Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Color of Fear


This week my teaser lines come from the new Sharon McCone mystery, The Color of Fear, by Marcia Muller. This is, somewhat amazingly, the thirty-second entry in this series; but it's the first one for me. This snippet comes from Location 311 of the Kindle edition, and since it's from an advance copy of the book, please remember that the published edition might differ slightly.
I said, "They're not 'kind of' old — they're old." 
"So what do they want with each other?" 
"The same thing we all do. Wouldn't you want somebody to warm your tootsies when you're in your eighties?"
Well, definitely! Ah, youth! Was I really that smug once upon a time? Hmmm. Yeah, probably.

I started reading The Color of Fear last week, and liked it quite a lot. But the plot involves a vicious, racially-motivated attack and its aftermath — and what with the news from Virginia this past weekend, I might need to take a little break from this one.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Young Widower's Handbook


The Young Widower's Handbook: A Novel, by Tom McAllister (Algonquin Books, February 2017). From the novel:
On Monday Kaitlyn Cady went for a five-mile run, on Tuesday night she experienced severe stomach pains, by Wednesday morning she was dead, on Thursday she was burned down to ashes and poured into a stainless steel cube, and on Friday she was delivered by a stranger to her husband, Hunter. 
To describe her death as sudden is to reduce it to cliché, to not do justice to the swiftness with which she stopped existing.
About the Book:
After his wife Kait dies suddenly, 29-year-old Hunter Cady decides to take her ashes with him on a road trip so he can fulfill the promises he’d made to her that they would someday travel the country.
Initial Thoughts:

I'm cheating a little today — these lines are actually the first sentences of Chapter Two in the book, but somehow they just seem more like the book's beginning. Chapter One is short and has more of a feeling of "prologue" about it.

I was a little dubious about this one. Sounded like it could be a really depressing read. But I was encouraged by the claims that it was insightful, wry, and "laugh-out-loud" funny. And after reading the first 50 or so pages, I can say I'm enjoying it, but haven't really hit anything I'm laughing out loud about.




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Monday, July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hard to believe the year is more than half over, isn't it? Or maybe that's just me. Summer is in full swing already, and generally I get a lot of reading done during the summer. But that hasn't been true this year.

It's been over a month since I actually finished a book, but I've started quite a few. I've got my current reading list divided up into several categories.

(1) Books I'm more than halfway through:

Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry


(2) Books I've got started, but haven't yet reached that halfway point in:


Tell Me How This Ends Well,
by David Samuel Levinson

(3) Books I've had on my TBR list for this spring/summer, that I haven't actually started yet:

Grief Cottage, by Gail Godwin

Heartbreak Hotel, by Jonathan Kellerman

The Heirs, by Susan Rieger

How to Be Human, by Paula Cocozza

And then there are those "maybe" books I've been downloading onto my Kindle because I just can't pass up a cheap/free book from Amazon. And those books I bought at the spring sale over at our local public library. And those upcoming late summer/early autumn ARCs I really do need to get to pretty soon.

So you can see I'm not lacking for ideas about what to read next. I just need to get back to reading something right now. But first, I'm gonna visit a few other blogs and see what everyone else is reading. Maybe that'll give me the nudge I need.



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Book Beginnings: Our Spoons Came from Woolworths


Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, by Barbara Comyns (first published 1950). These are the first lines of Chapter 1:
I told Helen my story and she went home and cried. In the evening her husband came to see me and brought some strawberries; he mended my bicycle, too, and was kind, but he needn't have been, because it all happened eight years ago, and I'm not unhappy now.
About the Book:
"Sophia is twenty-one and naïve when she marries fellow artist Charles. She seems hardly fonder of her husband than she is of her pet newt; she can’t keep house (everything she cooks tastes of soap); and she mistakes morning sickness for the aftereffects of a bad batch of strawberries. England is in the middle of the Great Depression, and the money Sophia makes from the occasional modeling gig doesn’t make up for her husband’s indifference to paying the rent. Predictably, the marriage falters; not so predictably, Sophia’s artlessness will be the very thing that turns her life around."
Initial Thoughts:

After reading those opening lines, my first thought was that the narrator (Sophia) sounds oddly disengaged from the story she's relating — which is, after all, the story of her own history. Almost like she's talking about another person she once knew, and not all that well.

