Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020 UFOs - If Only!

Okay, it's been a super tough year, mentally and physically, and I've been depressed.  Granted, I've read 130 books vs. 80 or so in the previous years, but laying in my bed THINKING about all my wonderful projects is not optimal.  I've got to get off my duff -- and I know I'll be in a better frame of mind working in my sewing room.

First, I've got to clean and organize.

Then I have to re-evaluate.  I've got so many more projects stated in the last year, so I have to pull everything out and take a gander.

Here's my new list of projects without looking (I know this will change in the next few days):

QUILTING
1.  Kaffe Fassett quilt for Ashley
2.  Cacophony quilt
3.  Dede's picnic quilt
4.  Pink rag quilt for Charley
5.  Josh & Julie's wedding quilt
6.  My yellow rag quilt
7.  Cowboy book wall hanging
8.  Prairie point pillow
9.  Rainbow wrap stole
10.  Kokopelli bag
11.  Blue Mystery quilt
12.  Suzy's window-style wall hanging
13.  Houses Mosaic
14.  Ella's Grandmother's Flower Garden
Jelly Roll rug

KNITTING
1.  Pink entrelac scarf
2.  Lt. grn/blue neckwarmer
3.  Bright mustard scarf
4.  Linen-stitch scarf
5.  Beige sweater
6.  4-color (yellow/orange/red) shawl
7.  Fingerless mitts - 2018 started
8.  Knitter's Day Out diamond scarf
9.  Fingerless Mitts - 2019 Knitters' Day Out class
10.  Soft, ribbed Catarina scarf

STITCHING
1.  Crazy Quilt wall hanging
2.  White Mittens centerpiece
3.  Halloween woolie piece
4.  Santa (half Moon Handwerks) woolie piece
5.  Molly Pitcher cross stitch
6.  My first Sashiko project

ONGOING HEXIES
Status on 1/1/20

Ella's Grandmother's Flower Garden
Christmas Hexie Quilt
Third Row Hexie Quilt
B & W Hexie Quilt
Orphan Gray Hexie Quilt
Big Hexie Scrap Quilt

Monday, December 30, 2019

Picture Book: Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

A Wordless Picture Book
Illustrated by the author
2019, Margaret Ferguson Books, Holiday House
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.24 - 348 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: Bright Goldenrod

1st line/s:  None, it's wordless!

My comments: Clever, cute, quick story.  A little boy, and artist with his crayons, gets left by mistake on the Moon.  After his schoolbus/spaceship leaves, little grey men come to the surface and make friens with him.  They each take a different crayon, and hide with them when the schoolbus/spaceship returns for the boy.  He's left with only the gray crayon...which he uses to draw his new friends onto his pad on the return trip to earth.

GoodreadsIt's field trip day, and students are excited to travel on their yellow spaceship bus from their space station to the moon.
\          Climb aboard the spaceship bus for a fantastic field trip adventure to the moon. Once they land, students debark and set out with their teacher to explore. They jump over trenches and see craters and mountains on the moon's surface and even Earth in the faraway distance. One student takes a break to draw some pictures, falls asleep, and wakes up to discover that the rest of the class and the spaceship are gone. How the student passes the time waiting to be rescued makes for a funny and unexpected adventure that will enchant children all over the galaxy.

Picture Book: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
2018 Nancy Paulsen, Penguin Random House
HC $18.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.52 - 3920 ratings 
My rating:  5
Endpapers: Lovely, simple growing things on a delicate light jade jade green background.

1st line/s:  "There will be times when  you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you."

My comments:SO BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED! And with a great message, to boot.  Not a "story" persay, but a collection of thoughts about being different, understanding that difference, and in a way, being the same.  Lovely.

GoodreadsNational Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.
          There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
          Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael Lopez's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
          Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Picture Book: Explorers by Mathew Cordell

A Wordless Picture Book
Illustrated by the author
2019 Feiwel and Friends
HC $18.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.75 - 177 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: bright rust

1st line/s:  None- it's a wordless book

My comments:  Fun story, lots to examine, with a great message and a little bit of "mysticism."  The young boy is given a flying airplane-type toy and he  plays with it throughout the museum, until it's caught by another boy.  At first he's upset, but when he "loses" his parents, upon finding them, both families make friends. 

