Thursday, August 17, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon by Greg Pizzoli

Illustrated by the author
2017, Viking
Hardcover $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.14 - 120 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers:  Green - Newpapers cut up in the shapes of leaves and vegetation
Illustrations:  "silkscreen, photographic halftones, Zipatone, photocopy machines, newspapers, cut paper, and Photoshop"!

1st line/s:  "Less than one hundred years ago, maps of the world still included large 'blank spots': distant and dangerous lands that mapmakers and scientists had no yet explored."

My comments:  A fascinating, interesting read, a perfect nonfiction picture book for 3rd and 4th graders, and a great addition to the nonfiction adventurer/explorer genre. Simple illustrations add to the text but do not overpower it.  Mr. Pizzoli doesn't shy away from facts that might be glossed over by other authors, particularly the many deaths that accompany a dangerous profession.  Included are four sidebars with information about The Royal Geographical Society, The Amazon Rain Forest, Mosquitoes, and Famous Explorers, and an Author's Note, afterward, glossary, and resource listing that are all just as interesting as the story.  Diseases spread by mosquitoes kill at least 750,000 people every year! And 20 percent of Earth's oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforest!  Top Notch.

Goodreads:  British explorer Percy Fawcett believed that hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest was an ancient city, lost for the ages. Most people didn't even believe this city existed. But if Fawcett could find it, he would be rich and famous forever. This is the true story of one man's thrilling, dangerous journey into the jungle, and what he found on his quest for the lost city of Z.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Great Words: A Dictionary

I keep running across wonderful words that are not used frequently enough, and I've decided to make a dictionary of them here.  One wonderful word at a time, including my two favorite words.

bizarre (adjective) very strange or unusual; unconventional, outlandish ("As arrows fell around them, Fawcett gave a bizarre order: he told his crew to start singing." - The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon, Pizzoli)

cacophony (noun) a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds ("The room erupted into a cacophony of screams and exhalations." - Lost Girls, Marsons)

enigmatic (adjective) difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious ("Perhaps the painting was my favorite because its meaning had always been enigmatic to me." - Colorless, Stradling)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

MOVIE - Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

PG-13 (2:17)
Wide release 7/21/17
Viewed one night after work - 9:30 show in Carlisle (8/9/17)
IMBd: 6.7/10
RT Critic:  50  Audience:  57
Critic's Consensus:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planetsuses sheer kinetic energy and visual thrills to overcome narrative obstacles and offer a viewing experience whose surreal pleasures often outweigh its flaws.
Cag:  4 I liked it, it was fun and reminded me of Star Wars a bit
Written & Directed by Luc Besson
EuropaCorp/STX Films

Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevigne, Clive Owen, Rihanna

My comments:  Interesting movie, and entertaining, though a little long.  It was sort of StarWars-y, I'd say.  Lots of humor, weird-looking creatures from elsewhere in space, plenty of action, and lovey-dovey stuff.  I think I noticed during the credits that Lucasfilms had something to do with it, and I'm not surprised.  I liked it, it was fun.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the visually spectacular new adventure film from Luc Besson, the legendary director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the ground-breaking comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

43. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane

read on my iPhone
2016, Skyscape
260 pgs.
Finished 7-26-2017
Goodreads rating:  3.96 - 8256 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary summer at a summer camp on a lake in Michigan

First line/s:  "The doorknob locks with a single key from the inside of the cabin.n  My bag hangs over my shoulder as I stare at the silver knob like it might start talking.  This can't be legal."

My comments:  Welcome to Camp Padua, where, on a lake in Michigan troubled teenagers spend the summer in cabins: living, eating, sharing (or not sharing) their problems and quirks and oddities.  Most of the story is told from the protagonist, Zander's, (or Z for short) point of view.  It's a good story, though a troubling one.  It's also the story of friendship between four young adults, two guys and two girls, all suffering from different mental problems.  Friendship.  Caring.  Trusting.  Loving.  that's what these kids ultimately found, but it wasn't easy.

Goodreads synopsis: According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
          Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
          But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.

Monday, July 24, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde

Illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
2015, Kar-Ben Publishing
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.07 - 29 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers: front:  Berline/ back: Shanghai streets
1st line/s: "On his tenth birthday, Marcus found himself on an ocean liner, headed for Shanghai."

