ten mini book reviews pt. 14 featured image

Ten Mini Book Reviews Pt. 14

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

ten mini book reviews pt. 14 featured image

As always, I’ve tried to read a wide variety of books, but tend to make it back to non-fiction and YA constantly. Even so, I did learn a lot with my most recent reads!

Note about my ratings: I’ve switched to using the StoryGraph to track and rate the books I’ve been reading. This site uses 1-5 stars, 5 being the highest, in 0.25 increments. Feel free to friend me on the StoryGraph – my username is StarringPamela there!

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig

I think I saw this book promoted on Twitter or something, and so I had to pick it up at the library. It’s long but really interesting and well paced. The book talks briefly about the founding of the Secret Service, including the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and adding in a few other notable events in Secret Service history. Finally, the book starts off with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, focusing on all that went wrong. The rest of the book follows a similar format, split up by each subsequent President and the state of the Secret Service during that time. In the administrations following JFK’s the Secret Service really ramped up their efforts and had a really good run, but eventually lack of funding and a horrific culture led to multiple scandals and highly embarrassing breaches that could have gone terribly wrong. It was really interesting to read and I learned a lot about the Secret Service. This book is very new so it is really up-to-date, wrapping up just as President Biden took office and with the epilogue covering the US Capital attack in January 2021. I think the craziest and silliest thing is how the details of the First Family actively complained if the First Family didn’t treat them like family. I can certainly understand wanting to be treated with respect and having a good working relationship with the First Family, but some of the complaints were too much. For example, when the Bush family left and the Clinton family arrived they complained because Barbara Bush used to send them home with containers of leftover food for their families but Hillary Clinton didn’t. Like… what??? That’s nice the Bush family did that, but it seemed like a complaint from and entitled and spoiled brat, or at least that’s how it came across in the text. And it was super frustrating reading about how the first female director tried so hard to make positive changes to the culture but ultimately couldn’t get it done and had to resign without really making much of an impact. Anyway, after reading the book I decided it would be best to just dissolve the Secret Service and start anew to fix their severe culture issues, much like that “abolish the police” idea, but no one asked me for my opinion so here we are. I would really recommend it though, it’s really eye-opening and interesting.

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme

This was the pick for my library’s non-fiction book club for August. I have zero interest in cookie, so I was low-key hoping I’d be inspired to try cooking after reading Child’s story. I did find her story super cool. She was a government employee before she moved to France and became a chef! How cool! But overall I did find her book a bit, well, boring. Again, I’m not into cooking at all so I had no interest in the cooking passages, which were a lot of the book. I had no idea what the dishes she was talking about were, and I couldn’t be bothered to look them up since I was just trying to get through the text. Additionally, I felt like she featured way too much about her husband, which I understand that he was a big part of her life and the reason she moved to France anyway (his government job transferred him there) but at the start she was giving us his life story and family background even though the book wasn’t about him. It just seemed so weird that we got so much about him and almost nothing about her writing partner for the book that made her famous. Of course, she didn’t end on great terms with that writing partner, but still! I think if you’re interested in Child herself it’s worth a read but otherwise it isn’t really. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.

I gave this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

I continued reading Clare’s books and although I hate most of them, the character featured in this one (Magnus Bane) is actually one of the few that I do like reading about so I didn’t hate this one. I didn’t love it either because it was just a collection of short stories of the character’s past, but I do really enjoy Bane and it was short so it was manageable.

I gave this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare

I am getting closer and closer to finishing all of Clare’s books so I’m trying to rush through them now! I had to skip one book in the list that I’m following because it wasn’t available yet but I did go ahead and read this one. There were some spoilers in there but I didn’t really mind. I did actually kind of enjoy this one because it was more focused on Bane again.

I gave this book 3.23 out of 5 stars.

