Sunday, December 27, 2009

What do a very obedient dog, a blind cat and a barking parrot have in common?

Why, all three are beloved pets that are the focus of the books I'm here to tell you about. So pull up a chair, cuddle with your furry (or feathery) friend and check these out...

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle
by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery

Major Dennis discovered Nubs, a mongrel with hacked-off ears, at a border fort in Iraq while serving there in the Marine Corps. Although he visited the fort infrequently and stayed only a few days at a time, Dennis and the feral dog bonded as the soldier shared his food and bed with the loyal animal. Often they even stood guard duty together. One winter day, when the Marines traveled 70 miles north across the frigid desert to headquarters, Nubs followed, arriving there, thin and footsore, two days later. Determined not to leave him behind again, the Marines adopted him, and eventually Dennis raised the money to have Nubs shipped back to America. Few will not be moved by the concluding photograph. Told in brief text augmented by Dennis's facsimile e-mails and illustrated with clear color photos, this story presents a view of the Iraq war that makes it accessible to very young gradeschoolers, a welcome addition to collections serving that audience and especially useful for children of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kirkus Review

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale,
or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

by Gwen Cooper

Cooper had every intention of saying "no" to the veterinarian who asked her if she was interested in adopting a four-week-old stray kitten with a "particular handicap." She was fresh off a bad breakup, working a low-paying job and living rent-free in a friend's bedroom-plus she was worried about the social implications of adding one cat to the two she had already adopted: "The neighborhood kids will... say things like 'That's where Old Widow Cooper, the cat lady, lives.' " But as soon as she picked up the tiny kitten and he started to purr, she caved. She settled on a name and brought Homer home. His intrepid explorations of his new environs quickly challenged Cooper's expectations of a blind cat. And through 12 years, six moves, several boyfriends and a showdown with a burglar, this tender and affecting book reveals Homer's lessons about love and acceptance-and how he transformed Cooper into the woman she had always wanted to be.

Publisher's Weekly

The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog
by Nancy Davis-Bell
Ellis-Bell, a California-based literary agent with a proven track record for helping rescue animals, adopted a one-footed, foul-mouthed blue-and-gold macaw with a propensity for biting. Here, this self-described woman who loves animals too much touchingly chronicles her daily adventures with Sarah and a menagerie of "sweet babies" (birds, dogs, cats, and visiting raccoons). What begins as a cautionary tale of avian domination and destruction (replete with jealous tirades, physical attacks, and earsplitting screams) develops into a story of "Icarus reclaimed," freedom and flight. Ellis-Bell shares amusing anecdotes about the one-bird demolition derby, cage-free domesticity, Sarah's curious diet (consisting of kibble, nuts, and the occasional gin and tonic), the bird's prolific climbing achievements, affectionate mannerisms, and profound sense of play ("Sarah saw dirt as kindergarten"). This winsome book will surely delight animal rescuers and avid fans of Animal Planet. Listings of general bird-rescue organizations are included.

Library Journal Review

All three were great reads and I hope you enjoy. See you in the New Year!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mi Nei's picks!

Hello everyone! MiNei has shared what she is reading right now.

"I'm reading two books for people who like romance. This is new for me (not romance but reading about it).
1- The Montana Creeds by Linda Lael Miller- Good, entertaining especially if you like westerns.
2- The Favored Child by Phillipa Gregory- She is a bit repetitive but the book has very good historical references especially how women were perceived during that era.

Thanks Mi Nei for sharing!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Favorite book for the moment

I absolutely love historical fiction. I want to live in historical fiction books. My favorite book of all time is probably Gone With the Wind. It changes depending on what I start reading, but that one is always on top of my list. But Robert Hicks wrote one of the best Civil War related books I have ever read, and recently came out with a new one. A Separate Country. It's sitting at home waiting.
So, my pick for today is Widow of the South.

This was actually suggested to me by Allyson through her Reader's Advisory interview questions a looong time ago. One reason why I like this book so much is it is based on a real widow, a real battle, and real existing graves. Carrie McGavok's home was turned into a hospital while her yard was a battlefield, and this story follows the Battle of Franklin and how she had some of the soldiers buried in her private cemetery. They detail in the story is what made me love it so much, since points of view were from Confederate and Union soldiers, Carrie's story, and even the stories of people helping in the hospital and on the battlefield. It was a great read and stuck with me for a long time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shades Of Dark by Linnea Sinclair

