Saturday, December 22, 2012

Currently Re-Reading

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Naturally.  Although my copy doesn't look anything like the new movie cover version.  My copy is leatherbound, as referenced in the original recommendation post.  Of course, how could I not read The Hobbit again with the movie coming out?  The first time I ever encountered this story was when my father read it to me when I was six.  I was transfixed by that story.  Action!  Adventure!  Singing!  Elves!  Dwaves!  Dragons!  And of course, Hobbitses precious! Everything listed in the Princess Bride, actually, except for the true love part, but that's okay.  And of all the elements of the story that have managed to slip my mind over the years, the Riddle Game between Bilbo and Gollum has forever remained there.  I know all the answers to the riddles, although I must say that my very favorite riddle somehow managed to get left out of the movie.  But that's all right.  Honestly, even if you've never read fantasy before, this is a great place to start.  Just ask my mother.  She'd never bothered with fantasy in her life until my father introduced her to The Hobbit.  Now she enjoys it along with the rest of us. And you don't have to be at any age to start - the book was originally written for kids by Tolkien.  It's simply grown from there, and that seems to have worked out for the best.

Notes from the playlist: "Concerning Hobbits" by Howard Shore (but only because I don't have The Hobbit soundtrack yet!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recommended for the Perfect Gag Gift

  50 Shades of Chicken by F.L. Fowler

Yup.  You read this right.  It's a cookbook focused on chicken and a parody of 50 Shades of Grey.  How could I not throw this out there for your enjoyment?  This holiday season if you need a great gag gift to give to someone then this could easily be the thing to get.  Whether they've read 50 Shades of Grey or avoided it lik the plague, this will definitely draw some laughs.  Inside are a lot of finger-licking recipes complete with some storytime moments that include quivering thighs, oiled skin, and even a slathering of honey.  You could be aiming for embarrassment or laughter and maybe get both when the recipent unwraps this tasty - and slightly kinky - book.  Just remember to visit them again later so you can try out some of the recipes for yourself!

 Notes from the playlist: "Lights" by Ellie Goulding

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recommended for Peg Kehret Fans

Nightmare Mountain by Peg Kehret

Peg Kehret is an excellent author.  I don't know how she fares in other states, but I know that as a kid I read several of her books and here in Missouri she's been nominated for the Mark Twain award multiple times. In this book a young girl visits some relatives in the mountains, but then an unexpected turn of events leaves just her and her cousin - who hates her for some unknown reason - on their own.  Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't someone also on the property who is armed and very, very dangerous.  This is a book filled with action and characters that you quickly care about.  And I can honestly say that I learned a few things on how to handle avalanches because of this book that I have never forgotten.  If you have kids that like Peg Kehret's book, this is another excellent title for them to read.  If they've never read any of her books, this is a great one to get them hooked on - though any of her other books will do just as well.

Notes from the playlist: "E.T. - Katy Perry" by Klaypex

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst - What Good is a Marriage Without Money?

Pros: A fun romantic romp with a pretty decent plot, actually.
Cons: Some of those over-the-top corny moments.

The Bottom Line: For a good contemporary romance with the classic happy ending, you can't go wrong with this book.

Yet another book spotted at work that I decided would be fun to read.  I’ve been on a smidgeon of a romance kick, and this sounded entertaining.  Good job Jennifer Probst, and good job me for finding it.

Alexa is in a pickle.  Her business is doing well, but not quite well enough.  Her parents are struggling to make payments on their house, and there isn’t much time left before the bank will take it away.  Too bad there isn’t anyone around with a truckload of money to pony up.

Nick’s situation isn’t much better.  If he doesn’t want to be stuck owning half of the company he helped build up, then he’s got to marry, all thanks to his semi-wacky uncle who believed so strongly in the power of family that he made it a provision in his will.  Nick has to marry for at least one year or he doesn’t get the company.  If only there was a woman who could view such a marriage as a business transaction and not a serious thing.


Of course, we all know what’s going to happen.  Especially since Nick and Alexa knew each other as kids and their go-between is Nick’s sister, Maggie.  Their conflict is that they’re both trying to keep things business, and that’s really difficult to do when they’re both hot for one another.  Yet Alexa tries to keep her distance because she knows that Nick isn’t the settle down and live happily ever after type – and he knows it too.

But people can change, right?

It was fun to watch their little exchanges together.  Nick is a typical businessman alpha male: nice house, no pets, quiet lifestyle.  Alexa is fun-loving, fosters rescue pets so they don’t have to get put down, loves her family, and enjoys food.  Probst brought in an additional tweak that I liked and she made good use of – Nick is a Yankees fan and Alexa is a Mets fan.  Oh the rivalry.

