Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Poisoned Pilgrim: Bookymom’s Review


This is the fourth installment of the Hangman’s Daughter series written by Oliver Potzsch. He has based the books on a 17th century German hangman an his family. As hangman, Jakob Kuisl investigates local mysteries in effort to ensure the right person is punished for the crimes. His daughter and son-in-law also help ferret out the true culprit.

In this book, Kuisl’s old war buddy is wrongly suspected of being a sorcerer and Kuisl must travel to a nearby monastery to clear his friend’s name. A series of strange adventures transpire involving automatons and mystery of a missing holy relic. In the end, everything works out– of course not without a little pain and a few twists and turns.

While I liked the book and it was a quick read, I cannot help but feel as is Potzsch is pumping these books out too quickly. I cannot quite put my finger on it, I felt as if the book did not have the same kind of love and attention as his previous works. The setting was not as developed and the writing seemed to be more plot than character driven. In his past novels, I connected with the main characters more and felt a greater sense of time and place. These are all qualities I am looking for in historical novels. I am not a great lover of suspense, so it was these other qualities that originally drew me into the books. Additionally, the characters and story maybe be played out for me as a reader. I am not sure that if he composes a 5th book I am going to rush to read it.

My Other Hangman’s Daughter Reviews: 

The Hangman’s Daughter

The Dark Monk

The Beggar King

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The End Of Mom Camp 2013

Another summer of Mom Camp is over. It’s bitter sweet. I love Mom Camp almost as much as the kids do. But, it’s a lot of work. In some ways, I feel as if I am finally getting my own life back.

But, there is always the lingering sensation that another year of childhood is slipping out of my hands. Another summer of late night family movies, silly stories and exploration and discovery must yield to classical educational instruction.

In the end, as much as I’d like to pretend Mom Camp is all about the kids–it’s not. A big part of Mom Camp is about the Mom–who wants to squeeze in as many laughs, tears and tickles out of Cinco and The Princess as i can before summer break gives way to adulthood’s jobs and responsibility.

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The War That Killed Achilles: A Bookymom Review!

The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan WarThe War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The War That Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander was a three star read for me. I am not sure what I was expecting. But, I can tell you this was a very close reading of the Iliad. Alexander did A LOT of quoting from the Iliad and even went so far as to quote passages that she translated herself. I am impressed she was able to translate it. I don’t believe she included her own translations to be showy, I truly agree she probably could not have quoted entire books of another persons translation. However, it should give you an idea of how much she quoted. I felt as if I was simply reading an heavily annotated version of the Iliad. She did offer some guidance on Greek myth and provided a lot of background information on the characters in the epic.

As a reader, you can definitely tell that Ms. Alexander has a love affair with Homer’s Iliad. For me, that was one highlight of the book. She writes with a love, care and passion for the epic that certainly comes through in her work and makes the reader appreciate her book, her research effort, and her labor of love.

It is an okay recourse book on the Iliad, but I am not sure that it is awe inspiring in anyway. There is nothing in Alexander’s book that really stands out for me. There is nothing in the book that will resonate with me in the long term.

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Mom Camp Days 28/29: Willy Wonka Day

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The Princess loves the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She even wants to open her open candy factory and candy shop when she grows up! Last summer we had a Willy Wonka day for mom camp and we brought it back this year by special request.

We decided to make a number of candy treats. A lot of them were watermelon based. I mean, a watermelon is pretty big so you can use it over and over.
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We started with frozen watermelon popsicle. I chopped up some watermelon cubes and dumped them into the good old Cuisinart. The Princess of course got to press the start button. Round and round it went until it was mushed up to a thin pulp. We poured it straight into the popsicle molds and promptly placed it in the freezer. When we tasted them a few hours later, they were slightly watery and not really all that sweet, I think I should have added some sugar and maybe boiled down the watermelon juice. But, the kids liked it so that’s really all that matters.

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For last year’s Wonka Day, we made our own chocolate from a kit I purchased online. This year, I skipped the chocolate kit and went for melted chocolate chips. Then I purchased some molds. As you know, Cinco loves Star Wars. (See Mom Camp Days: 14, 15, and 16). So, I decided to buy some Star Wars molds: Han Solo in Carbonite! As well as, the stormtroopers. We used both dark chocolate and white chocolate for the stormtroopers. The white ones were totally awesome.

Last year we used the chocolate from the kit to cover some pretzels. I LOVE chocolate covered pretzels. We had a rose mold from last year that we used for the pretzels again.

And, I also purchased a princess pretzel mold for this year’s project. The Princess picked them out on Amazon herself.

20130817-170515.jpg This year in addition to the molds, we rolled the pretzel sticks in chocolate and sprinkles, too! This was a little easier for the kids.

