Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: 'Femme' by Bill Pronzini

✰✰✰ Cory Beckett is as mysterious, seductive, and cold as they come. When bail bondsman Abe Melikian calls in the Nameless Detective to locate Cory’s bail jumping brother Kenneth, the case seems quite routine at first. Kenneth was previously arrested on a grand theft charge, but now he’s nowhere to be found. As the Nameless Detective and his associate Jake Runyon search for Kenneth, certain information about Cory comes to light. The Nameless Detective begins to suspect there’s something more to Cory Beckett than first meets the eye.

In more than thirty years of experience, the Nameless Detective has never had the misfortune to come across a woman like Cory Beckett. She’s the type you read about in folklore or pulp fiction. But Cory is a different breed of seductress. Before she’s finished, she’ll leave behind a wake of destruction like no one has ever seen before and give new meaning to the phrase femme fatale.

The Bottom Line: This slim novella is a quick weekend read recommended for those interested in pulp fiction, noir, and the hardboiled. This was the first Nameless Detective mystery that I have read, and I’ll be sure to check out others. The unexpected twist ending was a special treat.

Details: Femme: A Nameless Detective Novella by Bill Pronzini. Hardcover published by Cemetery Dance Publications in 2012. 176 p. ISBN: 978-1-58767-267-5

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What's in Your Pocket?

Tomorrow (April 18, 2013) is Poem in Your Pocket Day! What are you doing to celebrate? For those of you unfamiliar with Poem in Your Pocket Day, the idea is very simple. All you need to do is select your favorite poem, print or write it out, and put it in your pocket. You can share your poem throughout the day with friends, family, classmates, or co-workers. You can also tweet about it, blog about it, or add it to your FaceBook timeline.

Poem in Your Pocket Day is a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month. If you need help finding a poem, just ask a teacher or librarian. You can also search for poems at In addition, you can simply pick a pocket-sized poem in pdf format to print. And remember...those of you with a smart phone can have a poem in your pocket any time; just check out the Poetry App from the Poetry Foundation.

So you're probably wondering what will be in my pocket tomorrow. That's a good question. For 2013 I'll be carrying one of my favorite poems, She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon Byron. Enjoy!

P.S. For those of you looking for more ideas to celebrate poetry, check out's list of 30 Ways to Celebrate.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: 'Toad by the Road' by Joanne Ryder

✰✰✰✰½ Poetry and natural history are cleverly blended together in this picture book by author Joanne Ryder. The poems follow the life cycle of a toad beginning with the first tadpoles of springtime. As the toadlets grow up, spring rains turn into sleepy summer days. When the days start to turn colder, the toads grow older; their smooth skin becomes bumpy. Soon it's time to prepare for winter hibernation and wait for spring again completing the cycle. 

The Bottom Line: I picked this up for my annual poetry fix; April is National Poetry Month after all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that in addition to charming poems, readers are introduced to natural history. The book is divided up by seasons, making it easy to follow the toad's life cycle. Every page of poetry is illustrated with realistic watercolors by Maggie Kneen. Additionally, almost every page contains notes at the bottom with facts about the life of toads. Kids will love the short verses and illustrations; highly recommended for kids in grades 4 & 5.

Details: Toad by the Road: A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians written by Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Maggie Kneen. Hardcover picture book published by Henry Holt and Company in 2007. 40 p.  ISBN: 0-8050-7354-X

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: 'April Foolishness' by Teresa Bateman

✰✰✰✰½ It's is the perfect spring day for the grandkids to visit the farm. But all chaos breaks out when the cows get loose and the pigs break the gate. Nevertheless, Grandpa is as cool as a cucumber and intent on fixing his morning breakfast. After all, he suspects the grandkids are up to some April foolishness. While the farm is going nuts, grandpa just grins. It is April Fools' Day after all...or is it? See who gets the last laugh in this uproarious and good-humored picture book.

The Bottom Line: This whimsical story told in rhyme will appeal to kids in grade school. Both the author and the illustrator succeed in capturing the carefree fun of April Fools' Day. This colorfully illustrated book is highly engaging for kids and would be the perfect pick for story time.

Details: April Foolishness written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Hardcover picture book published by Albert Whitman & Company in 2004. 32 p. ISBN: 0-8075-0404-1