Saturday, March 31, 2012

Titanic 100th Anniversary Reading Challenge First Quarter

Post your reviews here for January through March.

Sign up anytime HERE.

82. Dante's Inferno: The Graphic Novel

Dante's Inferno: The Graphic Novel by Joseph Lanzara. Based on Dante Aleghieri. Illustrated by Gustave Dore (US) Only

Pages: 30
Ages: 13+
Finished: Mar. 16, 2012
First Published: Feb. 12, 2012
Publisher: New Arts Library
Genre: Graphic novel, classic
Rating: 5/5

First sentence: "The arrogance of my youth is past - middle age has crept upon me."

Publisher's Summary: "Dante’s Inferno in COMIC BOOK Format! Never before has Dante's classic masterpiece been presented in this way. Now you can experience this major work of world literature in a simplified adaptation. The storyboard is made up of the powerful illustrations by Gustave DorĂ©. The easy to understand narrative is by Joseph Lanzara, author of the popular “Plain English” versions of Paradise Lost and Romeo and Juliet. This graphic novel pulls no punches. Dante’s harrowing journey through Hell is not for the squeamish. It is a powerful, but ultimately inspiring story of sin, punishment, self-sacrifice and redemption. "

Acquired: Received a review copy from the author.

Reason for Reading:    Even though I have never read the original Dante's "The Divine Comedy", I am a fan of the story and I absolutely love Gustave Dore's engravings.  This comic book version of "Inferno" immensely intrigued me.

What an absolutely "divine" adaptation of Dante's Inferno into comic book format!  Truly a masterpiece use of the graphic format.  Here Lanzara has taken Dante's seminal work and reduced it to a simplified, easy to read retelling which still contains the essential meat of the original plot.  Even though not drawn until 500 years later, Dante just wouldn't be Dante without Gustave Dore's illustrations to the the modern reader.  And Lanzara has managed to gather together a magnificent collection of Dore's work from "The Divine Comedy" to match up with his text perfectly that tells a smooth cohesive story of Dante's passage through the nine levels of Hell accompanied by Virgil, as he then reaches the ghost of his beloved Beatrice who quickly guides him through Heaven.  But it is Dante's one act of selfless love halfway through the story that will end up being his redeeming glory. 

A wonderful introduction to Dante's Inferno and a highly recommended comic.  I see the author, Joseph Lanzara, is also the author of "Paradise Lost: The Novel Based Upon the Epic Poem" which has received good reviews.  The same treatment of "The Divine Comedy" would certainly be appreciated by this reader!

Friday, March 30, 2012

81. Fluffy. Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 2 by Yumi Tsukirino

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol.21 by Yumi Tsukirino (US) - (Canada)
Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 2

Pages: 173
Ages: All Ages (5+)
Finished: Mar. 15, 2012
First Published: (Japan, 2005) English - Mar. 6, 2012
Publisher: viz media/viz kids
Genre: children, manga, cute, kawaii
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:  "The pups are visiting Mocha's house."

Publisher's Summary: "While asleep in his cradle, Milk dreams that a black cloud has swooped down and captured the pups. He’s relieved to find that it was just a dream—until it actually happens! Does Milk’s cradle have the power to help him see the future?"

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada

Reason for Reading:  Next in the series.

Volume 2 continues along in the same vein as volume 1 with a collection of sort episodes involving the gang of Cinnamoroll pups introduced previously.  Some stories are as short as three pages while others go on several pages and even continue onto a Part II, making them a double episode, if you will.  There is no running over all theme from volume to volume except that there main nemesis is "Cavity", however he only appears in some of the stories, not all by any means.  Events and items from volume one are mentioned and will make sense to the reader who has read the volumes in order but picking the volumes up out of order is not going to matter. 
This volume sees Cinnamoroll and friends having few run-ins with "Cavity", dealing with issues of friendship and daily adventures, seeking treasure and both finding and acquiring many new magical items.  The stories are cute and sweet without being saccharine, the text is fairly simple to read and will appeal to young girls who already like the Sanrio characters or who are into cutesy-cute.  Older girls will also find appealing if they favour the Japanese kawaii anime or manga.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fantastic Catholic Review by Fr. Barron on "The Hunger Games" (SPOILERS)

Fr. Robert Barron's Word On Fire - Fr. Barron comments on "The Hunger Games" (SPOILERS)

100th Anniversary Titanic Reading Challenge: FINISHED

ETA:  I am officially finished this challenge as I signed up for the "Taking a Plunge" level of 6 books/movies.  However, I intend to continue playing along all year as I have several more interesting books gathered to read this year, plus I still haven't seen the movie yet!  So I will continue to add to the group list throughout the year and hope to comple the final level of "Going Down With the Ship"

This is my own challenge that I'm hosting.  There are three levels and I'm going for the second level of reading/watching 6 titanic media.  The challenge lasts from now until Dec. 31, 2012.  I have no predetermined reads, except I do intend to watch James Cameron's Titanic which {gasp!} I've never seen (Two reasons: it's a romance and I'm not fond of Leonardo Dicapprio) but it's one of those movies everybody has seen. 

These are the books/movies/documentaries I've read/watched:
Post reviews here.
1. That Fatal Night by Sarah Ellis
2. Deadly Voyage: RMS Titanic by Hugh Brewster
3. Titanic 2012 by Bill Walker
4. Women of the Titanic Disaster by Sylvia Caldwell
5. A Rare Titanic Family by Julie Hedgepeth Williams
6. Story of the Titanic by DK Publishing

Taking a Plunge Level (6) Completed

7. Titanic: Disaster at Sea by Martin Jenkins
8. Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived by Andrew Wilson

80. Story of the Titanic (DK Publishing)

Story of the Titanic. Illustration by Steve Noon. Consultant: Dr. Eric Kently. (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 45
Ages: 7+
Finished: Ar. 13, 2012
First Published: Feb. 21, 2012
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Genre: children, non-fiction, history
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "In the late 1800s and early 1900s, millions of people emigrated from Europe to North America."

Publisher's Summary: "Young readers will learn and discover how the ship was built and equipped, what kind of passengers and crew she carried, and what facilities she offered on board. Learn how she struck an iceberg, why she sank so quickly, how many people were saved, and how many lives were lost.

  • Detailed double-page artwork with cutaway scenes tell the tragic story of the 'unsinkable' liner
  • Pictorial details and lively annotation give fascinating insight into the Titanic's construction and the daily life of its passengers and crew from the start of the maiden voyage to its sinking
  • Covers the official inquiries into the sinking, as well as the discovery of the wreck"

Acquired: Received a review copy from DK (Canada).

