Review: A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is time to re-visit Paddington!

I first read Paddington in the 1970s and, just and Popeye convinced me to choke down -ugh- spinach, because of Paddington I tried, I tried, to like marmalade, with all its icky bits of -shiver- skin. I devoured every Paddington book and my amazing artist big sister painted me a t-shirt with a tag on it that read “Please Look After My Little Sister.” Now that the movie is coming out (and Michael Bond is in it!!) it is time to revel in this gem again.

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Review: The Crossover

The Crossover
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first I wasn’t sure if a free-verse book about basketball could hold my interest. But it’s so much more than that. Crossover is about family, about brothers, about growing up and the relationships that make life rich and full. I also think it genuinely has kid appeal for 6-7-8 grade,

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Review: Everyone’s a Critic: Winning Customers in a Review-Driven World

Everyone's a Critic: Winning Customers in a Review-Driven World
Everyone’s a Critic: Winning Customers in a Review-Driven World by Bill Tancer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Occasionally I like to read something from the business world and see what applicability it might have for librarianship. Hence, this.

The first 90 or so pages introduce online review sites and who posts to them and why. The rest of the book discusses what you can learn from reviews of your business and those of your competitors.

In a nutshell:
Have a passion for what you do. What are your business’s goals, mission, and vision? Make sure they are clear to you, your staff, and your customers. Work every day to fulfill them. Do online reviews of your business address them? Are you meeting these goals? Are there services for which your customers are asking that you have missed providing? What do your customers want that no one is providing? Can your business step in and fill this gap?

When you do read reviews of your business, sincerely and specifically thank customers who write a good review. Respond to those who write bad reviews. Apologize. Invite them to converse in person or on the phone to see what you can do to make it right and to give them a better experience next time.

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Review: The Hilltop: A Novel

The Hilltop: A Novel
The Hilltop: A Novel by Assaf Gavron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my goals for the current year is to fill in some of my knowledge gaps. I picked up this book because it is set in a West Bank settlement in Israel. I had to be patient with it, give myself time to become comfortable with the style and setting. Land is so complicated in Israel. The town in this book is partially on Israeli land, partially on privately owned Arab land, and partially in a nature preserve that is not supposed to be built upon. There is a neighboring Arab village, but they don’t have any major skirmishes. The government goes back and forth, around and around, delivers supplies, demands evacuation, sends soldiers to protect them, sends soldiers to arrest them. The characters are largely motivated by good, lose their way, help each other, do very bad things. Almost every character, from every side, has done something for which he or she could end up in jail. I enjoyed this picture of one slice of Israeli life, but it certainly will not help anyone separate right and wrong.

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Review: Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir

Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir
Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir by Robert Timberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this book, Timberg chronicles his life post Vietnam War; he’s an Annapolis grad Marine who, just days from his going-home date, gets horrifically burned when the vehicle he’s on explodes a mine.

This story is at its best when Timberg is describing the procedures he endured and the people and experiences that motivated him to return to life, despite being physically disfigured. His bravery and intelligence, and those of his first wife, are pretty incredible. There’s a lot to think about — How much can a marriage bear? Which of your personal characteristics make you you, and what can you do without and still be you? What do you do when medicine has reached it limit of how much it can improve your condition?

Three stars because the book gets weird at the end. Timberg became a journalist and covered Washington. He spends many of the last chapters talking about the book he wrote on Iran Contra (Nightingale’s Song), and his wish to prove that North, Pointdexter, and MacFarlane were just swell guys who didn’t really do anything wrong. It seemed completely out of place in this book.

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Review: El Deafo

El Deafo
El Deafo by Cece Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This just might be a perfect book.

El Deafo tells the story of Cece, who became deaf as a result of an illness when she was four. Cece just wants to be a kid. She wants to play with her friends and blend in at school. She wants to jump on the trampoline at the cute neighbor boy’s house and make dirt soup and just have fun. The book follows her through elementary school as she learns to speak up for herself and choose her own friends. Engaging from start to finish for kids and adults.

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Review: Yes Please

Yes Please
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Skip the introduction which is a little self indulgent and boring. Poehler’s voice comes through (as does Jean Luc Picard’s) in later chapters.

I love Amy Poehler. I love Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. This book . . . Well, she tells charming stories about growing up in the 80s in a suburb of Boston and learning to improv and shares her life philosophy. It’s not terrible but it doesn’t share anything new or critical. It isn’t super-funny. I found I wasn’t upset if I missed parts because the radio came on while I was brushing snow off the roof of the car.

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