Saturday, August 31, 2019

Postcards from New Mexico

835.  Hello from New Mexico!  
I hope this card finds you happy and healthy.  Megan

Friday, August 30, 2019

Postcards of Interesting People

1923.  Molodechno, Belarus
Hello Chris.  My name's Olga.  I'm originally from Molodechno, a town with over 90 thousand inhabitants, 75 km from Minsk, the capital of Belarus.  I like art, reading, watching movies, travelling, and cooking (but not so often :) Hope you like this card.  Have fun with postcrossing!  Best wishes, Olga

909.  The Netherlands
My name is Eber and I'm writing from the Netherlands.
I'm sending you a postcard of Anne Frank.  I thought it would suit your current job as librarian in youth services - kids and young people need to hear about Anne and her diary, so that the horrors of war and prejudice do not spread anymore.  Cheers, Eber.

906.  Houston, Texas
May-Britt Moser: Psyhologist and Neuroscientist
I just moved here with my family last year.  And now I've seen the heaviest rain i've ever been through!  You know, Hurricane Harvey.  It's crazy!  Best wishes, Amelie, August 2017

814. Russia 
Ivan Bilibin, Russian Artist (1876 - 1942)
On postcard illustration of the famous Russian artist Bilibin.  he created wonderful illustrations of fairy tales.  It is possible that you library has a book with his illustrations.

757.  Itzig, Luxembourg
I am Dan, 52, lives in a little town called Itzig in Luxembourg/Europe.  Best wishes and Happy Postcrossing with Stan and Ollie!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

82. Blonde Hair Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter

listened on Audible, through Chirp
read by Kathleen Early
Unabridged audio (2:23)
2015 Cornerstone Digital
67 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 8/29/19
Goodreads rating: 3.44 - 8282 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: 1991 Athens, Georgia

First line/s:   "The morning mist laced through the downtown streets, spiderwebbing tiny intricate patterns onto the sleeping bags lining the sidewalk outside the Georgia Theater."

My comments:  Oh my, this novella certainly packs a punch.  A pretty 19-year-old college freshman in Athens, Georgia, ponders the mysterious disappearances of other pretty young women.  I'm pretty sure this takes place in 1991, so the plight of women and rape and abduction is still either mostly ignored or spoken in hush-hush tones.  At least a lot more than currently.  I was pretty sure of the ending for quite while, but it still got to me. 

Goodreads synopsis:  A missing girl in the news reminds Julia Carroll of herself: nineteen, beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes.
          Julia begins to dig deeper and plans an article for her college paper. She becomes gradually more obsessed with the case, never imagining how close she herself is to danger. 
from a readerBlonde Hair, Blue Eyes is a short-story prequel to Karin Slaughter's September 2015 novel Pretty Girls. It is a brief look at Julia's life before she went missing. In my opinion, I don't feel that it is necessary for readers of  Pretty Girls to read this but it provided interesting insight into local crime at the time, Julia's character, some family dynamics, and of course her abduction. 

Picture Book - We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell

A Seibert Honor Book
Illustrated by Frank Lessac
2018 Charlesbridge
HC $17.99
32 thick pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.28 - 671 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  Deep, luscious dark purple/eggplant

1st line/s:  "Cherokee people say otsaliheligs (oh-jah-LEE-gah/we are grateful) to express gratitude.  It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles - daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons."

My comments: This book is GORGEOUS.  It details the lives of the Cherokee Nation through the seasons, giving the Cherokee words (and pronunciations right on the page, hooray!!), and the simple writing is beautiful.  You close the book with a good feeling, and you want to SHARE! I want to put some of these illustrations on my walls!

Goodreads:  A look at modern Native American life as told by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation
          The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. 
          Appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Picture Book Biography - Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Illustrated by Paola Escobar
2019, Harper Collins
HC $17.99
Goodreads rating:  4.42 - 790 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  These are the BEST - Candles, Daisies, Mouse groom and Cockroach bride from her stories, books, all on page sage green..
1st line/s:  "It is 1921.  Pura Teresa Belpre leaves her home in San Juan for a visit to Nueva York."

My comments: Pura Belpre, whose name I know because of the awards given yearly in her memory, moved from Puerto Rico to New York City when she was 22 years old. Speaking three languages - Spanish, English, and French - she was hired to work in the library. When she realized there were no book in Spanish, and no stories like the ones she'd always heard her grandmother tell, she began to share the stories during storytime, along with puppets she made. Wonderful story. I particularly like the folky illustrations, I'd love to have some fabric that looks like the endpapers!

