Tuesday, May 1, 2018

41. Crime on the Fens by Joy Ellis

DI Nikki Galena #1
listened on Audible
2010 Joffe Books
285 pgs.
Adult Mystery - Police Procedural
Finished 5/1/18
Goodreads rating:  4.19 - 3407 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Contemporary Lincolnshire, England

First line/s:  "A night wind blew along the alleyway, bringing with it the smell of ozone and red diesel. Nikki Galena leaned back against the rough brickwork of the derelict warehouse and wondered how many other women of thirty-six would feel quite so comfortable in such unpleasant surroundings."

My comments:  Read with a thick lilt and including a few references I was unsure of, (the cabra?  Cabra?  since I read it I didn't know if it was a proper noun place or an improper noun place) I enjoyed this mystery (not loved, but liked). Perhaps not the most exciting or surprising that I've ever read, but entertaining nonetheless, more in the characterizations than anything else.

Goodreads synopsis: 
THE DETECTIVE DI Nikki Galena: A police detective with nothing left to lose, she’s seen a girl die in her arms, and her daughter will never leave the hospital again. She’s got tough on the criminals she believes did this to her. Too tough. And now she’s been given one final warning: make it work with her new sergeant, DS Joseph Easter, or she’s out. 
HER PARTNER DS Joseph Easter is the handsome squeaky-clean new member of the team. But his nickname “Holy Joe” belies his former life as a soldier. He has an estranged daughter who blames him for everything that went wrong with their family. 
THEIR ADVERSARY is a ruthless man who holds DI Galena responsible for his terrible disfigurement. 
The town is being terrorised by gangs of violent thugs, all wearing identical hideous masks. Then a talented young female student goes missing on the marsh and Nikki and Joseph find themselves joining forces with a master criminal in their efforts to save her. They need to look behind the masks, but when they do, they find something more sinister and deadly than they ever expected . . . 
The Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

40. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

read on my iPhone & Kindle
2015 Harper Voyager
460 pgs.
Adult Science Fiction
Finished  4/29/2018
Goodreads rating: 4.18- 32,685 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  Waaaaay outer space, somewhere in the distant future

First line/s: "As she woke up in the pod she remembered three things.  First, she was traveling through open space.  Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up.  Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file.  None of this information was new, but it wasn't pleasant to wake up to."

My comments:  Did I just read a scifi novel set waaaaaaay in the future in outer space and LOVE it?  I did!  Ms. Chambers wrote this book with all sorts of wild and crazy species and all sorts of weird technology (both of which I usually give up on) - and wrote it in such a way that I understood it all! And I couldn't put it down, reading it in two days (and I'm a really slow reader).  What pictures I had in my head, I wish I could draw.  The setting, the characters, the plot ... all were so well created that this piece of literature - in a genre that is usually hard for me to complete - drew me in and captivated me. A true story of "family."  Loved it.

Goodreads synopsis: Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
          Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
          Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Friday, April 27, 2018

39. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

read on my iPhone and Kindle (on the plane to SF)
2018, Berkley Books
320 pgs.
Adult CRF - really Romantic Fiction (yuck, I never learn!)
Finished 4/27/18Goodreads rating:  3.6 - 7112 ratings
My rating:  2.5
Setting: Contemporary California - Berkeley and LA

First line/s:  "Alexa Monroe walked into the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco that night wearing her favorite red heels, feeling jittery from coffee, and carrying a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne in her purse."

My comments: I’m not going to say this book was horrible, because it started out well. But after about halfway through it was pretty much the same thing repeated over and over again. And again. Could’ve skipped all the way to the last chapter after the first hook up!

Goodreads synopsis: A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.
          Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.
          On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...
          After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other... 
          They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
2014 Dial Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Penguin Group)
HC $17.99
24 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 1313 ratings
My rating:  Think I'm going with a 4
Endpapers: Pale pink

1st line/s:  "For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been pink. (My second-favorite color is silver and my third-favorite color is green.)"

My comments:  A child with a girl's brain and a boy's body.  So unfair, and so good that books are written about kids like this.  There are more than most people think, I'm guessing....I'm thinking of some of the kids I've taught in the past umpteen years.  To have parents that understand, and accept is the first step.  To have peers understand and accept is the next.  And a book like this goes a long way towards that, I would think.  This is ased on the true story of a now-teen named Jazz (who is NOT white, so why make this protagonist white, I wonder) - a beautiful young lady.  She's "written" a memoir, which I just found in the teen section of the library and checked out.

