Tag Archives: Books

Wool: A Booky Mom Review

Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1)Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wool is another dystopian book chronicling the life of the people left behind. In this case, the ‘survivors’ live in an rather sophisticated underground silo. While I love this genre, it is often difficult for authors to standout in the crowd. Surprisingly, I think Hugh Howey manages to achieve this.

The series begins by following the community’s sheriff as he prepares to be expelled from the silo. Individuals who do not conform to the community rules are sent out into a toxic wilderness and forced to clean a lense that offers the only view of the outside world.

Events take off from there and readers are treated to an interesting take about what it means to be a survivor. Exactly who are they surviving for and why?

I enjoyed the story and found the writing and pace of the novel to be adequate. Howey does a solid job of creating another world in a space that still allows readers relate. I also enjoyed the authors use of suspense as the story unfolds.

All and all, I would recommend this book to readers of the apocalyptic genre.

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Judy Moody’s Not So Bummer Summer: A Bookymom Review

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (Judy Moody, #10)Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Judy Moody Book. I don’t always read the same books as my kids nor do I always read the books with my kids. But I did end up reading this one aloud with them over the summer, I am sure you can guess why based on the title.

I must say I much prefer the character of Judy Moody to that nasty little girl, Junie B. Jones. I really can’t stand Junie. Any child who acted the way she did would banned from house forever!

In this book, Judy Moody is left with her aunt Opal for the summer. She plans a summer of adventures that all seem to go sideways. At the sametime, Stink (Judy’s younger brother) is hunting for Bigfoot.

The Bigfoot subplot as well as the crazy aunt add a lot to book and certainly make it entertaining for kids.

As something for kids to read over the summer, this book hits the mark.

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Zombie Baseball Beatdown: Why Middle Grade Books Are So Hard…

Zombie Baseball BeatdownZombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi My rating: 2 of 5 stars First of all, I would qualify this as a middle grade book. In general, I find middle grade books very difficult reads. So many kids I know are reading above grade level and get into the middle grade books at younger ages– don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing. However, the content of middle grade books can be rather ify. The language is boarder line with insults like ‘dumbwad’ (used in this book and the wimpy kid series). The plots and subplots also cross the line at times. For example, I don’t really care for the anti-biz and pro-illegal alien messages in this book. They are not appropriate for the age group and I would consider a subtle form of propaganda. I loved the Origami Yoda series until the Princess Leia book. Again, it dealt with the issue of students being gay. I simply don’t think that is appropriate content for a middle grade book. So, if I was frustrated with the content and language, why 2 stars and not just 1? The story flowed well and kept me and the kids interested. The author did a nice job of knitting the plot together and coming up with devises for the kids to be on their own and without parental supervision during a zombie brake-out. Also, for a book called Zombie Baseball Beatdown, I didn’t feel as if there was enough baseball action in the book. The baseball content skirts the beginning and ending of the story and is missing from the middle! Personally, I don’t recommend the book, but other readers are free to make their own choices. View all my reviews

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The Dinner: Summer Reading Anyone?

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Food and family always seem to go together, take Thanksgiving for example. This combination is played out in Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Two brothers meet for a meal to discuss the state of the children as readers are offered a glimpse of a dysfunctional family. (Reading about dysfunctional families seems to be a trend for me this summer!)

I won’t say much more about the plot, it has a few twists and turns. (Although particularly, surprising). I am sure you will want to come to the book with fresh eyes!

Personally, I disliked all the characters, from start to finish. But, I think that may be Koch’s point. The story is told from the point of view of Paul–one of the brothers. He fixates on all kinds of small details over the dinner— the price of the food, the wait staff, his brother, his sister in-law. I get the point, but after awhile I was tired of his obsession with the staff and their over explanation of all the food.

All and all, the book is a quick read and it is certainly worth a bit of summer entertainment. Friends have recommended his other books as well, but I think I might pass on them.

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MaddAddam: A BookyMom Review

Disclaimer: I am going to be a spoiler and the content of this review is absolutely NOT for kids!!!

MaddAddam is the final book in a three book series by Margaret Atwood. Now, if you haven’t read the 1st two books, this review and this book is not for you.

In this novel we finally see what happens in the aftermath of a human created plague. There are genetically engineered “new human beings” and strange engineered animals and a few surviving people running around.

We pick up with Zeb and Toby and the engineered Cracker people. Painballers (ex-cons who have fought to the death in gladiator style shows meant to entertain the old world before most people where killed) are still on the loose and the Crakers have come to live with what’s left of the MaddAddamites and God’s Gardeners.

There are three main narrators, Toby, a third-party that priced Zeb’s point of view and a young Cracker.

