Friday, October 28, 2011

How David Met Sarah by Anne Kelleher

I have to admit that this is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to do. It’s not because of the book but because I believe so strongly in the cause it represents. If you haven’t guessed, literacy is quite important to me. However, there is another cause that I don’t often talk about and that’s providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live their life to the fullest.
When my son started to read, it was amazing. He was just so smart and wanted to read everything. My mom commented that she wasn't surprised because reading allows for a certain amount of power. The story of Martin Luther seconded this idea. If you are not familiar with his story let me paraphrase – Martin Luther believed that the Bible should be translated into the common language (in this case German) so that everyone could have access to reading God’s word. The church had all the power because they were the only ones who could read the Bible.

What do you do when you don’t have the ability to read at an adult level? I never thought about this. To me, reading is reading. I never thought about it. I read anything and everything without thought or care – if it appeals to me then I read it. But what would my life look like if all I could read were children’s books. This makes me think of the scene in Lorenzo’s Oil when the boy indicates he’s sick of the stories his mother reads to him and wants something more age appropriate.
This is the case for many adults with disabilities that affect their ability to read at an adult level. They are relegated to the children’s section of the library for life. That is until Anne Kelleher wrote How David Met Sarah.

For me, How David Met Sarah was a beautiful snapshot in the life of a man who falls in love with a girl he sees in a restaurant. David may have a different life than mine but he was no less of a man. It was such a touching story. For those like David, this is a story they can relate to. David has work problems, life problems and through all this he’s found something to make it all okay. He has found a beautiful angel that occupies his every thought.

I highly recommend this book. I think it’s a must have whether or not you have someone in your life like David. I think it’s the perfect tale of what it’s like to live with a disability. Not everyone in David’s world accepts him. People can be very cruel and David’s story made me cry. I cry still. I am so grateful to have been given a review copy of this book.

I want to share one more point that I loved about this book. You know that David has a disability but it’s never used to describe David. In fact, David’s disability is never defined. A few words are thrown around when his parent’s talk to Sarah’s mother and it made me realize that as a parent of a child with a disability that I am like that too. I try not to let my son’s disability define him and then I throw it out there because I’m afraid the world won’t understand him.

Thank you Anne Kelleher for writing such an amazing story and I hope other authors step up and follow suit.

This post is part of a book blogtour, visit How David Met Sarah

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Griff by Christopher Moore

Today I needed to read something that did not require a review. I picked up Christopher Moore's The Griff from the library. Christopher Moore has several novels that have caught my attention but that haven't made it to being read. The Griff is a graphic novel and I can always slip one in to my reading pile.
I loved this. Slightly humorous and all action. The world has been conquered by dragon-like beings from outerspace. The book follows five survivors as they connect to come up with a solution to their problems.
It's not a deep plot with subtext as novels have a tendency to have but a straight forward good vs evil (more us vs them really). Christopher Moore and Ian Corson originally created this story as a screenplay and I have to tell you - it's a movie I'd watch. I hope that someone steps up and hands them the money to produce it. I can picture it as a great action movie. The characters are just every day people who use the situation to re-invent themselves and their skills.
So, Syfy channel - if you are reading this, I have your next movie right here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Treats Truck Baking Book by Kim Ima

I love baking and cookbooks but one thing that has always bothered me is when an author creates a new recipe instead of altering one. I have read so many cookbooks that have dozens of pages of recipes that vary only one or two ingredients. This is not the case wi Kim Ima's book. She offers a recipe and then follows it with several alternative ideas. She has so many ideas. I love the mix and match format of her book.
She encourages experimentation with flavors and combinations. She takes cookies to a new level when she uses them to create dishes such as Dessert Nachos. She takes vanilla cake and makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (something I can't wait to try).
She has a concoction she calls Movie Treats Cake that layers Junior Mints, Raisinets, and Milk Duds between vanilla cake and buttercream frosting and then covers the whole thing with popcorn and Red Vines (I'll be making this soon, too).
I love her ideas and creative concepts of taking a plain chocolate cookie and turns it into something homey and exotic at the same time.
If you love desserts, especially ones designed to be shared, this is the book for you.

