Children's, Family dynamics, Fiction, Naylor-Phyllis Reynolds

#1014 Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Marty has his new dog Shiloh and things seem good. He goes to school and he works for the local doctor to pay off Shiloh’s vet bill. Judd’s not doing too well though. Judd is the hunter that Marty got Shiloh from. Judd’s drinking a whole lot. He accuses Marty of scratching his truck, pushing his mailbox over, and letting his dogs out. Things come to a head when one of Judd’s dog’s bites one of Marty’s sisters and Judd ends up over the hill in his truck. As Judd recovers Marty is determined to make Judd know that people care about him.

What I liked

If it were me, I don’t think I’d give Judd the time of day. I think I’d let him stew in his own alcohol-induced stupor, alone. Marty seems like a better person than I am. He insists on making friends with Judd and helping him out. He reached out to Judd like he would reach out to a scared dog and eventually made something of a friend in Judd.

What I didn’t like

Judd sounds like people I’ve known. Those people were not good people, or they masqueraded as good people, but really, they were trashy with a capital T. I don’t like being around those kinds of people. I avoid those kinds of people. Maybe it’s not nice, but I don’t want to deal with the drama that comes from those kinds of people. Marty doesn’t have a whole lot of choice about this as Judd is his neighbor and he’s just a kid. He has to put up with Judd. I feel bad that Marty has to deal with Judd. Marty is definitely the bigger person for being nice to Judd and helping him out.


It’s nice to know that some people will help you no matter how bad you may seem.

Weigh In

Do you avoid trashy drama people?

Have you ever helped someone out even though that person really annoys you?

#1014 Shiloh Season by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Books Set in the South, Family dynamics, Fiction, Smith-Lee

#1001 The Christmas Letters by Lee Smith

#1001 The Christmas Letters by Lee Smith was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Brooks-Carelin, Family dynamics, Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Social Commentary

#979 One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks

One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin BrooksOne Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks

The main character of this book is going through a tough time and a lot of rain. It seems to rain endlessly. There also seem to be endless problems that have to be fixed. She is getting divorced from her wife, but things aren’t going so well. There are accusations. There are custody fights. There are bad apartments. There are disagreements with the court, and lawyers, and the son’s father and each day, it rains.

What I liked

I like the constancy of the rain in this book. It’s really the only constant in the main character’s life during this period. A whole bunch of things are changing, but the rain is constant and that’s kind of a comfort to know that at least the rain is the same.

What I didn’t like

So the main character in this book has a wife, but she also has a lover, and there’s also the child’s father somewhere in the mess of this whole thing. The lover has been around for like nine years. I don’t know how long the marriage was. Maybe, just maybe, all of this mess is why the divorce is happening. The main character isn’t the one wanting to get divorced, from what I gather, but when you have a wife and a lover on the side and it doesn’t seem to matter that you have the lover, why would you want to get divorced? That’s not how I feel about the situation, but that kind of seems like what is going on.

Part of me thinks all these people are being awful to the main character and part of me kind of thinks she deserves it. Generally, people are not ok with being married to you and you having a lover, some people are, most people aren’t. I’m not ok with it, so there’s probably a whole lot of personal bias, on my part, against the main character of this book.

This book also made me infinitely glad that I did not have any children with the my ex-husband. I don’t want to imagine what kind of nightmare that would have been.


It’s rains all the time and terrible things happen to me.

Weigh In

If you were going through a terrible time in your life, would you find consistent weather comforting at all?

First opinions–how do you feel about the main character?



#979 One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Cobb-Sonya, Family dynamics, Fiction

#944 The Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb

The Objects of her Affection by Sonya CobbThe Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb

Sophie has found a house that she wants. It’s a fixer-upper, but she’s not really working anymore and her husband only makes so much money. She tells herself that she will pick up more free-lance work. Somehow, she manages to wrangle a mortgage on the house. It’s an ARM mortgage, whatever that is. If only Sophie would have looked up what that actually is, she would have saved herself a whole lot of trouble.

Her husband works at a museum as one of its curators. He’s really into ceramics. While he spends his time tracking down rare collections and pieces, Sophie is trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage once she actually figures out what an ARM mortgage is. One day, while visiting her husband at work, she happens to take a small mirror off a tray of items in her husband’s office. She takes the mirror to a local antique dealer and gets enough money to help buy food and pay the mortgage for a while. When money gets low again, she takes another item. She develops a working relationship with the antique dealer, but it turns out that he’s not such a nice guy after all.

Pressure gets put on Sophie to procure more items that are rarer than the last items. The FBI also gets involved. While Sophie end up in hot water?

What I liked

I do like the art history in this book. It’s not a lot of well-known art history, but it’s still art history. I also like that Sophie’s a bit of a techie.