I picked this one up when I was looking for something to read for the What's In a Name Reading Challenge — one of the categories is "an item/items of cutlery," and spoons would fit. But I'm not sure how much of Sophia's airy-ness I can put up with.

How about it? Does this one sound like something you'd go on reading? Do the opening lines spark your interest, or would they send you dashing back to your shelves for another book?



Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Beginnings: The Westing Game


The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (first published 1978). These are the book's first lines:
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers.
About the Book:
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.
Initial Thoughts:

Lately I've been having a really hard time sticking with any book long enough to finish it, and sometimes a good children's book will give me a little jump start and get me back on track. The Westing Game was the winner of the 1978 Newbery Medal, the annual prize handed out to the most distinguished literary work for young people. I've had it on my "must read" list for decades and I finally picked up a copy recently and thought maybe now might be a good time to give it a look. So far, it's holding my interest — and it's a fairly short read, so I'm hoping I'll actually stay with this one right to the end!

What about you? Do you ever read children's lit or books written for young adults? Do you have any strategies for overcoming the dreaded reading slump? And would that opening draw you in and keep you reading?




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Grief Cottage


This week my teaser lines come from Gail Godwin's latest novel, Grief Cottage (Bloomsbury USA, June 2017). This quote comes from an advance copy of the novel, so please remember it might be slightly different in the published edition.

In this snippet, eleven-year-old Marcus is visiting the ruined cottage the locals call "Grief Cottage" for the first time; he's been napping, but slowly realizes he's actually awake now. And someone (or something) is watching over him.
I felt its presence by the electric prickles all down my back and by my serious reluctance to move a muscle. Then the reluctance turned to cold fear. There was no way in the world I could muster the courage to roll over and see what was in that doorway. (Kindle, Location 309)
I've never read anything by Gail Godwin before this, so I didn't really know what to expect. I haven't officially started this one yet (just took a quick look at the early pages), but so far I like what I've seen.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Body in the Library


This week my teaser lines come from The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie (first published in 1942). This snippet comes from Chapter One (pg.5):
"Do you mean to tell me," demanded Colonel Bantry, "that there's a dead body in my library — my library?"

The butler coughed.

"Perhaps, sir, you would like to see for yourself."

Well, yeah. The Colonel probably should take a teensy look. Very bad form to leave a corpse just lyin' around the old mansion, doncha know.

Lately I've been having trouble sticking with any book long enough to finish it. So I thought a little Miss Marple might get me going again. This is the third book in that series, and though I haven't actually read it yet, I'm familiar with it from all the TV versions I've seen over the years. So far, it's got me hooked.




If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So, May 22nd. This month is zipping by even faster than April did. Isn't it? Or maybe I just feel that way because I sort of lost a week. Pulled a muscle in my shoulder last week and spent much of the time sort of snoozing because of the pain meds. Couldn't really concentrate on anything for very long. Consequently didn't get much reading done.

I'm still trying to finish up a couple of books I started several weeks ago:

Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout

and...

The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

I really do intend to get those done this week. And after that, I have several possibilities, but I'm thinking seriously of this from my TBR list:


Haven't read much Neil Gaiman, and this one would fit in with the springtime fantasy-reading project I've got going.

So that's the plan. Of course, I'm not real good at sticking to plans. But that's OK. The main idea is to have fun reading, right? Right. Hope you all have a great, fun week of reading!



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Beginnings: Anything Is Possible


Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout (Random House, April 2017). I've already posted a quote from this one for Teaser Tuesday, but I'm still reading it — so... here are the opening lines:
Tommy Guptill had once owned a dairy farm, which he'd inherited from his father, and which was about two miles from the town of Amgash, Illinois. This was many years ago now, but at night Tommy still sometimes woke with the fear he had felt the night his dairy farm burned to the ground.
About the Book:
In Elizabeth Strout’s Anything Is Possible, her stunning follow-up to My Name Is Lucy Barton, a famous author returns to the Midwestern hometown of her childhood, touching off a daisy-chain of stories narrated by those who knew her—memories of trauma and goodwill, resentments small and large, and the ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots.”—Vogue
My Thoughts:
I read Elizabeth Strout's My Name Is Lucy Barton last year, and had mixed emotions about it. I'm having pretty much the same sort of reaction to this one. Enjoying it, but having some trouble dealing with the disturbingly high level of emotional damage that exists in nearly every one of her characters. After a while, it becomes just a tad exhausting.




