Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: Schott's Original Miscellany by Ben Schott

Synopsis: A collection of random and assorted facts completely unrelated to each other, but interesting and odd.

Review: It's hard to explain precisely why this book is so amusing. If you enjoy trivia games (like Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit) or just random strange facts, this book will be highly amusing to you. It found it perfect for short reading moments, like waiting in line or in the restroom. A fine gift for the trivia hound in your life or just a fun book for quick bedside reading.

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-58234-349-7
Year Published: 2002
Date Finished: 12-29-2017
Pages: 158

Review: The Town Cats and Other Tales by Lloyd Alexander

Synopsis: A collection of folktales about cats!

Review: This is a collection of folktales, written by the author, centers around clever cats and silly humans, who learn the moral lessons from the cats! There is nothing original about these tales - they read very much like most folktales about talking animals and humans, predictable but amusing. If you enjoy folktales or cats, this anthology would be perfect for you. In particular, children might enjoy these stories.

Bookmarks: 3.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-440-48989-X
Year Published: 1977
Date Finished: 12-21-2017
Pages: 126

Friday, January 5, 2018

Review: The Tale of the Shining Princess adpt. Sally Fisher, trans. by Donald Keene

Synopsis: This is a Japanese Folktale, written sometime the 9th or 10th centuries, although the exact date and author are not known. It was a very popular tale, with many antique scrolls and books, gorgeously illustrated, that retell the tale.

Review: As the tale is the ancient tale, there is not way to actually judge the story. So this review regards this edition of the story. Hardback, with a gorgeous cover decorated with a motif from a famous Japanese version. Included are some lovely illustrations, done in the traditional Japanese style. This is an excellent edition for a child to read, and a welcome edition to my own folktale collection.

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-670-63971-0
Year Published: 1980 (Original Story from the 9th-10th Century, Japan)
Date Finished: 12-21-2017
Pages: 72

Review: A Baroque Fable by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Synopsis: This novel takes readers on a romp through a fantasyland of star-crossed lovers, bumbling heroes, wicked witches, and dragons (one of whom, our heroine, Esmeralda, started out as a human but got caught up in a witch’s curse.) Lighthearted adventure with a seemingly never-ending cast of strange and whimsical characters working at cross-purposes and together creates a world of little consequence and frothy entertainment. (from the online description)

Review: This is a strange little story - part fairy tale, part satire, part fantasy spoof. The beginning was excellent, and the villain scary. But it quickly downgraded into odd yet boring story. The scary villain was dispatched with little ceremony or climax, the characters exhibited unrealistic changes and the ending was a bit meh. While Yarbro went on to write award-winning vampire books (pre-Twilight) this work is a stand-alone and one of her early works. Although I haven't read her other works, I would assume this isn't her best. But if you enjoy strange spoofish works, this one is for you.

Bookmarks: 3 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-425-09081-7
Year Published: 1986
Date Finished: 12-21-2017
Pages: 243

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows Series, Book II) (L)

Synopsis: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. (from the online description)

Review: As the second in this duology, I had high and trepidatious hopes for this book. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Not only did it live up to my expectations, but left me with the lovely and agonizing booke characters face not only the external challenges, but the internal fears that threaten to tear them apart from the inside. With twists upon twists, the plot takes us from the heights to the depths of emotions and adventure.
This has the tone of thief novel, with a unique depth and sense of emotion, with a heavy share of heartbreak and hope.
Worth reading, worth every agonizing moment. One of my favorite novels ever and I highly recommend always!

Bookmarks: 4.5 of 5

Awards: TBA

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4
Year Published: 2016
Date Finished: 12-7-2017
Pages: 546

Review: Renew my Heart: Daily Wisdom from the Writings of John Wesley ed. by Alice Russie

Synopsis: This is year-long daily devotion taken from the writings of John Wesley.

Review: This is an exceptional collection, edifying and encouraging. It is not the light, fluffy nonsense one often find in the modern Christian works. Wesley did not believe in false sentimentality or positive-thinking or self-help - he taught the unerring nature of God's Word and the sinful nature of humans, with strong admonishment to seek God through obedience and sacrifice, with a single-minded devotion.

Favorite Quotes:

"Love rejoices to obey, to do in every point whatever is acceptable to one's beloved. A true lover of God hastens to do His will on earth at it is in Heaven." 5-19 pg. 150

"The sign  of the love of God, the proof of our keeping the first and greatest commandment is to all the rest of His commandments also! True love, once poured into our hearts, will constrain us to keep them, for whoever loves God with all his heart cannot help but serve Him with all his strength." 6-23 pg. 185

"From this principle of grateful love to God arises love to our brother. Nor can we avoid loving our neighbor if we truly believe the love with which God has loved us. This love to others, grounded on faith and love to God, does no wrong to our neighbors." 9-5 pg. 259

"Consider the cross lying in your path with all its circumstances. It has a quality specific to you. It is prepared by God for you. It is given by God to you. And He gives it to you as a token of His love. If you receive it as such, it is ordered by Him for your good." 9-20 pg. 274

Bookmarks: 4.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-58660-711-1
Year Published: 2002 (John Wesley Lived from 1703-1791)
Date Finished: 12-2-2017
Pages: 384

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Review: MacBeth: The Graphic Novel by Williams Shakespeare and Gareth Hinds

Synopsis: Set against the moody backdrop of eleventh-century Scotland, Gareth Hinds’s captivating, richly illustrated interpretation takes readers into the claustrophobic mind of a man driven mad by ambition. An evil seed takes root in the mind of Macbeth, a general in the king’s army, when three witches tell him he will one day be king. At the urging of his wife, he resolves to take the throne by the most direct path: a dagger in the heart of King Duncan. But “blood will have blood,” and when others grow suspicious of his sudden rise to power, is Macbeth prepared to commit more murders to keep the crown? (from the online description)

Review:  As for graphic novels, this is well-done. Sharp lines and dark, brooding colors given a fine backdrop of the dark and bloody story.  Hinds takes some liberties with the story, cutting the lines to just the basics, as the pictures tell much of what the words would have. His editing is well-done and maintains the blood-drenched tone of the story.  However, my only fault is that, I didn't like the story. MacBeth, as it turns out, is not my favorite Shakespeare. Despite Hinds excellent execution, I didn't like the story.

Bookmarks: 3 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7802-9
Year Published: 2015 (MacBeth written in approx. 1606)
Date Finished: 11-25-2017
Pages: 145