Friday, December 31, 2010

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog Loves Books
by Louise Yates
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
A picture-book treat for the youngest dog lovers.
Dog loves books SO much he opens his very own bookstore. At first he’s short of customers. But that’s all right, because when Dog is surrounded by books, he is never short of friends—or fun. And when customers begin arriving, he knows just which books to recommend.
Louise Yates’s expressive little white dog—and his many expressive doggie customers—extend an irresistible invitation to the very youngest to try reading. It’s fun!

My Quick Thoughts
Books about books... What can I say? I love them and when they include a cute little puppy enjoying books to their fullest I get a bit excited. I pulled Dog Loves Books off of... wait for it, the New Books shelf and I adore Louise Yates' use of watercolor and pencil for the art! This comical dog opens a book store and just wants an opportunity to share his love of books. After a few rough starts he finally finds a little girl who loves a story books as much as him. I love how the dog carries a tray of tea to his desk and becomes so absorbed by what he is reading he almost forgets he is running a shop. Very cute and a great book for anyone who loves books, dogs, or dogs that love books!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

I reviewed this a few months ago but I really liked how Ally Carter went from spies to con women. 
Fun book!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Book Info
Plain Kate
by Erin Bow

Book Jacket Summary
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.

For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

My Thoughts
Any book that make me tear up in the middle of a busy Starbucks is a book you should not be reading in public. Save Plain Kate for a day that you can curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy.

Kate is a very strong character that goes through a lot to find a bit of happiness. Her village is turning against her because she is "witch-marked", which means she has two different colored eyes. One is brown and the other blue. She also has a skill with a carving knife not usually seen in one not trained by the Guild. She escapes town after trading her shadow for her hearts wish and ends up with a talking cat named Taggle. Taggle is more than a cat now and they become even better friends because of it. Kate also finds a friend in Drina, a member of the Roamers and Drina also wants to help Kate get back her shadow. But Kate must fight for her life when everyone thinks she is the cause of a deadly fog that is putting everyone in a wake-less sleep. Kate must pull all her wits and what luck she has left to prove herself capable and save the day.  

I really loved this book and the Russian themes that run through it. I have always enjoyed books with gypsy or "roamers" in it because of the superstitions and traditions that are unique to them. The mysterious quality is not lost in Plain Kate and many of the times she is confused by their traditions. The woodcarver aspect of the book also was interesting because it gave Kate a unique skill that not many characters have had in past books. She can carve almost anything and it connects Kate to her father after his death.

I would recommend this book to those who can take a darker story because Plain Kate does take some dark paths. It is a good thing that the book has Taggle to lighten the mood occasionally or else it might have been to dark to recommend!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

Book Info
Up and Down
by Oliver Jeffers
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
The boy and the penguin still enjoy spending all their time together... That is, until the penguin starts to dream of flying, ignoring the boys advice that it is impossible.
Running away, the penguin visits place after place, searching for a chance to get his feet off the ground. But will flying be everything he had hoped? And is the boy missing him, as much as he is missing the boy?
A heart-warming story about friendship, love and reaching for your dreams, from highly-regarded, multi-award-winning author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers.

My Quick Thoughts
I was not familiar with Oliver Jeffers before I plucked this copy off the new book shelf but I now have a large stack that I will be going through. His simplistic drawings really catch the eye and I love his use of shadows. Many artists seem to forget about shadows but Jeffers makes his apparent on every page. He also has a very shiney floor that has blurry relections. I love all those little details! The story is also simple but endearing because the two friends care about each other. Although the penguin does not want help with his flying, the boy is silently supportive and always there to catch him when he falls. I love all the little details in the pictures and watching the little penguin knit a cap was adorable. Children 3 to 5 will enjoy this picture book about friendship and fulfilling dreams.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Dog Selector

Book Info
The Dog Selector
by David Alderton

Book Jacket Summary
Choosing a dog is like choosing a partner--you need to be sure you can get along, have similar interests, and are both willing to make compromises. If you're more of a sofa surfer than an exercise junky, you should steer clear of the Irish Setter and the Belgian Sheepdog because these dogs love to run. And, if your home isn't spacious, you might not have the room for a Saint Bernard or a Great Dane. So how do you choose your canine friend for life?
The Dog Selector makes it easy. Expertly written text supplemented with helpful sidebar features, engaging photography, and intriguing facts on 130 of the most common breeds ensures that you'll find your perfect canine companion.

