Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Reviews: Thrifty Time Travelers series by Jonathan Stokes



The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome 
Pages: 127
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Released: January 30, 2018
Received: ARC from the publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads 

Let's see...
  • Fast paced
  • Short chapters
  • Ancient Rome
  • Tons of facts
Yep, this is a perfect book for me. It was no surprise that I loved this book. It really is a nice guide, touching on everything from dress, to technology, inventions, roads, politics, major events, people, places, problems and entertainment. Some things were a little cleaned up (it's hard to do Caligula for middle grade readers without leaving stuff out), but I don't think that gave a skewed impression of anything.

There's some light humor and everything is themed around the "thrifty guide" idea. This book is supposed to be a time travel guide produced in the future where a pretty shady sounding overlord runs the world and sells time travel packages. It's zany, kind of cute, kind of annoying, and easy to ignore if you just want to focus on history.

The book is interspersed with various asides (like pictures showing what you should wear if you want to blend in) that were enjoyable and helped create that "I'll read just one more section" feeling that I love. This was a fun book to introduce kids to ancient Rome, but also fun for me as an adult already familiar with ancient Rome. Recommended. 

*I need to take a moment to rave again about Jonathan Stokes' Addison Cooke series. It's funny, fast, filled with adventure, and just plain fun.


PUBLISHER'S BOOK DESCRIPTION

THRIFTY GUIDE TO ANCIENT ROME
 
Like a middle-grade Magic School Bus, the Thrifty Guides take readers on funny and informative trips to the greatest moments in history!
The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:
  •     Where can I find a decent hotel room in ancient Rome for under five sesterces a day? Is horse parking included?
  •     What do I do if I'm attacked by barbarians?
  •     What are my legal options if I'm fed to the lions at the Colosseum?
Designed as a parody of Fodor's, complete with humorous maps, reviews of top attractions (Julius Caesar's assassination is a must-see!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Hannibal, assuming he doesn't kill you). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.



The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution
Pages: 160
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Released: January 30, 2018
Received: ARC from the publisher
Rating: DNF
Goodreads 

Yikes! Well, there's only so many mistakes and inaccuracies I can take. So, DNF.

PUBLISHER'S BOOK DESCRIPTION

THRIFTY GUIDE TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION


Like a middle-grade Magic School Bus, the Thrifty Guides take readers on funny and informative trips to the greatest moments in history!

The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:
  •     Where can I find a decent hotel room in colonial New England? Are credit cards accepted?
  •     How can I join the Boston Tea Party without winding up in a British prison?
  •     What do I do if I'm being shot at by a cannon?
Designed as a parody of Fodor's, complete with humorous maps, reviews of places to stay and top attractions (Don't miss Paul Revere's midnight ride!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Alexander Hamilton, naturally). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.



AUTHOR BIO

Jonathan Stokes (www.jonathanwstokes.com) is a former teacher who is now a rising star as a Hollywood screenwriter. He has written screenplays on assignment for Warner Brothers, Universal, Fox, Paramount, New Line, and Sony/Columbia. Inspired by a childhood love of The Goonies and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Jonathan wrote his first novel, Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas, published by Philomel in 2016. Born in Manhattan, he currently resides in Los Angeles, where he can be found showing off his incredible taste in dishware and impressive 96% accuracy with high fives.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden


#2 in the Winternight Trilogy
Pages: 363
Publisher: Del Rey
Released: December 5, 2017
Received: ARC from the publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads

I love it when a sequel lives up to the level of the first book in the series. I adored The Bear and the Nightingale, and while there were a few loose ends, it could have easily ended as a standalone. So, when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I sighed and kind of wished the publisher would leave well enough alone. I was expecting the sequel to be a pale imitation and leave me wishing I too had just left well enough alone and stopped reading after the first book.

Thankfully, my worries were for nothing. The Girl in the Tower has the same magic and storytelling charm and I am so, so glad I picked it up. The same blend of fantasy, folklore, and history that worked so well in the first book continues to work well here. The chapters continue to be on the longish side, but that is also still not a problem for me. I flew through this book and had to force myself to read slower and savor the story. The characters continue to be likable, and while they still aren't hugely deep (fairy tale!), Vasya's storyline allows for more depth of character as we watch her try to come to terms with who she is and what she wants, and does not want, from life. 

