Friday, January 22, 2016

Favorite Books Reviewed in 2015

I always have a difficult time picking favorite books, but here is a list of some of the books that I really enjoyed reading and reviewing in 2015. I tried to keep my list small this year because I am late getting it out. What were some of your favorite books from 2015?

In History:

The Maid And The Queen is about the relationship between Yolanda of Aragon, and Joan of Arc. This book explores the myths about Joan of Arc and explains them while still making Joan of Arc an intriguing historical figure. I was also pleased to learn more about Yolanda of Aragon who I now want to know so much more about. Goldstone provides a fascinating history of a person that is well known. Definitely one of my favorite books this year, and one I want to add to my own library.

The War Of The Roses explains who the two branches of the Plantagenet family are, their fight for the crown, and how the Tudors came to power after the all the fighting was over. This is an engaging history that helps the reader understand how different events in English history connect together and how important they were to the Tudors coming to power. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in the Tudors. It would be great for those new to the topic, and for those who are already familiar with these events.

Bookworms Book Club:

This was Alejandro's favorite book that we have read in the Bookworms Book Club. I did not limit their choice to this year as we have only been reading for a year and a half, and they did not add their choices to last year's list. The I Survived series is a great way to introduce young readers to historical events. Alejandro really likes learning about World War II, and this was the first book we read together in the book club. The main character Danny must try to survive the bombing of Pearl Harbor.


The Giver was Paige's choice for favorite book we have read in Bookworms together. This has been a book I have reread several times since I was a kid, so I was thrilled to read it with Alejandro and Paige for their first time reading it. It is one that is at the top of all of our lists. They also read it right before the movie came out so they had fun comparing the book and the movie. This is a great dystopian novel, and I am pleased it was such a hit in our book club.

This was my favorite book we read together. I have always liked this book, but I really like introducing Alejandro and Paige to some of my favorites from when I was their age. I had a lot of fun with the book discussion on this one, and liked talking about the different layers in the story. We only read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe together, but the whole series is fun and should be read at least once.

In Comic Books and Graphic Novels:


This is a humorous series about a group of kids playing a video game. We go with them on the typical video game quests of rescuing the princess, battles, figuring out obstacles, and so on. Every page ends in the phrase: "Game Over" as they fail spectacularly at what they are doing. My favorite character is the princess who often ends up making the hero lose the game. The series is in French, but it is easy to understand what is going on. Anyone who has played video games will be amused by this series.


I liked that this one focused on the Joker as he tries to prove his theory that any man can be broken and go insane. He decides to test this on Inspector Gordon. He struggles to maintain his sanity, while the Joker does his best to drive him crazy. I really liked learning more about the Joker who is an intriguing villain. This is a brilliantly told story that should not be missed by fans of the Joker.

In Historical Fiction:

I thought this was a fascinating fictional account of the Pendle witch-hunt in 1612. The author uses different characters to narrate the story which gives an interesting perspective on what was going on, and what brought about the accusations from the neighbors. This is an entertaining story while provoking a lot of interesting topics. 

In Humor:

I was a fan of the William Shakespeares Star Wars original trilogy, so I figured it was worth giving the new trilogy a try. Even if you do not like episodes I, II, and III you should read this book(and the rest of the trilogy). I actually liked The Phantom Menace told in this way. New life is given to the story and characters, and it is a delight to read. 

In Steampunk:

I heard about the Parasol Protectorate series this year, and thought I would give it a try. I found the first book Soulless to be witty and amusing. I continued on with the series and the two series that go with it, and like it more with every book I read. It features a strong female with her own ideas and powers. She is not about to let vampires and werewolves control her. A wonderful beginning to an incredible series.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I Survived the Nazi Invasion 1944

Max Rosen is eleven years old and is trying to survive with his younger sister. He must escape the ghetto if he is going to live. He finds a group of resistance fighters in the forest, and must decide if he is capable of fighting the Nazis so he, and others, might live.

This is the sixteenth book the Bookworms read together. I did not read all of this one with Alejandro and Paige as I did not have access to the complete book. I enjoyed listening to them describe the book and discussing it with them. I do really like this series based on the other books in it that I have read, and what I am told about it. I think it is a great way to introduce history to young readers. There is a list of historical facts in the back to help readers sort out fact from fiction, which is always a major plus to me.

The Bookworms are trying something new with this book. When Alejandro or Paige pick the book, I asked them to come up with a few questions of their own for us, or to say something about the book. I thought it might be a fun way for them to be involved with the discussion when they choose the book. Alejandro picked this book for us, and he came up with a few questions for the book. Here are some questions with the Bookworms. Warning! There are some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

Alejandro's Questions For The Group:

How do you rate the book?
Paige 4 1/2
Alejandro 5
Whitney 4 I would probably give it more if I had been able to finish it.

What was your favorite part? 
Paige When they found their Aunt Hannah.
Alejandro When they were going to America.

What are some things done to stop Nazi advance?
Paige They blew up the train.
Alejandro They would stop supplies from getting to them.

What was life like in ghetto for the kids?
Paige Hard. They had no food and nothing to trade.
Alejandro Yeah, they barely got rations and the Nazis took their family away.

How do you think they felt when took father away?
Paige They were sad.
Alejandro I think they felt worried and scared.

How do they get out of ghetto?
Alejandro A soldier got shot.
Paige They crawled under the barbed wire fence.

Who did they find while in barn?
Paige Their Aunt Hannah.
Alejandro Their Aunt and fighters.

How does max get wounded?
Alejandro A gunshot.
Paige By a young soldier.

How do Nazis give more scars then guns?
Alejandro They took their Dad away.
Paige Because of what they did to people.

Why do you think Aunt Hannah says you have to hope to survive?
Paige Because if you don't hope you have less chance to survive.
Alejandro I agree.

Do you have any other comments on the book?
Alejandro I really liked the cover It really explains the nazi invasion

Thank you Alejandro and Paige for reading and discussing this book with me. And thank you to Alejandro for coming up with so many great questions for us.