My comments:  Here's another wonderful picture book that sheds light on yet another aspect of history that I was totally unaware of.  It leaves me with many questions....are there still Jewish communities in Shanghai?  I'll have to research farther.  This was a book celebrating history, friendship, traditions, and cultures.  Wonderful!

Goodreads:  Fleeing the Holocaust in Europe, Marcus moves with his family from Berlin to Shanghai. With help from his new friend Liang, Marcus sets out to build a unique sukkah in time for the harvest festival of Sukkot.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

42. Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder #9
listened on Audible
2017, Minotaur Books
320 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 7/23/17
Goodreads rating: 4.34 - 1207 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting: Contemporary Amish Country, Ohio

First line/s:  From Prologue:  "He waiting until the children slept."
From Ch. 1:  "The Tuscrawas Bridge is a Painters Mill icon."

My comments: I so loved her first books about Kate Burkholder and Amish country, Ohio.  I liked this one slightly better than the last one, but not much.  I'm starting to find the writing, as well as the thinking and actions of the protagonist to be repetitious to the point of being frustrating.  And there really weren't any surprises in this plot, everything could be figured out well in advance.  Interesting flashbacks helped the reader put Kate's feelings about the "bad" guy, her childhood friend, into perspective.  However, they were noted near the beginning of the book, but then lengthier descriptions were added later in the story about the same memories with only a little bit of extra description.  Unnecessary .  Kate really is impetuous and strong minded, almost to a fault.  I didn't even like her as much in this foray.   I'm disappointed, because this has gone from being my favorite series to one that is only "eh."  Darn.

Goodreads synopsis: In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.
          Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a "fallen" Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.
          News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.
          Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

Friday, July 21, 2017

MOVIE - Maudie

PG-13 (1:55)
Limited release June 16, 2017
Viewed date at Carlisle Theater (downtown) onFirday, July 21, 2017
IMBd: 7.7/10
RT Critic: 90   Audience:  93
Critic's Consensus:  Maudie's talented cast -- particularly Sally Hawkins in the title role -- breathe much-needed depth into a story that only skims the surface of a fascinating life and talent.
Cag:  5.5.Loved it
Directed by Aisling Walsh
Sony Pictures Classics

Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke

My comments:  About halfway through the movie I realized that it had to be a biopic, based on a true story.  Had to be.  Maudie Lewis was Canada's Grandma Moses, born in 1903, died in 1970.  Sally Hawkins was amazing as a arthritically crippled painter, aging, becoming more bent and stooped while looking for the good in her curmudgeonly husband, played by Ethan Hawke.  He was pretty decent, too (but MUCH better looking than the real guy probably was), but Sally Hawkins stole the show completely.  Their actual life was lived in Nova Scotia, but the movie was filmed in Newfoundland and was just gorgeous.  The credits at the end of the film were interspersed with some of Maud Lewis's real paintings.  Superb movie, easily a five.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  MAUDIE, based on a true story, is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, Everett finds himself falling in love. MAUDIE charts Everett's efforts to protect himself from being hurt, Maudie's deep and abiding love for this difficult man and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

41. The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen #1
read on my iPhone
2017, Skyscape
300 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished 7-19-17
Goodreads rating:  3.84 - 6963 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting:  Ancient times, Middle east?"

First line/s: "Snowy mountains tear into the ashen sky, their jagged peaks pearly, like wolverine fangs.  Cold winds sting my bare cheeks and exposed hands.  The frosty temple coutryard is barren of the other daughters and sister who reside here.  Only my best friend is with me."

My comments:  For a couple of years I taught Gilgamesh and a bit about ancient Sumeria to fifth graders at Tucson Hebrew Academy.  Interesting stuff.  Emily R. King uses some of the ancient Sumerian religion as a basis for her fictional Tarachand Empire and its religion.  Although there was battling and bloodiness, tournaments and fighting, those parts were not belabored and kept my interest completely.  Excellent characters and characterization.  Some of the bad guys were really bad. Some of the bad guys weren't quite so bad.  Lots of secrets.  Cool setting.  There's something about one guy with 100 wives and at least as many paramours that is very entertaining and though-provoking.  There was nothing boring about this book, I looked forward to returning to it, and I'm disappointed that it's finished.  I know there's a book two and wonder if there'll be more.  Good read.