There is certainly money to be made in the illegal trafficking of art work. That’s why some paintings have been stolen multiple times. You better bet your butt that there are collectors who do not care one bit how such and such painting came to their collection. In fact, they might even encourage the theft of some works of artwork.

For smaller things, I think this approach might work, but for something well-known, let’s say a Van Gogh, you can’t hire somebody to steal it and then collect it, reasonably. First of all, the theft itself would be practically impossible. Second, you would have to hold onto the painting for forever. There’s no holding it for a few years and then selling it for even more money. The painting is just too well-known. The FBI and whoever would be all over you before you could shout, “My ear!” Now, if there’s a secret network of people who like to collect stolen artwork and pay each other millions of dollars for it, then maybe, you could get away with stealing a Van Gogh and selling it.

What I didn’t like

Sophie is some sort of web developer. A lot of the terminology is correct, but I have a hard time believing that someone could just sit down for a little while and be up to speed on all the latest web programming. Look, I can do some web programming–it’s not as easy as learning some HTML code. It’s a lot more involved than that. So, say, for example, if you were a web programmer who learned how to build websites based solely on HTML and then you didn’t program for a while, but then you decided to get back into it, it would be really difficult. For the basics alone you have to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, but better throw AJAX in there as well. That’s basic stuff. Now throw in PHP, ColdFusion, Java,–I could go on. So much web design is dynamic now, meaning your web pages fetch things from databases and build things dynamically on the page. It’s not simply programming everything in one file that will be on the page.

All of this is just to say that I feel the gravity of the profession of web development isn’t reflected accurately in this book.

Oh, and another thing, sure you may be  web developer, but can you also design databases? Maybe, but also maybe not. Just because you have worked with web development that uses technology that fetches stuff from a database, doesn’t necessarily mean you have the know-how to set up an entirely new database and determine all the ins and outs of how it should work.


Maybe, Sophie could design an app where illegal art collectors connect.

Weigh In

If you work in a certain profession, how do you generally feel about books that speak of your profession?

Would you steal something from a museum?

#944 The Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Family dynamics, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Patterson-James, Tebbetts-Chris, Young Adult

#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris TebbettsMiddle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Rafe is at a new middle school. He has a plan though. He has this notebook he’s been working on. He wants to break every school rule, every single one. Things aren’t going so great in his home life. There’s a guy named Bear that lives at his house with his mother and his sister. Rafe doesn’t like Bear very much. He sells Bear’s secret stash of sodas at school.

The plan goes. Rafe is late. He streaks through the hallways. He graffitis the walls. He gets bad grades. He gets in school suspension. He knocks things over. He does this and he does that. He makes fun of Shakespeare.

Things just get out of control. Rafe gets a tutor and tries for a bit, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Meanwhile, things at home seem to have come to a point where there needs to be a come to Jesus meeting.

What I liked

This book is entertaining. I can actually remember it and follow it, unlike some of the other James Patterson books I’ve read. I’m not sure why.

Fun fact, Khatchadorian, which is Rafe’s last name, was also the last name of the main character in We Need to Talk About Kevin. The name is originally Armenian and it’s less common than my last name, which is saying something. It’s the 2,891,080th most common name in the world according to

I liked that Rafe’s mother didn’t give up on him and she didn’t give up on herself. I think if you are a single parent, you can’t do either.

What I didn’t like

I hated middle school. I hated it. I hated it so much. I would say those years were the worst years of my life if I had not been through a mentally abusive marriage and a drawn-out divorce that took much longer than it needed to because of my ex and some archaic divorce laws.

It was such an awful time. Girls have it harder because of puberty, but compound on depression, medical issues, and hard times at home to get just a cocktail of awfulness. That’s my story. Rafe’s story is a little better, but still not awesome. He is depressed. He is acting out. He is having a hard time at school and he’s having a hard time at home as well. If your mom moved in a guy named Bear, wouldn’t you have a hard time at home? I really feel for Rafe. He’s been upended in several ways and then there’s this loser at his house who apparently does nothing but complain and exude the air of he knows what’s right all the time without actually knowing anything about anything. Those aren’t the kind of people you get into relationships with, even if you’re a single mother working at a diner. Leave those losers alone, especially for the kids.

The whole Bear thing made Rafe’s situation so much worse.


Middle school sucks.

Weigh In

Would you date a guy named Bear?

Did you ever act out at school because of your home life?

#733 Middle School The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Children's, Earley-Tony, Family dynamics, Fiction, Finding Your Self

#925 Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

Jim lives with his mother, his father died before he was born, in rural North Carolina. He’s never met his dad’s father, who lives up on a mountain in a town close by. His uncles live close though. He has three uncles and none of them ever got married. They each have their own houses, but they eat at Jim’s mom’s house. His mother does all the cooking and cleaning for the uncles. There’s a girl that helps too.