Some might argue that it’s silly that Alexa didn’t just tell him why she needed the money, but I’m actually good with her reasoning.  For the longest time she can’t really trust Nick so who knows what his reaction might be after finding out.  Personally, I could even see him scoffing at her in a, “Ugh, why would you want to bother?  Families are awful,” kind of way since his own past is all damaged and he can’t help but take it out on others.  So I’m actually quite happy with how things played out.  I’m tired of miscommunications and here it was more of zero communication with good reasons and it makes for a nice change.

I was very satisfied with this book, although yes, it does contain some over-the-top corny moments with language that is a bit too dramatic than what I think is necessary, but hey, that’s just me.  Overall, I had a great time reading it and if you like contemporary romances, I think you will too.

Notes from the playlist: "Like Sugar" by Matchbox Twenty

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Beauty Dates the Beast by Jessica Sims - Rawr

Pros: A fun romp with shapeshifting goodness
Cons: A lot of inconsistencies and some unanswered questions

The Bottom Line: Despite some hiccups and the like, I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Midnight Liaisons series.

After skimming through my copy of My Fair Succubus, I discovered a sliver of this book at the end. One of those little preview deals. I enjoyed it – and then spent forever tying to find the flipping book. Turns out Beauty Dates the Beast is under the name Jessica Sims, one of Jill Myles’s pseudonyms. Good to know.

Bathsheba is human – she just happens to work for Midnight Liaisons, a dating agency that caters to the more “special” clients in the city. From shifters to vampires, harpies to doppelgangers, if you need a date, then Midnight Liaisons is for you. But when Beau Russell’s date cancels on him, Bathsheba is in a panic. He needs a date and decides Bathsheba is his girl. Even though a human dating a shifter is strictly a no-no in the business, she might get fired anyway for losing the account. Besides, how much trouble could one little date stir up?

Apparently, quite a lot...

Bathsheba was a fun character and I really love that Sims decided to name her that. It’s different and not something you often see, well, anywhere. I like how protective she is of her sister (and her sister’s secret). I reminded me of myself and my sisters. Beau is an all around good guy that you eventually wish Bathsheba would realize and spill her guts to – even though that’s not possible for the sake of the story. Their interactions were entertaining and steamy when necessary – as they ought to be for a romance book.

However, there area lot of little hiccups in this book that I felt diminished it. The antagonist was someone who was supposed to be dead, and yet no one mentions the fact that he was still alive or questions why. His motivation is sort of weak, but I was willing to let that slide. Another issue was that it’s made pretty clear that shifters view humans as icky, and yet at the same time after Beau got his date a bunch of big-time shifters really wanted to date Bathsheba – so much so that her boss is willing to get downright ugly about making her date them. Confusing. There’s also a big deal made about Bathsheba being a virgin, making it sound as though that makes her magical in some way, but that’s never explained either (unless shifters just dig human virgins? But that still doesn’t make sense).

Scents are brought up a lot in this book, and it’s kind of contradictory at times. Bathsheba’s sister Sara is a werewolf, but they haven’t exactly had good relations with werewolves in the past, so they’re doing all they can to keep Sara away from them. A big deal is made about Sara’s wolfy scent and Bathsheba’s attempt to hide it, and at one point after the house has been broken into she doesn’t want to bring out clothes for an overnight stay elsewhere because they’ll smell wolfy and alert Beau. Yet at the same time she allows one of Beau’s shifter guys to check out the house – pretty sure the whole house would smell wolfy and they’d know anyway. And then when Sara is being kept safe in one area and Bathsheba in another, somehow she doesn’t think the shifter guys will find out – even though Sara has absolutely no way of hiding it and she’s there for several days.

I do take issue with how werewolves are portrayed in this book and wonder just how much Ms. Sims knows about wolf packs - because if the were packs are supposed to be reflecting them, then it's clear no research whatsoever was done. But this is a shifter thing and humans always screw everything up, so it's not inconceivable that they would act in such a manner. (personally, I'm just sick of wolves always being the bad guys)

There are some other things (such as a few other nonsensical decisions by Bathsheba), but then I think I might get into some spoilers and I don’t want to do that. If you just want a fun romance to read in a few hours and enjoy the paranormal side of things, then this is a solid choice.


