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The School for Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers - Jessamine Chan

What if your “very bad day” suddenly became your worst nightmare? Frida’s drive to get a coffee and a few papers at the office ended up being a 2-hour excursion, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but she left her toddler at home, alone.  Luckily, her daughter was okay but Frida was turned into authorities.   For her irresponsible behavior, she must now face the consequences.  

 

Welcome to The School for Good Mothers, a new rehabilitation program for mothers, who need help to become better mothers.  There are many reasons why the mothers that attend this school have been listed on the roster.  When Frida joins the ranks, she finds herself amongst a variety of different women which makes this story very interesting and intense at times.  During their time at the facilities, the mothers are given rules which they must abide by or they will pay the consequences.  The mothers are also given a variety of different tests which will be graded.   They need to pass them or they will have to pay the consequences.  These mothers will be pushed physically and mentally and the tension will run high as these mothers strive to succeed and prove to themselves and others just who they are.  Frida’s 2-hour excursion cost her a year in this facility but the physical and mental cost will go beyond that time period.

 

I loved this book, I seriously did.  I can’t stop thinking about it and I talk to everyone about it.  I loved how all the genes of the book came together and I enjoyed how this book made me think.  As I read, I kept thinking about how wrong the idea of this school was, yet I thought perhaps we should have schools like this for other criminal offenses.   I also thought who were the people who ran these schools and put these individuals there? Do they make the rules based on personal decisions or is there a standard that everyone must abide by? There is so much going on in this book, from the father’s program, the phone privileges, the relationships, the evaluations, every part of this story and its characters, I enjoyed so much.  Getting close to the end, the tears were falling down my face; I didn’t want this story to end but I wanted to know how it was going to end.  This book was exactly what I needed and I really enjoyed it.

 

“You can’t just have the cow jump over the moon, Frida.  You need to have the cow consider his place in society.  If you’re telling the Red Riding Hood story, you need to talk about the kinds of woods, the kind of food in her basket.” ………” How was Little Red feeling as she made her journey in the woods? Ask those open-ended questions. Get the children thinking. You’re teaching her about being a girl.”

“Everyday, she’ll learn about girlhood from you.”  

Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking

Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking -  'Cheryl Day'

I don’t know anything about Cheryl Day but her name got positive reviews when I brought it up online.  When I think about Southern food, I think comfort food, flavor and food that I normally want more of.  There are some Southern dishes that I could do without but most of them, don’t give me a sliver, I want a full piece!

 

I noticed upon opening this cookbook that not all the recipes have pictures which is not good BUT this cookbook is packed FULL of recipes.  I mean packed!  So packed, that it does one of the things that I don’t like in a cookbook: the recipes flow across pages.  I know that this is probably my own pet peeve but I don’t like it when a recipe flows over onto the next page and then, this behavior continues and continues …..page after page.  It’s not that the recipe flows onto the back page but that a recipe flows onto the page beside it. Anyway, back to this cookbook.

 

There is plenty of variety in this cookbook and the illustrations are beautiful.  Cheryl organized this book to include an introduction, Southern baking rules, baking tools and equipment, hot breads and crackers, coffee cakes, loafs and Bundt cakes, muffins and scones, slow breads (breads that need time to rise), gathering cakes, layer cakes and cupcakes, pies, cookies, brownies and bars, grits and grains, custards, puddings and cobblers, jams and preserves, and basics.   This is baking, there is nothing but special goodies in here.  This is one thick book to contain nothing but sweet goodness.  I’m pretty excited to take this all in as I’m not much of a sweet baker. 

 

I got to know Cheryl in the introduction and this book is amazing.  I never even thought about making crackers, who makes crackers?  There is a recipe for buttermilk crackers, benne crackers, sea salt crackers and crispy cheese crackers, I’ve never even thought about making crackers, for the Keebler Elves make them for me but after seeing this recipe, I think I could try it as they look really good and they keep in the freezer up to a month!  There’s even a recipe for Red, White, and Blue Muffins, now doesn’t that sound like something fun to make.  I’m not a fan of fruitcake but Boozy Fruitcake…..I think a few people might be willing to at least try that one.  What about Strawberries and Cream Cake? Oh, yum!  Now, there is Sweet Potato Pie but Peach Lattice Pie, Blueberry Icebox Pie, and Chocolate Chess Pie, I’m liking the sounds of them.  There are recipes for making jams, marmalade, apple butter, salted caramel sauce, brown butter, and a variety of other butters too.