Linnea Sinclair’s Shades Of Dark is a space opera, but with strong romantic elements as well. Chaz, a former Fleet captain, has been unfairly stripped of her rank and is now a fugitive from the toppling Empire. She is brought out from hiding when her brother is falsely arrested. There is a lot of adventure as Chaz and Scully fight to save her brother, and keep the Empire from unleashing jukors into the general populace. What are jukors you ask? Monsters with razor sharp claws that rip anyone who comes to close to them to shreds, painfully. My imagination went wild with the description Sinclair gives of these abominations.
Chaz and Scully are already established as lovers when the novel begins. Sinclair does a marvelous job in the character development; you’ll find yourself rooting for the couple, even if romance isn’t your thing. You’ll learn (immediately) that Scully is a human Stolorth, a powerful psychic despised for his ability to read minds, even with an unwilling subject. I loved the space opera adventure storyline far more than the romance, and the romance was great. This should appeal to science fiction readers, romance readers, and adventure fans. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

Describing this book as a German mystery novel with a quirky sense of humor does not do it enough justice. Three Bags Full by Lenoie Swann follows a flock of sheep as they try to solve the murder of their beloved shepherd. This novel differs from other mysteries with animals acting as detectives in that the sheep act like sheep, and not miniature humans. They get distracted by the smell of sweet grass, their memories are short, and humans can be very confusing, especially the “God” human.
The shepherd had names for all nineteen sheep but there were some who stood out more than the others. Miss Maple is considered the smartest, Mopple The Whale is the one with the best memory, Sir Ritchfield is the lead ram, and his brother Melmoth who has recently reappeared after a mysterious disappearance. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery which had me guessing until the very end. A funny, endearing read that amused me greatly – I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Favorite Series for Adult Readers

So the series I've been reading lately that I just cannot get enough of is the
Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The books are originally published in Swedish. The first book is: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and book two is: The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Both books are currently avaiable in the U.S. with the third book: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest coming out in the U.K. in October. I'm so obssessed with this series that I've purchased the book via Amazon UK so I can have it before the U.S. publishers release it.

The books include action-packed investigations, violent behavior, adult language, sex, and sexual violence. There are several scenes that may be uncomfortable for the average reader, but if you enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and a lot of suspense, these books will knock your socks off!!!

"A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, Henrik, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.And it’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired by Henrik to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old, pierced, tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness—who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism—and a surprising connection between themselves.A contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of whom must face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives."

"Mikael Blomkvist—crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium—has decided to publish a story exposing an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.On the eve of publication, the two reporters responsible for the story are brutally murdered. But perhaps more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander. Now, as Blomkvist—alone in his belief in her innocence—plunges into his own investigation of the slayings, Salander is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all."

The above descriptions come from the publishers of the U.S. release.

Happy Reading!!!

My Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

When Elizabeth asked us a while back to think about our favorite book to write about, a few different ones came to mind: there's the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (good - but the last two/three books weren't as GREAT as the first ones), Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove (alt-history asking what if the Spanish Armada had beaten back England), The Freedom Writers Diary and Teach With Your Heart by Erin Gruwell (a great, recent read)... but then I thought to the world of Middle-earth that I have loved for the past couple of years.

I was a bit late in my discovery of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien's works. It was after the first movie came out that I cracked open FOTR. It took a few tries for me to get into Fellowship, but once I got to the Council of Elrond, I was set. After gobbling up TT and RotK, I wanted more and there was more to be had: The Silmarillion! Being a history and mythology junkie, it was neat seeing the story of Arda from the creation all the way to the Third Age. After that I went to The Hobbit, which I didn't enjoy quite as much, as it was a bit more juvenile.

  • Favorite Character: Gandalf the Grey/White ("You... shall... not... pass!")
  • Favorite Location: Minas Tirith (Imagine the library there...)
  • Favorite Quote: `Take now this Ring," he said; "for thy labours and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill."` (CĂ­rdan the Shipwright to Gandalf, The Silmarillion)

I'll leave you all with a picture of the Shire, homeland of the hobbits, from Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online.

Image Hosted by

"Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Story of the Little Mole Who Went In Search of Who Dunit

I know this is technically not a novel, but it is an awesome story, very fast read, and one of my personal favorites!

Anyway, this is a story of a mole who comes out of his hole one morning and discovers he has a new "hat" on the top of his head. He is very upset with his new "hat" and is unsure who put it there! Mr. Mole then takes up a mission to discover who gave him the mysterious "hat" You might think that having a hat is very cool, but after you discover what kind of "hat" it is and how it smells/looks you too would be upset. But don't worry in the end Mr. Mole gets his revenge! =)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hannah's Dream

I don't know if everyone knows this about me, but I absolutely love elephants. So my coworkers have the habit of pulling gnay donated or advanced reader books that say anything about elephants or have them on the cover. I got this book last summer I think and have yet to read it. Last weekend I picked it up and finished it in three days!

Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond was not only about a sweet, loving, and solo elephant in a zoo, but all the family she gains in human form. The elephant, Hannah has spent most of her life with Sam, her keeper and as his health declines from diabetes he worries about what will happen to her. She is a little worried herself about things around her and being left in the barn alone at night. So Sam and his wife do everything they can to show their love for Hannah. There are a few side stories in Hannah's Dream that explain why Sam loves the elephant so much and why others do too.