Originally posted on

Notes fromt he playlist: "Sleep Alone" by Two Door Cinema Club

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Purchased for My Shelf

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I didn't actually buy this book - instead I got it for my birthday!  I've been wanting to read this for months and I'm #19 on the library list and they only have two books.  I had a customer come in requesting this book and initially I thought (from the title) that it was a nature book.  When I saw it was fiction, I found the book for him and then proceeded to read the blurb myself.  I was immediately intrigued.  Only later did I hear it was being made into a movie.  But that doesn't matter to me since books are 99% of the time better than their movie counterparts.  This book is one of those begin in the past and work its way toward the far-future kind with all sorts of little connecting threads that just sounded oh-so-interesting.  I very much look forward to reading this and falling into whatever world(s) Mitchell crafts and discovering all the little details that bring his characters together across time.

Notes from the playlist: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recommended for Thrills and Excitement

 Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I'm surprised to see I haven't recommended this yet.  Especially since I actually enjoyed this book more than what Dan Brown is most known for, The Da Vinci Code.  It's more action packed page by page and has a lot more at stake.  Robert Langdon is needed to help track down prominent Cardinals that have been kidnapped and are due to be exterminated by the Illuminati, an organization that was long since thought to be gone.  Making matters worse is a bomb unlike anyone has ever seen - and it's hidden somewhere in Vatican City.  No pressure, right?  It's one of those books that's hard to put down, and there are plenty of clues and unique things to follow along as you read and attempt to guess what's going on and what's going to happen next (good luck).  In fact, I've been meaning to pick this up again and give it another read.

 Notes from the playlist: "Imagine the Fire" by Hans Zimmer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recommended for Serious SF Fans

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Required reading in my graduate school meant a genre book every semester.  Science fiction was up to bat my first year, and this was the book that ended up being chosen.  Hyperion was the sort of book that people either absolutely enjoyed or totally hated.  Obviously I ended up in the former group.  It is indeed like a futuristic Canterbury Tales that include everything from world-connecting portals to high functioning AI.  Then of course there's the Shrike, but I'm not telling you about that particular nightmare creature.  Each story is in some way connected as seven travelers hope to find answers to the questions in their lives on the planet Hyperion, where structures move backward in time and the Shrike waits for them all.  Some readers may find it slow, but I found it fascinating.  The scope of the universe that Simmons creates, as well as the powerful language and images he creates, is inspiring.  There are plenty of questions you will have yourself as things progress, but they may only be answered in the next book, The Fall of Hyperion.  And yes, I read that too.

P.S. I don't know what it is, but I totally love this cover.

Notes from the playlist: "Numb" by Alanis Morissette

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Book of the Night by Pearl North - My Brain is Pudding

Pros: Talk about world building! It's wild world building in a microcosm!
Cons: Only that Haly got the short end of the stick here.

The Bottom Line: If you haven't read the first two books recently, then you really ought to do that first and then brace yourself for this last one.

Holy cow, where to start. I really should have reviewed this book while it was still super-fresh in my mind. But I’ll see if I can still do it justice. If you have not already read Pearl North’s first two books in this trilogy (Libyrinth and The Boy From Ilysies), then you need to go about doing that.

Queen Thela has Endymion’s Rose, a pen that gives her the power to unmake the world and craft a reality to her liking. She has kidnappedPoas well, and it may be that only he can keep her from using the pen. Meanwhile, Haly does everything she can to keep the inhabitants of the Libyrinth from starving, and that means traveling to a city that is no longer what she thought it was. It is there that she will discover the legendary Book of the Night, and the truth in its pages, as well as the truth of her world and everyone in it.

So that’s only a super tiny snippet of the fractal that is this book. Honestly, this one could easily have ended up in the adult section for a myriad of reasons. This book somehow manages to make it beyond imagination to stuff that I never expected, nor would I have ever expected even if given years and years to try. This book starts off simply enough, with a small quest to go on and the hope of finding some food – and then it just spins off into this bizarre story of a future so far ahead I think only The Doctor (for us Dr. Who fans) would understand and be able to manage it. It’s like swimming around in a pool and then deciding to go off into the deep end – only to realize that once you’ve reached the deep end you’re not in the pool anymore, but swimming in the middle of the ocean.

And I mean all of that in a good way.

Each character is trying to accomplish a goal, whether it’s just to get home, find food, or survive, and the stakes keep getting higher and higher as the pages turn. Clauda is back with her Wing and I’m surprised that some of the things she saw didn’t scramble her brain like an egg. It was nice to see her and Selene finally work things out. The dynamic between Queen Thela andPowas undeniably interesting. He and Clauda took the brunt of the book on their shoulders while Haly seemed mostly in the background despite some of the things she found. In the end, I was disappointed that Haly felt more like a side character than a main protagonist. I had thought the story would return to her, but in the end she kind of got screwed the most which was a bit bummy.