My Quick Thoughts
Although not shelved in the children's department, this book would be a great resource for any child interested in dogs. Today at the library I looked through this book with a little girl. She loved all the pictures and we oohed and awed over all the puppies! I found my favorite dog, the Shetland Sheepdog right away under "Dogs for Beginners" and it listed the history, changing roles, and the characteristics of the dog. It also has large pictures of the standard (what a certain breed is supposed to look like). There is a glossary for unfamiliar term, further resources, and an index. Gotta love the reference books! I have always loved these kind of books and enjoy leafing through the over sized pages. I imagine what my life might be like with a Great Dane or an Airdale Terrier. Who knew that Scottish Terriers would make a great guard dog?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

by Nancy Werlin

Book Jacket Summary
Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe—but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.
Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt. Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasn't been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?

Quick Thoughts
I almost did not read this book but I'm glad I did. Nancy Werlin is a hit or miss with me- I loved Double Helix but could not finish Impossible. It all boils down to the fact that this story does not focus on magic and fairies but on the friendship between Phoebe and Mallory. It is hard to describe Phoebe because she is a very complex character that is filled with self doubt because of an abusive relationship with Ryland but is also trying her best to be her own person. Ryland is so icky and I just want to shake Phoebe when she falls for him- even though he is using a glamour to make himself irresistible. While Ryalnd is evil, Mallory is a fairy that has been sent to destroy Phoebe but instead becomes a friend. Mallory tries to bend the rules she is given by her fairy queen. She can not break the bonds but she certainly is testing the limits to help her friend. I find it hard to fit anyone into a box because motivations and characters shift many times throughout the book. Now I may have to go back and retry Impossible. Guess I was just not in an evil Fairy mood. I blame to much Labyrinth as a child!
This is not a book to start during finals... Trust me. Read this book when you have time to read and enjoy the characters.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Book Info
Knuffle Bunny Free
by Mo Willems

Book Jacket Summary
Trixie and her family are off on a fantastic trip to visit her grandparents—all the way in Holland! But does Knuffle Bunny have different travel plans?
An emotional tour de force, Knuffle Bunny Free concludes one of the most beloved picture-book series in recent memory, with pitchperfect text and art, photos from around the world, and a stunning foldout spread, culminating in a hilarious and moving surprise that no child or parent will be able to resist.
Bestselling, award-winning author Mo Willems has created an epic love story as only he can, filled with the joys and sadness of growing up —and the unconditional love that binds a father, mother, daughter, and a stuffed bunny.

My Thoughts
That poor Knuffle Bunny! He is always being left behind or switched! But at least he is loved- by more than just Trixie. I was first introduced to Knuffle Bunny a year ago during my Literature for Youth class. I remember loving the the artwork and how much Trixie loved that Knuffle Bunny. I think we can all relate to the love of a stuffed animal or a toy that we loved with all our hearts. I remember this every time I watch Toy Story 3, after seeing it several time i still get choked up. There is something inside us that believes that our toys are the most special things in the entire world. Willems also tapped into a father's love for his little girl and how seeing her grow up is a magical experience.
But enough of the sweetness and light- This book is also funny! It is nice to see a book that can balance the humor with sentimentality because many books do to much of one or the other. The story is also fun because Trixie goes to Holland and visits many different places. She may not quite enjoy it as much as she should with Knuffle Bunny missing but seeing the pictures of Holland is lots of fun. As you can tell, I highly recommend this book for all ages. Try and collect all the books and read them to your children as they grow up.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Betsy Red Hoodie by Gail Carson Levine

Betsy Red Hoodie
by Gail Carson Levine
ill. by Scott Nash
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Betsy is finally old enough to take cupcakes to Grandma all by herself—with the company of her faithful sheep, of course. And although wolves aren’t good for grandmas, Betsy lets her best friend, Zimmo, come along too. But will Zimmo’s wolfish instincts make Grandma the tasty treat instead?

