Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Egg and Spoon

A Russian fairy tale of sorts for children, written by the writer of Wicked. Even though the story centers on two thirteen year old girls, the story bounces between being an immature, fun children's book to a fanciful, complex, beautifully written adults book. Basically, it has something for everyone.

The story is about a thirteen year old poor peasant girl, Elena, who accidentally swaps places with thirteen year old aristocratic, Ekaterina. Elena wants to plead to the Tsar to release her brother, Luka, from the service and help save her small village from starvation. Ekaterina, on the other hand, just wants to get back to her way of living. The whole peasant life isn't really her thing. Along the way Elena and Ekaterina meet a wide array of magical characters. There is the firebird (who has gone missing!), Baba Yaga and her walking house, Dumb Doma (to be honest, these two really steal the show. Yaga is hilarious!!), and an army of Matryoshka dolls. In order to save themselves, Elena and Ekaterina first need to help save Russia. Can they do it?

Fanciful and fun this is a must read for fans of Gregory Maguire or Russian folklore.

Monday, September 29, 2014


A must read (or listen!) for fans of middle grade historical fiction! Set in 1812 at the onset of the war, twelve year old white settler, James, and twelve year old Miami Indian, Anikwa, discover what it is that separates them and what it is that binds them. Can they remain friends as war looms closer to Fort Wayne, Indiana?Their days were spent trapping, fishing, playing, and exploring, but now they must grow up and be men. They need to decide whose side they're on: the British, the Americans, The Indians, or their own.

Told through the alternating perspectives of both James and Anikwa, this story brings to  life their friendship and the cultures that surrounded them. As the tagline suggested, this truly is "A story of friendship in the time of war." Boys especially, will like the hunting and wilderness aspects, but there is enough historical intrigue and friendship to interest female readers as well.

The audiobook edition to which I listened to, also added an entire new dimension to the story. The narrators were brilliant and really helped narrarted the concerns and emotions of the two twelve year old friends.

I received this book for free from Librarything Early Reviewers in return for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Mango Season

I loved this book! And it made me soo soo hungry for Indian food!! Growing up I had a close family friend who was South Indian and I loved going to her house and immersing myself in her culture: the food, the Bollywood movies, the spices, the saris, the colors, everything! Since then, I've always had a curiosity and insatiable appetite for all things Indian and this book definitely whet my appetite again!

The story follows Priya, a twenty seven year old women, who is going back to India for the first time in seven years to meet her family. Little do they know that she is engaged to an American, Priya plans on breaking the news to them if she can muster the courage. Once back she gets immersed in the family politics and the dramas, and is anxious to leave. But it is mango season and there is pickling to be done so she must tough it out with her family and hope for the best. Can she tell them about her fiance? Will it break their hearts?

Great book, peppered with recipes and good humor. A perfect book club pick :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sucker's Portfolio

There's nothing like curling up with short stories by Vonnegut. Each has a unique voice, black humor, and that ever present Vonnegut wit. There are six previously unreleased short fiction stories, as well as one non-fiction piece, and one unfinished science fiction story (I must know the ending!!). It's understandable why a few of the stories went unpublished (they weren't Kurt's best) but I felt that the essay and the unfinished story were amazeballs. I ate them up! So this little collection is most definitely a win.

For fans of Kurt Vonnegut and black humor short stories.

Where Treetops Glisten

It was happy coincidence that I met one of the authors, Cara Putman, a mere month ago. She came to talk to my library about writing inspirational fiction and it was a fabulous talk. She mentioned there was a new Christmas book in the works and lo and behold I have the opportunity to read and review the very book she mentioned. How exciting?!

I have to start by saying that I LOVED the premise of the book; three  World War II era novellas set during three consecutive Christmas seasons and focusing on one particular family. Each story was also cleverly named after a classic Christmas song. Two of the stories were set in Lafayette, Indiana (yay for Hoosiers!) and one was set overseas. There is something about Christmas that is inherently romantic and these three authors did a fantastic job of writing connected, heartfelt stories about different members of the Turner family.

Abigail Turner is a young Purdue student set on never falling in love again after suffering a romantic loss at Pearl Harbor. Soon she finds out it may not be easy to lock her heart away because someone may hold the key.

Pete Turner is a former bad boy, pilot hero come home on furlough. He comes across a young widow and her daughter and realizes that he teased her his whole childhood. Is it too late to change his roguish ways?

Meredith Turner is a nurse in the Netherlands, as she treats wounded men both friend and foe she can't help but think of the one that got away. Can a Christmas miracle bring them together again?

Each story is delightful in it's own right, all three together are sure to warm any heart. For fans if inspirational historical fiction and Christmas short stories.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

A Man Called Ove

Backman, Fredrik. A Man Called Ove. 8 CDs. unabridged. 9 hrs 9 mins. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781629239804. 

