Thursday, January 29, 2015

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

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

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, but the title grabbed me because I do talk funny and for some reason I read this book totally out of my usual genre. I certainly see the information being incredibly useful for its intended audience but from the perspective I'm coming from, an audience member of a speech, the book is also very enlightening. Highly engaging reading!




Fishfishfish by Lee Nordling

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.




Monday, January 26, 2015

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

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 pack. Uses the word "crap", needlessly. (3/5)

3. A Visit From Nonna Esmeralda - Nicely surprised at how well written this one was. Silly story really, but well told. Aiden's Nonna arrives from Italy for the first time with an amazing present for everyone except all Aiden gets is a cracked clay pot. Then Nonna takes him into the kitchen and shows him what the pot can do and Aiden realizes he has the most amazing present of all. (5/5)

4. My English Teacher is a Secret Agent - A third-grade class gets a very strange substitute English teacher. The narrator and his friend put all the evidence together and figure out he must be a secret agent. Very mysterious and well-written. (5/5)

5. The Mysterious Window - What a wonderful story! City-dweller Samantha's family go to visit Uncle Sam in the country and he gives her his little mysterious window which opens up a magical world for her. I knew how this was going to end, but children in the target age range for this storybook will be dazzled by the enchanting ending. The pacing is very good here too; the suspense builds up and up until the surprise finish. My favourite story! (5/5)

6. My Summer Vacation - What a Ride! - A fair opens for the summer and 9yo Peter is so excited, especially about the roller coaster. On his first visit, he finds he is old enough to ride the coaster but 2-inches too short. He spends the summer coming up with various ways to make himself taller to trick the ride operator. Very silly but amusing and I'm sure kids will find Peter very relatable. (4/5)

7. Frazzle Berries - A little monkey goes to get berries for her mummy and has a tale to tell when she gets back home with only five left. This story is out of place. On the whole, it is a cute little story about sharing but it doesn't belong in this collection. With the other stories being superbly written for 2nd-4th graders, this one comes in feeling like a bedtime story for toddlers. (2/5)

8. Epilogue - Narrator tells us he'll be back with more stories.




Friday, January 23, 2015

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

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 Martin than they all thought. An inspiring story of love and the preciousness of all life. A must read!!




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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

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 guilty twice and hanged for the crime but maintained his innocence throughout. There are many, many troubling things about the nonexistent police inquiry and the following trials. The first was acquitted on a technicality. Batson was the only suspect considered, witnesses were few and unreliable, all evidence was circumstantial and the jury was rigged in favour of capital punishment, a "hanging jury". We will never know if he was guilty or not, but reading the book clearly shows that life imprisonment was an option for sentencing and was in fact recommended by the governor's board at the last stages only to fall on deaf ears. If Batson had spent his life in prison would his determined mother and supporters have had the time to find real evidence of the true perpetrator?




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

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 they met. Near the end, we are given the hint that this man is the husband of the woman from the first story. Well-written and infused with a heavy atmosphere. I'm intrigued. (4/5)

3. Miss Swainson's Girl (2009)- Back to the boardinghouse and to a girl briefly mentioned in the previous story. Her story of how she came to be here is told in all its tragedy and her current life takes a turn for the worse. Intense and emotional. (5/5)

4. Dottie - A very slight mention in the previous story brings us to this home. A baby farm. A terrible, dark story of fallen women, societal conventions, the inability of man to forgive sins and finally saving grace. Haunting. (5/5)

5. Port and Oranges - Very interesting! We are back to the boarding house and a character study of the madam, Miss Swainson, of her background and how she came to be here in New Zealand and in this position. At this point two new characters emerge and there is the promise of the beginning of a story yet to tell, but at the same time, if it is not revisited one can make an assumption as to how this thread would have proceeded. (5/5)

At this point, I find myself very taken with the stories. Each seems to be a character study of a different person. There are small connections between some of the people, thus pulling the stories together in a cohesive unit. Onward!

