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Guest Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

April 10, 2014

The Storied Life of A J Fikry

I’m happy to welcome Karen back with a review of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  I can tell this book captivated her so I’m anxious to read it.

If you love books and bookstores (and you must or you wouldn’t be reading this blog), then have I got a book for you.  Here’s a little bit about it.  I don’t want to give too much away.  Hopefully it’s just enough to pique your interest.

On a remote island off the coast of New England in a small purple Victorian cottage is a little bookstore called Island Books.  Living above the store is its prickly owner, one A.J. Fikry.  A.J. wasn’t always so grumpy.  He’s a grieving widower going on two years now.  He’s really having trouble moving on — that is until one day someone leaves a toddler in his store.  The accompanying note describes the child as being exceptionally bright, and says how her mother would like for her to grow up around books and the people who love them.  A.J. doesn’t like babies, knows nothing about how to care for them, and is about to hand her over to the authorities.

I loved everything about this book.  The characters are endearing, especially the sometimes testy A.J.  There are lots of mentions of book titles and shelf notes begin every chapter adding to the charm.  It has a great plot, too.  So if you’re into books and enjoy a good love story then The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is for you.

Review copy provided by Algonquin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 9, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

Today’s words come from a couple of unique places  I found several words in Defending Jacob by William Landay.

1. detumescence – “The witticism ran six full lines, drawing my eyes southward over her person from wavering bosom to detumescent belly, a journey I regret even now.”

Detumescence means to become less swollen.


2. hauteur– “That feeling, standing at the leopard’s cage, is edged with shame, at the animal’s superior strength, at his hauteur, his low estimation of you.”

I felt rather silly after I looked this word up.  Hauteur means arrogance or haughtiness.


3. venire– “The judge sighed, ‘All right, anything else before I bring in the jury venire?’”

Venire means an entire panel from which a jury is drawn.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

At the movies: Winter’s Tale

April 8, 2014

Winter's Tale

It’s been a few weeks since I saw Winter’s Tale and I didn’t completely understand it when I did so I’m going to rely on the official synopsis for the movie’s description:

Set in a mythic New York City and spanning more than a century, “Winter’s Tale” is about miracles, crossed destinies, and the age-old battle between good and evil.  The film marks the directorial debut of Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind”), and stars Colin Farrell (“Saving Mr. Banks”), Jessica Brown Findlay (TV’s “Downton Abbey”), and Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”).

Peter Lake (Farrell) is a master thief, who never expected to have his own heart stolen by the beautiful Beverly Penn (Brown Findlay).  But their love is star-crossed: she burns with a deadly form of consumption, and Peter has been marked for a much more violent death by his one-time mentor, the demonic Pearly Soames (Crowe).  Peter desperately tries to save his one true love, across time, against the forces of darkness, even as Pearly does everything in his power to take him down—winner take all and loser be damned. What Peter needs is a miracle, but only time will tell if he can find one.

I saw the movie with a friend and neither one of us cared for it.  As a matter of fact, we found it confusing and didn’t really understand it.  The movie had beautiful visuals at times and most of the acting was good but the storyline was disjointed and overcomplicated.  At one point I thought of suggesting we leave, but I kept hoping something would happen and the plot would become clear.  It never happened for either of us.  I texted with Sandy, who’s read the book, afterward and she was able to explain a little bit of it but I still don’t recommend it.  This movie was a miss for me.

Mailbox Monday

April 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday April 7

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I had a great visit with my mom but it was far too short.  Now that I’m home, we’re seeing signs of spring and I can say with confidence that this bear of a winter is finally over!  I hope I can find some time to sit in the sunshine and read.  Here are the books that showed up in my mailbox last week:





 Did you find any goodies in your mailbox last week?

Review: Firefly July

April 5, 2014
tags: ,

Firefly July

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems is a wonderful collection of thirty six poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko.  The poems are divided by the four seasons but they can all be enjoyed any time of the year.  The poems are short in words but big in thoughts.  Even though the collection is presented in a picture book format, these poems can be enjoyed by all ages.  As a matter of fact, most people will already be familiar with one of the poems – Fog by Carl Sandburg.  I loved this collection and can honestly say I thought every poem was terrific.  This untitled poem by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser really struck my fancy:

What is it the wind has lost
that she keeps looking for
under each leaf?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the illustrations in this book.  They were created by Melissa Sweet and, as you can tell by the cover, they are stunning.  They suit the poems they are paired with and really enhance the book, making it the perfect book to read aloud with an early reader.   When read aloud, Firefly July is a feast for the eyes and ears!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Giveaway: Dog Gone, Back Soon

April 4, 2014

Dog Gone, Back Soon

I’m really looking forward to Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout because it sounds like such a heartwarming story so I’m very excited Hyperion is allowing me to give a copy away to one lucky reader!

