Tag Archives: Book review

4 brief reviews: Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston; Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert; The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal; Before Green Gables – Budge Wilson

I am late with this group of four books I read for the 52bookClub challenge. There has been a lot going on for me, and I get quite tired, but here they are.

Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Author: Zora Neale Hurston

Published: May 30th 2006

This is an interesting story in which Janie, a beautiful Black woman, tells her story to her good friend in later years. The reader gets to go along through her life as she finds her own voice and strength while living through three marriages. She was ill-treated and not respected because she was a woman, but her third husband – the love of her life – showed her more freedom and a way of living she had not experienced before. The ending of this story is not what I expected as I was so pulled into the story that I forgot how it had started.

I read this book for the 52books in 52 weeks challenge, and for now I am using it for the prompt “An ending that surprises you.” I am also using it for the Feb mini-challenge in 52 Books, for prompt “a great platonic relationship.”

Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Published: September 22, 2015

This is one of those books which I only read a few pages in, and that took up space on my shelf. Later, because of a reading challenge, I found it is a book I should have read long ago! But yet, perhaps this is exactly the right time.

Elizabeth Gilbert encourages the creative reader to grab inspiration when it visits and see where it leads. In many short and interesting chapters she tells it like it is as she helps one to see creativity with new understanding and the possibilities with boundless acceptance. She urges to leave fear behind and trust the process; to stop limiting and judging oneself, and to let the treasures hidden inside come out.

I read this book for the February mini-challenge in the 52BookClub reading challenge and used it for the prompt “related to the word magical.” It is a book I will likely refer to many times.

Title: The Calculating Stars

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Published: July 3, 2018

I enjoyed this book and had chosen it for the 52 Books Club challenge, prompt “An alternate history novel.”

The time is 1952, and a meteorite hits and obliterates the eastern coast of the US and Canada, including Washington, DC. At first, the world is in a panic, but as time goes on passivity settles in – except for those whose training tells them Earth has not much time left.
This story centers around one couple – Elma who was a pilot in WWII and is now a mathematician working as a computer (a person who does the computing of numbers before electronic computers took over), and her husband Nathaniel who is a rocket scientist. It is determined that climate change will drastically change over a very few years, and it is time to colonize the moon and other planets besides earth. Elma badly wants to be an astronaut and to be selected to go, but women are not being considered, so Elma – encouraging other female pilots – sets out to change that.
Great story, although Elma was rather whiny at times. The story gets tense over mental health issues and an officer who hates Elma and does what he can to keep her grounded.

Title: Before Green Gables

Author: Budge Wilson

Published: March 1, 2008

I loved this story! I wish I had read it earlier so that I could have told the author so when I’d written her a letter months before. At a little over half way through this story I learned of Budge Wilson’s passing the day before – March 20’21. She was a very talented award-winning author, and someone I am glad I was able to meet and correspond with for awhile. I had chosen this particular book simply because I was interested, but upon learning of the author’s passing I am using it for 52 Books challenge and the prompt “an author that is deceased.”

This is the life of Anne Shirley before she met the Cuthberts and became part of their household. Anne’s life was very difficult after she was orphaned. The families who took her in treated her more as a servant to help with babies and housework. All in all, this is a marvellously told story, true to the character of Anne, and such a wonderful lead-in to Anne of Green Gables.

Another excellent book, Budge, and thank you for your friendship and inspiration.

On that note, let people know you appreciate them!

Have you read any of these books? Any opinions?

Thanks for coming by, and .. Blessings on your day! 🙂

4 Reviews: Uncommon Danger by Eric Ambler; Krambambuli by Syr Ruus; St. George and the Dragon by Beth Andrews; The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson

Hi Everyone! I hope you are finding books to read from these brief reviews. Here are four more.

Title: Uncommon Danger

Author: Eric Ambler

Published: 1937

This is an old book I found – I love old books – and selected for prompt #17 – “A character “on the run”” in the 52BookClub challenge.

A freelance journalist is travelling by train when he meets another man who befriends him. That man asks him to carry an envelope for him, that he says holds his savings, because he is afraid that he will be relieved of it at checkpoints. The journalist thinks it odd but reluctantly agrees. That decision places the journalist in great danger when he finds the man murdered. The story involves government secrets, theft, villains, kidnappings, and much going on. Good mystery story.

Title: Krambambuli

Author: Syr Ruus

Published: October 2018

This is the book I chose for the 52bookclub reading challenge prompt #34 “a 5-star read.” I also used this book for the Indigo reading challenge under the prompt “A non-fiction book by a Canadian author.”


I don’t want to say too much and perhaps fail to do this book justice.
This is a memoir that is so very interesting, educational, personal. The author (with whom I am privileged to be acquainted) was born in Estonia, her life being deeply affected by WWII. She, with her mother, became displaced persons who lived in three different countries while trying to find a safe place to make their home. As immigrants they found passage to the US on a ship they hoped would not be bombed along the way. (Imagine it!)
The story is told through memories from the author’s childhood when she was a little girl full of fears and feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. (Her father was more absent than present in her life.) She tells about her life later in North America and her difficult relationship with her mother during her life in the US and after she immigrated to Canada. It made me wonder and marvel at the lovely woman that little girl became, overcoming so much. She has authored several very interesting books and is an encouragement to other writers.

