Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

This book looks like a children's picture book but it's for adults. The material may be a little mature for most children (my 14 year old read it and told me he didn't get it) but it's suitable for any reader.
The story follows a woman who, while walking one night, discovers a bookmobile that houses everything she has ever read. She spends the rest of her life searching for the bookmobile. She does find it now and again but she becomes obsessed with the place.
I can understand that feeling. I can imagine touching each book I have read, re-discovering books I had forgotten (and perhaps finding those few stories that I remember but for the life of me can't remember their titles).
I don't think I would react the same as the woman in the book but I certainly can understand it.
It's really short - about a 10 minute read for most readers but it's entertaining.

Silly Street by Jeff Foxworthy

I don't normally post children's books unless they really catch my attention. I was a little shocked when I picked up this book from the library. It's a rather young children's book and not the juvenile literature I was expecting.
However, it was a really fun read. There were maybe 10 poems in this collection but every one caused me to giggle. It reminds me of Shel Silverstein and made me really wish it was longer.
It's an early reader book so nearly anyone can read this book. It's silly and funny so it should appeal to anyone with a sense of humor.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time 4 Learning

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. Time4Learning can be used for homeschool, afterschool and Be sure to come back and read about my experience.

It's my goal that Time 4 Learning will help my son excel in his math class which he has already taken once before and still doesn't seem to be getting it. I will post often as he has progress.

YATopia Blog Contest

I follow a good deal of reading blogs and this week YATopia is having a contest to celebrate their followers
The winners can win books or a pair of earrings. Check out the site for the rules and what is up for winning. I am gunning for the Diana Wynne Jones books - Howl's Moving Castle is a family favorite and we were so sad to hear she had passed away this past weekend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

I have to say it is a real treat to read 2 amazing books in a row. Joshilyn Jackson has a way of weaving a story that really complimented Joe Hill's book - not that they have anything to do with each other except that I read them back to back.
The story follows Laurel Gray Hawthorne as she deals with a family crisis. One night she wakes to find a body floating in her pool. At first she thinks it's her daughter and finds it's her daughter's best friend. Over the next few days, Laurel struggles with the death and the possibility it wasn't an accident. She worries about her daughter's involvement and her daughter's house guest, Bet, who is a 3rd cousin. Bet comes from DeLop which is a very impoverished town that houses a good portion of Laurel's mother's relatives.
It doesn't seem like a lot for a plot but Joshilyn Jackson weaves family drama, past and present, into her mysteries. Her story shows a raw side of Southern families that makes me grateful I live in Washington (not that I don't have family drama).
It's a touching, beautiful story that pulls Laurel out of her shell and makes her realize what she really wants out of life. I love that there is just enough family drama but that Joshilyn doesn't go over the top and make the reader dislike the characters. There's a little bit of each of her characters in everyone - it wasn't hard for me to see them in myself and I think that's what I loved best.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Horns by Joe Hill

It's gotten to the point that if the book is written by Joe Hill I'm going to read it regardless of the plot. I didn't really look to see what this book was about when I picked it up and was surprised by the wonderful concept that is this book. It sounds like a horror novel but plays out more like a thriller.
It's been a year since Ig Perrish's girlfriend, Merrin, was mudered. He was supposed to go to London for work but ended up staying behind as the number one suspect in her murder. His life is ruined and everyone secretly believes he did it. After going to the murder site and getting drunk, Ig wakes up with horns growing out of his head. He quickly discovers that the horns come with a particularly irritating power that encourages people to tell him their darkest secrets and ask his permission to sin.
It doesn't take long before he discovers that no one really believed he was innocent and blames him for ruining their lives. It, also, doesn't take long for him to discover what really happened that night.
The book covers just a couple days but steps back in time often to inform the reader of key events that led up to the morning of the horns.
Ig believes he is becoming a demon and begins to question God and religion. There are so many twists and turns as he discovers that he may have been the only person in his life that didn't have secrets.
Joe Hill builds up the suspense but leaves the reader with such a sweet and touching ending that you almost forget what led up to it. Great book for lovers of thrillers, horror and even those who like to ponder religious beliefs.
I can't wait for the next Joe Hill book to come to the library. I think he is going to give his dad (Stephen King) a run for the title of King of the Novels.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun by Lois Winston

I first discovered this book on a fellow writer's blog. It was interesting but I don't often find books that I see on blogs since my access is limited (I know I could go online but then my budget would never forgive me). Imagine my surprise when this book appeared on the list of new books at the library. When I finally worked my way down the pile of books from the library to this gem I devoured it. (Why is it that all my requests are available at the same time?)
Lois Winston has created a nice little mystery. Assualt with a Deadly Glue Gun introduces Anastasia Pollack, a crafts editor for a national magazine. The story starts with Anastasia's husband dying and leaving her in a mountain of debt due to his closet gambling addiction. The debts keep piling on as the story continues. And he left her with his mother who was staying until she could get back on her feet. If that's not enough, her mother's husband dies and Anastasia soon has both mothers and a house full of chaos and a co-worker is found murdered at her desk (like how I did that?).
The story is great. It does wrap up a little to quickly at the end but overall it's a great read. There is so much going on in this book that it's practically overwhelming but it's realistic. The story is peppered with humor and action (I actually laughed out loud at one point and startled myself).
I look forward to the next book in this series and highly recommend it. There are a few craft ideas in the book but I don't think it works as well as those mysteries with recipes. Crafts are really visual and I couldn't picture half of what the end results were suppose to be but that's just a little part of the book and easy to skip over.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Captive Hearts vol 1 by Matsuri Hino

