Tag Archives: book review

I have written many blog posts about the activities that we have been doing in each place but not much about what we do when we are not visiting places. In the RV we are doing a lot of work but when we have free time reading, playing computer games, and watching TV are some of my favorites.

Reading Books: I have read lots of books on this trip. Some of these my parents assign but some I choose to read for pleasure. These are some of my most recent favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.31.03 PMUglies series
By: Scott Westerfeld
The Uglies series is about America after a huge catastrophe that wiped out most of the population. Now, hundreds of years later, civilizations have rebuilt themselves and in the new world everyone over the age of fifteen is made to look pretty. In the book, the main character is a girl named Tally. Her friend runs away to live with a group of people in the wild without being made pretty and when a mysterious group of people, called Specials, threaten to keep Tally ugly forever she is thrown into the wild to track down her friend and lead the Specials to the smoke, a place for run aways to live. These books (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras) make a really great series about a place that seems to be perfect but actually has many secrets.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.26.41 PMLorien Legacies
By: Pittacus Lore
This is a series about a group of nine human-looking aliens who were sent to earth from their planet, Lorien, which has been destroyed by a different group of aliens called the Mogadorians. At age fifteen only six of them are left; the first three have already been killed by the Mogadorians. Soon the six aliens left start to get their legacies, superpower-like gifts that are given to them by their planet. As the six meet each other and one extra alien no one knew about, they start to battle the Mogadorians to help save the Earth and Lorien. I really like this series because it is incredibly interesting and has action, superpowers, and adventure. The first book in the series was also made into a movie in 2011.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.29.08 PMThe Academy
By: Chad Leito
The Academy takes place in a world that is being destroyed by an infection known as the Wolf Flu. One day Asa, the main character, is kidnapped by mysterious men working for the biggest company in the world. The company that kidnaps him is the only people that can manufacture a cure for the wolf flu because they are also the people making it. Asa then ends up in a training facility somewhere in a snow-coated landscape.When he arrives Asa and other kids who have been kidnapped are told that they are going to be turned into soldiers who will make sure that the secret of who makes the infection is never found out. I really liked this story it is a great dystopian book that is like a cross between Harry Potter and a prison camp story

Playing Computer Games: I don’t usually play many computer games, but this is one of my favorites to play in the RV.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.39.56 PMSid Meier’s Civilization V: A Brave New World
Civilization is a game that you can buy on Steam for $29.99 . It is a strategy game where the object is to take over the world in one of four ways: military victory, diplomatic victory, scientific victory, or cultural victory. This game is also loosely related to world history, for example the leaders are all great historical figures. One of my favorite features of this game are the simulations. Simulations are specially made mini-games that are based on historical events, like the Civil War, American Revolution, the Fall of Rome, and many others.

Watching TV Shows: One of my favorite things to do in the RV when we have Wi-Fi is to watch TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I especially like to watch these four.

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Sherlock (Netflix):
This show is based on the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but it takes place in modern London. It has the Sherlock Holmes character, but with all the modern technology and language. This is one of my favorite shows because it has lot of funny dialogue and quick-paced action.

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Elementary (Amazon Prime): 
Also based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, Elementary takes place in New York City where Sherlock and his partner, Joan Watson, solve homicides that are too complicated for the regular police. I also like Elementary because it is shorter than Sherlock and has many twists and turns.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.38.45 PMScorpion (Amazon Prime): Based on a true story, Scorpion is about a group of geniuses working with the Department of Homeland Security to solve problems with their minds. Scorpion is very interesting because it is not only about crimes but sometimes rescuing people or saving people from disasters.

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Psych (Netflix): 
Psych is about the son of a police officer who tricks the Santa Barbara Police Department into thinking that he has psychic powers. To do this, he uses his incredible observational skills. I really like this show because it is really funny and still interesting at the same time.

I really hope you liked this blog post and will try some of my recommendations. If you have any suggestions about other TV shows, books, or games please tell me. I’m always looking for new things to do.

To Be a Slave

TScreen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.54.37 AMo slaves, it was clear that slavery existed for two reasons: free labor and the money that was gotten from the fruits of that free labor and from selling slaves. (Lester, p. 32)

This is a major point in Julius Lester’s, To Be a Slave. This is a book of short quotes and stories of people that had been slaves and were now free. Three of the main topics of the book are the living conditions of slaves, the rebellion of slaves, and the songs that slaves sang. Here are some excerpts that show what different parts of slavery were like and some connections to what I have seen, read, and watched about the slave experience.