Reason for Reading:  I have always been fascinated with the Titanic and am participating in a Titanic Reading Challenge this year.

Just mentioning that this book is published by DK will automatically give you an impression as to what to expect.  An oversized, hardcover with a plentiful profusion of illustration and upon the survivor's return photographs and contemporary items such as newspaper headlines.  The book takes us on a matter of fact chronological course of events that led up to that fateful night, through the sinking and then finally through photographs of the return of the survivors, the news, the inquiries, short blurbs of some survivors and final information on Ballard's finding of the ship 1985.

Each topic is a two page spread and drawn in cutaways to show the reader the inside of the boat as she stood.  The illustration is labeled all over the place, like one of those old Richard Scary word/picture illustrations.  Along the top and the bottom of each page are little vignettes of something happening within the large scene and then the reader is supposed to find that little illustration in the larger picture as in a "look-and-find" book.  Spending time one will find all sorts of interesting little bits of events going on in the pictures and the occasional humorous one too, like the sailor who happens to be sitting on the toilet in one picture!  The pictures are awesome and the cutaways are the perfect way to explore the inside of the ship as we can see where things were situated in comparison to each other. 

Though no mention of this is made in the book's copyright page this is a reprinting of an earlier title of the same name.  The only difference between this book and the earlier "Story of the Titanic" illustrated by Steve Noon is that the original is a very large, oversized horizontally wide book, making for an extravagant picture book.  This book is oversized but only slightly in the vertical direction and obviously it would loose it's extravagance compared to the original.  Having never read, nor seen the original I was non the wiser and enjoyed this book for what I got.  Kids will especially like the "search and find" interactive component of the book which will have them finding many more hidden treasures in the gorgeous paintings.  Recommended mostly for 11 and under.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

79. Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 104
Ages: 16+
Finished: Mar. 10, 2012
First Published: 2007
Publisher: SLG Publishing
Genre: graphic novel, horror, humour, zombies
Rating: 5/5

First sentence: "Today we discovered the importance of following the number one rule of zombie movies."

Publisher's Summary: "Joss's life sucks. She's in the middle of university exams, up to her neck in student loans, and when she's attacked by zombies, her roommates have the nerve to think she's making it up. But when the zombies turn out to be terrifyingly real, only Joss knows how to survive the undead invasion: by following the Rules of Zombie Movies."

Acquired: Borrowed  a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

Reason for Reading: I was writing my review for Hicks' latest book "Friends With Boys" when I realized I only had one more book by the author left to read, her first one.  So I put in a library request right away.

As I've said before Hicks has a certain style for people.  One of the main female characters looks just like the main character in "War at Ellesmere" and "Friends with Boys".  The male figure looks just like one of her brothers in "Friends with  Boys".  Of course this gives her work a distinctive style, but also can get repetitive book after book. 

I loved Zombies Calling.  It is a take-off on the zombie movie and a while slightly a horror story, much more a light-hearted humorous send-off.  Nobody gets killed, unless you count the zombies.  And Hicks takes a moment to make us *really* think about those zombies in a way we usually don't.  But most of all this is just some silly fun that will be most appreciated by zombie movie fans who get why the zombie is so fun.  The three university student main characters are all stereotypical players: the girl who knows everything about zombies, the skeptic and the prerequisite boy who's just a friend; but Hicks manages to flesh them out in this short book and make them an interesting group to get to know.  For Hicks's first book, I really enjoyed it.  Maybe the best of them all!

Monday, March 26, 2012

78. The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley

The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers by Pete Earley (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Pages: 317
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 10, 2012
First Published: Jan. 10, 2012
Publisher: Touchstone Book
Genre: non-fiction, true crime, biography,
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Tony Ciaglia felt the familiar butterfly-rush in his stomach as he keyed open his private postbox at the UPS Store on Rainbow Avenue in Las Vegas."

Publisher's Summary: "Fifteen-year-old Tony Ciaglia had everything a teenager wants—good grades, good athletic skills, and good friends—until he suffered a horrific head injury at summer camp. Pronounced clinically dead three times by helicopter paramedics before he reached a hospital, Ciaglia lapsed into a coma. When he emerged his right side was paralyzed and he had to relearn how to walk, talk, and even how to eat. His brain damage also required him to take countless pills to control his emotions.

Abandoned and shunned by his friends, he began writing to serial killers on a whim and discovered that the same traumatic brain injury that made him an outcast to his peers now enabled him to connect emotionally with notorious murderers. Soon many of America’s most dangerous psychopaths were revealing to him heinous details about their crimes—even those they’d never been convicted of. The killers opened up to him, trusted him, and called him a “best friend.”

But there was a price. As Tony found himself being drawn deeper and deeper into their violent worlds of murder, rape, and torture, he was pushed to the brink of despair and, at times, forced to question his own sanity—until he found a way to use his gift. Asked by investigators from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to aid in solving a murder, Tony began launching his own personal searches for forgotten victims, with clues often provided to him voluntarily by the killers themselves.

The Serial Killer Whisperer takes readers into the minds of murderers as never before—straight from a killer’s thoughts to paper. It is also an inspiring tale of an American family whose idyllic life is shattered by a terrible accident, and how healing and closure came to a tormented man in the most unlikely way—by connecting with monsters"

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Various reasons really.  First of all I have an interest in serial killers.  Secondly, I was intrigued by Tony Ciaglia's brain injury and what led him to write to serial killers and finally I enjoy books that contains letters.

This book is not for the squeamish.  It contains brutal letters from serial killers describing their crimes in graphic detail.  Without having read the book, one will first wonder what purpose this serves.  Is it gratuitous and voyeuristic or does it serve some higher purpose?  It is completely possible to read the book and skip the letters that describe murders, not all the letters do.  What the letters do though, all of them, is let one inside the mind of a serial killer in a way that the public has never seen before.  When serial killers posture for interviews or psychologists they are performing for an audience and act and behave in certain ways that these narcissistic people need to do so.  But with Tony Ciaglia, he was/is able to get to the real person inside these monsters, most of them are still monsters on the inside, but Tony got their defenses down, treated them non-judgementally as people and they responded in kind, treating Tony as a "best friend".

The first part of the book deals with Tony's teenage accident which caused Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from which he was never expected to recover.  Recover he did though and we are taken through the journey of his recovery and the effect this had on his family and the after effects that defined the "new" Tony.  A more child-like person, but with sudden violent rages.  With much psychological work and the right medications, Tony is leading a relatively normal life today.  I found this part of the book fascinating.  Something in the "new" Tony starts his obsession with writing to serial killers, befriending them and getting them to talk openly about things that had never come out to officials before.  After Tony's accident he had a near death experience where he met God and became a very religious Catholic.  His family was Catholic but not exactly practicing.  He believed that God had sent him back for a purpose and this was his purpose, to help find information on cold cases and bring closure for families by using his gift with these men.  The end of the book contains a personal message from Tony where he speaks of his calling.

A riveting book to read.  The graphic letters are hard to read, but they and the other more mundane or waxing philosophical letters from the serial killers are quite insightful into the harrowing sickness of their minds.  I enjoyed reading the book, was mostly taken with Tony himself.  He has a child-like naivete about him, yet he didn't lose any of his intelligence in the accident, even though it is harder for him to express himself intellectually.  A very interesting book on two accounts.  For the insight into the psychological make-up of the mind of a serial killer and the psychological insight into the mind of a TBI victim and survivor.  Recommended for those interested in psychology and those with the stomach to read the graphic details.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

77. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, vol. 9 by Megumi Osuga

MAOH: Juvenile Remix, vol. 9 by Megumi Osuga (US) - (Canada)
MAOH: Juvenile Remix, vol. 9

Pages: 200
Ages: 16+
Finished: Mar. 9, 2012
First Published: Feb. 14, 2012
Publisher: viz media
Genre: YA, science fiction, manga, crime
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:  "Hop in."
Publisher's Summary: "To get revenge for his brother’s death, Junya decides to follow in Ando’s footsteps. To get to the bottom of who killed Ando, Junya will have to develop his own special powers. But before he can deal with Inukai, another group of misfits might beat him to it."

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Vol. 9 is the second last book in this series and things are coming to a head.  This volume is very violent.  Junya's character has developed into a very hardcore type of guy, very different from his brother who was out to save the world.  Junya is mostly out to revenge his brother's death.  I'm not going to say much else but if you've read the series this far, you won't be disappointed with this volume.  Very intense and brutal, a creepy new character is introduced and I'm very eager to find out how it will all play out in the next, final volume, #10.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

76. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Pages: 322
Ages: 18+
Finished: Mar. 10, 2012
First Published: Jan. 25, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: southern fiction, women's fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:  "My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard."

Publisher's Summary: "A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Ginny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future."

Acquired: Received a review copy from Hachette Book Group (Canada).

Reason for Reading:   I love southern fiction and have had this author on my want-to-read list for some time now.  I actually own one other of her books (I won it) but haven't read it yet and finally got around to reading her with this book.  I just love the cover!  I used to have a few gingham summer dresses as a kid.

I adored this book!  What a beautiful, touching story.  Set in Mississippi, each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the three women, each 15 years apart in age: Mosey is 14-turning 15, her mother Liza is 30, and Ginny, *her* mother, the grandmother, is 45.  I loved every single one of these characters and simply took them into my heart.  The story was sad and touching, yet full of hope against all odds.  A despairing story that was uplifting at the same time.  There is a mystery in the plot and I came up with a solution pretty much near the beginning which was continuously confirmed for me throughout the book, so I was quite shocked when 2/3 of the way through my theory became impossible and the mystery sorted itself out in a completely different direction.  I loved this as I figure out mysteries too easily and like it when I'm wrong!  I only had one problem with the book and that was that it was a slow read for me, I really don't know why but every time I picked it up I seemed to be reading at a very lazy pace.  I was loving the book, but nothing could make me read at my normal speed until the last third of the book when the solving of the mystery comes into play and the action picks up, that part I read quickly.  Now there is nothing wrong with a slow read, sometimes a book just demands that you take it in at a leisurely pace and mull it over.  I actually kept wishing it was warmer out and I was reading the book under a tree somewhere.  Trees are a symbol in the book.  This will make a good vacation read, perhaps to take to the cottage with you.  I will certainly be adding Joshilyn Jackson to my list of regularly read authors!

Friday, March 23, 2012

75. Silver Threads by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Silver Threads by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Illustrations by Michael Martchenko (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 32
Ages: 7+
Finished: Mar. 8, 2012
First Published: 1996
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Genre: picture book, immigrants,
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "In a land called Bukovyna, in Ukraine, a husband and wife farmed their narrow strip of land."

Publisher's Summary: "Silver Threads is the magical story of Anna and Ivan, two young newly-weds who escape poverty and hardship in Ukraine to start a new life on the Canadian frontier. As they struggle to build their homestead, World War I breaks out. And when Ivan volunteers to fight for his new homeland, tragedy strikes. While Anna works and waits alone, hope comes from an unexpected source.

Based on true events, Silver Threads is a stirring lesson in history and a heart-warming tale of love and faith."

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: After reading Marsha's novel Prisoners in the Promised Land, I learned that her very first book was on the same topic and requested in from my library right away.

This is a picture book suited to the elementary grades and based on the true story of the author's grandfather, George Forchuk, who was sent to a Ukrainian internment camp for the duration of WWI as a Canadian immigrant from the Ukraine.  The story is a tender one of love and hope as the wife waits year after year for her husband to return to her as he promised, to spend another Christmas with her yet.  A lovely little story that doesn't go deep into any of its particular topics but stays age appropriate for young elementary.  It does emphasize historically the fact that Canada advertised in Eastern Europe for immigrants to come settle and farm in Western Canada.  This makes the Ukrainian internment during WWI especially bitter since these people were invited to come here in the first place. 

But the story pays more attention to the hardships Ivan and Anna endured cutting down trees, removing stumps, planting a small part of their land that first year.  Then Anna's time on her own and finally after the war wondering if Ivan was alive or dead, whether he would return home or whether she would be kicked off her land because she had not been able to continue their promise of clearing some land each year.  Throughout all this hardship Anna and Ivan remain determined, full of hope and know that together they will always pull through. 

Michael Martchenko is one of Canada's eminent children's illustrators  and the book is wonderfully illustrated with realistic paintings of the period.  A charming book!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

74. Judge Dredd: Crusade & Frankenstein Division by Grant Morrison

Judge Dredd: Crusade & Frankenstein Division by Grant Morrison & Mark Millar. Art by Carlos Ezquerra & Mick Austin (US) - (Canada)
Judge Dredd

Pages: 96
Ages: 16+
Finished: Mar. 7, 2012
First Published: 1994, 1995, (Trade Edition Feb. 14, 2012)
Publisher: 2000AD
Genre: graphic novel, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, crime, justice,
Rating: 5/5

First sentence: "You sent for me, Chief Judge?"

Publisher's Summary: "In Crusade, when a scientist returns from a 15-year deep space mission claiming to have a message from God, judges from all of the world's Mega-Cities race to Antarctica to try and claim the Almighty's secrets for themselves.

Among them is the toughest future lawman of them all - Judge Dredd - but in the scramble to secure the scientist and his information, the judges all brutally turn on the other as the prize proves too much to resist!

Meanwhile, a deadly agent from one of the world's superpowers stalks through the warzone, hoping that the confusion will ease his path to securing the secrets of the cosmos!

In The Frankenstein Division, the sinister judges of East Meg create the ultimate judge by stitching together pieces of their best - but when it goes on the rampage it heads for Mega-City One and the one man responsible for the death of its many 'donors' - Judge Dredd!"

Acquired: Received a Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada..

Reason for Reading: I'm falling in love with Judge Dredd and his whole post-apocalyptic world.

I gave this book 5 stars but I'll let you know right away it certainly wasn't for its literary merit.  There was a lot of cheesy dialogue and readers of modern comics may not be able to get past that.  But I have to say I love to laugh at the cheese in my comics when it comes to superheroes and villains.  The Judges, including Dredd, are the heroes of these books but one doesn't necessarily side with them or like them.  They are "better" than the villains but then these judges are police, judge and jury rolled up into one person who makes a judgement call in matters of seconds with each case they take on.

This book is divided into 2 separate stories taken from the pages of "2000AD".  They are random stories both written by Morrison & Millar with a very weak connecting theme that they are both set in an Arctic cold location.  The first story in the book is "Crusade" first published in 1994 is set in the South Pole and has an "Alien" vibe to it as they know a monster is hidden in the secret lab where representative Judges (the best of the best) have been sent to get this former man back to their official respective Cities and learn his truth.  I really enjoyed this story.  It was much longer than the second one and covered 10 issues.  The plot built up rather speedily.  Though it did lag a bit in the middle,  The authors did manage to quickly pull it back up and gave us an action packed story.  I was a little irked that the bad guy had to be the Vatican City, complete with his "Inquisitor Judge", but what can you expect from anti-papist Brits anyway (I'm British so I'm allowed to say this kind of stuff :-)

The second story "Frankenstein Division" is much shorter and comes from 1995.  This one has the Soviets as bad guys in the sense that one of their inventions, a super judge made from remnants of judges that had been killed by Dredd during the Apocalyptic Wars, has escaped from Siberia with one thought on its mind: find and destroy Judge Dredd.  A great bit of battle action and behind the scenes dirty politics as we see how "justice" is handed out to those who let the super judge escape in the first place.

I'm loving these books and glimpses into the Judge Dredd universe where Judges are police, judge, jury and sentencer (though mostly executioner) all in one person!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

73. My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J.

My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. Illustrations by Caryll Houselander (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Original Title: A Retreat with Saint Ignatius: In Pictures for Children
Pages: 89
Ages: 9+
Finished: Mar. 6, 2012
First Published: 1936, Sheed & Ward
This Edition: 1997, Sophia Institute Press
Genre: Catholic, Christian, children, devotions, doctrines
Rating: 5/5

Note about the modern edition: "This 1997 edition contains slight editorial revisions to remove anachronisms and correct infelicities in style."

First sentence: "The young boy at the bottom of the picture is supposed to be just made, or created, by God; that is why two lines come down from God's hands onto his head."

Publisher's Summary: "My Path to Heaven is an old-fashioned "retreat-in-a-book" that helps Catholic children, ages 9-12, ponder the truths of the Faith and calls them to live lives of holiness in accordance with those truths."

Acquired: Purchased a new copy from an online retailer.

Reason for Reading:   We always start our homeschool time together with God.  First using something for study, then reading a story or passage from the Bible.  I just happened to stumble upon this book online and after looking at the sample pages was extremely excited about using it with my son as a catechises/devotional.

This book is utterly amazing and I highly recommend it.  I do not have the theological background to do justice to it by trying to explain it to you and anything I do say about it will only be a small portion of just how beautiful and spiritually captivating and instructional it really is.  This is a twelve lesson course and we did one lesson a school week, thus with the occasional week off it took us just over 3 months to complete.  During that period of time, my son's knowledge of God & Jesus has blossomed and intensified.  He has formed from a childish knowledge of his faith to a more mature and personal devotion to the Lord which gradually became evident throughout the study of these lessons.  He understands concepts he never quite got before.  He knows what Love and Hope are, he knows who to pray for, he appreciates the glory of the sacraments and the importance of the Holy Eucharist with a true heart of someone who cannot live without the food the Lord provides for our souls.  He speaks of the Lord with knowledge and truth.  He has reached a new stage in his religious life and I am so thankful to this book which engaged him on all levels.

Briefly how the book works.  Each lesson is the same.  We start off with an illustrated picture and these are incredibly intricate and detailed pictures which one is asked to study the first day.  The picture also has a caption to go along with it to help your thought process. 

The second day one is to read the accompanying text for the lesson which run two to three pages, usually three.  These lessons are written to the children, in an old-fashioned voice, remember the book was originally written in the 1930s, but it is never condescending or babyish (the modern editing may have had a bit to do with this perhaps).  It explains theological concepts and Church dogmas so simply, even a youngster listening in could comprehend.  The theology is not watered down though in anyway.  The Truth is told here.  There is a Heaven and a Hell and it is up to you where you will go.  God sends no one to Hell. He gave us free will and we make the choice to go there on our own by the way we choose to live our lives and the lessons in this book each touch on a subject and show one how to strive for holiness, remembering that we have a forgiving God.  That while the Devil will tempt us with snares, God will show mercy and patience as long as we return to him and keep striving for that holiness through which this book shows children how to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

The lessons suggests spending more than one day reading the lesson.  Then finally there is a list of anywhere from 10 to 20 "yes" or "no" questions at the end of each lesson to catechize the student/reader to obtain there understanding of the material covered.  Interestingly, there are no answers.  Just an accumulation of the yeses and noes such as Answer: 14: Yes, 6: No.  This makes the Instructor/leader have to pay attention as well.  I will say these lessons brought about some amazing discussions between ds and I.  He is 11 and autistic, he discussed throughout the lessons about the topics and we even got way off topic and he had  me answering questions about morality, ethics, what about the people who don't believe, abortion, what do we do with bad guy killers and a whole bunch of other stuff.  He's a very intelligent kid when it comes to this stuff and his lack of verbalizing in the usual way most of the time, makes it very thrilling to have these conversations with him when he takes the lead.   I highly recommend this book for individual or small group settings such as homeschool Sunday School.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I've lost 76 lbs!!!

Come visit me on my weight loss blog and help me celebrate my first goal of reaching 75 lbs weight loss!!  I've posted before and after pictures and am all set for the next goal, to reach 100lbs of weight loss.  Come see what I'm treating myself to when I reach that new goal!  Feeling so much more fit and healthy!!

72. The Best Book of Mummies by Philip Steele

The Best Book of Mummies by Philip Steele. Illustrated by Vanessa Card, Angus McBride, et al. (US) - (Canada) Out of Print
The Best Book of series

Pages: 31 +index
Ages: 7+
Finished: Mar. 5, 2012
First Published: 1998
Publisher: Kingfisher
Genre: children, nonfiction, history, ancient Egypt
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Imagine opening up the secret tomb of someone who has been dead for thousand of years."

Publisher's Summary: "This work invites you to unwrap the bandages and take a thrilling first look at Egyptian mummies - who they were, how they were embalmed, where they were buried, and how they were discovered."

Acquired: My own copy, purchased new, from an online retailer years ago.

Reason for Reading:   We've had books from "The Best Book of" series in the house for over a decade.  It is a good series.  And since we are studying Ancient Egypt right now I pulled this book from the shelf.

This is a short, picture book style book, with large text and a multitude of pictures set up in the usual Kingfisher format of a main narrative text followed by smaller boxes of text under certain illustrations and each illustration is captioned.  This book is strictly illustrated except on the last page where two photographs have been used.  Set up in two page spreads the book topically uses three such spreads to work in a succinct ordered manner describing the mummy process.  First talking about the pharaohs and why they would want to be turned into mummies in the first place, the society and religion, followed by the mummification process, the funeral procession, where and how mummies were stored and with what and finally ending up with robbers, archaeologists and the modern scientific process.  A very interesting, well-written and entertaining book for up to about age 11.  When we finished reading my son said "Awww, more book?!"  It was too short for him. 

He's really enjoying this study of ancient Egypt.  Up to this point in our reading mummies had of course been discussed with brief details but this is the first time the text got into all the little details and showed the tools, plus including interesting tidbits of information I don't think he'll forget soon.
Next we are off for a deeper look at Mummies with a DK book that is illustrated with photographs and thus will be more graphic.  I'm not sure if he will handle that well or not, he's very sensitive but this topic interests him, so we'll see.  If it goes over well, he'll actually get to see the mummies and learn that not just the Egyptians used the mummification process.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

71. Ethel & Ernest: A True Story by Raymond Briggs

Ethel & Ernest: A True Story by Raymond Briggs (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 104
Ages: 14+
Finished: Mar. 4, 2012
First Published: 1998
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Genre: graphic novel, biography, memoir
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Ethel! For Heaven's sake! Where are you?"

Publisher's Summary: "Poignant, funny, and utterly original, Ethel & Ernest is Raymond Briggs's loving depiction of his parents' lives from their chance first encounter in the 1920s until their deaths in the 1970s.

Ethel and Ernest were solid members of the English working class, part of the generation that lived through the most tumultuous years of the twentieth century. They met during the Depression--she working as a maid, he as a milkman--and we follow them as they court and marry, make a home, raise their son, and cope with the dark days of World War II. Briggs's portrayal of how his parents succeeded, or failed, in coming to terms with the events of their rapidly shifting world--the advent of radio, television, and telephones; the development of the atomic bomb; the moon landing; the social and political turmoil of the sixties--is irresistibly engaging, full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.

Briggs's illustrations are small masterpieces; coupled with the wonderfully candid dialogue, they evoke the exhilaration and sorrow, excitement and bewilderment, of experiencing such enormous changes. As much a social history as a personal account, Ethel & Ernest is a moving tribute to ordinary people living in an extraordinary time."

Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.

Reason for Reading: When I found out about "When the Wind Blows" I checked to see if Briggs had any other adult graphic novels and found this one.  I was immediately drawn to the topic and requested it through ILL.

This is just a simply charming book.  Briggs pays homage to his parents in a way I guess we all wish we had the talent to do so.  While a biography of his parents, it also includes his own life story as far as it affected his parents, until the time of their death and in a way also shows us what shaped the man Briggs himself came to be.  The book shows how heroic ordinary people are just living their normal everyday lives, getting through the tragedies of real life and what an extraordinary time it was to live through the twentieth century with the incredible changes that took place over the span of one person's life.  Ethel & Ernest are comic in their straight forward attitude as they take these changes in their stride and comment upon the usefulness or silliness of each new modern invention.  Ethel is fascinated with a copper water heater.  Just turn a button and light a match!  How brilliant!  Then we watch a page of frames as she back-breakingly washes her sheets by hand with this scalding hot spray of water.  Television?  Ridiculous! How awful.  It would be like going to the pictures every single night!  Once Raymond grows up and starts college as an art student his parents are horrified.  He turns into the typical 60's long haired hippie and his mother constantly meets him with "Hello Raymond, Here's  a comb."  You will fall in love with this peppy, perky couple who worked a hard life of manual labour through the 30s and 40s, survived WWII and the minor bombing of their house, learned to adjust to the modern inventions of the 50s and became baffled by the political and social upheavals of the sixties, of which their son was a part.  There is nothing in the book inappropriate for children, the deaths at the end may be traumatic for some, but on the whole, the subject matter is going to be appreciated by a more mature audience.  A lovely book that I'm glad to have stumbled upon!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

70. Fibble by Dale E. Basye

Fibble by Dale E. Basye. Illustrations by Bob Dob (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
The Fourth Circle of Heck

Pages: 368
Ages: 9+
Finished: Mar. 3, 2012
First Published: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Genre: children, fantasy, paranormal, humour
Rating: 5/5

First sentence: "Being a boy feels really weird, Marlo thought as she dangled her brother's gross feet off the backseat of the stagecoach taking her to Fibble, the circle of Heck for kids who lie."

Publisher's Summary: "When Marlo Fauster claims she has switched souls with her brother, she gets sent straight to Fibble, the circle of Heck reserved for liars. But it's true—Milton and Marlo have switched places, and Marlo finds herself trapped in Milton's gross, gangly body. She also finds herself trapped in Fibble, a three-ring media circus run by none other than P. T. Barnum, an insane ringmaster with grandiose plans and giant, flaming pants. Meanwhile Milton, as Marlo, is working at the devil's new television network, T.H.E.E.N.D. But there's something strange about these new shows. Why do they all air at the same? And are they really broadcasting to the Surface? Soon Milton and Marlo realize that they need each other to sort through the lies and possibly prevent the end of the world—if Bea "Elsa" Bubb doesn't catch them first."

Acquired: Purchased the arc from my library's sale table.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

This has got to be the best book in the series for me so far.  The plot has several lines running through it and not just the ones involving Marlo and Milton.  Coming into each book we never know who will take centre stage, brother or sister.  This time around, Marlo and Milton alternate chapters as one is in Fibble and the other is working for Satan and has uncovered a plot to bring about the end of the world.  Eventually, but not until close to the end the two meet up and their stories merge into continuous chapters.  Again the plot is much deeper this time around, with religion playing a much more major role than it has in any of the other volumes.  Filled with references to all the world's major religions Basye takes a satirical look at all, without offense, (if one can laugh at oneself as much as another) and brings forth a message of getting along with each other.  This is all hidden within the framework of the usual puns and play on words that saturate this series.  Basye has even done the unthinkable with this book and inserted himself as a minor character. 

So far in these books, the overall theme has been Principal Bubb's determination in finding and punishing Milton for the repeated trouble he has caused her.  Fibble introduces a bigger, more grandiose plot that leaves  few unanswered questions and promises to be a further overall theme for the books.  You must read these books in order to understand the story.  Jumping in at this point will simply leave you confused.  As to age recommendation, while the first book in the series is certainly easily enjoyed by the average 9 year old, by the time we get to Fibble I'd say the appreciation level of the themes, word play and historical figures will be better suited to the 11/12 year old.  I'm  looking forward to Snivel which comes out shortly this year and a movie is purported to be in the works based on the first book in the series, Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go.

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 ARC Reading Challenge - FINISHED

ETA- Mar. 16. I have officially completed the Platinum Level (35 ARCs) so will consider this challenge completed.  However I will continue to play along and list my arcs read here and add them to the monthly posts on Teddy's site.


The lovely Teddy Rose is hosting this challenge as usual, and once again I will be joining. I find it keeps me accountable for the massive amount of ARCs I manage to get myself buried under. This year Teddy has added a new level of 35 or more books which I will sign up for. Last year I found myself humming and hawing as to whether I should add smaller books to this challenge, like picture books and some graphic novels. So my personal rule for this challenge, this year, will be to only include my ARCS that have 100 pages or more.

ARCS (of 100+ pages) read this year:
Post reviews here.
1. Drop In (Tony Hawk's 900 Revolution #1) by Donnie Lemkie
2. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 5 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
3. Who Cut the Cheese? by Jo Nesbo
4. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 6 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
5. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 7 by Megumi Osuga
6. The Translation of the Bones by Frances Kay
7. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 8 by Megumi Osuga
8. Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen
9. No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve
10. Super Dinosaur, Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman
11. 50 Underwear Questions: A Bare-All History by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
12. The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen
13. The Fathomless Fire by Thomas Wharton
14. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 7 by Hiroyuki Asada
15. African-American Classics edited by Tom Plumplun
16. The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill
17. 101 Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuk Family
18. Nicholas St. North and the Nightmare King by William Joyce
19. The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby
20. The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
21. Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 1 by Yumi Tsukirino
22. The Flint Heart by Katharine & John Paterson
23. Titanic 2012 by Bill Walker
24. Revenge of the Horned Bunnies by Ursula Vernon
25. X, 3-in-1, Vol. I by CLAMP
26. All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann
27. Judge Anderson: the Psychic Crime Files by Alan Grant
28. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
29. Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
30. The Secret World of Arrietty, Vol. 1 by Studio Ghibli
31. The Secret World of Arrietty, Vol. 2 by Studio Ghibli
32. Cinder by Marissa Myer
33. A Rare Titanic Family by Julie Hedgepeth Williams
34. Library Wars: Love & War, vol. 7 by Kiiro Yumi
35. Tegami Bachi, Letter Bee, Vol. 8 by Hiroyuki Asada

The And More ...
36. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
37. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, vol. 9 by Megumi Osuga
38. The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Early
39. Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol.2 by Yumi Tsukirino
40. Making Bombs For Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
41. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops
42. The Fairy Ring or Frances and Elsie Fool the World by Mary Losure
43. Phantom by Jo Nesbo
44. Fish by Gregory Mone
45. Headhunters by Jo Nesbo
46. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Boyce Cottrell
47. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 10 by Megumi Osuga
48. The Best Ghost Stories, 1800-1847: A Classic Ghost Anthology edited by Andrew Barger
49. E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core! by William Joyce
50. Another Jekyll, Another Hyde by Daniel & Dina Nayeri
51. War Stores: An Enlisted Marine in Vietnam by Stephen MacDonald
52. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 7 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
53. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 8 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
54. The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
55. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan
56. Leviathan by Ian Edington
57. The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
58. Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity by Michael Coren
59. The Justice League (The New 52) Vol. 1: The Origin by Geoff Johns
60. Tall: Great American Folktales, The Comics Anthology edited by Donald Lemke
61. Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
62. Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk by Megan McDonald
63. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
64. Tegami Bachi: Vol, 9 by Hiroyuki Asada
65. Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck by Dale E. Bayse
66. Behind Enemy Lines: World War II, Sam Frederiksen, Nazi-Occupied Europe, 1944 by Carol Matas (5/5)
67. Fluffy, Fluffy, Cinnamoroll, Vol. 3 by Yumi Tsukirino
68. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
69. Spontaneous by Joe Harris
70. The Coldest City by Antony Johnston
71. Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1941 by Susan Aihoshi
72. The Avalon Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Nunzio Defilippis & Christine Weir
73. The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell
74. Crogan's Loyalty by Chris Schweizer
75. Catch Me by Lisa Gardner
76. Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book Two by Tom Sniegoski
77. Man Overboard! by Curtis Parkinson
78. Vermonia 6: To the Pillar of Wind by Yoyo
79. The Puppet by Eva Wiseman
80. The Long March Home by Zoe S. Roy
81. Holliday by Nate Bowden
82. The Yard by Alex Grecian
83. The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
84. Rogue Trooper: Tales of New of Nu-Earth by Gerry Finley-Day
85. Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf
86. The House at Sea's End by Ellie Griffiths
87. Jack Vance The Moon Moth by Humayoun Ibrahim
88. Bloody Chester by J.T. Petty
89. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
90. The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn
91. Captain Awesome to the Rescue by Stan Kirby
92. Reed Gunther,The Bear Riding Cowboy: Volume 1 by Shane & Chris Houghton
93. Dreams of Gold by Jonathan Chamberlain
94. Xenoholics, Vol. 1 by Joshua Williamson
95. Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived by Andrew Wilson
96. Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster
97. Sunset by Chritos Gage
98. A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson
99. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale
100. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, V.9 by Hiroshi Hiibashi
101. Butterfly Tears by Zoe S. Roy
102. The Journeys of John and Julia in Chapter One: Genesis by Aurelia
103. Judge Dredd: When Judges Go Bad by John Wagner
104. Orchid, Vol. 1 by Tom Morello
105. The Occultist, Vol. 1 by Tim Seely
106. The Monocyte by Kasra Ghanbari
107. The Boxcar Children The Beginning by Patricia MacLachlan
108. Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer
109. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Brian Lee O'Malley
110. The Bionic Man Vol. 1: Some Assembly Required by Kevin Ssmith
111. White Lies by Jeremy Bates
112. Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05
113. This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
114. Victory: Resistance Book 3 by Carla Jablonski
115. Graphic Classics: Robert Louis Stevenson edited by Tom Pomplun
116. Fluffy, Fluffy Cinamoroll Vol. 4 by Yumi Tsukirino
117. A Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe
118. Jiu Jiu, Vol. 1 by Touya Tobina
119. Disgrace by Jussi Adler-Olsen
120. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 10 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
121. Peter Panzerfaust: The Great Escape by Kurtis J. Wiebe
122. Tegami Bachi, Vol. 10 by Hiroyuki Asada
123. Judge Dredd: Inferno by Grant Morrison & Mark Millar
124. Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 8 by Kiiro Yumi
125. Criminal by Karin Slaughter
126. Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire
127. Fluffy, Fluffy, Cinnamoroll, Vol. 5 by Yumi Tsukirino
128. Bucko by Jeff Parker
129. Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of a Genius by Atsuo Sugaya
130. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
131. Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation & Defense, 3rd Edition by William E, May
132. Dead to You by Lisa McMann
133. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
134. Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf by John Wagner & Alan Grant
135. Graphic Classics: Halloween Classics edited by Tom Pomplun
136. Whirlpool by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
137. Two and Twenty Dark Tales:Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes edited by Georgia McBride.
138. Dark Matters, Vol. 1: Rebirth by Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie.
139. Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
140. Growing Up Bronx: A Memoir of my Shapers and Shakers by H.A. Hargreaves
141. Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppell
142. Thief of Thieves, Vol. 1: "I Quit" by Robert Kirkman
143. Broxo by Zack Giallongo
144. Prophet, Volume 1: Remission by Brandon Graham
145. Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
146. Captain Awesome vs. Nacho Cheese Man by Stan Kirby 
147. Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch
148. August Moon by Diana Thung
149. The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler
150. Kirby: Genesis, Volume 1 by Kurt Busiek
151. Christened with Crosses: Notes Taken on My Knees by Eduard Kochergin
152. Upside Down: A Vampire Tale by Jess Smart Smiley
153. Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock
154. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 11 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
155. Tharg's Creepy Chronicles by Mark Millar et al

69. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 8 by Hiroyuki Asada

Light Shining Upon Darkness by Hiroyuki Asada (US) - (Canada)
Tegmi Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 8

Pages: 200
Ages: 13+
Finished: Mar. 2, 2012
First Published: 2006 Japan (Feb. 7, 2012 English)
Publisher: viz media
Genre: YA, manga, fantasy, science fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence: "So that's it, huh?"

Publisher's Summary: "Lag arrives at the town of Lament determined to save the heart of his fallen hero, Gauche Suede. Gauche’s rebel organization, Reverse, may be hiding out in the town’s convent. To get in, Lag will have to use his wits, and he has no idea what—or who—awaits him there. Will this be Lag’s chance to fire his Letter Bullet and restore Gauche’s memories...or the end of his career as a Letter Bee?"

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading:   Next in the series.

A heart-thumping, fast-paced, plot driven volume.  This entry in the series had me flipping the pages as fast as I could read/take in each page.  Events are full of emotion as the story gets back to the whole overall big picture, which hasn't been touched upon in recent volumes.  We meet a new character who becomes emotionally involved in the story right away.  The return of many familiar faces make for a good story with a final showdown between good and evil.  Yet, questions arise as to whether the evil is really the enemy, sure there methods are despicable but do they stem from good intentions.  Personally, my ethics state that the ends never vindicate the means, however this changes the viewpoint of certain characters.  The question of Amberground's government's role in all this is once again brought up and this volume lets us know that we will once again be returning to Capitol City, where we've only been once before, in the next volume: "The Dead Letter Office".  This volume keeps the story fresh and has me anxious for the next book.  Still my favourite manga I'm reading at the moment.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

68. Salamander Smackdown by John Sazaklis

Salamander Smackdown by John Sazaklis. Illustrated by Art Baltazar (US) - (Canada)
DC Super Pets

Pages: 52
Ages: 6+
Finished: Mar. 1, 2012
First Published: Aug. 1, 2011
Publisher: Picture Window Press
Genre: children, easy reader, superheroes
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "It was a beautiful morning in Central City."

Publisher's Summary: "When two naughty newts escape from a pet store, nothing can stop their amphibian antics . . . except the TERRIFIC WHATZIT! This super-speedy turtle must stop the slimy salamanders before they cast another tale of terror on CENTRAL CITY."

Acquired: Received a review copy from Capstone Press.

Reason for Reading: Ds read aloud to me as his reader.

Well ds (and I) really enjoyed this title even more so than usual.  This is a very fun story that doesn't follow the usual supervillan plot of the other books in the series.  Instead, this time, we have two cyborg salamanders who idolize Professor Zoom, follow him home, find a giant robot and get it working.  They then proceed to cause chaos in Central City.  Luckily The Flash's pet turtle the Terrific Whatzit is nearby to rescue the day.  Ds had a great time reading this one and enjoyed the antics of both Whatzit and the newts.  Being autistic he doesn't often get a lot of humour unless it is right in your face but he laughed all the way through at the shenanigans of cyborg newts, X-43 and Bit-Bit.  He even got 2 out of the 3 jokes at the back of the book!  He usually doesn't get any of them.  Lots of fun had by all and one of our favourites in this entertaining series written at a low reading level but suitable for a wide range of ages who are still interested in superheroes. Ds is 11 and mum is forty-{cough}.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

67. Secrets of Tut's Tomb and the Pyramids by Stephanie Ann Reiff

Secrets of Tut's Tomb and the Pyramids by Stephanie Ann Reiff. (US) - OUT OF PRINT
CPI Weird World

Pages: 48
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 26, 2012
First Published: 1977
Publisher: Raintree Children's Books
Genre: Children, Non-fiction, History, Paranormal
Rating: 2/5

First sentence: "Imagine lifting enough stone blocks to build a wall running from Los Angeles to New York City."

Publisher's Summary: "Discusses the building of the Egyptian pyramids, the finding of King Tut's Tomb, strange stories associated with them, and possible powers possessed by pyramids."

