Sunday, September 29, 2013

Alien Invaders: Species that Threaten Our World by Jane Drake & Ann Love

Published by Tundra Books
Illustrated by Mark Thurman
Reviewed for Edwards Book Club

This is an excellent book for all ages. Highly informative, beautifully illustrated, and innovative in its presentation. Never would I have known there was such a thing as yellow crazy ants! Fortunately in our area there are none...yet. They are, however, in North America in the South.

The histories of these invaders, from molecular size across the world to wild pigs in Hawaii are fascinating. It was interesting to learn about volunteer groups working together to control some of the faster moving invading plants. A map in the book clearly demonstrates the distances these species have taken to get to their new homes, with arrows going across the world from and to. This map did more to increase my awareness than I would have expected. Who knew that Giant African snails are known to eat stucco and paint on buildings? Not just in Africa, where they came from, but in the southern United States, as well as several other unfortunate countries. The book was a Finalist for the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Aware-Nonfiction, Nominated for the Red Cedar Book Award and Selected as a Canadian Toy Testing Council's Great Book.

This is by far the best book of its kind I have read. It is only 56 pages long in the format I have, is sturdy and colourful, but in a few words states the threat and the cycle clearly. It is not bogged down with a lot of superfluous words or confusing ecological terms and scare tactics. Everything is clear, precise, pictured, a well-written overall book by Jane Drake and Ann Love with wonderful illustrations by Mark Thurman that is enjoyable and educational at the same time.

Clara's Wish by S.M. Senden

Published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Reviewed from e-book

The "Roaring Twenties," oh, how they roared. But what happens when a young lady finds herself in that roaring, overblown time of release from the Great War, a time of bootleg, ragtime and partying? For Clara, it's both a blessing and a curse. For an overlooked, yet caring person this new life she finds herself in is so far from her knowledge or personality it is completely foreign to her. A grand adventure.

Beginning with a wish on a star, catching the bouquet at the wedding the family attends and meeting a young college man at that same wedding seems like a wish granted...or is it? Clara sees herself only as a wallflower, an old maid at the age of twenty-five, the girl from the farm no man wants, so when Erdman asks her to dance she is overwhelmed with surprise, joy and not surprisingly, eager but reticent to accept his approaches. After all, no young man has ever shown interest in her before. Be careful what you wish for, Clara!

This book spans several decades populated by many different types of characters. It takes the reader into the era completely. The complete opposites in Clara's life are palpable, as the background plot takes place in a rural farming area settled by Swedish immigrants, where little changes through the years, which makes Clara's life outside of home that much more exciting. When Clara suddenly disappears into the night, the community draws together in its sadness and caring for the family. The torch blazes bright and long as the families involved live through the decades with the shadow of Clara's disappearance always there. The author has told the story in keeping with the times, well-researched. A love story, a touch of the paranormal, a mystery and a story of deceit, vanity and mobsters. An interesting look into a world where immorality and trust can sometimes go hand in hand. S.M. Senden, in this trip through some of the most active decades you held my attention as I immersed myself in the mystery and a way of life I never saw.