Tag Archive: no-tts



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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Needle Felting for Beginners: Sculpting with wool - cute, easy projects with step-by-step tutorialsNeedle Felting for Beginners: Sculpting with wool – cute, easy projects with step-by-step tutorials by Lori Allen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to give this book 5 stars. I really do. But with no Text-to-Speech for some of us, it is hard to read. Maybe I could give it 4.5? Because…

It is the perfect book for a felting newbie. It really does start with cookie cutter easy felts. And there are a few websites to go to from the book. Too bad they aren’t links. And you can’t copy the URLs to paste into an address bar, so … just not as well formatted as it could be.

STILL, for those just getting started on this craft, this may be the best book to get. I have ‘leafed’ through it several times on several of my readers. The best one is the PC Kindle as the pictures and fonts are much larger.

Maybe a warning I just picked up on, one shouldn’t use upholstery foam because it has fire-retardant. I cut up an old neck pillow that I gave up on a while ago. Since I’ve already spent my fun cash for this new hobby, I can’t afford another. But I’ll try to get a new felting cushion soon. I hope I don’t get to the point of it being dust that would be bad for my lungs.

So get this book if you can. There’s a lot to learn in it despite the formatting.

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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would gladly give this book 5 stars. But making poor people (the Kindle version is $12.99!) and/or those with vision problems to buy the audio-book ($19.99) is just plain greedy! Sure the Audible version helps the reader know how certain words are pronounced. And the narrators are very good. And (although I had to wait until I had a credit over there) it was ‘free’ on Audible. I could have had that Kindle version back to the library earlier had I been able to listen to a Text-to-Speech as I read. All that inconvenience and not being able to save my credit for something else I was planning on, should actually lower my rating. But, doggone it! This was a fantastic book! Please, dear author (Lisa See), since the book is about poor people and their struggles, consider the struggles of those who can’t afford to buy your book and or have vision problems!

Gripe ended. The book was so good that I didn’t want to stop reading it for anything! I loved the amount of research the author put into the whole story. And yet I didn’t feel inundated with information. It all felt quite naturally a part of the tale.

It is told mostly from Li-yan’s point of view in a minority village of China. Later her daughter, Haley’s, point of view as an orphan in Orange County, California. What is genetic, instinct, or just natural curiosity? In a culture discouraging more than one child and girls the least desirable, what are the results on those poor girls sent away? What happens to the country that makes that happen? What are the results for the family or parents that are forced into this kind of situation?

These questions are answered. AND you will learn more about tea than you may ever want to know but find yourself longing to know more!

It has been over a week since I finished reading/listening to this gem. I still miss the characters and wish I knew what happened next. I doubt there is a second book in the making. The book leaves you just wishing for more. If you can get the book or audio recording, I think you will like it! Thank you, Leslie, for recommending it!

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Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picture me at age 9-12. I was probably the same height as I am now, maybe even an inch taller, as I was the tallest 6th grader at 5’6″. (And I have shrunk and inch.) I can’t remember how old I was when the librarian took me to the Besty-Tacy corner of the library. She was used to me coming in every couple weeks and checking out the limit of 10 books. No, I didn’t read every book. But in that haul, I was guaranteed to find a few treasures. But the Betsy-Tacy became my favorites. I read every single one. I do remember being disappointed that the trio grew up and, yawn, got married. But that didn’t stop me from re-reading my favorites–the ones where the three girls were my age at the time.

Now as an adult, I was a little afraid to read these books. How could the mature (there are those who doubt that–even I doubt that) me enjoy these books as much as I did as a girl? But I did! The difference besides being older, is I have now lived in places that have lots of cold and snow rather than Sunny Southern California I can relate even more to what the children had to deal with. Not only that, now I could understand the adults in the books. I saw how what seemed impossible then, in the story, now seems more like serendipity. And I have had experience with that.

Whether Betsy and Tacy had anything to do with it with their sales of sand, my brother and I used to go door to door to sell rocks. People bought them because well, my brother used his cute right up on these ventures!