Goodreads synopsis: As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.
          But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.
          Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.
          In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Hattie & Hudson by Chris Van Dusen

Illustrated by the author
2017, Candlewick Press
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.82 - 173 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers:  All pale green - small island on a lovely lake/silhouettes
Illustrations:  Bright, bold, and completely covering most pages
1st line/s:  "Haddie McFadden loved to explore.  Every morning after breakfast, she'd grab her life jacket, wave good-bye to her parents, and paddle out in the canoe to see what she could see."

My comments:  Chris VanDusen does it again! (I love his stuff.)  His illustrations amaze me - big and bold, covering the page from edge to edge.  Hudson is a "monster" who lives at the bottom of a quiet country lake.  (He looks more like a dinosaur to me.)  I can't wait to read it to my grandson - he's afraid to swim in fresh water, but LOVES the stories of Sasquatch and Bigfoot.  I'm betting he's going to love this.  And I like the end note that Mr. Van Dusen writes on the copyright page: "And to all the young explorers who will be spending time at a lake this summer: Remember, there are no such things as a lake monster.  They don't exist.  At least I've never seen one.  But I keep looking."

Goodreads:  A little girl and her colossal friend teach a monster-size lesson about prejudging others in a charming new offering from Chris Van Dusen. 
          Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified except Hattie, who looks into the creature's friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant whom she names Hudson and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn't scary or dangerous at all? 
          Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

40. The Lost Causes by Lisa Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

read on my iPhone, my first netgalley read
2017 (Sept 5) Kids Can Press
344 pgs.
YA Fantasy/SciFi
Finished 7/15/17
Goodreads rating:  3.89 - 37 ratings
My rating: 1 / A waste of time
Setting:  contemporary US

First line/s:  "The Cedar Springs High campus looked Photoshopped that morning."

My comments:  This was my first netgalley read, and they'll probably never let me read another one.  I'm so sad to say I didn't enjoy this book at all.  It took me forever to finish. And I almost didn't.  I really wanted to like it and I feel terrible giving it a bad review, but I must be honest.  It was ridiculous.  Nothing was believable in even the tiniest way, I found myself rolling my eyes over and over again. For so many reasons.  Stupid bad guys that did stupid things and still got away with them even though there were all sorts of (smart?) people investigating.  Using kids in the laid-back way they did. Having FBI agents totally unsupervised.  Uninteresting things going on and on and on and interesting things just mentioned quickly and done.  Boring writing, characters I didn't care about or that didn't seem based in reality.  I could go on, but would give away more spoilers.  Perhaps I feel this way because my usual genre is police procedurals and crime investigations and this is so far-fetched compared to them that you can't even compare them.

Goodreads synopsis: They're the kids that no one knows --- or no one wants to know. The rich depressive, the OCD chick, the hypochondriac, the drug abuser, the athlete with anger management issues. All chosen for intensive group therapy because they're out of other options. They're lost causes, the therapist tells them. She promises this support group will help them heal. 
          There's only one problem. She's not a therapist. And that water she offers? It contains a dangerous serum that gives each of the kids a psychic power. 
         Suddenly, they can think clearly, speak to ghosts, see the past, even move objects with their mind. Their earlier problems have vanished, but their new freedom comes with a price. 
Sabrina, Gabby, Z, Justin and Andrew are to help the FBI solve the grisly murder that has rocked their small town. Their new powers will help them uncover clues and follow leads that have eluded the authorities. Their outsider status gives them the perfect cover. 
          But the same traits that make them top investigators also make them vulnerable. As they close in on the murderer, they expose a much larger conspiracy that puts them directly in harm's way and makes them wonder who --- if anyone --- they can trust.

