Glen Gardner, NJ, United States | Member Since 2008
The Dust Bowl is fascinating. I cannot imagine why they don't go into this in school. In addition to the dramatic stories about the physical conditions of the dust bowl, there is the lesson you can teach about respecting the environment. I knew there were dust storms but the details of these things amazed me. They must have looked like the end of the world. I am captivated by stories of other people's terrible lives and this book was full of that. It is hard not to feel fortunate when comparing yourself to some guy who was a mourner at a funeral then got caught outside not far from his own home and couldn't find his way back in and got so much dust in his eyes he was blinded. I did get annoyed at one point when we started hearing about a woman and her baby. Doomed babies in books annoy me – they feel manipulative. But since this was a real baby, as all these stories were from real dust bowl survivors, I can't get as annoyed as I get at doomed fictional babies. I was also interested in the descriptions of poverty. How little people can have fascinated me. I can't imagine how awful it was - to live on a farm where every single plant is dead, the landscape uniformly gray and smothered - like fictional lands of the dead. If only all history was so interesting. But it isn't.
I almost didn't read Murder of a Snake in the Grass because I had read a review that said this wasn't a cozy mystery and full of unpleasantness. I have to disagree with that. I found this one to actually be lighter than many others. There is a lot of lighthearted silliness which goes on in relation to Skye and her several love interests. There are some delinquent boys but they really don't get a whole lot of screen time, just enough to remind us that school psychologist is a bad job. I don't want to give anything away but Skye finally settles on one guy by the end of the book. We finally get the backstory on Skye's failed engagement. I found the performance of Skye's ex to be sort of tedious, but I can't speak to whether the accent was accurate. I suspect accents are just not the narrator's top skill. Basically this was good and in line with the rest of the series.
I enjoyed this third installment of the Scumble River Mysteries. I find Skye likable and entertaining, even if her taste in men is terrible. The mystery remains when Skye will fix her love life. In this book we encounter lots of self centered people, high school cheerleaders and beauty pageant contestants. I think I would have preferred more three dimensional characters. I mean does every single popular kid have to be mean, weight obsessed, completely shallow and basically indistinguishable from each other? Skye manages to be much more sympathetic to people than I would have been. I plan to continue this series and see what she's up to in the next book.
This is the third book in this series. I have become fond of Pru and her cat. Three stars is really too generous but two seemed a little too harsh. The narrator does a great job with the various characters but it is hard to enjoy some of these characters. Her whiny version of Jane - the parrot's current owner, and the parrot itself, do get tiresome. I stopped this book for a while in the middle because it wasn't holding my interest (I eventually finished). Part of that has to do with the fact that I am not as interested in parrots as in cats or even dogs. If you aren't already a fan of this series, I wouldn't start here. Not a whole lot happens in this one. Pru doesn't even show as much personality as she has in previous installments. I guess this is her softer side. On the one hand, she was less pushy in her investigations and didn't do those things that made me cringe in earlier books like showing up at funerals to ask obnoxious questions. Her cat even accuses her of having become domestic. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I'm not in a hurry to go on to book 4.
I enjoyed this book and found it to be educational. It did feel a little long and definitely repetitive. The author on several occasions told the same story. For example, he went through the story of coming up with the new flavor for Dr Pepper and then later when he talks to someone who has documents on it goes through the whole thing again. It isn't really surprising to hear about how food companies disregarded health concerns, or even flat out manipulated people. It was probably more surprising that there were people in the industry who didn't want to do that. One thought I had while listening to how each product is so carefully designed to hit the consumer's "bliss point" with the exact amounts of sugar etc. was that processed food should all taste absolutely great, but in reality I don't think it does. I had mixed feelings about the discussion of whether food companies are responsible for the obesity epidemic. The book didn't manage to convince me that people shouldn't take more responsibility for what they consume, at least now that nutritional information has been made available to them. One thing the book definitely did not do was turn me off processed food altogether. In fact, talking to me about sugary cereal for 3 hours only made me want cereal. I even stopped for cereal while listening though I did select a cereal with no sugar, only to get home and be smugly eating it when I looked up to discover just how much sugar is in the skim milk I had poured on my sugar free cereal.
I read a book in this series, then decide it wasn't that great. Time passes and the idea of the series appeals to me and I read the next one. And so it goes. One of the main problems for me is Olive herself. She tends to make bad decisions. I know she's only a kid, but it gets on my nerves after a while to see her plan out and execute these bad ideas one after another. She has such a hideously bad idea in this one that I almost stopped reading. Additionally, the fact that the villains in this series are paintings and can therefore get recreated leads to the (to me) rather boring situation of having to defeat the same people over again. I guess the set up of the plot prevents a lot of opportunities for new villains but it feels pointless trying to do the same thing book after book. I did want to say though that the author does a great job in painting the portrait of how horrible junior high can be, and the scene where Olive accidentally wears something inappropriate to school is priceless.