6. Tenderness - We have to go back to story 4 to recall the character focused on in this story. We know nothing about her and this character study focuses on her pov, emotions and state of mind. In the end, it manages to tell us a bit more of what happened after story four but overall, I felt no connection to this character and the story was a bit of a drudge.(2/5)

7. Dressed for the funeral - This is the longest story so far, but a very quick read. We meet a new character, Phillipa (Pip) and for the first half of the story the entire events of a funeral and Pip's reminiscences are completely fresh to this collection. Then half-way through Pip overhears a group of women talking about the discovery of the baby farm in story 4. Here the story takes an anxious turn and the plight of women wanting a career during this era is explored. Emotional and compelling. (5/5)

8. Ink and Red Lace - A disturbing and dark story with no connection to the others except for the barest hint of the red lace. Set out on a ranch the atmosphere matches the tone. Excellent. My favorite in the collection so far! (5/5)

9. The Beast - This takes the husband from the last story back to his childhood and we learn the reason for some of his ways. It also has some mythical elements. OK (3/5)

10. Balance by Shelly Davies - This final story is written by a different author to give the Maori point of view and nicely brings the book full circle. We hearken back to story 2 and Mr. Sanderson and the Maori man, Haimona, arrive at the Sanderson's. Hans from the last story is here as well. As things play out Haimona's thoughts tell us what he thinks of these white people, how he interprets their proprieties and actions that are purely show and yet at the same time he wants the luxury they live in. Answers some questions left hanging in the other stories and wraps the collection up on a fine note. (4/5)




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

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. Wonderful! I can't wait to see who the next book will feature!




Sunday, January 18, 2015

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

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 most part with the loss and death, and the ending only gives a bittersweet dose of happiness. The historical details are presented well through the emotional story and I'd say this would make a good introduction to the topic, especially with the historical notes included at the back of the book. I thought I didn't know this author, but taking a look at her backlist of titles, I realize I have read one other of her historical fictions a very long time ago. An emotional entry in the series.




Saturday, January 17, 2015

Christine by Stephen King

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 terror in me as the villain. Nothing of particular note stands out in this one for me. It was readable but too slow and drawn out for my tastes. The ending to this book though is different from previous ones to this point as while there is a finite ending, much more so than ever before there is a real impression that the evil still exists and more of the story is out there to be told.

I always look for connections while reading with King's multiverse, but didn't find anything related to previous books here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

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

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, the book lacks cohesiveness and the potential for a reader to become invested in any characters, is lost. However, this certainly doesn't mean the vignettes collected here are not worth the read.



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Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: FINISHED


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: Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford by Sarah Ellis
6. The Governess by Evelyn Hervey
7. Dear Canada: If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor by Jean Little
8. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
9. Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger
10. Dear Canada: Turned Away: The World War II Diary of Devorah Bernstein by Carol Matas

FINISHED = May 20, 2015






Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume One by edited Brian James Freeman

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 wanted to read more. Surprisingly, this isn't paranormal or even what I would call horror. It's an incredibly well-told psychological thriller of a stalker and kidnapping with a twist ending that threw me off. I knew something was up, but I picked the wrong person as the schemer. Loved it! (5/5)

3. Magic Eyes by Bill Pronzini (2014) - An inmate in an asylum for the criminally insane is writing in a journal at the bequest of his "shrink". He starts off saying he's sane and did not kill his wife, but by the end, well, you can imagine. Fairly predictable though. Never heard of this author before. (3/5)

4. Murder in Chains by Simon Clark (2014) - Incredibly intense. A man wakes up to find himself laying in the sewers with a padlock around his neck and a ten-foot chain attached to a sleeping hulk of a man he decides to call, Goliath. Very creepy! (5/5)

5. The Watched by Ramsey Campbell - I didn't particularly like this one. A bit hard to describe without giving away the plot, but a paranormal tale which failed to deliver. Predictable with a boring end. (2/5)



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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Niagara Falls Quotes in Books (#1)

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





Saturday, January 3, 2015

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

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

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
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1916
1917
1918
1919
1929
1921
1922
1923
1924 
1925 
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1952 
1953
1955
1956
1957
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1976
1980
1981
1999 - 
2000

This is just extra here but I thought I'd keep track of anything I read earlier. I'd like to read through the 1800s eventually but am not interested in literature earlier than that with enough passion.

1886The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 ARC Master List

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 will again be using the LIFO method and will see if I can reach around 80% read rate for this years ARCs.