This book has elements of The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor, Fushigi Yuugi, (and I know you pulled a Wash!), and all sorts of stuff that will make your brain twist in ways you weren’t sure were possible. It’s a book that will demand at least one repeat read – preferably with the first two books being reread first.


Review originally posted on

How about an interview with the author?  Visit my other blog to find out all about Pearl North!

Notes from the playlist: "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Contest Winners!

Aaaaaaaaand the winners of the giveaway are: Kevin, anonymous (also known as tom), and thelittlefluffycat!  Congratulations!  Your books will soon be on their way!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Book Giveaway!

Yep, it's been a while since I've done a giveaway, but this time I've got some help.  I have 3 - count 'em - 3 copies of Pearl North's The Book of the Night to give away!

Now if you've read Libyrinth, then you've got to be ready to finish off this trilogy with a bang!  You might want to be ready to have your mind twisted a little too because I'm about halfway through my copy and whoa-hey Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku would flip out if any of this were really out there (...then again, who's to say it's not?  o_O).

If you haven't read Libyrinth...well...I recommend picking up a copy.  If you think you've been to enough imaginary places, trust me, you have not been to the Libyrinth of any of its surrounding areas.  So, how do you get in on the giveaway?  Easy.  Just leave a comment and some way for me to reach you (email is best) in case you win.  Sharing this blog post with others is encouraged - in fact, tell me how you've shared (Twitter?  Facebook?  Your blog?) and I'll throw in an additional entry for you!

The closing date for entries will be September 10 at midnight, so get your entry in and find out what's inside of The Book of the Night!

(Please note, this giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only.  Sorry!)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wiener Wolf by Jeff Crosby - Call of the Wild in Miniature

Pros: This. Book. Is. So. Cute.
Cons: None.

The Bottom Line: This is especially great for families that own – you guessed it – wiener dogs.

I never thought I would be the kind of person who would own a wiener dog. A dachshund. The kind of little dog you can dress up as a hotdog, banana, and other oblong shaped items. But my dad wanted one and, long story short, he’s pretty much my dog now. My sister makes fun of him and calls him a mosquito.

But moving along. While at work at the bookstore (where else?), I found this nugget of joy. And now that I’m the owner of a wiener dog and I have always loved wolves, I thought this might be a funny story. It was indeed.

Wiener Dog lives with Granny. He’s got a sweater, chew toys, his own drinking bowl, and everything he could want. But he wants something more these days. And when he sees and hears a wolf howling on television one day, he thinks he knows just what he needs. Wiener Dog hitches a ride to the national park nearby where he meets up with some new friends and becomes Weiner Wolf! But it’s not long before he realizes that there’s a lot more to being Wiener Wolf than he thought – and he might not be ready for some of it!

Jeff Crosby did both the story and the illustrations, and he wins on both of them. The story is really cute and even unexpected in some places. The end is great because it really does tell readers a little something about what dogs need. The illustrations are really rich in color and have excellent detail when Crosby needed them to. They can be goofy or just downright pretty, and I’m pretty sure Crosby owns a few wiener dogs of his own because just looking at the cover – yup, my dog’s ears flap all goofy like that too.

It’s a book that kids will have fun reading or being read to. They’re sure to giggle at Wiener Dog’s antics and they’ll love his name. It’s more fun to say than “dachshund” when you’re a kid, right? This will be especially delightful for kids whose families own wiener dogs.


Originally posted at

  Notes from the playlist: "Gold" by Owl City

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Purchased for My Shelf

 Mammals of Colorado by Stan Tekiela

I bought Birds of Colorado for my trip to the Rocky Mountains.  There I spotted all sorts of little (and big) birdies and had such a great time checking them off like a live scavenger hunt that I decided it might be fun to add even more things to the mix.  Stan Tekiela not only does bird guides, but also flowers, trees, fish, and mammals.  Since I found animals to be the most fun to see, while in Estes Park I popped into Macdonald Book Shop and nabbed a copy.  Yeah, I know - I work at B&N and I could have waited until I got back in order to get my discount (I am cheap, after all), I like playing in little bookstores and I like to support them.  Besides, I didn't want to wait until I came home, lest I forget some of the critters I saw.  Some of them need to be looked at right away if you want to get them right the first time anyway.  There's even a checklist in the back of this one just like the birding one, so I started checking off animals right away.  I marked them even if I hadn't seen them on this particular trip, since a Colorado sighting is a Colorado sighting.  Like the 14 bighorn sheep that came down the same hiking path my father and I were heading up one year.  Out of the 130 creatures in the book, I was able to mark off 18.  Not too bad if you ask me - especially when some of them go strolling through your campsite on a regular basis.