Goodreads:  Follow la vida y legado of Pura Belpr√©, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.
          When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folkl√≥ricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and cuentistas continue to share her stories and celebrate Pura’s legacy.
          This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.

Picture Book Biography - The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow

Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Biography of Edwin Binney
2019, Houghton Mifflin
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.35 - 365 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  many colored pencils without wrappers going horizontally on the page
1st line/s:  "Once there was a man who saw color EVERYWHERE."

My comments: Another good picture book biography!  Great illustrations.

Goodreads:  Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This picture book biography tells the story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world's most beloved stationary supplies. 
           purple mountains’ majesty, mauvelous, jungle green, razzmatazz…
          What child doesn't love to hold a crayon in their hands?  But children didn't always have such magical boxes of crayons. Here’s the true story of an inventor who so loved nature’s vibrant colors that he found a way to bring the outside world to children – in a box for only a nickel!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Poetry Picture Book - Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion

Illustrated by Robert Meganck
J 598 Bulion (Simpson Library)
2019 Peachtree 
HC $15.95m 
56 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.66 - 53 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Endpapers:  hand drawn birds in mustard , black, and white, on pale mustard

My comments: 20 poems about superlative birds - the biggest, the smallest, the most numerous, the ones with the longest toes, the fanciest courtships.....all sorts of delightful birds with superlatives of one kind or another!  With each poem is a paragraph or two of "Science Notes," interesting science facts about the bird and their habitat which includes their scientific name.  Illustrations of the birds are great, and there's a chickadee that gives information with illustrations that are almost a little too "cutesy" for me. (Oh well.) This is a great book for the older-than-preschool crowd, and would make a super exemplar for a writing project.  She also includes, at the end of the book, an explanation about some of the poetic forms she uses for each of the poems, as well as an excellent glossary.

Goodreads:  Explore the fascinating world of superlative birds--from the bee hummingbird, the tiniest bird in the world, to the peregrine falcon, the fastest creature on Earth.
Ever wonder which bird has the loudest voice? Which one builds the biggest nest or has the most feathers? Get to know all about the best and brightest--and smelliest!--denizens of the bird world with this collection of nonfiction science verses. You won't need your binoculars to observe the superlative characteristics of these avian wonders.
Author Leslie Bulion includes a science glossary, notes on poetry forms, and resources for information about these extraordinary birds in the back of the book. Witty drawings by Robert Meganck add another layer of fun to this humorous and informative gallery of the world's most accomplished birds.

This is about an Emperor Penguin in Antarctica:

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!

Monday, August 26, 2019

81. The Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick

Listened to Audible (Chirp)
read by Carrington MacDuffie
Unabridged audio (13:32)
2019 Post Hill Press
432 pgs.
Adult Mystery/Thriller with Fantastic aspects
Finished 8/26/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.83 - 117 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting:  contemporary Boston, Ma PLUS

First line/s:  (from preface) "The fear pierced Carys Jones's abdomen, and every other sensation she'd been feeling was consumed."  (from Ch. 1) "The sight of the envelope on Carys's desk set her left eyelid twitching."

My comments:  What an unrewarding ending.  All that buildup and then...blah.  Not enough resolution.  Lots of improbabilities.  The most disappointing for me was the reader - she read flawlessly, it wasn't that.  Her voice iss what put me off, it was too old and mannish, not suited for the character.  And of all the Bostonians depicted in the story, she only gave one a (BAD!!!) New England accent.  The two men from Wales had not even the slightest Welsh accent.  I've heard so many readers that can pull off accents,, whoever chose this reader didn't choose the right one, not even close.  That can make or break storytelling, and it certainly didn't make it for me.  So many thwarted possibilities,, what a bummer.

Goodreads synopsis:  Rare book authenticator Carys Jones wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue her obsession with ancient manuscripts. But when her biggest client is committed to an asylum, he gives Carys an offer she cannot refuse. In exchange for his entire library of priceless, Dark Age manuscripts, Carys must track the clues hidden in a previously unknown journal, clues that lead to a tomb that could rewrite the history of Western civilization.
          But there are people who would do anything to stop Carys from finding what she seeks—for reasons both noble and evil. The hunt takes Carys to places she never thought she’d go, physically and emotionally; first to Wales, her estranged father’s homeland, then to bed with Dafydd, a mysterious Welshman who agrees to help her with the search, and finally, deep inside her own psyche, when the monk who wrote the journal 1,500 years ago appears and assists her in her search.

