Did I enjoy reading Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson? I'm not sure "enjoy" is the right word. But I certainly found it absDid I enjoy reading Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson? I'm not sure "enjoy" is the right word. But I certainly found it absorbing and compelling. It reads quite quickly despite the large cast of narrators and various perspectives. (I didn't miss a central narrator.)
It is abounding in detail: details about the ship, the captain and crew, the passengers, the cargo, about U-boats (submarines), about the war in Europe, about England, about Germany, about the United States.
One thing in particular that I found fascinating was "Room 40" the oh-so-secret British code-breakers that were decoding German transmissions and such. They were able to keep track of so much and make predictions about where the Germans might strike next. (But no warnings were sent to the Lusitania about all the recent activity by German submarines in their path just hours before.)
Another interesting aspect of the book is the focus on President Wilson--his personal private life and his public life. (Though it would be a huge stretch to say it is the most interesting aspect of the book.) Why was America so reluctant to enter the war? Why were they so sure they could avoid it no matter what? Did the loss of American lives really help change the general perception of the war and make the average American ready to enter the war? If it was, why wait almost two years to declare war?
The book definitely provides readers with a rich perspective of the times. It was suspenseful and full of tension in part because of all the questions that have no easy answers.
Did I enjoy reading 17 Carnations: The Royals, The Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History? Yes and no. I enjoyed reading the first half very much.Did I enjoy reading 17 Carnations: The Royals, The Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History? Yes and no. I enjoyed reading the first half very much. It was fascinating and informative. I couldn't put it down. The second half, however, felt both rushed and prolonged. Rushed in that the last few years of war were covered quite quickly and with no real detail. Prolonged in that the coverage of the "secret files" recovered seemed to go on forever and ever. And at the expense of covering the lives of the Duke and Duchess after the war.
I definitely am glad to have read it. It was my first book about Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor). And I felt I learned much from reading it. I just wish it had stayed focused more on him and less on decades of cover-up. Or that it had handled the cover-up aspects a bit differently--in a more engaging way.
So the book isn't quite satisfying as a biography or as a "war book." Though it is almost both. I would say the book is definitely rich in detail and provides a unique perspective of the war and the royal family. ...more
I really enjoyed reading My Father's Dragon (1948), Elmer And the Dragon (1950), and The Dragons of Blueland (1951), all by Ruth Stiles Gannett. (My FI really enjoyed reading My Father's Dragon (1948), Elmer And the Dragon (1950), and The Dragons of Blueland (1951), all by Ruth Stiles Gannett. (My Father's Dragon was a Newbery Honor book for 1949.) I'd read My Father's Dragon before many years ago--long before I started blogging--but this was my first opportunity, I believe, to read the two sequels.
I loved the way My Father's Dragon opens:
One cold rainy day when my father was a little boy, he met an old alley cat on his street. The cat was very drippy and uncomfortable so my father said, "Wouldn't you like to come home with me?" This surprised the cat--she had never before met anyone who cared about old alley cats--but she said, "I'd be very much obliged if I could sit by a warm furnace, and perhaps have a saucer of milk." "We have a very nice furnace to sit by, said my father, "and I'm sure my mother has an extra saucer of milk." My father and the cat became good friends but my father's mother was very upset about the cat. She hated cats, particularly ugly old alley cats. "Elmer Elevator," she said to my father, "if you think I'm going to give that cat a saucer of milk, you're very wrong. Once you start feeding stray alley cats you might as well expect to feed every stray in town, and I am not going to do it!"
This opening hooked me. It is through the cat--his cat--that he learns of a baby dragon in desperate need of help. He tells of the Island of Tangerina and Wild Island. He learns about the captive dragon and the dangerous residents of the island. He is determined to help free the dragon. The cat helps him form a plan...
The first book is all about his going to the islands, his adventures and misadventures as he's looking for the dragon--it's a good thing he came to the island well-prepared! Does he find the dragon? You can guess the answer to that. Of course he does!
My Father's Dragon is a delightful fantasy book for very young readers. It's short and quite satisfying.
In Elmer and the Dragon, Elmer starts his journey home--by dragon. His new dragon friend will fly him home. But neither Elmer or the dragon know the way home precisely. Elmer ends up having just as many adventures returning home as he did running away from home. One of the stops along the way is Feather Island, the home of all 'lost' canaries.
In The Dragons of Blueland, the dragon sets off to return to his own family that he hasn't seen since his captivity. He's anxious to be reunited. But when he returns, he learns that his own family--his very large family--has been trapped in their cave. The entrance is guarded by men intent on capturing them or perhaps even killing them. He needs to find a way to help his family! So he seeks out Elmer...
