Community Challenge 1: Reading Challenge


Update: 8/28/2018

Thanks everyone for some excellent book reviews and your participation “liking” the reviews. I’m personally adding several from these reviews to my own reading wish-list.

As of my writing, the the ten reviews with the most likes are those that have (thus far) received 7 or more “Likes.” They are in the following poll. Please review them carefully and vote for your favorite, the one you’re most likely to read, or the review you most enjoyed reading.


  • Mis(h)adra, by Iasmin Omar Ata
  • The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
  • Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
  • Letters to Alaska, by John Muir
  • Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon, by Robert Kurson
  • The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox
  • Burning Bright, by Melissa McShane: A Masterpiece
  • The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein

0 voters

Those who did not make the poll, keep in mind we’ll also do a random drawing on Monday, 9/3!

Original post:

In the spirit of this “Back to School” season, we’re inviting our Community members to join our Community Reading Challenge! Although you may not be heading back to school, you’re never too old to enjoy a good book!

To Participate:

:blue_book: Read a book or listen to an audiobook.
:pen: Write a book review that inspires others to read the book.
:computer_mouse: Post your book review in reply to this topic.


  1. You must submit your own original review that has not been published elsewhere, of not less than 100 words.
  2. Eligible entries must include the title, author and format (print or audiobook)
  3. Eligible entries may be posted beginning August 7, 2018.
  4. Eligible entries must be posted by August 27, 2018 at 11:59:59 p.m. PT, and may not be edited after that time.
  5. Eligible entries must receive at least 5 “likes” from our Community Members
    and optionally
  6. Eligible entries may include an explanation of any app or way you used your phone to acquire, decide upon, or read this book.

When you submit your review, you are posting it publicly in our Community and agree that it may appear publicly in association with your Community username

Note: Titles and reviews must conform to our Community Guidelines. Please label books that are of a more adult nature as “Explicit.”

Winner Selection:

There will be two ways to win.

  1. Members’ Picks:
    On August 28, we’ll take the 10 reviews that have received the most “Likes” and put them to a vote here in our Member Community. Voting will close on Sunday September 2.
  2. Random Picks:
    On Monday, September 3, we’ll have a random drawing of all remaining eligible entries


Two first place Members’ Picks winners: $25 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt (S, M, L, XL, or 2X)
Three second place Members’ Picks winners: $20 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt (S, M, L, XL, or 2X)
Five third place Members’ Picks winners: $10 Tangocard* and a Republic Wireless T-shirt (S, M, L, XL, or 2X)
Five Random Picks who will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.


If your review includes spoilers, please use the “spoilers” tool when composing your entry. Highlight the spoiler content, and click the gear in the toolbar at the top of the content editor:


Select Blur Spoiler from the options in the drop-down menu.

This will blur the content for each member who reads the post, until that member clicks the blurred text, like this:

Hansel and Gretel do eventually make it back home and live happily ever after.


Tangocard is a virtual gift card that can be redeemed for gift cards from a variety of popular retailers, restaurants and experiences. To see the participating retailers, click The Tango Card tab in the Tango online rewards catalog.

Keeping This Topic Tidy

Ideally, this topic will contain just these rules and the submitted book reviews, but the real goal is for everyone to have fun and talk about the books you’ve enjoyed, so if some chatter is mingled in with the book reviews, we’ll work around it. If a good conversation sparks up, please don’t be offended if you find the posts moved to a separate topic of its own. It would not be punitive, it just makes the conversations easier to follow.

Challenges Disclaimer:

To participate our challenges, you acknowledge that you will need to download and use the third party products, apps, and/or websites (“Products”). These Products are provided by third-parties and not Republic Wireless. You agree and understand that Republic Wireless is not responsible for the content, operation, or anything else related to the Products and that your use of the Products is at your own risk and you agree to hold Republic Wireless harmless.



Can you please edit your post and mark your spoiler as being for Hansel and Gretel? That was the book I was going to read for the challenge but now it’s been spoiled and I’ll have to look for something else.


care to give “Mission Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard
a try?


Hey everyone! Don’t be afraid of labels on books. You have my permission to ready any book you think you like.

Don’t forget that your local library can contain a lot of resources! My local librarians are just waiting to find the next book that I enjoy.


Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata
A semi-autobiographical Graphic Novel based off of the authors own condition and life.
Print format

misadra (or "seizure") and mish adra ("I cannot")

When it comes to strangers, it is hard sometimes to get to know them. It is even harder sometimes to be able to empathize and understand their struggles. However, this book is just about that. It is a great story even though in graphic form to show what a unique misunderstood condition such as epilepsy can be felt by oneself and to others.

Mis(h)adra is about Isaac, an Arab-American college student struggling to live with epilepsy and seizures. It is about his daily struggles when he only wants to be a normal college student. It is a condition that is a balancing for him that affects his schoolwork and social life, while not having any support from family who is in denial and peers who do not understand.

