Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Moose Belongs to Me - Oliver Jeffers

Illustrated by the author
2012, Philomel/Penguin
HC $16.99
32 pages
for: kids...even older ones....or ESPECIALLY older ones!
Goodreads rating: 4.03
My rating: 4.5

Endpapers: a long, blue colored pencil line drawn across the page, turning at the end of each row, so that it looks like the string Wilfred unwinds so he won't get lost in the woods.
Illustrations: "The art for this book was made from a mishmash of oil painting onto old linotype and painted landscapes, and a bit of technical wizardry thrown in the mix here and there."

1st line: "Wilfred owned a moose."

My comments:  I so enjoy this wonderfully creative writer and illustrator.  Each book I read tickles me even more than the previous one!  This one, about sharing friends, is doubly fun because of the moose angle - my favorite animal if I had to have one!

Goodreads summary:  Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn't always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW, that it was meant to be his. He thought he would call him Marcel. 

Most of the time Marcel is very obedient, abiding by the many rules of How to Be a Good Pet. But imagine Wilfred's surprise when one dark day, while deep in the woods, someone else claims the moose as their own..

Movie - Mud

PG-13 (2:10)
Limited release 4/26/2013
Viewed Wed. afternoon during inservice week at the Loft, by myself
RT Critic:  99% Audience: 88%
Cag: 3.5/ Liked it, but I've been watching a lot of action flics lately and this was a little slow....
Directed by Jeff Nichols
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions

Matthew McConaughey, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, Sara Paulson

My reaction:  This "coming of age" story was a really good movie.  Love.  What is it?  How often does it destroy?  They seem to be making movies longer lately, and this was certainly one of them. (The new seats at the Loft helped, it was in the upstairs theater and the old seats were unsittable for more than 20 minutes!)  The two young men playing the leads were wonderful actors. The setting, on the river in Arkansas, seemed pretty bleak, and the acting was wonderful.  There were a number of places that I coulnd't understand what Matthew McConaughey said, but that didn't impact the story.  The made one of his front teeth a little crooked and chipped, what a perfect addition to his ultimate characterization of this character. And YAY SAM SHEPARD!

Rotten Tomato Summary:  Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn't long until Mud's visions come true and their small town is besieged by abeautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

20. If You Find Me - Emily Murdoch

2013, St. Martin's Griffin
248 pgs.
Written for young adults
Finished 5/29/2013
Goodreads Rating: 4.09
My Rating:
4.5 Really loved it
Setting:  Contemporary Tennessee, deep in the woods of the Obed River National Forest and in a small Tennessee town
1st sentence/s: "Mama says no matter how poor folks are, whether you're a have, a have-not, or break your mama's back on the cracks in between, the world gives away the best stuff on the cheap.  Like, the way the white-hot mornin' light dances in diamonds across the surface of our creek."

A quote I'd like to notate and remember:  "Then I hold on to the edge of the counter for support and cry until I'm all cried out.  I reckon a good cry has been a long time in the making, and I cry until I'm empty, but a goo empty, like the speckled shells left behind by flapping quail babies." (p. 149)

My comments: This is the first novel that I've read in one gulp in a long time. The first person narration was superb, I haven't been able to get inside a protagonist's head like this in awhile. The story was heart-breaking, totally believable, simple-yet-deep. Couldn't put it down, even though I knew exactly where it was going. It didn't matter, it was the WAY the story was told. AND, this was Ms. Murdoch's first (published) book. Super cudos!

Goodreads Review:  A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down

Movie - Ironman 3

PG-13 (2:20)
Wide Release 5-3-2013
Viewed with Sheila at ElCon on Memorial Day, 5/27/13
RT Critic: 78%  Audience: 83%
Cag:  3.5/Liked it at least three times more than Ironman 2!
Directed by Shane Black
Walt Disney Pictures

Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow

Disney Intro:  Marvel's "Iron Man 3" pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

My comments: As I said above, I liked this installment SO much more than the 2nd.  It was funny - lots of tongue-in-cheek comments by Robert Downy Jr. - the story was quite easy to follow, and the amount of fighting, though a lot, did not seem to overwhelm and take over the movie like the Avengers and IM2 seemed to.  Other than freezing my butt off in the theater, it was a very enjoyable couple of hours (and it didn't seem to be over two hours long!).

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Sky of Afghanistan - Ana A. de Eulate

Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
2012 FSC, (all proceeds to Cometa Fdtn.,
24 pages 
Goodreads rating: 3.60
My rating: 4
Endpapers: fluffy clouds on a brown paper-baggy paper showing fibers
Title Page: one kite, flying

Dedication:  "To the children who live in conflict zones, so that they can see their kite of PEACE flying high in the sky."

Illustrations: Beautiful.  They include subtle bits and pieces of Afghanistan - clothing - terrain - faces - children in daily life - simple drawings. They are done in browns with touches of color and fill the entire page - all are two-page spreads with the words in a cool font incorporated into the illustrations somewhere.

