The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place

the grave

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place
Flavia de Luce: Book 9

Alan Bradley
Delacourt Press, 2018

From the back of the book, “In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder – although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.”

Well, I’m glad the author has allowed Flavia to get back to what she does best – being a busybody and solving murders. For a couple of books, he’s sent her off on tangents that had me wondering if the original Flavia I fell for so long ago would ever return – and she did! This mystery is a good one – one that has so many potential suspects, I couldn’t figure it out.

There is much to love about this story and a few not-so-good points – love the new environs, lots of quirky new characters and Dogger plays an important role in solving the mystery (and, we get a closer look at who Dogger is and what makes him tick!). There’s only a couple of negative things that really aren’t worth mentioning; however, – **SPOILER ALERT**- I can’t believe the author killed off Flavia’s father and then just brushed over it in the first chapter. He should have written a whole book on that alone!

But, all in all, I enjoyed the book and the mystery. Flavia is a star in my books!

Rating 4 out of 5 for an outstanding mystery series!!



I Am a Cat

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I am a Cat

Galia Bernstein
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Simon thinks he’s a cat. But Lion, Cheetah, Puma, Panther and Tiger disagree. Can Simon convince the big cats that they are all more alike than they seem?”

I love reading books when the main character is named after me! Well, at least we share the same name! Anyway, for every reason the big cats give for why Simon is not a cat, Simon just takes it all in and in the end, he challenges what they believe. My favorite part is in the beginning when Simon says, “I am a Cat” and at first, the big cats just stare at him, and then they burst out laughing wildly. So funny! Your kittens will just love this book! And maybe they’ll get the subtle lesson that while we are different on the outside, we are really all the same on the inside!!!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws – Simon is just too adorable not to rate a 5!



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Skin Books, Book 1

Alice Broadway
Scholastic, 2017

From the dust jacket, “There are no secrets in Saintstone. From the moment you’re born, every achievement, every failing, and every significant moment are all immortalized on your skin. There are honorable makes that let people know you’re trustworthy. And shameful tattoos that announce you as a traitor.

“After her father dies, Leora finds solace in the fact that his skin tells a wonderful story. that is, until she glimpses a mark on the back of his neck … the symbol of the worst crime a person can commit in Saintstone. Leora knows it has to be a mistake, but before she can do anything about it, the horrifying secret gets out, jeopardizing her father’s legacy … and Leora’s life.

“In her startling prescient debut, Alice Broadway shines a light on the dangerous lengths we go to make our world feel orderly—even when the truth refuses to stay within the lines. This rich, lyrical fantasy with echoes of Orwell is unlike anything you’ve ever read, a tale guaranteed to get under your skin …”

And get under my skin, it did! I read it in two days it was so good and captivating. Leora is so meek and compliant in the beginning but in a matter of a few months she grows into herself and becomes a confident young woman who does the seemingly impossible.

I’ve read books where the characters tattooing is meaningful to the story. But this is the first story I’ve read where a whole society revolves around a person’s lifetime collection of tattoos. There is a ring of dystopian fiction to it but its beautifully told and the author saves the best for last to keep you turning the pages.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws – an original story, a strong female protagonist, and beautifully told – a perfect combination!!



Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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A Fine St. Patrick’s Day

Susan Wojciechowski
Illustrated by Tom Curry
Random House, 2004

From the dust jacket, “It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day and the rival towns’ annual decorating contest is under way. Every year, Tralah defeats Tralee. This year, though, little Fiona Riley has a wonderful idea what will help Tralee win the contest for sure. But neither town has counted on a stranger arriving – a funny little man with pointed ears and boots trimmed in bells – who will turn the contest upside down!”

This is a cute story that teaches the rewards of self-sacrifice. When the whole town joins in on something they want very badly, will they give it up to help a stranger and his cows? The illustrations are colorful, a bit abstract, and very pretty. And while this book centers around a once-a-year event, it could be read anytime of the year! Read this picture book while eating green ice cream for dessert at the end of a busy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – maybe it will inspire siblings to have a decorating contest of their own!!


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St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning

Eve Bunting
Illustrations by Jan Brett
Clarion Books, 1980

From the dust jacket, “Jamie Donovan was the first one to awaken on St. Patrick’s Day morning. Downstairs, lying on the table, were the green sashes the family would be wearing in the big St. Patrick’s Day parade – everyone but Jamie, that is.

“’It’s not fair, Nell,’ Jamie said to his sheepdog. “I want to walk in the parade, too. They say I’m too small – that I couldn’t get to the top of Acorn Hill. But what do they know?’

“So Jamie took his mother’s raincoat, his dad’s black hat, his brother’s green sash and his other brother Kevin’s flute. With Nell trailing behind him, Jamie created his own St. Patrick’s Day parade and proved to himself that he was big enough to climb to the top of Acorn Hill.”

It’s a fine St. Patrick’s Morning, and the perfect time to read a book about a small boy who wants to be more grown up than he already is. Jamie has quite an adventure on his parade, making friends along the way. Even though this is a picture book, it’s more for elementary school readers than beginning ones. But ‘tis a fine book to read aloud! The illustrations are in black with the liberal use of the colors green and yellow. Share this book and let it inspire your kittens to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade of their very own!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws – be sure to have green milk with your kitten chow this morning!!

Reviewer of both books:


When God Whispers Your Name

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When God Whispers Your Name

Max Lucado
Word Publishing, 1999

From the back of the book, “What happens when you let Him open your heart to hope? Listen. do you hear it? Somewhere, between the pages of this book and the pages of your heart, God is speaking. And He is calling you by name. Maybe that’s hard to believe. Maybe you just can’t imagine that the One who made it all things of you that personally – that He keeps your name on His heart and lips.

“But it’s true. In the Bible and in the circumstances of your life, He whispers your name lovingly. Tenderly. Patiently but persistently. Let the stories in this classic book remind you of the God who knows your name.

“Some stories are from the Bible. Some are drawn from everyday life. Most are about people who are lost…or weary…or discouraged – just like you. if you let them, they’ll tell the story of your life. So listen closely as you turn these pages. Listen for the Father’s gentle whisper that can erase your doubts, your sorrow, your weariness, your despair. It really is your name that you hear, and the Voice that calls is more loving than you ever dared dream. Listen. And learn to hope again.”

This is a good book to read when you’re feeling especially doubtful about the future or hopeless about your presence circumstances. The author’s easy writing style lets you eyes flow gently across the page, gleaning the wisdom you need. The chapters are basically essays, or perhaps even short sermons on the wonderful nature of God and His love for you and for me. There is some discussion material for each chapter at the back of the book, so it would make for a great Bible study group reading/discussion. I really like the way Lucado writing is broad enough to be inclusive for both scholars and laypeople alike.

Rating 5 out of 5 paws – it’s a re-reader!


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