Acquired: Bought a used copy from my local library's book sale table.

Reason for Reading:   Bit of a story... When I was a kid, my library had this whole series and I was into all this paranormal stuff back then.  I remember this book, as well as others, from the series, quite fondly.  Someone on LibraryThing has taken the time to add the entire series with pictures and I brought this book home as a bit of a memento from my childhood.

While studying Egypt, I read this aloud to ds, thinking the finding of Tut's tomb along with the story of the curse would be fun for him.

First of all, this book is not a literary winner.  Written in simple, stilted language, it is not exactly a winner of a book.  The first few chapters discuss the pyramids (Giza in particular) how they were made and why.  Of course, the book leaves off a lot of factual information so it can produce an aura of mystery around them.  Fortunately, I have the information to fill in the obvious blanks and even my son has gained some knowledge up to this point to do so as well.  What was fun, and ds thought absolutely crazy!, was the book bringing up the possibilities that the pyramids may have been built through levitation or the help of UFOs!  Near the end is a chapter on the pyramidal shape itself and all the 1970s mumbo-jumbo about the magical powers of pyramids.  Remember when they were all the rage?  You could by pyramid kits for healing or pyramid necklaces, etc.  Well I skipped reading that chapter to the ds, but did read it myself.

What this book was good for, and why I give it two stars, is that it's middle chapter, the longest in the entire book, gives a very entertaining narrative on the finding of Tut's Tomb.  Right from the frustrating first attempts to the final finding of the burial chamber and the subsequent deaths of those on the party, bringing forth the contemporary hysteria over the tomb's "curse".  The book is also profusely illustrated with mostly colour (some b/w) photographs.  Not a book I'd normally own, let alone read, but it was on hand and sufficed to tell the Tut story.  Otherwise, for the meantime, I'll keep it as a souvenir as a reminder of this part of my childhood.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

66. Library Wars: Love & War Vol. 7 by Kiiro Yumi

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 7 by Kiiro Yumi (US) - (Canada)
Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 7

Pages: 200
Ages: 16+
Finished: Feb. 26, 2012
First Published: Feb. 7, 2012
Publisher: viz media
Genre: YA, manga, science fiction, dystopia, romance, shojo
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Brother.  A long time ago he was my hero."

Publisher's Summary: "Hikaru’s big brother is working for the enemy, and he wants to reunite with Hikaru. Meanwhile, someone is posting negative reviews on the library’s website, and Kasahara intends to find out who. Later, personal issues are set aside when the Library Forces find out about a book burning on their home turf!"

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading:  Next in the series.

This volume has a bit of a shaky transition from the last volume.  It pretty much starts right in with a new mini story arc which is dealt with from beginning to end within this one volume.  However this story arc paves the way for a new plotline involving a book burning and someone (or group of someones) out to get not only the Library Forces but Kasahara in particular.  I said for the last volume, I wanted to get back to the sci-fi story and am happy that this volume mostly concentrates on the Library Force and its opposition but this time it seems to be coming from within the Library System.  As far as romance goes Kasahara and Dojo take a backseat in this volume to Shibazaki and Asahina's budding romance, along with Marie and Mikihisa's.   K &D do, however have some close, touching moments that bring them closer together while at the same time continuing their usual bickering, though it is not as mean-spirited this time around.  A good entry in the series and the plot line started with this volume is interesting and will continue on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

DNF. Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Fletcher Wortmann

Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Fletcher Wortmann (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Pages: 18%/272
Ages: 18+
Finished: DNF
First Published: Mar. 27, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: memoir, psychiatric disorders
Rating: DNF

First sentence: "Unless you or someone close to you has been affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder, or you have taken a course in clinical psychology (I take great satisfaction in the fact that my school's psychology department no longer considers me "abnormal"), you probably know only the basics of OCD: superb personal hygiene, exceptional organizational skills, an inclination toward solving mysteries."

Acquired:  Received an egalley from Netgalley

Reason for Reading:  I have OCD and this short memoir looked interesting to me.

I have read over 60 books so far this year and am fortunate that it has taken me this long to come upon a book I just could not finish, but wow was this a doozy.  I read 3 chapters, if one includes the lengthy introduction.  During the introduction, the author warns us that this book is going to contain coarse language and that raised my first flag.  I'm not a prude but swearing in narratives does irk me much more than characters swearing in dialogue.  The first chapter was interesting as the author describes what OCD is and what it's like from a personal point of view, of course, the language did bother me and made me uncomfortable but it was the second chapter which I did force myself to read the whole way through that made me put the book down in disgust.  Chapter 2 is simply a vicious tirade against the Catholic Church.  The author actually blames Catholicism, in part, for his disorder!  Being a Catholic myself I found this chapter ignorant and prejudiced.  I'm willing to listen, and allow someone their opinion on my, or anyone's religion, based on the facts, but this was simply a succession of personal derogatory, untruthful opinions.  As an example the first sentence of Chapter 2 contains this phrase "Catholicism ... is a repressive construct founded in existential terror, barely restrained by complex, arbitrary ritual behaviors;"  While slightly further along: "The teachings of the Catholic Church were hugely influential on the development of my neuroses. Catholicism established a useful context of guilt and self-loathing that the disorder could exploit." The author lets us know he will have more to say on the subject later.   I refuse to go any further into discussion about this hate-speech filled chapter (which just gets worse the further along it goes), were it about the Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith, no publisher would deem it fit to publish.  Absolute rubbish.

Here is the publisher's summary for a different view of the book:  "Imagine the worst thing in the world. Picture it. Construct it, carefully and deliberately in your mind. Be careful not to omit anything. Imagine it happening to you, to the people you love. Imagine the worst thing in the world.

Now try not to think about it.

This is what it is like for Fletcher Wortmann. In his brilliant memoir, the author takes us on an intimate journey across the psychological landscape of OCD, known as the “doubting disorder,” as populated by God, girls, and apocalyptic nightmares. Wortmann unflinchingly reveals the elaborate series of psychological rituals he constructs as “preventative measures” to ward off the end times, as well as his learning to cope with intrusive thoughts through Clockwork Orange-like “trigger” therapy.

But even more than this, the author emerges as a preternatural talent as he unfolds a kaleidoscope of culture high and low ranging from his obsessions with David Bowie, X-Men, and Pokemon, to an eclectic education shaped by Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Catholic mysticism, Christian comic books, and the collegiate dating scene at the “People’s Republic of Swarthmore.”

Triggered is a pitch-perfect memoir; a touching, triumphantly funny, compulsively readable, and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age tale for Generation Anxiety."