Book Review: Masterminds

Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)
by Gordon Korman
3 out of 5 stars

The town of Serenity is not as serene as it seems. Eli and his friends begin to discover that their seemingly perfect town is hiding dark secrets.

I really liked the mystery in this book, and the gradual unravelling of the secrets that the townspeople are hiding. The adventure aspects of the story are exciting and kept my attention, but sometimes felt far-fetched and unrealistic. I was rolling my eyes a couple of times.

The characters are smart and emotional, and they all have such unique personalities. I really enjoyed getting to know each of them, and seeing how their flaws and strengths push the story forward. They each react in different ways when they discover what is really going on in the town, and I can’t wait to see what further character development they might have in the rest of the series.

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Book Review: The Chemist

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist
by Stephenie Meyer

3.5 out of 5 stars
Alex is a former spy interrogator on the run to escape the assassins being sent after her. She has one last chance to do a job for her former employers that might give her back her old life. But the job goes horribly wrong, and she finds herself in even more danger than ever before. Running for her life, she is weighed down by a budding romance with a man who is a liability in this cat-and-mouse game she is playing.

I’m not really sure what my reaction is to this book. There were some parts that I really loved, and some that I seriously didn’t like. I skimmed all the dumb stuff about the dogs. I skimmed most of the action scenes with car chases and guns. I got bored with the constant road trips.

But I liked the romance. It was sappy puppy-love stuff, but it was cute. However, it was just so blushing and blooming and adorable that it was a strange contrast to all the darkness in the rest of the plot. It was also awkward how quickly they fell for each other, and under such unusual circumstances. It felt a little forced.

I hated the violence and the torture. It gave me nightmares. Then again, if the writing was vivid enough to give me nightmares… that’s some good writing. Horrible subject, but effective writing.

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Cookbook Review: Unofficial Hogwarts for the Holidays Cookbook

The Unofficial Hogwarts for the Holidays Cookbook by Rita Mock-Pike

The Unofficial Hogwarts for the Holidays Cookbook: Pumpkin Pasties, Treacle Tart, and Many More Spellbinding Treats
by Rita Mock-Pike 5 out of 5 stars

This cookbook captures all the magic of Hogwarts through each holiday season. There are recipes from all your favorite Harry Potter scenes from the first train ride to Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.

I love that each holiday section begins with a little page that describes what we love most about a magical Hogwarts holiday. It’s the comforting familiarity of tea and rock cakes in Hagrid’s hut. It’s the crispy fall weather at Halloween with baked pumpkin and cockroach clusters.

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Picture Book Review: Welcome to the Symphony

Welcome to the Symphony by Carolyn Sloan

Welcome to the Symphony: A Musical Exploration of the Orchestra Using Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
by Carolyn Sloan
5 out of 5 stars

Three little mice attend an orchestral concert and learn about how the different instruments work together to create beautiful music as they play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (That’s the famous one that goes da-da-da-duh). The mice learn about the concertmaster, the conductor, and all the sections in the orchestra. They learn about tempo and dynamics and themes in music.

As each instrument is introduced, the reader can push the button to hear music played by that instrument. What makes this really special is that the recording plays the exact music that is in the illustrations next to that instrument. If there is a staff drawn next to the oboe playing G, F, E, D in the Treble Clef, then we hear the oboe play those exact notes in the recording. This kind of attention to detail is what makes this book truly special!
(The only instrument recording that does not follow the music written in the book is the trombone, but you know how trombonists are. They rarely follow the rules! haha!)

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Non Fiction Review: One a Day Quotes to Destiny

One a Day Quotes to Destiny by Jana K. Alexander

One a Day Quotes to Destiny: Quotes for Life, Business, Purpose, Success, and Mentorship (Series One Book 1)
by Jana K. Alexander
3 out of 5 stars

This beautifully designed book features pages and pages of inspiring sayings that are sure to encourage you. There are statements about finding your purpose, living a successful life, and following your dreams.

Some of my favorites include:
“If you are able to conquer the little things, then the big things become nothing to overcome.”
“When people hear your music, it should paint a picture for them of God’s majestic eminence.”
“You may not have much in your hands, but within you is greatness.”

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Book Review: A Love for the Strangers

A Love for the Strangers by Rachael Kathleen Hartman

A Love for the Strangers: What the Bible Says About Loving Immigrants
by Rachael Kathleen Hartman (Author)
4 out of 5 stars
The Bible talks about “strangers” and “aliens” hundreds of times, calling Christians “strangers” in the world because our true home is in Heaven. The Israelites were commanded to welcome “strangers” into their community. God tells us more than once to love our neighbor (no matter where they come from) and to be compassionate toward those in need.

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Book Review: Mistress Masham’s Repose

Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White

Mistress Masham’s Repose
by T.H. WhiteFritz Eichenberg (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars
Delightful book!!
Rereading it for the second or third time, I have enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
Orphaned Maria lives in a crumbling old palace that her ancestors built on an extensive estate full of gardens and obelisks and temples and monuments. But there is no money to repair the palace, and she lives in poverty with her governess and one old cook.

When Maria is exploring around an island in a small lake, she encounters the tiny Lilliputian people who Gulliver brought back to England after his travels. They are in danger of being discovered by Maria’s evil guardians, the vicar and governess, and Maria must use all her ingenuity to save them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves.

I love how imaginative this book is. My favorite parts are the scenes that describe how the Lilliputians make their living on the Mistress Masham’s Repose island. They fish, and hunt, and train mice as their horses. They have their little homes in the roofs and hollow pillars of the Repose cupola, and keep their tiny farm animals in stables built into the steps of the structure.

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