FEBRUARY REVIEWS

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is the story, at it's core, of Denny and Enzo, man and dog. They are true companions moving through a series of events that lead, as life often does, to heart rendering triumphs and heart breaking tragedies. All of these stories are told from Enzo's canine perspective as he looks back on his life while preparing himself for his soul's next life. Although the novel begins on the eve of Enzo's death and Denny losses his wife Eve, it is so much more than a book about dying. It is full of insights into everyday living. There are also many racing analogies to help us through the

realities of life with compassion, warmth, humor and hope. “You manifest what is before you,” “The race is long – to finish first, first you must finish,” and “One can never be angry at another driver for a track accident...only be upset at himself for being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time” are three of the philosophical perspectives that the author uses to tie together dog and man, racing and life, and so many other relationships in the story. We experience a dogs-eye view of Denny's courtship of Eve, the birth and babyhood of their daughter Zoe, a family crisis from a slowly developing medical condition of Eve, and the disastrous, evil interference from Eve's parents. However, who knows how much dogs understand human affairs? It’s not hard to believe that they can read emotions in speech and achieve some levels of understanding. Certainly there is sufficient basis to believe they could be subject to a broad range of emotions common to humans, including hope and despair, pride and shame, empathy and disgust.  Supposedly, the true test of self-consciousness is awareness of one’s own mortality. Yet, to have a dog be so understanding of how metaphors from car racing apply to lessons for life is fantasy unless

one wants to think Enzo is only a stand-in for a very knowledgeable narrator.



THE NIGHT BEFORE THE SNOW DAY by Natasha Wing

Once winter comes, every child in school cannot wait to hear the words “School is cancelled due to too much snow!” One night as a young girl gets ready for bed for school the next day, she looks outside and it is snowing. She makes sure her snowsuit is hung in the mud room along with a wool hat and waterproof mittens. It looks like this storm may turn into a blizzard so she crosses all her fingers, does a snow dance wears her pajamas inside out, and has visions of snowball fights while sleeping in her bed. Her Mom wakes her up too early saying school is cancelled due to severe weather. She looks outside, lets out a cheer for her wish come true because a snow day is here. She sleeps late,

has pancakes in the shape of snowmen and lacy snowflakes, and plays a board game.

When the snow stops, she helps Dad shovel and scoop until they are both pooped. Yet, she does not go inside like her Dad. She says it is time to take her sled for a ride with her friends, and then there is a snowball fight. Finally, her fingers and toes are tingling and freezing so she heads home sniffling and sneezing. Inside, there is a cup of cocoa. That night on the street there arises such a clatter. She springs from her bed to see what is the matter. The plow rumbles with a blade so wide. It clears off the street making banks on each side. She knows that means back to school tomorrow, but as she peaks out the window she says to herself, “No, not if it keeps snowing tonight.”

KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler


Octavia E. Butler in KINDRED sets one up to address harsh truths and prejudices but yet creates a story worth reading.  Ms. Butler brings in time travel as the framework of the story.   The book takes place in 1976 but it feels just as fresh and timely in 2016.  Dana, a newly married, mid-twenties, African American woman, has just started a career as a writer in California.  Abruptly she is yanked back in time to Maryland in 1815 where she must save a white boy named Rufus.  This becomes only the first of many time traveling episodes for Dana.  She quickly realizes that Rufus is one of her own ancestors.  Somehow they are connected across time because they are kindred.  To assure her own future, Dana must keep Rufus alive until he has children who will some day be Dana'a family line.  He calls her in space and time whenever his life is in danger.  Thus, self-preservation has two sides.  Only moments pass in the modern world each time Dana is called away, but months or even years pass in the world of 1815.  She watches Rufus grow from a little boy into an adult slave owner who inherits his father's plantation.  She tries her best to influence his development, but it is very difficult to overcome the poisonous institution of slavery.   The novel is a potent metapor for the modern American experience.  We may be lulled into the feeling that we have progressed as a society.  However, at any moment we may be yanked back into the past and reminded that slavery, exploitation and racism are an integral part of our national identity.   Like Dana, we must be constantly on guard to deal with the ugliest parts of our nature.  We are kindred with the Americans of 1815, whether we like it or not.     