2011
3. Bound by Antonya Nelson
7. How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend  by Gary Ghislain
9. Miracleville by Monique Polak
10. No Safe Haven by Kimberley Woodhouse (DNF)

2012
49. The Intercept by Dick Wolf
50. Five Farthings by Monica Redich
51. The Adventures of Jewell Cardwell: Hydra's Nest by Fumi Hancock
52. Don't Feed the Boy by Irene Latham
53. Watching Jimmy by Nancy Harty
54. Saint Kaateri: Lily of the Mohawks by Matthew E. Bunson (DNF)
55. A Note From An Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker
56. Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell
57. Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer
58. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
59. Vincent Shadow: The Top Secret Toys by Tim Kehoe
60. Beyonders #2: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandom Mull
61. The Inquisitor by Mark Allan Smith
62. The Space Mission Adventure by Sharon M. Draper
63. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
64. Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur & Carly Fleischmann (DNF)
65. Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
66. Black Heart by Holly Black
67. The Red House by Mark Haddon
68. The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac
169. Heroes of Olympus by Philip Freeman; adapted by Laurie Calkhoven
70 The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker
71. Brachman's Underworld by Vlad Vaslyn
72. Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter edited by Leonard S. Marcus (DNF)
73. No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
74. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price
75. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
176. Home by Toni Morrison
77. Anteater-Boy by Dean Ammerman
78. My Afghanistan: The Adventures of an American School Teacher Before the Taliban by Jean Boyce-Smith (DNF)
79. XO by Jeffrey Deaver
80. Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley by J.D. Davis
81. A Mind of Winter by Shira Nayman
82. Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl
83. The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
84. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
84. The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
86. Long Lankin by Lindey Barraclough
87. The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace
88. The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams
90. Toby's Room by Pat Barker
Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan
91. Widow's Might by Sandra Brannan
92. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susan Nielsen
3. Genocidal Organ by Project Itoh
4. Gold Mountain Blues by Ling Zhang
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
95. The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma
96. Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft
97. Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon
98. The Black Heart Crypt by Christ Grabenstein
99. Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs
100. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legraand
101. Until We All Come Home: by Kim de Blecourt (DNF)
102. The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo
103. Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
104. Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
105. Bookweirdest by Paul Glennon
106. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

2013
107. Buried Prey by John Sandford
108. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
109. Far Far Away by Tom MacNeal
110. Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
111. The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy
112. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin &
113. These Fragile Things by Jane Davis
114. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
115. Songs of the Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
116. The Magical Fruit by Jo Nesbo
117. The Tree of Story by Thomas Wharton
118. Frankenstein and Philosophy: The Shocking Truth edited by Nicholas Michaud (DNF)
119. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
120. Wise Acres by Dale E. Basye

2014
121. December Park by Ronald Malfi
122. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
123. Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
124. The Belief in Angels by J. Dylan Yates
125. Middle School: Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson
126. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami 
127. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
128. The Confabulist by Steven Galloway
129. Noggin by John Corey Whaley
130. Ghandi Before India by Ramachandra Guha (DNF)
131. Dragon Ball, Full Color Saiyan Arc Vol. 3 by Akira Toriyama (DNF)
132. Middle School: Save Rafe! by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts
133. How the World Was: A California Childhood by Emmanuel Guibert
134. Millhouse by Natale Ghent
135. 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajama's by Marie-Helene Bertino
136. Graphic Classics: Canine/Feline Classics edited by Tom Pomplun
137. About That Night by Norah McClintock
138. No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
139. Of All the Gin Joints by Mark Bailey
140. The Sandman by Lars Kepler
140. The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker
142. Seconds  by Bryan Lee O'Malley
143. The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis
144. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
145. A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker
146. The Color of Courage: A Boy at War, The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski
147. Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea by Alan Doyle
148. UQ Holder 3 by Ken Akamatsu
149. The Seven Deadly Sins 5 by Nakaba Suzuki
150. So Anyway ... by John Cleese (DNF)
151. Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland by Andrew Peacock
152. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood
153. The Red Baron: The Graphic History of Richtofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI by Wayne Vansant (DNF)
154. The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 1944-1945 by Wayne Vansant (DNF)
155. The Croc Ate My Homework: A Pearls Before Swine Collection by Stephan Pastis
156. Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek by Elizabeth Rusch
157. The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke
158. The Job by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg
159. Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob by Jenny Jaeckel
160. Norigami: Stray God 2 by Adachitoka
161. Motherless by Erin Healy
162. Starlette Universe, Book 2: Eva From E-Ville by Kathy Johnson (DNF)
163. The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
164. Bad Houses by Sara Ryan
165. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang
166. Aw Yeah Comics! And... Action! by Art Baltazar & Franco
167. Satan's Prep: A Graphic Novel by Gabe Guarente
168. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple
169. The Rise of Aurora West (Battling Boy) by Paul Pope
170. The People Inside by Ray Fawkes  (DNF)
171. Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers by Zac Gorman
172. The Sixth Gun Dlx Ed Volume 1 HC by Cullen Bunn
173. Megagogo Volume 001 by Wook Jin Clark
174. A Boy & a Girl by Jamie S. Rich
175. Mermin Volume 2: The Big Catch by Joey Weiser
176. Mermin Book Three: Deep Dive by Joey Weiser
177. Buzz! by Ananth Panagariya
178. Down. Set. Fight! by Chad Bowers
179. Meteor Men by Jeff Parker


