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Monthly Archives: May 2019

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THE CURIOUS SPACE QUEST

Hunt with Newton: What are the Secrets of the Universe?

by Julia Golding with Andrew Briggs and Roger Wagner

Illustrated by Brett Hudson

Hunt with NewtonHunt with Newton is interesting and informative at the same time.  Part science fiction, part theological inquiry, and part historical information about science, Julia Golding’s book takes children on a time travel adventure with a tortoise and a cat. The writing in that part of the story is somewhat strained. Anecdotes about the scientists are more interesting. Readers will also appreciate the inclusion of fun do-it-at-home science experiments. There is a timeline of 17th and 18th century discoveries that might have been better placed as an addendum, because it is dry without the depth needed to hold the reader’s interest. In discussing the scientists, the author jumps about a bit in time periods making the book somewhat disjointed. The connections made between science and religious thinking are interesting.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lion Hudson Limited for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Notes: 1. No grade level indicated for intended audience

  2. Part of a series: The Curious Space Quest

Publication:  February 1, 2019—Lion Hudson Limited

Memorable Lines:

“The point I’m trying to make, Milton, is that, like many people at the time, he didn’t see a difference between science and magic.”

“The big step forward for science is that Pascal decided you could test if this idea is correct…”

Rocky Road to Galileo: What is Our Place in the Solar System?

by Julia Golding with Andrew Briggs and Roger Wagner

Illustrated by Brett Hudson

Rocky Road to GalileoIn a previous book, Harriet, a time traveling tortoise, was “tortoisenapped”by an Alexandrian scientist. As Rocky Road to Galileo opens, Milton, her feline time traveling companion, sets about to rescue her using the time machine. He discovers a Muslim invasion of Egypt has caused a dispersion of scientists, and with them Harriet.

There is a discussion of the Islamic Golden Age extending into Spain, a timeline of science in medieval Europe, and a look at the development of the scientific method along with a number of new technologies. Featured in this book is “Milton’s Notebook” in which the cat records some of his thoughts about what he is seeing and learning on their time travels.

The time traveling duo visit Friar Roger Bacon who emphasizes experimentation over reasoning and debate. Most of the scientists, both Muslim and Christian, had ideas about science and its relationship to religion. The cat and tortoise continue to jump about in time and land in Germany in time to see the first book printed on the Gutenberg press. They later go to Poland in 1510 to meet Copernicus who challenges rational earth-centered thinking. Other thinkers visited along the way are Martin Luther, William Shakespeare, and Galileo.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lion Hudson Limited for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Notes: 1. Includes website suggestions for more information

  2. Part of a series: The Curious Space Quest

Publication:  February 1, 2019—Lion Hudson Limited


 

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Just Like You–alike or different?

Just Like You

by Sarah J. Dodd

illustrated by Giusi Capizzi

Just Like You.jpgJust Like You is the perfect story for teaching children to appreciate commonalities in their friendships. Miki the Meerkat makes a new friend when Raffa the Giraffe becomes Miki’s new neighbor at the zoo. At first the two focus on their differences. Later they discover that they both like to watch the moon when they have trouble sleeping and they’re both scared of lightening and thunder. Soon they learn to appreciate their different perspectives and become fast friends.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lion Hudson Limited for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes:  Age Range: 3 and up 

  Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten

Publication:   March 23, 2018— Lion Children’s Books

Double Agent–hurricane heists

Double Agent

by Gretchen Archer

Double AgentIf you like a cozy mystery with humor weaved throughout, you’ll love Double Agent by Gretchen Archer. Davis Way works in security at Bellissimo Casino in Mississippi. In addition, she acts as a double for the owner’s wife, the entitled and rather clueless Bianca, who also expects Davis to take care of her every need. Bianca always refers to Davis as “David,” and through good writing the use of that misnomer remains funny throughout the book. Davis’ husband Bradley manages the huge casino complex, and the couple lives on site with their twin two-year-old daughters. Another source of humor is the “rules” related by one of the girls to their grandmother who is caring for them during the hurricane emergency. Bex, the dominant twin, convinces Grammy that she only eats chicken nuggets and chocolate ice cream and that Quinn’s bedtime is two hours earlier than hers.

A casino is bound to have security issues because of the cash that flows through it. Double Agent ratchets the plot up several notches as the storyline is what happens in a casino with a hurricane on its way. There are protocols for this scenario, but they don’t account for the greed and mischief that happen when Hurricane Kevin rolls into the Gulf Coast. Throw in FEMA, law enforcement, helicopters, bodies on ice, and people on unlucky floor 13 who are not all what they purport to be, and you have a very complicated murder mystery with some huge surprises. With Gretchen Archer’s writing style, you will also have a smile on your face as you devour this cozy mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #8 in the Davis Way Crime Caper Series, but could be read as a standalone. I have read three books in the series and, although I plan on reading the others at some point, I don’t feel like I have missed anything that has reduced my enjoyment or understanding of the individual books.

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

And it wasn’t Danielle because she couldn’t organize the world’s smallest closet. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance she’d organized what we were in the middle of.

We had no way to restrain him except at gunpoint…And given the choice of Scotch tape or guns, I’d take the guns any day, but for all we knew, Jug was packing too. It was Alabama. Everyone was packing. 

Hurricane Kevin, like all severe weather, gave everyone it touched the chance to show their true colors. The best and the worst of humanity rose to the surface when forced to survive an event over which they had no control.

