Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Creepy Presents Richard Corben

I wish I had discovered Creepy Magazine when I was a kid.  However, I am enjoying the editions they are publishing now that feature a particular artist.  This time Creepy is all about Richard Corben.

Richard’s style reminds me of Tales from the Crypt.  His image is a little like the Crypt Keeper so maybe that’s why.

Creepy Presents Richard Corben is a collection of short comics from one page inserts to several page stories.  Prepare to be amazed by his trivia and shocked into quiet contemplation as he points out the stupidity that seems to be the primary motivation for humans. 

The art is mostly black and white but that doesn’t leave the images dark like some B&W comics.  It has an older feel to it like images from Vincent Price movies. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Tim Conrad

While I don’t think this was the best adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it might encourage a younger reader to explore the classics.  The art is colorful and engaging but I found some of the drawings were not clear enough for my taste.

I just couldn’t connect to this story.  The characters never became real for me, I didn’t care if they lived or died.  I felt like I was reading a textbook.  Where was the development?  Where was the emotional connection?  Boy, I can so understand the need to attach to the characters. 

If you follow my blog, you know I read a lot of graphic novels.  So many of them have characters I connect with.  I can’t put my finger on why this particular tome just didn’t do it for me.  The Hunchback is a very sympathetic character but I couldn’t dig in.  I didn’t hate the villain and I didn’t like Esmeralda. 

A reluctant child might like this book but I won’t guarantee it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Occultist by Mike Richardson

An interesting story.  Rob works in a book store and his day is not going all that well.  It gets worse when a secret book decides it likes him and offers him the sword which is a magical power.  Soon Rob’s life changes in ways he never imagined.  He can have whatever he wants with consequences he never imagined.

Soon he’s a hunted man.  He connects to Detective Melendez and the adventures go from there.  I enjoyed the story.  Rob’s a likeable guy. 

The animation is decent, a bit fuzzy in my e-copy but enjoyable.  I loved the monsters and the story lines have lots of potential.  Can’t wait to see more.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Freaks of the Heartland by Steve Niles

This story was not what I had expected from Steve Niles.  If you are not familiar with his work – they are usually violent, horrific stories.  So one about freaks living in the sticks made me think I was picking up something similar to House of 1000 corpses.

Instead what I got was a sweet story about two brothers.  Set in the country in a non-descript time (feels old fashioned but there are little things that make me wonder) Steve Niles has woven a tale that is more haunting than anything else he has written.

Trevor has to help take care of his brother Will, who has been chained up in the barn.  Like a good older brother, Trevor watches out for Will.  Late at night they sneak out to enjoy the fields and moonlight.  However, one night he returns to hear his father talk about how he should have killed Will when he was born.  Will manages to steal away his father’s pistol. 

The next day, a neighbor comes to tell how they will have to kill their daughter.  Trevor’s father decides it’s time – the monsters must go.  Trevor and Will escape but they can’t leave the valley without rescuing the others like Will.

It’s not an overly deep story but the journey the boys go on carried me away.  I wanted to know more at the end.  I would have loved answers but there were none given.  But that didn’t make me love the story less.

The drawings are soft and subtle.  The muted colors would have normally irritated me but I found they worked well with this story.  It added to the timeless feel to the story as if it had been tinted with sepia.  I do think this is one I’d love to revisit time and again, hoping to find more in each panel, each subtle phrase.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

House of Night by PC Cast and Kristin Cast with Kent Dalian

I almost prefer to be introduced to a series through graphic novel.  It gives me a quick insight as to whether or not I will like the books.  House of Night is one of those series that I was curious about but unable to fit into my reading schedule.  This graphic novel was a great introduction.

Designed to accompany the books, this story gives a quick introduction to the characters for those who are unfamiliar with them and a deeper exploration into the mythology that runs through the series for those already reading the books.

The story line wasn’t great but it was interesting enough.  Zoey Redbird has been made the leader of the Dark Daughters but she doesn’t feel fit to rule.  Through five lessons and historical stories, she learns how to be a leader. 

I, actually, liked Zoey.  I found her to be quite real and interesting.  She had so many layers to her personality and wasn’t perfect like so many characters in vampire books come out.  I loved the mythology and the changing of the stories to fit into vampire lore.

The art was quite cartoony which worked well for this story.  The colors were vibrant and engaging.  It would appeal to younger audiences as well as more mature ones.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Battlepug Volume 1 by Mike Norton

I had the privilege of being introduced to Mike Norton’s work when I read The Curse (due out in October).  The work was so funny, over the top and featured a pug which made the story complete.  When I had the opportunity to read his Battlepug, I knew I had to.

I was not disappointed.  Mike Norton has a dark sense of humor.  Battlepug is sexy, funny and full of action.  No zombies in this one but it’s filled with man-eating oversized animals and a very evil Santa Claus.

I lied – I was disappointed.  The book ended far too soon.  I hate volumes.  I want to devour a story and not have to stop and wait just as it’s getting good.  Mike Norton is a name that will haunt me as I scour comic book stores.  I don’t want your basic superhero – I want Battlepug.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bloody Chester by JT Petty

The end of this graphic novel left me feeling unfulfilled so it’s hard to write this review.

The story is of “Bloody” Chester who starts off as a scrawny loser locked in the jail of a wild west town.  He’s offered a job – burn down plague afflicted Whale so the railroad can pass through the area.  Not thinking much of it, Chester goes to Whale.  There are 2 survivors and 1 man dying of the plague left.  All he has to do is convince them to leave and burn the whole place down – not a problem especially since the survivors are basically kids.

However, nothing is as it seems and soon Chester begins to unravel the origin of the plague and finds his job a lot more difficult than he thought.  At first, this story has a supernatural feel but everything is explained in “normal” terms.  That’s not the problem, I actually liked that it turned out not to be supernatural.  To tell you why the ending bothers me would ruin the story.  That may not be necessarily true – I just felt that the story ended in a weird place.  I needed a tiny bit more.  There may be an upcoming sequel which would explain why the strange ending but I don’t know.

