Monday, March 31, 2014

The Queen's Dwarf by Ella March Chase, 372 pages

Many royals kept collections of people who were termed freaks. These would often consist of dwarfs and giants. Queen Henrietta of England was one of these collectors. This book tells the story from the viewpoint of Jeffrey, a dwarf who came to her court as a young man and spent his life there. This was fascinating and well written.

The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas, 418 pages

This was an odd historical fiction book sent to me by Night Owl Reviews. It deals with Florence, Italy, as Prince Francesco comes to power in 1574. He was obsessed with alchemy. This wasn't a bad read but not my cup of tea.

Dragons Wild by Robert Asprin, 360 pages

I've read Aprin's Phule and Myth series and really enjoyed them so I was intrigued to read this series featuring Dragons. It's sent in today's world (which makes it different from his other series) and has Dragons walking among us. This looks at a young man who discovers he is a Dragon and has a short learning curve to find out what that entails. I love Asprin's twisted sense of humor and I'm sad he's dead. I will enjoy his books all the more.

Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes by Martha Long, 479 pages

This is one of the most heartbreaking memoirs I've read. Martha grew up in Dublin in the 1950s. Her mother hooks up an abusive man who keeps Martha and her siblings in abject poverty and abusive terror. The horrible things Martha goes through trying to survive were heartwrenching. I devoured this book in one day and finished it feeling extremely drained emotionally. I wanted to give Martha a warm bath, a good meal and a hug.

The Three Investigators:The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy by Robert Arthur, 180 pages

I love rereading books from my childhood. It's interesting to see if I remember them correctly and to enjoy the memories.

Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanna Fluke, 511 pages

I've been reading these books from the very beginning and I really enjoy the recipes. This one has Hannah in jail so it's a slightly darker feel at times.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl and Marion Bluementhal Lazan, 130 pages

Marion Blumenthal Lazan is a Holocaust survivor who travels the country speaking a message of remembrance and tolerance. Her book covers her experience, with her being 10-years-old when her family was liberated. The Joplin Public Library was lucky enough to have her speak at our library.

The Love Slave by Bertrice Small, 420 pages

Sometimes you just need a totally trashy and torrid historical romance. Bertrice Small is perfect for that.

morningglories, Volume five, 136 pages

I know less about what is going on now than when I finished the first volume.

Historical Heartthrobs by Kelly Murphy, 223 pages

This looked at 50 hotties from history. I'm definitely a Benjamin Franklin fangirl.

Monday, March 24, 2014

And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas, 292 pages

This was a entertaining and moving read. It follows one woman's interest and desire to become a nun at the later stage of life in her 50s. It was interesting look at nuns in today's world. It spoke to me in a meaningful way, and I appreciated the author's anger at how women are treated in the church still today.

Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton, 264 pages

M.C. Beaton is one of my favorite mystery writers. I really appreciate the fact that she writes fast and puts out a new book every year at least. The Hamish series is fun, quirky and filled with wonderful descriptions of Scotland. I am so going to go to England, Scotland and Ireland some day. I wholeheartedly recommend this series, but it's best enjoyed from the beginning.

A Grumpy Book by Grumpy Cat, 96 pages

I love Grumpy Cat, he reminds me of my husband.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Hidden Harbor Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon, 177 pages

Book 14 in the Hardy Boys mystery. It's hard to believe that they were able to create a series that is relatively timeless like this.

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, 356 pages

I LOVED this book. The lost diary of Arthur Conan Doyle has been located, covering the time period of his decision to bring Sherlock Holmes back from the dead. What lead to this decision after his many vocal outbursts stating that Holmes was dead forever? And where has the diary been?
The book alternates chapters between Arthur Conan Doyle in the early 1900s and Harold White, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars in present day. This book was a gushing fanletter for all the Sherlockians out there. I am buying a copy of this book for my own collection. I liked it that much.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Morning Glories, 168 pages

The second collection. It's a very dark and twisted series.

Morning Glories Volume One, 192 pages

Collects the first six issues of a comic featuring a academy with more secrets and challenges than any of the new students ever thought possible. Will they survive long enough to find the answers?

The Mark on the Door by Franklin W. Dixon, 175 pages

I think this is the lamest one in the series so far. Submarines in Mexico smuggling oil out. Not my favorite by a long shot.