Monday, July 10, 2017

MOVIE - Trolls

PG 91:40)
Wide Nov. 4, 2016
Viewed July 10 with Laura, Ella & Tristan (Dollar Morning Summer Movie) at Carlisle 8
IMBd: 6.5/10
RT Critic:  74  Audience:  68
Critic's Consensus:  Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn't without rewards for parents.
Cag:  3 Liked it - very cute
Directed by Walt Dohrn & Mike Mitchell
Studio Dreamworks Animation

Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Christine Baranski

My comments:  This was an extremely cute movie.  I didn't really want to see it, I just wanted to spend some time with the kids.  So I went.  And I enjoyed it!  Anna Kendrick spoke and sang the lead and Justin Timberlake, although he didn't sing until the end, played Branch, the other protagonist.  The evil chef, preparer of troll stew, was unmistakably Christine Baranski.  very cute with, of course, a great moral - everyone has happiness, or the possibility of it, inside themselves.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  DreamWorks Animation's TROLLS is an irreverent comedy extravaganza with incredible music! From the genius creators of SHREK, TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Together, this unlikely pair of Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they've ever known.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

39. Age of Order by Julian North

read on my iPhone (also won a copy from Goodreads, which I donated to Bosler Library)
2017, Plebeian Media
Kirkus Review
339 pgs.
YA/ Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 7/9/2017
Goodreads rating: 4.14 - 211 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting:  Future Bronx & Manhattan, USA

First line/s:  "A gunshot pierced the night."

My comments:  3.5  One of the things I like best about this novel was the way that the author withheld information from the reader - things the protagonist/s knew of or discovered, without disclosing them immediately to the reader.  They would get in a bind and - voila! - things they'd put into place unbeknownst to you would happen.  I loved it!  As for the rest of the book and its premise, I can imagine this sort of future happening, a terrifying thought.  There was a lot of technical talk, both of presently-know technologies and futuristic technologies that went right over my head.  I didn't want to think about them too much, so I didn't.  Between the dystopian aspects and the "magical" aspects of Daniela and Andrew's reality, I can see why many young adults would love this book.  Great that the main protagonist was Hispanic.  And the underdog definitely wins!

Goodreads synopsis:  What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?
         In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.
          Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck school. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
          Age of Order is a novel explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Red Queen, Divergent and Red Rising will enjoy this world of secrets and deadly intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cool Postcards Received this Week - July 8, 2017

804.  Riga, LATVIA
"Castle of Light" - Latvia's National Library
Greetings from Riga, Latvia.  This building is our new National Library (called the Castle of Light).  It was opened in 2014 and now is an important landmark in the cityscape.  Maija.

803.  Perm, RUSSIA
Hello Chris!  I hope this post you'll like it.  My name is Olesya.  I am from Russia, I live in Perm city.  I like to read books, go to the cinema and go for a walk in the morning time when birds are singing.  Olesya 23 VI 2017

802.  Kouvola, FINLAND
I'm Kati and live in Kouvola City, Finland.  Happy Postcrossing!

800.  Shanghai, CHINA
A large, square card with the  greeting, "Hello, friend!"

799.  Furstliche Bibliothek Corvey - GERMANY
(Princely Library Corvey - aristocratic private library)
Hello Chris, my name is Hans.  This is one of many rooms of library at the Princely Palace Corvey, Germany.  all the best.

798.  Maas en Peel Library, The Netherlands
De Bibliotheek Mass en Peel - Vestiging Reuver
Hi Chris, my name is Jessica.  I am German, but I moved to the Netherlands for a job many years ago.  My husband is German, too.  We met on the internet!
NOTE:  She responded to my thank you!:
“Hi Chris,
yes, the card shows my local library. They used to do postcrossing, too (TheBusyLibrarian), but they stopped because the postage costs have been rising through the roof in the Netherlands the last 3-4 years. It made me cut down considerably, too :-( It's becoming a little bit of a luxury in the Netherlands, doing postcrossing. But hey, it's a hobby and hobbies do tend to cost money ;-)
By the way, I took the picture myself and also, it is me in the picture, haha... They weren't open at the time I was there to take pictures and the staff was busy, but I wanted somebody in the picture to make it look more alive. So I took a remote-control picture of myself :-)
Well, wishing you a nice day & happy postcrossing.

796.  Northeast Ontario, CANADA
Greetings from NE Ontario.  Today is your big holiday - we celebrated Canada Day on July 1st.  It's our 150th, so celebrations all year.  It's a beautiful day, sunny & 30 degrees C, we've had a lot of rain so the is welcome!  Hpe your mailbox is full of great postcards!

