Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday: Books in the Mail

Last week's mailbox was full of good books to review:

From Harper Collins Canada:

Reef has been living in Calgary for the past year, but now he’s back in Halifax for the funeral of Frank Colville, his former mentor. Memories of Frank compete with memories of Leeza and the terrible way their relationship ended. Mindful that the restraining order against him has been renewed by Leeza’s mother, Reef has no intention of staying in Halifax for long.
Leeza, in the meantime, is feeling stifled by her mother’s “concern.” A first-year university student at Dalhousie, she is kicking herself for not attending university out of town.

Despite Reef ’s best efforts to stay away, circumstances quickly unfold to push him and Leeza ever closer to each other. An eager political crusader wants to close Reef ’s former group home, and he will stop at nothing to get media attention, including manipulating news items—Reef is shocked to discover that he has been photographed outside Leeza’s house and is, therefore, in violation of the restraining order. Finding himself at the centre of growing controversy, Reef is pushed to his limits.

Before he leaves town, Reef must face his demons and make some tough choices or else risk losing everything he has ever worked for, including the only girl he has ever loved.

From Librarything ER Program:

David Gershwin's summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad's new patient Zelda tells him she s from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming. But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David's hooked, and soon he's leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David's going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth or beyond.

From Random House Canada:


One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?


As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

. . . TO SAVE HER?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

From Candlewick Press:

The Arthurian legend springs to life in another powerhouse graphic novel from the creators of OUTLAW: THE LEGEND OF ROBIN HOOD.

Arthur Pendragon was raised in obscurity, but fate will not leave him to the shadows. In a moment of desperate need, he draws a legendary sword from its stonebed and commences the life he was born to lead. A series of adventures sparked by the elusive wizard Merlin launches Arthur through love and betrayal, domination and defeat, and toward the prophesied end awaiting him. Merging a faithful retelling with dynamic illustrations, EXCALIBUR invites long-time fans to relive the legend and those new to the story to experience it up close in a vivid graphic adventure.

Stink needs a sport, fast! Can his alter-ego, Shark Hammersmash, wrestle a win at thumb wars? Or will a perfect karate kick lead him to vistory? Crackdown! Smackdown! Thmackdown! Stink Moody, family brain, brings home a report card that isn't perfect? Yikes! Time for him to get into fighting shape and beat back that U for Unsatisfactory in gym! A scan of the sports channel leads to a knock-out find: world-class thumb-wrestling, with tricky moves like Snake in the Grass and Santa's Little Helper (no equipment needed, save for a tiny terrifying mask to sit on your thumb). But when Mum and Dad are not wowed, Stink gets another idea: he'll kick and punch his way to a yellow belt with the help of a Dragon Master, a seeing-eye Moose, and a mind as still as a pond. Can you say Crouching Tiger, Hidden Thumb? Hee-ya! Ha! Ha! Ha!

From the book's Publicist:

Promise, a talented young vocalist with a terminal illness, is counting on fame to keep her memory alive after she dies. Porta is an aging witch and art collector in search of the goddess who will grant her immortality.

When Promise inexplicably survives a series of freak accidents, Porta believes that Promise is the one she seeks. But Chase, an autistic artist who falls in love with Promise and opposes Porta, comes between the women with his mysterious visions and drawings, and plunges everyone into a flesh-and-blood confrontation over the true meaning of eternal life.

And a gift from the wonderful Wendy over at Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Thanks Wendy!

WHEN GRACIE McBRIDE, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shock waves through her native Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County sheriff deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime-scene evidence adds up to murder.
But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator—Gracie was Gus’s second cousin; Darlene’s best friend; and the lover of Gus’s oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus is easily distracted by other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.

When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the eighteen years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.

The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right.

43. Incorruptible Vol. 3 by Mark Waid

Incorruptible Vol. 3 by Mark Waid. Art by Horacio Domingues & Marcio Takara(Canada) - (US)
Incorruptible series

Pages: 128
Ages: 15+
Finished: Feb. 19, 2011
First Published: Feb. 1, 2011
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Genre: action, superheroes
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

After Plutonian kissed me that first time, I somehow failed to be magically transformed.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: next in the series

