Sunday, April 29, 2018

40. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

read on my iPhone & Kindle
2015 Harper Voyager
460 pgs.
Adult Science Fiction
Finished  4/29/2018
Goodreads rating: 4.18- 32,685 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  Waaaaay outer space, somewhere in the distant future

First line/s: "As she woke up in the pod she remembered three things.  First, she was traveling through open space.  Second, she was about to start a new job, one she could not screw up.  Third, she had bribed a government official into giving her a new identity file.  None of this information was new, but it wasn't pleasant to wake up to."

My comments:  Did I just read a scifi novel set waaaaaaay in the future in outer space and LOVE it?  I did!  Ms. Chambers wrote this book with all sorts of wild and crazy species and all sorts of weird technology (both of which I usually give up on) - and wrote it in such a way that I understood it all! And I couldn't put it down, reading it in two days (and I'm a really slow reader).  What pictures I had in my head, I wish I could draw.  The setting, the characters, the plot ... all were so well created that this piece of literature - in a genre that is usually hard for me to complete - drew me in and captivated me. A true story of "family."  Loved it.

Goodreads synopsis: Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
          Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
          Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Friday, April 27, 2018

39. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

read on my iPhone and Kindle (on the plane to SF)
2018, Berkley Books
320 pgs.
Adult CRF - really Romantic Fiction (yuck, I never learn!)
Finished 4/27/18Goodreads rating:  3.6 - 7112 ratings
My rating:  2.5
Setting: Contemporary California - Berkeley and LA

First line/s:  "Alexa Monroe walked into the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco that night wearing her favorite red heels, feeling jittery from coffee, and carrying a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne in her purse."

My comments: I’m not going to say this book was horrible, because it started out well. But after about halfway through it was pretty much the same thing repeated over and over again. And again. Could’ve skipped all the way to the last chapter after the first hook up!

Goodreads synopsis: A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.
          Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.
          On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...
          After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other... 
          They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

Illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
2014 Dial Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Penguin Group)
HC $17.99
24 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 1313 ratings
My rating:  Think I'm going with a 4
Endpapers: Pale pink

1st line/s:  "For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been pink. (My second-favorite color is silver and my third-favorite color is green.)"

My comments:  A child with a girl's brain and a boy's body.  So unfair, and so good that books are written about kids like this.  There are more than most people think, I'm guessing....I'm thinking of some of the kids I've taught in the past umpteen years.  To have parents that understand, and accept is the first step.  To have peers understand and accept is the next.  And a book like this goes a long way towards that, I would think.  This is ased on the true story of a now-teen named Jazz (who is NOT white, so why make this protagonist white, I wonder) - a beautiful young lady.  She's "written" a memoir, which I just found in the teen section of the library and checked out.

Goodreads:  The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.
          From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

38. City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

#1 Casey Duncan
listened on Audible
2016 Sphere
471 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 4/25/18
Goodreads rating:  4.05 - 7644 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary Yukon, Canada

First line/s: "'I killed a man,' I say to my new therapist."

My comments: Interesting story, darned interesting. Some really great plot twists and a setting in the forests just below the Arctic Circle that was fascinating. I adored Casey, I liked the way she thought and I loved how smart she was. Great protagonist. About 2/3 of the way through it got a little draggy and went from practically no romance to a little bit too much, but I still took quite a shine to this book.  Looking forward with great anticipation to the next.

Goodreads synopsis: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
          Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Penguin Poems

Emperor Penguins

That’s what emperor daddies do all winter long,
huddled in with a flock of other fathers,
each one shuffling with an egg balanced on his feet,
folded in a flap of skin to keep it warm ---
cuddled from the cold.

Shuffle-huddle, shuffle-huddle,
through dark and cruel cold,
through biting blizzards.
They are quiet heroes, waiting
for the peep peep of their hatching chick
and the voice of their mate, returning from the sea.