So if you ever find yourself in Estes Park and looking for something to read, be sure to pop into Macdonald Book Shop.  It's as cozy as can be and perfect for a little mountain town...hmm...I wonder if they're in need of any extra help for the rest of the year...and the year after that....and the year after that...

Notes from the playlist: "The Man Who Never Lied" by Maroon 5

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Vacation!

I'm off to Colorado to play in the Rocky Mountains! I'll be back next week and who knows?  Maybe I'll pick up a book while I'm there!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Just Cracked Open

The Vindico by Wesley King

With such a dashing cover, I had to take a look at this one.  The back didn't offer me a blurb, but instead a piece of the book; "Somehow I don't think this will be an apprenticeship program.  Unless it's for a weird fashion school, in which case, I'm loving the cape."  Here we have several teens who have been kidnapped and who will receive super powers - but at a price.  They are to become the next super villians of the world (as they live in a world where superheroes and villians are the norm).  But why were they chosen?  Will they do what the evil group, the Vindico, asks of them?  How far will any of them go to get the super powers of their dreams.  I'm curious about all of this myself and look forward to see how things go.  While I don't expect this to be amazing literary reading, I do expect it to be an exciting adventure and likely a quick read - which is exactly what I was looking for.

Notes from the playlist - "Misery," by Maroon 5 by Wesley King

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recommended for Little Bears

Otto the Book Bear by Kate Cleminson

I just discovered this book the other day - even though it's been out for about seven months now.  It was placed on our children's octogon table and the second I saw it, I thought, "Oh I have to read this."  I couldn't just ignore that cute little bear on a book.  I'm a sucker for stories like this and honestly, when my sister has kids, these are the sort of books I'm going to read to them.  Otto is a bear who lives in a book.  He's happiest when children read his book, but when they're off doing other things, then he'll leave his book and play around the house by himself.  But then one day his book is left what will Otto do?  Initially I thought this book was done by the same author/illustrator as Orange Bear Apple Pear because of how cute Otto was, but soon realized I was wrong.  That doesn't matter.  He's still adorable and I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this book.

Notes from the playlist, "Never Close Our Eyes," by Adam Lambert

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Currently Reading


The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen

I picked this up as an ARC because it sounded interesting.  After all, it was described as "Fatal Attraction in the age of Facebook."  Sounds like a party to me.  It's written in journal format which is an interesting but still effective way to do it.  It really gives readers the chance to be right in the psyche of a woman who's been dumped by her lover after a 5 year affair.  So where will it go?  What will she do?  Well, she's already getting buddy-buddy with her former lover's wife so...I think we can all see where this is going.  Although I hear there's a twist at the end.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see.  Thusfar it's been a pretty entertaining read and so I say kudos to Cohen for an engaging debut.

Notes from the playlist: "Love Bites (So Do I)" by Halestorm

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates - I Love This Book

Pros: Almost a cuteness overload.
Cons: None.

The Bottom Line: What better book for a bookseller than a book about a dog that loves books and owns a bookstore! Ha!

As usual, I spotted this back in the kid's section. All it took was the cover; a little white dog with perky ears carrying a stack of books, stepping high and proud with the title Dog Loves Books underneath. I immediately made a mental note to read it.

Eventually I got my chance and was delighted with what was inside. The little white dog loves books so much he plans on opening his own bookstore. But when he does, no one shows up for the grand day. Dog gets a little bummed out, but plucks up his spirits by doing what? Reading books of course! Books can take him into different worlds to meet different creatures and have all sorts of adventures. But will anyone ever come in to his new bookstore?

I think we all know the answer to that.

It's a very simple book focused on the joy and power of reading. The book explains that Dog is never alone because he has all sorts of fun and friends ready and waiting within all his books. It's cute because even the dinosaurs look happy when they pop up. The illustrations are colorful and rather minimalist until Dog opens up his favorite books and then the pages fill up with kangaroos, spaceships, and all sorts of other exciting things. Dog is a cute little guy and I love his little doggie smile and happy ears. I'm always astonished with the illustrations that artists can create with the use of watercolors.

This is a great way to introduce kids to reading. Since this is a picture book for kids ages 4-8, not only do they get to read with you, but they can also get a peek into their future when it comes to books. There's nothing heavy about it, no deeper message other than books are great. And who's going to argue with that?

The book is an easy read; it doesn't use any rhymes or anything, just a straight story that you can read to your kids or have them read to you. It's a great anytime book, and might be particularly fun to read right before everyone goes to a bookstore.

