Not Quite Home

Not Quite Home

Mysteries, histories, comedies, classics, children's, YA, British and Russian lit, nonfiction--I love reading, especially with a bold cup of coffee or a steaming mug of tea in my hands. 

Review
5 Stars
Long live Ricky Baker!
Wild Pork And Watercress - Barry Crump, Malcolm Evans

I usually think the book version of a story is better than the movie, but sometimes the opposite is true. In this case, I enjoyed the book (Wild Pork and Watercress) and the movie (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) equally even though they have very different endings. Barry Crump (book) and Taika Waititi (movie) both have wonderfully humorous ways of looking at the world, and if anybody had to turn this book into a movie, I can’t think of anyone who could do it better. The book has a lot of words and phrases that would be familiar to any New Zealander, but I had to look things up (for example, a chook is a chicken) which added to my enjoyment. Wild Pork and Watercress is funny, engaging, touching, and sometimes sad. Long live Ricky Baker!


Review
4 Stars
Interesting mystery
The Sixteen Trees of the Somme - Paul Russell Garrett, Lars Mytting

This mix of mystery and history worked on a number of levels for me because I’m interested in both, and I found myself looking up more information on certain things to help me get a fuller understanding. While I didn’t necessarily like all of the characters’ decisions, I enjoyed the mystery, which served as a good reminder that every family has secrets—and some families have more than others. If you like books with a twist (or several), you might enjoy Sixteen Trees of the Somme. I did. 

Review
3 Stars
Touching tale
The Leopard Tree - Tim Merriman,  Lisa Brochu

Three orphans travel unsupervised from Kenya to the United States to try to get the United Nations (and the rest of the world) to war less and help more. It’s a lovely premise, but too much of what happens in here is so far fetched that I just couldn’t really get into it the way I wanted to. However, the basic storyline is very touching, and reading it made me think about the number of children living in horrible circumstances all around the world and how I need to do more to help and support those on front lines trying to make our world a better place. 

Review
5 Stars
Books like this made me love reading!
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel - Will Staehle, Tania del Rio

I love everything about this book: engaging plot, fantastic illustrations, ongoing suspense, and interesting characters. Warren the 13th has everything! I know it’s been compared to the Lemony Snicket series, but I prefer Warren the 13th by a pretty wide margin. This was fun to read, and the illustrations are superb. Books like this are what me fall in love with reading (oh so long ago), and that’s a wonderful thing to be reminded of!

 

 

Review
5 Stars
So cool!
A Study in Scarlet (The Sherlock Holmes Children's Collection) - Stephanie Baudet,  Arthur Conan Doyle

The illustrations are really cute, and I can’t think of a better way to introduce kids to Sherlock Holmes. I enjoyed the heck out of this, and I highly recommend it to teachers, parents, and of course my fellow Sherlockians for whom there can never be too much of a good Holmes thing. I got a review copy from Netgalley, but my review is sincere, and as a teacher who just introduced my students to Sherlock with great success, I highly recommend this version for younger readers! 
These are some of my kids’ creative projects. Enjoy!

Review
5 Stars
One of my students suggested I read this, and I’m glad he did
The Emperor of All Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee

There are so many things in this history/biography of cancer that made me hopeful but also many that infuriated me, such as how so many women were mutilated because doctors didn’t want to believe what the research showed about radical mastectomies. Anyway, after I finished the book, I watched the Ken Burns special because this is all so fascinating, and even though I don’t have a medical background, I could still understand what I read because the information is presented so well. An excellent, infuriating, informative, and unforgettable book, for sure. 

Review
4.5 Stars
My thoughts, exactly!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman

I thought I disliked magical realism, but I was so wrong. This is my first Gaiman, and it blew me away. He has an uncanny ability to capture and communicate the things children think and feel, and I was whizzed back to my own childhood more than once. I got caught up in the story and felt actual suspense to the point that I had to stop myself from skimming quickly through the text because I was anxious to know what would happen next. This was worth staying up late to read when the house was quiet. Who needs sleep? I’m going to read more of Gaiman in the days ahead. 

