Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 2:51am

Have You Heard About... Lamb

… the stories of Jesus’ life that didn’t make it into the Bible? Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal goes far beyond the Apocrypha. It focuses on the period of Jesus’ life that is not covered by the Gospels, as well as his later life and crucifixion, telling the “real” story of the man who was Christ. Biff accompanies his friend as Jesus tries to learn how to become the Messiah he is meant to be, adding comic relief and fast wits that get them out of almost as much trouble as he gets them into.

This highly irreverent and wonderfully funny novel manages to poke fun at almost every major religion in the world, not just Christianity. However, the point seems to be more identifying and exposing the inherent humor in religion, rather than attacking it. The sacrilege and crass humor hide a surprising number of serious ideas which may make you think, once you stop laughing.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 2:40am

Have You Heard About... Cherries in Winter

…how to get through hard times?  In Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, Suzan Colón writes with candor of her family history in hard times and includes a few wonderful, old fashioned, stick-to-your-­ribs recipes. This book is a history of sorts on how her family survived the Depression, with a ‘make do, can do, and we’ll survive attitude’ that is relevant today. This book is not so much of what has happened in the past, but of how Suzan copes with the present day economy and the loss of her job through reading her grandmother’s cookbook and journal.

If you remember the hard times of the Depression, the 2000/2001 recession, or are just going through a rough patch financially, this extraordinary book is for you. Told with laughter and a few tears, this short read is wonderfully in tune with today. One of the highlights in the book is about mashed potatoes – how they were made way back when and how Suzan makes them now is a hoot. If you miss the humor in it, you need to go back and start at the beginning of the chapter. This book makes you feel like you can do anything you really set you mind to. I loved it!

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 2:36am

Have You Heard About... Miracle

… Christmas with a twist?  Connie Willis collects eight of her short stories to make Miracle, and other Christmas stories.  These stories take a slightly twisted look at the holiday season, both religious and secular.  Mary and Joseph take a wrong turn through a modern church on the way to Bethlehem.  People get what they truly want for Christmas, whether they know it or not.  A self-centered, impatient, manipulative man gets what he deserves.  An odd trio has their own epiphanies and search for the second coming of Christ. 

Most of the stories have a fantasy, horror, or science fiction angle, although where the line between magic and miracle falls will depend on the reader.  Connie Willis ends the collection with her recommendation of twelve things to read and twelve things to watch this Christmas.  This is one of the books I frequently re-read in December to remind myself of what Christmas is really about, what it should be about, and how much worse my family and work-place gatherings could be (even without alien invaders).

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 2:25am

Have You Heard About... Murder Unleashed

… the latest murders in Reno Nevada? Straight from today’s newspaper headlines, Murder Unleashed* by Rita Mae Brown tells an intriguing story about today’s banking crisis and all of the homes that are in foreclosure, specifically in Reno Nevada.

Jeep and her niece Mags need to find out what’s going on and how they can help. What happens when squatters move into these abandoned homes? The local politico who’s running for Congress is murdered because of his views on these squatters, but what does the banking industry in Reno have to do with it? The mystery is a little bit thin and relatively easy to figure out, though it is somewhat of a surprise to those involved. The second mystery that runs throughout the book has to do with a hidden treasure, and this is where the four-footed companions of Jeep and Mags come into the story.

* I highly recommend that you read the first book in this series, A Nose for Justice, although at the start of this book it gives a wonderful description of all of the characters.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 2:16am

Have You Heard About... Masters of Deception

… the tricks artists can play on your eyes and your mind? Al Seckel looks at several artists whose works are more than they seem in Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali & the Artists of Optical Illusion.

The illusions in this book vary, including progressive changes like the one on the cover, composite portraits, trompe l’oeil, sculptures that look completely different depending on the viewpoint, and much more. Only a few examples of each person’s work are included, but they are excellent examples and beautifully presented. In addition, the author explains how the illusions work and the artists’ importance. The text is nearly as eye-opening as the art itself!

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 2:50am

Have You Heard About... Stomp Live

… the group that can make music out of anything? Stomp Live is an awesome DVD! As the title implies, anything that makes some type of noise is part of this wonderful production. Hands, feet, brooms, Zippo lighters, beer cans and even the kitchen sink can be used to make music.

The co-ordination and physical strength of the cast is amazing. Facial expressions are a big part of what make this video funny. Think improvisation. When you think it’s over, keep watching until you get a black screen for at least 2 minutes or you’ll miss the very ending.

Two of my favorite parts were the use of newspaper to be annoying and how to make music with the kitchen sink. This DVD is not to be missed.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 24, 2011 - 1:37am

Have You Heard About... Chicken Cheeks

…the beginning of the ends?  Michael Ian Black and Kevin Hawkes’ Chicken Cheeks takes a straight-forward look at the backside of a variety of animals.  As the animals stack themselves into a tower, children will learn their names and socially-acceptable terms for their hind ends.  From “duck tail” through “polar bear derriere” and “toucan can” to “duck-billed platypus gluteus maximus,” the pile of critters (and bottoms) grows to an exciting conclusion.

This book is a favorite with both adults and children in my family.  The animals are depicted in a colorful, slightly-cartoony style with wonderfully expressive faces and bodies.  The text is limited to the names of animals and hind ends, but the pictures do a perfect job of telling the short story.  After the first read, watch for the ants on each page!

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 1:29am

Have You Heard About... My Lucky Life

… acclaimed actor Dick Van Dyke?  You can read all about him in his new memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.  Simply and to the point, Dick Van Dyke writes like he talks. Yes, he was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time for his career, but he did have several personal problems, like alcoholism and an addiction to cigarettes, that this biography deals with in a straightforward way.

The insightful information on his TV/movie roles and how he felt about his co-stars was very interesting. He talks about how he met his idols Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He mentions several of his famous friends – not in a gossipy way, but matter-of-factly, which I really enjoyed reading about.

This was a wonderful memoir by a truly American Icon.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 1:41am

Have You Heard About... The Lies of Locke Lamora

… the greatest thief who ever lived? In The Lies of Locke Lamora*, Scott Lynch brings to life a surreal world of con artists and thieves. This world holds great treasures and shocking dangers, nobles and assassins, magic both beautiful and deadly. Locke Lamora’s band poses as petty thieves to avoid attention, but the entire city talks about his alter-ego, the Thorn of Camorr, and how he swindles and embarrasses the nobles. Locke is no Robin Hood, however; he is in this solely for the profits of his gang … and the Thorn’s reputation as the best con artist and thief. Unfortunately, that pride in his abilities and reputation may prove to be Locke’s undoing.

The action rarely pauses in this detailed novel. Scott Lynch has filled his alien world with rich descriptions of the sights, sounds, and even smells that surround the merry gang of con artists. Dark humor, fantasy, and gritty danger are deftly mixed as Locke takes on nobles, guards, other thieves, and even his friends. The web of intrigue, plots, and counter-plots can be dizzying, but it is worth following through to the end.

* The second book in the series is Red Seas under Red Skies.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 1:32am

Have You Heard About... Evil Éclairs

… the latest murder at the donut shop? It is the focus of Jessica Beck’s Evil Éclairs*. Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, is accused of killing someone with her “to die for éclairs.” Lester Moorefield tells his radio audience that her donuts are poison. Why is everyone in the town of April Springs so secretive? Why don’t you pick up this book and find out?

Don’t read this on an empty stomach! Lots of yummy recipes to try out will make you hungry.

*The first three books in the series are Glazed Murder, Fatally Frosted, and Sinister Sprinkles. The next book is Tragic Toppings.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)