DEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN LIBRARY CAT WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD by Vicki Myron, Bret Witter (Contributor), was published in 2008. Obviously, I didn’t read it...moreDEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN LIBRARY CAT WHO TOUCHED THE WORLD by Vicki Myron, Bret Witter (Contributor), was published in 2008. Obviously, I didn’t read it right away. That’s because I was afraid it would be a tear jerker. But the cover picture of that cat finally proved irresistible when I found the book at a used book sale. I read it, and I loved it.
If you like cats, you’ll love this book, too. And there’s enough description of library work that librarians would also enjoy this book, regardless of how they feel about cats. But a librarian who is also a cat owner absolutely should not miss DEWEY.
Some of DEWEY is funny, all of it is touching. But it’s more than a MARLEY-type book, with descriptions of crazy incidents.
DEWEY begins with a book depository. That’s where Vicki Myron, the director of the Spencer, Iowa, Library, finds the 8-week-old kitten one freezing cold morning. He was near frozen to death, and his paws were frostbitten. But he loved her and everyone else who would hold him immediately. And all the librarians there loved him back. So, of course, they kept him.
And now you might expect the remainder of the book to describe cat antics. But Myron actually tells us how Dewey helped so many people on a daily basis, truly helped them. He even improved the library. And it even may not be a stretch to say that he gave some status to the small town of Spencer, Iowa. Sure, cat antics are in there, but they’re part of the stories of a cat who loved everyone and helped the lives of so many.
I highly recommend this book. It’s just as good today as it was in 2008 when it was getting so much publicity.(less)
CARTWHEEL is a story, but, even more, it is an examination of how people think of themselves and how others see them, how easily misunderstandings occ...moreCARTWHEEL is a story, but, even more, it is an examination of how people think of themselves and how others see them, how easily misunderstandings occur, and how the innocent can appear guilty.
Jennifer DuBois based her story on a true one from the headlines, which anyone can do. But she does with it what few writers come close to doing. Her novel A PARTIAL HISTORY OF LOST CAUSES received many great reviews and awards, but here’s a prediction: CARTWHEEL will do even better.
The story: Lily is a US citizen and student living in Buenos Aires to study there for a semester. She stays in someone’s home with another student, Katy. Eventually, Katy is murdered, and Lily is arrested as the suspect.
DuBois tells the story through the eyes of different characters, including Lily; Sebastian, the boy next door who loves her; Lily’s sister and father; and the manipulative prosecutor, so concerned about his record of convictions that he is convinced of Lily’s guilt even after DNA results prove that someone else is the murderer. In this way, we see how they see themselves and each other, and how they perceive and misconceive others’ actions and events.
Warning: DuBois does something many readers normally dislike. She goes off on tangents; that is, she sometimes has characters, especially Lily’s father, remember events that happened years ago. Her intention, it seems, is to show how one event leads to another and to another, and so on. Other authors do this, too, and it’s boring and tedious. But DuBois’ descriptions are riveting.
Although, as I said, this is a story, and there is plot, CARTWHEEL is mostly character driven. And that is another warning. Some readers prefer plot-driven novels, and CARTWHEEL is not that. CARTWHEEL is a beautifully written and riveting character study as they are set in this story of an American girl accused of murder.
This review is of an ARC provided by Random House and won through atrandom.com.(less)
Don't read reviews of A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR on amazon.com before you read it. They give too much information and spoil the story.
Dennis Lehane’s A DR...moreDon't read reviews of A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR on amazon.com before you read it. They give too much information and spoil the story.
Dennis Lehane’s A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR introduces two PIs, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. They’re hired by a politician to find a cleaning lady who he claims has stolen some important documents from him. That’s all the politician wants. Once they find the cleaning lady, their job will be done. But Patrick and Angela learn there is more to those documents, and more than one person wants them.
Their exploits as they learn more and more make this book a true mystery/thriller you won’t want to see end.
But take heart when end it does. A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR is just the first book in a series about Patrick and Angie. And they’re all excellent. I can tell you because I read them all. But this book, in particular, is probably my favorite in the series because of Lehane’s comments spoken through the voice and thoughts of Patrick.
So now I’m sad. I read the series out of order (which you can do with this series because Lehane writes so well) and, although A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR begins the series, I already read the rest of the series. And I also already read every standalone book Lehane wrote. And now there are no more until he writes another.
FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is nonfiction the way I wish all nonfiction books were: detailed without letting the details get in the way of an honest-to-gos...more FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is nonfiction the way I wish all nonfiction books were: detailed without letting the details get in the way of an honest-to-gosh edge-of-your-seat story. This is an outstanding book, and any description of it won't do it justice.
You may think you know this story of New Orleans' Memorial Hospital, its staff and patients, during and after Hurricane Katrina. But there's so much you don't, and it looks like Sheri Fink, the author of FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL, has done the digging for us and found it all. And her presentation won't bore you, either. Yet all the details are there, with a journalist's skill of maintaining objectivity; Fink gives us no opinion, just the facts.
The first half of FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is the five days at Memorial, hard to stomach but necessary to really understand what doctors and nurses were faced with and what patients, particularly the severely ill, endured. The second half involves mostly how various staff (doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.) reacted to their experience and presented their reactions to law enforcement, newspaper reporters, medical societies, etc. And we can also finally understand what went on with the intended prosecution of one of the doctors, how the media influenced the outcome.
During a book event with Sheri Fink that I attended at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, she stated that this story all comes down to how ill-prepared our hospitals are for emergencies such as this hurricane. Of course, that's true. But it might not be enough to entice you to pick up the book.
Really, it's about so much more than that. And you want to read it; you really do. Not many books of nonfiction do more than make you smarter. FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL will grab you until the end. And you won't want it to end. Gees, I'm hoping the paperback will continue the Epilogue.(less)
Koko is a gorilla; her kitten was “All Ball.” This is a true story, written for children. Who couldn’t love it?
Back in the 1970s Koko was born and soo...moreKoko is a gorilla; her kitten was “All Ball.” This is a true story, written for children. Who couldn’t love it?
Back in the 1970s Koko was born and soon thereafter was taught sign language. Yes, she really could speak with her keepers in this way. So, when they asked her what she wanted, she told them, “Cat.” They got her a tiny gray, tailless kitten.
The story of KOKO’s KITTEN by Francine Patterson tells of Koko’s early life and how she came to learn sign language. Then we learn about her request for a cat and her anger when her keepers gave her a pretend cat covered in velvet. Then we read about her gentleness and motherliness when she was given her real kitten. Koko chose the kitten, and Koko named him “All Ball.”
Throughout this children’s book are photographs, not just illustrations, by Ronald H. Cohn. This is what made me want to read the book. I loved it.
Koko is still alive, 40 years old, at the San Francisco Zoo. I wish I knew her story when I lived in southern California in the 1980s through 2005. I would have made the 3-hour drive to San Francisco just to see her. Maybe I’ll still get there before she dies. In the meantime, I can read the book for adults, THE EDUCATION OF KOKO. (less)
The first 2/3 of this is a three- or four-star book. I gave it five stars because Amory wrote the last pages so skillfully that they made me cry, lite...moreThe first 2/3 of this is a three- or four-star book. I gave it five stars because Amory wrote the last pages so skillfully that they made me cry, literally. A book has never before or since made me cry. (less)
THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS is now in my list of favorites because this is a can't-put-it-down book. Of the two others by Bohjalian that I've read, this on...moreTHE LIGHT IN THE RUINS is now in my list of favorites because this is a can't-put-it-down book. Of the two others by Bohjalian that I've read, this one, a literary mystery/thriller, sure beats them all.
Although some reviewers say this book is two stories, it really isn't. Rather, it is one story made more mysterious by alternating chapters set during the end of World War II in Italy and chapters set in 1955. The mystery happened to the Rosati family, and each chapter contains a few different characters' viewpoints. In this way, the mystery keeps the reader guessing. That also is what makes it unputdownable.
In 1955, someone is murdering what's left of the Rosatis. So a murder investigation is taking place while we also read about the family during 1943 and 44. The 1955 chapters include, of course, the viewpoints of not only the Rosatis but, also, the detectives investigating the crimes. With each chapter, we put more and more of the story together. Add to that the italicized pages set in the present, giving us still another viewpoint--the murderer's.
Don't read more description than that. I didn't and so discovered it for myself. You'll enjoy it more with no preconceived notions.
