Thursday, September 29, 2016

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo 236 pages

Raymie's father has run off with a dental hygienist named Lee Ann Dickerson.  But Raymie has a plan, she's going to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant, get her picture in the paper and that will get his attention.  To this end, she begins baton twirling lessons.  She doesn't get a lot out of the classes, but the classmates are what she really needed anyway.  This is every bit a Kate DiCamillo story, full of quirky characters and loads of heart.  It's quiet, but moving.  Raymie and her friends keep you interested and involved the whole way.  There is a very good reason DiCamillo wins awards.  I highly recommend this one to students 3rd grade and up who just want a gentle slice-of-life story.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Euphoria by Lily King, 256 pages

"Euphoria" was inspired by events in the life of renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Set in New Guinea in the mid-1930s, the novel tells the story of three anthropologists: the young marrieds, Nell Stone and Schuyler Fenwick and the lonely Andrew Bankson.  They are all fascinated with each other, professional and personally.

This is a lush, richly written and intriguing novel.  Just right for a book club discussion.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore 387 pages

When I grow up, I want to become Christopher Moore's proofreader.  That way I get to read all of his books before anyone else gets their eyeprints on them.  I recently picked up Secondhand Souls and realized I needed to go back and read the first in the series, A Dirty Job.  Oh, no!  Ha!  I love Moore's writing, his obvious love of language and skill at painting his scenes with words.  This story follows Charlie Asher, a self-doubting, insecure shop owner, who loses his wife shortly after the birth of their child.  However, he also sees someone in her room just after her death that no one else apparently could see.  Soon, Charlie finds that strange things are happening to him.  He can see objects glowing red.  He finds names in a notebook next to his bed that he has no memory of writing.  As it turns out, Charlie is a new Death Merchant, an agent who collects soul vessels to make sure they move on to the next person who needs them.  The story is silly, funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking... in short, it is Christopher Moore, through and through.  I cannot recommend this book or any of his books highly enough.  He is by far my favorite author.  Now I can't wait to jump into Secondhand Souls and let you know how amazing that one is soon!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling, 223 pages

Harry Potter is one of those series I just don't get tired of.  I picked up this book, the first in the series, at a library book sale a few years ago.  It is the British version of the first book in the seven book series and is the only book with a different title from its American version.

It's getting close to Fall, and I always associate that with Harry Potter for some reason.  In this first book Harry discovers he is a wizard and the scar on his forehead was given to him when he survived a death curse from a powerful and dark wizard.

It is a lovely introduction back into the world of magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton, 336 pages

I listen to Janet Evanovich books and then often complain about them.  This is a new series featuring eccentric rich guy, Emerson Knight and young, cute banker Riley Moon. 

I was underwhelmed.  It wasn't funny or all that exciting and if you've read Janet Evanovich you have pretty much been there, done that with the characters featured in the book.  Many of their traits harken back to the characters in some of Evanovich's other series.

Meh.

Superheroes Don't Eat Veggie Burgers by Gretchen Kelley 266 pages

I was drawn to this book by the title.  Sadly, I was not wowed by the story.  The main character, Charlie Burger, is starting middle school and facing bullies, changing friendships, etc.  His science teacher gives the class a journal in which they are to write what they wish.  This frustrates Charlie initially, as he is a science nut, but he decides to start writing the adventures of Dude Explodius.  The journal entries have an odd way of sometimes entering the real world, but sometimes the results of the entries were completely disconnected to me.  I didn't really think the resolution of the story was entirely satisfying.  That being said, it did speak to some topics that middle graders will recognize.  I would still recommend it to some 4th and 5th grade kids, but ones who are looking for a specific type of read.  

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Webster: Tale of an Outlaw by Ellen Emerson White 256 pages

Webster is a dog that is too cool for school. When he is taken to a farm rescue group, Webster knows that he will escape at his first available opportunity. Webster has become cynical in terms of loving families. He has been to too many houses where the families have treated him terribly. At the rescue, Webster is given a comfortable bed with home-baked treats. He meets Jack, the Terrier and Florence, the bossy cat who seems to run things around the farm.

When a storm crashes a tree into the fence, Webster (or Bad Hat, as he likes to be called) sees his opportunity for his breakout. Webster thinks that he is alone, until he keeps running into other animals from the farm. Webster, who always wanted to be an outlaw, starts to see himself as a good guy. He learns what it means to have a real family.

Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen 400 pages

Kara was abandoned as an infant in China. An American family, who never formally adopted her, found Kara but she is left with no identity papers. Kara’s father travels back to Montana and it leaves her mother without a visa. Kara’s mother stays hidden for society but when Kara’s sister Jodie comes for a visit, everything goes wrong. Jodie gets sick and has to be rushed to the hospital, exposing Kara’s secret.

