The Flower Workshop

The Flower Workshop. Ariella Chezar. 2016. 247 pages. 

Whether you’re a amateur gardener or avid floral designer this book will surely be an inspiration. The photos of Chezar’s arrangements are nothing short of stunning, providing a glimpse of the beauty found in nature all around us. 

While I’ve only been gardening for a few seasons now and haven’t explored much with flowers beyond a few window boxes and decorative pots, The Flower Workshop has me giddy for spring (as if my February cabin fever wasn’t bad enough already). Chezar brilliantly displays perfect combinations of colors and textures. Her arrangements are wonderfully unique and are full of endless, eye catching details. 

I appreciated the introduction on the tools necessary to get started. Ariella emphasizes what works for her without creating a “must buy list” that would break the bank for any new enthusiast. The Seasonal Flower Guide at the back of the book will also be a valuable resource as I get my feet wet in floral arranging.  

While the informative excerpts and the descriptions of her arrangements are emotional and personal, as an amateur I’m afraid I will need to supplement the steps in the book with additional assistance from Pinterest. Unfortunately there are few step by step instructions that include enough visuals for me to attempt to recreate Chezar’s’s masterpieces. The beautiful collections, however, will certainly serve as my inspiration and The Flower Workshop has found a new permanent residence on the top of my coffee table. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

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Riot Most Uncouth

Riot Most Uncoth. Daniel Friedman. 304 pages. 2015. 

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about Riot Most Uncouth by Daniel Friedman. While I enjoyed the novel and perhaps simply had too high of expectations, I had hoped for a pragmatic conclusion. 

The main character, Lord Bryon, is arrogant, odd, and narcissistic; making it difficult to feel connected to the story as it begins. Since taking a detective fiction literature class in college, sleuth stories have always been my favorite. Perhaps my natural affinity for a good, classic mystery created unrealistically high expectations, but I had certainly hoped for more. Fairly far into the storyline, (I’ll avoid spoilers by intentionally speaking in very vague terms) the plot takes a drastic and unexpected turn away from conventional detective story characteristics to more of a new age fantasy feel. I could see bits of this being foreshadowed and spent the rest of the novel hoping the author wouldn’t take the story in the direction it continued to follow. 

Putting my disappointments with the solution to the mystery aside, this is clearly a marvelously written piece of literature. Although I didn’t really care for the main character and I could see a less than ideal ending coming down the road, I found that I still couldn’t put the book down and finished it in just a few days. The word choice is spectacular and I found myself really enjoying Daniel Friedman’s overall writing style. I do plan on reading Friedman’s first novel Don’t Ever Get Old in the near future. I just hope it follows more realistic elements of classic mysteries. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. 

The Cat on the Mat is Flat


The Cat on the Mat is Flat. Andy Griffiths. 2007. 166 pages. 

This collection of humorous rhyming stories is sure to capture the attention of your young ones. There are nine short stories together in this book all of which have a heavy emphasis on rhyming words. Some of the stories even feel a little like tongue twisters with all the rhyming words. 

This would be a great text to use with early elementary students to practice identifying and recognizing rhyming words and patterns. 

Do you have a struggling reader who desperately wants to read chapter books but find it difficult to find books at their level? With 166 pages this book looks like a decent size chapter book but with few words on each page, your child is less likely to be overwhelmed or frustrated with large amounts of text. The rhyming words will also help struggling readers as they sound out new words. 

Kid Lit: Hey Jack!

  Hey Jack! The Best Party Ever. Sally Rippin. 2013. 42 pages. 

One of the (many) perks of being a school librarian is getting promotional information from book fair vendors in hopes that they will be the best match for supplying your school with your book fair materials. Yesterday a representative stopped by to share about Kane Miller books. In the packet of information she left was a copy of Hey Jack! The Best Party Ever by Sally Rippin. 

Hey Jack! is a series of beginning chapter books (great for kindergarten through 2nd grade). While I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, I can already tell some of my students will really enjoy this story. This would be a great selection for kids to practice reading with their parents. It is written at a level that will enable the students to read fairly independently while providing clear opportunities to discuss how the characters feel and respond to events in the text. The emotions of the characters are portrayed well and it is easy to see where you could pause and prompt your child to reflect on the characters’ reactions. 

Every few pages you will find a word highlighted in bold text. These words are likely going to be challenging or new words for students reading at this level and offer a clear opportunity to discuss the meaning of these new words. 

Overall, Hey Jack! The Best Party Ever was a cute, quick read that I’m excited to display on our “new books” shelf next week. There are more than 15 additional titles in the series that I plan on exploring as well.

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas

  2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas. Marie-Helene Bertino. 2015. 288 pages. 

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas delightfully describes the lives of three separate characters, while creating deep anticipation for how will intertwine in the end. This debut novel by Marie-Helene Bertino delicately depicts three largely isolated individuals, each with a few of their own rough characteristics, yet you find yourself enjoying the realism and being drawn into the honesty of their stories. 

While I was initially befuddled by the conclusion of the novel, I soon realized it kept me thinking and pondering the underlying meaning of each character and the story as a whole. I recommend reading the Extra Libros notes (included at the end of the copy I read) to gain insight as to Bertino’s significance of the patterns evidenced in her characters and the intended overall themes of the text. I had a renewed appreciation for the final outcome after reading this author interview. 

My only true grievance against 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas is the fact that there is a bit of vulgar language and dispassionate romance scenes that I don’t personally feel contributed meaningfully to the storyline.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 
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