Book Review: The Case of the Best Pet Ever by James Preller


Author: James Preller
Title: The Case of the Best Pet Ever 
Publication Info: New York : Scholastic, c2003
Summary/Review:

I read this book out loud with my son. This is a Jigsaw Jones mystery and seems very similar to the Encyclopedia Brown books I read as a child – boy detective, girl sidekick, bully arch rival. I have to admit that this book seemed better written and this volume of the series is very funny as well as a clever mystery. 

Rating: ***

Book Review: Civil War on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne


AuthorMary Pope Osborne
TitleCivil War on Sunday 
Publication Info: New York : Random House, 2000.
Summary/Review:

In read this book aloud to my daughter who loves Magic Tree House books or “Annie and Jack books” as she calls them. In this story, Jack and Annie travel to the Civil War where they go to a field hospital and encounter Clara Barton, black soldiers, and a familiar looking drummer boy. I was impressed that this book explored the horrors of war and slavery at a level that kids can understand. 

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: Keith Richards: Under the Influence


Title: Keith Richards: Under the Influence
Release Date: 2015
Director: Morgan Neville
Summary/Review:

This Netflix documentary follows Keith Richards as he works in the studio on new songs and travels through America to sites connected with American music. Theses scenes are intercut with archival footage of Richards and the Stones. The influences in this movie are musical – Blues, Country, & Reggae – and Richards talks about his love for music and how he creates his own. Musicians talking about music is the best kind of music documentary. It has all the joy and none of the bitterness of Richard’s autobiography.  As an added bonus, Tom Waits appears for a few scene-stealing interviews.
Rating: ****

Book Review: Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville


Author: Eliza Granville
TitleGretel and the Dark
Narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Stefan Rudnicki
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2014)
Summary/Review:

Deeply rooted in Grimm’s fairy tales, this novel tells two stories. One set in 1899 Vienna is about a woman given the name “Lillie” who claims to be a robot and is brought to psychologist Dr Josef Breuer (a real life figure who rather creepily keeps Lillie in his home and falls in love with her). The other story is from the point of view of a girl named Krysta who is gradually revealed to be daughter ofthe doctor at a concentration camp in the 1940s. The two stories are connected but I was surprised by how they are connected but also wondered why as it is rather bizarre. The latter parts of the book are most interesting and I like the idea of the power of storytelling but found this story to be rather mediocre beyond setting a creepy, gothic mood. 

Recommended booksThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Little Book by Selden Edwards and Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Rating: **1/2