Can You Tell an Alligator From a Crocodile by Buffy Silverman

I hate to admit that I have a difficult time understanding the difference between Alligators and Crocodiles. That's why I requested this particular book. In just a few pages, I have a better understanding of the difference between these two reptiles that look so much alike.
The book is simple and easy to understand. Even a young reader can understand this book but it won't appeal to a sensitive reader. There are some pictures that, while not graphic, don't leave much to the imagination. Several shots of the reptiles eating other animals are depicted. It's done very tastefully and realistically. The truth is that alligators and crocodiles are well designed predators and their differences allow them to be better hunters in their environments.
All the pictures are real - no illustrations. The chapters are simple and concise.
I recommend this for any bookshelf - from classroom to personal. I can see young boys pouring over the "horror" of these mostrous reptiles and they might walk away learning something.

The Supernatural Kids Cookbook by Nancy Mehagian

I would love to say that this is the perfect cookbook for all children, however I believe that the concept will be lost on many children. I love the idea behind this book. Any child can be supernatural with the right nutrition but I think most will pick up this book with the impression that the recipes are more about fantasy than health food. (That's what I thought - with all the themed cookbooks out there I thought this would include things like worms with blood sauce instead of whole wheat spaghetti with tomato sauce).
It's not a bad thing. The cookbook is well designed with fun illustrations and pages of good instruction. This is a wonderful first cookbook for children. The author includes instructions on how to steam vegetables, chop an onion and cook brown rice.
I really liked the week of salad and sandwich ideas.
Nancy Mehagian encourages whole foods and creating a better way to eat. Sadly, I think this book will become a case of preaching to the choir. Those who already have an interest in eating like this are the ones more likely to pick the cookbook up. Those who love Moosewood Cookbooks will love this one as well.

Watch Over Our Water by Lisa Bullard

Trina is learning about the Earth's water and has decided to save the planet. She shares with readers tips she learns and the reasons why the water is not safe for drinking.
This is a great book. I am so impressed with the format. It's not preachy and it encourages children to take the initiative to reducing water waste. And it's not overwhelming. So many books offer so many solutions that you feel like you can never do enough. That is not true with this one, at the end you feel like the little things do make a difference.
This is a great classroom book with lessons that can vary from geography to science to even math as children figure out how much water they use or is wasted. It's an easy to understand format and the pictures are so inviting and vibrant.
There is just enough humor to make the book entertaining but not reduce the impact of the message.

Fall Pumpkins by Martha E.H. Rustad

This is a cute picture book that covers the growing of a pumpkin from seed to pumpkin pie or carving. Even though the title says Fall Pumpkins this a book that would be good any time of the year from the Spring planting to the Fall harvest.
The book shares how to plant a pumpkin, care for it through the summer and what to do with it when it's grown. It even includes a recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds.
I see this book as a perfect addition to a classroom or homeschool shelf. There are little bits of trivia scattered through the book that would be great lead-ins to a lesson. This book can assist in a number of science lessons and if you are really creative - other subjects as well.

Tricky Raven Tales #4 by Chris Schweizer

Part graphic novel, part picture book and part choose your own adventure, Tricky Raven Tales is a fun book for beginning and early readers. The stories are short and simple while allowing the reader control over where the story goes.
Raven is curious and loves collecting objects which gets her into trouble. There are a few morals to these stories but more often than not it's just good fun. Most children will see a little Raven in themselves. There is a little fantasy and lots of magic through Raven's tales.
Reading this book, I wished there had been something like this around when my son was younger. He would have loved the bright pages and the silly stories. There's something about picking which path the character goes down that makes the book extra fun.
I recommend this for young readers, older readers may get frustrated with choosing the story to find it ends in a page or two. The stories are really short and I couldn't find a way to make them longer. It's perfect for readers with short attention spans.