GoodreadsFrom Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell, Explorers is a new picture book about an extraordinary trip to a museum.
          When a family goes to a local museum, a boy notices a homeless man sitting outside, making brightly colored origami birds. He convinces his dad to buy a bird the man makes just for him.
          Once inside the museum, his little sister takes the bird and launches it into the air. Is it lost? Soon another boy helps him look, and the paper bird brings two families―and two new friends―together.
          With the style he used in Wolf in the Snow, Matthew Cordell shows how an ordinary family outing can be both extraordinary and magical.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Movie - Little Women

PG
Wide release 12/25/2019
Viewed 12/29 in Carlisle with Sandy
IMBd: 8.3/10
RT Critic:  95  Audience:  93
Critic's Consensus:  With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Cag:  5.5/Loved it!
Directed (and written) by Greta Gerwig
Sony Pictures
Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott

Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep

My comments:  What a fabulous movie, really cleverly written, going back-and-forth between the time of the original book and seven years into the future.  For the most part well cast, but there were a few that I wasn't so crazy about, particularly John, the tutor then husband of Meg...and there didn't seem to be enough chemistry between Amy and Laurie, at least not for me.  A wonderful movie to watch, hope it earns some awards.  Particularly loved Laura Dewrn as Marmie.  

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolds as the author's alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. In Gerwig's take, the beloved story of the March sisters - four young women each determined to live life on her own terms -- is both timeless and timely. Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalamet as their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Picture Book - Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

Illustrated by the author
2018, Great Britain Simon & Schuster
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  
My rating:  5
Endpapers: solid bright yellow

1st line/s:  "Lake Park only had one squirrel,
all alone and sad (poor Cyril).
Until the morning he met Pat,
his new best friend, a big gray ..."

My comments:Great story and great illustrations!!  Written mostly in sets of couplets and full of humor with lots to look at in each illustration.  And what a great message - you can be friends with ANYONE!!!

Goodreads:  Cyril is the only squirrel in Lake Park, and he's very lonely. Until one day he meets Pat – Pat the big, grey . . . other squirrel. Cyril and Pat have lots of adventures and fun together and Cyril is so pleased he's made a friend. But everyone is adamant that Cyril and Pat simply cannot be friends, and they soon reveal why: Pat, as the reader has known all along, is actually a RAT!
          But Cyril's life turns out to be a lot duller and quite a bit scarier without Pat by his side, and in the end the two friends learn that some things are more important than being the same, or listening to others.          Cyril and Pat is a richly colourful, rhyming romp through the park from the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Emily Gravett. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Picture Book - River by Elisha Cooper

Illustrated by the author
2019, Orchard Books
HC $18.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.97 - 173 ratiugs
My rating:  Hmmmm.....4?
Endpapers:Map of the northeast, largely including the Hudson River

1st line/s:  "Morning, a mountain lake.  A traveler, a canoe.  As she paddles out into the bluster middle of the lake, she turns for a last wave to the shore behind her.  Her journey begins.

My comments: A woman, alone paddles a canoe the entire 315-mile length of the Hudson River in New York, detailing many of her adventures, sightings, and trials.  It's a very interesting read for this adult, but I'm not sure how much it will hold a child's attention.  Definitely suited for a third or fourth (or even higher) geography/river study.
GoodreadsCaldecott Honor winner Elisha Cooper invites readers to grab their oars and board a canoe down a river exploration filled with adventure and beauty.
In Cooper's flowing prose and stunning watercolor scenes, readers can follow a traveler's trek down the Hudson River as she and her canoe explore the wildlife, flora and fauna, and urban landscape at the river's edge. Through perilous weather and river rushes, the canoe and her captain survive and maneuver their way down the river back home.
          River is an outstanding introduction to seeing the world through the eyes of a young explorer and a great picture book for the STEAM curriculum.
          Maps and information about the Hudson River and famous landmarks are included in the back of the book.
 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Picture Book: Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Illustrated by the author
2019 Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.58 - 318 ratings
My rating:  5 
Endpapers:  Map of the woods, shack, and surroundings in shades of green

1st line/s:  "This is my family.  Ray (14) Bea (12) Rich (10) Marv (8) Marvel - me (6) Lowell (4) Dal (2) Eva (3 mos.) Mum (34)  Dad lives with the angels now, and we need to find a new home."


My comments:  This one actually brought tears to my eyes.  Lovely story of a family of eight kids during the depression, dad had just died of cancer, and they found a tar paper shack in the woods where they lived for the next five years.  Based on a true story of the author's grandmother, who was one of the nine kids.  Lovely and nostalgic.  The accompanying illustrations are super-wonderful.

