Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: Hung, Strung and Potted: A History of Eating Habits in Colonial American by Sally Smith Booth

Synopsis: When colonial settlers first landed in America, that found no vast treasure of gold or rare spices, but something much more valuable to survival - the world's largest outdoor supermarket. This is the story of how city-dwelling Europeans, along in the wilderness, learned to tame the New World's forest and streams. The far of pioneers at all levels of society is portrayed, from the aristocrat who dined on potted swan, to the modest farmer supping on beaver tails or poke greens, and the slave with his cornmeal mush. Completing the portrait of young America's victuals are descriptions of Indian foods and explanations of the legends and taboos which linked the red man so closely with nature. Much of the material is from rare diaries and journals of the period, which show colonial life as seen by those who actually lived it. Many of the illustrations are derived from other precious volumes of the day, designed to show this alien land to patrons in the Old World. Farming, Hunting and cooking techniques are chronicled along with glimpses of various tools and utensils. Nearly 250 authentic recipes are included, and range from instructions on how to stuff a cock's comb to preparing an entire turtle. With its extensive glossary and bibliography, this volume will be a delight for the casual reader, and a special treat for historians, housewives and epicureans. (from the back of the book)

Review: While I enjoyed this book, I found several aspects mildly frustrating. Booth clearly has a wide range of knowledge on the subject. She gives an excellent collection of recipes, divided by main ingredient, and proceeded by a short general essay on the subject. She also have chapters on food acquisition, cooking tools and techniques and dining habits. My qualm is how jumbled the organization is. Things appear in one chapter that belong in another. She jumps topics often, leaving the reader wondering more about the current subject even as they are tossed into another. I wished for more depth and detail. Also, the illustrations, while numerous, often have nothing to do with the text places next to them. It's rather odd. In all, I would recommend this book as a supplement, but not a main text. I'm certain something better has been written in the 40+ years since this was published.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: N/A
Published: 1971
Date Finished: 12-21-2013
Pages: 238

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Country Acres: Country Wisdom for the Working Landscape by David Larkin

Synopsis: Here is the successor to COUNTRY WISDOM, the first in David Larkin's series of handsomely illustrated and informative books about country ways and country life. COUNTRY ACRES takes the reader from the country house to its outbuildings - barns, sheds, cribs - and on to its gardens, fields, trees, and ponds. In his charming fashion, Larkin offers information and guidance for country-lovers of all levels of sophistication, explaining how fields get their size and shape; how best to use the tools of country work, from grub hoe to chainsaw; why you should (or shouldn't) grow potatoes; how to farm your trees and grow fish as a food source; and how best to pick and store your crops. All these and hundreds of other topics are covered in this artfully designed volume, with more than two hundred full-color photographs and drawings. Much more than a how-to book, COUNTRY ACRES is about the art of understanding the country. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was another estate lot acquisition. I waffled on whether to keep it. I'm glad I did. Full of marvelous photographs, it seems like it would be just another pretty picture book. But Larkin adds in excellent information, useful advice on soil, trees, vegetables and grass. He even has a section on farm animals and tractors! While I don't plan on moving to the country and starting a farm any time soon, I  enjoyed reading and dreaming about "what if?". I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the farming life. It would also make an excellent gift to the enthusiastic gardener in your life.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-395-77188-9
Date Finished: 12-15-2013
Pages: 160

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Women's Voices, Women's Lives: Documents from Early American History ed. by Carol Berkin and Leslie Horowitz

Synopsis: This book offers a wealth of primary sources on women's experiences in colonial American. Carol Berkin and Leslie Horowitx gather together a broad spectrum of documents that crosscuts race, class, and region, presenting the voices of African American, European, and Native American women, the rich and the poor, and the women in the south,  the middle colonies and New England. (from the back of the book)

Review: This book appeared in the bibliography of every single book I've read on women in colonial America. I figured, I should read it. I'm glad I did. Organized by subjects, each chapter each chapter beings with a short exposition of the subject and the general overview. It's followed by reprints of a variety of documents, each with a short explanation. This makes it easy to understand what you are reading, as colonial English can be a bit challenging to the modern reader. I enjoyed Berkin and Horowitz opinions, and the way they attempted to included everyone, not just the white elite. They were honest about the lack of documents from Native American and Negro sources, doing their best to include what they had. I recommend this book as a good starting point for study about colonial females.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-55553-350-7
Date Finished: 12-15-2013
Pages: 203

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Christmas: Step-by-Step Illustrated Instructions for Christmas Decorations that You Can Make for Your Home by Libbey Hodges Oliver

Synopsis: Step-by-step illustrated instructions fro a variety of popular Williamburg Christmas wreaths, centerpieces, accents, and other decorations that you can make from fresh fruits, greens, and natural materials are featured in this Colonial Williamsburg publication. A special section focuses on decorations created from herbs and dried materials. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was part of an estate lot and not something I would purchase on my own. Mostly, I admit, because most of these instructions are probably available on the internet now, but in 1981, when the book was published, there was no internet. First, the instructions are mostly clear and easy to follow. Some of them might see a bit muddling, but I think if you had the pieces in hand, it would make more sense. Second, the illustrations are helpful and simple, making them easy to understand.
My only qualm about the book was the recommend ingredients for the wreaths. While boxwood and pine are easy to fine (I have 3 boxwood bushes in my yard!), some of the ingredients seem expensive, particular the dried herbs. Also, chili peppers and lotus don't seem authentically colonial to me. Neither grow well in Virginia, particular water-growing lotus, where water freezes. However, with a little imagination and some scrounging in your yard, I think you could find pleasing substitutes and indeed, the book encourages that - the substation, not the scrounging. In the end, I'm glad I kept and read this book. I might even try my hand a boxwood wreath made from my own plants!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-87935-056-3
Date Finished: 12-14-2013
Pages: 80

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Synopsis: Not only is Turner Buckminster the son of the new minister in a small Maine town, he is shunned for playing baseball differently than the local boys. Then he befriends smart and lively Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves. Lizzie shows Turner a new world along the Maine coast from digging clams to rowing a boat next to a whale. When the powerful town elders, including Turner’s father, decide to drive the people off the island to set up a tourist business, Turner stands alone against them. He and Lizzie try to save her community, but there’s a terrible price to pay for going against the tide. (from the back of the book)

Review: I hate this book. Hate. And I gave it 8 bookmarks because of that. Here is what I hated: I hated how the people treated Turner. I hated how Mr. Stonecrop used people for their money and claimed it was God's will. I hated how the Hurds treated Mrs. Hurd and Turner and Lizzie. I hated how the town thought it was God's will to destroy the lives of the people on Malaga Island. I hated, hated, hated how it ended. I hated how the lyrical poetry of Schmidt's words contrasted with the meanness of the plot. I hated that it's based on a true story.
I'm giving it 8 bookmarks because it is rare for a book to grab my heart and emotions so strongly, so deeply. Truly, this is an exceptional volume of literature.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor, 2005

ISBN: 0-553-49495-3
Date Finished: 12-8-2013
Pages: 219

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept up in a cyclone and lands in the magical world of Oz. Here, she meet witches and munckins, china dolls and scarecrows and has many wonderful and frightening adventures in her quest to return home.

