Tuesday, December 31, 2019

133. Polar Vortex by Matthew Mather

My final book of 2019
listened on eAudio
narrated  by Tom Taylorson
Unabridged audio (10:18)
368 pgs.
Adult Thriller
Finished 12/31/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.15 - 2843 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary October in the Arctic Circle

First line/s: " 'Is this heaven?' Lilly held out one tiny hand."

My comments:  Well, this one was quite a ride!  Beautifully read and easy to listen to, I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing.  A huge airplane on a 16-hour filight from Hong Kong across the North Pole to New York City crash lands somewhere near the Arctic on the ice.  While the survivors do everything they can no to freeze or starve to death, they also try to figure out what has happened and how to get out of this predicament, because no one seems to be rescuing them.  Most of the story is told from the point of view of a man who is doing everything he can to save his five-year-old daughter, who is with him.  Very suspenseful, with lots of terrific characters. 

Goodreads synopsis:  Arctic meets Da Vinci Code in the new thriller from Matthew Mather, worldwide bestseller with over MILLION COPIES SOLD, translations in 24 languages and film development by 20th Century Fox.
          A flight disappears over the North Pole. No distress calls. Vanished into thin air.
          Mitch Matthews is a writer struggling to make ends meet when his wife's brother Josh offers them a first-class seat on a flight from Hong Kong to New York. When his wife needs to stay behind, it becomes an opportunity for some quality daddy-daughter time with his five-year-old Lilly.
          At check-in, they run into a strange Norwegian arguing with a huge Russian. A mysterious redhead is guarding a package in the business lounge. But everything is fine, until...
          Within hours of Allied Airlines 695 disappearing, a massive international search is launched. Aircraft and ships are dispatched from Russia, China, America, Canada, and Norway.
          In an area overflown by dozens of satellites from as many nations, ringed by radar and missile installations dating from the Cold War...How can a modern airliner simply vanish in one of the most heavily monitored places on Earth?

2020 UFOs - If Only!

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

First, I've got to clean and organize.

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

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

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

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

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

Status on 1/1/20

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Picture Book: Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

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

1st line/s:  None, it's wordless!

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

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

Picture Book: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

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

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

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

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

Picture Book: Explorers by Mathew Cordell

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 29, 2019

132. Immortal Born by Lynsay Sands

#30 in the Argenaneau series
listened on Libby
narrated  by Amanda Ronconi
Unabridged audio (9:32)
384 pgs.
Finished 12/29/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.18 - 3980 ratings
My rating: 2

First line/s:  "Allie was curled up on the couch in front of a rerun of The Big Bang Theory, slurping down a dinner of ramen noodles, when the knock sounded on her front door."

My comments: Vampires!  Well, sort of vampires - they call themselves Immortals.  But other than that it was a pretty stale story.  There were just too many people oodles and oodles and oodles of couples probably all introduced in the previous 29 in the series - ridiculous!  Too much!

Goodreads synopsis:  A simple promise to protect her friend’s infant son has turned Allie Chambers’ existence upside down. Caring for—and feeding—an orphaned vampire baby has been tricky enough. But as little Liam grows, so does his appetite. He needs more blood than she can personally supply. And when her attempts to steal from a blood bank go awry, Allie wakes up surrounded by doctors, cops…and the gorgeous, mesmerizing Magnus, who she can neither trust nor resist.
          Magnus never expected to find his life mate breaking into a blood bank. Clearly, Allie is already entwined with his world—in deeper, more dangerous ways than she realizes. A band of vicious rogue immortals is in pursuit, and Magnus’ first task is to keep her safe. His second: to awaken her to mind-blowing pleasure, and hope she’ll accept the life, and the passion, that only he can offer.

Movie - Little Women

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

131. The Darkling Bride by Laura Anderson

listened to eAudio/Chirp
narrated  by Sarah-Jane Drummey
Unabridged audio (12:02)
369 pgs.
Adult Mystery in two time periods
Finished 12/28/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 2253 ratings
My rating: 3

First line/s:  "Twenty miles south of Dublin, Deeprath Castle brooded in its shallow valley scooped out of the Wicklow Mountains."