STONE SOUP retold by Marlin Sapienza


Two pigs, Molly and Max are on an adventure traveling through the countryside.  Upon spotting a village, they believe there will be friendly villagers to feed and provide sleeping quarters for them.   However, when the townspeople spot the two pigs they hide their food, money, room keys, close their shops, and the innkeeper puts up a sign “No Room.”  Then the villagers make themselves scarce.  As the pigs approach the closed doors, all they hear is “No food,” No room,” “Go away,” and  “Forget it.”   Molly and Max feel no one wants them.  When Max says “...these people have hearts of stone", Molly gets an idea.  They go ring the village bell which brings the townspeople running because the bell only rings when there is an emergency.  Max tells them there is an emergency for there is no food in this town and now it is time to make Stone Soup.  None of  the men and women have ever heard of Stone Soup.  Molly explains it is a secret recipe but is willing to share it with them so no one will go hungry.  Of course, everyone wants to help.  First, they heat some water in a pot.  Next, scrubbed stones are added.  When Molly tastes the soup, she states it is very good plain but it would be better if we could make the fancy kind.  What follows is that someone brings, pepper, salt and herbs, carrots, onions, milk, potatoes, and meat cubes.  The best part, of course, is tasting the Stone Soup when it is done.  It is the most delicious soup any one has ever had.   As everyone is eating the soup, fruit, bread, salad, cider, cakes and pies also appear.  Everyone eats, laughts and dances long into the night.   Molly and Max are given the finest room in the Inn.  In the morning, everyone is waving goodbye to Molly and Max and ask how they can thank them for the secret recipe.  The travelers reply, “Share Stone Soup with everyone.”   


I AM MALALA by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick


Do you believe in hope, truth, miracles, and the possibility you can inspire change in your community and beyond. Malala Yousafzai knew at a very young age she wanted to help make the world different in a positive way. Malala was born in a once peaceful area of Pakistan. If she had been a boy, it would have been a cause for celebration, firing guns in the air, placing gifts in the baby's cot, and inscribing the boy's name on the family tree. But when a girl is born, no one visits the parents, and women only have sympathy for the mother. Malala's father paid no attention to these customs. Her name was the first female name on the family tree in three hundred years. Her father praised her and bragged about her always. These words were the most precious things in the world to her. She was also luckier than most girls in one other way because her father ran a school. At the age of ten, the Taliban took control of her region forbidding music, banning women from the market, and preaching girls should not be allowed to attend school. However, her father's school remained open for as long as possible. When there was no choice but to close the school, the education of the girls continued in secrecy. After the school was able to reopen, education continued for both boys and girls. During this time, Malala unremittingly campaigned for girls' education. In 2009, she wrote about life under the Taliban for BBC Urdu and was featured in a New York Times documentary. In 2011, she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize in recognition of her courage and advocacy, won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize, was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, won the International Children's Peace Prize in 2013, and received numerous other awards. In October 2012 Malala was targeted by the Taliban and nearly lost her life for the cause when she was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. She was not expected to live, but she did and now is a symbol of peaceful protest. The family moved to Birmingham, England, and Malala continues to champion universal access to education. Malala did and continues to have a great impact on the world.

LEGO CITY – HEROES TO THE RESCUE by Esther Ripley


In HEROES TO THE RESCUE, one can find out the facts on how emergency services are always on patrol to help the citizens of Lego City. At the Fire Station, you are informed what takes place from the time the fire call comes in until the engine leaves the station house. When the lighthouse lamp overheats and bursts into flames, the fire resuce boat speeds across the water to put out the fire. There are pictures and explanations of many different firefighting vehicles. At the scene of a motorcyle accident, the reader is taken through what steps to follow to keep the injured party as safe as possible. If needed, an air ambulance plane can rescue people from places that are difficult to reach. Police officers help when others are lost and in trouble. They also keep the traffic moving. Some crooks escape Prison Island. The police, both on land and in the air, help recapture them. As an added bonus, the final pages of this Lego City book contain a quiz and a glossary.