My Thoughts
Little Red Riding Hood will always be a favorite fairy tale of mine and this sequel to Betsy Who Cried Wolf is just as fun! The sheep are just as comical, no drama sheep to be seen! Instead you have a race against Betsy and Zimmo, both trying to get to Grandma's house first. Betsy is sure Zimmo has given in to his "wolfish intstincts" and will devour Grandma! Has Zimmo truly raced off to cause havoc or could there be another explination?
Another fun picture book from Gail Carson Levine and Scott Nash. The illustarions are just as comical and detailed as the last book. Lots of little things to make you chuckle! It is a fun book to read to yourself or at story time- to bad the library copy was checked out before I had the chance. Might add it to a fracture fairy tale story time for later!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Story Time: Texas Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales are always popular in our library. There are parents and kids asking for them. I always stumble upon parents reading them to their children. Snuggled up in a comfy chair the children are gazing at the pictures while the adult tells a familiar story of magic and hope. Cinderella, the Gingerbread Man, and Little Red Riding Hood are some that are consantly on our reshelve cart. Tangled has really helped Rapunzel out! But what about those who know the stories by heart. I have some Texas/Western Fairy Tales for the cowboy in all of us.

The Bootmaker and the Elves
by Susan Lowell

Cindy Ellen:
a Wild Western Cinderella
by Susan Lowell
Bubba the Cowboy Prince
by Helen Ketteman

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Past Midnight
by Mara Purnhagen

Book Jacket Summary
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….

My Thoughts
When I first saw this book I thought it was a Cinderella retelling but I was excited to learn that it was a ghost story. I have never been so happy not to see a fairy tale retelling because I am a big fan of ghost stories and this one did not disappoint. I was a bit reluctant because the publisher is Harlequin Teen but it did not descend into the melodramatic romance many of the adults book tend to focus on.

This book focused in on Charlotte, dubbed "paranormal princess" by her peers. She is daughter to the renowned ghost debunkers and moves several times a year across the country for her parents documentaries. When her sister, Annalise, convinces her parents that they should allow Charlotte to finish her senior year at a single high school, Charlotte is happy to live in a new house with out any ghosts. But it seems a pair of ghosts have focused on Charlotte and are wanting her help  in finding their long lost daughter.

I really liked the ghost aspects of this book and the author did a good job of weaving it into a high school drama. Charlotte has to navigate having actual friends and not running away from her problems as she did in the past. She also starts to have a crush on a a fellow classmate but all the ghost drama is getting in the way of her social life. I liked Charlotte and will read the next two books in the series- One Hundred Candles (Spring 2011) and Beyond the Grave (Fall 2011). The romance aspect will probably be fleshed out in these books because it is Harlequin after all! I read this book in an evening and would recommend it for a dark and stormy night where ghost stories are a must.

Also, I bought this used on and the seller added an ornament and a package of tea. So sweet. It is nice that people are in the Christmas spirit!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Slow Days, Fast Friends by Erik Brooks

Slow Days, Fast Friends
by Erik Brooks

Book Jacket Summary
Howard the cheetah loves being fast. To him, every day is a race--and he always wins. But when Howard hurts his leg and can't run, the only animal he can keep up with is a sloth--the slowest creature around! How could anyone like being slow? It's up to Quince the sloth to show Howard how wonderful slow can be!

They watch the sun come up in the morning, and Howard notices all the beautiful colors for the first time. They close their eyes and listen as the elephants take their morning bath. Then, when Howard's leg feels better, he takes Quince for a ride and shows him how wonderful fast can be.