It’s Jim’s tenth birthday and he very much wants to go work in the fields with his uncles. They give him a hoe, not the one he wants, and Jim sets off to work. Things don’t turn out so well. He ends up cutting down two corn stalks and he’s not nearly as fast as he thought he was. His uncles get him a new catcher’s mitt and baseball for his birthday.

Time goes on and Jim’s friend comes down with polio. They don’t know if he’s going to live for a while. The uncles tell Jim that he needs to meet his grandfather, he’ll regret it if he doesn’t. Meanwhile his mother debates over whether to let another man in her life. She worries that either way Jim will miss something in his life.

Jim learns that there are things you don’t always want to do, but sometimes it’s good to do those things.

What I liked

This book is somewhat local, which is nice. It’s obviously set a while back. I think the author does a good job of portraying that time period. Some people had electricity and some people didn’t. The land was worked by hand. It wasn’t an easy life.

Jim did seem to grow throughout the book. In the beginning he’s very much a brat, as many little boys are, for some reason. Some of them grow out of it, thank goodness. By the end of the book I can see some the maturity Jim has poking through the little boy exterior.

What I didn’t like

It’s sad not to know your father or your grandfather. I didn’t grow up with my father and my step-father wasn’t exactly grade-a dad material, not by a long shot. I can tell you that it is difficult to grow up minus one parent. There’s only one side of things, that’s the side of the parent you live with. It doesn’t matter if they’re right, or if they’re wrong. You only get their side of things. Grandfathers are also nice to know. The one grandfather of mine that I have been around is pretty great. He’s taught me a lot of great stuff and he’s a good person. My life would be terribly different without him.

This is a round-about way of saying I feel sorry for Jim. I think it’s unfortunate that he’s going without so much in his life, but the good thing is that he still has his uncles.


Don’t get into a fight with your best friend when Ty Cobb is watching.

Weigh In

Did you find yourself feeling lacking if you grew up without one parent?

Do you have a good connection with your extended family?

#925 Jim the Boy by Tony Earley was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Family dynamics, Fantasy, Fiction, Maguire-Gregory, Young Adult

#893 What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens by Gregory MaguireWhat the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

What the Dickens finds himself alive and names himself “What the Dickens.” He’s not sure what he is or why he’s here. He meets a white creature, he finds out is a cat named McCavity. He gets befriended by a mama bird who thinks he might as well learn to fly. He falls down a chimney and meets and old woman. At one point, he meets another creature like himself. Her name is Pepper. She explains to him that he is a Skibberee.

The Skibbereen fly around collecting teeth, which they plant in the ground, which become candles, which become wishes. Pepper calls herself an Agent of Change. What the Dickens finds out that life isn’t so easy. There are rules in place and societal expectations. Sometimes, someone else can get in trouble for something you did and it’s not fair. What the Dickens knows he has to help Pepper complete her task. He comes to find out that he has a special ability that the other Skibberee don’t possess. He’s still not sure where he came from, but he does find a place to be.

This story is all told by Gage, a cousin watching over his younger cousins during a terrible storm when people were supposed to have evacuated.

What I liked

This book was really fun. I’ve never really thought about the origins of the tooth fairy before. It is a bit of a strange custom. I’m not even sure it’s practiced outside of the United States. All cultures have their customs surrounding growing-up mile-markers, but I’m not sure how many of them make a big deal out of losing a tooth.

I never believed in the tooth fairy. I knew it was my mom. I was a fairly skeptical kid as far as things like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause goes, which is awfully weird, considering how much I like stories about similar things. I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart I guess.

I like that Gregory created this entire world and mythology surrounding the tooth fairy. I don’t think I would have thought up the idea to create an entire race of little creatures with societal problems and external enemies that also happen to be tooth fairies. Good job, Gregory.

I love folklore and ghost stories. The Skibberee part of this book feels like folklore.

The main concept of this book is that someone is telling children a long story. I think we’ve fallen away from telling stories, orally, which is sad, because it’s a great thing. There’s nothing quite like sitting around, huddled close, listening to a story that unfolds as the minutes tick by. You can’t find the story anywhere else; you have to get it from the story-teller, so it’s in everyone’s best interest if you sit quietly and listen.

What I didn’t like

I was a bit concerned as to why these children were left in a house during a storm in which everybody evacuated, except them. There was also a bit of religious fanaticism going on, it feels like. If the government calls for an evacuation because of a storm, you should probably go. I also don’t like the idea of religious fanaticism.


Gather ’round, let’s listen to a story about the tooth fairy.

Weigh In

Did you ever believe in the tooth fairy?

What would you do if you had to hole up for a long storm?

#893 What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire was originally published on One-elevenbooks