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Two Can Keep a Secret

Two Can Keep a Secret - Karen McManus
I picked this audio book up because I enjoyed the author’s first book, One of Us is Lying. This book was totally different. I enjoyed this book in the beginning but then, I thought the book dragged on.
The book is about a set of twins that have to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge, as their mother is sent away for a while. The small town of Echo Ridge might be little, but within its borders, it contains big time drama. With a tragic past that include girls that have either come up missing or dead, this year is no exception. With a history to these crimes, the girls can’t take this year’s case lightly.
I enjoy a novel where an author slowly reveals the mystery to its reader but I thought there was too much other stuff in this novel that didn’t matter. Let’s cut to the chase and give me, what’s important. I also felt so lost with all the individuals in this novel. I was so confused with all the people that I had to keep track of. In short, this book just wasn’t right for me. There are tons of great reviews for it so, perhaps it’s right for you but I will pick-up One of Us is Next and read it. 2.5 stars


What a fantastic book! The Very, Very Far North

The Very, Very Far North - Dan Bar-el
I absolutely loved The Very, Very Far North! Immediately after finishing it, I had to know if this was going to be a series, as I didn’t want this to be the end of Duane and his adventures in the Far Far North. This story captured my attention immediately and entertained me until I turned the very last page (make sure you read the letter from Duane at the very end). Filled with engaging adventures and exciting stories, this book made me laugh, smile, and touched my heart.
It wasn’t until after I read the book, did I read what others thought of this book. I have to agree with what many other readers reported, this book does have that Winnie the Pooh feel to it. As Duane makes himself comfortable in his new home in the Very, Very Far North, Duane has that comfortable, quizzical state about him and the adventures that he has, are quite fun and enlightening.
Duane loves three things in life: napping, eating, and exploring. For Duane, the polar bear, finding C.C. and the shipwreck was the perfect beginning for him. He learns and forms so many great friendships in the Very, Very Far North, I’m so glad that he went.
As they have new experiences, met new friends, and help each other, I enjoyed that there was no major rivalry or conflicts between them. Any struggles that they did have, were addressed, handled and then the parties dropped it. I also liked that each individual in the book was different and had their own personality. I really loved the way the book was written; it was reader friendly as the text spoke to you. I think young readers will enjoy this.
I can’t wait to read more about Duane, Major Puff, Magic, C.C., Sun Girl, Boo, Twitch, and Handsome in the next book. I’m really hooked on this book and think it would make a great read aloud for elementary-age children. I can’t wait to share it with others.
If you have young children, pick this one up. If you have grandchildren or work in a school-setting with young children, this is one you will want to look into. It definitely is a keeper!
“You or I might have responded to a polar bear crashing into our home with a little more alarm, perhaps. I won’t speak for you, but I would definitely have screamed at least once, or five times.”


Too Close

Too Close - Natalie Daniels
If only she had listened to her gut feelings, perhaps her life would have turned out differently. I had to wonder as I turned countless pages, was this woman really off her rocker or was it something else that pushed her over the edge? This was one of those stories that carried me along, page after page, chapter after chapter (and those chapter are long!) until the very end.
I met Emma, a forensic psychiatrist, who was assigned Connie, a patient at a mental hospital. Emma has a great professional front but personally, Emma is hiding something. What Connie did to land in the hospital, I have no idea at this point, but Emma’s job was to decide if Connie would be able to stand trial. I immediately liked Connie when I met her but as story progressed, my feelings towards her were all over the place. Connie was clever, crafty and also manipulative yet at times, I was wondering what had possessed her, her actions were driving me up the wall!
The story flashes back and forth, from the past to the present. We get the story how Connie ended up hospitalized and also about Connie and her relationships now. The author threw in a few dramatic punches in the stories which I really enjoyed and I couldn’t get this book out of my head.
With the doctor constantly visiting, Connie gets tired of her endless questions and battering. She just doesn’t know the answers and doesn’t want to remember. Then, Connie sees an opportunity and decides to turn the tables. It becomes rather fun now when the doctor arrives, as Connie tries on her own invisible white coat and plays her own version of doctor. In the doctor’s volatile state, Connie manipulates her way into the doctor’s head rather quickly. I began to wonder with the door closed, who was the patient and who was the doctor, as the line began to get rather blurry.
It all still comes back to, what did Connie do to land herself into the hospital? The plot deepens as her children are introduced and their feelings towards her are revealed. I liked that the author slowly reveals parts of this mystery to the readers throughout the chapters, creating suspense and drama. I could feel the tension building.
This was a great suspenseful story, one that I really enjoyed and one that I highly recommend. Thanks to HarperCollins Publishing and BookPage for supplying me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I won a copy of this book in a Sweepstakes at BookPage. I’m sorry that I missed the ARC’s debut deadline.


