Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Review: The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas by Charles Schulz

My rating: 4.5/5

This little book is a great collection of Christmas-themed Peanuts comics from the 1950s-1990s. There isn't a lot of text other than a few pages with descriptions of different characters. Mostly it's just a comic per page and a quick, enjoyable read.

If you love Peanuts, it's a must-read.

(And is it just me, or were the '50s characters even cuter than the more recent ones?)

Book Review: Diagnosing Jefferson by Norm Ledgin

My rating: N/A

From Amazon: "Historians have long remarked on Thomas Jefferson's "peculiarities." But it took author Norm Ledgin, whose son has Asperger's Syndrome, to see what others did not. In this intriguing book, Ledgin carefully constructs a convincing case for the likelihood that Thomas Jefferson had Asperger's Syndrome. He matches Jefferson's behaviors with five diagnostic criteria for Asperger's: social impairment, preoccupation with "special interests," impairment in nonverbal communication, lack of emotional reciprocity, and inflexible adherence to nonfunctional routines. He also addresses other well-known signs of Asperger's, such as failure to recognize social cues, need for calming pressure, and indifference to peer pressure. A fascinating read!"

I expected this book to be an historical, factual treatise on the behavior of Thomas Jefferson and why the author believed Jefferson had Asperger's; but judging by the introduction and first chapter, it was not. (I only got that far, hence the N/A rating.)  The author instead repeatedly states that the only possibility is that Jefferson had Asperger's, and that everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, without giving any explanation as to why they were wrong.  If you're right in your assertions, you don't have to repeatedly tell us that you're right; you have to show us.  Judging by others' reviews, this doesn't change later in the book, and I couldn't bring myself to finish it.  If anyone has read it though and would like to convince me to re-check it out from the library, please feel free. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Book Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

My rating: 3.75/5

From Amazon: "Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among the greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. But when the rules get broken, powerful forces are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and maybe even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most..."

This book reminded me of ones that I liked to read in elementary school (probably about 3rd-6th grades), so even just for that reason it gets a good review. I'm sure I would have loved it at that age, and even now I appreciated all the big vocabulary words the author used (cacophony, ethereal, cupola, etc.).  As an adult reading it though, the book doesn't quite span the young-adult/adult audience; I had a hard time keeping disbelief suspended.  The adult part of me was annoyed when Seth made (a multitude of) mistakes and when adults wouldn't explain important things, and I wanted the characters to be more believable.

As a kids book though, I think it all works very well. It kept a good pace, the kids (of course) save the day, it's an interesting world, and it has a basically happy ending with the promise of future adventures (this is book 1 of 5).  At 351 pages, it might be a little long for some, but I bet it's right up the alley of a voracious-reader kid.