Review / Lost in the Sun

IMG_9229Book: Lost in the Sun (2015)
Author: Lisa Graff
Genre: MG, Contemporary


Opening lines from the book …
When we were real little kids, Mom used to take Aaron and Doug and me to Sal’s Pizzeria for dinner almost every Tuesday, which is when they had their Family Night Special. I think she liked it because she didn’t have to worry about dinner for three growing boys for one night, but we liked it because there was a claw machine there…

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I loved the interaction of the three brothers. Aaron is probably my favorite. He’s the oldest and the one who helps the younger boys navigate all their problems. Of course, we find that it does take a toll on him as well. Doug’s the youngest and is just trying to keep up with the others with all his pranks. And then there’s Trent, the narrator…

2) For most of the book, I had a hard time rooting for Trent. He wasn’t always likeable. I felt sorry for him, but I could NOT understand why he went out of his way to be rude or mean to his teachers. (Okay, so I did know. He wanted those detentions so he didn’t have to visit his dad. I just couldn’t get why you’d want to do that.) That said, by the end of the book, I liked the growth in his character!

3) Since I mentioned the teachers, let’s talk about them here. I liked both Ms. Emerson and Mr. Gorman. Especially Ms. Emerson and all her plants. Trent hates her from the get-go (calls her an old crone), but they eventually establish a truce over the plants!

4) My favorite character probably is Fallon, the girl with the scar on her face. If you ask her about it, she’ll give you a different story each time about how she got that scar. I love how she befriends a friendless Trent. And how it all comes around to him helping her as well.  

5) I also loved the scenes (later in the book) with Annie, Doug’s young friend and the sister of the boy involved in the hockey-puck incident. I like how we get a little closure in that part of the story.

6) There’s a nice baseball theme running through the book. I’m pretty sure that’s what the title is references (when a fly ball gets lost in the glare of the sun).

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) It was hard to like Trent at times. He has a lot of demons over an incident that happened involving a hockey puck. I almost put the book down halfway through, but I’m glad I pushed through.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I would recommend this book to baseball fans but also for how the main character works out his demons. The end of the book is worth getting to!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #49 / Texture

20210116ma_0187“Weathered” / Theme: Texture

A little about this photo…

There’s something about weathered objects at the beach. I put my focus on this whatever-it-is. (I think it’s some sort of old cement footing that may have belonged to a boardwalk or something in the past.)

The lighthouse in the background is out of focus. I tried putting the focus on the lighthouse, but I like this shot better.

I think it’s because of the texture.

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / The Beatryce Prophecy

20211121ma_3988Book: The Beatryce Prophecy (2021)
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Genre: MG, Fantasy


Opening lines from the book …
Answelica was a goat with teeth that were the mirror of her soul—large, sharp, and uncompromising. One of the goat’s favorite games was to lull the monks of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing into a sense of complacency by arranging her features in a benign and indifferent expression. For weeks, she would bite no one.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) Let’s start with Answelica. I loved this goat! (I don’t think I’d like to meet her in real life, but I’m happy to meet her in the pages of a book.) What a character! And yet, she has a soft spot, which comes later in the book.

2) The next character we meet in the book is Brother Edik with the wandering eye (his left eye “would not stay quiet and still, but rolled around in his head…”) He’s the kind of sympathetic and slightly quirky character that we all love in a book like this one. He’s wary of the goat, but he has a heart of gold, especially when it comes to…

3) Beatryce! Yes, Beatryce is a lovely character. The goat practically melts under her touch. And the loyalty she gains from the other characters is definitely deserved. She just exudes a personality that demands loyalty. She seems to be the girl in the prophecy and ends up with a death warrant on her head from a very jealous king. (Okay, so not everybody likes Beatryce.)

4) And then there’s Jack Dory. I didn’t think there was any need to add to the cast of characters until we met him. Love his introduction: “I am Jack Dory!” (My one regret with this book is that we don’t get to know Granny Bibspeak. I really wanted to know her!)   

