This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs by Gary Paulsen


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you do not know who Gary Paulsen is….then we can’t be friends….I supposed we COULD, but you must read his books!  Gary Paulsen is the Newbery Honor–winning author of Hatchet and Dogsong . In this book he shares surprising true stories about his relationship with animals, highlighting their compassion, intellect, intuition, and sense of adventure.

Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this would have been possible without his truest companion: his animals. Sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him across a desert. Through his interactions with dogs, horses, birds, and more, Gary has been struck with the belief that animals know more than we may fathom.

His understanding and admiration of animals is well known, and in This Side of Wild, which has taken a lifetime to write, he proves the ways in which they have taught him to be a better person.

I found this book in Juvenile non-fiction section at the library and due to that fact, the book to me was too short!  I want to hear more of his stories other than those I have already read!  I highly suggest you read about the very interesting life of Gary Paulsen!  You will wonder where and when did he have time to write over 200 books?  A fantastic author and person to read about!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In spite of the macabre topic, Mary Roach must have had a ball doing her footwork for this book. Not happy to glean her information from published sources, Mary traveled extensively to conduct her research, and had doors opened for her that I doubt get opened very often.  This book has so many interesting tidbits on what happens to our bodies after we die. I was amazed and fascinated by the history and current research being done on human cadavers.   Although this book is not for the faint of heart, as we are obviously talking about cadavers here, you will yet find the interesting history behind the medical research being done every day to SAVE YOUR LIFE!  This was a book that I had to take in stride, due to all the information in each chapter that sent me pondering into the next day!  If your up for it, check this book out and let me know what you think!!

The Best Man by Richard Peck


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Richard Peck, a Newbery Medalist, has written us readers a novel about gay marriage from a kid’s point of view!

Archer is a 6th grader who has a great life full of friends, family and wonderful teachers.  He soon finds out that his uncle Paul is about to marry another man.  The man he is going to marrying just happens to be Archer’s favorite student teacher.  Not only that, but Archer is to be the ring bearer!

The big talking point of the book will be that Archer realizes that his favorite uncle is gay, but this really wasn’t main point of the story. Yes, the uncle gets married to a man, but this was addressed in such a supportive and accepting way that it was never an “issue”. It’s just a part of life, no big deal to him.

This is a great book that emphasize the importance of family, no matter what the circumstance thrown their way.  A controversial topic handled with honesty, humor, and insight.   Richard Peck is an excellent story teller, the mundane and everyday ordinary lives of his characters are so real and well written!

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I read this book in 6 HOURS.  It was that GOOD!  The first book I read by Ruth Ware was “In a Dark, Dark Wood”, which was fantastic!

Travel reporter Lo Blacklock is given an amazing assignment, a week-long cruise aboard an exclusive luxury ship. Only ten cabins, so the small group of guests will be pampered as they sail from England to Norway. The excursion is lovely at first, but Lo’s fun comes to an end within the first night when she sees a woman tossed overboard from the cabin next door.

I really enjoyed the setting of this mystery. A small ship, alone on the chilly North Sea, spotty internet, seemingly cut off from the rest of the world, possibly with a killer on board. Very eerie and ominous atmosphere. With all passengers and crew accounted for, the others doubt Lo’s story. Then odd things start to happen.

I enjoyed this clever mystery very much. It made me nervous, but it was a good kind of nervous. Lo’s character was kind of a mess, always teetering on the brink madness, which was understandable given the circumstances. Loved the ending too, including the final twist!!

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Here we go, tackling my TO BE READ list!  Starting with “Spook” by Mary Roach…

I learned a number of interesting things reading Mary Roach’s survey of the historical and scientific efforts to prove the existence of a soul.  This is not a book written to debate various moral, religious, or philosophical beliefs. It’s not meant to prove or disprove life after death, the existence of souls, or if heaven is out there. Rather it explores the various research that have been implored to discover that. It’s meant to shed light and simply learn about history and interesting ideas!

The author begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves’ heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of “ectoplasm” in a Cambridge University archive.

This book is very entertaining and Mary Roach’s ability as a writer is clear. Not only is she light and humorous, but she’s also very personal, and we walk away from this book feeling as though we know her quite well, and I look forward to reading her other books.  <– In which, be prepared because I have several of her books on my TO BE READ list!

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Samantha Whipple is the last remaining family member of the Bronte’s – her father, author Tristan Whipple, being descended from one of the siblings of the Bronte patriarch, Patrick. Home schooled by her father, Samantha has grown up with the shadows of the Bronte sisters looming large over her life. Now, with her beloved father is dead and her mother is living in France; American Samantha has arrived at Oxford University to study English Literature.

While Samantha longs for anonymity, with her family background, this is hard to obtain. Before long, she is the focus of University magazines, while Sir John Booker, who runs the Bronte museum, is insistent that Samantha has inherited the ‘missing Bronte estate.’ However, Samantha has been taught that Sir John is, as far as her father was concerned, the ‘enemy’ and that there is no estate to inherit. In the meantime, she is at Oxford to learn something and has to contend with her tutor, the icily intelligent, Dr James Timothy Percival Orville III. Struggling with the attention from fellow students, her inability to utter anything intelligent under Orville’s sarcastic glare and the loss of her father, she suddenly finds a new problem. Books begin appearing – books which once belonged to her father and should no longer exist…

If you need a well written book that–in spite of serious themes–will lift your spirits, I cannot recommend THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS enough. I purposefully drew out the reading of this novel because I didn’t want it to end!  Reading this book lead me to pick up some of the Bronte sisters works…..a can of worms!  Enjoy!

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .

There is a new plague threatening to wipe out the human race…they call it “Wanderer’s Folly”.  It’s a disease of hallucinations, day dreams and nightmares.

Father and daughter, David and Ellie Arlen are on the run right from the start of the book.  Which is followed  by flashbacks revealing the events that lead to David running. The story continues like this, back and forth. David thinks he is protecting Ellie but she is a special girl, deep, insightful and she knows that he is lying to her.  She knows that her father is lying to her about her mother and exactly what they are running from.  Ellie is special….Ellie may be able to save the human race.

This book had me hooked from the beginning, it was eerie and full of surprises.  I have previously read his book “Little Girls”, which was fantastic as well!  The Night Parade could be a thriller or a horror novel, it was both and more!  I cannot wait to dig into some more books by Ronald Malfi, his writing is easy to follow as well as the story lines.  Check him out and all the books including this one that he has written!