Category Archives: Mary S.

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin (2009)

I am not usually a fan of medieval historical fiction, but this compelling book held my interest. Set in twelfth century England and Wales, Adelia Aguilar, a doctor and forensic expert, is asked by King Henry II to investigate claims that two skeletons found near the burned Glastonbury Abbey belong to King Arthur and Guinevere. Because of the times, Adelia has to pretend to be assisting Mansur, her servant, when solving crimes. A subplot deals with Adelia’s travelling companion Emma, widow of Lord Wolvercote, who is attempting to win back his lands and castle.

The characters are well developed, and there is a nice balance between historical details and suspense. Grave Goods is the third book in Ariana Franklin’s Adelia Aguilar (Mistress of the Art of Death) series, but you don’t have to read the first two to enjoy this one.

 

I Am Maru by Mugumogu (2011)

Maru is an adorable Scottish Fold cat living in Japan who became famous from a “The Sliding Box Cat” entry for a YouTube contest. The photos of Maru’s expressive face and round body in all sorts of creative positions are delightful. In addition to sliding into boxes, he loves jumping and squishing into trash cans, and peeking into bags. It is amazing to see him diving and pushing his chubby body through diet soda boxes.

Cute captions from Maru’s point of view increase the enjoyment of the photos. Maru was born on May 7, 2007, and went to live with the author on September 7, 2007. The book features Maru in the first two years of his life. The text is in English and Japanese.

In addition to reading I Am Maru by Mugumogu, it is a treat to see Maru in action on youtube –

Chicago’s State Street Christmas Parade by Robert P. Ledermann (2004)

Reminisce about Chicago’s Christmas parade and other unique Chicago Christmas experiences. The first Chicago Christmas parade started in 1934 and signaled the start of the Christmas season. Although I never attended the parade, I enjoyed reading about it and viewing the photos of the floats, bands, and celebrities during various eras in this book.

More than half of the book features other Chicago institutions featured prominently at Christmastime: Carson Pirie Scott and Company, Berghoff Restaurant, Miller’s Pub, and Marshall Field’s. It brought back memories of going downtown and viewing the magical windows of Carson’s, Field’s, Wieboldt’s, and Goldblatt’s on State Street. Marshall Field’s was also well known for its main floor decorations and the great tree in the Walnut Room. Ledermann also wrote Christmas on State Street, 1940’s and Beyond (2002).

 

The French Cat by Rachael Hale (2011)

Delight in the photos of cats set against the backdrop of Paris and French villages. It is lovely to see a pampered cat in a grand chateau sitting regally on a brocade chair, cats walking along cobblestone streets surrounded by Old World architecture, strays roaming among the tombstones in Montmartre Cemetery, and a cat relaxing on a wrought iron balcony. While expecting a child, Rachael, an animal photographer, moved with her new husband from New Zealand to southwest France. It was interesting reading about her background and how she undertook this project including the effort involved in photographing the cats that required patience, teasers, and treats.

This book will appeal to cat lovers, Francophiles, and photography lovers.

Check the catalog for The French Cat by Rachael Hale.

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer S. Holland (2011)

Have you ever heard of a dachshund nursing a piglet or a hippo and a tortoise lying side by side? This book features amazing stories of bonds between members of different species. Touching color photographs enhance the stories.

Jennifer Holland wonders “perhaps the need for a good friend is not just a human thing after all.” I especially enjoyed the story about Owen, a 600-pound baby hippo that survived a deadly tsunami in Kenya, and was put in a sanctuary with Mzee, a 130-year-old giant tortoise. Owen began learning tortoise ways, such as chewing on grass and being active during the day rather than the night. He licked Mzee’s face as the tortoise rested his head on Owen’s belly. At night they slept side by side, meaty torso against timeworn shell.

To see if this book is available check here and for more books by Jennifer S. Holland .

Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie Griffiths

Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie Griffiths (2010)
Delight in the photographs of breathtaking landscapes, intriguing people, everyday settings, amazing wildlife, and exotic locales. The 250 photos were selected from National Geographic’s massive image collection. The book is separated into chapters by the basic elements that make a photograph beautiful: light, composition, moment, time, palette, and wonder. Quotes (such as “Beauty comes as much from the mind as from the eye” by Greg Livingston) are interspersed throughout. I especially liked Raymond Gehman’s colorful photo of blue light illuminating Reed Flute Cave in China, and Phil Pummell’s photo of an albino peacock.

To learn more about the author and her work check out her website.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (2003)
I couldn’t put down this eerie and unsettling fast-paced psychological thriller by the author of Mystic River. Two U.S. marshals are sent to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane on a small island off Massachusetts in the summer of 1954 to investigate the disappearance of a patient. They must relinquish their guns and have trouble getting cooperation from the staff, especially the director Dr. Cawley.

Teddy Daniels, the lead marshal, is having a hard time dealing with the death of his wife two years ago. He has an ulterior motive for wanting to be on the island. A hurricane hits the island preventing Teddy and his partner, Chuck Aule, from leaving, but it gives them time to find out what is really going on after the patient mysteriously reappears. What is happening in Unit C? What is real and what is imagined? It will keep you guessing until the end.

Shutter Island has been made into a motion picture (reserve your copy today!) directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Try the Playaway format for a convenient worthwhile audio experience.

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper (2009)
This is an endearing book about an abandoned two-week-old kitten with a severe infection that took his sight. Gwen, the vet’s client, agrees to see the kitten, falls in love with him, and takes him home. Since Homer was named after the blind poet of the Greek epic, Odyssey, each chapter starts off with a quote from that poem. Gwen tells a humorous, touching story of life with Homer. Homer doesn’t let his “handicap” stop him. His senses of hearing and smell are enhanced. He is a bundle of energy, curious and affectionate. Find out how the two established female resident cats adjust to their new little brother. Read about how Homer enriches Gwen’s life and those who meet him (including her parents who were professed dog people). Gwen and Homer lived in New York on September 11, 2001. The book has an upbeat ending.

You might also enjoy these feline tales: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle by Nina Malkin.

Read an excerpt and visit the author’s website.