Category: Books



Children's book: The Unruly Orchestra: Learn about musical instruments and the symphonic orchestraChildren’s book: The Unruly Orchestra: Learn about musical instruments and the symphonic orchestra by Daphna Lustiger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read to review this book.

Almost. That is the best thing I can say. I was excited, as a former music major, to see a picture book about the orchestra. But on the first page, I got disappointed. Two of the instruments named were not shown.

The text wasn’t rhythmic or as fun as it could be. And I think it still needs a good editor.

The pictures were fun and I wanted the story to be as fun.

Still, I would have read it to my children. I think I could have made it more fun with sounds of the instruments lined up to actually introduce each part. It could be a fun story, if cleaned up a bit, to a field trip to a concert or an educational segment about Peter and the Wolf, and possibly pulling out triangles and fun band percussion instruments. and a good old march around the classroom.

My deepest disappointment was the piano not named as it was being called a pipe organ (not usually in an orchestra, and no pipes).

Still, the book could have hope with a bit more clean up.

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The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Um. Yeah. What if Data wrote a book? The emotions and exciting adventure are missing. Lots of telling that seem to lead nowhere.

But if you love books and bookstores, you are hooked without mercy. You don’t want to quit because there has to be a reason for all the quotes and little notes that start each chapter.

I didn’t care for A.J. Fikry. The author doesn’t paint him in any kind of good light. The other characters around him are equally yawn-producing. But BOOKS and a BOOKSTORE! Keeps the engine running, the reader reading. Weirdly, at the end I found tears flowing. How did the author do that? I even found myself wondering how the next book would look. I wanted more of the characters. (trying not to spoil here.)

A friend recommended the book. I’m glad she did. I recommend this for readers who love books. I will look into other books by this author. I may reread this to see if I can figure out how the author wrote this intriguing book in the dryest of fashions, throwing ‘show-not-tell’ and other rules of writing out the window.

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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an adventure!

Fledgling was the last book I read by Octavia E. Butler. I liked that it had a different take and more diversity than many other ‘vampire’ book. So I wanted to see more by this author.

This book takes the apocalyptic point of view from the beginning of the end. Our main character is the daughter of a preacher. She is black but the color of her skin is not the point. She is a teenager in a protected community that suddenly isn’t. As a teen, she sees things her own way, not like her parents or anyone else. So it is a story of growing up in social, physical, and psychological chaos.

I have to admit to loving the story. I did get tired of the God Seed of her making against the biblical verses of her father. But it was her experience so I accepted it as the character point of view not preaching to the reader. This blended with her bringing together a group of people wandering up the California highway and byways while protecting each other and defending their rights to live in this new world.

Though the story leaves the reader in a safe place, not a cliffhanger, I feel the need to read the next and see what happens now that they have settled. My e-library had this one but not the next so I requested they get it.

It must be nice for black readers to have stories that reflect them. I’m not black but I would love to see diversity more often. As much as I am loving seeing female authors writing strong female characters, let’s see more of the female experience in other races and experiences. Maybe our future generations of people will have books written from all points of view encouraging the reading experience by all society! I’d love to read more about women who are in their sixties and seventies and older! Let’s make sure everyone gets to see the world from characters like them!

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If you read the above you will notice I used the prompt word ‘social’ a couple times. I was going to do two separate posts but computer issues prevented it. So this is a combo of Review and Stream of Consciousness Saturday.


The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart's DesireThe Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m a Walking Dead fan. As opposed to how I read/watch other stories and come up with the book winning over the show, this book loses. Had I read it long before the show, I think this one would have made sure I was NOT a Walking Dead fan. Nor would I have been impressed with Robert Kirkman.

This book was not about the Heart’s Desire. It was about male testosterone! The Hard’s Desire! The males fought and tried to kill each other because they were just part of the “No Girls Allowed” Spanky McFarland boys club.

Many bits of this book were used in the show but it gets confusing when so much of it isn’t a part. I can see why it was left out of the show. If you want fans you have to remember that 50% of the world’s population are women! And even when this was written the author must have been in his basement not aware the women’s movement had already happened and even in the Zombie apocalypse women needed to be talked to and included and all responsibilities shared.

I would give this book less than three stars but I love reading comics on Kindle. This was a Kindle Unlimited freebie by the way. On Kindle you can tap on the frame of the picture or talking caption you want to see better and it will enlarge it and you can take one frame at a time. You can look over the whole framed picture and see what you might miss on the paper book. Oh, and this book gives the series its name.

I hope the books get better. Michone needs to show grrls are tough!

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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, #1)The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book kept me awake! I couldn’t stop reading. Meg Elison’s writing was engaging; the main character was believable and interesting. The plot was well thought out and much more plausible than zombie-apocalypse. It is a similar idea in that masses get sick and die, but no biters. It just sucks because a lot of people die. Mostly women and newborns. Again, it’s possible.

With that scenario, the story is told in many ways. There is a third-person point of view. Then the main character writes in her journal bringing it to first-person. Thrown in are chapters about other characters or even globally how others are dealing with a new world with very few women. And though I read this Kindle Unlimited version with Whispersynch to the Audible, I found myself READING as much as listening because even the fonts were different and interesting.

But without the narration by Angela Dawe, the book becomes less. Angela’s acting was flawless and added a lot to the story. I think this book is read best the way I did it as all the layers the author intended are there.

Though this was book one and you know there is more, there was no cliffhanger. You reach a natural somewhat comfortable ending. I was just excited to know there was more! I have already downloaded the Audible and Kindle Unlimited of book two. I can hardly wait to get to it!

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The Best of UsThe Best of Us by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t usually include the book blurb but I felt it said more about the book that I could.

