Friday, July 19, 2019

64. Where Is Area 51? by Paula K. Manzanero

In the WHOHQ series for kids
read the book - Bosler - J. 358.417
2018 Penguin Random House
108 pgs.
Middle Grades Nonfiction
Finished 7/19/19
Goodreads rating:  4.04 - 100 ratings
My rating: 4

From the Back Cover:
--It's a Nevada air force base that keeps the public far, far away
--CIA agents do supersecret work there
--Some people believe aliens and their spaceships are stored there

First line/s: "On June 14, 1947, a ranch worker named William Brazel found a pile of strange items smack in the middle of an open field near Roswell, New Mexico."

My comments: Before these "Where Is" books came out, this series began with Who Is/Was.  I used these in my 4th grade classroom for a biography study, finding them to be much more interesting and readable than most other available biographies for middle schoolers.  I no longer teach 4th graders, but was completely caught up in Where Is Area 51?  It seems really well researched, and eye-opening ... I learned a lot!  I read this as an adult for enjoyment because I do NOT LIKE nonfiction, can't get through it, and this fascinating book kept my attention for all 108 pages!  Can't wait to read the next one.

Goodreads synopsis:  You'll find it on a map--but you'll never get anywhere near this top secret military base. What exactly is going on there? 
          Is Area 51 a top secret military base that lies in the middle of the barren Nevada desert? Or could it actually be a facility for examining aliens and their spaceships? People can't drive anywhere close to it; the US government rarely acknowledges its existence; and until recently, the airspace overhead was restricted! Conspiracy theories abound about what goes on at Area 51, especially since 1947 when strange objects were found in the middle of a field in Roswell, New Mexico. Author Paula K. Manzanero explains why Area 51 was established and reveals the mystery behind those unidentified flying objects in the sky. Check out this book and decide what you believe.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

63. The Line Tender by Kate Allen

listened to on Audible, borrowed from the libraryread BEAUTIFULLY by Jenna Larnia
Unabridged audio (7:20)
2019 Dutton
384 pgs.
Middle grade CRF
Finished 7/16/19
Goodreads rating:  4.29 - 541 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Not-quite-contemporary Rockport, Massachusetts

First line/s:  "The morning the great white came to Rockport, my best friend and I were sticking our fingers into the coin returns of every pay phone in town."

My comments:  This is my 2019 version of Bridge to Terabithia...at least that's how I feel during and after reading this.  I love the setting: Rockport, Massachusetts, which becomes almost like a character in the book.  I love the multi-generational  cast of characters, and the forays to Boston, the coast of Maine, and Cape Cod.  I don't know how Lucy handled everything that was thrown at her this summer before 8th grade, but she is one strong female character and I adore her.

Goodreads synopsis: The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.
           Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, preparing to swim with a Great White, when she died suddenly. Lucy was eight. Since then Lucy and her father have done OK—thanks in large part to her best friend, Fred, and a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a Great White—and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

POETRY PICTURE BOOK - Papa is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober

Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
2013 Henry Holt & Company
OP/ only available in Kindle
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.21 - 313 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  deep solid orange

My comments:  Text rich biography of Frost, perfect for middle elementary grades, especially as a read aloud to include with the study of some of Frost's poetry. The story, told by Frost's daughter as a child, give some wonderful insight into Robert Frost as a boy and father, not just as the older poet we see in photos.  The story is followed by two pages of Author's Notes, which give a little more information, as well as eleven of Frost's poems in their entirety:  The Road Not Taken, The Las Word of a Bluebird, Flower Gathering, The Pasture, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, A Hillside Thaw, Dust of Snow, Nothing Gold Can Stay, Birches, October, The Runaway, and Mending Wall.

Goodreads:  When Robert Frost was a child, his family thought he would grow up to be a baseball player. Instead, he became a poet. His life on a farm in New Hampshire inspired him to write “poetry that talked,” and today he is famous for his vivid descriptions of the rural life he loved so much. There was a time, though, when Frost had to struggle to get his poetry published. Told from the point of view of Lesley, Robert Frost’s oldest daughter, this is the story of how a lover of language found his voice.

Friday, July 12, 2019

62. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

read the book from the library
2019 William Morrow paperback
368 pgs. (349 in the actual story, plust later, a 10-page epilogue)
Adult romance (Sizzle factor:  (1.5/4)
Finished 7/12/19
Goodreads rating: 3.50 - 19,540 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting: contemporary anywhere (probably Australia, since the author is from there)

First line/s:  "Nobody taught me this when I first started as a bartender, but luckily I was a quick learner:  When a group of men are walking in, you should work out which one is the alpha."