                By Nicola Davies
                From Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals

Also about Emperor Penguins:

The Flying Leap

to swim
not too slim
we don’t fly
wouldn’t try
waddle stop
belly-flop, slip
slide toboggan
glide - icy dash ends
with SPLASH! Wings
are fins for twirls and
spins, we plunge
pack ice and snow for
fish for krill for squid until
we’ve fished our fill.  Our
young ones will be overjoyed
if we avoid becoming meals
for leopard seals lurking grim
at ice floe’s rim.  We know they’re there
we’re well aware so we prepare:  our feathers trap air.
When we release bubbles our
swimming speed DOUBLES!
We jet from the sea
we catch air – wheeeee!

by Leslie Bulion
from Superlative Birds

Diary of a Very Short Winter Day

At the first hint of dawn
I awake with a yawn
And follow my cousins
(All thirty-three dozen)
To the end of the land,
Where we stand and we stand,
Playing who’ll-dive-in-first,
And, fearing the worst,
We listen for seals
Who want us for meals.
I see one penguin lunge,
Then in we all plunge,
Take a bath, gulp a snack,
And climb out in a pack….
Hurry back to our home
For a quick preen and comb
So our feathers aren’t wet
As we watch the sun set.

                By Judy Sierra
                From Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems
                Based on the real lives of emperor penguins

Sunday, April 22, 2018

37. Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

#1 Eve Dallas (homicide detective in 2058 NYC)
listened on Audible
1995 Berkley Publishing Group
306 pgs.
Adult murder mystery/police procedural
Finished 4/22/2018
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 138,089 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: 2058ish NYC

First line/s:  "She woke in the dark.  Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped. slanting shadowy bars over the bead."

My comments:  I notated five or six years ago that I’d read this book and that I didn’t like it. However, I’m not sure what book I read but it wasn’t this one. Nothing was familiar, not even the teeniest tiniest detail. Mystery – excellent. New York City of the future – worked nicely. Large amount of romance/sex between the protagonist and the too-good-to-be-true first suspect – not so much. If Roarke is always going to be immediately on hand with every possible transport or helpful technological aide, I’m not going to like further books at all. Dallas’s sort-of-partner Feeney is likeable, as is her boss.  It was read really well, great different voices and accents. OK, I’ll try number two!

Goodreads synopsis: Here is the novel that started it all- the first book in J.D. Robb's number-one New York Times-bestselling In Death series, featuring New York homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke. 
          It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing: passion. 
          When a senator's daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she'd been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve's growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome... and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

36. Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

read on my iPhone and Kindle
2017 Random House
352 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished  4/15/18
Goodreads rating:  3.59 - 4848 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  Contemporary upstate New York

First line/s:  "A born creator of myths, my sister always liked to tell the story of how we were misnamed."

My comments:  The story was pretty decent. A good mystery, no surprises but interesting to watch them play out. The characters were, for the most part, pretty unlikable. Major alcoholics, narcissists, self/centered idiots. I know you don’t have to like the characters to have a good book, but in this case it would make the book that much more enjoyable.!

Goodreads synopsis: A missing woman leads her twin sister on a twisted scavenger hunt in this clever debut novel of suspense for readers of Luckiest Girl Alive and Reconstructing Amelia.
          Ahoy, Ava! Welcome home, my sweet jet-setting twin! So glad you were able to wrest yourself away from your dazzling life in the City of Light; I hope my death hasn't interrupted anything too crucial.
          Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava renounces her terribly practical undergraduate degree, acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. Two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.
          Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls increasingly unstable mother, Zelda was allegedly burned alive when she passed out in the barn with a lit cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message from her sister.
          Just as Ava suspected, Zelda's playing one of her games. In fact, she's outdone herself, leaving a series of clues about her disappearance. With the police stuck on a red herring, Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda's drama and her outlandish circle of friends and lovers. Along the way, Zelda forces her twin to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke Ava's heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving, or to teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?
          Featuring a colorful, raucous cast of characters, Caite Dolan-Leach's debut thriller takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.