The art is pleasing, muted but still colorful.  It reminds me of manga in the style.  I felt the art painted a full picture and gave me a real feeling of the life they were living.  There’s slight humor that made this book really enjoyable.  There is a small amount of violence that might disturb a sensitive reader.  The language is slightly more adult with some swearing making it not appropriate for a young reader.  I do see this appealing to teens and anything that gets them reading is a good choice.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Silver Streak by Jack Cole

This is a reprint of several of the original Silver Streak comics.  It’s not my cup of tea.  The pages are far too busy as was common during the early days of comics.

However, it’s a nice piece of nostalgia.  If you love old comics or origins, this is the edition for you.  Not only does this volume have the original stories but also includes several original ads that were printed with the comics.  Nothing like catching a red rider set ad in between issues.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

Some stories will haunt you for a long time and this is one of them. 

Grace and her husband have moved into a cottage in the moors with their new baby.  It’s the start of a new chapter as Grace starts to come to terms with leaving London.  Christmas is coming and a new year promises great things, until Grace opens the front door to find her child sleeping peacefully in her pram and no husband. 

A year later, Grace returns determined to discover what happened to her husband on that cold winter day.  Filled with tales of ghosts and omens, Grace fights her fears to uncover why her husband was gone.  Everyone around her feels she should just move on but how can she when she has so many unanswered questions.

The story is frightening, sad and full of twists and turns.  It reminds me of Mary Stewart’s mysteries.  You just never know what dark secrets people harbor until you start digging.  Not everyone will come out of this alive but Grace won’t stop until she knows the truth.

I was captivated by Sara Foster’s book.  The life on the moors is enchanting and yet harbors its own secrets.  Are there ghosts on the moor?  What is up with the grandfather clock that stops when it wants and seems to still keep time? 

There’s a touch of romance and sweetness in this book.  Beneath the Shadows deserves a place with other gothic mysteries such as Rebecca and Wuthering Heights.  There are far more things to be frightened of than ghosts and they are all here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Claws and Saucers by David E Goldweber

If you are a Science Fiction, Horror and/or Fantasy movie buff, like me, then this is a must have for you.  I can’t tell you if it has everything but I will say that I was impressed by how many movies are in this book.  I love horror – the worst ones are my favorite.  I want cheesy and I want lots and lots of blood.  I don’t care if the plot makes sense – makes the movie more entertaining in a MST3K sort of way.

I love talking to the characters and questioning their motives. 

This book spells it all out – which are the good ones and which ones you’re gonna love because they are so bad.

This is not a sit and read sort of book.  You peruse like you’re picking up a date in a bar.  You chat up the pages and ask them out.  You explore the movies and, perhaps, come back and make notes.  This is the sort of book that needs to be shared and passed along. 

The only problem I have is that the new stuff won’t appear magically.  I’d love it if the book stayed current but, alas, they don’t.

However, that’s not going to stop me from working my way through this book and some of the worst movie fests my family has ever seen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The World’s Creepiest Places by Bob Curran

Bob Curran has put together a book of actual locations around the world that have frightening histories.  Many of the locations are lesser known hauntings (at least to me).  The segments are fairly short and in depth.  There’s a lot of history in these pages.

However, I wished there had been pictures.  I am a very visual person and I like to look at the places that are being written about.  I would have loved to even just have a website I could go to that would link to pictures of these places.  In this day and age, there’s no real reason not to have access to that visual accompaniment. 

If you are big on hauntings or ghosts or even just eerie feeling sorts of places – this is a great book for you.  Many of Bob Curran’s selections are out of the norm giving the enthusiast a new set of places to explore.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Severed by Scott Snyder

A good creepy tale about a young man who wants to find his real father.  Jack discovered he was adopted and decides to run away.  His dream is to be a fiddle player and travel with his father.  However, what he finds is a predator that feeds on children’s dreams.

Set in the early part of the 20th century, Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft have put together a tale that will leave you breathless.  It’s frightening in ways that you don’t expect.  The monster is not overly original but the tale will still cause your heart to pound.

Not only does Jack have to deal with this man who wants to eat him for dinner, he’s battling those who would stop at nothing to take everything from him.  It’s a dirty and tough time.  Monsters lurk in the shadows and look a lot like humans.  Jack is far too innocent to be on this adventure and it’s hard to watch that be stripped away from him.

The art is fairly basic – nothing overly dynamic but it also doesn’t distract from the story line.  It moves smoothly from page to page carrying the reader away.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Watchman William Ghost Detective by Diana Shaw

This was a cute juvenile chapter book.  William was the policeman of his time during the reign of Elizabeth the First.  Now he haunts Hardleigh Manor.  When the manor is turned into a museum, William meets Thomas, the grandson of the groundskeeper.  With his help, William tries to channel Sherlock Holmes and solve small mysteries around the villages.

The book is very English so I’m not sure how many kids in the US will understand some of the language.  Aside from that the book is cute and the characters are interesting.  The chapters are quite short so young readers can stay engaged.  The mysteries are quite basic and have some surprises.

I could see this book delighted various readers and is a fun read for all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Today's post will be at my new blog Seeking Sanctuary at World's End. I'm going to slowly move this blog over there. I'll be posting regularly here until the beginning of August and then at that time, I'll post exclusively at Seeking Sanctuary - this will lessen my load and help me get back to enjoying my books instead of feeling like I need to rush through them all the time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rabbit Housing by Bob Bennett

If you plan on raising rabbits, then you need this book in your library.  As the title suggests, this book is all about housing rabbits.  Bob Bennett offers a variety of plans and ideas for housing for raising your rabbits.  He offers clear arguments for materials and designs.

There’s not much more to the book and most of the designs are not fancy so this is not a book for leisure reading.  I did enjoy the book and look forward to attempting my own housing someday.  This is a perfect book for 4-H and FFA students as well as adults who wish to raise rabbits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Last of the Greats by Joshua Hale Fialkov

This was a weird one but I still enjoyed it.  I get the impression I’m missing part of the story and there’s definitely more to come but nothing indicated that this wasn’t a complete tale.