PAST REVIEWS

MY LITTLE PONY – HAPPY HAUNTING, adapted by Louise Alexander


Halloween is here and the weather in Ponyville is just perfect for this holiday because it is a dark and stormy night. This makes Fluttershy really shiver because Nightmare Night is her least favorite holiday even though every one else in Ponyville just loves it. She usually just hides under her bed so she does not have to be part of the frights, bites and scares, but this year she is determined to join her friends. The costume she chooses is just a simple black dress without a mask so she can spot any ghost that may jump out at her. As the other ponies explain their favorite scary game to Fluttershy, she finds reasons to be afraid of each one. When the treat bags appear, and another pony says there can be nothing to fear about candy, Fluttershy says, “It looks very gooey and chewy. What if my teeth stick together and I can't scream for help?” Realizing her friends want to have some frights, she invites them over to her house where all Fluttershy does is produce bad manners ruining everyone's fun. She tells everyone to head over to the haunted farm without her where they know there will be all kinds of fun, scary adventures. However, it is the new additions to the original maze design which really freaks them out. But just as they feel safe, a winged creature swoops down out of the sky making them scream frantically. As a full moon appears between the clouds, they realize it is Fluttershy. Fluttershy and her animal friends were the ones who had made the haunted maze more frigtening. At the end, Fluttershy realizes it is all right for her not to like scaring others or being scared even though her friends love it. She knows she has plenty of other enjoyable activities to do with her friends.


THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins


As you travel in a car, bus, train or airplane, do you fantasize about what you see? But what you see is that what is really real? Everyone has secrets that exist just outside of what is shown on the surface and what goes on behind closed doors. How much can you ever really know about a person?


Every day is indistinguishable for Rachel. She is lonely and drowning in the sorrow of her failed marriage with canned gin and tonics and endless botttles of wine. She has lost her job because of her perpetual drunkenness. Rather than tell anyone, she keeps taking the same commuter train into London each morning and evening, happily fantasizing about the young couple she watches every day from the train window when the train stops at a particular red signal. The couple lives just a few doors down from her old house where her ex-husband Tom still resides with his new wife Anna and their baby girl. Rachel sees the life she should be having with Tom. Thus, she feels she knows this couple so well she starts to call them her Jess and Jason. One morning things are not as they are supposed to be. Rachel sees something that completely outrages her and shatters her Jess and Jason image. Shortly after this eposide she learns Jess, actually Megan, has vanished. Rachel insinuates herself into the investigation of Megan's disappearance because the night Megan went missing Rachel has this black spot in her memory. Unsure of exactly of what she knows, Rachel is certain she cannot rest until she finds out. Althouth Rachel is the main character, Megan and Anna are also at the center of this book. However, who can you trust because one is an alcoholic, another a liar, and the third a cheat.


HOME SAFE by Elizabeth Berg


Finding new richness in the stages of one's life, in one's family and in oneself is the premise of HOME SAFE. It is the story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. When two personalities merge and create a shared one, quite often one lives inside the marriage more than one lives inside oneself.

However, if one person suddenly deceases, for the other it is like stepping off a cliff where the falling seems to never stop. Because of the death of her husband, this is exactly how Helen Ames is feeling. In addition, she is also experiencing the loss of the party who handled the practical side of their life together. With all of this turmoil, Helen is unable to do the work that has always sustained her and begins to depend far too much on her daughter, Tessa. Tessa herself is dealing with losing her father. Helen's problems are compounded with the knowledge her retirement funds have almost been depleted. Yet, Helen perservers by accepting a job where she teaches a unique kind of writing workshop, learns her husband spent the retirement funds on a dream Helen shared with Dan when he was alive, and her daughter gives her some unexpected surprises.



