A Handful of Teeny Reviews: The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie, Hunt for the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler, A Gnarly Christmas by Lauren Carr, Lucretia and the Kroons by Victor LaValle, and Bruno and the Carol Singers by Martin Walker

The Enchanted TruthThe Enchanted Truth
A Modern-Day Fairy Tale for Grown-Up Girls

Kym Petrie
Greenleaf Book Group, September 2012
ISBN 978-1-60832-368-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

In this humorous and insightful tale, a modern day princess finds herself single and asking for magical intervention to change her sorry love life. Rather than casting a spell to bring Prince Charming to her rescue, a savvy fairy godmother gives the tenderhearted damsel an unexpected gift. By entrusting her true thoughts and desires to an unlikely confidant, the young royal soon discovers that the person who could make her life everything she dreamed it would be has been with her all along.

As author Kym Petrie herself realized, every woman needs a froggy friend and a secret journal—and enough adventures with the girls to keep her heart pounding and her mind racing. Life is meant to be about happy beginnings . . . you can never have enough of them.

In a departure from the usual fairy tale where Prince Charming sweeps the princess off her feet, the author has crafted a sort of allegory meant for the modern girl who’s looking for her true love. The princess of this tale learns, with a little help from a fairy godmother and a rubber frog, that finding the handsome prince is not enough.

The tale is brief but the message comes through clearly—today’s women need to learn to recognize their own worth if they want men to value them and they also need to value those men who are more than just a pretty face or a fat wallet. Many parents of teenaged girls might want to consider dropping this endearing little book in their daughters’ Christmas stockings.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Hunt for the ChupacabraHunt for the Chupacabra
Michael Hebler
Michael Hebler, June 2011
ISBN 978-1-4581321-5-4
Ebook

From the author—

A retired Confederate tracker persues the elusive and legendary creature for some well-deserved revenge. “Hunt for the Chupacabra” is a short story that precludes Book One of the Chupacabra Series, “Night of the Chupacabra”.

Is it real or just a legend, a figment of some very wild imaginations? No one can say for sure but Calvin Hawte is on a mission to avenge the death of his young son and will track the killer to the ends of the earth if need be. He might be surprised at what he will find out there in the desert.

This is a very short story but well-written and, well, creepy as a good horror story should be. It’s a good lead-in to Night of the Chupacabra, first in Michael Hebler‘s new series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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A Gnarly ChristmasA Gnarly Christmas
Lauren Carr
Acorn Book Services, November 2012
Ebook

From the author—

Here’s a special holiday treat for mystery lovers who have fallen in love with Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German Shepherd sidekick, from Lauren Carr‘s Deep Creek Lake Mysteries.

It is Christmas day and Gnarly has been up to his old tricks again. Now he’s in the dog house–or rather the boathouse–after stealing the Christmas feast! Moments after Archie and Mac leave Spencer Manor, Gnarly hears a call for help from Rocky, the Maltese down the street. Four assassins for hire have invaded the home of Rocky’s elderly owners. While the home invaders wait for instructions from a mysterious caller, Gnarly must plot to stop them. Can Gnarly save Christmas with only the help of an 8-pound Maltese dressed in an elf suit?

Need a good laugh? You won’t go wrong with this delightful story of a dog who gets into trouble for swiping the Christmas turkey but who doesn’t forget that he’s a protector. Gnarly teams up with a tiny floofy dog named Rocky to foil the plans of a bunch of bad guys bent on mayhem and how the two get the best of the murderous robbers is a hoot. Gnarly even manages to let Rocky take the credit for saving the day but there’s still a mystery—why has Gnarly been stealing food lately?

Sit down with Gnarly and Rocky for a few minutes of pure fun—and don’t forget that fat squirrel named Otis!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Lucretia and the KroonsLucretia and the Kroons
Victor LaValle
Spiegel & Grau/Random House, July 2012
ISBN 978-0-8129-8437-8
Ebook

From the publisher—

Lucretia’s best friend and upstairs neighbor Sunny—a sweet pitbull of a kid, even as she struggles with a mysterious illness—has gone missing. The only way to get her back is for Lucretia to climb the rickety fire escape of their Queens tenement and crawl through the window of apartment 6D, portal to a vast shadowland of missing kids ruled by a nightmarish family of mutants whose designs on the children are unknown. Her search for Sunny takes Lucretia through a dark fantasyland where she finds lush forests growing from concrete, pigeon-winged rodents, and haunted playgrounds. Her quest ultimately forces her to confront the most frightening specter of all: losing, forever, the thing you love the most.

Central to this novella is a 12-year-old girl named Lucretia but this is no story for children. In a flight of fancy, LaValle explores how a child might cope with the death of a friend, a best friend, and these two children both capture the reader’s heart. Not all of us suffer this kind of loss at such a young age and I have to wonder if, perhaps, the author did.

How much Loochie loves Sunny is evident and endearing and the scenes of what’s going on with Sunny are heartbreaking, especially because they let us know what is most probably going to happen. Even knowing that, I couldn’t help admiring Loochie’s absolute belief that she could save her friend when Sunny goes missing. Despite the fearsome Kroons and winged rats and all sorts of fantastical frights, Loochie presses on and her bravery and steadfast loyalty are a lesson to anyone who has to face such a terrible loss.

