Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ramble: The Perfect Book for October

October is the perfect time for creepy, chilling, shivering stories. And a dear friend gave me the most perfect book. 

Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell. Published in 1914, Lowell wrote this book in half-poetry, half-prose. 

Lowell was famous during her time. She won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for a collection of Poetry, and she was much revered for her work. 

I'm eager to read this collection. The book itself is a dusty little tome, smelling of old book shops and time. Worn edges and yellowed pages do not detract from the prose. 

I'm eager to curl up with this fine work - but I'm saving it for a dark and stormy night....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: 100 Hair-raising Little Horror Stories ed. Al Sarantonio and Martin Greenberg

Synopsis: As the title states, this is a tidy collection of 100 horror stories, spanning perhaps the last 150 years. Including such classic authors as Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain and Stephen Crane, and others less well known outside horror, science fiction or mystery circles. The stories are arranged alphabetically by title.

Review: As with most collections of this size, there are always amazing stories and boring stories, but this collection, over all, was excellent. The editors did a fine job of collecting tales of all sorts - creepy, gory, subtle and chilling.

My favorites: 

The Grab by Richard Laymon: It seemed like such a normal story until the end....

Examination Day by Henry Slesar: Scary because we aren't far from this as a society.....

Making Friends by Gary Raisor: Children are creepy, dark-hearted little vipers.....

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 1-56619-056-8
Date Finished: 10-23-2015
Pages: 496

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: A Slice of Snow: A Book of Poems by Joan Walsh Anglund

Synopsis: A small collection of poems with illustrations accompanied by tiny illustrations in ink

Review: I enjoy small terse poems, so I was certain I would enjoy this collection of poems. Sadly, I didn't. The poems seemed emo, trite and cliched. They rang of something you would find on cheesy plagues and mugs. Which makes sense. Anglund is known for her illustrations - which I did enjoy - and often pairs her art and poetry. In the end, I'm sure many people would enjoy this small book, but I found it just a bit cliched for my taste.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-15-183015-0
Date Finished: 10-21-2014
Pages: 63

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Chike longs to cross the Niger River to the city of Asaba, but he doesn’t have the sixpence he needs to pay for the ferry ride. With the help of his friend S.M.O.G., he embarks on a series of adventures to help him get there. Along the way, he is exposed to a range of new experiences that are both thrilling and terrifying, from eating his first skewer of suya under the shade of a mango tree, to visiting the village magician who promises to double the money in his pocket. Once he finally makes it across the river, Chike realizes that life on the other side is far different from his expectations, and he must find the courage within him to make it home. (online description)

Review: This is a unique book. Written by Achebe, famous for his work Things Fall Apart, this is  children's book. I enjoyed tagging along on Chike as he discoverers truths about himself, his friends and his world. I enjoyed reading about Africa from a non-western viewpoint. I highly recommend this as an fine addition to any child's library, something to add diversity and non-western thought.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-307-47386-8
Date Finished: 10-12-2014
Pages: 88

Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary Journey into Senseless Knowledge by Kent Woodyard

Synopsis: McSweeney's columnist Kent Woodyard brings new life to the mnemonic memory devices of a bygone era, from creative reinterpretations of classic mnemonics to original creations of dubious usage. Paired with whimsical illustrations, this book is the perfect gift for the word wizards of the world, as well as collectors of useless pop-culture trivia. (online description)

Review: If I could, I would give this book two ratings, one for humor and one for content. I cannot deny that I laughed will reading it. Laughed a lot. I would give this an 7, maybe even a 8, for humor. At least a dozen times I had to set the book down so I could stop laughing long enough to breath. But as for content - I was hoping, among all the humor, there would be some useful mnemonics. Nope. I felt the title and description are misleading. Yes, it promises senseless knowledge, but I was hoping it would be help remembering said senseless knowledge. Sadly, it wasn't - just a string of odd narratives linked loosely together with no clear path. For content, I would give it a 3, maybe a 4. In the end, I settled for a 3, as it's a amusing. But I wanted something useful as well.

