Tuesday, March 30, 2021

2021 - 50 - Do No Harm; Christina McDonald


                                                                                                      

TITLE/AUTHOR  Do No Harm; Christina McDonald

PUBLISHER:  Gallery

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction /  Domestic Thriller

FORMAT:  eGalley /LENGTH:  pp 368 pp

SOURCE:  Edelweiss

SETTING(s):  WA


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A doctor desperate to raise cash uses the opioid crisis to her advantage.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Emma Sweeney is a doctor in Washington state who is grateful for her happy life, even if she still has lots of student loans to pay off.  She has a great husband, Nate is a police detective and an adorable 5 year old son Josh.   So when her young son is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer,  she's determined to do what it takes to cure him.  When they learn that their cost to begin the treatment required for Josh will cost them over $100,000 and, that figure will definitely increase, she sees an opportunity to raise some fast cash.  Emma starts writing forged prescriptions for Oxycontin.  She uses the names of other doctors from the clinic where she works and because of her complicated past, she knows who can help her to set her dangerous plan in motion.

There is a good amount action in this fast paced thriller and, given the moral dilemma the story poses this might make for a good book group discussion choice.  Personally, I had a hard time envisioning the way this story played out.  I understand that desperate people do desperate things but given that her husband Nate's law enforcement job involved investigating overdose deaths just didn't ring true for me.  The idea of jeopardizing everything the meant so much to her made this story feel over the top for me.  

RATING:  2/5 stars

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Vera; Carol Edgarian

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon. 

                                                                    Vera; Carol Edgarian

                                                                          Scribner - 2021

First Things


"I always thought of my city as a woman. But the house, it turned out, was a woman too.  When the quake hit, she groaned. Her timbers strained to hold on to their pins, the pins snapping. And the rocks beneath the house? They had voices too. And if I ever wondered how long it would take for the world to end, I know: forty-five seconds."

I haven't started this one yet but hope to later this week.  What do you think, read more or pass?

                                                             

Monday, March 29, 2021

Jasmine Green Rescues - Animal Rescue Series Chapter Books by Helen Peters





Children's author Helen Peters has published a lovely collection of (9) chapter books, targeted for the 7 to 9 year old age group (Grades 2-4).  Each book features Jasmine Green a young girl who loves animals. Her mother is a veterinarian and her father is a farmer, so caring for animals have always played a big role in her life.  When she sees an animal in trouble or in need of help she usually knows what she needs to do, often with the help of her best friend Tom.

This is a great collection that teaches young children the importance of caring for other living beings that need help. Each story is different and special. The stories are informative and even a bit sad at times but, they encourage children to extend a love of animals to help those in need. I love that each book promotes and educates about rescue.

This is a series that would make an excellent addition to a school or public library or as a gift for your the animal loving child in your life. Ellie Snowdon does a great job with the black and white illustrations peppered throughout.

If an abandoned orphan goat at the local fair doesn't find a new home what will become of it? Of course the goat that Jasmine has already named Willow wins her heart as well as that of her friend Tom.  What is the duo to do as Jasmine already has rescued several different animals now living on the family farm.  Jasmine and Tom must keep this a secret and don't baby goats need goat's milk? Will Jasmine convince her mother that she's like to drink goat's milk now?




It's school vacation and Jasmine and friend Tom have plans to use an old shed for their Animal Rescue Clubhouse. They frighten a stray black cat that scratches Jasmine but, there is a reason. They stray has kittens to protect.  They leave and when they return the mama cat has moved (2) of the (3) kittens so Jasmine, names the cat Holly and hopes to be able to keep her without checking with her parents first.  This particular story is a bit different and has a side story about Jasmine's friend Tom and what he is experiencing.  I love that this series is not always about things working out exactly as a child hopes they will.  A nice pet rescue story, perfect for Christmas or any time really.


Duck eggs found in the woods and one in particular needs saving after a loose dog stirs up trouble and causes the death of the mother duck.  Caring for hatched  ducklings is hard work but, the survivor Button makes it all worthwhile. 


At Oak Tree Farm a tiny lamb loses its mother and Jasmine sees a call to action.  Not only does the orphan lamb need bottle feeding, it also needs help learning to walk and Jasmine is already caring for several rescues including two baby birds that require quite a bit of care.


While on a house call with her veterinarian mother, Jasmine finds a poor piglet, the runt of the litter, weak and fighting for survival. Surprised that the owner does not seem concerned that the piglet cannot even drink, Jasmine takes action and names it Truffle.  A sweet story with lots of good info on pet care as well.


