Have You Heard

Post date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 1:34am

Have You Heard About... My Mother Was Nuts

… Laverne DeFazio from TV’s Laverne & Shirley? In the new biography, My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall, you get a quirky look at Penny Marshall as she struggled to grow up in what she considered a very crazy, yet normal family. As in a lot of celebrity biographies, you hear about the dysfunctional family life, the drugs and the famous people. In Penny’s case, it totally shaped who she became in later life — a great actress and producer and a fantastic director.

Touring Europe with singer Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. Married to actor/director Rob Reiner (her second marriage) during the run of the great TV show Laverne & Shirley. All of the things that went on with Cindy Williams her co-star and the other cast members. Penny Marshall talks about her older brother, director Garry Marshall, and his influence on her career, doing drugs with John Belushi, and getting to know actress Carrie Fisher and how they’ve stayed friends for a long, long time. Tom Hanks tells of how he got his big break in two of Penny’s biggest blockbuster hits – Big and A League of Their Own. Whoopi Goldberg, Mark Wahlberg and Robert de Niro tell of their funny experiences of working with Penny. A lot of behind the scenes craziness, how she survived lung cancer and a brain tumor, and how she managed to come out in one piece is a miracle.

This book was a fascinating and fast read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 1:47am

Have You Heard About... Seraphina

… life in a city in the great country of Goredd? Rachel Hartman’s novel, Seraphina, follows the title character as she struggles with identity and prejudice in an alternate Middle Ages. The kingdom of Goredd has had an uneasy peace with dragons for nearly forty years. The dragons can take human form, but friendship between the two races is viewed with suspicion, and relationships are outlawed by both sides. Despite this, Seraphina is the daughter of a human father and a dragon mother. If anyone outside of her immediate family learned this, she would certainly be exiled, and she would probably be killed. Unfortunately, exposing herself may be the only way to prevent the outbreak of a new war.

Ms Hartman infuses her story with an incredible amount of detail, from the many saints who influence everyday life in Goredd to the austere habits of dragons. Seraphina’s story is much more serious than that of Amy Unbounded, a graphic novel set in the same world. However, it still has points of wry humor and whimsy. The two stories also share an elegance of storytelling, with a wide variety of characters who drift apart and then back together.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 1:42am

Have You Heard About... Amy Unbounded

… life on a farm in the great country of Goredd? Rachel Hartman’s graphic novel, Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming, follows the title character through the summer she turns ten, a time filled with celebrations and troubles. Amy reads (most of) the story of Queen Belondweg, who united Goredd long ago. She also learns more about the role of women in modern Goredd. Her mother is a barbarian who settled in Goredd and learned to make clocks. Amy’s best friend’s sister raised him and most of his brothers after their mother died, but she has no rights and will become a servant in her own home when her oldest brother marries. Amy’s mother’s best friend is a wealthy textile merchant, but she will lose her business if she does not marry by the queen’s deadline; despite this, she runs her kitchen as an open salon where women of all classes can gather and talk freely.

Ms Hartman gives us an intriguing look at rural life in an alternate Middle Ages. Amy is free spirited and energetic — teasing family and friends, playing pranks, and making up silly songs. However, she is also starting to grow up and realize some of the serious aspects of life — arranged marriages, having her best friend sent off to be fostered in another village. She learns a bit about love, too, from her own first crush to a friend who falls for a dragon in human form. Not everything ends well, but a number of crises are averted (or at least made less awful), and plenty of good can be found at the end.

The story is fun and thought provoking. The black and white artwork is elegantly spare, giving every detail needed without being busy or overwhelming. Amy Unbounded has a similar feel to Amelia Rules — fresh, energetic characters who deal with serious problems without losing their sense of fun and adventure. Try it!

This graphic novel is set in the same world as Rachel Hartman’s novel, Seraphina.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 1:51am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas

… the fun of camping in Arkansas? Lucy Binoche is about to find out in Sandra D. Bricker’s Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas*.

Lucy can’t ride horseback, hates hiking and isn’t into killing a worm just to hook a fish. So what is she doing signing up to go camping in Snowball, Arkansas? Her singles church group is going on a camping trip, and hunky Justin, a newcomer, is very into the outdoor life. Lucy wants to impress Justin and hopes that God will turn her into something she’s not – the outdoorsy type. Her good friend Matt can’t talk her out of it so he signs up to go along to sorta keep an eye out for her. Lucy has good intentions, just not good judgment. The mishaps that Lucy encounters will keep you in stitches. Will Lucy impress Justin or will Matt come to her rescue?

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

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 1:48am

Have You Heard About... Light & Shade

… the mastermind behind one of the greatest rock bands of the 1970s? Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski is a detailed view into the extraordinary life of guitar icon Jimmy Page. Mr. Tolinski is a former editor in chief of Guitar World magazine so he had great access to the guitarist as well as a technical understanding of his craft. As he says in his introduction, “Led Zeppelin dominated the seventies and continues to resonate decades later.” Being a fan of Led Zeppelin, and guitar playing, this book was an easy choice for my vacation reading list.

I learned a lot of inside info on recording rock music as well as the history of the band. One startling fact that came out of the book was that Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton all modern day guitar gods, grew up within a twelve-block area of London. Wow, think about that. Talk about the stars lining up. Pick it up and if you love rock or heavy metal…you won’t be disappointed.