Goodreads:  The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.
          From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

38. City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

#1 Casey Duncan
listened on Audible
2016 Sphere
471 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 4/25/18
Goodreads rating:  4.05 - 7644 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary Yukon, Canada

First line/s: "'I killed a man,' I say to my new therapist."

My comments: Interesting story, darned interesting. Some really great plot twists and a setting in the forests just below the Arctic Circle that was fascinating. I adored Casey, I liked the way she thought and I loved how smart she was. Great protagonist. About 2/3 of the way through it got a little draggy and went from practically no romance to a little bit too much, but I still took quite a shine to this book.  Looking forward with great anticipation to the next.

Goodreads synopsis: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
          Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Penguin Poems

Emperor Penguins

That’s what emperor daddies do all winter long,
huddled in with a flock of other fathers,
each one shuffling with an egg balanced on his feet,
folded in a flap of skin to keep it warm ---
cuddled from the cold.

Shuffle-huddle, shuffle-huddle,
through dark and cruel cold,
through biting blizzards.
They are quiet heroes, waiting
for the peep peep of their hatching chick
and the voice of their mate, returning from the sea.

                By Nicola Davies
                From Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals

Diary of a Very Short Winter Day

At the first hint of dawn
I awake with a yawn
And follow my cousins
(All thirty-three dozen)
To the end of the land,
Where we stand and we stand,
Playing who’ll-dive-in-first,
And, fearing the worst,
We listen for seals
Who want us for meals.
I see one penguin lunge,
Then in we all plunge,
Take a bath, gulp a snack,
And climb out in a pack….
Hurry back to our home
For a quick preen and comb
So our feathers aren’t wet
As we watch the sun set.

                By Judy Sierra
                From Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems
                Based on the real lives of emperor penguins

Friday, April 13, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady

Illustrated by Amiko Hirao
2018, Charlesbridge Publishing
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.29 - 92 ratings
My rating:  4.5

1st line/s:  "Katherine Tasaki returned a stack of books and turned in her library card.  "We've go to move soon," she said.  "All Japanese, you know."

My comments:  The internment and mistreatment of Japanese Americans during WWII has always bewildered and incensed me.  This true story connects kids not only to this sad part of American History, but also highlights a brave American woman who did something to help alter a horrendous situation.

Goodreads  A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps.
          When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children's librarian Clara Breed's young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children's letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.
          " A beautiful picture book for sharing and discussing with older children as well as the primary audience" -- Booklist STARRED REVIEW 
          "A touching tribute to a woman who deserves recognition" -- Kirkus Reviews
          "[An] affecting introduction to a distressing chapter in U.S. history and a brave librarian who inspired hope" -- Publisher's Weekly

Thursday, April 12, 2018

35. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

illustrated by Fiona Staples
interlibrary loan from Fredericksen - book was in pretty bad shape and sort of gross, pages coming out and stuck together, even a bit of an odor.....
2012, Image Comics
164 pgs.
Adult Graphic Novel - explicit sex
Finished 4-12-18
Goodreads rating: 4.23 - 165,022 ratings (holy schmoley!)
My rating: 2.5
Setting: Somewhere out there....

First line/s:  "This is how an idea becomes real."

My comments:  Granted, I’m pretty new to this genre - trying to be an eclectic reader - but I’m yet to discover the joy that others seem to get from reading graphic novels. This one was easier to follow than my other Brian Vaughan read (Paper Girls), I had no questions or head scratching when I finished. And my borrowed library copy had pages falling out, stuck together, and a faint odd odor, which didn’t help. Think I’m going to try another graphic novel author before I give up,
Goodreads synopsis:  When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 
          From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bookish Books: Books about BOOKS