Goodreads:   This picture book from Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother's childhood and pays homage to a family's fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.
          Eliza Wheeler’s book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died. Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn’t seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be. During their first year it’s a struggle to maintain the shack and make sure they have enough to eat. But each season also brings its own delights and blessings–and the children always find a way to have fun. Most importantly, the family finds immense joy in being together, surrounded by nature. And slowly, their little shack starts feeling like a true home–warm, bright, and filled up with love.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

122. Paradise Awakening by Jaci Burton

listened to Audio via CHIRP
narrated  by Sarah Puckett
Unabridged audio (4?33)
2003 Elora's Cave, 2019 Audible release
180 pgs.
Adult erotica
Finished 12/11/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.64 - 997 ratings
My rating: 1
Setting:  a far-off resort island....

First line/s:  "Michael Donovan finished unpacking and headed straight to the wet bar in the suite's living room."

My comments: A tropical island where people go for all the erotica they ever imagined.  Two stranger meet, two strangers that are instantly attracted and willing to try anything and everything.  A college literature professor and a California erotic mystery writer, lol.  Nonstop hot and steamy.  Steam is definitely four out of four.  unratable otherwise.  The reader has that slow, horrible valley girl lilst at the end of each word.  Blech!  I listened at a rate of 1.2 , and it didn't bother me quite so much...a ridiculous read.

Goodreads synopsis:  Serena Graham is looking forward to the vacation of a lifetime-a week at Paradise Resort, a Caribbean hideaway where she'll be able to indulge her every sexual fantasy with complete abandon and total anonymity. For the next week, she's Sexy Siren Serena and she'll do whatever she wants-with whomever she wants.
          Michael Donovan planned a week at Paradise Resort to research his next erotic crime novel, as well as indulge in some hot sex with his fashion model girlfriend. But when he finds his now ex-girlfriend has other plans, he's resigned to research without recreation. That is, until Serena shows up at his door claiming he's occupying her room.
          After a little negotiating, Michael and Serena become roommates, and Serena boldly asks Michael to be her lover for the week. How can he pass up the opportunity to mix a little pleasure with business? But despite their vow to keep their relationship strictly physical, they find much more than passion in paradise.

123. Starters by Lissa Price

#1 of 2
Listened to Audible/Chirp
narrated  by Rebecca Lowman
Unabridged audio (10:20)
2012 Delacorte Books for Young Readers
352 pgs.
YA Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 12/11/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.90 - 39,689 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Dystopian Hollywood, California

First line/s:  "Enders gave me the creeps.  The doorman flashed a practiced smile as he let me into the body bank.  He wasn't that old, maybe 110, but he still made me shudder."

My comments:  What an interesting premise for a book!  YA dystopia/fantasy all the way!  I'm going to have to think about the ending of this one.  (Spoiler:  was her father the "old man?"  Why else would he have kept his face and his voice in artificial mode?  Why would he care so much about Callie and her brother Tyler?  But he was a horrible person!I am really in a bit of a tizzy about this...) Good story, indeed.  And what's to come?

Goodreads synopsis:  Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.
          He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .

Monday, December 9, 2019

121. The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

read on my iPhone/Kindle
2016 HQ
384 pgs.
Adult Time Swap between 1557 and present: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Finished 12/9/2019
Goodreads rating:   4.04 - 2535 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: 1557 and present time, England

First line/s:  "She saw the portrait quite by chance, or so she thought."

My comments: Quite a mesmerizing story of time travel between the 1550s and 2015 or so, the story of the mixed up tapestry of British lords and the ladies that got tossed aside.  The story of cousins living with second cousins and third cousins, retinues of families living on various estates throughout the British countryside.  And two couples, one set firmly in the 21st century and one set mostly-firmly in the 16th century.  A bit mystical, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Goodreads synopsis:  There is much to enjoy in a sumptuous novel that slips between present day and 1557.’ - Sunday Mirror
          “My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”
          Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child. 
          The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.
          But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

120. Running from A Rock Star by Jami Albright

listened on Audible
narrated  by Jennifer Grace
Unabridged audio (9:45)
2017, Jami Albright
290 pgs.
Adult Romance, with steam
Finished 12/3/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.20 - 3076 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: contemporary - mostly Texas

First line/s:  "Light seared through Scarlett Kelly's eyelids.  She buried her face in the cool pillow to block the glare, but even that slight movement caused an explosion of agony.  Pain and nausea crashed into her like a train on fire."

My comments: Adjectives for this book:  stupid, sweet, over-the-top-funny, stereotypical, cute, ridiculous, eye-rolling, and entertaining.  A little too "Texan," interesting settings in Las Vegas and on the southern California coastline, as well as Texas.  A fun listen.