All three books are great. It's oh-so-easy to recommend these. ...more
I enjoyed reading "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. It's one I've read before, though I don't remember reading the sequels, or all the sequels in tI enjoyed reading "B" is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. It's one I've read before, though I don't remember reading the sequels, or all the sequels in this children's series. (Other books include Betsy and Billy, Back to School With Betsy, and Betsy and the Boys). In the first book, readers meet a young girl, Betsy, who is nervous about starting school. Though her anxiety is relieved after a successful day or two at school. The focus throughout the book is on Betsy's life at school and home. Each chapter has an "adventure" of sorts. Some of the adventures are more of an actual adventure. (For example, there is a chapter where Betsy finds and rescues a neighborhood dog from a pit she had fallen into. It may prove more 'exciting' than the chapter on the class' two pet tadpoles.) The book celebrates childhood, family life, friendship, and community.
It was originally published in 1939. In one of the chapters "How Wiggle and Waggle Grew," the class learns about Indians and makes an Indian village.
They made little wigwams of twigs covered with brown paper. They brought little dolls which they colored with reddish-brown paint. Some they dressed as squaws. Miss Grey had told them that the Indian women were called squaws. Some they dressed as Indian Braves. The Braves were the men who did the hunting and fighting while the squaws stayed home and did the work. Ellen brought a tiny doll which Miss Grey fastened on the back of one of the squaws. It was the squaw's papoose, which is the Indian name for baby. Betsy thought the Indian village was beautiful. (50-1)
So it's definitely a product of its time. For better and for worse. Betsy's world is quite different than ours. In Betsy's world, it's safe to walk everywhere, play anywhere, and every adult is a friend.
I wouldn't say it's a must-read children's classic, but, it is an enjoyable enough read for those looking for an old-fashioned read. ...more
I definitely enjoyed rereading Henry and Beezus. Unlike the Ramona series, I've only read the Henry Huggins books once or twice. Henry Huggins, our heI definitely enjoyed rereading Henry and Beezus. Unlike the Ramona series, I've only read the Henry Huggins books once or twice. Henry Huggins, our hero, really, really wants a bicycle. His parents can't afford to give him one, and, he doesn't expect it of them. He doesn't feel entitled to it. If only there was a way to earn enough money to buy it himself.
"Henry and The Roast." Readers meet Henry and Ribsy, learn of his great desire for a bicycle, and witness Ribsy steal a roast from the neighbor's barbecue. Readers also meet Henry's nemesis: Scooter, a boy with a bicycle and a paper route. A boy who happens along just in time to "save the day" or save the roast and save Ribsy from a dog fight.
"Henry Gets Rich." Henry discovers abandoned boxes of gumballs. He needs Beezus' red wagon to carry them back home. But borrowing the wagon means getting Beezus and Ramona to tag along with him.
"Ramona," coaxed Beezus, "can't you play that game some other time?" "What game?" asked Henry. He couldn't see that Ramona was playing any game. "She's playing she's waiting for a bus," explained Beezus. Henry groaned. It was the dumbest game he had ever heard of. "Doesn't she know it isn't any fun just to sit on a box?" he asked, looking nervously up and down the street. If only he could be sure no one else had discovered his gum! "Sh-h," whispered Beezus. "She thinks it's fun and I don't want her to find out it isn't. It keeps her quiet." Then she said to her little sister, "If you get in the wagon, Henry and I'll pull you and you can pretend you're riding on the bus." (40)
Henry thinks the gum a great discovery. He can even sell it to all his friends and classmates. He can make some money for his bike fund. But the teachers aren't happy about all the gum. (Neither are the janitors). And he finds it increasingly hard to sell gum after the first day or two. Maybe the gum wasn't such a wonderful discovery after all.
"The Untraining of Ribsy" Henry has the opportunity to take over Scooter's paper route for a week. A dollar will help his bike fund that's for sure. But can he stop Ribsy from "stealing" papers on the route? Beezus and Ramona make an appearance in this chapter as well. In fact, it is Ramona who accidentally provides a solution.
"Henry Parks His Dog" and "Beezus Makes A Bid" Henry, Beezus, and Ramona go to a police auction. Henry's trying to buy a bicycle at the auction with his $4.04. (He had to spend a dime to buy Ramona a snack. He didn't want to stop at the store and "park his dog" outside, but, he had to do something to get Ramona to behave.) Will he get a good deal? Or will all the kids tease him?
