Archive for May, 2019

Review of How to Find Love in a Bookshop, by Veronica Henry

Friday, May 17th, 2019

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

by Veronica Henry

Pamela Dorman Books (Viking), 2017. First published in Great Britain in 2016. 340 pages.
Review written April 6, 2019, from a library book

I picked up this book because I was looking for something light and fluffy after reading the first two books of The Broken Earth trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin, where all life on earth is probably coming to an end. This book filled the bill nicely. It’s not just the main character who finds love in a bookshop, but several other couples as well.

And there is some richness to the story, despite it being essentially about everyone getting nicely paired off. Emilia’s father purchased Nightingale Books in a small town near Oxford when he was a widowed young father with a small baby on his hands. Now he is dying, and Emilia has come back to the place she grew up to carry on the bookshop in his place.

We learn how much her father and his shop meant to the people of the town – and all the romance that has happened and is happening in and around the bookshop.

My one quibble is that a few of the happy couples are in relationships with someone else at the beginning of the book, and I’m less enthusiastic about falling in love with someone who’s supposedly committed to someone else. In fact, we get the story of an affair that played out over years and we’re told it ended happily, with no one getting hurt. As someone who’s been cheated on, I always feel like authors are cheating the reader when they write about an affair where nobody gets hurt. Let’s just say I’m super skeptical.

But it was all nice for these characters, and the author even got me feeling sympathetic toward the couple in question. Read this if you want a story of book lovers finding each other and a lot of ultimately happy love stories. As for me, it sustained me to tackle the third book in the science fiction trilogy about the earth being torn apart.

veronicahenry.co.uk
penguin.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/how_to_find_love_in_a_bookshop.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits, by Julian Gough & Jim Field

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Rabbit & Bear

Rabbit’s Bad Habits

story by Julian Gough
illustrations by Jim Field

SilverDolphin, San Diego, 2018. First published in Great Britain in 2016. 101 pages.
Starred Review

I want to call this a charming beginning chapter book, but it doesn’t actually have chapters. It’s got the format and length and skill level of a beginning chapter book, though, and is perfect for those readers. (I find myself wishing they’d stuck chapter breaks in just so the kids could say they’d read a chapter book.)

The story is about Bear waking up early in the middle of winter and deciding she’s going to build a snowman. She meets Rabbit, who knows much more about making a snowman than Bear does, and has plenty of advice.

Along the way, they make friends, even though Rabbit has done some not-very-nice things. But he has given Bear a carrot for her snowman, so when a Wolf is after Rabbit, Bear uses what she’s learned to save the day.

And we learn that you can be friends with someone who may have some quirks and may not be nice every moment. Not that you should be friends with someone who’s mean, but read the book! It manages just the right balance.

What’s more, we learn why rabbits eat their own poo! (Their food is only half-digested. But it’s all explained clearly.)

The overall product is a making-friends story with charmingly flawed and friendly characters.

And it’s the start of a series! I can’t wait for more.

silverdolphinbooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/rabbit_and_bear.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Shade, by Pete Souza

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Shade

A Tale of Two Presidents

by Pete Souza

Little, Brown and Company, October 2018. 240 pages.
Review written February 19, 2019, from a library book

Pete Souza was the official white house photographer when Barack Obama was president and has already published the wonderful book Obama: An Intimate Portrait. In this book, he uses some of the same pictures to throw some shade.

He explains what he’s doing in an introduction. Let’s just say that he was struck by the contrast between things our current president was doing and saying and things a competent president whom he knew well had done. So he began posting photos on Instagram that directly contrasted with things the new president was doing. People loved it, and some said he was “throwing shade,” so he tried to figure out what they meant. Here’s what he says about it:

So, finally, I googled “throwing shade” and Merriam-Webster explained it to me: it’s a “subtle, sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone – sometimes verbal, and sometimes not.”

Yup, that’s what I was doing – throwing shade. And I kept it up for the first 500 days of the new administration, and I plan to keep going long after you’ve read this book. My comments are often humorous, and I’d even say they are more or less respectful. They are certainly more respectful than the tweets coming from this president.

I also try to make subtle comments with my Instagram posts without directly revealing what the current president has said or done. Many people tell me they see my posts and then try to find out what they missed in the news.

In this book, I take a turn to full transparency and let it all hang out. In the pages that follow, you will see adaptations of my original posts matched up directly with what inspired them – a presidential tweet and/or the news that caught my attention in the first place. You can call it shade. I just call it the truth.

I hope you laugh, and maybe even cry, as you read this book. During the past 18 months, outrage has bubbled up inside me. I have become more and more appalled at the person that we, with help from Russia, elected to represent our nation. With this book, I’m standing up and shouting out. I can’t be subtle any longer.