Volume Three is all action! Max Damage and the new Jailbait set off to take out the crazed "skinhead" followers of Plutonian who are armed with nuclear weapons and causing much damage. Max and J. meet up with an old friend of Plutonian's who joins their group and the new Jailbait is given her own new superhero name. From the old friend we learn a lot more about Plutonian's past from a different angle but mostly this volume is action scene after action scene with a fair amount of dry humour added for relief. Just what was needed at this point in the storyline. Domingues returns as the artist for the first two chapters and as I stated in my review for volume 2 I do not like his portrayal of M.D. The occasional downright goofy looks on his face are just not in character at all. What a thrill it was to see a new artist take over for the last two chapters, Marcio Takara, who incidentally is the only artist credited on the cover. Takara's style is much more raw, and Max is back to his masculine, powerful, dangerous looking character. A happy ending as we see our new trio running off together.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

42. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver retold by Martin Jenkins

Jonathan Swift's Gulliver retold by Martin Jenkins. Illustrated by Chris Riddell (Canada) - (US)
Candlewick Illustrated Classics

Pages: 167
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 18, 2011
First Published: 1726 (this edition, 2004)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: classics, fantasy, satire
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

My name is Gulliver. Gulliver Lemuel.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my son.

I've been looking for a *good* children's version of Gulliver's Travels for many years and have finally found the perfect version that I will recommend to anyone wanting to read this book for enjoyment. I love Gulliver's Travels; it is a wonderful story *but* I do not like the original version. Yes, I've read the original book, start to finish. Now I'm usually all about reading the original versions of classics but Gulliver is different. First of all Swift's Gulliver is not a children's story; it is political and social satire of the 1700s. It is full of references to personages and politics of the 1700s that have no meaning whatsoever to the 21st century reader unless of course you have studied the 1700s political scene yourself. The original is full of long, dreary passages that may have been hysterical in 1726 but are just completely long-winded and boring for the typical modern day reader and really there is no point in subjecting a child to it. This is why most children's versions only include the first two chapters: the voyages to the land of the little people and then the land of the giants. But the last two voyages are wonderful as well and I've been looking for a version of this book, that removes the outdated prattle but keeps the complete 4 chapters. This book has done so; plus adds illustrations by the comedic artist Chris Riddell and we have a winner of a book.

This version of Gulliver is not missing any details or plot lines, all voyages are covered. Now it has been some time since I read the original, but as far as I can tell the "rude" bits have been left alone as well. Social commentary is still present, only reworded to be understandable to today's ears and political satire has been kept up to a point as to where it is still relevant and no personages are mentioned at all, except on the island of ghosts where he calls upon people from the past such as Julius Caesar, Hannibal and Alexander the Great. Gulliver still tries to describe his world of Yahoos in words such as "They eat when they are not hungry and they drink when they are not thirsty." Social commentary which is still relevant today. The immortal Luggnuggians who have the gift of eternal life but not eternal youth are just as frightening a concept then as now.

Chris Riddell's illustrations are what you would expect them to be. Wild and wacky, hilarious and hauntingly eerie at times. A better artist could not have been chosen for this fantastic adaptation. In fact, it was seeing Chris Riddell as the illustrator that pushed me into deciding to give this version a go. At 164 pages, it may seem like the book does not have much meat but don't worry there is plenty of text here. The text is a little smaller than usual but in an easy to read font, the book is wider than a regular sized book and there are many pages of text without illustration and the use of an illustration on a text page has been used frequently as well. There is plenty of story here! I recommend this version of "Gulliver's Travels" to anyone young or old who wants to read a faithful rendition of the book without having to suffer through the pages of eyes-glazing-over 1700s political/social satire found in the original. Leave the original book to the scholars and read this true adaptation for the pure enjoyment and humour the book has to offer.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

41. The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor

The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 281
Ages: 12+
Finished: Feb. 18, 2011
First Published: Feb. 15, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:
A lot of winter days in Twin Oaks are like some of the black-and-white movies I've seen.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Macmillan Kids.

Reason for Reading: Simply enough, the Beatles connection appealed to me.

This is a modern day fairy tale. Regina Bloomsbury, ultra-major Beatles fan & collector has her own band, aptly named The Caverns. The Caverns are about to fall apart at the seams and Regina wishes she were as famous as The Beatles one night in bed. The next morning she awakes to find herself the lead singer of The Caverns, an explosive new band on the scene, up for 8 Grammy nominations. Regina is famous and has the life that comes with it but, you see, as her Fairy Godmother explains in an email no one could ever be as famous as The Beatles so she erased them from history and gave all their songs to Regina. So she is famous, but her first album, Meet The Caverns, is full of Beatles songs attributed to her. While Regina gets comfortable with the perks of being famous, including a famous TV star boyfriend, she also discovers the downside of how stardom can change people. None of her band is friendly with her, in fact there is open hostility with one member. Regina discovers that not only does she have a reputation as a diva she has also badly hurt the feelings of the one band member who meant the most to her back in her former life. But as Regina starts to find out a girl could get used to a life of fame and fortune and she has a week to decide if she will stay in her new life or go back to the old.