Goodreads synopsis:  She’s a good-girl control freak. He’s a bad boy in need of a clean image. Will these opposites attract or self-destruct?        
          Scarlett Kelly is the poster child for responsible living. Growing up as the daughter of the town floozy she’s made it her mission to be the exact opposite. So when she wakes up naked and hungover in bed with a bad-boy rockstar, Scarlett bolts immediately. But she never expected him to follow her home… and tell her they’re married!
           Gavin needs to repair his image or his music career will go down the tubes. He’s also just learned he has a son he never knew existed! Gavin wants to settle down, and bribing his new wife to stay married may just fit everything into place.
          Scarlett agrees to the ruse to help her family’s financial troubles even though she can hardly control herself around the rock star. As they search for Gavin’s son, will the cross-country adventure give them exactly what they’ve been missing or send them packing?
          Running From a Rock Star is the first book in a series of comedic contemporary romance novels. If you like zany characters, razor-sharp wit, and unlikely love stories, then you’ll love the first book in Jami Albright’s Brides On the Run series.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

119. Stay Hidden by Paul Doiron

#9 Mike Bowditch
Listened on Audible
narrated  by Henry Leyva
Unabridged audio (10:34)
2018 Minotaur
320 pgs.
Adult Murdery Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 11/30/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.88 - 2055 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting:  Contemporary Maquoit Island, off MDI, Maine

First line/s:  "There were two hunting deaths in Maine that day. And the deer season had barely begun."

My comments: For some reason I didn't like this one as much as I have liked the others, and I really should have because it was set on an island off Mount Desert Island, and referred to Ellsworth and surrounding communities - my home - many, many times.  But somehow the way that all the residents were portrayed left me with a sour stomach.  It was an interesting mystery, but once again Mike Bowditch gets in trouble for things that seem stupid to me.  Even though Henry Leyva misprounces words - he HAS gotten a little closer to the correct pronunciation of Bangor than in previous books - he still doesn't quite have it.  I DO enjoy listening to him, though!

Goodreads synopsis:  A woman has been shot to death by a deer hunter on an island off the coast of Maine. To newly promoted Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch, the case seems open and shut. But as soon as he arrives on remote Maquoit Island he discovers mysteries piling up one on top of the other.
          The hunter now claims he didn’t fire the fatal shot and the evidence proves he’s telling the truth. Bowditch begins to suspect the secretive community might be covering up the identity of whoever killed the woman, known as Ariel Evans. The controversial author was supposedly writing a book about the island's notorious hermit. So why are there no notes in her rented cottage?
           The biggest blow comes the next day when the weekly ferry arrives and off steps the dead woman herself. Ariel Evans is alive, well, and determined to solve her own “murder” even if it upsets Mike Bowditch’s investigation and makes them both targets of an elusive killer who will do anything to conceal his crimes.
 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

118. The Child Finder by Renee Denfeld

#1 Naomi Cottle
Listened to audio - on Audible
narrated  by Alyssa Bresnahan
Unabridged audio (8:40)
2017, Harper
274 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished  11/23/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.97 - 30,045 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Oregon woods

First line/s::  "The home was a small yellow cottage on an empty street. There was something dispirited about it, but Naomi was used to that."

My comments: Finished this in the air approaching Oakland.  Super interesting!  A woman who had been a captive and escaped as a child becomes a child finder herself, as she oh-s-slowly begins to remember bits and pieces of her past.  The story flips back and forth between Naomi (the protagonist) and Madison/the Snowgirl, who Naomi is trying to find in the present.  Fascinating story.

Goodreads synopsis:  A haunting, atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.
          "Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or—is it possible—you are still alive?"
          Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as "the Child Finder," Naomi is their last hope.
          Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.
          As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
          Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Picture Book - Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore

Illustrated by the author
2019 Owlkid Books/Canada
Hardcover $17.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.93 - 180 ratings 
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Solid jungle green

1st line/s: " There once lived a child the crocodiles called Little Doctor." 

My comments:  The title should be Fearless Little Doctor and the Beast!  A brave little gril doctor gently cares for all the crocodiles in the (lush) jungle, until a huge croc comes to her and she can't discover what's wrong with him.  With great ingenuity she finally figures out how to get him to open his huge jase - and discovers the crux of the problem.  No words are used to explain the problem, only that inside the open jaws are baby crocs, all wrapped up in plastic six-pack rings.  Subtle message, love it.  Must use to talk about correct recycling of plastics, as well as beautiful illustrations!