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Beginnings: How It All Began


How It All Began, by Penelope Lively (first published 2011). Chapter One begins...
The pavement rises up and hits her. Slams into her face, drives the lower rim of her glasses into her cheek.
She is laid out there, prone. What is this? Voices are chattering above her; people are concerned. Of course.
Bag.
She says, "My bag."
A face is alongside hers. Woman. Nice woman. "There's an ambulance on the way, my dear. You'll be fine. Just keep still till they come."
Bag.
"Your shopping's right here. The Sainsbury bag."
No. Bag.
Bag is not. She'd known that somehow. Right away.
About the Book:
"When Charlotte is mugged and breaks her hip, her daughter Rose cannot accompany her employer Lord Peters to Manchester, which means his niece Marion has to go instead, which means she sends a text to her lover which is intercepted by his wife, which is just the beginning in the ensuing chain of life-altering events. 
In this engaging, utterly absorbing and brilliantly told novel, Penelope Lively shows us how one random event can cause marriages to fracture and heal themselves, opportunities to appear and disappear, lovers who might never have met to find each other and entire lives to become irrevocably changed."
Initial Thoughts:
It's been too long since I read anything by Penelope Lively. I've always loved her writing. I've been looking for a book to read as my May book in the Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge, and this would fit nicely — so it gives me a good excuse to read something by one of my favorite authors.

That opening grabbed me right away. I would feel the same way — getting knocked down in the street would be terrible. But having my handbag disappear? Now that would really make me panic!

Also, I love that cover. It is not the cover of the edition I'm reading. I'm reading the Kindle edition which really doesn't have a cover, so I pilfered this one from Goodreads. That scene just makes me feel really happy and cozy and ready to settle in with a good book and a nice cuppa. Love it.

So — how about it? Would that beginning make you want more?




Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Anything Is Possible


This week my teaser lines come from Elizabeth Strout's new novel, Anything Is Possible (Random House, April 2017). This snippet comes from page 41, or Location 459 of the Kindle edition.
Little dust bunnies were gathered up and down the floor. "Oh dear," Patty said. She said that a few times, sitting on her bed. "Oh dear, oh dear," she said.
This just really jumped out at me, for some reason. Not that there are any dust bunnies in my house, of course. Yeah. Just don't look under the bed.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Fifth Petal


This week my teaser lines come from The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry (Crown, January 2017). This snippet comes from page 2 of the book's Prologue (Location 106 of the Kindle edition):
One of the officers at the scene had asked the older nun why she'd waited to make the 911 call when the screaming continued into the night. "It was Halloween in Salem," she said, sadly. "It would have been strange if we didn't hear screaming."
I've always wanted to see Salem — the Massachusetts town where a number of people were tried and executed for witchcraft back in the 17th Century. But this book is making me think maybe Halloween is not the best of times for a visit.

This is a book I've been trying to get to for several months now. Finally getting started and really enjoying it so far. Hope to finish it up this week.




If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Beginnings: His Last Bow


His Last Bow: Some Later Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes. This is the first sentence of the title story (which is actually the last story in the collection):
It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August — the most terrible August in the history of the world.
About the Book:
His Last Bow is a collection of previously published Sherlock Holmes mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The earliest of the stories first appeared in 1908, and the last one ("His Last Bow") was originally published in 1917, a month before this volume was issued.

Initial Thoughts:

First of all, I'm assuming that the quote is referring to the beginning of the First World War, in August 1914. I'm sure that to Conan Doyle's generation, it did seem like the most terrible August in history.

I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan, though I don't think I've read any of these later stories. But I have seen several of them dramatized for British TV — with the magnificent Jeremy Brett as Holmes. The cover above is not the cover of the book I'm actually reading. It's from a "tie-in" edition, with the actors from the BBC One production (which I haven't seen). I'm reading one of the Kindle editions, with this cover:


I believe the drawing is one of the original illustrations — most of the stories were serialized in magazines and illustrated when they first came out. I have another print edition, one of a complete set of Holmes stories, and it's one I like a lot, so I'll include a photo of that one, too. Just becuz.


