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Showing posts from January, 2015

It Shouldn't Happen (To A Dog) by Don Freeman

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It Shouldn't Happen (To A Dog) by Don Freeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 17th, 2014 by Dover Publications


This is a reprint of an adult book first published in 1945. I love Don Freeman as a children's writer/artist and just had to give this a read. It is a political satire/treatise on the racism and segregation he found rampant when he served in the army during WWII. Freeman is a black man and by turning his character into a dog he was able to tell a story he otherwise would not have been able to tell during at this time in American history. Even so, the book was highly controversial and received criticism. There is a very interesting introduction which explains all this and what the themes and symbols of the story are. It is good for its historical value but otherwise, without having read the introduction, I wouldn't have clued into the deeper meaning.




Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill

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Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 1st, 156 pages
Published January 12th, 2015 by FunnyBizz Books (Kindle Edition)


First let me say I am sooo not the intended audience for this book. However, I thought it was just wonderful. The book is written for anyone who needs help with public speaking though Nihil does make frequent reference to the business presentation. He started off as your normal scared-to-death public speaker who went on a journey and ended up becoming an award-winning speaker and storyteller. The evening of the day I finished this book, I actually went to a teaching lecture and the professor was very good. We laughed all night while learning about a very serious topic; I found myself noticing Nihil's insights and philosophy in action with this public speaker. I have no intention of public speaking, I suffer from social anxiety disorder along with other related conditions…

Fishfishfish by Lee Nordling

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Fishfishfish by Lee Nordling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 32 pages
March 1st, 2015 by Graphic Universe (available now on amazon)

This is a wordless picture book with a few comic speech bubbles at the beginning and end. It tells three stories in one. One can read the top panel across the book showing the story of a little yellow fish swimming all alone. The middle panel goes through the book showing a barracuda on the search for food. The bottom panel follows along with a school of fish who band together. You can also read each page top to bottom as the frames interact with each other as the various fish move up or down into another fish's panel. I'm not a big fan of wordless picture books and this doesn't really have a plot. But the illustration is cute and would appeal to young children or elementary age with an interest in marine life.




Funny Things I Heard At The Bus Stop, Volume 1 by Angela Giroux

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Funny Things I Heard At The Bus Stop, Volume 1 by Angela Giroux

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 97 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Red Alien Media

I picked this up quite some time ago when it was a freebie and am pleased to have found such a little treasure. Ms. Giroux proves to be a talented writer and wonderful storyteller. She has the narrative voice for elementary children down pat. The kids in these stories spoke and behaved realisticly. An impressive collection of short stories making a nice reader for advanced 2nd to 4th graders.

1. Prologue - Sets the framework as the narrator, a fifth-grader, introduces the kids who walk to the school bus stop together and says they tell stories, lots of stories. He's going to tell us four of his favourites. (Though there do end up being six stories in the collection.)

2. The Last Napkin - A funny little tale from a napkin's point of view from the factory to the napkin holder and the woes of being the last napkin in the p…

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body by Martin Pistorius

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Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body by Martin Pistorius

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 276 pages
Published November 12th, 2013 by Thomas Nelson Publishers
(first published January 1st, 2011)

Wow. Wow. Wow. What an awesome, tragic and inspiring story! Just absolutely uplifting! I started this and was hooked from the first sentence barely able to put it down. Martin provides us with such an immense insight into the value of life, one that doctors washed their hands of, one doctors said should be left to die, a life people thought worthless, a life many objectified and abused. Just imagine being fully cognizant, inside your own body, but unable to communicate in any manner, no sounds, no movements, nothing, a "vegetable". Martin knew God was real and with him in the darkness just as he knew God knew he, Martin, was real. With God's presence, he persevered until one day a caregiver convinced others that there was more to Mar…

Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead: The Hanging of Albert Edwin Batson by Jim Bradshaw

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Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead: The Hanging of Albert Edwin Batson by Jim Bradshaw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 1st, 2014 by University Press of Mississippi


This is a true story of the case of Albert Edwin Batson who was hanged for killing a family of six in the early 1900s Louisiana. The book is from an academic press and as such does not read like a story as many of the true crime books I usually read. I found the book a bit hard to read at first, very much like a newspaper. It is full of direct quotes from the newspapers and the author's narrative between is journalistic in style too. However, once the mother comes on the scene things become much more interesting and I got quite involved having a hard time putting it down. It is a very interesting case and shows a very early example of "trial by media". The book relates the case and the two trials through the newspapers of the time as a transcript was not taken. Batson was found guil…

The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns

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The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 16th, 2014 by Odyssey Books