The Vanishing Season

The Vanishing Season: A Mystery - Joanna Schaffhausen
It’s that time of the year again, Ellery’s birthday is right around the corner. For Ellery, unfortunately, she suspects that again, this birthday will not be a time for celebration. It always began with her mail. Opening the envelope, Ellery knew the minute her eyes landed on the colorful front what she was holding. The greeting inside was just the beginning, its deception was just a part of the mystery that Ellery was a part of. Would this year be any different?
Ellery is a female officer who has moved into a small town where she is the only female on the payroll. Ellery believes that some murders have been committed yet there haven’t been any bodies recovered. She has been connecting the “dots” in a few cases and she believes that she’s uncovered a pattern. Now, Ellery is predicting the next murder. However, no one is listening to her. The real story is, Ellery is not telling her colleagues everything she knows about these cases and the clock is ticking. What are you going to do Ellery? You can’t delay your birthday.
With twists and turns, I enjoyed this griping mystery as Ellery works to uncover the pieces and get everyone on board. I enjoyed the small town of Woodbury, the main characters with their flaws and the character’s history. This was an entertaining, exciting book and Joanna Schaffhausen is an author that I look forward to reading in the future.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Roly Poly

Roly poly - Mem Fox
What a cute story! Roly Poly is living a terrific life with his mom and dad. He has everything he has ever wanted. Then, one day a stranger appears in his bed and now, this stranger invades his space ALL THE TIME! I
liked how innocent Roly Poly’s little brother Monty was. He followed Roly Poly around, it seemed as though, Monty just wanted to be with his big brother. Roly Poly didn’t see it that way though and he was rather annoyed, until one day Monty needed his help. Roly Poly tried to ignore Monty’s again (like he’d been doing) but he just couldn’t and well, the ending is really sweet. I
t’s a delightful book and I think most kids will really like it and I think it’s a great book for families. I did wonder about why little Monty was sharing a bed with Roly Poly. Would older children question this same thing (cribs, beds, etc.)? Then again, all families do some things differently and perhaps this is just something this family does.
The illustrations were fun and I enjoyed looking at all the details that were put into some of them. The text is bold and easy to read. Would make a good read aloud.


Spencer's New Pet

Spencer's New Pet - Jessie Sima
I loved this book! Absolutely loved this wordless book! I don’t usually love wordless, picture books so much but this one won my heart.
It’s told like a silent movie which opens up with Part 1: The Pet. It begins with a boy and a dog. The illustrations are black-and-white except for the dog which is portrayed as a red, balloon dog. The boy is so happy to have the dog! We see him walking out the circus tent with his dog on the end of a string. He teaches the dog tricks and goes to the vet. In Part ll: The Park, the boy takes his dog to the park where the boy realizes that his dog is fragile and might get popped! Oh no! He tries to hold onto his dog but……later, we see the boy chasing him throughout the park.
In Part lll: The Party, the duo is still running through the park and they run into a kid’s birthday party being held in the park. I’m holding my breath as he chases his dog through the festivities. What happens in the end, I can’t tell you, I won’t tell you! Please don’t peak at the ending for it will spoil the whole fun of the book. It was wonderful, truly magnificent book, I thought! High praises for this wordless, picture book! 5 stars


The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come

The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come  - Sue Macy
One man’s mission helps millions. This nonfiction book speaks volume on so many levels. Aaron wanted to preserve his grandmother’s books which started a mission that ended up saving over a million books. He united individuals, he helped save a language, he showed what one person can do, he is bringing back a language, and he is helping people connect.
Aaron couldn’t forget how his grandmother’s journey from Eastern Europe to the U.S. ended. The few treasured possessions that she had carried with her, were now gone yet Aaron wondered about her. His college studies would draw him closer to his grandmother’s past as he realized that he needed to learn a new language to read books for one of his classes. Finding Yiddish books were difficult so Aaron returned to his hometown where he stumbled upon his first stack of Yiddish book which started his collection. I thought it was interesting that the Rabbi was going to bury the books (which is a sign of respect) before Aaron arrived.
Aaron began graduate school in Canada and soon his apartment was flooded with donations of Yiddish books. He transported all the books back to Massachusetts and he didn’t give up even after talking to some important people in the Yiddish community.
I like how there are Yiddish words in the text with a glossary in the back of the book to help you figure out the meaning. The illustrations were well done and compliment the informative and interesting text.
Don’t forget to read the afterword and note from the author, the illustrator’s note which are included at the back of the book also. He also included (at the back of the book) a few sites if you want more information on this topic. Aaron’s energy, ambition, and compassionate is felt through this book both in words and in the illustrations. It’s inspiring to see how one individual can make such a difference in the world. This book is really fantastic and should be read. I highly recommend it! 5 stars


Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking in the Heartland

Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland - Shauna Sever
I'm buying a copy of this one. I checked it out at the library but now, I have to buy a copy as I really like it. It's a big, heavy cookbook filled with sweets for very occasion. There is a lot of comments written by Shauna inside this cookbook which is interesting to read and makes the recipes personal. Yet, this also throws off some of the recipes formatting if you like your recipes to be all on one page or if you like your recipes to begin at the top of the page.
I liked all the different recipes inside this book and all the different tips and suggestions that Shauna offered. Of course, some of the recipes are some I have used in the past but some new and some are recipes that I have made in the past but Shauna took and added to. Now, I like an apple pie but I would like to try a Double-Crusted Apple Pie just to say that I tried one, and the Real Deal St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake sounded real tasty, because butter cake is super good. Now, I would love to make the Donut Loaf, the Caramel Apple Apple Cake, the Scotch-a-Roos (yes! I love these) Buckeye Bars, Raspberry Poke Cake, and Pumpkin Meringue Pie just to name a few of the recipes that caught my eye.
Not every recipe inside this book has an picture but those that do, look delicious. I do wish that some of the recipes were labeled as that would help decipher one dish from another. Each recipe has some personal information about the recipe from Shauna. The recipe states how many the recipe will serve, the ingredients in cups and in grams and detailed steps on how to prepare the recipe. Some recipes have hints or shortcuts to them. I liked that the recipes contain normal every day ingredients and like flour, brown sugar, unsalted butter, fine sea salt, bittersweet chocolate, cream cheese, and cabbage. You might need to find some nuts, coconut milk, white chocolate, or almond extract but it all depends on the recipe.
With 318 pages, an index, a table of contents, an introduction, and 11 chapters to choose from, there has to be something inside this Midwest cookbook to put you in the kitchen.


New Mystery

I went to an Estate Sale a couple weekends ago looking for a few cheap baking dishes as  once a month, a group of us women, bake a meal for a women’s shelter and I like to find dishes that I can just leave for them to keep. While I was there, I came across some pictures.  They really caught my eye and the woman, running the sale wanted someone to buy them besides the worthless (she used stronger words) antique dealers who were coming back on half price day to finish buying all her good stuff. Boy, she hated those antique dealers!! I didn’t want to tell her that I have had a few of them in my family over the years. 

Anyways, she said the pictures were originals. The homeowner and her had bought them at a Pow Wow, many years ago in a town not far from here.  She had them priced really cheap, which I thought was strange, but she wanted to sell them before the dealers came back.  I didn’t really care if they were originals, I just like them. I really didn’t have room on my walls for them but then, she said she’d sell them to me for half off, if I’d take them.  I left after buying some dishes but then later returned and bought them.  I rearranged some pictures and now, they look really good in my basement. 

I remember playing with Johnny, Jane, & Josie West when I was younger.  There was a Chief Cherokee Indian in the set along with some horses, other figures and accessories.  I loved that set!  I wasn't one to play with Barbies but I loved this set and I have always wondered what happened to this set. Hum?   Does anyone else remember this? 


She told me there was a book by Joseph Dixon but one of the dealers bought it. That is the guy who took pictures of Native Americans in the early 1900's and who also took these pictures.  Now that I have these pictures, I’m interested in Dixon and these two individuals. There is some information on the back of the pictures which I’m trying to research which hasn't turned up any good leads. 


Joseph Dixon did write The Vanishing Race  in 1913 which has a few additions. I’m looking at reading a version of it on Google Books which has it for free. The pictures inside the book are fantastic!  I’m sure I’ll learn a great deal about the Native Americans in 1913. 

Now, let me introduce to you:  Black Dog (Assiniboine) 1913  and Mary Agnes Crispin

(Northern Arapahoe) 1913.  Aren't they amazing?   


A Bazaar Of Bad Dreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories - Stephen King
This was one great collection of stories! I listened to them in my car as I drove around and there were many, that after I got done listening to them, had earned the title of the “best story in the whole book” award. I would like to revisit this title in the near future.
I had heard a few of these titles before yet to listen to hours of King’s work was a treat. I liked how King narrated the novel, telling me a bit about each book before that book was read by another individual. This gave a personal touch to the novel and I felt we had made a connection. His stories still amaze me, they each just reach that boundary which we normally don’t cross. We don’t venture too far into this area but just enough to make the experience worthwhile.
It was a long book, the CD’s just kept coming out of the case but it was well worth it. I’ll definitely revisit King Bad Dreams in the future.