1st line's:  "I look at the sky, I close my eyes, and my imagination begins to soar....
I fly between the clouds of the country i love: Afghanistan."

Ending:  "A place where harmony reigns, a place of togetherness...A place - please forgive me if my eyes fill with tears -- that leads us towards PEACE."

My Goodreads review:  "The sky can be full of kites, I think to myself, but it can also be full of dreams..."  This book is about the dreams a young Afghani girls has for peace in the country she loves.  It's more a piece of writing about hopes and dreams than a story, but that's more-than okay. It's really a simple wish, eh?  (And, I love the author's use of elipses!)

Goodreads summary:  Beautifully illustrated and undeniably moving, this is the story of a little Afghan girl’s dreams of peace. As her country is wracked by war, a girl’s imagination drifts toward the idea of peace for her people and for her country. Her powerful dreams soon take wing and fill the homes and hearts of those around her, uniting a people in their common desire for peace.

Arizona - My Adopted State

Books set in Arizona:

Picture books
Little Red Cowboy Hat - Susan Lowell
Mule Train Mail - Craig Brown

For kids/YA
Amelia Hits the Road - Marissa Moss
Fat Cat - Robin Brande

For Adults
All the Wrong Moves - Merline Lovelace (mystery)
At Ease with the Dead - Walter Satterthwaite (mystery)
Cowboy Rides Away - Thornton (mystery)
Dead for the Winter - Betsy Thornton (mystery)
Ghost Towns - Betsy Thornton (mystery)
High Lonesome Road - Betsy Thornton (mystery)
Mission to Sonora - Rebecca Cramer (mystery)
A Song for You - Betsy Thornton (mystery)


The Spanish Missions of Arizona - Robin Lyon

Places to visit in Arizona 
Coronado National Memorial
Kartchner Caverns

Places to Visit In and Around Tucson
Mini Time Museum of Miniatures
Pima County Libraries
Postal History Foundation
University of Arizona Poetry Center

Mule Train Mail - Craig Brown

Illustrated by the author
2009 Charlesbridge
32 pages
HC $16.95 TPPL
Goodreads rating: 3.20
My rating: 3
Author's Note:  two informative pages at the end.
Endpapers:  FRONT:  birds-eye-map-type view of the Grand Canyon
BACK:  illustrations of the mailman/cowboy, his dog, and six mules
Illustrations:  pastel and colored pencils all the way to the edges, no white.  LOTS of brown, gives the sense of desert and sand, sand, sand....

1st line:  "Anthony the Postman doesn't wear a uniform.  He wears a cowboy hat, chaps, and spurs.  Anthony doesn't drive a mail truck.  he drives a mule train.  He picks up the mail at the south rim of the Grand Canyon."
My Goodreads notes: This book is very simple and suited for younger children. I'm not sure how I want to say this, but it just wasn't .... exciting ... in any way. Although I enjoyed the illustrations, they were all similar to each other, nothing different or surprising. I plan to read it aloud during my Arizona unit, as a starting place for research into the Grand Canyon. I like the information in the author's note at the end.

Goodreads summary: "Mule Train Mail introduces readers to Anthony Paya, wearing a cowboy hat, chaps, and spurs, who leads a train of ten mules on a daily 3-hour trek down into the Grand Canyon to bring mail to the townspeople of Supai."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

19. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

audio read by Julia Whelan & Kirby Heyborne
15 unabridged cds
19 hours 
Random House Audio, 2012
422 pgs.
Written for adults
Genre: CRF/Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 3.96
My Rating: Liked it (3) 
Acquired: TPPL
Setting: Contemporary small-town Missouri
1st sentence/s:  "When I think of my wife I think of her head.  The shape of it, to begin with."

My comments:  This book is about a psychopath and an idiot.  Period.  It takes a bit of reading (though not a lot, there are good clues along the way) to figure out which adjective applies to which character, but that doesn't really take long, especially if mostly all you read are mysteries. The author throws in a few u-turns, but once you get used to them you can see them coming.  The book seemed to take forever to read, the first "third"...the diary and Nick's thoughts... dragged on and on.  The second part went much faster and the last third dragged again. These two people deserve each other. It was entertaining, eye-rolling, cleverly written, and way too long.

Goodreads Review:  On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Bluebird - Bob Staake

Illustrated by the author
2013 Random House Child
Dedication: to John James Audubon
Goodreads rating: 4.12
My rating: 1.5 (I didn't really like it very much)
Acquired:  TPPL (The public library seems to be taking off the dust covers now when the same illustrations is on the cover of the book itslef.  I don't like the missing endflaps, which I like to read after I've read the book...)

Illustrations:   There are lots of boxes to pour over, until the end of the book, the only colors are shades of blue, gray, and white.  A small amount of brighter colors are added on the last few pages to accentuate the plot.  This part was actually quite clever...I guess...

