Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 2:50de la mañana

Have You Heard About... American Horror Story

… the house in California that drives people to torment and madness? In the first season of American Horror Story, the Harmon family move into a beautifully-renovated Victorian house in California, hoping for a fresh start after husband Ben Harmon’s affair.

But the house (known to tourists as the “Murder House”) has an unspeakably-violent history. A middle-aged man had an affair with a next-door neighbor and burned his wife and children alive. A surgeon from the 1920’s developed a Frankenstein complex and stitched pig heads to dead bodies. A homosexual couple was brutally murdered by a man in a black rubber suit and then buried in the basement. And now, the house is waiting to claim the Harmon family next.

American Horror Story does not shy away from showing us the worst that human beings can inflict on each other. There’s torture, murder, sex, blackmail, mutilation, adultery, and insanity– enough to make you sit up and say, “Oh, no– They did NOT just do that!” And that’s just in the first three episodes!

Horror fans, this is a show too outrageous and creepy to miss. Prepare to become hopelessly, hopelessly addicted.

 

Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Etiquetas: DVD, horror, review, TV
Post date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 2:44de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Rock & Roll Generation

… flat tops, DAs and “a little dab will do ya”? Rock & Roll Generation: Teen Life in the 50s by Time Life Books is a look at the teen fads of the 1950s.The book starts out with a general look at the 1950s – the end of WWII, the political scene – and then goes on to describe all of the fabulous things that happened to teens in the 50s.

We were the first teens to hold down great-paying jobs, and we had money to burn. We were no longer were content to “follow the rules” of the previous generations. Everything seemed to change – how we dressed, how we ate and what we listened to. Each generation since then has always thought they were the first to rebel or be different. If you remember the 50s, you were there when rock and roll started. You’re an original! Elvis, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley & the Comets, Frankie & Fabian. Remember rushing home from school to watch American Bandstand with Dick Clark? Ok, so just about every generation had Bandstand in their life, but we were the first.

Guys wore their hair either as a crew cut (flat tops) or ducktail (DAs), and Brylcreem was the dab that was just greasy enough to keep everything in place. Chinos and penny loafers for guys were in. Girls wore scuffed saddle shoes with white bobby socks and poodle skirts, charm bracelets and pullover sweaters with an initial pin. Flips and high ponytails were the hairstyles. In the 1950s, a vinyl record album cost $1.98. A good record player cost about $40.00. James Dean and Natalie Wood in Rebel without a Cause, and Gidget with Sandra Dee and James Darren were at the movies. Mad magazine was brand new, and no matter where you lived you “scooped the loop” on a Friday night.

This book will bring back a lot of memories if you were a teen in the fabulous 50s. If you aren’t quite that old, you will see how things have changed over the years.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Etiquetas: book, history, non-fiction, review
Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 2:06de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Paper Valentine

…Brenna Yovanoff’s fantastic new spine-tingler? First of all, I love Brenna Yovanoff’s writing. Her first two books, The Replacement and The Space Between, are wonderfully creepy and beautifully sad. Yovanoff writes about teens, but not the way we adults think about teenagers. We think of adolescence as a time of irresponsibility and freedom, but from the perspective of a teen, it’s a time of insecurity, a loss of innocence, and a deep fear of the unknown. Yovanoff captures that sadness like no other writer.

Paper Valentine is Yovanoff’s most poignant work to date. It follows Hannah and her best friend Lillian during a brutally hot summer when a serial killer is striking at the heart of their sleepy town. The complication? Lillian has been dead for six months.

The beauty of Yovanoff’s writing is that as a reader, you hardly notice that Lillian is a ghost. The dialogue is so strikingly honest, I became absorbed in the unique relationship that Hannah and Lillian share. Her characters use the language we really use, and feel emotions that we really feel. Most writers avoid feelings of ambivalence and confusion, but Yovanoff embraces them.

I highly recommend Paper Valentine to teens and adults who are interested in breaking into young adult fiction.