 

With each recipe, there is a paragraph about the recipe, how many the recipe will serve, an ingredients list, and step-by-step instructions.  No nutritional information is given nor do you get how much the whole recipe yields.  There are some pictures of the recipes included in this book but like I said, not every recipe.  The ones that you do get, look fresh and authentic.  There are some pictures where the food looks very realistic.  Where everything isn’t all perfect, where there are crumbs lying next to the finished dish, where the nuts have fallen off the muffins, and the food hasn’t been polished to shine.  These pictures tell me that this book has recipes that I can attempt.  With so many recipes inside the pages of this book, I’m bound to find something I can create.  What a gem!

Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family - Ina Garten, Maura McEvoy

This is the second Barefoot Contessa cookbook I picked up and I thought this one looked a bit better than Barefoot Contessa at Home.  I noticed that this cookbook didn’t have as much fluff as the “at Home’ cookbook did and I was hoping that the Family Style would provide me more realistic dishes to prepare.

 

In the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook, I found that the “everyday recipes you’ll make over and over again” were not everyday recipes for me.  Her everyday recipes were too fancy for me. My question when I opened up this cookbook was, are Ina’s “easy ideas and recipes that make everyone feel like family” actual recipes and ideas that we will use and like?  Are they family-time meal recipes or will they fancy meal recipes that we’ll make for company?  (These quotes were taken from the front of the cookbooks)

 

This cookbook has a bit of everything in it.  There is the simple dishes for individuals like me who like chicken stew with biscuits, oven-fried chicken, real meatballs & spaghetti, deep dish apple pie, string beans & shallots, and parmesan chicken just to name a few.  Yet, there is also garlic sauteed spinach, tiramisu, run raisin rice pudding, arugula with parmesan, lobster cobb salad, Sunday rib roast, saffron risotto with butternut squash and linguine with shrimp scampi for those who like something different. 

 

This cookbook has lots of different sections: Welcome Home, Planning the Meal, Starters, Salad for Lunch, Dinners, Vegetables, Desserts, Breakfast, Kids, Nine Ingredients, Ten Kitchen Tools, Menus, Credits, Index and Recipe Index.  Ina includes some personal information in the Welcome Home section and each of the recipe sections contains around 10-12 recipes.  In the Nine Ingredients section, Ina lists nine ingredients that are her favorite.  In Ten Kitchen Tools, Ina lists ten pieces of kitchen equipment that she feels individuals will use over and over again on a regular basis.  Ina puts together some of the recipes in this cookbook and creates menus for different occasions under the Menu section.  From a Winter Breakfast, to a Summer Brunch, to a Spring Lunch, Ina puts the dishes together for you.  There are 2 indexes which I like in cookbooks.  One is the general index and one is the recipe index.  Another big plus for me in this cookbook.  

 

For each of the recipes you will find, how many the dish will serve, a small paragraph describing the dish, a list of ingredients and step-by-step directions.  There is a picture to accompany each recipe which to me is a big plus. Sometimes she adds additional information to the recipe at the end, like additional cooking information, what to serve with the recipe, additional ingredients, etc. You will not find any nutritional information nor how much the serving size is or many total cups the whole recipe yields.  I really wish cookbooks would include either the total cups or the serving size per person as that really helps me when I am cooking.  Sometimes I can tell by looking at the list of ingredients but sometimes, it’s hard to tell.  The pictures make the recipes look delicious!  I liked that this cookbook has more recipes and these recipes looked appealing.  There were a few that looked out of my range but a majority of them were something I would try. 4 stars

Barefoot Contessa at Home

Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over Again - Ina Garten, Quentin Bacon

This cookbook has about a handful of recipes that I’d be willing to try but the majority of recipes are for dishes that I typically wouldn’t eat or even prepare for others at my house.  They didn’t seem everyday to me. I’m not an adventurous eater nor do I stick to a routine when it comes to recipes but I guess you could say, that I have some limitations when it comes to food.  Here are some of the dishes that I think sound delicious: Caesar club sandwich, maple baked beans, summer garden pasta, honey white bread, garlic & herb tomatoes, old-fashioned potato salad and tomato, mozzarella & pesto panini.   That left is plenty other recipes that someone else might find appealing, recipes such as parmesan-roasted cauliflower, peanut butter & jelly bars, blue cheese coleslaw, stuffed cabbage, fresh pea soup, shrimp bisque and lemon fusilli with arugula.  These are just a few examples of the many recipes that are included in this book.

