”.  Becca is my favorite, I think.  But then I love Lily and Darrell too, so I’m really not sure.  I find myself wanting to parent these kids because I can see my own children in them. Another sign of a great book…

SPOILERS COMING!! (It won’t really ruin the book for you, so go ahead and read on!) 

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the Order, but we did get some sections from the leader’s point of view and even her second in command.  There are some parts of the story that seemed unbelievable that 14-15 yr old children would be doing, but that’s why it’s fiction.  And I’m sure if you were in the age group this book was written for that you would love to think you can do the things these kids are able to do.  It is great for providing a bit of actual history dispersed inside this fictionalized story of a time machine that was invented by Copernicus.  I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out, and I’m almost afraid to google and find out how many books are in this series.  I’m not good at all at waiting if all of the books aren’t out yet, but I’ll be forced to check it out because I’m pretty sure our library only has the first two.  There better be more out than just two of them.  Oh well, I’m off to check out the second book and see how many more I have to go… I’m excited to keep going.  I loved this book!  5 Stars!!

This review is also available on my goodreads page.  And the other books I’m reading are there as well.

Thirteen Reasons Why… NOT!

{Spoiler Alert}  If you haven’t seen the TV show or haven’t read the book, this review will spoil it for you.  Be Aware!!

Thirteen Reasons Why started off as a really good show, until Clay started to really get into the tapes.  The first few tapes weren’t that bad, and they were the typical teenage problems.  Once you get deeper into the show the tapes get darker and become more graphic.

I thought the last two episodes were very graphic and could be very triggering for people with a past of sexual assault, self harm, or suicidal thoughts.  There were multiple times when I had to look away and couldn’t watch anymore because of the graphic scenes.

  1. When Clay was at the basketball game and the has a hallucination of Hanna in the middle of the basketball court with both of her wrist slit.
  2. The first rape scene. You watch Hanna’s friend get raped by her boyfriend’s best friend.
  3. When clay pulls up one of his old friends sleeve revealing self harm scars and cuts.
  4. The second rape scene where you watch as Hanna gets raped by the same person that raped her friend.
  5. You listen, in great detail, of how Hanna killed herself.  You watch as she prepares to kill herself, and then you watch her kill herself.  After you have watched all of that, you watch as her parents find her and try to save her.

Through the entire show everyone says that Hanna is selfish for killing herself and that she did it for attention.  They never talk about other options and ways to get help with mental illness.  The only time they mentioned talking to someone was at the very end when Hanna “gives life one more chance” and the counselor basically just brushes her off.  I’m glad that the show is about mental illness and suicide, but I just wish that they would have portrayed everything a little better.  I would not recommend that anyone watch this show.

— Chyna