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The Halloweeners (MonsterStreet #2)

Monsterstreet #2: The Halloweeners - J. H. Reynolds
This series is fantastic! All the books are stand alones but you’ll want to read them all, once you get started. This is book #2 and it was loads of fun.
Fisher is getting tired of moving. He’s finally making friends at school and now, his mom notifies him that they’ll be moving soon. Fisher can’t hold back his frustration and he voices his opinion. Now grounded, he doesn’t want to miss trick-or-treating tonight, with the guys from school, so he sneaks away after his mother left to attend a school function.
Meeting up with Champ, Fisher meets the rest of the boys in a tree house and this section of the book, reminded me of the movie, Stand By Me. The boys gather for a meeting and now a serious tone takes over, as they discuss the night before them. They must win at Halloween Games and they talk about their secret weapon. The information that they discuss is important and it sets the mood for the rest of the night. The boys tell Fisher about the Halloweeners and Fisher decides that he would also like to be a member of this group.
Throwing on their costumes, the boys get ready to head out to collect their candy. It’s almost as if I’m out on the street with them as they tell their stories, encounter other individuals carrying their bags, and try to fill their bags. As they view the end house, the Halloweeners know that this house is off-limits yet Fisher is drawn to the mansion and what’s sitting on its front porch. As they approach the house, being a winner of the Halloween Games takes over their thinking and the boys see an opportunity. What an opportunity! An opportunity that changes the course of their lives.
What a fun, adventurous story. I liked what happened when the boys came up to the cauldron and they didn’t abide by the rules. What a ride! What a great imagination! Another great read in the MonsterStreet series.


MonsterStreet #3 Carnevil

Monsterstreet #3: Carnevil  - J. H. Reynolds
The two brothers hadn’t spent much time with their aunt and now, their parents expected them to spend an entire week with her while they went on a trip. When she arrived at the depo to pick them up, they didn’t expect to see her in a hearse. Little did the boys know, but their adventure was just beginning. Aunt Winnie was, what I would call a Fun Aunt. She was this radiant individual who was full of life and positive energy. The boys had arrived close to Halloween and Aunt Winnie was excited about the approaching holiday. Now that the boys were here, she wanted them too, get involved in the celebration.
Aunt Winnie was transforming her workplace into a haunted manor for the residents but the boys didn’t quite see things the way that she did. Twelve-year old Ren and nine-year old Kip see the nursing home residents as old and close to Halloween creatures already. It isn’t until Ren is bribed into checking on a resident, do the stories that Aunt Winnie claims these residents have, start to become a reality. As Mrs. Wellshire rambles about the carnies and the harvest, the mention of the man’s name begins to make “his blood turn cold.”
Armed with a twenty, the boys attend the carnival which had popped up overnight. A carnival unlike any other carnival that they had attended. It was dreamlike, and from the looks of the other kids attending, they felt the same way. It was fantastic! The rides were amazing and the food delicious. Out of money, the boys visited Zora and her magic crystal ball, to have her look into their futures. If only, they had gone in to see Zora a minute or two earlier or they had left the carnival after their money was gone, the stories the boys told of that night might have been different but as it stands, Kip loved the carnival and he was staying. As the boys stay at the carnival, the night becomes interesting and dark. I can’t stop reading now, the prices at the carnival are worth talking about.
I really enjoyed this book. The action never lets up and there aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of. There was no way that I could stop reading as I needed to know what happened to the brothers at the carnival and I wanted to know how things worked out with the aunt. Even though it’s labeled a middle school book/upper elementary chapter book, I devoured this book. I feel that kids of this age will really enjoy reading this and scream for more.