1st line/s:  None.  It's a wordless book.

My Goodreads review/comments:  I guess I'm one of the few people who aren't entranced with this wordless picture book.  The first 2/3 was okay, but - for me - well...boring.  Then, all of a sudden, right out of the blue, (Spoiler-of-a-sort coming) there's a shocking turn of events and then - what? - a spiritually uplifting ending?  I read it three times.  School just got out or I'd LOVE to give it to some of my 4th graders to see how they perceive it.  I hate giving "bad" ratings, but I'm being kindly truthful here....Let's say a 1.5 because I didn't HATE it....

Movie - The Reluctant Fundamentalist

R (2:08)
Limited Release April 26,2013
Viewed Sunday, 5/26/2013 at The Loft 
RT Critic: 55% Audience: 71%
Cag:  6/Awesome; Absolutely bowled me over
Directed by Mira Nair (director of Monsoon Wedding, one of my all-time favorites)
IFC Films
(from the book of the same title by Mohsi Hamid)

Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, and the wonderfully new-to-me Riz Ahmed (who stole the show, wow!)

My comments:  I had no idea what I was going to see, other than I'd taken the book out of the library and returned it before getting a chance to read it.  So when the credits came on at the beginning of the movie, I was really surprised....Hudson, Schreiber, Sutherland?  I loved the views of Pakistan, Istanbul, New York City.  What I realized when I came out was how tantalizing the "idea" of America and the "American Dream" must be to some, and I can see more and more why people from other countries hate the US.  It didn't get very good reviews from some, but I loved the way it was put together, the story it told, and the way the story was told.  So cudos to writers, actors, and director.  I loved it.

Fandango synopsis: We begin in 2011 in Lahore. At an outdoor cafĂ© a Pakistani man named Changez (Riz Ahmed) tells Bobby (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist, about his experiences in the United States. Roll back ten years, and we find a younger Changez fresh from Princeton, seeking fortune and glory on Wall Street. The American Dream seems well within his grasp, complete with a smart and gorgeous artist girlfriend, Erica (Kate Hudson). But when the Twin Towers are attacked, a cultural divide slowly begins tocrack open between Changez and Erica. Changez's dream soon begins to slip into nightmare: profiled, wrongfully arrested, strip-searched and interrogated, he is transformed from a well-educated, upwardly mobile businessman to a scapegoat and perceived enemy. With time, he begins to hear the call of his own homeland. Taking us through the culturally rich and beguiling worlds of New York, Lahore and Istanbul, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a story about conflicting ideologies where perception and suspicion have the power to determine life or death.:

Middle-Eastern-Based Novels on My Shelf

I really, really want to read these books that I've collected. I'm so fascinated with cultures of Asia, especially the countries considered the "middle east."Hmmm...maybe every third book I read?
Shames, Germaine: Between Two Deserts (2002)
Goodreads: 4.67 (But only 3 ratings...)
Jerusalem:  Jewish, Muslim, Christian

"Coming to Jerusalem to fulfill her grandfather's dying wish, Eve Cavell finds herself poised on the fault line of three worlds - Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. Inspired rather than frightened by the ghosts and warring children that surround her, Eve emerges from mourning to a life larger for its dangers. The lost and alone - an Australian street preacher, a handsome, apathetic Palestinian, an alienated Israeli investigator, and others - find a way to her door. Soon she attracts the attention of Mozes Koenig, an elderly Hungarian author in search of a heroine. Eve, with her lodestar eyes and solitary dance, captivates the old man's imagination, and together they create an opus to humanity in a city made of stone."

McCormick, Patricia: Sold (2006)
Goodreads:  4.12 (15,637 ratings)

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family's crops, Lakshmi's stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.

Senzai, N. H.: Shooting Kabul ()
Goodreads:  3.93 Middle Grades

In the summer of 2001, twelve year old Fadi’s parents make the difficult decision to illegally leave Afghanistan and move the family to the United States. When their underground transport arrives at the rendezvous point, chaos ensues, and Fadi is left dragging his younger sister Mariam through the crush of people. But Mariam accidentally lets go of his hand and becomes lost in the crowd, just as Fadi is snatched up into the truck. With Taliban soldiers closing in, the truck speeds away, leaving Mariam behind. 
Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?