Bottom line

Readers who enjoyed the first book should enjoy the sequel just as much. Katherine Arden has a gift for storytelling and her words and tales are enchanting. I cannot wait for the third book.








Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 Library Challenge



Challenge Basics:  

Name: 2018 Snagged at the Library Challenge
Previous Hosts: Geeky Blogger's Book Blog (in 2016)
Starts: January 1, 2018
Ends: December 31, 2018
Eligible Books: Books from my libraries 


Why I'm Interested:  

I recognize that there's a use it or lose it factor to libraries, and while I want to focus some attention on these books, I don't mind if they don't make up the bulk of my reading. Still, I'd like to participate in this challenge to bring some awareness to the books I have available to me through my library.



Books Completed:

5.
4.
3.
2. Queens of England by Norah Lofts
1. The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals by Jordan Stratford (audio)



Books DNF'ed:

2.
1.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Read My Own Books Challenge


21/12 books


Challenge Basics: 
Name: Read My Own Damn Books Challenge
Previous Hosts: Estella's Revenge
Starts: January 1, 2018
Ends: December 31, 2018
Eligible Books: Books you own prior to 2018.
Levels: I'm going to try to read and/or DNF and get rid of 12 books I own.

Why I'm Interested:  

I seriously have too many books and they keep sitting on my shelves unread. I did this challenge in 2015 and ended up getting rid of almost all the books I read for the challenge, which means I've carted around and found room for all those books that I didn't even end up liking. Before I move again, I need to reevaluate the books I'm bringing with me and make sure they're books I actually want.

Some books I'm considering: 

Anything on my Own-Unread shelf that I acquired prior to 2018.

At the start of 2018, here's where I stand as far as what books I own and what percentage of them I've read:

31% Acquired in 2016
17% Acquired in 2015
32% Acquired in 2014
50% Acquired in 2013
39% Acquired in 2012
75% Acquired in 2010-2011
83% Acquired in 2008-2009
85% Acquired in 2003-2007
96% Acquired in 2002 and earlier


Books Completed:

19. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (2017)
18. Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley (2017)
17. A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody (2016)
16. Amy Snow by Tracy Rees (2017)
15. Valley of the Kings by Cecelia Holland (2017)
14. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (2017)
13. The Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long (2017)
12. The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley (2017)
11. The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley (2017)
10. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (2017)
9. The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy (2015)
8. Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede (2016)
7. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard (2017)
6. Penmarric by Susan Howatch (2017)
5. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn (2012)
4. Epitaph for Three Women by Jean Plaidy (2015)
3. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith (2017)
2. The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome by Jonathan Stokes (2017)
1. My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley (2017)



Books DNF'ed:

4. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant (2015)
3. The Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark (2017)
2. Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie (2016)
1. The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution by Jonathan Stokes (2017)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge


34/15 books

Challenge Basics:  

Name: 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Hosts: Passages to the Past
Starts: January 1, 2018
Ends: December 31, 2018
Eligible Books: YA and adult historical fiction books. Non-fiction included.
Levels: I am going to try for 15 books

Why I'm Interested:  

Historical Bio: These are the weightier, meatier books that I want to make top priority. They go into detail about actual people and events and I'll learn the most from them. I've thrown in the non-fiction books onto this shelf, too. I've been toe-dipping into non-fiction, and I'd like to continue that toe-dip.

Historical Fantasy: These vary as far as actual historical learning goes. Some have a ton of historical detail, but most just use a historical setting. Some of my favorite books come from this shelf and I don't want to neglect them just because they're not heavy historical fiction.

Historical Lite: These are a lot like the books on my Historical Fantasy shelf, just without the fantasy elements. Usually they're mysteries or romances set with a historical backdrop of varying degrees of detail. They're often easy breezy, fun books and I want to make sure I read them as well.


Books Completed:

Historical Non-Fiction

5.
4.
3. Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll
2. Queens of England by Norah Lofts
1. The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome by Jonathan Stokes

Historical Bio (fiction):

6. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
5. Valley of the Kings by Cecelia Holland
4. The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy
3. Penmarric by Susan Howatch
2. Epitaph for Three Women by Jean Plaidy
1. My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

Historical Fantasy:

2.
1.