The Last is the last of his kind.  They came to Earth like Gods with a plan that you just get glimpses of.  They cleaned up the environment, healed disease, feed the starving and housed the homeless.  They wanted the nations to give up their military defenses so the world replied by killing them off.  The Last hadn’t joined his siblings in society so when aliens come to attack the Earth, he is their only hope.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in this story.  It’s so multi-layered that I’m left feeling like I haven’t gotten any answers.

It’s well drawn and not for children.  It’s violent and sexual and quite disturbing.  I did enjoy it but it’s bittersweet.  I’m puzzled and wondering if there’s more volumes coming.  Thankfully there’s which gave me the answer – this is volume one.  That’s all I learned from their site.  It’s got potential but it’s falling short.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson

Great Book!  My only disappointment was that my E-ARC was missing pages so I didn’t get the entire manuscript.

Rich Johnson has written an entertaining and informative guide to survival.  I’m big on survival information and I know that not everyone is.  This is an important book because we are in an environment that is unstable.  You don’t have to go out in the wilderness to be in a situation that requires survival techniques.  There’s a chance that there is a large amount of information in this book you will never need.  However, the one technique that you learn that later saves yours or someone else’s life is invaluable. 

This is a short book and each segment is brief.  Keep it in your bathroom and learn a trick or two every time you sit down.  On page one, I learned something.  Okay maybe learned is not the right word but I realized there was something I hadn’t thought of. Rich recommends that you keep an emergency bag in your office or place of work that includes rugged clothing, socks and a pair of tennis shoes.  The bag is available if you need to leave your work in a hurry and are not dressed for an emergency.  I would, almost, have thought it unnecessary but I guarantee that one day you wear the tight skirt or new dress shoes is the day that the weather turns and you have to evacuate or a shooter comes into the area and you have to flee.

It’s a scary and dangerous world out there.  I just think this book is an inexpensive way to protect yourself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Healthy in a Hurry by Karen Ansel

The problem with cookbooks is they are very subjective.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with this book – the pictures are engaging and the recipes are interesting but they didn’t do anything for me.  The recipes were far too simplistic and would not satisfy my family.  I liked the idea of the book.

This would be perfect for someone just leaving home or for someone who has just started using healthier foods.  This is not a family cookbook.  Many of the recipes do not make substantial meals – lots of appetizer like foods which appear quick but for a large group would actually make more work. 

There are great ideas here and I love the colors and textures of the foods offered.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw

Beautiful book.  The recipes are elegant and stunning.  The pictures captivate the reader and leave you craving something hot and amazing out of the oven.  The recipes work in seasonal fruits at the peak of perfection.  The crusts are crisp and golden while the breads are soft and aromatic.

The instructions are simple with fairly common ingredients.

A nice touch is the brief interviews of various bakers from around the country.  Each offer their own perspective of baking and share a recipe.  Grab a cup of coffee and pour over this book as if you were visiting with a friend.  Kim Laidlaw has put together a book that was meant to be handed down to future generations – preferably covered in stains with sticky pages.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Family Camping Cookbook by Tiff and Jim Easton

Not sure I would recommend this book as much as Camp Cooking in the Wild but there is merit to owning this book.  I like that the Easton’s included information on how to incorporate foraged foods.  To me, that’s a big plus because I love to forage.  Their recipes are far more simple, as well, which is nice when you are cooking with children.

I like that they offer menus with shopping lists to make preparation super simple.  Not only that but they offer different menus based on age.  They even offer a vegetarian alternative. 

The book is broken up into environments such as the beach or the woods.  While much of the food is easy to prepare – they encourage a wide range of flavors and styles of cooking.  I never thought about grilling a butterflied leg of lamb while camping but I love the idea.  The more I look at the recipes the more I love this book.  I love ethnic food and this book is full of kid friendly foreign foods that we can make while out on vacation or adapt to make at home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Camp Cooking in the Wild by Mark Scriver

This is the perfect book for those learning to cook while camping or for those who want to do more than just roasted hot dogs while out in the wilderness.  The first part of the book focuses on learning the basics – what equipment, how to plan and pack your meals. 

Then comes the recipes.  They range from Effort Level 1 to Effort Level 4.  What I like best is that these are recipes that you would make at home.  It shows how you can cook like you normally do when you’re out in the wilderness.  You may not cook their recipes because you’ll learn how to cook your own.  I rather like that.

This is a great beginner book and a wonderful gift idea for those who want to spend more time outdoors but just don’t have the skills yet.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cooking from the Farmer’s Market by Jodi Liano

A beautiful book from Williams Sonoma, Cooking from the Farmer’s Market did not disappoint.  The photography is colorful and enticing.  The recipes are varied enough that there is sure to be enough to warrant owning the book.

I was a little put off by the assumption that all Farmer’s Markets are the same.  I’ve been rather stunned to learn that’s not true as I follow blogs that offer seasonal cooking.  I live in Washington and, though we have an amazing farmer’s market, our seasons and variety of produce do not match what is offered in this book.

With that said, that doesn’t mean I can’t find the produce at our local Co-op.  I do appreciate encouraging local produce and learning to eat those foods. 

This would be a perfect book for those who have joined a CSA or get Bountiful Baskets.  I’m always trying to figure how to use some of the unique produce we get each week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Edible Party Bouquets by Fox Chapel Publishing

When this title came up in the NetGalley catalog, I couldn't wait to review it.  I love the idea of edible bouquets and I'm always telling my husband that he should go into the business.  He's amazing when it comes to prepping beautiful food for parties (just wish he'd do it more often and perhaps would consider going into business).
This book totally blew me out of the water.  The bouquets were amazing.  The best part - they were all fairly simple.  The most complicated designs were created using cookie cutters making the work so easy. 
Not only were there fruit bouquets but Fox Chapel Publishing stretched the gamut by designing bouquets made of cinnamon rolls, wraps, mini pies, and tortilla chips.  Many of the designs were fully edible.
If you love to play with your food, this is the book for you.  Most of the bouquets don't require more than the food and skewers.  Some have you make foods from scratch while others have you use store bought ingredients such as a tree made out of chocolate covered mint cookies.
I'm thinking this might be a future Christmas gift for my husband and already gives me the best ideas for future party foods.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sew Iconic by Liz Gregory

Sew Iconic is a step by step book to sewing ten dresses that have been featured in movies.  More than that, it’s an amazing reference for those who are learning to sew or wish to learn more.  The first section of the book breaks down sewing techniques such as resizing patterns, creating darts and attaching fasteners.  From there the book breaks down the techniques for sewing the ten selected dresses.