About the book:

When Dr. Cyrus Mills returned home after inheriting his estranged father’s veterinary practice, The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals, the last thing he wanted was to stay in Eden Falls, Vermont, a moment longer than absolutely necessary. However, the previously reclusive veterinarian pathologist quickly found that he actually enjoyed treating animals and getting to know the eccentric residents of the tiny provincial town-especially an alluring waitress named Amy.

So Cyrus is now determined to make Bedside Manor thrive. Not an easy goal, given that Healthy Paws, the national veterinary chain across town, will stop at nothing to crush its mom-and-pop competitor. And the rival vet practice isn’t Cyrus’s only competition; a handsome stranger shows up out of nowhere who clearly has a mysterious past with Amy. To top it off, Cyrus finds himself both the guardian of a very unique orphaned dog and smack in the middle of serious small town drama.

This charming sequel to THE PATRON SAINT OF LOST DOGS is a wild and delightful ride through one jam- packed week, where Cyrus must figure out how to outsmart the evil veterinary conglomerate, win back Amy’s heart, solve several tricky veterinary cases, find a home for an orphaned dog, and detangle himself from an absurd case of mistaken identity. DOG GONE, BACK SOON brims with Nick Trout’s trademark humor, charm, and captivating animal stories, and is proof that all dogs, lost or not, on four feet or two, deserve a second chance.

About the author:

Nick Trout is a staff surgeon at the prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller TELL ME WHERE IT HURTS, LOVE IS THE BEST MEDICINE, EVER BY MY SIDE, and THE PATRON SAINT OF LOST DOGS, and is a contributing columnist for The Bark magazine. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Kathy, and their adopted labradoodle, Thai.

To enter to win DOG GONE, BACK SOON by Nick Trout, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open to those with a US address only– one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.Contest ends at midnight EST Thursday, April 17, 2014.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

National Poetry Month Blog Tour: Chasing Utopia

April 3, 2014

Chasing Utopia

I will freely admit that I’m intimidated by poetry so I tend to avoid it.  I always try to make an effort to appreciate it during National Poetry Month but usually stick with poetry aimed at children or a novel written in verse since I find them more accessible.  This year, I decided to stretch myself a little bit so I tackled Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni.  This book is a collection of poetry and essays and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I found it so compelling, I read it in a day.  I did mark many passages to go back and revisit.

Giovanni is a professor at Virginia Tech so many of the things and places she writes about are familiar to me.  I’m sure that added to my enjoyment but I think I would have enjoyed it even without that connection because she writes of everyday, familiar things, like killing a spider, and she writes with a lot of heart.  Both her poems and her essays spoke to me, but this passage in one of the essays really made me reflect:

A poem is not so much read as navigated.  We go from point to point discovering a new horizon, a shift of light or laughter, an exhilaration of newness that we had missed before.  Even familiar, or perhaps especially familiar, poems bring the excitement of first nighters, first encounters, first love . . . when viewed and reviewed.

I’ve read this poem several times because it’s one I can really relate to.  Of course, in my head, I’ve been substituting Hokies for Redskins.


I am at that point
In life
When I reread
Old books
Bake my mother’s favorite recipes
Snuggle with a sneezy quilt
Listen to my old rock and roll records
Feel comfortable
And comforted in my old nearly ragged bathrobe
I am keeping my house shoes
With the hole in the bottom
Though I no longer wear them
And yes the smell is long gone
From that bottle of Joy
Which still sits on my bathroom dresser
Embracing the old things
Is a good new thing
Like kissing you again
And not really paying attention
To whether or not
The Redskins score

I’m really glad I was motivated to give Chasing Utopia a try.  I thought it was terrific and recommend it to anyone interested in poetry – from novices on up.

National Poetry MonthThe 2014 National Poetry Month: Reach for the Horizon Blog Tour has been organized by Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit.  Be sure to check her blog for links to other posts.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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