“In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple–to be a true partner and to have one.

This is their story. Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce’s return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss. ”

Knowing this may help you decide if you want to read this book. It is autobiographical and full of the journey that the author took through a gorgeous romance and then finding that her husband has pancreatic cancer and all that they went through during this journey. Though it is a depressing topic, after the romance, the author is able to keep the reader from falling into despair. In fact, it was only toward the end of the book that I nearly lost it in a loud sob that would have awaken the neighborhood had I let it escape. But I felt okay most of the read.

I guess I should tell you that for me it was a bit personal in that my mother passed of Pancreatic Cancer. She certainly didn’t last as long as Joyce’s husband. The doctors did exploratory surgery, found the cancer and closed her up. They said she would live for about three months, she barely lasted three weeks. So it is good to know that many are getting longer life-spans after diagnosis.

Mostly the book is a story of love and learning life as you go. I loved it and hated that I had to put it away and go to sleep.

I did have an issue with the formatting in that every now and then there was a title or author’s name and page number interrupting the flow. But it didn’t take me out of the book for more than a second.

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read the book for an honest review. I hope others get the chance to read this book. There is a lot to learn here.

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The Girls in the PictureThe Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so lucky to receive this book from NetGalley to read for an honest review. I loved it.

Stories about women friends are the best, especially those who stood strong and were able to fight the male machine. The early days of motion pictures either sex could do the job. Both were needed to reflect the real world while inventing a new one. Sadly after the two World Wars women were sent back to the kitchen. Such an unfair state of affairs.

I loved how these two, actress and screenwriter supported each other while they could. I was sorry that, as they predicted, once they had a male counterpart that friendship had to take a backseat. And as the reality seems to hold, the male world still stifles that of the female. It is sad that only now many decades later we are just now seeing that the fight for equality may be within sight, again.

Everyone needs to read books like this. History/HERstory is possibly more palatable in fiction. There is enough truth that a person can Google (as I did) and see these early movie marvels. Meanwhile, there are gems of wisdom for us all to carry into the rest of our lives.

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Against the Current (Zombies! #2)Against the Current by R.S. Merritt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the second book that was also on Kindle Unlimited. I enjoyed it as much as the first, maybe more as there were fewer mistakes. Starting a sentence with Him is never a good idea unless you’re baby-talking with an infant. And only if you don’t care how that child learns to talk. Luckily that only happened at the end of the book so I managed to actually enjoy the story more.

As one can’t really predict who might die or live in the Zombie Apocalypse, I will try not to take offense at who died and who didn’t. I certainly won’t give spoilers, as much as I wish I could.

My biggest problem is the cliffhanger. Truly I think this would be a better book if sold all as one. I’m not at all thrilled to wait until the next is written. Even if it is free I don’t want to read it. I will assume the right people survive and all becomes good in the world after.

This is not to say that others wouldn’t love these two books. There is enough to make the reader engage and hope for the best. The characters are nicely developed and one wishes them all a good life!

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A Small World (Zombies! #1)A Small World by R.S. Merritt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shreaking, fast running zombie. Yikes! At least they aren’t all skinny and slow. They have differences like the people they were before the virus. That’s my biggest complaint of The Walking Dead. If 70% of Americans are overweight, how would all the zombies become skinny? I’ll take that diet! LOL!

It isn’t the zombies that pull me into books about zombies. It is the survivors. You probably don’t get a choice who you spend the apocalypse with. Our ways of defining each other, style, size, shape, gender, age, etc., are wiped away. Good and bad show up. The good guy isn’t really when you put him against the zombies, the bad guy comes up with ways to save everyone. Moment by moment the apocalypse tests people. As I read/watch these kinds of stories I jump in and wonder how would I react, how would other people handle it all? Since the author gave us characters and their traits we are surprised and yet not at the reactions of trying to survive. I think there is a wisdom to how people can’t be enclosed in a box of what you think might happen. It is often the people that are scary, maybe more than the monsters.

In the above character arch, I find this book interesting. Mr. Merritt seemed to try and change things up to what you might expect in these kinds of situations. And he wrote the story in such a way that the reader doesn’t want to put the book away for the night.

BUT narratives that say Him and take me right out of the story. There were a few places an editor needed to be stronger. AND I’m not an editor! I usually don’t see oopsies. I get caught up in the story and rarely notice the problems. So if I see it, I am hesitant to recommend the book to my more astute friends.

My biggest problem is not finishing the book. Yep! Cliffhangers! HATE THEM!!! If I didn’t already have the next book from Kindle Unlimited (how I got this one) so I could move on I wouldn’t have moved on. If I had bought this, I would not buy the next!

By the way, are you being paid by Disney? It seems there are a lot of references along the way. I felt those rather out of the blue and weird. I suppose if the person is from Orlando, FL or Anaheim, CA, that would be a big part of your life, but most aren’t lucky enough to be near those, even in the apocalypse!

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Knave of Blades (Tarot Witches: The Raven Knights Saga #1)Knave of Blades by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not since the sixties have I seen such sexy flower power! Sorry, that’s all you get, no spoilers! Just this is mostly Ms. Reine’s usual story with twists and turns in the fantasy world within our own. Familiar places with unfamiliar buildings or beings.

This one is a bit more erotic than most. If that’s a turn off for you, maybe skip and read some of her other books. If not ENJOY!

I like reading about the Tarot Witches, even if this one finds herself in new places with bizarre but fun abilities.

I want to say more but don’t want to ruin the adventure of reading it yourself.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. It comes live to Amazon tomorrow. Hope you get the chance to read it. It is a new series within many series(s) and I think it could be a place to start on Sara’s writing. I still advice starting at the beginning with Six Moon Summer.

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