While the illustrations are sometimes bold and could be harder to follow, they show what epilepsy and the onset of seizures can be like. The images shows the uniqueness of his situation and his ever looming threat of seizures each day, the struggles of feeling isolated and down.

Yet even with all the things that can bring a person down, it is about the story of him coming to understanding with his own condition and finding the will to move on. Issac and the rest of us can’t just run from the issues in our lives.

It is a story that, even if we don’t have epilepsy ourselves, we can sort of relate to. It is for us who have our daily struggles to overcome, to cave in but to build ourselves back up.

Also, I think the character is cute.


I just finished the audio version of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This book is set in World War 2 France, during the German invasion of that country. It’s focus is on 2 sisters, and the choices they make to get through the very difficult time period. While their relationship has always been tumultuous, they both look at the choices the other makes to survive, and judge what the other is doing, without delving into why they are making those choices. In the end, they come to have a deeper understanding of this, and a much stronger love, and respect for each other.

One sister, who is without husband or children, thinks the only right path is to fight against, and sabotoge, the Germans at every turn. No matter the cost to herself. She does this, thinking she can keep her family separated from her actions. The other, with both a husband and child, tries her best to protect those around her, including her sister, by doing what she can to live with the Germans. She does this thinking she can keep those she loves safe, but comes to find that her intentions can have unwanted consequences.

Over time, they both discover that neither of them fully understood what the other was doing, or why they were doing those things. They also discover the bond of family, and how complicated that can be, as well as how easy it is to cast a label on another, that is not always correct.

Reading this book makes you question how you would react in similar circumstances. What is the right choice? Protect yourself and your family, but at the cost of others being harmed by the enemy? Work agains the enemy, but possibly harm yourself and your family? Both of them come to see that neither of those choices can be exclusively right, but that both have done what they thought was best.

It also makes you appreciate those who have been, and are, brave enough to defend our freedoms.


Goodnight Moon
Paperback, by Margaret Wise Brown

After spending a few evenings reviewing Goodnight Moon, I began to wonder, children’s classic or classically flawed? At first glance the book has everything it needs from rhymes to bears on chairs, but numerous serious questions remain.

  1. What is this telephone thing that sits next to the child’s bed?
  2. Why is there a quiet old lady in this child’s room? Nowhere is a relationship mentioned! Why is she whispering hush? What does she have to hide?
  3. Why is the child going to sleep with a bowl of mush in their room? This sounds unsanitary!
  4. There’s a young mouse running around the room? This might be because no one cleaned up the mush!

Overall, until the heirs of the author answer these questions, which have gone unanswered in the over 70 years since publication, I can’t in good conscience recommend reading it or allowing your children to. Imagine the nightmares!


we read this to my son when we feel he had to much tech


As a 40-something :yum:, YA is my favorite genre and most of the books in my repertoire are from here, along with fantasy & sci-fi!



I love to search for books that are going to be made into movies so I can compare them with the big screen version later on. I listened to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton, on Audiobook last year and it is one of my top 5 favorite listens! It was 15h 40m of nostalgia through 80s video games, board games, music, and pop culture flashbacks!

The main character, Wade, goes on a quest (alongside the rest of the world) into the virtual world of the OASIS to find the winning combination of puzzles, riddles, games, and adventure that will yield a motherload of fame and fortune. Along the way he learns many lessons about life, friendships, danger, deception, and even love.

I was skeptical of how this book would translate into a movie and I must say they did a pretty great job! As usually happens, much of the book’s content was left out of the movie, which makes this book even more worthwhile to read (Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are in this bucket). The movie focused more on the action and adventure of the game, where the book covers the intimate details of what had to be completed to win each segment of the game (and why).

If you’re a child of the 80s, love a good adventure, or just a great recommendation, give Ready Player One a try!


Watership Down by Richard Adams. Paperback.

When I first saw a book called “Watership Down” on a list of great literature, I assumed (based on name alone) it must be about a naval battle. Not so! The plot centers on a group of rabbits trying to find a new home.

If you’re still with me after that last sentence, Watership Down is also a study in leadership. Richard Adams served in the British Army during World War II as a supply officer, and according to Adams’s autobiography The Day Gone By, the soldiers of 250 Company, 1st Airborne Division of the British army, and its commander, Major John Gifford, served as the primary inspiration for the band of rabbits in the book.

Nearly every rabbit in the group contributes a unique talent to the group. At various times, the rabbits owe their survival to Fiver’s intuition, Blackberry’s creativity, and Bigwig’s strength. Even Dandelion, the rabbit best known for his storytelling, uses his stories to calm other rabbits in tense situations. The rabbits’ leader, Hazel, is not the smartest, strongest, most intuitive, nor even wittiest of the rabbits. He leads by example, not intimidation. The book culminates in a battle whose outcome is determined by the fact that the rabbits’ foe mistakenly believes that authority is determined by power.

