Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorites of 2013

It was hard to choose, but here is my list of favorite books I reviewed this year:

1. Fever by: Mary Beth Keane
A historical fiction book about Mary Mallon, A.K.A. Typhoid Mary. Keane examines the question if Mary actually understood that she was spreading the disease or not. The story follows Mary as she is discovered as a healthy carrier of the disease and how she was treated by the authorities. It was an excellent book. Completely engaging, while inviting the reader to think about how we treat people when we are frightened of them.

2. The Saga of the Icelanders by: Various Authors
A collection of sagas and tales selected from the Icelandic five volume set. This is an excellent collection of some of the lesser known tales. Although the more popular sagas such as: The Saga of the Volsungs and Njal's Saga are not included, you will discover similar tales in this book that you will like. The Penguin edition contains a lot of supplemental material which explains about the time period, how the political system worked, and maps.

3. Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by: Anne Somerset

I enjoyed learning more about Queen Anne. She is a monarch you do not hear a lot about despite the role she played in some major historical events such as: The Glorious Revolution, The Seven Year's War, The War of Spanish Succession, and The Act of Union. Anne Somerset gave us another exceptional biography with Queen Anne.

4. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by: Ransom Riggs

Jacob travels to an island to see what he can discover about his Grandfather. He learns more than he could possibly imagine. I loved the use of vintage  photographs as an idea and illustration for this story. Having the photographs as part of the story almost makes you believe the story is real. This was an imaginative tale full of mystery that kept me engaged in the story. I cannot wait for the next book Hollow City to be released.

5. Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by: Jonathan L. Howard

This is the third book about the anti-social necromancer Johannes Cabal. I loved reading this book! Johannes Cabal is an anti-hero, which makes for an amusing read. In this book he becomes a guide for The Fear Institute on their journey to the Dreamlands to find embodiment of fear. I thought this was a very entertaining tale.

6. Harvest For Hope by: Jane Goodall

The perfect introduction to mindful eating. Goodall clearly explains why it is important to know about what we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown/raised. She writes about farming practices, factory farms, water, CSAs, and much more. I learned a lot from this book, and joined a CSA when I was done reading it. If you care about what you eat, or are curious why other people do, you should read this book.

7. The Greek Myths by: Robert Graves

I love mythology, and Graves' collection is one of the best for the Greek myths that I have read. He provides additional notes about each tale, and this edition has some beautiful pictures. If you want to know more about the Greek myths, this is a great edition.

8. Eleanor Of Aquitaine by: Alison Weir

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a powerful woman. She married two kings, and was the mother of three kings. She lived a long and very active life. I was particularly impressed with how much she traveled. She traveled back and forth between France and England. She also went on one of the Crusades to Constantinople and Jerusalem. This was a well researched and engaging biography. I really enjoyed learning more about Eleanor.

9. The Cookiepedia by: Stacy Adimando

This is a cookbook of classic cookie recipes. It is my new go to cookbook for cookies. I love the wide variety, and the easy to follow recipes. Full of tips on how to change the recipe slightly or how to make some steps easier, it is the ideal cookbook for the new or experienced baker. I've made several of the recipes already, and am looking forward to making more.

10. Catching Fire by: Suzanne Collins

This is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. It is my favorite of the three. I loved the introduction of previous winners of the games. They all have such strange personalities, you cannot help but love them. This book also captures the different emotions of the people and events better. I had a great time rereading this book before I went to see the movie. I like it more each time I read it.

11. We Band Of Angels by: Elizabeth M. Norman

The account of Navy nurses deployed to the Philippines during World War II. They end up as prisoners of war, and despite horrific conditions all of the nurses survive their imprisonment. The amazing part is, they continued to do their best to care for the wounded, even when they could barely stand from illness and starvation. It was a very moving book, and I highly recommend it.

12. Nick And Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab by: Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Nick and Tesla go to their Uncle Newt's house for the summer. They get to use their Uncle's lab for experiments. Nick and Tesla start using their experiments in their adventures around Half Moon Bay. I read and reviewed this book with my nephew. We had a lot of fun reading this book. There are instructions for five experiments from the story that you can do yourself. This book is a fun way to expose kids to science.

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