Non Fiction Review: Turn It Up!

Turn It Up! by National Geographic Kids
Turn It Up!: A Pitch-Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars

This book gives an overview of the history of music and how music developed over time to include different styles. With paintings and photographs showcased in a colorful design, this book is sure to capture the attention of anyone interested in music!

I really love how the information is organized in easy-to-read text boxes. Each chapter focuses on one era of music history, covering Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist, Modern, and Post-Modern music.

This book has biographies and songs of music styles like Jazz, Pop, Big Band, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Heavy Metal, and a dozen more, featuring music stars, composers, singers, musicians, conductors, and influencers who created the music we know today. Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Breaking Through

Breaking Through by Sue Macy
Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties
by Sue Macy

5 out of 5 stars


“We play for the love of the game, and we are determined to carry on.” – Alice Kell, Captain of the Dick Kerr Ladies soccer team, 1921.

In the 1920s there were few opportunities for women in sports, either as part of the education system in schools or in the professional realm. This book tells about the women and girls who pushed for more sports education, better equipment and access, and for recognition in professional competitions.

I am not an athlete by any means, but I was inspired to see these stories of women who broke the barriers and strove for excellence in their sports. This book has stories, biographical accounts, sports stats, newspaper articles from the 1920s, quotes from famous athletes of the era, and even the stories of people who opposed women’s involvement in sports.

With stunning black and white photographs, this book captures the fiery spirit of these early athletes!

Continue reading

Non Fiction Review: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman by Barbara Kramer
Harriet Tubman
by Barbara Kramer

5 out of 5 stars


Harriet Tubman was born as a slave and escaped to freedom. She worked tirelessly to free other slaves and even served as a spy during the American Civil War. She is best known for her work as a “conductor,” guiding slaves to freedom through the “Underground Railroad,” a series of safe houses called “stations” that allowed slaves to travel undetected to the Northern United States and Canada.

I loved the simple writing style, easy for a beginner to understand. There are fact boxes in the corners that explain the meanings of words, and give direct quotes from Tubman. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Susan B. Anthony

National Geographic Readers by Kitson Jazynka
National Geographic Readers: Susan B. Anthony
by Kitson Jazynka

5 out of 5 stars

Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly to secure votes and liberty for women in the United States. This book gives an overview of her life and her work, with explanations about petitions, laws, newspaper articles, and how these things influenced Anthony’s work. There is also interesting information about clothing styles, employment, habits, and how people lived in at the turn of the century.

I loved the simple writing style, easy for a beginner to understand. There are sections for an adult to read aloud, and then a smaller section with easier words and larger font for the child to read. It’s a great way to teach a child new words, and get them involved in reading together!

The colorful design and old-timey photos captured my attention. There are also activities and questions that get the reader engaged and make them think carefully about the ideas in the book. I appreciated how thoughtful the questions are and how much goes into the design! Continue reading

Book Review: Goddess Power

Goddess Power by Yung In Chae  PhD
Goddess Power: A Kids’ Book of Greek and Roman Mythology: 10 Empowering Tales of Legendary Women
by Yung In Chae PhD

4 out of 5 stars


These tales of Greek gods are rewritten and simplified for children, giving a broad overview of the legends that made Greek and Roman myths famous throughout the world. The stories of both Greeks and Romans are combined, instead of being told twice with different names.

The stories include the legends of Gaia, Rhea, Hera, Artemis, the Fates, Demeter, Athena, the Muses, Aphrodite, and Circe. Of course, the male gods and heroes are included as part of the stories too, but the main focus is on the ladies. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents

Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents by Carole P. Roman
Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids
by Carole P. Roman (Goodreads Author)

5 stars

This book begins with an overview of WWII and which countries were at war at that time. It details the names of different government spy agencies like the Soviet’s NKVD, Germany’s Abwehr, and Polish Intelligence, Britain’s MI6, and gives a general idea of how British and French Resistance would work behind the scenes to confuse the enemy.

Chapter 2 talks about various requirements for being a spy, where and how agencies would recruit their spies, and the ordinary jobs that spies would use as their cover.
Chapter 3 is all about spy gear and special gadgets! There are pistols hidden in gloves, maps hidden in playing cards, grenades disguised to look like lumps of coal, radio transmitters, invisible ink, and even the classic ring with poison hidden in a secret compartment. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: 50 Fearless Women

50 Fearless Women Who Made History by Jenifer Bazzit
50 Fearless Women Who Made History: An American History Book for Kids
by Jenifer Bazzit

4 out of 5 stars

This book gives short 3-page biographies of famous women who changed American history. The bios range from Pocahontas all the way to modern-day women. Along with each biography there is a timeline at the bottom of each page showing major events of their era in history. There are also beautiful illustrations depicting each woman doing something that made her famous,whether it’s writing, nursing, giving speeches, flying a plane, dancing, traveling, reporting, painting, or protesting.

I really loved the timeline at the bottom of the pages. It adds something special to be able to see what was going on in history at that time. There is also a separate text box along with each bio, showcasing one of their major accomplishments. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Soccer Stars on the Pitch

Soccer Stars on the Pitch by Tanya Keith
Soccer Stars on the Pitch
by Tanya Keith

4 out of 5 stars

Soccer (or futbol) fans will love these biographies of today’s top players from around the world! There are chapters for each position, showcasing the top goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards in the game today.

Some of the bios are several pages long, detailing how the players overcame obstacles and practiced hard to be the best. Other spotlight or honorable mention bios are one page long with stats and the main features of that player’s career. There are also pages that give information about the rules and regulations of pro soccer, common terminology, fun facts, and diagrams that show the pitch and positions. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound

Playlist by James  Rhodes
Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound
by James RhodesMartin O’Neill (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


James Rhodes writes about classical music and features seven revolutionary composers who changed the landscape of music forever. With chapters on Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel, this book outlines how music developed over time, and how each of these extraordinary musicians overcame the challenges of their era to create beautiful music that still resonates with musicians today.

I was really intrigued by the wild and colorful artwork depicting each composer, with elements of their time and items representing their music pasted into a chaotic blend. Bach is depicted with grand church buildings behind him, and Mozart has angels, flowers, and sunshine around his head like a halo. Chopin has a flaming heart on his chest, and a piano next to him being destroyed by sledgehammers. Rachmaninoff has butterflies and tigers, along with a diagram of a massive hand. (He had really huge hands; the bane of all pianists who try to play his piano compositions.) Continue reading

Book Review: Anna of Byzantium

Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett
Anna of Byzantium
by Tracy Barrett 

4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads


This historical novel tells the story of Anna Comnena, daughter of Emperor Alexius I, Princess of the Byzantine Empire in 1083 AD. Anna is in line to inherit the throne and someday rule the entire empire, until her grandmother plots against her to undermine Anna’s right to rule and establish Anna’s little brother, John, as the next emperor.

Anna is incredibly intelligent and well-educated, spending hours pouring over history books in the palace library and learning from the scholars there. She also becomes very good at seeing to the heart of people’s character, using her emotional intelligence to understand their hidden motives.

There are so many manipulative people in the palace, using their words to influence Anna and secure their own futures. Since she is surrounded by lies, Anna becomes obsessed with cherishing the truth, seeking truth in religion and philosophy, and also finding truth in her books and manuscripts. Because others use words as their weapons, Anna learns to play a strategic game with her words, using her speech as a way to protect herself and assert her dominance and power in the political games. Continue reading