The characters are great in this book, and of course there are some that may get on your nerves at first, but everyone has two sides. When Sam decides Hannah needs a home where she can stay out all the time and other elephants can keep her company, his friends get together a plan to transport her away from the Seattle Zoo to a sanctuary in California. I won't say more, because it has a great ending. It was a touching story, and a quick read, so I really recommend it if you like animal books. Or elephants!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Running From Strangers by C.C. Harrison

I picked up this book since one of the reviews said this author would appeal to fans of Nora Roberts' Romantic Suspense novels. There are some key characteristics to the two authors. Both authors develop their characters to be more than two dimensional stereotypes. Nora Roberts develops her secondary characters more. C.C. Harrison develops the secondary characters a little, but you are left wondering what their motivations might be. Well, this is with the exception of one female "villian" - she is developed fully and I would have liked to have read more about her.
One of my issues with this novel was that I felt as if the novel was originally a lot longer than the 301 pages it turns out to be. There are some parts where it seems there is not enough background, or something in the main characters' lives happened that affects the story.. but the reader doesn't get to read it. My uneducated guess is that perhaps the author was told to cut the story; well-known authors' readers might welcome 400 pages. Newer authors do not have the luxury.
Anyway, I did enjoy this novel and I would read another one by her... provided it was longer. The suspense had a good pace; the storyline was believable; and I did like the main characters. There is a lot to the storyline as far as corruption, bribery, somewhat violent action (not gory, not too descriptive). The "bad things" that the enemy is doing are bad, but that too is not in grisly detail, which I appreciate. Sometimes Allie Hudson (female main character) annoyed me because I wanted her to be more forthcoming with the male lead.
I would recommend it, I would read it again, and I will definitely take a look at her next title.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Not Becoming My Mother

Not Becoming My Mother & other things she taught me along the way by Ruth Reichl

Many have said at one time or another “I don’t want to be like my mother.” But have we ever really investigated who our mothers really were or are? What they dreamed about or the battles that they fought?

On what would have been her mother’s 100th birthday, Reichl embarks on a painful, but yet eye-opening journey into who her mother really was. Through reading her mother's diaries and letters, Reichl can see her mother's sacrifices and struggles and all the lessons she hoped her daughter would learn from her life.

Readers may walk away asking themselves "did/do I really know my mother and what did I learn from her? An engaging quick read, two thumbs up!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


In my attempt to read books from different genres and authors, I stumbled upon this paperback in our collection. The story opens with two young families waiting for the arrival of their newly adopted babies coming from South Korea. Bitsy and Brad Dickinson-Donaldson are the stereotypical loud, affluent, and overconfident young "American" couple. Sami and Ziba Yazdan are a young Iranian American couple. I don't feel the author takes a lot of time to develop her characters - her focus is more on the relationship issues that come up between the different characters. The only character fully developed was Sami's mother Maryam who immigrated from Iran as a young bride. Bitsy's confidence in her child-rearing ways seems more of a mask - towards the end of the book you see that underneath it is a mask for her uncertainty of who and what she is. She makes strong efforts to preserve her child's Korean heritage by dressing her in traditional costume every year on Arrival Day. Her insistence on celebrating Arrival Day, the day the babies arrived to the United States, is indicative of this. Although birthdays are celebrated, they are overshadowed by the girls' arrival to the United States, as if this is much more important. Ziba, on the other side of the coin, is content to have her child assimilate directly into her Iranian American culture. She does not emphasize the differences between her and her child.
What was most interesting in this book was how cultures can differ. You see the differences between Ziba and Bitsy, between Bitsy and her father, between Sami and his mother Maryam, and even in Maryam and her relatives back in Iran. The assimilation of other cultures into the "American" culture is fascinating. Maryam no longer feels as if she belongs in Iran, although she still feels like a foreigner in the United States 40 years after her arrival. Her feelings of alienation intensify after 9/11 where any person of any Middle East heritage is suspect, regardless of the current political situation.
Maryam is the only shining star in this novel - although I did not always sympathize with her. Her fear of losing her Iranian heritage leads to stubborness, especially when it comes to her relationship with Bitsy's father. SPOILER: The author shows Maryam misinterpreting his motives - assuming that he is disrespectful of her heritage although he tries to integrate it into his marriage proposal. This is where you start to realize that the differences in the culture can cause so much discomfort and pain, although there is no intention of doing so.
Anne Tyler's strength lies in her development of the issues. This book started examining what it means to claim yourself as an American but it was not long enough to come to any conclusion. Fans of Richard Russo or Anna Quindlen will enjoy the everyday characters dealing with everyday issues of their lives. It was not a terrible book, or even a bad book. I didn't enjoy it, mostly because I had trouble identifying or sympathizing with most of the characters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
September 2, 2008

