Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020 UFOs - If Only!

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

First, I've got to clean and organize.

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

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

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

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

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

ONGOING HEXIES
Status on 1/1/20

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Picture Book: Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

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

1st line/s:  None, it's wordless!

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

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

Picture Book: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

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

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

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

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

Picture Book: Explorers by Mathew Cordell

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Movie - Little Women

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 27, 2019

Picture Book - Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Picture Book - River by Elisha Cooper

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

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

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

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Picture Book: Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

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

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


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

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

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.