The Okay Witch

The Okay Witch - Emma Steinkellner
I thought this graphic novel was okay. I liked the characters and I liked how things were progressing but there was something about the flow of the story that didn’t feel right.
Moth doesn’t fit in and she’s basically accepted that. She’s now thirteen-years old and suddenly things start to change for her on Halloween. No one has told her the truth about her mom and that Moth’s obsession with witches might have something to do with her mom but now, someone might have to. Moth was born a half witch but suddenly now, she’s showing her powers. Moth is excited about her new identity but her mother, a witch herself, tells her that it’s not such a great thing.
There’s some time travel as Moth learns about the craft and its history. We find out how old mom really is and what mom has been through. Mom has told Moth not to practice her new craft yet Moth feels she wants to help her friend and does so without anyone knowing.
I liked that there was this emphasis on family and friendship in the book. I liked how Moth tried to do things on her own and make her own decisions which at thirteen, has its positive and negative aspects. I thought the book at times felt too wordy. It felt heavy and the flow felt off. I thought the illustrations were well done and I liked how the cat was used in the book.


pasta, pretty please

pasta, pretty please - Linda Miller Nicholson
I do love my pasta and I was excited to see this cookbook about pasta. This cookbook was more than I expected though. This was not a book for the pasta-maker in me, but was for a more advanced pasta maker. I did learn a great deal from this book and you really should see the pictures inside this book. Who makes this pasta?! It’s beautiful.
I like looking at all the pasta varieties in the store. It feels like every week, there is something new on the shelves. This past week, I saw thick & hearty noodles, before that it was pasta made out of beans. What’s next? A few years ago, I bought an attachment for my mixer so I could make pasta and I think I’ve only used it a few times. Before that, I had my grandmother’s old pasta maker that attached to our table. My husband used it a few times a year to make noodles. I keep thinking that I want to make my own pasta and when I saw this book, I thought perhaps this was a “sign.”
If it was a “sign,” it was really telling me, “see if there is a beginner’s guide to pasta because this book is not for you, YET.” I did like this book as it had lots of information for making pasta, packed with the different varieties and it was laid out with nice details.
I like colored pasta and this book talks about creating them and how to achieve the right color. We are talking 25 colors! From Red Beet Dough to Beet-Paprika Dough, they give you the lowdown on what ingredients you need to mix together, in step-by-step directions to get those rich colors. From there, they talk about how to roll-out and cut the dough. We are talking techniques here, this is an art. Should you freeze, store or dry your pasta? “You’ll want to serve your pasta projects in this book when they’re at the peak of their beauty.”
The author discusses the different types of pasta and I was drooling over the pictures of the fresh pasta in this section. From colorful farfalle, to hand-cut tajarin, to a six-colored fettuccine, the author gives you instructions on how to create these masterpieces. There were stars (actual stars) on pappardelle, polka-dotted farfalle, 4th of July pappardelle and then, the argyle lasagna sheets were simply amazing!
The book is set up in sections beginning with the basic dough. It goes next into the sheeting section, then the advanced section where the pasta became a work of art. Rolled pastas and gnocchi were in the next section. There was a section of sauces and a final section of fillings for your works of art. A conversion chart and index complete the book.
This book is not for me YET but hopefully in the future, I will need it. It does begin with the basics and progresses quickly with detailed information. If I were to create these works of art, I would definitely make sure we savored every bite.




Baking All Year Long

Baking All Year Round - Rosanna Pansino
This is baking. In this book, Rosanna is creating themed desserts and other foods for the special holidays and occasions that are in her life. From a young child, Rosanna has been in the kitchen baking and she brings that love of cooking to us in this book as we celebrate with her, all these special days. I was on a sugar high just by looking at all these fantastic creations on these pages. If you’re looking for some ideas, she has them.
Rosanna has the book sectioned off into each holiday starting off with Valentine’s Day and ending with Special Occasions (birthday, school graduation, wedding, baby shower). Here are a few things that make this book special. All the recipes in this book are marked gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, if they apply - there is an icon for each of these. Everything in this book is homemade, my friends. So, if you’re looking for a simple, quick recipe that calls for a tube of sugar dough, you will not find it in this book. There are also full-size, colorful photos of every recipe in this book. A few of the recipes also have detailed step-by-step photos, just so you get everything right. And, I found this kinda crazy but, she included templates of the shapes that she used in her creations, in the back of the book, so you could use the templates to create your own cardboard design.
The book begins with the all the tools and candy she used and the definitions of some of the words that she uses. A huge choice of frosting recipes (royal, vegan royal, vegan buttercream, champagne, honey buttercream, vegan caramel, white chocolate glaze, (just a sample). Then, the special day sections begin for which, there are between 4-9 recipes in each section. Ingredients, directions, how many the recipe makes are included with the recipe but no nutritional information is given. A conversion table, index, and resource list of the items she used, is in the back of the book also.
Valentine’s Day recipes looked really good and included homemade churros, pretzels, whoopie pies, ravioli and mini cakes. Father’s Day had donuts, whiskey caramels, cupcakes, pizza, and truffles. These recipes are interchangeable and those cupcakes would be a winner at a bake sale or a BBQ. The caramels could be wrapped up for a present and those donuts, use a different cookie cutter and the possibilities are endless. Are you hungry yet? Some of these creations are too cute, even to eat!
I liked many recipes in this book, yep again! The soft pretzels (I could make them for any occasion or just for book reading), those salted whiskey caramels (did someone say whiskey?), the blackberry cobbler, lollipop cookies, and Santa Brownies with the suit on them were so cute. I’m debating on purchasing this book. It’s definitely one to check out.