I won this book from Doubleday through shelfawareness.com.(less)
This may be the best fiction of 2013. I thought another book was the best fiction of the year, but THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is right up there with...moreThis may be the best fiction of 2013. I thought another book was the best fiction of the year, but THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is right up there with it. I know a book is a winner when I hate to see it end. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is too good to end, so it passes that test.
THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is usually described as a family saga. But it may be more fair to say that it begins with the story of Alma Whittaker's father in order for the reader to better understand Alma.The majority of the book is Alma, from her birth to her death. And what a life, especially after she is 50! So much fiction concentrates on characters who are in their 20s and 30s. What a pleasant change this is to see a woman accomplish so much post-50.
In an effort to avoid spoilers, description of the book stops there in this review. Most reviews say too much.
Too many books insult my intelligence. This one doesn't. That's the best kind of literature.(less)
William Kent Krueger may have outdone himself with ORDINARY GRACE. I've read a few other popular novels by this author,and ORDINARY GRACE is by far th...moreWilliam Kent Krueger may have outdone himself with ORDINARY GRACE. I've read a few other popular novels by this author,and ORDINARY GRACE is by far the best. If you like Kreuger's books, you'll love this one.
You may hesitate to read this, as I did, because the narrator is recalling the summer when he was 13-years-old, and coming-of-age stories bore you. Fear not. ORDINARY GRACE does not come across as a coming-of-age story. This is a story told by a 53-year-old man. He writes as an adult recalling what happened that summer to his family and others in his small community when one murder after another took place.
But ORDINARY GRACE mainly observes the narrator's father and brother, so full of ordinary grace. (less)
Here is a book everyone should read. It deals with such an important subject, and too many of us are unaware of it. Probably, MOST of us are unaware o...moreHere is a book everyone should read. It deals with such an important subject, and too many of us are unaware of it. Probably, MOST of us are unaware of it.
Virginia Morell, author of ANIMAL WISE, says that animals have minds. They use their brains as we do, and, like us, they have personalities, moods, and emotions. They laugh and play. Some show grief and empathy.
It is true that most of us pet owners see intelligence and personality in our own animals. But this is more than a proclamation by someone who loves her pets.
Morell speaks scientific fact, first in a cover article in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, now expanded in ANIMAL WISE. She tells us how we know that domesticated and wild animals, such as chimpanzees, elephants, wolves, and even fish, live by more than instinct.
Morell knows and wants us all to know: animals have feelings, both psychological and physical. But most of us don't realize that because the scientific experiments and findings that prove this have happened mostly in relatively recent years, the 1990s. But, even then and now, other animal experts are telling us to beware of anthropomorphism, attributing human emotions to animals. They need to see the proof to believe it.
The ANIMAL WISE epilogue gives examples to show why we need to know that animals as well as humans have minds and emotions. Then how could we not take care of animals and know that to do otherwise is immoral?
So read ANIMAL WISE. Then you will notice that, more and more, this subject is discussed elsewhere, too. Places like PBS stations and the Discovery channel are getting the word out so that even nonreaders of scientific magazines will see the proof.
Thanks to readitforward.com for this galley of ANIMAL WISE. (less)
I think I've found the best book of 2013. It's even better than that for me.
How to adequately review A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA? The setting i...moreI think I've found the best book of 2013. It's even better than that for me.
How to adequately review A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA? The setting is Chechnya during 1993 through 2004. This is about life there through two wars with the Russians. Life is defined as "a constellation of vital phenomena." A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA is so unique that I can't do it justice. This story is more than I expected. Can anyone read this and remain unaffected?
The one best word to describe SWEET TOOTH is "clever." Don't skip to the last chapter, but that one is the most clever of all. You'll realize by the e...moreThe one best word to describe SWEET TOOTH is "clever." Don't skip to the last chapter, but that one is the most clever of all. You'll realize by the end how clever all the chapters are, though.
All eleven of the McEwan novels that I've read have taken their time, even when the book is short, which most of his are. Sometimes a reader may wonder if he's ever going to get to the point or if, maybe, he got to the point and the reader missed it. Usually it's the latter. Or, as in SWEET TOOTH, he gives clues to the point along the way that the reader may not realize are clues. Even if that is the case, the reader will probably recall them later.
Then, BAM. How clever this is! McEwan may take his time, but few people can write like he does.(less)