My comments:  Meh.  I didn't read Thorne's first book, which got rave reviews.  I hope it made more sense than this one did.  The relationship between the two protagonists is ... stupid?  impossible to understand?  And Darcy's personality is all over the place.  Some parts I liked, and I read until the end because I wanted to see how the electricity between the two would finally zap. Then I wanted to see what would happen when Jamie finally appeared, and what would bring him running. Certainly nothing noteworthy.  But definitely fun in places, so not a total waste of time...

Goodreads synopsis: Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…
          Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.
          When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.
          Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

PICTURE BOOK - Her Fearless Run by Kim Chaffee

Kathrine Switzer''s Historic Boston Marathon
Illustrated by Ellen Rooney
2019, Page Street Kids, Salem, MA
HC $17/99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.57 - 130 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Eggplant
1st line/s:   ""Pat, pat, pat.  The summer sun beat down on twelve-year-old Kathrine.  She held out her piece of chalk and marked the tree as she ran past again.  Two laps to go."

My comments:  Another picture book biography winner!  As a young woman in 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first female to run the Boston Marathon. Not only is this an inspiring book for girls of today, but eye-opening for adults that it wasn't so long ago that women were being denied such basic opportunities.

Goodreads:  Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967.

Poetry Picture Book - Clackety Track: Poems about Trains by Skila Brown

Illustrated by James Cristoph
2019 Candlewick Press
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.98 - 44 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  freight train silhouettes, blue on blue



Steam Engine
Biggest beast you've ever seen
Gobbling up a coal cuisine.
One hundred tons of steel machine.
Belching out a steam smoke screen.

My comments: A book for train enthusiasts, this collections includes 13 poems and two pages of interesting train facts - all notated on a different freight car (clever)!  Gentle, easily accessible poems with a really great word thrown in here and there....delightful!

Goodreads:  Queue up for a whistle-stop tour of trains of all kinds, narrated in lively verse and featuring dynamic retro artwork.

Rows of grooves, cables, and bars.
Graffiti rockin' out the cars.
A badge of rust. A proud oil stain.
There's nothin' plain about a train.

Trains of all shapes and sizes are coming down the track -- bullet train, sleeper train, underground train, zoo train, and more. All aboard! Skila Brown's first-class poems, as varied as the trains themselves, reflect the excitement of train travel, while Jamey Christoph's vintage-style illustrations provide a wealth of authentic detail to pore over

PICTURE BOOK - We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands by Rafael Lopez

The words are from a traditional spiritual, pronouns changed
Illustrated by Rafeal Lopez
2018, Orchard Books, NY
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.05  - 274 ratings
My rating:  5, the illustrations!!!
Endpapers: front:  white, daytime, rolling yarn
back:  black, nightime, rolling yarn continues on to the stars....
1st line/s:  "We've go the whole world in our hands"

My comments:  "Nay-sayers" don't even make me roll my eyes anymore, they just make me laugh.  How can you not love this book?  It's joyful, its message is beautiful - we're all connected and in many ways - no matter our ethnicity, our humanity, or our place in the world.  Its roots in the original spiritual are still there, so changing the pronouns includes everyone, doesn't omit a soul.  You can believe in god, any god; or you don't have to.  Rolled-out multi-colored yarn connects everyone and everything.   Just believe in the simple idea that we're all connected and depend upon each other.  The illustrations are just gorgeous.  What a wonderful book to look at, to share, and to SING!

Goodreads:  Award-winning illustrator Rafael L√≥pez brings new life with his adaptation of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," saluting the lives of all young people. The rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on "we" and "our" encourages inclusive communities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world.
i"We've got you and you got me in our hands.
We have the whole world in our hands."/i
Come and read along and sing along as we celebrate the magic of unity. From the rivers to the mountains to the oceans and to the sea -- we've got the whole world in our hands. 
As an added bonus the sheet music is included in the back of the book for piano, guitar, and recorder for classroom, library, and home sing-alongs.