794.  Sweden
This is the map of the south part of Sweden.  Regards.

793.  Bonn, Germany
"Colorful Mailboxes"
Bonn is the birthtown of the famous composer L. V. Beethoven.  I'm Gabi and I like to travel around the world.  Have days of smiles.

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

789.  Nowy Klincz, POLAND
"Summer Reading"
Greetings for Poland!  My name is Agnieszka and I love to read, too.  Usually I read fantasy novels.  I work in health & beauty shop as an assistant manager, but I hope that it's only a temporary job.  My dream is to become a writer - very good and famous of course. 

788.  Benedictine Monastery Library in Broumov, Czech Republic
send from a postcrosser in Poland
I'm a 45-year old woman who works as a pediatrician and I love my job.  I come from a small town Itza, 80 miles south of Warsaw, which was famous for its clas pottery in Poland since the Middle Ages.  Nowadays, Itza is know for ruins of the medieval castle (you have received postcrd with photo of them from Piorunica), knigh tournaments, and delicious ice cream.  Cheers  (I visited this place two years ago.)

787.  Friesland, a Province in the northwest of the Netherlands, on the North Sea.
sent by a postcrosser from Germany
My name is Sonja.  I'm 24 years old and come from the south of Germany, near Stuttgart.  Greetings!

786.  Hangzhou, CHINA
Hello!  I'm Silvia.   Greetings from China.  I live in Hangzhou.  It is a modern presperous city to the west of Shanghai.  What strikes me most is the beauty of West Lake.  Spring and autumn are the best seasons in here.  Best wishes to you.

785.  Meldorf, GERMANY (close to the North Sea)
Warm greetings from the north of Germany.  My name is Svenja and I live with my family in Meldorf, a small town really close to the North Sea.  My oldest son was very excited when I told him that I have to send a card to Pennsylvania!  He ask, "to Anne and Philipp?!?" because he loves the stories about the magical treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne.  I prefer reading books on the dyke at the coast while my husband is playing with the kids on the mud flats (of course I am a "mud monster" very often).  Best Wishes!  Svenja

Friday, July 7, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - We're All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

Illustrated by the Author
2017, Alfred A. Knopf
32 pgs.
Read 7/7/17
Goodreads rating:  4.15 - 1142 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Endpapers Bright Red
1st line/s: "I know I'm not an ordinary kid."

My comments:  I've read the original chapter book thrice - twice aloud to a group of 3rd and 4th graders.  Their discussions about the book were marvelous and right-on.  This book is a simplified version, focusing on the "be nice to everyone" aspect.  Much of our discussion was "try not to stare," there's a really cool person on the inside. Let's face it, there's a certain shock of first seeing someone that looks really, really different.  It's hard not to stare. That's what I think the Ms. Palacio is trying to say. I don't think it's sappy at all (as some reviewers have suggested).  It's a good starting place to begin conversations with younger kids and/or kids who haven't read the original chapter book about how not to hurt other people's feelings, especially when you're caught off guard.  Ms. Palacio's illustrations are bold and colorful.  I like it a lot.

Goodreads:  The unforgettable bestseller Wonder, soon to be a major motion picture, has inspired a nationwide movement to Choose Kind. Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio.
          Over 5 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy.
          Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way.
          We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Lilla's Sunflowers by Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Illustrated by  the author
2016, Sky Pony Press
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.21 - 29 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers: Huge sunflowers
1st line/s: "Cicadas sang their summer song.

Part of Dedication:  "Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country to protect our freedom.  

My comments:  This is a very special picture book.  The illustrations are lovely, sunflowers and summer and simple, expressive facial expressions. Illustrations that cover the entire page with no white edges.  But the story is a real special surprise, heartfelt and so relevant for kids in our current times, when parents are deployed and gone for long periods of time. And what happens to all the new sunflower seeds at the end of the story is absolutely PERFECT and delightful.   A winner, for sure!