Friday, April 13, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady

Illustrated by Amiko Hirao
2018, Charlesbridge Publishing
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.29 - 92 ratings
My rating:  4.5

1st line/s:  "Katherine Tasaki returned a stack of books and turned in her library card.  "We've go to move soon," she said.  "All Japanese, you know."

My comments:  The internment and mistreatment of Japanese Americans during WWII has always bewildered and incensed me.  This true story connects kids not only to this sad part of American History, but also highlights a brave American woman who did something to help alter a horrendous situation.

Goodreads  A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps.
          When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children's librarian Clara Breed's young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children's letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.
          " A beautiful picture book for sharing and discussing with older children as well as the primary audience" -- Booklist STARRED REVIEW 
          "A touching tribute to a woman who deserves recognition" -- Kirkus Reviews
          "[An] affecting introduction to a distressing chapter in U.S. history and a brave librarian who inspired hope" -- Publisher's Weekly

Thursday, April 12, 2018

35. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

illustrated by Fiona Staples
interlibrary loan from Fredericksen - book was in pretty bad shape and sort of gross, pages coming out and stuck together, even a bit of an odor.....
2012, Image Comics
164 pgs.
Adult Graphic Novel - explicit sex
Finished 4-12-18
Goodreads rating: 4.23 - 165,022 ratings (holy schmoley!)
My rating: 2.5
Setting: Somewhere out there....

First line/s:  "This is how an idea becomes real."

My comments:  Granted, I’m pretty new to this genre - trying to be an eclectic reader - but I’m yet to discover the joy that others seem to get from reading graphic novels. This one was easier to follow than my other Brian Vaughan read (Paper Girls), I had no questions or head scratching when I finished. And my borrowed library copy had pages falling out, stuck together, and a faint odd odor, which didn’t help. Think I’m going to try another graphic novel author before I give up,
Goodreads synopsis:  When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 
          From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

34. Hard Return by C. Carson Black

#2 Cyril Landry
listened on Audible
2014 Thomas & Mercer
336 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 4/11/18
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 391 ratings
My rating:  4

First line/s:  "Barbara Carey didn't know what to make of her best employee."

My comments:  This is the second in a series about Cyril Landry, a former Navy Seal who becomes an assassin for hire.  I despised him in the first book, but the story was really compelling.  I've gotten to like him a teeny tiny bit more in this second book - and the story is excellent.  I really admire an author who can put this kind of intrigue together and twist a tale in, around, and backwards.  Great storytelling!  Looking forward to number three.

Goodreads synopsis: Cyril Landry has been a dead man since he escaped a firefight off the coast of Florida three years ago. In all that time, the former Navy SEAL has been living off the grid to protect his wife and teenage daughter, who have mourned him and moved on.
          Five days a week, Landry watches from a distance as his daughter Kristal leaves school—his only chance to see her. One day a shooter in black unloads his M-16 on the students, killing eight kids—including Kristal’s boyfriend, Luke. Landry takes out the gunman with a single sniper shot before melting back into the city. But this wasn’t a typical massacre, and the clues add up to only one conclusion: someone knows Landry’s alive, and wants him dead—again. Teaming up with Detective Jolie Burke—a homicide cop who plays by her own rules—Landry must find a way to protect his family, and avenge Luke’s death.
          In the second Cyril Landry thriller, black ops turn the world red.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bookish Books: Books about BOOKS