Perkins, Mitali: Monsoon Summer
Goodreads: 3.90 (358 ratings)

"Jasmine “Jazz” Gardner heads off to India during the monsoon season. The family trip is her mother’s doing: Mrs. Gardner wants to volunteer at the orphanage that cared for her when she was young. But going to India isn’t Jazz’s idea of a great summer vacation. She wants no part of her mother’s do-gooder endeavors. What’s more, Jazz is heartsick. She’s leaving the business she and her best friend, Steve Morales, started—as well as Steve himself. Jazz is crazy in love with the guy. If only he knew  Only when Jazz reluctantly befriends Danita, a girl who cooks for her family, and who faces a tough dilemma, does Jazz begin to see how she can make a difference—to her own family, to Danita, to the children at the orphanage, even to Steve. As India claims Jazz, the monsoon works its madness and its magic"

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk: Daughter of War (2008)
Goodreads: 3.86 (118 RATINGS)

"Teenagers Kevork and his betrothed Marta are the lucky ones. They have managed so far to survive the Armenian genocide in Turkey, and both are disguised as Muslims. But Marta is still in Turkey, pregnant with another man's child. And Kevork is living as an Arab in Syria. 
Kevork yearns to get back into Turkey and search for Marta, but with the war raging and the genocide still in progress, the journey will be impossibly dangerous. Meanwhile, Marta worries that even if Kevork has survived and they are reunited, will he be able to accept what she has become? And what has happened to her sister, Mariam, who was sold as a slave to the highest bidder?"

Sheth, Kashmira:  Blue Jasmine (2004)
Goodreads: 3.86 (257 ratings)
INDIA/US Middle Reader

"When twelve-year-old Seema Trivedi learns that she and her family must move from their small Indian town to Iowa City, she realizes she'll have to say good-bye to the purple-jeweled mango trees and sweet-smelling jasmine, to the monsoon rains and the bustling market. More important, she must leave behind her best friend and cousin, Raju. Everything is different in Iowa City, where Seema feels like an outsider to the language and traditions. As she begins to plant roots in the foreign soil, however, her confidence starts to bloom, and she learns she can build a bridge between two homes. "

Mead, Alice: Girl of Kosovo (2001)
Goodreads: 3.84 (58 ratings) Middle Reader

"A child's perspective on war In 1998 the Serb military intensifies its efforts to expel Albanians from Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing forces many families to seek safety in the surrounding hills and mountains. The Kosovo Liberation Army fights back guerrilla style, struggling for an independent Kosovo. Some Albanian villagers support the freedom fighters. Others fear that armed resistance, which they have successfully avoided through long years of Serb repression, will only increase the death toll. And always there is terrible tension between Serbian and Albanian neighbors who once were friends. Eleven-year-old Zana Dugolli, an Albanian Kosovar, isn't sure what to think. She does know not to speak her language to Serbs. And every day she worries about her mother and father, her brothers, the farm, the apple orchard. Already she has lost her best friend, a Serb. Then Zana's village is shelled, and her worst nightmare is realized. Her father and two brothers are killed in the attack, and her leg is shattered by shrapnel. Alone in a Serb hospital, she remembers her father's words: "Don't let them fill your heart with hate.""

Venkatraman, Padma: Climbing the Stairs (2008)
Goodreads: 3.84
INDIA (HF: 1941) Young Adult

"In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, fifteen-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father's extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life."

Antineau, Kim: Broken Moon (2007)
Goodreads: 3.79 (84 ratings)
PAKLISTAN Middle Reader

"Nadira is spoiled goods. Scars from a beating she received for a crime that her older brother allegedly committed tell the world that she is worth less than nothing -- except to her little brother, Umar, who sees beauty in her scars and value in her.vBut Umar is gone -- perhaps kidnapped or maybe sold. All Nadira knows is that Umar has been taken into the desert to ride camels for rich sheiks. He could be lost to her forever. For Umar, Nadira will risk everything. So she disguises herself as a boy and searches out the men who took him. They are not hard to find, and soon she, too, is headed to the desert to be a camel jockey."

Pazira, Nelofer: A Bed of Red Flowers; In Search of My Afghanistan (2005)
Goodreads: 3.79 (382 ratings)

"When Nelofer is just five the Communists take power and her father, a respected doctor, is imprisoned along with thousands of other Afghans. For Nelofer, there is no choice but to grow up fast. At eleven, she and her friends throw stones at the Russian tanks that stir up dust and animosity in the streets of Kabul. As a teenager she joins a resistance group, hiding her gun from her parents. Her emotional refuge is her friendship with her classmate Dyana, with whom she shares a passion for poetry, dreams and a better life.
After a decade of war, Nelofer’s family escapes across the mountains to Pakistan and later to Canada, where she continues to write to Dyana. When her friend suddenly stops writing, Nelofer fears for Dyana’s life."

Sofer, Dalie: The Septembers of Shiraz (2008)
Goodreads:  3.75 (3350 ratings)

In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy. Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known. As Isaac navigates the terrors of prison, and his wife feverishly searches for him, his children struggle with the realization that their family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger.

Soueif, Ahdaf:  The Map of Love (2000)
Goodreads: 3.75 (2653 ratings)

At either end of the twentieth century, two women fall in love with men outside their familiar worlds. In 1901, Anna Winterbourne, recently widowed, leaves England for Egypt, an outpost of the Empire roiling with nationalist sentiment. Far from the comfort of the British colony, she finds herself enraptured by the real Egypt and in love with Sharif Pasha al-Baroudi. Nearly a hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, a divorced American journalist and descendant of Anna and Sharif has fallen in love with Omar al-Ghamrawi, a gifted and difficult Egyptian-American conductor with his own passionate politics. In an attempt to understand her conflicting emotions and to discover the truth behind her heritage, Isabel, too, travels to Egypt, and enlists Omar's sister's help in unravelling the story of Anna and Sharif's love.