The book was initially rejected by multiple publishers before finally being picked up by a small publishing company. Forty years later, Watership Down is a critically-acclaimed best seller. If you have previously passed over this book (as the other publishers did), give it a second look.



This book holds the dual honor of being the first book in years I read in a single day, and the only book to make me gasp audibly while reading. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (in paperback) is, at its core, a heist caper set in an entirely unique fantasy world. As you read the book, Lynch masterfully lays out a civilization that feels both real and fantastic, spooling out a rich history of Locke’s home city of Camorr while never slowing the pace of the story. You’ll grow to love the characters of Jean and the Sanza twins, and Lynch masterfully uses your connection to them to twist your heart in the gut-wrenching finale.

When I finished this book, I sat in stunned silence for several minutes, trying to process everything that had happened in the last fifty action-packed pages. Then, when the shock wore off, I immediately searched for and ordered the second book in the series, eager to rejoin Locke on his next painful but exciting adventure.


I read Letters to Alaska by John Muir after taking a trip to Alaska with my family a few years ago! It was in print format, since I found it at my local library after reading about it online. This copy I had included selected, footnoted versions of articles written by John Muir for a newspaper as he traveled around Alaska. He and his friend Young were among the first whites to see Glacier Bay and other inlets in southeastern Alaska. Having been to some of the same areas, and having an interest in learning about Muir’s life, I really enjoyed this book. (Although we saw some of the same glaciers, many have receded over 20 MILES in the 140 years between our visits.) I’m very grateful for Muir because he had a huge hand in preserving the National Parks that are, in my opinion, the best places in America.

This book really proves that a picture is worth a thousand words. He tries to describe what he’s seeing, and while he’s a good writer and sketcher, it just makes me want to Google a picture of x glacier or x bay. It was also interesting to hear his opinions on missionary work, Native American culture, and gold mining. I’m surprised that he had such an encouraging view of gold mining, and ice mining as well. It seems so odd that he would be fine with people cutting down the glaciers he loved.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes nonfiction, autobiography, nature, or just a good story.


Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuel – Audiobook


Audio books are great, but full cast production audio books are amazing. The book begins with a young girl, Rose, falling into a hole only to land on a giant metal hand. Made of an unknown metal, of unknown origins, the discovery of the hand leaves questions needing to be answered. Rose’s encounter with the hand leads her to a life in science and a second chance to solve they mystery of hand.

This book is best as an audio book. It is written as series of interviews and reports, which when read could be tedious, but as a full cast of characters acting them in words, you get sucked into the story. It is the first in a trilogy called The Themis Files. All three books are available as audio books.

I discovered the book by chance. Someone online mentioned how great the full cast audio book production was, and I, never having listened to a full cast production, tried it out. Now I make it a point to seek out full cast productions. I checkout audiobooks from the library using the Overdrive app. Once they are on my phone I listen while I walk, cook, mow, and drive.



Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon
by Robert Kurson (read via print and Audible audiobook)

What it’s about: The Apollo 8 Mission led by NASA Astronaut Frank Borman, with fellow Astronauts Bill Anders and James Lovell, was the first spacecraft to exit earth orbit and the first to not only travel to the Moon, but also enter its orbit. It was the first manned launch using the Saturn V rocket (the most powerful rocket ever built), and it was an unimaginably risky mission that was prepared for and conducted with only four months of preparation. The book, which reads like a novel, recounts the three astronauts’ personal history, along with the stories and struggles of their wives, NASA scientists and leaders, and how all of these brilliant and tough people came together to pull off one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time.

Why you should read it: Again, the book reads like a novel, and will certainly keep you flipping one page after another for hours. Kurson does a tremendous job of weaving together a grand and compelling narrative. The personal character of the Apollo 8 Astronauts is also incredibly moving, and how their spouses handled the stress of having husbands in so dangerous a vocation. All of this happened at the end of an extremely tumultuous year (1968), and Kurson writes how the Apollo 8 mission gave something for which not just Americans, but peoples everywhere could rejoice. This book is more than worth your time!


The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox (print book)
I do enjoy a good scary read. So when I read this tagline for the book, I dove in: " Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it."

The novel is set in New Oldbury, Massachusetts. The odd name kind of makes sense, as the book’s time setting seemed pretty nebulous to me. Part of the setting did seem 19th century, but much of the action came across as decidedly modern (Lydia meeting alone often with her “gentleman friends,” one character saying he shouldn’t have “lost my cool,” etc).

The Witch of Willow Hall

I liked this description, near the book’s beginning: “Not just the house, but the ancient trees, the watching insects, the stars and even the moon. But they have all lived without us for lifetimes that make our own look like the blink of the eye.” Nice.

