Dec 29 2015

End of the year Book Reviews part 1 #NewToYouRC #FirstReads

New Authors seeking New Escapes 2015 reading challenge

#NewToYouRC read something 'new' to you in 2015 and review it
#FirstReads book by an author that @JLenniDorner had not read before

A Lenape among the Quakers: The Life of Hannah Freeman
4 stars from @JLenniDorner
This book reads the way a TV documentary sounds. Chapter 3 has valuable insights and I wish more people knew these details. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in history, especially early American history.

A fascinating factoid from the book:
Pennsylvania’s homicide rate in the 1720’s alone exceeded London’s rate for all of the 18th century.
(Every time a politician talks about violence like it’s a new problem, think about that fact.)

There is excellent insight to how the European settlers created poverty in a land that once had none. Then sections that show how they complained that people they made poor were now in poverty and, as such, a burden. There’s even an excellent description of what a poorhouse was and how it came to exist.

The book reveals Pennsylvania’s false history, the settlers lie that there was an absolute extinction of all Indians in Pennsylvania. Hannah’s death was part of their evidence. But the book also mentions that the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission reports 50,000 PA residents with Native American lineage, some of who are Lenni-Lenape like myself.

The reasons I’m giving this 4 stars instead of 5 are as follows:
I’m not sure that the Shackamoxon meeting under the Elm tree is actually well known by all Pennsylvanian children, though it should be. How the actual “naming” process works isn’t revealed until page 78, so it might be confusing as to how the Lenapes names are assigned or assumed by the colonists before that section. The difference between Minsi and Munsee should have been touched upon, especially given how often people mistakenly use them interchangeably. Page 115 starts using the term “The Delawares” without mentioning how that name came into use, or who Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr is. The Walking Purchase mentions the runners, but doesn’t note the wildly boasted— that they were identical siblings. (This cheating strategy is well known enough to be parodied in modern comedies.)

I selected this book to read as the one from the checklist— “a book that takes place in your hometown.” The first chapter touches on how the Lenni Lenape people feel about land, despite what the European settlers dictated that true land “feelings” ought to be (which is based on their system of economics).

PA flag

Who R U Really
3 stars from @JLenniDorner
Everything stems from the opening scene. The power one insecure teen boy has to, with one word, get two teen girls to death’s doorstep. One cruel word, one unfunny joke, yet the boy probably never even realizes the long-term consequences of his cruelty. An especially protective parent also makes a near fatal error— which is a much more rarely mentioned problem, so I commend that. STAR 1

There is an implication that teenagers are easier to fool because they are willing trust others.

The only advice given to this unfortunate 14-year-old main character girl to stave off unwanted sexual advances is to let boys down gently by saying she can’t date until she’s 16.

I was really looking forward to reading this book but ended up feeling frustrated, upset, and regretting that I had read it. But bravo to the author for making me feel emotions that are this strong. STAR 2

A similar lesson to this book’s could be learned by watching Silence of the Lambs and theorizing that anyone with a van probably wants to kidnap you for your skin. This book has a powerful message of “trust your instincts” combined with a blunt assertion that young people know nothing of the world and thereby have no instincts, only ignorance. That is compiled with a strong determination to have whatever the main character is being denied.

The suspense preys on fear. In order to be compelling, the fear in the reader must be amplified from something that occasionally happens to something that happens hundreds of times a day. So often, in fact, that even a small town in Idaho has a task force devoted to it. (Statistically, there are 280,000,000 Americans online. Roughly 500,000 are predators. So 0.1785% is the chance of encountering a predator, according to the current FBI statistics. Only half of those people are under age 18. There is a conflicting statistic that 20% of teens claim to have experienced an unwanted sexual situation online— but that did not clarify if the situations came from fellow teens or from predatory adults, or if similar situations happened from the same people offline as well.)

Pages 50 and 110 of the hardcover book “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir” by Felicia Day would be far more helpful at conveying the moral of the story. A quote from that book that applies to here- “No matter how lonely and isolated and starved for connection you are, there’s always the possibility in the online world that you can find a place to be accepted.” Normally I wouldn’t suggest a different book in a review, but in this case, I feel I need to because I don’t think most people should read Who R U Really without also reading Felicia Day’s book. It’ll keep reality in check for you.

The book follows the exact format guidelines that every how-to-write-a-book book suggests. The Save The Cat team would be proud. STAR 3

This gave me the “a book that made you cry” checkmark on my reading challenge list.
Here’s why:

“A real friend is someone you associate with a daily basis. You know where he lives. You know his parents.” That’s something the Detective Corbett character states as an absolute and unalterable fact.

I have two nephews who are home-schooled and use the cyber-school network. That line means they are not friends with any of their classmates. I’m insulted by this.

I have an older friend. Both of her parents have passed on. Sorry orphans, NO FRIENDS FOR YOU!