This book was a collection of 3 romantic mangas. A Manga is an asian style graphic novel (for those who didn't know). They are not as seriously drawn as American graphic novels and this one was super over the top but it worked.
The stories are interesting tales of love but in the early stages of the relationship. The relationships are very innocent. I am not even certain there was any kissing. The first story is great - about a young man cursed to be the servant of a young girl and some times he has manservent fits.
Not only are the stories fun but the author inserts little notes through out the book which only add to the stories. She admits that they are silly and over the top which makes it easier for the reader to get into the stories.
My son actually picked out this book and the second volume but I have a feeling that this is not a book for boys. It's too romantic and silly and no fighting (unless boys getting hit over the head by a girl counts).
A fun and easy read but more time consuming that I thought. I expected to get both volumes done this afternoon and only got one which is nice to know that they take a little more effort (most manga are super quick reads and pricey when you buy them at the bookstore).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon

I had no idea what this graphic novel was about but I could tell it was based on a book series (in my head it was a different series but oh well). Having no previous experience with the Outlander books this made for a nice introduction. I was a little confused by the story knowing that subtle details were missing. That's the problem with converting a book into a graphic novel - things have to change. I found the story to have far too many characters for me to keep straight. In a novel, that's not a problem because the reader is told who is who but in a graphic novel you have to distinguish each character visually and in this case it just did not work as well as I would have liked.
The story is a good story and I have added Outlander to my reading list. It's a twist in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Jamie Fraser lives in Scotland and the story takes place in 1743. He's returned home from war with a price on his head and a plot to kill him. Claire Randall wakes up in the center of the stones to find that she has entered his time without any reason as to why. Jamie is forced to marry her to save her life and his as well. It's an interesting story and one I am sure plays out better in the novel.

Warriors Ravenpaw's Path by Erin Hunter

There is a very irritating trend out there when it comes to books turned into graphic novels. The author creates several "lines" of stories and each line has several editions. This is not what is irritating - it's that the lines are often release simultaneously. I first noticed this with the Anita Blake graphic novels - it was a little confusing but at least the titles are quite clear on the cover. The Warriors graphic novels have Warriors in large print at the top and a clearly marked number in the lower right corner. What the reader may not notice is a tiny title squished between the Warriors and the cat picture which dictates which line the book is in. We didn't notice this when my son picked up books 1 and 2 from the library. We had read the first book some time ago but my son thought he would need a refresher. Me, I don't often re-read books - not in my nature. So as I am reading book 2 I begin to wonder if I should have read book 1 because I was a little confused. Until I got to the end and there were several pages dictating which graphic novels were available in the Warriors franchise. Grr - it would have been nice if they would have done something to make it noticable. Perhaps the cat in the picture is suppose to let me know that this was a different series but I don't think so.
Anyway - with that complaint out of the way I can talk about the story. I tried reading an actual Warriors book and just could not get into them. I didn't think reading a story from the perspective of a cat would be difficult but it just didn't work for me. The graphic novels pull back the perspective and allow the reader a sort of omnipresent view of the story. I like this better but I am not sure I am a fan of the stories. There's not enough plot in these graphic novels to keep me interested but should be perfect for a younger reader. The wording is simple - except when it comes to names of the cats and the clans, they might be a little more difficult for the young reader but that can easily be solved with a nearby adult.
The stories are somewhat violent since they do deal with cats battling for territory and other necessities. There's not a lot of violence depicted and the pictures are black and white so there's no blood distinction.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale

Even though this book is the sequel to Rapunzel's Revenge, it holds up on it's own. There are a lot of reasons why I like these books. The fairy tales are retold in the Old West giving it a completely new lease but more importantly they are full of the action we expect from Westerns.
Calamity Jack begins shortly where Rapunzel's Revenge ends. Jack and Rapunzel are travelling to the city where Jack lived. His golden goose has now laid eggs and he has enough money to repair the damage done to his family's home and business after the beanstalk (and giant falling) destroyed them.
The city he returns to is not the same that he left. There is a war between the Ant People and the Giants and it's destroying the entire city. Jack's mother is now the giant's baker and locked in the giant's tower.
Joining Jack and Rapunzel are Prudence, a pixie, and Freddie Sparksmith, a reporter. Their journey to saving the city is action packed and fully entertaining.
This book is a fairly easy read and not too scary for those younger readers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How I Made It To Eighteen by Tracy White