Wisseman, Sarah: The Dead Sea Codex (#1 Lisa Donahue Mysteries)
Goodreads: 3.71 (just 7 ratings)

"While visiting Israel, archaeologist and museum curator Lisa Donahue finds an ancient papyrus, part of a lost first century AD codex on the teachings of Jesus' female disciples. Lisa teams up with her ex-boyfriend Gregory Manzur, racing to find the rest of the codex ahead of Christian fanatics who will kill to prevent the codex's publication. Told from multiple points of view, this mystery/suspense story is set in Israel in 1997, prior to the recent Palestinian uprisings. The characters, two American archaeologists, a Jordanian epigrapher, a Lebanese museum curator, an Arab-Israeli registrar, and an American conservator, reflect the diverse population and religious beliefs of modern Israel. Since the provenance of the papyri turns out to be a cave located smack on the Jordanian-Israeli border, an international committee is convened to determine the ultimate fate of the Dead Sea Codex."

Shafak, Elif: The Bastard of Istanbul (2006)
Goodreads: 3.69 (5,000 ratings)

"The Bastard of Istanbul is the story of two families, one Turkish and one Armenian American, and their struggle to forge their unique identities against the backdrop of Turkey's violent history. Filled with humor and understanding, this exuberant, dramatic novel is about memory and forgetting, about the tension between the need to examine the past and the desire to erase it."

Qamar, Amjed: Beneath My Mother's Feet (2008)
Goodreads: 3.64 (313 ratings)
PAKISTAN (for middle readers)

"Nazia doesn't mind when her friends tease and call her a good beti, a dutiful daughter. Growing up in a working-class family in Karachi, Pakistan, Nazia knows that obedience is the least she can give to her mother, who has spent years saving and preparing for her dowry. But every daughter must grow up, and for fourteen-year-old Nazia that day arrives suddenly when her father gets into an accident at work, and her family finds themselves without money for rent or food.Being the beti that she is, Nazia drops out of school to help her mother clean houses, all the while wondering when she managed to lose control of her life that had been full of friends and school. Working as a maid is a shameful obligation that could be detrimental to her future -- after all, no one wants a housekeeper for a daughter-in-law. As Nazia finds herself growing up much too quickly, the lessons of hardship that seem unbearable turn out to be a lot more liberating than she ever imagined."

Drew, Alan: Gardens of Water (2009)
Goodreads: 3.61 (1025 ratings)

"Gardens of Water is an enthralling story of two families, and two faiths, in Turkey at the time of the cataclysm of 1999. It tells of Sinan, whose daughter, Irem, dreams of escaping the confines of her family and the duties of a devout Muslim woman. She sees in Dylan, an American boy and her upstairs neighbor, the enticing promise of another life. But then a massive earthquake forces Sinan and his family to live as refugees in their own country and leads to a dangerous intimacy with their American neighbors, as Irem and Dylan fall in love. When Sinan finds himself entangled in a series of increasingly dangerous decisions, he will be pushed toward a final betrayal that will change everyone’s lives forever. "

Perkins, Mitali: The Not-So-Start-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen (First Daughter #1) (2005)
Goodreads: 3.61 (420 ratings)

"Like any other eighth grader, smart and spunky Sunita Sen just wants to fit in. She feels she's doing pretty well, especially as her friendship with the school's tennis star starts to blossom into something more. But when Sunita's grandparents come from India to stay with her family, her lifestyle changes, and Sunita suddenly becomes aware of identity issues she's never before faced. Should she hide her heritage and be like everyone else, or can she find a way to embrace it?"

Khadra, Yasmina: The Swallows of Kabul (2005)
Goodreads: 3.60 (2644 ratings)

"Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary novel takes readers into the lives of two couples: Mohsen, who comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers whom the Taliban has destroyed; Zunaira, his wife, exceedingly beautiful, who was once a brilliant teacher and is now no longer allowed to leave her home without an escort or covering her face. Intersecting their world is Atiq, a prison keeper, a man who has sincerely adopted the Taliban ideology and struggles to keep his faith, and his wife, Musarrat, who once rescued Atiq and is now dying of sickness and despair. 
Desperate, exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere and drawn into their rage, he too throws stones at the face of the condemned woman buried up to her waist. With this gesture the lives of all four protagonists move toward their destinies."

