Category Archives: Reviews & Interviews

Brief Book Reviews: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; The Answer is … Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek; The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Hi Everyone!

Here are brief reviews of four more of the books I’ve read for the challenges this year. I’m a little later with this than I planned to be, and more are coming.

Title: Catherine, Called Birdy

Author: Karen Cushman

Published: July 2019

This is an interesting fictional journal by a young girl in medieval times. Intriguing, funny, full of angst – the diary tells of Catherine’s hilarious attempts to not be betrothed to anyone not of her own choosing. Her father has other ideas, usually uninteresting, well-off, older men. The entries also tell of the poor life she lived and what life was like then.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge for prompt #42 – “An epistolary,” and also for the Indigo reading challenge for the prompt “a prize-winning book” as it was a Newbery honor book.

Title: My Brilliant Friend

Author: Elena Ferrante

Published: September 2012

Two girls from poor families in Italy compete with one another and cheer each other on through childhood, school years, and eventually different paths in adulthood. It is a story of privilege and wealth, poverty and hard work, adolescent discoveries and rivalries, love, and hard decisions. The characters draw the reader into their lives and earn her/his interest and caring. Interesting story.

I chose this book for the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for prompt #9 – “set in a Mediterranean country”, and in the Indigo 2021 reading challenge for prompt “a book in another format: (eBook/audiobook).”

Title: The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life

Author: Alex Trebek

Published: July 2020

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy game show host, was a Canadian who made his mark and became well loved and respected by millions of people in Canada and the US. In this memoir he talks about things openly, things from his own life experience, including his decades of hosting a popular quiz show and the many steps he took to get there. Very interesting, touching, informative.

I chose this book as my read in the 52BookClub for prompt #14 – “written by an author over 65 (when published).” Alex Trebek was 79 when his book was published.

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Published: February 2020

In the 1980’s several young women in one small town were murdered, and the body of a missing girl was never found. Over 30 years later, Carly, the niece of the missing girl, begins investigating by taking a job as night clerk in the Sun Down Motel where her aunt had worked that shift. Strange and creepy things happen, and Carly finds herself involved in a dangerous situation when she becomes suspicious of a certain man. This is an intriguing story in which reality and the supernatural collide. The reader is taken back and forth over time lines in following the story from different viewpoints of both Carly and her aunt from years before. A little creepy, a little strange, a lot mysterious and clue-seeking combine to make this a good murder mystery with a serious twist.

This book is my choice for prompt #40 – “Found via Bookstagram” for the 52BookClub challenge.

Have you read, or are you interested in reading any of these?

Thanks for reading, and … Blessings on your day!

Book Reviews: The Alice Network – Kate Quinn; The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah; Pier 21 – Steven Schwinghamer; Puff, the Magic Dragon – Peter Yarrow

Hello everyone! I decided that I would post the short reviews I wrote for some of the books I’ve read for the reading challenges I’m participating in this year. Perhaps it will encourage you to read a few of the books. I’ll do a few per post.

Title: The Alice Network

Author: Kate Quinn

Published: June 6, 2017

What a great story! The reader is taken back and forth in time as a young woman searches for her cousin who was lost in the war. She meets a woman who was scarred, not just physically, but by what she suffered in the war, and their lives become intertwined. We learn about that woman’s life and difficult experiences as she did her part for the war. Very interesting and dramatic story.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prom
pt #3 – “a dual timeline.”

Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: February 6, 2018

This novel is fully captivating. A family of three, one being a Vietnam War veteran who has severe PTSD, move from place to place. Finally, after losing another job, he moves his wife and daughter to Alaska and a rugged life “off the grid.” His violent outbursts come back, though, affected by the few hours of light during Alaska winter, and his family lives in fear again. Things get very complicated and the reader gets pulled into their lives quite easily. There is much to learn about life there as the story unfurls.
This is a very good story with twists and drama that keep one reading, or listening on audio. Well worth it.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prompt #21 – “book by Kristin Hannah.”