My Thoughts
I think I squealed when I saw this book... Cheetahs and sloths are my two favorite animals and finding a picture book that had them becoming friends is awesome. Thank you Erik Brooks for making my Christmas just a little brighter because this is the cutest book ever. In fact, this just went on my Christmas list... Hint, hint, Amy, Beth, or Mom. Yes, my Mom reads my blog :) Hi Mom! But I digress, yet again...
Howard (the cheetah) and Quince (the sloth) are as different as different can be but that does not stop them from becoming good friends. Howard actually is a blur when he runs around the other animals of Africa and they look on with mild displeasure. Of course, it takes Howard hurting his paw to notice that there is anyone in his fast paced blur of a world. After sulking for a while Howard notices how Quince is always still and quiet. Quice shows him the beauty in slowing down and noticing the world's sounds, sights, and smells that Howar never experienced becuase he was always in a rush. I love books about unusual friendships and a friendship between a sloth and cheetha definately counts! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Books on Regency Manners

Books on Manners

Another look into my semester long project. This time we look at books on the life and times of the people who lived in the Regency and Victorian eras. These times were known for their strict rules on manners, mores, and family life. The books below will help the Mannerist reader know what life was really like during these times.

An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray
Venetia Murray gives a through account of how the upper-crust lived during the Regency Period of England. In the book she describes a time of decadence despite the tight corsets. The mistresses had a better deal than the wives but manners and mores ruled the house. Murray also boasts many rare political cartoons of the period. After reading this book readers will see that not all aspects of the Austin world were elegant.

What Jane Austin Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool
The sub-heading of this book describes it all “from fox hunting to whist- the facts of daily life in nineteenth-century England”. The book portrays, in detail, the currency, calendar, geography, and basic etiquette. Pool also shows the plight of the orphans, the workhouses, and the disease that plagued the lower class. This book is an excellent look into the real world of the nineteenth-century.

The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen
by Carol J. Adams, Douglas Buchanan, and Kelly Gesch
This book is a guide to all things Austen and the many holds that Jane Austen has on our modern world. The journey begins with the first impressions that Austen gives (which is a play on the original title of Pride and Prejudice). The book includes everything from insightful interviews to crossword puzzles and is a useful tool for seeing into the “Austenites” mind.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Regency Project

Here is a preview of a project I have been working on all semester called Mannerist Fantasy Reading Map. My goal was to find books that were fantsy based set in the Regency or Victorian era. There were more than I thought.These books recognize that adults sometimes need a bit of fantsy in their lives. For those who enjoy Jane Austin, Charlotte Bronte, or Charles Dickens there is still hope. There is the Mannerist Fantasy that combines the best of Rengency and Victorian era manners with magic. My site helps the reader find what books are out there for their refined taste.

A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
Kim is a street urchin who is disguising herself as a boy to keep out of the London brothels and keeps herself employed as a thief but when she breaks into Mairelon the Magician wagon she is given a chance to get off the streets. Mairelon the Magician turns out to be a real wizard and not a street performer. He is trying to prove he did not steal the precious Saltash Dish- even if it means crashing dinner parties or putting up with kooky Druids. Everyone seems to be after the Saltash Platter and with many fakes circulating it is difficult to prove which is the real one.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
by Leanna Renee Hieber
Set in an alternate Victorian England, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker settles more into a Bronte gothic romance rather than an Austin love story. Six children have been called to protect the world from the ghosts that haunt them but they are still searching for their seventh counterpart as they grow older. Miss Percy Parker is that seventh guardian but she is not what the other expect and she must prove her worth to the already cemented group.

Sorcery and Celia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot
by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
In a novel of letters written back and forth between Cecelia and Kate, Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot revives the Regency’s only form of communication between cousins parted for a season. Things start to go awry when Kate is almost poisoned, Cecelia is being watched by a mysterious stranger, and a magic chocolate pot is turning up in the strangest places. The authors actually wrote to each other as these characters and progressed the plot based on the twist and turns written by the other.

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Carriger uses the Victorian era to set her paranormal series and many Steampunk attributes are used to create her interesting world. Alexia is a “soulless” that has the power to take back the power of a supernatural. When a series of vampires turn up dead it is up to Alexia and werewolf leader, Lord Conall Maccon, to prove it was not her strange power that did them in.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I am the Dog by Daniel Pinkwater

Okay, I am done with all my finals for the semester and now can go back to reviewing longer books! Not that I do not love reviewing ton of picture books, I just need a bit more plot now.

