Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: The Strangers

When we went to the library back in May (living 25 minutes from the library causes us to only go once a month), I was perusing the children’s books. Yes, a fifty-five year old adult was perusing the juvenile books.

You see, I love Narnia. I enjoyed The Hobbit. I liked The Mysterious Benedict Society. I liked Heidi, Polyanna, and The Little Princess and many more. So I decided to start browsing the children’s department to see what I could find.

I saw several new books displayed on top of the stacks that intrigued me. All three of them featured siblings that, seemingly, got along together. I was already at my book limit for the day so I took pictures of them so I could find them again next time. I was surprised to see that all three of them were available when we went back for our June visit.

I’ve already read the first one and really enjoyed it. So, I thought I’d share a little about it with you.

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This book starts out when three children: 11yo Chess, 9yo Emma, and 7yo Finn, come home from school and are not greeted with the happy mother they are used to seeing. In spite of their father being dead for seven years now, they are generally a very happy, if somewhat reclusive family.

Today is different though. On the news is the story of a kidnapping of three children: Rocky age 11, Emma age 9, and Finn age 7 from somewhere in Arizona. There are remarkable similarities and their mother is acting most strangely.

She must leave on an unexpected business trip and is leaving them with near strangers until she returns. Ms. Morales is very protective and acts a bit oddly, in the children’s estimation. Her daughter Natalie has an apparent better relationship with her smart phone than with her mother, which the Greystone children think strange.

I love the relationship the Greystone children have with each other. This is a good story to encourage good sibling relationships. I remember being a few chapters into the story and wondering if I was mistaken about what I thought was supposed to happen. About the time I had convinced myself that it was just about some very similar children being kidnapped (and trying to work through how that could be: cloning, twins, and so on) the alternate reality popped in. :D Don’t worry; I’m not giving any spoilers as it is stated plainly on the cover summary.

I love that this story did not make adults look stupid and that the children were the only ones smart enough to fix the problem. I liked how some adults worked with the children and the realistic reasoning behind Ms. Morales’ lack of involvement in the story.

I was sad to realize that this is the first book in a series and that the next book is not available yet. :D I’ve read so many series lately, I was looking forward to a good old one books story. :D But that didn’t happen. I will look forward to the release of the second book.

As I read the book I was so engrossed in it that I was surprised that it is juvenile fiction; it was that engaging for me. Emma loves math, so there was that whole element there that I enjoyed too.

Bottom Line:

  • I recommend this book. :)
  • I like the relationship between the siblings.
  • I like how they work together.
  • I like how the relationship with Natalie develops.
  • I like how Natalie’s behavior (concerning phone and mother) is addressed or at least acknowledged.

So many times siblings fight or have bad relationships in books and I appreciate that this is not the case here. It is also refreshing to see how they protect Finn and include him.

A few more things to consider:

There are some tense situations in this book but I feel they were handled well. However, I thought I would mention them in case you or your child doesn’t handle some of these situations well or they are triggers in your household.

  • Kidnapping
  • Mysterious similarities with other people (same names and birthdays)
  • Dead father
  • Abandonment
  • Bad Government (in alternate reality)
  • Sneaking around
  • Chase scene
  • Trial and Death Sentence Possiblility

Because of these tense situations, depending on your child, I would recommend reading it together, so that you can talk about some of these things.

No matter if you read along or not, definitely have your child tell you about the story (narrate), so that you can talk about some of these situations and discuss them. Are they portrayed in a realistic manner? How does your child feel about them?

I would have had no qualms with my children reading this book and I would have even encouraged it. I enjoyed it so much that Tiffany read it shortly after I did and also enjoyed it. Although she did not like the ending. I’m expecting it to be straightened out in the next book. ;)

Well, I hope this helps you. Let me know if you or your kids read it and what you thought of it.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Review of Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, Books, and Trees Update

I started to share about my sourdough adventure but it turned into a post all its own and I’ll share that on Tuesday next week. Suffice it to say, I will definitely be making the honey oat sourdough bread again. :)

I read Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan MacNeal this week. Hmmm, what to say about it . . . okay, I liked the idea of cryptography and mathematics and a historical fiction book; I haven’t read historical fiction in ages and so this seemed like it would be good.

I loved this bit about a ballet . . .

I’ve never been one to get ballet but this one sounds interesting to me; I might even see if there is some recording of it that I can watch online. ;)

I liked that this seemed to be a stand-alone book, as I’ve got way too many books in series that I’m reading. It felt good to have a one and done. And then I got near the end of the book and realized that it is the first book in a series. Boy! I’m glad I picked up the first one in the series, since it ended up being a series. It looks like there are currently about six books in the series. ;)

The story was okay. There were some things I didn’t prefer and it seemed a bit slow to me. However, I am tempted to continue on with the series. I did not pick it up on this trip to the library though and I returned the other books I had that I didn’t read. The fifth one in the series is the one that is really pulling at me, Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante.

This is about a girl born in London and raised in the United States that inherits her grandmother’s house in London. She goes to London, postponing beginning graduate school, to sell the house and ends up having to stay an extended period of time to make the repairs in order to sell the house but without sufficient funds, must get a job first. She gets some boarders and gets a job as Mr. Churchill’s secretary.