 

Ina gives us plenty of personal information in this book beginning in the intro and at the beginning of each of the sections.  Ina has included 6 food sections in this book, an intro, a credits sections, an “if you’re visiting the hamptons” … section, a menu section, and two indexes.

 

The food section consists of: soup & sandwich, salads, dinner, vegetables, dessert, and breakfast.   There are 14-17 recipes included in each section.  For each recipe you will discover a picture of the prepared dish, how many the dish will serve, a small paragraph describing the dish, a list of ingredients and step-by-step directions.  There is a picture to accompany each recipe which to me is a big plus. You will not find any nutritional information nor how much the serving size is or many total cups the whole recipe yields.  I really wish cookbooks would include either the total cups or the serving size per person as that really helps me when I am cooking.  Sometimes I can tell by looking at the list of ingredients but sometimes, it’s hard to tell.  The pictures make the recipes look delicious!

 

In the “if you’re visiting the hamptons…” section Ina highlights some of the places in the Hamptons that are her favorites.  From farmstands, places to eat, to places to visits, there are pages listing the establishment, the address and what makes this business so special.   Using this cookbook, Ina puts together some of the recipes and creates menus for different occasions under the Menu section.  From a holiday dinner, to a birthday breakfast, to a summer BBQ, Ina puts the dishes together for you.  There are 2 indexes which I like in cookbooks.  One is the general index and one is the recipe index.  Another big plus for me in this cookbook.  For content, I would give this cookbook a 2 for me but for the other aspects that I look for in a cookbook, I would give it a 4.5.    

The Other Family

The Other Family - Wendy Corsi Staub

There was a lot to figure out in this book.  Does a vacant house troubled with the history of an unsolved triple homicide sound appealing to you?  I would think that most individuals would have done some type of research before buying such a home.  Let me introduce Nora, Keith and their family.  This husband and wife packed up their California home, along with the 2 teenage daughters, their dog and they found such a house in Brooklyn. Trying to grasp why this family would make such a move was just the beginning of my inquiries as the mysteries grew the minute this family took possession of their new home.

 

Told from a variety of viewpoints, I found this family a bit different.  Nora doesn’t waste much time after the move to sneak off and privately use her phone to call Teddy.  Who this Teddy is, I had no idea, but their conversation sure was close and personal. Who is Teddy?  Their daughter Stacey enjoys true crime and once the whole family becomes aware of the home’s history, Stacey becomes obsessed with it.  She was definitely into figuring things out including who the individual was, that she’s saw watching their house.  Individuals get introduced and strange things start to occur that I needed to straightened out.  How did this all pertain to the storyline?  I liked how some of the characters were able to make some discoveries on their own and how they acted sensible and clever instead of being crazy and stumbling around.  There were a few parts in the book that were slow but I did enjoy trying to figure out the various mysteries in the book.  I also thought that the ending of the book was rushed and cut-off, it just didn’t fit, compared to how the rest of the book was written.  The ending was a big disappointment.  4.0 stars

 

I received a copy of this book from Scene of the Crime Early Read, Harper Collins, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev - Dawnie Walton

That Opal was a hoot!  I couldn’t believe the transformation of this lady from the beginning to the end of the book.  I was grinning from ear to ear as I heard her, her spunk, determination, and compassion just fell out of the book.  Being a black woman, she knew exactly where her place was but that wasn’t a place were Opal wanted to be. If you think about the time period that Opal and Nev were an item (1970’s), equality was a hot issue.  Liberation, racism, and equal rights were being sought after and it seemed that everyone was on edge. 

 

On stage, I could only image what their performance was like and I would have loved to just see them up close.  I doubt any performance was ever the same as their personalities, feelings, and the chemistry of the stage all came into play when they took the stage. Opal seemed to be the one who pushed their performances, who shined, while Nev filled in where he was needed and he worked on other matters. 

