I wonder “Who Made This Mess?” (Mayes)

When they wake up for the day,  Joann and Jane each find a very messy bedroom. What happened? Who made the mess? The sisters approach the situation as detectives would;  they look for clues and interview family members. Young listeners may guess the culprit; regardless of whether they do or not, they will have fun along the way. There is a gentle message in the book about cleaning up and taking responsibility that I am certain parents will appreciate. A cute read overall.

#JoannAndJane:whoMadeThisMess? #NetGalley

A lovely bedtime read…Time for Bed, Miyuki (Galliez and Ratanavanh)

Miyuki takes her time as she puts off going to bed.  Her grandfather lovingly and patiently waits for Miyuki to complete her tasks and be ready.  Finally,  Miyuki is tucked in, hears a bedtime story and falls asleep.

This is an absolutely gorgeous book!  The illustrations are of such high quality with their whimsy, imagination and bright colors. The text is sweet and repeats, something that is quite appealing to young children.  This book will be a welcome addition for those looking for gentle bedtime stories.  Highly recommended!

#TimeForBedMiyuki #NetGalley

Good Morning Neighbor (Cali and Dek)

This is a very appealing picture book that will be an enjoyable read-aloud for young children.  It is the story of animals who work together to make a cake. Cooperation is a clear theme but it is gently presented.  Throughout the book, there is repetition reminiscent of the old children’s game, “I am going on a trip and I packed…” Young children will enjoy how the book repeats as it then adds the next animal character and that animal’s contribution to the baking project.  Children can play a fun memory game by trying to recall the critters and their ingredients in the correct order.  The illustrations are lovely and feel reminiscent of that great master, Eric Carle.  All in all, I highly recommend this one!

#GoodMorningNeighbor #NetGalley

Is there such a thing as The Perfect Couple (Hilderbrand)?

The Perfect Couple by [Hilderbrand, Elin]Elin Hilderbrand has written many novels that take place on Nantucket.  This is her first murder mystery and the first book that I have read by the author.  The setting is beautiful and full of details of how the well-to-do spend their summers on the island.

A wedding is scheduled to take place.  The groom, Benji is the scion of a wealthy family while his bride to be, Celeste,  comes from a loving, middle-class background.    Celeste and Benji’s parents come to life in portrait-like depictions.  Benji’s mother is a society woman who writes mystery novels and always hosts in the most proper ways.  Her husband, Tag, is a man who has had many affairs. They live a life of luxury but do not have a happy marriage.  In contrast,  Celeste’s parents are “salt of the earth” types who have a loving relationship.  Karen, who has breast cancer, is portrayed in a wonderfully empathetic fashion.  Kudos to the author for sympathetically but not maudlin-ly describing Karen.  Bruce, Celeste’s dad, clearly adores both his wife and child.  They both want only Celeste to be happy and secure.

Celeste’s maid of honor is the murder victim.  For fear of spoilers, I won’t say more about what happened or the solution of the mystery.  There are numerous suspects and many relationships come into play.

This is what I would describe as a good summer read.  It is a long (over 400 pages) novel in which the reader becomes immersed.  If you want a light summer escape, this one is worth trying.


Music Legends by Guilleminot

This is an appealing and informative resource for kids who would like to know more about popular and significant musicians and/or groups.  The book begins with Elvis and goes on to the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan and many others; there are 40 stories in all.  The book is beautifully laid out with two pages per music legend.  Ilustrations are lively and really catch the look and flavor of each musician’s personality.  There are some dates, important facts and interesting trivia.  Adults can also enjoy this look at the music that shaped the world when they were growing up.  Highly recommended for popular music aficionados!

#MusicLegends #NetGalley

E-book bargains (Cleveland and Locke)

Need to Know: A Novel by [Cleveland, Karen]I blogged on this book yesterday, only to find that today it is an e-book bargain!  This is a fun, suspenseful read with quite a twist.  So, here I am recommending it again.

The Cutting Season: A Novel by [Locke, Attica]I read this one awhile ago and enjoyed it.  Two mysteries are intertwined; one is about the murder of a slave many years ago and the other a current murder at the plantation Belle Vie.  I am including additional information about this book below.

