Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: 'The Book of Pearl' by Timothée de Fombelle

✰✰✰½ A young man suddenly finds himself transported to a strange world in a different time. It is just before WWII in Paris, and a couple takes him in. He eventually takes their name and as Joshua Pearl, he sets out to make his way in the world. Along the way he begins to lose his memories of this fairy tale beginnings. Pearl spends his free time seeking out objects to prove the existence of his other life and his long lost love. With time running out, Joshua and his true love must find a way to break the curse that was placed on them long, long ago.

The Bottom Line: This is a strange and wonderful adventure set in another time. It is a pleasure to read and absorb; however, the shifting points of view are confusing at times. If you dare to pick this book up and start reading, you will be swept away by this poetic tale of first love. Recommended for teens and adults who enjoy literary fiction, fairy tales,and romance.

Details: The Book of Pearl written by Timothée de Fombelle and translated by Sarah Ardizzone & Sam Gordon. Advance Reading Copy published by Candlewick Press in 2017. 368 p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-9126-4   NOTE:  I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


I don't know where the time has gone, but it's the beginning of another wonderful New Year! Hurray! I am so happy to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. This year is a new beginning filled with lots of opportunities, new adventures, and good books to read. 

One of my goals for 2018 is to get back on track with my reading and complete the 50 Book Challenge again. I'm starting off with two books Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley and The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. With two book clubs this year, I should have plenty to read. Please stop by my blog from time to time to check out my reviews and share your thoughts.

Happy New Year to All!

P.S. The free clip art is from Happy Day Ideas. Also, just in case you want to keep track of my 50 book challenge with me, here's my counter: 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Book Review: 'The Christmas Cat' by Maryann Macdonald

✰✰✰✰✰ The Baby Jesus was just like all babies. He cried. On the night Jesus was born, the manger animals took turns trying to lull Him to sleep. Nothing worked until a curious kitten nuzzled Jesus's neck and began to purr. Soon the crying stopped, and Jesus and the kitten bonded. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The Bottom Line: This refreshing and tender take on the traditional Christmas story was inspired by one of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of La Madonna del Gatto. Soft and beautiful watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations by Any June Bates set the tone perfectly. This picture book about friendship is one you will treasure with your child for years to come. Very highly recommended for bedtime or storytime reading with kids ages 4 – 8.

Details: The Christmas Cat written by Maryann Macdonald & illustrated by Amy June Bates. Hardcover picture book published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2013. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3498-2 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book Review: 'The Best Hanukkah Ever' by Barbara Diamond Goldin

✰✰✰✰✰ The Knoodle family wants to follow their rabbi's wise advice and give perfect gifts to celebrate Hanukkah, gifts that will be treasured forever. As each person draws a name, they choose a gift that they themselves would like to have. However, when everyone opens their gifts, no one is happy. How can this be? They did just what the rabbi said, didn't they? Fortunately, the rabbi arrives just in time, and with a extra help from Little Yekl, the Knoodle family has a celebration they will remember for many years to come.

The Bottom Line: This holiday treasure is one that you will read with your little one again and again. The lively and colorful illustrations are sure to make you smile as kids learn about what it takes to choose the perfect gift. Highly recommended for holiday reading and storytimes.

Details: The Best Hanukkah Ever written by Barbara Diamond Goldin & illustrated by Avi Katz. Hardcover picture book published by Marshall Cavendish Children in 2007. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-7614-5355-0 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Review: 'Deep Down Dark' by Héctor Tobar

✰✰✰✰½ When the San José Mine collapsed in Chile in 2010, 1.2 billion people watched the rescue on television. Never before had anyone survived such a long time underground...69 days. How did the miners survive? What happened during their time in the caverns And how did they adjust to life back above ground?

It’s been more than seven years since the thirty-three men were trapped. Their plight captivated the world. For seventeen days no one even new if they were alive or dead. With meager resources, somehow all of the miners survived.  Tobar's narrative moves between the stories of the men trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock to the political battles above ground.

While the miners struggled to make their limited rations last, their families fought to keep the rescue mission alive. Harsh conditions challenged the miners physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The drama and suspense of their story will keep you turning the pages of this quick read.

The Bottom Line: This is a riveting story of workplace disaster, politics, family, physical endurance, and survival. It's also a story of hard working men and the people who love them. Chances are you remember the story, now read about what really happened. Enthusiastically recommended for readers who enjoy survival stories.

Book Club Notes: Our group thrives on exploring different opinions, so this was a lively discussion. With 15+ participants we really had to be respectful of the amount of time each person had to talk. Several people mentioned that they didn't like the journalistic style of the book and would have liked to know more about the miners' private lives. Others enjoyed the style and said the author did a good job of respecting the privacy of the survivors. A few people said that the beginning of the book (the first 75 pages especially) was slow. It was difficult at times to keep track of who was who as there were so many people involved. Several of us were wanting of more information about mining and drilling. I supplemented the discussion with diagrams, maps, photos, and a timeline as these items were sparse in the hardcover book. Several members had watched documentaries online. Also, a few checked out the movie, The 33, after the discussion. Overall the ratings (on a scale of 1 – 5 with 5 being the highest) ranged from 3.5 to 5 with an average of 4.5. 

To sum, this is an inspirational and education story of faith, friendship, and teamwork. While this may not have been their first choice in books, this title was an awesome book club pick. This was our best discussion of the year, and it's always great to end the year on a high note. For book clubs considering this book, check out the discussion questions at Reading Group Guides. 
Details: Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Héctor Tobar. Paperback published by Picador in 2014. 320 p. ISBN: 978-1-250-07485-0 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Review: 'Boris and Bella' by Carolyn Crimi

✰✰✰✰✰ Everyone in Booville seems to get along. Everyone, that is, except for neighbors Bella and Boris. Bella Legrossi is the messiest creature in town, while Boris Kleanitoff is the tidiest.

Bella and Boris argue all the time. As Halloween rolls around, each tries to outdo the other with a spectacular party. When all the other monsters turn them down to attend Harry Beastie’s party, Bella and Boris are left out and all alone again. Together they decide to find out what all the other creatures are shrieking about. And together they stumble upon a nice surprise.

The Bottom Line: This tale of two opposites is witty and clever. This spooky tale of friendship is one of my favorites this year. Kids in lower grade school will love Gris Grimly’s spooktacular illustrations in ink and watercolor. This Halloween treat is sure to be a winner for story time reading as well.

Details: Boris and Bella written by Carolyn Crimi & illustrated by Gris Grimly. Hardcover picture book published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2004. 32 p. ISBN: 0-15-202528-6 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Review: 'Trick or Treat?' by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson

✰✰✰✰ A little boy goes trick-or-treating in his apartment building. He goes from floor to floor and door to door, asking, “Trick or Treat?” Each person answers, “Treat!” and hands out candy. However, when the little boy reaches the tenth floor, Merlin answers, “Trick!” Magic Merlin waves his wand and suddenly everything is WackBards! On the way back down to his apartment, the little boy’s treat bag is filled with backwards treats. When he gets home, his daddy knows just the trick to undo Merlin’s spell.

The Bottom Line: This Halloween-themed counting book is recommended for kids in grades PreK – 1. Meisel’s whimsical drawings will make kids laugh. Also, recommended for story time.

Details: Trick or Treat? written by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson, & illustrated by Paul Meisel. Hardcover picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2002. 40 p. ISBN: 0-689-84968-0