The Tuscan Sun Cookbook

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen - Frances Mayes, Edward Mayes
I do love my cookbooks! When a message about cookbooks, popped into my inbox, I immediately started looking at my local library to see if they had any of them, as I like to sample them before I actually buy them. They had 4 of them so I felt very lucky. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook looked promising but I wondered how complicated the recipes were and how exotic the ingredients might be, but I remained hopeful. After looking through the book though, I was surprised at my finding.
First off, let me say, that the pictures inside this book are beautiful. Imagine a nice summer day, you’re in the hills of Italy enjoying lunch with your friends. A photographer has stopped by to take some shots and now, those pictures are inside this book. Although there aren’t pictures of every recipe in this book, the ones that are there, look very appealing.
Each recipe does come with how many it serves, the ingredients list and step-by-step instructions. Accompanying each recipe, is a small paragraph or two that describes a bit about that recipe. The book consists of recipes that would actually be served in Tuscany according to the authors. The book is broken up into many sections. The Essential section had a few recipes that I enjoyed. Tomato Sauce (with bay leaves -I love bay leaves!), a Soffritto (looks delicious), Besciamella, a Brine, and Pesto. The Antipasti section contained appetizers. The Primi section was pasta and it began with making pasta and Giusi’s Ragu which looked nice and hearty. Angry Pasta? Oh yes, black olives and red pepper flakes made this recipe stand out. Lasagne with Ragu, using the same ragu, as mentioned before but adding it to a lasagna. Next was the Second section which was meats and I found Chicken Under a Brick and Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes. The Contorni section was salads and vegetables and the last section was Dolci which consisted of desserts. There is an Aperitivi E Digestivi section which is the closer for their meals: the bitter elixirs. There are 2 recipes in this section (Nocino and Riccardo’s Limoncello) which accompany the author’s comments on this topic
What I didn’t find in this book was exotic ingredients or complicated recipes. That was a win for me. I did come across some new words, such as Fascicles of Summer Vegetables but as the author pointed out in their paragraph, fasces in Latin actually means a bundle of iron sticks. The author continued on in their comments, talking about Emily Dickinson’s fascicles of poems. Strawberry Semifreddo? I’d never heard of Semifreddo before but I learned that this dessert is not gelato or sorbetto but that it’s easy to make and doesn’t require a fancy machine. I did find some recipes that wouldn’t work for me but might for others. Recipes that included ingredients like fish, lamb, veal, and rabbit.
All-in-all, this cookbook was a great find for me. If you’re into Tuscan dishes or want to try something different, this is one cookbook you should check out.


Monsters Come Out Tonight

Monsters Come Out Tonight - Frederick Glasser
I really like flap books. Call me a kid-at-heart but I like lifting a tab and seeing what is underneath it. I have an Elmo book that the tabs are pretty well used up but it’s a keeper as my 6-year-old granddaughter still loves to look at it. This Halloween flap book is one that I am going to have to purchase as I am loving it!
There are monsters that are ready to go out Trick-or-Treating on Halloween and they’ll be coming out of their own special places in this book. Skeletons will be coming out their coffins, witches will be coming out of houses, and ghosts will be coming out from behind bookcases but this is just a few of the monsters in this board book.
This is a rhyming board book that each monster has their own 2-page spread. As a young mummy gets ready for the night, he has to place the key in the sarcophagus and as I pull the tab, I find more mummies ready to head out with him for the night.
There’s so much to love about this book. The illustrations are bright, colorful and there’s plenty to look at on each page. The tabs are easy to pull and find. The monsters are not scary but they’re identical to the ones on cover of the book. The book’s text makes sense and the rhymes work. There are a lot of pages in the book so it’s worth the money and who says that this book is only for Halloween. This is one book I am purchasing.