GoodreadsCrocodiles come from far and wide to seek Little Doctor's care. She treats each one with skill and kindness--even the toughest crocs with thick skins and large, powerful jaws. Little Doctor marvels at these fearless beasts, listening to their stories, while she diagnoses and cures what ails them. But when she meets Big Mean, the largest crocodile in the land with jaws clamped tightly shut, Little Doctor can't figure out what's wrong. And she might be just a little bit afraid.
          When one creative idea lands Little Doctor right inside Big Mean's tremendous jaws, she is sure she'll be munched or crunched--until she sees that Big Mean isn't so horrible, after all. As it turns out, the crocodile is only protecting her hatchlings, all tangled in plastic, inside her mouth.
          Watercolor illustrations create a richly imagined world in this awe-inspiring story about how even little kids can be fearless, and even big, mean creatures sometimes need help.

Picture Book - Ruby's Birds by Mya Thompson

Illustrated by Claudia Davila
2019 Cornell Lab Publishing Group
HC $16.95
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.52 - 63 ratings
My rating:  3
Endpapers: white with puffy clouds

1st line/s:  "School's out.  Mom and Dad are at word.  My brother, Malik, is at soccer practice.  Grandma's at her spot near the window.  Alex keeps her company.  Things are too quiet around here."

My comments: A young girl is introduced to bird-watching in Central park by her neighbor.   There are lots of birds to search for in the illustrations, which are really fun.  The story has a really flat ending, however.  A great writing extension for 4th & 5th graders might be to write a better ending!

GoodreadsSometimes the most beautiful things in nature can go unnoticed. Meet Ruby, a seven-year-old kid with the energy of the city in which she lives--New York City. She plays the piano--LOUDLY. She romps around the apartment--LOUDLY. And she sings songs she makes up herself--LOUDLY!
          So, when her downstairs neighbor Eva takes her on a nature walk through Central Park, Ruby has to learn how to slow down, step carefully, and be quiet enough to see and hear the amazing birds that are everywhere around her.
          From author Mya Thompson and illustrator Claudia D�vila comes a delightful story of a brand-new bird watcher just spreading her wings.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

115. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

listened on Audible, borrowed from Bosler/CCLS
narrated  by Julia Whelan
Unabridged audio (9:06)
2019 Random House
289 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 11/17/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.91 - 38,888
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary small town MAINE

First line/s:  "Go now, or you'll never go, Evvie warned herself."

My comments:  What pulled me in?  Small town Maine: Camden/Wiscasset area.  The cool cover.  Decent reviews.  And what did I think?  It was an okay, fun read, the very epitome of the "romance" genre of previous years, without the graphic sex scenes.  Not my favorite genre, but enjoyable once in awhile, right? 

Goodreads synopsis:  In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth "Evvie" Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn't correct them.
          In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy's childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the "yips": he can't throw straight anymore, and he can't figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.
          When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie's house, the two make a deal: Dean won't ask about Evvie's late husband, and Evvie won't ask about Dean's baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more.
          But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they'll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they've broken, the plans they've changed, and the secrets they've kept. They'll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there's always a chance—right up until the last out.

Friday, November 15, 2019

114. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Read on my iPhone/ have on Kindle
2012 Atom
374 pgs.
YA Fantasy/Dystopia
Finished 11/15/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.00 - 104,861
My rating: 3:

First line/s:  "Aria pushed herself to her knees, gritting her teeth at the piercing shriek that erupted in her ears."

My comments:  A bleak, dystopian ya novel that's pretty depressing throughout.  Book 2 will probably be interesting, though, with the build up from this one.  There's still a lot to be discovered about the way the characters learn about each other with enhanced senses.  Aria and Peregrive, the two protagonists, are pretty interesting and the story is form both of their POVs.

Goodreads synopsis:  
          WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.
          DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.
          Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
          Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.
         If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

113. The Contract by Melanie Moreland

Listened to Audio
narrated  by John Lane & Tatiana Sokolov
Unabridged audio (8:43)
2016 Enchanted Publications
298 pgs.
Adult "Romance
Finished 11/15/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.02 - 19,353 ratings
My rating: 4

First line/s:  "I bent over the table, the din of the busy restaurant fading into the background as I struggled to contain my anger."

My comments:  Again, one heck of a lot of people have read - and enjoyed - this book!  What an adorable romance.  Shoot me, I like it!  Lots of build up, a little too much sap, the requisite amount of steaminess - not over-the-top, but enough - and plenty of opportunity for eye-rolling.  Don't think I could take too many of this type of book in a row, but once in awhile, sure.  I cannot believe how my taste and genre has tilted in the recent weeks.....

