Book Review: The Not-So-Great Escape

The Not-So-Great Escape
McGee and Me! #3
by Bill Myers & Ken C. Johnson

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian fiction

Most of us who grew up in a Christian home know all too well the feeling when our friends were allowed to do something that we weren’t allowed to do, whether that be going somewhere, watching something, listening to certain music, etc. Most of us didn’t set up a Ferris Beuller-like contraption to try to fool our parents, but that’s the charm of the main character in this series. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have a friend who goaded me quite like Louis does with Nick, but of course the lesson to learn here is that Nick still should have said no. It’s a good short story overall, though McGee, Nick’s animated friend, isn’t as enjoyable on the page as he is on the screen. These books may not be easy to find anymore, but if you do have the chance to read this book or procure it for an 8-10-year-old child, I recommend it.

Find out more about The Not-So-Great Escape

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Evil Genius

Evil Genius
The Smartest Kid in the Universe #3
by Chris Grabenstein

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s adventure

12-year-old Jake and his scientifically enhanced, super-smart brain may have a rival when the latest batch of ingestible knowledge jelly beans are stolen. And if that isn’t bad enough, Jake has reason to believe that his artificial knowledge could wear off at any moment. Can Jake and his friends outsmart both new and old foes and recover a treasure that’s been lost for centuries?

Poor Jake is really put through it in this installment. He used to be a fun-loving kid who had no real worries. Now, not only does he have to deal with dark-side counterparts, but he’s devastated over the possibility of losing his intelligence. This book has a few more plot lines than previous ones do, so there’s kind of a lot going on for not a very long book. Because of that, I feel like Jake’s friends don’t get as much “screen time” in this book. On the other hand, at least that means I didn’t have to deal with as much of Kojo’s Kojak references. But the multiple plot lines also provide two different main villains (and several smaller ones), and there is a lot of anti-climax involved. Still, in the end, the book was fun. I’m getting to like Jake more and more with each book, and I hope there’s more to come. For the first time in this series, I cannot tell you what my daughter thought of the book, because she hasn’t read it yet. I’m very interested to hear what she thinks, but in the meantime, I’m confident recommending this book and series for kids around 8-12 years old.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children’s Books for providing me a copy of this book to review.
Publication date: May 16, 2023

Find out more about Evil Genius

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Blood Rites (DNF)

Did Not Finish: Blood Rites
The Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
Read by james Marsters

My rating: DNF, no rating
Genre: Paranormal mystery

I’ve never DNF’d a book this far into a series, but I had to. I’m also calling it quits on the series, which I’ve rarely done this far into a series either. Though I mostly enjoyed the previous books, I commented about the amount of sexual content in each of my reviews. Jim Butcher’s main use for female characters seems to be as sexual objects, and their body parts are described often and in far too much detail. This makes me uncomfortable both as a woman and as a Christian.

So you can imagine my discomfort and frustration with this book that has a main setting of a porn movie set. At the 26% mark, I realized that just wasn’t worth it. I have enjoyed James Marsters’s narration, which might be the only reason I continued as long in the series as I did, but that’s it for me.

Find out more about Blood Rites

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

April in Review

I read 7 books last month, the same amount as March. My reading hasn’t really picked up yet, but at least I’m pretty much caught up on reviews. I wrote a lot of them in April, since I had to write reviews for all of the books I read in March too. I’m very relieved to be caught up. I do hope my reading picks up soon, but I’m not stressing about it.

Here are the books I read in April:

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary (3.5 / 5)
Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem (4 / 5)
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (5 / 5)
The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (1 / 5)
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (5 / 5)
The Cat Who Blew the Whistle by Lilian Jackson Braun (4 / 5)
The Not-So-Great Escape by Bill Myers (review pending)

This list includes 1 ARC and 0 re-reads. My favorite book from April was The Long Winter. I started 0 series, continued 5 series, and finished 1 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Cat Who Blew the Whistle

The Cat Who Blew the Whistle
Book #17
by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Cozy mystery

A nostalgic train ride turns into a case of fraud as the train’s owner disappears with millions of dollars deposited in his credit union. Using clues dug up by his Siamese cats, former crime reporter Jim Qwilleran will have to weed out the important facts from the distractions.

This book brought back what I like about the series, set back in Moose County and involving a lot of the old favorite side characters, as well as a few new ones. Like in at least one previous book, a play being prepared at the nearby theater becomes somewhat intertwined with the book’s plot. It’s enough to make me wish I’d read more Shakespeare in school (but not enough to make me want to read it now). There’s some excitement here and there, and while it’s not the most interesting story overall, I really didn’t find myself bored while reading it. The pseudo-supernatural elements that usually involve Koko’s abilities to unearth clues, predict tragedy, or even know the exact moment of a death, are turned up a notch in this book, maybe causing higher suspension of disbelieve than some would prefer. In the end, though, it’s a solid entry to the series.

