ten mini book reviews part 6 featured image

Ten Mini Book Reviews Pt. 6

Hello everyone! I’m back with another set of mini book reviews!


ten mini book reviews part 6 featured image

I can’t believe how quickly I’ve been going through these books! I’ve picked up a ton of really interesting ones, so that does help but so does the semi-quarantine that’s almost become a full quarantine except that no one seems to want to accept reality that it should be full quarantine. Sigh. But here’s ten more mini book reviews for you!

Also, as you can see, I’m doing Blogmas again this year! That means I’ll be blogging every day until Christmas. I’ve done Blogmas in 201620172018, and 2019 so I am happy to be participating again in 2020.


You Are An Artist by Sarah Urist Green

This was a quick and fun read! I heard of this book through Sarah’s husband, Hank Green, who I follow on YouTube and other social media. Of course, I had to check it out! I got this book from the library as a digital book but I would recommend a physical copy if you want to do the activities and such because I think some of the book didn’t get formatted quite right. Unfortunately I had to read it pretty quickly in order to turn it in, so I didn’t get to do the art projects alongside the book but she had some really cool ideas and it’s perfect to get the creativity flowing!

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell

I got this book for free as part of my library’s book club. We were able to pick the book and it was the most interesting sounding for sure (even though there were a ton of great options!). The book was pretty cool, it started way before the Titanic’s voyage, introducing several prominent first class passengers by explaining their history and how they ended up on the shop. The book also debunked several conspiracies about the ship early, including my favorite conspiracy about the Titanic and Olympic ships being switched. Some more information about how the ship was designed, incidents early in the voyage, and numbers of passengers was also shared early on. Eventually, we get to the ship and start going day by day. The passengers who were introduced earlier were mostly survivors or people close to survivors, since clearly there’s more information about their experiences available. Throughout the chapters of the ship’s voyage, there were plenty of instances where the speed of the ship was consistently increased, mentions of when warnings regarding ice bergs were received, and many conversations regarding the ship’s safety.

Then, we get lots of information on the actual sinking. There was a comparison of different accounts, and the author spoke to how credible the information was based on the number of people who said the same thing (especially if they did so independently of each other) or if it was contradicted by someone else. Some notable examples of this included the whereabouts of Thomas Andrews and the Captain before the sinking, if third class was purposefully locked into their area to prioritize the first and second classes (ultimately the text concluded they were not but there were several other reasons for the discrepancy of survivors per class), and if the ship did crack in two or sunk in one piece (at the time survivors claimed both although we now know it did break in two). The book concluded by following the notable passengers a bit longer after the sinking, and then covering events in the decades that followed as the Edwardian Era ended.

I think that the most heartbreaking piece of information that I never really thought about was about the lifeboats. The Titanic is constantly criticized for not having enough lifeboats for everyone on board. The “defense” of the ship is that there was actually more lifeboats than was required by law, even if there weren’t enough for the passengers and crew. The book explains that even if there had been enough lifeboats though, it still wouldn’t have saved everyone. The Titanic sunk too quickly, and the response of the crew and passengers was too slow, that the loss of life would still have been high. At the time when the ship did fully sink, not all the lifeboats had been launched, to the point that some survivors even climbed onto a lifeboat that had drifted off but was the wrong way up. Of course, any number of passengers that could have been saved by more lifeboats or even if lifeboats had been filled up a bit more with passengers regardless of gender or age, would have been preferred but it seems to be the sad truth that the loss of life from the accident ultimately wouldn’t have been preventable.

