Friday, February 16, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - Ella Who? by Linda Ashman

Illustrated by Sarah Sanchez
2017 Sterling Children's Books
HC $14.95
24 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.94 - 117 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers:  white background with 12 different "ropes" of leaves traveling from bottom to top of page.  Lovely.

1st line/s: "The movers left the doors wide open.  That's probably how she got in."

My comments:  Super clever, funny, and cute story about a little girl whose family members are so "into" what they're doing that they pay very little attention to her (wise up, parents!).  The simple illustrations accentuate the story really nicely...this is the second Linda Ashman book that I've enjoyed tremendously!

Goodreads:  Mom . . . there’s an elephant in the living room. 
It’s moving day—and look who slipped in the door: an elephant! But when a little girl tries to tell her family about their unusual guest, the distracted grown-ups just say, “Ella WHO?” Even as children giggle at the girl’s adventures with the smallishpachyderm, and at the fun, recurring refrain, they’ll relate to the poignant theme about making—and sometimes letting go of—new friends.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

16. Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger

listened on Audible - read BEAUTIFULLY
2013 Atria Books
307 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction
Finished 2/14/2018
Goodreads rating:  4.15 - 48,224 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting:1961 New Bremen, sourthern Minnesota

First line/s:   "All the dying that summer began with the death of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota, sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota."

My comments:  This story is about a minister's family in New Bremen, Minnesota in the summer of 1961, told in the first person by the middle child, a 13-year old named Frank, called Frankie by his family.  The story examines faith and the "awesome grace of God."
     I am genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  Usually I go running in the other directions - screaming - when I discover a book contains ruminations about religion.  This one never ever shoved religion down my throat, and the minister father, Nathan Drum, was everything anyone could ever want in a minister.  It certainly game me lots to think about, particularly about grief.  It also made me ponder so many people's unquestionable belief that anything that happens is "God's will."  And, if anything, it strengthened my own beliefs. 
     So many strengths here - wonderful characterization, beautifully crafted plot, and really lovely writing.
     So many great things bout this book, but the best for me?  I really like the relationship between Frank and his stuttering younger brother, Jake.

Goodreads synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.
         New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.
          When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.
          On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Postcards Received from Wyoming

736. Wyoming
A native of Wyoming, the Jackalope has never been captured alive.  It can only be hunted on June 31st between sunrise and sunset.  It mimics noises, especially the human voice and runs at lightning speed, therefore, the Jackalope is seldom seen.  Some folks drink Jackalope milk to cure eccentricities.  Best time to milk a Jackalope is after midnight as it sleeps i=on its back, belling shining in the moonlight.
 I hope this is a good addition to your collection

Saturday, February 10, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

Illustrated by Gillian Newland
2016, Second Story Press, Canada
HC  $18.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.29 - 385 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Endpapers:  pale sage green

1st line/s:"The dark figure, backlit by the sun, filled the doorway of our home on Nipissing Reserve Number 10."

My comments:  I'm not sure if you would consider this a very short fiction book for middle-graders, or a quite long picture book for middle graders, but no matter which you choose it's a powerful story of how the Indigenous people - in this instance Canadian - were treated for most of the 2oth century.  Rubbish!  Ripped from their families, sent away to be practically starved and "taught" by nuns and religious factions, these children were neglected and abused and shamed.  It's sickening, and I'm glad that some of this history is hitting the bookshelves for older kids. This story is true, based on the life of the author's grandmother.

Goodreads:  When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene's parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.

PICTURE BOOK - Around the World in Numbers by Clive Gifford

 Illustrated by Josh Hurley
2017, Red Shed (UK), Sterling (US)
CH $14.95
Goodreads rating:  4.5 - 2 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Orange with darker orange animal sketches
Illustrations:  Edge - to - edge, no white, bold colors, great illustrations that jump out at you.
1st line/s: "Grab you rsuitcase and fill it with facts as you travel through the different countries that make up Europe.  Packed with over 740 million people, there are lots of enormous and tiny numbers to discover, as well as some really surprising ones."