I am enjoying this series. This is book 2 and continues with the characters from Murder of a Small Town Honey, now caught up in the mystery of the murder of Skye's grandmother. This is a small town cozy mystery series so if you don't like some small town drama, descriptions of homemade meals and the occasional visit to a pork chop supper, pick a different series. We spend a lot of time with Skye's relatives in this installment and now we can completely see why she moved away in the first place. She endures a lot of family stress and work stress in this one. I used to think school psychologist sounded like a good job, but this installment definitely talked me out of that as Skye's job provides a lot of unpleasant drama for her. Additionally her love life does not come to satisfying conclusion in this one, but there is hope for improvement going forward. The mystery kept me interested throughout despite some occasional over the top perhaps not entirely believable twists. However, I don't think readers of books like this are as concerned about such things if they can accept that some random school psychologist in a small town will keep getting caught up in murder investigations in the first place. I have downloaded the next in the series. I'm not sure I love Skye exactly, but I do like the narration and the books keep me interested.
I would say it was time well spent, though I wouldn't necessarily say I enjoyed the book. It did provide useful information that helped my understanding of the developmental levels of girls and their particular methods of interacting. I was a girl many years ago of course, and it was interesting to see how many of the experiences you remember from childhood are actually generic - things that all girls come to experience over time, as opposed to the very personal experiences they seemed to be. I like the way they use situations that can be generalized (ie a situation of being different in the example the girl is Japanese American, but it is the "differentness" that can be changed and the principles reused) and then give specific examples of how you would use their 4 step plan. Admittedly the four steps seem pretty simplistic and at first I thought the book might be useless. But it really wasn't. It is through the examples they share that you see ways you could do something similar. It had a lot of sections that could inspire discussion with your daughter and some activities you can try as you (1) observe, (2) connect, (3) guide and (4) support to act. There is one scenario that we look at from one girl's point of view that is later revisited from the other girl in the story's point of view. This was particularly good in helping to see how the information that you may get from your child is colored by their world view. I discussed parts of the book with my 8 year old daughter. It helped me think of the right questions to ask her to learn valuable things about her friendships. You have to be starting with the right info to be guiding your daughter in the right direction. I started the book because I was thinking my daughter might be in a friendship with a mean girl, what they call a "yo-yo friendship". I realized what I had heard could just as easily be interpreted as my daughter being aggressive rather than assertive in her interactions. Now I really know what I want to look closer at. It also helped me to evaluate my level of connectedness with my daughter which is much better than I had assumed. I definitely learned things from this book. It felt longer to me than it actually was, but that is just because I'd rather be reading a mystery than be working on improving a skill, in this case, parenting my daughter. That's hard work.
I would not have selected this book to read on my own. It was a selection of our IT department book club. In retrospect it is a somewhat ironic choice since IT groups tend to be introvert heavy and our management adheres to the "extrovert ideal". As a sensitive introvert myself, I did enjoy that the book is very against the extrovert ideal. That ideal implies that any act which you do not celebrate by marching back and forth in front of a bigwig's office blowing you own horn is of no value. Of course most people like books that are affirming so it isn't surprising that I liked it. The book has several different topics. It discusses introversion and extroversion in the context of brain functioning. I always find books on the brain interesting so I enjoyed that part. I was less interested in the long discussion of the cultural differences between American and Asian views of introversion/extroversion. The beginning talks a lot about the extrovert ideal - how it came to pass that extroversion is prized in current American society above all other things. I found that discussion of interest. I did not realize how much that had changed. The author also discusses her attendance at various events designed to make you more extroverted or celebrate introversion. I did find her stories of interest. The ending section about relationships between extroverts and introverts (romantic or parent child) was also interesting. Although I found the narrator's voice pleasant, I did find it hard to hear when listening in my car, even at full volume.
Let me preface this review with the fact that I love Terry Brooks and that I am a big fan of many of his books. People should just know if they are fans of his Shannara books, or the Word and Void books, or any of his other series that these are not like those books. I have read this book a number of times because I like the set up that leads to Ben Holliday becoming the king of Landover. But the adventures in Landover are not serious fantasy. They are more on the sillier side ie inept mages suddenly shower the enemy with flowers instead of something deadly. So know that going in and read it if you like that sort of thing. Like any book where someone basically ends up in another world there is that frustrating part of the book where our main character doesn't believe in the situation - the "this can't be real" part. I always hate that but plotwise I suppose there is no way around it. Narrator was good too.
Hard to say. It was mildly interesting, though Olive's actions sometimes annoyed me. (I guess I should cut her a break since she is a kid, but still its hard to watch someone make bad decisions.) I was also hoping for more closure for Morton but if that's coming it will have to wait til a later book.
The is book 2 of a series of (at least) 4. Readers should know that this is basically a cliffhanger. You clearly need to read more books to finish the story of Olive, Morton and the cats. I'll probably read the next one but am not in a rush to do it.
I would but I really didn't like the voices she used for the characters. Very over the top.
Yes, I think they could make a good movie if the story completes.
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