Wednesday, July 29, 2015

47. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker

This was a reread - actually, I read it the first time and listened to it this time.  I didn't even remember reading it, though I had the same reactions to it both times.  Ella was entranced, loved it.

See original review HERE.

MOVIE - Where Hope Grows

Wide/Limited release
Viewed date at
RT Critic:   46 Audience:   92
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by
Based on the book by

My comments:  I really liked this movie.  Loved the actors & acting, loved the story, loved everything about it.  Not your usual big screen blockbuster, but a movie that makes you think ... a lot.  It touches on being called a retard, down syndrome, the power of prayer, alcoholism, kindness.....  Good movie.

RT Summary:

46. The Professionals - Robert B. Parker

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
Goodreads rating:
My rating:

First line/s:

My comments:

Goodreads synopsis:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

45. Deadline - John Sandford

Virgil Flowers #8
 on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
Goodreads rating:
My rating:

First line/s:

My comments:  Same old wonderful Virgil Flowers....clever and funny and smart.  This one seemed to drag a bit, though.  I do love the way that Sandford adds the perspective of the antagonist/s as well as the protagonist, but much of this seemed repetitive and unnecessary.....or maybe it was just the mood I was in as I drove....

Goodreads synopsis:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Civil Rights and Being Black in America

Bass, Hester - Seeds of Freedom (2015) Huntsville, AL 1962-1963, peaceful desegregation
Faulkner, Matt - A Taste of Colored Water (2008) during desegregtion
Pinkney, Andrea Davis - How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (2010) Greensboro sit-ins
Ramsey, Calvin Alexander - Belle, the Last Mule at Gee's Bend (2011) the mule that pulled MLKs casket
Tonatiuh, Ducan - Separate is Never Equal; Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Between the 1860s and 1960s
Malaspina, Ann - Finding Lincoln (2009) segregation
McKissack, Patricia C. _ Stitchin' and Pullin' a Gee's Bend Quilt (2007)
Shange, Ntozake - We Trouble the Waters (2009)- poems about being black in the south in the 1940s

Slavery in America (including Underground Railroad)
Hendrix, John - John Brown : His Fight for Freedom (2008)
Johnson, Angela - All Different Now (2014) emancipation
Levine, Ellen - Henry's Freedom Box (2007) being sold away from family
Polacco, Patricia - January's Sparrow (2009)  runaways to freedom
Slate, Joseph - I Want to Be Free (2009)
Stroud, Bettye - The Patchwork Path: a Pathway to Freedom (2005)
Weatherford, Carole Boston - Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (2006)
Whelan, Gloria - The Listeners (2009) plantation

Famous People in Black History
Blue, Rose & Corinne J. Naden - Ron's Big Mission (2009) a story about Ron McNair in 1959
Cook, Michelle - Our Children Can Soar (2009) 2-pg. biographies of people important to black history
Hendrix, John - John Brown : His Fight for Freedom (2008)
Shange, Ntozake - Coretta Scott (2009) Picture book biography
Taveres Matt - Henry Aaron's Dream (2010)
Weatherford, Carole Boston - Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (2006)

Anderson, Laurie Halse - Chains (2008) Slavery during the American Revolution (YA)
Latham, Irene - Leaving Gee's Bend -(2010) 1932 Alabama (Middle Grades)
Sturm, James - Satchel Paige; Striking Out Jim Crow (2007) (Graphic Novel for Middle Grades)

PICTURE BOOK - Someday by Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated by Rosie Winstead
2007 Dial Books for Young Readers
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.14
My rating: 5
Endpapers: pale lime green splashed with stars of different sizes

My comments:  Love this book!  Love Eileen Spinelli!  Great ideas...great details....great writing prompt.

I am going to be
a great artist.
I will wear a blue smock.
I will carry my paints
to the beach
to paint the sea.
A very rich person
will offer to buy my painting
for two million dollars.
But I will smile.
And I will say:  “I’m sorry,
this painting is not for sale.
It is a gift for my art teacher.”

A girl fantasizes things that will happen to her “someday,” then shows the current happening that prompted each thought.  There are 6 (including the one above):  
Someday I will make friends with a dolphin.’Someday I will dig for dinosaur bones.
Someday I will be invited to the White House to have lunch with the president.
Someday I will be an animal scientist.
Someday I am going to be a gymnast in the Olympics.
Someday I will spend the night in Egypt.
(ending with Tonight I’m sleeping on the bottom bunk with Roger, who is afraid of monsters and the dark.)

Goodreads:  It’s hard to be content with the present moment when you are little. The future has infinitely more possibilities!