I learned a ton and really enjoyed this book! I know that was a longer “mini” review of it, but I just find the Titanic to be a gripping story, as many of us do. I learned a lot from the book that I didn’t know, particularly about the passengers and how their lives had impacted their social circles before and after the sinking. There wasn’t much information on how news of the disaster did reach the mainland though, which I was just thinking would have been interesting (such as news articles or how the news broke out in general) although there was information on how other ships reacted, how the Carpathia advocated for the passengers (particular the third class who normally would have been required to quarantine, as well as anyone who came in contact with them. or even asking for security to keep the media at bay when passengers from the Titanic disembarked), and how families of Titanic voyagers were impacted. It was really, really interesting and I’m glad we picked it for book club.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian

I finally finished this series! It’s the third book so I won’t spoil it but it was a really enjoyable book. I think that because it’s been so long since I read the second book (I got it though my library’s app so I had to wait for it to become available) then I’d forgotten some of the newer characters. When I was reading this one I didn’t recognize a lot of names and had to keep reading to remember who they were and what the plot was for them. I thought it was a great ending to the series though and I really enjoyed the story.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

I really loved this book! So I randomly picked it because my app said it was part of a global book club called “Big Library Read”. There wasn’t a ton of information on the book club on the app and I didn’t do more research into it but it seems that the app picks a book that is being getting good reviews and makes it available to as many people that want to read it for a certain period of time. I really, really loved this book which features a teen boy named Kane who wakes up after an accident that caused him to lose his memory. As he starts to go back to his normal life there’s three other teens who reveal that they were his friends and suddenly there’s a whole fantasy piece added to the story. I really loved how the fantasy was introduced and revealed. It was a really fun story. Oh and also Kane is gay, which is even better because I am loving how these YA fantasy books have really been embracing diversity so much lately! I would recommend this one!

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare

I started Clare’s books a long time ago and now I’m continuing through them! I’m following a reading order Clare suggests, although I found it on a random website so I can’t say that’s completely true. The book was good. I was so happy Clary wasn’t in it! This one was about Alec and Magnus, who were delightful to read about. Honestly, I liked this book more than the previous ones by a lot. Mostly because there was no Clary.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Medieval Bodies: Life and Death in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell

This was my library’s book club pick for November! I didn’t really enjoy it but it was super educational. I was confused at first because I thought was mostly an examination on medical practices and the understanding of the human body during the middle ages, but there was so much information on religious beliefs or art. I did a quick Google search and Hartnell is actually an art historian so that made a ton of sense. It was a little all over the place for me because he was trying to cover so many bits into a 300 page book, but it was informative. I was also surprised at how much they got right too. I really had underestimated the middle ages in their understanding of the human body, but they were on the right track for many things like different areas of the brain control different things or even skin grafts. Of course, there are somethings that we look back on and think “but it was so common sense to keep a clean lifestyle to avoid the black plague!” which then prompted the question of what will people look back on during COVID times and say “but it was so obvious that people shouldn’t go out without a mask!”. Which, it is, but some people just… don’t get it? Anyway, back to the book. I do think it wasn’t presented in the most compelling way as, again, I felt it was a little all over the place, but there was a ton of interesting information and it was a shorter book so it went by fast.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

I loved this book! I think I heard of it on BookTube or BookTok, probably both, several times but never picked it up until now. I loved the colorful cover, and it looked like papel picado, so I was wondering if there would be a Hispanic influence on it and there was! I loved that aspect of the book. As for the story, the idea is that Dani, the main character, has been in training at school to be a good wife for an upperclass man. Since she’s the top student, she marries the most promising man, but she’s hiding the fact that she has forged identification papers. Eventually, the resistance group asks her to work with them under the threat of revealing her identity and Dani has to pick which side she’s on.

The story was so interesting and the world building was done so beautifully that I read this book all in one sitting. I loved it! I think the only part I thought wasn’t well written was Dani’s backstory with Carmen, as it didn’t really make sense why they despised each other to begin with, even with Carmen’s explanation later on in the story. But otherwise the characters were all really intriguing, the story was really cool, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. (Initially I gave it 4 but upon further thought I enjoyed it enough for a 5, even with the Dani/Carmen thing I mentioned as it was quite minor!)