My comments:  I so enjoyed pouring over the facts, numbers, and illustrations in this book.  Although jam-packed with super interesting information, it's not so dense that it's off-putting.  On the contrary, I read each and every statistic and was dazzled by almost all of them.  Such though-provoking information - AND, I discovered a couple of new places to ad to my bucket list.  For older kids, the kind of kids who love maps and encyclopedias and World Record books.  And adults, too!

Goodreads Welcome to the fun and surprising world of numbers! 
Did you know there were about 10,000 light bulbs on the Titanic? Or that the Eiffel Tower is repainted every seven years—using 1,500 paintbrushes and 60 tons of paint? This engaging collection of statistics encourages kids’ curiosity by sharing some unbelievable numerical facts from across the globe. From famous landmarks and bustling cities to hidden treasures and incredible creatures, no number is too big or too small. Lively graphic illustrations add to the fun. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

Illustrated by the author
2018, Random House
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.56 - 151 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers: Bright Pink
Illustrations: Black & white except for the pink hat
1st line/s:  "First, there wasn't a hat....
                     Then there was."

My comments:  Why do people's expectations divert their liking for a book?  This is a subtle story, not the in-you-race-story with lots of political information that many reviewers wanted.  The message is there, it's quiet, and it's perfect for today's kids as well as today's young women.  It was fun to see where the story was going.  Let it BE what it IS, sit back and enjoy.  This is a fantastic book.  Another will be written to satisfy those who want more political references!

Goodreads:  Celebrate the 2017 Women's March with this charming and empowering picture book about a pink hat and the budding feminist who finds it.
          Here is a clever story that follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and used as a cozy blanket for a new baby, then finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women's equality. 
          Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women's March, Andrew Joyner has given us a book that celebrates girls and women and equal rights for all! 
          With themes of empathy, equality, and solidarity, The Pink Hat is a timeless and timely story that will empower readers and promote strength in the diverse and active feminist community.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's Up Next?

Virgil Flowers (John Sandford) #10 Deep Freeze
Dave Gurney (John Verdon) #6 White River Burning (7/3/18)
Kate Burkholder (Linda Castillo) #9.5 Only the Lucky
Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly) #13 The Overlook CD
Laura Winslow (David Cole (Dragonfly Bones) have bk
Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton) V is for Vengeance
Cork O'Connor (William Kent Krueger) #3 Purgatory Ridge
Kevin Kerney (Michael McGarrity) #4 Hermit's Peak
Carter Ross (Brad Parks) @2 Eyes of the Innocent AUDIBLE
Lena Jones (Betty Webb) #4 Desert Run KINDLE
Mike Bowditch (Paul Doiron) #4 Massacre Pond
Inspector Kari Vaara (James Thompson) #3 Helsinki Winter
Comoran Strike (Robert Galbraith) #4 Lethal White (No Date Yet)
Ruth Galloway (Elly Griffiths) #3 The House at Sea's End
Det. Kim Stone (Angela Marsons) #4 Play Dead
Joe Plantaganet (Kate Ellis) #2 Playing with Bones
Det. Erika Foster (Robert Bryndza) #2 The Night Stalker
Beth Sturgis & Jack Kale (Robert Daniels) #2 Wake the Devil
Mercy Kilpatrick (Kendra Elliot) #2 A Merciful Truth KINDLE
Det. John Barnes (Scott Holliday)
Angie Pallorino (Loreth Ann White) #1 Drowned Girls KINDLE
Solomon Creed, Redemption, AZ (Simon Toyne) #1 The Searcher KINDLE
Jessica Blackwood (FBI, computers, & cemeteries) (Andrew Mayne)  #1 Angel Killer KINDLE
Jane Whitefield (Thomas Perry) #8 A String of Beads KINDLE
Genevieve Lenard (Estelle Ryan) #1 The Gauguin Collection - also have 2 & 3 KINDLE
Archie Lean, Portland Maine 1892 (Kieran Shields) #1 The Truth of All Things KINDLE
Nadia Tesla (Orest Stelmach) #1 The Boy from Reactor 4  KINDLE
Decker & Lazarus (Kellerman) #19 Hangman KINDLE
Decker & Lazarus (Kellerman) #1 The Ritual Bath KINDLE
Joe Burgess, Portland ME cop (Kate Flora) #2 The Angel of Knowlton Park KINDLE
Elise Sandburg (Anne Frasier) #1 Play Dead - also have #2 KINDLE & AUDIBLE
David Mapstone, Phoenix (Jon Talton) #2 Camelback Falls KINDLE
Harry Hole (Jo Nesbo) #1 The Bat - also have #2 KINDLE
Cyril Landry (J. Carson Black) #2 Hard Return AUDIBLE
Garrison Gage (Nolte/Carter) #3 The Lovely Wicked Rain AUDIBLE
Jack Reacher (Lee Child) #19 Personal AUDIBLE
Jack Reacher (Lee Child) #17 Wanted Man AUDIBLE
Dublin Murder Squad (Tana French) #1 In the Woods AUDIBLE & KINDLE
Walt Longmire (Craig Johnson) #1 The Cold Dish AUDIBLE
Joe Pickett (C. J. Box) #1 Open Season AUDIBLE
Lucas Davenport (John Sandford) #2 Shadow Prey AUDIBLE
Elizabeth Harris/Lancaster Police Detective (Jane Jensen) current
Prof. Thjeo Cray, Biologist (Andrew Mayne) #2 Looking Glass - March, 2018
Det. Sam Porter/4MK (J. D. Barker) #2 The Fifth to Die - July 2018
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache/Three Pines, Quebec (Louise Penny) #2 A Fatal Grace
Ellie Hatcher/NYC cop (Alafair Burke) #3 212
Kick Lannigan (Chelsea Cain) #2 Kick Back
Renee Ballard/LA cop (Michael Connelly) #2 Sacred Knight - October, 2018
Tracy Crosswhite/Washington State/FBI (Robert Dugoni) #2 Her Final Breath
Iceland Inspectgor Erlendur (Arnaldur Indridason) #3 (first translation to English) Jar City AUDIBLE & KINDLE
Special Agent Pendergast (Douglas Preston & Lee Child) #14 Blue Labyrinth (Salton Sea) AUDIBLE
D. I. Nikki Galena (Joy Ellis) #1 Crime on the Fens AUDIBLE

