22. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Humor, Kira · Tags:

Cats' Letters to Santa by Bill Adler and Paul Bacon, 96 pages, read by Kira, on 10/20/2014

cats letA humorous whimsical collection of letters to Santa from cats.  Some complain about the dog, one asks that Santa bring another companion for the one lonely fish (since the last fish disappeared mysteriously), sometimes the cats name relates to the humor of the letter.
9781848373716
clts-tail-300x205gang letter to santa

20. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Children's Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Lighthouse, the Cat, and the Sea: a Tropical Tale by Leigh W. Rutledge, 175 pages, read by Kira, on 10/18/2014

51ZC2SJTQAL._SL500_AA300_ images2 df461102777f12ab3e163e245effaa76   Swimming catimages3A sweet tale told at the end of Mrs. Poole’s, the cat’s, life about growing up on a sailing ship, travels, shipwreck, but then most of the time is spent with Griffin, the son of the lighthouse keeper.  Griffin is tender and different, just like his Uncle Daniel was.  I’m guessing this to be a metaphor for being gay.  Griffin’s mother loves her son, and through that love is able to reconcile herself with her brother who has also always been different.  Charming, though Not as delightful as Rutledge’s Diary of a Cat. Next up Rutledge’s Cats Love Letters.

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20. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Kira

P.S. Your Cat Is Dead by James Kirkwood, 224 pages, read by Kira, on 10/18/2014

ps-your-cat-is-deadThere is a reason we don’t carry this title…yep, its Not that good.  Remind me to never read a book, just because the cover looks really good.  They say you cannot judge a book by its cover, well, thats Not entirely true.  If the cover features a knife dripping with blood, you know chances are good, that its just NOT a “cozy mystery”.  But I digress.

Main character, Jimmy Zoole’s has had a wretched year: his best friend died, his acting career is dead, his apt has been burgled repeatedly, his promising manuscript for a novel gone with burglary #3, his girlfriend just broke up with him, and now his cat has died while at the vets.  Its being capped off with burglary #4 on New Year’s Eve.  Zoole catches the burglar in the act ties him to the kitchen counter, and vents by hitting the burglar.  I thought it would be lots funnier.  Yes I knew there’d be some black humor.  But I thought the burglar turning around and helping Zoole after being hit repeatedly stretched credulity.

The cover (the black one) looks like it’d be a hilarious read, a little quirky… Not for me.  Yet this book, was turned into both a play and a movie, perhaps I’m being harsh.

20. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Sinner (Shiver Trilogy Companion) by Maggie Stiefvater, 357 pages, read by Kira, on 10/19/2014

asinnerSinner?  well I usually think of someone much worse than Cole’s character.  It seems something of a boast to label oneself as a sinner with his few “crimes”.  I wish I found out more about Sam and Grace – I don’t really care that much for Cole and Isabel, they are Not as interesting as Sam and Grace, but perhaps their story has played out, maybe it really played out at the end of v1 of the  Trilogy.  Isabel became less and less likeable, really annoying as if parents getting a divorce entitles her to be bitchy and mean.  And I guess Cole’s great self-doubts justify him falling in love with such a mean person.    Much more romance, much less action. Trite.  But if we categorize this as a romance, then it is a much better romance than the majority of romance type novels I’ve come in contact with.

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14. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, 199 pages, read by Kira, on 10/11/2014

9781921656064-1xdllbtAn enjoyable book.  Main character Miranda starts the story off, telling how her neighbor and best friend Sal, quit hanging out with her, after he got punched, as the two were walking home.  A number of other 6th graders enter her life, as space is opened up.  These include AnneMarie, whose best friend Julia “broke up” with her.  Collin joking fellow who’d always been in the background, Marcus the kid who hit Sal, and even Julia, AnneMarie’s long-time best friend.  It also describes Miranda’s relationship with her Mother (single mom) and Mom’s boyfriend Richard.  The heart of the story is how Miranda navigates her friendships.  There is also a time travel mystery, as she receives notes from a
person who has already seen the future. images2680954d79bd11915bdcbc13da7008c5 The question is who is doing the time travelling.  All the clue are laid out for you, but I didn’t think it was obvious.  Minor quibble – I didn’t think the explanation for Sal’s jerky behavior really made sense.  But overall enjoyable!

71989-thumb140 YouAreHere.4

09. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Humor, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Dear Tabby: Feline Advice on Love, Life, and the Pursuit of Mice by Leigh W. Rutledge, 112 pages, read by Kira, on 10/09/2014

index mq1 20101218-Dear Tabby get-attachment deartabby dear-tabby-header-jan-14-2013Another book by Leigh Rutledge.  This one is a Dear Abby type series of letters that cats (& 1 dog), have written in to Dear Tabby.  Tabby answers a range of questions from how to get your humans to change the stupid funny name they’ve given the cat, to love of birds.  Rutledge, seems familiar with the types of letters that might get written in to an editor, including portraying diverse reactions to a given topic.  Dear Tabby is above all funny, with sharp sarcasm ending most replies.  Now on to find more cat titles by Rutledge.

09. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, 486 pages, read by Kira, on 10/03/2014

emp imagesssThis was a delightful, enjoyable read.  It is the tale of an old jinni, released from his flask after 1000’s of years imprisonment.  He is released by a tinsmith in New York at the turn of the century in New York.  At the same time, a golem created to be the wife of a ship passenger who dies en route to New York, struggles to pass as human in New York in a nearby neighborhood.   I really enjoyed this tale of historical fiction with a touch of magic.  You get a lot of backstory on several of the characters.  I heartily recommend this title. golemandjinni_pbk  772720 istock_000009314476small.jpg NOL-Read-Sliders-The-Golem-and-the-Jinniimages

09. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kira

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, 501 pages, read by Kira, on 10/05/2014

dsafdsafasdfThis is the story of Alma Whiteacre a scientist of moss and evolution.  It starts with her father’s life, an unscrupulous lad, who starts prospering by stealing botanicals.
His life is interesting, though he is not a likeable character.    The next 3 segments of the book cover Alma’s life, a very intellectual but very lonely life.  Her mother and secondary mother figure, are all about being tough, and stoic.  Her father is pretty self-centered, and behaves however he pleases.  An interesting, if uneven read.

05. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira, Multicultural Fiction

One Night @ the Call Center: a Novel by Chetan Bhagat, 310 pages, read by Kira, on 10/02/2014

clltr - Copy1340699569_9780552773867  one night - Copy IMG_3975 index2 - CopyI read about this bestselling title in the book Globish  He is the biggest selling English language author in India.  In 2010 Time Magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people of the world (along with Barack Obama and Steve Forbes).  I’d never heard of him before. the story takes place over the span of about 8 hours, examining the lives of 6 call center employees, most of whom are adults.  It was an ok book.  Not bad, but Not something I’d recommend.

 

01. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, History, Kira, NonFiction

The Mental Floss History of the World : An Irreverent Romp through Civilization's Best Bits by Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur., 416 pages, read by Kira, on 09/23/2014

3242424mental-floss-forbidden-knowledgeMentalFloss500mentalfloss   This was a far more interesting history of the world, or most any history than I’ve previously read. The downside, is that I will have difficulty remembering all the individual facts.  The narrative was constructed more like Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader including Harper’s Magazine Index-type lists of comparative statistics that really make you think. Much more attention is given to Asia, Africa and South America than your standard Euro-centered histories of the past.   Did you know that the Khan that Marco Polo visited was the same Kubla Khmentalfloss2an mentioned in Coleridge’s poem?  I listened to this title and thus missed some formatting and organization that would have been communicated on the page.   Apparently, they had sidebars that listed who-or-what was up at a given point in time, who/what was down. They also had important events listed within a given time-period.  These interesting tidbits didn’t translate as readily to the audio version, they needed more verbal placemarkers, such as these highlights apply to this time period.  Still I really enjoyed this book, and will look for more Mental Floss titles.

29. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Cats, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Diary of a Cat : True Confessions and Lifelong Observations of a Well-Adjusted House Cat by Leigh W. Rutledge., 176 pages, read by Kira, on 09/28/2014

indexcat-housecats-in-sinkcat-reading-newspaper-445x299    nosy-dogThis was a delightful tale written in the form of diary entries by a cat.  The cat introduces us to the various neighbors on the block.  These include a squabbling mother & teenage daughter next door, an agoraphobic older woman desperately trying to get her shoes to walk her more than a few feet down the block, a crazy cat lady, with a house full of cats, and an abused young boy 26-dta-markhillary-2826736533and his unsparing father.  There is humor a-plenty, though its Not all fluff.  I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading Rutledge’s other titles.

25. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Chinese Siamese Cat by Amy Tan, 32 pages, read by Kira, on 09/20/2014

I’d been looking for a cat book available in MP3 downloadable format (so many are in the aggravating & useless WMA format) so when I found one in MP3 format and that Amy Tan had written it, I was delighted.  It is a brief tale of the ancient heroic cat Sagwa who had changed the emperor into a less self-centered ruler.  MV5BMTUyMzYxMTg0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDU1NjYxMQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_tumblr_l6ye02v1qX1qz8haeo1_400

15. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, How To's, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

How we learn the surprising truth about when, where, and why it happens. by Benedict Carey, 272 pages, read by Kira, on 09/14/2014

how-we-learn-by-benedict-careylearn_3019445a mgtjVsu 0824-bks-Hurley-master495 download After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They got that Way, I started wondering how much can pedagogy be taught, and how much of it is just having a good personality.  And by “good personality” I was thinking of the charismatic “hail fellow well met type”.   I should have remembered that people with  “hail fellow well met” type of personalities, usually get more credit than they deserve see the book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Should teachers be required to get a good education or does getting a degree in physical education, qualify you to teach math in high school.  How much can Blond girl learning Chinese 4training benefit a teacher?

Science reporter, Ben Carey, provides us with a users manual for how our brains work.

