April 29, 2015

Book Review || To Catch a Leaf

To Catch a Leaf
A Flower Shop Mystery #12
Kate Collins

This edition
Published 01 November 2012
Kennebec Large Print, paperback, 411p.
ISBN: 9781410443151

Flower shop owner Abby Knight is aglow with happiness now that she's officially engaged to her longtime beau, Marco Salvare.  Nothing will dampen her joy - not a new dent on her beloved Corvette, nor her future mother-in-law's micromanaging of her wedding.  Until wealthy dowager Constance Newport is killed, and Abby's assistant, Grace Bingham, is left a hefty sum of money, making her the prime suspect.  Then Abby and Marco stumble upon an elaborate heist.  Before she can throw her bouquet, Abby will have to throw a killer in jail.

Since I borrowed this book from my library they only had the large type edition available.  However, this is the cover that I will be getting so it matches the rest of my books:

Obsidian, mass market pbk, 336p.
ISBN: 9780451235237

Again, this is another cosy series where I've been reading the books out of order - and while that isn't too much of an issue with the Tea Shop Mystery series, it does matter with this series.  There is such a reliance on the relationships in the series that I'd recommend you read these books in order so as not to become totally lost - or potentially spoil yourself like I did.

As with other books in this series, and with Theodosia from Tea Shop series, I found that I have the same problem from book to book.  A main character that can't, or won't, stand up for herself and say NO to those near and dear.  There are all these bossy, frustratingly annoying characters that keep trying to do things, or override Abby's decisions and she never puts her foot down and tells them to take a hike.  It aggravates me to no end, and is my No. 1 gripe about this series.

However, as a cosy mystery book it was reasonably fast paced - taking place over a matter of days -  with a limited, yet interesting, cast of potential murderers.  The identity of the culprit was well hidden, with a few red herrings thrown in to divert attention, and I only figured out who dunnit a few pages before the big reveal... yah me! ;-D... and the side mystery that is interwoven with the main plot line seems totally unconnected at first, but plays a part in the unmasking of our villain.

So while this is no Miss Marple, it was quick and fun to read.  If you like cosy mysteries, or A Tea Shop Mystery, then give this series a go.

I'd rate this book:

Hope you enjoyed this review.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment area below.

Until next time,

Book Review || Jane Austen in Scarsdale

Jane Austen in Scarsdale
Or, Love, Death, and the SATs
Paula Marantz Cohen

Published in 2006

St. Martin's Press, hardcover, 275p.
ISBN: 9780312325022

Anne Ehrlich is a dedicated guidance counselor steering her high-school charges through the perils of college admission.  Thirteen years ago, when she was graduating from Columbia University, her wealthy family - especially her dear grandmother Winnie - persuaded her to give up the love of her life, Ben Cutler, a penniless boy from Queens College.  Anne has never married and hasn't seen Ben since - until his nephew turns up in her high school and starts applying to college.

Now Ben is a successful writer, a world traveler, and a soon-to-be-married man, and Winnie's health is beginning to fail.  These changes have Anne beginning to wonder... Can old love be rekindled, or are past mistakes too painful to forget?

This is a fluffy, romantic contemporary that I picked up from the library purely because of the Jane Austen association, and while I am still undecided as to what I really think of this book I do know that I will not be adding it to my bookshelves.

As you can tell from the synopsis above it all sounds rather familiar doesn't it - like a Jane Austen book perhaps?  And you would be right as this is the basic premise that Austen used in Persuasion.  So this book is basically an updated, and contemporary version of Austen's final book.

Even though I know this, I was still hoping to enjoy the book.  Sadly it was not to be.  I found the characters to be rather two dimensional and I had no emotional connection to them whatsoever.  I didn't care if they got reunited, fell in love, or just wandered off into the sunset alone.  I just wanted to get to the end of the book!

To be fair, there were bits I did like.  Winnie's final letter was well done, as was the final scene with the fiance and Anne.  The cover is quite attractive, and for a hardcover it was easy to handle while read.  However, that is about all the positive aspects I can say about this book.

This alone tells me that I was either in a reading funk of enormous proportions - or I really didn't like this book.  I may give it another read-through before sending it back to the library {just to make sure that I gave it a fair chance}, but I won't be checking out any more books by this author for a while regardless.

If you want to read a great book about getting a second chance at love, with all the feels, then read Persuasion and save yourself the disappointment.

