Month: August 2013

by Colette Audrey

** if you care to know, there are SPOILERS in this post **

The story of a dog living in a French apartment. You might think this is one of those fairly common books all about the author\’s dog and what it meant to the family and its endearing or destructive habits, but instead it\’s a bit more untidy. Or at least, had a different angle than I expected. Because the author seems rather focused on her dog\’s sexual behavior, and its death (the dog crawled into a small space in the bathroom to die, thus the title).  I don\’t really understand why the owner didn\’t have her dog spayed, but I think I recall that she wanted puppies. Or to just see the dog have puppies. Or to give her dog the joy of motherhood, something like that. But there are far too many details about trying to find a suitable mate for her dog, and how the activities surrounding that went (unsuccessful) and how messy and inconvenient it was when the dog was in heat. Plus some almost-funny but mostly just awkward scenes where she took her dog out in public and it persistently made advances on men in the restaurant, who had no idea what the dog was actually doing. Mostly I felt sorry for the uncomfortable situations and wondered why this lady didn\’t just get her dog fixed already. Although looking at when it was published (the sixties) perhaps it wasn\’t so common for most people to get their pets neutered and spayed?

So it was an okay book, certainly different in terms of dog stories but not very memorable. And take all this with salt; there was probably much more normal stuff about the dog in there that I just don\’t remember, it didn\’t stand out.

This was a book I picked up at a used sale once on a whim, but it isn\’t in my collection anymore.

Rating: 2/5 …….. 307 pages, 1963

I recently spent half a morning involved in a serious cleaning operation and inspecting the bookshelves thoroughly, taking out each volume to fan its pages and dusting around, atop and behind all the books.

Because I found this nasty little critter:

Three of them, actually. Scurrying up the wall. Silverfish. They EAT BOOKS. Also cotton, starch, flour, etc. Multiply like crazy. Hard to get rid of once you have a serious infestation.

It\’s in my small office room that I\’ve seen them. My office doesn\’t house a lot of books; there\’s just a handful of reference books in there but also all my sketchbooks, which I hold dear. And I don\’t want my documents getting destroyed either. The strange thing is that I\’ve seen the silverfish near the file cabinet, but carefully went through all the drawers and see no damage to any paper. Nor is there any dampness there, which also attracts the pests. (I have been very careful to keep my books away from dampness, as I have a horror of mold). I am hoping they are just scouting from an adjacent apartment, and haven\’t actually set up house in my walls or corners, yet.

I\’ve called the management to send in pest control, before this gets out of hand. I was horrified when I first saw an insect run up the wall; I thought it was a roach and I detest those things. I was perhaps even more horrified when I realized it was a silverfish and could easily destroy my entire library. My boyfriend joked about it, saying \”they like to eat books? Well, they\’ve come to the right place!\” but I didn\’t think that was funny at all. Especially concerning as I have plenty of older books acquired from used shops, with yellowed, weary pages (tempting to pests). It did spur me on to dust everything very thoroughly.  So I went through all the bookcases in the other room methodically (do you know how tiring it is to move 897 books? -current count- even if just lifting a few at a time off the shelves and then putting them back?) The good thing is that I found no signs of damage there (thank god).

Strangely it was nice to go through all the books, even for such an alarming reason. I paused over many, turning a few pages, remember why I enjoyed them so, wonder when I\’ll get to visit them personally again. I keep thinking it would be nice to only reread my favorites off my own shelves, for a whole year. I wonder how many I would get through… If anything it was even more pleasant to look through all the TBR shelves, suddenly struck again by my interest in all these books and hoping to get to them sooner now, rather than later.

I did a bit of shuffling too, moving a few to another shelf and removing two volumes altogether, which made enough space to properly shelve upright the handful that had been sitting horizontally across the tops of other books. I\’ve heard that it isn\’t good to cram your books in tightly wedged together, they need room to breathe a little bit. But I\’m guilty of crowding them in, and actually wedge them close on the bottom shelves on purpose to deter my toddler from pulling them off the shelves!