 

Reviewed by Sara (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 11:01de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Leah’s Choice

… the people who are Old Order Amish and Mennonite? Leah Yoder longs to get married and raise a large family. Her Amish roots stress family and community helping each other, something Leah has rarely questioned. Leah’s Choice*, by Emma Miller, finds Leah attending a community lecture given by Mennonite Daniel Brown. Daniel is a missionary and also a nurse. He spreads the word of God while he administers to people in faraway places. Daniel is taken by Leah’s loveliness and wants to get to know her better. Leah is immediately smitten with the way he talks and looks. She knows it is forbidden to mingle with someone who isn’t Amish, but she has not yet been baptized and brought into the church. What she thinks is secretive on her part - seeing Daniel unchaperoned - really isn’t. Her sisters see love in her eyes. It’s against each of their faiths to marry each other. Will these two ever find a common ground? It is a surprise as to how Daniel and Leah conquer all.

This is a quick and very satisfying read. This is book four in the “Hannah’s Daughter’s” series*. While it is not necessary to read the previous books, you might want to give them a try to find out about some of Leah’s other sisters.

* Earlier books in the series include Courting Ruth, Miriam’s Heart and Anna’s Gift.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Etiquetas: book, fiction, review, romance, series
Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 2:56de la mañana

Have You Heard About... The Violinist's Thumb

… the information hidden within your cells? In The Violinist’s Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code, Sam Kean takes us through the history of mankind’s understanding of genetics and heredity, from early beliefs through Mendel’s pea plants to the Human Genome Project. Along the way, he touches on a wide variety of subjects, including the effects of the nuclear bombs on people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, differences (and similarities) between Neanderthals and humans, and the extent to which genes determine our destiny.

Mr. Kean is an engaging writer, introducing the reader to the personalities and quirks of the many scientists involved in the study of genes, chromosomes, and DNA. He also takes a difficult subject and makes it interesting and understandable to the average person, much as he did with The Disappearing Spoon and elements (previously reviewed). Mr. Kean adds a very personal note to the narrative by talking about the results of his own genetic test and his fears about the chance that he could be at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease.

This well-written book provides an interesting account of the history of genetics, our current understanding of the field, and what scientists are looking at next. The author also looks at how our understanding of DNA affects everything from history and archaeology, to sociology and, of course, medicine.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Etiquetas: book, nonfiction, review, science
Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 2:52de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Journey into Amazing Caves

… something being beautiful and scary that takes your breath away all at the same time? In the IMAX DVD Journey into Amazing Caves, you experience all of that and a lot more. In Greenland, you find these amazing cavers/scientists descending into the beautiful, but very dangerous, ice caves. The color of the blue/white ice is phenomenal as these people know that one wrong move and the ice above can come crashing down on them or the walls can suddenly close in on them as the ice is always moving. In this documentary, it was the deepest descent into an ice cave ever. Imagine a 100 mph blizzard, with extreme cold, worse than 50 below zero, in the middle of literally nowhere – that’s where this was filmed.

Next, these cavers/scientists head for Mexico, the Amazon and the Yucatan. Did you know that some trees in the Amazon are poisonous – sorta like poison ivy only worse? If the dangers of the cold and ice weren’t enough for you, then underwater cave diving, which is considered the most dangerous “sport” ever will send chills running down your spine. In underwater cave diving, when you use up 1/3 of your air tank, if you don’t turn around immediately, you will die. You need 2/3 of your air to get back. If you lose sight of the guide line you will die. Again, the scenery is eerily fascinating and breathtaking at the same time. The last stop is the Grand Canyon. Imagine dangling over the Grand Canyon in 112 degree heat and rappelling down to a cave. If you dangle too long you can lose the circulation in your legs. While this is only a 40 minute film, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Keep watching as the movie goes into “The Making of Journey into Amazing Caves.” While the cavers/scientists are doing their thing, just imagine that the film crew had to go into the ice caves, underwater and above the Grand Canyon in a helicopter before them to set up all of the truly death-defying action you see on the screen. One wrong move on their part could put everyone in jeopardy. One person on the film crew almost lost his life when a cable line slipped. Think of all of the equipment that is used in filming and how it had to be utilized to get these wondrous shots. Sometimes a scene had to be filmed as many as 10, 20 or 30 times, so it would be just right, and each time could be more dangerous than the first. I might be a bit prejudiced but all of this amazing journey is set to the music of some of my friends, the most fantastic musical group ever, the Moody Blues.