My comments: A gothic mystery, taking place in Deeprath Castle in Ireland, where a young woman goes to catalog the huge library.  Once she gets there, she discovers a family enmeshed with the mystery of a murder twenty years previously, of the parents of the two current owners.  Hopping back-and-forth between the late 1800s and present day, an interesting mystery is solved.  Not sure I liked many of the characters, but I guess I wasn't really supposed to.  Interesting, but for some reason I couldn't really relate to any of them, particularly the protagonists.

Goodreads synopsis:  Three generations of Irish nobles face their family secrets in this spellbinding novel from the award-winning author of the Boleyn King trilogy.
          The Gallagher family has called Deeprath Castle home for seven hundred years. Nestled in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, the estate is now slated to become a public trust, and book lover and scholar Carragh Ryan is hired to take inventory of its historic library. But after meeting Aidan, the current Viscount Gallagher, and his enigmatic family, Carragh knows that her task will be more challenging than she’d thought.
          Two decades before, Aidan’s parents died violently at Deeprath. The case, which was never closed, has recently been taken up by a new detective determined to find the truth. The couple’s unusual deaths harken back a century, when twenty-three-year-old Lady Jenny Gallagher also died at Deeprath under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind an infant son and her husband, a renowned writer who never published again. These incidents only fueled fantastical theories about the Darkling Bride, a local legend of a sultry and dangerous woman from long ago whose wrath continues to haunt the castle.
          The past catches up to the present, and odd clues in the house soon have Carragh wondering if there are unseen forces stalking the Gallagher family. As secrets emerge from the shadows and Carragh gets closer to answers—and to Aidan—could she be the Darkling Bride’s next victim?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Picture Book - Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 26, 2019

130. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Listened to eAudio
narrated  by  Emily Shaffer
Unabridged audio (11:42)
416 pgs.
YA Dystopia
Finished 12/26/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.185 - 37,457 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting:  dystopian anywhere society

First line/s:  "No one speaks of the grace year. It's forbidden."

My comments:  A powerful YA dypstopian novel about a hugely patriarchal society where the women are nothing, and spend their 16th year "duking it out" in the wilderness where the slightest misstep could mean death.  Not only was it hard to put down, it was hard to listen to in places, very hard.  With a few clever surprises thrown in, this author has really flushed out a powerful story.

Goodreads synopsis:  No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
          In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
          Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
          With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Friday, December 20, 2019

129. The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

read on my iPhone/Kindle
352 pgs.
YA CRF Romance
Finished 12/20/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.71 -2125 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  contemporary summer at UNH

First line/s:  "It starts when Jed makes the final turn off I-405."

My comments:  Very interesting concept, full immersion for eight weeks during the summer before her senior year the in the French language at a university in New Hampshire.  The story follows typical YA romance structure/format - girl meets boy, girl doesn't like boy, girl starts to like boy...very much....then there's a misunderstanding, girl and boy part, girl and boy make up.  It was very entertaining and I like the twists and turns.  I adore the protagonist and I think most YA girls who love romance would greatly enjoy this story.

Goodreads synopsis:  Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.
          That turns out to be impossible, though,  because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.
          But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Picture Book - River by Elisha Cooper

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

128. A Demon in My Bed by Sarah Winters

listened to audiobook
narrated  by Logan McAllister
Unabridged audio (9:32)
310 pgs.
Finished 12/18/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.67 - 64 ratings
My rating:  1
Setting:  contemporary eastern Canada

First line/s:  "Verrin growled low in his throat as he paced the cell's cramped confines."

My comments:  This story is based in mythology, set in the current time, it's full of all sorts of creatures - vampires, jins, fallen angels..But the "stars" of the story are a set of five brothers who are all incubuses.  An incubus is "called" to pleasure a female.  Although this is referred to in numerous ways and explored a bit in a few places, the main story - at least 75% of it - is about one of the brothers getting captured and held and the others are trying to rescue him.  The protagonist is a female from PEI?  Newfoundland? (or somewhere like that).  Winters threw in a best friend who was absolutely ridiculous and unneeded.  AND can you believe that after over 2000 years of immortality, one of these incubi/incubes (??) falls in love for the first time?  And to this very blah female?  Ha ha ha ha ha.