I don't have kids or nephews or nieces or anything, but if I did, this would have been in my bag and on its way home.


Originally posted on

 Notes from the playlist: "I Will Find You" by Clannad

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Purchased for My Shelf

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Indeed, if you follow this blog this title may sound familiar to you.  I recommended this book two years ago.  Since then I've often thought about reading it again.  When a gift card fell into my lap I decided to add it to my little bundle of purchases because this is the kind of book I can see myself reading multiple times - and that is one of my top criteria for purchasing a book.  Scalzi is a skilled writer who can spin an interesting tale that will draw reactions from the reader - whether those reactions are laughter or worry for the characters.  You should pick this one up if you love a good science fiction book.  Indeed, I'm awaiting my chance to snag his newest book, Redshirts because it looks like a great deal of fun.  And if it's anything like Scalzi's other works, then I'm sure I'm in for a good time.

Notes from the playlist: "Tick Tock" by Hans Zimmer

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Recommended for English Majors

A Handbook to Literature by William and Hugh Harmon

Yes, I realize that this is a textbook, but it's one of those textbooks that you actually want to hang onto after college is over.  I think this is one of two textbooks I kept.  It's a great little reference book for literature related goodies, should you ever find yourself in that particular moment of need.  The link is actually to the eleventh version, although I think there is a twelfth version out now.  Mine is actually the ninth version, and I'm not sure how much more they could add each year, but oh well.  If you're an English major, a fan of literature, a writer, or you just want a good literature reference book so you can finally get away from the Internet and Google for once, then this really is a great book to choose.  (Tip: You can probably find a cheaper and/or older version at used book sites like or!)

Notes from the playlist: "Sovereign Light Cafe" by Keane

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Recommended for Kids Who Love Fun (and Lions)

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

This was on a display for a while before it got replaced by something else.  But when I saw the cover I decided it deserved a look.  Turns out it's quite a fun book.  The two guys at the bottom are the author and illustrator, and they are here to tell the story of Chloe and the lion.  However, things don't quite go as planned when Adam's illustrations don't exactly live up to Mac's expectations.  This leads to Adam getting eaten and a lot of sub-par illustrations taking the place of his.  From there, Chloe's story gets all sorts of silly until Mac finally realizes he needs Adam after all.  But it's up to his character Chloe to solve his problems!  My favorite thing about this story is actually the mix of mediums used to illustrate this story.  Paper crafted into a layered 3D style, figurines representing Mac and Adam to distinguish them from the story they're trying to tell, and all sorts of other illustrations as Mac tries to get things straight - including bringing in another illustrator.  The story has a fun ending and kids will dig the story, style, and ending of this tale.

Notes from the playlist: "Burn It Down" by Linkin Park

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Currently Reading

Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

I've been curious about this series for a long time.  Ever since first seeing them while at work, my curiosity was piqued.  That curiosity grew even more after seeing Cornwell's books brought to life when PBS aired a few episodes of the Sharpe movies they made - featuring Sean Bean (the ladies love Sean, and I won't deny that I'm one of them).  But the stories were solid, full of action and intrigue.  After contemplating what to read next and realizing that I obviously wasn't going to stick to my To Be Read list, I ordered this up from the library.  This is the very beginning for Sharpe when he's still a private in the British army and has to pose as a deserter for a mission.  Success means seargent stripes.  Failure means possibly getting eaten  by tigers.  It's said that a good writer knows how to hook a reader with the first sentence.  This was one of those books where I started reading and decided, "Yep, I'm going to have fun with this one."

Notes from the playlist: "I Don't Wanna Die" by Hollywood Undead

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Purchased for My Shelf

Birds of Colorado by Stan Tekiela

I'm going to Colorado this summer - again.  I try to go there every year because I love it.  I wish I lived there.  In fact, ever since we moved away when I was 6, I've been looking for ways to get back there and live there permanently and happily.  Until then, a yearly trip to go hiking or just kick back and car camp have worked as a replenishing dose to get me back on track for the rest of the year.  Last year after spotting a rather large bird on the ground - not a turkey, not a pheasant, what is it? - and grabbing a copy of this little book at the local book store to take a peek, this year I decided I ought to have my own copy.  (It was a female dusky grouse, by the way)  My mother and I have bought these books for the various places we've lived ever since discovering them.  We had one for Illinois.  Pennsylvania.  Our current copy is for Missouri.  Now I have the Colorado one.  These books are excellent for people who aren't serious birders and just need something as a fun and quick identification system.  They're all by the same author as well, and this man knows his stuff.  The books are small, work by a color coding system (aka - what color is your bird?), and give you the kind of tidbits of information you might be interested in once you realize, "Oh, I just saw a green-tailed towhee.  Cool."  Can't wait to get out there with this!