I gave my older daughter a complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia. It has all seven books bound together in one fat volume. With the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I happen to have all seven books individual as well, ones that I sought out at used sales as a kid until I had collected them all. Don\’t really need the redundancy and my daughter was thrilled to have it for her own!

What about you? Do you squeeze your books in as tight as they can go? Have you ever come across critters that threaten your library? I seriously hope this is the last I see of them!

for the TBR! you guys all read such interesting-looking stuff, I can\’t resist…

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice- Bermudaonion\’s Weblog
Big Brother by Lionel Shriver- You\’ve GOTTA Read This!
The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan- Bookfoolery
The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls- Bermudaonion\’s Weblog

Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban- A Work in Progress
Instruction Manual for Swallowing by Adam Marek- Opinions of a Wolf
A User\’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting by Guy Delisle- Captive Reader

by Amy Young

My youngest child is starting to get out of board books and into regular picture books, but I have to choose them carefully because those with too much text are still beyond her attention span. So I\’ve started browsing the picture-book shelves at the public library again, which is delightful. Writing these short reviews about children\’s books is a nice relief from the lengthy stuff that is Game of Thrones (yes, still slowly working my way through that!) as well. This book caught my eye and I actually brought it home to share with my eight-year-old, who asserts she is no longer interested in picture books but will read it if I pretend not to notice.

The Mud Fairy is a cute story about a little fairy named Emmalina who is a bit of a tomboy; she likes to play in the mud with frogs, not sit at dainty tea parties (well, it\’s not tea but dew drops- you get the idea). Emmalina really wants to \”earn her wings\” by doing something special. She sees what other fairies do and tries to copy them: opening a flower, delicately adding dewdrops to a spiderweb, creating a rainbow. But things always go wrong for her. The Fairy Queen gently suggests that she just needs time, and the fairy glumly goes back to visit her frog friends in the swap. Emmalina finds them in trouble and helps out; then to her surprise gets rewarded for her efforts by being proclaimed the Protector of Frogs and earning her wings for accomplishing something no other fairy could have done. It\’s a lovely little tale of being true to yourself. And the illustrations are just darling, I really like how the characters are drawn.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 2010

more opinions:
The Book Whisperer
Manga Maniac Cafe: Picture Book Roundup

Win this free pair of bookmarks! Featuring a beautiful spotted wildcat, the Ocelot. Giveaway runs until tuesday, Sept 10th. Simply leave a comment on this post and you\’ll be entered to win. A name will be drawn using random.org. Open to anyone with a postal address in the US or Canada.

by Thornton W. Burgess

I thought for sure when I picked up this Bedtime Storybook that it was the one I recall my father introducing me to long ago. I have a distinct memory of a large book (borrowed from the library, I think) that had a collection of stories about forest animals, with lovely illustrations. And I do remember something about a squirrel and a corn-crib, but I thought the squirrel was stuck or trapped inside the corn-crib. The story turned out to be a little different from my memory.

It\’s a little tale of greed and blackmail, and survival for the animals of course. The gist of it is that Chatterer the squirrel is trying to store up food for winter, but has been displaced from his home in fear of a weasel, his mortal enemy. Sammy Jay, always looking for trouble, tells Chatterer where he can get all the corn he wants- from the farmer\’s supply stored in his corn-crib. The squirrel finds the corn and starts stocking up for winter but then plays a trick on Sammy to scare the jaybird away, wanting all the corn for himself. Neither is really entitled to the corn, they\’re both stealing from the farmer. But they squabble over it regardless, and the jay forces the squirrel to do what he wants by threatening to tell the weasel where he lives, unless Chatterer fetches corn for him whenever he wants it. So it ends with both animals trying to \”get even\” and each thinking of ways to outwit the other. Reddy the fox gets involved as well, and I met a new character I hadn\’t seen in previous books, the black farm cat. It is pointed out that the cat hunts for sport, not because she needs food, and so all the smaller animals hate her whereas they fear the fox and other forest predators but not in the same manner.