Monday, July 8, 2019

RECIPE - Tuna Rice Casserole

One can cream of anything soup
Half can of milk
Can of tuna
1 c. frozen peas.
Cooked rice - enough for 4-6 servings
salt, pepper

Mix liquids with tuna and seasonings, put into a casserole dish.  Cover with the cup of frozen peas  Next, top with the rice.  Cover the top with crushed potato chips or cracker or bread crumbs.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

RECIPE - Chow Mein Tuna Bake

This sounds pretty easy and good:

6 oz. Chinese noodles
1 or 2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
1/4 cup water
One can cream soup
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
dash of pepper

Mix until all noodles are wet.  Place into a small casserole or loaf pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with a veggie (or add canned green beans directly to the casserole?)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

60. Ellie Dwyer's Great Escape by Diane Winger

read on my iPhone
2019 KDP
250 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 7/6/19 at camp
Goodreads rating:  4.19 - 175 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  Driving all around the US; lots of Colorado and Arizona, contemporary

First line/s:  "If bad luck really does come in threes, I've finally reached my quota."

My comments:  A 61-year-old woman, on her own for the first time in 40 years, tries to figure out what to do with the rest of her life after her husband has purposely "disappeared."  Becoming mobile - hitting the road - rediscovering herself - hiking and camping and trying to become more outgoing.  She also is a bit klutzy and her comedy of errors - one after another (reminding me of myself!) are really quite comical and fun.  The one totally unreal coincidence takes this down a point....

Goodreads synopsis: You're never too old to run away from home
          Ellie Dwyer, 61, is convinced bad luck comes in threes, and not just garden-variety, oh-well bad luck. How many people have to flee not one, but two natural disasters? And in between the wildfire and the hurricane, her husband of nearly forty years suddenly up and left her for no reason she could fathom, disappearing from her life without a clue to his whereabouts.
          Determined to reinvent her life, Ellie sets out on a journey across the country – her own “great escape.” Along the way to nowhere in particular, she buys a camper, becomes friends with a remarkable older woman, and starts to believe that good luck might also come in threes.
          Or does it? That depends on how she defines good luck.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

59. Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant

read on my iPhone
2019 Amberjack Publishing
256 pgs.
Adult mystery
Finished 7/3/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.13 - 240 ratings
My rating:3
Setting:  Flashing back between current times and a decade earlier in rural Pennsylvania

First line/s:  "The summer heat arrived in Fallen Mountains like a winged thing, swift and startling:  the pansies drooped, the lettuce bolted, the trees shook off their buds."

My comments:  I picked this up to read because it's set in contemporary Pennsylvania and I wanted to add some books set in my new home state to my repertoire.  It flips back-and-forth from "before" and "after," and it references 11 years ago, 17 years ago...and even before that, so that I never really knew what was taking place when.  It worked out okay though, still being pretty easy to follow, but in the end leaving a few unanswered questions in my head that I don't think I missed.  There was definitely vernacular that I've only heard in PA, and it made me laugh because it's one of my worst pet peeves - omitting the infinite "to be."  Her's an example from the book:  "when them cows needed milked, they needed milked."

Goodreads synopsis: “An intense and engaging portrait of characters driven by—and bound by—the secrets of their pasts . . . an absorbing mystery as well as a gracefully layered story of death and loss in a small town.” —Allen Eskens, USA Today bestselling author of The Life We Bury and The Shadows We Hide
          When Transom Shultz goes missing shortly after returning to his sleepy hometown of Fallen Mountains, Pennsylvania, his secrets are not the only ones that threaten to emerge. Red, the sheriff, is haunted by the possibility that a crime Transom was involved in seventeen years earlier—a crime Red secretly helped cover up—may somehow be linked to his disappearance. Possum, the victim of that crime, wants revenge. Laney will do anything to keep Transom quiet about the careless mistake they made that could jeopardize her budding relationship. And Chase, once a close friend, reels from Transom’s betrayal of buying his family’s farm under false pretenses and ruthlessly logging it and leasing the mineral rights to Marcellus shale frackers. As the search for Transom Shultz heats up and the inhabitants’ dark and tangled histories unfold, each one must decide whether to live under the brutal weight of the past or try to move beyond it.

Picture Book - When Lightning Comes in a Jar by Patricia Polacco

Illustrated by the author
2002 Philomel Books
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.34 - 6.25 ratings
My rating:  
Endpapers:  Deep pale orange

1st line/s:  "Today is my family reunion!  I can hardly wait."

My comments: A young Patricia Polacco recalls their annual family reunion that includes jello salads and meatloaves, baseball games and croquet matches, photo albums and picture taking, stories told by the elders, catching fireflies, and spending special time with cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Then we see how those same family traditions continue as an older Patricia Polacco becomes one of the elder storytellers.  Lovely story: as usual with tots of text.