Mush by Glenn Eichler

Adult graphic novels are tough. I don't know why but I find them lacking. Mush wasn't bad. It started off rough but it was entertaining.
The novel centers around a team of sled dogs and the various issues they have. It was a little weird. The lead dog spends her time moping about being the lead while Buddy spends his day obsessed with mating. Fiddler is constantly philosophising while Guy plots to take over as lead. It's odd.
It took me some time to identify with the dogs. I wasn't really connecting and you have to connect to the characters even if it's a graphic novel. I will say that I would have been completely lost if this was a written novel.
I didn't really care for the humans and when all was said and done I didn't feel like anything was resolved. Being that this is a graphic novel and not a series, I felt like there should have been something more concrete with the ending.
All in all - this was entertaining and enjoyable. It wouldn't be something I would necessarily seek out but I'm not everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford

The copy of this book that I received was an unedited galley so I won't talk about any errors I found since they may not exist in the finished book.
This wasn't the best writing I have ever read but the story kept me enthralled until I reached the end. I could barely put this book down.
The story follows Abigail Tamper as she uncovers why her mother is haunting the house that they both worked in. Every little clue led to another until Abigail discovers that everything she knew as truth was a lie.
This book is Young Adult and quite simply written so that the younger audience can easily read it. The story is set in the mid-1800's so the behavior is modest (there is an unplanned pregnancy and an affair but no real talk about sex).
The ghost is somewhat frightening but the suspense is what pulled at me. I couldn't wait to read what was going to happen next.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Supernatural Noir

I picked up this collection of short stories with the idea I would read a few and then do a quick review. The concept is a little lost on me. Noir is a genre that often includes the Mafia and private detectives. It's not a genre I read (with some exceptions). But I didn't think about that when I selected this book from NetGalley. I love horror and supernatural and that was all I saw.
This book was an odd collection. The reason I say the concept is lost on me is that I didn't get the reason why some of these stories were considered Noir vs just horror or paranormal. Quite a few stories didn't fit into my understanding of the Noir genre. That may be due to my inexperience with the genre. No matter.
This collection was beyond my expectations. Most of the stories were dark and creepy just they way I like them. Some didn't reveal their supernatural element till nearly the end which lulled me into believing someone had let just a good story slip through.
Some felt forced but those were few compared to the number that just sucked me in and left me wondering when it was over. I couldn't put it down. When I hit that last page, I was disappointed. I wanted more.
Reviewing collections is always difficult for me because I have a difficult time sharing stories without wanting to sit down and talk about each one. Supernatural Noir had sixteen stories and that's a lot to share. I didn't love them all, in fact I think the first story was my least favorite but it still pushed me to continue. I think the first story "The Dingus" gave me a real noir experience as a man searches for a killer only to find that it's not what he expected. (Later a story talks about a dingus that is completely different and really made me feel like this story was more bizarre).
To say what is my favorite is hard but I can tell you which will stick with me for awhile.
The Absent Eye - a story of a boy who loses his eye to discover he can see these strange spirits. Eventually left in an institution he learns how to communicate and agrees to discover what happens to them when they disapper so that the spirits will help him escape. It's a haunting story about commitment and the lengths a person will go for freedom.
Along those same lines is But For Scars about a young woman who escapes an institution because her mother's ghost haunts her bed. The girl makes her way to her old house to find one of her mother's lovers living there. She kills herself in his room, leaving the ghosts with him. (That's a terrible explanation and you will understand when you read it but it's the best I can do).
I do think I have a favorite now that I think about it some more - The Last Triangle. A man finds himself in withdrawal in an elderly woman's garage. She lets him stay and helps him get straight. What she wants in return is his help to save a life. A powerful, touching story about faith, compassion and strength that still makes me feel things long after I have read it.
Pick up a copy of Supernatural Noir. I will warn, this is not a book for children. There is swearing but that's the least of the problems after all the violence and sex. A fun read for any adult who likes paranormal/supernatural and wants to see a different sort of darkness when it comes to the world.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson's claim to fame began in the seventies. A leader in the new wave of comics, Bernie created a darker sort of comic in contrast to the superhero comics that came before. Some might contribute the salvation of comics to artists like Bernie Wrightson. His work was featured in Creepy and Eerie, two publications of his time.
While I don't have a reader relationship with Bernie Wrightson, I know his work. In fact, I'm rather sad that I didn't know his name before. His art is black and white and his stories borderline on the bizarre but all frightenly good.
For those familiar with the Masters of Horror television series, you might recognize Jenifer - a tale about a man who rescues a woman from murder in the woods only to find that there was a good reason for her to be killed.
This Galley had only half of the book but since it's a compilation of short tales, I didn't feel like anything was missing. I look forward to getting my hands on the complete manuscript and hunting for more of Bernie's works.
If you like horror comics, is this for you. It's not overly scary but it does get a little gruesome (muted by the black and white). Some of the stories were just slightly spooky and may be well received by young teens. However, older braver teens and adults will love this work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