A Book by Mordecai Gerstein (4.5)
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (4)
The Best Book to Read by Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom
Book Fiesta by Pat Mora (5)
The Bookshop Dog by Cynthia Rylant (4)
Books!  Books!  Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom
Born to Read by Judy Sierra (4)
The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris
Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson
Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates (3.5)
The Dump Man's Treasures by Lynn Plourde (4)
Fire Up With Reading - Toni Buzzeo (4)
The House of Wisdom by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland
How to Live Forever by Colin Thompson (4)
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk (5)
Library Mouse: A Friend's Tale by Daniel Kirk (4.5)
Magic in the Margins by W. Nikola-Lish (3.5)
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I Don't) by Barbara Bottner
Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley  (4)
Open this Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier
Our Library by Eve Bunting (4.5)
The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell dePalma (4.5)
Read Anything Good Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman (3.5)
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (4.5)
Return of the Library Dragon - Carmen Agra Dedee
Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden (4)
That Book Woman by Heather Henson (3.5)
Write to Me:  Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind - Cynthia Grady (4.5)

Monday, April 9, 2018

33. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

read the actual book - from Bosler Library
2017, Pajama Press
239 pgs.
Mid Grades CRF in verse
Finished 4/9/18
Goodreads rating:  4.37 - 254 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary anywhere, USA

First line/s
"Our house on Pemberton Street
with the red front door
wildflower garden out back
window seat just right for reading
has a For Sale sign jammed
in the front lawn.
It's the ugliest thing
I've ever seen."

My comments:  Wow. As an adult, this book really spoke to me. Powerfully. It actually has many themes, but the strongest for me was the relationship that formed between the 11-year-old girl, Macy,  and her elderly neighbor, Iris, – who ended up being the rainbow goddess of the title. It’s all about the value of our stories, our memories, our “family.”  Since it’s written in verse, it didn’t take very long to read - and it was lovely. I’m going to want to read this one again.

Goodreads synopsis: Sixth grade is coming to an end, and so is life as Macy McMillan knows it. Already a For Sale sign mars the front lawn of her beloved house. Soon her mother will upend their little family, adding an unwelcome stepfather and pesky six-year-old twin stepsisters. To add insult to injury, what is Macy s final sixth grade assignment? A genealogy project. Well, she'll put it off―just like those wedding centerpieces she's supposed to be making. 
          Just when Macy's mother ought to be sympathetic, she sends her next door to help eighty-six-year-old Iris Gillan, who is also getting ready to move―in her case, into an assisted living facility. Iris can't move a single box on her own and, worse, she doesn't know sign language. How is Macy supposed to understand her? But Iris has stories to tell, and she isn't going to let Macy's deafness stop her. Soon, through notes and books and cookies, a friendship grows. And this friendship, odd and unexpected, may be just what Macy needs to face the changes in her life. 
          Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, writes free verse with the lightest touch, spinning Macy out of her old story and into a new one full of warmth and promise for the future.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - In the Past by David Elliott

From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
2018, Candlewick Press
17.99 HC
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.75 - 20 ratings
My rating:5 all the way!
Endpapers: pale green solid
Illustrations are edge-of-page to edge-of-page, big, bold and wonderful, created with mixed media.

My comments:  What a superb book!!! I'm not disappointed that all the text is poetry, I'm giddy with happiness about it.  This book is many things....a timeline through the past (going waaaaay back), clever poetry of many styles, wonderfully informative and interesting facts, and it's gorgeous to look at!  What a great book for kids who like dinosaurs.  Highly recommended.

Trilobite (from the Cambrian Period; 544 - 505 million years ago)
So many of you.
So long ago.
So much above you.
Little below.
Now you lie hidden
deep in a clock,
uncountable ticks
silenced by rock

Brachytrachelopan (from the Jurassic Period; 208 - 144 million years ago)
Your neck too short!
Your tail too long!
Somehow you're
put together wrong.
And that name!
You should renounce it.
It takes a genius
to pronounce it.

Quetzalcoatlus (Cretaceous Period 144 - 65 million years ago)
Largest of all
flying things.
How the timid
must have trembled
in the shadow
of your wings.

Titanoboa and Carbonemys (Paleogene Period; 60 - 24 million years ago)

The largest snake
that's lived on Earth,
you weighed a ton
(a three-foot girth),
your length not short
or marvelous.

And then there is Carbonemys,
with whom you shared a habitat.

It frightens me to think of that.