A good story. All The Beatles trivia and history is fun and I found myself humming songs as they were mentioned while I was reading. While being a fantasy the book isn't overloaded with typical fantasy elements such as magic but follows more along the lines of magical realism. One does have to suspend reality to enter and except Regina's world. The Girl Who Became a Beatle is also a coming-of-age story as Regina learns some life lessons, makes decisions based on decency rather than personal gratification and ultimately realizes that her life is not only about her, that others are affected by her actions as well. On the surface a fun, often humorous fairytale that we all would like to have that one wish granted but the book has a lot of deeper layers that deal with growing up and maturity. A fine read.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel (Canada) - (US)
I Can Read Books, Level 2
Frog and Toad series, Book 3

Pages: 64
Ages: 6+
Finished: Feb. 15, 2011
First Published: 1976
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, easy readers
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Frog knocked at Toad's door.

Acquired: Purchased used at a book/garage sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: Ds read aloud to me as his reader.

The edition I have is a vintage Scholastic book which is shorter and wider in size than these readers usually are. It also does not contain the "I Can Read" moniker. Otherwise my cover looks the same as that pictured. I've always enjoyed Arnold Lobel, but as a kid these Frog and Toad books didn't appeal to me so I've only discovered there charm as an adult.

This book sees the two friends through the year with a story for each of the seasons, beginning and ending with winter. In the first story Frog forces Toad out of the house to enjoy the winter weather but Toad would rather be home warm and snug in his bed. Next, on a rainy Spring day Frog tells Toad a story of his childhood when his father told him Spring was just around the corner, so Frog started looking around corners trying to find Spring. Next comes summer and Toad buys two Chocolate ice cream cones to take back for him and Frog to eat. Along the way the summer sun melts them and Toad becomes a frightening mess, scaring everyone he meets along the way. Autumn is my favourite season and this was ds's favourite story. Frog finds his yard full of leaves to be raked so he decides to sneak over to Toad's place and rake his leaves, while at the same time Toad has had the very same bright idea. They both work hard all day long and as they walk home a wind picks up and they arrive back home to see that tomorrow they will have to rake their own yards. But each goes to bed feeling good about how the other must feel to have come home to find his yard raked for him. And finally we finish off with a Christmas Eve story, where Toad is worried what is keeping Frog so long to arrive and imagines all sorts of terrible things that could have happened to him on the way so he prepares a rescue kit for every possibility before he goes in search of him. Lovely stories of friendship with Lobel's usual delightful illustrations.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

40. Toy Story: The Mysterious Stranger

Toy Story: The Mysterious Stranger by Dan Jolley. Art by Chris Moreno (Canada) - (US)
Toy Story Graphic Novels, #1

Pages: 112
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 15, 2011
First Published: Sept. 29, 2009
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Genre: children, humorous, graphic novel
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

"Hurry up, Andy! We don't want to be late!"

Acquired: My ds received this as a present for Christmas.

Reason for Reading: I've read the last two Toy Story GNs; I figured I'd read the first one too, since it was so handy!

This first trade collection of Toy Story comics is similar to the last volume that just came out "Some Assembly Required" in that each chapter is a different short story. Which still makes volume two "The Return of Buzz Lightyear" my favourite as it was one continuous story. That said this wasn't bad for a collection of short stories, some were better than others. The first is the titular story where Andy hurries off to be somewhere and leaves a strange egg shaped toy in the middle of his room. The toys are in an uproar wondering what kind of new toy it is, who it will replace, trying to get it to talk, etc. Buzz and Woody are trying to talk reason to calm everyone down that Andy loves all his toys, even when he gets new ones. While other toys are secretly trying to do away with the sinister egg. The ending is funny.

The second story involves Andy's science fair project. The toys are admiring it just before Andy comes in to take it to the school overnight and Rex accidentally knocks a small piece off. This is when the toys take an adventure and end up at the school gym keeping the night security guy occupied with their antics while they try to find Andy's project and replace the part.

The next one is quite funny. Andy is home sick from school and it is just shortly after he got his new puppy. The puppy catches the toys walking and talking and they clatter into stillness but he's not fooled. The puppy now does everything he can to get the toys to accidentally move or speak when Andy is around. Things such as throwing Bo Peep over the balcony! The toys have to figure out some way to make friends with the puppy, who is not that interested.