Goodreads:  It's family reunion time! Trisha and her cousins can hardly wait to see one another again. They can't decide what they like best: the great feast (with zillions of meatloafs and gazillions of Jell-O salads), the softball game, the storytelling . . . the yearly rituals go on and on. But this year, Gramma has a new surprise in store: She promises to teach the grandchildren to catch lightning in a jar. Lightning in a jar! Trisha can't wait to find out what she means. It's a secret she will pass down to her own grandchildren one day, along with the family stories handed down with love through all the generations.

Monday, July 1, 2019

58. Recursion by Blake Crouch

read on Audible
read by Jon Lindstrom and Abby Craden
Unabridged audio (10:47)
2019 Random House
336 pgs.
Adult Fantasy/Sci Fi/Time Travel
Finished  7/1/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.28 - 10,195 ratings
My rating:   4.5
Setting: More-or-less contemporary NYC, Maine, Tucson, and various other places in the world....

First line/s:  "Barry Sutton pulls over into the fire lane at the main entrance of the Poe Building."

My comments:  Whew.  This was one helluva ride. 
What is memory?  How does memory and time and the brain work? Physics?  Biology?  Science fiction?  Blake Crouch has created a story that goes from point A to Point B by traveling through D and L and X and F - all over the place.  Time travel and science and two complex and interesting personalities come together over and over ... and over ... again..  Read it!

Goodreads synopsis: Memory makes reality.
          That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
          Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 
          As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
          But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Picture Book - Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Caldecott Award Winner
Illustrated by the author
1941, Viking Press
HC & price
68 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.22 - 77,467 ratings
My rating:  5
Illustrations:  brown illustrations and text on cream colored pages
1st line/s:  "Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live."

My comments: This 1941 Caldecott Award winner is still one of the very best picture books in children's literature.  It's truly distinguished, as well as clever, lovely, comical and heartwarming.  I grew up on this story; AND my grandmother used to take my sister and me into Boston to ride on the Swan boats every spring.  Now there's a beautiful bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard with Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack following her across the Public Gardens.  Oh my goodness, do I love it!

Goodreads:  This classic tale of the famous Mallard ducks of Boston is available for the first time in a full-sized paperback edition. Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1942, Make Way for Ducklings has been described as "one of the merriest picture books ever" (The New York Times). Ideal for reading aloud, this book deserves a place of honor on every child's bookshelf.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Picture Book - Time to Pray by Maha Addasi

Illustrated by Ned Gannon
2010, Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale, PA
HC $17/95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  .10 - 122 ratings
My rating:  4.5

1st line/s:  "In the darkness, green lights winked at me from the minaret of the nearby mosque.  I heard the voice of the muezzin calling, 'Come to pray, come to pray.'  It was my first night at Grandma's house."

My comments:  Young Yasmin goes to visit her grandmother in a Middle eastern country (doesn't say which one). It looks like she goes all by herself!   Impressive....  She hears the call to prayer five times a day, and her grandmother teaches her all about the different prayers and rituals surrounding them, makes her a "proper" outfit for praying, and takes her to the mosque.  Each double-page spread includes a page of English text and the Arabic translation.  When she returns home (to America, I'm guessing - or maybe Canada), she shares her new knowledge with her parents and feels continually connected to her grandmother when she looks at the miniature mosque that Teta sent home with her.  There's an explanation of the five praryer times at the end of the book.  The illustrations are gorgeous - no white at all.  One of our  visiting Muslim families, when returning the book, told me they've taken this book out several times for their 4 and 6-year-old kids and really enjoy it.

Goodreads:  Yasmin is visiting her grandmother, who lives in a country somewhere in the Middle East. On her first night, she's wakened by the muezzin at the nearby mosque calling the faithful to prayer, and Yasmin watches from her bed as her grandmother prepares to pray. A visit with Grandmother is always special, but this time it is even more so. Her grandmother makes Yasmin prayer clothes, buys her a prayer rug, and teaches her the five prayers that Muslims perform over the course of a day. When it's time for Yasmin to board a plane and return home, her grandmother gives her a present that her granddaughter opens when she arrives: a prayer clock in the shape of a mosque, with an alarm that sounds like a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Maha Addasi's warm and endearing story is richly illustrated by Ned Gannon. Features a text in English and Arabic, and includes an author's note and glossary.