‘Like a River Glorious’ by Rae Carson: Book 2 in the ‘Gold Seer’ trilogy


In the first book of this series, “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” Rae Carson introduces readers to an alternate old west during the California Gold Rush era, where Leah Westfall has a special and certainly timely magical ability: she senses the presence of gold. Her family uses it judiciously, but her life changes suddenly and drastically when her greedy uncle kills her parents and takes control of Leah in his evil attempt to use her special ability.

In this sequel, Leah, her best friend/boyfriend Jefferson, and all their companions from the westward trip have found a place to settle and mine gold (thanks to Leah’s ability). But her uncle has not given up on his desire to use Leah’s ability to get rich.

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‘Dog Man’ graphic novel by Dav Pilkey will entertain young readers big-time


Dav Pilkey is notorious for books that young boys adore, and with “Dog Man,” he cements his place of honor as the author who can lure even kids who don’t like to read and get them to read. In fact, they will devour “Dog Man” in one sitting. Really.

One seven-year-old boy who would rather play video games than read was hooked by this book after this reviewer read the first part to him out loud. He read the whole book by the next afternoon and is excited about the sequel. This book is guaranteed to get the attention of even the most reluctant reader.

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‘Ghosts’ graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier magically perfect


“Ghosts” is a graphic novel by the very talented writer and illustrator Raina Telgemeier. “Ghosts” is a story that touches on many important themes and will be enjoyed by a wide audience of readers. Younger readers will enjoy a scary story while older readers will understand the dilemma Cat, the main character, faces and they will feel her anguish.

Cat’s family moves to be in a place where her younger sister, Maya, will be able to breathe easier. Maya has cystic fibrosis, a degenerative disease that leaves her weak and struggling for breath at times. They move from Southern California north to Bahía de la Luna. Cat is sad that the new town is covered in fog most of the time, and she’s sad that she had to leave her friends.

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‘A Shadow Bright and Burning’ is YA fantasy that will hook the reader

a-shadowJessica Cluess manages to hook the reader on the very first page of “A Shadow Bright and Burning.” That’s not an easy feat — especially when the reader is weary of young adult fantasies with long titles. They all start to sound the same.

But after reading just the first few pages, “A Shadow Bright and Burning” was a difficult book to put down. It’s the story of Henrietta, an orphaned young girl in Victorian England (a magical, alternate Victorian England) who has a magical power — fire. She’s afraid that she’s a witch, and witches are killed in England, so she hides her power.

But she is “outed” when she uses her power to save the life of her best friend when one of the magical ancient monsters — who were unleashed by witches and magicians years before — tries to kill him. Her friend, Rook, is considered “unclean” because he bears the scars from being attacked by one of the monsters. He is one of the few who lived through the attack. The “unclean” are shunned by those untouched by monsters.

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‘The Great Shelby Holmes’ by Elizabeth Eulberg is a wonderful middle grade mystery


Of the many middle grade Sherlock Holmes wanna-be books written, Elizabeth Eulberg’s “The Great Shelby Holmes” certainly deserves a place of honor. It’s about a small young genius, Shelby, who loves solving mysteries. The narrator of the story is, of course, John Watson. He’s a young African American eleven-year-old who has just moved with his mother to New York City.

John — or Watson, as Shelby calls him — is used to moving around when his mother, who is a military physician, is transferred from post to post. But she has retired, so they are in New York City to stay. There is also the fact that they made the move without Watson’s father because his parents are getting divorced. Watson doesn’t know if and when he will talk to his father — much less get to see him.

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‘First Star I See Tonight’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ fans will love her latest romance, “First Star I See Tonight.” It’s pure Phillips, with a feisty heroine, a handsome and super-successful romantic interest, and a plot filled with humor, romantic tension, and a touch of danger.

Fans will also enjoy a chance to meet up with people from past stories as this book is filled with characters from the Chicago Stars, Phillips’ made-up Chicago suburban football team. In fact, Piper Dove, the main character/detective, is a Bears fan, much to the amusement and chagrin of Cooper Graham, a recently retired Stars player who has gone into the nightclub business.

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Young dog can’t stop shaking; shelter error almost cost him his life

Just published on Huffington Post:


When Buster was put on the kill list at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa, Florida, volunteers knew that they needed to start networking him quickly. He was posted on their rescue Facebook page, Rescue Me Tampa, with the other dogs who were on the list to be killed when their kennel was needed the next day.

Unfortunately for Buster, the shelter notes stated that he had been surrendered because he growled and showed his teeth at a child. That information can make the difference between a dog getting adopted or rescued — or dying. In Buster’s case, that information was especially tragic because it was incorrect. Luckily for Buster, his owner saw the posting on Facebook and posted a long comment correcting that misconception.

