Book Review | Songs of the Baka and other discoveries : travels after age sixty-five by Dennis James

songs of the bakaIgnore the subtitle: though the protagonists are over 65, it has little to no bearing on the content of this book, which would appeal to readers of all ages. In Songs of the Baka, James provides instantly immersive tales from his travels (with his photographer wife Barbara Grossman) to diverse, off the beaten path destinations world-wide. James conveys their travel experiences in ten countries*, sharing insightful observations on various topics from transportation to indigenous cultural practices, architecture, art, politics, and beyond.

This is a great book. It is clear and concise, proceeds at a moderate pace and includes captivating color photographs. Chapters are of appropriate lengths with frequent breaks, making this book a quick read. Songs of the Baka would appeal to aspiring travelers, the well-traveled, people with anthropological or cultural interests, and possibly Fulbright applicants. I’ve recommended my local library purchase this title. Check it out from a library near you!

*Countries visited and included in this text: Papua New Guinea, Algeria, Nepal, Cameroon, Cuba, Mali, Iran, Venezuela, Palestine and Ethiopia. 

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

white fur arcWhite Fur takes place on the East Coast in the early 1980’s. Born-rich Jamey drops out of Yale after falling for Elise who grew up in the projects. For these two it’s like a spark at first sight and then, the more time they spend together, the deeper they fall. Jamey wants nothing more than to get away from his controlling 1% family who use their money for manipulation, while Elise cares only about being with the man she loves. As the two become one, they attempt to cocoon themselves away from their previous lives.

My plot description doesn’t do the novel justice. This book was better than I’d expected. It kept me engaged and wanting to read more. Libaire’s writing is clear and easy to follow, but maintains an artistic edge. Descriptions allow the reader to visualize certain passages, and some sections are graphic, but this is done in a gritty manner that is inoffensive to sensitive readers. White Fur would appeal to those interested in reading a magnetic love story or a story of boy-meets-girl from different social classes. This title is planned for release in May 2017 by Hogarth Press. I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Book of Moon by George Crowder

book-of-moonThe Book of Moon follows high schooler Moon Landing through his parents divorce and their custody issues. Dealing with the divorce may be major, but Moon feels he has a host of other problems on his plate in this coming of age tale. Topics discussed include cute girls, Mom on the dating market, religion, skateboarding and others.

Many reviewers have noted the wry tone of this book. The writing style is very casual with Crowder often opting for the conversational tone instead of a grammatically correct sentence; a choice he has made to give more life to the young narrator’s voice. This coming-of-age narrator is meant to mature through the work, and Crowder is mostly successful here, except for a few spots where the progression of voice seems nonlinear. Overall an enjoyable read, I found the first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. Chapter breaks are frequent making this book easy to pick up and put down, great for reading on public transit. Normally I’d give you a link to check the book out at your local library, but it’s not yet (11 Feb 17) listed in WorldCat. You can find a preview on GoodreadsI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Wolf Haven by Brenda Peterson & Annie Marie Musselman

wolf haven cover.jpegPartially funded by a Getty Images grant, Wolf Haven : Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America‘s collaboration between photographer Annie Marie Musselman and writer Brenda Peterson yields an informative and striking book about the history and ongoing battle of North America’s endangered wolves and offers readers a comprehensive introduction to Washington’s Wolf Haven sanctuary. In addition to being a lovely coffee table photo book, scientific and political backstory are woven in to help readers understand the hot topics of the wolves endangerment and conservation efforts. Individual wolves from the sanctuary are also introduced, some with more troubled pasts than others.

Overall, this book is very well done and would be palatable to a wide range of audience. The writing is clear and easy to follow without being overly scientific or poetic. This said, a few sentences are slightly embellished and a tad flowery. Most of the photos are truly gorgeous and appropriately captioned with only a few exceptions. Wolf Haven would serve as a great introduction to anyone looking to find out more regarding the story of endangered wolves in North America. Photography fans will also not be disappointed with this gem. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the authors/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario by Chris Earley and Tracy C. Read

img_0335For those interested in exploring nature, be it conservation areas for flora and fauna, hiking, camping, biking, canoeing or cross county skiing, this book offers a wealth of information about places worth visiting in Ontario. Divided into geographical sections, Earley and Read give a brief history of the hot spots and their highlights. Photographs from each place are included along with general spot information about dates open and applicable activities. As the book says, it will appeal to “birders, botanists, wildlife lovers, rock hounds and naturalists”.

100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario serves as a great introduction for parties interested in visiting wild Ontario. From seeing the Northern Lights to exploring caves or finding rare species, the authors spell out where to go and when. It would work well as a starting point for trip planning purposes or for Ontarians interested in better exploring their own province. The included photographs are very helpful to get an idea of what one might see in the named hot spot, but in some places photo quality is a bit lacking on enlargements. The book offers a wealth of information, and would be best digested in small chunks or as reference material, though it is very clearly written for all audiences. Helpful area maps are included, but the whole of Ontario with all hot spots is not. Check it out from a library near youI received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Mermaid Girl by Erika Swyler

IMG_6921.JPGThe Mermaid Girl is a short story about a lady who was the mermaid in the tank at the circus. She grew up traveling from town to town until a man fell in love with that underwater girl. She suffers from terrible headaches after leaving the circus and starting a life on the east coast with her partner and two young children.

This book was much shorter than I had expected, just 36 pages. For a short story, it was decent. Mermaid Paulina is fairly well developed, however the other characters are flat. While the writing style is clear, the text breaks often and shifts time frames without much notice, making it seem disjointed. Perhaps this story will be of much more interest to readers of Swyler’s 2015 novel The Book of Speculation, as this is the prequel. While it’s unlikely that you will be able to find this book at your local library, you can buy a copy here for 99 cents.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Mr. Bunny’s Adventure by Alisha Ricks

mrbunnysadventureMr. Bunny’s Adventure tells the tale, including illustrations, of a bunny in search of his lost carrot. This adventure is quite simple: While riding on an airplane, a rabbit drops his carrot into a forest. There is said to be a resident giant, thus presenting potential danger in carrot retrieval for said rabbit. (adventure ensues)…

Unfortunately, this book is not as polished as I was hoping. As other reviewers have noted, the illustrations are simplistic and repetitive, not adding much to this picture book. The text is also lacking, not just in the story itself, which may have been more appropriately turned into a poem, but in grammar and correctness. I would consider reading this book to a child who cannot read, but for learning to read, this book may be more of a hindrance than a teaching tool. This is certainly my own opinion, but may be of use to other parents looking for books to improve literacy. Check for a copy from a library near you or find the ebook online.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.