The book comes with the patterns on two sheets that the reader will have to transfer to cut out the pattern desired.  The dresses are in order of easiest to most difficult, starting with the brown and white polka dot dress from Pretty Woman.  Each dress section is broken down into information about the actress, the movie and the designing of the dress before going into recreating the dress at home.  The instruction finishes with how to achieve the same look as the actress with accessories and makeup.

There are two videos available online at the books Tumblr site to further assist with understanding how to make these dresses. 

All in all I think this is a great book.  I’m not sure I see myself in these dresses but I like the instruction given and would definitely add this to my craft shelf as a reference guide.  At this point in time, I feel it’s better to start making your own clothes again.  Not only can this guarantee that you love the piece but, with the cost of buying clothes that don’t seem to hold up to every day wear, it’s practical. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vampire Knight (1-3) by Matsuri Hino

I love Manga – it’s special and different when compared to American comics/stories.  Manga borders on the silly while having serious moments.  This one is no exception.  I loved it.

Yuki is the adopted daughter of the headmaster of a special boarding school.  The day classes are fairly normal but at night a different set of students come to learn and they are vampires.

Yuki works as the special guardian with Zero.  Their job is to keep the vampires a secret and prevent them from harming the human students.   Both Yuki and Zero have been victims of vampires in the past which led them to the academy.  Yuki has no memory of her life before vampire Kaname saved her from another vampire. 

As is common in Manga there is a love triangle between Yuki, Zero and Kaname.  I get the feeling that she loves Zero more but we’ll see.

If you love silly romance or anything vampire – I recommend this series. I’ve read through volume 3 and I hate having to wait to get my hands on future volumes.

Matsuri Hino also wrote Captive Hearts – a super silly comedy about a man who is cursed to fall in love with a particular girl.

She has a great style and I love her inserts about her life as she writes these stories.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vampire Taxonomy by Meredith Woerner

Written like a science book, Vampire Taxonomy defines the various vampires from pop culture.  Meredith Woerner takes examples from the more popular vampire stories/movies and some lesser known to create a how-to sort of book.

She breaks down the vampires into five categories – Romantic Vampire, Villainous Vampire, Tragic Vampire, Halfsies, and Child Vampire.  Each category offers information on how the vampire looks, their preferred habitat and a variety of other factors.

Written tongue in cheek, this book is just fun.  It really gets one thinking about the differences and similarities of vampires in pop culture and in history.  This may not get a scientific award but Meredith did her research.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer

Artemis is at it again. This time he has taken the stolen fairy technology and turned it into a device that will revolutionize human technology. To make money quick, he shows the device to American business man Jon Spiro. Things go wrong quickly when Jon double crosses Artemis, steals the device and Butler is left dying on the floor.
Artemis must ask the fairies to help him clean up the mess but in return they ask that he allows them to remove his memories of their existence. It’s a turning point in the series, a place where the reader can see real changes in Artemis. It’s as if he’s teetering on the edge of good and evil. He’s struggling with his identity. Knowing the fairies has sure made him a better person – will removing his memory of them revert him back to being cold and calculating.
More importantly, will they get the device back from Jon Spiro who seems to stay one step ahead of them the whole way. Another great edition to the Artemis Fowl series. I skipped the e-book from NetGalley this time and listened to this in audio format. Nathaniel Parker lent an amazing depth to the story. His accents reminded me of the origin of the characters who all sound American in my head. If you haven’t picked up Artemis Fowl yet, what’s stopping you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gary Gianni’s Monstermen and Other Scary Stories by Gary Gianni

This was an interesting collection. The first half consisted of five graphic /comic stories by Gary Gianni. His Monstermen series was introduced as a companion to the Hellboy series. Lawrence St George is a film maker and hunter of the supernatural. Partnered with Benedict, an ancient knight who can’t die, they search out and stop a variety of demons from taking over the world. They are quick stories reminiscent of those from the early days of movies. St George looks a bit like Vincent Price. I would believe these are set in a time such as the 1930’s if it wasn’t for the occasional glimpse of a computer or other technology now and again. I rather enjoyed these. I do prefer color to black and white but the drawings gave it a spookier, old movie feel. There’s enough action to pull you through and enough character development that you feel like you know the characters towards the end. I look forward to more Monstermen stories. The second half of the book didn’t delight me as much as the first. It was stories but not told in graphic/comic form. Personally, I think it disrupted the flow of the book. Not that the stories were bad but they felt like they should be a separate book. The stories were illustrated by Gary Gianni but not written by him which made it feel more like a separate book. Had they been additional stories about Monstermen maybe I would have felt differently.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

1000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm

A neat collection of steampunk art in book form. I picked up this book from the local library and it was a perfect way to experience this book. I’m not sure it’s really a keeper but the work included is quite interesting. The art ranges from drawings to sculptures to costumes to jewelry. I did find by the end of the book, I was getting a little bored. 1000 images is a lot of images especially when you are not looking at work from all that many artists. There were several pictures that were just different angles of the same piece of work. If you like interesting art or steampunk, this is a great book to pick up. I found myself wanting to try some steampunk art myself. Who knows, there might be some great inspiration in this book for you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hellboy Volume 12 by Mike Mignola

This volume co-incides with the BPRD Hell On Earth Volume 2. It’s a fairly complete story of Hellboy fighting a dragon that signals the end of the world. It’s entertaining enough and easy to read separate from the other volumes. I will say the ending makes me wonder if there will be Volume 13. I love Hellboy and this graphic novel did not disappoint. It’s mostly action but I did feel there was not enough Hellboy wit that is common in most Hellboy stories. I like that this story incorporated the King Arthur myth. It’s definitely a good volume to pick up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

