Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Reviews

I read 12 books and listened to 3 more during the month of October, quite a few of them in conjunction with the free Laura Ingalls Wilder online class I've been enjoying. We're in the final week of that class, so I'll share more about it and those books in a later post. However, here are my reviews of the other books I've completed since my last book reviews post at the end of September.

Robbie picked up a copy of Aliens on Vacation (The Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast) during one of our visits to the library. It's a FUN chapter book about a young boy who goes to stay with his grandmother for the summer and discovers that all the visitors to her Bed & Breakfast are really aliens! We both enjoyed the book so much that Robbie ordered all three books in this series to add to our personal library!

During our road trip to Ohio, we listened to three audio books, all of them chosen from the children's/juvenile section of the library. The best of the three was unquestionably From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by e.l. konigsburg. This book won the Newbery Medal (for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children) in 1968. I read this book as a child and again several years ago when Robbie got me a copy for my children's book collection, however this was Robbie's first time to experience this fantastic story of two children who run away and hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The audio version we listened to was very well done & we both enjoyed it immensely! We also enjoyed the first book in the Nancy Drew series - The Secret of the Old Clock introduced Nancy Drew and her inherent desire to solve mysteries. I read many of the Nancy Drew books as a child, and I really enjoyed listening to this story of Nancy Drew searching for a missing will. We also listened to The Year of Billy Miller, a much newer book (published in 2013) that was ok but didn't really seem to have a strong story line. We were glad it was not a very long book.

Songs of Willow Frost was the novel chosen for this month's book club discussion. This is the story of 12-year-old William who lives in an orphanage in Seattle during the Great Depression. He sees a movie starring Willow Frost and recognizes her as his mother. The story is about his attempt to find and reunite with her. I have to admit that the story took many interesting twists and turns that I did not expect. The story started off slow and was hard to get into until Willow Frost finally starts telling her story and why she signed William over to the orphanage when he was 7-years-old. Overall, I thought the book was good, however despite it's overtones of hope, I did not find it a very uplifting book.

Next month at book club, we'll be discussing The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise. I rarely read books more than a week or so before the meeting because otherwise I tend to forget some of the details. However, a friend loaned me her copy of this book and I read this one early. Of course, I took some notes to jog my memory for our discussion in December. This story is set in the Tower of London and follows Beefeater Balthazar Jones as he sets up a menagerie at the Tower. There are several storylines in the book, the main one being how he and his wife have grown apart after the death of their son. There are quite a few memorable characters and lots of history about the Tower thrown in. I'm looking forward to the discussion about the book and learning how much of the history included is actually true (as I haven't taken time to look that up myself). I think this was intended to be quite a humorous book, despite the heartbreak the characters are dealing with, however I found it a rather slow read and have a feeling some of the British humor was lost on me.

Where the Red Fern Grows was one of the audio books I had checked out for our road trip, but we didn't get to it then. I listened to it over the last couple of weeks, anytime I was out and about in the car. This is a classic book about a boy and his two coon hunting hounds. I knew about the story and have seen parts of the movie, however I don't think I'd ever actually read this book before. It is an excellent book and the audio version was extremely well done!

Do you listen to audio books when you travel or while out running errands?


  1. I listen to audio books every day on my commute to and from work. I find the time passes much more quickly and it is a really enjoyable way to take in a book.

  2. You read two of my favorite children's books---The Mixed-up Files (which I read with many a reading group when I taught fifth grade) and Where the Red Fern Grows. Our book group is reading The Innovators for this month. I'm really enjoying it, but it's very long, and is not a quick read! I've got two weeks left to finish it.

  3. I never listen to audio books. I like to listen to music when I'm on the go and then curl up with a book .

    But I'm a big Nancy Drew fan. And we love "Mixed Up Files" here too - it's not a popular book in the UK, but my brother brought us a copy back from the States

  4. I love the Mixed Up Files here - the movie was a favourite summer treat one year when I was young. I like listening to audio books while traveling but don't at home. Signed up for that Laura class and read the first book but then life got too busy.


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