Quick Pick Reviews #2

I’m on a bit of a non-fiction kick at present. Below are three non-fiction books (for adults) that I finished recently.

Note: Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)

51VgMgGUWCL._SY346_Book: When Books Went to War
Author: Molly Guptill Manning

My Thoughts: If you are a book lover, than you’re in luck. If you are also a lover of history (particularly of the World War II variety), then this is the book for you! This book tells the story behind how the U.S. used books to help bolster the troops during the Second World War. I really enjoyed this book. I also love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and finding out that that book was one of the most sought-after books by the soldiers… well, Bonus! My heart is happy when I hear how books play an important part in people’s lives. 🙂


51XOMTe3NCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Book: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Author: Mary Roach

My Thoughts: This is a book full of fun-filled facts about all things space. I particularly liked the historic parts that dealt with the Space Race, from the Russian cosmonauts to the Mercury and Apollo astronauts. But the modern stuff is also good. Like the origami-folding tests given to Japanese astronaut hopefuls! Origami? Really?! (How interesting!) Roach also asks questions that most people would be too afraid to ask (like detailing the challenges of using the bathroom in space). I particularly like the story she tells of her own experience to try to “pass the test” to become an astronaut. She’s told she’s going to get a phone call from Europe. The call comes in at something like 3:00 in the morning and she’s quite grumpy at being woken up from a sound sleep. But it’s only later that she realizes that that was part of the test. Oops. Obviously she’s not cut out to be an astronaut!


51+aO13QmWL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Book: Dead Presidents: An American Adventure into the Strange Deaths and Surprising Afterlives of Our Nation’s Leaders
Author: Brady Carlson

My Thoughts: Carlson takes us on a journey through history with a focus on the various the Presidents of the United States… but it’s all about their deaths. And considering the topic, oddly enough, his voice is quite chipper! In other words, this isn’t a morose read. It’s interesting. One of the more fascinating stories for me was of President Garfield’s death. After he was shot, the doctors couldn’t find the bullet! But they kept poking their unsanitized fingers around his wound; in fact, making him a whole lot worse. Actually, according to the book his death was not due so much to the assassin’s bullet, but due to the care given to him by his medical team! (Poor Garfield. He wasn’t even in office that long. He probably never knew that one of his greatest legacies was to have a cat named after him!)

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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!

Top Ten Books for 2016

Here are my Top Ten Picks for 2016…

#1 – Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye (by Wendelin Van Draanen)
The final book in the Sammy Keyes series. A satisfactory ending. Interesting how the author has to change the voice of the narration for this one.

#2 – A Night Divided (by Jennifer A. Nielsen)
A story about the building of the Berlin Wall and how families were separated by the sudden and unexpected happening. Very interesting.

#3 – Cranford (by Elizabeth Gaskell)
After seeing North and South (the movie), I wanted to read the book. My library doesn’t have the book. But they had Cranford, which has a wonderful cast of characters.

#4 – The Innocence of Father Brown (by G.K. Chesterton)
Father Brown is on the case!

#5 – Dear Mr. Knightley (by Katherine Reay)
So, apparently, this is based on Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (which I haven’t read.) The only thing that is sort of odd is how it ends. The book is told through letters, so it gets a little odd when they finally meet.

#6 – Paper Things (by Jennifer Richard Jacobson)
About a brother and sister trying to stay together, but are essentially homeless.

#7 – How to Steal a Dog (by Barbara O’Connor)
I loved the voice of the narrator on this one.

#8 – Blood Red Snow White (by Marcus Sedgwick)
Some of my favourite books are Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. This book tells the story behind why Ransome started to write those books in the first place. Set in Russia on the eve of the Revolution. (Which is pretty far from the Lake District in England!)

#9 – When Life Gives You O.J. (by Erica S. Pearl)
She wants a dog. But her grandpa gives her an Orange Juice bottle.

#10 – Jingle (by Gordon Korman)
The fun, new installment of the Swindle series. This time with a Christmas theme.