Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Book Review: 'The Hidden World of Gnomes' by Lauren Soloy

✰✰✰✰ Gnomes are hiding in plain sight. You just have to know where to look for them. Don't know where? Author & illustrator Lauren Soloy presents this informative and imaginative book about gnomes. Following the seasons of the moon, gnomes are busy little creatures with jobs and hobbies. Did you know that some gnomes even have pets? It's true! Check out this gem to find out.

The Bottom Line: This charming tome of gnome trivia is sure to please the young and the young at heart. With folksy artwork created using the Procreate app and plenty of characters, readers will delight in the daily antics of gnomes. There's even a recipe for gnome cookies!

Details: The Hidden World of Gnomes written & illustrated by Lauren Soloy. Hardcover published by Tundra Books in 2023. 96 p. ISBN:  978-0-7352-7104-3 [NOTE: I received a free, uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the publisher and the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.]

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Book Review: 'Indigo Hours: Healing Haiku' by Nancy Stone

✰✰✰✰✰ When the author's husband was diagnosed with "likely Alzheimer's," Stone turned to poetry and art to try to make sense of it all. In this book, she covers five years of challenges in the role of caregiver as she lays bare her feelings of sadness, grief, anger, fear, and sometimes little joys along the caregiving journey. Told with brutal honesty, humor, and compassion, the author shares little snippets of their life together post-diagnosis.

The Bottom Line: Caregiving is a role most of us wouldn't choose. Unfortunately, many of us, including me, are finding ourselves doing just that. Artist and author Nancy Stone has channeled both the joys and the challenges of caregiving into a beautiful book of haiku poems. Although based on her experience of caregiving for her husband, who has "likely Alzheimer's," this book would be helpful to anyone struggling with long-term caregiving regardless of diagnosis. Stone's haiku cover the entire spectrum of emotions that one faces as the loved one's illness progresses: anxiety, fear, compassion, care, kindness, anger, grief, frustration, sadness, loneliness, and resolve. Highly recommended for anyone who finds themselves in this situation and in search of wisdom. Stone's inspirational poetry, along with her playful illustrations, will simply soothe your soul.

Details: Indigo Hours: Healing Haiku written & illustrated by Nancy Stone. Paperback published by Rootstock Publishing in 2023. 104 p. ISBN: 9781578691425 [NOTE: I received a free, uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the publisher and the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.]

Monday, August 28, 2023

Book Review: 'Negative Cat' by Sophi Blackall

✰✰✰✰½  A little boy wants a cat more than anything. He’s been asking his parents for over 400 days. Finally they give in, but only if he feeds it, cleans his room, and spends time reading every day. At the shelter, he chooses one cat and names him Max. The little boy is so excited, but Max is not. Max doesn’t like anything, and the entire family is annoyed. The boy’s sister points out that Max is kind of negative. So when the lady from the shelter shows up to collect Max, the little boy tries everything he can think of to change their minds. Will the negative cat shape up or get returned? Read this sweet tale to find out.

The Bottom Line: This adorable picture book highlights the best in people and pets. When you put your mind to something, chances are you can do it. Check out this title for story hour or bedtime reading with kids in grades K - 2. Enthusiastically recommended. [It’s interesting to note that the digitally created illustrations were “superimposed on the reverse side of vintage wallpaper salvaged from a falling-down house.” How cool is that?]

Details: Negative Cat written & illustrated by Sophi Blackall. Picture book published by Nancy Paulsen Books in 2021. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-399-25719-3 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Book Review: 'Dust Bowl Girls' by Lydia Reeder

✰✰✰✰ Sam Babb traveled far and wide to find only the most talented and dedicated young women basketball players. Despite being physically disabled, Babb was a talented coach. The girls he recruited simply loved playing basketball, and they were no strangers to hard work. For most of the team, this was their first time being away from home, but it was a dream come true. Not only did they get to play the sport they loved, but they also had the opportunity to receive a college education. Along the way, they became national champions during the Great Depression. This story of grit, tenacity, friendship, and compassion will keep you on the edge of your seat as the lady Cardinals battle one of the best athletes of the era.

The Bottom Line: This inspiring read is a look back in time when things were tough during the Great Depression. Not only did their coach provide them with the chance to play basketball, but each girl had the opportunity to better themselves and their families. These women went on to become coaches, teachers, and mothers and influenced generations of women after them. Enthusiastically recommended reading for high school and college classes, sports fans, and readers of women's history.

Book Club Notes: After a three year hiatus, this was our nonfiction book club’s first in-person meeting…with all new members! We began with introductions and also talked about book club etiquette before diving into our discussion. We talked about how dedicated the young women were to both their sport and to getting a college education during a time when both were a challenge. On a scale from 1 - 5, our ratings ranged from 3.5 - 5, with an average of 4. Highly recommended inspirational reading for books clubs and for those who enjoyed the movie, A League of Their Own.

Discussion questions to get you started can be found at Reading Group Choices

Details: Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder. Paperback (Reprint edition) published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill in 2017. 304 p. with detailed notes. ISBN: 978-1-61620-740-3

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Book Review: 'With Winning in Mind' by Lanny Bassham

✰✰✰✰✰ Lanny Bassham is an Olympic Champion and motivational author. His systematic approach to mental preparation is recognized around the world. Through his personal journey to become an Olympic medalist, Lanny discovered and honed the Mental Management System. Whether you are looking to take your sport to the next level or simply wanting to make a change in your life, you too can find success by applying this method.

The Bottom Line: The format of this book is easy to read and follow. Bassham walks you through the system step-by-step. Filled with examples and exercises, this book will help you realize your goals. Whether you want to win at sports, work, or life this is the book for you. Highly recommended for anyone interested in personal development and career development as well as for athletes (of any sport) looking to improve their performance.

Details: With Winning in Mind (Third edition) by Lanny Bassham. Paperback published by Mental Management Systems in 2012. 182 p. ISBN: 978-1934324264

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Book Review: 'Great Joy' by Kate DiCamillo

✰✰✰✰✰ As a little girl prepares for the Christmas pageant at church, she looks out the window and notices an organ grinder and his monkey. She wonders where they go at night when it’s cold and snowy, but no one else seems to care. On the eve of the pageant she invites the duo to church. When it’s time to say her single line, she just can’t; it just doesn’t seem right. All the little girl can think about is how cold it is and how sad the organ grinder looks. As everyone in church waits, the doors open, and the little girl knew it was time.

The Bottom Line: This gentle tale exemplifies the true spirit of Christmas. Ibatoulline’s luminous illustrations in acrylic gouache are stunning. Highly recommended for children in grades K - 2.

Details: Great Joy written by Kate DiCamillo & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Picture book published by Candlewick Press in 2007. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-2920-5 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Book Review: 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' illustrated by Gennady Spinn

✰✰✰✰✰ A popular song around the holidays, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is brought to life in this picture book. Each time the reader turns the page, they are treated to another line of the song illustrated in stunning detail with watercolor and colored pencil. With each day, the focus of the illustration moves out to include more gifts. The celebration begins with the partridge in a pear tree and continues with golden rings, carolers, maids, geese, drummers, pipers and more.

The Bottom Line: I could look at these amazing illustrations in this picture book for hours on end. This book includes the song along with a fascinating note about the song’s origins. This beautiful book is a treasure you will want to keep. Highly recommended for everyone.

Details: The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Picture book published by Marshall Cavendish Children in 2009. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-7614-5551-6