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Showing posts from May, 2013

143. Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy

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Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Mar. 12, 2013, Simon & Schuster, 283 pgs +notes & index
Age: 18+

"IN THE LONG RUN, WE’RE ALL DEAD. But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure.The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyer’s office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination. Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Einstein’s brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy—which they drank. From Mozart to Hitler, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural att…

141. Island of Silence by Lisa McMann

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Island of Silence by Lisa McMann
The Unwanteds, #2

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Sept. 4, 2012, Simon & Schuster, 406 pgs
Age: 8+

"Following the life-altering events at the conclusion of The Unwanteds, the stark world of Quill and the magical haven of Artimé are now home to whoever wants to live there, whether they are Wanteds, Unwanteds, or Necessaries.In Artimé, Alex Stowe and his friends continue to hone their artistic magical spells while welcoming newcomers, wondering how long this peace between Quill and Artimé will last. Alex is stunned when Mr. Today comes to him with a very special request—one Alex questions his readiness for, until circumstances offer a dramatic answer.And back in Quill, Aaron Stowe, Alex’s twin, faces a very different path. Devastated by his loss of status after Justine’s defeat and seething with rage toward Alex, Aaron is stealthily planning his revenge and return to power.Alex and Aaron’s separate stories proceed with suspenseful pacing,…

140. The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook by Shaun Tan

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The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook by Shaun Tan

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada)

Feb. 1, 2013, Scholastic, 128 pgs
Age: 10+

"A new book of sketches, artwork, and personal reflection from the brilliant mind of award-winning, bestselling author and illustrator Shaun Tan. "I'm often wary of using the word 'inspiration' to introduce my work — it sounds too much like a sun shower from the heavens, absorbed by a passive individual enjoying an especially receptive moment. While that may be the case on rare occasions, the reality is usually far more prosaic. Staring at a blank piece of paper, I can't think of anything original. I feel utterly uninspired and unreceptive. It's the familiar malaise of 'artist's block' and in such circumstances there is only one thing to do: just start drawing." —Shaun Tan And when Shaun Tan starts drawing, the results are stunning. In The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook, we find a window into the creative proce…

138. Step Into The ... Chinese Empire by Philip Steele

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Step Into The ... Chinese Empire by Philip Steele
Step Into ... series

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada)

1998, Lorenz Books, 64 pgs
Age: 8+

"Step into the amazing world of the Chinese Empire and uncover the secrets of the world's oldest continuous civilisation. Explore Chinese culture and beliefs, from their ancient origins through to the abdication of the last emperor. Discover fascinating facts about the Chinese people and find out why tombs were filled with pottery figures, who the terracotta warriors were, what the importance of jade was and how silk was made. A variety of practical projects bring the past alive, fly your own dragon kite; make a model of Han house; make an abacus; create and use ancient printing blocks; build a pagoda; cook red bean soup, and explore many other easy-to-do practical ideas that will vividly bring history into the present. The projects are shown in specially commissioned step-by-step photography and will make learning stimulating, exciting and fun…

DVD Break: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - (2011) (Netflix) 
Brilliant british movie with with Maggie Smith and Dame Judy Dent.  Just loved it.  Funny and poignant.  Loved the main Indian actor as well, Dev Patel.  Just an all around great movie.

135. Sever by Lauren DeStefano

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Sever by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, #3

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Feb. 12, 2013, Simon & Schuster,  371 pgs
Age: 14+

"Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.
With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.
Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.
In this b…

DNF: Sihpromatum: I Grew My Boobs in China by Savannah Grace

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Sihpromatum: I Grew My Boobs in China by Savannah Grace

Rating: DNF

(US) - (Canada Kindle Only) - (Kindle)

Sept. 4, 2012, Sihpromatum Publishing House,  58/362 pgs
Age: 18+

""SIHPROMATUM" (Sip-row-may-tum) is a memoir series of one family's four-year backpacking adventure around the world. The first installment, "I Grew my Boobs in China", is the beginning of an intensely fascinating, sobering, and emotional memoir of Savannah's introspective and innovative family adventure. 
In 2005, 14-year-old Savannah Grace's world is shattered when her mother unexpectedly announces that she and her family (mother, 45; brother, 25; sister, 17) would soon embark on an incredible, open-ended journey. When everything from her pets to the house she lived in is either sold, given away or put in storage, this naïve teenage girl runs headlong into the reality and hardships of a life on the road.
These pages do not describe a vacation to semi-exotic locales protected from…

129. Muscle For the Wing by Daniel Woodrell

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Muscle For the Wing by Daniel Woodrell
The Bayou Trilogy, #2

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Published: 1988
April 28, 2011, Hachette Book Group,  139 pgs  (470 pgs)
Age: 18+

"After ex-con Emil Jadick and his bad boys--a national gang of ex-cons who call themselves The Wing--storm a local St. Bruno poker game, Rene Shade sets out to stop the newcomers dead in their tracks."


Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.
The second book in this trilogy is so much better than the first that I want to give it a 5 star rating but compared to Woodrell's Ozark books it isn't in the same league so it will have to suffice with a four.  A hardboiled, southern, crime noir set in Louisiana, this is the second time we meet Rene Shade, a tough but honest (in his own way) cop, ex-boxer who deals with the riff-raff, bad cops and mobsters of a backwoods town.  The first in this series was also Woodrell's first book but by this time the author has ironed out his kinks and thi…

Amy Tan Has a New Book!!!

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OMG!  Amy Tan has a new book coming out at the end of this year.  I've read all her fiction and have waited years for this.  I know she has had health problems so I'm just thrilled to hear she's finally written a new book.  It is a chunkster and set in turn of the century Shanghai, a mountain village, and late 1800s San Francisco.  I can imagine it will have been well worth the wait.  I am soooooo excited!!



Moving between the dazzling world of courtesans in turn of the century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco, Amy Tan's sweeping new novel maps the lives of three generations of women connected by blood and history - and the mystery of an evocative painting known as "The Valley of Amazement." Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai, a beautiful and intelligent woman who has honed her ability to become any man's fantasy since her start as a "Virgin Courtesan&qu…

127. Life in the Ancient World by Bart Winer

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Life in the Ancient World by Bart Winer. Illustrated by Steele Savage

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada)

1961, Random House,  213 pgs +index
Age: 8+

"A vivid and fascinating account of how people lived from day to day in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Iran, Crete, Greece and Rome."
Purchased a copy from a used book sale.

This is an absolutely wonderful history book for young people and I highly recommend it for Christian homeschoolers.  They just don't write them like this anymore. Written from a point of view which naturally assumes that God created the world, the Bible is a true record of history and the reader is a Christian; it interweaves Biblical history with other ancient history seamlessly from Mesopotamia to the Roman emperor Constantine.  The book begins with these sentences: ""And they said ... let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven."  So begins the Bible's story of the Tower of Babel.  This tower wasn't ju…

126. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

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Fever by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, 2

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Feb. 21, 2012, Simon & Schuster,  341 pgs
Age: 14+

"Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they ran away from. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.
The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever."
Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Totally absorbing.  It has been some time since I read the first book and while the details are dim the images remain bright in my mind.  I found it easy jumping into book two and talk of event…

DNF. Misty Circus by Victoria Frances

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Misty Circus by Victoria Frances

Rating: DNF 47/74 pgs

Jun. 18, 2013, Dark horse,  80 pgs
Age: 10+

"Magic and mystery hide in the shadows of the rainy streets of Paris, kindness blooms in unexpected places, and a sad-eyed child journeys into the unknown. Renowned artist of the dark fantastic Victoria Francés first made a splash in the U.S. with her dreamy, sensual paintings in the Favole trilogy. 
Now, Francés returns with a gorgeous storybook for all ages. The tale of little Parisian boy Sasha and his poignant misadventures is at once heartwarming and melancholy, combining a sweetly gothic story with arresting, beautifully painted illustrations."
Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

I read 47 of 74 pages but just could not go on any further as the book was not for me, as a Christian.  The second story was about witches and black magic.  The words "genuine witches' Sabbath" made me close the book.  The first story I hadn't enjoyed either …

123. Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff) by Liz Pichon

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Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff) by Liz Pichon
Tom Gates (#2)

Rating: (3/5)

(Canada) ONLY

Feb. 24, 2013, Scholastic Canada,  351 pgs
Age: 8+

"Tom Gates, master of excuses, expert doodler and hilarious story writer is back: 
Gold Star Award Chart! 
Getting to the Top of Mr. Fullerman's AWARD chart is proving a bit Tricky! This is mostly because: 
1. Marcus Meldrew is a sneaky so-and-so and up to NO good, if you ask me. 
2. My tooth is aching SO much that I can't EVEN concentrate on drawing in class. 
3. I keep getting sidetracked by interesting activities like SWIMMING, bug catching and, most importantly, spending quality time annoying my sister Delia."
Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.

Much like the "Wimpy Kid" books, this series is very similar except written at a bit of an easier level; it has much more drawing and graphically appealing that in some ways it could be called a graphic novel, though don't get me wrong it has no comic bubble…

121. The Nightmare by Lars Kepler

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The Nightmare by Lars Kepler
Joona Linna (#2)

Rating: (4.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Jan. 29, 2013,McClelland Stewart,  512 pgs
Age: 18+

"On  a summer night, police recover the body of a young woman from an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, and the forensics team is sure that she drowned. Why, then, is the pleasure boat still afloat, and why are there no traces of water on her clothes or body? The next day, a man turns up dead in his state apartment in Stockholm, hanging from a lamphook in the ceiling. All signs point to suicide, but the room has a high ceiling, and there's not a single piece of furniture around -- nothing to climb on. Joona Linna begins to piece together the two mysteries, but the logistics are a mere prelude to a dizzying and dangerous course of events. At its core, the most frightening aspect of The Nightmare isn't its gruesome crimes -- it's the dark psychology of its cha…

120. Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen & Other Photographic Rhetoric by Robert Bogdan

