Full of Beans

Full of Beans

I enjoyed listening to this book. Until I was well into it, I didn’t know it took place before Turtle in Paradise. While sometimes this was a bit off, because I knew things that would happen later, it also answered some of the questions I had at the end of the other story. I love the original nicknames and finding out how they got them. Key West is one of my favorite places to visit and this story about saving it during the depression and creating a tourist hot spot was very interesting. I could guess who certain people were before they were named, such as Hemingway and Frost, and I just knew that the crazy guy in his underwear was actually wearing Bermuda shorts. While it is true that guilt sometimes is its own punishment, I found Beans story to be enjoyable and watching how life changed kept my interest. I almost wish she had written some more books with this outlandish cast of children. It would be fun to see how they grew up and where life led them.

Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise is beloved by readers, and now they can return to this wonderful world through the eyes of Turtle’s cousin Beans.  Grown-ups lie. That’s one truth Beans know for sure. He and his gang know how to spot a whopper a mile away, because they are the savviest bunch of barefoot conchs(that means “locals”) in all of Key West. Not that Beans really minds, it’s 1934, the middle of the Great Depression. With no jobs on the island, and no money anywhere, who can really blame the grown-ups for telling a few tales? Besides, Beans isn’t anyone’s fool. In fact, he has plans. Big plans. And the consequences might surprise even Beans himself.

Goodreads

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Walking on My Grave

I love the Death on Demand series and this one did not disappoint. For a twist, the mystery starts before the first death with a failed attempt. Then as the island’s mystery club is trying to prevent this main death, two others occur because of events related to the failed try. Limited suspects, but the culprit is pretty obvious which is alright because there is a secondary mystery that makes you question your first assumptions. Once again, I like the consistency of the main characters and the way new ones are linked and added to Broward Rock’s yearly inhabitants. I will await the next book to see where these new relationships will lead and what will be the next mystery to happen in this little piece of heaven. An added bonus with this book is the sharing of the Chapbooks created by the Incredible Trio. I found the mystery titles intriguing, especially since I have already read many of them, and the quotes memorable.

In the latest Death on Demand Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Go Home book seller Annie Darling learns murder and money go hand in hand …  Annie’s friend and fellow shop owner Ves Roundtree is a very wealthy woman. Her rich brother entrusted her with his estate and upon her death, his fortune is to be divided. Several cash-strapped islanders are in line to collect life-changing inheritances. The problem is, Ves is very much alive. She hosts a dinner for the prospective beneficiaries and feels a chill in the air that has nothing to do with the wintry season. Not long after, Ves suffers a bad fall that was no accident. Everyone at the table had a motive but not a shred of evidence was left behind. When one of the suspects is found floating in the harbor and Ves disappears, Annie and her husband Max spring into action to catch a calculating killer before greed takes another life.

Goodreads.

 

index

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

The story behind Fredrick Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is seen through the eyes of seven year old Elsa. Elsa is different and she knows it.  Even her parents know its true that their daughter is different. It’s why she is bullied by the older kids at school and why her grandmother is her best friend in the whole world. Then suddenly, grandmother dies and leaves in her wake a treasure hunt for Elsa that involves their shared kingdom of Miamas in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and all of the stories that grandmother made up for Elsa. The letters that grandmother leaves behind for Elsa to find and to give to those she must apologize to leads her on a grand adventure with a “monster” and a “wurse” her only companions and who would soon become her closest friends. Backman tells this story with the same heartfelt humor he does in all of his previous books.

pie

Pie

I enjoyed listening to this audio-book. I found the recipes at the beginning of each chapter thorough and very close to ones I have used. I probably would have made copies of a couple, had I been reading instead of listening. The relationship between Alice and her Aunt Polly was very realistic as was the rivalry between the sisters. I can’t imaging a town so small that everything revolved around a woman who made pies to give away, not sell, but it was a different time in history. The crust secret and the cranky white cat make the story lively and the wrap-up of the mystery is perfectly logical. I liked the fact that many relationship change and grow because of pies. And while it is always wonderful to follow in a loved ones steps, I found it a bit sad that Alice never has children of her own.

When Alice’s Aunt Polly, The Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous piecrust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkable disagreeable cat, Lardo … and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness.: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason. With Pie, acclaimed author Sarah Weeks has baked up a sweet and satisfying delight, as inviting as a warm pie on a cold day. You’ll enjoy every last bite.

Goodreads.