 

Reviewed by Richard (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 1:32am

Have You Heard About... Giants Beware!

… the smallest giant hunter of Mont Petit Pierre? Giants Beware! in this wonderful graphic novel by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre. Young Claudette is ready to take on any monsters she can find, a difficult prospect since she is not permitted outside the walls of her home town. However, she manages to get out with the help of her younger brother, Gaston, her best friend, Marie, and her dog, Valiant. Together, they overcome many obstacles to find the dreaded Baby-Feet-Eating Giant.

This is a wonderful story about bravery, loyalty, and being willing to admit when you’re wrong. The artwork is cartoonish, but surprisingly detailed, particularly in facial expressions. The characters are well-defined and mature over the course of their adventure. They also are not constrained by stereotypes — Claudette is a rather bloodthirsty girl, eager to hunt monsters like her parents, while Marie wants to become a princess; Gaston wants to be a blacksmith and a chef. The story shows the values of different skills and the need to work together to achieve goals. However, it never gets preachy, staying interesting and fun throughout the story.

If you enjoy medieval fantasies with strong girl characters, give this great graphic novel a try!

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 1:28am

Have You Heard About... The Best of Harry James and His Orchestra

… the “swing” music of the 1940’s? Calling all of you jivesters to put on your saddle shoes and cut a rug! You don’t have to remember World War II or have been alive in the 40’s to appreciate The Best of Harry James and His Orchestra. This CD is music at its best.

Harry James will have you tapping you toes as you listen to such memorable songs as Ciribiribin, You Made Me Love You, September Song, Two O’clock Jump and eight other wonderful tunes that only Harry can belt out on his trumpet. Harry James was not only one of the fantastic band leaders of the 40’s, but he and his orchestra were also in several of the great movie musicals of that time. Harry James was once married to movie star Betty Grable.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: CD, jazz, review
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 1:07am

Have You Heard About... Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on audiobook

… the many voices of Jim Dale, the narrator for the Harry Potter audio books? As my first foray into the world of audio books, I tried listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a couple months ago, and I felt like I was discovering the series all over again. I won’t go into a plot summary of the Harry Potter books, since most everyone is familiar with the story, but I will say that listening to the books on CD is completely magical.

Jim Dale, a well-known British actor, narrates the entire series, and brings the characters to life in a way that goes beyond mere imagination. (Need proof? Listen to Chapter four of The Sorcerer’s Stone, when we are first introduced to Hagrid. Jim’s voice for the bearded giant exceeds anything our imaginations could ever convey.)

And while nothing will ever be able to take the place of my Harry Potter book collection, I’m really happy that I gave these audio books a listen. It’s like being treated to story time as an adult, and by the time I finish the seventh book, I know that I will be just as sad to leave Hogwarts as I was when I first finished the series. So, thank you, Jim Dale. Thank you for bringing Harry Potter to life for me again.

 

Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 1:04am

Have You Heard About... Grace among Thieves

… the historical Marshfield Manor, in North Carolina? It’s just been robbed. In Julie Hyzy’s Grace among Thieves*, Grace Wheaten, the curator and manager of Marshfield Manor, has discovered that several very valuable items in the manor are missing. A film crew is making a DVD of the property to showcase all of it beautiful antiquities. Is one of the film crew responsible for the thefts, or could it be one of the hundreds of daily visitors that come to see the magnificent estate?

Grace has her hands full trying to run the estate and maintain its integrity. Suddenly one of the visitors is murdered. The police warn Grace to steer clear and let them do their job, but Grace has other ideas and is determined to find the killer and find the missing precious items. This is book three in the series. While enough backstory is given, you really need to read to first two books so as not to miss all of the characters who work at the mansion and what their jobs are and how they help or hinder Grace.

* Earlier books in the series include Grace under Pressure and Grace Interrupted.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 1:51am

Have You Heard About... Food in Jars

… all the benefits of preserving your own food? If you’re like me, you’ve heard about the better flavor, the lower price, the more natural ingredients, the satisfaction of eating something you made yourself, and all of the other advantages. However, you wondered when you would have the time, where to get the fancy equipment and tons of fresh produce, and where to store umpteen jars of pickled beets (not to mention what to do when you discover that you hate pickled beets, even if you did make them yourself). Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-round takes care of many of those concerns. Most of her recipes make just two to five pints and use fewer than ten ingredients, so you can try them without investing a lot in supplies or time. Ms McClellan gives clear, concise instructions on how to do everything from preparing the jars to cooling and storing the finished products, even suggestions for how to use some of the less common ones. She also explains why the steps are important, particularly when doing long-term storage.

The recipes have a sample of almost anything food-related that you could store in jars — jam, jellies, chutneys, pickles, whole fruit, granola, nut butters, soup stock, and mixes to make later. Most of the recipes use boiling water bath canning for long-term preservation, but some are designed for dry storage or freezing. Each section has a variety of familiar and exotic options. For example, the jams range from raspberry and blueberry to vanilla rhubarb jam with Earl Grey (yes, the tea), honey lemon apple jam, and even tomato jam, which sounds bizarre, but the recipe and description are tempting.

If you have fond memories of home-made jam, or want to store the extra tomatoes from your garden, or would like to make a unique gift for a few close friends, check out Food in Jars. With its variety of treats, you’re sure to find something you want to try (even if you hate pickled beets).

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)