2015
180. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
181. Button Hill by Michael Bradford
182. The Seven Deadly Sins 6 by Nakaba Suzuki
183. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
184. The Middle Kingdom Ride by Colin & Ryan Pyle (DNF)
185. Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle
186. A Beauty by Connie Gault
187. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
188. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
189. The Seven Deadly Sins 7 by Nakaba Suzuki
190. Norigami: Stray God 3 by Adachitoka
191. UQ Holder 4 by Ken Akamatsu
192. The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War edited by Candlewick Press (DNF)
193. Crime Seen: From Patrol Cop to Profiler, My Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape by Kate Lines
194. Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo
195. Your Lie in April Vol. 1 by Naoshi Arakawa
196. The Heroic Legend of Arslan 3 by Yoshiki Tanaka
197. Noragami: Stray God 4 by Adachitoka
198. Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus
199. The Seven Deadly Sins 8 by Nakaba Suzukie
200. Andreo's Race by Pam Withers
201. We are all Made of Molecules by Susin Nielssnn
202. I.O.U. Dead by Michelle Wan
203. Noragami: Stray God 5 by Adachitoka
204. Your Lie in April Vol. 2 by Naoshi Arakawa
205. UQ Holder 5 by Ken Akamatsu
206. Pardon My Hearse by Alan & GregAbbott
207. Armada by Ernest Cline
208. Shattered Glass by Teresa Toten
209. Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972
by Mark Voger
210. Surprise Attack!: Nickolas Flux and the Attack on Pearl Harbor by Terry Collins
211. Flight to Freedom!: Nickolas Flux and the Underground Railroad by Mari Bolte
212. The Seven Deadly Sins 9 by Nakaba Suzuki
213. Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Graphic Novel by Charles Bowen
214. Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Graphic Novel by Michael Burgan
215. Ninja Slayer Kills 1 by Kotaro Sekine
216. Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay
217. Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell
218. Noragami: Stray God 6 by Adachitoka
219. Teen Titans Go! Thunder and Lightning Strike! by J. Torres
220. Teen Titans Go!: Mad Mod Is in Vogue! by Adam Beechen
221. Catwoman's Nine Lives (Batman) by Matthew K. Manning
222. The Real Man of Steel (Superman) by Laurie S. Sutton
223. Inuyashiki 1 by Hiroya Oku
224. Fairy Tail Blue Mistral 1 by Hiro Mashima
225. Your Lie in April 3 by Naoshi Arakawa
226. The Heart Goes on by Margaret Atwood
227. Devil Survivor 1 by Satoru Matsuba
228. The Seven Deadly Sins 10 by Nakaba Suzuki
229. Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories edited by Audrey Niffenegger
230. Vinland Saga 6 by Makoto Yukimura
231. The Amazing Adventures of Superman! Creatures from Planet X! by Yale Stewart
232. The Amazing Adventures of Superman!: Battle of the Super Heroes! by Yale Stewart
233. DC Super Friends: Season of Light by Sholly Fisch
234. DC Super Friends: Starro and the Pirates by Sholly Fisch
235. Scarface is Gonna Go Boom! (Batman Strikes!) by Bill Matheny
236. Frozen Solid by Mr. Freeze! (Batman Strikes!) by Bill Matheny
237. The World's Mightiest Mortal! (Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!) by Mike Kunkel
238. Magic Words! (Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!) by Mike Kunkel
239. Batman: Attack of the Man-Bat! Jake Black
240. Superman: Lex Luthor's Power Grab! by Louise Simonson
241. DC Super Heroes Origami by John Montroll
242. Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol: A Graphic Novel by Benjamin Harper
243. The Amazing Adventures of Superman! Bubble Trouble! by Benjamin Bird
244. Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century by Matthew J. Prigge
245. Your Lie in April 4 by Naoshi Arakawa
246. Livingstone 1: Soul Savers by Tomohiro Maekawa
247. Fairy Girls 1 by Boku
248. Fairy Tail Master's Edition Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima
249. Orpheus in the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux
250. The Widow by Fiona Barton
251. Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
252. Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper
253. Prison Island: A Graphic Memoir by Colleen Frakes
254. Fantasy Sports #1 by Sam Bosma
255. Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, The Assassin Who Ignited World War I by Henrik Rehr  (DNF)
256. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
257. The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
258. Dragons Beware! by Jorge Aguirre
259. Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! by Scott McCormick
260. Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look at High School by Lisa Wilde
261. Lumberjanes #2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson
262. Frustrated Witness! The Story of the Adam Walsh Case and Police Misconduct by Willis Morgan
263. Ariol: Where's Petula? by Emmanuel Guibert
264. Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog
265. Sanjay and Craig #1: Fight the Future with Flavor! by Eric Esquivel
267. The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
268. A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova
269. World War Two: Against the Rising Sun by Jason Quinn
270. Calls Across the Pacific by Zoe S. Roy
271. Drink Dirt Eat Stone by Kyle Fleishman
272. Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss
273. Courtney Crumrin Volume 7: Tales of a Warlock by Ted Naifeh
274. Junior Braves of the Apocalypse Book 1: A Brave is a Brave by Greg Smith & Michael Tanner
275. Bad Machinery 4: The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison
276. Oyster War by Ben Towle
277. Noragami: Stray God Vol. 9 by Adachitoka
278. Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti
279. The Courageous Princess Vol. 1: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms by Rod Espinosa
280. The Courageous Princess Vol. 2: The Unremembered Lands by Rod Espinosa
281. The Courageous Princess Vol. 3: The Dragon Queen by Rod Espinosa
282. Your Lie in April 5 by Naoshi Arakawa
283: Die Wergelder 1 by Hiroaki Samura