Nadel, Barbara: The Ottoman Cage (2005)
Goodreads:  3.59 (204 ratings)

When a brutal murder shocks Istanbul's rundown Jewish quarter, the Turkish police force unleashes their best weapon - the chain-smoking, brandy-swilling Inspector Cetin Ikmen, husband to a strict Muslim woman (who disapproves of his drinking) and loving father of eight (with another on the way). With such a colorful personality and unrivaled investigative powers, Ikmen will surely join the ranks of beloved foreign cops Aureilo Zen and Guido Brunetti

Cherian, Anne: A Good Indian Wife (2008)
Goodreads: 3.51 (1698 ratings)

"Neel Sarath, an Indian-American anesthesiologist in San Francisco, believes he's distanced himself from traditional Indian life with his blonde American girlfriend, his Porsche, and his spotless, Pine-Sol-scented condo. But after his family tricks him into coming home for an arranged marriage, the newlyweds surprise each other. Neel discovers that Leila Krishnan, the woman who becomes his wife, is not a meek, traditional girl who can be set aside while life goes on as usual, girlfriend and all. Leila is a literature teacher from the small town in South India where Neel grew up, and she knows more about the world through her books than Neel has ever learned in his single-minded study of medicine. Leila, too, finds that being married to the distinguished Dr. Sarath is more difficult than she anticipated, maybe more than adjusting to a life outside India." 

Aboulele, Leila: Minaret (2005)
Goodreads: 3.51 (671 ratings)

"A young Muslim woman -- once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London -- gradually embracing her orthodox faith. With her Muslim hijab and down-turned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans in London. Twenty years ago, Najwa, then at university in Khartoum, would never have imagined that one day she would be a maid. An upper-class Westernized Sudanese, her dreams were to marry well and raise a family. But a coup forces the young woman and her family into political exile in London. Soon orphaned, she finds solace and companionship within the Muslim community. Then Najwa meets Tamer, the intense, lonely younger brother of her employer. They find a common bond in faith and slowly, silently, begin to fall in love." 

Goodwin, Jason: The Janissary Tree ()
Goodreads: 3.47 ()

"Jason Goodwin has unleashed his talent on a series of mysteries set in nineteenth-century Istanbul and starring the unlikeliest and most engaging of detectives: Yashim the eunuch." 

The Janissary Tree is the first in the series, and the year is 1836. Europe is modernizing, and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire feels he has no choice but to follow suit. But just as he's poised to announce sweeping political change, a wave of murders threatens the fragile balance of power in his court. Who is behind the killings?  Deep in the Abode of Felicity, the most forbidden district of Topkapi Palace, the sultan - ruler of the Black Sea and the White, ruler of Rumelia and Mingrelia, lord of Anatolia and Ionia, Romania and Macedonia, Protector of the Holy Cities, steely rider through the realms of bliss - announces, "Send for Yashim." Leading us through the palace's luxurious seraglios and Istanbul's teeming streets, Yashim places together the clues. 

Halaby, Laila: West of the Jordan (2003)
Goodreads: 3.41 (94 ratings)

"Through the narratives of four cousins at the brink of maturity, Laila Halaby immerses her readers in the lives, friendships, and loves of girls struggling with national, ethnic, and sexual identities. Mawal is the stable one, living steeped in the security of Palestinian traditions in the West Bank. Hala is torn between two worlds-in love in Jordan, drawn back to the world she has come to love in Arizona. Khadija is terrified by the sexual freedom of her American friends, but scarred, both literally and figuratively, by her father's abusive behavior. Soraya is lost in trying to forge an acceptable life in a foreign yet familiar land, in love with her own uncle, and unable to navigate the fast culture of California youth. Interweaving their stories, allowing us to see each cousin from multiple points of view."

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Yehoshua, A. B.: A Woman in Jerusalem (2004)
Goodreads: 3.29 (496 ratings)

"A woman in her forties is a victim of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem market. Her body lies nameless in a hospital morgue. She had apparently worked as a cleaning woman at a bakery, but there is no record of her employment. When a Jerusalem daily accuses the bakery of "gross negligence and inhumanity toward an employee," the bakery’s owner, overwhelmed by guilt, entrusts the task of identifying and burying the victim to a human resources man. This man is at first reluctant to take on the job, but as the facts of the woman’s life take shape—she was an engineer from the former Soviet Union, a non-Jew on a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and, judging by an early photograph, beautiful—he yields to feelings of regret, atonement, and even love"

Whelan, Gloria: Parade of Shadows (2007)
Goodreads: 3.14 ( ratings)

In 1907 Sixteen-year-old Julia Hamilton convinces her father to let her accompany him on a trip into Turkey, Syria and the surrounding areas. Julia and her diplomat father travel in a group with three other Europeans and four native helpers. Whereas Julia expected a pleasant sight-seeing adventure, she finds herself caught in international espionage and dangerous plots. Her father is poisoned, her romantic interest, Graham, is arrested and one other of the group is arrested for trying to take artifacts out of the country. Julia must summon her courage and trust her intuition as she finds no one is safe and nothing is as it appears. 

The Big Line-Up (or) What's Next?

