Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary | Audiobook Review

Ramona the Pest (Ramona, #2)

While this is the second book in the Ramona Quimby series, it's only the first book that's from Ramona's point of view.  And while Ramona has only aged one year (she's five years old in this one), it was published 13 years after Beezus and Ramona (1955 and 1968).  Interestingly, that's not obvious at all in the content of the book!  There's no blatant cultural shifts.  I think that really speaks volumes for Beverly Cleary's writing talent!

I thought Ramona the Pest was actually a really sweet look at a young girl's perception of beginning kindergarten.  Poor Ramona tries so hard to be good at kindergarten.  She loves her teacher and enjoys (most of) her classmates... but things just keep going wrong!  It can't be her fault, right?  I think I might have been Ramona when I was five...  lol  Even though the protagonist is female, I think girls and boys who are starting kindergarten would enjoy this book as a readaloud!

As with the first book, there a few cultural differences in this book versus more contemporary reads.  Ramona walks herself to school alone, and I think there's a mention that her dad smokes, and there's a big deal made about her teacher's stockings (would a modern kindergarten teacher wear stockings?  Possibly not)... but it's not enough to detract any from the plot, and there's no language used that wouldn't be understandable by a modern five year old.

The same narrator narrates Ramona the Pest, and she continues to perform at or slightly above expectations.  With YA books, the narrator often sounds young, like they're a teen or very young adult themselves.  With Adult books, the narrator is, of course, an adult.  It kind of throws me a little when I'm listening to Juvenile literature and the narrator is an older adult.  But that's the way it always is.  You'll see in my next review- I get more and more used to it!

*I checked out my copy of Ramona the Pest from my local library.  (In fact, they had a "package" where I used only one download credit on Hoopla and got all of the Ramona books in one!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!  Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish blog.  Click on the image above to visit their blog and join in the fun yourself!

Top Ten Books I Ended Up Liking a Lot More Than I Thought I Would!
Sometimes I get book recommendations from loved ones and I always follow up on them.  Sometimes, though, I'm a little skeptical about them.  For instance, I wouldn't say that fantasy is one of my fave genres, and my aunt and hubby recommend them to me all the time.  I almost always end up loving the ones that they recommend!  Or books assigned for class- I don't think anyone expects to end up loving their textbooks!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)
1. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.  As I mentioned, fantasy isn't my go-to genre.  Two years ago, though, my Bookish Secret Santa sent me a lovely hardcover copy of Throne of Glass, I read it in 48 hours, LOVED it, and have never looked back.  Celaena kicks butt!

The Martian
2. The Martian by Andy Weir.  I definitely don't pick up sci-fi on my own.  But my manager at the time told me that I needed to read this one... and who can say no to that?  lol  I am so very glad I read it!  It's hilarious, and definitely not your typical sci-fi.  I immediately gave a copy to my dad to read too!

The Harlem Hellfighters
3. The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks.  I received a free ARC of this one from the publisher and put off reading it for the longest time.  Look at that cover- it did not scream "read me!" to me!  But then I was trying to complete the PopSugar Reading Challenge in 2015 and needed a graphic novel and I grabbed this one and LOVED it!  I now recommend it all the time.  It's very well done, and I learned a lot of new history facts from it.

Oracle of Philadelphia (Earthbound Angels, #1)Raising Chaos (Earthbound Angels, #2)
4. The Earthbound Angels series by Elizabeth Corrigan.  These are published by a really small indie press, so I didn't have a ton of faith in them.  I know I shouldn't pre-judge like that, but I do... just can't help myself.  Anyway, these books came to my attention through my other blog, Tynga's Reviews, and I LOVE them!  They're full of so much excellent, snarky humor.  And I love snark.  :)

Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage, #1)The Rosetta Key (Ethan Gage, #2)The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage, #3)
5. The Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich.  My dad passed along a copy of the fourth book in the series to me awhile back... I'm one of "those people," though, who have to start at the beginning of a series, so I read the first three books.  I did not care for Ethan Gage at first, but he's totally grown on me!  I haven't yet read the fourth book, but I'm actually looking forward to it now!

The Invention of Wings
6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Honestly, I knew nothing at all about this book before I picked it up, but the sister-in-law recommended it to me.  I'm so glad she did!  It's a fantastic historic fiction read, told by two narrators.  I should've known Sue Monk Kidd wouldn't disappoint!  Two thumbs up.

Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide To Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One
7. Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide to Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One by Jenna Von Oy.  I read this one while preggers myself, and I really did laugh my way through it!  I have a deep mistrust of celebrity memoirs- so many of them fall flat.  But this one was honest and funny and even gave me reassurance about some pregnancy stuff, so it was a win in my book.