A Book by Mordecai Gerstein (4.5)
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (4)
The Best Book to Read by Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom
Book Fiesta by Pat Mora (5)
The Bookshop Dog by Cynthia Rylant (4)
Books!  Books!  Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom
Born to Read by Judy Sierra (4)
The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris
Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson
Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates (3.5)
The Dump Man's Treasures by Lynn Plourde (4)
Fire Up With Reading - Toni Buzzeo (4)
The House of Wisdom by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland
How to Live Forever by Colin Thompson (4)
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander (3-because of the illustrations)
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk (5)
Library Mouse: A Friend's Tale by Daniel Kirk (4.5)
Magic in the Margins by W. Nikola-Lish (3.5)
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I Don't) by Barbara Bottner
Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley  (4)
Open this Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier
Our Library by Eve Bunting (4.5)
The Perfect Gift by Mary Newell dePalma (4.5)
Read Anything Good Lately? by Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman (3.5)
Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (4.5)
Return of the Library Dragon - Carmen Agra Dedee
Ron's Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden (4)
That Book Woman by Heather Henson (3.5)
Write to Me:  Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind - Cynthia Grady (4.5)

Monday, April 9, 2018

33. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

read the actual book - from Bosler Library
2017, Pajama Press
239 pgs.
Mid Grades CRF in verse
Finished 4/9/18
Goodreads rating:  4.37 - 254 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary anywhere, USA

First line/s
"Our house on Pemberton Street
with the red front door
wildflower garden out back
window seat just right for reading
has a For Sale sign jammed
in the front lawn.
It's the ugliest thing
I've ever seen."

My comments:  Wow. As an adult, this book really spoke to me. Powerfully. It actually has many themes, but the strongest for me was the relationship that formed between the 11-year-old girl, Macy,  and her elderly neighbor, Iris, – who ended up being the rainbow goddess of the title. It’s all about the value of our stories, our memories, our “family.”  Since it’s written in verse, it didn’t take very long to read - and it was lovely. I’m going to want to read this one again.

Goodreads synopsis: Sixth grade is coming to an end, and so is life as Macy McMillan knows it. Already a For Sale sign mars the front lawn of her beloved house. Soon her mother will upend their little family, adding an unwelcome stepfather and pesky six-year-old twin stepsisters. To add insult to injury, what is Macy s final sixth grade assignment? A genealogy project. Well, she'll put it off―just like those wedding centerpieces she's supposed to be making. 
          Just when Macy's mother ought to be sympathetic, she sends her next door to help eighty-six-year-old Iris Gillan, who is also getting ready to move―in her case, into an assisted living facility. Iris can't move a single box on her own and, worse, she doesn't know sign language. How is Macy supposed to understand her? But Iris has stories to tell, and she isn't going to let Macy's deafness stop her. Soon, through notes and books and cookies, a friendship grows. And this friendship, odd and unexpected, may be just what Macy needs to face the changes in her life. 
          Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, writes free verse with the lightest touch, spinning Macy out of her old story and into a new one full of warmth and promise for the future.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

PICTURE BOOK - In the Past by David Elliott

From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
2018, Candlewick Press
17.99 HC
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.75 - 20 ratings
My rating:5 all the way!
Endpapers: pale green solid
Illustrations are edge-of-page to edge-of-page, big, bold and wonderful, created with mixed media.

My comments:  What a superb book!!! I'm not disappointed that all the text is poetry, I'm giddy with happiness about it.  This book is many things....a timeline through the past (going waaaaay back), clever poetry of many styles, wonderfully informative and interesting facts, and it's gorgeous to look at!  What a great book for kids who like dinosaurs.  Highly recommended.

Trilobite (from the Cambrian Period; 544 - 505 million years ago)
So many of you.
So long ago.
So much above you.
Little below.
Now you lie hidden
deep in a clock,
uncountable ticks
silenced by rock

Brachytrachelopan (from the Jurassic Period; 208 - 144 million years ago)
Your neck too short!
Your tail too long!
Somehow you're
put together wrong.
And that name!
You should renounce it.
It takes a genius
to pronounce it.

Quetzalcoatlus (Cretaceous Period 144 - 65 million years ago)
Largest of all
flying things.
How the timid
must have trembled
in the shadow
of your wings.