5) Finally, there’s Cannoc. (Spoiler! He turns out to be the King who walked away, leaving us with a horrible king that wants to kill Beatryce.) He was a lot quieter than the other characters, but I did like him.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) (Another SPOILER alert: At the end, the king gives up his throne to Beatryce’s mom. Except, since we really didn’t get to know the mom, this did not feel like a satisfactory or perfect ending. I am definitely invested in him handing his crown to Beatryce at some point! To be truthful, if I were the author, I’d have killed off the mom. Which sounds horrible, I know! But that’s what authors are supposed to do.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book. It reminded me a little of the Tale of Despereaux, which makes sense since it’s by the same author. Love the connection between the girl and the goat in this one.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #48 / Look Up

20211106ma_3777“Pretty in Yellow” / Theme: Look Up

A little about this photo…

The leaves are almost off the trees by this time in November. But I did get this shot a week or so ago. Isn’t that yellow against the blue enchanting? Even more so when the sun cooperated with the photographer and did its thing!

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / Genius Under the Table

20211015ma_3661Book: Genius Under the Table (2021)
Author: Eugene Yelchin
Genre: MG, Historical (1970s)


Opening lines from the book …
The first time I saw real American tourists, they hopped out of a tourist bus in Red Square in Moscow and cut in front of us in line. “Nice manners!” my mother shouted. “We’ve been freezing our butts off for hours and they just breeze in like that?”

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) The title is a reference to Yevgeny’s place to sleep… and yes, since the whole family sleeps in the same room, that means his place is under the big table! He uses the privacy of this space to work on his drawings. I love that! The kid in me definitely wants to sleep under the table too!

2) I love this author’s depiction of life in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. I felt for young Yevgeny over the idea that to succeed in Soviet society, he must discover his great talent. His brother is a talented figure skater. (Super fun scene where he uses Yevgeny for weight-lifting when he moves over to pairs figure skating.) And there’s the back story about the mom and her own talent. She wants Yevgeny to be a great ballet dancer like Baryshnikov. (Let’s just say, Yevgeny has a different talent than ballet.)

3) The Dad! I loved him so much! The best line is when he talks about genius under the table. (The only thing that really makes me sad about the dad is that he still does not quite see the problem with communism, even if he realizes that Stalin is not as flawless as the State would have them think.)

4) There’s a scene that made me cry… it was so heartbreaking. And I will leave it at that.

5) I thought the connection with Baryshnikov (the ballet dancer) was great. It works really well into Yevgeny’s own story and adds that tidbit of historical happening to this story that I love so much. I definitely did a bit of research on Baryshnikov after reading this book!

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book is so powerful. And wonderful. (I may be a bit prejudiced as I love reading books about the Soviet Union since my own grandmother spent her childhood there.) I loved the peek into Soviet life in the 1970s. I’d also recommend this author’s Breaking Stalin’s Nose, which was a Newbery Honor book.

(P.S. Thank you to Rosi Hollinbeck for this book! I won it as a giveaway. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #47 / Symmetry

20211106ma_3917“Mill House” / Theme: Symmetry

A little about this photo…

I’m going with the symmetry prompt for this photo. I love photographing old buildings. This old grist mill was built in 1809 and was responsible for grinding wheat, oats, rye, and barley and provided flour to the British Army during the War of 1812. 

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

20211023ma_3678Book: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (2018)
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Genre: MG, Contemporary


Opening lines from the book …
I don’t remember the moment that changed my life 4 years ago. Call it a side effect of being struck by lightning. That bold of electricity burned a small hole in my memory. It also rewired my brain, transforming me into Lucille Fanny Callahan, math genius.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) I loved Lucy’s relationship with her grandmother and uncle, but especially Nana (grandma). I love how Nana isn’t a push-over, and yet is the kind of sweet and loving granny we all want! And Uncle Paul is great too, with his great sense of humor.