This ALMOST looks like me....
Lined up on two shelves within arms reach of where I sit and read and surf the net are books I've amassed in the last couple of years that look really good, that have tempted me.  I don't get to read them because every time I finish a book, there are a couple of library books waiting to be read, books that I've reserved and waited forever for and only have three weeks before they need to be returned because there's such a waiting list for them that they can't be renewed.  So this summer, I'm taking a few of these on my trip with me.  Now I need to decide which ones!  Goodreads, help me!

Next-in-the-series to read:

Andrews, Sarah (Wyoming geologist EmHansen): #1 Tensleep
Bass, Jefferson (Body Farm series): #1 Carved in Bone
Black, J. Carson (writing as Margaret Falk): The Desert Waits
Browning, Sinclair (Tucson PI Trade Ellis): #2 The Last Song Dogs
Burke, Jan (Irene Kelly): #1 Goodnight, Irene
Cain, Chelsea  (Portland, OR. Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell): #3- Evil at Heart read it!  Now ready for #4
Castillo, Linda  (ex-Amish Chief of Police Kate Burkholder):  awaiting new release (#5)
ChildLee (Jack Reacher, ex-military loner): any-reading out-of-order
Coben, Harlen (Myron Bolitar, NJ Sports Agent): #3 Fade Away
Coel, Margaret(Wind River Reservation: Father John O'Malley  & Lawyer Vicki Holden): #1 The Eagle Catcher
Cole, David  (Laura Winslow, AZ Computer Hacker): Dragonfly Bones
Connelly, Michael  (Harry Bosch, LA Cop): #8 - City of Bones read it! Now ready for #9
ConnorBeverly (Forensic Investigator Diane Fallon): #1 One Grave Too Many
ConnorBeverly  (Forensic Anthropologist Lindsay Chamberlain:): #1 A Rumor of Bones
Crais, Robert (El:vis Cole): any-reading out-of-order
Cramer, Rebecca  (Tucson T'hono O'odham Linda Bluenight): #2 The View from Frog Mountain
Crider, Bill (rural TX Sheriff Dan Rhodes): and order? #15 Of All Sad Words
Cutler, Judith (Antiques dealer Lina Townend): #1 Drawing the Line
Doiron, Paul (Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch): #2-
Dunning, John (Denver homocide detective Cliff Janeway) #1 Booked to Die
Evanovich, Janet (NJ Bounty Hunter Stephanie Plum): #14 Fearless Fourteen
Folsum, Karen (Norwegian Police Inspector Sejer):
Fowler, Earlene (So. California Benni Harper folk-art museum curator): #2 Irish Chain
Francis, Dick (most are stand-alones about horse racing): any-reading in any order
Gagnon, Michelle (FBI agent Kelly Jones): #2 Bone Yard (couldn't get into #1 tunnels, so try this one first)
Grafton, Sue (Santa Teresa, CA PI Kinsey Milhone): #21 U is for Undertoe
Greenlaw, Linda (ex-Miami-Homicide Detective Jane Bunker, now in Maine): #2 Fisherman's Bend
Grippando, James (Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck): any order, #7 Last Call
Hamilton, Denise (LA Investigative Reporter Eve Diamond): #2 Sugar Skull
Hamilton, Steve (Alex McKnight-Michigan UP): #1 A Cold Day in Paradise
Hand, Elizabeth (NYC Druggie Photographer Cass Neary): I read #2 first, so #1 or # 3 next:
Handler, David (CT State cop Desiree Mitry & NY film critic Mitch Berger): #1 The Cold Blue Blood
Hawke, Richard  (Fritz Malone): #1 Speak of the Devil  
Hewson, David (Rome detective Nic Costa): #1 A Season for the Dead
Hilton, Matt (ex-military op and CIA agent Joe Hunter): #1 Dead Men's Dust
Hoag, Tami  (Kovac & Liska): #1 Ashes to Ashes - which I don't have, I have #2 Dust to Dust
Jance, J. A.  (Sedona, AZ Blogger Ali Reynolds): #3 Hand of Evil
Jance, J. A. (Cochise Cty, AZ Sheriff Joanna Brady): any order?
Johansen, Iris (Eve Duncan): any order
Kellerman, Faye (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus): any-am reading out-of-order
Krueger, William Kent (Former northern Minnesota Sheriff "Cork" O'Connor): #2 Boundary Waters
Kuzneski, Chris (Jonathon Payne & David Jones): #2 Sign of the Cross (don't have #1)
McGarrity, Michael (NM State Police Detective Kevin Kerney): #4 Hermit's Peak
Miller, Susan Cummins  (Tucson-based   Frankie MacFarlane): #2 Detachment Fault
Muller, Marcia (San Francisco PI Sharon McCone): any order, have read #10 and #15
O'Connell, Carol (NYC Police Detective Katherine Mallory) : #2 The Man Who Cast Two Shadows
O'Shaughnessy, Perri (Lake Tahoe lawyer Nina Reilly): Have read #1 and #10...
Parker, Barbara (Suspicion series): Read the 1st a zillion years ago, reread it first?
Parker, Robert B. (Boston PI Spenser): any order
Parks, Brad (Newark investigative reporter Carter Ross): #2 Eyes of the Innocent
Pearson, Ridley  (Sun Valley, ID Sheriff Walt Fleming): #3
Pelecanos, George (Washington D.C. Spero Lucas): #2
Riordan, Rick (San Antonio-based Tres Navarre): #2
Sandford, John (Minnesota State Investigator Virgil Flowers): have read #1-2-and-4, so #3: Rough Country
Satterthwaite, Walter  (Santa Fe, NM PI Joshua Croft): read #2 but not #1, read #3 next
Sefton, Maggie (Kelly Flynn): #2
Slaughter, Karen (Will Trent): (read #7)
Spencer-Fleming, Julia (upstate NY; Rev. Clare Fergusson & Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne ): #1 In the Bleak Midwinter
Talton, Jon (Phoenix): #2
Thomas, Steven  (honorable crook Robert Rivers):#1 Criminal Paradise 
Betsy Thornton (Bisbee, AZ clerk Chloe Newcomb #6 PREQUEL:
James Thompson (Inspector Kari Vaara)#1 Snow Angels  (2009)
Trigoboff, Joseph  (NYC Det. Yablonsky)The Bone Orchard 
Verdon, John (retired NYC super-sleuth Dave Gurney): have read all 3, am awaiting the next!!
Webb, Betty (AZ PI Lena Jones): #3 Desert Shadows

Non-Series Novels to Read
Berg, Elizabeth: The Last Time I saw You (2010) Goodreads:  3.25 (4326 ratings)
Bloom, ElizabethThe Mortician's Daughter (2007) Goodreads: 3.36 (142 ratings)
Bolton, S. J.: Sacrifice (2008) a stand-alone novel  Goodreads: 3.86 (1778 ratings)
Brokaw, Charles: The Atlantis Code (2009) Goodreads 3.48 (1467 ratings)
Davis, KathrynThe Walking Tour (1999) Goodreads:  3.24 (120 ratings)
Doss, James D.: The Shaman Sings (#1 Charlie Moon) (1994) Goodreads: 3.85 (525 ratings)
Dudman, Martha Tod: Black Olives (2008) Goodreads: 2.87 (113 ratings)gave it away
Easterman, Daniel: Brotherhood of the Tomb (1989/1995) Goodreads: 3.59 (100 ratings)
Ellory, R. J.:  A Quiet Belief in Angels (2007) Goodreads: 3.79 (2138 ratings)
Erdich, Louise:  The Painted Drum (2005) Goodreads:  3.77 (3079 ratings)
Fox, KathrynSkin and Bone (2008) Supposedly #3 in a series, but the protagonist in this novel had, apparently, only a minor place in #1 & 2, so I'm considering it a stand-alone  Goodreads: 3.74 (256 ratings)
Gardner: LisaThe Survivor's Club (2001) - stand-alone Goodreads 3.97 (5443 ratings)
Graham, HeatherThe Presence (2004)   Goodreads: 3.91 (1310 ratings) read another by her and hated it
Green, John: The Fault in Our Stars (2012) Goodreads: 4.52 (231 thousand! !)
Hiestand, Jo: Siren Song (McLaren Case Mystery) (2012) Goodreads: 3.50 (just 4 ratings)
James, E. L.Fifty Shades of Grey (2012) Goodreads:  3.60 (519 thousand ratings)
Kate, Lauren: Fallen (#1 Fallen) (2009) Goodreads: 3.75 (156 thousand ratings!)
Kline, Christina BakerThe Way Life Should Be (2007) Goodreads: 3.57 (672 ratings)
Masello, RobertVigil (2005) Goodreads 3.37  (178 ratings)
Michaels, Barbara: Stitches in Time (1995) Goodreads 3.89 (1534 ratings)
Morsi, PamelaBitsy's Bait & BBQ (2007) Goodreads: 3.57 (698 ratings) 
Pelecanos, GeorgeWhat It Was (2012) (#5 Derek Strange & Terry Quinn) Goodreads: 3.69 (727 ratings)
Roy, LoriBent Road (2010) Goodreads: 3.48 (1600 ratings)
Rubin, Sarah:  Someday Dancer (2012) Goodreads: 3.87 (135 ratings) gave to Laura
Shreve, Anita: Sea Glass (2002)Goodreads:  3.59 (13,451 ratings)
Shreve, Anita: Testimony (2008) Goodreads: 3.48 (14 thousand ratings)
Silvey, Craig: Jasper Jones (2009 Australia) Goodreads: 4.00 (4500 ratings)
Winthrop, Elizabeth: Island Justice (1999) Goodreads 3.37 (49 ratings)
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz: Shadow of the Wind (2001) Goodreads:  4.19 (137,190 ratings)