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Oh this book was a great read! This book explores the lack of data regarding women in our world and how that affects our society. At times, it also does include examples of when data focused on women collected and taken into account, as well as the endless positive impact it has on us. It’s also laid out very well, which chapters focusing on different aspects such as health care, transportation, and so on. I will say that even though it was pretty slow-paced, due to the amount of material the book covered, it was really interesting and I couldn’t put it down. The design of the cover, with the male figures being in black against the light background, and the female figures being in a very light gray, was incredible and really drove home the point. The male figures are always the “default” while the female figures, if they are even included, are barely there.I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Love Has No Age Limit by Patricia B. McConnell and Karen B. London

As you might recall, I recently adopted a 4 year old Chihuahua! When I adopted him, the shelter gave me a ton of literature to read and take home with me. This book was one of them. It was basically covering what to expect after adopting an “older” dog. It focused mostly on how to address training early and often, to make sure you reinforce any positive training the dog has and prevent negative habits from continuing. This is my first dog, so I was so thankful to have this book!

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Cautious Canine by Patricia B. McConnell

Another book from the shelter and it wasn’t as good as the first but still interesting! I think it will still be helpful for sure, since my dog seems to be a little more cautious and reluctant to go outside at night when it’s dark (my puppy niece doesn’t have that problem) so I will still need those tips!

I gave this book 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

I saw this book recommended on TikTok so I thought I would check it out from the library! It took forever to get it though, since so many people were interested in it. I didn’t love it, as it was a little too densely packed for my liking but it had really good examples of situations, explanations, and information in general. I am the type of person to take things a little too personally so at times I did find myself thinking “wow, way to come at me” LOL but it was really interesting to read and I would recommend it if you’re interested in the topic!

I gave this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Midnight at Chernobyl by Adam Higgenbotham

I found this book as it was one of the rejected options for my library’s non-fiction book club. Every month, the librarian picks 6-7 options for the next book and we vote from there. This book has been on the list a few times and this time it came in second, as too many people didn’t want to read about such a tragic event so close to another book on a tragic event (The Day the World Came to Town about 9/11 but that one was a more positive story focused on the kindness of the people in Gander who took in thousands of stranded passengers). I did mention that I had already started reading it in the book club as the list came out a few days before and I had seen it was available. I will admit, the first chunk of the book (not sure the page numbers, because I read it digitally) was incredibly boring. It reminded me of the Titanic book the book club read (The Ship of Dreams) where the first part of the book is setting the story and providing important background information, but it was pretty hard to get through. Once the story began though, I was able to get through the book pretty quickly. I was surprised at how much it was focused on the bureaucracy instead of the people affected in the disaster. It was more based on the director, the operators, the supervisors, and others involved in the plant operation and disaster itself, rather than the people who were displaced due to this. I think that the book did assume you already knew the extent of the danger of radioactive exposure and such, as it really didn’t go into that at all. I do think it would have been a stronger book if it had included that information, as it would have felt more “complete” but it was still really informative and great at explaining how the disaster occurred and what happened after. Do I sort of regret reading it just in case it does get picked for the book club at some point? Kinda! It’s not really something I plan to reread but if that happens, I’ll just suck it up and reread it anyway probably!

I gave this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This was the actual library non-fiction book club pick for September! I did really enjoy this book. It centers around the burning of the Los Angeles Public Library on April 28, 1986. I had just spent a few days reading about Chernobyl’s disaster on April 26, 1986 so I was really surprised to see this date come up. Anyway the book covered the fire at the library, looked into the man, Harry Peak, who was accused as the arsonist that started the fire, and even a good amount of history of the library and libraries in the US. The book covered a lot of information is a seemingly sporadic order, but even so, I didn’t find that distracting or annoying at all. It somehow all flowed really well together and the information was presented really well too. It was cool to read about the interviews Orlean did with present and past librarians, people connected to Peak, and the impact of libraries in our society. As you might know if you read my blog regularly, I’m a huge fan of libraries, particularly as local community centers. It was really cool to read about it and learn a tiny bit more!

I gave this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

So that’s the ten latest books I’ve read! Oh, I did want to share that now that I’ve been working full time again, I do notice that I gravitate more towards paper books versus ebooks again. I guess it just depends how much I’m looking at screens! Either way, most of my reading material comes from my library or other local libraries which partake in a book sharing program in our area. It’s a great way to get access to more materials for the patrons and I’m so grateful to live in an area that provides both amazing resources and programs!

Thanks for reading!


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