Some of the methods I learned seemed intuitively correct, but I didn’t know why they worked; other methods were new to me.  I did know that studying for two hours straight is less effective than studying 1 hour on one day, and then another hour, a couple of days later.  The deeper we have to dig to retrieve a piece of information, the more likely it is to stick.  That is why comprehensive exams are better for you, though less popular, because you have to study more.  I did know that when you reach an impasse, you should stop, take a break, then go back to the problem.  I’ve advised my husband to do this, but now I have evidence to back me up.

I didn’t realize how important it is to mix things up, what author Carey calls interleavement.  Drills are fine, but you don’t want to spend a long period of time on the same one, or same type, for example when practicing music do some scales, then some etudes, then play a piece through, then work on tone, then back to scales, etc.  Carey posits that this is really critical in math, because you need to be able to figure out which type of formula to apply to different problems.  Often in school, a student does fine on an individual section, but then fails the comprehensive test, because now, they have to select which formula to apply.  Another way to mix things up, is to study in different places, under different conditions, though if you can study in the room where you will take the test, this will assist you when you take the test, but Not in the long run.  You want to know if you are merely studying to pass a given test, or do you want to retain the knowledge for the long run.

I enjoyed the way Carey wove together academic research studies with real world applications.  I liked this book a lot, and wish more of my teachers and professors had imparted this type of knowledge.

15. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees by Bob Berman, 323 pages, read by Kira, on 09/05/2014

Zoom download (3) 513k+gGpDAL._SY300_ j=0125_UBobBerman Berman explain the scientific workings of things that move.  From the movement of the Big Bang, to the sound that moving sand makes at the base of a dune, to the speed of different insects, Berman explains the science of movement.  This was an engaging read that I enjoyed.

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Children's Books, Children's Books, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

From Slave to World-Class Horseman: Tom Bass by J. L. Wilkerson., 135 pages, read by Kira, on 09/10/2014

downloadimages (12 Bassahs7  This is a short biography of a African American born into slavery, then emancipated with his family, who loved working with horses, and ended up owning his own stables and showed horses at major events.  Bass was able to overcome a number of racial barriers because of his great skill with horses, and because other people, whites, stood up for him.  He was a quiet, gentle man, and one wonders if an African American with a different temperament would have succeeded in his place.

I liked the fact that so much of the story took place here in Mid-Missouri, in Columbia, Boonville, etc.  download (1) download (2) images

12. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Blood Ties: Spirit Animals Bk 3. by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, 186 pages, read by Kira, on 09/11/2014

blood ties elephantlarge_1download (2)This time the team heads to an Asian jungle with nasty leeches, snakes, crocodiles, and deadly insects, in search of the elephants talisman.

This book, was Not as well written as others, the tension was problematic, where I just wanted to skip ahead, and Not endure the will this person succeed at jumping high enough, or some such thing.  I suspect Garth Nix didn’t contribute as much as Sean Williams, having read Nix before.  Still I’m looking forward to the next in the series.

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Fat Cat by Robin Brande, 330 pages, read by Kira, on 09/07/2014

Overweight teen Cat takes on a high school science project where she takes up the diet and physical habits of hominins.  In the process she loses lots of weight, dates a number of guys, and tries to recover from an old emotional injury.

The books starts out well enough, but gets pedantic towards indexsthe $_72end.    images36090411 index

09. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Wild Born: Spirit Animals Bk1 by Brandon Mull, 202 pages, read by Kira, on 09/06/2014

In
images Spirit Animals_thumb[4] Animal_spirits_squares_black_detail AnimalSpiritCircle The beginning of the Spirit Animals series.  At the start of the adventure, 4 11-yr olds drink the special honey liquid and are able to call spirit animals.  But Not just any spirit animals appear to these 4, rather the Great 4 Fallen, who died in the old battle with the Destroyer.  Each youth is from a different country on Erdras and from a different segment in society.

 

This is a fast moving, action filled adventure.

03. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Children's Books, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Inspirational, Kira

Instructions: everything you'll need to know on your journey by Neil Gaiman, 36 pages, read by Kira, on 08/20/2014

indeximg-thing 6a00e54efdd2b38834015393b5f173970b A delightful set of guidelines on how to live your life, especially if you live within fairy tales.  Some of the wisdom applies to our reality on this earth as well.

01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Dragon Avenger: Book Two of the Age of Fire by E.E. Knight, 400 pages, read by Kira, on 08/31/2014

index wistala_by_3l3ctr0head-d46r954 51pxnUyqBPL._ In this 2nd book, we hear the story of the dragon sibling Wistala, the female clutchling who survives the attack of the nest.  She attempts to rescue her father whom she finds near death on an outcropping.  She has an adventure with a cat, and eventually takes up  residence with a wise old elf named Rainfall, from whom she learns great wisdom and a gentleness of spirit.  She spends some time in a traveling circus learning to tell individual’s fortunes. Eventually she is able to manipulate the downfall of her parent’s and sister’s murder by gaining the trust of her enemy and setting him up for a fall.