Lucretia and the Kroons is my first taste of Victor LaValle‘s work and I’ll be looking for more.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

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Bruno and the Carol SingersBruno and the Carol Singers
Martin Walker
Alfred A. Knopf, December 2012
ISBN 978-0-385-35031-0
Ebook

From the publisher—

St. Denis is experiencing its coldest winter in years—bringing the promise of snow and shared chocolats chauds in the village’s cafés—and Bruno is occupied with his Christmastime duties. From organizing carolers to playing Father Christmas for the local schoolchildren, Bruno has his hands full . . . at least until some funds raised for charity go missing. Then it’s up to Bruno to save the day (and perhaps manage a Christmas miracle) in this charming holiday installment of Walker’s best-selling series.

In this appealing short story, Christmas has come to St. Denis and Bruno is right in the middle of the festivities when he gets a call about a paroled convict who has disappeared from the town where he was living while he completed the last months of his sentence.  His ex-wife and son now live in St. Denis, hence the call to Bruno. Is this man bent on harming his family or will Bruno be able to pull off a Christmas miracle?

Fans of Bruno will feel right at home with this French municipal policeman and his friends and will wish they could sit down to Christmas Eve dinner with Bruno, Pamela and the others.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

Book Review: Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer’s Odyssey
Gwen Cooper
Read by Renee Raudman
Random House Audio, 2009
ISBN 0307704114
Unabridged Audio Book

A tiny homeless kitten is left with a veterinarian, a kitten with a terrible eye infection that could be successfully treated only be removing his eyes.  Being blind is one thing; being eyeless is quite another and the vet faces a difficult time finding a home for this little creature.  Then she introduces him to Gwen Cooper, a young woman with a love of animals, and a new life begins for the fluffball Cooper names Homer.

With Cooper‘s diligent help, Homer learns to maneuver in his sightless world, sharing space with two other cats and completely unaware that he has a disability.  His infection had taken hold before his newborn eyes opened and he had never had vision.  If you’ve never had sight, you don’t know what you’re missing and Homer sets out to conquer whatever hurdles he encounters.  Along the way, he teaches Cooper and every other person who meets him a thing or two about living beyond one’s limitations.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about one episode in Homer’s life, his survival of the horror of 9/11 when Cooper was prevented from returning home to her pets.  Cooper‘s telling of her experience during this terrible time and her fear for her cats struck a chord in me.

http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2010/08/01/a-911-story/

I enjoy animal tales and Homer’s Odyssey is a special example of how much an animal can affect our lives.   Listening to the audio edition, I felt almost a part of this tiny cat’s life and I thank Ms. Cooper for sharing his story with us.  He is a little guy I wish I could meet in person.  Homer is now 13 years old and you can check in on him and his feline “sisters”, Vashti and Scarlett, at the author’s blog here—

http://www.gwencooper.com/blog.php

(Note: click on the “Uncategorized” tag in any post to get to the older posts.)

A portion of the author’s royalties go to animal rescue organizations and the paperback will be available this Tuesday so you’ve got no excuse—buy the book and meet this wonderful cat!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2010.

Book Review: Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer’s Odyssey
Gwen Cooper
Read by Renee Raudman
Random House Audio, 2009
ISBN 0307704114
Unabridged Audio Book

A tiny homeless kitten is left with a veterinarian, a kitten with a terrible eye infection that could be successfully treated only be removing his eyes.  Being blind is one thing; being eyeless is quite another and the vet faces a difficult time finding a home for this little creature.  Then she introduces him to Gwen Cooper, a young woman with a love of animals, and a new life begins for the fluffball Cooper names Homer.

With Cooper‘s diligent help, Homer learns to maneuver in his sightless world, sharing space with two other cats and completely unaware that he has a disability.  His infection had taken hold before his newborn eyes opened and he had never had vision.  If you’ve never had sight, you don’t know what you’re missing and Homer sets out to conquer whatever hurdles he encounters.  Along the way, he teaches Cooper and every other person who meets him a thing or two about living beyond one’s limitations.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about one episode in Homer’s life, his survival of the horror of 9/11 when Cooper was prevented from returning home to her pets.  Cooper‘s telling of her experience during this terrible time and her fear for her cats struck a chord in me.

http://www.cncbooks.com/blog/2010/08/01/a-911-story/

I enjoy animal tales and Homer’s Odyssey is a special example of how much an animal can affect our lives.   Listening to the audio edition, I felt almost a part of this tiny cat’s life and I thank Ms. Cooper for sharing his story with us.  He is a little guy I wish I could meet in person.  Homer is now 13 years old and you can check in on him and his feline “sisters”, Vashti and Scarlett, at the author’s blog here—

http://www.gwencooper.com/blog.php

(Note: click on the “Uncategorized” tag in any post to get to the older posts.)

A portion of the author’s royalties go to animal rescue organizations and the paperback will be available this Tuesday so you’ve got no excuse—buy the book and meet this wonderful cat!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2010.

Book Review: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
Grand Central Publishing, 2008
ISBN 0446407410
Hardcover
Trade Paperback to be released October 2010

Of course, it had been the coldest night of the year when librarian Vicki Myron opened the book depository one morning to find a kitten shivering inside. The staff of the Spencer, Iowa library helped nurse the kitten back to health and gave him a suitable name, “Dewey” after the system by which libraries arranged their books.

Dewey wasn’t just a dust collector on the shelves, though.  This cat got out and interacted with the library patrons often selecting someone lonely and in need of company to tend to.  He increased visits to the library and got many people reading who otherwise might not have done so, according to Myron.

Dewey isn’t the only library cat around, but in his eighteen year lifespan, he was definitely the most famous with people coming from all over the world to visit the feline.  His life-story’s well told with a lot of heart.

Reviewed by Rebecca Kyle, June 2010.