Review: Everyone has seen the Judy Garland version of The Wizard of Oz. I hate it, much to my mother's sorrow. I read an article comparing the original story to the Judy Garland version, citing the strong difference between the original Dorothy (courageous) and Garland's Dorothy (weak). I read Wicked by Gregory Maguire, and it was okay, but I didn't much enjoy that either. The musical, of course, is fabulous, but I think the exquisite music has more to do with that than the story. I've also seen the 1985 movie, Return to Oz and 2013 movie Oz, The Great and Powerful. Return to Oz scared the bejeebus out of me. Oz, The Great and Powerful was good, a bit cheesy and the acting was meh, but I enjoyed the origin story of the two Wicked Witches. I've even seen (and rather enjoyed) the sci-fi miniseries, Tin Man, which was a creative, if someone liberal, imagining of Oz and the story.
All that being said, it occurred to me I have never read the actual original story. So, I dug out my copy and set to reading. It was vastly different from any of my previous encounters. There are small bits and pieces that are similar, namely the characters and some of the lands and the barest thread of story. But none, NONE, of the movies even come close to the original book. The book has more depth and more life and more story than any of the movie. I now consider most of them to be  gross bastardization of the original.
As for the book, I can see why children have loved this story for over 100 years. It's just the sort of story that makes sense to child. I would highly recommend to anyone with a child under 10. I think this is the perfect book to read aloud as a bedtime story.

Bookmarks: 7 0f 10

Awards: None

ISBN: N/A
Date Published: 1900
Date of the Read Copy: 1944
Date Finished: 12-7-2013
Pages: 192

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: Serpent's Gift by A.C. Crispin with Deborah A. Marshall (Starbridge, Book 4)

Synopsis: His career as an instructor at Starbidge Academy was a second change for Serge LaRoche, a gifted musician. Until a freak accident took away his hands. For young Heather Farley, brilliant but undisciplined, Starbridge was a first change at the security and stability she had been without all her life. but now an incredible archaeological find beneath the cold surface of the school's asteroid base threatens their dream for the future - and the future of StarBridge itself... (from the back of the book)

Review: This is, so far, my favorite Starbridge book. Unlike the other three, that started out slow, this one starts with a breakneck speed. More so than the others, I felt connected to the characters, in particular Heather. Seeing how she changed and grew was interesting. Unlike the others, I found this was slightly darker and sad as well as romantic, fascinating and intriguing. The mystery had enough twists and turns that even though I figured out the bad guy early on, I wasn't sure how or why until the end. Again, I recommend this entire series to someone who enjoys a classic, excellent-done science fiction story.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-441-78331-7
Date Finished: 12-7-2013
Pages: 295

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Shadow World by A.C. Crispin and Jannean Elliott (Starbridge 3)

Synopsis: For the golden-eyes Elspind, membership in the Cooperative League of Systems could bring many benefits...including a drug that would greatly increase their brief life spans. Mark Kenner, on the brink of abandoning his StarBridge career, is forced into one last assignment - to speak on Elseemar for the CLS. But some of the Elspind are opposed to any such alliance. Violently opposed. They call themselves Wospind. And they are waiting for Mark and his companions. (from the back of the book)

Review: Like the two previous books, this one starts out slow and little boring. But it picks up quickly and gets excited, fast-paced and breathless to the end. I liked the focus on death and life and how the two are together. I also found the Elspind culture unquie and fascinating. I recommend.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-441-78332-5
Date Finished: 12-2-2013
Pages: 279

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ramble: One Whole Year

I had a crazy idea: Go an entire year (2014 to be specific) without purchasing a book.

And I don't mean my normal book ban, which has loopholes galore. I mean complete. No special allowances for book sales or estate sales. No use of gift cards, or even asking for books as gifts.

I know, I know. Many question my ability to do this. Experience has taught us all the prudence of questioning this. I doubt myself.

But...what if I could?

My reasoning is too complex to put to words. It has a lot to do with my belief in Christ, my wish to change my spending habits, the need to be more prudent with my finances, etc.

What about you? Could you go an entire year without buying books?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry

Synopsis: Mafatu's name means "Stout Heart," but his people call him coward. Ever since the sea took his mother's life and spared his own, he has lived with a deep dear. And even though his father is the Great Chief of Hiueru - an island whose seafaring people worship courage - he is terrified and so they hate him. By the time he is fifteen years old, Mafatu can bear it no longer. He must conquer his fear alone...even if it means certain death. (from the back of the book)

Review: I read this book because it's a Newbery. It lived up to the medal. Mafatu's fear was real and understandable and his quest to overcome it took the reader through highs and lows, peace and storms. I would highly recommend this to young boys, age 6-13. I can see them, in particular, enjoying the adventure.

PS: The dog lives.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Medal, 1941

ISBN: 978-0-689-71391-0
Date Finished: 12-1-2013
Pages: 95

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review: The Book of the Continental Soldier by Harold L. Peterson

Synopsis: In human interest, but definitely authentic, text - and using nearly two hundred photographs of actual specimens and special paintings and drawings by leading military artists - The Book of the Continental Soldier offers an eyewitness kind of understanding of how the Continental Army functioned, of the things the solider used to live and to win. Despite an impressive shelf of technical and popular studies and biographies of the conflict and the era, this handsome book deals with an almost neglected area. Even for the reader who doesn't like history, a browse here makes the past very present. Of course it's a unique resource for those who enjoy fresh historical views, and a treasure for buffs and collectors of all kinds (from the inside flap)

Review: I picked this up at a local book sale for 50 cents, mostly because I've developed a rabid interest in the Revolutionary War. This book is old, but still worth reading for the prose. It's a little dry at times, but highly informative, packed with details, specs, notes and other assorted bits that will delight the heart of a true enthusiast. The pictures are old, only 2 in color and the drawings are well-down, but without color, lack something. Peterson was Chief Curator for the National Park Service for many years and his extensive knowledge and obvious passion make this otherwise dull work worth looking at.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: N/A
Published: 1968
Date Finished: 11-30-13
Pages: 287

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Revoltionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Indepence by Carol Berkin

Synopsis: The American Revolution was a home-front war that brought scarcity, bloodshed, and danger into the life of every American. In this ground-breaking history, Carol Berkin shows us how women played a vital role throughout the conflict. The women of the Revolution were most active at home, organizing boycotts of British goods, raising funds for the fledgling nation, and managing the family business while struggling to maintain a modicum of normalcy as husbands, brothers, and fathers died. Yet Berkin also reveals that it was not just the men who fought on the front lives, as in the story of Margaret Corbin, who was crippled for life when she took her husbands place beside a cannon at Fort Monmouth. This incisive and comprehensive history illuminates as fascinating and unknown side of the struggle for American independence. (from the back of the book)

Review: As I've been gathering and reading books on Women in the American Revolution, Berkin's work (this book and others) consistently show up in the bibliographies. I had to read it. I'm very glad I did. Berkin clearly knows her history and how to impart the information. Each chapter centers on a different group of women - including First Nations and African-American. Berkin gives an excellent overview of the many different roles women played in this war - some good, some bad, some for Britain, so for the USA. I highly recommend this work as a starting point for more in depth research or reading about Women in the Revolution. I'm also eager to get my hands on more books by Berkin. She has several I mostly eagerly want to read.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4000-7532-4
Date Finished: 11-29-13
Pages: 194

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: A Treasury of A.W. Tozer: A Collection of Tozer Favorites by A.W. Tozer

Synopsis: This outstanding selection of excerpts from the most popular books of A.W. Tozer includes favorite from The Knowledge of the Holy and The Divine Conquest. Each chapter in this collection of favorites reflects the genius of a pastor whose words continue to reach the hearts of Christians everywhere. (From the back of the book)

Review: Tozer has long been a favorite, since I first read his The Pursuit of God in 8th grade. When I saw this at a Thrift Store, I eager snatched it up. Simple and honest, Tozer does not mince words. He is not going to sugar-coat the truth or make is fluffy and happy and comfortable. He tells you the truth and always brings it back to Christ Jesus. I found much joy and much conviction in his words, and his instructions caused me to step back and examine many aspects of my relationship with Christ. I highly recommend this for Christians of any walk or creed.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-87509-176-8
Date Finished: 11-29-13
Pages: 296

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ramble: Three is the Magic Number

The old house still smelled like it's past life, when it was a small winter mansion for the James Ringling, the brother of the famous Circus Man, John Ringling. Italian tiles, worn from years of use, no longer clicked with the heels of the 1920 flapper and her beau. Now, flip-flops slapped against the reddish floor as a parade of New College Students made their way to the dining room - turned - classroom. Professor Hassold stood in the hallway and handed me back one of many research papers. I frowned at the grade and asked for an explanation.