A Man Called Ove, the first novel from Swedish breakout novelist, Fredrik Backman, has found immediate worldwide success and quickly became an international bestseller. A stereotypical grumpy old man, Ove, finds his quiet solitude changing when a young family moves in next door. Ove is the kind of man that yells at kids to get off his lawn and is the bane of the local resident's association. He may come across as gruff and bitter but behind the unpleasant exterior there is a dignified man with a story of love and heartbreak. The young couple next door and a scruffy cat may be the perfect combination to  break Ove out of his shell and to help him truly start living. This adorable tale may start painstakingly slow but quickly gathers speed as Ove's neighbors start testing his patience and breaking him out of his sad routine. The English edition of the audiobook, is narrated beautifully by the talented voice and film actor, George Newbern. Witty and full of heart this is a tale that readers of all ages will enjoy.​ - Erin Cataldi, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Berenstain Bears: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Being naive as I am, I had no idea that "The Berenstain Bears" franchise was still going after Stan and Jan's death. Their son Mike Berenstain has taken over the beloved characters and created a faith based "Living Lights" series featuring the Berenstain Bears. Instead of featuring a moral or lesson, each book features a different psalm or Bible quotation.

Blessed are the Peacemakers highlights, "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children  of God." - Matthew 5:9. In this story, Brother Bear and Sister Bear must try and keep the peace as two school rivals face each other in the school. Most of the time the cubs get along, but Too Tall is a famous instigator and he doesn't like that Queenie and Ferdy are playing starcrossed lovers in Romeo and Grizzliet. Mean words are exchanged and fists are raised can Brother Bear and Sister Bear save the play and their friends? Or should they mind their own business?

A great book for Christian children and fans of The Berenstain Bears.

I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Nothing like a good ol' nonfiction book to make you say, "God's Underpants!!! What have I just read?!?!?!?!" I had never heard or read about this case before so this book was a real eye opener. Papa Pilgrim and his fifteen children moved to the wilderness of McCarthy, Alaska to get a fresh start. Papa Pilgrim and his clan operated on old school Christian ideals; their family had minimal contact with people, were "homeschooled" (most couldn't even read), and lived off the land. At first the small town of McCarthy (population less than 100 and insanely hard to get to as there were no roads and it was in the middle of a National Park) welcomed these nice, albeit weird, newcomers. But as months progress they began to sense that something was very wrong. Were they hiding out in Alaska, escaping from the past, what was wrong with the children, what were they doing up in the hills and why did they hate they hate the park rangers? This drama unfolds slowly over time and the trouble that author, Tom Kizzia, goes through to collect, newspaper clippings, testimonials, police reports, and more is staggering. As the case against the Pilgrim family grows, Papa Pilgrim seems to get more and more reckless. Was the family followers of Papa Pilgrims crazy Christian zeal or were they hostages too scared to get help in the wilderness. Gripping and masterfully told, this story of faith and madness on the Alaskan frontier will be sure to grip every reader.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Candy Girl:A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper

Why did I ever wait so long to read this!? This book was laugh out loud funny, intriguing and eye opening beyond compare. Diablo's quick wit and hilarious insights on the sex industry and her year in it is not to be missed! Diablo moved to Minneapolis and decided to reinvent herself and walk on the wild side with the permission and understanding of her boyfriend she decided to try her hand at stripping. She went from novice to pro in no time at all and bounced around to several different clubs. After that got tiring she decided to be a "doll" one of the girls that stood in a box at a sex store tempting men to spend some alone time with her, with only a window separating them. Ranging from hilarious to disgusting her year on the wild side is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the sex trade. Diablo worked at gentlemen's clubs, a sex store, and a sex hotline and her views on the trade are eye opening.

For fans of erotica, dirty books, or memoirs.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Far Away, I Land

Many stories (mostly generational) breath life into this fictional journey, the premise being that everything comes full circle. Confusing at times, but by the halfway point in the book it is clear how the generations will grow up and eventually meet. The childhood of several children is followed, focusing particularly on the offspring from Hungary and Ceylon. Their journeys take them through London, Ottawa, New York, Sri Lanka, but we all know the phrase, there is no place like home! If this is starting to sound a little muddled, then I'm not alone. This story is told through many different perspectives, and can at time be overwhelming. It can switch years, people, and tenses, all in one chapter. After a while though your brain begins to adapt and you can see a pattern. A child grows up in hard, unbelievable conditions, through the merits of their character they succeed in life and, behold, find a marry a person who has gone through a similar experience (and whom you've been reading about). Their marriage may be troubled (this is a very common thread, marriage does not work so well in this story) but their children will grow up AND... story repeats itself. Overall, good concept, great storybuilding, but I thought the story was very sporadic. It would speed up through a few generations, then slow down for one. It could get quite maddening.

For fans of historical fiction.

I received this book for free from Inkwater Press in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Face the Music: A Life Exposed

Hands down the best music memoir I've ever read. I couldn't put it down;  I read this massive tome in one day. I'm a pretty recent Kiss convert, after seeing them in Indianapolis on their fortieth anniversary tour, I knew I was in love. I had grown up hearing the songs, saw Detroit Rock City, Role Models, etc. But nothing prepared me for seeing them live. They were amazing! So being the librarian that I am, I decided to read more about them. I recalled that Paul Stanley had recently written a memoir so I decided to start there. I am soo glad I did. It was the perfect introduction to the world of Kiss. Paul writes about his humble beginnings, his insecurity, the gradual rise to fame, and the internal conflicts. The memoir is peppered with great photographs that help visualize the story. Insanely great. I went from knowing virtually nothing about Kiss to getting a great overview on the history of the band. It also sets the story straight about Peter and Ace, even Gene to an extant. At parts he sounded a little whiney and bitchy about his fellow band members, but it was probably well deserved. A must read for anyone in the Kiss Army.