Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Something Furry Underfoot, Dog Shaming and Guys Can Be Cat Ladies Too!

It's the holiday season - and time to look at a few interesting stocking stuffers for pet lovers!

"Something Furry Underfoot", by Haslett author Amy L. Peterson (Amazon, $13.95), is a highly entertaining paperback that's just delightful to read. 

Peterson offers fascinating memoirs and funny insights on a wide spectrum of animals that her husband brings home, including gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, and other assorted critters. 

If that was all that happened, this would be a short book - but there are more chapters on the challenges faced when Peterson, her husband, and her four step-children deal with dogs, rabbits, hedgehogs, a stray cat, and a domesticated duck. 

The author is a great storyteller; the animals really come alive as she describes the various ways that the animals were acquired and their idiosyncrasies. 

She showcases many of the, their joys and problems in individual chapters, providing many funny and touching scenes. She also offers 50 succinct but useful tips on animal care. 

The great cover design, by Patricia Adams, provides colorful images of many of the animals who appear in this book. Cute photos of them are available at the author's website: 

Peterson is also the author of "From Zero to Four Kids in 30 Seconds", which deals with all the challenges of being a stepmother. A portion of the proceeds from all of her books will be donated to animal rescue organizations.

"Dog Shaming", by Pascale Lemire (Three Rivers Press, $15.00), is a compilation of all-new, never before seen photos by the woman who has the popular website

This book consists of full color photos of dogs provided by their owners, along with a handwritten sign that indicates what the pooches have done wrong, such as "I destroyed this couch!". Since the dogs (usually) look so innocent, it is hard to imagine all the trouble they can cause!
"Guys Can Be Cat Ladies Too", by Michael Showalter (Abrams image, $14.95), is an odd book that shouldn't really be taken too seriously; it is more silly than it is funny.

Broken down into three tongue-in-cheek sections, it is designed to help guys understand, appreciate, and bond with the cats in their lives.

The graphics include humorous photos and artwork, and the text covers a wide range of subjects, including feline communication, travel, and cat hoarding. 

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed books since 1987.

Find these books and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 15, 2013.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Holiday Newsletter

Happy Holidays from Curious!

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

We're getting into the giving spirit....

... by offering 30% OFF Manga, Mysteries and Foreign Language through the end of December!

Gift Certificates are 20% OFF until the end of the month. 
Save some cash while giving your favorite booklover EXACTLY what they want -- and let them make the hard choices.

We've restocked the shop with Gift Books sure to please everyone on your holiday shopping list!
Find great books for your fashionista friend, beer-swilling brother, green-thumbed grandma or crazy co-worker. 

Be sure to browse our selection of little books for readers of all ages. 
They're just the right size to stuff into a stocking!

New Acquisitions:

We're packed to the gills with fabulous new acquisitions; far too many to list. 

Here's a sampling of what's new (and used!) at Curious:
Children's Holiday Books; Coloring Books; Vintage Paper Dolls; Gift-Quality Art Books; Agatha Christie paperbacks; Nature books (Horses! Orchids! Birds! Trees!); Ayn Rand paperbacks; Manga and Graphic Novels; Dr. Who paperbacks; Stephen King paperbacks and hardcovers; Arts & Crafts how-to guides; Beautifully Illustrated Books for Kids; Comic Books; Obscure Japanese Art Collections (in Japanese!); Michigan history; Poetry; World History; bestselling fiction paperbacks; hardcover Science Fiction and more.

JUST RELEASED -- A fabulous assortment of SIGNED Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks!
Stop by the shop and browse through this impressive collection, which includes a veritable laundry list of the genre's greatest authors. Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, Frank Herbert, Glen Cook, Robert Asprin, Norman Spinrad, Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman, Harlan Ellison, Donald Wollheim, Frederik Pohl, Michael Bishop, Robert Bloch, L. Sprague de Camp, Jack Williamson, Steven Brust, Patricia Wrede, Algis Budrys, David Brin, Roger Zelazny, Clifford Simak, Alan Dean Foster and MANY MORE! Prices range from $5.95 to $300. 

Our New Books section includes Lingg Brewer's "Dreams Gone Wrong," a local historian's take on MSU's involvement with the CIA and the Vietnam War. Read Ray's review, and pick up a copy for yourself! It's an interesting read, and a good gift for MSU alumni and East Lansing residents. 

Shop News & Gossip:

Holiday Hours:
Curious will CLOSE EARLY, at 6 p.m., on Thursday, December 12.

We'll be open until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and closed on Christmas Day. 

On December 31st we'll close at 3 p.m., and will be closed on New Years Day.