Poetry Picture Book - When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano

Illustrated by Julie Morstad
2016, Roaring Brook Press
HC $18.99
56 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.27 - 1341 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: solid red

My comments:  47 exquisite poems, truly exquisite.  No matter how short, each one really packs a punch!  Thoughtful, creative, and incredibly insightful, they are perfect for a bit of reflection, a small smile, and a whimsical look at life through the seasons.  There's no punctuation or capitalizationg, so it's easy to make beautiful pictures in your mind!  My only drawback is that each one is titled with a date, and for me it limits their usage a bit....if I want to use the "september 10" poem in April, it might be a bit disconcerting for the listener's imagination....

 december 29

and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes

          Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano's skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad's charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.

march 20

from a snow-covered tree
one bird singing
each tweet poking
a tiny  hole
through the edge of winter
and landing carefully
balancing gently
on the tip of spring

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

august 3

if you want to be sure
that your are nothing more than small
stand at the edge of the ocean
looking out

september 10

a star is someone else’s sun
more flicker glow than blinding
a speck of light too far for bright
and too small to make a morning

october 15

because they know
they cannot stay
they fade and fall
then blow away
because they know
they cannot stay
they leave 
and leave
and leave

february 3

with snowy arms sagging
the spruce seemed to know
that beautiful outweighs the snow


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Postcards Received from Indiana

990.  Indiana
Edward Gorey:  Mysterious Messages, Cryptic Cards, Coded Conundrums, Anonymous Notes
Greetings from Indiana.  This Edward Gorey Postcard is the closest thing I have to what you requested on your profile.  I hope you like it.  I'm a big fan of Edward Gorey.
     I used to live in Sierra Vista, AZ.  It was nice weather there.  Pretty country.  Julia

Postcards Received from Virginia

1947.  Virginia
We Are Tied, 2014 Ben Giles
I couldn't find a penguin postcard, so hepefully one of these birds is cool enough.  :)  I'm in Virginia and it's starting to warm up here.  I think we're aobut two weeks from it going from "nice" to too hot.  Kate.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Finnish Artist Inge Look

These are Inge Look postcards I've received.  I really love them, I want to figure out which one I like best and see if i can get a larger print!
Card #36 
sent from Emmen, Holland
Card #34
sent from Germany

Card #27
received from Germany

Card #16
received from Finland

Card # 11
sent to me from Finland

Card #2 
mailed to me from Germany

Postcards Received from Azerbaijan

1978.  Javadkhan Mausoleum
Ganja, Azerbaijan
My research tells me that Javadkhan was killed in 1804 in the battle protecting Ganja from foreign invaders.  The Mausoleum was built recently using the style from 200 years ago, and Javadkhan's body was moved from the local cemetery at the turn of this century.
Salam from Baku (the capital), Azerbaijan!  I hope you like this card.  All the best, Elvina

Monday, August 19, 2019

80. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

listened to Audio - borrowed from the library
read by Vaneh Assadourian
Unabridged audio (3:50)
2019 Balzer & Bray
352 pgs.
Middle Grade CRF
Finished August 19, 2019
Goodreads rating:   4.48 - 1884 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary Syria, then US

First line/s:  "It is almost summer and everybody smells like fish,
except for right down by the sea
where if you hold your nose just right
you can smell the sprawling salt water and the jasmine

My comments:  I wish I'd read this instead of listened to it - the words in verse are so much more beautiful than listening to what sounds like prose.  The book seemed to end abruptly.  I wasn't expecting it because I was listening to it and it had not been very long - so much shorter because it's written in verse.  I found the first half of the book, the part that took place in Syria, to be a little bit slow going.  And I wish that it had given me a little more feel for the country of Syria.  It didn't.  Once they got to America the story became a little more interesting.  It was intriguing to think about how a newcomer to America would not realize the prejudice against Muslims.  I don't think I'd ever considered that point of view, particularly from an innocent young girl who only know of the strife in her country and being a Muslim was just part of every day for her.  Very character driven.  I wanted more setting!

Goodreads synopsis:  
I am learning how to be
and happy
at the same time.

          Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
          At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

Poetry Picture Book - Bark in the Park! Poems for Dog Lovers by Avery Corman

Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
2019, Orchard Books
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.79
My rating:  4
Endpapers:A drawing of each of the different dogs in the book, on cream background

My comments:  39 rhymes about 38 different kinds of dogs fill this book.  They're short poems.  Very short.  Two lines, , three lines, or four lines.  They all rhyme.  Most are really cute.  A few are a bit forced to make them rhyme.  But they're fun! (See a few below.)  I like the illustrations a lot.