We entered some negroes’ huts for their habitations can not be called houses. They are far more miserable than the poorest of the cottages of our peasants. (p. 62-63)

These are the words of a Polish poet who spent two weeks at George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon and described the houses of the slaves that worked there. During the time of slavery, the living conditions of the slaves varied. Some would have little cabins with one family each and others would have one room for 10-15 people. When we went to Mount Vernon we saw the quarters that the slaves lived in. In many of them, multiple slaves would sleep on the ground or on planks of wood.  Some of the rooms had rags that the slaves were using as blankets and a small fireplace. Overall, I think that the description of the slave quarters are accurate and I would not want to live there for even a day let alone my whole life.

It was not uncommon for escaped slaves to hide out in the woods. Sometimes they did so for years. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many slaves ran away and livd with the Indians. Others escaped and created their own settlements. (p.121)

When slaves would run away, many times it was to the North, but sometimes they would create their own small settlements in the swamps or on the coast. Here they could live free and create their own culture. They also would face many difficulties like slave catchers and storms. In The Patriot, a movie about the revolutionary war, the main character and his family go to live in a settlement on the coast with escaped slaves. While they are there they see how the escaped slaves fished and hunted for food and built houses out of the things that they had around them. Today we can still see evidence of the Gullah culture on the coast of the South East.

The big bee flies high,
The little bee makes the honey.
The black folks make the cotton
And the white folks get the money. (p.114)

This was a song sung by slaves while they worked in the fields picking cotton. In the slave culture a big part of work was singing. Singing would help them to pass the time and to connect with other people. One example of this was in the movie Glory, which is about the 54th Massachusetts regiment (the first black regiment). Before they go to battle at Fort Wagner in South Carolina the whole regiment gets together and sings songs around the campfire thanking God for the opportunity to fight for their people. The soldiers would also sing when they worked cutting down trees. I think that all of these show how important singing was to them as a way of entertainment and passing time and of following their religion.

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54th Massachusetts singing before battle.

Overall, I think that this was a great book that really shows what the different aspects of slavery were and what it was all together. I think that one of the reasons that this book is so accurate is that all of the quotes and stories are told by real slaves. I would recommend this book to people who want to learn more about slavery because this is a book of what the slaves said after they became free and they were the only ones who really knew what slavery was and how it felt to be a slave. As you read this book you might feel infuriated by the treatment of the slaves, but you should still read this to understand the history of our nation.

Stealing Freedom

Ann disguised as a boy.

Ann disguised as a boy.

Last month I read a book called Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone and it was written in1998. This book is based on a true story about a girl named Ann Maria Weems and her family. Her family members are slaves except her dad because he bought his freedom. The book takes place in Virginia before the Civil War. Her dad doesn’t want his family to be owned so he saves up his money to buy his family’s freedom, but the prices keep going up because their master didn’t want them to get freed.Their master also became a slave trader to get some more money. So the father went to New York and found a vigilance committee where they raise money to free slaves. The committee got enough money to buy the whole family but the prices kept going up for Ann. So Ann had no family at the plantation. Then one night Ann got “kidnapped” and she was forced to go into a wagon. The kidnappers took the bag off her head and right in front of her was someone from the committee who tried to buy her. This was the start of stealing freedom.They were running away………………..

Slave Market Museum Nowadays

Slave Market Museum Nowadays

When I read about the master trading slaves I thought about when we went to see the slave market in Charleston. I think that it was horrible that they thought of the slaves as property and that they treated the slaves badly and they broke up families, just like Ann’s family. When I read about the cabin that they lived in it reminded me of the slave cabins that we saw at Magnolia Plantation. The cabin had a dirt floor and a fire pit like Ann’s cabin. That was pretty much all they had except for hay mattresses. The slaves also had to fit over 10 people in the small cabin.

Slave Cabin at Magnolia Plantation.

Slave Cabin at Magnolia Plantation.

I think this book is great because I felt like I got to know a real person from history. People who like history and people who don’t think they like history should read it because it tells people about how bad slavery was and in an interesting way.

Favorites in Philadelphia

Philadelphia was a fun place and I think that we learned in exciting ways. These are some of my favorite things that we did there.