 

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The Unbreakable Code

I liked this second book in the Book Scavenger series almost as much as I liked the first. However, the arson side made it much more series to me, since fires are never a laughing matter. I had a pretty good idea who the fire-bug was from the beginning, but there were enough red herrings and events that made me doubt myself a couple different times. While the ending may not be totally feasible, the idea of solving a code and finding a treasure is something every kid has probably dreamed of at some point. I myself could see being Emily and following book related quests  –  I would be in heaven. Looking forward to the next book since it promises to go somewhere I have always dreamed of visiting – Alcatraz!

Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then, they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers an arson fire. As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can’t ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist. The clock is ticking as the arson fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.

Goodreads.

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The Dark Prophecy

Again I am amazed at how Rick Riordan can continue to expand on the demigod universe he’s created. He brings in familiar faces, but introduces a multitude of new ones as well. He updates the ancient legends into modern times – sometimes tongue in cheek – while still making them seem fresh. I like how Apollo, as the human Lester, begins to see how he wasn’t always fair, nice, or worthy of the loyalty shown him as a god. Hopefully some of these humbling and often humiliating experiences will come to mind when he is a god again — making him a better god and even perhaps a friend to the humans, demigods, and creatures of his world. This book is definitely a tale of second chances, not just for Lester and Meg, but for many of the new people we meet. Hopefully, everyone learns something from their mistakes and continue to change for the better, as Lester and company continue westward towards Camp Jupiter and showdown number three in the quest to save the Oracles.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo — god of the sun, music, archery, poetry,, and more — by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous — and frankly, humiliating — trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships — with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride ….

Goodreads.

etched in bone

Etched in Bone

The Elders have cleansed the world of the Humans First Movement and taken back a lot of the human controlled areas. They are trying to decide just how much human needs to survive. In order to do that they are looking at the Lakeside Courtyard and its unusual relationship with humans. Meg Corbyn has changed the Courtyard and the Lakeside community. She has brought together the humans and the others in a way never before seen. Because of her, humanity has a chance to survive, but how much humanity and how do you judge.

The arrival of Lieutenant Montgomery’s brother Jimmy is the catalyst for that decision. Despite objections from Simon and the other leaders of the Courtyard, the Elders ask that he be allowed to stay so they can observe how one bad human can sour a community. And sour it he does. Jimmy is so one-dimensionally bad that he really has no redeeming qualities. He treats his wife and children as property and expects everyone to bow to his wishes, especially his mom, sister and brother who are now part of the Courtyard human pack. When he doesn’t get his way he blames everyone but himself. He can’t see that his actions will have very real consequences and that the beings he is pissing off are not ordinary police or humans. His scheme to kidnap Meg and use her as a prophecy-making cash cow is the final straw.

I really enjoy this world Anne Bishop has created. I like the interactions between Meg and Simon as they try to figure out their relationship and how an inter-species relationship will even work. I like the integration of the humans into the Others pack. I find the world fascinating. However, this book was a bit of a chore to read. For one thing it was super repetitive. Bishop basically says the same things over and over and over again. You read a passage and think didn’t I just read that? Yep about 50 pages earlier there was a very similar passage. And it was just one topic that got repeated, it was several. A good editing probably would have helped this book a lot. The other big problem was that the story just wasn’t that interesting. Jimmy was so completely bad that you were really just waiting for him to get eaten. It wasn’t a matter of if but when and who. And really it could have come 100 pages earlier. The rest of the plot was mainly Meg trying to figure out how to tell prophecies without cutting or using the cards and her relationship with Simon. This story needed more “special meat” to make it fit in with the rest of the books in this series. Hopefully the next one is a bit better.

Full of Beans

Full of Beans

Beans Curry lives in Key West at the height of the Great Depression. His mom takes in laundry and his dad is off trying to find work. Beans and his brother Kermit do what they can to make money. They babysit and sell cans from the trash, Beans even works for the local bootlegger. Most of the time Beans his hanging out with his gang of friends, playing marbles and or going to the pictures to see Shirley Temple or Baby LeRoy. Then the New Dealers come to town and start changing everything. They want to make Key West into a tourist destination. They start painting houses and cleaning up the town. Beans eventually starts working with them and gets all his friends to do the same.

I really enjoyed Beans story and the glimpse of what it was like in Key West in the 1930s. Holm did a great job getting all the historical details just right in telling Beans story. I was highly amused by all the nicknames and the sayings of the kids. I wish I could remember more of them to say in daily conversation. Their are definitely not enough come backs involving cheese and applesauce to be sure!

Habitat

Habitat

Habitat is the story of a crashed space station several generations after things have gone bad. Departments have degenerated into clans and security measures mean cannibalism and tribal conflicts reign. Cho is a new recruit for Habsec (the security force from the station). Habsec seems to be one of the dominate tribes who hunt other survivors for food. One day Cho finds a data card and prints a phaser. This brings on unanticipated consequences and Cho flees to the engineers who still control certain systems of the ship.