Goodreads:  Go on a walk to the park with all different kinds of dogs and their owners in this funny and charming poetry picture book.
Enjoy Avery Corman's canine poetry for an Afghan hound, basset hound, beagle, bloodhound, Daschshund, boxer, greyhound, and more as they stroll with their owners to the park.

Is the Pug cute?
Or is the Pug ugh?
Mostly, people love
The little Pug's mug

Hyewon Yum captures the unique characteristics of the owner and his pet as she beautifully illustrates the humorous walk from each dog's home to the park and back.

Basset Hound
For things she can smell,
She's a comer and goer.
She's much like a Begle,
But longer and lower.

Super frisky, never whiny,
Even though he's teeny tiny.

She's a happy, little squat dog
Who looks like she's a hot dog.

German Shepherd
He's a police dog for some
Because he's so clever,
And a most loyal chum
Forever and ever.

The Poodle is quick to learn a trick.
You might say a Poodle can use her noodle.

She's not an easy dog to chase
Because she'll beat you in a race.

Poetry Picture Book - by Fred Rogers

The Poetry of Mr. Rogers
Illustrated by Luke Flowers
2019, The Fred Rogers Company
HC $19/99
143 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  
My rating:  3
Endpapers:  pale blue with scrolling words from his poetry.

My comments:  Well.....this is going to be a wonderful book for a lot of people.  IMHO the illustrations are rather bland and old-fashioned, and Mr. Rogers' poetry wasn't exactly the gretest.  But it keeps alive the memory of the man and his wonderful television show.  However, his poetry from the show doesn't translate into book form in the best way.

Goodreads:  The New York Times Best Seller 
           For the first time ever, 75 beloved songs from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Children's Corner are collected in this charmingly illustrated treasury, sure to be cherished by generations of children as well as the millions of adults who grew up with Mister Rogers

Things Are Different

You never know the story
By the cover of the book.
you can't tell what a dinner's like
by simply looking at the cook.
It's something everybody needs to know
way down deep inside
that things are often different
than the way they look.

When I put on a costume
to play a fancy part
that costume changes just my looks,
it doesn't change my heart.
You cannot know what someone's thinking
by the picture you just took
'cause things are often different
from the way they look.

I can totally imagine chanting and acting the following out at a Toddler Time or a Preschool Storytime:
Doing Song

Clap your hands
Blow a kiss
Make a face
Like this!

Snap your thumbs
Shake your head
You're in bed.

Blink your eyes
Stretch your arms
Stank up straight
Look for farms.

Her's the horse (Neigh!)
Here's the cow (Mooo!)
Here's the sheep (Baaa!)
You can bow.

Here's the duck (Quack, quack!)
Here's the cat (Meow!)
Here's the dog (Bark!)
Here's your hat.

Wave goodbye
Drive the car
Throw the ball
Throw it far.

Eat your meal
Sing a song
Brush your teeth
Hear ding-dong!

Hug your pillow
Click the light
Hug youself
Say goodnight.  (Goodnight!)

It's an Ugly Day

It's an ugly day
made of mugly gray
it's a sit-down-by-the-fire
and be snuggly day

It's a cloudy day
and a dowdy day
It's a play-some-Chinese-checkers
read-out-loud day.

It's a day to cuddle up
with chocolate cookie
hook a rug or knit --
'Cause it's an ugly day
made of mugly gray
it's a better-wear-your-sweater
and by snuggly day.

If we pop us some corn
and have cinnamon toast
I'd say we'd made the most
Of an ugly day.

POETRY - The Poetry of US - Edited by J. Patrick Lewis -

More than 200 Poems That Celebrate the People, Places, and Passions of the United States
Illustrated by National Geographic Photographs 
2018, National Geographic
HC $24.99
192 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.67
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  BRIGHT yellow, almost a yellow orange

My comments:  Divided into sections of the U. S. (New England; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; Midwest; Great Plains; Rocky Mountain West; Pacific Coast, and Territories) this gorgeously photographed book of poetry for kids is right-on and really fun!  I read this a couple of days after the shootings in Gilroy, CA and El Paso, TX, and there were poems about each of those places in here!  I really enjoyed reading them and discovering some new poets as well.  There are three separate indexes - by title, poet, and first line and a resource list.  A few new-to-me poems about places and things I care about follow after Goodreads synopsis.