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches #1)
8. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  I've only read eight or nine of the forty-some books in this series, but they're addicting!  I'm sure I'll get to the rest of them sooner or later.  This one was recommended by the hubby.  He kept mentioning them and mentioning them and I kept resisting and resisting until he finally said I HAD to try the first one.  So I did.  And I laughed through the whole thing!  No more badgering- I'm voluntarily picking them up off the shelf to read!

Library Technology and User Services: Planning, integration, and usability engineering
9. Library Technology and User Services: Planning, Integration, and Usability Engineering by Anthony Chow.  This one was a textbook for my Library Administration/Management class, and I ended up truly enjoying it!  It was actually useful, and I think that helped.  Definitely didn't resell this one!

Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, #1)Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2)
10. The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead.  I've only read the first two books in the series (they're pretty thick, and require some concentration to read), but so far they're only improving.  The hubby told me that I need to read them.  They're a version of the Arthur/Merlin legend.

And you?  Any books that you ended up loving or hating more than you thought you would?  Leave your link below and I'll come visit your list too!  Have a great day!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary | Audiobook Review

Beezus and Ramona (Ramona, #1)

Oh what FUN, revisiting these books during my commute!  Beezus and Ramona is the first book in the Ramona series.  This series is about young Ramona and her family- older sister Beezus, her mom, her dad, and her cat, Picky Picky.

Beezus and Ramona is actually slightly different from the rest of the series.  In this one, Beezus is the primary narrator.  I remembered Ramona being the narrator of the whole series, so that makes me wonder if I ever actually read this very first book.  In it, Ramona is only four years old, and very precocious.  Reading about her, I laughed out loud.  Thinking about being Beezus, older sister to Ramona... I certainly felt for her!  

These sister have such an authentic and caring relationship.  Even though Ramona can drive Beezus up the wall, Beezus still doesn't hesitate when their mother suggests that she take Ramona to the library for the afternoon.

Originally published in 1955, there are a few cultural differences in this book... the girls go quite a few places around town completely unsupervised.  They're very responsible about it, and there's no sense of abandonment.  It was just a completely different time.  Now, you'd probably not leave your nine year and four year old home alone together, or send them walking down to the community center alone... especially knowing that the four year old would be playing alone outside of the community center while the nine year old was in art class!

Like I said, I literally laughed out loud while listening to it.  I found the sisters' relationship so sweet.  The narrator did justice to the tone of the book.  Overall, a good read!

*I checked out my copy of Beezus and Ramona from my local library.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins | Book Review

The Nursing Mother's Companion

The summary on the back says that "breastfeeding is natural, but it is not entirely instinctual..." and that is so true.  This book is comforting and engaging and informative.  It covers everything.  I'm a reader, so I read it cover to cover, but you don't have to.  This means that I even read some pages that covered how to train yourself to produce milk for breastfeeding an adopted infant!  Fascinating.

Like I said, though:  it's an excellent book to have as a resource if you're choosing to breastfeed.  It's informative without ever coming across as judge-y.  My boy and I hit pretty nearly every roadbump mentioned in the book, and I found it comforting to read that they're common roadbumps!  There are so many stages to the breastfeeding process, too, and this book can help prepare you for the next stage, whatever that stage may be.  If you're able to continue breastfeeding and/or pumping for the entire first year, the book also covers the weaning process; if you choose to keep going, the book describes what it looks like to breastfeed a toddler.  And if you are not able to make it the whole first year, the book tells you options for that, too- without judgement.  I love it.

The Nursing Mother's Companion is time-tested and chock full of information.  I highly recommend!

*I checked out my copy of The Nursing Mother's Companion from my local library.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Super Baby Food: Absolutely Everything You Should Know About Feeding Your Baby and Toddler From Starting Solid Foods to Age Three Years by Ruth Yaron | Book Review

Super Baby Food: Absolutely Everything You Should Know about Feeding Your Baby and Toddler from Starting Solid Foods to Age Three Years