Shhh! I'm Reading!

Shhh! I'm Reading!  - John Kelly
This was a cute, oversized, children’s book with very busy illustrations. The illustrations alone are worth checking this book out. From pirates, to penguins, to an octopus named Flabulon, this book’s illustrations are fun to look at and admire. The story I thought was just okay, as I wished Bella would have acted differently.
The book centers around a wet and windy Sunday afternoon. Bella normally plays with her toys on Sundays but today, Bella is absorbed into reading her book. One-by-one her toys approach her to ask if she is ready to play their normal Sunday activities with her but each time, she tells them that she can’t play today as she is reading. Bella gets more annoyed and angrier as the toys approach her.
The illustrations show the amazing time that Bella has with each of the toys, as they each reminisce playing with her, as they talk with her about playing. Bella though, continues to read her book. The toys then gather in the corner by her bookshelf, taking five and trying to be quiet as Bella commanded them to do, just waiting for her to be finished. Why she couldn’t read out-loud to them or be nicer to them, I don’t know but I thought she was rather rude and mean to them.
So, what will happen when she’s done reading? Will her toys want to play with her then? You’ll be surprised.


Go the F*** to Sleep

Go the Fuck to Sleep - Ricardo Cortés, Adam Mansbach
This is definitely not a kid’s book so please don’t leave it lying around so kids can peek inside its pages because the language inside is not for their eyes. I laughed as I read along and at times, I had trouble keeping up with the rhymes that made up this story but that was okay, because I totally understood exactly what the author was trying to get across. Why won’t my child go to sleep?
What I found so funny in this book was the mixed message located in the text that I read it. I liked how the author mixed the sweet, tender and picturesque moments of childhood with the exasperation of an adult. The adult uses some harsh language in the book and his frustration builds as the evening grows longer as the child continues to stay up. Adding to that, I remember all too well, having the same experiences that the author is referring to in this book.
The book begins with sweet cats and their kittens and sheep with their lambs nestled down to slumber with the adult wondering why their child will not sleep in their warm, cozy bed. The adult’s frustration is emphasized with a swear word on that page, which grabs your attention, as that line didn’t follow the previous gentle tone.
The adult does many things in the book to get their child to go to sleep, like many of us have, all the while getting more frustrated as their child prolongs going to bed.
I loved the part where the adult actually nods off as their child runs down the hallway. Who is guilty of this, raise your hand? Then it finally happens, their child has fallen asleep and all is well until, what? Oh no! the nightmare continues…….
It’s a very funny book and I raced through it the first time and then, I read it a couple more times just enjoying it for the moments it took me back in time to when my children where little. There are quite a few swear words but the laughs I had were well worth it. The illustrations were different, they weren’t what I expected. They definitely didn’t take-away from the text. A few individuals I know people have heard this book before, as a few famous individuals have read it out-loud on TV and/or on radio. I hadn’t heard it before until now.