Goodreads synopsis:  A tyrant by day, a playboy by night. That is the reputation that precedes Richard VanRyan. He lives life the way he wants, no concern for the opinion of others. He cares for no one, is completely unrepentant, and he has no desire to change his ways.
           Katharine Elliott works under Richard as his PA. She despises him and his questionable ethics, but endures all the garbage he sends her way, because she needs the job. Her end goal is far more important than the daily abuse and demands she tolerates from her nasty tyrant of a boss.
          Until the day, he asks her for something she never expected. A new role with a personal contract — fiancée instead of PA.
          What happens when two people who loathe each other, have to live together and act as though they are madly in love?
          Sparks.
          That’s what happens.
          Can the power of love really change a person?
          Will they survive the contract?
          What do you do when the one person you hate the most becomes the one person you can’t live without?
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

112. Mister O by Lauren Blakely

listened to Audio
narrated  by Sebastian York
Unabridged audio (7:55)
2016
308 pgs.
Adult "Romance"
Finished 11/12/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.08 - 17,249
My rating: 3.5
Setting: contemporary NYC

First line/s:  "Ask me my three favorite things and the answers are so easy they roll off my tongue:  hitting a homerun for my softball league, drawing a killer cartoon panel, and, oh yeah, - making a woman......."

My comments:  Boy, one heck of a lot of people have read this book and really enjoyed it - look at those Goodreads ratings! And talk about a steamy Goodreads synopsis, it's almost embarrassing to post here!   70% steamy sex - or thinking about it in detail - and 30% decent story, this was certainly entertaining.  I could've done with more story because it was a pretty decent one.  A 29-year-old cartoonist who has made it big on the small screen has a huge crush on his best friend's sister, who is a magician.  Set in New York City with great, interesting characters and an awesome narrator, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Goodreads synopsis:  Just call me Mister O. Because YOUR pleasure is my super power.
          Making a woman feel ‘oh-god-that’s-good’ is the name of the game, and if a man can’t get the job done, he should get the hell out of the bedroom. I’m talking toe-curling, mind-blowing, sheet-grabbing ecstasy. Like I provide every time.
          I suppose that makes me a superhero of pleasure, and my mission is to always deliver.
          But then I'm thrown for a loop when a certain woman asks me to teach her everything about how to win a man. The only problem? She's my best friend's sister, but she's far too tempting to resist--especially when I learn that sweet, sexy Harper, has a dirty mind too and wants to put it to good use. What could possibly go wrong as I give the woman I've secretly wanted some no-strings-attached lessons in seduction?
          No one will know, even if we send a few dirty sexts. Okay, a few hundred. Or if the zipper on her dress gets stuck. Not on that! Or if she gives me those f*&k-me-eyes on the train in front of her whole family.
          The trouble is the more nights I spend with her in bed, the more days I want to spend with her out of bed. And for the first time ever, I'm not only thinking about how to make a woman cry out in pleasure --I'm thinking about how to keep her in my arms for a long time to come.
          Looks like the real Adventures of Mister Orgasm have only just begun....
 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Picture Book - Encyclopedia of Grannies by Eric Veille

Translated by Daniel Hahn (translated from French?)
2019, Gecko Press, New Zealand
HC. $17.99
28 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.46 - 24 ratings
My rating:  3
Thick cardboard covers, thick pages with rounded corners.

1st line/s:  "The world's first encyclopedia devoted entirely to grannies."

My comments:  2/3 of the book seemed intended for the entertainment of grandmothers, if they're not easily offended.  Not actually sure who the intended audience of this book actually is....but I enjoyed most of it with a wry smile throughout....

Goodreads:  Why do grannies always tell us to speak up? Why do they have creases on their faces? Are grannies flexible? How do you cheer up a sad granny? How old are grannies, actually?
          Eric Veill� explains it all in this offbeat book for the extended family to chuckle over--no matter what kind of grandma you have, are, or would like to be. From the author of My Pictures after the Storm, which received three starred reviews and which School Library Journal proclaimed "may be the funniest book of the year."

Picture Book - Blooming Beneath the Sun

Poems by Christina Rossetti
Cut Paper Illustrated by Ashley Bryan
2019 Atheneum Books for Young Readers
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.67
My rating:  4
Endpapers: orange with cut paper daisies (like the daisies that accompany "Where Innocent Bright-Eyed Daisies Are."

