Have You Heard

Post date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 11:54am

Have You Heard About... Beauty

… Beauty and her courtly Beast? The second review in this set looks at very different style of novel based on “Beauty and the Beast.”

Robin McKinley’s Beauty is an elegant version of the classic tale, with a more conventional focus on Beauty. The story follows the familiar outline, with a kind-hearted and book-loving Beauty gradually falling in love with the Beast. In this story, Beauty is a bit of a tom-boy who loves spending time with horses and digging in the garden, and she grew up feeling shy and awkward next to her sisters. The rich descriptions in this story and Beauty’s strength of character make this a delightful read.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 1:41am

Have You Heard About... Beastly

… the Beauty who fell in love with a Beast? Some form of “Beauty and the Beast” is found in cultures throughout the world, and you can find many wonderful versions from picture books to movies. Over the next week, we will feature three great novels based on this classic tale, all filled with roses and romance.

Alex Flinn’s Beastly is the most modern of the three adaptations. It features a handsome, spoiled, self-centered high school student who is turned into a beast for his cruel, thoughtless treatment of a witch (and everyone else). Because he did one kind thing the day she cursed him, the witch gives him two years to learn how to love a woman and to earn her love in return. If he can’t, he will stay a beast forever. This version focuses more on the “beast” than the “beauty,” showing how he changes from being one of the pretty people and leading a charmed life to being rejected by his father and having to hide from his former friends.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 1:36am

Have You Heard About... Ghost in Trouble

… the ghost who solves mysteries? A ghost’s work is never done in Ghost in Trouble* by Carolyn Hart.

Bailey Ruth is trying to help her oldest enemy but doesn’t have much luck. While doing her best to follow the “rules” of the Dept. of Good Intentions (avoid public notice is #1), Bailey Ruth just has to do things her way, which of course gets her into all kinds of laugh-out-loud situations.

This is a standalone book as it includes some back story on how Bailey Ruth got into the Dept of Good Intentions in the first place. The first two books* should be checked out so as not to miss any of the action in this set of cozy mysteries.

* The first two books in this series are Ghost at Work and Merry, Merry Ghost.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 1:58am

Have You Heard About... Merry, Merry Ghost

… the Department of Good Intentions? Bailey Ruth is back in Merry, Merry Ghost* by Carolyn Hart.

On her second mission as an emissary of the Dept. of Good Intentions, she helps catch a greedy killer who just doesn’t seem to get the message of the Christmas season. This is a standalone book, as it includes some back story on how Bailey Ruth ended up in the Dept. of Good Intentions in the first place. You might also like to read book one* so as not to miss any of the hilarious things that Bailey Ruth is capable of doing.

* The first book in this series is Ghost at Work; the next book is Ghost in Trouble.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 1:54am

Have You Heard About... Ghost at Work

…the ghost-oriented “cozy” mysteries by Carolyn Hart? In Ghost at Work*, we meet Bailey Ruth Raeburn. Sometimes you can see her, and sometimes you can’t.

Bailey Ruth and her love of mysteries died in a boating accident. However, just because she is now in Heaven’s Dept. of Good Intentions, she feels there is no reason for her to stop doing what she loves best – helping others. Popping in and out as she tries to figure out what a ghost is capable of doing, Bailey Ruth tries to “help” a pastor’s wife when her husband is accused of a crime. Bailey Ruth and her somewhat meddlesome ways are a hoot. This is a laugh out loud, downright good, cozy mystery.

* The next two books in this series are Merry, Merry Ghost and Ghost in Trouble.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 1:29am

Have You Heard About... Feed

… the zombie outbreak of 2014? Mira Grant’s* Feed** shows us what the world is like twenty-five years after the initial outbreak. Humans have survived, but so have zombies. People live with the knowledge that when they die, they will become zombies. Any person who is bitten by a zombie or come into contact with its blood will become a zombie. Any mammal over a certain size has the potential to become a zombie – your pets, the cow that became your steak – everything. However, life goes on, and people learn to live with the fears and the restrictions. 2040 is an election year, and a trio of bloggers has been chosen to be part of the press corps for a presidential contender. Blogging is gaining ground as a legitimate, respected source of news and information, but this will take it to a whole new level. For three bloggers in their 20s, part of the generation that has always had zombies as part of their world, this is the chance of a lifetime. However, politics is a dirty game, and some people will stop at nothing to get what they want.

