Book Review: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

One of the reasons I hadn’t ever read this book before (besides the thousands of other books I want to read) is the title. Another reason was the cover. It just didn’t make me want to pick it up (and it turns out, the copy I have is also not very representative). As for the…

Book Review: The Glass Castle

This was a tough read. I’m not the first to say that, and maybe not even the first person to begin their review with that exact sentence. And looking at the other reviews, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is fairly polarizing, even to people who like it (and they are minion). “It was well…

Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

I have been out of commission since October, which is a little extreme. I attended that wonderful writing residency and finished a novel, but within weeks of returning I came down with something like the flu and destroyed my Thanksgiving season. I struggled with recovery until I decided that I had a secondary sinus infection.…

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan

I’m not averse to a story in which animals are personified. I’m not averse to a story in which animals are personified but being sneaky about it right under the nose of unsuspecting humans. But there was something about The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate that somehow defied both these categorizations and got…

Book Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Well, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a quick read. And if you like morals with your stories–if you want to walk away introspective in a Halmark-movie sort of way–then this could be the book for you. What did I think about it? It’s certainly easy to read. It’s interesting and moving. You’re always…

Book Review: The Prophet

This is one of those books that has sat in the back of my head and at the bottom of my list of books-to-read for many years. It felt like if I took literature seriously and was a truly modern, truly literate person, then I would have to read this one some time. In fact,…

Book Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

I was in Syracuse, New York. I had packed the last two books in the Lord of the Rings series and then had devoured what was left of them. I was headed to a pedicure with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and daughter and had about 20 minutes before my appointment to spare. There were two used…

Book Reviews: 1984 and Brave New World

I’m going to review these books together, because they had been all mixed up in my memory. (Not anymore.) They are also both classics of dystopian fiction and are both books you might be required to read in high school or college. I was in high school when I was assigned 1984 and a college…

Series Review: Little House

I’m sure I must have read Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid. And maybe Little House in the Big Woods. I don’t recall, though I do see the old copy on my bookshelf. What I do recall is being part of a generation during whose childhood the popular television series (with…

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

It may seem like there are a whole lotta books that I have been enthusiastically looking forward to reading. It would seem that way because it is that way. I have always been an avid reader and a curious individual, and there are so many books that I haven’t quite got around to yet, including…

Book Review: The Thing About Jellyfish

This book will forever be a little mixed up in my consciousness with the place and circumstances under which I read it. Sometimes that happens to a book—like if you read it while on bedrest or on a bus on the way to Florida. This one has a stronger association for me than some. To…

Book Review: Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is my daughter’s favorite book (and she is not alone). I’ve been meaning to read it for at least a year, and I have even already watched the movie (because my daughter wasn’t going to wait around for me). Having barely set the book down over the past two days, I…

Book Review: One Crazy Summer

I found One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia on a list of recommended reading for fourth or fifth grade, and we finally got around to it this year. I didn’t really know what I was about to read, though I could see all those awards, all but covering the front of the book. I enjoyed it. It’s…

Book Review: Inside Out and Back Again

The first thing you’ll want to know about this book—for better or worse—is that it is a novella in poem form. Of course, even if you don’t know it, you’ll notice it the second you open the book. A pleasant free verse type of poetry, it is a painless way to introduce poetry into a…

Cookbook Review: Deep Run Roots

I am picky about what cookbooks I buy, so my cookbook review should mostly be positive. Deep Run Roots, the much-anticipated book by Vivian Howard, is a hefty, pretty thing with an IACP Cookbook of the Year emblem on it, as well as “New York Times Bestseller” emblazoned across the top. Still in doubt? The cover…

Book Review: Shiloh

Another month, another read-aloud middle grades novel about nature, pets, and a boy coming of age. After the last few classics with their super sad endings, my son and I were both hoping for Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, to be more light-hearted. I wouldn’t call it light-hearted, but I would say you don’t have to…

Book Review: Old Yeller

I was reluctant to read Old Yeller by Fred Gipson to my son. I had never read it, but I knew, just from being an observant American, that it was not going to end well. My son loves books with boys in nature, especially involving animals and coming-of-age, but we had already endured Where the Red…

Series Review: Calpurnia Tate

These two books—The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly—have been sitting on my daughter’s shelf for a while, and I think that she’s just about outgrown them before she even got to read them. Perhaps she’ll come back to them as an adult, because as a grown-up who…

Author Review: Roald Dahl Novellas

My fifth-grade son has finally started reading novels on his own, and I am very happy to announce that his first, second, third, fourth, and fifth novels are by Roald Dahl. If you didn’t catch it already on the blog somewhere, I am a huge Roald Dahl fan, and so I of course would prefer…