Historical Lite:

25. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth by Marion Chesney
24. A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander
23. A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
22. Belinda Goes to Bath by Marion Chesney
21. Emily Goes to Exeter by Marion Chesney
20. Frederica in Fashion by Marion Chesney
19. Diana the Huntress by Marion Chesney
18. Daphne by Marion Chesney
17. Dierdre and Desire by Marion Chesney
16. The Taming of Annabelle by Marion Chesney
15. Minerva by Marion Chesney
14. Back in Society by Marion Chesney
13. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue by Marion Chesney
12. Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney
11. Mrs Budley Falls from Grace by Marion Chesney
10. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney
9. Lady Fortescue Steps Out by Marion Chesney
8. Camille's Story, 1910 by Adele Whitby
7. Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer
6. Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
5. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
4. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
3. Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
2. The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
1.The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley


DNF:

1.The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution by Jonathan Stokes

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Re-Read Challenge




Challenge Basics: 

Name: The Re-Read Challenge
Hosts: Belle of the Literati (in 2016)
Starts: January 1, 2018
Ends: December 31, 2018
Eligible Books: Books you've already read.

Why I'm Interested:  

I always feel guilty rereading books, but I also really enjoy rereading my old favorites. Especially when I'm feeling vulnerable to scared or sad or disoriented (which are all feelings that go along with Big New Changes, even when they're good). I also realized how much I like revisiting the books that made me happy. Also, I prefer listening to audiobooks of books I've already read.

So, I've been doing a little rereading last year, and I enjoyed it so much that I plan on continuing that this year.


Some books I'm considering:

My Special Shelf favorites, of course. Also, books I liked enough or am curious enough to re-listen to on audio.

Books Completed:

10.
9.
8.
7.
6.
5.
4.
3. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
2. A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack
1. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde



Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Keep the Books Off the Shelf Challenge




Challenge Basics: 

Name: Keep the Books Off the Shelf Challenge
Hosts: Me!
Starts: January 1, 2018
Ends: December 31, 2018
Goal: 15 books
Eligible Books: Books you acquire in 2018

Why I'm Interested:  

I'm not sure if anyone is actually hosting a challenge like this, but it's a challenge I'm giving myself, again. Last year I read a ton off books I acquired in 2017, and rather than feel bad about neglecting my previously owned books, instead I felt like I was accomplishing something with every new book I acquired and read. And I was!

Every year I participate in the Off the Shelf Challenge where I try to read as many books I own as possible. Downside? Those challenges don't count books you acquire during the challenge year, and I think they should! Sure, I know the goal is to read all those books that have been languishing year after year, but what about preventative measures? I think those should be rewarded, too!

(I feel like a health insurance plan)

So, enter my challenge. I'm going to try to make a dent in the books I get in 2018 and therefore whittle down my mountain of books remaining unread on my shelves in 2019.

Some books I'm considering: 

As many books from my Acquired 2018 shelf as possible. At the end of the year I'll compare how many books I acquired to how many books I've read from that list to see how well I've done. I'd like to shoot for reading/DNF-ing at least 15 books.


Books Completed:

30. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth by Marion Chesney
29. Mother Knows Best by Serena Valentino
28. A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander
27. Annie's Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney
26. A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
25. Belinda Goes to Bath by Marion Chesney
24. Emily Goes to Exeter by Marion Chesney
23. Frederica in Fashion by Marion Chesney
22. The Little Book of Pooh-isms by Disney
21. Diana the Huntress by Marion Chesney
20. Daphne by Marion Chesney
19. Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
18. Dierdre and Desire by Marion Chesney
17. The Taming of Annabelle by Marion Chesney
16. Minerva by Marion Chesney
15. Back in Society by Marion Chesney
14. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue by Marion Chesney
13. Sir Philip's Folly by Marion Chesney
12. Mrs Budley Falls from Grace by Marion Chesney
11. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney
10. Lady Fortescue Steps Out by Marion Chesney
9. Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll
8. The Boy, the Bird and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
7. Camille's Story, 1910 by Adele Whitby
6. Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer
5. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
4. Freya and the Magic Jewel by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
3. Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
2. Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell
1. Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell



Books DNF'ed: 

1.


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