This is the story of three generations – Big, Liza and Mosey. Big believes that every 15 years they are cursed. This started when Big became pregnant with Liza at 15 and then Liza got pregnant with Mosey 15 years later. Mosey has just turned 15 and Big is trying to be vigilant. The year starts with Liza having a stroke which leaves her broken and withdrawn. Big knows that a pool will help and has a neighbor help take down the old willow tree in her yard which starts off a chain of events that will bring dark secrets out into the open and test the strength of Big’s family. Told from all three perspectives, this was an amazing journey. I loved Liza’s story since she was the one who couldn’t interact much with the others. She was a delightful character who added a lot to the story. Though her body didn’t work, her mind was working hard. I devoured this book, as I have all of Joshilyn Jackson’s books that I have gotten my hands on. They are different from other southern chick books. There’s a darker edge in her books, one that really shows the devil is in the details. There are such powerful connections between the characters and a love that transcends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Cape by Joe Hill

The story of the cape was published in 20th Century Ghosts. It was such a popular and bizarre story of a grown man who rediscovers the power to fly using a cape. I was excited to hear that the story had been turning into a comic book mini-series (4 issues) but I wasn’t overly excited to read it since I had read it already. That didn’t mean I wasn’t curious so I accepted when the offer came to review the first issues. I was blown away. The illustrations are just creepy enough to give you the full impression of this character’s mental health. The story is just strange but more importantly this issue starts where the short story ends. Eric’s girlfriend has fallen to her death and the cops believe there’s something more going on here. However, it’s hard to understand how a woman fell to her death when there was nothing to fall from. We know what happened but will everyone else discover how Eric got his revenge and will they believe it. This issue is just as bizarre as the original story and you really don’t like Eric but you can understand him. His life is not all that great and he sees his problems as the fault of those around him. I can’t wait to pick up more issues to find out how Joe Hill resolves this story.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Artic Incident by Eoin Colfer

A wonderful sequel to Artemis Fowl, the second in the series. At the beginning of this book, we find that Artemis has been returned to school. He’s been ordered to meet with the school counselor. The thing about Artemis is he knows that no one is smarter than he is and the counselor is just another adult who doesn’t understand him. A call from Butler and an escape from the school, lead Artemis to discover his father’s whereabouts. For the first time in two years, Artemis has a real chance at bringing his father home. The rescue won’t be an easy one but he’s prepared. That is until the fairy people return. Artemis is the only human they know with the resources to open up a human/goblin smuggling ring. They bring him in for questioning. Artemis is innocent and they agree to help him retrieve his father. However, there is a villain amongst the LEP and a plot that will destroy everything. It’s up to Artemis, Butler, Holly Short and Captain Root to save the day. There’s a return of Munch Diggins who has been causing his own ruckus. I don’t want to share too much for those who have not read the first one. I think I like this book better than the first. Artemis is such a complex character and I love that the book is told from all sides at once. It’s not confusing at all and opens up the reader to all the character’s thoughts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Star Trek Legion of Superheroes by Chris Roberson

How fun does this sound – mixing Star Trek with DC superheroes. I just knew I had to sample this new comic series. I have to say I was disappointed. The story opens with the Imperial forces (is that really what they were called?) attacking a peaceful planet because they refused to pay taxes. Then the introductions to the Legion of Superheroes left me uninspired. Why are there no cool superheroes in the legion? Perhaps these are the flunkies that get the worst assignments but with names like Chameleon Boy and Brainy I can see why. I wanted something cool. I loved the description of this story – who could resist the mash up of superheroes and Star Trek? I just don’t think the end result was worth it. I found the whole thing far too cartoony. Maybe they are going for a sixties nostalgic feel – a combination of Hanna Barbara and the over the top Star Trek series. I’d believe it if Captain Kirk looked more like William Shatner. As it was the Star Trek characters resembled poorly drawn versions from the television show. This series was completely lost on me. Maybe it’s because I’m not the right audience. It’s always possible but I can’t tell you who would be the perfect audience. My dad might be the target but I can’t picture him even pretending to read a comic book, let alone the entire series.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

*Had a little computer problem yesterday so yesterday's post is up today along with today's post. I'll be scheduling posts for the remainder of the week since I'll be out of town so I hope they post without problem. I loved Artemis Fowl the first time I read it years ago. I still love it today. I’m glad I took the opportunity to re-read the first book. I’m thinking about reading them all again ending with the newest book this summer. Artemis Fowl, to me, is the anti-Harry Potter. In this first book, he is twelve years old. His father is missing and his mother is withdrawn. The family name and fortune are on the line and Artemis Fowl takes matters into his own hands. He’s going to steal fairy gold. What happens from there is a story about a boy who is stuck in two roles. He is only twelve but incredibly intelligent. He could use his gifts for good but that’s not who his family is – the Fowl’s come from a long line of men who make their money off the backs of others. He has been taught to be evil. However, you can’t help but empathize with this boy. You delight in his schemes but your heart breaks for him as well. In some ways, he’s doing this for his family. The story is funny and charming. It’s not the same comradery as Harry Potter but Artemis is not alone in these stories. This first one sets up a series of friendships that will be tested time and time again in future books.