......



Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Fix


This week my teaser lines come from David Baldacci's new thriller, The Fix (Grand Central Publishing, April 2017). It's the latest entry in his "Memory Man" series centered around police detective Amos Decker. This excerpt comes from Location 1772 of the e-book edition, and is from an uncorrected advance copy, so please remember that it might be different in the published volume.
"Good workout?" she asked, without looking at him.
"Any workout I have that doesn't involve a coronary is a good workout for me."
 
Yeah, that's kinda how I feel about workouts, too.





If you'd like to see more Teaser Tuesday offerings, or do some teasing yourself, just head on over to The Purple Booker and leave your link. And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.


Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So here we are, heading into the middle of April. A quarter of the year, already history. Finding that very hard to accept. But...here we are.

I started the year with a very annoying reading slump that I'm just now beginning to climb out of. Which means I'm waaayyy behind on the list of things I wanted to read this winter/spring. This week, I'm finishing up a book I started back in March:


The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt

I'm enjoying it, for the most part. But the fact that I could put it aside for so long probably means something. One of those books that's really longer than it needed to be? Hope to get a review up later in the week — assuming I can stick with it long enough to get it read.

Last week I read one of the books I've chosen for the Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt:


Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

Really enjoyed that one. Hard to believe I've never read it before, since it's one of Christie's best-known works. Review to come, later this week (I hope).

Next up, as soon as I finish the Hustvedt book: probably another I intended to read last month:


The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry

That's one I received through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program and I'm really late in getting to it. Feeling very guilty, especially since Barry is one of my favorite authors.

So, that's my update. Now I'm off to see what everyone else is reading or getting ready to read. Happy Monday, everyone!




It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.


Musing Monday 4/10/2017


The Musing Monday meme, hosted at The Purple Booker, asks us to choose one of the following bookish prompts to muse about:
▸ I’m currently reading…
▸ Up next I think I’ll read…
▸ I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
▸ I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
▸ I can’t wait to get a copy of…
▸ I wish I could read ___, but…
▸ I blogged about ____ this past week…
There's also usually an extra, random, question to answer. This week's:
What’s the coolest name you have ever seen in a book? Would you name your offspring after said fictional character?
📚📚📚📚📚📚

That's a very intriguing question, but I guess my answer would depend on what is meant by "cool." And though I never had offspring, I always maintained that I'd never name a child after anyone in a book or movie or TV show or song or.... Well, you get it — I wouldn't want to saddle a child with the name of a "character."

But I do have a lengthy list of interesting character names from books (some I've read, some I haven't). Can't think of all of them right now (lucky you!), but here are a handful, in no particular order:
  • Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara, and Bonnie Blue Butler - Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Eustacia Vye - The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
  • Bathsheba Everdene - Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
  • Hepzibah Pyncheon - The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
  • Hercule Poirot - mystery series, by Agatha Christie
  • Holly Golightly - Breakfast At Tiffany's, by Truman Capote
  • Huckleberry Finn - The Adventures of...., by Mark Twain
  • Humbert Humbert - Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lorna Doone - Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore
  • Sherlock Holmes - mystery series, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Sam Spade - The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • Sebastian Flyte - Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  • Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and just about all the names in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Nero Wolfe - mystery series, by Rex Stout
  • Ellery Queen - mystery series, by Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee
... and I could go on and on. Maybe I'll do a blog post with the full list someday. Waiting on the edge of your seat, right?

OK, that's enough musing for now. Happy Monday, everyone! And please feel free to leave me a link to your own Monday musings. I love to see what all the other bookworms are chomping on!


Monday, April 03, 2017

Update: Picture Book Reading Challenge - Part 1


I've been a little slow getting started with my reading this year. Didn't read nearly as many books as I usually do in January or February or March, and April isn't looking much better. Just haven't been able to stick with anything long enough to finish it.

But I've done much better with children's books! Guess I've found my level.

I signed up for Becky's Picture Book Reading Challenge and I've already read more than the six book minimum. So I thought I'd do a little update, mainly just so I'll remember what I read and what I thought about it. I'm going to break it up into a couple of parts, so it won't be such an overwhelming post.