Goodreads synopsis:  A missing brother, mercenary demigoddesses and an unknown force pulling fate's strings are just a few of the hurdles facing Verrin when he wakes up in a dungeon one morning. As the son of a renegade Angelic Watcher, he was born ill fated. Being summoned by a plump little sex kitten who was everything he liked in a woman should have been a stroke of luck...
           As a librarian, the most exciting choice Cassidy O'Neill usually has to make is what book to read next. She never expected an antique book to drop a dirty minded sex demon into her bed. Bound to his side until the summoning is fulfilled, Cass is determined not to lose her heart to Verrin - even if he is the sexiest man she's ever met.
          In a world where myths are reality, falling in love is a gamble even immortals hesitate to take.

Monday, December 16, 2019

127. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Listened to on Libby
narrated  by the author!!
Unabridged audio (7:27)
400 pgs.
Finished 12-16-2019
Goodreads rating:  4.24 - 53,740 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary Philadelphia

First line/s:  "Babygirl doesn't even cry when I suck my teeth and undo her braid for the fourth time."

My comments:  Set in Philadelphia, this is the story of a young woman, a brave young woman, who is raising the baby she gave birth to as a freshman.  She's no a senior. wondering what avenue her life will take. A natural, creative cook, raised by her abuela, always wondering and worrying about money.  She is not at all promiscuous and is very hesitant about becoming friends with a new student who appears very enamored of her.  Throughout her senior year we're allowed to watch and listen as she takers her final steps into adulthood.  It's an excellent story.  It's also read beautifully by a narrator that gives just the perfect lilt to this oh-so-interesting protagonist.

Goodreads synopsis:  With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Picture Book: Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

125. The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston

Listened to audio
narrated  by Erin Mallon 
Unabridged audio (2:31)
100 pgs.
Contemporary Christmas RomCom
Finished 12/13/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.93 - 8278 ratings
My rating:  3?

My comments:  Cute, oh so cute.  Short, sweet, and cute.  Merry Christmas!  Steam:  3/4

Goodreads synopsis:  Dear Santa,
          Please bring me a new boss for Christmas. Mine is the worst. The worst, hidden in a six foot tall package of male perfection. It’d be easier if he looked like an old Scrooge, wouldn’t it?
           Nick Saint-Croix doesn’t look like an old scrooge. He’s hot as-
           Um, never mind. Just bring me a new boss. Please.
                     Holly Winter

124. Enders by Lissa Price

#2 Starters duet
Listened to audio book on my Audible
narrated by Rebecca Lowman
Unabridged audio (7:58)
2013 Delacorte
288 pgs.
YA Dystopia
Finished 12/13/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.72 - 10,988 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Southern California in the future

First line/s:  "My hand went to the back of my head and I swore I could feel the chip underneath my skin."

My comments:  I'm so glad I was immediately able to get a copy of this book to listen to, directly after reading the first of the two-art series.  I had no questions about what had happened, forgot nothing about what I'd just read.  So reading the two books flowed seamlessly.  The second part of the story wasn't as good as the first, and the ending was very disappointing for some reason.  but the ideaof slipping minds into bodies and minds overlapping minds in the same body ws thought-provoking,scary, and maddening all at the same time.  a Very good dystopian fantasy science-fiction when the two books are combined.

Goodreads synopsis:  Someone is after Starters like Callie and Michael—teens with chips in their brains. They want to experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations—Starters who can be controlled and manipulated. With the body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn't want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life—but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena's memories, too . . . and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?
          No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

122. Paradise Awakening by Jaci Burton

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

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

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

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

123. Starters by Lissa Price

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

121. The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

120. Running from A Rock Star by Jami Albright

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

119. Stay Hidden by Paul Doiron

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 23, 2019

118. The Child Finder by Renee Denfeld

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Book - Ruby's Birds by Mya Thompson

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

115. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

114. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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

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

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

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

113. The Contract by Melanie Moreland

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

112. Mister O by Lauren Blakely

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Picture Book - Encyclopedia of Grannies by Eric Veille

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

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

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

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