What I loved about this treasury was getting to read the four books without stop. Then at the end of the last book, there is a treasury about the author and how Maud Hart Lovelace used many of her own life experiences for Betsy, Tacy, and Tib adventures. There are many photos of the author and her friends that made this book even better.

And speaking of pictures, I always knew I loved the illustrator, Lois Lenski. I was so happy to see her pictures in the picture books I read to my own children. There was a biography of Lois at the end of this book, too! Everything just tied right in for my own life and loves!

Best of all were the forwards to each of the books. One that resonated with me most was that of Judy Blume! I’m glad I am not alone in having such wonderful memories of these books and the memories of my younger years that fit just right.

I think I will try to check more of these out from our e-reader library.

Oh! Just a note. As I started the first book I was disappointed not to have text-to-speech or any audio to help me out. I was able to use Natural Reader to get me through. The rest of the books in the treasury did have text-to-speech making my life a lot easier.

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Fever 1793Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this masterpiece a couple of days ago. It was part of my anti-depression about my husband being in the hospital while I was home with fibro-flare. In this case, I would say misery loves company. Or… at least things aren’t as bad as it was then.

This was a birthday present from me–to me! I had picked up the whispersync for voice also so I was able to listen to Emily Bergl’s narration. I have to admit she is not my favorite narrator. But once she was into the story I felt drawn in and forgot that there was a narrator.

Laurie Halse Anderson always amazes me with her works. This book is no exception. Wow! The amount of research that she dug through to write this fiction is overwhelming! This is based on a real epidemic that happened just a few years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yellow Fever takes over. But no one knows yet that it is due to the mosquitoes. Medicine was still in its infancy. Through Ms. Anderson, we get to see what could have happened to a young girl, her family and her community.

Okay. Confession time. I have never been a history buff. I did have a fabulous professor in college that made me appreciate it a bit. That class was when I was in my forties. So imagine how long it was that I hated history. I think with books like this I might have been able to relate to historical events as a middle grader on. This younger generation is so lucky to have such writers as Laurie Halse Anderson!

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Tears of the Giraffe
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the series. For my review of the first book go here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/395919607

I didn’t think I would go on and read the next book. But I saw that my library had the Kindle version AND the audio CDs to go along with it. And as luck would have it I was able to check them out at the same time!

I can’t tell you how marvelous it is to listen to the narration of Lisette Lecat and her accent. Yes, I could have read the Kindle version without the text-to-speech and no audio version to help me. After all, I did read three chapters before the CDs showed up for me to check out. But that voice brought a reality to the characters of Botswana’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

What a beautifully told story! It does stray from my goal of reading books written by females with strong female characters. By the way, that goal is swiftly narrowing down to wanting to read mostly OLDER females. I’m tired of Young Adult books. But, though this is written by a male, I find the older female and her co-characters written so well that I dearly love this series.

I hear that it has been made into HBO series. I can understand why. Yet I can’t imagine it is as wonderful as these books. How can visual arts capture inner thoughts? But I will watch them and give them a chance.

Since I can’t afford to buy this series I will have to take it slowly as the library has the copies of Kindle and audio available.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have always related to Charlie Brown. He is wishy-washy in a debate as he is able to see both sides of the argument and then because of that both side are mean to him. The good side of being that way is that you can pick and chose and grow with your opinion. In the end, he always wins. Heck, the cartoons are headed with his name. That cute little wooden tree wins, too. Of course, for this former tree-book-lover turned Kindle-e-book-lover. tree-hugger, my choice of tree would have been the live potted kind that can be planted outside later. This year my tree was a recycled catalogue folded into the shape of a tree for collecting and displaying a few Christmas/Holiday cards. We don’t have room for trees in our tiny over crowded apartment.

Back to the review. I love the cartoon. Usually the book is better than Hollywood versions. In this case, not so much. I couldn’t read it at all on my Fire. I could barely read it on my Tablet. I didn’t even try on my Second Generation or Kindle Keyboard. There is no text-to-speech available. On those Kindles there is no color pictures. But for the purpose of handing a tablet to the child to listen to the story this stinks! And this book isn’t loanable. The only good way to read it is the PC Kindle. And hey. where is the great music? I miss Schroeder’s piano playing!