Locke and Key Volume 5 by Joe Hill

The first issue of volume 5 of the Locke and Key series proves that Joe Hill is still the master. I’ve read one full volume and have some understanding of the world of Lockcraft so this was not a difficult story to follow. I don’t think it’s be really difficult for anyone, except for the last panel which stumped me. This volume is set during the time just before the Revolutionary War. Two siblings have lost their family and are losing their home. Their family has been supporters of those who choose to fight against England. The hidden army uncovers something much more dangerous than the soldiers and it’s up to the boy to come up with a way to save their home and the army they have hidden. I need to get my hands on the full series – it’s wonderful. A mix of horror and fantasy, Joe Hill weaves a story that sucks you in and spits you out at the end shaking and in awe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

False Friends Faux Amis Book Two by Ellie Malet Spradbery

Don’t let the title of this book mislead you. This is not a teen drama but a French conversational. It’s an interesting title but the information is quite solid. The book is broken into six sections – False Friends; French Expressions; Twins, Triplets, etc.; Lists, Miscellaneous; and English Expressions. False Friends focuses on words that sound the same in English and French except don’t necessarily mean the same thing. It’s an interesting look at the two languages because you get the feeling they should be the same. French Expressions covers some familiar phrases and some not so familiar. Twins, Triplets, etc. – French words that have more than one English meaning. List – series of words with a common theme such as insects, birds, and words associated with automobiles. Miscellaneous says learn to play cards in French but I didn’t get how the words were associated. English Expressions – just as it says, English expressions translated to French. This is not a book for a casual learner. This is designed for someone who wants to move deeper into the French language. There’s little pronunciation information for the words nor information on how to add them to sentences. I believe the author assumes the reader is already familiar with the language. I’ve had French in high school and college and I still found some of the words and phrases beyond my understanding but it was definitely fun to read through.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Echo’s Revenge by Sean Austin

This book was fun. Probably not the best written book out there but I still enjoyed. I find it funny that so many books lately have been breaking the rules to what is considered good writing. I have found the rules were too stuffy anyway. I love the chaos of this book. There are so many characters but two main characters – Reggie and Jeremy. I love that you get perspective from multiple characters. I didn’t think it made it confusing but it definitely added to the chaos which was perfect for this book. Reggie lives with his mom, her boyfriend and his brother Jeremy. Life is just about surviving the day to day – his mom is a total flake and her boyfriend is an abusive jerk. Reggie and his brother escape into ECHO’s Revenge, an online interactive game. Reggie is a master at the game and is invited to be part of a focus group. He goes feeling like he’s got something positive in his life. The group is not the best experience but he still feels special. His mom’s boyfriend discovers his trip and the punishment is severe. Time for escape, Reggie and his brother run away. The boys don’t realize that their running away have saved their lives. ECHO is real and he is working his way through the gamers. (The book gets a little hooky here as the pictures of the missing gamers appear on milk cartons the next day but it’s just requires a little belief suspension.) The boys now have two things they are running from – their mom’s boyfriend and ECHO. They are not without support and with each new person, Reggie learns something new. It is this knowledge that helps him survive when ECHO finally catches up to him and his brother. It’s almost a coming of age book as we watch Reggie grow during this ordeal. It’s a fun and exciting book. The style is easy to read and engaging. I’m glad this is the first of a series and I get to watch it blossom as well. For more fun offers interactive play with the characters and books.

Cemetery Club by JG Faherty

This was supposed to be yesterday's post but I fell behind and didn't get it written. Cemetery Club started off rather slow. I did not like the beginning. The first few segments were snapshots of the history of Rocky Pointe but I wasn't connecting to the town. The modern day story started with Todd. Todd had just been released from Wood Hill Sanitarium after serving 20 years for killing several people in his teens. Todd is looking forward to spending his time reconnecting with his mother and continuing his research on what really happened to those people. He suspects he raised a demon. Meanwhile, whatever it was has risen again. John Boyd witnesses the aliens take over a cemetery maintenance man who kills another man before dragging his body into a neighboring crypt. Todd is beaten by police before they even explain why they are arresting him. It's at this point that I am convinced I can no longer read this book. I was so angry. So far the book had failed to grasp my attention and here, in this modern day, this man was completely violated by the men who are sworn to protect. I nearly quit. I nearly wrote a terrible review because I had had it. But I wanted to give the book a chance and I'm glad I did. Once Cody Miles, Todd's lawyer, entered the scene the story took on a completely different feel for me. I was sucked in and I couldn't stop. The fun thing about this book was the debate about what exactly had invaded the community - was it demons or was it aliens? There were good arguments for both and I wasn't disappointed when I learned what the truth was. The beings turn their victims into zombies and that was fun. I hadn't read a zombie book yet so it was great. I loved the characters. I loved how they were real and how they were really struggling with what was the right thing to do. There was even a human villain who I thought could have been used a little better but I could totally picture him in the movie. I didn't like the ending but then I liked the characters a lot and the ending hurt. I won't spoil it for you but I was disappointed. I wanted them to be my heroes and I wanted a happily ever after. The fact that the ending made me feel made it a great ending. I could completely see this movie. It's a small book so it may never happen but I would love to see that movie. There were some editing issues with the book - I won't lie. One character's name changed from Hank to Frank for a few pages and then back to Hank. It was a little off putting but I didn't care. I chalked it up to the quaintness of the publishing. It wasn't well formatted for a nook so there was some fun font issues but I ignored them and stuck with the story. If you like horror, especially Stephen King, I recommend this book. It reminded me a bit of IT but with zombies instead of clowns.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf

Wow what a sad and wonderful history. I picked Baby’s in Black because it had something to do with the Beatles (my family are huge fans). This is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe who was the original bassist for the Beatles when they started in Germany in 1960. Stuart did not consider himself a great musician but followed for the sake of his friend John Lennon. He was soon discovered by Astrid Kirchheer. They fell in love and she nurtured the artist that he was meant to be. Sadly, Stuart had an underlying illness that the doctors were unable to determine which resulted in his death. The beauty of the story is in the telling of their relationship. Drawn in black and white, this graphic novel has a haunting yet light touch. You can’t help but feel for both Astrid and Stuart who never were able to marry. His future was so bright and yet was not meant to be. That did not mean that he didn’t influence the lives of others who went on to have amazing careers. This is a must have for any Beatles fan even though it does not focus on them exclusively. The story is simple and fairly modest making it suitable for young fans.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Enchantment by Pati Nagle