Review
5 Stars
So much fun to read!
The Case of the Reincarnated Client: A Vish Puri Mystery Book - Tarquin Hall

I actually laughed out loud reading this! I love, love, love the indubitable detective Vish Puri and the indomitable Mummi-ji, along with the rest of the zany cast of characters that made this book (and all the others in the series) so much fun to read, and every time I read one of these books, I get an insatiable hunger for Indian food, and without fail, I end up making the long drive to my not-so-local Indian buffet to satisfy it! Good book + good food = good fun!

Review
1 Stars
I had high hopes because I love his Sisters Grimm books, but...
Undertow - Michael Buckley

This book didn’t work for me on too many levels. Maybe I needed more exposition on the fish people, but for whatever the reason, my suspension of disbelief didn’t kick in near soon enough for me to buy into this alternate version of reality. I was a full third in before I could even get remotely interested, and I forced myself to finish it. It’s the first in a trilogy I won’t be completing because I couldn’t buy into it and consequently couldn’t care less about where this goes. 

Review
3 Stars
Honor killing or...?
A Curious Indian Cadaver - Shamini Flint

Like it’s predecessors in the Inspector Singh series, this one includes no shortage of suspects, and it’s always fun sorting out the real clues from the red herrings. Of course Mrs. Singh is on hand to be sure that our eponymous inspector never enjoys himself too much or celebrates his victories very long. 

Review
3 Stars
Magical Realism
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store - Higashino Keigo, ???? (Higashino Keigo)

I didn’t love it or hate it; I merely liked it, but that’s good enough, and while I ordinarily enjoy everything Higashino writes, I’m just not a fan of magical realism, so I didn’t appreciate this novel the way I dig his detective fiction. Still, Higashino’s a skillful story teller, and this is an interesting read. Even though it’s not in a genre I normally prefer, I enjoyed it well enough. 

Review
5 Stars
Never Boring
Journey Under the Midnight Sun - Keigo Higashino

Definitely one of my favorite books by Keigo Higashino!

Review
3.5 Stars
He was “just following orders,” but then again, weren’t they all?
Inspector Singh Investigates: A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree - Shamini Flint

I appreciate the history that serves as the backdrop for the novel, and while the parts about the genocide that took place under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge might be a bit too harsh for some people to consider this a true cozy mystery, it’s still a well-written addition to the Inspector Singh series. 

Review
4.5 Stars
Encouragement for Dark Days
Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not - Groeschel,  Craig

I read this when my life and I were both falling apart, and I have to say that if any book would’ve been able to get through to me, this would’ve been it. While I didn’t read this and suddenly feel as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders, I did get some encouragement from Groeschel, and a glimmer of hope shone into a very dark place when I needed it most. For that, I am grateful. 

Review
4 Stars
Emotional and poignant
Laurus - Lisa C. Hayden, Евгений Водолазкин

At times I found myself so frustrated with this book because of the turmoil experienced by the protagonist, but at no point did I want to stop reading. The protagonist, who undergoes several name changes, experiences some of the worst life has to offer, and at one point, despair seems to drive him literally mad, but the more he is tormented, from within or without, the more he gives himself away in the service of others. While young, he experiences trauma that shapes the remainder of his days, and he spends the majority of his life trying to make up for a sin/mistake that can’t be fixed. Moments of torment intertwined with moments of beauty comprise the lifetime of Laurus, a soul that heals others but that itself will not be healed. 

Review
5 Stars
My Favorite Mad Titan
MARVEL's Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos: Titan Consumed (Marvel Studio' Avengers: Infinity War) - Barry Lyga

Maybe because I’m a bit mad myself, I dunno, the bottom line is I actually think I “get” Thanos and why he did what he did. Granted, in the movies, his original impetus is equilibrium, whereas in the original comics, he’s just trying to impress Death, the object of his somewhat misguided affections.

Anyway, Lyga present’s the Mad Titan’s backstory here in a way that makes Thanos if not quite a hero, at least as a somewhat sympathetic character who just can’t understand why his desire to help is constantly met with utter scorn and rejection (as is the Titan, himself. Even his own mother hates him).

There were moments when I wanted to envelope the big purple guy in a bear hug and moments when I wanted to choke his neck. Sometimes I felt great empathy for him, and other times I was almost disgusted with myself for feeling so much compassion for a guy who... well, I won’t give it away.

This was a one-sitting read for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

2016 NetGalley Challenge First To ReadReviews PublishedProfessional Reader