THE NIGHT BEFORE FIRST GRADE by Natasha Wing


This “Night Before” title is for the child entering first grade but there are similar books for the preschooler and kindergartener. With summer ending and school beginning, these stories will help the children make the transition from playing to going back to school. The story begins the night before school with Penny readying her backpack with all the items needed and then putting out the new outfit she will wear. Now all she has to do is get a good night's sleep, eat a good breakfast and meet her best friend at the bus stop. In the morning, all goes as planned until Penny and Jenny arrive at school where they find out there are now two first grade classes with each of them in a different room. However, as soon as each of them enters their own classroom there is so many fun things to do they do not have time to think about not being together. And in the end, there is a big surprise for both of them which makes everyone very happy!

GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee

For those who read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, GO SET A WATCHMAN adds depth and new meaning to the American classic. In the eyes of children, they usually place their parents on a pedestal. As children mature, their lives do not necessarily revolve as much around their moms and dads as when they were younger. The children experience life without them and begin to form their own opinions. If the adults have done their job, the children will use their learned values to guide them through the paths they have chosen.

Jean Louise Finch (Scout) grew up in Maycomb Junction, Alabama. Her father, Atticus, influences her to experience more of life by having her move away from home to New York City. At the age of twenty-six, Jean Louise makes her fifth annual trip home. However, her visit turns bittersweet when she actually for the first time sees her family as they really are. No one in her family has changed. It is Jean Louise who realizes that every man's watchman is his conscience. As Jean Louise was growing up, she fastened her conscience like a barnacle onto her father's. Then during this trip she witnesses him doing something that appears to be the very antitheses of his conscience – her conscience – and she cannot understand this. With the help of her uncle, she realizes she actually has finally parted company with her father's conscience.

Harper Lee's other point in this novel is that we as a society have not evolved as much as we should have since the story of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The town of Maycomb Junction and Atticus Finch still have the same racial beliefs. Jean Louise's ideas have been different from the others. She has been and will always be color blind. The only differences she sees between one human and another are in looks, intelligence, character and the like. Her uncle explains to Jean Louise there is room for her in Maycomb Junction. She does not agree because she feels she would be on one side and everybody else on the other. Her uncle assures her there is “one thing about the South you've missed. You'd be amazed if you knew how many people are on your side...You're no special case. The woods are full of people like you, but we need some more of you.” In conclusion, Atticus did a very good job of raising Jean Louis in order for her to lead her own fulfilling life.


OH SAY CAN YOU SAY DI-NO-SAUR? By Bonnie Worth

Today the Cat in the Hat is speaking and teaching of the great dinosaur who lived millions of years before. He knows this because of the fossils found by dinosaur hunters while they dug in the ground. After dinosaur bones are found, they are shipped to labs to figure out how they fit together. Once this is done they are then taken to museums to be displayed for the public's viewing. Cat In the Hat and his two friends do just this but they have to say each dinosaur name before they can see the actual dinosaur. First, there is strong Ankylosaurus with a club tail and spikes on the back. Next, is the very good mother, Maiasaur, who always kept her kids cozy and safe in a tidy nest. Then, one can see Tyrannosaurus Rex, a hunter with long sharp teeth. Triceratops' hard head has three horns upon it which head was too hard for T. Rex teeth to pierce during the dinosaur era. Very tall, long-necked Apatosaurus could reach up high into trees for the green leaves. Another tall one is Brachiosaurus who would need a truck full of hay a day to eat if he were still alive. Iguanodon has a large thumb which he probably used to jab at his foe. Deinonychus' name means terrible claw. After pronouncing Archaeopteryx, you find out he was a fine feathered friend who glided and flew. Finally, there is a surprise - the earliest cat known, Cat-in-the-Hat-uh-saw-rus.

THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi


A carefully constructed thriller which transcends into its pulpier origins. Bacigalupi offers a carefully calibrated warning of what might happen if the United States refuses to address global climate change and its own water-wasting ways. THE WATER KNIFE reads less like a fantasy and more like an augury of what will happen to us in the distant future.