Fourteen poems by Christina Rossetti, three follow

My comments: Anything that has anything to do with Ashley Bryan makes my heart pound.  The illustrations are bold and beautiful!  And I've ALWAYS loved the simplicity of Christina Rossetti's beautiful words, although there are a few poems in this collection that I'm not overly fond of....

GoodreadsNewbery Award honoree Ashley Bryan has hand-selected a collection of celebrated English poet Christina Rossetti’s poems to illustrate with his inimitable flourish.  
          The world changes so quickly, but the joy and fun of being a child always remains. Christina Rossetti’s classic nursery rhymes have embodied the simple essence of childhood for centuries, and now award-winning illustrator Ashley Bryan brings new life to them with this wonderfully illustrated selection of Rossetti’s poetry.
          Bryan’s bright and intricate collage art perfectly complement Rossetti’s simple text, and together they create a vibrant book for both kids—and kids at heart.


Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Hurt No Living Thing

Hurt No living Thing
Ladybird, not butterfly
Nor moth with dusty wing,
nor cricket chirping cheerily
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.

Where Innocent Bright-Eyed Daisies Are

Where innocent bright-eyed daisies are,
With blades of grass between,
Each daisy stands up like a star

Out of a sky of green.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

110. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

listened to Audio borrowed from Bosler Library
narrated  by Jorjeana Marie and Robbie Daymond
Unabridged audio (8:18)
2019 Delacourt
304 pgs.
YA Romance
Finished 11/9/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.97 - 3529 ratings
My rating: 3.5

First line/s: "Even back in my fairy-tale days, I never liked those inevitable opening words - once upon a time."

My comments:  I had mixed feelings about this book.  Perhaps it's because it's about 9/11 and that in itself is a difficult thing.  Some parts dragged, some parts were funny, and it was loaded with all sorts of philosophical thinking, which is definitely not my things at all.  But as we travel farther and farther from the fateful, horrible day, I'm also glad that books like this are being written.

Goodreads synopsis:  Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.
          Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka "Baby Hope") wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.
          Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She's psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.
          Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it's a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

109. Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

#2 Renne Ballard/#21 Harry Bosch
istened on Audible, borrowed from Bosler eAudio
narrated  by Christine Lakin & Titus Welliver
Unabridged audio (10:39)
2018 Little Brown
400 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 11/7/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.20 - 31,524 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary LA

First line/s: "The patrol officers had left the front door open. They thought they were doing her a favor, airing the place out.  But that was a violation of crime scene protocol regarding evidence containment.  Bugs could go in and out.  Touch DNA could be disturbed by a breeze through the house.  odors were particulate.  Airing out a crime scene meant losing part of that crime scene."

My comments:  In this episode, Renee and Harry work together on a nine-year-old cold case, Renee from the inside of the police department, and Harry from the outside.  They complement each other in guts and smarts and as the book ends we discover they have decided to continue working together in this way.  I liked it.  Look forward to more.

Goodreads synopsis:  LAPD Detective Renée Ballard teams up with Harry Bosch in the new thriller from #1 NYT bestselling author Michael Connelly.
          Renée Ballard is working the night beat again, and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours only to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder is retired detective Harry Bosch, working a cold case that has gotten under his skin. Ballard kicks him out, but then checks into the case herself and it brings a deep tug of empathy and anger.
          Bosch is investigating the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton, a runaway on the streets of Hollywood who was brutally murdered and her body left in a dumpster like so much trash. Now, Ballard joins forces with Bosch to find out what happened to Daisy and finally bring her killer to justice.

Hanukkah Picture Book Quickies

It's Hanukkah!
Jeanne Modesitt
Ill. Robin Spowart
1999
GR: 3.50- 12 ratings
My rating:  2
Mouse family, some is irrelevant just to rhyme:"We all dance the horah, even Great-Grandma Laura."  Don't really like the story or the illustrations, but the addendums about the holiday, menorah, and dreidels are useful.

It's Hanukkah Time!
Latita Berry Kropf
Photographs by Tod Cohen
2004
GR:  3.22 - 9 ratings
My rating:  4 - Perfect for Toddlers
I plan to use this for a toddler storytime (18 - 35 months)  It's simple, and photographs accentuate each idea that's presented.  (Note: Instead of latkes, they fry sufganiyot, and include a recipe in the back).