Here, the prolific and poetic Eileen Spinelli offers us the opportunity to truly enter the mind and heart of a little girl whose dreams reach well beyond today. With Spinelli’s gift for capturing the authentic experience of a child and Rosie Winstead’s utterly accessible and adorable artwork, this is sure to be a book that will inspire kids to think about what their own plans are for someday.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

44. Winter at the Door - Sarah Graves

Lizzie Snow #1
listened to while handsewing, on Audible
2015 Bantam
272 pgs.
Adult police procedural
Finished 7-18-15
Goodreads rating: 3.49
My rating:  2.5/5
Setting: Contemporary Bearkill, Maine (a small town in Aroostook Country, way up north)

My comments:  You have to like the protagonist in order to like the book, usually, and I didn't like this protagonist.  Lizzie Snow has quit her detective job on the Boston Police force to come to Bearkill, Maine to be some sort of deputy-side-kick to the long-time sheriff.  Small town Aroostook County, way up in the willy wacks of Maine.  She has an ulterior motive: to find her niece - her only living relative -  who's been missing (abducted?) for the last eight-or-so years and for some reason Snow thinks she's in northern Maine. No backstory, no further information...... Her ex-boyfriend, another cop (and for me, another not-really-likable character), appears on her doorstep.  One incongruous mishap leads to another; there's really no mystery because it's all laid out for you and what isn't is quite easy to figure out;  and it all leads up to one trek through the woods in your typical blizzard and then many pages of "a week later" explanation, tying up all the leftover questions within a conversation or two.  This appears to be the first in a series.  Will I read another?  Perhaps - I did like the setting very much....Graves, who lives in Maine, nailed that part of it as well as many of the characters you might run into.

Goodreads synopsis:  Perfect for fans of Jenny Milchman, Linda Castillo, and Lisa Gardner—the first book in a suspenseful new crime thriller series featuring the tough but haunted police chief Lizzie Snow, a big-city cop with a mission, taking on a small town with a dark side.
          Moving from Boston to remote Bearkill, Maine, isn’t homicide cop Lizzie Snow’s idea of a step up. But breaking away from tragedy and personal betrayal is at least a step in the right direction. Her dead sister’s fate still torments her, as does her long-missing niece’s disappearance. Lizzie hopes to find the mysteriously vanished child here, amid the coming ice and snow. But in the Great North Woods, something darker and more dangerous than punishing winter is also bound for Bearkill.
          The town is a world apart in more than distance—full of people who see everything, say little, and know more than they’ll share with an outsider. The only exceptions are the handsome state cop who once badly broke Lizzie’s heart and desperately wants another chance—and Lizzie’s new boss, sheriff Cody Chevrier, who’s counting on her years of homicide experience to help him solve his most troubling case, before it’s too late.
           A rash of freak accidents and suicides has left a string of dead men—all former local cops. Now the same cruel eyes that watched them die are on Lizzie—and so is the pressure to find out what sort of monster has his hooks in this town, what his ruthless game is, and just how brutally he’ll play to win. Whatever the truth is, its twisted roots lie in the desolate backwoods of Allagash County: where the desperate disappear, the corrupt find shelter, and the innocent lose everything. It’s there that a cunning and utterly cold-blooded killer plans the fate of the helpless lives at his mercy—one of whom may be the lost child Lizzie will do anything to save. As a blizzard bears down, and Bearkill’s dark secrets claw their way to the surface, Lizzie gears up for a showdown that could leave the deep, driven snow stained blood red.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MOVIE - Minions

Wide/Limited release
Viewed date at
RT Critic:    Audience:   
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by
Based on the book by


My comments:

RT Summary:

Summer 2015 - A Week of Beaches!

MOVIE - Inside Out

Wide/Limited release
Viewed date at
RT Critic:    Audience:   
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by
Based on the book by


My comments:

RT Summary:

Summer 2015 - A Week in Maine

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

43. Judy Moody, Mood Martian - Megan McDonald

Judy Moody #12
read by Barbara Rosenblat (who was great, but I didn't like the way she read Stink)
Listened to CD with Ella driving around PA
2014, Candlewock & Brilliance Audio
208 pgs.
Finished 7/6/15
Goodreads rating: 4.11
My rating: 4
Ella's rating:  4.5

My comments:  Judy Moody is a riot...but even funnier is her brother, Stink.  It was fun getting reacquainted with Judy, her family, her friends,  and her antics in this 12th book of a really wonderful series.  Keep 'em coming, Ms. McDonald!