 

Set up like an interview, this book is an oral history of the lives of Opal Jewel and Nev Charles, a singing duo from 1970’s.  I loved the book, Daisy Jones and the Six so I knew I would enjoy this book also.  The two books are alike yet they’re different.  I liked how this book was an interview which consists of flashbacks that told the story of Opal and Nev.  We hear from their friends and family, they speak about their ups and their downs, and we forget that this book is a work of fiction. As I read the book, I imagined hearing Opal’s voice as she talked about her relationship with Nev and then, I had to get the audio of this book to actually hear her words being spoken.  Her voice brought strength to the words that I had previously read, for it solidified what I had previously thought about her.  I really enjoyed the audio version of this book and the books was fantastic also, I got the best of both worlds!   

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest opinion.

A Long Way Down: A Graphic Novel

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel - Jason Reynolds

I loved Long Way Down, also written by this author, so when I saw this graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. Long Way Down touched me on so many different levels as the story played out. Jason used space and time to tell this story, the words arranged just right, letting my emotions take over. I love this about free verse; the reader can put a piece of themself into the story.

In Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel, I felt that my attention was centered more on the elevator ride than on the emotions in the story. I was concerned about the individuals on the ride: trying to figure out who Will would encounter each time the elevator door opened on each of the floors and what that individual would mean to him. This book’s focus was totally different than what I had with Long Way Down. I enjoyed learning more about how these individuals mattered and why they were important to Will which I don’t remember focusing on when I read Long Way Down. Whereas Long Way Down was more emotional for me, this graphic novel explained more of Will’s story to me. To me, they complimented one another.

There is a lot of information in this book, this isn’t a graphic novel that you can speed read through. This story is emotional but I think the feelings were angrier and heavier than what I had felt with the other book, when they felt hurtful and heartbreaking. I thought the book was easy to follow and I enjoyed the illustrations. I liked how the illustrations show just enough information not to take away from the text. 4.5 stars.

You'd Be Home Now

You'd Be Home Now - Kathleen Glasgow

I felt there were a lot of issues in this book, issues that Emma had to sort through as they couldn’t be ignored. Her family had money but putting money on these issues wouldn’t be the answer. With a respectable and prominent family name, I felt that money had been the families answer before the accident. Money can’t fix the challenges the family is facing now but first, the challenges must be identified and acknowledged.

Emma thought her brother Joey just liked weed but he also tested positive for heroin the night that Candy was killed. Checking into Blue Spruce, Joey sought treatment. Emma would miss Joey but she wouldn’t miss the constant fighting that he had with their parents. Emma’s prescription for pain medication for her injuries in that accident wouldn’t be filled, as their mother feared that Emma would also become a drug addict just like Joey. It didn’t matter how much pain her fractured kneecap was giving her, there would be no prescription. Mother was so bossy.

Mother seemed to be more concerned about how her appearance in the community than with the own children. Having an established business in the community, mother’s top concern seemed to be how she looked in the community now that something had tainted their family’s name. She was scared of losing her high status in the community. Little else did she know, what else was happening that would affect her and the family’s name.

My heart ached for Emma as I read. What more could she do? The expectations that were placed on her were high and the only activity that Emma discovers that provides her any kind of happiness had me shaking my head. Oh Emma!! I thought the author did a fantastic job with the details of this story. There were times that I thought this book was slow but I had to know what happened to Emma and her brother so I continued reading and I’m so glad I did. 4.5 stars.

Chasing the Boogeyman

Chasing the Boogeyman - Richard Chizmar

Written like true crime but truly fiction, I fell for this book quite a few times while I was reading it and I could’ve sworn that what I was reading had actually occurred.  With the addition of the photographs, it was hard not to lean towards true crime as the authorities tried to find their serial killer and the body count kept creeping up.

 

I enjoyed the concept behind how the author put the book together.  I liked how the author put the book together so it read like a true crime novel. I know that I checked the genre on this book at least a couple times just like I checked Daisy Jones and the Six when I read that book.  These stories play tricks with us, they want us to believe them but then, where is the memory of such events in our heads?