Titanoboa and Carbonemys (Paleogene Period; 60 - 24 million years ago)

The largest snake
that's lived on Earth,
you weighed a ton
(a three-foot girth),
your length not short
or marvelous.

And then there is Carbonemys,
with whom you shared a habitat.

It frightens me to think of that.

Goodreads:  Return to the prehistoric era and discover a host of creatures both novel and familiar, from the mysterious trilobite to the famed T. rex.
          Care to meet a dunkleosteus? An apatosaurus? How about the dragonflyesque meganaura? In a collection that's organized chronologically by epoch and is sure to intrigue everyone from armchair dino enthusiasts to budding paleontologists, David Elliott and Matthew Trueman illuminate some of the most fascinating creatures ever to evolve on the earth. Combining poems both enlightening and artful with illustrations perfect for poring over, this volume ensures fascinating trips back to a time as enthralling and variable as any in our planet's evolutionary history. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

32. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

listened on Audible
2017, William Morrow
356 pgs.
Ad Historical Fiction
Finished: 4/7/18
Goodreads rating:  3.89 - 28,302 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Mostly WW II and aftermath, Germany

First line/s: "The day of the countess's famous harvest party began with a driving rain that hammered down on all the ancient von Ligenfels castle's sore spots -- springing leaks, dampening floors,  and turning its yellow facade a slick, beetle-like black."

My comments:  This book had a point of view a bit different from other World War II fiction that I've read.  Three German women, all mothers, all widows, and all from very different backgrounds, come together to survive in the aftermath of what Hitler has done to Germany.  It follows them and their offspring from 1938 until 1991.  This is an interesting look at the lives of the German people as they decided whether to joint the Nazi party, to fight against it, or just go along with it.

Goodreads synopsis: Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold
          Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
          Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
          First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
          As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war each with their own unique share of challenges.
          Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

PICTURE BOOK - Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library by Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom

Illustrated by Manning & Granstrom
2017, Candlewick Press
HC $17.99
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 82 ratings
My rating: 4, interesting and cool
Endpapers: Red
Lots to read and look at!

1st line/s::  "Welcome to the greatest library in the world!  We're going to take you on an amazing tour of its treasures -- including some that are so rare thay are kept under lock and key!"

My comments:  An easy, interesting nonfiction book for early-middle grades that tells of many of the British Library's major holdings from the earliest ones on to the present.  Interesting and relevant, including many well-known and a few lesser known British authors and writings. Included are early Christian writings, Beowulf, the Magna Carta, Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle....with a whole lot in between.

Goodreads:  A tiny prayer book carried by a queen to her execution. An atlas so huge that it takes six people to lift it. A handmade gospel hidden in a saint's coffin, and Shakespearean folios so precious they are kept in a bombproof storeroom. From stories of man-eating monsters, brave knights, and wicked witches to tales of lost children, magical creatures, haunted moors, and flying machines, award-winning duo Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom bring to life the extraordinary history of the book through the treasures of one of the greatest libraries in the world: the British Library. 

PICTURE BOOK - Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky

Illustrated byKevin Hawkes
2017, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York
HC $17.99
Bosler J 530.092
44 pgs.
Goodreads rating:3.66 - 53 ratings
My rating:4 (or maybe even more)
Endpapers:  Ocean blue
Illustrations:  I love Kevin Hawkes (a Mainer) illustrations.
1st line/s:  ""On Christmas Day over three hundred years ago, in a village in England, a baby was born too early.  The midwives who helped deliver him had never seen such a tiny baby, so little that one said he could fit into a quart pot."

My comments:  Yes, this is a particularly text-heavy picture book.  It's perfect for the 4th or 5th grader who has to read a biography and has a tough time plowing through a chapter-book length piece of nonfiction.  (That would have been me and many of the students that I've taught over the years.)  It's beautifully written and illustrated, gives all sorts of really interesting information, allowing the reader to get a real feel for the brilliant, eccentric person that Isaac Newton was and the times in which he lived.  I learned a lot!