Title: Pier 21: a History

Author: Steven Schwinghamer

Published: March 31, 2020

For anyone interested in the history of Nova Scotia, Canada, specifically Pier 21, immigration, movement of troops in the World Wars – this is the book to read. Very interesting information about the history of Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, including personal testimonies of immigrants’ experiences.

In the 52BookClub 2021 challenge, this book fits prompt #8 -“a book in the 900’s Dewey Decimal System.”

Title: Puff, the Magic Dragon

Author: Peter Yarrow

Published: August 1, 2007

I chose this for the 52BookClub 2021 challenge under prompt #30 – “watch out for dragons!”

It’s hard to write this without spoilers … so SPOILER ALERT!

This is a sweet and sad story of a boy and his dragon, Puff. They play together for years, until the boy grows up and the dragon is left alone again. The ending is great, though, when the next generation meets Puff.
I read the book that includes a CD with four songs on it, the first being the well known song – Puff the Magic Dragon – which can be followed along in the book.
Fabulous illustrations.

What have you been reading … or writing?

Thanks for reading … and Blessings on your day!

Book Review: Excellent Ed – by Stacy McAnulty

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Excellent Ed
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Julia Sarcone-Roach
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date: 2016
Genre: Picture book; preschool - 3
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99
My rating: Enjoyable story showing everyone is excellent 
at something

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty is an enjoyable and funny read. But more than that, it is encouraging and hopeful.

The Ellis family had many talents. Each child excelled in something, but Ed, their dog, didn’t seem to excel in anything positive.

What the five children did Ed didn’t do in quite the same way. He was not allowed to eat at the table with the rest of the family, or sit on the couch, or use the inside bathroom. And he had to stay home when everyone else left in the van. He just couldn’t understand why. Julia Sarcone-Roach‘s fun illustrations reveal to the reader the reason … one hint – Ed could be quite destructive.

Ed wanted to be excellent too so he would be allowed to do what they did, only he always seemed to make a big troublesome mess of things. Each time he thought of something that maybe would earn him that privilege, one of the children excelled in his or her more acceptable way. Poor Ed began to think he wasn’t good enough to be part of the family! Then one day he was praised for being excellent at something without even trying! It was so easy he didn’t even have to change himself.

The subtle message in Stacy McAnulty‘s Excellent Ed is that we’re all good at something and we are okay just the way we are. It’s a wonderful story with a funny ending, and with great illustrations by Julia Sarcone-Roach.

You can find Excellent Edwritten by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by featured authors and illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! – by Karen Beaumont

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
Author: Karen Beaumont
Illustrator: David Catrow
Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers
Date: April 1, 2005
Genre: Picture book; age 4-7; Gr Preschool - 3
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99, hardcover
My rating: An excellent book in every way!

This is one of the select few picture books I would not want to have missed – ever.

First of all, look at the cover illustration! That child is creating a blissful experience, totally immersed in his art. 🙂

On the inside of the jacket it says “To the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” … so I sang it merrily – albeit rather badly – to my dad. And he enjoyed it. Dear man.  :)

This story is hilarious! Karen Beaumont‘s words fit perfectly with the rhythm of the song, and David Catrow‘s illustrations? Oh. My. Gosh. Stunning. Full of expression and colour and fun and hilarity.

The little boy loves painting. The problem is, everything is his canvas. Everything. By the time he has painted the floor and the walls his mother enters the room. “WHAT?” Immediately the paints are put up onto a high closet shelf. Undeterred, he climbs a pile of teetering props – with his little dog nervously watching – and rescues his beloved paints.

This is where the story really kicks in. To the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”, our little artist begins painting himself, his dog, and everything he missed before. The way Karen Beaumont has each page spread and page turn planned out is so funny with the illustrations. It gives the reader the opportunity to guess what’s coming next and the clue is in the rhyme. Yes, this is a beautiful rhyming book! Right to the very last page there is humour and rhythm. It’s delightful.