Lancaster County: Amish country is a cool place were we saw what the Amish people dress like and what they do for work. They dress in old fashion suits and dresses, they are farmers, they ride in horse drawn buggies, and speak English, German and Pennsylvania Dutch. The Amish people do not have electricity. That means no computers, air conditioners, heaters, or TVs. Think about it, would you like to live their life style? I don’t think it would be that bad and the Amish that we saw looked happy.

Edgar Allan Poe House: I had never heard of Edgar Allan Poe until we went. We got a Junior Ranger book and we had to fill it out and we did. We went around his house and the first thing that we saw was his basement. It was dark and spooky and damp. The tour guide told us that they found dead bodies in the walls of some houses back then and Edgar Allan Poe used this in his stories. The house was very creepy. When we got home my mom read us The Tell Tale Heart.

Franklin Institute: We went to a really fun and interesting science museum called the Franklin Institute. This museum taught me about the brain and sports and flight. There was also a cool show. The show was about liquid nitrogen and the scientest took a balloon and soaked it in liquid nitrogen. He said that when things get colder the space in the balloon was decreasing and when it got warmer then it was the same size as before. I love science museums because they are usually fun and I learn from them.


Dave and Busters: I went to this place for the first time and it was awesome. Dave and Busters is a huge arcade and they have a restaurant and a bar. There are so many types of games like racing, shooting, spin the wheel, and many more. We went during Power Hour so we paid ten dollars for an hour of games but we did not get any tickets. We had a great dinner there and we got two free power cards with more money on them to play any games. So I played a spin the wheel game and got over 500 tickets. Then I returned some tickets for a couple of fling-shot animals and I saved the rest of my tickets for the next time we go.


Eragon: This was a good book that I read in Philadelphia. It is about a boy named Eragon. He finds a dragon egg in the mountains when he goes hunting. At first he thinks  it’s a rock so he tries to sell it to get food. But no one wants to buy it so he keeps it in his room. Then one morning it hatches and Eragon thinks the dragon is a he so he asks what the dragon wants to be called and he finally figures out the dragon is a she so he names her Saphira. If  you want to figure out more of their adventures together you should read Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.

Visualizing Johnny Tremain

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Johnny Tremain is a book about an apprentice silversmith living in Boston before the American Revolution. When an accident happens at the silver shop his hand is burned with liquid silver and his fingers are glued together. Now that he cannot work as a silversmith he goes out in search of work and finds a boy named Rab. Rab works for a printshop and is also a Son of Liberty, a group of rebels in the 13 colonies who are organizing against the British. Johnny goes one day to look for work and ends up in the print shop where Rab offers Johnny a job as the paper delivery boy. Johnny accepts this offer and must now learn how to ride a horse named Goblin (the only problem with Goblin is that he is scared of everything). Soon after Johnny gets his new job, he starts to read the paper that he is delivering. Johnny ends up becomes a rebel, and when Rab offers to let him join the Boston Tea Party he agrees to participate. After that, he starts to help the committee for the Sons of Liberty who meet in the attic of the printshop where Johnny works. Later in the book, Rab goes off to war with the Boston militia and gets killed. (SPOILER ALERT) As Johnny learns that his best friend has died, he decides to have the doctor cut his fingers apart to make them normal again so he can go and fight.

This is a collage of pictures that relates to the events or people in Johnny Tremain. In the middle of the collage is a coin from the group called the Sons of Liberty. Johnny worked with the Sons of Liberty a lot. He would help them and participate in their meetings even though he was too young to be one of them. On the right you can see some of the most important members of the Sons of Liberty: Sam Adams, John Adams and John Hancock.These three men played a huge part in the fight against the British. At the top of the page you can see some of the flags that relate to the story. The two on the ends are different examples of the 13 starred American flag, the yellow one with the snake is the flag of liberty, the one in the middle is the Sons of Liberty flag, and the last one is the Massachusetts state flag where the story takes place. The photo on the collage with the man making a bowl represents that in the beginning of the book Johnny is an apprentice silversmith. The image in the far right bottom corner shows a man working in a printshop which is Johnny’s second job.The picture above that shows a man on a horse, because Johnny would also deliver the papers as well as make them.  The picture showing an Indian throwing tea over board represents the Boston tea party. The picture in the middle at the bottom is a painting of the state militia who fought against the British. These men would have been farmers, blacksmiths, silversmiths and any other job but almost none of them had any formal training. There are also two pictures of minutemen which Johnny wants to be.

