Sunday, June 30, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (127 pages)

I needed to choose a book from this blog to fill a SR Bingo square.  This was a pretty easy choice.  There is no such thing as too much Calvin & Hobbes.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (221 pgs.)

I have read The Chronicles of Narnia several times, so I thought I would try the audiobooks.  (I prefer listening to things that I have already read.)  The voice actor was quite good, which can make all the difference to an audiobook. 

This first book of the series is often forgotten and folks start with "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" which seems to be better known, but this sets an important foundation for the rest of the series.

Creative Ways with Polymer Clay by Dotty McMillan (144 pgs.)

This book has many interesting projects that tend towards being more advanced.  Most are not my style, but did give me some ideas for things that I want to try.  It was good to read a book that was not the same old beginner ideas.  While I'm not likely to purchase this, I am likely to check it out again.

FoxTrot en masse by Bill Amend (250 pgs.)

Some days are just meant for sitting and reading cartoons.  I enjoy the FoxTrot family of five.  It is a well-written, funny, and (for me) often relate-able cartoon.

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott (102 pgs.)

This author was recommended to me by my pastor during a discussion about being irreverently reverent. 

The title indicates the 3 prayers we pray.  Sums it up pretty well, I'd say.  Some of her theology might've made me squirm a bit, but it was interesting and gave me some stuff to ponder, which is always good.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Love Story, by Erich Segal, 131 pages

The only reason I read this book was to fulfill a square on my Adult Summer Reading bingo sheet. "Love Story" was deemed a groundbreaking read. Evidently I have a different idea of what a groundbreaking read is. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a groundbreaking read. "The Color Purple" is a groundbreaking read. "Love Story" does not compare. What dreck. It's like reading a Nicholas Sparks novel, you know, the one made into a movie with Mandy Moore where she dies at the end. Blech. Not for me, but I'm sure it appeals to some
people out there.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Do Buddhists Believe? Meaning and Mindfulness in Buddhist Philosophy by Tony Morris, 82 pages

I liked this simple book.

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster, 359 pages

Nisha was left at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls at the age of six. The City has been founded as a result of the Kingdom's 2-children limit, as a place for the girl babies that families don't want. The girls are raised by the different Houses to become musicians, courtesans, healers, soldiers, and such. Nisha serves as the eyes and ears of the city's Matron. When suspicious deaths start striking among the young women, Nisha must try to find the killer if she wants any chance of escaping slavery and having a chance of a life of freedom.
This was a different read, kind of Chinese like, but with talking cats, magic, and intrigue. It was interesting and kept me engaged through the very end.

Love, Lies, and Jessica Wakefield by Laurie John, 231 pages

This one was shocking in that Jessica actually has S-E-X, oh my goodness.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zom-B: Underground, by Darren Shan, 181 pages

Dang. I don't want to give away any spoilers from the first book in this series, but if I reviewed "Zom-B: Underground," the second installment, it would give away too much. I'll just say that while this book moved slower than the first one and didn't really pay off in the blood-and-guts department until the end, it was still a satisfying read, with a couple of big surprises, especially in the final chapter. Read it. Enjoy it. Pass it along.

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book by Bill Watterson, 127 pages

I've found that relaxing with a comic collection before going to bed helps me relax. These have been a nice end to the day.

There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, 175 pages

Reading these just remind me of how glad I am that I had daughters and not sons.

Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat by Bill Watterson, 175 pages

Still just as funny now as when they first came out.

The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson, 253 pages

Rereading these collections has reminded me how much I miss Calvin and Hobbes in the daily newspaper.

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman, 449 pages

This book covered Nellie Bly's (famous 1800's girl reporter) attempt to travel around the world in 75 days or less, beating Jules Verne's 80 days trip. What made it even more fascinating is the fact that just hours after Nellie set off, a second female writer was sent to try in the opposite direction. This book covered both of their trips, the reaction of the American people, and the hype stirred up by Nellie's newspaper, The World. I've read about Nellie Bly before, but this was a well-done coverage of one of her most famous publicity stunts, and it gave me a new longing to re-read 'Around the World in 80 Days' by Verne. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Monday, June 24, 2013

College Girls by Laurie John, 235 pages

Just when you thought my Sweet Valley High addiction was over, it's time for Sweet Valley University. I haven't come this close to reading them all to stop now. This one has been a little painful in that Elizabeth is not the beautiful, popular, well-adjusted twin now that they're at college. But still as much hokey and fluffy fun as always.