"The Boy Who Ate Dog Food" Everyone is excited about the grand opening of Colossal Market. There will be prizes and free samples. Henry and his parents go. As do Beezus and her family, I believe. (I think all the neighbors go.) Henry is lucky and unlucky. He wins something. But the prize, at first, feels very unlucky. He won $50 of work at a BEAUTY SALON. He doesn't need manicures, waves, and facials. Everyone is laughing. Which leads him to accept a dare to eat dog food. But then he realizes that he can SELL his prize and get the money for what he wants most... ...more
I enjoyed reading Beth White's Creole Princess. I think I enjoyed it even more than the first in the series, Pelican Bride. Creole Princess is set onI enjoyed reading Beth White's Creole Princess. I think I enjoyed it even more than the first in the series, Pelican Bride. Creole Princess is set on the Gulf Coast (in Louisiana and Alabama) during the 1770s and showcases the tension between nations and races.
In Creole Princess, readers meet Lyse Lanier and Rafael Gonzalez.
I loved Lyse as a heroine. I enjoyed spending time with her and her family and friends. Her life isn't easy, and, she has to make some difficult choices, but through it all, I cared about her.
I did love Rafael as a hero. He didn't make the best first impression, but, then again neither did she. But both hero and heroine grew on me as the novel progressed.
I also liked the way their relationship developed. It felt natural and right, not rushed.
Overall, I liked it and would definitely recommend it. ...more
Ginger Pye is a book that I never would have read as a child. Why? Well, for the simple reason that there is a dog on the cover. Why risk reading a boGinger Pye is a book that I never would have read as a child. Why? Well, for the simple reason that there is a dog on the cover. Why risk reading a book if there's a chance that the dog could die? Safer to read other books perhaps. Is it for the better that I didn't read this one until I was an adult? Probably. Though I should add that Ginger Pye, the dog on the cover, does NOT die. The book would have been sad enough for me as a child.
As an adult there were quite a few things about the book that I enjoyed. Not that I loved, loved, loved it. Readers meet Rachel Pye and her brother Jerry. Jerry, we learn, really, really, REALLY wants to buy a puppy. He needs a dollar, and he needs it NOW. There is someone else who wants to buy "his" puppy, and, he'll need to hurry to get his pick. Fortunately, at just the right time, he's offered an opportunity to dust the church. What a relief! Rachel helps him clean, and they get there just in time it seems. They buy the dog, name him Ginger, and all is well...or is it?!
For they are not the only ones who think that Ginger is the best dog ever. Never forget that someone else wanted Ginger. (They do forget.)
The book is a bit of a mystery. They're not very good at detecting, however. Readers may guess a long time before they do. Still, this one has a happy enough ending. I am glad I read it. ...more
Completely Clementine is the seventh book in the series. Clementine is just as lovable as in earlier books. I continue to like the series very much. ICompletely Clementine is the seventh book in the series. Clementine is just as lovable as in earlier books. I continue to like the series very much. It's interesting to read Clementine so soon after reading all the Ramona books. I definitely love, love, love the Ramona books. But I solidly like the Clementine ones. I think I definitely would have liked them as a kid.
In this book: *Clementine struggles with saying goodbye to her favorite teacher *Clementine worries about if she's really ready for fourth grade like her teacher, her parents, and her principal say she is *Clementine nurtures her anger at her father for not suddenly becoming vegetarian; she refuses to speak to him for most of the book *Clementine anxiously waits for the birth of her baby sister
I perhaps could have done without the vegetarian element in the story. I'm not sure it's fair for a child to dictate what her parents eat in their own home. And I think she carries the silent treatment a bit too far. ...more
Princess Pinecone wants a pony for her birthday. The pony she wants is different than the pony she gets. The pony she gets is short and round and--depPrincess Pinecone wants a pony for her birthday. The pony she wants is different than the pony she gets. The pony she gets is short and round and--depending on your point of view, either cute and adorable or ugly. She certainly can't imagine riding the pony, especially not into battle. The pony isn't very warrior-ish. But the pony has a way of charming the other warriors and even Princess Pinecone herself.
If pony farting books are your thing, then The Princess and the Pony may be just right for you. (I believe it got a starred review from Kirkus). Unfortunately, I am not the right reader for the book. I found it odd and not charming enough. ...more
Audrey has "outgrown" her house, or, so she thinks at the opening of this delightful picture book by Jenny Hughes. Audrey and her Dad go outside lookiAudrey has "outgrown" her house, or, so she thinks at the opening of this delightful picture book by Jenny Hughes. Audrey and her Dad go outside looking for a house--a new house--that is just right for the bigger-than-yesterday Audrey. They decide to build a treehouse. Side by side, they spend the day. But when evening approaches, well, Audrey realizes just where she belongs, where she'll always belong.