I enjoyed the world of this story. I thought it was interesting how the different departments banded together and against each other. I liked the idea of lost technology hidden among the different clans. I thought there was a lot of potential to the story that was not realized. I thought there needed to be a lot more character development and explanation of what happened on the ship. I hated the fact that some of the characters spoke in a different language and there was no way for the reader to know what they were saying. My biggest beef was with the art. I hated the art. I thought it was hard to distinguish characters from each other as they all looked the same and while some of the drawings were really interesting those didn’t add up to a quality book. If this series continues, I think it needs a new artist (not the writer) and a bit more development. It ends abruptly so I do hope the story continues in a better fashion.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Most people are just regular folks. They go to school, go to work, fall in love, have issues. They are not the ones chosen to save the world from vampires or immortals or whatever brand of crazy seems to be happening today. This is their story. Mike and his friends are in their senior year of high school. They just want to make it through the year without the school blowing up (again) and go to college in the fall. They know something is going on because the “Indie” kids keep turning up dead and there are blue lights around town, but for the most part those things don’t affect anyone else. Mike is dealing with his love for Henna and whether he can ask her out. He also seems to be having episodes related to his OCD. His sister is a recovering anorexic and the fact that their mom is now running for U.S. Senate doesn’t seem to help either of them. Prom and graduation are on the horizon, however, and life just keeps happening.

I found this book oddly intriguing. I love the premise of the rest of us. Those who are not the chosen ones fighting evil, but the ones living in their world. I absolutely loved the intros to each chapter that told what the indie kids were up to while fighting the immortals and how it really didn’t affect the rest of us. Mike and his friends are all pretty normal with normal issues and lives. All except Jared who seems to have a cat goddess in his family. I did think it was weird that the adults didn’t seem to know anything was going on even though there are constant remarks about the past “incidents” with vampires and such. You would think they would remember these things, but they don’t appear to. Mike’s mom does mention “seeing things” but never elaborates and never seems to connect her past with what is happening. Of course it is just like every other book, movie and TV show with chosen ones where the adults are oblivious. Listening to this book really made me want to rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I Love You, Michael Collins

I Love You, Michael Collins

It is 1969 and Apollo 11 is getting ready to launch. Mamie’s end of school assignment was to write to one of the astronauts. She chose Michael Collins because everyone else chose Buzz Aldrin and Neal Armstrong. She continues to write to Collins throughout the summer, sharing details of what is going on at home. And boy is a lot going on. Her oldest sister Eleanor has moved out and gotten a job as a secretary. Middle sister Bess sleeps most of the day or hangs out with her boyfriend Vinny. Mom wants to celebrate the launch of Apollo 11, but dad thinks it is all a big waste. Mom finally gets frustrated and moves to her sisters two states away. Dad follows a few days later leaving Mamie home alone with only the sporadic intervention of her sisters. Mamie spends her days playing with her neighbor and best friend Buster and researching the Apollo mission.

Mamie’s story works on a lot of levels. The details are superb and the author includes all kinds of things that kids today might not even realize were big things in the 1960s. Things like no air conditioning and moving a fan around the house or how big a deal it was to upgrade to a color TV or the novelty of frozen dinners or leaving the phone off the hook when you leave the house. I loved all the detail and how resilient and resourceful Mamie was. I also liked her justification in picking Michael Collins as her astronaut of choice. What I didn’t think worked as well was the epistolary style of the novel. For one thing it is only letter style because she has salutations at the beginning of the chapters. Otherwise it is formatted just like a regular novel. I think epistolary novels only work if they are actually written in the form of letters. Slapping a “Dear” and a “From” on the beginning and end of a chapter doesn’t really make it a letter. Despite that the book is charming and worth the read.

Thanks to Library Journal and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book.

Mother Russia

Mother Russia

In this alternative history graphic novel, WWII has turned into zombieland. Set in Stalingrad during the height of the war, German and Russian soldiers have become zombies and few humans are left in the city. One survivor is a ballet dancer turned sniper, living high in her tower. She sees a toddler wandering amongst the zombies and saves it, meeting another survivor in the process.

The description of this story is a little different from the actual narrative. I do wish there were a few more details on how things started and where the baby came from and what is happening in the rest of the world. I thought Stalingrad was a perfect setting for a zombie outbreak. Definitely an interesting concept that just needed a bit more work.

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Ghosts

Ghosts

Cat and Maya have moved to a new town on the coast that is supposed to be better for Maya’s cystic fibrosis. Cat misses home and her friends and doesn’t like the spooky town of Bahía de la Luna with its obsession with ghosts. Every year there is a huge Dia de los Muertos festival where the ghosts come back and mingle with the living. Cat is also dealing with new friends at school and a boy. Plus there is the fact that she hasn’t told anyone about Maya.

