Seeking Signs

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Today’s book is one that was written by one of the teachers in our high school Language Arts department.  Seeking Signs by Staci Mercado.  She took an old murder from Clinton County’s past that hadn’t been solved, did some research and then wrote a book that combines historical fact plus some fiction as to what actually happened and who done it.

From Amazon “The 2013 Midwest Book Award winner for historical fiction. One hundred years ago, Minnie Seamer’s death shocked her rural Iowa community. A young farmhand found her body hanging in the barn on a rainy summer morning in 1913. The coroner ruled it a suicide, but distraught family members were not convinced. Was it suicide—or was it murder? Seeking Signs, based on actual events, is the story of a young girl’s search for answers in the wake of a family tragedy. To solve the mystery of her older sister’s puzzling death, 13-year-old Elsie follows tips from a booklet titled “The Baum Detective Agency Course.” As she begins observing and gathering evidence, Elsie encounters clues that call into question the coroner’s report and lead her into a shadowy world of deceit and betrayal. Elsie’s notebook and entries from Minnie’s diary reveal an unexpected truth: a truth that interprets a young wife’s troubled past in a community not as safe as it seems. Seeking Signs takes the reader into a world steeped in history and superstition. As Elsie hunts for signs, her voice brings the time period and its people to life. The answers she finds take her investigation to a conclusion that changes the path of her life forever and ultimately catapults her from innocence to a compelling coming of age.”

A delightful, quick, fun read.  Be sure to check it out.

Remnants of Murder

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Another book in the southern sewing circle mystery series by Elizabeth Lynn Casey.

Tori and Dixie have been on good terms lately and working together instead of Dixie trying to sabotage what Tori does at the library.

From Amazon “With the library’s budget dwindling, Tori Sinclair is forced to let go of her predecessor, and fellow sewing circle member, Dixie Dunn. After losing her job a second time, Dixie decides to volunteer for Home Fare, delivering meals to the homebound.

Less than a week after Dixie starts, her client Clyde Montgomery is found dead. The police think he died of old age, but with most of the town badgering Clyde to sell his picturesque land, his passing seems a little too convenient.

Determined to prove that Clyde was murdered, Dixie asks Tori for some sleuthing assistance. But with so many Sweet Briar residents in possession of a compelling motive, the sewing circle ladies will have to needle out the truth to find the killer…”

Check this book out to see what happens to Dixie in her new job.

Quilts of Love: The Christmas Quilt

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The Quilts of Love series is a series of books that have quilts as a backdrop.  I have read a few of these books. One of the ones that I really enjoyed was the Christmas Quilt. I have read several of the others also.

From Amazon “Annie’s life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community’s minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.”

The Pearl

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The Pearl by John Steinbeck is a book I remember reading back in school somewhere in the late 70’s early 80’s. Not sure what grade I was in when we read it.  Then several years later I was reintroduced to the book when I went back to teaching English/Language Arts in somewhere around 2009.  ( had a stint as an at-risk/alternative teacher and teaching social studies, which really made NO sense). By the time I went back to it, the students were really struggling to understand the story so my first year was my last year teaching it.  The other teacher didn’t want to use it anymore so it wasn’t my choice.  Fast forward a couple of years and this was required reading for my youngest daughter in 8th and 9th grade English classes.  Her school and teachers tend to spend more time on the classics and the school I teach at seems to concentrate more on modern day literature and lit circles.  Are we losing something when we no longer ask the students to read and wrestle with the classics and instead allow them to spend all of their reading time on more modern literature?

From Amazon “Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the Kings of Spain and now provide Kino, Juana, and their infant son with meager subsistence. Then, on a day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull’s egg, as “perfect as the moon.” With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security….

A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man’s nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.”

Once Upon a Summer

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This is a book that I read many years ago.  I found this particular author I believe while I was still in college.  I soon came upon this series of books and once again devoured each of the four books in this series.  I enjoyed watching the main character Josh as he grows up with a Grandfather, Great Uncle, and an aunt that is only a few years older than him to raise him.  His parents had been killed when he was quite young. His Aunt Lou has always been there for him and now he overhears his grandpa and Uncle Charlie discussing getting Lou married off.

From Amazon “Sure, it’s unusual to have an eighteen-year-old mother when you’re twelve. But when you’re an orphan and she’s your aunt–and the only mother you’ve ever known–well, it works out just fine.

That’s why I got so riled up when I heard Grandpa and Uncle Charlie talkin’ about findin’ a fella for Aunt Lou!

