2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.

Book Review: The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff

This was an insane tale – proving, once again, that truth is stranger than fiction… Ratliff underwent an incredible amount of research and detective work for this one and it shows. The tale of the unraveling of Paul Calder Leroux’s criminal empire was astonishing. The breadth and depth of his brilliant and evil machinations were almost unbelievable – as was the way it all wound up falling apart. The ending (such as it is; things are not entirely wrapped up because they are still ongoing) was not very satisfying, if you’re looking for justice in any form, but that is (after all) often the case… Continue reading Book Review: The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff

Book Reviews: Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight AND Benjamin Birdie and the Tree Dwellers by Michael Dotsikas

I don’t often review children’s books, but every now and again I learn about a delightful new title or two and feel compelled to share… Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Benjamin Birdie, an absolutely darling little guy who is chomping at the bit to grow up – a sentiment my daughter shares every day. The books are an award-winning set of titles by the dynamic team of Michael Dotsikas (words) and Morgan Spicer (illustrations) and they are everything you’d want a children’s book to be – sweet, thoughtful, engaging, gorgeously illustrated, and full of sneaky little messages enmeshed in lovely and lyrical prose.

In the first book, Benjamin wants DESPERATELY to fly, but just can’t seem to figure it out, so he turns to his friends in the jungle. In a hilarious, touching series of interactions, Benjamin learns the value of persistence, patience, and most importantly of not growing up TOO fast… In the second, Benjamin and his friends are back to give flying another try. This time, Benjamin and crew focus on the importance of being true to yourself and not letting fear keep you from trying the things you long to try. Continue reading Book Reviews: Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight AND Benjamin Birdie and the Tree Dwellers by Michael Dotsikas

Book Review: Evil by Julia Shaw

OK, kudos to Julia Shaw for a VERY thought-provoking book – albeit one that I often disagreed with… Shaw has put together an interesting argument and analysis in support of it. I can agree with her basic premise that knee-jerk “that/he/she is EVIL!” pronouncements based on a small number of “facts” and/or singular details is destructive not only to the person/thing being pronounced but also to society as a whole because it oversimplifies and “other-izes” and ignores all of the shades of nuance and grey that underpin the world. BUT, that said, I cannot agree with her that this basically means everything/everyone is on a spectrum of ok-ness and we just need to understand the point of view of the thing/person and then everything is magically acceptable…

(Yes, I know I’ve over-simplified things a bit there, but bear with me.) Continue reading Book Review: Evil by Julia Shaw

Book Review: A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

I really liked Z, the author’s first book. I found it to be a nice blend of history and fiction, an entertaining and informative read that also felt paced as a novel. I had high hopes for this new one as a result – the Vanderbilts are a fascinating family who literally went from rags to riches, and Gilded Age New York is such an intriguing time period… Robber barons, the suffrage movement, the growth of Manhattan – the era,  and this story, offered all that and more.  Yet somehow,  despite my overwhelming interest, my previous experience with the author, and the presence of a powerful female protagonist who isn’t very well known, this one just fell flat for me. 

There is a ton of description here, primarily about things: houses, items, property, clothing. I felt a little overwhelmed by the descriptions of stuff and underwhelmed by the descriptions of interpersonal relationships…  Continue reading Book Review: A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

Book Review: The Final Days of Magic by J.D. Horn

I was a little disappointed by this one, which really stunk – I loved loved loved the first two books in the series, but this third one felt a little wild even by the standards of the magical witch antics in the earlier volumes…

The books are all wildly imaginative and the characters are an incredible mash-up of personalities, quirks, and foibles. The mythology/magic worked into the tale are marvelously well laid out, providing a great mix of entertainment and information. And the still-decadent New Orleans that Horn delivers as his backdrop is almost a character in itself – fitting, I always thought, given the city’s history.

Sounds like all good things, no? But still, something in this one just didn’t grab me the same way… Continue reading Book Review: The Final Days of Magic by J.D. Horn




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