The Library of the Lost and Found–family secrets

The Library of the Lost and Found

by Phaedra Patrick

The Library of Lost and FoundThe Library of Lost and Found is Martha’s story woven by author Phaedra Patrick into a tapestry of several generations of women trying to survive, to see their way through. The background is emotional abuse and family secrets. Martha devotes her life to caring for her aging parents, Betty and Thomas, and later trying to please her contacts at the library where she volunteers. Because Martha does not value her own contributions, no one else appreciates her. As a child, Martha is imaginative and creative and her flamboyant nana, Zelda, encourages her to be a storyteller. Unfortunately Martha’s inventiveness is in direct conflict with the wishes of her overbearing father.

The basic plot line-up to this point in the story appears fairly straight forward, but much more conflict brews beneath the surface. There are past romantic entanglements that affect Martha and her sister Lilian. Zelda disappears from Martha’s life and is proclaimed dead. The past and its secrets affect the present and the future.

One of the fun characters is Suki, a young, single, pregnant co-worker with a tendency to misuse words. For example, speaking of her baby’s father she says “He says he can’t make up his mind between us. I’ll have to give him a culmination.” “Do you mean an ultimatum?” She may not always use words correctly, but she believes in Martha and ends up being an encourager for her as Martha takes steps to find her independence.

There are lots of surprises along the way as figurative skeletons in the closet are revealed and as Martha finds herself again. The Library of Lost and Found is appealing to book lovers as books, libraries, bookstores, writing and reading all play important roles. Its appeal spreads wider  though as it addresses universal issues of power and control, love, whimsy, family, and self-worth, and their emotional impact.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Harlequin (Park Row) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Harlequin (Park Row)

Memorable Lines:

She often felt like there was an electrical storm around him, and she could sense it crackling now, between him and Zelda.

She didn’t usually feel jealous, but as she watched her mother and daughter, it crept over her now like winter frost across a window.

“Why does something have to last forever to be classed as successful? Surely it’s okay to give things a try.”

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog–introduction to the animal shelter

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog

written and illustrated by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn and the Shelter DogIf you like kids and reading and you have a heart for shelter dogs, then you will enjoy sharing Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp with a child in your life. The storyline is simple. A little girl, Madeline, begs her mother for a puppy. Mrs. Dimple, who volunteers at a shelter, has a rescue dog, Bonnie, with some pups. Madeline is allowed to choose one, and in the process she learns about shelters where animals wait for their forever homes as well as how to care for her new puppy. Madeline is a girl of action. She not only helps at the shelter, she also rallies her community to bring blankets and books to read to the shelter animals. Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog is a sweet read with gentle and engaging illustrations.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Peachtree Publishers (Myrick Marketing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Publication:  March 1, 2019—Peachtree Publishers (Myrick Marketing)

Pinot Red or Dead–who is messing with the wineries?

Pinot Red or Dead

by J. C. Eaton

Pinot Red or DeadDon’t you love it when a cozy mystery is as fun as you expected? Pinot Red or Dead by the husband/wife author team known as J.C. Eaton maintained my interest, kept me guessing, and put a smile on my face all the way through.

In the third mystery in this series, Norrie, a screenplay writer who is temporarily in charge of the family winery, becomes involved in yet another murder mystery as problems beset the Lake-to-Lake Wine Distributors which distributes wine for Norrie’s winery as well as the other wineries that surround Seneca Lake. Norrie is determined to discover the identity of the murderer. Is it the same person who is trying to drive prices of Pinot Noir sky high? In the process she gets to know Godfrey Klein, an entomologist. She tours a convent with him, ostensibly to observe his methods to eradicate through natural means an infestation of stinkbugs, but she has an ulterior motive. Her friends Don and Theo, owners of the neighboring Grey Egret Winery, play pivotal roles in this mystery. Look for theft, sabotage, and a very surprising ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Wine Trail Mysteries, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Kensington (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

And then the tears again. And the sobs. People handled grief differently and they went through all sorts of stages, but watching Lavettia Lawrence was like having a front seat at Wimbledon.

Delving into social media was like falling into a never-ending pit, but what choice did I have? If I could focus on Miller and Lavettia and not get sidetracked by cute kittens or craft projects I’d never make, I’d be okay.

In my mind, I was the epitome of “grace under pressure,” but Theo, who caught sight of me on his way to the restroom, later told me I looked like Hermione Granger after she fought off the troll.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The Poetry of Mister Rogers

Lyrics by Fred Rogers and Josie Carey

Music by Fred Rogers

Illustrations by Luke Flowers

A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodMr. Rogers (Fred McFeeley Rogers) influenced several generations of children with his kind and gentle ways in his television neighborhood. He understood that children need routines to feel safe so he started and ended his show the same way each day. Now we have a compilation of his poetry which, as a trained composer, he put to music as well.

I enjoyed reading his poems. They have a wide range of topics, but contain reassuring verses to help children understand their feelings, and the world around them. He is not shy about sharing his love and encouraging children to do the same. Other topics he addresses include positivity, doing your best, feeling good about yourself just the way you are, and parents. One poem that I think particularly demonstrates his understanding of childhood fears is “You Can Never Go Down the Drain.” 

I think this would be a fun book to share with children, choosing poems at random or when a child has a particular need. The illustrations are colorful and reflect the magic of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. This book ends with a brief biography for adults of a fascinating man who has influenced so many in a positive way.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Quirk Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction, Poetry

Publication: March 19, 2019—Quirk Books

Memorable Lines:

You’ve made this day a special day by just your being here.

 

It isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

 

It is the people you like the most

Who can make you feel the maddest.

 

It’s you I like. 

It’s not the things you wear. 

It’s not the way you do your hair. 

But it’s you I like.

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