You see, somethin’ had to be done. I couldn’t just sit back and watch our family get broken up. But with Grandpa and Uncle Charlie workin’ so hard to marry off Aunt Lou, I really had my job cut out for me. Then that preacher came along, and things got really complicated…”

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek

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Another book that I discovered this summer quite by accident.  I was looking for a book from the famous Powell’s Book Store in Portland, Oregon to bring home for my high school aged daughter when I found this title.  She is a band geek, playing the flute and piccolo for both marching and concert band.  She was also the drum major for the middle school marching band and will be trying out for the high school position for the next school year.

A French horn player that aspires to become a professional musician has to join a different musical group in order to expand upon her experiences. Nothing is open except for the marching band, but who ever heard of someone playing the french horn in a marching band. This is a cute and delightful story of the struggles and joys of being in the marching band.  Anyone that has ever been in marching band should enjoy this book.

From Amazon “Elsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to qualify for the prestigious summer music camp of her dreams, she must expand her musical horizons and join–gasp!–the marching band. There are no French horns in marching band, but there are some very cute boys. Elsie is not so sure she’ll survive, but the new friends she’s making and the actual fun she’s having force her to question her dad’s expectations and her own musical priorities.”

The Magician

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During the past summer I found The Magician by Michael Scott and quickly read the entire book and then moved on to reading the entire series of 6 books. This is a fun series that mixes the modern world with the ancient world and ties in many of the old Greek myths.  This would be a fun read for students in the intermediate to middle school grade levels or even a high school student that reads below reading level.

From Amazon ”   After fleeing Ojai, Nicholas, Sophie, Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris, the City of Lights. Home for Nicholas Flamel. Only this homecoming is anything but sweet. Perenell is still locked up back in Alcatraz and Paris is teeming with enemies. Nicollo Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, is working for Dee. He’ s after them, and time is running out for Nicholas and Perenell. For every day spent without the Book of Abraham the Mage, they age one year—their magic becoming weaker and their bodies more frail. For Flamel, the Prophesy is becoming more and more clear.
It’s time for Sophie to learn the second elemental magic: Fire Magic. And there’ s only one man who can teach it to her: Flamel’s old student, the Comte de Saint-Germain—alchemist, magician, and rock star. Josh and Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope—if they don’t turn on each other first.”

Little Women

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I have to admit that when I checked my list for the word for today, I was pleased to see Little Women.  I can’t tell you the times that I read this book and a couple of others by Louise May Alcott.  I remember my grandmother having a collection of about 6 green hardcover books all written by Louise May Alcott.  Of course, anytime I saw books when I was little I read them.  I believe that Little Women was the first one that I actually read. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Oh how I rejoiced when their dad was well enough to come home, and I cried so with Beth left the little family. How how I laughed at their antics when Laurie and his Grandfather joined them.

From Amazon “When it was first published over a century ago, author Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women”, which traces the life of four sisters from childhood to womanhood, was an immediate commercial success. The reading public expressed such interest in the lives of the March sisters that Alcott also wrote two sequels to the novel. The story espoused the importance of virtue over wealth and established that domestic work and true love were essential to the formation of each woman’s character. The book has been adapted multiple times in film and has been ranked in the top 100 books for children.”

This is truly a timeless book that all should read.

Kicked to the Curb

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Kicked to the Curb by Joanna Campbell Slan.  This is book 2 in the series, I wrote about book 3 at the beginning of the month (All Washed Up).  In this book, Cara is finally making a go of it with her store in Florida, she has a few employees and some friends, but then she discovers that she had an older sister that had been adopted and was now jealous and determined to undermine everything that Cara does.

From Amazon “Cara Mia Delgatto’s cup runneth over with worries. Her ex-husband is refusing to pay their son’s college tuition, her evil sister is pulling mean pranks, and her old boyfriend has broken her heart. And that’s just the personal stuff. She’s also concerned about keeping the cash register ringing at The Treasure Chest, her retail store specializing in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed décor items with a coastal theme. The media event that Cara plans turns nasty when reporter Kathy Simmons threatens to share unsavory details from the shopkeeper’s past. Things get really dicey when Kathy mysteriously disappears. Cara’s other problems seem trivial in comparison to…a murder investigation!”

Will Cara be able to overcome all of the hardships and come out on top?

The Jumbies

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This past summer I stumbled across  teachers write camp.  I signed up for this free activity in the hopes that it would help me. While I wasn’t able to participate as much as I wanted ( July is county fair and that takes up quite a bit of my time) I did benefit by finding some new authors and their books.  The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste is one of those books that I found.  This book is geared towards the middle level readers, but since I teach a Second Chance Reading class, this is perfect for those students.  Interesting enough to keep their attention but easy enough to read, yet they are not going to feel like they are reading a book just for little kids.

From Amazon “Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and to save her island home.”

This book is set in Haiti using one of the original Haitian folk tales.  It is a riveting story of a young girl that fights to keep her family intact.  There are scary elements in the story, however they are not so scary that a middle level student and above would be fine reading this story.