Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 2:06am

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 - 11:01am

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)

Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 2:56am

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)

Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 2:52am

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)

Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 2:22am

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)

Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 2:19am

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)

Post date: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 2:43am

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 - 10:37am

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)

Tags: Comedy, DVD, review
Post date: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 2:22am

Have You Heard About... Thunder Dog

… a man who was born premature and became blind after they put him in a sealed incubator and pumped in pure oxygen until his lungs matured? That was the procedure used in the 1940s for premature babies.

In Michael Hingson’s memoir, Thunder Dog, you learn about his past and also about his guide dogs, particularly his guide dog Roselle. This story takes place on 9/11. Michael describes how he and Roselle survived such a horrible tragedy and how Roselle remained calm all the time even though people were screaming and panicking. Roselle guided Michael from the 78th floor through the stairs of the Word Trade Center with 12 floors above them already leaning to one side. You will learn about the strong bond between a blind person and a Seeing Eye dog. After reading this wonderful true story, people will have many different points of views and opinions of this story. Some people might focus on the blindness, others might focus more on the dog’s braveness, and others maybe only will be focus in how the events of 9/11 played out.


Reviewed by Esmeralda (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 2:19am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio

… the mysterious stranger in Sugarcreek, Ohio? In Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, by Serena Miller, Joe Matthews has been accused of murdering his wife in L.A. He and his little boy, Bobby, are on the run and show up in Sugarcreek looking for a temporary place to stay. Rachel Troyer, who is half Amish and half Englisch, is the local cop. She is very protective of her three elderly Amish aunts who run the small inn where Joe and his son seek shelter. Being a good cop, Rachel is very suspicious of Joe as he won’t give her any information on who he really is and why he is in Sugarcreek. He looks and acts too refined to be just a homeless drifter as he proclaims.

The aunts adore Joe and hire him as a handyman until he can get enough money to get back on the road, much to the dismay of Rachel. It isn’t until over halfway through the book that you learn who Joe really is, which keeps the suspense high as Rachel starts to fall in love with Joe. When Joe’s father and brother turn up and a suspicious fire burns down the inn, you’ll be glued to your seat. The twists and turns in this book will keep you hooked to the very end as you laugh, cry and know that there is a happy ending that will surprise everyone.

Sugarcreek, Ohio, also known as “the Little Switzerland of Ohio,” is about an hour’s drive south of Akron, Ohio. Several places mentioned in the book really do exist, and I can highly recommend Beachey’s Country Chalet Restaurant. The food is to die for, but being in Amish country it is not open on Sunday.

*Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)