So far I've read and enjoyed (5) from this series which were sent to me by Candlewick Press in exchange for my unbiased reviews.  I hope to add the other (4) to the collection soon.

These individual books are published in the US and Canada by Walker Books US.

The (9) book boxed set from Nosy Crow LTD in the UK is also available for purchase.


2021 - 44 - Between Two Kingdoms; Suleika Jaouad

 


TITLE/AUTHORBetween Two Kingdoms; Suleika Jaouad

PUBLISHER: Random House

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Non Fiction / Memoir

FORMAT:  eGalley /LENGTH: 368 pp

SOURCE: NetGalley

SETTING(s):  NY


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A memoir of a young woman's five year battle with acute myeloid leukemia and her subsequent return to the life of the living.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Shortly before Suleika Jaouad's graduation from Princeton something was not right. It began with an itch on her feet and legs that only got worse. Soon bloody oozing scars from constant scratching appeared and she was tired all the time.  All this as she moved to Paris for a journalist's position as a war correspondent along with her boyfriend Will.  Her time in Paris was short-lived as constant fatigue set in and blood work raised red flags and, shortly before her 23rd birthday she was back home with her parents in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia which was attacking her bone marrow, she was given a 35% chance of survival. Her long stays at Sloan Kettering and grueling treatments which included a bone marrow transplant from her brother were just the beginning. She tries to stay positive and begins to document the process in an open and very honest manner. She even had a column in the NY Times.

Despite how difficult her cancer ordeal obviously had been, once she gets to begin living her life once again proves almost as difficult.  In a 100 day cross country trip with her dog she connects with many of the individuals who showed concern for her or who shared their personal stories with during her lengthy journey.  

This memoir is extremely well-written but, it took me a long time to finish as I found I could only read in small doses.  I'm glad I tried this one and, obviously, she was one of the lucky ones - she beat the odds.  It did make me feel for all the individuals who were not as fortunate as Suleika.  She had an excellent family support system and financial concerns never seemed an issue.  Her parents also had a place in NYC as well as Saratoga Springs so they were able to be with her and, she was able to continue on what seemed like an excellent health insurance plan that her father had.  A well-written memoir but difficult to read.


RATING:  4/5 stars

Sunday, March 28, 2021

2021 - 43 - Convenience Store Woman; Sayaka Murata

 

TITLE/AUTHOR:  Convenience Store Woman; Sayaka Murata

PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2018

GENRE: Fiction / Literary

FORMAT:  audio /LENGTH: 3 hours and 21 minutes

SOURCE: Library download

SETTING(s):  Tokyo Japan


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A short gem of a book about an unconventional woman who just didn't fit society's expectations of normal.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Keiko Furukura is a 36 year old woman who has worked at Smile Mart,  a convenience store for 18 years. She loves her work, does a great job making sure that the store stays organized and that things run smoothly.  While she seems a bit "different", she likes her life and routines. 

Even as a child she had a way of shocking others with her reactions.  When the children found a blue bird dead in the park, while the other children cried,  Keiko wanted to know if she could take it home for her father to cook for dinner.  Another time when young boys in her class wouldn't stop fighting, she took a shovel and hit one over the head to get them to stop much to the horror of others.

As an adult, although she often feels out of place, she tries to appear normal. She doesn't understand the obsession of her sister and coworkers as to why she doesn't have a boyfriend or a better job. It isn't until she lets a short-term male convenience store employee stay with her do people begin to see her as normal but, the two misfits together are a whole other story.

I loved everything about this quiet, compelling story about society's pressure for individuals to conform. The first person narration by Keiko worked beautifully as it gave the reader the opportunity to see life and people through her slanted views which are sometimes a bit shocking and other times quite amusing.  The story lets the reader speculate as to what makes Keiko "different",  yes, she lacked social skills but, she also exhibited some sociopathic tendencies as well.  I loved Keiko, a delightful woman whose brain was wired just a bit differently. 

The story is beautifully translated from Japanese and the audio version, read by Nancy Wu was fantastic. I couldn't put this one down and will surely listen to it again or read the print edition as there were some great quotes.  Give this short novella a try if you haven't done so already.

RATING:  5/5 stars

MEMORABLE QUOTES: 

"There were two types of prejudiced people--those who had a deep-rooted urge for prejudice and those who unthinkingly repeated a barrage of slurs they'd heard somewhere."