Monday, February 5, 2018

15. The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

read on my iPhone
2017, HMH Books for Young Readers
388 pgs.
YA Dystopia/ 1942 America
Finished 2/5/2018
Goodreads rating: 4.13 - 1609 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  1942 Sterling, an east coast American community

First line/s:  "I want something of hers.  There's a teacup downstairs, the last one she used before she died."

My comments:  This is one of those books that just keeps getting better and better as it goes along  Lots of fantasy mixed with mystery and a lovely, small-town 1942 setting.  There was one major thing that was a little too unbelievable to make this five-worthy, and I will write it here invisibly because it is definitely the biggest spoiler of the book:
How are we to believe that Shakespeare's bones were stolen from England and brought to the United States?  There's nothing in Steffen's stories to even hint at this that I can remember...if the book was set in England it would be so much more believable.  Also, some of the variants -- magic potions -- made sense, but the hows and whys behind the invention of others were really unclear and frustrating.
      This was a clever book with a few flaws, an enjoyable read, and recommended.

Goodreads synopsis: What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?
          Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.
          Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.
          No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.
          As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Postcards from Michigan

1163.  Detroit, Michigan
Spirit of Detroit
When it was dedicated in 1958, the 26-foot Spirit of Detroit sculpture was the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance.  The left hand holds a bronze sphere emanating rays to symbolize God, while the right hand holds a family group.  The plaque in front of the sculpture reads, "The artist expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship."
Greetings from Michigan, Chris!  My name's Autumn and I live in an area just outside Detroit called Novi.  Although Detroit has a bad rep, it's truly an amazing city.  The people have a spirit that's hard to explain.  Hope you like the Spirit of Detroit.  It definitely represents us well.  Happy Postcrossing from the D!

