Monday, March 27, 2017

Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope

Special Tracking Unit book 1

4 stars
R- 1
Reader's Choice

So if Criminal Minds.... and the X-Files..... had some sort of love child....

It would maybe be this.  

But without the 90s cheese.

Let's call it a police procedural thriller with paranormal overtones.


Cool premise, good story.

One detail that snagged my brain, dragged me out of the story, and made me crazy for days:  there is an ENTIRE PAGE dedicated to cursing the Nevada heat.

In June.


I got news for you, folks.  I grew up in Northern Nevada and there ain't nothing to curse.

Sure it gets hot.... and it's not completely outside the realm of possibility for it to have been 94 in June... but that would be a crazy hot day.

They were at Washoe Lake, and I checked-- the average high in June is around 80.

The character does feel grateful that he's at a higher elevation and therefore it's cooler than Reno to the north or Las Vegas to the south.

Let me tell you how many things are wrong with this statement.

Reno (average June high temp is 83, by the way) is 30 miles north of Washoe Lake.

Las Vegas is FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN miles south.

Not all of Nevada is Vegas, my friends.  (Which was annoying growing up in Nevada.... people ask where you're from and you say Nevada and they assume Vegas... it's a big state guys.)

This is like comparing DC to Baltimore in the north and Myrtle Beach, SC in the south.  It's just slightly ridiculous.  (Note that my husband pulled out that comparison without checking and was within like 6 miles.  He's a freak that way.)

Anyway, it's a dumb detail and has no bearing whatsoever on the actual story, but it made me nuts.  A passing reference to the heat would have been one thing, but if you're going to spend so much time on it maybe check to ensure that you're believable first.

Other than that (sorry about the long rant, lol) I did enjoy it.  It's the kind of story I maybe prefer to have all wrapped up in a 45-minute episode, but I'll definitely be on the watch for book 2.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Vessel by Taylor Stevens

A Vanessa Michael Munroe Novella (#3.5)

3.5 stars
R- 2
violence, some language
Listened to audio version

Audio was good.  Wouldn't have been my first choice, but e-audio was the option the library had, so....

Like the other Munroe stories, this is dark.

You absolutely must read book 3 first-- this is a follow-up to certain aspects of that one.

Really, you should read them all in order though.


Anyway.... interesting as always.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

4 stars
Reader's Choice

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this one.

I mean, it sounded cute, but what was it really going to be about?

Turns out, it was a sort of adult version of a coming-of-age story.  A journey of finding self and learning to care for someone else in a different way.

Ultimately, I really liked it.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin

5 stars
Great Reads for Kids (library program)

I'm not sure how this book never came across my radar.  I'd never heard of it when it came up as our monthly Great Reads book.

Which makes me grateful it did come up on that list, because otherwise I may never have been aware of it.

Which would have been a tragedy.

This sweet little "slice of life" accomplishes some pretty impressive depth in not too many pages... and only about 36 hours of storyline.

Peppered with friendship struggles, health concerns, common and not-so-common worries, family issues....  I was impressed at what the author was able to accomplish in just a day and a morning.

Flashing back to both the Great Depression and the Vietnam War (earning bonus points for picking time periods less commonly covered in kids' books), the author even manages to layer extra stories in.

Overall, I absolutely recommend this one.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What the Waves Know by Tamara Valentine

4 stars
Reader's Choice

This story, which I absolutely enjoyed you understand, had a bit of an identity crisis.

Told in first person by a 14-year-old, it felt oh so much like a young YA coming of age novel.

Except that every so often there were 6 or more f-words on a single page.

It was jarring to me, not just because I'd prefer not to have the profanity there at all, but because it didn't feel like it fit the story.

Strip out all the profanity and I'd have handed this book to Boo the second I finished it.

And given it 5 stars.

Also, and I could be wrong here because it was definitively before I was born, but was there really that much throwing around of the f-word in the early 1970s?

Seems like the casual use of "higher caliber" swear words has increased over time... which would lead me to believe that there wasn't so much of it in the 70s as in the 80s and less in the 80s than the 90s etc.

But what do I know?

Well, I know that it didn't feel like it fit, not to me at least, and that jarred me out of the narrative.

All that aside, I found it to be a beautiful, if subtle, treatment of how mental illness affects those "left behind" so to speak.  And specifically how the illness of a parent can affect a child.

Also how trauma can have lasting effects.

Overall, if you can get past the profanity give this one a try.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Organize Your Genealogy by Drew Smith

Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher



I really don't know how to rate this one... because as much as the subtitle says "for every researcher".... I didn't actually find it to be that helpful.

I jotted down a few notes of things I could change or try, but all of that came from the same chapter, with most of the other 8 or 9 feeling like information that did nothing for me.

I could see how it was good information that could be useful for someone, it just wasn't helping me at all.

The subtitle possibly could have been "A Love Note to Evernote". lol

(It's a good thing I don't drink.... because I'd have been tempted to turn it into a drinking game.... and if I'd done a shot every time he suggested Evernote I'd have alcohol poisoning for sure.)

Honestly, I spent most of the book wishing it was a series of web-based classes or something, because that would have been far more helpful than grayscale screenshots to explain various software functions.

Also, several parts were so generic it felt like wasted space in a book meant to be about organizing genealogy.  I don't think it's overreaching in 2016 (publication year) to assume that your audience already knows basic email functions and such.  We could have done without the lengthy (it felt lengthy anyway) explanation of how to use Gmail.  (This was made more tedious by the fact that I don't use Gmail, and as much as he kept saying things should translate to other email programs there are enough differences that I'd be too annoyed to try to translate.)

Overall, if you're looking for help with organizing, keep in mind that a good chunk of this is generic common sense and try to flip through it before buying to make sure you care enough about the specific softwares described.  Otherwise, check it out from the library maybe.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Holy Cow, I Sure Do Love You! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A Little Book That's Oddly Moo-ving
illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
5 stars

"Udder"ly adorable!

And so bittersweet.  Because you see, just hours before picking this gem up from the library I learned that Amy Krouse Rosenthal lost her battle with cancer.

I'm actually sitting here trying not to cry as I type this, because we're talking about one of THOSE authors.

You know, the ones that are there with you from the beginning.

We read Little Pea when Boo was just, well, little.  (And Little Hoot.  And Little Oink.)

Through the years we've read about utensils (Spoon, Chopsticks)

We've reread Little Pea (of course).

We've read about Little Miss.  (We have Plant a Kiss in board book form and at least one of my littles has it memorized.)

We've enjoyed Wumbers and Wordles and Little Equations.

And as I look at GoodReads I see that somehow we missed a few... which is also bittersweet because it means we still have things to discover, but there will be nothing truly NEW.

So I sit here.... devastated.

Which feels like a ridiculous word, but also feels like the right word.

We already lost Anna Dewdney a few months ago, which felt like a sucker punch.

Now this.


It feels right, though, to memorialize Amy Krouse Rosenthal with this little book of love.

Almost more of a gift book than a picture book (don't get me wrong, the pictures are fabulous... talking size/shape/tone) this little volume is going on my list of books to give....



Go read it.

Ms. Rosenthal, our family will certainly miss you.