A lyrical, poignant collection of interrelated stories of pioneer life in New Zealand. Each tells it's own finite story but combined they present a dark, lonely tale of a community of people living within reach of Christchurch, the nearest town. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

1. A Pickled Egg (2008) - A woman ponders upon how she came to be in this new country so unlike the old as she occasionally pats her stomach. Nothing happens but sets a lovely scene and a good beginning to the collection. (3/5)

2. Mr. William Sanderson Strikes for Home (2009) - A man is walking home from visiting a brothel and has been provoked into bringing a Maori with him. Mr. Sanderson'sthoughts are quite vehemently racist against the native as they walk towards his home and things turn nasty when the Maori dares to mention from whence th…

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #1) by Kate DiCamillo

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 96 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Candlewick Press

Tales from Deckawoo Drive (#1)


I saw this on display when I was at the library picking up a hold. I love the Mercy Watson books and was so excited to see this new series. Featuring characters from the Mercy Watson books, this one stars Leroy Ninker who first showed up on Deckawoo Drive as a thief. He now works at a drive-in theatre dreaming of being a cowboy. He's got all the clothes and the lingo, but he's missing one thing, the horse. An adorable, sweet, funny story. I just loved it. This is a step up from the Mercy books, being an early chapter book with b/w illustrations by the same illustrator. The story doesn't feature Mercy and almost entirely takes place away from Deckawoo Drive but at the end Leroy ends up there, meets Mercy and the book ends with that familiar scene of everybody around the breakfast table at the Watson's. Wonderf…

Dear Canada:Banished from Our Home: The Acadian Diary of Angélique Richard, Grand-Pre, Acadia, 1755 by Sharon Stewart

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Dear Canada:Banished from Our Home: The Acadian Diary of Angélique Richard, Grand-Pre, Acadia, 1755 by Sharon Stewart

Hardcover, 203 pages
Published 2004 by Scholastic Canada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Canada series


This book tells one of Canada's most tragic tales that brought about the near-extinction of a people through ethnic and religious intolerance, the Expulsion of the Acadians. This is the story of that episode through the eyes of the second eldest daughter of a large family. It is a heartbreaking story of loss and shameful, needless relocation of a people who were not wanted where they came from nor where they were sent. Hated either because they were French or Catholic, or both, the story brings to mind that world issues of today are no different than the ones of the past. A well-written, fast-paced story even though one knows ultimately how it will end due to the title, if one isn't familiar with the history. The book has a heavy atmosphere; I felt sad for the mos…

Christine by Stephen King

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Christine by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 503 pages
Published September 7th, 2004 by Signet (first published 1983)

I've been re-reading King's works for the last several years now. The last few books were not horror stories so I was looking forward to getting back to the genre with this one. However, "Christine" is about on par with "Firestarter" with me. The book drags on as the entire first half is set-up. It is not until about page 250 that anyone gets killed. There is a limited number of characters here for such a hefty book; I much prefer when King carries a large cast as in Salem's Lot or The Shining as he is a master at weaving their stories together. Christine spends so much time droning on about the few characters involved that I actually didn't care for any of them deeply. I had no real liking for anyone; they could have all died and I wouldn't have been surprised and Christine/Roland D. LeBay didn't instill any …

Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian’s Adventures in Newfoundland by Andrew Peacock

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Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian’s Adventures in Newfoundland by Andrew Peacock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 18th, 2014 by Doubleday Canada

Amusing collection of anecdotes from a veterinarian who left Ontario to work in Newfoundland and never left. An interesting tidbit of information, which is never mentioned in the story, is that this author is the brother of famous Canadian YA writer, Shane Peacock. Andrew, unfortunately, doesn't have his brother's gift for storytelling, at least yet. I'm not a pet person myself but find I'm fond of vet/zoo/animal expedition tales; what I found lacking here were a good narrative voice and a connection with the characters. The stories were interesting, amusing and certainly gave off a genuine love for the landscape and people of Newfoundland. The writing though is stilted and the humour often falls flat of where it seemed to be aiming. With hardly any repetition of recurring patients and owners…

2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: FINISHED

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2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I didn't just decide to join this.  I knew I would be signing up earlier, I was just waiting for the host to post sign-ups, then got my act together and signed up :-)  I've participated in this before but it has a new host now.

  The sign-up is here. and the very basic rules are to read any sub-genre of historical fiction.

- The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.

I succeeded very well last year almost making it all the way to Prehistoric (50) level, but I don't want to set the bar too high to start so will go the same as last year with.




