27 July 2011

Rhapsody: Child of Blood

Rhapsody: Child of Blood
Elizabeth Haydon
adult fantasy fiction

I have read and enjoyed Elizabeth Haydon's later works about Ven Polypheme, the teenage dwarf, a series of books in our children's section so I was curious what would be the same and what would be different about her longer, earlier work for adults.
For one thing, this adult book is a hefty 479 pages long with maps and no interior pictures. It is more violent and includes sexual images which move it into the adult reader range. What is the same is the fantasy realm she has created, rich with elves, dwarves, ogres, humans, half breeds of these species, ghosts, demons, kings, queens, dragons, and more.
There are three main characters in this book - a half human half elf young woman, a half ogre half something-else warrior, and a half ogre half something-else assassin. These three are thrown together by fate and survive multiple attacks while building a friendship. Rhapsody was a runaway who was ill used and took to prostitution before becoming an apprentice singer. Grunthor is a hulk of a being, a splendid warrior with a heart of gold. Achmed is hard to get to know, a slim, taciturn killer for hire.
There is lots of adventure, some romance, and a whole lot of sword fights as our heroes fight off injustice and evil.
Here is a passage showing the kind of things the bad guys do:
"they [the good guys] were knocked off their feet by another explosion of dark fire that set the countless bookshelves aflame".
Here is the heroine's response:
"Rhapsody closed her eyes, and calmed her spirit. She concentrated on the fire. 'Be at peace,' she said. At once the flames responded, the bonfire fed by the books and scrolls died down to flickering embers".
OBVIOUSLY the one who saves the books is on the good side!

This is number one of a trilogy, so I will have to set aside two more weekends for books 2 and 3 in the series while I continue to wait for the latest Ven Polypheme book to be released.
2. Prophecy: Child of Earth
3. Destiny: Child of Sky

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
Laura Amy Schlitz and a full cast of narrators
children/young adult fiction
audiobook on compact disc

An English village in the middle ages is the setting of this series of vignettes. In the introduction the author explains that she wanted to be able to get across the feel of the time to her students who might not be too fond of history class. Each monologue is a voice from the village. In between the sets are musical interludes and explanations. The book won the Newbery Medal but my guess is that is it even better as an audiobook.
The text, the voices, and the music all come together to form an excellent listening experience. I highly recommend this for middle school, high school, college, and public library collections. I hope that many teachers will discover this teaching tool.

James Herriot's Cat Stories

James Herriot's Cat Stories
read by
Christopher Timothy
book on cassette.

The plot:
Veterinarian James Herriot tells about some of the cats he encountered in his practice in rural England from the late 1930's to the 1960's. His world is warm and affectionate. His love of animals, and cats in particular, comes shining through. This is an audiobook to share with the whole family and I put it on my list of audiobooks to take along on a family car trip. (See my previous blog posting).

Timothy starred in the BBC television series "All Creatures Great and Small" based on James Herriot's books, so who better to perform this book on tape? He really nails the accents, the emotions, etc. of the people of the Yorkshire area who loved cats.

I listened to this as a book on cassette. I hope that it continues to be available to library patrons as a CD and electronic audiobook and I recommend this audiobook for all public libraries.

Hamilton Co. libraries face cuts, closings amid budget shortfall

Hamilton Co. libraries face cuts, closings amid budget shortfall

Go the F**k to Sleep

Go the F**k to Sleep
Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes
adult fiction

This book hit the New York Times Advice Bestseller list. I am not so sure that it is an advice book, however. This book masquerades as a children's book, but woe unto any cataloger that accidentally places this in the children's section! (My library put it under Dewey # 818).
The plot is such: A father is trying to get his toddler to go to bed by reading a soothing bedtime story. We do not hear the child's arguments, but we hear the father's increasingly frustrated response to the child NOT going to sleep. The father tries and tries to get the child to sleep, but it doesn't take long before he starts cursing.
This would be a good gift book for a long time bachelor who finally settled down and became a dad or any other sleep deprived new parent with a gritty sense of humor.
Many parents will TOTALLY relate to the Dad who tries to be loving and patient, but is losing his cool.
The illustrations are quite good and show a number of representative children in pajamas who are NOT sleeping.
An interesting aside to this review is that you can hear a number of celebrities read this book on YouTube. Some of them are NOT the real celebrities, but people pretending to be the celebrities. As far as I can tell, these celebrity readings are real: Samuel L. Jackson and Werner Herzog.
Then I went off on a "Werner Herzog YouTube" sidetrack and found some funny renditions of a number of classic children's books by a Werner Herzog impersonator. They were quite funny. If it hasn't been taken down, listen to "Mike Mulligan" by (imposter) Werner Herzog.
Then if you want to have some real fun with other YouTube children's classic book parodies, try the Thomas the Tank Engine/Transformers mashup video and the sequel where Thomas and Friends come together as Voltron.

