Monday, April 25, 2016

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: South Dakota Historical Society Press
Pages: 370
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

From pioneer girl to beloved children's writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder was and continues to be a major part of American history. In the never before read first draft of her autobiography, she details the family's many moves and hardships.

While very interesting, this wasn't quite what I was expecting. This was the result of a documentary editing project. Having worked on a similar project, I understand the amount of work and research that goes into creating a volume like this. And I found the introduction very interesting, but I wish that the footnotes had been endnotes--either at the end of the section or at the end of the book. The notes got in the way of reading the book, sometimes taking up an entire page or two. For others, all the notes might be of interest, but there were only a few times when I wanted more information.

I found it very interesting to learn how Wilder's real life differed from the fictional Laura's in the Little House books. Before reading the autobiography, I had read somewhere that some people believed that Wilder's daughter, Rose, actually wrote the novels. However, Wilder's writing was very similar to the novels and Hill goes into detail about their relationship as writer and editor. To tell the truth, Rose seemed like a little bit of a piece of work. But I'll let the reader decide that for themselves.

Because it's so historical, I think that younger children who would be able to read the novels would not find the autobiography so interesting.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books
Pages: 342
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 15+

Arden has always been loyal and caring--the gardner to the flowers of the people around her. Then her mother leaves and Arden makes a sacrifice that could have lasting effects. So when she finds the blog "Tonight the Streets are Ours," she feels like there is someone else in the world who understands. One night in New York with a stranger could change everything.

This is a story about people not being the people you think they are, and how to find out what you need and what you can give. Arden also learns how to stand up for herself, how to forgive those who hurt you, and how to move on when you need to.

While this might seem too didactic for teens, the story actually presents all this things in a way that flows and makes sense to the characters and plot. The writing reminds me a little bit of Stephanie Perkins and Gayle Forman.

There isn't any language. Some sexual innuendos.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Safstrom

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Publication date: 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 117
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 4+

If you've ever wondered what a group of ravens is called, or if Kiwi birds have wings, this is the book for you. Full of strange, interesting, and yes, AMAZING animal facts that will keep the whole family entertained.

The first thing I said when I unpacked this book was "Oh, it's so cute!" And it is! The illustrations are fun and beautiful, taking up most of each page, with the facts here and there around them.

I think that a lot of kids would find this book fun and even funny, if they think that bodily functions are funny--which I think most kids do. It's a quick read, since the facts are short and concise.

Other than the aforementioned bodily functions (and we are talking about animals here), there is nothing that parents should worry about. Just sit down with your kids and learn some cool stuff about animals.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Redshirts by John Scalzi

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Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 314
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 18+

Ensign Andrew Dahl thinks he's pretty lucky to have been assigned to the Intrepid. But there is something strange happening on the ship . . . the senior officers are overdramatic, the rules of science are being broken, and people keeping dying. Only when Andy and his friends start comparing notes do they realize that it's something much more than just weird things—it's something much much bigger.

This is probably the best Star Trek parody since Galaxy Quest. Everything from the title to the smallest incident pokes fun at science fiction television, while at the same time giving it complete respect. The novel takes a minor character and makes him the main character while at the same time keeping him a minor character.

The codas I could have done without. They seemed to take the fun out of the rest of the novel, turning it serious.

There is a bit of hard language and sexual dialogue.

*I receive no compensation from Amazon.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

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Publication date: 2015
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 292
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 18+

Julia Vann watched her best friend, boyfriend, and brother die. Now nearly a year later, she's Lucy Black. With a new name, new life, and new best friend, Lucy hopes that those events are all behind her. But someone from her past keeps appearing where he isn't supposed to be and Lucy is scared of what that means. She has to decide how far she will go to keep the past from ruining her present.

This is one of those books that is supposed to have very shocking twist at the end. Unfortunately, I had it basically figured out almost before I started reading it. There was an author quote on the back cover copy that I kind of felt like gave it away by comparing Panitch to another author. There was another, smaller twist within the shocking twist that I didn't figure out until I was 3/4 of the way through the book, so there's that.

The writing was intriguing though. Even though I had kind of figured out the twist, the way that the narrator was written was interesting as I started to pick up on all the clues throughout the book. The way Julia reacted to things and referred to other things; the journal entries by the psychologist--they all added up to an inside look of a terrifying kind of person.

This is also one of those books that left me feeling sort of heavy, melancholy, and disgusted after reading it. That's not usually the type of feeling I want to have after reading a book.

There was some swearing and sexual themes that caused me to put the age higher than I would have had they not been in the book.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.