Title: St. George and the Dragon

Author: Beth Andrews

Published: July 2005

I chose this book for the 52BookClub challenge and used it for prompt #43 – “a character with a pet cat.” The cat shows up rather late in the story but it still counts.

This story is based in England when the greatest courtesy was shown ladies by gentlemen, all in great formality and proper etiquette. A man of status challenged his nephew and his friend to accept a wager. He had them go to the elegant home of two young women who lived quiet, private lives, with instructions to woo them, win them, and then jilt them. Their reward would be a large sum of money. There is the suspected matter of “the dragon”, but things do not go quite as planned. Through surprises, resistance, humorous incidents, misunderstandings, the men realize their uncle and friend had placed them in an unexpected position.

Title: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Author: Sloan Wilson

Published: 1955

This is a really enjoyable read, which I chose for the 52BookClub challenge prompt #19 – “Book with a deckled edge.” I also used it for the club’s February mini-challenge prompt ”book with a red spine.” (My copy of the book is not the same as shown here, but is a gray hardcover with a red spine.)


A young man and his wife live in a lower class area and want a better home for themselves and their three children. He changes jobs, going to work for a wealthy businessman, with the hope of moving up in salary and importance, and then suffers through the changes it causes in his life. He also is haunted by a relationship he had during the war when he was away from his wife. He and his wife struggle in their marriage and realize they must be honest with themselves and one another in order to make a future together.
It seems a bit too cut and dried in my opinion by today’s standards, but it still is a great story.

Any comments on these books? Have you enjoyed any of them?

Thanks for reading, and … Happy Musings! 🙂

4 Reviews: Good Mothers Don’t – by Laura Best; A Soldier’s Sketchbook – by John Wilson; You Had Me At Hola – by Alexis Daria; When Late the Sweet Birds Sang – by Kate Wilhelm

Hi there! Ready for another four book reviews? This is quite a varied selection.

Title: Good Mothers Don’t

Author: Laura Best

Published: April 2021

This is a thought-provoking story about mental illness and a family trying to function when mental illness takes the mother away from her husband and children. Told from several points of view, it keeps the reader paying close attention.

A woman struggles to survive and exist in a world that often makes no sense to her. Her father is the one who holds her together, who understands her best, and when he dies it is as if she is cut adrift. Her world collapses around her. As she struggles to get well many changes occur in the family she had to leave.

I marvel that writers come up with such amazing stories. Laura Best is very convincing, writing as if she has personal knowledge and understanding of what goes on in the mind of someone so distraught, whose life is so disjointed, that no one in her family knows how to help her anymore. The reader wants to hang in there to find out what happens to this woman, why does she think that way and feel that way, how her life turns out and if her family wants her back.

For the Indigo challenge, I chose this book as my read for the category “A book by a local author.”
For the 52BookClub challenge, I placed it in the category “a book with multiple character POV” for prompt #25.

Laura Best is a talented Canadian author who takes the reader on a marvellous journey every time.

Title: A Soldier’s Sketchbook: the Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn

Author: John Wilson

Published: March 2017

This is my selection for the 52BookClub under prompt #24 – “a book you think they should read in schools.”

This true story is about World War I from the experience and diary of 18-year-old Russell Rabjohn from Ontario, Canada. When he came of age he immediately joined the Canadian military and eventually was shipped overseas to fight. Russell began a diary September 7, 1916, which is how this book was compiled by the author who included Russell’s amazing drawings.

When it was discovered that Russell was very talented at drawing, he became the official artist for the war. This book uses his diary entries in which Russell expresses his horror of things that happened. His drawings are accurate and descriptive and give the reader more understanding of warfare at that time.

This book could be used in schools in history and in art.


Title: You Had Me At Hola

Author: Alexis Daria

Published: August 2020

This a romance novel, a genre I don’t usually read. Except for the erotic scenes, which I preferred to skip over, it was a good read. I chose it for the 52BookClub challenge and used it for prompt #32 – “a selfish character.”

It is about an actress who is quite selfish (but who has a good heart underneath her feelings of insecurity) and who is just out of a relationship gone bad publicly. She and an actor/singer with a life-changing secret he has been keeping are cast in the main roles in a remake of a telenovella. Along with the stress of feeling very uncomfortable with one another at first because of media gossip, they have to play the roles of a divorced couple who still love each other. Things get steamy, and then things get really complicated.

Title: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Author: Kate Wilhelm

Published: December 1977

I chose this book for prompt #49 – “a book with a flavour in the title” for the 52BookClub challenge.

What a read! It took a little while to get into it, and I thought, “What have I gotten myself into here?” because it was slow and a trifle boring. That changed quickly enough the further I got into the story, and I discovered I was reading (listening to) a dystopian novel.
Cloning, routines, mindless obedience, breeding chambers, everyone thinking the same … except not quite everyone. One girl was exceptional. She thought and heard things apart from the others, she was creative, she was more independent. She was trouble because no one of the newer generations was supposed to do that!
This is a story that takes the reader through a generation and the changes that are bound to occur because of one different person being defiant and adventurous. When she is brought back into the fold … there is no reasonable way to prevent the continuing of what she had started.
Great story very well narrated in audio format – borrowed from library.

I hope you find these books appealing. You can see I have a wide range of interest in my reading.

Have you read any of these, or now want to?

Thanks for reading, and … Happy Musings! 🙂

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!  🙂