 

I was looking forward to some impressive reading when I picked up this book after looking at the title and the synopsis, as it sounded scary and intense. After reading this book though, I felt disappointed.  I enjoyed the book but I guess with all the glowing reviews, the title and the synopsis, I was expecting something grander.  I guess I was expecting it to be a I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-this-book, with me sitting on the edge-of-my-seat and the words just flying across the page.  There were also moments where I felt the author gave me information just to give me information, where I grew bored.   I wanted to be scared and I wanted to devour this book. There were moments of mystery, intense and bizarre activity but nothing that frightened or alarmed me.

 

I wanted to know who was killing these young girls.  I needed to know what sick individual would then, take the time to pose their victim’s mutilated dead bodies for others to find.  Why? What was the purpose? With a fantastic cover and a unique style of writing, this book is by an author who has some amazing talent.  4 stars

Cooking for Jeffrey

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook - Ina Garten

I’ve always liked Barefoot Contessa recipes and this cookbook was one that missed my radar.   After looking through the recipes, reading some of the articles and recipes, I’m glad that I picked it up from the library.  It was interesting to read how Ina got into cooking and to know that this is her 10th cookbook.  I don’t think I have read all of them yet so I’ll need to check into that next.  I liked her comment, “It doesn’t really matter what the occasion is – big or small – but it’s the connections that we have with people we love that nourish our souls.  Entertaining isn’t just about making dinner parties.  It’s about celebrating those connections and I think that’s what makes life worth living.” 

 

In essence, I feel this cookbook is not for me.  It recipes felt too fancy and/or the ingredients just didn’t hit my tastes.  I found only a few recipes that I would actually make.  The rest seemed to elaborate or had ingredients that I don’t care for.  Dishes like Vanilla Rum Panna Cotta, Vanilla Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables, Perfect Poached Lobster & Corn or Kasha Varnishkes with Wild Mushrooms are just a few of the recipes that were included in this book, that I realize I would never make.  I will say though, that the pictures in the book look very appetizing.  If I didn’t see and read the recipes, that are located on the opposite page of these pictures, I might be tempted just to try a sample of that dish.

 

This cookbook consists of 6 different categories: cocktails, soups, salads & lunch, dinner, vegetables & sides, bread & cheese, and finally dessert.  The book begins with a thank you and an intro and wraps up with two different indexes, a list of Jeffrey’s all time favorite dinners (which could come from outside sources) and a resource page.  All of her recipes have a picture attached to them and how many the recipe will serve.   There is a short paragraph about the recipe before the ingredient list and the instructions are listed out in paragraph form.  Ida does include some little suggestions and ideas on the margins of the recipes.  There is no nutritional information provided.

 

I liked the layout of this book and the text fonts that were used.  The book image inside and out is crisp and sharp and it doesn’t look cluttered.  I wished there would have been more recipes that I liked though.  4 stars  

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened - Cori Doerrfeld

This book is so cute! The relationship between Taylor and the animals was adorable. Do you listen? I mean really listen. It might take a while. Are you willing to wait and hear the whole story?

Taylor had made an amazing structure out of blocks but as he's admiring it a flock of black crows knocks it down. Devasted, Taylor is sad, mad, upset…...you name it, Taylor is feeling it. One-by-one different animals come walking up to Taylor to offer him advice about the destruction. From the chicken who wanted Taylor to "talk, talk, talk about it!" to the bear who wanted Taylor to "shout about it! Garrr!" because he thought Taylor had to be angry about it, I thought this book was adorable. Every animal had a different way for Taylor to deal with the issue. Taylor listens to the animals but he doesn't follow their advice so each of the animals leave, leaving Taylor alone.

Finally, a rabbit hops in and snuggles next to Taylor. The rabbit says nothing but Taylor can feel the rabbit next to him. Taylor likes the rabbit and eventually Taylor starts talking to the rabbit. The rabbit and Taylor form this close bond as Taylor continues talking, moving, yelling, etc. as the rabbit listened. You need to see the illustrations to appreciate this book. It's the energy in this book, the feelings that we all can relate to, great illustrations and the relationship that the two of them form, that make this a great book.

