NonFiction Review: Student World Atlas

National Geographic Student World Atlas, 5th Edition by National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Student World Atlas, 5th Edition 
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This atlas is full of amazing maps and information! It’s got pictures and factoids and terrain and history, all with colorful lines and photos and interesting little details.

I like how the book is divided up by continent. It makes it easy to find what you are looking for, and to see how countries that border each other have a lot in common. It has maps that compare the economics, life expectancy, refugee statistics, climate and precipitation, and population of the various countries in each continent and region.

There are maps showing the most prevalent languages on earth, the biggest cities, the most culturally diverse areas, the central religions, how the world grows and exports food, energy, and mineral resources. There is even a map showing the different types of world maps, and how a globe can get distorted by being projected onto a flat surface. Continue reading

Comic Review: Snug Harbor Stories

Snug Harbor Stories by Will  Henry
Snug Harbor Stories: A Wallace the Brave Collection! 
by Will Henry

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


I can’t get enough of Wallace and his friends! Once again, I wish I could give this comic 10 stars!

Wallace, Amelia, and Spud are off on another set of minor adventures in the woods and creeks around Snug Harbor. They spend their days hunting the Sasquatch, tracking a prehistoric turtle named Gramps, playing basketball, making blanket forts, eating pancakes in the shape of a top hat, and ducking out of their schoolwork.

I love how imaginative Wallace is! He can take the smallest bit of nothing and turn it into a wild adventure, dragging his friends along with him.
Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Never Go Back

Never Go Back by Henry Cloud
Never Go Back 
by

Henry Cloud (Goodreads Author)
4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This book demonstrates ten life lessons that will teach you never to go back to your old patterns or make the same mistake twice. They include things like…
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
Don’t trust the wrong people.
Don’t forget why you’re here.
Don’t take your eyes off the big picture.
Don’t try to please everyone.

I enjoyed reading this because it has a lot of commons sense approaches to problems that are universal, and gives real solutions to difficult situations. One of the good things about this book is that it focuses on the only thing we can control… ourselves. It gives real hope that our life can change, because we can change ourselves, our habits and patterns, our thinking, and our reactions and choices. Continue reading

Book Review: Far Traveler

Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
Far Traveler 
by Rebecca Tingle

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Ælfwyn is a shy, bookish maiden in Anglo-Saxon England, caught in the middle of her uncle the king’s political plots. When the king forces her to choose between marrying an old man or becoming a nun, Ælfwyn runs away to become a singing bard on the open road. But circumstances drag her back into her uncle’s clutches, and desperate men try to use her position in the king’s family for their own political gain.

I really identified with Ælfwyn’s character, because she loves to read. She is shy, and is frightened to ride the large and powerful horse her mother gives her. For most of the book, she depends on other people to tell her what to do and where to go, but when it really matters, she makes her own decisions, discovering courage and resilience from deep inside.

I liked the writing style in this book. It really pulls you in to the story, painting a picture of Old England with a few settings, people, and events drawn from real history. I especially liked the scenes when Ælfwyn is on the road, singing her songs and telling stories from her books to entertain the common people.  Continue reading

Modern Classic Review: The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
The Black Stallion (The Black Stallion, #1) 
by Walter Farley

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Alec is heading home aboard a steamship, when the ship sinks in a storm and there are only two survivors: Alec and a spirited black stallion. The two are washed ashore on a small island, where they forage for food, and Alec tames the wild stallion.

I was completely riveted while reading this book! I couldn’t put it down, and read it in one day. The writing has such good pacing, and the action moves swiftly along, pulling the reader into the next chapter and the next.

I adored Alec’s character. He’s smart and tough and resilient.

Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Jane Austen

Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin
Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This biography of Jane Austen does a very thorough job of seizing on every letter, every mention, every tiny detail that can be gleaned about the famous author; unfortunately, that isn’t much. Jane’s sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters after Jane’s death. Jane’s brothers and nephews and nieces didn’t preserve her letters as faithfully as they should have. The result is that there are few original writings left from one of the best-loved authors of all time, and little is known of her day to day life.

However, the author does a wonderful job of piecing together letters from cousins, diary entries of nieces and neighbors, along with the few portraits and tin-type photographs of her family and friends.
Continue reading

Classic Review: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey 
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Catherine Morland is on vacation in Bath with family friends, where she is befriended by the scheming Isabella Thorpe. At her very first dance, Catherine falls in love with the charming Henry Tilney and is invited to visit Northanger Abbey to keep his sister company. Catherine’s wild imagination paints the Abbey as a Gothic melodrama waiting to happen, and she sees mystery and murder in every innocent corner.

Rereading this book for the third time, I enjoyed it so much more than the first two readings; probably because I’m older and more sensitive to the wisdom and humor in Austen’s writing.

When I first read Northanger, I remember being so frustrated with Catherine Morland’s character, because she can’t see through the social facade of people like Isabella Thorpe. Of course, Catherine doesn’t have the experience yet to be able to judge people’s character very well. She assumes that other people think and feel just like herself, and she gives them the benefit of the doubt.

But now I recognize that those aspects of Catherine’s character really frustrated me, because I AM like Catherine in many ways. Imaginative, sensitive, trusting, gullible, naive, and prone to flights of fancy instead of being rooted in reality. Continue reading