 Feed is an incredible story, filled with action, politics, and horror. Ms Grant does an amazing job of building a realistic world. She puts in careful details about how zombies would affect life, from eating out to the news to public gatherings. For a zombie novel, there is very little gore. The horror in Feed is far more psychological, and ultimately more terrifying. Although this is intended as the first in a series, it stands alone very well. You really get to know and empathize with the characters as they travel through the campaign trail, sharing their world with us through blog posts as well as the narration.

This is not a feel-good novel. It may make you think. It may make you look at our current world and wonder whether something similar to this could happen here, now, to us. Feed has one of the most realistic future worlds and some of the most believable characters I have read in years. I cried for most of the last five chapters of this book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

* Mira Grant also writes very good urban fantasies as Seanan McGuire.

** The second book in the Newsflesh trilogy is Deadline.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Have You Heard About... The High and the Mighty

The High and the Mighty, proof that the legendary John Wayne made more than just cowboy movies?

In this 1954 classic, John Wayne is an airline pilot haunted by a very tragic past. On a flight over the Pacific Ocean, the airplane develops serious problems, and while the suspense builds and disaster is about to strike, a cast of famous actors from that time (a very young Robert Stack is just one) do their part to make this movie unforgettable. If you saw this movie a long time ago, it’s worth a second (or third) viewing. If you’ve never seen it before, the technology of the 1950’s might seem a little bit hokey, but this movie is definitely worth your time.

The DVD has an interesting introduction by film critic Leonard Maltin. The special features are worth watching also.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: drama, DVD, review
Post date: Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 1:13am

Have You Heard About... Origins of the Specious

…the myths, legends, and real origins behind some of the most popular (and most reviled) words and phrases in English? Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman takes you on a quick trip through some of the English language’s hottest topics. The authors start with differences between British and American English (including which version really has the longer history), then moves on to grammar, followed by specific words and phrases in various categories.

If you’ve ever wondered why you shouldn’t split an infinitive, whether birth by Caesarian section was really named for Julius Caesar, or how “herstory” got started, this is the book for you! The writing is light and friendly, with most topics covered in just a page or two. However, the authors provide a surprising amount of information on the source, history, and changes of the English language without getting dry or overwhelming.

Whether you love language yourself or just know someone who always insists on the “proper” use of English, you’ll enjoy Origins of the Specious.

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 1:09am

Have You Heard About... Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

… twelve year old CeeCee Honeycutt? The star of Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt has been taking care of her mom forever. Her mom still thinks she’s the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen and carries her tiara around with her. You might say she’s lost her grip on reality.

When CeeCee’s mom is hit by an ice cream truck, she’s sent to her great Aunt Tootie in Savannah, GA. Aunt Tootie is rich, eccentric, very wise, and lots of fun. As Aunt Tootie and CeeCee get to know each other, all of the quirkiness of the south shines through. With many friends who come and go from Tootie house, CeeCee learns life’s lessons. This book reminded me a little bit of Steel Magnolias. It’s a fast read and very hard to put down and hard to forget.

 

Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: book, fiction, review
Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 1:44am

Have You Heard About... Scary Godmother

…who can keep you safe from the things that go bump in the night? Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother* loves things that are dark, creepy, or unusual. She’s friends with skeletons, witches, vampires, and monsters. Your scary godmother is with you when it’s scary, especially on Halloween! This graphic novel shows how Hannah meets her Scary Godmother after her cousin tries to play a trick on Halloween. Hannah gets to know her Scary Godmother, Skully Pettibone (a skeleton), Bug-a-Boo (a monster under the bed), Orson (a young vampire), and many others.

This is a wonderful book for introducing young children to spooky things in a non-threatening way. Adults and kids alike will love the quirky humor and bright illustrations. The stories emphasize facing your fears and accomplishing tasks through perseverance and helpful friends. The mix of art and text blends picture book and graphic novel styles. A sketchbook section at the end shows the changes some characters went through from the initial sketches to the first book, as well as character studies used for the animated specials.

*This book reprints Scary Godmother, Scary Godmother: The Revenge of Jimmy, Scary Godmother: The Mystery Date, Scary Godmother: The Boo Flu, and the short story “Tea for Orson.”

 

Reviewed by Fran (staff)