Friday, March 14, 2014

UnSouled by Neal Shusterman, 404 pages

Cari blogged this book earlier so I won't go into much. I will say this series has been awesome. The only drawback at coming in at the beginning has been waiting for each book to slowly come out. Now I have to wait for the last one. Write Neal Shusterman, Write!!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures:1,001 Things You Hate to Love by Sam Stall, Lou Harry and Julia Spalding, 320 pages

I came across this book showcasing horribly fun and awful things we love but shouldn't. It ranges from genres to people, shows and fads. Each entry has historical data, illustrations, and cross referencing, so if you want to know about meatloaf (both the dish and the singer) this is the book for you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy, 338 pages

Boy, if anyone had told me a few months ago that I would be a fan of Pat Conroy (Beaches and The Prince of Tides) I would have laughed in their face. Our our book club decided on his short story collection My Reading Life and I was hooked. His book featured the books and people that gave him a love of reading and the written word in general. I have an obsessive love of reading, reading anything that crosses my path basically. His book The Great Santini featured heavily in the essays so I picked it up as well and loved it. I was hesitant to give this a go, fearing it wouldn't be nearly as good. I was not disappointed, this was actually better. I loved getting to see Pat's relationship with his parents as an adult, and after the book had come out. It was touching to see his father redeem himself with his children somewhat. I finished the book and just felt exhausted, drained and extremely touched. All signs of an outstanding read.

Say Cheesy by Darby Conley, 127 pages

My next to last Get Fuzzy collection. I'll have to decide on a new collection to peruse before bedtimes.

Masters of the Nonsenseverse by Darby Conley, 128 pages

One of the last Get Fuzzy collections. I've really enjoyed the twisted sense of humor in these.

Zom-B Gladiator by Darren Shan, 160 pages

This is the 6th book in Shan's latest series. So far he's done demons, vampires, and now zombies. I can't wait to read his werewolf series, which is the only logical thing for him to do next. But of course he needs to finish this series first.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell, 416 pages

Another Night Owl Review book. This one is based on 1002 England with 15-year-old Emma of Normandy being sent to marry Aethelred, widowed king of England.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, 377 pages

I picked this book up based completely on the title. It's a collection of short stories that are fantasy/magic based with a definite dark twist. The author also wrote Swamplandia that I'd read. These stories, like Swamplandia, left me a little flat and feeling like part of the story (like the end) was missing. I'm just not a fan of this writer.

The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot by Robert Arthur, 182 pages

The 2nd book in the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. You can tell this book hasn't been re-published because of the stereotypes in the book featuring Mexicans and others. While not overtly racist, you can see how outlooks have changed significantly. Still, it's a fun read.

The Secret of Terror Castle by Robert Arthur, 179 pages

I remember reading the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books as a child. So I was excited to read them again as an adult. They're campy and fun, and I enjoy them more now than I do the Hardy Boys books. I think I'll have to make my way through more of the series.

A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey, 358 pages

I've heard about Josephine Tey being a doyenne of mystery writing but hadn't read anything of hers. This one follows the death of a movie star, found drowned while rusticating in a secluded English cottage. Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant soon finds a plethora of suspects in this baffling case.
I will be picking up more Josephine Tey books, especially any that feature Erica Burgoyne. She was one of my favorite characters in the book.

Keeping It Civil by Margaret Klaw, 256 pages

Margaret Klaw is a family law lawyer, and writes about some of the interesting cases she's handled. From pre-nups to child custody, it's nice when people are civil, but that happens less and less it seems. Especially in divorce and custody cases.

Joplin by Priscilla Purcell Brown, 127 pages

A look at Joplin through old pictures. It was neat seeing how different and how alike Joplin, especially Main Street, is over the years.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook by Margaret Kaeter, 323 pages

I picked this book up hoping to find some fabulous new recipes utilizing my slow cooker. I ended up not being that impressed by it, but I think that it's because this is an older version, and they've improved cooking in a crock pot a lot since this book came out. Oh well. It was only an hour of my life.

DumbHeart by Darby Conley, 127 pages

I'm getting close to running out of these books. I'll have to slow down and savor the last ones. Boo hoo!

Treasury of the Lost Litter Box by Darby Conley, 253 pages

I really enjoy reading these at night before bed. Always a nice way to relax.

Blueprint for Diaster by Darby Conley, 128 pages

I love just how mean and snarky Bucky is. He's the main reason I read these comics.

Ghost and Ruins by Ben Catmull, 83 pages

This was a collection of extremely short ghost stories, where the pictures were the true treasure. Creepy and dark, this was a fun read. Just watch out for the goat ghost.

