Monday, July 25, 2016

Various Picture Books

The Whale in the Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan - 32 pages
A boy discovers a whale is in his swimming pool and it won't leave.

I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems - 57 pages
An Elephant & Piggie Book
Elephant tells Piggie how he hurt his trunk.

A Pengiun Story by Antoinette Portis - 32 pages
A penguin is certain there must be more in the world than just white, black and blue.

Don't Squish the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker
Sasquatch rides the bus one day but the other passengers keep squishing him.

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg - 32 pages
Chengdu the panda has trouble falling asleep until he finds the perfect spot.

President Squid by Aaron Reynolds - 32 pages
Squid knows he would make the perfect president and he tells us why.

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora - 32 pages
A variation on "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" featuring African farm animals.

Hidden Hippo by Joan Gannij - 32 pages
The narrator tries to find the hippos while on safari.

Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black - 32 pages
Animals and their posteriors.

I babysat my nephews for the weekend so of course we read a lot of books together.  These are all favorite picture books of mine.

Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb

Portrait in Death by J.D. Robb - 354 pages

Eve Dallas has another murder case to solve.  Someone is killing college kids to "capture" their light and become immortal.  But that isn't the only thing Eve has to deal with.  Roarke has just discovered a secret about his past that has completely thrown him for a loop.

This is one of the many books in the Eve Dallas mystery series by J.D. Robb, pseudonym of Nora Roberts.  I enjoyed the story even though I pegged the murderer pretty early on.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Graveyard of the Hesperides by Lindsey Davis

The Graveyard of the Hesperides: A Flavia Albia Novel by Lindsey Davis --- 325 pages

The fourth book in Davis' new series featuring Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of private informer Marcus Didias Falco (the star of Davis' previous and very popular 20-volume series). 

Albia has been making her own way in the world, since the death of her first husband, as a private informer like her adopted father, Falco.  It's a precarious occupation for a man in 1st century Rome under the Flavian emperors, and even more precarious for a woman, but Albia is resourceful and determined to succeed. In the course of her work, over the three previous novels, she has become acquainted with the plebian aedile or magistrate, Tiberius Manlius Faustus, who has retained her to assist him in his investigative duties. Professional respect develops, over time, into a warmer personal regard, and Manlius has moved into Albia's apartment and into her heart. 

Now he wants a formal wedding ceremony to make their commitment public and official. Unnecessary says Albia, but she capitulates, since it means so much to Manlius, although she leaves all the arrangements to him. Manlius promptly enlists the assistance of Albia's younger sisters.  

To be fair, both Albia and Manlius have other things on their minds right now: Manlius has just taken over a construction company and is in the middle of renovating a seedy old bar, the Garden of the Hesperides, for its new owner. Then the construction crew unearths a jumble of human bones on the site, and work screeches to a halt. Manlius, as a magistrate, must pursue justice for the unknown victim. Albia is his investigator. She quickly learns of a longstanding rumor in the district that the previous owner of the Garden of the Hesperides (now dead) murdered a popular waitress, Rufia, and buried her in the courtyard of the bar to cover up his crime.  

Albia presumes that the bones are those of the long-missing Rufia, but further grim discoveries at the Garden of the Hesperides soon suggest there is much more to this tale than the neighbors are telling. 

This is really one of Davis' best efforts yet. Albia's wedding is a comedy of well-meant errors, contrasted with her persistence in unraveling a vicious crime.  And then there is the incredible pleasure of following  Albia as she navigates the streets and alleys of 1st century Rome during the reign of Domitian, allowing us to experience the daily life of ordinary people with a visceral immediacy. 

While it's not necessary to read the Falco series or the previous three Flavia Albia books (Ides of April, Enemies at Home, and Deadly Election) to enjoy this book, if you do enjoy it, I urge you to hunt up Davis' backlist. You will not be sorry!

Click HERE to read the review from the Historical Novel Society web site.

Click HERE to read the review from Kirkus; and HERE for the review from Publishers Weekly.

Click HERE for the review from the For Winter Nights blog.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear  346 pages

Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. As if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap - a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered. Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months. Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he's not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from a girl who works in the Hotel Mon Cheri.

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes  306 pages

The first novel in Colleen Oakes's epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains - the Queen of Hearts.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father's approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland's dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she'll lose not just the crown but her head.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti -- 176 pages

"I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world." --Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933

How fascinating that so little of what Hitler did was actually illegal and how readily people followed him! In the breakdown of families and morality, and the inflation of young people, Hitler's rise to power in Germany happened swiftly, leading up to World War II. 

This book details the lives of several young people, some who resisted Hitler, and some who passionately betrayed their own parents to him. It isn't long or tedious, and it's pretty good. 

While reading relating book reviews, I was rather glad that I, among few, did know of the atrocities that this book recalls, but perhaps I didn't know quite the extent of them. I hadn't realized that so much of the violence was done by the Hitler Youth. Neither had I realized that the euthanasia program (briefly talked about in this book) was kept so undercover so that parents had no clue that their children were being murdered. 

I listened to the audio book. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Afterschool Charisma, v. 9 by Kumiko Suekane

Afterschool Charisma, v. 9 by Kumiko Suekane - 208 pages

In this volume we get the back history of Kamiya, Kuroe, and Rockswell.  It was interesting to see their first interactions and how they came to be who they are now.