The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin, 163 pages

This was an odd read that I wouldn't have picked up normally on my own, but I'm not upset that I read it. While it reminded me very much of Steve Martin, while I was reading it I completely forgot that he wrote it and become engrossed in the story. My only faults with the book is that it took a little too long to become invested in the story at the beginning and the ending was almost too neatly wrapped up.

Encyclopedia of Home Designs -- 352 pages

Still another book of home plans I drooled my way through.  We'd still like to get into a one-story home, but my guess is that it won't be one of the plans in this book.  There are a LOT of  plans in the book, but I've got some pretty specific things I want.  We'll see if I ever find them, or if I have to draw the plan myself.  (And that will never happen!)

Traditional Home Plans -- by Stephen Fuller -- 160 pages

Another home plan book I drooled through, but still didn't find the exact thing I'd like to build.  My husband is still safe from my requests.

Country Home Plans -- 158pgs - by Stephen fuller

I'm dreaming.  We'd like to get into a one-story home, so I've been drooling over home plan books.  Didn't find what I wanted in this one.....  Not that I'd get it anyway!

Scarlet (464 pages).

by Marissa Meyer.

Second in the Lunar Chronicles (after "Cinder" about cyborg Cinderella). This one is about Red Riding Hood.

Love the plot in this series. Meyer is genius at subverting faery tales, making them completely new, not at ALL cliche, and feminist (the women are the main characters, save themselves and their menfolk more often than are themselves saved, and are complex and interesting without being described as unattainable beauties) to boot. I'm all in with this series. The prose leaves a little to be desired and the story could be told at a faster pace, but again, I'm VERY impressed with the series and looking forward to the last two books.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Complete Guide to Lower Midwest Gardening by Black and Decker (239 pages)

I have a brown thumb but would love to actually make my yard look pretty like it was when we first bought it. I would also love to have a vegetable garden some day too. This book offered some pretty good tips and pictorial how tos but this book was mainly about flower beds with only one small section on edible gardens. So if a flower bed is your main goal then this would be a helpful book.

Upstairs & downstairs: the illustrated guide to the real world of Downtown Abbey by Sarah Warwick (128 pages)

This has already been blogged about by another coworker, but I will say I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about this particular time period in history.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, 835 pages

This was a really outstanding read following Sugar, a prostitute in 1870s London. It was compelling, rich in detail and full of character development, my only problem was the ending left me a little flat. This is a light, fluffy short read for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti (271 pages)

I believe this title has already been reviewed, so I'll just say that I thought it was alright.  There were several chapters that my inner feminist really loved and identified with, but the majority of the political-ish chapters I found to be a little biased.  Overall however, I thought the author did a great job of defining feminism in a way that relates to younger women.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander -- 224 pgs

This book fulfilled by "book read in high school" for summer reading's Book Bingo.  Taran, Assistant Pig Keeper in Prydain dreams of adventure, but nothing happens to him until his pig runs away.  Thrust into adventure to save the country from evil, Taran learns much about himself and others.  I listened to the audio book version.  The narrator was really really really good.

Dear World: From Joplin with Love -- 66 pages

A photo journalistic book of people with messages to and about Joplin, post May 22nd tornado, written on their arms.  This is a very interesting book, and it makes it all the more meaningful that there are people photographed for it that I know.

I was not able to grab a cover image.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga -- 361 pages

This author is coming to JPL later in the summer.  The book is disturbing.  It's about Jazz, the son of the most notorious serial killer to date, who has been trained by his father to become even better at serial killing than was Dear Old Dad.  Jazz spends most of the book trying to convince himself that he isn't turning into DOD.  I got tired of this part.  It ends by not ending.  Apparently, this is part of a 2/3 completed trilogy.  I will probably read the other parts, although I'm not convinced I should  It was a little over the top for my tastes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Drawing Blood (403 pages).

by Poppy Z Brite.

For my "read something from high school" space on the BINGO sheet. For more thoughts on this book, see

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris, 338 pages

It's hard to believe that this is the final Sookie Stackhouse book. I've been there since the very beginning. I'm not going to say anything about this book because I know other people are planning on reading it and don't want any spoilers.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

WILD EDIBLES OF MISSOURI by Jan Phillips, 248 pages

Eat your so-called WEEDS, baby! Clover, Purslane, Dandelion, et cetera are all likely growing in or near your lawn and they are all edible! And delicious! Pull some of that Chickweed out of the ground, toss it with some veggies and oil and enjoy!

