Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Awakening Joy by James Baraz

Cover image for Awakening joy : 10 steps that will put you on the road to real happinessThis is one I read aloud together with my husband.  Baraz and his co-author Shoshona Alexander discuss 10 steps to finding joy. The steps are loosely based on Buddhist philosophy, but the authors keep things pretty non-sectarian, and quote from a variety of religious leaders in their text.  They take example from the lives of participants in their Awakening Joy retreats.  I found the book every interesting and enlightening. If everyone in the world practiced the ideas the authors set forth, the world would be a better place and everyone would be happier.  I think this would be a good first introduction to modern American Buddhist philosophy for someone who is new to the topic. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

Cover image for SylvesterI got a whole month ahead on my library book blog posts, so it was time for a treat.  This is pretty basic Georgette Heyer.  Sylvester is a rich and eligible bachelor with no interest in romance.  He decides that it is his duty to get married, so he goes in search of a young woman who was promised to him at birth.  He finds Phoebe to be dull in looks and personality. However, as he gets to know her, he finds she has a hidden wit and self sufficiency.  She is an author, as well, and had previously modeled one of her villains on Sylvester himself.  As their relationship gets closer, she lives in constant dread that he will read her book and take both offence and social retribution. 

I enjoyed this one.  It is cleaner than some of Heyer's other books.  There is no implication that Sylvester has had previous conquests.  It is one of the books where they seem to hate each other, then suddenly they are in love and ready to get married.  Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am just sad that I am starting to have exhausted all of my Georgette Heyer options. (1957. 348 p,)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lemons by Melissa Savage

Cover image for LemonsA girl named Lemonade goes to live with her grandfather after her mother's death, and meets a Big-Foot obsessed boy, Tobin.  Tobin inducts Lem into his Big Foot Detective Agency and as they search for the illusive creature, they work through the bigger issues in their own lives.

This was a pretty typical "orphaned girl in a new home" book with a little cryptozoological twist.  All through the book the reader is never sure if Big Foot is real in this world or if the kids are just chasing wild stories.  Lemonade and Tobin are both quirky and endearing and their slowly developing friendship is fun to watch.  It was a cute book and I will likely recommend it to a few of the humorous realistic (kind of) fiction readers I know who come into the library. (2017, 308 p.)

Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy

Cover image for Laser Moose and Rabbit BoyMoose and Rabbit are just hanging out in the forest when they find an alien space ship.  Moose, who is super paranoid, shoots the space ship with his laser vision.  (Yep, for some reason, the moose has laser vision.)  Rabbit, who is an incurable optimist,  approaches and aliens and discovers they are friendly, so Moose and Rabbit help them repair their ship.  That is the first story in this rather silly and random comic book.  I don't even remember why I checked it out.  It isn't on my "starred" graphic novel list.  Even though it was silly, it could appeal to a 7 or 8 year old reluctant reader.  The stories and the characters are simple and mildly amusing.  The pictures are in color and communicate the stories really well.  So, sure, why not have a moose who can shoot lasers out of his eyes? (2016, 142 p.)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley

Cover image for Tumble & BlueBlue Montgomery is taken to his grandmother's house in the Okefenokee  swamp and unceremoniously dropped off by his race car driving father. The Montgomerys each have an unbreakable fate, either good or bad, and Blue's is that he always looses.  Once every 100 years an opportunity arises for one of the Montgomerys to change their fate, and Blue is determined he will be the one.  While waiting for the appointed day, Blue meets Tumble, a girl who is obsessed with being a hero.  When Tumble discovers Blue's curse, she is determined to help him break it.  Things are not as straight forward as they seem, and soon both children find themselves in more danger than they could have imagined.

This book is getting starred reviews all over the place.  It is by the author of Circus Mirandus, which got a lot a attention a few years ago.  It is an interesting fantasy with very complex emotional elements.  It explores the nature of good and evil, fate and self determination, and emphases that there are always reasons behind other's behaviors.  Like Circus Mirandus, I wasn't completely pleased with the ending, but I can see the genius (maybe evil genius) behind it. This is a great book for a parent/child book club because it is entertaining but also rather deep.  I don't really see it winning the Newbery, but it could be an honor. (2017, 390 p.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

Cover image for The door in the alleySebastian loves to follow rules and always does his best to please his parents and his teachers.  Then one day he sees a door in an alley and a pig with a little hat that intrigue him.  Meanwhile, an orphaned girl, Evie, is enduring another dinner with two of the most boring people Evie could imagine, when they are attacked by some frightening thugs.  Right before the house she is in explodes, one of Evie's hosts gives her a letter from her grandfather whom Evie thought was dead.  The letter is a cry for help.  Both Evie's letter and the pig with the little hat lead the two children to the Explorer's Society, a mysterious organization that holds the key to finding Evie's grandfather.

This was a fun and lighthearted adventure with kid appeal.  Kress's writing is quirky and has a lot of personality and humor.  Sebastian and Evie are likable characters as are the unique adult members of the society.  Of course, this is the first in a series, and it is entertaining enough I might read the next. (2017, 305 p.)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ada's Ideas by Fiona Robinson

Cover image for Ada's ideas : the story of Ada Lovelace, the world's first computer programmerThis is a fun little picture book biography I read about Ada Lovelace.  She was the estranged daughter of Lord Byron.  Her mother, Lady Wentworth, left Lord Byron soon after Ada was born, and raised her daughter to be well educated so she wouldn't end up like her flighty father.  Ana was good at math, and as a young person was introduced to Charles Babbage.  There was a great deal of mutual respect between the two, and when Babbage created his mechanical general purpose computer, he asked Ada to create the algorithm for it.  As a result, some consider her to be the first "computer programmer" even though she lived more than a century before modern computers were created.

It is always good to get new biographies of women in the sciences.  One thing I like about Ada is that she made her contribution and raised a family as a proper English lady.  The book has engaging illustrations and would work as a read aloud or as something for a child to read on their own.  It is not really a "report" type biography, but it is a good introduction to an interesting person.  (2016)