Postcards by Virpi Pekkala - Finland

791.  Zug, Switzerland
Virpi Pekkala:  1974 Tee-se-itse, Gor det sjalv
Hello Chris!  Nice to met you!  I live in Zug, in the German speaking part of Switzerland.  Zug is lovely situated on the shore of Lake Zug with beautiful view to the Swiss Alps.  We have one of the most romantic sunsets here in Europe.  This postcard I bought in a small shop in the old town of Pauuja during a summer holiday in Finland.  I have been there by train and by ferry boat because I don't like travelling by plane.  To my work I ride on my red bicycle.  Kind regards, Merlin

748.  Jurva, Finland
Virpi Pekkala
Hello Chris and greetings from my tiny village of Jurva.  I'm so waiting for warm weathers, ithas been too cold and this morning we had only +2 degrees C (35.6F)  This is not ice-cream time yet.  This weather is not common here this time of year.  I wish on sunny summer days and lots of ice-cream!

531.  Virpi Pekkala card from FINLAND
Hello Hei Chris!
Greetings from Finland.  Nice you like our Virpi Pekkala's art.  I love her quiet humour.  Hugs and kisses, Leila

466.  Virpi Pekkala Card, Finland
Hello Chris,  It is time for blueberries in Finland.  I love to eat them, but I don't love to pick them.  There are too many mosquitos in the forest. (The mosquitos love me :( )  Just now I am in our summer cottage in eastern Finland.  It is evening and we warm up the sauna.  My husband is a sauna lover.  I like it, but cannot stay there a long time.  It is too hot.  Best Regards, Leena

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Postcards from Serbia

1168.  Belgrade, Serbia
"Beograd" in Serbian
"Toe move, to breathe, to fly, to float
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live."
Warm greetings from Belgrade, capital of Serbia, my hometown.  Wishing you happy holidays and many interesting postcards to come.  Petar

Postcards from Rhode Island

749.  Rhode Island
Hi Chris!  My name is Aisha.  Some things I really enjoy are:  reading, vintage items, drawing, collecting postcards, playing sports.  I hope you are having a great day!  Here in Rhode Island the weather is quite nice.

Very Cool Postcards that Don't Seem to Fit in any of My Categories

749.  Rhode Island
Hi Chris!  My name is Aisha.  Some things I really enjoy are:  reading, vintage items, drawing, collecting postcards, playing sports.  I hope you are having a great day!  Here in Rhode Island the weather is quite nice.

Postcards of BRIDGES

745.  Garganta do Diabo - Santa Maria - BRAZIL
Valley of the Devil's Throat
Hi!  Today I'm studying for school and it's cold, so I'm happy.  I love to study and learn new things and reading is good to reflect about life.... If you like reading, you should read AGatha Christie, she's the best.  Be happy!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

14. In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen

#2 Elizabeth Harris, Lancaster Police Detective
listened on Audible
2016, Berkley
304 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished February 1, 2018
Goodreads rating: 3.95 - 222 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary Lancaster and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

First line/s:  "I pulled into the driveway at the Yoder's farm and turned off my car."

My comments:  My interest and appreciation for the Kate Burkholder Amish murder mysteries by Linda Castillo have beecome overshadowed, I think, but this series.  This, too, follows a police detective - not in Ohio, but in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I still feel a little bit dissatisfied with the protagonist, but her relationship with a lovely ex-Amish man, Ezra Byler (although a story in the background of the main plot), is very enjoyable.  So yes, I love the setting.  I love this peek inside the life of the Amish.  The plot was different, horrible murders, but cleverly and believably written.  I wish I could put my finger on exactly why I'm not completely taken with Elizabeth Harris, she's a little too...single-minded...perhaps?  I'm not sure, but maybe and hopefully after reading a third installment in this series I'll have a little better handle on why I don't really like her as much as I think I should.

Goodreads synopsis: With its peaceful, hardworking Amish population, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a rural paradise. But former NYPD homicide detective Elizabeth Harris knows that evil lurks there—it’s just easier to hide... 
           By solving the murders of two local girls, Elizabeth has gained some trust in the Amish community. So, she’s the first person its members turn to when a fast and fatal illness takes hold, though many believe that the sickness stems from a hexerei—a curse placed by a practitioner of old-world folk magic. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in curses, and when an entire Amish family is found dead, she begins to suspect something far more sinister...
            As the CDC is called in to investigate, customers of a Philadelphia farmers market selling Amish raw milk start dying. Amid rapidly escalating panic, Elizabeth must peel away layers of superstition and fear to save the livelihood—and lives—of an entire community. Because what has happened isn’t an accident of nature or an act of God, it’s the handiwork of someone who has only just begun to kill...