"Your writing is terrible" She said, watery blue eyes sharp despite her age. She always told the truth, whether you asked or not. "You need to read more."

My mouth dropped open a bit and I stammered, "I read three to five book a week" I gulped.

"Hmmp" she said, mouth pinched, "Then you aren't reading the right books" She entered the dining room, calling her class to order, my stunned reply already forgotten.

I remember the walk back to my dorm and the puzzlement swirling in my brain. Read more? How would I find time to read more? Every spare moment I had was devoted to curling up on my bed, head propped on a pile of pillows, devouring book after book.

I stood in front of my bookshelf, only a small sampling of my books showing. Most were stored at my Dad's apartment, 200 miles away. I ran a finger over the spins, mouthing the titles.

Then it hit me: all these books were fiction, mostly young adult or science fiction. No classics. No history or art or sociology or plays or poetry. A handful of Christian books I purchased but hadn't read. A stack of gender books I eagerly snatched up at a book sale, feeling very intellectual for buying them, but again, I hadn't read them.

I understood then, what my professor meant. My writing would only ever be as good as the book I read. And since I mostly read mass produced science fiction, you can imagine what my academic writing was like.

Then and there, I instituted the Rule of Three. The Rule of Three states for every fiction book I read, I must also read one non-fiction and one Christian.

Now, all you have to do it scan my Books I've Read blog to know, I don't follow this rule closely. It's more that for every five to eight fiction, I read something non-fiction, Christian or otherwise.

However, I have noticed recently, I fell into a strange, yet marvelous pattern. I'm always reading more than one book at a time (why is a tale for a different day), but by combing this quirk and the Rule of Three, I've managed to more closely follow the rule.

I read Three Books at a time: One Fiction, one Non-Fiction, one Christian.

I've been doing this for several weeks and it's marvelous. I feel I'm finally making a dent in my non-fiction collection (and by dent, I mean I've read two out of about a thousand and I'm down with that).

I mention this because last night, I finished both the Christian book (which I've been reading for about four months) and the non-fiction (which I've been reading for about a week). Now, I get to pick TWO new books from my shelves to dive into....oh, the glorious choice!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Castle by David Macaulay

Synopsis: Using the a fictional town in Wales, Maccauley walks the reader through the building of an English castle in the late 1200s. With generous illustrations, diagrams and charts, this book starts from the picking of the plot to the end of the castle's life.

Review: I enjoyed this. Informative, creative, with excellent drawings and diagrams that made it easy to understand, this was a good book. I wish it had a floor plan of the entire castle and maybe some more said about how they made the glass and iron fittings, but in all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in medieval castles. In particular, I feel this is a good read for a child, 6-11.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Caldecott Honor, 1978

ISBN: 0-395-25784-0
Date Finished: 11-26-2013
Pages: 84

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: The Philosopher's Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook by Francine Segan

Synopsis: "Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily," aid the Greek philosopher Epicurus two thousand years ago. Certainly the dazzlingly varied, subtly seasoned cuisine of ancient Greece and Rome measured up to the highest standards of eating pleasure. The Philosopher's Kitchen offered seductive, modern interpretations of these dishes rediscovered in a variety of sources, from writings of Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and Cicero to the oldest known surviving cookbook. Here is a rich array of culinary delights, ab ovo usque ab malum - "from eggs to fruit," as the Romans said. Mussels in Cumin-Sherry Sauce, Chestnut-Mint Puree, Chicken Breasts with Hazelnut Pesto, Lamb with Pomegranate-Glazed Onions, and Walnut Cake with Fig Jam are just a few of the delicious, healthy, and gorgeous recipes in this book that will delight and surprise the modern cook. Francine Segan also allow us a glimpse into the ancient world by putting each recipe in its cultural context, taking us to Greek feasts and Romance banquets, and revealing customs, expressions, and superstitions that are still very much a part of modern life. She share tips on entertaining, even including sample invitations a host can use to summon friends to a Roman spread of his or her own. Organized for easy, efficient use and luxuriously illustrated with Tim Turner's stunning photographs, The Philosopher's Kitchen is a glorious buffet for the senses and the soul. (From the back of the book)

Review: This was part of the recent estate sale lot. It's not a book I would pick for myself - thinking it pretentious, snooty and a bit expensive (at $35) for a cookbook. However, I was pleasantly surprised and more than a little glad it was part of my haul. Instead of ridiculous foodie nonsense and expensive ingredients, this felt more like a cookbook with hand-written notes. Each recipe was easy to follow, with no special jargon or equipment needed. Surrounding it, Segan included tidbits about ancient ingredients, food preparation techniques, rituals, traditions and of course, quotes from Philosophers about food, pleasure and the stomach. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unique recipes with history on the side. Personally, I can't wait for my fig tree to fruit next year, not that I finally have a few fig recipe I want to try.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-4000-6099-0
Date Finished: 11-24-2013
Pages: 250

Review: Delavier's Mixed Martial Arts Anatomy by Frederic Delavier

Synopsis: From powerful blows to explosive kicks, Delavier's Mixed Martial Arts Anatomy takes you inside the action and impact of one of the world's most popular, grueling, and challenging sports. Over 230 full-color photos and anatomical illustrations allow you to go inside more than 120 exercises specifically selected for the neuromuscular demands of the sport. You'll see how muscles interact with surrounding joints and skeletal structures and how variations and sequencing can isolate specific muscle to enhance the full arsenal of combat skills. Delavier's Mized Martial Arts Anatomy features an anatomomorphological approach to allow you to choose the most effective exercise for you body type, physical conditioning, and fighting style. From boxing to ground fighting, you'll enhance your strength and minimize your weakness with more than 20 proven programs. Featuring the lasts exercises for injury prevention and foam roller techniques for muscle regeneration, it's all here and all in the stunning detail that only Federic Delavier can provide. (from the back of the book)

