Archive for February, 2016

Death of a Nurse

February 28, 2016

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The latest title in the long running Hamish MacBeth series has the Police Sergeant scrambling to solve the murder of Gloria Dainty, a pretty nurse whom he had asked out, only to be stood up by her (for the obvious reason that she was already dead). His sidekick at the station is Charlie Carter, a clumsy yet oddly endearing fellow, especially to the ladies, much to Hamish’s dismay. The usual suspects are part and parcel of the investigation, with a new twist: one Police Inspector Fiona Herring, who is a feisty addition to the mix. Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, Hamish’s former fiancee, is now engaged to an older man that her father approves of, but who has a dark side of which Priscilla is unaware.  Tune in to solve the murders which begin to pile up, and find out Priscilla’s fate. Recommended for those mystery fans who dislike a lot of of blood and guts, Death of a Nurse is classic M.C. Beaton.

10% Happier

February 27, 2016

index.aspxThis title is written by Dan Harris, an ABC News correspondent, current anchor of Nightline and weekend co-host of Good Morning America. I was hooked by the subtitle: How I Tamed the Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story as I was shelving it, and I must say it didn’t disappoint. Harris relates how at one point in his early career, he let the “voice in my head run amok” during a live broadcast, which subsequently forced him to re-evaluate his attitude, career and life path. 10% Happier is an anecdotal primer for anyone interested in meditation and how to begin a practice. Harris discusses his teachers and mentors, as well as his successes and struggles, in a humorous and engaging manner and I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Dumplin’

February 25, 2016

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a book that I simply cannot do justice by writing a review! It windex.jpgas that great – but I’ll try.

Fearless, honest, and heartwarming. Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed “fat girl”, is adjusting to life after the loss of her beloved aunt who lived with her and her mother.

When Willowdean Dickson decides to enter the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant, she has no idea the ripple effect her entry will cause. She just wants to honor her Aunt’s memory, and prove a point. During the course of the contest, however, she does so much more. Like get her first kiss, fall in love, break up with her best friend, and make some new friends along the way. But here’s the thing – Willowdean doesn’t look like your average beauty contestant. She takes up space and she’s not ashamed of that, she embraces who she is…but she doesn’t quite buy that OTHER people embrace her. All of her.

What transpires is a heartfelt, honest journey of a girl who struggles with fitting in, being bullied, and ultimately loving yourself. Through Murphy’s hilarious prose, we get a glimpse into small-town life and just how much trouble being different can create. Willowdean’s voice is strong and carries her confidence from the page to the reader with ease, and when she struggles to see herself as that wildly bold, creative young woman, the readers are right there with her. I cried, laughed, and found a well-spring of confidence from her story.

Julie Murphy might just become my new favorite author! I’m itching to go back and read her debut novel Side Effects May Vary and I’ll be sure to post a review after.

New toddler books

February 25, 2016

“Tiger and Badger” written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by award-winning author- illustrator Marie-Louise Gay is about how even the best of friends can disagree.  Tiger and Badger are the best of friends.  During the course of the day, they argue about everything.  Tiger puts on Badger’s hat, sits on Badger’s chair, and eats Badger’s orange slices.  Badger takes Tiger’s toy monkey and throws it in a tree.  And so it goes throughout the day.  Eventually, each declares that the other is no longer their best friend.  But everything works out in the end, when Tiger makes Badger laugh.  At day’s end, of course, they realize that they really are best friends.

Toddlers will identify with the antics of each character.  Marie-Louise Gay’s illustrations in water color and acrylic focus on the two friends.  The typeface is clear and easy to read.9780763666040_p0_v1_s118x184.jpg

“When Spring Comes” by Kevin Henkes and illustrated by Laura Dronzek is a story about how winter disappears and spring appears.  With a simple text and vivid drawings, the narrative explains how the world is transformed from the dark days of winter to a colorful spring.  “Before spring come, the grass is brown, But if you wait, Spring will turn it green and add little flowers.”  Each two-page spread offers similar transformations always asking the reader to wait and watch what nature will bring.

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“The Life of Elves”

February 24, 2016

In 2006, Muriel Barbery wrote “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” which became an international best seller.  Barbery, a French novelist and former philosophy teacher, sold more than seven million copies of this quirky novel about the concierge of a Paris apartment building and  a precocious, suicidal 12-year-old who lives in the building.

Her second novel, “The Life of Elves,” includes a complete magical menagerie:  elves, unicorns, a giant squirrel, an otter with a human face and more.  This fairy tale/fable centers on two 12-year-old girls:  Maria, an orphan with magical powers, and Clara, a clairvoyant piano prodigy in Italy.  Clara begins to have visions of Maria, and although they never meet, their lives are intertwined.

Barbery surprised even herself when she realized she was writing a fantasy novel.  Creating a supernatural world felt “surprisingly natural.” “In fiction, everything is possible,” she said, “so why wouldn’t you allow yourself to imagine everything as a writer.”

Now on a book tour, she is eager to return to France to begin writing a sequel to “The Life of Elves.”  In the new book, Maria and Clara will be brought together as a cosmic war breaks out.9781609453152_p0_v3_s118x184.jpg


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