Kara is sent to an orphanage for disabled children, since her hand is not formed properly. Kara deals with abandonment and she does not understand why she cannot be with her parents. A family in Florida are interested in adopted Kara, but she is conflicted. The new family comes to get Kara in China and she goes back to Florida to live with them. Kara must learn that you can have more than one family.  

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey 384 pages

Millie Ostermeyer finds the dead body of the football team’s coach. Millie, being the reporter she is, wants to be the first and only reporter on the case for the school paper. However, she must overcome her rival reporter Vivienne for the story. While investigating at Coach Killdare’s house, Millie encounters Chase, the mysterious quarterback/new kid that no one knows about. Millie and Chase grow closer, but Chase’s past keeps him from getting too close to Millie. When Millie’s dad is accused of Coach Killdare’s, Millie will stop at nothing to clear her father, even if means accusing Chase. The identity of the real murderer is a shock.

This was ready by Erin Moon and is a nominee for the Truman Award.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman, 316 pages

This is book #3 in the long-running Leaphorn & Chee series from Tony Hillerman, though we have yet to be introduced to Jim Chee. 

In this outing a teenage girl and old man are murdered, while a blind woman who is near them is left alive.  Months later Joe Leaphorn gets a lead that could help solve the case.  Problem is, someone is working hard to keep him from surviving the case, let alone solving it.

The book started slowly but ramped up nicely. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Courageous Women of the Civil War: Soldiers, Spies, Medics, and More by M.R. Cordell, 256 pages

Local author, M.R. Cordell, wrote this non-fiction book about some of the many women who participated in America's Civil War.

Each chapter focuses on a different woman and provides a brief description of her life and role in the war.  Part of each chapter is also dedicated to sharing a snippet of information about the war itself.

The book has a glossary, an index, notes and an extensive bibliography.  It is targeted to a young adult audience.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is full of interesting information, was easy to read and gave lots of hints on where to find additional information on all of the women who were included in the book.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch, 256 pages

This is a sweet little slightly magical tale about a small cheese operation in County Cork, Ireland.  The two old cheese makers who run the operation, Corrie and Fee, determine they need to look for a new cheese maker.

Two unlikely candidates, Abbey, the estranged granddaughter of Corrie and Kit, a recently fired New York banker just might fill the bill.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry 224 pages

Wyatt Parker and the rest of his eight grade class is headed to Washington, D.C. on a class trip. While on the airplane, Wyatt’s best friend Matt believes that the two men behind them are terrorist and tries to get their backpack. This commotion almost gets the boys kicked off the trip and sent back home to Miami.

Things get interesting when Matt steals from the men and ends up getting kidnapped by them. Wyatt, his other two roommates, and Suzana (Wyatt’s crush) set out to retrieve Matt. Which does not go good for Cameron, who gets kidnapped himself after saving Matt.

Things get even more interesting when Wyatt and friends learn why the men are really in Washington, D.C. After everything is said and done, Wyatt ends up a hero to the President.

This was read by Todd Haberkorn. 

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate 245 pages

Crenshaw, an imaginary friend that Jackson had when he was in first grade has resurfaced. When Crenshaw first came around, Jackson’s family fell on hard times and money was scarce. Jackson is now in fifth grade and cannot figure out why he is seeing Crenshaw again.

However, things are not going good at home again. His parents are having a hard time paying the rent and are planning on having a garage sale of most of the family’s items. Jackson realizes that things are not good as his parents are wanting him and his sister to believe.

This was read by Kirby Heybourne. 

House Arrest by K.A. Holt 304 pages

Timothy was trying to help his mother pay for his brother’s medicine by doing something wrong. To avoid going to juvie, Timothy is sentenced to house arrest. He must meet with this probation officer and a guidance counselor weekly as well as write in a journal for a year.

House Arrest is written in journal form where readers will see the insight of Timothy. How he feels about the new day nurse who helps take care of his little brother or how mad he is at his dad for leaving when things got tough. Though his intentions were good, Timothy must understand why what he did was wrong.  

Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream by Scotty McCreery 256 pages

Scotty McCreery was just a kid from Garner, North Carolina who had a thing for country music when he auditioned for American Idol at the age of 16. He ends up winning the 10th season of American Idol. But before that, he was a little boy who loved Elvis. Go Big or Go Home gives insight into Scotty’s life as well as the process of American Idol that you don’t see on TV.

I don’t normally read biographies, but I really enjoyed this one and it was by Scotty McCreery. 

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell, 274 pages

Sarah Vowell makes history interesting.  I listened to this book, read by the author, with a few other people assisting along the way.

Ever wonder why there are so many places and institutions, including a St. Joseph high school, named Lafayette?  The Marquis de Lafayette, a young french man, was instrumental in the American Revolution.  This is the story of Lafayette and the American Revolution and the role France played in helping ensure America's independence from England.

Thumbs up, especially for the audio version!