Sunday, April 27, 2014

Information Graphics - Animal Kingdom by Nicholas Blechman

Researched by Simon Rogers
Published by Big Picture Press - imprint of Candlewick Press

Information Graphics - Understand the facts in the blink of an eye.
This colorful, entertaining yet educational book comes in tabbed sections for ease of finding the information you want. Such sections as Species, Senses, Record Breakers, and so on. An encyclopedia of information on a small scale, but with a lot of what children might want to know. It may come as a surprise just how much can be covered in this book. With Information Graphics, and Nicholas Blechman's splendid contribution to format and illustration, the information is right before your eyes in graphic form, for instance the Hippo visible on the cover clearly shows that it has the largest mouth and the Pelican can just as obviously show that his mouth (beak) can 'hold more than his belly can'. The pages will hold up to wear and tear, made of stiff stock.

Not only will children learn about vertebrates and invertebrates, cold-blooded and warm-blooded, but such things as what animal can hold its breath the longest, what animal has the largest brain (no, it's not a human), how does a Hammerhead Shark see, what animal has the biggest mouth and which one has the longest tongue. Other sections can tell you how much water a camel can drink in what amount of time. Kids will love this book for both the graphics and the odd things they will learn. Recommended for children 6-9, I think some a bit younger and some a bit older myself because of the interesting facts. A great way to see the world of animals in a memorable way.

Relatively Dead (Carol Golden) by Alan Cook

Reviewed from Kindle e-book

Who is killing off the Jasons? In this, the second book of the Carol Golden series, Carol, whose real name is Cynthia Akai, has regained her identity if not her full memory. With her identity, she also has a grandmother much to her delight. As far as she knows, this is her only living relative and she is living with her grandmother who is in early dementia. But her grandmother has a cousin, Jason, in California where much of this adventure takes place.

Somewhat confusing at times with all the Jasons, this book delves into such things as genealogy, Ponzi schemes and murder. Family members are dying off as fast as Carol finds them. She is working with a forensic genealogist and the tension builds as the family dwindles. Are the two seemingly unrelated plot-lines really related? Will she be able to save her Irish cousins? And who is Tom Kelly? The action picks up speed as more cousins come to light, bringing with it a surprise ending

What I like about Alan Cook's books is what are obviously personal interests of his, making the stories read with authenticity. Descriptions of cities and countryside ring true as do his scenarios involving walking and hiking. Logic and mathematics problems, even code-breaking often come into play. I love learning something new from the stories I read and this one ran true to form.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Jade Pirate - Elizabeth Latimer Pirate Hunter series by Deborah Cannon

Published by Createspace

Great adventure, mixing history with fantasy
The Latimer girls, their friends and CJ the parrot are on the hunt again. In this, the second book of the series, they are once again searching for their missing father supposedly lost at sea. While their cousin is working as a marine physicist on a classified mission on an oceanographic research vessel in China, they are enjoying their day at the market when Elizabeth notices a shop with little wooden boats exactly like her father used to make, right down to his unique signature graphic. Thus begins another rollicking adventure through the vortex, this time into the days when pirates ruled the China Sea.

I love this young adult adventure series by Deborah Cannon, full of humour, murderous attacks, kidnapping and Elizabeth's feelings escalating between two young men, one from the past...or is it the from her own time. Though she finds her father in the home of Cho, and escapes with him, he is again kidnapped. Will she find her father again? Will he know her if she does? Fraught with danger, this is a great adventure, mixing history with fantasy as their search for their father and Cho, a modern day pirate and his captor, goes deep into the pirate world of the greatest pirate on the China Seas in the 1800s, Cheng I Sao, Mrs. Cheng.

The biggest problem facing our group, other than staying alive, is to avoid changing history. Lulu at home is keeping track of that on her I-phone and indeed history has been changed a few times; they must correct all the wrongs. Great characters, along with CJ the irascible but irresistible parrot and the mysterious Daniel, all in all, this is an exciting storyline, built on fact and fiction both. This book has all the elements of excitement for young adults, early teens, and adults.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Newfoundland Drugstores - a history by John K. Crellin

Published by Flanker Press
Reviewed for Edwards Book Club

I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading this book. Perhaps because I have a personal interest in the subject, indeed I recall many of the concoctions that were still in use in the 1940s as well as remembering stories heard about the various "chemists" in my own ancestry. But I must stick to the book.

This is really an evolution of apothecaries and drugstores from the early 19th century through it's growth. John K. Crellin has written a well-researched, presented and illustrated history in general but particularly in Newfoundland. At the time, Newfoundland was not a part of Canada, so most associated companies and ideas were British. At one time many of the medicines were mixed with mortar and pestle, though some were imported from Britain and France. The changes in the present and into the future are worthy of note. We learn that drugstores have at one time or another contained besides medicine, such things as candy, cosmetics, perfumes, sodas, books and other items usually expected in other stores. We appear at this point with our huge drugstores, we might say we have come full circle.

I enjoyed reading this book and learning so much of the past and present. How the druggists handled crises, their doctoring skills, among others. This is a capsule of the evolution of drugstores everywhere, but in Newfoundland the history is abundant. A very interesting part of a history we all share in a way.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain - a Novel by Adrianne Harun

Published by Penguin Group Canada

Adrianne Harun has nailed it!

I live along Highway 16. Adrianne Harun has taken this "Highway of Tears" and created an amazing fantasy based on the disappearances of mostly aboriginal girls, a case that defies solving to this day. Mixing reality, myth, the plight of small logging towns in northern British Columbia, and the boredom of mixed-race youth and hopelessness of the poor, she has run with this fascinating story. Her descriptive prose, the stories told by Leo's Uncle Lud, and a man who is unknown yet known, and a mysterious young girl--is she really the Snow Woman?--all combine to make this story compelling. The devil has many faces.

The characterizations and mindsets are spot on, too often found in these small one-store towns in the forests of British Columbia. Youngsters must work, alcoholism is rife, and in their free time they make their own entertainment, whether good or bad. A group of friends stick together, surviving the odds. Adrianne has taken on these elements and many others to give us a mythical yet not unknown reality, mixed it up and turned out full-blown a novel we can feel. Sad though these stories are, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was mesmerized and found it hard to put the book down, not wanting to lose a single thread. Remember her name, I'm sure we will be hearing it in the future.
Review based on Advance Reading Copy (ARC)