I really hate writing reviews for books I didn’t like or just couldn’t read. It goes against everything I believe. I love books and most of my reviews are glowing because I only review what I like. As I get asked to review more and more, it means finding that I don’t like some books. More often than not, I push through unless it’s NetGalley then I politely decline writing a review. I can’t remember when I was asked to review this book but it’s been sitting in my tbr pile for far too long. I have spent the last week trying to muddle through the first 50 pages. I finally made it to page 86 when I said that was it. I was done. I was going to walk away and call this once lost in the tbr file. I can’t even remember who asked me to review it and they haven’t gotten back in all this time so would anyone notice if I just overlooked this review? The truth is – no, no one would notice but I would feel like I was lying. Am I a bad journalist if I only post reviews of books I like? Okay, it’s not quite that bad but it was when I started. I need to share the bad with the good. This isn’t the worst book ever written. The language is fine. The plot is okay. It’s just really boring. Just before the start of her senior year in high school, Holly discovers a being living in a spring near her house. The being is dying. She wants to focus on him than on finding a college to attend the following year. In 86 pages, I could tell you very little about Holly (to be honest, I’m not positive that’s her name). In one meeting, she is madly in love with the guy who she knows is not human and can’t leave the spring. She’s nearly obsessive. Day three she has to go with her sister, as her sister returns to college. The whole time she’s sure that the man in the spring believes she has abandoned him. Um, hmm. I found the characters very one dimensional – there was no feeling in this book. I wasn’t being pulled in. Maybe, it’s me. Maybe I just was the wrong audience. Maybe this was the wrong book. I don’t know. I just know that Nancy Pearl said to subtract your age from 100 and then that’s the number of pages you have to read before deciding a book is just not going to work for you. I’d love to say that I read those pages but truth is – I gave it many more and even trying to skim over the story didn’t help me like it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Agaves by Greg Starr

Agaves are a type of succulent plant characterized by rosetta-like structure – leaves that spread out from the base in a circle. Interest in these plants for landscaping grew in the 1980s but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that Agave’s popularity surged. They are drought and heat tolerant plants that are naturally found in the southwestern region of the United States and into Mexico. Greg Starr offers information on how to incorporate Agave plants into your landscape regardless of where you live. Some species can tolerate severe cold while others can tolerate wetter climates. He goes on to explain how you can help your Agave thrive even in the less than ideal conditions. The majority of the book is a detailed explanation of each species of Agave. With each description, Greg Starr offers landscaping information and how best to raise that particular species. He includes information on where they can be found in nature and what conditions can be found there. The book is beautifully photographed with pictures of Agaves in various states of growth. The information appears to be simple but until you put it to use I couldn’t really say. I would have liked to have a reason to grow Agaves instead of they look neat. I wish the author would have sold the idea better but then if you weren’t already interested you probably wouldn’t be picking up his book. I like gardening books but I have limited experience and even less space. I would have loved to find out how to eat an Agave plant or to learn which were edible and how to harvest them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dollhouse Volume 1 by Andrew Chambliss

A post-series story following the characters of Dollhouse, this graphic novel is a must have for fans. Those not familiar with the show may find some of the plot confusing but the writer’s did a good job of introducing characters and the Dollhouse. The story begins with a phone call. This is not your normal call but one that threatens to take away all that makes you you. For some, they turned into mindless killers. Others turned into makers of mindless killers. Those who avoided the call are trying to survive in this apocalyptic world. Being this is volume one, there is no tight ending, no wrap up to the story but there was enough of a conclusion that made the story feel whole while still encouraging the reader to see out volume 2. This book makes me want to watch the show all over again – guess what I’m watching on Netflix tonight?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Naked Foods Cookbook by Margaret Floyd and James Barry

The concept of naked eating is to eat clean, whole, unprocessed foods. The authors ask that you investigate your food before bringing it into your kitchen. This is not only a good practice for the environment but will allow the preparer to create more healthy dishes. The first few chapters of this cookbook explain the concept of eating naked as well as how to stock your kitchen and preparation methods. The recipes contained have vegetarian versions and all are gluten-free. The authors are supportive of raw organic milks but include ways to make dairy free milks at home. I liked that the recipes varied from raw to cooked and included vegetarian and meat ideas. The recipes are all rated based on difficulty and easy to find. The book ends with sample menus and food seasons. All in all this is a good book for those who are investigating eating raw, vegan or unprocessed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Death of a Dreamer by Alison Behnke

The story of the tragic killing of John Lennon, Alison Behnke offers a well-rounded view of not only the death of John Lennon but of his life, the life of his killer and the world they lived in. The book has six chapters each focusing on a separate part of the story. Chapter 1 is a brief biography of John Lennon with Chapter 2 shifting to focus on his political side – the side that fought for freedom and peace as well as the politics that surrounded him. Chapter 3 switches sides and offers the biography of Mark David Chapman. This is the lesser known part of this story. Mark David Chapman was a complex and sympathetic character who, to this day, is still shrouded in mystery. Chapter 4 gives the reader detailed information of the days that lead up to the assassination of John Lennon from both perspectives. Chapter 5 is the trial and the conviction of Mark David Chapman. The book ends with the standard wrap-up and where are they now. Anyone interested in the Beatles and John Lennon would benefit from this book. It is written for a juvenile audience and does a fair job of explaining all the roles and words that come into play. I was fascinated by the story. In the end, it was hard to draw sides. While Mark David Chapman did commit a heinous crime, I can’t help but feel sorry for him and feel that a life in solitary confinement is more than a punishment. I find that the world surrounding this incident has nearly as much fault and I am not alone. It makes me wonder what the world could be like if we strive to give peace a chance and if political conflicts can ever be solved.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

It took a little work but not much to get into this story. I wasn’t sure what to think about it at first and then suddenly I was swept away and could not put it down. This is the story of Princess Andrea. A mix of coming of age with science fiction with fantasy and rounded out by a touch of romance. Andrea wants to become a knight. As the fourth daughter she has no claim to the throne and wants nothing to do with being a lady. Her parents refuse her request and so she sets off on her own adventure. Wild and high spirited, Andrea finds herself leaving her world and entering California. She learns that nothing is what she thought it was. Upon returning home, she inadvertently starts a war which she has to work to stop. What I liked best was that Andrea had a fairly immature view of the world and it surprised her as she matured. I loved her confusion and the fact that she was unsure of herself, even right up to the end. She was real and insecure. There were some language issues but I only noticed them early on, the story completely sucked me in. I was uncertain of everyone’s motivation and, while I guessed who would be her love interest, I was still surprised by each turn of events. I would love to read more and see where her next adventure takes her.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Alienation by Jon Lewis

