Maze Runner: Starts Slow but Keep Reading!

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maze Runner is another book from the teen dystopian genre. A group of teen boys have been placed in a glade inside a huge maze. They have no memories of their lives before the maze but they know they need to get out! Instead of reverting to a Lord of the Flies society, they build a community in the glade and work together. While this is happening, the boys are also menaced by strange half organic-half machine monsters!

Things go side ways when a young women is sent to the Glade and the craziness begins.

I liked the book as you can see by my 4 star rating. But, this is also a genre I favor. The plot is good, but it does take the story a while to get moving. I almost gave up on it about a third of the way in. After checking online at a few other reviews, I decided to stick with it and I was happy I did!

One negative, the writing is a little weak. Some of the dialog seems contrived and a few places the book is worth a quick skimming over.

If you like this ‘type’ of book go for it! If it’s not your genre skip it. Unlike Hunger Games, I would not qualify Maze Runner as a cross-over book.

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China Dolls Lisa See’s Newest Book Isn’t Her Best: A Bookymom Review

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really loved Lisa See’s other books so when this came out I was eager to give it a try. Sadly, the book did not meet my expectations.

China Dolls follows the story of three women– one of whom is NOT Chinese– during the depression, through the war and into to the post-war period.

For me, the characters never really gelled. In other Lisa See books, the characters really came alive. They pulsates with individual spirit and emotion. Even when I read Dreams of Pearl and found Pearl to be obnoxious, she seemed like a real person. In China Dolls, the women are just that dolls, rather lifeless characters following a plot without believable emotion.

If you want to avoid spoilers stop reading now!!

They go through so many things– dead husbands and children, love triangles, Japanese interment, out of wedlock children, marrying gay men, murder, jail! It’s more of a soap-opera than a meaningful picture of their lives. So much happens and so much is revealed that your head is spinning from minute to minute. And, all the drama the emotions and experiences of the characters are either over done or incredibly shallow!

See also doesn’t paint the picture of time and place like she has in her previous novels. In her past works, the location and time period are so well created they almost become a character. She allows the read to be immersed in the period. That did not happen here. What was pre-war San Fransisco Chinatown like? What about post war Miami?

All and I all I recommend skipping this book and reading Lisa See’s other much better novels.

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TANGLED….

Tangled: The Junior Novelization (Disney Tangled)Tangled: The Junior Novelization by Irene Trimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the Tangled novel driving my daughter around town. I refuse to let my kids watch movies or play video games in the car while we drive to and from various activities. Maybe audio books aren’t much better. But in my mind they are a slight improvement.

I didn’t think this would add much to the movie’s story. But, I was pleasantly surprised. As a mom who has seen the film more than a few times, I figured I knew the story down pat. But, the author managed to add a few details and elements that really added to the story telling experience. The emotions of the characters are built up throughout the story and there are several details are added to the story.

I enjoyed listening to the story and it has made me think, I might try another novelization with the kids driving through town!

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Outrage…

Outrage (Inspector Erlendur #9)Outrage by Arnaldur Indriðason
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you follow my blog, you know I typically don’t read books that fall into the Mystery/suspense genre. So how did I find my way to this book?

My husband, The Capt., was threatening to take the family on a vacation to Iceland. So I randomly looked up books using the keyword Iceland at our local library and somehow or another this one popped up. I decided to give it a try.

Translations can definitely be tricky reads. But I found this one to of been translated well.

The story is a pretty typical suspense novel where the readers follow a few red hearings until the real murdered is discovered almost by accident.

All and all, it was an average read. Nothing special.

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The Summer Queen: Reviewed by Bookymom

The Summer QueenThe Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In The Summer Queen Elizabeth Chadwick takes on one of the most famous and to some infamous women of the middle ages, Eleanor of Aquitaine. This is one of Chadwick’s biggest character challenges yet. Little is known of the smaller details of Eleanor’s life. Broad historical information is available, but who was the woman? How did the death of her father and her marriage to King Louis effect her life? What was it like for her to go on crusade as a woman? Did she really have an affair with her uncle in the Levant? How did she view her freedom after divorcing Louis? How was her marriage to Henry II arranged? And on and on…

Chadwick as written about other historical figures of the this time period, the empress Matilda, William Marshal, the Bigods and others. However, NONE of these people rise to the level fame as Eleanor.

Taking on the great characters of history is difficult challenge because so many readers come to the book with their own impression of the person. In The Summer Queen my imagination didn’t exactly match Chadwick’s.

