Monday, December 21, 2009

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

This was a wonderful book. It's a fictional account of historical fact about Mary Anning, the young girl who found a unique fossilized skeleton on the English coast.

I had read a book some time ago for young readers concerning her and was amazed at how young she was when she found this extraordinary fossil.

This novel fleshes out the story and introduces me to her spinster friend who was much older but also enjoyed digging for fossils.

Elizabeth Philpot has had to move to the seaside village with her two sisters because her brother was getting married and he and his wife would be taking over the household. They don't have much money, so Elizabeth entertains herself by gathering fossils, cleaning them, identifying them, and displaying them in cases.

Mary and her family sell the fossils for their livelihood, even more vitally needed when her father dies while she's still small.

How these two strange friends interact makes the story move along quickly. The early nineteenth century did not allow women much freedom, so there is gossip and innuendo from the villagers.

Dutton will be publishing the book in January. It's a very enjoyable read.

If you'd like my copy of this ARC, please leave a comment here on my blog and email me at info NOSPAM (take the spaces and no spam out)with your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it. I'll be picking a winner in about a week.

The Red Scarf by Anne Villeneuve

This is another delightful picture book published by Tundra Books. It will be out in February, 2010, is 40 pages long and is for ages 5-7.

It was originally published in French, and the artwork shows that influence.

There are almost no words in this book, but the story is very vivid and exciting and you'll be so taken with the illustrations you won't notice it.

A taxi driver in a yellow cab gives a passenger a ride and then finds a red scarf left in the back. The rest of the tale is all about how he tries to return it, how many places he goes, and what happens to him there is what makes you smile.

Since it is almost wordless, you can encourage your child to add more to the story and learn to use her or his imagination. Let them write their own story!

This book would make a very nice gift for a young one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

This book gave me nightmares! I'm sure it's because the disaster discussed in the book is a real fear for me. I'm always reading "end of the world as we know it" books, but the premise is this book is more believable than most.

Imagine a world where Avian flu is pandemic and it metamorphoses into different viruses as time goes on...

Ann and Peter Brooks are separated. Ann has the house and the two children, Peter has an apartment and is a university researcher.

When his research leads him to a large duck kill and there is no sign of any external cause, he takes samples to the lab to test and see what caused their deaths. He's horrified to find Avian flu - and university is already shutting down and evacuating the building!

It doesn't take long to spread, and soon it is killing fifty out of every hundred people it touches. No one knows why some survive, but everyone is soon locking their doors and quarantining members of the family who were exposed.

Ann refuses to let her neighbor lady in because she's sick and she doesn't want to expose her children. The neighbor begs her to take her son in and save him and leaves him on the porch in the snow and goes home. Peter sneaks around the house and brings the baby inside and Ann cannot understand how he can risk his family...

There are difficult decisions to make in times like this, and many choices have deathly consequences.

This book may not give you nightmares, but I bet it'll keep you awake at night!

It has well paced writing, the story line is almost real, and there are places that will make you cry. It's the author's first novel and I highly recommend it. I'll be watching for her next one...

If you'd like to win my ARC from Delacourte Press, leave a comment here on the blog and send me an email at info NOSPAM with your name and address and why you'd like to read it. I'll be giving it away in about a week.

Here Comes the Bride by Beatrice Masini

Illustrated by Anna Laura Cantone, published by Tundra Books.

This book was originally published in Italy, and the artwork reflects that "flavor". It is also reminiscent of Edward Gorey's work and the New Yorker Magazine. The illustrations are colorful, a bit outlandish, and work with the story.

Filomena makes dresses for a living and is always designing wedding dress for other women. She longs for the day she'll be able to make one for herself.

The man working at the mechanic shop next door loves her, but is too shy to say so. When he finally works up his courage and asks, she accepts, and starts working on her dress.

And when she's finished with her magnificent dress and comes to the wedding, she scares her groom!

The story does have a message (the dress does not make the lady) and it's a fun read.

The book will be published in January, 2010 and is for ages 4-7.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

Joseph Wambaugh has been writing for years now, drawing on his experiences as a police officer in the past. Now he's busy interviewing the officers who are walking that thin blue line currently to get info for his novels. And it's all still relevant and funny and horrifying and more.

He doesn't sugarcoat anything. The novel is graphic, many times heartrending, and it keeps your eyes glued to the page.

As you read about the lives and times of the officers, you'll find some you like, and some you don't. It's easy to worry about the officers and the messes they walk into. Even cases that look simple may not be.

If you're into police procedural stories, this book would be a good one to read. I enjoyed tasting Joseph's work again.

This ARC is from Little Brown and if you'd like to have my copy, leave a comment here on the blog, and email me at info NOSPAM (take out the spaces and NOSPAM) with your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it. I'll pick a winner in about a week.

Sail Away with Me - Old and New Poems

Selected and written by Jane Collins-Philipee and illustrated by Laura Beingesser. To be published March 9, 2010 by Tundra Books.

I've had the privilege of getting a copy of this book from Tundra to read and review, and it's a wondrous book. It's meant for ages 3-6, but I sure enjoyed reading the poems and admiring the folksy illustrations and fun colors used to make the poems come to life.

Some are nursery rhymes, some are brand new poems, but all have to do with the sea. Some will make you laugh out loud!

My favorite is a new one about a ship that has a hippo for a captain and other animals for the rest of his crew.

This is an easy reader that will be read again and again.

If your child is not into poetry, this might open the door to that genre for them.

I can easily recommend this book to parents or grandparents or to anyone who loves kids!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cincinnatus by Rusty McClure and David Stern

Subtitle: The Secret Plot to Save America

Initially, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this read as much as normal because it begins with golf. I've never been a fan of golf, but the story begins racing in the first chapter and keeps on at the same pace through the whole book. I did enjoy it!

Matt Thurman, a golfer hoping his shoulder will heal well enough he can get back on the PGA circuit, is out practicing one night on the greens when two amazing things happen. A beautiful woman asks him if he was Bob Kazmir (he wished he was) and then he actually sees Bob Kazmir - who has company with him. When he realizes they are having an argument, he tries to leave, but they notice him and invite him to join them.

While they are chatting, the older man asks to borrow Matt's golf club to try a few swings. When the swinging becomes deadly, Matt finds himself framed for murder and no one believes his story except his brother.

He finally decides no one is going to prove his innocence for him, he'll have to do it himself. However, the road to the truth is twisted and no one wants him to find out what's going on.

He receives a mysterious visitor who helps him escape the jail, he finds out the beautiful woman is a Department of Justice attorney, and that there is a secret society with big plans to "save" America.

The various plot lines come together smoothly, there's a lot of action and intrigue, and it'll keep you turning all 523 pages eagerly to see what's going to develop next!

This ARC came from Atlas Books, and I'm going to be giving it away. If you'd like my copy, email me at info NOSPAM (take the NOSPAM and spaces out) with your name and address and tell me why you'd like to read it. And leave a comment here on the blog. I'll pick a winner in about a week.

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

The Golden Quest is a graphic novel about a young boy who embarks on a Hero’s Journey with his dog Shelby to discover the Golden Rules of Mo...