Review: The Unforgotten Coat

unforgottenBook: The Unforgotten Coat
Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic plot: Julie becomes the “Good Guide” for Mongolian brothers Chingis and Nergui. She helps them learn to integrate into British society, to hide from the “demon” who is trying to “eat Nergui”.


1) Learning some cool Mongolian facts. After being chosen by Chingis to be their “Good Guide”, Julie researches Mongolia and insists on giving a presentation to her sixth grade class. Of course, Chingis is the one who is supposed to be the one giving info about his homeland, but Julie ends up doing the most talking. Nice touch by the author (especially in light of how this quietness about Mongolia fits in well with how the story ends.)

2) I liked the Polaroid photos scattered throughout the story. At first, I thought they were just atmosphere, but they definitely are important to the plot.

3) Interesting how the fear of these immigrants/refugees manifests itself. Through baking the little raisin man, to taking a different route each day when walking home from school, to insisting that Nergui stay with Chingis in the sixth grade classroom, even though he’s much younger. Coming to a new country is tough under any circumstance. I liked how the author understates this fear. He uses very little suspense and basically presents facts without making a big deal about it. After all, we are reading this story through the eyes of Julie, not the boys.

4) **SPOILER: I like how the ending is not super-happy. It’s not super-sad either. I thought it was realistic that the boys are deported, thus making their fear justified. Eaten by the “demon”. However, the final image gives hope. END SPOILER


1) I was a little confused at times. I liked the photos, but they sometimes also brought me out of the story. Was this a true story? Why did he take that photo? When does this take place? It wasn’t until the end that I realized that this is a fictionalized account of some true events. While this isn’t a bad thing (I don’t mind fictionalized accounts!), it’s the being taken out of the story that isn’t so good.


My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this book! I absolutely loved Cosmic and Framed by the same author. I don’t think this book is as good as those ones, but I did enjoy it.

Book Blunders in Narnia

20170317ma_0063Quick Disclaimer: I love the writing of C.S. Lewis! He’s one of my absolute favourite authors of all time. I particularly love the world of Narnia. But that doesn’t mean that the books are free of error. Tiny writing inconsistencies and imperfections… These are the subject of this post. This is not to disparage the books. But like how hand blown glass is more valuable because of the imperfections!

Here I bring up three of the “book blunders” of Narnia…

1) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

When the four Pevensie children first come to Narnia, they find that the White Witch has been ruling for 100 years. It’s “always winter but never Christmas.”

Then we meet the Beavers. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver invite the children to a wonderful spread of tea, including “a wonderfully sticky marmalade roll”. With fare like this, the Beavers don’t seem to be quite as oppressed they claim! It contradicts the whole alway-winter-never-Christmas thing.

2) Prince Caspian

At the end of the book, King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmund, and Queen Lucy have to leave Narnia.

“It was odd, and not very nice, to take off their royal clothes and to come back in their school things (not very fresh now) into that great assembly. One or two of the nastier Telmarines jeered.”

A similar thing happens in The Silver Chair. This time, Eustace and Jill return to our world still dressed in their Narnian clothing.

“Eustace buried his fine clothes secretly one night in the school grounds, but Jill smuggled hers home and wore them at a fancy-dress ball next holidays.”

Now compare these to the ending of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“And next moment they all came tumbling out of a wardrobe door into the empty room, and they were no longer Kings and Queens in their hunting array but just Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy in their old clothes.”

Where did the old clothes come from? Especially in light of the fact that they had to change clothes in Prince Caspian and Jill and Eustace were still wearing theirs in The Silver Chair!

3) The Horse and His Boy

Shasta grows up in Calormen, under the ruthless hand of Arsheesh. Yet, from time to time, he often acts like a boy from our world, and even sounds more like Edmund or Eustace:

“Oh bother breakfast. Bother everything,” said Shasta. “I tell you I can’t move.”

Oh, Shasta, you sound so British!