It’s been so long between the release of the three books that I feel as if I need to go back and re-read Crake and Oryx (which is still the best of the three).

I do love the Crakers and their simple approach to the world around them. Toby is recruited by them to tell quasi-religious stories. The best is when “FUCK” is transformed into some-kind of invisible spiritual protector.

So reviewers find the relationship between Toby and Zeb bothersome, ESP Toby’s female jealousy. That didn’t really bother about her character. It’s a little immature, but I think it’s supposed to help her seem less one-dimensional.

We find out what happens to Adam One. And, we discover Zeb and Adam have different fathers. I didn’t like that and I am not really sure why it was added. It doesn’t do much to move the story forward in my opinion.

All and all– it’s any okay book. I am screaming from the hills to advise people to get the book. As I said before, the biggest thing to come out of reading this is my desire to re-read book one— because that is excellent!

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Orange is the New Black: A Bookymom Review

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People who have known me a long a time know my fascination with prisons.  It started to creep up on me in my 20s in college.  I was taking some class–the name of which is now long forgotten– and we watched this wild documentary on the Stanford prison experiment.  If you are not familiar with this experiment from the early ’70s you should check out the documentary about it.  But, basically a group of young men are chosen to simulate a prison environment.  Some are the prisoners and some are the guards.  The “prisoners” in this case have not committed any real crimes and assignment into one of the two groups is completely random.  This gets crazy fast!  And, as I recall the experiment was cut short because it was becoming a little too realistic. This is what got me interested in prison dynamics.

As a result of my curiosity I have read a number of texts on the history of prisons and the rise of the American for-profit prison industry, toured both closed and operating prisons, and served on a citizens panel about prison funding in my state.

None of this prompted me to read Piper Kerman’s book.  Instead, it was the good old Netflix series.  I started watching and got hooked.

While I can say I have been interested in prisons, I cannot say I have been interested in prisoners. They are very much “the other”.  Aside from a friend or two picked up on a DWI (and that’s no laughing matter) I haven’t really known any prisoners.  But, a nice upper middle-class white girl who pretty much had it together and then ends up in jail on an old charge…now there is a person I can relate to.  So, after watching the whole season, I got a hold of the book.

It is different from the show.  Many of the stories in the book are dramatized in the show.  But, many of the characters from the book make it into the show.

One aspect that really struck me was the non-violent nature of Kerman’s experience.  Of course, she was in a low-security facility for non-violent offenders and it was a women’s prison not a men’s facility.  But, so many of my own ideas of prison include fights and physical abuse.  This was not really a major factory in Kerman’s experience.

This is also different from the Netflix series. Now I know, I shouldn’t compare the book and the show, but I am going to any way.  What disappoints me about the show after reading the book is that Kerman takes a lot of time to paint a very real experience of her time in prison.  And, because of her background has cross-over appeal to a lot of people who might not take the time to read about a woman’s prison experience.  The show seems to feed into all the stereotypes that the media has been showing us over the years.  Stereotypes the author wants the reader to move beyond.

As for the book and writing, it is a fine, easy read. It is certainly not earth shattering and the book is not going to be added to the list of the great American memoirs.  But, I do think it will appeal to middle and upper-middle class white women, because Kerman is so relatable.  I think book clubs across America will be zeroing in on this work.  And, they should. It is immeasurably better than other book club best-sellers such as Eat, Love, Pray and Julie Julia (both of which I hated!).  At least this is a look behind the curtain of America’s growing prison system.

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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Everyone who’s graduated high school in America has heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his “Great American Novel” The Great Gatsby. Fewer people know about his wife, Zelda. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald seeks to fill-in the gaps.

I received this book from my husband, as a gift. The Captain (as I call him) knows I am a huge F. Scott fan and think Gatsby maybe the best American work of fiction EVER!!! So, The Captain picked this up for me and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it.

Right way, I am forced to think of The Paris Wife–a book about Hemmingway’s first wife. I know I shouldn’t compare books, but it is difficult to avoid it. I am also drawn to Hemmingway’s A Movable Feast. In order of preference:

1. A Movable Feast
2. The Paris Wife
3. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Now other reviewers seemed to have some issues with the book. They felt that Scott and Zelda’s characters were ‘off’. I don’t know enough about them or their relationship to judge.

Zelda’s character is lacking a certain level of depth. Additionally, writing her character must be something of a challenge because of the time she spent in the sanitarium. Still, I feel as if the author glossed over those periods and avoided tackling them because it is difficult. None-the-less, Fowler choose to take on this character and should have engaged more with her ‘mental illness’. I would suspect anyone faced with her trails would feel more anguish, helplessness and despair. Those emotions did not come through in the writing.