16 July 2011

Blue Hat, Green Hat

Blue Hat, Green Hat
Sandra Boynton
board book
ages 0-3

Sandra Boynton's comic art of animals teaches children about colors and names of articles of clothing while hamming it up. Various animals model different colors of clothing and the turkey shows us how NOT to wear our clothes - like socks on the hands and coats on backwards.

This is one of the most entertaining Boynton books I have read and one of the simplest. There are not very many words but the book is effective without them.

By the third time my audience encountered this book they knew what was going to happen next and enjoyed shouting it out.

I recommend this book for public libraries and bookmobiles that serve the youngest readers.

15 July 2011


Ed Heck
board book
ages 0-3

This cartoon book features two penguins who are painting with different colors on each page spread. One penguin is lazy and silly and one penguin is diligent. The two reminded me of Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine. Gallant always does stuff right and Goofus always takes a shortcut or does the wrong thing.
The last page features a pleasant surprise. Based on this humorous (and educational - it teaches colors) book I will read more Ed Heck books.
I recommend this book, and others by this author, for all public libraries.

It's What the Doctor Recommends!

Doctors in Washington state prescribe regular library visits

12 July 2011

Spot's Hide and Seek

Spot's Hide and Seek
Eric Hill
board book
ages 0-4

Spot is one cute puppy!

I have read other Spot books and they feature the same friends as this book does, but I did not know their names before.
Helen - the hippopotamus (or maybe she is a rhinoceros)
Steve - the monkey
Tom - the alligator

In this book, the other animals hide and Spot has to find them. A lot of giggling takes place.

Eric Hill has another winning book that I recommend for public libraries.

11 July 2011

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Sir Richard Steele

08 July 2011

Dewey the Library Cat

Dewey the Library Cat
Vicki Myron
juvenile nonfiction
audiobook read by Laura Hamilton
4 hours, 16 minutes


Dewey Readmore Books became one of the world's most famous cats as word spread from Spencer, Iowa around the world about this Working Cat. Dewey was the mascot and publicity department for a small town library for many years (1988-2006). He was affectionate, cute, patient, and everything you would want in a library cat (except for being a finicky eater). Like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and "All Creatures Great and Small" this book has earned its place in the category of heartwarming books that can be enjoyed by children, young adults, and adults.

Way Back

Way Back
with Ed Harris and Colin Farrell
based on the book
Long Walk
Slavomir Rawicz

This movie is loosely based on the true story of some prisoners who escape from a Stalinist gulag in Siberia and try to make their way to Mongolia. In their journey, they do not end up where they originally intended, but there is one whopper of a story in the telling of where they DO end up. I will try not to give too much of the story away. I am disappointed that there was a note at the very beginning of the credits dedicating the film to the real men who lived the story and in the dedication they give away a major plot point! What were they thinking? Why did they give it away?
So my recommendation is to NOT READ the words at the very beginning.
The warning at the beginning tells why this movie is classified as a PG-13 film. Even with the PG-13 rating I would recommend this movie to Boy and Girl Scouts, Y Guides, Boys Clubs, Girls Clubs, etc. because throughout the movie the men are surviving off the land and utilizing all kinds of survival skills. The landscapes are epic and this film left me wanting to know more about Asian geography and natural history - in particular, Asian geography circa 1940's.
If you liked "Into Thin Air" and if you like adventure/outdoorsy films, then this is a film for you.
The National Geographic is one of the parties involved in this film, so you have their endorsement as well.
I recommend this for most public libraries.

07 July 2011

Ellis Island

Ellis Island
Kate Kerrigan
adult historical fiction

I have read quite a few books about Irish immigrants coming to America to stay, but in this book the main character comes to America with the intention of making some money, then going back to Ireland or having her husband join her in America. It gets a little complicated when she realizes that her husband does not share her desire to leave Ireland and she does not want to come back to the backwards rural life of the Old World when there are things like Chanel #5 in New York! It is an interesting twist that gives this book a unique place among historical fiction.