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
Susan L. Roth
2004
GR: 3.63 - 43 ratings
Mice again.  Super simple: the words to a song.  Cut paper collage. Not a great read-aloud, IMO, but might accompany a recording of the song.
"Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah.
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora.
And while we are playing,
The candles are all burning low.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light.
To remind us of day long ago.
    (Repeat twice)

Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights
Leslie Kimmelman
Ill. John Himmelman
1992
GR:  3.52 - 21 ratings
My rating:  3
Very simple story of how a family celebrates Hanukkah.  A bit misleading in that it might be interpreted that specific things are done on specific nights.  If it's made clear that there's no particular order of when to celebrate in each way, it works just fine.

One Night, One Hanukkah Night
Aidel Backman
1990
GR:  2.00 - 1 rating
My rating:  3
Great premise, one page contemporary, the next historical - but didn't quite pull it off.  As a read-aloud with explanation it would probably be fine.  Each page has a different traditions, a menorah with the correct amount of candles, and simple explanations if needed.


Hooray for Hanukkah!
Fran Manushkin
Ill. Carolyn Croll
2001
GR:  2.94 - 18 ratings
my rating:  2/5
Another simple way to show the eight nights of Hanukkah and share the different holiday traditions.  It's from the P-o-v of the menorah.  Old-fashioned clothing, though it's set in contemporary times - this bothered me.  And the repetition of "I am bright, but I could be brighter" became very tiring very quickly.
It's a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook
Stephanie Spinner
ill. Jill McElmurry
2003
3.92 - 36 ratings
A grandmother tells a different story on every one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  All end up being a true story about family members she not only knows, but who will attend the family meal. Within the stories she tells are Hanukkah traditions.  Although the story is longish, it's delightful.  The book ends with "The Hanukkah Legend," a glossary, and the three Hanukkah blessings.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

108. Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

listened to on Audible via CHIRP
narrated  by Todd Haberkorn and Jayme Mattler
Unabridged audio (7:16)
2018 Gallery Books
305 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 11/6/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.10 - 31,813 ratings
My rating:  4

First line/s:  "Before we get started there are a few things you should know about me:
     1.  I am both broke and lazy, a terrible combination.
     2.  I am perpetually awkward at parties and in an effort to relax will probably end up drinking until I'm topless.
     3.  I tend to like animals more than people.
     4.  I can always be counted on to do or say the worst possible thing in a delicate moment."

My comments:  Very cute story about a young teacher and the Korean American young man she's had a crush on for years.  The voice of the guy who read the male part was a bit disconcerting, especially when he spoke the female part.  This was my only complaint.  2.5/4 for steam, and I'll go out on a limb and give it a four overall.

Goodreads synopsis:  Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
          Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
          Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

107. Force of Nature by Jane Harper

#2 Aaron Falk/ Australia
listened on Audible, which I own
narrated  by Stephen Shanahan
Unabridged audio (9:03)
2018 Flatiron Books
326 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 10/31/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.83 - 54,666 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Wilderness, Australia

First line/s:  "Later, the four remaining women could only agree on two things.  One:  No one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell.  And two:  Alice had a mean streak so mean it could cut you."

My comments:  In this second of the Aaron Falk series, we find him hunting information on a missing woman in the tangled mysterious almost unknown forests of Australia, a woman who was separated from her group at a corporate retreat.  The story flip-flops back-and-forth between the rescue attempt and a detailed account of what happened to the five women, until both stories join together at the end of the book  Interesting, but a little overly long.  The setting was its own character, I always like that in a story.

Goodreads synopsis:  Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
          Only four come out on the other side.
          The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that's what the corporate retreat website advertises.
          Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
          The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Picture Book - Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah by Michael J. Rosen

Illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
2000, Holiday House
Seems to be out-of-print
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 25 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: azure

1st line/s:  "The very first night of Hanukkah, we polish the silver menorah that was my great-grandma's.  She brought it from Russia maybe a hundred years ago!  It's the oldest thing in the house, I think.  We all say the prayers together as we light the shammash -- that's the tallest candle -- and touch it to the first night's candle."

My comments:  A child tells of his family's traditional "doings" on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  Not only does it include all sorts of Hanukkah traditions, it includes how they celebrate with theiri non-Jewish friends so that Christmas is not ignored, but included slightly in three different places in this excellent story.  A bit long for 3-year-olds, but great for 4 and up.

Goodreads:   For Jewish families around the world, the eight nights of Hanukkah are unlike any others. For this family each night is an occasion to share cherished traditions such as lighting the menorah with family and friends. It's also a time to have fun dancing at the temple's big Hanukkah party, playing with dreidels and chocolate coins, and eating delicious latkes. This joyful celebration of Hanukkah miracles, great and small, presents a heartwarming picture of one family's festivities from the first night of the Festival of Lights to the last.