Goodreads:  Lilla and Papa enjoy spending magical times in Lilla’s sunflower patch. Before Papa leaves for a trip that will take him far away from home for a long time, Lilla gives him a sunflower seed. “To remember me, Papa,” Lilla whispers.
          Seasons pass, and Lilla’s mood falls like autumn leaves. Finally, news comes that her papa is coming home! The following summer, to her surprise, she receives letters from families with photos of their loved ones pictured with sunflowers. She learns that her gift to her father brightened the dark days for many people, and that her one small seed continued spreading sunshine across the country.
          Colleen Rowan Kosinki’s lyrical style and whimsical artwork bring this story of love to life. Lilla’s Sunflowers will resonate not only with military families but also with any child missing a loved one. This is a wonderful gift for holidays celebrating our country’s military heroes as well as a quiet story for bedtime read-alouds.
          For kids aged 3 to 6, this is a must-have for military families or for families where one parent does a lot of traveling and is away from the home for extended periods of time. It also serves as a charming story about sharing what you have and the benefits that can reap.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

38. The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

read the book from Bosler Library
2017, G. P. Putnam's Sons
277 pgs.
Middle Grades Realistic Fantasy
Finished 7-4-17
Goodreads rating: 3.59 - 138 ratings
My rating:  Probably, personally, a 2, but please read below
Setting:  Contemporary Boring, Illinois

First line/s:  "It was supposed to be the perfect summer.  I was going to camp out, build forts, have adventures, and score the championship-winning goal in the New England All-Star Under-12 Soccer Tournament.  When I wasn't doing those things, I was going to stay up late with my friends, eat as much junk food as I wanted, and pretty much do whatever I felt like until sixth grade started in September.  It was going to be epic:  the all-time, best summer ever."

My comments:  This book reminded me somewhat of the books I read and loved as a kid - Gone Away Lake and The Lemonade Trick, The Four Story Mistake and Half Magic.  I can't remember anything at all about those books except that I loved them.  This gave me the same feel. I'm old.  And I didn't like it at all, it was just too far-fetched and ridiculous.  So I'm betting there's lots and lots of youngish kids out there that are going to love it like I loved those old titles of long ago.  So I can't rate it, really. Or I shouldn't.   I'd rate it a 2, but that's an old fogey's rating.  I'll leave this to the experts ... and the kids.

Goodreads synopsis: Brian can think of a few places he'd rather spend his summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole. 
Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge, wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it's not just a home--it's a castle. 
          Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball.

Monday, July 3, 2017

MOVIE - Baby Driver

(R) 1:53
Wide/Limited release
Viewed Monday, 7/3/17 after work
IMBd: 8.4/10
RT Critic:  98  Audience:  91
Critic's Consensus:  Stylish, exciting, and fueled by a killer soundtrack, Baby Driver hits the road and it's gone -- proving fast-paced action movies can be smartly written without sacrificing thrills.
Cag:  4.5 Liked it a whole lot
Directed by Edgar Wright
Sony Pictures

Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Ansel Elgort

My comments:  I knew nothing about this movie before I went other than hearing people say that it was surprisingly good.  And it was.  There were a few places I had to roll my eyes a bit, but I think it was probably made purposely that way.  Most of it was actually a lot of fun to watch and to think about.  Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm playing bad, bad guys was worth it by itself!  And the young man, Ansel Elgort, who played the part of Baby was just terrific.  Yes, I've got to say I liked this movie a lot.  Great acting, great music, interesting storyline, adorable love story - recommended highly.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams, Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

37. Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

read on my iPhone
2017 Kids Can Press
328 pgs.
YA CRF w/a touch of fantasy....and a little sex....
Finished Monday, 7/3/17
Goodreads rating:  3.73 - 1033 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: Contemporary ...ummm....Wisconsin?  Midwest, I'm pretty sure
Very cool cover.

First line/s:  "I hold Josh's TI-84 in my left hand, press a few buttons just for show and wait for the vision to come."

My comments:  3.5 Every now and then you MUST read something light and fun and eye-rolling.  That was Zenn Diagram for me.  Yes, there were some (very) irritating things about Eva, but most of the story was fresh and cute and ... innocent.  I'm getting caught up on my YA reading, yippee!

