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

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...