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.  Dh and I thought the 14yo would find this amusing and were right.  We had a grand old time with this.  It's a classic, lots of fun and more than once I said I'd like to get the soundtrack to this.  Yello must make so much money from "Oh Yeah" being in movies!  Loved that song when it came out and just as much now.

February: 6

2. The Pacific (2010) (Blu-ray) (watched with my dad in Calgary) - an HBO TV mini-series about the war against the Japanese in the pacific, especially follows the marines. Directed by Tom Hanks and Spielberg. Incredibly intense, violent and emotional. Not as good as Band of Brothers but similar and very close in quality.  Heavy, heavy material but makes some valid observations about war from a truth and reality perspective.  Highly recommended.

3. Striking Distance (1993) (DVD) (watched at my Dad's in Calgary with Dad, Karen and Michelle) We all really enjoyed this action/mystery of Bruce Willis. His typical action movie where he shoots stuff, blows a few things up, takes of his shirt and chases a girl.  But such fun and really fun for us all to watch an early '90s movie with the lightness added even though the story involves a serial killer and the general "cleanness" of the plot, language and innuendo compared to modern movies.  Not a Classic Willis movie but one that fans are sure to find amusing!  All four of us came away glad to have seen it.

4. Conviction; The Complete Series (2006) (DVD) (watched with Dad over a few days in Calgary & Edmonton) 13 episode spin-off from the Law & Order franchise, this features young DAs. Started off a little slow but by the time it ended we were invested in the characters and really enjoying the plots.  Too bad it got cancelled!

5. The Heat (2013) (Netflix) (Watched with Dad in Edmonton) My friends had told me this was hilarious so it ended up not being as funny as I thought it would be.  I liked it though.  A bit too vulgar at first but wither it tamed down or I just got used to it a bit later on.  Good. Worth the watch.

6. Law & Order: Trial by Jury: The Complete Series (2005) (DVD) (watched with Dad in Calgary) I'm so glad to have finally watched this.  We wre excited when it came out but ended up not watching it because of the sadness of the sudden death of Jerry Orbach (veteran Law & Order character). The show was very good and though it took a few episodes to get its stride it really wasn't given muh of a chance due to Orbach's death and subsequent low ratings.  The show gathered speed after his departure though and there are quite a few cameos of other L&O characters crossing paths, plus an entire SUV episode is included on the disc as it is a crossover episode that finishes on Trial by Jury.  loved all the new characters and am so pleased to have seen this.  A must watch for Law & Order officianados & completests.