Review: Moo

28217808Book: Moo
Author: Sharon Creech
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Basic plot: Reena and Luke move to Maine with their mom and dad. Pretty much on a whim. They instantly go from being city kids to country kids when they begin to help a crotchety old lady named Mrs. Falala with her ornery cow, Zora.


1) The relationship between Reena and Luke is nice. I like how their parents insist on the kids’ need to be respectful to their elders. Even crotchety old ladies.

2) The book is told very simply. Yet the characters are well-rounded. Zora the cow is a character in her own right!

3) **SPOILER: Reena shows Zora at the Fair. I liked how Zora takes off just as she first appears before the judges and Reena has to chase her. Obviously, this is a completely mortifying experience. But Reena gets “back up on that horse” once she has calmed Zora down. She ends up showing Zora for the next category of judging. I’m glad Zora doesn’t magically win. (She only gets fourth place. Good job, Zora!) END SPOILER

4) **SPOILER: Of course, Mrs. Falala dies near the end of the book. That wasn’t much of a surprise to me. But the secret of her upstairs room (or for that matter, how she wants and learns to draw)… I didn’t see that coming. Which is good 🙂 END SPOILER


1) I wasn’t sold on the reason WHY they move to Maine. It’s pretty much done on a whim. In fact, I find their reason slightly disturbing (as an adult). As a kid, I would have been horrified at this possibility.


My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – Which means it’s a good book. While it’s not my favourite book by Sharon Creech, it’s still a fun, fast read. (I think Zora the cow bumps the rating from 3 to 3.5 Stars! Way to go, Zora!)

Rating the Chronicles

20160204ma_0260If I had to rate the books in the Chronicles of Narnia in order of my favourite to my least-favourite, I could do it. It’d be hard, but yes, I could do it.

Mind you, the order has changed over the years. As a kid, I did not really like The Silver Chair or The Horse and His Boy. I’m pretty sure the reason for this is simply because neither of these stories feature the Pevensie children. (Okay, The Horse and His Boy has King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy, but they’re minor characters.) Fast forward to today, and those two books rank much, much higher in my estimation.

My Ranking (as a kid)

#1 – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
#2 – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
#3 – The Magician’s Nephew
#4 – The Last Battle
#5 – Prince Caspian
#6 – The Horse and His Boy
#7 – The Silver Chair

My Ranking (as an adult)

#1 – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
#2 – The Horse and His Boy
#3 – The Silver Chair
#4 – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
#5 – Prince Caspian
#6 – The Magician’s Nephew
#7 – The Last Battle (Sorry, I think this is due to how Shift treats Puzzle!)

Please note: I love ALL the books. Just because one is ranked lower on the list doesn’t mean I hate it. No indeed. It just means I’d prefer to re-read the other ones first. 🙂

And if I had to give the books ratings, they’d all be either 4 or 5 Stars!

Review: The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

28814927Book: The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: Lincoln Jones is the “new kid” and that makes him a bit of a loner and outcast at school. What makes it worse is that he spends his after-school hours at an old folks home. He tries to hide this from his peers, but one particular girl won’t leave him alone before she finds out his secret life.


1) I like the kid’s voice. He’s interesting. I felt I’ve met him. I also was drawn to his relationship with his mom.

2) I like books that bring the generations together… Where young kids get to know “old people” in a real way. It’s nice to see Lincoln’s viewpoint change on “oldies”.

3) The ending was cool (**SLIGHT SPOILER HERE) with how it ended where it began. END SPOILER

4) **SPOILER: Lincoln and his mom are hiding from an abusive boyfriend and home life. While this is a heavy topic, I felt it was dealt with in a real, yet age-appropriate way. It didn’t gloss over such situations, but it doesn’t dwell on them either. END SPOILER


1) There’s very little I did not like. The pickiest thing I can say is that one character, Isaac, suddenly appears at the Old Folks Home and I didn’t remember who he was. I had to go back in the book and find how I’m supposed to know why he matters. But that wasn’t a huge problem.


Yes! My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I’d definitely recommend it!