The book has inspired me to learn more about Zelda and Scott both individually and as a couple.

All and all, this book is certainly not a must read. But, if you are interested in the Jazz Age and the expat experience its not a time consuming read and maybe be worthwhile to you.

Other BookyMom Reviews On Similar Books:

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Child 44: A Bookymom Review

Child 44Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith follows the story of a simple Russian mad caught up in the times. He is a normal guy trying to make his way in Stalinist Russia where everyone is waiting to turn in the their neighbor, best friend or sister to the officials. People never come back and Leo is the reason why. Until one day, when the shoe is on the other foot. Wanted as a traitor, Leo and his wife set off to discover who is killing Russia’s children.

What I really loved about this story, is that it is more than mystery. The mystery is used to drive the plot but the life and experiences of the characters are center stage. We are drawn into Leo’s somewhat complicated marriage. We are made to see what like in Stalin’s Russia might have been like. We see Leo’s office politics and how they play out with life and death consequences. There are so many interesting things happening the story that the mystery is more of a background story.

I will say, the ending is a little over the top for me. If the ending, were a little different this would have been a 4 star read for me. Still, there are so many good things going for this book, I think you should take the time to read it!

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Mom Camp Day 17: Baseball

20130717-163735.jpg In preparation for a trip to Dodger Stadium to see Cinco’s first major league game, we invited some friends – a brother/sister team- over for Baseball Day.

We got things rolling with awesome baseball crafts:
Decorate Your Own Ball cap

  • 4 Ball caps from The Dollar Store
  • Lots of beads
  • Glitter glue
  • Markers

The boys were not overly excited by this project. But The Princess and her BFF had a great time designing their hats. They liked arranging the beads on the glitter glue, although a few fell off and I had to hot glue them later for The Princess.

Color Your Own Ball bat and Players: 

The next craft was coloring in little mini-wooden baseball bats. I found them online when I was ordering a bunch of wooden craft supplies.20130717-164408.jpg Cinco also took some wooden peg men and paired them up with the bats!

Cinco’s guest made a baseball player out of a Round Clothespins and we glued his bat on him!IMG_2119

Who’s #1?

No cheer leading section is complete without the famous finger sign! I found these little gems at The Dollar Store and we decorated them for the game!!!IMG_2118

All the kids also got bouncing baseballs. The idea was to color them with markers and glitter paint. The boys left their’s plain and the girls went wild with glitter!!! Imagine!

The boys also had fun playing a fun game Cinco got from his grandmother for his B-day. You throw soft cloth baseballs at a target and depending in what you hit, you move small plastic men around a ball field. The boys abandoned the ball field and players and more fun throwing the balls! But having fun is the point so who cares?

Treats Please…..
20130717-165911.jpgFor treats, I tried make to Carmel corn. Out came my beloved Whirly-Pop!!!And, my attempt to make the Carmel corn. After the first batch turned into a gloppy mess, I decided to consult my ‘Internet cookbook’ and found a better recipe. We added peanuts and packed it up in a red and white striped popcorn bag!

The treats continued with baseball themed gum. 20130717-170601.jpg

I know you are thinking Big League Chew. But, no! These little baseball gum-balls had cute little saying on them such as ‘Home Run’, ‘Strike’ or ‘Single’.

We read this book. Short and cute. It’s a baseball themed version of Goodnight Moon!

And, Cinco finished:
It was a good book to read before heading over to a Dodger game because the end is full of interesting facts about the stadium. So interesting in fact, The Captain kept sharing them with his sister and her family (who went to the game with us!)

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Berlin 1961: A Review

Wow. I really loved this book. Berlin: 1961 by Fredrick Kempe details the establishment of the Berlin Wall. The first section offers a look into the leaders who played key rolls in the Berlin crisis. Then readers are treated to a by-by-play account of creation of the wall and the western response (or lack there of). Finally, the epilogue takes readers through a critique of Kennedy’s actions and how the aftermath of Berlin was linked to Cuba. I will say the last 1/3 of the book provides the real action! So, if you’re pressed for time, skip to the end!

In addition to the barebones facts of history, Kempe offers small vignettes offering readers a look at the real occupants of Berlin. Many of the compelling stories of escape from East Berlin are featured– and I am very interested to follow up with a book of life behind the wall. Kempe uses these stories to illustrate the heart-braking elements of the wall.

As a reader, I was left feeling that JFK really abandoned the German people and betrayed the cause of freedom through his weakness. Furthermore, I am left wondering if there would ever even had been a wall if Nixon were elected the first time.

I highly recommend this book. It provides an interesting, thoughtful, well-researched point of view of a time and place critical to the American-Soviet Cold War.

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