Review: I was surprised when I was awarded this book. As you may guess, I’m not an MMA fighter, nor have I aspirations to be. Given the subject matter of this book, I expected to be lost. I was not. The fact someone with my lack of knowledge easily followed this book speaks volumes to me. Delavier did an amazing job of keeping the text jargon-free while still making it specific to MMA goals.
Divided into three parts, this book is clear, logical and easy to understand. Detailed, specific movements are difficult to translate into written word, but Delavier does so in clear, precise terms. Between the layout of the text and the marvelously detailed anatomical drawings, replicating these movements is simple (and yes, I tried a few, much to my husband’s amusement.). In particular, the instructions helped me understand what each movement was for, not just what muscle, but what move, what goal, why it was important as a fighter. For example, page 98 is instructions for Leg Lifts on a Pull-up Bar. This is to strengthen the “rectus femoris, psoas, iliacus, abdominal muscles, and arms,” (Delavier 98). It’s under the Kicks and Knee Strikes chapter. But the author instructions you to do the leg exercise will contracting the arm muscles because when you in an actual fight, you will most likely be contracting you arms at the same time as you legs in this move. This is brilliant!
As a female, I feel compelled to add in a woman’s viewpoint. As no time did I feel this book was angled towards only male MMA fighters. Yes, most of the models were men. This makes sense. Most MMA fighters are male. But all instructions are gender-neutral and open to either sex.
Delavier included citations and reference to medical studies about muscle power, control etc. This gave me confidence in his instructions. He also included many points of warning about how to prevent injury in the gym and in the ring. While fighting is throwing a punch, it’s also about withstanding a punch, and Delavier encouraged the reader to prepare for that.
I also found the programs at the end very helpful. Part 1 is general instructions, Part 2 the individual exercise, and Part 3 puts it all together. This gave a beginner like me much confidence.  At the same time, it’s obvious an experience fighter would be able to use the instructions to create a program tailored to them. Delavier did an excellent job of writing a work that spans novice to professional with ease.
My only qualm, and it’ a small one, is that some of the male models wore shorts entirely too small for a man – I’m looking at you, shoulder-star-tattoo dude on page 88.
In the end, I would recommend this book, not only to MMA fighters (if I knew any) but to anyone interested in learning specific way to increase strength, power and endurance. While this book is most definitely written for fighters, the information is helpful to anyone looking to become more athletic.
The received this book free as part of LibraryThings’ Early Reviewers Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion
Bookmarks: 8 of 10
Awards: None
ISBN: 978-1-4504-6359-1
Date Finished: 11-23-2013
Pages: 143

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Williamsburg Decorating with Style by the Colonial Williamsburg Founation


Synopsis: A treasury of home design from America's favorite historic restoration, Williamsburg Decorating with Style, shows that the most contemporary way to decorate is by looking for inspiration from the past. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was part of this recent acquisition from an estate sale. It's not a book I would normally by (or even pick up in the store), but given my recent obsession with all things Revolutionary, I decided to read it. Mostly, it was as I expected - gorgeous photos demonstrating decorating ideas based on the colonial style from 1750-1800. The written portion was interesting, containing a few sparse historical details intermingled with glamorous descriptions of style. At times, it felt more like an advertisement for the Williamsburg reproduction line than a decorating book. And I was sadly disappointed in the lack of historic details - but then, I may have been expecting too much from a book. It never advertised itself as a historic book, but a decorating one. This is an interesting work, one I'm happy I read, but I wouldn't rely on it solely for decorating ideas.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN:0-609-60049-4
Date Finished: 11-22-2013
Pages: 176

Monday, November 25, 2013

Aquisitions: Another Estate Sale

I purchased another lot from an estate sale, my last for the year, I think - unless Dear Husband gives me permission. This one was about 100-150 books for $12. Even though I will donate/give away/turn in for credit about 80%, I'm still left with 25-40 books for $12. That's good enough for me.
This was an eclectic collection. Books on spirituality, angels and human potential mixed with 1950s dime-store westerns and coffee table books on cars and submarines. There was even a set of high school year books.

This collection, more than some others, makes me wonder about the previous owners. Many of these books seemed to have been inherited from other family members. Several were stamped with names of people long gone. Holding a book clearly treasured by someone, knowing they are dead and there loved possession now resides with some one they never knew seems odd to me. It makes me wonder who will someday hold my collection of books. What will they think of the works I've amassed? Will they love the same ones I do? Will my books go to one person or be scattered among many?

This does not make me sad. When I am died, I won't care. And I like to think my books will live many lives in many different library, read by many eyes and perhaps even loved by more than just me. Books have that power, I think, to live beyond us.

And for the record, I kept every one of the dime-store westerns. I do enjoy a good cheesy book on occasion.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Synopsis: Written by the author of the blog with the same name, this book includes some fan favorites from the blog as well as new chapters.

Review: How to describe this book? First, hilarious. I had to put it down several times because laughter caused my eyes to blur with tears and render me unable to breathe. Second, truthful. We all have do and say these weird, embarrassing things, but Brosh, by being truthful about her own crazy, reminds us we aren't alone with our weird embarrassing things. Third, comforting. In particular, her portions on Depression and Identity hit home for me, as I struggle with both. Her words gave me a way of explaining it to others that made sense, without the dark doom'n'gloom that my previous attempts invoked.
In the end, I would recommend this book to most people, but each for different reasons. Some, for the humor, some for the connection and some to let them know they are not alone in their struggles.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None (Yet)

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6617-5
Date Finished: 11-20-2013
Pages: 369

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation by Nancy Rubin Stuart

Synopsis: "Praised by her mentor John Adams, Mercy Otis Warren was America's first woman playwright and female historian of the American Revolution. In the unprecedented biography, Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Warren's provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century." (from the back of the book)

Review: I dressed up as Mercy Otis Warren for Halloween. Yea, I know - nerdy - but that's how I roll. I figured, since all I'd ever read about her was a Wikipedia page, I should learn more. I am SO glad I did. In addition to downloading her complete works on my kindle ($3, thanks to Amazon), I purchase this biography. It was enlightening to read about her. Stuart did an excellent job of portraying Warren truthfully - a caring, tempestuous, high-strung, warm, witty, loving, forceful genius who was stalwart and constant during a time of turmoil and danger. My only qualm with Stuart's work is the tendency to jump around in the earlier chapters. This is perhaps to overlapping storyline and time frames, but it was mildly confusing. However, as the book procedure, this ceased to be an issue. While the focus was on Warren, Stuart does an excellent job of explain the time and history and events surrounding Mercy. I was glad of this. I didn't realize my knowledge of the Revolution and it's aftermath was so lacking. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a well told biography!

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5517-5
Date Finished: 11-11-2013
Pages: 314

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ramble: The Graphic Novel

They call it Graphic Novel because Comic seems demeaning. But they are comics - which, in their simplest form, are the use of words and pictures to tell a story. Why should story told via Comic be considered not a true work of literature?

As I delve into the stacks of Comics I purchase last week, I'm learning how powerful these stories can be. Something about the images, the words floating over the picture, the movement, color and style - it's a unique form of story telling. I quite enjoy it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Grimm Fairy Tales, Volume 1-7 by Zenoscope Entertainment

Synopsis: This is the first 7 issues of Zenoscope's Grimm Fairy Tale collection. Centered around a woman names Sela, each issue tells a fairy tale, but not how you remembered. Sela has the power to make anyone feel as if they are in the fairy tale, often one that relates to there life. Sela uses her power to help set people on the path of truth and goodness. But she often contends with Belinda, a woman of the same power who uses her to inflict harm and misery.