The story is about her learning who her parents were and stopping a plot of destruction. ;) I enjoyed the cryptic bits but they were minor in the story, so don’t let that stop you from reading it. However, if you don’t like to read any cursing or mentions of homosexuality (non-explicit) then this is not the book for you as there were several of both. This is not a book I need to own but it was an okay read.

Oh, I know why this series thing is bugging me now. Last month at the library I picked up a Robert Ludlum book (the first in a series), a Clive Cussler book (the first in a series), the third in the Puzzle Lady series, and the next one in the Hannah Swensen series. Ugh! Too many series!

On this trip to the library I returned all the books I had and got out three juvenile fiction books and two books by Dee Henderson. :) Here are two of the books I got:

These along with Caterpillar Summer are about siblings that get along, and appear to like each other. I saw them last month and knew I needed to check them out. I’ll let you know how they go. :p

Tiffany has a lot of Ted Dekker books and I’ve been wanting to read his Circle series. I also had started Rematch by Erynn Mangum and want to finish it. We have a lot of books on our shelves that I want to read. Oh, and then there is the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson that Tiffany owns and I want to read as well.

I got Unspoken by Dee Henderson. I think it follows Full Disclosure with new characters but I don’t know. I just know I enjoyed Full Disclosure and wanted to read another of her books. I love her O’Malley series and saw the library had Jennifer’s story. It is small; I guess you’d call it a novella. I know it will be a tear jerker so I’m not sure when I’ll read it. ;)

Tiffany and I checked on the fruit trees in the side yard this week. Turns out that the tree I thought was plums is my nectarine tree! I thought that baby died. I guess it was my other plum tree that didn’t make it.

The nectarines look yummy. The peaches on this tree, not so much. :D I haven’t looked at the peaches on the tree in the chicken yard but suspect they are nearly ready too. :)

I’m excited about the pears and also sad that there are only three. I’m just happy to have any. :D

All the apple trees are alive in some stage but I doubt they’ll produce apples this year either. We really need to fertilize them and mulch them and hope next year is better. ;)

Well, I’m going to run for now. Hope you have a great weekend. The guys have a men’s breakfast tomorrow. Tiffany and I are helping serve the pancakes and sausage. I’m taking some low carb/keto pancakes and have been asked to sing a song too. So it will be a busy morning but a good one.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Kittens and Book Review: The River of No Return

Book: River of No Return ~ Lifeofjoy.meOh my gracious! I was going to talk about how much everything has changed in just a week but I just finished my first book read of April and that is where my mind is right now. And Fridays are for whatever is on my mind, right? ;)

So the book I just finished is The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway. It is 452 pages in the hardback format and a pretty good read centering around time travel. :) I love a good time travel story.

Now here are my disclaimers: this book had a couple of curse words but not much for an adult fiction book and there were two intimate scenes and two short suggestive scenes that can easily be skipped over. That’s it.

So I really enjoyed the twists in this book and enjoyed the read . . . until the last 50 pages when things started to feel a bit rushed and definitely at the last 25 pages where it was super rushed! Although the romance in this book resolved well, it seemed as if that was THE thing that the author was focusing on. There are so many loose ends: Who is Mr. Mibbs? Can Julia and Nick penetrate the Pale? What caused the Pale? Can the Pale be stopped? What about Jem Jemison? Is he really only what Nick thinks he is? And don’t even get me starting on Nick and Julia learning how to use their abilities!

Most of the story was told very thought out, with enough hints about twists to come as it went along. It had a good pace until it got down to those last 25-50 pages. Then all of a sudden it stopped letting the story unfold and started summarizing the story! Ugh! Those last 50 pages could have easily be another 100 to 150 to do it right.

Then the ending just kind of . . . plop! That’s it . . . The End but is everything like it was or is it different? I enjoyed the book but I’d have enjoyed it so much more if it had been wrapped up better.

So what do I do? I look to see if there is a sequel hoping to find the answers to my questions and continue the story and what do I find? This book has a copyright of 2013. That is six years ago; just sayin’. ;) I find that there is a prequel called the Time Tutor but it is only a novella and is a meer 90 pages about Alva Blomgren and Ignatz Vogelstein. While I think it might be interesting, ninety pages is not very long at all and with how abruptly this book ended, I’m not sure I want to get my hopes up.

I also saw, in an interview with the author, that she was working on a sequel with a working title of Brothers and Sisters but that it was going to be another ‘love story’ and centered around two different characters putting Nick and Julia as secondary characters. This saddens me. :( I love stories that the sequel picks up right where it left off with the same characters.

The Stormlight Archive does sequels right but I’ll I’ll talk about that another day. However I read The Rook by Daniel O’Malley and was eager to pick up the sequel, Stiletto. Unfortunately, this book introduces two new characters and sets the story around them rather than the main character of the previous book. I could not get behind that and decided not to finish it. I just don’t have time to push myself to read a book that I don’t really care about the characters especially when it was touted as being a continuation of the story of the main character but thumbing through the pages, it is hard to even find her name mentioned. Very sad. I’ll talk more about that book at another time though.

New Kittens ~ Lifeofjoy.me

In other news, we had kittens born yesterday. The mother cat, Kit Kat, generally only has two kittens. This time she had four. two black and white ones and two tabbies. Two have tails and two don’t. So I guess six weeks from now, we will have some kittens to give away.

Well, it’s been a week of sinus headaches in our house. Even after the rain the other night, we were still attacked with headaches. Ugh! I’ll run for now.

Until next time,

MicheleºÜº