English: Watermelon flavored Rock candy.

English: Watermelon flavored Rock candy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were also a few candy projects that just never panned out. We attempted to make rock candy. But the sugar crystals never formed, even after waiting almost a week. I even pre-treated the sticks!!!
Our sad little, science experiment just sat there…20130817-170527.jpg

The second candy project that just didn’t taste right were make your own healthy gummies. I used the recipe at Sweet Little Peanut. And, I give them credit for trying to find a healthy option.  But, I think the taste of the sugar substitute just ruined the gummy. I guess you have to go with good old corn syrup to get the sugary flavor. So much for making a healthy version.  Sometimes you just have to go with the real thing to make it worth the calories.  Thankfully, I almost NEVER eat gummies, so it’s not a big deal for me.   I will say, the gummies we make LOOKED GREAT!  I had this cute little mold I found in the dollar section and target and we poured the liquid into it.  Adorable.

With all that treat creation out-of-the-way, it was time for a few activities. There was a lot of time dedicated to: . It’s an oldy, but a goody!

And of course, they day would not be complete without watching the Wonka movie. I am personally a fan of the original. The Johny Depp version is just too creepy for little kids. Plus, it doesn’t have the singing Umpa-Lumpas. It’s not Wonka without an Umpa-Lumpa!

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Mom Camp Day 27: Knights and Princesses

20130814-162022.jpgAfter a family vacation, its time to start good ol’ Mom Camp again.  The original plan was to have two or three days for our Knight and Princess theme.  But, with school just around the corner and so much to do before it starts, we had to squeeze things into a single day.

20130814-162110.jpgWe made three crafts. The Princess wanted wands. I found these at the Dollar Store and saved them.  She didn’t add too much decoration, but she was happy with them…

20130814-162044.jpg20130814-162038.jpgNext we made these cute little princess and knight crafts.  The idea came from Busy Bee Crafts. Although we made up the princess craft ourselves.  We used some left over fabric, glitter sticker sheets, cotton balls and buttons.  The Princess needed a little help getting started, but Cinco made his knight without any help!

20130814-162029.jpgThe next craft was a dragon!  The idea for this one was borrowed from Activity Village. It was originally supposed to be a dragon made from a wooden spoon.  Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to buy any wooden spoons so wemodified the craft and used plastic ones.  The kids still had a great time painting and designing the dragons.

For our reading, we have been listening to in the car. The audio version is abridged. But, it is read by Rob Reiner, which is kinda cool. Thank heaven it’s been keeping the kids quite in the backseat as we do our chores! As aside note, they have yet t actually watch themovie!

Cinco also spent a lot of time reading a Choose-Your-Own Adventure style book about knights.

Our movie was: The film as recently been released on DVD. I loved it as a kid and it’s a great way to talk the kids about the Magna Carta. (Have I mentioned that ever summer I plan to do a Magna Carta Day for Mom Camp and ever summer, I miss it? If I ever get to Magna Carta Day, we will be watching this again.)

Update: I did do a Magna Carta Day….

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The Dead Walk On (TWD volume 18): A Bookymom Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes AfterThe Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 18th installment of The Walking Dead, a graphic novel series that deals with life after zombies. Like so many end-of-the-world books, this one has become less about zombies and more about people. I love that Kirkman has taken these character’s down so many paths. But, I do have to agree with other reviewers that I am suffering from the feeling I’ve been down this road before. Rick has to confront a tyrannical leader. But, this was an awesome volume for Rick’s son Carl. If you enjoy reading about Carl, this one is for you!!!! I feel in some ways this volume is filler and set up for things to come. I only hope what happens is new and not repetitive.

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Elizabeth Chadwick’s Shadows and Strongholds: A Bookymom Review

Shadows and StrongholdsShadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadows and Strongholds is another of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels about life during and after The Anarchy. This time we follow a young boy, Brunin Fitzwarin as he grows to manhood.

As always, you can count on Chadwick to paint a vivid picture of the period. However, in this story I really feel as if she gave the characters a chance to shine. We are treated to story that is less tangled in history and more focused on the people. I have read Chadwick’s Marshal books (John, William and Mahelt) as well as her book about Empress Matilda. I liked them all, but they were less chapter driven. In this book, Chadwick takes more liberties with the characters and the lives and it really pays off.

Brunin and his family relationships are very well developed. We see how he interacts with his own family as well as the family of his foster father. I also loved the female characters– Sybilla, Hawise, Marion–. They really have a strong role to play in the book and move the plot. They play a role even though they are not Queens. Even Brunin’s grandmother is well developed.

If you like Chadwick, I think this is one of her better books.

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