Review: I picked this up from our local comic book shop, because I'm a sucker for anything fairy tale related. This was not what I expected it to be, but so much better! Dark, twisted, eerie, yet with shards of truth, goodness and lightness - these are exquisite tales. I enjoy the thread of the battle between Sela and Belinda (and who they represent) that ties all the stories together. I like how some tales end horribly, badly, wrongly, that people don't always learn their lesson and sometimes, they chose the wrong path. I love the color, design and feels of the drawings - elegant, gorgeous, but with a  hint of madness. These are not happy stories. They are not children's tale. They are not for the faint of heart, the sentimental, the squeamish. They are, however, wonderful stories. I am quite rabid to get my hands on Volume 8-14.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-9786874-0-3
Date Finished: 11-14-2013
Pages: 150 per Graphic Novel

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth

Synopsis: With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invited you to embrace one very important truth - that you are already amazing. Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was the book assigned to my Women's Group at Church. It's not a book I would choose myself, being that I generally eschew fluffy girly crap. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. While it had remnants to the girly-fluff, Gerth's advice was bold, honest, straightforward - and logical. Gerth speaks directly to the woman who has been bombarded by the lies our world tells about worth and value, helping her to understand our worth comes from God. This is an important lesson. The reason I gave it 6.5 instead of 7 was because of the lack of Bible. There was some, but I would have liked to see more. However, I would recommend this book to someone who is struggling with their self-worth and needs to be reminded who God thinks they are.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-8007-2060-5
Date Finished: 11-6-2013
Pages: 219

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Silent Dances by A.C. Crisping and Kathleen O'Malley (Starbridge, Book 2)

Synopsis: Deaf since birth, Tesa is the perfect ambassador to the alien Grus, whose sonic cries can shatter human ears. But her mission is harder than it looks. The Grus are not alone on their world. They have deadly enemies, both natural and otherwise. And if Tesa is to save all life on the planet, she will have to make peace with not one alien species...but two. (from the back of the book)

Review: As with Starbridge, this book started out a bit slow. It was nice to see two characters from Book 1, but they had minor bits. Most of the book centered on a new world with new people. Tesa was a marvellous character. Crispin and O'Malley did an excellent job creating a breathing person, who changed and grew as the story went on. In particular, Tesa's struggle with being Deaf was a unique twist that enhanced the depth of the whole book. The story itself was excellent - full of life, twists, danger, emotions and reality. A strong, satisfying read. I would highly recommend this work to anyone who want to dive into a good story!

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-441-78330-9
Date Finished: 11-4-2013
Pages: 275

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Aquisitions: Getting My Nerd On

Yesterday, we stopped by this local comic book shop. I purchased a rather substantial amount of comic books, manga and graphic novels. This is because I wish to explore this genre, as I find it fascinating!

Here is what I purchased:

Graphic Novels:

Grimms Fairy Tales by Zenoscope, Volumes 1-7

Robyn Hood: Wanted by Zenoscope, Omnibus

Grimms Fairy Tales: Zombies and Demons, Unleash Tie-In, by Zenoscope, Omnibus

Grimms Fairy Tales: Unleashed, Volume 1 by Zenoscope

Grimms Fairy Tales: Bad Girls by Zenoscope

My Little Pony Annual 2013: Equestria Girls

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volumes 1 and 2

My Little Pony: Pony Tales, Volume 1

Mara by Brian Wood et al, by Imagine Comics

Manga:

WitchHunter by Jung-Man Cho, Volume 1-4

I can't wait to dig and see what the noise is about. Already, I've started the Grimms Fairy Tales and it's SO addictive!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Courageous Children and Women of the American Revolution through Primary Sources by John Micklos, Jr.

Synopsis: The American Revolution could not have been won without the unsung heroes - courage women and children. Women served as nurses and spies. Some even fought in battle. Children supported the cause, too. Although the fighting age was supposed to be sixteen, many young men joined the army. Women and children made great sacrifices to help America win its freedom. (from the back of the book)

Review: I purchased this book for the title. I missed the part about it being a children's book. To that end, I was disappointed in the presentation of the information. While the facts are clear, the language is unnecessary simplistic. I feel a child reading about this subject might handle larger words and more complex sentences. However, the information is clear, concise and factual. I learned names and stories I'd never heard. It's an excellent starting point to research more about this subject and I particularly enjoyed the bibliography in the back - something you almost NEVER find in a children's book. In all, this was organized like an adult history book, but intended for young readers. My only qualm is the language was so simplistic it detracted from the overall qualities of the book.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4644-0189-3
Date Finished: 11-3-2013
Pages: 48

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: The Judge: An Untrue Tale by Harve Zemach, ill. by Margot Zemach

Synopsis: Five prisoners march before a Judge, each asking for release because they didn't know they broke the law, they "only said what they saw". Each warn the Judge of something big and scary coming, but the Judge won't listen. Who's right - the prisoners or the Judge?

Review: Cute and witty, this is a pleasant read. The syntax is reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, with rhymes and word play. The illustrations have a clever watercolor feel that I'm sure children will like. I admit I'm uncertain why it's considered such a classic. It's good, but not that good. Children will enjoy it, but I doubt it will be any one's favorite.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: Caldecott Honor, 1970

ISBN: 0374439621
Date Finished: 11-3-2013
Pages: 27

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: The Sum of All Kisses by Julie Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet, Book 3)

Synopsis: He thinks she's an annoying know-it-all. Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, even if Hugh did grow to enjoy her company, it wouldn't matter. A reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now, unable to run, ride or even waltz, he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.
She thinks he's just plain mad. Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought three years earlier, the on that forced her cousin into exile, nearly destroying her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't car that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But when the pair is forced to spend a week in close company, they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three and four, the mathematician may lose count and the lay may, for the first time, find herself speechless. (From the back of the book)

Review: Once again, Julia Quinn has written a book of sparkling wit, humor and romance. I love how she intertwines her stories and has previous characters show up, or even play pivitol parts. The two main characters, Hugh and Sarah, are excellent characters - flawed, well-rounded, with depth and distinct personas. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance novel.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 78-0-06-207292-4
Date Finished: 11-2-2013
Pages: 373

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aquisitions: In Which I Lament My Lack of TIme

For Halloween, I was Mercy Otis Warren, an influential authoress during the Revolutionary War. Naturally, I bought books about women during this time period. This was somewhat influences by several trips to Colonial Williamsburg and the purchase of a period-accurate gown for my costume. Because that's how nerds party, yo.

Anyhoo, I've also made several trip to Paperback, Inc to trade in part of the horde I still have. This means I've brought home several volumes for my collections. And then there is the 6-month thing I signed up for from Persephone Books in the UK - They send me a new book each month. These are gorgeous volumes, of course, lovely selected, thoughtfully published, and creatively bound. Dreamy books, really.

The problem with buying books, really, is time. I have so many good ones and I despair of ever having time to read even a third of them. I suppose, one day, when I am old and retired, I shall do nothing but read all day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Magic Tree House, Books 1-5 by Mary Pope Osborne

Synopsis:  Jack and his sister Annie discover a tree house full of books. When they wish to see a place, the magic tree house transports them there. But who created this marvelous place? Who owns the books? What does it have to do with the letter M they find written all around?

Review: I picked up these books as a thrift store, paying pennies, managing with a little work, to get 1-12 of the series. I wanted to read them because they are an excellent example of books for ages 5-8. I have story idea for that age group and wanted to read something similar.
As it turned out, these are quite good. The characters of Jack and Annie have distinct personalities, with some depth, I enjoyed the "big reveal" at the end of book 4 (who created the tree house and why), and any story about books and magic thrills me. The writing and plot were simple, but not dumb-down, and have more depth than I would have ascribed to a young readers book such as this series.  In the end, I'm glad I read these and I intend to collect all 50 and read them. I highly recommend for kids ago 5-6. These are excellent starter chapter books and since they have some historical and natural fact in them, an excellent place to start discussions.

Bookmarks:  7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-590-62352-4 (Book 1)
Date Finished: 10-31-2013
Pages: 65-70 per book.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rambles: My New Reading Hero, and the Idea He Gave Me

I saw a random pin on Pinterest about Theodore Roosevelt. This pin claimed he read a book a day, at least, even when President. I thought, surely, this is one of those internet falsehood. But, curiosity drove me and I sought the truth.