Her post made it clear that she was heartbroken at giving him up. She wrote:

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Fall picture book roundup

FullSizeRender (13)School has started, and there are many new picture books to get children excited about a year of reading and learning. From cats to mice, and princesses to inventors, there are books for every reading level and every interest. Even a book about dragons.

papillonOn the light side are two animal-themed books. “Papillon, Book One, The Very Fluffy Kitty” by A. N. Kang  (Disney-Hyperion Books) is a charming story about a big white cat who is so fluffy that he floats. His owner thinks of clever ways to keep Papillon grounded, using hats and other accessories, but finally Papillon throws off the accoutrements and follows a new friend. Unfortunately, he floats out the window and away into the wild. How Papillon makes a new friend and finds his way home will have young readers demanding this as their nightly read.

mountain mouseAnother book featuring a dare-devil animal is “I Am the Mountain Mouse (Four Furry Tales, One Crazy Mouse)” by Gianna Marino (Viking Books). There are four cautionary tales about the folly of being careless. And while the “mountain mouse” doesn’t get killed by the camel or the cat or the other dangers, the reader quickly gets the idea that being careful is a necessary characteristic if one wants to live a long, healthy life! Interestingly, Marino choses to make the main character a white mouse, while the three mouse companions are gray field mice. The main character gains a semblance of wisdom in the end (which the author clearly indicates may only be temporary). More adventures may follow.

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Two senior dogs in Miami urgently need rescue or adoption

While the brand new county shelter in Miami says it’s “no kill,” the numbers don’t reflect that. Those who work hard to network the dogs in the shelter have seen what happens to large dogs, bully breeds and senior dogs. In fact, right now there are two senior dogs at the shelter who volunteers are hoping will get pulled or adopted before they are killed for being “aggressive” or sick.

Both these senior dogs are black, which is an additional strike against them. Not only are black dogs the color of dogs most euthanized in shelters, older black dogs are almost impossible to get adopted.

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Volunteers heartbroken that two special dogs to be killed tomorrow at shelter

Volunteers are desperate to save two dogs who are on the list to be killed tomorrow when their kennels are needed. Cedes is a sweet senior dog who appears to have had a difficult life with little love. Yet she is sweet and affectionate. The other dog, Karma, has known only love in her home. But when her owner fell and went into rehab, the foster who was keeping her brought her to the shelter when the owner was not able to take Karma back.

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‘Thieving Weasels’ by Billy Taylor: Young adult humorous con story


Billy Taylor’s young adult novel, “Thieving Weasels” is filled with humor, action, and lots of lies. It’s about a seventeen year old who was raised by a family of con artists. What Cam (the main character) makes painfully clear in the story is that his family was a uniquely unsuccessful group of con artists. They were, in fact, rather pathetic.

He has grown up with no stability, no sense of honor, and no pride in anything. He has learned to lie and steal and cheat, and he has learned that those abilities have been of primary importance to his family. So when he runs away from his family at thirteen and lies his way into a fancy boarding school, he decides to be the opposite of everything his family was, everything he has been taught. He learns that he likes doing things the honest way and earning the rewards that come through hard work. Cam has a girlfriend who, in spite of her wealthy background, loves him. He works hard to pay for school and has been accepted into Princeton.

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Young dog can’t stop shaking at shelter; he’s on the kill list for tomorrow morning


Buster’s owner commented about him on his Facebook thread. She was heartbroken at giving him up (please, no negative comments). Here is what she wrote:

Buster was not surrendered for growling at a child – in fact he was never even in the vicinity of a child in his new home – the shelter notes are wrong. He was surrendered because he could not get along with our other dog. We tried everything we could for 5 months using positive reinforcement to break him of starting fights with our other dog – we even took them both to a trainer but Buster just would not quit – and most of it seemed to be him thinking he was protecting me which I read is a very common trait of a black mouth cur. I don’t know much about his history before me but his scars tell a story of abuse. He was terrified and shook the first few days he was with us too but warmed up and was house trained within a few weeks. He’s very smart and very loveable and it broke my heart to take him back Before you start with the insults please know that I sincerely love this dog and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. My other dog is much larger and Buster always came out of the altercation with minor injuries – I wrote a nice note on the paperwork that was given to the shelter when he was brought in hoping someone would adopt him quickly. I miss him terribly but I don’t miss the dog fights – maybe he will do better with another dog – we have a third smaller dog he got along with just fine. I will gladly pay the adoption fees and/or make a cash donation to anyone willing to rescue my Buster and give him the loving home he deserves.

It’s great to know he didn’t growl at a child. He is a wonderful dog who gets along with smaller dogs and loves people. He did have some interest, but he is not out of the shelter yet.

Buster is terrified to be back at the county shelter again — and now he’s on the like to be killed tomorrow as soon as his kennel is needed. The volunteers are heartbroken. They fell in love with Buster when he was at the shelter originally.

When he was adopted, they were thrilled that this sweet, happy dog would have a loving home. He had come into the shelter with several other dogs and they noted then that he showed no aggression. Now, though, he can’t stop shaking.  Continue reading