2) This is definitely a fish-out-of-water story. Lucy is so smart, she’s already tackled high school in her homeschool curriculum.But Nana insists she needs a little practice in the real world … and so that means middle school. However, Lucy just wants to fit in and hide the fact that she’s a math genius. So, she pretends she isn’t. And since she’s not used to being in school, she has plenty of mishaps which is the fun and games of the book!

3) Windy’s a fun friend-character. I love how genuine she is, and how she accepts Lucy even with all Lucy’s OCD ways. (Like how Lucy has to stand and sit 3 times before she can actually sit down.) Of course, there are the scenes at Windy’s birthday party that complicates matters.

4) The project involving the animal shelter will definitely be plus for the animal-lovers. (Who isn’t an animal-lover?) I do love how Lucy uses her math brain to figure out a solution to help her new animal friends.

5) I enjoyed the little sections where we get to know Lucy’s online math friends! Although, I do like that Lucy finds her IRL friends too: Levi and Windy.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) I was a little disappointed about a connection that was hinted at early on in the story. The revelation, unfortunately, wasn’t satisfactory to me, I’m pretty sure because it wasn’t set up. I know what the author was trying to do, but I’m not sure it worked. (Sorry about being vague, but I don’t want to give spoilers. Let’s just say it has to do with #5 above.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed this book and was rooting for Lucy. The animal connection makes it fun. And it made me wondering if black dogs really do have a hard time being adopted…

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #46 / All is Calm

20211106ma_3927“Waterfall Calm” / Theme: All is Calm

A little about this photo…

There’s something very calming about water and waterfalls. I even feel the calm just looking at the photo.

To get that soft-looking water, I shot at f22 with my shutter speed at 0.4 seconds.

This, by the way, is the Lower Falls at Ball’s Falls in Ontario.

 


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek

Review / Invisible Emmie

20211030ma_3683Book: Invisible Emmie (2017)
Author: Terri Libenson
Genre: MG, Contemporary (Illustrated)


Opening lines from the book …
This is me. You’re probably wondering how I became a puddle of slime. Eaily explained. It happened in a day. Okay, five hours, If you want to get technical. It also involved a really embarrassing incident. I’ll get to that.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…

1) This is the story of two girls. Katie’s life is perfect. She’s popular and everything goes her way, but she’s not nasty about it. On the other hand, Emmie is … well, she’s invisible. The main plotline follows Emmie as she tells her story. Then we get snippets of Katie’s perfect life. It’s a nice contrast.

2) I love that Emmie does have a good friend Brianna, even if she can be a little bossy toward Emmie. I like how their relationship plays out, especially with regards to the disaster of the letters they write.

3) And then there’s the boy. Tyler is the love-interest for both Katie and Emmie! (Of course, Emmie’s love is the quiet kind. Tyler doesn’t even seem to really remember that she exists.) What I like is that we do get to know him through Emmie’s chapters, especially when the whole disaster comes to a head.

4) Joe! Argh! What a troublemaker. He’s the guy responsible for all the turmoil in the book. Every book has to have a bad guy, right?

5) I loved the little twist at the end of the story. I won’t spoil this, but it was quite nice how everything fits into place.

THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…

1) The only tiny little thing is the joke about the dead rats at the school. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to think this is supposed to be real or just symbolism. In my schools, I’m sure there were mice (maybe even rats), but I never saw them, dead or otherwise. Maybe I just never noticed. OR maybe I’m just being too literal!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I LOVED this book. I think this might be one of the best books I’ve read this year. Definitely loved that little twist at the end.

 


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #45 / A Long Time Ago

20211010ma_3656“Lantern” / Theme: A Long Time Ago

A little about this photo…

I just love lanterns and candles and old lighting fixtures.

For this shot, I like how the sunlight and shadows were falling on this particular lantern.


THIS 2021 WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – For more information about the list of prompt, click on this link. And join me in posting your own photos every Saturday with #2021picoftheweek