Loved, loved, loved it!!! Cute premise, cute illustrations, lovely text. This one just works really well for me!!! My favorite illustration is of Audrey in her Dad's sweater with the cat following along behind her. ...more
Dragon Spear is the last in the series. I struggled with this one the first time I read it. At the time, I blamed it completely on the fact that I hadDragon Spear is the last in the series. I struggled with this one the first time I read it. At the time, I blamed it completely on the fact that I hadn't read the other two books recently enough. Surely, if I had remembered the first two books better, this one would be just as wonderful, right?! Did reading all three books within a week help? Yes. That being said, did I love this third book? Not as much as I wanted to love it. I wanted to love it just as much as the first book, so the series would end just as strong and wonderful as it began. What I continued to love, love, love were the characters. What I didn't quite love was all the action. I actually found the action-sequences a bit confusing in this third book. Creel and Luka and their friends are once again in danger--great danger--and war seems inevitable. This time a dragon civil war. It's action-packed with plenty of intensity. (This book has volcanoes.) It had its light moments, as well, which I enjoyed. (Like when Creel's aunt and uncle come to visit the royal family). Overall, I found myself liking it. But when you've LOVED, LOVED, LOVED previous books in the series, "really liking" feels a bit disappointing. (But that's just when you compare all three books to one another. Comparing Dragon Spear to other MG/YA Fantasy books, it's still a very good, very strong read.) ...more
I've spent the last week rereading Jessica Day George's oh-so-lovely dragon series starring Creel, Prince Luka, and their dragon friends.
One war withI've spent the last week rereading Jessica Day George's oh-so-lovely dragon series starring Creel, Prince Luka, and their dragon friends.
One war with the dragons is over and done with, but, a second is about to begin. And this time, it may not be an evil human controlling the dragons through alchemy, but, an evil dragon controlling a human king controlling dragons through alchemy. Not that Creel could guess that before she slips off to her second war as a spy. (She doesn't go into enemy territory alone, she takes some of her dragon friends.)
I liked this one. Did I love, love, love it as much as Dragon Slippers? Probably not. But I still really loved it. I loved meeting Shardas' mate--the queen of dragons. I loved spending time with Creel and her friends, her dragon friends, and her human friends. The book has plenty of action and drama. Quite a showdown! But it isn't done without attention to characters. Overall, I definitely recommend this book and this series....more
Ramona's World is the last book in the series. Ramona is in fourth grade now. And she's definitely got a big crush on Yard Ape. (There's been no mentiRamona's World is the last book in the series. Ramona is in fourth grade now. And she's definitely got a big crush on Yard Ape. (There's been no mention at all of Henry Huggins lately or of Mary Jane for that matter.)
"Ramona Spreads the News" Ramona starts fourth grade. She's anxious to spread the news that she's a big sister. Her baby sister, Roberta, is oh-so-cute and oh-so-little. Ramona meets the new girl, Daisy, and hopes that they can become BEST friends.
"The Role Model" Does Ramona like spelling? Does Ramona like teachers that emphasis how important spelling is? Does she like teachers that pick on and point out all her spelling mistakes word by word in front of the whole class? She does not! She is not liking her new teacher very much. But Roberta can make her day better. Roberta copies Ramona and sticks out her tongue and makes cute faces.
"At Daisy's House" Ramona and Daisy get to know each other better and decide to be best friends.
"The Invitation" Beezus has a new best friend, Abby. Abby is having a boy-girl party and invites Beezus, of course. Beezus is excited and anxious and sneaks out to get her ears pierced.
"The Princess and the Witch" Ramona gets into trouble at Daisy's house, but, it isn't her fault, not really.
"The Party" Beezus attends a party, and Ramona goes with her Dad to drop her off. Her Dad has been teaching Beezus how to dance. Does the party go well?
"The Grown-Up Letter" Ramona sends off a letter when she sees something that bothers her in the paper. She impresses her teacher when she gets a reply.
"Peas" Ramona's picture day
"Ramona Sits" Ramona cat-sits Daisy's cat. It is NOT a fun week. Seven days feels like forever. Especially when her Mom leaves her in charge of Roberta too--for a whole FIFTEEN MINUTES.
"The Valentine Box" Valentine's Day. Will she treasure Yard Ape's valentine?
"Birthday Girl" Ramona turns 10, has a party, shares her cake with boys, and learns something surprising about her old nemesis, Susan.
Part of me was sad to see an end to the series. I have loved visiting with Ramona so very much. The series did a good job at aging up the characters, however. Something that you can really appreciate better if you read the series all at once.
Do you have a favorite book in the series? Mine would probably be Ramona the Pest or Ramona the Brave or Ramona Quimby, Age 8. ...more