A Curious Man:The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal Thompson, 421 pages

As a fan of anything odd or creepy, I was intrigued to see a biography for Robert Ripley cross the checkout counter. Robert Ripley is best known for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon sketches, books and museums, but I was interested in learning more about the man behind the drawings.
In the book A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neal Thompson, the reader is introduced to a young boy in Santa Rosa, Calif., named LeRoy Robert Ripley. Bucktoothed and painfully shy, ignored and mocked by many of his classmates growing up, LeRoy was most comfortable behind a drawing pad.
After selling a drawing to LIFE magazine, Ripley put together a portfolio of sketches consisting of political and sports themes and started showing them to different editors in San Francisco with the help of a friend. With no real artistic training, he was hired at the San Francisco Bulletin. Hired and fired from two newspapers in just two years, Ripley was helping support his mother and siblings, so he was determined to find a new job. With the same type of luck that seemed to follow him throughout his life, Ripley landed a job at the San Francisco Chronicle, just as their sports cartoonist was suffering from an eye injury.
Ripley was known for his sports cartoons, and after three years in San Francisco, he made the leap across the continent to the bright lights of New York City. While still using the name of LeRoy at this time, it was decided by Ripley’s editors at the New York newspaper the Globe, that LeRoy wasn’t manly enough for the sporting department. Thus, he was reborn as Robert L. Ripley.
On a day in December 1916, with little happening sports wise, Ripley put together a cartoon featuring unusual sports records. Featuring a man who stayed underwater for six minutes, one who skipped rope 11,810 times and two who boxed to a draw after seven and a half hours, this cartoon was one of the earliest harbingers of the big idea that would make him famous worldwide.
In December 1918, Ripley published a cartoon that is considered the first “Believe It or Not,” called “Champs and Chumps,” about sports oddities. It wasn’t until October 1919 that the first cartoon carrying the title “Believe It or Not” was published. The first year or two of cartoons featured sports peculiarities and records, but by 1921 they started featuring non-sports characters, including a man who ate 60 eggs a day for a week and another man with a “revolving head.”
After a messy divorce, Ripley fled America with an around-the-world tour that started the fascination he had for exotic and foreign oddities. After this trip, gruesome seemed to be the new theme behind Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” cartoons. With many upheavals in the newspaper world, Ripley moved from newspaper to newspaper but managed to make a living while still drawing the cartoon that continued to grow in popularity. But it wasn’t until his 1928 cartoon claiming that Charles Lindberg was the 67th person to make a non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean that his reputation as the man who had been called a liar “more often than any other living person” took off. With more shocking and startling statements like that, Ripley engaged and enraged readers, always able to prove the veracity of his statements.
At one point in the 1940s, Ripley’s’ cartoons were voted the second favorite feature of newspapers, behind only the front page and he was considered one of the most well-known and well-liked personalities in America. Ripley went on to have a multitude of radio shows, movies and a television show, along with a variety of books, comic books and exhibits.
Ripley was an obsessed world traveler up to almost the very end of his life, hoping to one day visit every country in the world. He bought many exotic and unusual items, filling his house and apartment with the objects. Different world fairs featured these objects and some of the people he’d drawn about, in what were known as the Ripley “Believe It or Not” Odditoriums. The first permanent Ripley museum and Odditorium was started in St. Augustine, Fla., after Ripley’s death and there are now over 30 Odditoriums around the world.
On a personal note, my family and I visited the Branson museum during a family vacation and were amazed by the extremely odd trivia, items and people featured. My youngest purchased a three-armed stuffed monkey that was based on an actual monkey Ripley brought back from a trip. She was heartbroken when her sister’s dog destroyed it a few years later. When I called the Branson museum’s gift shop to find a replacement, I was told they no longer carried the monkey. But the staff found that the St. Augustine museum had some and gave me their phone number. When I called and told the gift shop staff the story hoping to purchase a monkey, they sent me the replacement monkey free of charge, making my daughter extremely happy.
I feel this serves as a perfect example of the spirit of Robert Ripley because throughout the book he was portrayed as a loyal and generous friend, sharing his good fortune with others and always looking for the oddest thing or person in the world. He knew it was still out there somewhere. This book was enjoyable; reminding me of the different “Believe It or Not!” cartoons I’ve read over the years and was a fascinating look at the man behind the sketches.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brilliant Deduction:The Story of Real-Life Great Detectives by Matt Kuhns, 322 pages

This book covered the early forefathers of detection, including the Pinkertons, Vidocq, and even Herbert Hoover. While it was a little tedious at times, glossing over cases that sounded intriguing, it was a solid read, all in all.