Community Events:

East Lansing's Winter Glow Festival was a blast! 
Thanks to those who visited the shop, as part of their holiday celebrations. 
To find out more about upcoming East Lansing events, like the Mid-Winter Singing Festival, visit the Community Events page

MSU's Wharton Center has announced their upcoming season!
We're especially intrigued by Peter and the Starcatcher: A Grownup's Prequel to Peter Pan.

The next Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show 
will be held at the Lansing Center on Sunday, April 6th, 2014.
It's the largest show of its kind in the Midwest. Mark your calendar! 

Don't forget:
With your purchase, we'll validate your parking for City of East Lansing parking ramps and lots. 

Here's wishing you a safe, happy, healthy holiday season.

Many thanks, and we hope to see you soon!

Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Dreams Gone Wrong: Peace, War and Murder at Michigan State University by Lingg Brewer

Two recent books by local authors offer fascinating insights into historic eras. One focuses on contemporary times while the other delves deep into Michigan's historic past.

"Dreams Gone Wrong" by Mason author Lingg Brewer (Brewer, $14.95) is a well-designed trade paperback that's subtitled:" Peace, War, and Murder at Michigan State University."

It deals with an intriguing topic that's likely to capture considerable local interest, analyzing MSU's involvement with the Vietnam War.

The 310-page book also explores the circumstances that led to the tragic deadly violence at an East Lansing house in January 1975.

Brewer relates a vivid picture of life in Lansing and East Lansing, as the towns developed, grew and prospered. Many local landmarks and personalities are colorfully depicted. He also provides insights into the background of assorted East Lansing gamblers and traces the career of a out-of-control killer.

MSU's involvement in the early part of the Vietnam War is examined in detail, particularly the positions of MSU President John Hannah and Professor Wesley Fishel.

Ngo Dinh Diem, who'd been installed as President of South Vietnam in 1954, also plays a major part in MSU's controversial later involvement, which provided cover for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Brewer, an MSU graduate, former member of the Michigan Legislature and a small real estate developer, offers a highly entertaining exploration of historical events.

"Beyond Pontiac's Shadow" by East Lansing author Keith R. Widder (MSU Press, $49.95) is a deluxe, heavy, oversized volume that includes many color maps, photos and drawings.

Subtitled "Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763", the book deals with the capture of Fort Michilimackinac by Objiwe Indians from an unsuspecting British garrison on June 2, 1763.

Warriors were playing a game of baggitiway (early lacrosse), but broke off and stormed the fort. The Ojibwes wanted to kick the British out of the Northern Territory; fur trade was effectively stopped until the fort was later taken back.

Widder's scholarly book explores the context of the Ojibwe behavior, providing insights into Indian mindset as well as those of the Canadians and Europeans.

It includes many detailed footnotes, a 13-page bibliography and an index, making it ideal for dedicated readers who want to know more about Michigan's fascinating past.

The author has served as curator of history for the Mackinac State Historic Parks for over 25 years.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed books since 1987.

This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 8, 2013.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ray's Reviews: John Sandford's Storm Front

"Storm Front" by John Sandford (Putnam, $27.95) is the latest in his popular series showcasing Virgil Flowers, a resident agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Although Sandford is well-known for his bestselling "Prey" books featuring Lucas Davenport, his Flowers series has been gaining in popularity. 

Sandford's entertaining novel is a bit on the quirky side - there are no murders this time - but nasty, violent thugs and bad guys abound. 

Flowers is investigating "Ma" Nobles in a case involving counterfeit lumber sales; he gets a call from Davenport asking him to help him in another tough situation.

Ellijah Jones, a minister and professor at a local college, has for years been involved in an archeological dig in Israel. He's made a remarkable discovery of an ancient inscribed stone, but instead of just turning it over, he steals it and smuggles it out of the country.

Jones has serious health issues and wants to auction the religious relic off himself, but things don't go as planned. 

An Israeli investigator joins Flowers in the hunt for Jones - she notes all of the people who are after it: "Palestinian crazies, Syrian crazies, Egyptian crazies, maybe a couple of Israeli crazies. Turks. Some Americans too, I suppose."

Most of the book focuses on the search for the sacred object; Flowers gets assistance from various authorities who are also interested in tracking it down.

A television journalist and Jones' daughter Ellen add to the excitement with their contributions; other crimes are committed.

Jones proves remarkably elusive; when he's found, the real hunt is just beginning. You'll need a scorecard to keep track of all the plot twists and turns; it's a more complicated case than usual.

This is the seventh book in the series - in the novel's acknowledgement, he thanks his writing partner Michelle Cook for her contribution. Cook, a journalist and screenwriter, married the author in October.

Sandford (the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize winner John Camp) is following a trend of best-selling authors like James Patterson and Clive Cussler. By having a writing partner, he's able to capitalize on his popularity and get more novels published per year.

Purists won't like it, but his legion of followers will still buy anything with John Sandford's name on it.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987. 

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, December 1, 2013.