The story revolves around three characters – Lucy Monroe, a disillusioned reporter who is covering the slow violent death of Phoenix, Arizona, Maria Villaroa, a young girl who is a refugee from the collapsed state of Texas, and Angel Velasquez, a ruthless “water knife” who works for the Las Vegas government. Angel survived the original water collapse because he was plucked out of prison by Catherine Case, the controller of the Nevada water from her stronghold in Las Vegas. She builds arcology habitats that are self-sufficient for water and also for all the other needs of the residents. She also makes towns die and Phoenix is next on her list. She dispatches Angel to Phoenix to see what is going on. The city is coming apart at the seams. Coyotes are taking people’s money to take them North and then executing them in the desert. Desperation colors everything and everyone. Bangbang girls (Texas teenagers) are prostituting themselves with wealthy executives just for an opportunity to take a shower and wash their clothes in a hotel. When someone in Phoenix finds legal documents that can completely change the balance of power, the players will stop at nothing to get them, and our three protagonists must scramble to make a score before they and/or the documents are destroyed in the crossfire.

TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS


THIS LITTLE PIGGY, Tim Harrington;

HOW DO DINOSAURS… books by Jane Yolen

BARNYARD DANCE; BELLY BUTTON BOOK; BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT, Sandra Boynton

I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE; I MISS YOU, STINKY FACE; MERRY CHRISTMAS, STINKY FACE,Lisa McCourt

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN WHO SWALLOWED A FLY; SYLVESTER & THE MAGIC PEBBLE, William Steig


KINDERGARTEN – FOURTH GRADE


Mercer Mayer books

THE NIGHT BEFORE…series by Natasha Wing

DORA THE EXPLORER titles

SOFIA THE PRINCESS titles

LEGO CITY Books

BLUEBERRY GIRL, Neil Gaiman



PRE-TEEN


DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books including No. 9 

THE LONG HAUL, Jeff Kinney

SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, Lemony Snicket

THE 39 CLUES SERIES

KINGDOM KEEPERS, Ridley Pearson

HOLES, Louis Sachar

THEODORE BOONE Series by John Grisham

DOCTOR PROCTOR’S FART POWDER Series, Jo Nesbo


MIDDLE SCHOOL 


SAVE RAFE!, James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts


YOUNG ADULT


FAULT IN OUR STARS and any other books by John Green

 DIVERGENT; ALLEGIANT; INSURGENT, Veronica Roth; 

THE HUNGER GAMES; CATCHING FIRE; MOKINJAY

Suzanne Collins 

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENT Series

THE INFERNAL DEVICE Series, Casandra Clare

THE UGLIES; PRETTIES, SPECIALS; EXTRAS, Scott Westerfield

THE MAXIMUM RIDE Series by James Patterson;

THE MAZE RUNNER, James Dashner

 

 

ADULT

New Books


GAME OF THRONES Series by George R.R. Martin

GONE GIRL, Jillian Flynn

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, Erik Larson


Christmas books by these authors

Cindy Gerard

Susan Mallery

Belle Andre

Susan Wiggs

Brenda Novak

RaeAnne Thayne

Lori Wilde

Sarah Morgan

Sherryl Woods  


ADULT

Used Books 


GAME OF THRONES series by George R.R. Martin 

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, Eric Larsson

THE GIVER, Lois Lowry

THE FIFTY SHADES OF GREY series, E.L. James


A Bundle of the CLASSICS


Books listed for Young Adults


A Bundle of the Holiday Stories

by Brenda Novak, Sherryl Woods, Susan Wiggs, Rae Ann Thayne, Sheila Roberts, Cindy Gerard


LEE CHILD; VINCE FLYNN; HARLEN COBEN, Titles.    


Sets of these authors

V. S. Naipaul

Christopher Isherwood

Lawrence Durrell

John Hawkes

John Bowlby

Cynthia Ozick

Vladamir Nabokov


Variety of Science, Anthropology, & Philosophy books

Variety of books relating to the Irish

How To books

Weight and AP Training Books 


Customers have turned in their collections on these books so we have quite a few