50 Underwear Questions by Tanya Llyod Ki

Picking up a book about underwear may not sound interesting but I couldn't help but wonder what it was about. This galley was amazing. I never really thought about underwear prior to this book but I realize it has more significance than I ever gave it.
50 Underwear Questions follows the history of underwear through 50 questions. I didn't notice the questions much but I appreciated the information. The book was colorfully illustrated with fun pictures. The subject matter might get a little uncomfortable but Tanya Llyod Ki had an easy way of making it delightful.
I can't say much about this because it is non-fiction and the format is choppy (in a good way) but I do feel differently about the subject. Who knew that underwear had such an influence on fashion, history, politics.
Pick up this book for a good time. Easy for most ages with lots of explanations.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place - The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

I loved the first book of this series that I had to take a break from all the review books to read this newest installment. It did not disappoint except that it just wasn't long enough. I need the third book - now! I guess I will have to be consoled with Maryrose Wood's newest series The Poison Diaries of which I have a galley.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is a great series and this book was just as delightful as the first. Penelope gets an invitation to London and requests an opportunity to go and take the children with her. Lady Ashton is so pleased that the entire household transplants to London.
Armed with Hixby's Lavishly Illustrated Guide to London, Penelope and the children set off on a whirlwind adventure through the city. They make new friends and stumbled upon new mysteries. However, there are some obscure answers to previous mysteries. To share would ruin the plot.
Readers of all ages will love these books. There's adventure and action, art and a slight romance, all tapered with humor and just a little education (reminiscant of Lemony Snicket).
If you haven't picked up the first book, I highly suggest you do. It's a quick, fun read and I can not wait for the next book to come.

LiteraturelySpeaking: Contest #1 Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman#links

A chance to win a new book - love these contests. I always get such fun new things to read.

LiteraturelySpeaking: Contest #1 Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman#links

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marineman: A Matter of Life and Depth by Ian Churchill

There was a time when graphic novels meant stories of superheros - Batman, Superman, etc dominated the page. These days the percentage of true superhero graphic novels is far fewer than other tales. With Manga, the storylines stray from the typical superhero tome even more so. When presented with the opportunity to review a new superhero story, I was so there. I haven't read many superhero tales, especially those who still uphold that bright colored world of the right.
Marineman did not disappoint. From the vivid imagery to the good ole boy Steve Ocean to the "save the oceans" moral, this graphic novel has returned the genre to it's origins.
I loved it. Marineman, or Steve Ocean, is the ultimate superhero. He's passionate, strong, morally straight and sexy as all can be. He's perfectly matched with Charlotte "Charlie" Greene who is equally strong, sexy and wonderful.
The story begins with Steve Ocean, a tv personality, whose goal in life is to educate the masses about oceanlife. Charlotte Greene works for the Navy and has been selected to test their newest submarine.
A chance accident and Steve Ocean reveals himself to the world as Marineman. He's dealing with the situation as best as he can. However, when Charlie goes missing, Steve has to put it all aside to save her and the submarine.
Every superhero needs a villain and Marineman is no exception. The Ancient Mariner exposes Steve's true origin leaving Steve to question his purpose in life.
The end of this volume includes real life marine scientists who work to save the oceans and the original drawings of Marineman from Ian's childhood.

