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review 2016-08-20 09:44
Travels with Charlie: Way Down South - Miles Backer,Chuck Nitzberg

I spotted this one at a bargain shelf at the ABC bookstore, and I just had to have it. Sure, the cover didn’t pull me in, but the contents and how it looked from the inside sure did. I just love learning more about other countries and what is important or fun in each part of a country.

This picture book is all about the south part of America. From Alabama to Florida. Each chapter will talk about one state and mention the flag, a few facts. The next page has a picture with various fun or interesting things that that state has. From Fort Knox in Kentucky, to Biloxi Shrimp Festival in Mississippi, to White Water Rafting in Virginia. It was such a delight, mostly because I didn’t know about most of these things. I learned a whole lot about the southern part of America.

And in a fun way even. Because before you get to the map/picture you have a bunch of questions which require you to search for said thing asked for. Not only attractions or festivals, but also rivers, beaches and other geographical stuff. And of course don’t forget Charlie who has gone somewhere on that map/picture and you will have to find him. Where will you find him in each state? Sometimes he is on a boat, sometimes he is sleeping while others are picking apples.

I just wish I could go to several of the things mentioned in this book, some truly sound like something I would enjoy. Like the Mammoth Cave, or seeing Mississippi riverboats, or see Florida with its beaches and sun.

I also loved the last 2 pages filled with riddles and fun things to find in all the states that you just learned/read about. Loved it! It just gives that extra loveliness to it. <3

I also saw there were other books in this series exploring the other states as well. As soon as I get back from vacation I will be sure to get 1 or all of them.

The art is pretty decent, it fits the book. Some little details made me laugh (like the little kid getting startled in the Mammoth Cave, or see how the characters react on the Incline Railroad).

Yep, I would definitely recommend this one. It is fun, it is educational, and it is interactive.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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text 2016-08-07 12:49
Cozy mystery readers - anybody read The Calamity Cafe?
The Calamity Café: A Down South Café Mystery - Gayle Leeson

So I finally found a cozy mystery that my library actually has in Overdrive starting with the first book in the series. I've been reading so many cozy mystery reviews here on BL that I'd like to expand beyond my comfort zone and see if I like these, too. But I'm hesitating on this one, because I've just had two bummer experiences with Southern Lit and am feeling a little off the genre as a result. I just hate starting in the middle of a series, even one that's designed to make it easy for you to jump around in.


Has anyone read this series? Thoughts?

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review 2015-07-15 05:00
True Grit / by Charles Portis
True Grit - Donna Tartt,Charles Portis

Let me start by saying that I have never seen either of the True Grit movies.  I was only vaguely aware that there was a young girl at the center of the story, and that John Wayne once played a character named Rooster Cogburn, but I had no idea what movie that character was from.  So True Grit the book is my experience with True Grit.


There is a simplicity about True Grit that appealed to me.  The writing is clean, uncomplicated and precise.  There is no fluff in this book.  Mattie is out to bring the man who killed her father to justice.  She's not admiring scenery, she's not learning big life lessons, she's not coming of age.  She doesn't have time for foolishness, or really even sentiment.   She is not a baby, she is not out here playing.  She's got a mission, and she fully intends to fulfill it, come hell or high water, consequences be damned, let's get this show on the road, there is work to be done.


Because Mattie is no-nonsense, the book moves at a good clip.  This story gets rolling right out of the gate, says what it's got to say, and when all that needs to be said is said, it's done.  The last sentence is "This ends my true account of how I avenged Frank Ross's blood over in the Choctaw Nation when snow was on the ground."  Crisp, to the point, and starkly beautiful, just like the rest of the book.  A simple pleasure to read.



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review 2014-08-15 02:22
The House on Tradd Street / by Karen White ; narrated by Aimee Bruneau
The House on Tradd Street - Karen White

My local library has The House on Tradd Street shelved under romance, but I don't really think that this book fits into that genre very well.  Sure, there is a mutual attraction and sexual tension between the two main characters, and there is a bit of a love triangle that goes on (I'm not much of a fan of love triangles), but there really isn't a lot in the way of sex.  The closest the two main characters even get to kissing is when he gives her CPR after saving her from a fire.  The story really is less romance and more of a mystery with a strong paranormal element .


I enjoyed the story.  The characters were interesting, but I don't know if they were interesting enough to me to compel me to read the second book in this series, The Girl on Legare Street.  I was happy with Melanie's story as it was contained in this book, and I liked the loose ends--it enabled me to construct my own thoughts about how Melanie's life would progress from the point at which this story ended. 


The House on Tradd Street was probably a bit longer than it needed to be.  There were big patches where it seemed like we weren't really making any progress on the mystery or on the relationships between Melanie and her suitors.  There was just a lot of nothing going on at points, that got to be tedious and it lengthened the story.  


I did enjoy the Charleston, South Carolina setting, and I liked that Aimee Bruneau read this story with a Southern accent.  It helped plop me down more firmly into this charming southern city, and helped me feel like the characters were more real.  This was a good book that stands well enough on its own, but offers a continuation for those people who'd prefer to know more about Melanie and her life.

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review 2014-07-18 05:05
Dead Until Dark / by Charlaine Harris
Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

I should probably really be giving Dead Until Dark four stars instead of 3.5.  I tore through this book.  I couldn't wait to get off of work so I could keep reading it.  When I was reading it, I was completely engrossed in it--the world just fell away.  I love it when books do that to me!


But.  In the end this is a book about a woman who falls in love with a vampire.  I realize that when this book was written, that whole thing hadn't quite been done to (ahem) death yet, but I read this now, in 2014, when there are an outrageously high number of vampire/human (or werewolf/human) romances in books.  Seriously, while I was completely absorbed by this book, I really felt like I needed to counteract some of the literary trend of vampires as sex symbols by going and reading something from the Monster Hunter International series, where the quote, "Vampires only sparkle when they're on fire," works as the series mantra.  As I read Dead Until Dark and enjoyed it, I found myself wondering why these vampire/human romance books are so dang popular.  I mean, vampires are dead things.  What is the draw?!  Well, I don't want to get all academic here and try to analyze this too much, but basically I decided that it's because there is something attractive about the fantasy of living and loving wildly, passionately, and dangerously when in real life we are supposed to live straight-laced, respectable, self-controlled lives.  This is a review, however, and not an essay so, moving on....


I enjoyed Sookie Stackhouse a great deal.  She was a lovely woman, both physically and emotionally.  Her personality was very endearing.  Just a nice, properly brought up Louisiana girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.  She's also tough as nails underneath all that Southern charm.  Daisy Duke, but with better dress-sense.  Elly May Clampett, but with more substance.  I enjoyed the way she handled her life, and the way she cared about others.  It was pleasant to be in her company, and it's Sookie that will make me read the next book in the series.


I thought that the mystery in Dead Until Dark was pretty transparent, so the big denouement was not at all a surprise to me.  The red herrings were, I thought, obviously red herrings, so I was able to cast those aside without a second thought.  I do wish the mystery had been a little harder to solve, but there was enough other stuff going on to keep me happily entertained, and happily reading.  The well written characters made up for the easy mystery, and I suppose I can handle a literary world in which some vampires are sex gods, and others are monsters that need hunting.


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