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

I had intended to read this since I first heard it was an account of someone who had had a lobotomy. I’ve never really cared about the Kennedy’s in general so I didn’t know too much about them. Honestly the only Kennedy’s I’d even heard about was JFK and Bobby Kennedy, so I was surprised how many Kennedy kids there were in this book. Rosemary was the eldest daughter and third (I think) child of Joe and Rose Kennedy. She was a beautiful girl and later grew to be a beautiful woman, but due to complications at her birth, she was intellectually disabled. Once it became clear that Rosemary wasn’t meeting milestones at the same pace as her siblings as a baby and toddler, she was given extra help with tutors, therapists, and more. But eventually Rosemary was several grades behind her classmates and siblings so she was sent away to schools for children with special needs. At twenty-three, Joe and Rose had basically run out of options for getting Rosemary caught up and Joe thought it was getting too hard to control Rosemary as she felt she was old enough to make decisions on her own. Joe decided to sign up Rosemary for a lobotomy, at the time a brand new procedure. The lobotomy went wrong and Rosemary was left with severe brain damage, which led to Joe and the family hiding her in a Wisconsin institution for almost twenty years until her family discovered what had happened to her.

I found the book to be really interesting. Again, I didn’t know anything about this family so learning about Rosemary’s parents and siblings was overwhelming at first! But later on it became easier to keep everyone straight. Prior to her lobotomy it seemed Rosemary was trying her best but she just didn’t have the mental capacity to understand that she wasn’t able to meet her parent’s demanding expectations. Her parents also didn’t have the compassion to accept that Rosemary couldn’t meet them either. They did push her to learn as much as she could but I think they should have recognized and understood her limits. However, because they wanted to keep up appearances, they refused to accept Rosemary as she was, and it eventually led to the lobotomy. I think the most heartbreaking thing of all was that Rosemary seemed to still understand what happened to her after the lobotomy. Before the procedure she was able to live a life with some assistance but with a lot of independence. After it, she couldn’t even speak or walk at all and all her hard work (and her parents’) was completely undone. She could never live without full-time carers again and reading about how she must have felt at that was horrifying. I had an uncle with a condition which I think was the same as Rosemary’s prior to the lobotomy (same thing happened at his birth where his birth was delayed on purpose and caused brain damage), and my mom would tell me how much he wanted independence like everyone else and couldn’t understand why he was different so having any independence at all taken away must have been terrible. I thought it was crazy how Joe eventually also lost his own independence after his stroke and I wonder how he felt and if he realized the same thing had happened to him that he’d done to Rosemary. I feel for her, honestly, and I’m glad I was able to learn her story after it was hidden away for so long.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

This is the second book of Hank Green’s “The Carls” series. The Carls disappeared and the viral death of April May left everyone very confused and distraught in the months that followed. April’s friends try to move on but each stay connected to what happened with the Carls as they take steps forward in their lives. As they continue on their own paths, they eventually are led to clues that suggest April is still alive and the Carls are still around somehow.

I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the first book. Without April, the story just didn’t have the same pull. But looking back, I think that was the point that all her friends were lost without April, as she was the one who tied them all together with the Carls. Eventually, the story found it’s rhythm and I did enjoy it, especially since it’s message was essentially to ask if we, the readers and users of social media, understand how much power we give the online world.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini

I read this book because I saw the musical last year on Broadway! Ah, the sweet, sweet pre-pandemic times. The book was the inspiration for the musical, which features Jeremy as a typical high school dork. He dreams of romancing Christine and having more friends than just Michael, but it seems unattainable until he hears about a “squip”, a supercomputer in a pill that will instruct him on how to act to achieve his goals.

Honestly, I like the musical version much more than the book, but I’m sure I’d find the story interesting if there wasn’t a musical too. The stories are pretty similar but the differences that there are in the stories are pretty significant. They end in very different manners and the characters are given some big changes too in the musical. But the book itself is pretty cool. I think a part of it asks the same question as the Carls, about how much power and control we give to tech over us. It’s an interesting question and one that I have found myself pondering more and more, especially as I see how quickly and easily apps like TikTok capture hours of my and my friend’s attention. It is very much a book for a younger audience than myself, but the message is still relevant to any age in these times.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.


So those are my ten mini book reviews! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you though if you have. I’ve already read two more books and am working through four more, so maybe the next part will be up sooner rather than later!

Thanks for reading!

Pamela

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