"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, March 7, 2022

Short books. Short reviews.

Right now I am sitting next to a tall pile of shortish books that I've recently checked-out/half-read/read/avoided reading.Today I decided to touch each of the books and say thank you. Then I will not worry about finishing those unfinished among them and will return them to the library with a clear conscience. Those that I did finish will get a short review and I'll breathe a sigh of relief that I am free from the current spell they have me under.

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, illustrated by Ann Xu. This graphic novel won the 2022 Cybils Award for MG Graphic Novels. It is the story of Cici, a twelve-year-old girl whose parents have moved with her from Taiwan. Before leaving for America Cici's happiest moments are those spent with her A-ma (Grandmother). A-ma taught Cici to cook and how to make the most delicious food to eat. When she moved to America Cici desperately wanted to fit in at school but she also dearly wanted to have her A-ma visit them from Taiwan. She decided to try to raise the money for her A-ma's trip by entering a cooking competition. She has to channel her inner talents gained from cooking with her A-ma but also melding in ideas gained by reading Julia Child's cook book along the way. Can she make her own special foods by combining the two? This is a sweet, heart-warming story. (205 pages long.)

The City of Mists: Stories by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This collection of stories by the master of spooky, atmospheric intrigue jumped into my hands during a recent library trip since I am such a huge fan of his masterpiece, Shadow of the Wind. I didn't know at the time this short collection was published posthumously after the author's death to cancer in 2020. Apparently Ruiz Zafon knew he was dying and was concerned after his death that his works would be sold to Hollywood or would be edited not to his liking, so it was shocking that this, his last, would be published after his death.  The eight stories include some characters from his previous books and definitely had that spooky, sinister vibe one would expect. In fact, several of the stories seem to appear out the mist and the details remained foggy or cloudy causing me to think of the book's title. The last story was my favorite. Perhaps because it was very short -- two pages -- and a bit funny. (162 pages long.)

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers. Sibling Dex decides to stop working as a gardener and goes out on his own as a traveling Tea Monk where he calmly dispenses special concoctions of tea and listens to people as they talk about their lives. He lives in a peaceful, utopian society where mankind has few problems and people are mostly good to each other. But nonetheless Dex grows restless with his life and decides to go out into the wilderness, a part of the planet given over to wild animals and sentient robots at the end of the Factory Age. While on his trip, off the grid, Dex meets a robot named Mosscap and the two beings spend time traveling together. They discuss as they move along "humanity’s role in the natural order of things, the nature of sentience, individuality, purpose, the presence of the divine, and how to help each other" (Wuh-Whack). The heart of this charming novella is their conversations. They made me stop and think about my humanness and the things I do 'just because.' (147 pages long.)


A Spindle Splintered
by Alix Harrow. A modern retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. But in this story the sleeping beauty, Zin, is dying from a congenital disease called Generalized Roseville Malady which will kill her before she turns 22. On her 21st birthday, a friend hosts a "sleeping beauty" party which involves a spindle. When it is touched Zin is transported to another realm, in a different time continuum where she meets other sleeping beauties. In them she discovers her own mission and can think beyond her own problems. The book makes me smile to think of it. (128 pages long.)



Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores by Bob Eckstein. New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein has gathered the greatest untold stories from a seventy-five of the world s most renowned bookstores (both past and present) and paired them with evocative color illustrations of each shop. Here is a portrait of our lifelong love affair with bookstores that is at once heartfelt, bittersweet, and filled with good cheer. A complete joy to consume. I was buoyed to learn that there are still (or were in 2018) beloved book stores still operating in the world. I currently reside in a bookstore desert. I want to go on a trek to visit all seventy-five of these stores. (144 pages long.)


Change Sings: A Children's Anthem
by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long. A darling poem, a song really, about change coming. I can hear change humming in its loudest, proudest song. / I don't fear change coming, And so I sing along. Darling illustrations, also. (Children's book, 32 pages long.)


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