This book captivates the reader but engages the soul. You cannot stop reading; a nightmare awakened with eyes wide open. The story takes us into the point of view of the "too old" teen reflecting from the eyes of abuse. "Alice" was taken at the age of ten and now at fifteen she shares her story with us as we are put aside to witness, to view the pain, the loss, the sadness enraged by this monster who infected his sickness into the world. I was told I would not be able to put this book down, I will go another step saying that even after page 170 and the book is closed, the end reached....its haunting words leave a shadow, an essence imprinted on your do not forget how she won her freedom.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Adventures of Slim and Howdy

The Adventures of Slim and Howdy
by Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn

A couple of Tuesdays ago, I was out browsing the stacks before I started work and happened to find this book sitting on the shelves of the Green Valley Library. I had just recently given up on Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony (good series up to this book, written by Eoin Colfer... still recommend it, but just to warn you that it gets a bit sleepy there.) and several books that I had on hold were either on their way over or I was on the waiting list for them.

Being a country music fan, I was immediately interested to see that Brooks and Dunn of "My Maria", "Only in America", and "Play Something Country" fame had put together a book. I'd been to one of their concerts when I was younger and enjoyed them and they're not too bad when it comes to writing a book either!

The book is the story of two cowboys who run into each other and decide to hit the road. They both happen to be singers, so they go to a few bars and perform nightly. One of the bars' owners is a friend of both of theirs gets kidnapped and the fun continues from there. I actually found the climax of the book to be a bit of a bore and prefered the chemistry that went on between the Slim and Howdy characters (Slim is Ronnie and Howdy is Kix).

All in all, not a bad read, but not something I'd nominate for book of the year. Plus, there's a music disc in the back with a pretty good song! Just as long as they keep to their day jobs, they'll be fine...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian
by Scott Douglas

So, I stumbled upon this book a while ago and placed a request for it through our nifty inter-library loan system and received it, and finished it quickly, last week. Little did I know that one of the new Green Valley Library staff members was featured in it...

Scott Douglas started out as a library shelver/page in a small Anaheim, California library and this book is a tale of his experiences through shelverdom through library school and his time with an MLS (Master's in Library Science). The chapters are all uniquely started with a "book title" and Dewey Decimal Number, ranging from people wanting to kill him to finding the love of his life. Throughout this time, you learn to enjoy the cast of library regulars, ranging from the crazies to the kind old ladies who give you treats whenever they come in.

Overall, it's a great read and quite insightful. Quiet, Please definitely trumps the earlier published Freaks, Geeks, and Oddballs by Don Borchert... and I'm not just saying that because I know someone who knows the author. Oh right, you probably want to know the mysterious Green Valley staffer who worked side by side with Mr. Douglas, don't you? You'll have to make an educated guess. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Alchemyst

The Alchemyst: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott

I read a lot of YA/J and that's because I love the fantasy genre. With a lot of "adult" fantasy books, they're huge tomes and remind me too much of the classics, but when they're written for the younger crowd, the authors pump out some great stuff and this is a perfect example of that.

Sophie and Josh, fraternal twins, are spending their summer in California while their parents are on an archaeological dig in Montana, I think. Sophie finds a job at a coffee shop and Josh goes to work for an elderly couple that own a bookstore: Nick and Perry Fleming. Everything goes swimmingly until one afternoon, a mysterious man enters the bookstore and nothing ever remains the same for them.

We soon discover that Nick and Perry are a bit older than they look. They're actually about 500 years old, being Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. Nicholas is an alchemyst and has been keeping himself and his wife alive by creating doses of an immortality potion. That's only the beginning of this adventure though.

I don't want to reveal too much more about this first volume of a proposed nine-book series, two of which are already out and the third one is due in May. If you enjoy history or mythology at all, or even if you like a quick-paced read, I suggest you to give this one a shot. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

So, I love to read classics every now and then and have never read Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles. One day Seth and I happened to turn to PBS and were caught up in the middle of this awesome Masterpiece Theater movie. And I had to figure out what it was. As soon as I found out it was a book I had to turn it off. When I tried to read the book though, I had so much going on I couldn't get into it. BUT! Our great Overdrive audio books has had some books added it looks like and there it was.

I honestly really loved this book. It was one of the few that I purposely did more cleaning just so I had an excuse to listen to. It was narrated by Ralph Cosham and I really enjoyed his voice and storytelling. He also has narrated Four Feathers which looks like it was recently added to Overdrive too!

The story seems modern enough to have kept my interest, and Tess through all her hardships was easy to relate to, and feel bad for. I spent the entire story rooting for her and hoping she gets what she wants. The end was so unexpected from other stories involving a loving couple, and was not the sort of happy eneding you may find in books written at this time period. Hardy's moral conclusion was actually what should have happened, even though it left me wanting more of the story!