I'm using Becky's check list for choosing my books, and the numbers in parentheses here are the numbers from her list.

(17.) a book about pets (cats, dogs, fish):
My Kitten, by Margaret O'Hair; illus. by Tammie Lyon (pub. 2011)


Very cute story told in simple rhymes ("Food kitten, munch kitten, yum kitten, eat. / Lick kitten, fur kitten, clean kitten, neat."), about a little girl and her mischievous kitten. Tammie Lyon's illustrations stretch across two pages and are sweet and full of energy. I think this would be a lovely book to read aloud with your toddler.

(41.) a series book:
Arthur's Nose (25th Anniversary Edition). Marc Brown (first pub. 1976)


I'm a longtime fan of the Arthur cartoon series on PBS (a guilty pleasure), although I had never read any of the books. But they've been so super successful, I was interested to see how it all began. This 25th Anniversary edition of the series' first entry gave me that chance; plus it has extra material by the author, telling about what inspired him to write that first book about the young aardvark and his friends and family. I'm still a fan, but I have to admit if I was a kid just discovering this first book, I'm not sure it would leave me wanting more.

In the story, Arthur doesn't like his nose. He doesn't like the way it looks or the fact that it gets in the way when he plays games. And his friends think it's funny. He decides to change it, and goes to the rhinologist for advice. The rhinologist has him "try on" pictures of other noses to see if one of them suits him better. Well, of course, you know Arthur doesn't end up changing his nose. And that's it. Not the most scintillating of tales. But the pictures are cute and funny, and it's definitely nice to see how Arthur and his pals have changed over the years.

(43.) a book published before 1950:
Millions of Cats, written and illus. by Wanda Gág (pub. 1928)


A Newbery Honor Book, Wanda Gág's classic tale of an old man and woman who decide to get a cat is a book I've always known about, and always wanted to read. Strange that I just read it this year for the first time. Have to say, I thought I would like it more than I did. I loved the black-and-white artwork, but somehow I expected better story-telling. Maybe it's one of those books only children really respond to.

(62.) a Caldecott winner:
Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey (1958 Winner)
Another book that's been on my must-read list since it first appeared. However, this one I loved.


McCloskey's classic tale of a summer spent on an island off the coast of Maine is told in gorgeous, atmospheric pictures and stirring, poetic text. The description of the approaching storm and its effects on the family are wonderfully evocative, and the pictures put you right there. It's a beautiful, unforgettable reading experience for children and their elders.

(63.) a Caldecott honor:
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, by Chris Van Allsburg (1980 Honor book)


Young Alan Mitz is looking after Miss Hester's dog Fritz while Miss Hester visits her cousin Eunice. Fritz is not the tamest of canines, which is why cousin Eunice asked that he be left at home. One day while Alan isn't paying enough attention, Fritz runs away and strays into the forbidden garden of dog-hating retired magician, Abdul Gasazi. Of course, Alan has to follow and try to get the bad dog back. He eventually meets Mr. Gasazi and has a rather nasty trick played on him. Does he get Fritz back? You'll have to read the story to find out.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all of Chris Van Allsburg's work. I recognize the mastery, but I can't really say I'm attracted to his style of drawing. This is an intriguing story and the garden is appropriately mysterious; and Abdul Gasazi has a bit of magic up his sleeve. Is the magic real? That's a good question to explore with young readers.

(86.) a poetry book:
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Rick Allen (pub. 2010)


This was a Newbery Honor Book for 2011, but I must admit I bought it just because of that cover. What a powerful image! And the artwork between the covers is wonderful, too. Even the Table of Contents page is colorful and fun to look at:


The book sticks to a strict pattern of poetry on the left-hand page, and on the right, a short lesson about the outdoor world at night. I learned quite a lot from those lessons. Some of the poetry rhymes, some doesn't. Some of it is simple and some is a bit more intricate. It's all very intriguing, and should appeal to readers of all ages. But I'm thinking it might be better for younger children to read with an adult — someone to explain the more unfamiliar words, and point out things a child might miss (like the fact that in the poem about the "Dark Emperor," the text is actually shaped like a stylized owl).