Though the Christmas tree, which has become just as commercialized as the rest of what used to be a Holy Day which was borrowed from pagan religions and even the date was changed for Christ’s birth to win over the pagans aligning closely with Solstice. SO let’s instead stay with Peace and Love and respect for our planet as steward. Care for people as Christ did for the woman at the well. The Angel said “Be not afraid.” Fear is what is causing the bigotry and wars. That to me is the real reason for the season: Peace and Love and Be Not Afraid. Possible that was the message of this illustrated book with font too small too read. Great pictures. though!

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Review: The Book Thief


The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death narrates this wonderful story about a young girl in Hitler’s Germany. That is a sentence I never would have thought of writing. But that is part of the many surprises in this story. If you’ve read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, you have a vision of Death. Though this book is covering more serious matters, the author brings in wit and wisdom, and shows us all how to care, how to love.

Early baby-boomers and their parents know deeply what happened pre and during World War II. Most books covering this era, with anger and depression and rightly so. This book looks at all of that plus teaches a girl to read and write. Okay, now that sounds like elementary school. And though this could be read to a younger audience the subject matter is quite mature. In fact, it is a great way to introduce to younger people how Hitler grew his army and how people learned to blame others for their problems (sounds a lot like what is happening now in many ways).

Right from the start I found I cared for Death and the other characters. But most of all I loved the quirky writing style. I have read in other reviews that the style was distracting, but I found it was necessary. We need to take the subject lighter so that we can live with the girl in her own innocence. The turn of a phrase in this author’s writing kept me highlighting all over the place. Markus Zusak is amazing!

This Kindle version was given to me for a birthday gift from my friend, Yve. Thank you so much! I picked up the audio version from the library, hence breaking up my current reading list. I loved the narrator of the audio, Allan Corduner. He acted the parts and kept me interested. Though this was the library Overdrive version, I think I will use this month’s credit to get the Audible copy. That’s how much I loved the combination. I plan to read this again. As for the movie? I am not sure I want to watch it yet. I am too in love with my own imaginary movie.

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Review: Dragonflight


Dragonflight
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a second reading for this series. I loved these books so long ago, and find I am excited to be back in Pern. I didn’t change my star rating as they are just as wonderful now as when I read them the first time.

The difference, this time, is I had the Audible version to listen to while keeping track on the Kindle version, and in the huge book version, Dragonriders of Pern, that contains Dragonflight, Dragonquest and White Dragon. My eyes couldn’t stay with the book version at all. The font was too small.

This Audible version had Dick Hill as narrator. His deep voice resonated within me, especially when he did the voice for Robinton. Oh, how I had missed that Masterharper! Mr. Hill was able to keep the characters different while not making the females sound silly. In fact, I think his strength was in drawing out Lessa’s personality.

My soul misses Anne McCaffrey and her wit and imagination. At least we still have all her books to immerse ourselves in.

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Dragon Makes New FRIENDS
Dragon Makes New FRIENDS by Michael Yu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every now and then I need a break from being an adult reader. Most of the time I read Young Adult because I can fill in the holes of enjoyable reading that wasn’t there when I was a YA. But who can resist an illustrated book about friendly dragons?

My older Kindles are usually my go-to reads as they have text-to-speech and adjustable fonts for my visual needs. These old Kindles do not do justice to picture books. Tablets and the Fire are best for children’s books with colorful pictures. And the illustrations in Dragon Makes New Friends are fun. I did wonder how a child cut the apple in half, and how the boy had two feet, but one leg seemed broken(?). Maybe a child wouldn’t notice these things. They were just things that stopped me.

The little story was in poetry form that sound out well in my head most of the time. Then there was the word that represented the sound of a limb getting ready to break. Hopefully, this is an easy fix, how about ‘creak’ instead of ‘creek’? Even still, this was a delightful story with fun pictures. And the message that we can be friends with others who are not like us, is one all ages of people should learn.

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