Overall this was one of my favorite historical fiction books because it shows what life would have been like during the time of the Revolutionary War for the colonists. It also shows a bit about what it would have been like back then for British soldiers. I would recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in this time period. You can also watch the movie based on the book but I think it isn’t as good as the story. I didn’t use any of the pictures from the movie in my collage.

Found another good book!

51AXHB1V1RLI’ve been reading a book called The Keeping Room by Anna Myers. The book takes place during the Revolutionary War. The characters of this book are Joseph Jr., his parents (Joseph and Mother), their servant (Cato), and his brother and sisters (George, Sarah, and Mary). The book is about a boy named Joey (Joseph Jr.) whose house gets taken over by the British. Then his father becomes a prisoner because he is fighting against the British. They build a gallows outside of their house and trap them in a room. Joey gives Mary his books because he thinks that girls should be able to learn. Joey has to care for the American soldiers and clean the British boots. Joey’s family goes to his uncles house. They leave him with Cato and they wait and one day the soldiers leave the town and his family and dad come back.

When I read about the hanging it reminded me about the Salem witch hangings in Massachusetts. Some innocent people in the book got hanged and all the people who got hanged in Salem were innocent. I also read that Joey’s teacher is a Quaker and my mom read to me that Quakers do not believe in war or violence.

This book is good and it has a lot of history. You should read the book and try to go to Salem. If you go, then you should go around Halloween because they have cool things to do.

Favorite Summer Books

Over the summer I read a lot of great books, but these three book/series were by far my favorites. Here is a little summary of each book.

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The Psion Series (4 books) by Jacob Gowans

This is one of the best series of books that I have read in a long time. I could hardly put them down. The Psion series are about a 14 year old boy who discovers he has something called Anomaly 14 which makes it so that he can shoot energy out of his hands and feet. He finds out that he can do this when he is cornered by the police and he knocks them back with energy from his hand. Later he is recruited by a man named Commander Byron to become a Beta where he will train to become an elite soldier for the New World Government fighting ruthless killers known as the Thirteens. This Book is a great book with lots of action and a little bit of adventure.


The Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

The Lone Survivor is a nonfiction book about what took place during Operation Redwing which was a great disaster. Four highly trained Navy SEAL snipers went into the mountains of Afghanistan to capture or kill a target. Right from the start everything went wrong and only one person came out alive. By the end of this fight he had been shot, broken his back, cracked his femur, broken his fingers and lost the lives of three of his best friends. Back home in Texas his family waited not knowing if he was alive or not. Many hard days later a group of Army Rangers found him in the woods.This book tells the whole story of what happened. It is another great book for people who love action and adventure.


The Unwanteds Series (3 Books) by Lisa McMann

The Unwanteds is a book about a place called Quill where being creative is a crime punishable by death. Every year in Quill all the thirteen year olds are put into three groups: the Wanteds who are the strongest and smartest, the Necessaries who are necessary to keep the empire running, and the Unwanteds who are sent to drown in a lake of boiling oil. Alex and his twin brother are thirteen but Alex is an Unwanted and his brother is a Wanted. So Alex is sent to the lake where he is saved by a mysterious man who takes all the unwanteds to a place called Artimè. Now Alex learns to use art and other creative things as weapons as Artimè prepares for battle with Quill. I think that almost everyone would like this book. It has action, magic, and adventure and it’s really good.


I hope that you decide to read some of them. Do you have any books that you can recommend?

Sign of the Beaver

Sign of the Beaver

I’ve been reading about a book called the Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spear. It takes place in the late 1700s. In Sign of the Beaver there is a boy called Matt and he is 13 years old. He is alone in a cabin for 7 weeks because his dad went to go get the rest of his family. He meets a man called Ben. Ben steals Matt’s gun. Then he meets a Native American who wants him to teach his grandson Attean how to read English. Then Attean and Matt become friends. Attean teaches Matt many things like how to make a bow and arrow. He gives him meat since he had no gun to kill things with but Matt still had fish but he got tired of it. Matt is kind and he is American. Attean knows a lot about nature and he also respects animals. He is Native American.

When I read about how Matt slept in a wigwam I connected it with Plymouth Plantation. At Plymouth Plantation I saw and talked to a Native American and I went inside a wigwam and it was really cool. It had wood logs for beds and it had deer, wolf, raccoon, fox, and bear skins so it was very comfortable. The out side has thick bark for insulation. I would like to build a wigwam some day.

This book is really cool. You should read it and try to go to Plymouth Plantation.