The Summer Queen covers Eleanor’s life from late childhood through her marriage to King Louis of France and ends with her second husband, King Henry II, taking the English throne. I understand that Chadwick has to balance the development of a young woman with the strong-willed, cleaver and plotting Queen that Eleanor is described as in later life. It is a hard transition. For me, Chadwick did not pull it off.

Eleanor is greatly misused by Louis and marginalized as a power…this is believable… but somehow Chadwick does not have Eleanor grow enough based on these events. During this period, Eleanor might have gained inner strength and seen a wider world on her way to the Holy Land. I think this is the time she earns her spurs and while she may not start welding power yet, she would understand and political scene. It is this period where I really see her laying in wait and honing her skills as a crafty political player.

I do agree that Eleanor and her uncle NEVER had an affair and Chadwick handles that well in her book. But, I think Eleanor might have been more of a flirt than Chadwick gives her credit for…Growing up in the sensual Aquitaine it would have been second nature and way of behavior that Eleanor likely didn’t even notice. Also, I feel as if Chadwick downplayed Eleanor’s great beauty.

The writing in the book is good and the story moves. There is nothing “wrong” with the book. It is simply that for me, the Eleanor on Chadwick’s pages doesn’t meet the Eleanor of my imagination.

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Egyptian Day: Mom Camp Days 34-35

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As mom camp 2014 winds down, we are revisiting one of our theme days from the very first mom camp three years ago: Egyptian Day!

20140821-125535.jpgAs you have guessed by now I don’t post pictures of the kid’s faces on here. But, I have found the pics from our previous Egyptian mom camp day… A blast from the past!

Last time we made elaborate Egyptian collars and the tall crowns of lower Egypt. We borrowed a book from the library with instructions for a few ancient Egyptian meals-dinner that night was a little iffy with the exception of the dates.

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This year headgear made a comeback for Egyptian Day! We decided to make Nemes Headdress. It’s the blue and gold head covering most people associate with King Tut’s golden mask. The real Nemes’ were made of cloth and were not considered crowns at all. Although, they might have been warn with a crown. As you can see by the picture of Cinco, he also added a traditional Pharaoh’s beard. A nice touch if you ask me!

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Next up was a little archeology! Thanks to all the junk you can find at The Dollar Store the kids were able to excavate an golden idol…move over Indiana Jones! We have done a bunch of these kits before– unearth fool’s gold, find-a-fossil, etc. Still, they never stop entertaining and engaging the kids. I used to by the pricey ones from the Smithsonian but now I just grab the cheapo Dollar Store kits and the kids are equally entertained.

20140826-131640.jpgWe also designed our own sarcophagus… Cinco tried to make his look authentic.

Then it was time for another of my famous clothespin people projects. Over the years we have made a clothespin Ben Franklin and colonial soldiers, Mermaids, and British soldiers. Now we can add Pharaohs to the list of clothespin creations brought to you by mom camp!20140826-131652.jpg

How to Make Your Own Clothespin Pharaohs:

What you need:

Steps:

  1. 20140826-131726.jpgCut out a very small piece of construction paper in the shape of the Egyptian neck collar (sort of a wide crescent shape). Depending of the age and talent of the kids, you can do this yourself or let one of them do it. You should hold up to clothespin person for sizing and make sure it goes around the neck.
  2. Cover the collar in Elmer’s Glue. Let the kids decorate the collar with small beads. Set it aside and let it dry. (Waiting for it to dry was one of the hardest things for The Princess on this project!)
  3. 20140826-131750.jpgUsing blue construction paper, cut out the “U-shaped” Nemes. Then cut a few strips of yellow construction paper and let the kids glue them in rows on the Nemes.
  4. Now you cut out a small circle of brown construction paper. Then from one of the edges cut a straight line to the center of the circle. This will be Pharaohs’ skirt.
  5. When everything is dry and ready, go ahead and hot glue it on your clothespin. I would start with the neck collar, add the headpiece and finish up with the skirt.
  6. Finally, finish it off with some heavily made up Egyptian eyes and glue on a few black beads to make the beard!

20140826-131710.jpgI wouldn’t be Bookymom if I didn’t also include some books on our Egyptian Day. We read:

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And we even went to the local Natural History Museum to see the King Tut exhibit.  That’s two full days of Egyptian excitement for Mom Camp!

 

 

 

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Mom Camp Day 33: Water Day Part Two!

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We took a trip back to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum to take a look at some more sea creatures. This time the focus was on the new Seahorses they have added.

I could have stood looking at them all day. Cinco and the Princess liked them as well, but not as much as I did!!!

Then is was back to the pool for more swimming practice, not exactly glamorous, but necessary!

Back at home we reading again. A bunch of aquatic books.

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