World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One by Sanjay Gupta

World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One - Sanjay Gupta

I wanted to know yet I felt that I’d already had enough of this disaster. When the cover of this book came across my computer scene, I wanted to read another “expert’s” opinion of this life changing event but yet, I felt I’d really had enough of Covid and what could this doctor really tell me that I hadn’t already heard? With over a year of restrictions, testing, quarantines, and now vaccinations, did I really want to read 300+ pages of more information and opinions? The synopsis had plenty of interesting topics that sparked my curiosity: what had led us into our current pandemic, how could we prepare ourselves for a future pandemic (because folks, there will be another one). Sanjay was also going to comment on whether Covid was going to be a part of our lives forever or whether it would finally die itself out. I was hoping that his insight and information would provide some interesting information or at least something different than what I have already heard.

I’ll be honest and say that, a few sections of this book were WAY over my head. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, nor do I have any medical field experience. I’m a mother and a Nana which gives me some medical experience but my badges of an accountant, substitute teacher, volunteer, and a devoted book reader don’t give me the background to handle some of the terms and procedures that Sanjay was mentioning in this book. I did my best trying to decipher these sections of the book which included DNA, RNA, and chemical reactions, but some of it was just tumbling around in my head. He talked about the origins of infectious diseases which I thought was interesting. Finding the origins of these illnesses and when they began is important as it can say a lot about the disease. Previously many infectious diseases began from domestic animals and I remembered that they were linking Covid to bats. The common cold originally began in a camel and pigs and birds are the sources of the many strains of the flu. Makes me wonder, if they can give us these diseases, do humans give them any diseases?

Sanjay talks about a Global Health Security Risk which I thought was interesting. This Security Risk was assembled by “the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the John Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).” The purpose of this index was “these organizations believe that, over time, the GHS Index will spur measurable changes in national health security and improve international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.” This index was created in Oct 2019, this was before the pandemic. How was the U.S. ranked out the of 195 countries? Number 1, they scored 83.5 out of 100, the best prepared county to handle a pandemic/epidemic. The United Kingdom received a 77.9 and New Zealand a 54. YET, and I say yet, we all know what happened in the U.S. The U.S., according to the graphs that I saw on the news, they didn’t look like they were the best prepared. Sanjay makes a point by saying that the United States has 4% of the world’s population but they had 22% of the world’s total infections of this disease by the end of 2020. That’s like taking “Ten (10) Airbus 320 Jetliners with 150 individuals on board and having them all fall from the sky, every day! We haven’t even considered the number of lives that were lost in 2021.
https://www.ghsindex.org/

“Had we taken action and carried out control measures, like physical distancing and masking up just one or two weeks earlier, a report created at Columbia University states that more than half of the deaths and illnesses could have been avoided.” Sanjay gives more details about this topic and like many, he has his data to back it up.

So, what’s the future hold? I thought what Sanjay said made sense and he used PROOF to organize his points. Sanjay believes that Covid is here to stay, just like many other professionals. Learning how to live together, each of us will need to adapt, change and respond to one another. Using PROOF, Sanjay makes some valuable points about risks, the internet, keeping vigil, and planning.

Overall, I thought it was a great book for me. I liked his mindset and the book didn’t feel overloaded with emotions and turmoil. I thought Sanjay was honest and he shared a variety of different topics in the book. There were some parts of the book that were difficult for me to read terminology, but I managed. 4.5 stars

Choose Your Own Adventure: Spies

Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: Harry Houdini  - Katherine Factor

This book took me back to when my children were little. I used to love reading these books when my children would check them out from the library and this one, was no exception. I choose my first path through the book, based on what I’d want to do and then, I went back and reread the book a few times, choosing paths that were totally different. I was Harry Houdini, a magician with big dreams!

All paths in the book begin in America, in the year 1899. Working as a traveling sideshow, you like to call yourself the “The King of the Cuffs,” as you’re able to outwit any handcuff that anyone tries to attach to you. This of course, angers the police but you’re starting to make a name for yourself, as people are beginning to notice you. Now in Chicago, as a crowd gathers around, you’re getting the attention that you don’t want. The police have arrested you, placed you in chains, and put you in a cell. Can their charges be legitimate? You’ve never attempted a cell break before, yet it could be possible. You receive a sign just before the lieutenant rushes into your cell to offer you a deal.