Holy Terror by Frank Miller

I'm not overly familiar with Frank Miller's work. I have seen his movies but not taken the opportunity to read his graphic novels. When Holy Terror came up, I jumped at the chance. I'm almost sorry I did. It just wasn't the work for me.
To start with, Frank Miller uses the hard black and white images that are difficult for me to see. I had a hard time distinguishing characters. The book starts with two costumed characters - one male, one female - in chase. She is a diamond thief and he is a superhero. That was interesting for me since I like superhero works but their battle was a mess of black with the occasional color thrown in. I couldn't tell who was winning or if I even cared.
I can't remember the female character's name but the male was The Ringer. Their costumes reminded me of luchadores with combat boots. I was already disappointed but there was still potential, especially since The Ringer is concerned he's falling in love with the thief.
Then the explosions happen, I'm still okay with the book so far. It's not going to be a favorite but there still is so much potential until Frank Miller reveals the villian.
I need to point out here that I don't read realistic horror. I don't watch crime or war movies unless they focus on something other than the graphic violence that comes with. I like stories to be my escape. To read about something that is true and horrific disturbs me. Holy Terror disturbed me.
The villian was not some made-up costumed sort that the beginning of the story led me to believe. The man that The Ringer captured was a Muslim who he called Mohammed because that's what all Muslims are called. I was shocked and not in a good way. I was appalled.
What Frank Miller has created was hateful and encourages racism. Now he did through in an Irishman leader to break up the Muslim focused hate but that didn't do the job. He painted a picture that Al Queda was more than just Muslims and that they use them because the Muslim's make for good mindless soldiers. It was just sad and violent and hateful.
I kept hoping for something poinent to come out of this but it never came. There was no real budding romance for The Ringer or at least that the reader saw. It just reminded me that there is a reason I am not a Frank Miller fan. I won't be seeking out his graphic novels.
I won't tell you not to read his work because he has an audience but I will caution parents not to let their children read this one. I don't think my teenage son will be getting any Frank Miller works for his library. It just makes me sad to think that this might just help fuel hate to a group of people who just happen to share a religion with extremists.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Sneezy Wheezy Day by Sharon Cramer

This book is due to hit stores January 1, 2012. I hate to review it so early but there are other books in this series that are available.
The Sneezy Wheezy Day is the latest book in the Cougar Cub Tales from B&F Publishing (located in Spokane, not so far from me!). It's beautifully illustrated. The colors are vibrant and attractive.
The story is cute - a brother and sister cougar are out playing when the brother becomes ill. The sister takes him to all the animals looking for a cure. The cures are silly and don't work so sister cougar puts brother to bed and when he wakes he's all better.
I didn't love this book and that makes me sad because I wanted to love it. I think for an adult the book is simple and fun but for a child the words are advanced. Sharon Cramer's vocabulary is beyond the scope of the reader for this book. I would guess the book was designed for quite a young reader based on the format but the words are prohibative for a young reader. They may enjoy listening to the book but I still think they would be confused. She uses words like crystalline, deduced, admirably, and saraphine. Not bad words but difficult for a young reader.
I, also, didn't care for the rhymes. The poetry was stilled and didn't flow like I felt it should. Had the rhymes not existed I would have liked the book more.
I would still recommend the book, solely based on the beauty of its illustrations. It's a great addition to any library.

Nice Shot, Cupid by Kate McMullan

Nice Shot, Cupid is the fourth book in the Myth-O-Mania series from Capstone Kids.
I think I liked this story better than Say Cheese, Medusa. It's not that this is a better story but I understand the rythym of the books better now. There's a lot to be said about Kate McMullan's myth books.
Nice Shot, Cupid tells the story of Psyche and Cupid. Psyche was the beautiful daughter of a king and Cupid, the son of Aphrodite. Mortals were so taken with Psyche's beauty that they stopped worshipping the goddess Aphrodite. Angry, Aphrodite told Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible man but Cupid feel in love with her himself.
Psyche is kidnapped and all she can think of is her love for the Voice, which is Cupid behind a curtain. When she sees him, she knows he's her true love but Aphrodite won't let her be with him until she's completed a series of tasks. The list of tasks continue to grow as Psyche ages.
Without Hades help, Psyche would never be able to settle down with Cupid and find happiness.
I loved Psyche. She's beautiful but that doesn't matter to her. She's kind and thoughtful. She's willing to accept her fate but doesn't mind doing the hard work. She loves Cupid so she doesn't mind all the tasks Aphrodite makes her do.
It's a sweet story of love, perseverance and gratitude. I highly recommend it for all ages. It's a great introduction into Greek Myths and a good catalyst for discussing good personality traits.