February is such a short month, I never know if I will read more or less than normal. But we seemed to have read quite a few books for school, so this month has many different books! I started a long book late in the month so I know my March might be kinda light on the books, but here is what I read in February. Let me know if you have any favorite books right now!
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough – Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt is the brilliant biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt. Hailed as a masterpiece by Newsday, it also won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography. Now with a new introduction by the author, Mornings on Horseback is reprinted as a Simon & Schuster Classic Edition.
Mornings on Horseback is about the world of the young Theodore Roosevelt. It is the story of a remarkable little boy, seriously handicapped by recurrent and nearly fatal attacks of asthma, and his struggle to manhood: an amazing metamorphosis seen in the context of the very uncommon household (and rarefied social world) in which he was raised.
His father is the first Theodore Roosevelt, “Greatheart,” a figure of unbounded energy, enormously attractive and selfless, a god in the eyes of his small, frail namesake. His mother, Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt, is a Southerner and celebrated beauty, but also considerably more, which the book makes clear as never before. There are sisters Anna and Corinne, brother Elliott (who becomes the father of Eleanor Roosevelt), and the lovely, tragic Alice Lee, Teddy Roosevelt’s first love. And while such disparate figures as Abraham Lincoln, Mrs. John Jacob Astor, and Senator Roscoe Conkling play a part, it is this diverse and intensely human assemblage of Roosevelts, all brought to vivid life, which gives the book its remarkable power.
The book spans seventeen years � from 1869 when little “Teedie” is ten, to 1886 when, as a hardened “real life cowboy,” he returns from the West to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and begin anew, a grown man, whole in body and spirit. The story does for Teddy Roosevelt what Sunrise at Campobello did for FDR � reveals the inner man through his battle against dreadful odds.
Like David McCullough’s The Great Bridge, also set in New York, this is at once an enthralling story, with all the elements of a great novel, and a penetrating character study. It is brilliant social history and a work of important scholarship, which does away with several old myths and breaks entirely new ground. For the first time, for example, Roosevelt’s asthma is examined closely, drawing on information gleaned from private Roosevelt family papers and in light of present-day knowledge of the disease and its psychosomatic aspects.
At heart it is a book about life intensely lived…about family love and family loyalty…about courtship and childbirth and death, fathers and sons…about winter on the Nile in the grand manner and Harvard College…about gutter politics in washrooms and the tumultuous Republican Convention of 1884…about grizzly bears, grief and courage, and “blessed” mornings on horseback at Oyster Bay or beneath the limitless skies of the Badlands. “Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough,” Roosevelt once wrote. It is the key to his life and to much that is so memorable in this magnificent book.
What I thought: The book had quite a bit of back story, like the first half of the book. I think they could have left some of it out. But all in all, it was interesting reading about the Roosevelt family!
Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann – A companion book for young readers based on 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the groundbreaking bestseller by Charles C. Mann.
What I thought: This book had some interesting bits in it for this time period. It was a good add to our homeschool…
A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs – Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.
Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.
Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.
What I thought: This was a good read, it wasn’t my favorite of the series. I saw quite a few errors throughout the book as well, and that kind of threw me a bit!
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs – The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.
They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.
What I thought: I enjoyed this one more than the second one in the series. I think it would be great for a movie with computer designs involved. Well, it would have to be that way, lol…
Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder – In Why Poetry, award-winning poet Matthew Zapruder argues that the way we have been taught to read poetry is the very thing that prevents us from enjoying it. He takes on what it is that poetry—and poetry alone—can do. In lively, lilting prose, he shows us how that misunderstanding interferes with our direct experience of poetry and creates the sense of confusion or inadequacy that many of us feel when faced with a poem.
Zapruder explores what poems are and how we can read them so that we can, as Whitman wrote, “possess the origin of all poems” without the aid of any teacher or expert. Most important, he asks how reading poetry can help us to lead our lives with greater meaning and purpose.
Anchored in poetic analysis and steered through Zapruder’s personal experience of coming to the form, Why Poetry is engaging and conversational, even as it makes a passionate argument for the necessity of poetry in an age when information is constantly being mistaken for knowledge. While providing a simple reading method for approaching poems and illuminating concepts like associative movement, metaphor, and negative capability, Zapruder explicitly confronts the obstacles that readers face when they encounter poetry to show us that poetry can be read, and enjoyed, by anyone.
What I thought: I like that at the beginning of the book it mentions how a lot of people don’t like poetry, mostly because they don’t get it. That’s pretty much the theme throughout the book. He says that too many people are trying to get poetry and not enjoy it. It’s kind of interesting…
Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart – When Odessa Blackburn is three years old her beloved grandmother dies, and so begins her story, set in St. Louis, Missouri, and rural Mississippi. As the fifth born of eight children, Odessa loses her innocence at first when her drunken father sexually abuses her, and then again when she alone witnesses her father taking the life of his own brother.
Fifth Born is Zelda Lockhart’s debut novel, lyrically written and powerful in its exploration of how secrets can tear apart lives and families. It is a story of love, longing, and redemption, as Odessa walks away from those whom she believes to be her kin to discover the true meaning of family.
What I thought: Wow, this book. It takes you to a lot of places. Some I wanted to just walk away from. It’s definitely worth a read, although I didn’t care much for the last part of the book…just thought it would have been different to go along with the rest of the book.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss – We all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the Internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.
In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.
What I thought: This was a pretty funny book about punctuation. It is written by someone from England, so then there is that also, and she combines the differences with American punctuation. It’s not a bad read at all!
The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge – CONTENTS: Scenes of My Childhood Seeking an Education The Law and Politics In National Politics On Entering and Leaving the Presidency Some of the Duties of the President Why I Did Not Choose to Run
What I thought: I enjoyed reading his autobiography. It was kind of freaky though when I realized the strong connection in the looks department that him and his mother have with a friend of mine and her son. It’s odd, it truly is.. But I did like the book!
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli – As a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) was able to observe firsthand the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with that political rarity and his intense desire to see the Medici family assume a similar role in Italy provided the foundation for his “primer for princes.” In this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, Machiavelli used a rational approach to advise prospective rulers, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential problems, among them governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies and the treatment of conquered peoples.
Refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality, The Prince sets down a frighteningly pragmatic formula for political fortune. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule that continues to be much read and studied by students, scholars and general readers as well.
What I thought: We finished it, but it was not pleasant. We had no interest in this book whatsoever.
The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright – Kidnapped at sea by conquistadors seeking the golden land of Peru, a young Inca boy named Waman is the everyman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Forced to become Francisco Pizarro’s translator, he finds himself caught up in one of history’s great clashes of civilzations, the Spanish invasion of the Incan Empire of the 1530s. To survive, he must not only learn political gamesmanship but also discover who he truly is, and in what country and culture he belongs. Only then can he be reunited with the love of his life and begin the search for his shattered family, journeying through a land and a time vividly depicted here.
Based closely on real historical events, The Gold Eaters draws on Ronald Wright’s imaginative skill as a novelist and his deep knowledge of South America to bring alive an epic struggle that laid the foundations of the modern world.
What I thought: I enjoyed reading this story! There were some bits that were not right to be reading out loud to the kids, but other than that, I thought it was good!
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe – Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.
Yet, against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris. Be it loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris, or Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. Not to mention Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who might, in fact, be a real love interest in the making. He even starts playing actual hockey with these Texans.
But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart.
What I thought: This book was a fun quick read. I enjoyed the flow of it, and even the parts that I knew were coming anyway, because those happen in most of these books.
Ok, that’s what I read in February! Quite a bit more than I thought! I need to get busy if I want to make my goal though, I am usually much further ahead than I am!