Goodreads:  Famed for his supposed encounter with a falling apple that inspired his theory of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) grew from a quiet and curious boy into one of the most influential scientists of all time. Newton's Rainbow tells the story of young Isaac--always reading, questioning, observing, and inventing--and how he eventually made his way to Cambridge University, where he studied the work of earlier scientists and began building on their accomplishments. This colorful picture book biography celebrates Newton's discoveries that illuminated the mysteries of gravity, motion, and even rainbows, discoveries that gave mankind a new understanding of the natural world, discoveries that changed science forever.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MOVIE - Ready Player One

PG (2:20)
Wide release 3/29/18
Viewed on a Thursday off, 4/5/18 in Hanover at the RC Theater there - a 1:20 showing, I was the only one in the HUGE auditorium.
IMBd:  8/10
RT Critic: 74   Audience:  80
Critic's Consensus:  Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.
Cag:  3.5
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Warner Brothers Pictures
Based on the book by Ernest Cline

My comments:  It was okay...entertaining....a LOT of battle scenes, the last one, when they're fighting for entrance to find the final key is painstakingly long.  Drove me a bit crazy.  It's a long movie.  But fun.  Not great.  Book was, of course, better....

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the science fiction action adventure Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline's bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon.The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

NonFiction I've Read

Nonfiction books are so few and far between for me, I think I'll make a (very) short list of them, because I'm proud of myself for actually finishing them!

Attracting Birds to Your Backyard by Sally Roth, 1998
Being Jazz - Jazz Jennings, 2016 (3)
Daily Five, The  by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, 2006 (4)
Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover, 2018 (4.5)
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets of My DNA by Richard Hill, 2012 (4)
Knitting for Peace by Betty Christiansen, 2006
Mason Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardner and Ann Shayne, 2006 (5)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, 1994 DNF/(2.5)
Where Children Sleep by James Mollison, 2010 (5)
Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain
Zentangle Untangled by Kass Hall, 2012 (3)

Middle Grades:

Where Is Area 51? by Paula K. Manzanero, in the WHOHQ series, 2018 (4)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

31. Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets of My DNA by Richard Hill

read the book, came all the way from a college library in Indiana through interlibrary loan
2012, Creative Space Independent Publishing
249 pgs.
Adult nonfiction
Finished 4/4/18
Goodreads rating:   4.24 - 446 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Michigan, USA

First line/s:  "All families have secrets, some bigger than others.  My family's secret leaked out in 1964, tee year I graduated from high school."

My comments:  I have worked on my own family tree since my late teens and really love genealogy.  So reading Mr. Hill's memoir has been fascinating, watching this mystery unfold in story form!  I can only imagine how he felt finding out about each new relation (he was adopted and new absolutely nothing about his birth parents or family) he discovered.  His story is clear and well written, interesting and thought-provoking.  Couldn't put it down.