I love all of Raina Telgemeier’s books and this one is no exception. I received a copy at BEA 2016 and couldn’t wait to read it. It is sweet and funny and heartfelt. I loved the relationship of Cat and Maya, they seem so much like sisters and so real. I also really enjoyed the Dia de los Muertos information as that is not something that gets written about very often. The ghosts were a fun touch as well. Another winner!

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

–from Goodreads.com.

Throne of Jade

Throne of Jade, Temeraire, Book 2: Naomi Novik

This is the delightful continuation of the Temeraire series.  The Chinese are schocked to learn that Temeraire, a Celestial Dragon, is being used for warfare, and the captain (Laurence) being only a commoner. They send Prince Yongxing and other dignitaries to return Temeraire.   Laurence and Temeraire travel to China to settle the matter.    Hammond an ambassador trying to negotiate better trade settlements between China and Britain accompanies them.   Attempts are made on Laurence’s life along the way and while in China.

I am reading these a second time with my husband (we read to each other); Novik is a wonderful storyteller!

One blood red Ruby

One Blood Ruby by Melissa Marr.

So after Lilywhite becomes Lilydark, the heir to both the Fey thrones, will the humans get the peace Lilly bargained for.  Turns out some of the fey are trying to sabotage the promised peace attacking humans using distinctly fey methods, so as to destroy any chance at peace.   In the Secret Lands,  Eilidh is torturing her half brother Calder for having injured her betrothed Torquil.

I find Marr’s writing to be very engaging, no matter where the plot veers.  I liked the unpredictability of having a main character killed off.  I found the ending to be a bit rushed and didn’t think it really hung together.  Nacton should have been killed for his treachery, but somehow he gets off lightly – probably to provide a villain in Book III.

 

Gotham Lumber

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy

The Lumberjanes and the teen detectives from Gotham Academy both end up investigating a mysterious cabin.  Rosie goes missing as well as a teacher from Gotham Academy.  Having 10 main characters was well just ok.  The plot wasn’t as interesting as other Lumberjanes.  It was interesting to become acquainted with these new characters from Gotham Academy, but I’m Not sure I’ll seek them out in the future.

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

–from Goodreads.com.

lily and dunkin

Lily and Dunkin

Lily is transgender. She was born Timothy and is still a boy, but has always felt like she was a girl. Her mom and sister support her as does her best friend Dare, but her dad doesn’t want Tim to be hurt and bullied if he becomes Lily. What dad doesn’t realize is that Tim is already being bullied by the kids at school for being different even though he is Tim at school and not Lily. The popular basketball kids are always being mean to Tim and calling him names.

Norbert Dorfman has just moved to Florida with his mom. They are living with his grandma after his dad had a breakdown and is supposedly in a mental facility. Norbert and Tim meet and because of his dislike of his name, Tim starts calling him Dunkin after his love of Dunkin Donuts. Dunkin becomes friends with the popular kids and joins the basketball team. Even though he is tall, he isn’t very good. Dunkin is bipolar, like his dad, and makes the choice to not take his medication because it makes him sluggish on the basketball court.

Lily and Dunkin are both outsiders who seem to bond even though they are not really friends throughout most of the book. I thought Dunkin had the more authentic voice of the two and the author’s note explains Gephart’s own son’s mental health issues. So because she is more familiar with Dunkin’s situation, I think that became the stronger story here. Lily just seemed so together and perfect, maybe a bit too perfect. However, I know next to nothing about being transgender and hate to make assumptions on the level of angst a transgender teen should feel. This book is definitely written for middle grade readers even though the characters are middle school age. My one big issue was the bullying in the book. Tim/Lily is bullied repeatedly and nastily by the popular kids and she never tells and it is never resolved. There also doesn’t seem to be a motivation behind the bullying other than the fact that one kids dad bullies him as well. Not a bad book and a pretty decent entry in the transgender books for kids arena, but I wish a couple of the plot points were a bit more developed. Excellent audio experience though.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 6

Lumberjanes, Vol. 6: Sink or Swim

The Lumberjanes are back and in this issue we are dealing with pirates, selkies and mysterious dimensional holes. The Lumberjanes have to prove to Seafarin’ Karen that they know teamwork and cooperation as they help her get her ship back from a group of selkies. We also get to see how the Bear Woman closes the dimensional portals. I love the Lumberjanes and their adventures but have to admit that the artist for this volume is not my favorite. The illustrations are more cartoony than I like.