A cousin of mine was homeless for a little while. Technically, a dear friend of mine was also without a home for a few months when he gave up his apartment, put his stuff in storage, and became a long-haul trucker. He had a post office box, but no address. So there was a time where I didn’t know where either of those people lived. GUESS WE AREN’T FRIENDS NOW.

And here’s what did me in. Here’s where I emptied a tissue box. Those of you who know me well know that I have medical issues. Well, I read this during one of my longer hospital stays. That line broke my heart. You know who I associated with a daily basis that time? NO ONE. I couldn’t even see my Snookums every day for a bit there. SO I GUESS I HAVE NO FRIENDS. And that broke my spirit. (Mind you, I don’t know what was in the IV drips, but it could have exaggerated the emotions. So WARNING LABEL: Do not read this book when you’re feeling especially lonely and are going stir crazy.)

Let me conclude by saying that I value the relationships I’ve cultivated over the Internet. Maybe one of you will come kill me someday, and that will be karma paying me back for not liking this book. Until then, I’m going to keep on blogging, tweeting, posting on Facebook, pinning, playing in MMORPGs, and whatever other social media goodness is out there. I’m sorry for those people who have had a bad experience in life, and it sucks if that experience included someone from the online world. But bad experiences were happening before the Internet, and they’d keep happening if an apocalyptic scenario shut it down. Try to keep that in mind. And if you are a parent and happen to know all kind of neat tricks to help tell if someone is phishing or catfishing or whatever else online, consider sharing that information with your Internet-using-offspring instead of just watching over their shoulder. Learning to use the Internet safely is like learning to drive a car safely- the teacher isn’t always going to be there, so the student better be taught how to deal with as many crazy scenarios as possible. Don’t just have the student sit in the driver’s seat and make vroom vroom noises for three months while you watch. This review is just the opinion of a frustrated reader who considers the mother character in this book to be a more dangerous antagonist than the actual villain.

“You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir” by Felicia Day
5 stars from @JLenniDorner
I adore this book. Let me state clearly that I am in the Felicia Day fandom, so that is certainly a reason that I loved it. And girl, if you’re reading this, that blue dress on the cover is stunning on you! I never knew how much Felicia and I have in common. There was a time that I was homeschooled. I’ve met online friends in real life.

Attention writer friends:
Chapter Six is a must read! You’ve been there (or you probably will be at some point). Page 137 of the hardcover version, the last paragraph, you have to read it. Go to the bookstore now. Oh, and if you are a NaNoWriMo novelist, check out page 143. It’s like one of those motivational emails we get. She should be one of our celebrity guest authors.

Page 104 of the hardcover version as the best inadvertent advice I’ve ever read. “When the system you want to be a part of so badly turns you into someone you’re unhappy with and you lose sight of yourself, is it worth it?”

My assistant geeked out after she read this book too. Apparently she and Felicia have both played Puzzle Pirates.

I was experiencing flashbacks as I read this. When The Guild went from YouTube to Xbox— I remember that! Brought to me by Sprint, I think.

This book is like reading a memoir by your acquaintance from work that always says “hi” in the break room… and now here’s all this cool information that shows you should have made an effort to become best friends.

By page 207, readers will love Felicia (if they don’t already). It will own every non-stone heart out there.

Anyone feeling like giving my crap for sticking to the belief system I was raised around, where I don’t have much personal information online and protect my soul by avoiding being photographed, go read chapter 11. Focus on the information about doxxing. I like being a ghost, TYVM.

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined /Twilight Tenth Anniversary
5 stars from @JLenniDorner
I am a Twihard, so naturally I ordered a copy of this book. I was not disappointed. The gender swap reads well, though I don’t think it would have sold as well if it were the original story. Naturally the ending is somewhat different from the original one. Frankly, I think I prefer it. It’s like a modern-day gender swapped fairy tale.

The duel book is far to big for a paperback. And you’d miss out on some fun with a digital edition. I strongly urge buyers to get the hardcover, or at least borrow it from the library or a willing friend.

Kristy’s Great Idea: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #1)
The Truth About Stacey: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #2)
Mary Anne Saves the Day: Full-Color Edition (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #3)
5 stars from @JLenniDorner
Guess who took a trip back to seventh grade? I did, I did! One of my little buddies and I sat around reading on Halloween. The graphic novel version has everything I once loved about the original. (Yes, I had a crush on Mary Anne once upon a time. Did you ever have a crush on someone outside your usual “type”?)

There are a few minor areas that young people today will struggle with because they are dated. (A phone in your room doesn’t carry the same weight as it once did, now that mobile phones are everywhere.) But all the best parts of the book- friendship, a business sense, setting goals, being responsible, and using creativity- are still relevant. I plan to buy as many of this new version as the publisher will crank out! (Hopefully at least the first 35, but I’d buy all 131.)


Books @JLenniDorner checked off the list in Dec 2015

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