Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: The Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan

The Mighty LaloucheThe Mighty Lalouche by Matthew Olshan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lalouche was a humble postman living in Paris, France around 150 years ago. He was not very tall and very skinny but, he was nimble, fast and strong. Lalouche loved being a postman until the day he was told he was being let go because the postal service had bought a fleet of electric cars. What was a small, bony postman to do? Then Lalouche saw an ad from the Bastille Boxing Club asking "Are you nimble? Are you fast? Are you strong?" Well, he was nimble; and he was fast; and he was strong, so Lalouche answered the ad. The Mighty Lalouche was born!
The Mighty Lalouche tells the tale of how one small, bony postman became a boxing sensation. Given the wrestling mania of today, I found this historic tale to be entertaining. I was a little confused because the boxers also used their feet and one even stood on Lalouche in the ring. An author's note at the end explains la boxe francaise, or French boxing allowed fighters to use their feet similar to our kickboxing today. (Although standing on your opponent was an no-no.) The note also talks about the electric car used in the illustrations for the story. It was a real electric car but a race car, not one used for carrying the mail. I think this is a good book for young boys interested in boxing/wrestling or anytime you want to read a story book and throw some history in there too.
I recommend it for children ages 4 - 6.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Dead Letter Office - The Parish Mail Series by Kira Snyder

Dead Letter OfficeDead Letter Office by Kira Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

CJ (Celia Jane) Macarty knew her life was never going to be the same the day she saw the two Navy officers in dress uniform got out of their car. Since that day when the officers notified her and her mother that her father was killed in Afghanistan, CJ's life has turned upside-down. She and her mother have moved from California to New Orleans to be closer to her father's family, a family CJ has never met. Now she is burying her father and starting at a new high school all in the same week. When CJ escapes the crowd at her grandparents' house after the funeral, she finds an unusual tree in a clearing growing behind the house. On the tree is a hollow which has been sanded and stained until it resembles a mailbox. When CJ finds an antique letter with the words "Help me, C.J.M" written on it inside the hollow, it sets her on a path which takes her from the French Quarter to the bayou in the hopes of solving a long dead murder.
This is an "Active Fiction" book written similar to the Choose-Your-Own Adventure series in which you make a choice to tell the story. I am not a fan of these types of stories but found this one easier to maneuver through. There were not too many choices to the story so it was easy to follow and remember what had happened in the storyline. I went back and redid my choices the second time around and found the story still very likable.
I also found the characters of Tilly and Celia to be likable too. I was not as engaged by Luc or Donovan but hope to see them develop more in the next story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, especially those who are looking for this type of choose your own story.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach KeeperThe Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The day Paxton Osgood mailed the invitations to the Walls of Water Women’s Society Club gala, it began to rain so hard the rivers flooded and the mail couldn’t be delivered. When the invitations were finally delivered, they went to the wrong addresses. Following their delivery into the right hands, an unusual number of people went to the doctor complaining of infected paper cuts because the envelopes had become super sealed due to the moisture in the air. It was almost as if someone, or something, did not want Paxton’s gala celebrating the 75th year of the Women’s Society Club to happen. Neither does Willa Jackson. Or at least she doesn’t want it to happen with her. Willa’s grandmother had been one of the founding members of the Club, but that was before her family had lost their fortune and prestige in the town. To make matters worse, the gala was to be held at the Blue Ridge Madam, the stately mansion on the hill that Willa’s family had built and lost. Now Willa runs the Au Natural Sporting Goods and Café and that is good enough for her. But past secrets and long buried truths are about to come to light that will change Willa’s and Paxton’s lives forever.

When first presented with this book to read, I resisted based solely on the cover. I know – don’t judge a book by its cover, but I admit, sometimes I do. I was ready for a book along the lines of a Debbie Macomber or Barbara Delinsky, something sappy with a “great” tragedy but happily ever after ending. Not really my cup-of-tea. What I found was a book I loved. I was instantly hooked when the invitations caused so much trouble and the author started talking about “signs.” The characters and their world kept me going to the end. This book gives you a little bit of everything (mystery, romance, humor, etc.) without trying too hard to do it all (if that makes sense.) I felt myself falling love with Walls of Water and its inhabitants. It is a place I would love to visit, or even better, live there. Alas it is imaginary … but still. The main thing which kept me reading, however, was the magic in the story. Not witches and wizards magic, but magic you can believe just might exist. To top it off, the friendship between Willa’s grandmother and Paxton’s grandmother brought tears to my eyes because we all want that friend, the one who says “She’s still here. I’m still here… as long as we are, we’ll always be friends.” I am recommending this book to everyone.

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