Find out more about The Cat Who Blew the Whistle

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Ramona the Pest

Ramona the Pest
Ramona Quimby #2
by Beverly Cleary
Read by Stockard Channing

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Children’s classic

Cleary seems to have some great insight into the mind of a child; though it’s been a long time since I was Ramona’s age in this book, I can definitely remember having some of the same thoughts and feelings she has here. Her ups and downs are so realistic and make me wish her parents would see her more, while knowing that they’re normal and understanding why they’re not always fully aware of what’s going on with her. The very end of the book, the culmination of Ramona’s trouble at school and her love of making cats with her Qs, made me so happy! I liked the first book in the series, but this one definitely tops it!

Find out more about Ramona the Pest

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Prophet of Yonwood

The Diamond of Darkhold
Book of Ember #3
by Jeanne DuPrau

My rating: 1 / 5
Genre: Children’s dystopian

Some decades before the city of Ember is built, before the Crisis that moved the first inhabitants of Ember underground, a woman in the town of Yonwood has a fiery vision. But her comatose-like mind might hold the secret to keeping Yonwood safe from that catastrophic future.

I don’t really see a lot of point to this book. It’s a prequel to the first two books in the city, but it’s barely connected. And even the elements within this book were fairly disconnected from each other. There’s the main character, Nickie, and her aunt, who are visitors to Yonwood, and their disagreement about selling the house they’re there to clean out and possibly sell. The actual Prophet storyline, which barely comes across as the main storyline. Grover and his plight to make it to camp in Arizona. The kooky man who is interested in the heavens and is the only who who successfully defies the Prophet’s lackeys. There is just too much going on, and even by the halfway point, I had no idea what the purpose of the book really was.

As the Prophet’s main interpreter begins to get more and more ridiculous with her rules, I quickly began to realize that this is just another attempt on the author’s part to teach readers something she feels is important. But unlike a more universally accepted truth in the 2nd book (“War is bad”), this one is a lot more controversial. The book turns into basically an indictment on religion, seeming to imply that religions are largely fabricated by their followers. It actually reminds me most of the Pharisees who, by Jesus’ time, had imposed so many of their own rules, they had lost the core message. On top of all of that, the author attempts a tug at the heartstrings that is likely far more successful for dog lovers. I’m more of a dog tolerater (I know that’s not a word). I can acknowledge that what happens is ridiculous (stupid, really), but definitely didn’t get as emotionally invested as others might. In the end, I really wish DuPrau had kept this series more in line with the first book. The second wasn’t bad, but the first and fourth were my favorite, and I really just wish for more like them. If you are considering reading this series, I recommend it, but feel free to skip this third book.

Find out more about The Diamond of Darkhold

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Long Winter

The Long Winter
Little House #6
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
read by Cherry Jones

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Children’s historical classic

I expected this book to be slow and boring, but it was anything but. In fact, I think this might be tied for my favorite book in the series. Through blizzard after blizzard, the story is interesting and even exciting at times. I really liked the perspective of the Wilder brothers being thrown in from time to time and was fascinated to read about some of the things the Wilder family had to improvise in order to have just enough food and heat. I was glad to have warm weather when I started listening to this book, though it did get cold again, which added to the frigid feeling the book gives.

As before, my enjoyment of the book was greatly enhanced by the audiobook narrator, Cherry Jones, who does a fantastic job, and being able to hear Pa’s fiddle, thanks to Paul Woodiel. If you’ve ever considered reading this series, or have already read it and have occasion to listen to the audiobooks, I say do it!

Find out more about The Long Winter

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Runaway Ralph

Runaway Ralph
Ralph S. Mouse #2
by Beverly Cleary
Read by B.D. Wong

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Children’s classic, fantasy

I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the first, I think because Ralph starts with the motorcycle and spends the first little bit of the book just trying to keep it from his family. Then he begins to yearn for freedom, so he doesn’t have to share his motorcycle. I mean…I get it, kinda, but mostly I just feel like he’s being selfish and spoiled. Granted, he has dozens of siblings and cousins and would easily spend all night giving them rides and not have time to ride it himself, and it’s clear that his mom and uncle, who forced this on him, don’t get him at all. But I still didn’t care for his attitude.

It was interesting to watch poor Garf, a kid who isn’t happy with his circumstances either and acts out in different ways, from Ralph’s perspective. I liked how the camp leader lady is portrayed—that she clearly cared about Garf and trying to help him come out of his shell and not hate being at camp so much. It’s a nice change from kids’ books where adults are so often terrible people at worst or apathetic at best. Overall, not as charming as the first, but not bad.

Find out more about Runaway Ralph

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Inimitable Jeeves

The Inimitable Jeeves
by P.G. Wodehouse
Read by Kevin Theis

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Classic British humor

After hearing family members talking about this series/author for years, I finally gave it/him a try. I don’t know if I started with the right book, since this seems to be one of those kinds of series that is published in a weird order and has short stories, and novels, and I don’t know what else. It was a good introduction to Jeeves and Wooster, and though I don’t always fully get British humor, I did enjoy it for the most part. Some parts of the story made me think that sitcom writers (mostly older sitcoms) may have gotten some ideas from this author.

I decided to go with the audiobook, because I thought it would help to hear the British accent, and while at first I wasn’t sure about Kevin Theis, he grew on me, and I liked his interpretation a lot by the end. I plan to continue on with him, if I can get his versions.

Find out more about The Inimitable Jeeves

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!