7. The Maze Runner (2014) (Blu-Ray) (watched with Dad & Karen in Edmonton) I haven't read the book but knew the general plot.  have to say I found it a bit different than I had expected am now quite eager to read the series before any more movies come out, or at least till watching them.  I thought all the young actors were very good.

March: 1

8. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012) (Netflix) (the three of us watched)  15yo chose this even though he doesn't play the game.  Movies based on video games are in my opinion, pretty lame, and this didn't change that opinion.  But it was watchable.  None of us hated it or anything.

April: 1

9. The Real Amityville Horror (2005) (Netflix) A TV documentary. It was really cool actually. I'm fascianted with the Defaoe murders and this went over the whole Amityville house story exposing everything that really went on.  When I was a teenager Iwas into all the paranormal stuff and it was pretty cool to see Hans Holzer and Lorraine Warren interviewed.  I'm kind of ashamed to say, but I read every single one of their books way back when!  LOL.  Enjoyed this!

May: 0

June: 2

10. The Texas Killing Fields (2011) (Netflix) I'm familiar with the true story here and found the movie to be nothing like I had been expecting.  It was overly artsy, lacked breadth and fictionalized way too much.  Way disappointed!

11. An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story (2013) (Netflix) An excellent docu-drama on the real story of an innocent man convicted of the murder of his wife and his life behind bars.  The Innocence project takes on the case and Michael sees justice done but at the expense of his family and the hey days of his life.  Loved it! Recommended.

July: 1

12. Your Worst Nightmare (2014) (Netflix) 6 episodes of an Investigative Discovery TV Show which I can find no information about at all.  Anyway this is the most intense re-enactment crime show I've seen.  I hadn't heard of any of the cases before and the show was terrific!  Loved it.

August: 1

13. Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984) (Youtube) A TV documentary which is outdated from an information and scientific aspect but is invaluable from an historical view.  At the time of this documentary "serial killer" was not a common phrase and they don't ever use it. The Green River Killer is active but unknown, Ted Bundy is in prison, appealing his conviction and maintains his innocence.  The meat comes from interviews with Ed Kemper, a vicious killer, who in personable and gives much insight into the sociopathic mind. On screen personalities include original FBI profiler Bob Ressler.  Amazing resource for those studying the field!

September: 2

14. The Iceman (2012) (Netflix) Based on a true story of a mafia hitman. Really good!

15. The Frozen Ground (2013) (Netflix) I really enjoyed this; John thought it was ok. Based on the true story of the capture of Robert Hansen, the serial killer in Alaska who took women to an island and hunted them down. It would have been better, and scarier, if they did more from Hansen's pov.

October: 1

16. American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House (2011) (Amazon Prime) I watched the entire season in a one day marathon and thought it was amazing!  Loved it soooooooo much!

November: 2

17: Terminator Genesys (2015) (Pay Per View) OK was fun watching Arnold and the blow ups and car chases. A bit funny but plot was a basic re-hash of T1 and kind of boring. Better off streaming it than paying to rent or watch at the theatre.

18:  Miranda: Season One (2009) (Streamed) This British sitcom is the funniest thing I've seen in like forever I'm hooked. Star Miranda Hart. Watched in Calgary with my sister and dad.

December:

19: American Horror Story: Season Two, Asylum (2012) (streamed) Totally awesome, I am addicted to this show!  I couldn't believe some of the stuff that happened. I was so hyped to watch ths since serial killers and mental asylums are two of my favourite topics. Granted the last episode was anti-climactic, I figured it would end that way by that time. Evan Peters is my favourite actor in this show so far. Season One was best so far but I'm ready for the next one!!!!

20: Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D (2015) (in the theatre) this was our annual Christmas Day movie. I don't really have a lot to say. It was Good with a capital "G" but nothing more. We were annoyed we only had the option of 3D as it was not worth the expense. The plot basically was a rehash of the first one: droid with a secret message, bad guys trying to get droid, good guys trying to deliver message. It was fun but not necessary Luke, Han and Leia are window dressing. And the ending was disappointing, just a set-up for the next one. I didn't know it was going to be a series. Oh well. I'll more than likely go see it  too. Next Christmas I guess. I was good, just, you know, nothing to write about.

21. Miranda: Season Two (2010) (Streamed) Introduced Andrew to the show when he was down for Christmas and he loved the first two shows. I watched the rest of it one evening after he left.  Hilarious show. I'm sad there's only one more season and two Christmas specials left.  Wah!  This is a must watch for Britcom fans!