Goodreads synopsis:  It’s Backwards Day, so Judy Moody double-dares herself to become Queen of the Good Mood for one whole week. Can she do it?
          Will the real Judy Moody please stand up? In honor of Backwards Day, Judy Moody decides to turn that frown upside down, make lemonade out of lemons, and be nice to stinky little brothers. In fact, Judy becomes a NOT moody, cool-as-a-cucumber neat freak for one whole entire day. But when her combed hair, matching outfits, and good moods hang around for days after, her friends begin to worry. Could this smiley Judy be an imposter?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

42. Heartstopper - Joy Fielding

listened to audio cd on the way to Maine (and during some of my cross-country jaunt)
2007 Atria Publishing
387 pgs.
Adult mystery
Finished 6/26/2015
Goodreads rating: 3.68
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary Florida - a small town in Alligator Alley

My comments:  There were many things to like about this book and a few things to passionately dislike.  So which one should I talk about?  There are three major points-of-view in this story:  a high school English teacher, the chief of police, and the writings/braggings of the antagonist.  The setting, a small town in alligator alley in Florida, worked well. I don't like coming across teachers in books that are not good role models to the profession.  I'm appalled at the things that Sandy Crosbie allows her student to get away with - particularly being hugely mean to each other.  She wants her cheating husband back (he's a worm) even though he flaunts his new floozy right in front of her.  I have no respect for her at all, except, perhaps, in some of her parenting.  And then we have the chief of police.  What a piece of work he is!  It all come together, though, and even though I had a pretty good idea who the antagonist was, the mystery kept me enthralled for much of my cross-country journey.

Goodreads synopsis:  From the "New York Times" and internationally bestselling author of "Mad River Road" comes a spine-tingling thriller about a picturesque Florida town -- and the killer determined to prey on its teenage girls.Welcome to Torrance, Florida. Population: 4,160. As Sheriff John Weber would attest, the deadliest predators to date in his tiny hamlet were the alligators lurking in the nearby swamps. But that was before someone abducted and murdered a runaway teenage girl...and before the disappearance of popular and pretty Liana Martin. The pattern is chilling to Sandy Crosbie, the town's new high school English teacher. With a marriage on the rocks, thanks to her husband's online affairs, and a beautiful teenage daughter to protect, Sandy wishes she'd never come to the seemingly quiet town with shocking depths of scandal, sex, and brutality roiling beneath its surface. And as Sheriff Weber digs up more questions than answers in a dead-end investigation, one truth emerges: the prettiest ones are being targeted, the heartstoppers. And this killer intends to give them their due....
     Alternating between the chilling journal entries of a cold-blooded murderer and the sizzling scandals of small-town life, "Heartstopper" is Joy Fielding's most exciting novel of suspense yet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

41. Mr. Cooper is Super! - Dan Gutman

My Weirdest School #1
listened to cd in the car with Ella
read by Andy Paris
2015 Harper Collins
112 pgs.
Early Reader - 3rd grade protagonist
Finished 6/23/15
Goodreads rating: 3.96
My rating: 3 (Ella says 4)

My comments:  I've read a few of the titles from the original set of these books (My Weird School), and found them funny and clever. (My Weird School), and found them funny and clever. (Perhaps because the others I've read were realistic fiction and this one was fantasy, and therefore unexpected?)   This one will be loved by young kids, I'm sure, but the story seems silly rather than funny.  However, since there's place for both with kids, this book will be quickly placed on my classroom shelf.

Ella's synopsis:  AJ and the gang (Alexia, Michael, Neil, and Ryan) watch Mr. Granite (their about-to-be-gone teacher) climb up a ramp and into a spaceship.  The class's new teacher is Mr. Cooper.  Mr. Cooper always dresses up like a super hero.  Mr. Granite comes back, but only to return the key to the teacher's lounge.

Goodreads synopsis:  With more than 8 million books sold, My Weird School really gets kids reading!
       In this first book in the hilarious new My Weirdest School series, part of the internationally bestselling My Weird School series, A.J.'s third-grade teacher, Mr. Granite, is retiring after a million hundred years. It turns out the new teacher, Mr. Cooper, is even weirder than Mr. Granite! One day he's Rat Man and he teaches about rodents. The next day he's Lava Man and he teaches about volcanoes. But what happens when a real superhero is needed? Will Mr. Cooper protect the school from evil, or just embarrass it to death?
       Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman's hugely popular My Weird School series has something for everyone. Don't miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang.

Monday, June 22, 2015

39. Down to the Wire - David Rosenfelt

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
Goodreads rating:
My rating: 3.5

First line/s:

My comments:  A pretty decent story, the surprises weren't totally surpri.sing but the whole plot kept you guessing...right, wrong, right wrong.....and I actually think the protagonist, Chris Turley was a little naive.  But it worked great for passing the time back and forth to school when I couldn't wait for school to get out.  Yes, I'd read another by this author.

Goodreads synopsis: