Monday, January 30, 2012

Knits for Nerds by Toni Carr

I have to admit – I can’t knit. I want to but it’s just not a skill I possess. That doesn’t stop me from looking at knitting books and dreaming. Most books are just variations of the same patterns. This one, however, caught my eye with the possibility of something so outrages that I would just have to learn to knit.
I was slightly disappointed in the patterns because they really did come off fairly normal but this book is so fun I didn’t care. It’s the perfect book. Toni Carr is witty and thoroughly entertaining. Her patterns tug at the heart of all those who just love science fiction. A good portion of the patterns are typical but have some root in a science fiction character – for example there are patterns for the signature sweater vests from the characters in Big Bang Theory.
The patterns run from the beautiful to the silly. There is something for everyone in this book. I just need to find someone to knit for me.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hippo Says “Excuse Me” by Michael Dahl

This is the cutest book. The colors are so bright and cheerful that it made me happy just looking at it. Little Hippo is so darling, I just want to take it home with me.
Hippo and its mama are out about town and because they are so big they have to say “excuse me” often. The other animals are not always so happy about this but wait until Hippo is on the elevator and no one wants to let little chick on.
Because this is an e-galley, I can’t be certain what type of picture book this will be. I hope it’s a board book because it just has that sort of texture to it. No matter what it’s like this book is fun and inviting to small children. And what a great introduction to manners.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Terrible, Awful, Horrible Manners by Beth Bracken

“Once there was a boy named Pete who had terrible, awful, horrible manners.”
Pete is horribly rude. He’s loud, unclean and forgets to say please and thank you. His poor manners got him attention and made him laugh until one day his family decided to act like Pete. It didn’t take long for Pete to start reminding them of their manners.
This is a cute book and would be loved by most boys. Pete is loud and likes body noises which would appeal to the male persuasion. Some girls might enjoy Pete but they may be turned off by the burping and farting.
I’m not really sure this is a great manners book but it’s enjoyable and can open up a dialogue with a young child. This is definitely a young child book but wouldn’t make it long into grade school. This would be a perfect pre-school or kindergarten library book.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Enter, Night by Michael Rowe

This is a hard review to write. I loved the story. I do have an ARC which means there were some technical errors that I hope are resolved before publishing. With that in mind, I want to focus on the story.
The story was amazing. The language a little tough for me because the author is Canadian and I am not. Michael Rowe is a native English speaker but there was some language that left me puzzled but may not be difficult for a Canadian. However, I loved the story.
This is an ensemble cast making it difficult to give a clear synopsis. In 1952, an archeological dig in Parr’s Landing goes wrong when student, Richard Weal, goes mad and attacks another student. Years later, he returns to Parr’s Landing to finish what he started and that is to wake the being hidden deep in the caves. At the same time, widow Christina is forced to return to Parr’s Landing with her daughter and brother-in-law. Her departure from the small town was not a pleasant one. The town knows the gossip but they don’t understand the truth. Her late husband Jack Parr was the prince to Adeline Parr’s kingdom. Christina will always be known as the slut who drove him from home.
Jeremy Parr escape happened later after his mother tried to have him cured of his homosexuality. His first love remains in Parr’s Landing but has been convinced that it is better to be a heterosexual asshole than a happy homosexual.
Richard Weal is successful in his mission and unleashes an ancient vampire on the small town, destroying everything in its path and yet freeing those held captive by Parr’s Landing.
Take away the vampires and Enter, Night is still a wonderful and touching story. There are so many elements in this book from various prejudices (sexuality, race, class) to family relations to a touching tale of a love and the sacrifices that brings (human and animal).
The story sucked me in but I was left unfulfilled when it was over. The last chapter goes back to 1650 to explain how the creature came to Parr’s Landing and was confined in the caves. It was still interesting but I wanted to stay in the more present day (of the story) to find out what happened. There was some wrap up but not enough for my taste. I only hope this means Michael Rowe is writing a sequel because I would like that.
Visit the author at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hades by George O’Connor

This is the fourth book in the graphic series The Olympians by George O’Connor. This is an amazing retelling of the story of Hades and Persephone. I was just captivated by the beauty of the drawings and the passion of the characters.
With tons of research into the myths, George O’Connor has created a story that weaves together all the bits and pieces. This telling of the Hades myth is not only touching but opens up a humanity in the Greek Gods that I believe was often missing in the more serious versions. Hades is portrayed as a man who has been given a job to do. He is shrouded in darkness but he is not evil.
Persephone has more personality in George O’Connor’s story than she has been given before. Here is a young woman smothered by her overprotective mother. Though Hades took her against her will, he is willing to give her more freedom than she ever had before and a chance to become the woman she wants to be.
Then there is Demeter, Persephone’s mother, who nearly destroys the world with her grief at the loss of her daughter. Through a connection with Hecate she is able to find her daughter.
In the end, this is a powerful story that can be enjoyed by girl or boy. It’s dark but romantic and I can’t wait to pick up more.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard by Tom Waltz

I recognized the name Duke Nukem from conversations with my son and husband but to be honest I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked up this first issue. Duke Nukem is every man’s dream – he’s strong, able to bed many women and just kicks ass.
This is not a series for children. It was entertaining though. I thoroughly enjoyed this issue and will actively seek out the next one. I can see it as something I can enjoy with my husband and my teen son.
I like the art – it’s bright and reminds me of superhero comics (which I guess this is). The story reminded me of Captain America some without being a rewrite of his story line. I like how this story went and where it appears to be going.
It’s got a lot on its plate but doesn’t seem like it’s juggling plot points. There’s time travel, Nazis, aliens and lots of fighting. This is definitely one to check out if you like superhero graphics.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lake Eden Cookbook by Joanne Fluke

I cannot wait to get my own copy of this book. I loved borrowing it from the library but what a wonderful cookbook. For those who enjoy the Hannah Swenson mysteries this is a must have. There's a sweet short story about a cookie exchange party with all the characters.
The story introduces each section of recipes. The majority are from all the previous books which is really nice since I can never remember which book had which recipe and I don't own them all. This would allow me to pass along my books and still have all the recipes.
There are a handful of new recipes from the "party" and that's fun too. I really can't wait to dig in and play.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bite Club by Rachel Caine

I love this series and each book gets better and better. However, I was a little shocked to find the format of this story was different. Normally, her books are all third person but this one had a few chapters told in first person by Shane. It was jarring in the beginning but soon I found his perspective to be rather refreshing. It was nice actually getting into the head of his character.
This is an emotional roller coaster. Shane is off his rocker and breaking Claire's heart. I love that she is so strong. She has so much faith in people that, even though her heart is breaking, she still fights for Shane. She still believes he loves her.
I forget how young her character is. She mentioned not turning 18 yet and I was stunned for a moment - wait isn't she 40 yet (not really) but I expected her to be older by now because she has grown so much over the series. When the books started she was a little mousy and now she's standing up to people she knows will probably kill her. She's not crazy and she is scared but she doesn't back down when she is right.
Tough decisions come up in this book and Claire treats them with reverance. I just cannot believe how wonderful these books are. I can't wait for the library to get the next one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crawl To Me by Alan Robert

This is another single issue. I’m not sure how I feel about this particular work. The story was well set up but I don’t have the patience to wait for another issue.
Crawl to Me is the story of a man who witnesses his neighbor shoot a group of police officers before he falls himself. Ryan goes to see if there are any survivors to find that the man on the porch had done something to him as a child. One can guess it was sexual since the police had said he was a registered sex offender and the connecting image is the man’s belt buckle.
Ryan is mentally disturbed and one can guess that this is due to the abuse he suffered as a child but this didn’t really connect for me. I didn’t like the style of the art in this series. I’m just not a fan of monochromatic drawings especially those that throw in jarring colors. It’s too hard on my eyes and makes me not want to pay attention to the work. I like art that allows me to see the story quickly as I read. Monochromatic styles hid too many of the details.
I can see potential in this series but I’m not sure that’s enough to encourage me to pick up more issues. As I have said, I prefer the novel approach but I understand the single issue format. I hope that I am able to pick this up in novel form soon enough before I forget that I was interested.
*Note - I wrote this review weeks ago. Yesterday, I read an article that Crawl to Me has already been optioned for a movie. According to NetGalley this comic book/graphic novel was set to be published on January 17th. According to the article, it's already sold out it's first printing and a second one is quick in the works. I'm a little frustrated by the incorrect dates on NetGalley because I'm trying to match the reviews to the publishing dates but no matter. I look forward to reading more than the first issue because maybe there is more to this than I originally thought.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom

This is one of the coolest books I have had the privilege of reviewing. I love chickens. My son and I have conversations about getting chickens as soon as we swap our apartment for a real house. We had chickens when we lived out in the country. Our chickens lived in the barn and we weren’t great with the whole cute chicken design. I picture a perfect yard – well landscaped, beautiful vegetation, dreamy water fixtures with little wooden bridges dotted with chickens and other small farm animals. It’s a dream that can easily be made reality with this one book.
Jessi Bloom has written the perfect book – part gardening, part chicken raising and all amazing. It’s an easy to understand manual that breaks down all the parts of landscaping with chickens in mind. Her book focuses more on small yards than large farms which makes it great for anyone to use. She clearly lists the uses of plants and which to absolutely avoid. I can imagine it’s not all inclusive but extensive, nonetheless.
The book includes coop designs as well as yard designs for coop placement, chicken runs and garden plots. She discusses how to avoid disease with your chickens and your plants as well as how to add those plants that might not hold up to chicken abuse.
On top of all this amazing information, Jessi dots the book with beautiful photography of chickens, plants and a variety of dream inspiring odds and ends. I cannot wait to add this book to my library and start planning my dream yard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Simple Asian Meals by Nina Simonds

One cannot truly understand the wonder that is Asian food until they have had it homemade. There is something about the complexity of flavors and smells that is lost in most dining experiences. Nina Simonds offers simple and yet delicious alternatives to eating out. Her meals are easy enough for the least experienced cook. The book is filled with flavors that inspire a handful of recipes.
I like that she doesn’t offer tons of recipes but instead offers ways to alter the recipes she has listed. Cooking becomes comfortable when we are invited to experiment. I loved that she encouraged spices and that most of her flavors are easily attainable for those in the United States.
She finishes the book with Asian inspired desserts that complete the simple design. They are not overly sweet and most require little time to make them (she offers a recipe to make your own ice cream bon bons – I know what I am making this summer).
The last thing she did that I liked was dot the book with little trivia about the nutrition of the foods and Chinese medicine. It completed the whole picture of what the dish would be like for me. My ARC was in black and white which made me a little sad because the book is filled with beautiful pictures that could only get better in color.