From Booklist

In this atmospheric follow-up to Black Water Rising (2009), Locke once again confronts matters of race and conscience. Some days, Caren Gray can hardly believe she is still rooted to Belle Vie, the Louisiana plantation where she grew up, where her mother was a cook and her great-great-great-grandfather was a slave. Now the single mother to a nine-year-old daughter, she manages the showplace, which has long been owned by the prosperous Clancy family and is a popular site for weddings and banquets. Despite the beauty of the house and grounds, Caren still feels uneasy whenever she visits the former slave quarters, a stark reminder of the antebellum plantation’s notorious past. When a cane worker is found with her throat slit, Caren is drawn into the investigation as the police target one of her employees as the murderer. Soon, though, Caren learns some rather unsavory information about the Clancy family and their nefarious dealings in both the past and the present. This is a nuanced look at the South’s tragic past and one strong woman’s stand against ingrained cultural and economic oppression. –Joanne Wilkinson
Note that the author’s most recent book is Blackbird, Blackbird which is on my TBR stack.

Now in Paperback (a re-post)

Tasha Alexander’s historical mystery series is at least fourteen books strong and yet, this is the first novel that I have read in the Lady Emily series. How did I miss them? I truly enjoyed this historical puzzler that was set in the wonderful worlds of ballet and 1900 St. Petersburg. The story is told from the perspective of a dancer and Lady Emily. The world of the book comes to life, the characters are engaging and the mystery was intriguing. I highly recommend this one for those who like their mysteries without too much gore. I am certain that I will now read the author’s earlier books. Thank you NetGalley!

What does a person “Need to Know?” What truths do we need to live by and how can/should a person compromise? Karen Cleveland’s first novel reads like the book of an experienced author. It not only reflects her background in working for the government but also a keen awareness of what it means to be married, have children, think there is security and find out that is an illusion. I agree with all those big name authors who said that once you start this book, you will look forward to finishing it!

A Double Life by Flynn Berry. Now in paperback.

This is Flynn Berry’s second novel; it follows Under the Harrow. A Double Life is inspired by a true murder that was reportedly committed by Lord Lucan. Lord Lucan supposedly murdered his children’s nanny after he mistook the nanny for his wife. Lord Lucan was never seen again and nothing is definitvely known about what happened to him.. Lord Lucan’s wife died only recently, never saying anything more.

In this novel, Flynn Berry imagines what might have happened. She tells her story largely through the eyes of the daughter, imagining what life was like for her, her mother and her brother following the horrific murder. Flashbacks about the relationship of the protagonist’s parents and their friends add to the seeming veracity  of the story.

I found this book to be a page turner and finished it within a few days. There were some plot twists and some food for thought once the full story was told. Anyone out there who reads this, I will be interested in your take on the ending.

Note this is a fictional account and does not in all respects follow what happened to the family.

Thanks for this absorbing read NetGalley and the publisher!

#AdoubleLife #NetGalley

Find Some Joy (Averiss)

This picture book has gorgeous, emotive illustrations that reflect the mood of the main character, a little girl who wants to bring joy to her grandmother. She talks with her mother about her grandmother and then goes out to try to physically capture the things that bring her joy. Of course, these things cannot be boxed in; for example, laughter, sunlight, a ride on a swing, although Fern tries. Our protagonist talks to her grandmother about her adventures, cheers her up and the two go on to have joy-filled adventures of their own.

I liked this book very much overall. It acknowledges the grandmother’s seeming temporary depression and the way in which love lifts the spirits. The message is simple and appropriate for young children.

#Joy #NetGalley

For those interested in American History

The American Yawp
A Free and Online, Collaboratively Built American History Textbook

I am currently taking a class on post Civil War American history.  So far, we have discussed Reconstruction and The Gilded Age, along with populism and socialism, among many other topics.  The text that the professor has chosen is free and can be accessed as noted above.  This is a great text with clear writing, many visuals and primary sources on all topics. It shows history as it was; this does not feel like a sanitized text. During our current historical period, you may want to look to and understand the past.  If so, take a look at this textbook.  I am learning a lot from it.