This is a short but wonderful DVD that the entire family will enjoy seeing many times.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Etiquetas: DVD, non-fiction, review, travel
Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 2:22de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Bring on the Night

… the vampires who get “stuck” in the time period when they died?  Bring on the Night* by Jeri Smith-Ready continues her adrenaline-filled series about Ciara Griffin and the rest of the staff and DJs at WVMP.  Ciara becomes an agent for Control, battles zombies and a plague, and makes two of the hardest and most important decisions of her life – all to stay with the vampire she loves.  If an obsessive-compulsive vampire can change, so can a con artist.

This series stands out among the modern fantasy crowd in the disadvantages of becoming a vampire.  While they can live in normal society, their increasing obsessive-compulsive traits and difficulty adapting to changes beyond the time when they were alive leaves vampires very vulnerable.  This helps add to the individuality of the characters and makes some great scenes of people using or trying to overcome these disadvantages.  This is a fun series with a good twist.

 

* The first two books in this series are Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Etiquetas: book, fantasy, fiction, review, series
Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 2:19de la mañana

Have You Heard About... 100 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys

… the coolest toys ever played with? 100 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys by Mark Rich is a delightful look at the toys that you remember from your childhood. Go down memory lane as you remember when you got a Barbie doll, Mr. Robot or a Hula Hoop (mine was pink). Remember Slinkies or Silly Putty? The Daniel Boone coonskin hats were “way cool” back in the day.

Were you part of the first generation to get any of these toys like I was, or did you receive them long after your parents or grandparents played with them? Most of what I played with, way back when, are now considered collector items. This book is sure to bring back long lost memories.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Etiquetas: book, non-fiction, review, toys
Post date: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 2:43de la mañana

Have You Heard About... Kill Me Softly

… the people blessed (and cursed) by fairies? Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross, tells the story of Mirabelle, raised by her godmothers because her parents were killed when she was an infant. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Mira becomes increasingly obsessed with her parents’ death and the town where she was born. She plots to go there without her godmothers’ knowledge, needing to find answers about her heritage. However, what she finds will endanger her life and change everything she thought she knew about herself and the world around her.

Ms Cross creates an intriguing world where some people catch the attention of fairies. They become fated to play out roles from various folktales — one girl lives with her stepmother, wondering when the woman will decide she is too beautiful and must be killed, a charming young man waits for the day when he will meet (and save) his princess, and the brothers with blue hair cannot be trusted by the women they love. The stories are varied, although they generally have European roots. More interesting is the question of how much free will an individual has to affect his or her personal version of a traditional role. The reader learns everything along with Mira, who is in more danger than her peers, due to her ignorance, but also has the opportunity to make her own fate.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 10:37de la mañana

Have You Heard About... The Magic of Belle Isle

… the power of imagination and the inspirations of life? The Magic of Belle Isle is a story about a once famous writer named Monte Wildhorn, played by Morgan Freeman. He’s at an impasse in his life and in his writing, and he has taken to drinking. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. When he moves to Belle Isle for the summer, he gets acquainted with his next door neighbor, Charlotte O’Neil, played by Virginia Madsen. Charlotte has three daughters, one of whom makes up stories to tell her sisters. Monte tries to teach the middle daughter about writing and the inspirations of life, and he finds that with her observations of him he can become the writer he once was. Monte writes a children’s story for the youngest daughter, but Charlotte picks up on the fact that it is actually a love story of the two of them.

Monte and Charlotte have a very old-fashioned, courtly-mannered friendship that to me was very moving. Eventually, Monte stops drinking, and that’s when the magic starts to happen. This movie is a comedy, and although it seems slow moving at times, it really isn’t. It makes you think, and this is where the power of imagination and the believability of all things possible come in.  It’s a story that will have you crying and laughing at the same time.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Etiquetas: Comedy, DVD, review