The Library Book

The Library Book - Susan Orlean
I just have to say “wow!” I never expected this book to be packed with so much information. At times, it almost felt overwhelming. Centered around the 1986 Los Angeles library fire which burned for more than 7 hours and consumed 400,000 books, this book is not just about that fire. This book is about books, fires, libraries, reading, patrons, individuals, writing, it’s about the love of reading. If any of these subjects’ interest you, then this title should be on your list, but I warn you, this book is not one to be read quickly. You could do what I did and listen to this book and take breaks digesting what the author read to you, because it’s a lot!
I found the fire to be interesting as the circumstances surrounding it, were unique. Being such a big structure, filled with flammable materials, I figured it would be a ball of flames quickly but there were other factors to take into account. As the author takes off from this subject, she leads me into a multitude of many other subjects, before coming back to the fire many times. I got to thinking that this book would be a great one to listen to and read at the same time. I would have loved to make reference to some of the other subjects that she branched off on but that was hard to do while just listening to her.
I feel that the author did some research before launching into her writing because of the statistical and elaborate facts that she presented in her book. The author also gave some interesting details about specific individual books in her chapters which sounded like books that I might enjoy and I should look up in the future. As the author talked about the fire, she talked about how books burn, the investigation on how it started, how they tried to stop the fire, who was affected, the damage, the rebuilding, and the years since. When I first started listening to this audio, I couldn’t believe this book could be this long but as I continued listening, I wondered how she was going to finally wrap things up in the end.
There were a few times, I thought the book got a bit long and I had to take a break. I think it was “information overload” on my part. I didn’t really like how the author included random books at the beginning of each chapter. I think if I had been reading the book, I could have skipped over this but listening to the audio, I couldn’t. Listening to call numbers and titles of books for no particular reason just broke up the mood for the story.
Overall, it’s a great book that’s based on a true event. The author takes us readers, on an incredible journey, enlightening us with fascinating facts and stories centered around a building, that many of us like to call our second home.


Middle School Misadventures

Middle School Misadventures  - Jason Platt
The illustrations were great but I just couldn’t get into the story. The colorful, brilliant illustrations really jumped off the pages and I really thought this graphic novel was going to be a hit. It was the story itself that just didn’t make any sense to me as I read it but I continued reading it, as I liked the illustrations.
Let’s begin with the story and then, end this review on a positive note, the illustrations. The story was about a middle-schooler Newell who is signed up for his school’s first talent show. Newell spends countless hours trying to come up with a talent that he can showcase and its really painful, as he can’t find anything.
Why doesn’t he just cross his name off the list? If he doesn’t perform, he’ll have to attend summer school. Yes, I found this weird. The principal is offering the students the opportunity to exchange the academics of summer school or the punishment of detention, if they perform in this show. Newell was scheduled for Summer School, so he’s excited to do something/anything for this show but he needs to find something worthy.
The book is funny and sometimes, I thought, just a bit on the weird side. I wanted Newell to just move on, perhaps experiment with something(s) and let’s see how he does instead of just talking/thinking about it.
The illustrations are action-packed and tell a great deal of the story. A variety of text fonts add a great deal to the action. The colors are vivid and the rich in detail and burst from the page.
I feel there’s a lot of talent here and I would like to see what else this author can provide to us readers in the future.


MonsterStreet: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

Monsterstreet #1: The Boy Who Cried Werewolf - j. h. Reynolds
It’s a mysterious and surprising tale regarding a young boy who finally discovers his father and the grandparents, that he doesn’t recall. The story moves quickly; swallowing you in an adventure where you’re not sure what will happen in the end.
Max finds it strange that he’s off to spend a weekend alone with some relatives that he doesn’t even know or remember. Yet, somehow, he is told the time is right for this visit with his grandparents. Welcome to Creepville, in Wolf County. This can’t be the place when they finally turn off the engine and get out. The home has been taken over by cobwebs, some boarded up windows, and Max will discover later, no phone or electricity.
The place looks deserted but as they walk around, an older man appears clutching an ax, and then an older woman emerges in a bloodstained apron, lugging a hog. The stage is set for Max’s weekend as mom quickly makes her exit in her minivan.
I enjoyed how Max was fed the story of his family. Through a neighbor girl, his father’s diary, his mother, and his grandparents, Max learns about himself and his family. There are elements of surprise and anticipation in the novel and I liked how they flowed into the story. There wasn’t anything gross or descriptive in the novel, just mysterious and creature horror.
I think it’s a great book for kids who can handle some horror without getting scared.
“He was torn between his desire to obey his grandparents and the curiosity he now felt about what Jade was saying. He wasn’t sure who to trust.”


Just Because

Just Because - Mac Barnett
I fell in love with this book after the first few pages. The sweet, calm fashion of this book had soon expanded and now, I was feeling the same way. The situation was all too familiar for me and if only I could turn back time, it could have been me in that room, answering those questions.
Everything in this book made it perfect for me. The way the book was laid out, its illustrations, and its text; everything had its proper place and time.
As I watched the adult male in the illustrations, I liked how his movements changed from one illustration to the next. I think his movements added a great deal to the book. There are other small changes that were taking place in this bedroom scene, changes that were very important, changes that our eyes noticed automatically.
The questions that the young child asked, reminded me of ones that my own children would inquire about when they were younger. The constant questioning, the layer-upon-layer of mindful thinking. When would they stop? The answers came back in a creative response. The adult even linked some of his responses together. With fantastic illustrations in mixed-media tones, the illustrations complement the tone of the text, and they make you stop and take notice of them.
Just incase you want to look at the beautiful illustrations:
A brilliant and sweet book, a book that I cannot get enough of. It’s definitely a book that you’ll want to share.