Notes from the playlist: "Love in a Mystery" by Ludovico Einaudi

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cages by Peg Kehret - Still Remembered 15 Years Later

Pros: Excellent book
Cons: None

The Bottom Line: My 13-year-old self wants to tell others her age to read this book.

I did read this when I was 13. And you know what? I liked it so much and remembered the storyline so well that years and years later (I’m 28) I was able to re-discover the book without knowing the title or the author. I was quite excited to see it was still in publication.

Kit is a young girl with some problems at home. Her father frequently gets drunk and calls her demeaning things - like an animal. She wishes she could just buy nice things like her friend, and one day she is caught stealing a bracelet. She didn’t even really want it. But now she’s sentenced to twenty hours of volunteer work at an animal shelter. It is there she meets a special dog that means a great deal to her. Kit feels a lot like the animals in the shelter, and it is there she will learn how to free herself.

All right, so I made that sound a little cheesy, but it really is a great book. I think this was one of the few books in my life that almost made me cry – and as a kid I never cried at books. This is a story that I never forgot and there is still one instance in particular that I remember vividly and thought was so great, I’ve always held onto it. I won’t say what it is because that will spoil things though.

And this isn’t the first book that Peg Kehret wrote that’s gotten notice from young readers. At the bookstore where I work, she has four books in our summer reading shelf – several of which were Mark Twain award nominees (and one winner I think) – and I’ve already had to order in more. I ordered in Cages and put it on my recommendation display. To think that years later I’d be able to put a book I enjoyed on display for other kids. Lovely.

Pick this up a bookstore, pick it up at the library, it doesn’t matter. Kit is a character that is easy to identify with and she’s got a strong voice and, and readers will be pleased to see the resolutions she discovers.


Originally published on

 Notes from the playlist: "A Promise" by Alan Silvestri

Saturday, May 19, 2012

*Won!* for My Shelf

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

That's right.  I won this bad boy.  I haven't started it yet because I've only just finished A Feast for Crows and want to take my time.  After all, A Feast for Crows came out in 2005 and this nugget of gold wasn't released until just last year.  Add to that the two other books Martin is working on and a bookseller has plenty of time on her hands, ya know?  But how did I win such an awesome book in all it's hardcover glory, you may ask?  If you're a regular on this blog, you may remember the Book Club books I included here every month during 2011.  The host of the club, know to the online world as Calico Reaction (I knew her in graduate school), awarded points during the course of the year for reading, participation, etc.  Those with the highest point totals won books.  I managed to come in at second place and won myself a choice of a hardcover book.

It took me a while to decide because I'm a very, very picky book buyer.  If I see something, I'll try to get it at the library first.  If I buy it, it's because I know I'll read it over and over again.  Hardcovers are particularly rare in my collection.  A book has to strike me in just the right way in order for me to want to buy it in that format.  So far, if you don't include hardcovers that were only avaialble in that format (like the Intellectual Devotionals), books that have made it to my shelf include the Harry Potter series, extremely fancy (re: expensive) copies of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and both of Michio Kaku's books - Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible.

So finally after asking about 6 of my fellow booksellers for ideas (and none of you were much help by the way, haha), I finally settled with this book because it does look pretty awesome in hardcover and let's face it, while hauling around a giant tome is kind of annoying, trying to read a book this fat in mass market form is worrisome because trying to keep it open enough to read means paranoia about breaking the spine.

I very much look forward to opening this up and thank Calico Reaction for her generosity in prizes (because honestly, even on sale, this book is by no means cheap - at least not to me anyway).  To the rest of you I say head on over to her blog and see what she's got to offer.  Her book reviews are excellent - as are the occasional movie/TV mentions - and she's also got another book club going on so if you're looking for something good to read and this little blog o'mine isn't doing it for you, dive in over there and see what strikes your fancy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Doctor De Soto by William Steig - Don't Think About Eating Dentist Mice

Pros: My favorite William Steig book!
Cons: Nope!

The Bottom Line: If you're a fox and need dental help, don't think about eating your mouse dentist. That's just rude.

I remember a lot of the children’s books I read when I was a kid. Doctor De Soto was one of my favorites. Written and illustrated by William Steig (who also Alexander and the Magic Pebble and Amos & Boris), it’s a smart story with adorable drawings.

