Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book #3: Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron

My third book for 2011 was "Dewey's Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions" by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. It is a follow-up to their best-seller "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World."

"Dewey's Nine Lives" tells nine stories from people whose lives were touched not only by Dewey (either in person or through his book) but were touched by cats personally as well. These aren't simply cat stories, either. They really reveal the person and what their life is like presently as well as before they had their special cat. It's not always pretty, but the story is more complete that way.
My two favorite stories in the book were numbers seven and nine. The last story had a little twist to it-they definitely saved the best for last! Some of the stories I felt were a bit drawn out, but again, it gave you a complete look at a person's life.

This was a great book, but I would suggest you read "Dewey" before you read "Dewey's Nine Lives". You'll need your tissues for both! There are also some children's books about Dewey: "Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library"; "Dewey: The True Story of a World-Famous Library Cat"; and "Dewey's Christmas at the Library".

If you want more information about Dewey, you can check out his website at or the website for the Spencer Public Library, where he was abandoned, found by Ms. Myron, and lived for many years.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book #2: Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer

This book was yet another gift from my friend @kayakgal. (What can I say? She's awesome and sends me great books I wouldn't otherwise know about!) With the book she included a note that it was her favorite non-fiction book so I was very intrigued. A coincidence about her sending me this particular book is that I love elephants. I have collected them since childhood and they have always been my favorite zoo animal.

"Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived" by Ralph Helfer starts out on the day that both Modoc and her lifetime friend and handler, Bram Gunterstein, were born. They were soul-mates and had a special connection from that day forward. They grew up together and shared a silent language which allowed Bram great success in training her differently than what was typically done in the early part of the 20th century.

The book tells tales that are, at times, unbelievable. There is the sale of the circus Modoc belongs to and the doomed ship that Bram stows away on to be with her. There is the time spent with the maharajah and his mysterious white elephant. The teak forest where the war tears everything apart. The New York circus where Modoc becomes a star. The author explains at the beginning of the book that it is a true story, pieced together as well as possible, from his research and what he has been told. He admits to a little "poetic license" but states that as far as he can tell, it is all true.

It reads very much like a novel and the stories are so far-fetched that I found myself oftentimes thinking there was no way any of this could have possibly happened. I decided at one point to quit doubting and just believe and enjoy the story. Once I did that, I found myself getting lost in the book. I hoped that every struggle would be the last and they would live happily ever after, a man and his elephant.

I would say to any reader of "Modoc" that you need to keep an open mind and believe that it all happened just as Mr. Helfer says it did. Believe that this elephant really was that special.

I do.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book #1: Paper Towns by John Green

My first book for 2011 was a gift from my lovely friend @kayakgal. She has quite the knack for sending me awesome books! This was no different.

"Paper Towns" by John Green is a young adult novel about Quentin Jacobsen, a high school senior in Orlando, and how his life is turned upside down by his neighbor and childhood friend, Margo Roth Spiegelman, when she takes him on a wildly adventurous journey late one night, then promptly disappears. He follows the mysterious clues that she leaves behind hoping to find her alive, but worried that he will find her dead. His best friends and classmates, Ben and Radar, along with Ben's new girlfriend Lacey, jump on board with the search, but none of them as engrossed as Q.

"Paper Towns" had me laughing hysterically and turning pages as quickly as I could. I found myself thinking about the book while I was at work, anxious to get back to reading it so I could learn where the clues would lead Q next.

Although the book is centered around high school students, it didn't feel like a book for kids at all. I loved every minute I spent reading this book and think it would appeal to a broad audience.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, A New Challenge

After (barely) successfully completing my reading challenge for 2010, I feel like I'm ready to step things up a bit. A very little bit. Last year I read and reviewed 30 books. Most of them were books I enjoyed and some of them I absolutely fell in love with. Since things went so well in 2010, I will challenge myself to read and review 35 books in 2011.

There is a change I would like to make to my reviews. I feel as though I should develop some kind of rating system for my reviews, so that is at the top of my list for 2011. I'm not sure when it will be implemented, but I will be creating it in my mind as I go along.

Something I am also hoping to accomplish with my reading this year is to get caught up on a couple of series I have been reading. First, I want to get up to speed in the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. This really shouldn't be hard, but I also want to pick up the "Between the Numbers" books as well. Because of this, I may be reading several of these books in a row this year.

Another series I discovered this year was the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. I would love to work through that series as well.

I appreciate all the suggestions I get via Twitter and Facebook about books I should read. I look into each of them and if I think they suit me-or even if I don't, but the suggestion came from a reliable source-I add them to my "to-read" list on Goodreads. I enjoy feedback from readers of books I have reviewed, so please add a comment if you have read a book that I have posted about. Just remember, if there is a spoiler in the comment, give a heads-up first!