Goodreads synopsis  The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.
          Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.     Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.
          Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.
          Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

Saturday, July 1, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix

Illustrated by the author
2016, Chronicle Books (2013 in France)
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.02 - 257 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: none
1st line/s:  "All you need for apples are circles and the color red."

My comments:  This story tells of a backyard of robins and apple trees and how the two thrive together.  Shapes are cut from the pages of the book, and when overlayed onto drawn, brightly colorful shapes, create a new image.  Pretty cool and wonderful!

Goodreads:  In this extraordinary book, one thing transforms into another as each page turns—a circle becomes an apple, an oval becomes a bird, winter becomes spring. Constantly surprising and brilliantly constructed, Lucie FĂ©lix's Apples and Robins is full of the magic of shape, color, and imagination. All you need to do . . . is turn the page.

Recent Postcards That Fit Nicely into My Collection

783.  Tulda, Germany
Clementine-Helene Dufau (1869 - 1937 "Lady Reading at an Open Window", Gavin Graham
Gallery, London
Greetings from Tulda.  My name is Wolfgang.  I like to read, travel, and run.  I became retired two years ago, after 41 years in the German Army.  I don't leave my home without a book.  My famouse country to travel is Israel.  I was there about 25 times.  Las weekend I ran a half marathon in Munich and next week I will run a marathon is St. Petersburg (Russia). 

782.  Wuppurtal, Germany
Tomi Ungerer, Book Cover for Joan Aiken's Die Kristallkrahe (The Crystal Crow)
Hi chris, My name is Lothar and I'm from Wuppurtal, a town of 350,000.  It's situated in a green area with several artificial lakes and well know for the unique suspension railway.  Best wishes, Hepman

781.  Ukranian Doorways
Hello!  Greetings from Belarus!  My name is Marina, I'm from Minsk.  Few days ago I came back from Lriv (Ukraine) - I like this homely, cozy, lovely town so much!  I bought this card there.  I though that it is perfect for you.  Hope you like it as well as me. :)  Make only love.

780.  Poland
Self-portrait: Karolina Pieton
I want to tell you about my favourite Polish series of books:  The Witcher by Andrej Sapkowski.  He has creted a cycle of tales based on the world of the Witcher, which was published in fantasy literary magazine "Fantastylia", comprising 3 collections of short stories and 5 novels.  The main character is Geralt, a mutant who has been trained since childhood to hunt down an destroy monsters for the moneyh.  Agaionst all appearances he's very sensitive and governed by knightly code.  Computer games of The Witcher created by CD Project Red are based on this series.  I'm so happy that these books have been adapted by Netflix.  Have you read this series of books?  With best wishes.  7/5/17

card sent from Malaysia!
Greetings from Ipoh, a small city in Malaysia!  My name is Ivy Fan.  I'm a housewife.  I love reading novels, watching TV drama, and writing journals.  Her's a card of Iceland Map.  Hope you will like it.  Have a nice day!

776.  Cork, IRELAND
Greetings from a beautiful and green Ireland.  My name is Ivone.  I am Polish but over 11 years live in Ireland.  I love this fantastic island but miss for my home in Poland.  I love to travel, make pictures, read books and postcards.  Ivone.

775.  Plzen (Pilsen) Czech Republic
I had many years this postcard, I didn't think I will find recipient.  :) Plzen (Pilsen) town, where was printed oldest Czech book (maybe) - Historia Troiana, incanabulis by Johannes Gutenberg's followers.  
Today we are with our children on mountain bike race in a near twon Prestice and I hope they will run.

772.  China
Greeting from China.  Nice to meet you.  This is a postcard of Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (cemetery).  Sun is the father of the country Hope you enjoy it.
NOTE:  Dr. Sun Yet-san (1866 - 1925) was the founding father and 1st president of the Republic of China.

769.  Ipoh, MALAYSIA
Hello!  Greetings from Malaysia

760.  Hong Kong
Greeting from Hong Kong, a city located in Asia which is packed and crowded city.  I am planning my vacation in end o fyear, most of the time I will send myself a postcard when traveling.  Will you do the same?  Happy Postcrossing, Fennie

757.  Itzig, Luxembourg
I am Dan, 52, lives in a little town called Itzig in Luxembourg/Europe.  Best wishes and Happy Postcrossing with Stan and Ollie!