Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - FLAP BOOK/BOARD BOOK: Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities by Jonathan Litton

originally published in 2016 in Great Britain by Caterpillar Books
USA publication 2016 by 360 Degrees, Tiger Tales
20.99
18 pgs - 9 thick cardboard 10 3/8 x 12 3/4 inches with hundreds of flaps to open
Goodreads rating: 4.44 - 16 ratings
My rating:  5, it was fun, informative, and creative
Endpapers none
Illustrations: Large maps of continents

My comments:  Wonderful, creative, kid-friendly flap book.  Say hello in lots (and LOTS) of languages of the world, with pronunciation and world location on large, double-page spreads.  An Atlas and Language book combined!   A lift-the-flap book for all ages.

Goodreads:  Learn to greet people around the globe in this interactive atlas of hellos. With more than 150 languages, flaps to guide you through pronunciations, and features on hieroglyphs, sign languages, and different writing systems, a world of exploration is at your fingertips.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

28. Immoral by Brian Freeman

Jonathan Stride #1
listened on Audible, mostly in the car on the drive to Maine
Read by Joe Barrett - did the Minnesota accent okay, female voices not quite so well (but okay)
2005 St. Martin's Minotaur (741 pgs. HC)
2006 Headline (471 pgs.)
Audible 13 hrs. 30 min.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished Wed., May 17, 2017
Goodreads rating: 3.87 - 5262 ratings
My rating:  3.9....
Setting: Duluth MN and Las Vegas

First line/s:  "Darkness was a different thing in the north woods than it was in the city.  He had forgotten."

My comments:  Rating?  Not quite a four.  This was a little slow for me at the beginning, sped up a bit, then slowed down again during a long trial (which I have discovered that I do not enjoy in a book).  There were things to like a lot as well as things to dislike.  The plot twists and turns were huge, and I discovered that I missed some of the major clues at the beginning.  All the loose ends were eventually wrapped up, though in a somewhat weird way.  Setting - Duluth, MN and Las Vegas, NV - both places I have been to more than once, were believable and well written.  Because of the nature of the story, some of the characters weren't as fleshed out as others, which was a setback for me, although minor.  Stride's attraction to and fascination with Serena was difficult to believe and understand.  So, all in all, what do I look for in a good mystery?  A plot line that keeps me guessing.  Check.  Little surprises along the way.  Check.  A setting that is interesting and an integral part of the story.  Check.  Characters that are believable and seem real.  Not quite so much.  Writing.  Freeman strayed a few times from the protagonist's point-of-view, which was a bit disconcerting.  Will I read another in the series?  Sure, this was the first and he's up to seven with two novellas in between.  Bet he's gotten better.  All in all, a good find.

Goodreads synopsis:  In Duluth, Minnesota, a young woman, Rachel Stoner, has gone missing. Cop Jonathan Stride, a sharply focused detective despite the stresses of his troubled personal life, is quick to suspect her stepfather of murder. And yet, he has his doubts. Even for a man accustomed to power, the accused seems remarkably convinced he'll go free. Could he be telling the truth? While Stride endeavours to make sense of the conflicting pieces of evidence, a young woman's body lies half-buried deep in the woods. But if it's not the body of Rachel, where is the missing girl? Is she dead, or is the terrible, unexpected fate that awaits Graeme Stoner one he does not deserve? In this dark, involving mystery, nothing is as it seems, and readers will be gripped to the very last page as the shocking truth gradually emerges.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blog Entry Number 2100

2100.
2100!
How can this be?
Congratulations to me!
Let's par-tee!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Illustrated by the Author
1990 Philomel Books
32 pgs.. - 4830 ratings
Goodreads rating:  4.35
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Dark Red

1st line/s:  "On sultry summer days at my grandma's farm in Michigan, the air gets damp and heavy."

