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About Our Reviewers

Ruta Arellano – Ruta received her B.A. from the University of California, the one in Berkeley.   She served as the Associate Director of the California Self-Esteem Task Force and later worked as a research specialist with multiple state agencies.   She tends to read and review crime mysteries, popular fiction, survey books, books on art and interior design, business books and those books that are hard to classify.   Ruta also writes reviews for the New York Journal of Books, Sacramento Book Review and San Francisco Book Review.

Joseph Arellano – Joseph received his B.A. in Communication Arts from the University of the Pacific, where he wrote music and entertainment reviews for The Pacifican and the campus radio station, KUOP-FM.   He then received his J.D. (law degree) from the University of Southern California, which is why he’s pretty good at writing legal disclaimers.   He has served as a Public Information Officer for a state agency, which involved a lot of writing and editing work under heavy pressure and deadlines, and he was an adjunct professor at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).   Joseph has done pre-publication editing and review work for a publisher based in England.   He also writes – or has written – reviews for New York Journal of Books, Sacramento Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, Portland Book Review and Tulsa Book Review.

Munchy – Munchy is a senior Norwegian Forest Cat of the brown tabby variety.   He only writes reviews of children’s books and only when he absolutely feels like it.   (His children’s book reviews have appeared in San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Review.)   He intends to become the furry Publisher and Chief Feline Officer (CFO) of Brown Cat Books.

Dave Moyer – Dave is the author of the novel Life and Life Only and of several published short stories and essays.   He regularly reviews books for this site and for the New York Journal of Books.   Moyer is a former college baseball coach.   A music lover and Bob Dylan junkie, Moyer has played drums in various ensembles over the years (but not with the Rolling Stones).   He majored in English at the University of Wisconsin and earned a doctorate from Northern Illinois University.   Moyer is a school superintendent in Southeastern Wisconsin and is an instructor for Aurora University.   He currently resides in the greater Chicago area.

Kimberly Caldwell – Kimberly is a freelance writer and editor in Connecticut.   She earned a B.A. in Journalism and Business at Lehigh University, and earned her chops as a reporter and copy editor at a daily newspaper, an editor of electronic display industry news, neurology studies and romance novels, and as the general manager of an independent fine-dining restaurant.

Kelly Monson – Kelly is a former school principal and special education teacher who earned her Doctorate, Educational Specialist Degree, Master’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University and a second Master’s in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.   She is an avid reader and writer and travels extensively (with and without her three children).   She currently resides in the greater Chicago area.

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We have winners!

Yes, Munchy did his feline duty and drew five winners from the large plastic container that contained many, many entries.   The winners of a fine trade paperback copy of Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell are:   Angela C., Jessica L., Lindsay Pasch, Bookfool, and Pearl Berger.

Our winners came from the states of Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.

Many thanks to Valerie at Hachette Books for the copies of Beat the Reaper.Beat the reaper audio 

Congratulations to our five winners, and thanks to all who entered this contest!   At some point in the near future, we’ll be hosting our fourth book giveaway.   Bookmark this site!

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Like A Tiger

If there’s one thing I know, as an “80 year old” and somewhat mature cat, it’s that children love felines.   They like to call out to us (“Here, kitty!”), pet us, hold us, pick us up and even carry us around.   Sometimes this results in bad consequences, but that’s a story for another day.   The point is, what animal would be better to teach kids about new words and new ideas?   (Quiet, you dogs.)

In the words of humans, this book is full of “illustrations of cats, along with rhyming couplets about them which require the reader to fill in words demonstrating opposites, like tall and short, nice and mean, young and old.”   Maybe they should have included furry and bald!   Up and down?   Anyway, this is a book meant to show the smaller humans – precisely those in the terrible 2 to loveable 5 age group – that some things are like other things and some things are different than other things.   Ouch – that made my head hurt to think about it!

Each page of the book shows all kinds of cats, including ones that look like friends of mine (nice) and ones that are my enemies (not so nice).   All the cats were wonderfully drawn by someone named Ami Rubinger, who may be a big cat himself.   Most little humans will love this book – I think – the way I love Purina’s Party Mix cat treats!   And a lot of big humans, too.   Don’t be surprised if this book turns your family into a bunch of Rhymin’ Simons!

Oh, I’m supposed to tell you that this would make a purr-fectly excellent baby shower gift.   I give this little big book a rating of four paws plus one tail.   Or is that tale?   I get confused, I know that one’s a story and one’s part of me that I use to balance my body with.   One of them, I know, comes in handy when I’m climbing fences.   Oh, sorry…   I’m supposed to be giving you a New York Times Book Review-ish chat-up about the book.   So I’ll pontificate long enough to say that this is one book as good as milk served with cream on top.   Tell your friends but not the dogs…   Yeowk!

Abbeville Kids, $13.95, 28 pages

big cat small cat

This review was written by Munchy the brown Norwegian Forest Cat.   Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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