Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question
Martha Freeman
Simon & Schuster, 2017
Audience: Children
Source: E-Galley

From Goodreads:
City girl Effie Starr Zook is the opposite of excited about spending the summer on her aunt and uncle’s farm in Nowheresville, Pennsylvania, until she stumbles across a mystery that leads her smack into an old family feud. Luckily, Effie isn’t afraid to ask questions.

A rich girl from New York City, Effie Starr Zook isn’t afraid of much. When her parents go on a dangerous round-the-world adventure in a solar airplane, she’s packed off to her aunt and uncle’s farm for the summer. Expecting boredom, she runs smack dab into a family secret. Why does the neighbor kid want to avoid her? What are her aunt and uncle so worried about? And what does “bad blood” mean, anyway?

Effie’s got a brand-new bicycle, time on her hands, and an unlimited capacity for asking questions. With these, she sets out to uncover whatever it is the grownups are hiding. Along the way, she’ll contend with crackpot politics, serve espresso in a bookstore cafĂ©, and learn more than she bargained for about her famous great-grandfather, the inventor of the barf bag. Fast-paced and funny, this is a story about having the courage to find out who you really are. Look out, world—when Effie Starr Zook has questions, she won’t take no for an answer!

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question was a delightful, quick read. It has everything a good children’s book should: adventure, potential peril, mystery and friendship. As an adult, I figured out most of the mystery before the end of the book, but I think children would be completely surprised. Most of all, I loved the bookstore and the friends the main character made. It’s amazing how big of an effect one young person can have on a town in one short summer!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Scribner 2014
Source: My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


I had high expectations for All the Light We Cannot See. Super high. Like, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah high - especially because I knew that All the Light We Cannot See won the Pulitzer Prize and the Andrew Carnegie medal. Well, apparently my small mind didn’t appreciate fine literature like I had hope it would! Honestly, I didn’t mind the book, but because I didn’t absolutely love it, I was disappointed anyway. Perhaps this was because it wasn’t focused on the characters but on what happened to them. Personally, I enjoy books the most when I feel like a character has become my best friend. Also, it was longer than it looked, coming in at 530 pages. Finally, I thought the jewel element would add a bit of adventure and suspense to a sad time in history. However, it didn’t grab me. In fact, it made the story seem a bit more shallow and empty in comparison to all of the death and destruction. All in all, I’m glad I read it.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman
2014, Atria Books
Source: E-Galley, My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.
 


What a wonderful story with a wonderful translation. I notice translation more than most people because I have been taking classes in Spanish translation, and there was only one part of the book that caused me confusion (one of the characters appeared out of nowhere and that fact was not addressed at all.) Impressive, since virtually every Girl With the Dragon Tattoo book confused me OFTEN.

I really enjoyed Ove as a character, and the writing style made it even better. It had an adult Winnie the Pooh vibe, with Ove being Eeyore. Seeing the new chapter in Ove’s life was fantastic and I was rooting for him the entire book, in spite of his major curmudgeon personality. I enjoyed the book so much that I watched the movie, and while it requires English subtitles, (I know some people hate that) I think everyone would enjoy it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Best Bear in All the World

The Best Bear in All the World
By A.A. Milne, Kate Saunders, Brian Sibley, Mark Burgess, Paul Bright, Jeanne Willis
Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016
Source: My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Children

From Goodreads:
The Trustees of the Pooh Properties have commissioned four authors to write in the timeless style of A.A. Milne to create a quartet of charming new adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall: take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a collection of tales sure to delight year-round.

One story finds Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet on a quest to discover the "Sauce of the Nile" (they suspect it's apple). And in another, all the animals rally around poor Eeyore when he thinks he sees another donkey eyeing his clover. Readers of all ages will love rediscovering old friends and making new ones in this essential new volume of Pooh stories.

The book feature beautiful color artwork in the style of Ernest H. Shepard by Mark Burgess.

The Best Bear in All the World was wonderful. Even though it took no time at all to read, I was delighted. It definitely was true to the original stories, and I loved that a penguin visited the Hundred Acre Wood, and how he was described. They characters went on adventures and enriched their friendships. I had a wonderful time reading it, and I’m so glad it was well done.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Home Sweet Motel

Home Sweet Motel
Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016
Source: E-Galley/Library
Audience: Children, Younger Teens

From Goodreads:
Eleven-year-old P.T. Wilkie may be the greatest storyteller alive. But he knows one thing for a fact: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live! All-you-can-eat poolside ice cream! A snack machine in the living room! A frog slide! A giant rampaging alligator! (Okay, that last one may or may not be made up.) There’s only one thing the Wonderland doesn’t have, though—customers. And if the Wonderland doesn’t get them soon, P.T. and his friend Gloria may have to say goodbye to their beloved motel forever. 
 
They need to think BIG. They need to think BOLD. They need an OUTRAGEOUS plan. Luckily for them, Gloria is a business GENIUS, and OUTRAGEOUS is practically P.T.’s middle name. With Gloria’s smarts and P.T.’s world-famous stories and schemes, there’s got to be a way to save the Wonderland! 


Chris Grabenstein’s newest novel didn’t disappoint! It’s less intense and literary than his Mr. Lemoncello books, but still mysterious, adventurous and exciting. The family business, the Wonderland Motel, was in jeopardy. P.T. and Gloria, a guest, came up with hilarious and fun ways to make money for the motel, which were delightful enough - but then they uncovered a mystery. I couldn’t have asked for more! I’m looking forward to the rest of the Wonderland books, and I am hoping to read them to my after-school group!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter

Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
By Lee Goldberg
Signet, 2006
Source: My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Older Teens, Adults

From Goodreads:
A blackmailer, a dead detective, and a mysterious letter that make an unusual request of Dr. Sloan: avenge a murder.

The Dead Letter was slow going. Seriously, it took me forever to read. Normally, I fly through these paperbacks. However, The Dead Letter’s mystery was cumbersome. It had too many characters and too many plot lines. It didn’t capture my interest, but I enjoyed the twist and how Dr. Sloan proved what happened at the end of the book. (I also liked the jab about writing five lame mysteries a year that seemed to be aimed at James Patterson.)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker
Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010
Audience: All Teens
Source: My Own Bookshelf

From Goodreads:
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.


I am pretty much over dystopian in general. Too much in too little time! However, I loved Ship Breaker. It was gritty, swashbuckling, I cared about the characters, and I loved the action. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance angle. It seemed forced, like the book was written and the editor said, “It needs romance,” so Bacigalupi threw in a few scenes to make him or her happy. I can’t wait until I have time to read the second book!