The Other People

The Other People: A Novel - C.J. Tudor
If only! Dang, as I drove the streets the Gabe, I kept thinking, if only…… It seemed that Gabe’s mind was finally concentrated on what should have been important many years ago but now, it seemed it was too late. If only he had done this or that, he might not be behind the wheel of the only thing that he feels he has left in this world, searching for an answer.
Alice grips the bag firmly as though it holds her life possessions. Never far from her side, Alice feels a deep connection to its contents. Fran is there for her, again. It’s Fran who helps Alice in her time of need yet I begin to question their story as something doesn’t feel right as the novel picks up speed.
It’s a job and it gives her money. Each shift that Katie works, is different. With the individuals who become frequent guests and those that are just passing through, they all make each day unique at the restaurant. Katie’s had her own share of problems over the year yet this frequent customer intrigues her. I wondered if Katie saw a part of herself in this man and that was why she became concerned with him.
As he visits the establishment, Katie begins to wonders about this man and what has caused him to carry such a burden on his shoulder? Day-in and day-out, Katie notices how heartbroken this man is yet, she doesn’t reach out to him. Leading their own lives, these individuals will merge eventually in this book. I liked how the three parts were laced together and how smoothly the book flowed. I kept thinking that I enjoyed one story over another one but I kept changing my mind on which story I enjoyed more. Each story was different and carried with it, different emotions.
I had a hard time putting this book down in different parts. You know it’s bad when you fall asleep and the iPad hits you in the face (I only wanted to finish the one section I was reading). There were a few parts that I raced to get through as events were building up.
These are the stories that get my adrenaline going. They put a smile on my face when I’m finished as I think about everything that transpired during the book and the ride that I took. It was a fun adventure and one that will stick in my mind for quite a while.
I received an ARC of this book from Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!


Mixtape Potluck Cookbook

Mixtape Potluck Cookbook - Questlove
I liked the idea about this cookbook and in the introduction, it is explained in detailed how this cookbook came about. It’s a song inspired potluck. A song is selected and individuals are invited to prepare/cook something as the tune played. The dish didn’t have to reflect what they were listening to, it was just a reflection of the person preparing the dish. This sounded like an entertaining way to prepare some food, get friends together and get to know one another.
I was entertained with the music choices for some of the individuals chosen for the book. Martha Stewart’s Grape Focaccia’s was paired with Snoop Dog’s “Life of Da Party” and a cocktail prepared by Dave Arnold called Red Skies at Night featuring white run, wildberry honey, red chile flakes and vegetable glycerin that was paired with “Sounds of Silence” by the Beastie Boys. This cocktail looked good until I read the ingredients, as it reminded me of a drink I used to drink, the Slow Comfortable Screw. I guess I got tired of the orange juice.
It’s a very organized cookbook: with the recipes broken down into categories and there is even a list of guests that are included in the book. There’s an index and some tips on how to create your own playlist. Every recipe in the book has an illustration and I enjoyed reading the little paragraphs that accompanied each recipe about how the song was chosen. It was an interesting and fun cookbook and I enjoyed reading the Afterward and Introduction. Unfortunately, the recipes were nothing that I would fix. Spinach Pie, Tuna Pasta a la Popowendy, Thit Kho Tau, Bourbon Raspberry Tea- those are just a few random pages of the book. I did enjoy the book; the idea was fantastic but the recipes were not of my liking.


Six Ingredients With Six Sisters' Stuff: 100+ Fast and Easy Family Meals

Six Ingredients With Six Sisters' Stuff: 100+ Fast and Easy Family Meals - Six Sisters' Stuff
Easy, fast, and great ideas! I liked the ideas behind this cookbook. All of these recipes are made with six ingredients or less. This is a cookbook that should be looked at to get some new ideas and/or one to rethink the foods that you have made in the past or forgot about.
First off, the illustrations in the cookbook are impressive. They just jump right off the page at you as they are bold and take center stage on each recipe as they get the full attention, as you get a close-up view of the dish being showcased.
There are 3 categories, to help you get started, in this cookbook: main dishes, side dishes, and desserts and a helpful index in the back. If you can’t find something in this 206-page cookbook, that’s tempting your taste buds, you must have overlooked some pages.
As I have mentioned before, these are easy recipes and I found a few new ones that I’d like to try and a few that I had forgotten about and/or the Six Sisters Stuff had revamped for me. This cookbook definitely caught my attention (the illustrations helped!) but after reading over the ingredients for some of the recipes, there are some recipes that I would have adjust or skip as they’re not for me. I
would definitely fix the Brown-Sugar Glazed Pork Chops, Enchilada Quinoa, Chicken-Parmesan Pasta Casserole, and Turkey Taco Meatballs. There were so many other recipes that the illustrations looked so good, like the Easy Crab Cakes, Green Beans with Candied Pecans, Italian Roasted Vegetable Medley, and Golden Grahams S’Mores Bars, but I would have to adjust a few things before I could eat them.
Some of the recipes are marked Kid-Approved which means they were approved by the Sisters own children. Also, the ingredients that the Sisters used in the recipes are “normal” ingredients. Like, chicken, canned condensed soup, brown sugar, or cucumbers. They sometimes ask for fresh mint or fresh thyme or an optional item in the recipe but if you are like me, I sometimes substitute what I have in the jar and move on.
It’s a great cookbook if you are looking for something easy or quick. If you’re looking for variety, step-by-step direction, simplicity and ease, this might be your answer.