GoodreadsIt's all about us! Join former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis on a lyrical journey through the United States to experience the wonders of America's people and places through 200+ inspiring poems and stunning photographs.
          Celebrate the gift of language and the vibrant culture of the United States with this collection of classic and never-before-published poetry. Poems are arranged by region, from coast to coast, and among them you'll find works by Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Robert Frost, Naomi Shihab Nye, Walt Whitman, and more. From the familiar to the surprising, subjects include people, places, landmarks, monuments, nature, and celebrations. Designed for sharing, but geared to younger readers, this beautifully illustrated treasury is a must-have for the whole family.

                 Punxsutawney, PA
                 February 2nd

Gobbler’s Knob lies blanketed in February snow,
but even in the biting cold, people’s faces glow.

They’ve travelled here from far and wide to celebrate together
and listen as the groundhog gives his verdict on the weather.

They join in festivities as bands play on for hours,
while Punxsutawney Phil warms up his shadow-reading powers.

Finally, the main event – the “groundhognostication!”
Mittened fingers cross in hopes of spring’s initiation.

Will they suffer six more weeks of winter’s frigid gloom?
Maybe yes, or maybe no, but soon bright buds will bloom.

                                                F. J. Lee
                                                from The Poetry of US (Edited by J. Patrick Lewis)

Silent Sentinel
     Battle of Gettysburg

At field’s edge atop Cemetery Ridge, an old,
battered tree stands – split down the middle like
so many families whose sons
went separate ways in war.

Silent sentinel, it saw that costliest of campaigns –
an eternity of suffering in three days’ time.
Unmovable witness, it watched Pickett’s charge,
counted up its colossal casualties

With roots bathed in bloodshed –
did it break at once or over time, riven by
the weight of sorrow, torn apart by conflicting
passions of thousands injured and dead?

Still it stands, an aged, living monument
in a park full of granite and bronze markers.
One by one, in time, witness trees fall,
the last living veterans who survived it all.

                                    Kelly Fineman
                                    from The Poetry of US (Edited by J. Patrick Lewis)

The Jackalope
            Douglas, Wyoming

The oddest thing you’ve never seen
are antlered hares.  They’re very mean,
or so you’ll hear if you pop in
to Douglas diners now and then.

A cry is heard up in the hills,
the kind of cry that gives you chills.
“The jackalope,” townsfolk explain –
but if you look, you’ll look in vain.

For no one’s ever seen up close
that warrior rabbit.  No one knows
just where it sleeps, how fierce its fight,
how high it leaps, how sharp its bite.

Indeed, this creature’s very rare:
The only actual antlered hare
is mounted on a wall – a prop
made by a taxidermy shop.

Some taxidermists though it fun
to sew two creatures into one –
but still at night it gives you chills
when lonely cries rise from those hills.

                                    Abigail Carroll
                                    from The Poetry of US (Edited by J. Patrick Lewis)

Legends of the Sonoran Desert

My mom left Tucson twice in her life.
Both times she came back fast and said,
“I like it better here.”

She lets tarantulas walk up her arm.  She says
all the collared lizard needs is a tie
and he can go to dinner anywhere.

She favors saguaro and chaparral.  She blows
kisses at the unlovely javelin but she adores

the remorseless gila monster because,
“It looks like a fancy beaded purse your father
almost bought me.”

                                    Ron Koertge
                                    from The Poetry of US (Edited by J. Patrick Lewis)

Golden Gate Bridge

Rising above
            the fog,
I am an aria
            of orange,
a symphony
            of steel –
a remembered
            I span the
Golden Gate Strait,
            from shore to
shore, with a
            chorus of cars.
What song will you
On the other side?

                                    Joan Bransfield Graham

Saturday, August 17, 2019

79. Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior

read on my iPhone
2019 Bantam Press
288 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 8/17/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.93 - 813 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting:  Exmoor, England

First line/s:  "A woman came to the barn today.  Her hair was the color of walnut wood.  Her eyes were the color of bracken in October.  Her socks were the color of cherries, which was noticeable because all the rest of her clothes were sad colors.  She carried an enormous shoulder bag, canvas.  It had a big buckle (square), but it was hanging open.  The woman's mouth was open too.
She was shifting from one foot to the other by the door so I told her to come in.  The words came out a little bit mangled due to the fact that I was wearing my mask.  She asked what I'd said, so I took it off and also took off my earmuffs and I said it again.  She came in.  Her socks were very red indeed.  So was her face."  (What a great way to understand Dan's thinking process!)

