Book Review: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I think that this was the very first book that my book club read, but I seemed to have missed it somehow. I can now check it off of my to read list. It is a juvenile book that was given the Newberry Medal in 1979, so it could be considered a children's classic.

I thought it was a fun little read. It is a whodunit murder mystery that lets the reader put all of the clues together and guess who the murderer might be. There are sixteen would be heirs and 220 million dollars at stake. There are bombings, and dead bodies, and poisoning? I know this doesn't seem like it would be suitable for children, but really it is very tame. It's just fun. It would be a great book for a child who is ready for something a little more involved than a Cam Jensen or a Nancy Drew book.

I guess my only critism would be that the middle was a bit slow. I thought that I had it all figured out by then and was just waiting for the end to see if I was right.

My Rating

Overall: 3 stars. A child would probably give it a higher rating though.

Objectionable Content: none

Book Review: Riding the Bus With My Sister by Rachel Simon

I don't really know where to start with this book. It was a story of two sisters, but it was also many other things. I almost felt like I should get out pencil and paper and take notes as I was reading.

Riding the Bus With My Sister is a true story, written by the older sister (Rachel) in order to understand her younger, mentally retarded sister (Beth). Rachel agrees to accompany her sister on her bus routes as often as she can for a year. Beth lives on her own and gets along just fine. She has decided that she does not want to work, instead she rides city buses day in, day out. In doing this, she has created a world for herself that she is in control of. Rachel learns about her sister and life in general as she embarks on this journey.

Rachel has a chance to meet all of the people who mean the most to Beth including her boyfriend, her support team, and most importantly the bus drivers. These drivers seem like average, everyday people, but they each have a gift (their time and kindness) that they are more than willing to share.

I was drawn into this book by how candid Rachel seemed to be about her feelings toward her sister. I was able to get a feel for how it might be to grow up with a sibling that has a disability. I also was intrigued by all of the different philosophies of life that there seem to be, as presented by the bus drivers. I guess driving a bus isn't just about driving a bus. I could go on and on about this book. There are a lot of issues that could be discussed, such as medical and social ethics, familial relationships, stereotypes, etc. It should make for a great book club discussion.

My Rating

Overall: 3.5 stars. It was well written. Those who enjoy memoirs will really like this book.

Objectionable Content: none

Do you crave certain foods because of the books you read?

I don't know about you, but my family can always tell what kind of book I'm reading by what kind of foods I crave. I often read books about China, and when I do, my husband knows this is his chance to stop for take out at Panda Express. Of course when I read The Help, I had to try my hand at making a caramel cake (chocolate pie not so much!). Every once in a while I read a book like The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, where the whole book is filled with the mention of food (each chapter is named after a different kind of candy). This drives me crazy. I usually get so fixated on whatever food it is that they are eating that I have to have it. I think in this case it was a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. Am I making you hungry yet? Are you as easily influenced as I am when you read?

Book Review: Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larsen

I recently watched a PBS show that aired in 2001 called Frontier House. It is a reality show that chronicled the lives of three families who volunteered to step back in time to the year 1883. These families wanted to see if they had what it took to live the homesteading life in Montana for five months. I bring this up because I think I chose to read this book because I enjoyed the show so much.

Hattie Big Sky is a young adult book about a sixteen year old girl, during the WWI era, who inherits her uncle's homestead. As an orphan, she jumps at the chance to move West, escaping yet another undesirable situation living with extended family. Once in Montana, she learns that she only has a few months to prove up her homestead if she wants the deed to the land.

I loved that this book was such a nice clean read. I applaud the author for including Christian themes such as, "God works in mysterious ways," and to live honorably and be courageous. In reading the author's notes, I found out that she based this book on her own great-grandmother who came to Montana and homesteaded by herself. I love real history like this!

In critiquing this book, I think that I would have to say that it could have used more detail. I wanted to see it all in my mind, but had a hard time picturing things. I also think that it is a little bit hard to believe that a girl so young would be safe out by herself on the frontier.

My Rating

Overall: probably 3.5 stars.

Objestionable Content: none


I recently discovered a new website called that is really cool. If you like to read and review books for free , then you might want to check it out. I just signed up the other day, but haven't sent for a book to read yet.

My Summer with Julia by Sarah Woodhouse

Well, I don't have much to say about this book. I don't think it was worth the time that I spent to read it, even though it was a short book.

In a nutshell, a middle aged, British portrait artist spends a lot of time trying to both remember and forget a long lost friend. This friend, who has recently died, has bequeathed her a box of memories that she is now sorting though.

I usually like to read novels written in first person, but this not this one. It made it confusing. It was hard to distinguish the flashbacks from the present. I found the story very ho-hum (boring), I'm not sure why I even decided to finish it.

My Rating

Overall: 1 star

Objectionable Content: none