NOTE: I received this free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-938849-28-2
Date Finished: 10-11-2014
Pages: 183

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: Biscuit Finds a Friend by Alysaa Satin Capucilli (An I Can Read Book)

Synopsis: Biscuit finds a small lost duck and returned the creature to it's pond. But will the duck want to be friends with Biscuit?

Review: I'm not sure why I started collecting the Biscuit books. Probably because it has a dog as the main character. These are simple, easy-to-read books for beginning reader. With illustrations and familiar words, they are perfect for the little one in your life who is just learning to read on their own.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-439-65034-8
Date Finished: 10-11-2014
Pages: 24

Aquisitions: I Have Been Busy

Aside from my usual monthly book shopping expedition, I also attend a booksale at the local library. I'm a member of their Friends of the Library group, so I get to go to the Member's Only sales. It's lovely to dig through the books before they've been picked over by the general public.

I purchased far to many to list here (shocker, right?) so I'll just list my best finds:

The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Willem van Loon: Not only is this a Newbery book, it is the FIRST book to win the Newbery Medal. Published in 1921, it won the first Medal, given in 1922. It can be expensive to buy but I purchased it for $1 in good condition at the library sale. I won't lie - I may have done a little victory dance in the aisle.

Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon: You wouldn't think this one would be hard to find, being that Moon is a popular author. But it was. The last in her Vatta's War series, it was harder to find that I expected. Perhaps because it's the last in the series and those are usually less popular than the beginning.

Fanny by Stephen Cosgrove: This is a Serendipity Book. As a child, I was an avid reader of the Serendipity books - The Wheedle on the Needle, The Gnome from Nome, the Savapotumus. To actually find one in a thrift shop - Euphoria! I'm excited to collect the rest of them!

In all, I've acquired 30+ new books in the last month, and nearly twice that many to give away. With a nephew and a godson, I'm always on the prowl for books for children. My books come from all sorts of wild places - thrift shops and used book stores, online venues and library book sales. They are lost and wayward souls that I adopt and give good homes too!

What books have you acquired recently?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: The Mermaid's Three Wisdoms by Jane Yolen

Synopsis: Sitting in her dinghy, twelve-year-old Jess was delighted to see a frolicking mermaid leap from the sea not ten feet from her. But the mermaid, Melusina, was far from delighted. For in carelessly letting herself be seen by a landperson, Melusine had broken the strictest law of the merfolk. In punishment, she was banished form her beloved undersea home and set to love on the land as a human. It was Jess who later found her lying on the sand. Despite difficulties in communication - Jess is troubled by a hearing impairment and Melusina, like all merfolk, cannot speak - the two become friends. Melusina even teaches Jess the Three Wisdoms, something all merfolk know. But it takes a special event for both girls to understand the true meaning of the Wisdoms, and how they are to live. (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a haunting story. Melusina's sadness and Jess's angry collide in a powerful way, and it takes time for the girls to understand the value of each other. Jess's struggle with her deafness at a complexity to her character that drew me in. She was flawed, and it was beautiful to watch her grow as she learned from the mermaid. Melusina's own growth was bittersweet. Driven from the sea, she learned to adapt to the harsh world of the landpeople, to communicate and to understand the Three Wisdoms taught by her people. The end was perfect, albeit sad. I highly recommend this book. A worthy read.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-529-05420-5
Date Finished: 10-4-2014
Pages: 110

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (IDW Annual 2013) by Katie Cook et al

Synopsis: A pre-qual to the movie, this tells the story of how Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pink Pie and Rainbow Dash became friends at Canterlot High. It even tells a little bit about how Sunset Shimmer first went astray.

Review: As an avid MLP fan, I found this entertaining. I enjoyed reading about how Sunset Shimmer made it to the alternative universe, and how the 5 became friends. I would recommend for any pony fan!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Published Date: Oct. 2013
Date Finished: 10-1-2014
Pages: 42