The story itself is of the Montrose family, and particularly its three daughters: Catherine, Lydia, and Emmeline. The family has been involved in some vaguely alluded-to scandal and has been forced to move to Willow Hall. From there, things start getting strange. The author effectively uses cliffhangers and suspense, and I did read this book fairly quickly. There were several twists, which I also liked and which I usually didn’t see coming. In short, overall the book kept me entertained. It was easy to read. A few of the characters (especially Catherine) were so mean and stereotypically evil that they didn’t seem very real, but perhaps the author was going for a type of fairy tale feel with the book.

Do you enjoy a romantic tale with some suspense and a scary theme? If so, The Witch of Willow Hall may be just the book for you – especially with Halloween approaching.



Burning Bright by Melissa McShane: A Masterpiece

I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this book, but it’s one of my favorites ever, and as someone who reads more than ~100 books a year, that’s saying a lot. Burning Bright is about a woman named Elinor Pembroke, who lives in the 1800s in England. However, there is a twist: the lucky among people manifest Talents, and the extraordinarily lucky among people manifest Extraordinary Talents. These talents include Moving, Bounding, Seeing, Shaping, and more. Elinor, previously talentless, awakes in her room after dreaming of fire, only to discover that the fire is very much real… and she puts it out with just a thought. This reveals her to be an Extraordinary Scorcher, capable not only of setting fires, but also of controlling and extinguishing them. As a woman of English society, however, this skill does not have much use unless Elinor marries and passes on Extraordinary genes.

That is, until Elinor decides she has had enough of being useless and used.

Read Burning Bright for a beautiful tale of growth and suspense. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen but enjoy action and adventure, this is the book for you! The character development is excellent, with a compelling plot and good writing. I read it through Kindle Unlimited (print), and I discovered the book with the Goodreads app on my phone. I highly recommend!


Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence by James R. Clapper with Trey Brown (Viking, 2018)

I just finished this book (from our local public library), and I can’t say I enjoyed reading it, but it was certainly an education and worth every minute I spent with it.

James Clapper is the son of a military intelligence officer, and most of his career was in military intelligence, rising to the rank of 3-star general. After retirement and a brief stint in the private sector, he returned to government service as a civilian leading various parts of the Intelligence Community, retiring in Jan. 2017 as the Director of National Intelligence.

My prior knowledge of intelligence had mainly been from the news media, which naturally tends to focus on “newsworthy” events such as things going badly wrong or scandals. I now have a much greater appreciation for the variety of activities that come under the heading of Intelligence, as well as for the people who carry out those activities.

Clapper tells lots of stories, which run the gamut from amusing to tragic. He also does a lot of reflecting on the purpose and practice of intelligence-gathering, and on the constraints under which the U.S. Intelligence Community operates. The latter part of the book also contains much musing on the operations of the federal government of which he was a part.

I say that I didn’t enjoy reading it— not entirely true, but so much of the book relates serious and even frightening damage to US interests such as 9/11, Benghazi, and Russian election interference, and the limits of the Intelligence Community’s ability to foresee and forestall such things. It is not a comfortable book…


Just finished the print edition of this book. It was a complete coincidence that this book was also about some women during World War 2, after listening to an audio book about the same subject, but it was the next book on my reading pile.

The Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly is a very captivating story. It is based on the true, life story of Caroline Ferriday. This is historical fiction, so the conversations were made up, but the author did her research and incorporated many real events from her life.

Caroline is socialite, with strong ties to France. She is very involved in war relief efforts and does everything she is able to do to help those in need in the war torn country of France. She does not spare herself, and is not above asking others to help out in the same way. Even after the war is over, her focus stays on raising funding, and getting aid, for those whose lives have been torn apart.

Herta Oberheuser, is a female Nazi doctor. Again, this was a real person, who the author has researched and incorporated into this fictional story. Being a female doctor was rare enough in that time period, but Herta is so determined to be a surgeon, that she is willing to become part of the staff at a female concentration camp. She rationalizes what she does to the prisoners in a way that makes her accept her own actions. I have read other stories about concentration camps, but this is the first that focused on an all female camp. What those prisoners endured is beyond what I can comprehend.

The other main character is Kasia Kuzmerick. While this character is complete fiction, the author based her life on a real, historical figure. Kasia is of Polish descent, with German lineage, but through circumstances ends up in the female concentration camp. She is a very strong character. You also get to read about what she had to face after liberation, and get a small understanding of how hard it was to let go of the bitterness these women faced after they were released.

This is an outstanding book! Without giving story lines away, the 3 lives are intertwined throughout the book. I highly recommend it if you like historical fiction.

ETA: I’ve saved some of the titles reviewed here to add to my list of books to read.