"I decided to keep my mouth shut as best as I could outside home. I would no longer do anything of my own accord, and would either just mimic what everyone else was doing, or simply follow instructions."

" When something was strange, everyone thought they had the right to come stomping in all over your life to figure out why. I found that arrogant and infuriating, not to mention a pain in the neck.  Sometimes I even wanted to shut them with a shovel to shut them up, like I did that time in elementary school."

QUESTION --- Can anyone PLEASE name any other books with quirky characters like Keiko?  

Thursday, March 25, 2021

2021 - 42 - The Boy in the Field; Margot Livesey



 TITLE/AUTHOR:  The Boy in the Field; Margot Livesey

PUBLISHER:  Harper Audio

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction  / Psychological / Literary

FORMAT:  audio / LENGTH:  7 hours 49 min.

SOURCE: Library audio download

SETTING(s):  UK - Oxford


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A tragic incident involving a teenage boy and its after effects on (3) teenage siblings who helped to save his life.

BRIEF REVIEW:  When the Lang siblings: Matthew 17,  Zoe 16, and Duncan 13, decide to walk home from school one day after their father Hal failed to pick then up as planned, they notice a bloodied body in a field along the roadside.  Their quick action in summoning help saves the life of another teen, Karel Lustig, who had been left for dead.   What happened to Karel and who was responsible? How will the siblings be affected by what just happened?

More than answering the question of who committed a crime against another, this is a story of how each of the siblings were affected by a crime against someone their own age.  

Matthew the oldest is an avid crime buff who begins his own investigation, learning more about the victim and his family through the boy's old brother.  Zoe uncovers some truths about her father and begins to obsess about the potential of adults to be more dangerous than they appear to be.  Finally, Duncan, the third sibling who was adopted as an infant, becomes intent on finding his birth mother.  He exhibits both artistic abilities and traits of some individuals on the spectrum. Duncan's  an especially keen observer of even things that seemed insignificant. 

This story really drew me in early on.  I loved the quiet quality of the writing and the keen observations throughout.  It's a story about family, imperfect parents, flawed adults, secrets and the bond of siblings.  Each chapter gives the perspective of one of the siblings in the months following the tragedy.  The "incident" or mystery of what happened to Karel seemed less of a focus in comparison to how the siblings were affected by what had happened.  I think the author did a good job but, wished the ending hadn't felt as rushed.  

The audiobook was narrated by Imogen Church who did a very good job.

RATING: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

2021 - #41 - The Darkest Evening; Ann Cleeves

 

TITLE/AUTHOR:  The Darkest Evening; Ann Cleeves

PUBLISHER: Minotaur

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction / Crime Procedural / Mystery

FORMAT:  print /LENGTH: 373 pp.

SOURCE: Library

SETTING(s):  UK - Nortumberland


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A young mother's body is found dead in the snow at a remote country estate while party-goers gather indoors.

BRIEF REVIEW:  During a blizzard, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope misses a turn and finds herself on an unfamiliar road. Off on the side of the road is a car with its door left open so she pulls over to see if someone is in trouble.  She finds the car abandoned but, an infant strapped in its car seat.  She leaves a note and takes the infant with her and drives a short distance to Brockburn House,  a grand but now rundown estate where Vera's father had grown up.  Inside a party is going on which includes some distant family of members of hers that she has not seen in years.

Outside the body of a young woman is discovered in the snow.  Who is the woman? Is there a connection to her and the infant and is there a killer still on the grounds? 

From this point on, Vera moves into full Inspector Stanhope mode complete with her assistants Joe and Holly.  Vera is a unique character, abrasive at times and a bit of a bully. I enjoyed getting to know her and her inner-most thoughts.  The story moved along at a nice pace and, although this was #9 of the Vera Stanhope series, it was a first experience for me. I felt it worked fine as a standalone.  This wasn't a typical mystery.  It almost felt more literary.  Written from the third person POV, I loved the writing style, the strong  characters (there are a lot of them) and the setting was wonderful as well.  I never suspected the killer which is always a good sign of a well-written police procedural.  I definitely plan to read more books by this author.

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Do No Harm; Christina McDonald

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.

                                                          Do No Harm; Christina McDonald

                                                                 Gallery Books - 2021


Prologue

THE KNIFE BURROWED INTO my side with a moist thwump.

I looked down, confused. The blade was buried so deep that the hand holding it was pressed almost flat against my stomach. My pulse hammered against the steel.