All in all there were some interesting little dynamics in the story, and by the end of it a few animals had learned their lessons. But I am sure they will get up to further mischief in tales to come! I enjoyed this just as much as all the other Burgess books. Still looking for more to add to my collection!

Rating: 3/5 …….. 119 pages, 1964

A Book You Can Count On 
by Lois Ehlert 

This is a fun counting book. It\’s full of fish with all kinds of different shapes, patterns and vivid colors on a dark blue background, which really makes them pop. They\’re drawn with basic shapes and bold markings, but I recognize a lot of the species. The eyes are cut-out holes which always intrigues my toddler, she likes to poke her finger into the holes. She\’s even starting to count along with me on the pages. The first few pages have rhyming text leading a child along on an imaginary swim through the ocean: If I could put on a suit of scales / add some fins and one of these tails / I\’d close my eyes and then I\’d wish / that I\’d turn into a beautiful fish… then counts one through ten all the fish you encounter. The very last page is even bolder, with fish eyes glowing off the dark page, bodies as obscured silhouettes. My kid really likes it.

 Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 1990

Dogear Diary is now six years old!
Once again, I missed my blogiversary. It was august 19th.

So what\’s the status of this blog? Well, I\’m still here even though I\’m preoccupied nowadays. I don\’t read as much as I used to, nor participate with all the social media stuff, but I think you\’ve all recognized that by now.

I don\’t think this blog will ever die, as long as I\’m still reading (and that\’s a lifelong passion!) If anything, it will quietly go back to what it was in the first place: simply a location to note down my thoughts on books, and keep track of what I\’ve read. At some point that author/title index is going to get unwieldy; I\’ve been thinking of how to make that function better- perhaps a separate page for each letter? or an anchor link at the head of the index page… ?

But I digress. I\’m sorry for the silence from my little corner of the blogging world. It\’s easy to get burned out at six years, especially when the rest of your life gets busier. I might slow down, but I\’m not close to quitting yet!

Curious George
adapted by Monica Perez

This is one of those newer Curious George books not written by the original author, but based on the current tv series. As ever, it\’s a cute story about a little monkey (or ape, see my first Curious George review) who gets into mischief. I have a problem with this one, though.

Curious George is excited to go to an amusement park with his friends. He wants to ride the roller coaster but is too short. An employee shows George how many candy sticks tall he\’d have to be to ride. George tries to think of things to do that will make him grow tall faster, and after he does each activity he holds up the candy sticks again. It appears that he is indeed growing, but George finds out later that instead, the candy sticks were getting shorter (because he kept eating them). It\’s an interesting concept to present to a kid, and I liked that part of the book.

It was the ending that bugged me. George is understandably very disappointed that he is still too short to ride, but instead of having to wait like all kids would, or having some other solution presented (like padding to make him tall enough in the seat?) the park owner says there\’s a special sign to measure monkeys and lets him ride anyways. I didn\’t like that excuse. The reason for height requirements is for safety on the ride; technically speaking George would still be too short to fit properly in the harness or whatever. So he gets to bypass the safety rule just because he\’s a monkey and not a kid? It bothers me what message this might give to kids.

Rating: 2/5 …….. 22 pages, 2007

by Susan Carol Hauser

Purely informational, this one. My sister bought the little guidebook when we went camping in a nearby national park, last month. I\’m particularly wary of ticks since the county I live in has one of the highest incidents of lyme disease in the nation, I personally know two people who have contracted the disease, and my kids have gotten ticks on them four times since we moved here. The cat occasionally comes home with a tick on him, as well. This little book is dense with information, written in a clear format. I learned about the life cycle of ticks and when they are likely to carry the disease and transmit it to humans. I learned more about their behavior- particularly that they don\’t drop from trees but climb up stems of grass or brush and then grab onto you as you walk past. They will climb up your body, which is why you find them on your head. I learned more about how to prevent tick bites, how to treat them, and when to worry about the disease (not quite as much of a risk as I had feared). The book also has information on a myriad of other diseases ticks can harbor, and other small critters that can give dangerous bits or stings such as scorpions, black widow spiders and chiggers. I have certainly been educated.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 108 pages, 2008

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All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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