Turns out, he did. President Roosevelt was a voracious reader. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Center, TR was a "voracious reader, reading on average a book a day even while President. He usually read several books at a time, rotating between them depending on his activities and/or his mood. Roosevelt read widely in genres ranging from classic and contemporary fiction & poetry to ancient philosophy, military histories and natural history studies. He read in many different languages, including German, French, Italian and Latin."

This man is my new reading hero.

On this website, there is a link to the inventory of TR's books. As I was reading this, I began to ponder.

If I can download the complete works of a single author, I should be able to download the contents of a single person's library. For example, if I wish to read what TR read, I would simply download his library - an electronic copy of every book he owned. Or, for example, I might download Thomas Jefferson's or Tupac Shakur's or Emily Dickinson's. How thrilling to read the written works that influenced, inspired or sharped someone you admire?

I expect, of course, this will be available shortly. Between Amazon, B&N, the Library Systems in America and the Gutenberg Project, most books will soon be available electronically. It's only a matter of grouping them according to library.

I wonder if I could get a job doing that?

I doubt it, but what I don't doubt is that if TR can read that many books while being President, than I can manage to read 100 books in a year. That's 2 a week. I can manage that.




Review: Starbridge by A.C. Crispin (Starbridge, Book 1)

Synopsis: We are not alone. Across the galaxy, there are eleven known intelligent races. Mankind is the twelfth. We are about to meet our neighbors. (from the back of the book)

Review: This book, along with four sequels, was among the Sci-Fi book horde I purchased a month or so ago. It look mildly interesting and I had the set (or so I thought), so I kept it, not really intending to read it anytime soon. I mean, look at the cover! So cheesy!
But then, Jim C. Hines, a favorite author, mentioned he was reading it to his son. Since I admire Hines' work so greatly, I reassessed my initial appraisal of the series. After this first book, I see what Hines is speaking about (not that I doubted him).
I enjoyed this book greatly! The beginning is a bit slow and the story doesn't pick up pace until things go wrong. A story about humanities First Contact, this could easily shift into a parade of cliches. But it doesn't. It felt truthful, as if things might actually happen this way. I felt Mahree was a bit young, but her character grew up in the story and I like how Crispin handled that. In the end, this is a fabulous sci-fi tale, with all the charm of an old classic and all the wit and twists of a good story. I highly recommend if you want a solid sci-fi tale!


Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: Non

ISBN: 0-441-78329-5
Date Finished: 10-29-2013
Pages: 309

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Ruth of Boston by James Otis

Synopsis: Written from the viewpoint of a child, Ruth of Boston follows Ruth, a 13 year-old girl who travels from her home in England to the New World. With her family and the others from their ship, they build the first homes and buildings in what will become Boston. The author takes time to explain the mundane in details - clothing, food, homes, school, community life.

Review: This book began well. Ruth is a lively, observant character, remarking on all the strange new things she sees. Her inner struggle with the religious morality verses her own thoughts gave the reader a peak at the conflict that might be present in a Puritan community. My qualm with this work was how it ended. Badly. It broke off. Ruth spoke about attacks from the Indians, then she ended the diary - no reason, no closer, just the End. It felt like there should be a more, a second volume, a second part - something. I highly recommend for children, age 6 to 9, who wish to learn more about the beginnings of our country. However, be prepared for questions at the end.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: None (Published in 1910)
Date Finished: 10-29-2013
Pages: 160

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Bedded Bliss: A Couple's Guide to Lust Ever After ed. by Kristina Wright

Synopsis: Award-winning erotic writer and editor Kristina Wright is a cheerleader for a lifetime at lust. Bedded Bliss, a celebration of long-term, committed relationships, gathers real-life experiences, sensual fantasies, practical advice, a dash of humor, an a lot a sexy erotica to show couples how to build attraction and love throughout marriage. Enjoy the stories here and then write your own story together, whether it's in ink on the page or whispers between the sheets. (from the back of the book)

Review: I'm not sure what motivated me to request this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's Program. I'm not into erotic fiction, nor do I wish my request to make a comment about my marriage. Curiosity is the most likely culprit. I was not disappointed.
Wright has gathered a fine collection of married authors of erotic fiction writing about their own marriages.
What struck me first is how marvelous, how refreshing, how lovely to read works celebrating sex between married people. Media makes it seem as if the only people enjoying sex or who can enjoy sex, are young and single and promiscuous. In fact, one author even mentioned that. We never see anything praising monogamous sex in a committed relationship.
The next thing to strike me was the diversity in the stories - strung on a common thread of sex in marriage - each spoke about different people with different needs overcoming obstacles, exploring, learning, growing, all within the context of marriage. While not every story touched me, each had something important to teach.
The last thing to strike me was how deliciously wicked, sensual and sweet, full of love and lust, each story was. Hot, as only good sex can be and romantic, as only true love can be.
Wright accomplished her goal. This work encourages the reader to be brave, to trust, to explore and to find the lust in the love of their marriage.

I received this book free in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-57344-964-9
Date Finished: 10-29-2013
Pages: 228


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: Princess Fuball by Charlotte Huck and Anita Lobel

Synopsis: A Pauper...or a Princess. Once upon a time a cruel King decided to betroth his motherless daughter to a Ogre in exchange for fifty wagons of silver. When the Princess learns what her father has done, she is horrified. But he is clever as she is beautiful. Quickly, the Princess devises a plan to escape and, replying on her own spunk and good sense, ultimately marries the man she chooses for herself. (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a cute, pleasant retelling of this fairy tale. The illustrations are fun and stylized, the prose clean and easy to read but not dumbed down and I like the emphasis on the Princess's intelligence. Pleasing but unremarkable, this is a good bedtime story for the 6-9 age group.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-688-13107-7
Date Finished: 10-26-2013
Pages: 21

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Aquisitions: Here and There

 A trip to the Book Exchange in Williamsburg

An unplanned stop into a local thrift store

A library Booksale

A generous family friend who is clearing out her bookshelves

In the last two week, I have acquired books from all these sources. The booky goodness overflows!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Synopsis: Between 1785 and 1812, a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years, she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of her diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and reticent Martha Ballard but of her society - a portrait that sheds light on its medical practices, religious squabbles and sexual mores. At once lively and impeccably scholarly, A Midwife's Tale is a triumph of history on a human scale. (from the back of the book)

Review: Martha Ballard wrote a concise, terse diary of her life, giving only scraps of information. But by comparing the diary to other records, Ulrich is able to piece together Ballard's life. Ballard's life is not extraordinary by it's world-changing deed, but by its simplicity, its common and cyclical nature, its ordinariness. Ulrich can be a little dry and dense at times, and she jumps from subject to subject, but over all, her writing is interesting. She does well with the distressing lack of information from Ballard about her life. I wish Martha had written more! I highly recommend for who is interesting in Women during Early American History.

Bookmarks: 7.5 of 10

Awards: The 1991 Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the John S. Dunning Prize, the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women's History, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize, the Society for Historians of the Early Republic Book Prize, the William Henry Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and the New England Historical Association Award

Format: Large Paperback
Published:
ISBN: 0-679-73376-0
Pages: 444

Date Finished: 10-13-2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Heralds by Kathryn Immonen et al.

Synopsis: The woman known as Nova was a fire-powered herald of Galactus, devourer of worlds, until she was brutally struck down in battle. Now, with a mysterious flash in the nighttime sky, her presence is again being felt. On the case is a group of Marvel's most powerful super heroes: Emma Frost, She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Hellcat, Photon and Abigail Brand, agent of the extraterrestrial watchdog organization S.W.O.R.D. In the wake of the flash, the six women must work together to clean up the mess caused by  mass breakout at a storage facility belonging to S.W.O.R.D. Also affected by the event is a waitress named Frankie Hyatt, found by the heroines in a catatonic state after going inexplicable berserk. As the flash's impact continues to be felt, can Emma Frost, She-Hulk, Hellcat and the others uncover its connection to Nova?