And then I felt fire.  My mouth dropped open. The blood was rushing out of me too fast, I knew, soaking my shirt, turning it from white to red in seconds.  It was too late. Too late to save myself.

I looked into those familiar eyes, mouthed a single word.

You."                                                                 

 What do you think? Read more or pass?

Monday, March 22, 2021

2021 - Book #40 - A Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline History, Dr. Paul Koudounaris with Baba The Cat

 




TITLE/AUTHORA Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline History; Dr. Paul Koudounaris

PUBLISHER: Henry Holt & Co

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2020

GENRE: Non Fiction 

FORMAT:  PP/LENGTH: 288  pp.

SOURCE: Library

SETTING(s): n/a


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A book about the history of cat's through the ages, beginning with the pagan gods through modern times.


BRIEF REVIEW:  As a life long cat lover I was sure that this would be a book for me. Although the book is well-researched and full of lovely glossy, colored, costumed photos of one-Baba the Cat, overall, the book did not work well for me.  However, I'm sure many others will disagree and love it.

Personally, I found the book was too detailed. The biggest disappointment for me was that the print was way too tiny and light in color on these glossy pages for my imperfect vision.  This is really too bad as I think this is the type of book best enjoyed in print format not as an eBook. On a whim, I even tried to sample the audio version but found that the stage-like performance and over acting was not to my liking either.  Instead I found myself reading the sections I found most interesting and enjoying the lovely pictures.  I also loved the Afterward: A note from Baba the Cats Human, on how she chose the author when he had his heart set on a silver long-haired tabby.

The Book is broken out intro sections such as:
  • From the Golden Age of Egypt
  • Europe
  • Seafaring Cats Through the Ages
  • Rise of Modern Times
  • A New Beginning: Cats Across America

RATING:  3/5 stars

Saturday, March 20, 2021

2021 - #39 - The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek; Kim Michele Richardson

 

TITLE/AUTHOR:  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek; Kim Michele Richardson

PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2019

GENRE: Fiction / Historical

FORMAT:  print /LENGTH: 320 pp.

SOURCE: eBook / Purchased

SETTING(s):  Kentucky


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A story about the Pack Horse Librarian Project and the prejudices faced by a strong, brave,  Appalachian woman in 1930s Kentucky.


BRIEF REVIEW:  In 1936, nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter from Troublesome Creek, Kentucky is mostly a happy young woman who lives with her coal mining and union organizer father.  Her father wants to see Cussy married but, marriage has never been important to her.  Cussy was born with a rare genetic affliction - methemoglobinemia - which makes her blue colored skin seem even bluer at times. The white folks consider her "colored".  

Cussy is grateful for her job as a Kentucky Pack Horse Librarian as part of President's Roosevelt's New Deal initiative.  Many of the rural people are happy to see her as she makes her weekly rounds on her mule but, others are not thrilled when "Bluet", the blue-skinned woman comes around.  Despite this she's determined to share her love and the love of her late-mother's passion for books week after week.

There are several terrible things that happen to Cussy throughout the course of this story - most based on racism and false beliefs of the Appalachian people.  For example, she is forced to endure some experimental medical tests and ordered to take debilitating medicines which only temporarily turn her blue skin to white.  

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful, emotionally charged story. The fact that this story is told from the first person POV made it all the more compelling. My heart went out to Cussy Mary, a strong, tough young woman determined to bring hope and kindness to others in terrible times despite what she was force to endure, just because she looked different. It was sad to see how not much has changed in the narrow minds of some individuals today some 85 years later. 

Inspired in part by the story about the blue-skinned people and the Pack Horse Librarian Project, I'm so happy that this book was chosen for my book group discussion.  I'll be curious to hear what others thought as there is plenty to talk about with this book. I loved this one and, as one who has never been drawn to historical fiction, my feelings about the genre has quickly changed after having had several wonderful reads in 2021. READ IT!

RATING: 5/5 stars

MEMORABLE QUOTES: 

"What I wanted most was to be okay as a Blue. I never understood why other people thought my color, any color, needed fixing."

“I liked my sensibility just fine. I liked my freedom a lot—loved the solitude these last seven months had given me—and I lived for the joy of bringing books and reading materials to the hillfolk who were desperate for my visits, the printed word that brought a hopeful world into their dreary lives and dark hollers. It was necessary. And for the first time in my life, I felt necessary.”

Friday, March 19, 2021

2021 - #38 The Four Winds; Kristin Hannah

TITLE/AUTHORThe Four Winds; Kristin Hannah

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction / Historical

FORMAT:  print /LENGTH: 451 pp.