Goodreads synopsis: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA is Richard Hill's true and intensely personal story of how he pieced together the long-kept secret of his own origins. This highly suspenseful book is a page-turning saga of personal detective work that will appeal to anyone who loves a good mystery. But this isn't fiction. It's an engrossing account of an adoptee trying to reclaim the biological family denied him by sealed birth records. This fascinating quest, including the author's landmark use of DNA testing, takes readers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride and concludes with a twist that rivals anything Hollywood has to offer. Easy to read and hard to put down, Finding Family is the first book to chronicle the paradigm-shifting application of genetic genealogy to adoption search. Whether you're searching for your own roots or just craving a darn good read, Finding Family is a book you will likely devour in one sitting...and wholeheartedly recommend to others. In the vein of a classic mystery, Hill gathers the seemingly scant evidence surrounding the circumstances of his birth. At his adoptive father's deathbed, he discovers shocking information that leads him to methodically chase down leads, which sometimes yield poignant glimpses of his birth parents, sometimes garner resistance, and as frequently flat-line in disappointment. As his resolve shores up, the author also avails of new friends, genealogists, the Internet, and the latest DNA tests in the new field of genetic genealogy. As he closes in on the truth of his ancestry, he is able to construct a living, breathing portrait of the young woman who was faced with the decision to forsake her rights to her child, and ultimately the man whose identity had remained hidden for decades. During the course of Hill's mission, Finding Family offers guidance, insight, and motivation for anyone engaged in a similar mission, from ways to obtain information to the many networks that can facilitate adoption searches. Best of all, the author demystifies how DNA and genetic genealogy can produce irrefutable results in determining genetic connections. In an intimate, personal voice, Hill sheds light on this new science that is helping adoptees bypass sealed records and similar stumbling blocks. It is certain to inspire those who are in search of their birth parents as well as others who are uncertain of their biological ancestry. Richard Hill's groundbreaking use of DNA testing in adoption search was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. His DNA Testing Adviser web site makes genetic genealogy understandable to all. Now retired from careers in science and marketing, Richard serves on the Advisory Board of the Mixed Roots Foundation where he is Co-Director of the Global Adoptee Genealogy Project.

PICTURE BOOK - Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R. B. G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter

Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
2017, Abrams Books for Young Adults
HC $18.95
40 pgs.
This is a picture book for older kids, perhaps grade 4 and up?
Goodreads rating:  4.39 - 359 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers"  Shelves and shelves of books, with Ms. Ginsburg on a ladder, accessing them.  Lt. brown background, with books in shades of browns and reds.

Illustrations:  Most are in browns and reds, Most are fine, but I don't really like the cover. I'm sure others do.

1st line/s:  "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: During this trial,  you will learn about a little girl who had no clue just how important she would become.  You will see the unfair world she was born nto - where boys were valued more than girls, where women were not encouraged to achieve and aspire.  You will see evidence of that unfairness, just as she herself has seen it all her life.

     Here are the facts of her case."

My comments:  This seemingly tiny woman is a powerhouse.  I love hearing her speak when I see her on Facebook or on the tv.  Smart,  Fair.  And, unfortunately getting older.  Born in 1933, that makers her somewhere in her 84th year, and still going strong!  Highly recommended to school age kids AND adults!

Goodreads:  To become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the unsinkable Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome countless injustices. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice.
          Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the true story of how one of America’s most “notorious” women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today

PICTURE BOOK - Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by Qin Leng
2018. Balzer & Bray (Harper Collins)
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.38 - 210 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Endpapers: Pink, solid, pale

for elementary grades, 8-12
with timeline of Austen's Life, and brief quotes and summaries of her six books

1st line/s
"It is a truth universally acknowledged
that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.
But it might surprise you to know that
Jane lived a simple life.
She wasn't rich
or even very famous in her time."

My comments:   Another great biography to add the the children's literature genre.  Leng's illustrations show a gentle, quiet-ish Jane, and portray the picture that Hopkinson is drawing with her words. Lovely book.

Goodreads:  It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.
          But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.
          In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said and locked those observations away for safekeeping.
          Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library, and before long she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way . . . and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.
          Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng have collaborated on a gorgeous tribute to an independent thinker who turned ordinary life into extraordinary stories and created a body of work that has delighted and inspired readers for generations.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April is Poetry Month

april 3

the sky was too busy sulking to rain
and the sun was exhausted from trying
and everyone
it seemed
had decided
to wear their sadness
on the outside
and even the birds
and all their singing
sounded brokenhearted
inside of all that gray

       by Julie Fogliano from When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

Graphic Novels and Comics

Alia's Mission - Mark Alan Stamatsy, 2004 (5) COMIC
     Within a few fast-paced days, Alia and some helpers move 30,000 books from the Library in Basra, Iraq before it can be destroyed by war.

Going into Town, a Love Letter to New York - Roz Chast, 2017 (4)
     A resident's clever, funny comments about traversing Manhattan.

