Category Archives: Books

Lemony Snicket – “When Did You See Her Last?”

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 “When Did You See Her Last?”:  All the Wrong Questions Book 2 – Lemony Snicket (2013, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, Toronto)

Lemony Snicket’s younger self keeps on asking the wrong questions in book 2 of this mystery series, as he and his ragtag friends – a savvy journalist named Moxie, two taxi driver brothers nicknamed Pip and Squeak, the mysterious sub-librarian Dashiell Qwerty (which may be the coolest name for a librarian EVER), and the dashing teenaged cook Jake Hix try to rescue a kidnapped chemist and restore order to the town Stain’d-by-the-Sea, which is fast approaching ghost status.  Given Snicket’s playful writing style and dark humour, this is almost more fun for adults than for the preteen reading audience it’s geared for.

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Joe Hill – Horns.

 

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Horns – Joe Hill (2008, William Morrow, New York)
I suspect that I started off on the wrong foot. Hill’s NOS4RA2 has been recommended to me several times and maybe that’s the one I ought to have dipped into as my introduction to his work. I just couldn’t warm up to Horns – although it had enough to grab me so that I stayed with it (see what I did there?). A murder mystery, an exploration of friendship, fidelity, and true love, plus a whole lotta hellfire and brimstone add up to an occasionally entertaining horror (?) dark fantasy (?) story. I’ll pick up NOS4RA2 and give Hill another chance.

Kevin Sheehan and Rob Dunlavey – The Dandelion’s Tale.

 

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The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan and Rob Dunlavey (2014, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York)

Working in a library means I get to see and handle a lot of books…and some of my very favourites come from the children’s section. You don’t need to be a child to delight in the illustrations and stories of the great picture books I’ve come across recently…and The Dandelion’s Tale is at the very top of the heap for me. This sweet little tale of a dandelion gone to seed and her wish to leave her mark on the world quite frankly brought a little tear to my eye – it’s just that touching. The illustrations by Rob Dunlavey are soft and lush, and perfectly match Kevin Sheehan’s gentle story.

Ken Campbell and Jim Parcels – Selling the Dream.

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Selling the Dream:  How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession – Ken Campbell and Jim Parcels (2013, Viking, Penguin Group (Canada), Toronto)

I’m talking hockey!  Please click on over to Minor.Hockey.Life for my review of Ken Campbell and Jim Parcel’s thought-provoking book about minor hockey, Selling the Dream.

Book briefs.

I’m a bit crunched for time and can’t devote a full post for each title…but here are a few thoughts about a handful of books I’ve been reading over the past month:

Kissing Kilimanjaro:   Leaving it All on Top of Africa – Daniel Dorr (2010, The Mountaineers Books, Seattle)

Climbing “everyman’s Everest” isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be – just ask author and newbie mountaineer Daniel Dorr.  This breezy, affable account of his attempts to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a testament to perserverence and an interesting travel journal about Africa.  And, yeah, when he’s talking about “leaving it all,” he just might be talking about bodily fluids.  You’ve been warned….

Empire of the Beetle:  How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug are Killing North America’s Great Forests – Andrew Nikiforuk (2011, Greystone Books, Vancouver)

This brilliant piece of writing details current and historical infestations of bark beetles in North America, and discusses possible causes and outcomes of the outbreaks.  Whether or not you believe in the conclusions that Nikoforuk draws – that factors such as climate change, the (mis)management of forests, poor government policies, and fire suppression are to blame – you should give this one a read to decide for yourself.  An important book about a controversial subject.

The Girl With Glass Feet – Ali Shaw (2009, Atlantic Books)

I so wanted to love this book!  It has such a fabulous premise:  a young woman named Ida Maclaird returns to the mysterious island of St. Hauda’s Land, an isolated place full of cold and snow and weird, unnatural creatures.  Since her first visit to the island the previous summer, her body has been slowly turning to glass, and she’s (understandably) desperate to find a cure.  See what I mean?  Cool, right?  Unfortunately, I can’t get anywhere close to halfway finished this one – I can’t seem to respond to any of the characters with any emotion, and even the fantasy elements fail to inspire excitement. I simply do not care about Ida or anyone else or anything at this point.  The writing is suitably descriptive, but I can’t feel the poetry in it – it seems too clinically perfect (contrived?) and contributes to the feelings of remoteness I have for the book in general.  Perhaps it gets better…if you’ve read The Girl With Glass Feet and you’d recommend that I hang on and finish it, let me know and I’ll give it a shot.  Right now, it’s been relegated to the bottom of my “To-Read…Maybe” pile and not even the promise of a good love story is going to make me drag it out anytime soon.

Book review: The Map of the Sky.

Felix J. Palma’s The Map of the Sky is out of this world!  (Really, it is).  Continue reading

Book review: A Girl Named Zippy.

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana – Haven Kimmel (2001, Broadway Books, New York)

You know that old saying about a book being so good you just couldn’t put it down?  Well, this is one of those books.  Unfortunately, I had to work and cook supper and go to the bank while I was in the middle of Zippy, or I would have finished it sooner than I did.  Continue reading