Big City Otto

Big City Otto - Bill Slavin
I enjoyed the quick-paced story and the thought the illustrations were amazing. It you take this story for what it is, a story, it’s a wonderful adventure and kids will think so too but if you have to analyze, you’ll probably be able to find a few things wrong with it, so just enjoy it. It reminds me of some of the comics I used to read when I was younger.
Otto, the elephant misses his chum, Georgie. Georgie, (a monkey) was taken out of the jungle by the man with a wooden nose and Otto, like most elephants never forgot anything about the whole ordeal. Crackers, (parrot) his friend, helps Otto remember what happened that day and the two friends set off to try to find Georgie in America.
Aboard the metal bird (airplane), after being wrapped as a special and oversized package, the two land in America and begin their hunt. Sure, they get some attention but it seems that spotting an elephant and a parrot on the streets, of a big city in America, is not that unusual. The big question is, will they be able to find Georgie amongst all these people?
It was the adventure that these two friends had trying to locate Georgie that made this book so enjoyable. Otto’s size caused quite a few crashes and their lack of understanding was humorous to me yet others didn’t see it that way. Their love for one another was felt as they watched out for one another throughout their trip and they tried to fit in to their new surroundings, the best that they could. I loved how Crackers pushed and pushed to squeeze Otto into some of the smallest places for an elephant and I thought Otto’s allergy was extreme but I can see how kids would love it and laugh as the final scenes of this book processed. The illustrations are bright and colorful, they really add to the story.
This was a fun and entertaining graphic novel designed for children. Filled with interesting and humorous characters, I think young kids will enjoy this book. If you’re ready for some childish, make-believe fun, pick this book up and be ready for anything.


The Wolf Wants In

The Wolf Wants In - Laura McHugh
The loved The Weight of Blood so I was excited to read this novel. I found myself putting this novel down many times as in the beginning, I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around the drama unfolding. It just wasn’t as captivating as I hoped it would be for I just wanted to drown in the misery of Blackwater because I like these kinds of books.
No one seems to care about another death in Blackwater but Sadie wants to know why her brother Shane, has died. Crystle, his widow, was ready to move on before Shane’s body was even cold and I took a disliking to her immediately. When another body is discovered, suddenly Shane’s case gets some attention.
You have to understand the town and its history to fully grasp the novel. Blackwater has had its share of issues over the years. If you’re lucky and can leave town, you just might miss out on being a part of the poverty and the drug issues that suffocate its citizens. Leaving family behind? Your ties with Blackwater will never be broken. Those that don’t make it out, life in Blackwater is heavy. You will never find that four-leaf clover or that lucky penny, for it feels as if there is a curse on the city, an evil curse.
Perhaps it was my mindset when I was reading this novel that caused me not to concentrate on it and enjoy it. I would like to read this book again in the future. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.



Lies: The Gripping Psychological Thriller That Will Take Your Breath Away - T.M. Logan


I listened to this novel and I really enjoyed it. I also was provided a copy of the novel so I could follow along. To me, it was one of those mysterious novels where something felt off and I was just waiting for something major to transpire, because it had to, right? The answers just never seemed to add up.


I wanted to pull Joe through the pages and strangle him. His behavior was driving me crazy. Had his young son not seen his mother’s car, his wife’s affair might not have been detected. Joe was educated yet at times, he acted like he was wearing blinders. Exposed, Mel claims that her relationship with Ben is over but is it really? With clever twists, the story gives you a lot to think about.


I liked the short chapters and how quickly the novel progressed. I liked how William (son) was involved in the novel and how he continued to play a role throughout the story. It was a clever story and one that kept me vigilant until the very end.


Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing me a copy of this book, this review is my own opinion of the novel.