Hereville - Barry Deutsch, 2010 (5) COMIC
     A fairy tale set solidly in an Orthodox Jewish community in contemporary America.

The Merchant of Venice - Gareth Hinds (based on the play by William Shakespeare) 2008 (2.5) COMIC

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush - Luis Alberto Urrea, 2010 (4.5) COMIC
           Mr. Mendoza was the unwanted graffiti king of all Mexico.  His platform was social justice.  In beautiful handwriting he would comment on the sins of the world.

Paper Girls: Vol. 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, 2016 (3) COMIC
     "In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time."

Saga: Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, 2012 (2.5) COMIC
     Two soldiers, Alana and Marko, soldiers from different warring entities, fall in love and are on the run, trying to protect their newborn.


Egg - Kevin Henkes, 2017 (4.5)

Vanilla Ice Cream - Bob Graham, 2014 (4)
     Following some food, a young sparrow takes refuge in a truck and travels through India.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

29. The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

Angie Pallorino #1
read on my iPhone
2017 Montlake Romance (but don't consider this to be in the ROMANCE genre!  It's much more mystery...)
524 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 4/1/18
Goodreads rating:  4.28 - 2282 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:Contemporary city of Victoria, Canada (British Columbia?)

First line/s:  "We all lie.  We all guard secrets -- sometimes terrible ones -- a side to us so dark, so shameful, that we quickly avert our own eyes from the shadows we might glimpse in the mirror."

My comments: I think I'm going to rate this one a three.  It was a pretty decent murder mystery, but that was only 50% of the story.  The other 50% followed Angie Pallorino on her own quest - mysteries surrounding her own emerging, unidentifiable memories from when she was very, very young.  It also detailed her growing relationship and desire for her new boss, James Maddocks, who was handsome, rugged, smart, and newly unmarried..  Unlike many of the police procedurals that I've read, this had some pretty explicit sex scenes between the two protagonists.  Hmmmm,  interesting, but pretty descriptive for this genre.  The setting of a Canadian island on the western coast was also an interesting factor.
     There is now a second book in the series.  I'm not sure I really like Angie, she is a bit hotheaded and selfish, driven in an almost unhealthy way, and the  reviews I've read about the second book make me feel that her personality is not going toc hange.  We'll see, I'll probably read it eventually....

Goodreads synopsis: He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared ... 
          But Detective Angie Pallorino never forgot the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victim’s foreheads. 
          When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?
​          Then the body of a drowned young woman floats up in the Gorge, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.
          Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake lose some unsettling secrets about her own past . . . 
          How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie? 

30. Paper GIrls: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrated by Cliff Chiang
Colors by Matt Wilson
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
read the actual book at Barnes and Noble on Easter, 4-1-18
2016, Image Comics Inc., Berkeley, CA
144 pgs.
Graphic Novel
Finished 4/1/18
Goodreads rating: 3.86 - 35,618 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: 1988 Cleveland, OH

First page/s:  Erin is dreaming and thinks she's in heaven, being greeted by Christa MacAuliffe.

My comments:  I went onto Litsy to see what "comics"/graphic novels seems to be a top read in recent months and discovered a few titles, but this is the only one I could locate at Barnes & Noble.  There were lots and lots and LOTS of superhero comics/graphic novels, but not too many others.
      There were a couple of places in the story that no matter how hard you looked at the illustration or read the text, you couldn't quite figure out what was going on.  I skimmed through a second time and got a few answers...or at least answers that might have been correct, but satisfied me.  It was an okay read, and would be interesting to see what happens in Volume 2
     Erin is the "new girl" to the now-foursome that delivers the Cleveland paper together before dawn each morning.  Mac/MacKenzie is the pink-haired, swearing, smoking, unafraid of much leader,  Tiff/Tiffany is the darker skinned walkie-talkie owner, and KJ has the back ponytail and a bat mitzvah coming up.

Goodreads synopsis: In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.