To start with, I got this as an e-ARC so I wasn’t able to tell whether this was the first book of the series. Part way through the book, I looked it up to find it was the second book. There were some things that felt awkward reading this out of order but for the most part I was able to connect to the characters and follow the plot of the book. This wasn’t a favorite of mine but that’s not the books fault. I’m not real big on military action sort of stories. This is a book about aliens but it’s more about the young men who have been enlisted into a special military organization to combat the aliens. For those who likes those sorts of stories, this one is for you. There was too much detail in the weaponry for my taste. I don’t care how many different types of assault rifles and the numbers that are associated with them. For me, the book had too much of that. It pulled me out of the story. And there was a lot of it. There’s amazing technology in this book for those who like it. There’s realistic holographs for training (and if you get hurt in the holograph room, you really get hurt), robots for training and as servants, and hoverboards. It’s a thrilling young adult novel perfect for those who love military and espionage. In this story, Colt is heading off to CHAOS training. (I can’t remember what the acronym stands for but it’s something like covert – alien - something.) While trying to get there he discovers someone is trying to kill him. The head of CHAOS has ordered the murder of several government officials and it appears that he wants to get rid of Colt too. Colt is the grandson of the great CHAOS legend Phantom Rider. He’s left not sure of who to trust especially since his best friend is the son of the CHAOS leader. It did keep me guessing and I have to say I didn’t see the twist that came. I enjoyed the action and all the alien descriptions. This was similar in tone to comic books in the 40’s and 50’s – Captain America and the like. I think it makes for a great read for young men who love all that sort of stuff.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Abe Sapien Volume 2 by Mike Mignola

One of the things I love about BPRD character books, includes Hellboy and Abe Sapien, is that they are collections of short stories not a continuing story. That means I can pick them up as I find them and enjoy them. There are some characters that come and go but overall I can easily figure out who everyone is what they are doing. Much of that knowledge comes from the Hellboy movies – I’m not ashamed, I love Hellboy. I would beg them to make more and would even love Hellboy spin offs. I’m not picky. I loved this collection. Just three short tales starring Abe Sapien. I was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t more dynamic in these. He could kick butt but I wanted the more intellectual Abe. I think he’s a good counterweight to the brute of Hellboy. Maybe I miss their balance but that didn’t take away my enjoyment of these stories. Not too bad for a younger audience but a bit on the violent side. The violence was always directed towards monsters but for a young’in that might be too much. These are great for middle grade boys to read and should suck them right in and have them begging for more. This volume has ghosts, zombies, ships and an appearance by Hellboy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Taking the Lead by Stephanie Perry Moore

There were things I really liked about this book. It’s interactive with word searches after each chapter and lesson plans at the end. The story has promise – young Alec has just been elected 5th grade class president. He’s got a lot of good things coming his way. On the downside, his father is the school principal and his parents fight constantly. There are some good themes that go through this book. It does have a fair amount of Christian values such as allowing God to lead. With Alec as class president he has to learn what makes a good leader. However, I didn’t like the flow or the language of the book. It’s set in Georgia so maybe the problem is regional or even cultural. I think boys in that age group might feel differently but I don’t see this book becoming a classic. I do think it makes a great homeschooling book and as it comes in a series could be a good addition to curriculum.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BPRD Hell On Earth Volume 2 by Mike Mignola

Ack – what a ride. Hell on Earth is an accurate description of this apocalyptic story from BPRD. I was slightly off kilter not having read volume 1 but this volume let me catch up and enjoy the story. I can’t wait for volume 3. Looks like I’m going to have to do some serious graphic novel shopping. So many good tales lately. This one focused on Abe and Liz. Abe is hunting a teenager who seems to be one step ahead of the disasters while Liz is in hiding and discovers no matter how much you try to stay away, it will always find you. I like Liz but I wish she was a more sure character. If you are a Hellboy or BPRD fan – this is a great story line. It’s filled with possessed humans, huge monsters and a secret race that may prove powerful enough to destroy the world.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Having read so many juvenile and children’s books lately this was a real treat. Not only has Mr Popper’s Penguins been on my to read list but it comes highly recommended on many reading lists. Published in 1938, Mr Popper’s Penguins is a children’s classic. Last year it was made into a movie (I haven’t seen it yet and was waiting until after I read the book) and in turn was re-released as a book with a short biography of the writers at the end. The thing I noticed first about Mr Popper’s Penguins is the language. I know it’s a classic and the story is delightful but I think I’ve been kind of ruined for children’s fiction. There is such an expectation nowadays to have tighter more descriptive language. We want each word to have meaning so we don’t feel like we are wasting our time. Good stories are lost in a sea of expectations for language. It was actually a relief to read something that was just a good story. The story is horribly silly and that’s great. There’s no evil to be conquered and everything works out fine. There is a small moment when the group arrives at the wrong theatre but even then it’s all in good fun. I miss that. I miss just enjoying the ride. For those not familiar with the story – Mr Popper receives a penguin in the mail from a famous explorer in Antarctica. He and his wife make a home for the penguin in their refrigerator (with help from their two children). Soon, Captain Cook (as the penguin is named) becomes ill. Fearful that there is something terribly wrong with him, Mr Popper writes to a zoologist who in return sends him Greta, a penguin with a similar problem. Over the winter, Greta and Captain Cook become parents to 10 babies. In true fancy, they become performing penguins and everyone goes on the road. This is a great adventure for all. The book is simple enough for a young reader to understand. Middle grade and older students might find there is not enough action in the book but I still recommend encouraging them to try to read this book. It’s from a different time when kids weren’t force feed stimulation all day long. It reminds the reader that not everything has to be action oriented and sometimes a good story is just a good story.