Review: I picked this up at a shop in the Marvel section of Islands of Adventure at Universal in Orlando Florida. I'm not sure why. Probably because it was a complete story with female heroes and I want to get a comic from the comic shop in Island of Adventure. This was not the story to start with. It only makes sense if you know the characters, in particular the story of Nova/Frankie Raye. Since I didn't, I was rather lost. However, once I brushed up on the backstory a bit, this because a marvelous story. A small, self-contained event, expanding on these characters without being drawn out and dramatic. I enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone who is familiar with this universe and characters.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

Format: Graphic Novel Omnibus
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7851-4761-9
Pages: 40

Date Finished: 10/9/2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

Synopsis: Two hundred years after his humiliating defeat at the hands of the Earthman Elijah Baley, Kelden Amadiro still dreamed of revenge. Now, finally, he set into motion a plot that would totally destroy the planet Earth. But Amadiro had not counted on the power Baley still exerted long after his death. For Baley's vision continued to guide his robot partner, R. Daneel Olivaw, and the extraordinarily gifted robot Giskard - and they were the only ones who could save Earth. Fortunately for Amadiro, Daneel and Giskard were restrained by the Three Laws of Robotics. Or were they? (from the back of the book)

Review: This is the conclusion to the Robot Series written by Asimov. It was intriguing, and I liked that the characters were from the previous books. My only qualm is the ending. It felt like there should be another book. I know Asimov's Foundation series is set in the same universe, and perhaps that is the continuation. But this book ended on a sad, troubling note. But the very fact I feel that way shows how power this book was, so I don't think it's a bad thing.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-345-32894-9
Pub. Date: 1985
Pages: 468

Date Finished: 10/8/2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ramble: Formatting

I'm going to be adjusting the formatting of my Review blogs. I want to add more information - like date published and ISBN - but I'm not sure which look is the best. Therefore, over the next few months, expect changes in the formatting. I'm certain with enough messing around, I'll find the style I like best.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Newfangled Fairy Tales: Book 2 ed. by Bruce Lansky

Synopsis: This new collection of ten contemporary fairy tales - the second the critically acclaimed series - puts a delightful, new spin on classic stories and themes. (from the back of the book)

Review: I purchase because the first one was clever and hilarious. This one was not. The stories were trite, stupid and simply with none of the wit or depth the previous book had. I was disappointed. If you are interested in quirky retellings of fairy tales, there are a dozen other books much better than this one, sadly.

Bookmarks: 5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 10-1-2013
Pages: 112

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Elliot

Synopsis: Contains the title poem, as well as selections from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Gerontion, " "Ash-Wednesday," and other poems from Elliot's early and middle work.

Review: While I do not adore Elliott as I do Sappho or Hughes or Rosetti, I don't despise his work either. I'm neither enamored nor repelled by his prose. It's modern, which I don't like, but choppy and brief, which I do. I can see the merit of his work but I won't go out of my way to read it. Not with other more delicious poems around for the gobbling.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-30-2013
Pages: 88

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Totally Amazing Plants by Julia Hillyard and Deborah Kespert (Golden Books)

Synopsis: Follow of leafy trail to discover one of the largest flowers in the world and a tree with more than a thousand trunks. On the way, watch out for plants the gobble up insect or strange trees. Totally Amazing is filled with facts and fun. Enjoy page after page of fascinating information, incredible close-up photographs, jokes and crazy cartoons - all about plants! (from the back of the book)

Review: Presenting in a bright and entertaining format, this book is full of information about plants - the cool, the weird, the dangerous and the icky. Easy to read and easy to process, the information is spaced well and presented in a pleasing way. I would recommend this as an excellent addition to a child's library. This is just the book to hook their interest and get them to dig deeper (pun intended) into the wild world of plants!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 32

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: McDuff's Christmas by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers

Synopsis: McDuff the Dog, along with his owners, Fred and Lucy, eagerly await Santa on Christmas Eve. But a big snow storm threats to keep Santa way and it's up to McDuff to save the day!

Review: I enjoy the McDuff books. A clever little Westie, he's cute and quick and I enjoy reading about him and his family. This is an excellent Christmas story, full of whimsy, warm and heart.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 11

Review: Biscuit Visits the Big City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Synopsis: In this My First I Can Read Book,  Biscuit the Dog goes to the Big City and explores this strange new world!

Review: Cute and clever, this is a quick cheerful book for any young reader. My only caution is you may need to explain that pigeons don't bark and dogs don't coo, but other than that, young readers will enjoy the challenge of new words and sounds!

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 28

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: Sleepy Dog by Harriet Ziefert

Synopsis: A STEP into Reading book about a little puppy and his nighttime adventures in sleeping.

Review: A cute, quick read, excellent for toddlers and the pre-bedtime story. The drawings are simple and clear and the prose is easy to understand, with good vocabulary and sentence diversion to help a new reader learn.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 32

Review: Marie Curie by Edwina Conner (Great Lives Series)

Synopsis: Marie Curie was a brilliant, inspiring scientist. As a result of her discovery of radium, a treatment for cancer was developed. She worked hard and with great determination throughout her life, finally dying tragically from the effects of the dangerous substances with which she experimented. (from the back of the book)

Review: Basic and general, this is a solid biography of Marie Curie. Told for a third or fourth grade comprehension level, this is a book that teachers might use during school. It contains excellent pictures that enhance the prose and demonstrate further aspect of Dr. Curie's character and life. My only qualm is I feel it dumbs down her life. While I understand it's for children, my first introduction to Marie Curie was the definitive biography on her, written by her daughter. I read this when I was 10. It's a good introduction, but I would caution against limiting kids to only the simple outline of this remarkable woman's life.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 31

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Kline

Synopsis: Horrible Harry makes second grade really excting. But, as Doug knows, being his best friend isn't always easy. Harry loves to do horrible things, like showing Song Lee his pet snake and making her scream, or pinning Sidney to the ground and making him say, "I love girls." Twice. Yet nobody can wait to see what Harry will be for Halloween, or what part he'll have in the school play. Even their teacher, Miss Mackle, is shocked when she finds out - because with Harry, you never know what is going to happen next! (from the back of the book)

Review: Directed at first and second grade readers, this is a quick, clever little book. The characters are amusing and real-to-life, charming and horrible and remind me of every kid I know in elementary school. I can see why this is a popular series to teach reading. The horribleness appeals to kids while adults get a chuckle or two out of the story. I recommend for anyone looking for a good series to teach reading.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-29-2013
Pages: 56

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Aquisitions: Book Buying Frenzy!

I've been on a bit of book buying frenzy. It started with that enormous haul from the estate sale, continued with the trip to the new book store and ended (hopefully) with Saturday's 3 hours dig through crates at the local Thrift Store.

In my defense, the Thrift Store trip was extenuating circumstances. First, it's a dollar ($1) for as many books as you can stuff into a plastic grocery bag. Second, they'd just pulled crates of books from their warehouse. And Third, I can't resist crates of books begging to be dug through!

I walked away with six bags (for $6 dollar) and about 120 books. So, that's awesome.

Also, I've purchased a stack or two off Amazon. Mostly, filling in gaps in series, or buying a new series recommended by a friend. I think I'm done with the book buying for a while.