Overall I rated this book:

Until next time,

April 28, 2015

Book Review || Kenny & the Dragon

Kenny & the Dragon
Tony DiTerlizzi (illustrated by author)

Published: 22 September 2008

Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 160p.
ISBN: 9781416939771

What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination?

Just ask Kenny Rabbit.

When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history - the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon - without losing a friend in the fray.

Kenneth is a little rabbit with a very big problem. His two best friends are heading for a battle of legendary proportions - with each other! In one corner there's Grahame, a well-read and cultured dragon, with sophisticated tastes and no stomach for battle. In the other, there's George, a retired knight and dragon slayer who would be content to spend the rest of his days in his bookshop with a pipe and a good book. But when the townsfolk catch wind there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, and call George out of retirement, the stage is set. And it's up to Kenny to avert disaster. A fun-filled, thoroughly theatrical spin on a classic tale of subterfuge and showmanship. 

Found this book in a thrift shop for $1 and couldn't resist.  I love all things dragons, and when it is combined with a gorgeous cover and sketch illustrations... well, I had to buy it.

The story follows the shy and introverted, Kenny, who is a bookworm at heart.  He doesn't really have friends at school, and when his father comes rushing home to inform the family that a mean and vile dragon has moved into the neighbourhood what does Kenny do?  He consults a book. 

It is this kind of atypical behaviour in our main character that I found endearing.  As a bookworm myself, I find it is a trait not often portrayed in a positive light.  DiTerlizzi however, manages to make this part of the charm of the book. 

Like most good children's books there is a moral, or two, that shine through and the main thoughts I took away from Kenny & the Dragon were

a) never believe everything you hear/read
b) never judge a book by it's cover

I won't go into where, or how, these morals are implied as that just might spoil the book for you.  But there is a real undertone in this book that shines through and a good example to use in a discussion with children about how not to judge people, and why you shouldn't believe everything just because it is printed in a book.

As with most fantasy books there is some action - a dragon-slayer is called upon to rid the town of the vile dragon! - but rest assured, it is not scary, and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to parents of young kids. 

On to the artwork.  The author has generously dotted sketches throughout the book.  A small character study here, a full page there.  They are so adorable.  Kenny, this scrawny little rabbit is so sweetly drawn that you just want to pat him (I used to have a pet rabbit and it brought back all the feels).  Grahame is not your typical dragon and the dragon-slayer riding in in all his glory was just delightful.

This is my first book by Diterlizzi, and I found it to be smashing.  Will definitely be checking out The Spiderwick Chronicles.

My rating:

Hope you enjoyed this review.  I would love any recommendations for similar books so please leave any suggestions in the comment area below.

Until next time,

April 27, 2015

Can't pass a thrift shop without looking at books!

Yes, it's true.  I just can't seem to pass a thrift shop without going inside to check out what's on their shelves.  Take this morning for instance.  I went to the store to buy a few items.  So far, so good.  Then I drove around to my favourite fabric shop and did I go in?  No!  Instead I ducked into the thrift shop next door.  I'm sure I tell myself that I just want a quick look.  I won't buy anything.  But true to form I walk out of there with an armful of books.

However, to be fair this mornings effort yielded a good result.  Recently I've been trying to gather more classics {for those long cold winter nights} and have had Great Expectations on my wishlist for ages.  Two days ago I put The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time on my wishlist as well - and today I found both on the shelves!  Saved a lot of money, as well as contributing to the local charities.  I'd call that a win-win all round ;-D

Amongst this haul I also found a gem or two.  First was a little old book from 1963.  It's called Boys Are Very Funny People by Bill Adler.  There is nothing remarkable about the cover, but inside are some of the funniest remarks made by boys, such as...

Dear Folks,

They take good care of us at this camp.  Don't worry we are not going
on any more overnight hikes until they find Stanley.

Your son,

I've already finished this book and found it to be a very quick and amusing read.  Kids are naturally funny, and sometimes the truth comes out in such an amusing way ;-D

The final book I found before I made myself leave I only found because I saw the word 'dragon' on the spine.  It's a beautiful hardcover {only $1!} and is written by the same author of The Spiderwick Chronicles - note to self, read those! - and as soon as I saw the cover and the gorgeous artwork I knew that this book was coming home with me.  

So after that unexpected thrift shop haul I have officially banned myself from the thrift shops around town for at least a week, perhaps two.  I really don't need all these book.  I just can't help myself!

Do you have the same problem too?  Let me know if you do and we can commiserate together ;-D

Until next time,