My sister-in-law recommended this book, and I'm so glad she did!!  It's a fantastic resource!  I was quite nervous about introducing solid foods to my first-born kidlet because I had no clue what I was doing.  This book explains baby nutrition in easy-to-understand language.  When you first get your hands on a copy, you might feel a little intimidated- it's pretty thick.  But it's a resource.  You don't have to read it cover to cover.  (I did, but I'm a literary weirdo.)  There are easy-to-find sections on nutrition, what to feed your baby each month, and recipes.  There's also a section on food/feeding safety.  I definitely made a note of what foods to introduce each month, and followed that as a guide for many months.  Now, you will still want to check with your pediatrician- the book recommended introducing eggs at 8 months, but my pediatrician wanted me to wait till 1 year.  But I found the guide super helpful for brainstorming what fruits and veggies to introduce my kidlet to.  I never would've thought to puree asparagus for him, and he ended up loving that!  There are detailed instructions on how to cook and puree foods for your little one, and even some super simple "recipes" for toddler food.  Of course there's also the instructions for making Super Porridge.  I think a lot of people know about Super Porridge- I saw YouTube videos of various celeb moms talking about it and/or demonstrating how to make it.  I never got good at it, but I'm not the most patient cook!  I definitely recommend this helpful guide to feeding your baby solid foods.

*I checked out my copy of Super Baby Food from my local library.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

By Hook or by Crook by Betty Hechtman | Audiobook Review

By Hook or by Crook (Crochet Mystery, #3)

The third installment in the Crochet Mystery series, By Hook or by Crook, is just as good as the first two!  Yes, it's still a somewhat predictable cozy mystery, but that's ok.  I'm liking the main character, Molly Pink, more and more with each book.  She's just such a good person!  And relatable.  And real.  She's not perfect, but she does love her family and friends with an unequaled ferocity.

This book features filet crochet, which is a more obscure technique.  I happen to know the technique, but I don't hear a lot of people talking about it ever, so I don't think it's widely practiced.  I like doing it for bookmarks or table runners.  The mystery focuses on a woman who leaves a piece of filet crochet and a note filled with remorse/guilt at a table that the Tarzana Hookers are manning at a local craft fair.  Along the way, Molly will uncover a secret affecting multiple generations and the murderer of a famous crocheter.

This particular book was slightly more serious than your average cozy mystery.  There's a small subplot involving anorexia, and one of Molly's friends is going through some really trying relationship issues.  Everything is still kept just light enough to not be a "downer."

I listened to this as an audiobook.  Still not really connecting with the narrator, and I can't say why, so it's 100% just me.  You'll probably think it's just fine.

One thing with this series:  the hard copies include crochet patterns and recipes, and the audiobooks omit them.  Bummer.

*I checked out my copy of By Hook or by Crook from my local library.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dead Men Don't Crochet by Betty Hechtman | Audiobook Review

Dead Men Don't Crochet (Crochet Mystery, #2)

Dead Men Don't Crochet is the second book in the Crochet Mystery cozy mystery series.  Y'all have heard of "cozy mysteries," right?  Murder mysteries minus any gore?  They're often lacking in sex and language, also, making these pretty safe books to hand to Grandma.  I enjoy them as little breaks in more intense reading.  Also, two of the first adult book series I ever read were cozy mysteries!  (Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries by Tamar Myers (and my first author meet-and-greet) and the "Cat Who" series by Lillian Jackson Braun.)

This cozy mystery series follows Molly Pink, an upper-middle-aged widow who manages events for a local bookstore, including leading the crochet group that meets there.  They make things to donate to local charities.  In her free time, she gets herself mixed up in murder mysteries around town.  

In this volume, there's been a murder in a local shop, and one of the Tarzana Hookers is suspected of the murder!  Molly jumps right in with investigating.  Hijinks ensue.  These cozy mysteries are a little predictable... but that's ok.  That's why they're cozy!

I can't resist this little teaser:  while dead men do not, in fact, crochet... some very unexpected men do!  You won't believe what man ends up crocheting in Dead Men Don't Crochet.  ;)

I listened to the audiobook version of Dead Men Don't Crochet.  I didn't really connect with the narrator... I can't put my finger on anything in particular that was wrong, but it just wasn't quite right, either.  Maybe it's just me.

*I checked out my copy of Dead Men Don't Crochet from my local library.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, Stacking the Shelves!  Click on the image above to find out more and to join in the fun yourself!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman | Book Review

Hooked on Murder (Crochet Mystery, #1)

Flashback Friday Review!

Hooked on Murder is the first book in a cozy mystery series, and I read it in September 2010.  I just now went to review the second book in the series and realized that I'd never reviewed the first book here on the blog.  Y'all know how thorough I like to be, so I wanted to pause for a moment to catch you up on the first book.