My comments:  I see absolutely no reason not to give this book a "5" rating.  It's wonderful.  Sometimes Polacco's books are really heavily texted, this one is not quite so.  And there are, of course, her wonderful illustrations.  A special grandmother-granddaughter relationship (I love that!), and a cool way to help the child be not so afraid of thunder as well as helping her realize that not everything is quite as scary as it seems.  Lots of great things in one beautiful picture book - plus a recipe that looks like a lot of fun to make, which adds some tomato the the chocolate flavoring....magic....

Goodreads:  Grandma consoles her frightened granddaughter by telling her that the dark clouds of the impending storm are nothing more than the ingredients for a Thunder Cake

Monday, May 8, 2017

MOVIE - The Dinner

R (2:00)
Limited release 5/5/17
Viewed 5/8/17 at The Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, PA
IMBd: 5.5
RT Critic: 53   Audience:  17
Critic's Consensus:  The Dinner's strong ensemble isn't enough to overcome a screenplay that merely skims the surface of its source material's wit and insight.
Cag:  3/ Liked some of it a lot, didn't like some of it a lot....
Directed by Oren Moverman
Chubbco Film Company
Based on the novel by Herman Koch

Richard Gere, Laura Linnley, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloe Sevigny

My comments:  This was one bizarre movie.  And what will follow contain spoilers, I'm sure. Because you can't talk about this movie without mentioning spoilers.  Mental illness is not the biggest theme in the movie. Overprotecting children, total and complete selfishness, "bad" kids, and good politicians - all the major themes are almost polar opposite of what we would like to think we believe - as "good" people of the world.  And as I let this movie sit, and sink in, and stir inside my head, I'm incredulous.  The only sane, good person, was the politician.  The rest were so totally flawed that that the only redemption might come to the brother with mental illness.  But not unless he rids himself of his ridiculous wife.  Mental health issues are a sickness, and this point is made abundantly clear (thank goodness) in this movie.  But the director really copped out when it came to the ending.
     I can't believe that I watched this movie in a theater in Gettysburg, not knowing that part of it was set in Gettysburg. That was quite a surprise. A great surprise.  One of the shots was the exact same shot I took a couple of weeks ago! The actors were superb.  But I think the story was confusingly woven in a way that the majority of viewers will get really confused.  I know that for me not to have someone to discuss it with is a huge downfall.  I need Sheila!
     And after the cop-out ending, the music BLARING from the screen was "Don't let them fuckers get you down."  The whole experience was a bizarre one.  I know that all the other people in the theater with me (about a dozen) left the theater complaining and/or scratching their heads.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  When Stan Lohman (Richard Gere), a popular congressman running for governor, invites his troubled younger brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife Claire (Laura Linney) to join him and his wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) for dinner at one of the town's most fashionable restaurants, the stage is set for a tense night. While Stan and Paul have been estranged since childhood, their 16-year- old sons are friends, and the two of them have committed a horrible crime that has shocked the country. While their sons' identities have not yet been discovered and may never be, their parents must now decide what action to take. As the night proceeds, beliefs about the true natures of the four people at the table are upended, relationships shatter, and each person reveals just how far they are willing to go to protect those they love.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

27. Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

read on my iPhone
2017 Clean Teen Publishing
 300 pgs.
YA Ghost Story/Fantasy w/mostly RF
Finished 5/3/17
Goodreads rating: 3.92 - 302 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting: Contemporary Wellhollow Springs

First line/s: "Loose gravel crunched beneath her boots as Special Agent Camila Vasquez navigated the almost-empty parking lot to her car."

My comments:   The first half of the book was quite interesting but, for me, rapidly deteriorated in the second half.  Much too much lovey-dovey, kissy stuff and more telling than showing.  Not enough information about why the bad guys were bad guys.  The ghosts weren't connected enough and could have been tackled in a really interesting way ... but no such luck. All in all, a disappointment.

Goodreads synopsis:   When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and Golden Boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness that has caused deformity…turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job she must promise to never, ever visit the 3rd floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth being hidden there.
          Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
          As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head, in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?