Book Info
I am the Dog
by Daniel Pinkwater
ill. by Jack E. Davis

Book Jacket Summary

Jacob is the boy.
Max is the dog.
Until they decide to change places.
Now Jacob gets to eat kibble, chase squirrels, and snooze, just like a real dog. Max brushes his teeth, goes to school, and plays video games, just like a real boy. The question is: Who has the better deal?

My Thoughts
I giggled my way through this book! The cartoony (is that a word?) pictures reminded me of Wallace and Gromit but the world is much more textured. The book is very colorful and there is something happening on every page. I read through it several times and found something new each time. The silliness of the book is charming. I love that no one questions Jacob about his choice of changing places with his dog, it is just assumed that this is a natural thing that happens all th time in their world. The mother is supportive and the teachers seem not to notice the switch. Kids will get a kick out of seeing a dog do homework while the kid gets to run around or take a nap. I would recommend it to ages 3 to 8 but adults will enjoy this one, especially those who wish they could stay at home all day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fleabag by Helen Stephens

by Helen Stephens

Book Jacket Summary
A boy without a dog and a dog without a boy meet each other in the park. But the boy’s big people don’t approve of the friendship. The dog is dirty! And he has FLEAS! Will these two friends be able to find a home together?

My Thoughts
I had to show you this picture book because the cute little Fleabag looks just like my Sully (aka Ragamuffin). Their stories are similiar- they both had fleas when were found! Sully was infested and spread the love to our sheltie, Chance. But now they are both loved and have loving homes. The End.
Check this book out! It is adorable and the pictures remind me of all the Golden Books I read as a child.
Also, think about adopting a shelter dog or kitty this holiday. They will give you much more love and attention than any object!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oscar Season

Hmmm... This week is a strange week because I really have not come across anything that I want in ways of books. I am a bit more in a movie mood and ready for Oscar season! December is when all the movies hoping to get an Oscar nod come out and is the antithesis of the July Summer blockbuster. It is time to break out the popcorn and watch some movies!

Movies to see this month (so far):

The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffry Rush
The Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman 
The Tourist starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie
Maybe next week I will have seen Tangled or Harry Potter (for a third time) and will have had a chance to review them! Off to popcorn land!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
On my requested list at the library. So far I have only heard good things about this book!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

Book Info
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
by Mary Downing Hahn

Book Jacket Summary
When twelve-year-old Florence boards the horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life at Crutchfield Hall, her great-uncle’s manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, Florence thinks, than the grim London orphanage she has just left.
Florence doesn’t reckon with the eerie presence that haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield. It’s the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who died the year before. Sophia’s ghost seeks to recreate the scene of her death and cause someone else to die in her place so that she will be restored to life. And she intends to force her newly arrived cousin to help her.

My Thoughts
Ghost stories have always held a fascination for me, whether the ghost was friendly or out for revenge. In this book it has a revenge plot that is very sinister for young readers. However, Hahn is known for her scary ghost stories but never crosses the line when it comes to making the books suitable for her age group.
Hahn also creates complex characters that give this atmospheric book even more
 depth. Florance and James turn into a great team and provide each other with a support neither has ever known. Florence is a an orphan who has never known family and James had a tormentful sister who hated him. The young characters have to deal with what the adults refuse to believe, that the house really is haunted. There are some characters that try and help but due to their station in the house can only help in little ways. The gardener makes charms to keep Sophia out of James' room and the maid tries to stop Florence when she is possessed. However it is up to Florence and James to lay Sophia to rest.
This book has a A Secret Garden feel to it, especially with sickly James sequestered in his quarters. This is not a detraction from the original story, it actually gave me a further connection to the story because I wanted to see where it would go. It did not disappoint and I'm glad I picked it up on my lunch break at the library. I would recommend it to kids who like a dark ghost story with believable characters.
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