SOURCE: Library

SETTING(s):  Texas and CA


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A heartbreaking story of a mother's desperate attempts to provide for her children.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Elsa Martinelli was born into a wealthy family but had never felt loved until she became a mother herself.  Living with her husband and in-laws on a large farm in the Great Plains of Texas, she loves her life and her in-laws who are hard working farmers.  However, when a prolonged drought makes farming impossible and her husband up and leaves, she feels she must forget her fears and change her current situation to provide for her children.   As things become more desperate Elsa, Loreda and Anthony (Ant) leave her in-laws farm with an old truck, a tank full of gas, minimal possessions and supplies and a very little cash.  They head for California in hopes of finding work.  The journey leads them into a variety of terrible circumstances for which they were not prepared.

The Four Winds is such  beautifully written piece of historical fiction about the period 1920-1940.  It is also a tragic story about a time when nearly 100,000 people headed for CA in just over a year with everyone hoping for a better life. The author does an amazing job depicting the terrible situations which lead to the Great Depression.  With well-rounded characters, it's a story that will make many readers both angry and sad.  Everything about the story made me feel what the characters were experiencing: the setting, the dust storms, lack of food, medical services and even basic supplies but, especially the desperation of Elsa and the love for her children in the midst of adversity.  A very sad story but, one that I will never forget.

RATING: 5/5 stars


MEMORABLE QUOTES: 

"I see one-third of a nation of ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished...The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.  (1934 - Franklin D. Roosevelt)

"She learned how to disappear in place long ago.  She was like one of those animals whose defense mechanism is to blend into the landscape and become invisible.  It was her way of dealing with rejection: Say nothing and disappear. Never fight back. If she remained quiet enough, people eventually forgot she was there and left her alone."

"Books had always been her solace; novels gave her the space to be bold, brave, beautiful, if only in her imagination."

"The world can be changed by a handful of courageous people. Today we fight on behalf of those who are afraid."

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted, Suleika Jaouad


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.  

I love a good memoir so I'm hoping this one works for me.

                                                 Between Two Kingdoms, Suleika Jaouad
                                                              Random House - 2021

Part One

The Itch

"IT BEGAN WITH AN ITCH.  Not a metaphorical itch to travel the world or some quarter-life crisis, but a literal, physical itch.  A maddening, claw-at-your-skin, keep-you-up-at-night itch that surfaced during my senior year of college, first at the tops of my feet and then moving up my calves and thighs.  I tried to resist scratching, but the itch was relentless, spreading across the surface of my skin like a thousand invisible mosquito bites.  Without realizing what I was doing, my hand began meandering down my legs, my nails raking my jeans in search of relief, before burrowing under the hem to sink directly into flesh.  I itched during my part-time job at the campus film lab.  I itched under the big wooden desk of my library carrel.  I itched while dancing with friends on the beer-slicked floors of basement taprooms.  I itched while I slept.  A scree of oozing nicks, thick scabs, and fresh scars soon marred my legs as if they had been beaten with rose thistles.  Bloody harbingers of a mounting struggle taking place inside of me."

What do you think, read more or pass?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

2021 - #37 - Mother May I; Joshilyn Jackson


TITLE/AUTHORMother May I; Joshilyn Jackson

PUBLISHER:  William Morrow and Harper Audio 

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2021

GENRE: Fiction / Mystery

FORMAT:  combo (eGalley/ audio) LENGTH: 336 pages and audio (12 hrs 51 min.)

SOURCE: Net Galley

SETTING(s):  GA

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  Just how far will a mother go to get her abducted child back?


BRIEF REVIEW:  Bree Cabbat grew up poor in Georgia but, that seems to be all behind her now.  She lives in a beautiful home, is married to a successful lawyer from a powerful family and is the mother to two teenage daughters and a beautiful baby boy.  She should be happy and calm but, one day all that changes.  She thinks she has seen an old woman resembling a proverbial witch peering in her window.  She brushes it off but later the same day she thinks she sees the same woman when she is at her daughter's school event.  What happens next is every mothers worst nightmare. Her infant son who is asleep in his carseat disappears when she takes her eyes off him just for a minute.  A note is left instructing her to avoid contacting the police and to follow instructions she will be given.  Who has taken her child and why was her child targeted?  