Here is a "love of books" passage from when Ellie is traveling back to Ireland (in a better class of cabin than when she came).

"There was a small library next to the dining room and after breakfast each day I would borrow two dog-eared paperbacks to take back to my cabin and devour, sitting up in the hard bed until lunchtime. When I started to get cabin fever, I went up and read in the smoking lounge or took a walk around the deck, my book in hand. Thinking about what lay ahead of me,or what I had left behind, was a torture. So every waking hour I immersed myself in penny-dreadful crimes and romances, existing solely in the imagined world of girls in dramatic costumes falling hopelessly in love with vagabonds, or troubled men catching out clever criminals in hotel rooms. In this way, I was able to place my own concerns aside and curl myself up in the cocoon of somebody else's imagination".

Clue of the Dancing Puppet

Clue of the Dancing Puppet
Nancy Drew Number 39
Carolyn Keene
children's fiction,
grades 2-5

I picked up a copy of a Nancy Drew book on an impulse at a thrift store. Out of nostalgia I decided to read one again. It was number 39 in the original series and all of the Nancy Drew favorites were in it - Ned, the boyfriend, George and Bess, best friends, Mr. Drew, the lawyer, and the housekeeper, Hannah.
In this book Nancy and the girls are staying with a summer theatre troop. Someone is trying to scare the cast and crew away with a dancing marionette and spooky telephone calls. Nancy and friends get conked on the head, rammed in Nancy's convertible, and more. It's a wonder Mr. Drew lets Nancy go on with the show!
I can't help but think that a dancing ballerina puppet is not very scary, but other parts of the book are - like the jewel thieves!

05 July 2011

Outside Dog

Outside Dog
Charlotte Pomerantz and Jennifer Plecas, read by Becca Lish
children's fiction, audiocassette

Marisol wants a dog. One day the opportunity presents itself. Grandfather is not happy. Slowly, however, the mutt wins his way into their hearts. The reader does a good job of capturing the "pleading child" sound. Many listeners will find it easy to identify with Marisol from their own experiences.

Some Spanish phrases are thrown in, as the main characters are Hispanic.

The word that came to mind when thinking of this book was "inveigle".

The dog inveigles himself into our hearts.

Definition of INVEIGLE
transitive verb
1: to win over by wiles : entice
2: to acquire by ingenuity or flattery : wangle
— in·vei·gle·ment \-gəl-mənt\ noun
— in·vei·gler \-g(ə-)lər\ noun
See inveigle defined for English-language learners »
See inveigle defined for kids »
Examples of INVEIGLE
She inveigled him to write the letter.
We inveigled the information from him.

Ruby Red

Ruby Red (Rubinrot: Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten)
Kerstin Gier
translated from the German into English by Anthea Bell
young adult novel

Gwen comes from a well to do family with some eccentricities - one being that some members of the family can time travel and legend has it that one ancestor could read people's minds. Not much is expected of Gwen, since it is assumed that her cousin, Charlotte, has inherited the time travel gene. Wrong! It is really Gwen.
Now this 16 year old modern English teen must deal with the odd life that has been thrust upon her. Fortunately, there is a really cute fellow time traveler to show her the ropes - the dreamy 18 year old Gideon.
Fantasy meshes with lighthearted teen life as Gwen's existence changes from "hoping to be snogged" to "daring adventuress".
What a bummer than now the English reading audience must wait for a few years for the 2nd (Saphirblau/Sapphire Blue) and 3rd (Smaragdgrün/Emerald Green)titles to be translated from the German. Curses! Now I have to find another book to read until the next Ven Polypheme book comes out.

01 July 2011

Surprise! Surprise!

Surprise! Surprise!
Gyo Fujikawa
board book
ages 18 months - 4 years

Rabbit is a trickster and the other animals don't trust him. Animals are frolicking around one day and trying to decided what to do to entertain themselves. They decide to jump over a fence and see what is on the other side. Surprise! You have to read the story to find out what is on the other side of the fence.

Unfortunately, the ending is ruined because the publisher put a picture of the ending on the front cover. So much for the surprise. What were they thinking?

Overall I enjoyed the pictures of the animals more than the text. The scruffy dog was my favorite picture.

I can't help but read the title as if someone from Mayberry was saying it.