My commentsEllie and the Harpmaker was not at all what I expected.  Written in two voices, Dan's and Ellie's, it's the perfect way to get into Dan's head. He was the harpmaker.  He lies somewhere on the autism spectrum, I'm guessing he has Aspergers.  And he is delightful.  Exmoor and harps and a pheasant pet; nature and counting anything and everything; crustless geometrically shaped sandwiches; innocence and vulnerability and gullibility; relationships between spouses, siblings, parents, friends, and children ---- these things and so many more shape the body of this story.  (It was much heavier than expected, too.) Excellent.

Goodreads synopsis:  In the rolling hills of beautiful Exmoor, there’s a barn. And in that barn, you’ll find Dan. He’s a maker of exquisite harps - but not a great maker of conversation. He’s content in his own company, quietly working and away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right.
          But one day, a cherry-socked woman stumbles across his barn and the conversation flows a little more easily than usual. She says her name’s Ellie, a housewife, alone, out on her daily walk and, though she doesn’t say this, she looks sad. He wants to make her feel better, so he gives her one of his harps, made of cherry wood.
          And before they know it, this simple act of kindness puts them on the path to friendship, big secrets, pet pheasants and, most importantly, true love

Thursday, August 15, 2019

77. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

listened on Audible borrowed from the library
read by the author
Unabridged audio (6:44)
2019, Knopf
252 pgs.
Adult Memoir
Finished 8/15/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.99 - 16,455 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Contemporary

First line/s:   "When I was a girl I would sneak down the hall late at night once my parents were asleep."

My comments:  A memoir, read by the author, which is pretty cool.  I've always understood that the difference between a memoir and an autobiography is that in memoir you reflect on the things that happened in your life.  This memoir seemed to have a great deal of reflection, and had I been reading instead of listening I might have abandoned it.  I guess I'm not a philosopher.  However, the weaving of story and philosophy IS extremely well done.  And although I realize that I'm still not a nonfiction fan, I finished this and enjoyed both the story and the writing (though perhaps not quest so much the philosophical stuff, lol)

Goodreads synopsis:  The acclaimed and beloved author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets—a real-time exploration of the staggering discovery she recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.
          What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
          In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.
          Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
          Timely and unforgettable, Dani Shapiro’s memoir is a gripping, gut-wrenching exploration of genealogy, paternity, and love.

78. Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

listened to Audio, borrowed from Library
read by Taylor Meskimen
Unabridged audio (7:43)
2019 Viking Books for Young Readers
320 pgs.
Mid Grade CRF/Transgender female
Finished 8/15/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.08 - 203 ratings
My rating:4
Setting:   Contemporary (Portland?) Maine

First line/s:  "She had that new kid look."

My comments:  A captivating story about a trans girl who, after being orphaned, moves from Arizona to Portland, Maine to live with her aunt and her aunt's wife.  For the first time in her life she is able to dress like a girl and, without telling anyone her backstory, begins middle school in Maine.  What we discover here is a large community of LGBTQ, oodles of questioning, self-hate, extreme bullying, and finally, acceptance -- not only be her community, family, and friends, but by herself.

Goodreads synopsis:  The critically acclaimed author of Felix Yz crafts a bold, heartfelt story about a trans girl solving a cyber mystery and coming into her own.
          Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.
          When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

76. Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

#1 Spellbound: The Guild Codex
listened on Audible
read by Cris Dukehart
Unabridged audio (7:14)
2018 Dark Owl Fantasy Inc
312 pgs.
Adult Fantasy
Finished 8/13/2019
Goodreads rating:  409 - 5609 ratings
My rating:3.5
Setting:  Contemporary Vancouver, CANADA

First line/s:  "Keeping a job involves a few simple rules:  Arrive on time.  Work hard.  And don't assault customers."

My comments:  Listened to this in one day.  Forget the fantasy/paranormal element; the mystery, action and adventure alone is simply a story of four really good friends.  With humor and a teeny, teeny, tiny bit of sexual tension, this romp through the secret paranormal world of psychics, fire throwers, sorcerers, telekinetics (etc!) is clever, cute, and just the right length.

Goodreads synopsis:  Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.
          It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I'd mesh with their "special" clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That's the definition of fitting in, right?
          I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job?
          It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I'm exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there's a good reason no one else wants to work here.
          So what's a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.
--Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn't a reverse harem. It's 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.
          Tori has no problem getting herself into trouble in every book in the Guild Codex series, but each one is a complete adventure—no cliffhanger endings.