As the story progresses we learn this abduction was personal and not the type of for ransom kidnapping we more commonly might read about, the motivation is very different.  Bree has a task to perform if she wants her son back but, doing so could put an end to her once happy life. This story starts out as a mystery and before long becomes something with another serious subject matter.  I started listening to this one on audio (read by the author) but, I hard a little trouble following the POV so I switched to my eGalley copy which worked out much better.  I've read many books by this author and she does knows how to draw the reader in. This book as well as her last one have ventured into the mystery or crime genre. I thought she did a decent job but,  I found myself much more invested in the first half of the story.  

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Friday, March 12, 2021

2021 - I Am a Bird; Hope Lim and The Best Place in the World, Petr Horacek

I Am a Bird, Hope Lim (Ill. Hyewon Yum) 
Candlewick Press - 2021
(ages 3-7) (32 pages)

I Am a Bird is a beautiful story about a little a girl who loves her bicycle rides with her dad. As she sits in the back seat of dad's big bike she likes to pretend she is a bird that can fly.  One day see she's an older woman who doesn't smile and carries a large bag, the girl gets quiet and is a bit afraid of the older woman with the big blue bag.  Then on another day when she sees the woman again something happens that changes the way that the little girl feels about the older woman.

A truly sweet story that encourages the reader to cherish the things we have in common with other people and not look for things that will divide us.  We need more stories like this one.  Easy sentences for beginning readers, pleasing colorful illustrations - just lovely. Perfect book for spring and a must for library collections as well.
























             Candlewick Press - 2021
                  (ages 3-7 - 32 pages)

I love all of these wonderful spring books coming out right now.  In The Best Place in the World  Hare is out in the meadow with his friends when he asks each of them if they think that their meadow is the most beautiful place in the world because, he just can't decide for himself.  Each of his critter friends takes a turn and describes why they think that their meadow is the "best."  Still not sure for himself, Hare goes on a little journey, he travels to rivers and deserts and other places of green but, he soon realizes that something is missing from all of these lovely places -- his friends.  Although there have been plenty of books written for children about friendship and family, I loved everything about this one and the gorgeous, glossy illustrations made me able to visualize the textured feel and look as I turned each page.  A Beautiful book.






















Thanks go to Candlewick Press for sending these books my way in exchange for my unbiased reviews.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

2021 - #34 - Quiet in Her Bones; Nalini Singh

 


TITLE/AUTHOR:  Quiet in Her Bones; Nalini Singh

PUBLISHER:  Berkley

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2021

GENRE: Fiction / Crime Thriller

FORMAT:  eGalley/ LENGTH: 383 pp

SOURCE: Net Galley

SETTING(s):  New Zealand


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  What happened to socialite Nina Rai who disappeared without a trace one stormy night?


BRIEF REVIEW:  Aarav was sixteen years old when his mother Nina disappeared along with $250,000 from a safe in the home.  Even though his parents had a rocky marriage, he and his mother had a special bond.  Aarav has been obsessed with his mother's disappearance from their wealthy enclave ever since that stormy night a decade earlier.  He recalls a few details from the night she disappeared:  his parents argued, there was a loud scream and he heard two slams of the front door before her car drove off.  Now ten years later, Aarav 26, is a successful thriller author and living back at the family home while recovering from multiple injuries after a car accident.  His father, step-mother and half-sister also live in the house.  As he is settling in the authorities show up saying they've discovered Nina's car, a green Jaguar, her ID, as well as her bones along with the clothing she wore the night she disappeared.  Still obsessed with knowing more about what happened to his mother, he begins his own private investigation.

So what really happened to Nina Rai, a woman who drank too much, had problems in the marriage, engaged in extramarital affairs and had multiple enemies?  

This story drew me in early on and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  The New Zealand setting was gorgeous and interesting to read about.  Told mostly from Aarav's POV,  the problem is is also an unreliable narrator and self-proclaimed sociopath.  He's on pain meds for migraines, a recovering alcoholic, has confusion from a head injury and is in psychotherapy as well.  In addition to Aarav's POV, he conducts numerous interviews with neighbors and their hired help to aid in his private investigation.  I found everyone in this story unlikeable with the exception of the stepmother and half-sister who I felt badly for as Mr. Rai is a piece of work himself.  It's seems the wealthy neighbors have plenty of secrets as well.  There were plenty of red herrings to throw the reader off track and while this story started out strong, it slowly got bogged down with too many people being questioned and a good deal of minutiae.  I had high expectations for this one but, in the end I found myself a little disappointed.

RATING: 3.5/5 stars