It’s time now for the first decision in this book: does Harry take the deal that was offered to him or does Harry decide to use the omen that he received and not take the lieutenant’s deal? What the reader chooses will direct their path to the next section to read and set their course for this book.

This book is based on a true story and there’s an article about Harry at the back of the book. I enjoyed my adventures as I traveled through the book; some were short-lived and I did have one very long journey. I did learn a few things about this man as I read and having the opportunity to choose the storyline is a very fun way to read a story. 4.5 stars

The Only (Endling #3) by Katherine Applegate

The Only (Endling #3) - Katherine Applegate

Is this really the end? This is the third book in this series, supposedly the last book, yet I feel that the journey is far from over for some of the species in this book. It has been quite an adventure and as I read this book, the struggle became more intense and determined than it had ever been. Assigned to a mission, they knew that success was the only answer, and drawing from all sources, they gave it all they had.

I feel Byx and Tobble have come a long way from when I first met them in The Last and now, they’re responsible for gathering recruitments for the Army of Peace. The Army hopes that a peaceful agreement can be obtained amongst all the world’s species before the two most powerful groups come head-to-head and engage in war. I thought this was a lot of responsibility for these two friends to take on, considering their lack of experience and all the risk that was assigned to this task. They each had a skill but would that keep them alive?

I enjoyed this series and I would like to reread it now, that all the books have been written. I did cry reading this last book (it wasn’t when I closed the last page), it was when the two friends were with one another and their friends were close by, and that is all I am saying about that moment. This was a wonderful journey, created with great imagination and unique characters. I enjoyed the friendships that were created and how they developed. The characters encouraged one another and they believed in teamwork. I was surprised though, in this final book, at the difficult vocabulary used and the way that the author described the last scene. I thought the author used some challenging words in this book which, if you’re able to decipher words, is fine. Sometimes though, it was hard to decipher a few of those words and I had to use the dictionary. This is not a bad thing, it’s just something that caught me off guard. The final scene though, I thought it might contain too many details for some students. The confrontation that occurs gives some descripted details which to some students might be okay while to others, they would be fine with, “his xxxxx would never be the same.” A great series that I highly recommend.

“I think being brave means being afraid and still doing what you must do.”
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Outside, Inside

Outside, Inside - LeUyen Pham

This picture book addresses the pandemic that we all were a part of in 2020-2021, yet I thought parts of this book were rather bleak and I just didn't like this book as much as I wanted to. I did enjoy the illustrations, as the pages were filled with a lot of detail and situations that many individuals will always remember. There were a multitude of individuals in different walks and stages of life which is especially important to include in this book and the author has done a wonderful job doing so in this book. It seemed that every individual was included in this book, from the essential worker, to the parent, to the grandparent, to the elderly, and the young child, they were all represented inside this book somewhere. The author even included wildlife. No one was overlooked.

As I read this book, I had a feeling of loss and emptiness. The world had changed drastically with this virus, outside and inside. When the author tried to shed some light onto this subject, it wasn't what I expected. Her words were of no comfort to me. I saw individuals who have been boxed off inside their homes, individuals who were trying to comfort those who live in the same household, individuals who wore masks over their faces as they made their way now into a quiet world (according to the illustrations), the world seemed like a sad isolated place. What about all the hope, happiness, and love that went on inside, during the pandemic? I missed this.

Please, No More Nuts!

Please, No More Nuts! - Jonathan Fenske
Please stop the nuts! This is a follow- up to We Need More Nuts! in which two brother squirrels were counting and collecting nuts. Only in that book, the little brother was doing more collecting, way more collecting and putting the nuts inside his big brothers’ mouth until his big brother was ready to explode! In this book, both of the squirrels have had enough of the nuts and are ready to give them all away.

I like the rhyming in this book and I like the language in this book. The brothers used to love the nuts, they "adored them" and 'used to hoard them. “They talk about all the ways they used to eat the nuts and now, they are sick of them. We really should take them quick, because looking at the nuts makes them sick. As you can see, the rhyming in this book works really well. The language has some challenges which is good, words like Queasy, hooray, brunch, and chubby. Otherwise, many of the words repeat and it’s a great book since the rhyming is not forced. The illustrations are fun to look at too,