I gave the book four of five stars and didn't write a review.  So here's the official back-of-the-book synopsis!  Molly Pink is about to discover the joys of crochet.  It's a relaxing escape from her hectic life as a bookstore event manager... and from the stress of being Tarzana, California's latest murder suspect.  For Molly, the weekly crochet group at Shedd & Royal Books and More was just another event to manage.  Then she stumbled across the body of group leader Ellen Sheridan.  Her complicated past with Ellen has made her a prime suspect, and after being cuffed and questioned, she could use a little diversion.  Never mind that she doesn't know how to crochet.  Granny squares don't look that hard to make.  But while Molly's fending off a detective with a grudge and navigating crochet group politics, the real killer is at large.  And it's up to Molly to catch the culprit before she winds up in a tight knot.  Delicious recipe and crochet pattern included!

*I own my copy of Hooked on Murder.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore | Audiobook Review

The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies, #5)

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, continuing to review this great YA alien series!  Click on the cover image above to find out more.

*I checked out my copy of The Revenge of Seven from my local library.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Splendor by Anna Godbersen | Audiobook Review

Splendor (Luxe, #4)

Splendor was splendiforous!  lol  It was really good, in all seriousness.  Probably the best one in the series!  In Splendor, there's more than just romantic intrigue- there's also maybe-murder intrigue!  

The main characters have all done quite a bit of growing up, and many are even parents now.  They have their own households.  Now, that's not to say that they're out of the society papers!  No, never!  They are definitely still making the papers with their balls and dinners.  But they also have more meaningful relationships and activities in their days.

Elizabeth and Diana undercover a few clues that indicate that their father's death may not have been as "natural" as they thought.  Through their investigation, they'll continue to grow into their adult selves and learn at what cost all the splendor comes.

I started this series very disillusioned with Luxe.  I was able to enjoy the frivolity of Rumors.  Envy was ok, because I was invested by that point.  Splendor lets this series end on a very high note.  I'm not sure that I can recommend the series (two out of four books being enjoyable isn't a great ratio) but I wouldn't discourage readers.  If you like historic fiction and some drama, this is the series for you!

I listened to Splendor as an audiobook and it was pretty good.  Nothing to write home about, but also nothing to complain about.  The story takes the forefront.

*I checked out my copy of Splendor from my local library.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham with Curt Coffman | Book Review

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

This was another book that I read for class, and ended up really enjoying!  Seriously!  So now the question:  did Dr. Chow manage to be the first professor ever to assign good, relevant texts to his students, or am I that nerdy?  lol  (I'm betting on the former.)

This is a great narrative, explaining a lengthy and in-depth study done of the world's greatest managers of corporations.  There is so much good advice in this book.  The crux of the book is the "12 Questions."  Dr. Chow kept coming back to these over and over again in class, and I used them to jump-start conversations with several members of leadership at my library.  I honestly believe that this book helped land me the job I now hold!  I used this book as the basis for a conversation with an Associate Director, and then I was offered an interview!  (And I got the job eventually.  :) )  These magical 12 questions really make you think about your job, in a good way.  Even if you can't answer yes to the questions right now, the book gives advice on how you can get there eventually.  And you don't have to want to be a manager; this book gives solid advice for succeeding at any level in your organization.

Another selling point?  The book is written in laymen's terms, without a lot of business buzzwords.  It's totally accessible to anyone and everyone.  The pace is fast enough to keep you engaged without boredom.  A "business management" book I'd recommend to nearly anyone!

*I own my copy of First, Break All the Rules.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Envy by Anna Godbersen | Audiobook Review

Envy (Luxe, #3)

With Envy, the third book in the Luxe series, we are back to DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA.  Forget love triangles- we've got love dodecahedrons in this one.  At one point I considered whether or not I should pull out pen and paper to make a diagram so that I could remember who loved whom.  

Don't fret- it didn't end up being necessary.  I was able to keep up.  These books aren't terribly deep; no water floaties required.  lol  This is more of a guilty pleasure type of read.  They've got love and scheming and ballgowns and gossip.  All the characters are young and fearless.  (They may all be a couple tacos short of a combo platter too...)  Definitely entertaining; definitely brain-cell-killing.

We see a lot of Penelope in Envy.  Every series has to have that character that everyone can rally around hating, and Penelope is it.  She's the worst!  She's almost a caricature of her own type, she's so bad.

I'm still rooting for Elizabeth and Diana in this book; Diana seems to actually have a sensible head on her shoulders, and Elizabeth seems to have matured on her trip out west.  Too bad they're still stuck in the society circus in NYC!  At least we readers get to enjoy the show.

I listened to the audiobook of Envy.  There's not really anything fantastic to mention about it, but nothing to complain about either.

*I checked out my copy of Envy from my local library.