Well, I'm off to sort, log and stack the new acquisitions!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: KneeKnock Rise by Natalie Babbitt

Synopsis: Beware the Megrimum! From the moment Egan arrives in Instep, he sense the spell cast over the villagers by the Megrimum - the mysterious thing that lurks on the misty peak of KneeKnock Rise. No one has ever seen the Megrimum, but everyone shudders in horror whenever its unearthly wail floats down to the village. Before long, Egan is climbing the Rise to get a good look at the creature. What he discovers might change things in Instep forever! (from the back of the book)

Review: This is the first Newbery I've read I didn't enjoy. It's a bland story, predictable and shallow. It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't good either. There are other Newbery books (and several non-Neebery) I would recommend before this one.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor, 1971

Date Finished: 9-26-2013
Pages: 118

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Synopsis: When a rash of robberies hits the town of Half Moon Bay, 11-year-old sleuths Nick and Tesla are determined to catch the criminals - but to do so, they'll have to build a host of new gadgets and gizmos! In this robot-themed follow-up to Nick and Tesla' High-Voltage Danger Lab, the brother-and-sister duo build four different droids out of ordinary household objects - and illustrated instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build them, too! Can Nick and Tesla catch the criminal mastermind - and foil his army of rampaging robots - before it's too late?(from the back of the book)

Review: I wasn't sure what to expect when from this book. But whatever it was, this book was more.
Nick and Tesla are twins, living with their crazy inventor Uncle Newt in a the small town of Half Moon Bay. Inventors and Science Nuts themselves, Nick and Tesla find themselves using their brains, friendships and random spare parts to solve mysteries.
Here is what I enjoyed about this book:
1. I laughed out loud at least 17 times.
2. I didn't know who did it until the end.
3. There are instructions for building robots in the text - clear, easy, make-you-want-to-run-out-and-do-it-now-instructions.
With creative prose, engaging plot, witty humor, likeable characters and an extra helping of nerdy jargon and science smarts, this book is everything I'd want my kids to read. I intend to recommend this all my friends - those with and without children, and I intend to give this away as presents as often as possible. I highly recommend.

I received an free ARC through LibraryThings Early Reviewer Program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-23-2013
Pages: 214

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

Synopsis: A puzzling case of roboticide takes New York Detective Elijah Baley from Earth to the planet Aurora where humans and robots have, till now, always coexisted in perfect harmony. Only the gifted roboticist Han Fastolfe had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to commit the crime - but Baley must prove the man innocent. For the murder of Jander Parnell is closely tied to a power struggle that will decide who will be the next interstellar pioneers in the universe. Armed only with his own instincts, his sometimes quirky logic, and the immutable Three Laws of Robotics, Baley sets out to solve the case. But can anything prepare a simple Earthman for the psychological complexities of a world where a beautiful woman can easily have fallen in love with an all-too-human robot?

Review: As the third in Asimov's Robot Series, this one is just as good as the previous. Baley once again faces seemingly insurmountable odds to solve a problem. At stake: Not only his reputation, his job, his life - but the fate of all humans on Earth. I enjoyed journeying to a new planet with Baley, seeing a new society through his eyes. As with the other novels, the mystery is balanced with Baley's growth as a person, as a human, as an Earthman. I'm eager to see where Asimov takes Baley next.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 09-22-2013
Pages: 398

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin

Synopsis: What makes a woman fascinating to her husband? What is happiness in marriage for a woman? These are just two of the questions Helen B. Andelin answers in the bestselling classic that has already brought new happiness and life to millions of marriages. Fascinating Womanhood offers timeless wisdom, practical advice and old-fashioned values to meet the needs and challenges of today's fascinating woman inside. (back of the book)

Review: This was a DREADFUL book. While there was some legitimate and sound advice, it was bare scraps afloat in a sea of detrimental ideas and inane drivel. Advice on how to be a good wife is interspaced with testimonials how well this advice worked. Within a few pages, I was appalled and disgusted by Andelin's advice. Her ideas encourage women, already weak in this area, to make men the center of their world, vision, mind - to replace God with their husband.

It is commendable to remember we, as Christians, are called to serve one another - thus a wife is to serve her husband. But this book encourages an unhealthy obsession with the husband, in turn encouraging the husband to developed an unhealthy pride and self-centeredness. I also objected to the advice that encouraged woman to ignore bad behavior or questionable morals in the husband. This reminds me of For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn -another book of dreadful advice. Both books advocate never making the man "feel bad"  - which sounds good until you realize it means the man should never feel bad about his actions - any action. And that's not Godly.

Marriage is a partnership, a sharing, a giving to each other  - and recognizing your mistakes (which often involves feeling bad) is a vital part! Neither of these books every speak of how to handle a husband who doesn't admit his bad actions.

My other issue is advice that is encourages manipulative, childish and conniving behavior. Why would you direct women to play more mind games, to be more scheming and cunning or to be more devious? Absurd. Andelin seems to think it is impossible to be direct and feminine, and encouraged manipulation instead of honesty.

Advocates of FW laud the principles set out - and if the goal is to make your husband the center of your universe and lose oneself completely in abject slavery - then by all means, listen to this blather. These advocates will say anyone who doesn't like this book has lost the true meaning of womanhood and femininity. I say to tell me a true woman only does or does not [insert pet character trait] is no better then a bra-burning feminist or a patriarchal moron telling me that. I look to God for who I am - not some foolish hooey.

I do not recommend this book to anyone. at all. ever.

Bookmarks: 0 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 09-21-2013
Pages: 380

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

Synopsis: Solaria was a beautiful planet, but a sparsely settled one. The Solarians had so isolated themselves that direct contact with others was almost unbearable, and all interpersonal dealings were conducted by solid-seeming trimensional projections. Now there had been a murder. The victim had been so neurotic that even the presence of his wide was barely endurable. But someone had been close enough to beat him to death while he was attended by his robots. Naturally, the robots couldn't have done it - the first law of robotics would not let them harm a human being. No weapon had been found. It seemed a paradox. So the authorities sent for Lije Baley, who was delighted to find that his old partner, the human-seeming robot, R. Daneel Olivaw, would join him. The partnership was back in business - a strange business, indeed. (from the back of the book)

Review: This is the second (or third, if you count I, Robot) in Asimov's robot series and the second in the R. Daneel Olivaw series. Once again, this is a science fiction detective story. Baley's growth as a person, his changing beliefs - these were as much the story as the mystery. I enjoyed the mix. Asimov created a world and a society rich in flawed characters, unique customs and diverse history. His story quickly enveloped the reader in the world. I recommend to anyone interested in the AI vs. Human concept, and anyone interested in excellent classic science fiction.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-14-2013
Pages: 208

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: George and the Dragon Word by Dianne Snyder and Brian Lies (Illus.)

Synopsis: George has a word. A powerful, magic word. A hissing, crackling word that can make anyone cry. But when he uses it against mean Aunt Agatha, she doesn't cry: She turned into a Dragon! Now, George must consult a Wordsmith to find a word that will reverse the spell - but will he pay the price for the new word?
Review: I purchased this at a thrift store - $1 a bag of books. This was a cute, quick, delightful read. George, as a characters, is both deliquent and endearing. One can see why the other characters are frustrated with him, and see why he is frustrated with them. And his word - the author never tells you what the word is, leaving it to your imagination. I enjoyed seeing George grow, see him learn the true power of words and learn to use that power properly. I also loved the characters of the Wordsmith - and rather wish that was a profession!
I recommend this book to anyone with children who struggle to understand how there words might hurt other. I also recommen this book to lovers of words and letters and dragons - those of us of already know the power of words.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 9-14-2013
Pages: 64