What's Going On Here?

There are SO MANY wonderful book review blogs out there and I can't compete with them, that is for sure. So this is not a book review blog. This is just a way for me to organize what I have read so that I can be better at matching the right book to the right person. The blog title comes from the brilliant mind of the most talented woman who ever lived, Ms. Judy Garland. The full quote is, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else." That is what I hope to do here and in ever aspect of my life.

Monday, May 15, 2017

In My Humble Opinion

Rita Williams-Garcia is going to go down as one of the finest writers for young people of all time.  Her talent is incredible.  The Gaither Sisters are among the best characters in children's literature.   If, after reading this awesome historical/period fiction series, you need anymore proof of that, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is sure to make you see that I am right.  I count her right up there with the greats for being able to take a reader back in time, and/or into a character's mind and world, all of that which makes a book a magical trip, you know?  Like Christopher Paul Curtis, like Katherine Paterson, like Gary Paulsen, like Madeleine L'Engle.
I don't know much about the Blues.  I wish I did.  This novel and my recent trip to New Orleans were I heard some great street blues bands, makes me want to know more.  Here is a great website that helped me understand the difference between blues and jazz music!  The novel begins in Washington Square Park where Clayton is playing blues with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd and Papa Byrd's friends in a blues band called the Bluesmen.  A lot of the book takes place in the subway system of NYC.  Just a great, great book.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Not a Book Review Blog

And my star rating on goodreads, they aren't really reviewing the books, now that I think about it. What they really do is express how I personally felt about the book.  Please Don't Tell was SO a wrong book for me.  But it might be the right book for someone else.  I do love love.  I didn't used to love love because I was never in love before but now that I know that love is real and wonderful and amazing, I am embarrassed by how anti-love I used to be!
The thing is, murder and love and especially serial killers and love don't mix well for me.  And that is this book.
Here is one good thing about the book.  The women in this book are ridiculous about love.  One is a very accomplished doctor in her early 30s or late 20s and the other is 58 years old and also a smart cookie and the other is an experience gal in her 20s.  But they act like middle schoolers when it comes to love!  And at first I was thinking, "no one would act this way!" but now I understand what it is like to feel so young, even when old, when love walks in your life.  Especially when you least expect it.   But feeling validated in my mushy, gushy, head-over-heels, you make me feel so young thoughts that get stronger every day, even as my second year anniversary of it approaches, could make me like this book.

Jellyfish

The thing about The Thing about Jellyfish is that the author, Ali Benjamin, MUST know what it is like to lose a best friend.  I don't know what it is like to have lost a best friend in such a devastating way as Suzy, the main character has, but I do know that loss.  The whole "how does the world go on turning" deal.
I also learned a lot about jellyfish!  I remember being a kid and stopping by a beach in North Carolina (I say "stopping by" because we never stayed at a beach, we were just passing through) and seeing a girl who had just been stung on her side by one.  It just seemed terrible!
This was really, really an excellent book.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Family Values

Thieving Weasels is proof that Jesus was so right when He redefined family!  Always makes me laugh, the "family values" Christians, who seem to forget that!  Billy Taylor is a new author for me and I want to read his adult book now.  This was just such a funny and fresh book!  I loved it!
I especially loved Skip's girlfriend's reaction to finding out about Skip's past.  I think that it was so not like every other book and just the real and best reaction.  I won't say more because it wouldn't be a big spoiler, but it would spoil that particular part.

Monday, May 8, 2017

To be fair

allow me to post some links to the praise that History of Wolves has gotten from well respected sources.
The New York Times
NPR
Kirkus Reviews
As for me,
wow
that was terrible.
And I LOVE books set in Minnesota!
And this was set in Northern Minnesota!
And I love Northern Minnesota!  Though I am not sure if "n" should be a capital there or not.
And it even mentions Grand Rapids!
And you-know-who was born in Grand Rapids!
But wow.
The main character is such a jerk.  So unlikable that she is not even a good main character in the sense that being unlikable makes her real.  I mean, I know there are people out there like she, but wow.  What a self-centered jerk.  As a child and as an adult remembering her childhood.
Thing is, I hate writing a bad review of any book.  I acknowledge that this book is well written.  I acknowledge that the author, Emily Fridlund is a zillion times more talented than I.  But man, this book just wasn't for me.  I didn't understand it.  So maybe that is why!  I mean, this was for sure, literary fiction and I am not very literary.  I am not a bright bulb.  I readily admit that, so maybe I am just not smart enough to understand HOW.  I put those links on there so that you can see what folks FAR brighter than I had to say about HOW and I would love to hear your take on it.
I was really bothered by the depiction of the pedophile as a sympathetic character, even though I know he was probably a pedophile because someone molested him, and even though I know we are not to judge.  But man, anyone who hurts our children or our elderly, among the most vulnerable in our society...man, man, man...I just have a super hard time having a kind thought for them.  And that is on me.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I Noticed


that I gave four stars to Spy School and five stars to both Spy Camp and Evil Spy School.  I think it might be because I was impressed by the way that the story was easy to pick up, without the first books being over rehashed and also the story still stayed fresh and interesting!  In any case, I am looking forward to Spy Ski School

Another All True Kinda Deal!

Robert B. Parker's Little White Lies by Ace Atkins has a message that is all too true, sadly.  In this case the "bad guy" is a big time fraud and yet has been on countless news shows as an expert, faking his way through it all.  Claiming to be a former Navy SEAL or special forces, serious military hero, all kinds of things.  And one of the reasons he is easily able to defraud the woman who hires Spenser is that the guy has really been on these news shows- the media having never checked his background!   There are a lot of creeps who do this.  Great book, as usual.  Atkins, as I have said before, does a really terrific job with Spenser!  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Real Horror Story

As I have mentioned, Minnesota is my favorite state.  And Duluth is a beautiful city.  I love driving across this bridge and entering my favorite state!
The setting is just one of the reasons why I love the Johnathan Stride books.  Another reason is that Brian Freeman is just a darn great author.  Darn great.  Darn great.
I love the character of Stride.  How he and his wife, Serena, have shown such grace toward one another during their sometimes rocky relationship.  They are both human.  And I love how they love and accept one another's humanness.
One of the best lines in this book, which I can't remember totally because I bought the audio, is from Stride, talking to an FBI agent who has made a serious and deadly mistake, but an honest one.  He says something like, "Does being a part of the FBI mean you have to perfect" or something like that!  Jonathan is just such a good man.
The really scary thing about this book is that it shows the reality that hate breeds hate and violence breeds violence and technology (in this case, social media) can really be used in thoughtless and also malicious ways that can lead to horrible, horrible hate and violence.
Like the Boston bombing, someone has set a bomb off at the end of the Duluth Marathon, which I guess doesn't really exist, but is a combo marathon with Superior, WI.
The aftermath is just a horrible snowball of hate rolling and destroying lives.  And this can happen and it does happen.  And that is what made this book a horror story, but so sadly, one that really happens.  A cautionary tale, but not preachy.  With an ending that will take your breath away. Fantastic on so many levels.