A sweet but uneven animal tale that aims to touch cat lovers’ hearts.

MEW-MEW AND ME

Sorhage’sdebut children’s picture book showcases the love between a girl and her unusual cat.

When the little girl first sees Mew-Mew, the cat is wearing a full cowgirl outfit and riding a cute brown-and-white horse at a ranch. The girl immediately falls in love and decides to bring Mew-Mew home with her. But this is no ordinary kitty: When she arrives at the girl’shome, she’s wearing a flowing purple skirt, cowgirl boots and a lavender blouse and carrying a purple backpack. The little girl imagines that her kitty speaks with a cowboy accent, using words like “[h]owdyand “honky-tonk” as she does such things as lasso a lizard and play the electric guitar. The book’s personification of Mew-Mew is charming, but there’s minimal storyline, conflict or character development. Instead, it’s simply a series of moments in which Mew-Mew acts almost like a person. The little girl repeatedly talks about how much she treasures and loves Mew-Mew while watching her play on the computer, chase birds and dance, among other things. There are some delightfully humorous moments, such as when the little girl pinches her nose shut to block the stench of cat food or when Mew-Mew trusses up the lizard during a calf-roping competition. The illustrations are vibrant, with cheerful, bright colors that showcase the happy kitty and her adventures, although they sometimes lack detail and uniqueness. The old-school computer font gives the book a robotic feel, which seems at odds with the warmth and love of the story, and the simplistic presentation—alternating pages of text and illustrations—can sometimes feel repetitive. The text is also awkward to read aloud, as its periodic attempts at rhyme often feel forced. Punctuation and capitalization are also inconsistent, as when the girl makes up nicknames such as “Scouting kitty” and “Yeehaw Kitty.”

A sweet but uneven animal tale that aims to touch cat lovers’ hearts.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482713527

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers...

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EXHALATION

Exploring humankind's place in the universe and the nature of humanity, many of the stories in this stellar collection focus on how technological advances can impact humanity’s evolutionary journey.

Chiang's (Stories of Your Life and Others, 2002) second collection begins with an instant classic, “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” which won Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette in 2008. A time-travel fantasy set largely in ancient Baghdad, the story follows fabric merchant Fuwaad ibn Abbas after he meets an alchemist who has crafted what is essentially a time portal. After hearing life-changing stories about others who have used the portal, he decides to go back in time to try to right a terrible wrong—and realizes, too late, that nothing can erase the past. Other standout selections include “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” a story about a software tester who, over the course of a decade, struggles to keep a sentient digital entity alive; “The Great Silence,” which brilliantly questions the theory that humankind is the only intelligent race in the universe; and “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny,” which chronicles the consequences of machines raising human children. But arguably the most profound story is "Exhalation" (which won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Short Story), a heart-rending message and warning from a scientist of a highly advanced, but now extinct, race of mechanical beings from another universe. Although the being theorizes that all life will die when the universes reach “equilibrium,” its parting advice will resonate with everyone: “Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so.”

Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers in a big way.

Pub Date: May 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-94788-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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