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Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen & Other Photographic Rhetoric by Robert Bogdan, with Martin Elks & James Knoll
Critical Perspectives on Disability

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Oct. 15, 2012, Syracuse University Press, 312 pgs
Age: 18+

"Midget, feeble-minded, crippled, lame, and insane: these terms and the historical photographs that accompany them may seem shocking to present-day audiences. A young woman with no arms wears a sequined tutu and smiles for the camera as she smokes a cigarette with her toes; a man holds up two prosthetic legs while his own legs are bared to the knees to show his missing feet. The photos were used as promotional material for circus sideshows, charity drives, and art galleries. They were found on begging cards and in family albums. In Picturing Disability, Bogdan and his collaborators gather over 200 historical photographs showing how people with disabilities have been presented and exploring the contexts in which they we…

115. Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn

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Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn. Illustrated by Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

2001, Loyola Press, 304 pgs +index
Age: 8+

"Who are the saints, why are the lives of saints important for children, and what can children learn from the saints? In Loyola Kids Book of Saints, the first in the Loyola Kids series, best-selling author Amy Welborn answers these questions with exciting and inspiring stories, real-life applications, and important information about these heroes of the church. The more than 60 stories of saints for children in this book are divided thematically and cover saints throughout history from all over the world."
Purchased a copy from my local Catholic Bookstore.

Mini-biographies of more than sixty saints from across the ages, with both men and women equally represented and while the majority are from times long ago there is a steady collection of 19th and 20th century saints interwoven throughout.  We thoroughly enjoyed th…

SHORT STORY: "In Gethsemane" by Stephen Gallagher

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"In Gethsemane" by Stephen Gallagher
short story, 36 pgs

(Kindle US) - (Kindle CA)

Rating: 4/5

" In the years following the Great War, a skeptical conjuror and a spiritualist medium merge their interests to tour the regional lecture halls of the United Kingdom."
This short story now available as an e-read, was originally published in 1995 as part of an anthology.  I received a review copy from the publisher after enjoying The Bedlam Detective by the same author.  This Victorian period piece is a slowly mounting well-paced story of the Spiritualist movement and examines people's feelings about death vs the dead.  I really enjoyed the story and Gallagher has proven to be a writer I appreciate.  A fun look into this strange part of the Victorian era with a rather brooding ending.  The characters were well developed for a short story that was more about plot than character.  After the story are synopses of both "The Kingdom of Bones" and it's sequel &q…

113. The Strand Magazine Feb-May 2013

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The Strand Magazine Feb-May 2013 (Subscription)

Pages: 80
Ages: 16+
First Published: Feb, 2013
Publisher: The Strand Magazine
Rating: 4/5

This was an interesting one to come into as I'd only ever read Stevenson before. I'd heard of Leonard, Collins and, of course, Spillane but never read them and all the other authors were new to me.


1. The Only Good Syrian Foot Soldier is a Dead One by Elmore Leonard - Certainly not a mystery, nor a genre story at all actually.  This short story features an actor whose career has ended up with him playing extras, mostly in battles scenes, who get killed.  We experience his latest role as a Syrian foot soldier and the egos and arrogance of the stars and directors around him.  The ending has shock value.  Well written, but not exactly exciting. 3/5

2. The Present by Robert Lopresti - A mother buys a present for her son and takes a break from carrying the heavy telescope when she starts watching a man and daughter having lunch in the food court. Only it…

112. The Woodshed Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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The Woodshed Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Illustrations by David Cunningham
The Alden Family Mysteries/The Boxcar Children, #7

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada)

1962, Albert Whitman, 159 pgs
Age: 7+

"A double puzzle involves an old friend of Aunt Jane's, romance, and a chase."
Bookmooched a copy.

One of the better mysteries in this wonderful children's series.  All the familiar faces are back as everyone gathers together at the Aldens.  For the first time the children do not go on a vacation for the summer, breaking the mold of all the previous books.  Aunt Jane moves back to their part of the country, moving into the old family home.  Even though the mystery is easily solved by an adult, for the first time in this series a genuine mystery with clues and ties to the past, including the Revolutionary War bring about an exciting story making this one of the finer stories in the collection.  At this point Henry is in college, Jessie a high school senior and Violet is r…

110. The Thirteenth Rose by Gail Bowen

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The Thirteenth Rose by Gail Bowen
The World According to Charlie D. (#4)

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Mar. 1, 2013, Raven Books, 85 pgs
Age: 18+

"For his Valentine's night call-in show, host Charlie D plans to offer his listeners two hours on the topic of "satisfaction." His in-studio guest is twenty-five-year-old Misty de Vol Burgh, formerly the highest-paid escort in the city but now happily married to eighty-three-year-old billionaire Henry Burgh.
It's all good fun until Charlie receives a chilling message: "It's take-out-the-garbage night. Time to kill all the hookers and wash the streets with blood." When Charlie is directed to a website that allows viewers to watch the murder of a prostitute in real time and promises that another killing will be broadcast live within the hour, the hunt is on. But The World According to Charlie D. has an audience of over a million listeners. The murderer could be anyone, anywhere. Charlie and his team…