Goodreads:  Return to the prehistoric era and discover a host of creatures both novel and familiar, from the mysterious trilobite to the famed T. rex.
          Care to meet a dunkleosteus? An apatosaurus? How about the dragonflyesque meganaura? In a collection that's organized chronologically by epoch and is sure to intrigue everyone from armchair dino enthusiasts to budding paleontologists, David Elliott and Matthew Trueman illuminate some of the most fascinating creatures ever to evolve on the earth. Combining poems both enlightening and artful with illustrations perfect for poring over, this volume ensures fascinating trips back to a time as enthralling and variable as any in our planet's evolutionary history. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom

Illustrated by Manning & Granstrom
2017, Candlewick Press
HC $17.99
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 82 ratings
My rating: 4, interesting and cool
Endpapers: Red
Lots to read and look at!

1st line/s::  "Welcome to the greatest library in the world!  We're going to take you on an amazing tour of its treasures -- including some that are so rare thay are kept under lock and key!"

My comments:  An easy, interesting nonfiction book for early-middle grades that tells of many of the British Library's major holdings from the earliest ones on to the present.  Interesting and relevant, including many well-known and a few lesser known British authors and writings. Included are early Christian writings, Beowulf, the Magna Carta, Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle....with a whole lot in between.

Goodreads:  A tiny prayer book carried by a queen to her execution. An atlas so huge that it takes six people to lift it. A handmade gospel hidden in a saint's coffin, and Shakespearean folios so precious they are kept in a bombproof storeroom. From stories of man-eating monsters, brave knights, and wicked witches to tales of lost children, magical creatures, haunted moors, and flying machines, award-winning duo Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom bring to life the extraordinary history of the book through the treasures of one of the greatest libraries in the world: the British Library. 

PICTURE BOOK - Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky

Illustrated byKevin Hawkes
2017, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York
HC $17.99
Bosler J 530.092
44 pgs.
Goodreads rating:3.66 - 53 ratings
My rating:4 (or maybe even more)
Endpapers:  Ocean blue
Illustrations:  I love Kevin Hawkes (a Mainer) illustrations.
1st line/s:  ""On Christmas Day over three hundred years ago, in a village in England, a baby was born too early.  The midwives who helped deliver him had never seen such a tiny baby, so little that one said he could fit into a quart pot."

My comments:  Yes, this is a particularly text-heavy picture book.  It's perfect for the 4th or 5th grader who has to read a biography and has a tough time plowing through a chapter-book length piece of nonfiction.  (That would have been me and many of the students that I've taught over the years.)  It's beautifully written and illustrated, gives all sorts of really interesting information, allowing the reader to get a real feel for the brilliant, eccentric person that Isaac Newton was and the times in which he lived.  I learned a lot!

Goodreads:  Famed for his supposed encounter with a falling apple that inspired his theory of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) grew from a quiet and curious boy into one of the most influential scientists of all time. Newton's Rainbow tells the story of young Isaac--always reading, questioning, observing, and inventing--and how he eventually made his way to Cambridge University, where he studied the work of earlier scientists and began building on their accomplishments. This colorful picture book biography celebrates Newton's discoveries that illuminated the mysteries of gravity, motion, and even rainbows, discoveries that gave mankind a new understanding of the natural world, discoveries that changed science forever.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MOVIE - Ready Player One

PG (2:20)
Wide release 3/29/18
Viewed on a Thursday off, 4/5/18 in Hanover at the RC Theater there - a 1:20 showing, I was the only one in the HUGE auditorium.
IMBd:  8/10
RT Critic: 74   Audience:  80
Critic's Consensus:  Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.
Cag:  3.5
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Warner Brothers Pictures
Based on the book by Ernest Cline

My comments:  It was okay...entertaining....a LOT of battle scenes, the last one, when they're fighting for entrance to find the final key is painstakingly long.  Drove me a bit crazy.  It's a long movie.  But fun.  Not great.  Book was, of course, better....

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the science fiction action adventure Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline's bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon.The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

NonFiction I've Read

Nonfiction books are so few and far between for me, I think I'll make a (very) short list of them, because I'm proud of myself for actually finishing them!

Attracting Birds to Your Backyard by Sally Roth, 1998
Daily Five, The  by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, 2006 (4)
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets of My DNA by Richard Hill, 2012 (4)
Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen, 2006
Mason Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardner and Ann Shayne, 2006 (5)
Where Children Sleep by James Mollison, 2010 (5)
Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain
Zentangle Untangled by Kass Hall, 2012 (3)