A Little F'd Up, Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger, 249 pages

"I would never think less of anybody who chooses not to identify as a feminist, and I support anybody's decision to self-identify any way they want. Want to go around telling people that, while you appreciate the feminist agenda, it's more important for you to be known as a "pokemonist"? I say, 'Go for it! Just don't vote for political candidates who want to restrict what I can do with my vagina! Thanks, and good luck trying to catch 'em all!'" I loved this book with every ounce of my feminist being.

How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham (172 pgs)

How to Fake a Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham
How to Fake a Moon Landing looks at the controversies surrounding things like climate change, evolution, fracking, alternative medicines, and the moon landing and applies cold, hard logic and scientific evidence to these controversies. Cunningham takes time to explain each subject, detailing the history behind the subject, the controversy itself and why there shouldn't really be a controversy. (And he does it in comics, cartoons, and pictures!) He's very thorough, his research is well rounded, and he makes some really good points (though I'm not sure Cunningham's points would be enough to sway someone who firmly holds a counter belief).

A good choice for fun nonfiction!

Scowler by Daniel Kraus (289 pgs)

Scowler by Daniel Kraus
Ry Burke is a troubled boy. When he was 10 years old, he survived a brutal beating from his father and a harrowing, near death experience running through a dense forest on a cold winter night in order to escape his father.  Ry's head trauma and desperate escape caused him to believe that three toys, Mr. Furrington, Jesus Christ and Scowler, were alive and giving him advice. Mr. Furrington, a small teddy bear, is a playful and affectionate friend; Jesus Christ, a gumby-esque plastic figure, is wise and kind; Scowler, a "doll" hand made with a metal skeleton, cornmeal stuffing, sea shell teeth, and oilcloth skin, is blood-thirsty and rat-like.

Now that Ry is 19 and his father is in jail, he's still on the family's farm helping his mother where he can. It's a miserable, boring life for Ry, but he doesn't know how to change it. Little does Ry know, a meteor is on a collision course with his farm and it brings with it all the nightmares Ry thought he outgrew. 

After reading/listening to Rotters by Daniel Kraus, I started Scowler expecting an intense book. I was not disappointed. In fact, there were several times I had to talk myself down from the "this is too intense for me right now, I should stop reading" ledge. I am not going to say I enjoyed Scowler, because I don't think it's one of those books that you really enjoy--this is no beach read. Instead, I think it's more accurate to say that I experienced Scowler.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Aunt Dimity & the Lost Prince by Nancy Atherton, 246 pages

The Aunt Dimity books are just a nice, feel good, sort of mystery. This is the 18th in the series, and while I don't recommend this as a stand alone book, it's a nice entry in the series.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zom-B, by Darren Shan, 174 pages

I hadn't read anything by Darren Shan, author of the Cirque du Freak series, until Danya recommended "Zom-B" to me, knowing my affection for zombie stories. Wow. Intense book, and not a straight-up horror story. Monsters come in all forms, not just in brain-eating creatures. The main character, B, comes from a rough home life. B's father abuses his wife and B, and his racist views and activities have started to rub off on B. When Danya asked me what I thought about B, I replied, "I don't really like him." She just grinned and said, "I can't wait to tell Renee what you said." A couple nights later, I'd stayed up late and came to a point in the book where I actually gasped and said, "NO WAY!" My outburst scared my dog, and even though it was nearly 2 a.m., I wanted to text Danya and Renee. The book was worth reading just for that thought-provoking twist alone. Aside from that dramatic development, though, it truly is a great read. The racist rhetoric is tough to stomach, but it's a reality, not just in B's world but in our own. Much of the book is about B's family life and interactions with friends and teachers, with murmurings of zombie attacks in the background. But near the end of the book, the zombie attacks have spread to B's community, and B is holed up in the school with friends, trying to survive. The zombie attacks are described in all their gross glory, and cool, black-and-white artwork is reminiscent of graphic novels. I just checked out the second book in the series, and I can't wait to read it.

Revival: Volume One, You're Among Friends, by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, 128 pages

Cari clued me in to this graphic novel, and, as always, she was spot-on. "Revival" is described as "rural noir," a term and a genre I love. (Think Daniel Woodrell, author of "Winter's Bone"; that's rural noir at its finest.) For one day, in a small Wisconsin town, the dead come back to life. Office Dana Cypress has her hands full. In addition to being a single mother, having a strained relationship with her father, and reuniting with her sister who seems to be hiding something, she's dealing with the sudden influx of once-deceased people. They are definitely different from when they were alive, and bad things start to happen. There's also been a brutal murder that Officer Cypress has been tasked with solving. A strong start to what seems to be an intriguing new series.