In the juvenile section of our local library, there is a large card holder. The cards each depict a different graphic novel that the library owns. There is no description to the book so it's a case of judging a book by it's cover or title. Such is the case with this book, my son picked it out because the title sounded funny. I got the book first and was immediately shocked by the fact that this was not a humorous book at all. It's a great book and I look forward to hearing his reaction to it.
The story follows Stacy Black (who is the alterego of the author) as she survives being 17. It's not a typical story, it's one that will break your heart and have you rejoicing in the end.
Stacy has left home and has sunk into a deep depression. A suicide attempt gets her into a rehabilitation center where she has to dig through all the reasons that led to her destruction. There's drug addiction, low self esteem, bulemia and a mound of other issues that create a wall that might prevent Stacy from becoming an adult.
It is a graphic novel but it's drawn very simply - more like stick figures than the normal graphic but it adds to the despair and lonliness of the character. It's also quite easy on the eyes. Tracy White has an amazing ability to give each of her characters something distinquishable so that the reader is not left confused as to who is who.
The style of the book is a combination of patient records, interviews and scenes of life in the rehab center. A must read for anyone who has or was a teenager.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place - The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Just the title alone made me want to read this book. The premise, a young governess comes to take care of three children who were found in the woods and apparently have been raised by wolves, called to me in a way I have not been called in awhile. This book promised hilarity, adventure and perhaps a little more.
I got all that I expected from this book. Penelope is a recent graduate from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is hired at Ashton Place to care for the children. The staff and lady of the house get her to agree to the position before revealing to her that the lord of the house found the children on a hunting expidition in the woods around the house. Penelope is a determined girl. She's not going to let anything get in the way of her being a great governess.
The kids are a source of delight in the story - they are quirky but there is something kind and loving about them. The three attach themselves to Penelope and strive to show her just how smart they are.
Penelope must get them ready to attend a Christmas Party at the house so they can be shown off. During the party things go horribly wrong leaving Penelope to wonder who would sabotage her efforts with the children. Where did they come from and who would abandon their children in the woods?
The only thing I dislike about the book is that the next one has just come out and it will be awhile before the third (I hate it when I find a great series just as it's been written because I am terribly impatient).
A review on Amazon said that this book was Jane Eyre meet Lemony Snickett - I totally agree. The writing will delight anyone and is simple enough for middle grade (and maybe a little younger).

Hollowfields by Madeleine Rosca

This was a cute story about a little girl on her way to boarding school and ends up at the wrong one. The school she finds is for children of mad scientists. No one cares there's a mistake because she signed the contract for attendance. She must keep her grades up or be sent to detention where no child returns from.
It's a great story about dedication and finding yourself. It was discovered by my son who loved it.
Sadly this is the first volume so we have to be on the lookout for more.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol 1

I have a hard time with stories based on popular tv shows because there is a tendency to alter facts (see Serenity - better days). I was truly impressed with this book. It's starts with the story from the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are some slight changes but all in all it stayed true to the storyline. Then follows Buffy as she runs away with Pike to Las Vegas. This is the explanation of what happened between the movie and the TV show.
There is even back story about how Giles came to be Buffy's watcher.
The interesting part is that Buffy morphs from Kristy Swanson to Sarah Michelle Gellar. I didn't notice until nearly half way through the book.
All in all it was really well done and I look forward to picking up more.

Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper by Robert Bloch

Wow was the reaction I had reading this graphic novel. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about a Jack the Ripper story done in black and white with red thrown in. I have found that I have some difficulty determining features and details when the stories are black and white. That was not a problem with this book.
The drawings were clean and crisp. The lines thin to allow the details to shine. The red accented the story without being garish.
Now, of course, no graphic novel can be good if the story is bad. This was set in the 30-40s. The main character was a young woman who worked for a paper (if I remember correctly she had inherited the paper). She took the role of crime photographer and ended up taking pictures of a Jack the Ripper copy cat. Through her pictures she was able to uncover some evidence about what the murderer was going to do next.
She runs into a man who claims the murderer is Jack the Ripper who is killing to stay alive. What happens from there is a series of nights of stakeouts and near misses. It wasn't a complete shock as to who the killer was but the ending had a little twist I didn't expect.
I highly recommend this for middle grade and up. It is a little violent in theme but the style is old fashioned so it doesn't feel violent.

The Laughing Corpse - Executioner by Laurell K Hamilton

This volume wraps up the Laughing Corpse series of the Anita Blake graphic novels. I rather liked this series (now that I understand how the books go). The story starts with a horrible murder caused by a rogue zombie. In this volume, Anita finds and destroys the zombie. The story behind the zombie's creation causes Anita to question her ability as a necromancer. More importantly, it asks the question what would we do for money and/or power.
I was a little disappointed that the vampire didn't come to her rescue but I suppose it's better for her to kick butt on her own.

Serenity - Better Days

Fans of the show Firefly will love this graphic novel based on the show. It's a good addition to the story except for one thing. This is a tiny part of the book (2 squares) but Wash and his wife (who's name escapes me at the moment) have a baby in this story. The reason that's a problem is Wash died in the Serenity movie and they hadn't had a child at that point in the story.
Aside from that the story is good. The crew scores big and thinks about retiring in style at a resort. As it always goes, they are being chased by a man on a mission to destroy them.
The dialogue is witty and accurate to the characters.
The introduction, by Adam Baldwin, is humorous and gives more depth to the phenom that is Firefly.