Posts

Renaissance Reader - 10 books

1. Dear Canada: Banished from Our Home: The Acadian Diary of Angélique Richard by Sharon Stewart
2. The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns 
3. Dear Canada: A Desperate Road to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson by Karleen Bradford
4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
5. Dear Canada: D…

Dark Screams: Volume One by edited Brian James Freeman

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Dark Screams: Volume One by edited Brian James Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

eBook, 98 pages
Published December 9th, 2014 by Hydra

A small but satisfying collection of dark tales by popular authors published by Random House's direct to eBook house, Hydra. All the stories are new to the book except for Stephen King who handed in an early previously unpublished piece.

1. Weeds by Stephen King (1976) - This is a previously unpublished story by King but once reading the first sentence the constant reader recognises what we have. This is the original short story King adapted for the episode "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" in the movie Creepshow and adapted again into comic book format for the accompanying book. Virtually the same story as we know but this text version does make the familiar tale more scary than the campy version we are used to. I liked it! (4/5)

2. The Price You Pay by Kelley Armstrong (2014) - This is an author I've only read a bit and have wante…

Niagara Falls Quotes in Books (#1)

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I live in Niagara Falls and last year noticed how much the falls are referenced in books.  I thought it would be fun to collect the quotes this year so I'm just going to post them here when I come upon them, no matter the source material. Of course these quotes come from books that otherwise have nothing to do with Niagara Falls.


"But Korruptor responds with the force of an acidic Niagra Falls!"   (misspelled!)
-Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #2: Going Green by Stefan Petrucha
Papercutz (2014), page 44





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Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling through Hollywood History (2014) by Mark Bailey

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Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling through Hollywood History by Mark Bailey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 30th, 2014 by Algonquin Books

A collection of short bios of seventy film stars: actors, directors, and screenwriters. Centering on their alcoholic escapades while dishing dirt and gossip. Starting with the silent movie era and going into the 1970s, it covers vignettes of the people along with famous LA nightclubs, cocktail recipes, and the occasional movie. A lot of fun for those who like the stories of the Golden Days of Hollywood. It's not exactly the type of book you'd read cover to cover in one go but more of a pick up and read a couple of features at a time. It would make the perfect bathroom reader! I'm well read in this area and knew most of the bios and gossip, but many of the drunken escapades were new to me. Perfect for the movie buff who enjoys a cocktail or two.



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A Century of Books

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I've been watching Leaves and Pages read through the 20th century this last year with great joy and wanted to do the same thing (but not all in one year, oh my!).  Anyway, I just found out recently from Canadian Bookworm where the whole thing originated from and am officially joining in.  The Challenge comes from Stuck in a Book and you can find the details for the current round here.


My goal is to read from 1900 to 2000 as I always read lots of current books.  I'll start by putting in the date of books I read then when that slows down I'll start choosing books specifically for this challenge to fill in dates.  In the meantime, I'm going to be gathering books onto a shelf so I have books to choose from.
My personal imposed rules 0. Start date = Jan. 1, 2015 1. End date = No time limit. Expecting 2-3 years. 2. Any book with or viable for an ISBN counts (ie. yes to picture books & graphic novels, no to comic books & individual short stories)
1900 1901 1902 1903 19…

2015 ARC Master List

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I implemented a new strategy in 2013 using the inventory control method of LIFO (last-in, first-out) while reading my ARCs and managed to read 79% of all ARCs received during the year 2013.  That's a great turnover as far as I'm concerned since some of those books were unsolicited and yet I chose to read.  On top of that I also read widely across the previous years' backlog of ARCs that I still have every intention of reading someday.

For 2014 I'm down 10% to 69% of all books read that came in for review but am not worried as that is easily explained by the 75 or so books that came Oct/Nov as I was a Cybils judge.  Last year at this point I had 174 waiting in backlog, I'm just a tad over this and again it's because of the ton of gns I received at the end of the year, so I'm feeling like I'm keeping things on track here.

So in all its awesome glory, here are the remainders of my ARC list from 2011-2014 with new 2015 arrivals being added to the bottom.  I w…

Movies/DVDs/TV Seasons/Concerts Watched in 2015

This is a running list for the year. The list will include the movie and indicate whether it is a re-watch otherwise it can be assumed it was my first time watched. My family hardly watches any TV and unlike most families who are trying to cut down on television consumption, we've made a decision to try and watch more than the none we do now to engage the family in spending time together, giving us common interests to talk about and be entertained together. Good times, good fun. We'll also be having a game night.

Title (the year)(rewatch?)(owned/rental/library/borrowed/theatre/Netflixed)

and a brief review which could be just one word such as good, great, just OK, whatever. If I feel like expounding on the review I will. No rules here just a list with a bit of extra information. I will also probably note who I watched it with.

January: 1

1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) (rewatch) (Netflix) - I saw this originally at the theatre but do not think I've ever seen it since…