The Deep

The Deep - Rivers Solomon
It was cover love that brought me to this book. After reading the synopsis, I knew that I had to read it. I was amazed how short this book was, yet the story had everything that I was looking for. Yetu needed to find her own life for the honor that was bestowed upon her was difficult.
She was the chosen one. Yetu was chosen to be the historian of her people. You would think, that being selected out of everyone else would be a blessing, yet to Yetu, this wasn’t. To be elected as the historian, Yetu wore this title like a weight. It dragged her down, deeper than she could handle.
As the historian, Yetu collected all the memories of the Wajinru people. Yetu’s job was to hold onto these memories so that they wouldn’t be forgotten throughout the years.
As I read about this, I thought about letting go of my own memories. Imagine, letting go of your memories, can you function? I think my day would be carefree and cold as I feel that my memories play a huge role in who I am and how I function and react each day. I wonder who I would be without my memories.
Now, think about Yetu. She carries all the memories of her people. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. What a gift and what a burden to know so much information. Yetu knows that being a historian is too much for her but what can she do, she was chosen and she has all the memories?
Yetu is late. The time for the Remembrance has passed and the Wajinru people are restless. Yetu must perform the Remembrance for them and give them the reassurance they need but more importantly, this event will give her some peace. I was hoping that Yetu would talk to the Wajinru and explain her situation, she was in a position of power, they would listen, wouldn’t they?
I really enjoyed this novel. I became a part of Yetu’s journey as she learns more about herself and the Wajinru. I enjoyed the flow of the book and the historical aspects used within it. I am hoping there will be more of this story.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Saga Press in exchange for an honest review.


Red Zone: An Earthquake Story - Silvia Vecchini
This graphic novel addresses the issues an earthquake has on young children. Torn from their homes, these children have to deal with the issues of the unknown as their community tries to rebuild.
I liked how the novel immediately begins with some powerful action. Mother Nature begins unleashing her power upon the community, leaving its citizens left to fend for themselves. We follow Matteo, Giulia, and Federico as they learn to live with the aftermath of the destruction.
The devastation from the quake is massive. The citizens are warned not to enter the “Red Zone” but to some that zone is their life and contains everything they have. How can you tell someone to stay away from the only possessions they have? A make-shift school is immediately constructed while the community tries to rebuild. Why is it taking so long to move forward? What are they supposed to do in the meantime? Each family tries to rebuild their lives and get some structure into their lives, to the best of their ability, but it’s hard when all your possessions are in the “Red Zone.”
I really liked the idea of this graphic novel and I thought, the illustrations were fantastic. We are experiencing more weather-related catastrophes lately and having children understand them is important. The illustrations were bright, colorful and had a great flow. I liked everything about this novel but I thought it was missing a few things. I really had no connections to the characters as I had no background on them. I wished I had known something about them and/or their relationships with other individuals in the novel, so I knew exactly the emotional toll this disaster played on their lives. I know that any tragedy is hard but I felt that my character and emotional connection was not fully engaged while reading this novel. I think this is a good novel to share with children, it’s a good starting point.


Snack Attack!

Snack Attack! - Terry Border
I liked it but it didn't wow me, like I thought and hoped it would. I liked how the three snacks played together but wasn't it smart Cookie who found the note? I thought it was interesting how Cheese Doodle came up with the interesting ideas and Pretzel was the scared one. Cookie was still the smart one who kept telling Cheese Doodle how his ideas wouldn't work and then, what happens at the end? Oh, Smart Cookie....I'm sorry.
I thought it was a cute story but maybe I'm reading more into the story than I need to be. The pictures were fun and I do hope there is another book that follows this one, as I need to know what happens next.