Karen Beaumont has other picture books out, and a new one coming this year. You can find I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by featured authors and illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Book Review: A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale – by Penny Parker Klostermann

 

 

 

 

 

Book: A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale
Author: Penny Parker Klostermann
Illustrator: Ben Mantle
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: September 5, 2017
Genre: children's picture book
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99 and up
My rating: A very funny story with amusing illustrations 

Penny Parker Klostermann took on the current challenge of mixing up fairy tales and coming out with a fabulous new story. With her new book – A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale – she has succeeded with an added a twist that is both funny and surprising for the reader.

William lived in the land of fairy tales where it was magical and amazing. Even so, William had a problem. He loved to cook, but no matter where he tried to work it just wasn’t a good fit. In one place the main ingredient in the wolf soup was too dangerous, in another his gingerbread men always ran away, and in yet another the customers (in particular, a bear family) were always way too fussy.

William decided to create his own home business. One day he found an order intended for Fairy Tale Headquarters, and he knew he could improve upon the bedtime snacks delivery. What resulted was a catastrophe when he presented his altered menu. For example, the poisoned apple for Snow White was instead a sumptuous Baked Apple with Caramel Drizzle. And what would become of Cinderella whose pumpkin coach was replaced by a delectable pumpkin pie! William has to do something to fix the problem he’d created for everyone.

It’s obvious there was a lot of time and work put into the whole process of creating A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale. Ben Mantle‘s amazing illustrations add wonderful details to Penny Parker Klostermann‘s funny and ingenious story. Cinderella’s expression and posture are particularly hilarious! 

Penny is the author of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, and this book is another wonderful demonstration of her love of humour through her words.

You can find A Cooked-Up Fairy Talewritten by Penny Parker Klostermann and illustrated by Ben Mantle – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by featured authors and illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: Are We Pears Yet? – by Miranda Paul

 

 

 

 


Book: Are We Pears Yet?
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Carin Berger
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Picture book; age 4-8 ; gr. K-3
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
My rating: a funny & educational story about the growth cycle

Miranda Paul, with her creative imagination, has written a story that’s both amusing and educational in Are We Pears Yet?

Two pear seeds are excited that they will become pears. They love pears. One seed keeps eagerly asking the other, “Are we pears yet?” The other seed seems to know much more about the whole process so explains patiently each time what has to occur first. Soil, rain, sun, cold, a long 2-year nap …   🙂  Then they have to grow into trees, which takes another year! The impatient seeds are getting tired of waiting.

The illustrations cleverly created by Carin Berger present the story in a stage setting. Each scene shows props, stage hands, scene changes .. whatever is required to make the story move along. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Eventually – after another two years! – the seeds get to where a final event is about to happen, but the reader’s view is of the two main characters hidden behind a sign that reads: COSTUME CHANGE. When they come out, well … it’s just been such a long wait that it takes some realizing. 

Are We Pears Yet? written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Carin Berger is for everyone to enjoy. It’s fun, entertaining, informative, and quite different, with a chuckle at the very end, too.

You can find Are We Pears Yet?written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Carin Berger – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by featured authors and illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

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Book Review: Whose Hands are These? a Community Helper Guessing Book – by Miranda Paul

 

 

 





Book: Whose Hands are These? a Community Helper Guessing Book 
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Luciana Navarro Powell
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: picture book; age 4-9; gr 1-2
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: a creative early introduction to careers

Whose Hands are These? is a guessing book written by Miranda Paul. Geared to the younger set of readers, it introduces several careers for them to consider.

As Miranda uses excellent rhyme to tell about each community helper, she lays out clues to describe them, and then allows the reader to guess who she means. The page turn reveals the answer.

The beautiful illustrations in Whose Hands are These? a Community Guessing Book were created by illustrator Luciana Powell. On each page she has perfectly captured the story.

In the back of the book are four pages on which is a description of each community helper mentioned in the story. Beside each paragraph is a lovely illustration. Farmers, cooks, police, scientists, potters, news reporters, mechanics, architects, referees, physicians, teachers. Miranda Paul ends by saying, “Dream big!”

Whose Hands are These? a Community Guessing Book is a beautiful picture book for young children – and older people, too. It’s full of description presented in a fun way with gorgeous illustrations. Very enjoyable.

You can find Whose Hands are These? a Community Guessing Bookwritten by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