Seducing the Highlander by Michele Sinclair, 392 pages

This is the last of the romance books Night Owl Review sent me to review in the last batch. I'm not a huge fan of Scottish historical romances, but this wasn't half bad.

Zom-B Underground by Darren Shan, 180 pages

This is the sequel to one of the oddest and most captivating zombie series I've read in a while. B has waken up (SPOILER ALERT) after having her heart ripped out by a zombie. But B is not alive in the normal sense of the word. In a world that equates B and B's revitalized zombies with the mindless, brain-eating zombies, is B able to make a stand for what is right?
This is a teen book that had me eagerly turning pages, and now anticipating the next one coming into the library.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller (434 pages)

From the inside cover --

A Meth Dealer. A  Prostitute. A Serial Killer.  Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.  Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

I picked this up expecting to read a snarky, ironically funny story about a school that takes kids off the streets and turns them into brilliant criminals.  That is not at all what I found.  What I did find, however, was so much better.  This book was dark and intense and, surprisingly, really really good. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (204 pages)

Cari reviewed this book already, and I only picked it up because her review intrigued me.  I tried several times to read Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy, but couldn't get into them at all.  Honestly, when I checked this book out, I couldn't remember what Cari had said it was about other than that it made her cry, so I started reading with absolutely no idea of what lurked inside its pages.  Which is a good thing, because if I had known this book was going to entirely rip my heart out, I probably wouldn't have read it.  But I'm so glad I did, you guys.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking and just perfect.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (288 pages)

This titled has been reviewed already, so I will just say that I liked it a lot. I liked the old timey yet new age feel that it had.  It was the perfect book to curl up with on the couch while drinking hot tea. (:  Bonus factor: The cover glows in the dark!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Days Are Just Packed by Bill Watterson, 175 pages

Another Calvin and Hobbes collection that instead of helping me fall asleep at night, kept me up late reading. Dang you, Bill Watterson!!!

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, 127 pages

I'd realized that it had been a while since I'd read any Calvin and Hobbes. I really miss seeing the comic in the newspaper everyday, but I guess that is better than cartoonists who refuse to let their comic die, even when it's no longer even close to funny or entertaining (yes I mean you Prince Valiant.)

1,000 Places to See Before You Die (974 pages)

I checked this book out as part of the adult summer reading program here at the library, it's kind of like a classic in its own right. I love to travel and I wish I had the  funds and time to travel more, but all in good time. I was glad to see that some of the places I have been to  here in the US as well as Europe were actually on the list, so now I only have 995 more things to see!

Plastic Free: How I kicked the plastic habit and how you can too by Beth Terry (343 pages)

I stumbled across this book by accident but I am glad that it caught my eye. It really makes you take a look around and realize that the majority of everything we own and buy has plastic in it or came wrapped in it. This books offers stories from real life people and the steps they took to reduce their plastic consumption, I learned some great new things to try in my house.

Secrets f an Organized Mom by Barbara Reich (242 pages)

The layout of the book was great you could read it cover to cover or just skip to the chapters that pertained to you. I found some very helpful tips on how to better organized the cluttered zones in my house, including my sons every messy room.

Can you survive the zombie apocalypse? by Max Brallier 384 pages

I saw this book and it reminded me of the kids version of choose your own path and I could not resist reading it. Lets just say there are a tons of choices, my ending was a bit of a cliff hanger as I was stuck on the statue of Liberty waiting to be rescued. My husband however made bad choices and died pretty soon into the book, what will your ending be?

Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happoer, Healthier Life by Deborah Nieman (193 pages)

I really enjoyed this book and it helps end the fears of  "I cant be green because it is too expensive." Yes buying solar panels for your home is not cheap, but this book is not about that. This book is about making everyday small changes in your household that not only help save the planet but also help you save some green in your wallet too.

Abs of Steel, Buns of Cinnamon by Cathy Guisewite, 128 pages

My very last Cathy collection, they've helped me unwind before falling asleep.

I'd Scream Except I Look So Fabulous by Cathy Guisewite, 128 pages

Another really funny Cathy collection. She's still as enjoyable as always.

The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, 255 pages

My family has been working our way through Calvin and Hobbes again. It's one of our favorites, so much so, that my husband was kind of hopefully that our last daughter was going to be twin boys just so he could name them Calvin and Hobbes.