01 January 2013

Sunrise over Fallujah

Sunrise over Fallujah
Walter Dean Myers
read by J D Jackson
young adult audiobook

Robin enlists in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  His unit is to serve as liaison between civilians and military.  What kind of impossible task is that?  Myers brings his brilliant style to this book. 

Christmas Blizzard

Cover image

Christmas Blizzard
Garrison Keillor
adult novella

James and his wife live a comfortable life in their Chicago penthouse.  James has no intention of ever re-connecting with his family and old friends back in North Dakota.  He would rather spend his time in warm, snowless Hawaii. 
He is told that his uncle back in ND is dying and that he should visit before it is too late.  Grumpy to be reminded of the past, he begrudgingly tells his pilot to prepare his private jet for a flight to the frozen north.
Will James, like Scrooge, and the Grinch before him, find some joy this Christmas or can that only be had in Hawaii?
This tale rambles and roams with some bizarre characters and odd situations.  Once the reader realizes that James, like Scrooge, is being confronted by his version of Marley, et al, then the story makes more sense.
This is recommended for someone who wants a quick holiday read, but is no great classic.    

26 September 2012

Language of Flowers

Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh adult fiction This book was disturbing, but I couldn't put it down. The main character is an 18 year old who has been shuffled from family to family her whole life. She finally is placed with a woman who is good to her and teaches her all about vineyards, grapes, vegetables, and flowers. By this time, however, Victoria has learned not to trust anyone and pus
hes everyone away. She ultimately leaves and becomes homeless. The one redeeming quality she has is her knowledge of flowers that her foster mother taught her. Is it enough to survive? Victoria is definitely "damaged goods". She makes some VERY poor decisions. Can she find redemption and make amends with those who have come to be fond of her? Intertwined in the plot is the Victorian Language of Flowers. For example, giving a person Calla lilies shows modesty. Fennel shows strength. A great appendix in the back serves as a reference. http://aboutflowers.com/images/stories/Florist/languageofflowers-flowerdictionary.pdf

Bad Kitty

Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe young adult fiction This is NOT "Bad Kitty" by Nick Bruel. True Confessions time: I accidentally checked out this book and its sequel when I thought I was getting on hold for some books by Nick Bruel. Nick Bruel writes silly, illustrated cat books for elementary school readers. I accidentally read book 2 before this book (1). In this book we are introduced to ultra-hip Jasmine, teenage detective, and her crime solving friends. Jaz and family vacation in Las Vegas where she (literally) stumbles onto a mystery. Who is terrorizing a celebrity, her son, and their three legged cat? Can they trust the Russian and the bartender? Wacky fun ensues. This book is full of cultural references, contemporary language, and slang. If someone were to try to read this 50 years from now, they would have a hard time following all the references. Even someone reading it today may not be immersed enough in "teenspeak" to understand all the references. Good thing the author gives us some footnotes on many pages.

Blood of the Prodigal

Blood of the Prodigal by P. Gaus mystery novel Paul Gaus paints a picture of Amish life in Ohio and how interactions with "Englishers" can get complicated, especially for young people wanting to see more of the world beyond their ordered, plain existance. An Amish man is murdered and a pastor and a professor that the Amish trust are asked to figure out what happened. This is a fairly clean book for a murder mystery and should appeal to Ohioans in particular. This is the first in a series of Ohio Amish mysteries.

Dog Days

Dog Days by Jon Katz audiobook If you have to be trapped in a car with the family, I recommend bringing an audiobook like "Dog Days" or a James Herriot compilation. Katz (Ha! A man named cats writing about dogs) tells of his misadventures on a farm in Vermont or upstate New York. I never was completely sure which state it was in, but it doesn't matter. Each chapter can stand alone, which is good for when you have to make rest stops on the highway. Along with dogs, we encounter elderly neighbors, donkeys, sheep, and more. This must be book 2, because he refers to his "other" book at the beginning of this one. (First dog book: 1) Dog Year. Second dog book: 2) New Work of Dogs. Third dog book: Dogs of Bedlam Farm. Fourth dog book: Dog Days. I am not completely certain that I have this order right, though). His book is endearing, sweet, and witty.

President Obama on Free Speech

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In an address to the United Nations: “As president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day,” Obama said. “And I will defend their right to do so.” For that, he received cheers in the cavernous hall. The president worked to explain — before a sometimes skeptical audience that has never completely bought into the U.S. idea that even hateful speech is protected — why the U.S. values its First Amendment so highly. “We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities,” Obama said. “We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.” He said Americans “have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their view.” http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2012/09/26/before-u-n--obama-champions-free-speech.html

15 September 2012

Do You Wear Diapers?

Do You Wear Diapers? by Tanya Roitman and Harriet Ziefert, Inc. board book ages 2-4 Toddlers may wonder - "Do tigers wear diapers? Does anyone else wear diapers"? Here is the answer book. No. The answer is "no". Only humans wear diapers. Others poop in or near their own habitats. If your family is full of doctors and nurses or biology teachers, then this a good book for your family. I don't recommend it for a genteel grandmother to read or for someone else who is easily grossed out. Half of my audience laughed and the other half thought it was icky. In case you were wondering: There are NOT pictures of poop, but there are illustrations of various animals. Readalike: Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

28 August 2012

Kitty Kitty

Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe Young Adult Mystery Jasmine is the coolest, hippest teen around. She is a modern day Nancy Drew, except when she is stuck wearing a squirrel costume in Italy. This is a hilarious, smart-alecky book filled with today's slang, instant messaging, etc. Since I am not a young adult, it took me a while to get some of her put-downs. Did I mention that cats absolutely adore her? This is probably a good book for a reluctant reader as the 17 year old character is full of angst against her father, fashion conscious, and perky.

24 August 2012


"Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees, he thought". From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.