Doctor De Soto is a dentist. A mouse dentist, to be precise. But he doesn’t treat things that are likely to eat him, like cats and the like. But one day there’s a dapper fox outside his office crying pitifully about his aching tooth. The Doctor takes pity on him and with the help of his wife, takes out the bad tooth. The fox is ever so grateful, but needs to return in order to get his new tooth. While at home, the fox seriously starts to consider eating the Doctor despite all his help. The Doctor, on the other hand, is well aware of what goes on in the heads of foxes, and has a plan on how to teach this one a lesson…just in case.

I loved – and still love – the illustrations. They’re cute and full of life and color. The Doctor has all his little dentist implements, from drills to a little gas mask the fox has to wear before they take the tooth out. It’s not often that I get to recommend this book to people, but not long ago I had a couple looking for dentist-related kids books and got to chuck this one at them (which they bought – yay!).

Interestingly enough, this is a Newberry Honor book. Odd because it’s a picture book, but I guess the story was worthy of the nomination. But hey, I’d say it was with good reason. You’re not going to find a story like this anywhere else. After all, how often do you find tales about dentist mice?

I highly recommend giving this book a peek. Kids will love seeing how the Doctor thinks of a way to keep the fox hungry, and they may not even dislike the fox too much. He has a bit of a conscience battle about eating the Doctor, but after all, a fox is a fox, so you can’t really blame him. At least, that's what I thought when I was a kid. And hey, he gets himself a shiny new gold tooth!


Originally posted on

 Notes from the playlist: "White Flag" by Chris Tomlin

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin - Mmmm, Delicious

Pros: A unique look at the world from other characters' perspectives
Cons: No Tyrion (yes, I know why, but I still miss him)

The Bottom Line: A meaty stepping stone from the last book to A Dance with Dragons.

I’ve been taking my sweet time with this series because Martin still has two more books to put out (that we know of…) and goodness knows that means waiting a while. But I finally decided to read this one before moving on to the next title.

You don’t actually find out until the end of the book (I think it would have been handy to know at the start, but oh well) that as Martin was writing, the story just got too big, hence A Dance with Dragons. He split the tale up geographically, which is why in this book you don’t get any Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon, or Bran. Instead, you get a very interesting array of various characters. So many, in fact, that I’m not even going to try and list them in this review. Suffice to say that you get some main characters like Jaime and Cersi, some characters that are becoming more important like Brienne, and others that may or may not be seen again and who don’t even have chapters named after them but instead by their nicknames like The Soiled Knight.

But that doesn’t make the book any less interesting. While you may be disappointed that you don’t get to hang out with Tyrion and Daenerys, you do still get to see Sansa and Arya from time to time. Likewise, because of the various viewpoints, you get to see what’s going on in all sorts of other parts of Westeros, such as down south in Dorne and over at the Iron Islands. And there are some interesting things going on in these locals. You still see people like Cersi makes mistakes that you know will be far-reaching (you’ll even be sitting there thinking, “Wow, how stupid are you?”) and naturally there are plenty of cliff-hangy moments with people, such as Brienne, Cersi, and Arya.

While it’s not the best in the series – as many have said – it is still a solid read. There isn’t as much action now that things have calmed down. Rather, I suppose things are slowly but surely working their way up again. We’re in that little lull in the rollercoaster before it starts clinking up again and then racing back down at breakneck speed. I didn’t do as much skipping ahead as I have in the past, though I do admit to doing so with Arya and Sansa. Everyone else either wasn’t that engrossing or just didn’t have enough chapters to bother with. No joke – some of these people have just one or two.

This is all primarily why I went ahead and gave this book four stars instead of five. It’s good, but not super fantastic. I’m willing to bed A Dance with Dragons will snatch up five stars without a problem. Keep reading kids – things are going to get interesting…not that they aren’t already...


Originally posted on

Notes from the playlist: "Reading In Bed 65dos Remix" by 65 Days of Static

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recommended for Arachnologists (Kid Versions)

Uncover a Tarantula by David George Gordon

Honestly, I think I learn more from kids' books than I do from adult books. Kids books are simple and straight to the point. I was cleaning up one day and found this. Curious, I flipped through it and read about tarantulas. I learned all sorts of cool things that I never knew. Did you know that while humans have iron in their blood for oxygen purposes, tarantulas have copper? That's why their blood is a different color. Cool! I had no idea that was even possible. Even better, kids will love the design of the book because each page uncovers a different layer of the tarantula body - from circulatory system to nervous system to important tarantula organs. These books are cool and I would have loved to have one or more as a kid. I say more because you can get other books that show the insides of animals such as frogs, sharks, and even a t-rex!

Notes from the playlist: "Chemical Plant Zone (Dance Remix)" by JemenJ

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...