Obviously, this is a book for fans of Obama. I loved the book and indeed laughed over it. I managed not to cry – but it does add to my frustration with the present situation to remember how a president should act.

A few examples. On one side of the page there are headlines about Trump’s Muslim Ban. On the opposite page there’s a photo of Obama talking with young refugees at a Dignity for Children Foundation classroom in Malaysia. There are a couple of times with headlines about how Trump got along with foreign leaders contrasted with pictures of Obama with them (both allies and Putin). There’s a headline about Trump denying climate change contrasted with Obama talking with a scientist on the site of a melting glacier in Alaska. There’s a headline with a Trump attack on the media contrasted with a picture of an Obama press conference – lots of smiling faces in that one. A “Fake news” headline from Trump is contrasted with the range of newspapers and news magazines presented in the Obama white house daily.

Our current president has broken norms over and over again – it’s good to be reminded how a president should actually approach the job. To be honest, I think a photographer could have come up with contrasting photos using almost any other president, not just the outstanding one who came just before Trump. May things go back to normal very soon. Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, you can enjoy reading this book.

@petesouza
littlebrown.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/shade.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Fox on the Swing, by Evelina Diaciutè, illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaite

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

The Fox on the Swing

by Evelina Diaciutè
illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaite

Thames & Hudson, 2018. First published in the United Kingdom in 2018. Original edition published in Lithuania in 2016. 48 pages.
Starred Review
2019 Mildred L. Batchelder Award Winner

This picture book is completely bizarre and utterly delightful at the same time. The creators are from Lithuania, and I guessed a European origin before I looked it up, but even in Lithuania, a boy living in a tree and making friends with a fox who swings on a swing about once a week has got to be somewhat unusual.

When I read this, I happened to be gathering books for a story time of Strange Picture Books. This particular book is a little too long to use in story time, but I would love to sit down and read it with a precocious child. And it fits the category. What Strange Picture Books have in common is completely bizarre details accepted as the matter-of-fact truth. There are no real cues to tell the reader that this situation is unusual except the child’s own knowledge of the world.

In this book, a boy named Paul lives in a very large tree with his father and mother. His father is a helicopter pilot, taking off from a platform at the top of the tree. His mother makes orange pottery. And every day, Paul goes to the bakery to get three fresh bread rolls. (Ah! That’s one thing that tipped me off this book is from Europe.)

What Paul liked best was to take the shortest route to the bakery and the long way home. Walking the same way twice was a little bit boring, after all.

Much of the charm in this book is in the details and the illustrations. Here’s what happens on the way home:

Paul always kept his eyes wide open as he walked home. He didn’t want to miss a thing. He saw strangely shaped stones, fascinating twisted roots, fancy birds that had escaped from the zoo, and puddles that glistened on the ground.

That page shows many birds holding signs that say things like, “No to zoos!” “No to cages!” “Free the birds!” “Parrots for peace!” “Freedom!” and “No, no no!”

But the thing that Paul liked most of all was the old swing in the park. Not to swing on himself, but because there was a fox who liked to curl up and sleep on the seat of the swing. Paul didn’t see her there every day. Maybe about once a week.

Then one day, the fox is swinging on the swing!

Then she stopped, sniffed at the air, looked Paul in the eye and said: “Being generous is like an ocean. Would you like to be a drop in that ocean?”

Paul didn’t understand, but he nodded anyway.

“Then give me one of your rolls,” the fox said.

So begins the friendship of Paul and the fox on the swing. The fox had a grandmother who was a wise old fox, and she likes to tell strange stories and give wise advice. Sometimes the fox would be in a bad mood, and sometimes she would not.

One day, when the fox was in a very good mood, she said, “The best thing to do is just keep on swinging.”

Then she explained that the happiest things in the world are orange.

“Happiness is a fox on a swing and a big orange orange!” she yelled as the swing carried her high into the sky. “Happiness is carrot cake, goldfish, marmalade, and trees in autumn!”

But alas! The time comes when Paul’s father tells him that “soon they would be moving to an even bigger city, where they would live in an even taller tree in an even bigger park. And he would fly an even bigger helicopter.”

So Paul must cope with having to leave his best friend.

But this is not really a book about dealing with loss. Because, after some time, things turn out very nice indeed.

This book reminds me of The Little Prince with its philosophy and childlike matter-of-factness about bizarre details. And a wise fox! It would be a delight to read this book with a child. (I’m sure they will notice many things in the illustrations.) And it certainly helps anyone who reads it notice things around them that bring happiness.

thamesandhudsonusa.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/fox_on_the_swing.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?