Finally we end with a story about the Army Men. I like the Army Men! One man accidentally gets knocked into Andy's school knapsack and the Men are worried about his return. They've lost men before and have had enough. Sergeant decides it's time to tell Andy they can speak! Can the other toys convince them this is not a good idea? And will the missing Man return unharmed?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

39. Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 343
Ages: 18+
Finished: Feb. 15, 2011
First Published: May 5, 2009
Publisher: Water Brook Press
Genre: Southern Fiction, Magical Realism, Christian Fiction, (Paranormal/Horror)
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:
It was the kind of day when even the lost believed.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Water Brook Multnomah.

Reason for Reading: I love Southern fiction, especially when old ladies are involved for some reason. The mysterious visitor angle got me and knowing this was Random House's Christian Fiction imprint I just felt the story would resonate with me somehow.

I don't know where to begin to describe this story. Southern fiction is usually defined by its quirky characters and this book certainly has its fair share of those. All of them as lovable and quirky as the next, even the irritating ones end up showing their compassionate side. Plot wise we start off with an elderly woman, Velma, but just how old we are never told; she could have been anywhere between 60s and 80s, though I tended to think of her as in her late 60s. She has been widowed one year and basically had a nervous breakdown at her mailbox when she received his death certificate and now will not leave from the front of her house or travel by road. She has many brightly coloured strings leading from her porch to the mailbox, the birdbath, bird feeders, plants around the yard, etc. so she can be grounded to the house while she takes care of these needs. Velma is visited by a mysterious stranger one day and given a small rock with awesome power. It shines amazing colours when it wants to and can take Velma back into her memories, both happy and sad. But something evil wants this rock, which is much more than it seems. The evil makes its presence known bit by bit but it isn't until the end that it outright shows itself and an epic spiritual battle of good vs. evil must be fought.

I absolutely adored this book! The story crosses so many genres within one plot but for the main part is simply a southern fiction story about a group of people in a small town with an added magical realism element. The spiritual battle/paranormal/horror or whatever you want to call it based on your own beliefs, because this book is perfectly readable by any creed. If you are Christian, you'll get the plot from a believer's view, but if you are not Christian, you'll simply read it from your own world view. There is no preaching, and really know mention of God; it's all in how you read the story.

The characters are wonderful! Velma, the main character, I've mentioned. Then there is her best friend Sara who is the absolute opposite of Velma, a former school teacher, who has been looking for someone to share her knowledge with all her life and is now slowly losing her memory from Alzheimer's. Rudy, Velma's only son, though she had wanted a multitude, is a bachelor of choice, a womanizer who works as little as he can to get by, which means pay the bills, buy the booze and spend his nights with a good woman, currently he works part time as the rural route mail man. These are just the main three and there are plenty more to meet as well. The book's writing is also beautiful. The author captures the feel of the place, northern Florida far away from the ocean, and transplants the reader into her world. Her writing is lyrical and a joy to read. I really enjoyed this book; I think I said that already but it's true! Anyone who likes Southern Fiction will enjoy this book as long as they are able to suspend belief and accept the magical realism that is an integral part of the story. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

37.-38. Campfire Classic Graphic Novels: A Christmas Carol & Call of the Wild

Publisher: Campfire

Acquired: Received review copies from Campfire.

Reason for Reading: I was introduced to this new imprint of Graphic Novels out of India and was very impressed with their selection and often unique titles. They are distributed here in North America through Random House and I thought I would check them out. These are both from their Classics line. They also have Graphic Novel lines under Mythology, Biography & Originals.

37. Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol by Scott McCullar. Illustrated by Naresh Kumar. 72 pgs. 2010. Ages 11+. An extremely well done graphic adaptation of Dickens' classic. The book is true to the original, keeping all salient plot points as well as lesser but defining moments It also pays close attention to developing Scrooge's character over the course of the evening. In fact, I found all the characters to be well written, as at times, in other adaptations some can be over done (Christmas Present, Fezziwig, Fred, etc.) The illustrations are artistic in style and match the tone of the book. I'm not too fond of some of the facial elements but that's just me vs. the artistic style. The facial close-ups are more appealing to me aesthetically than the mid scene ones. An impressive read for my first foray into Campfire's line of Graphic Novels. (4/5)

38. Jack London The Call of the Wild by Lloyd S. Wagner. Illustrated by Sachin Nagar. 71 pgs. 2010. Ages 13+. A top-notch graphic adaptation of one of my favourite classic novels. This graphic version is amazingly true to the novel. It evokes the same emotions and is as powerful a story as the novel. I can not think of anything that has been left out. The beginning scenes of Buck at home with the Judge are brief though and the graphic version quickly moves to and then concentrates on his Arctic experience. Very emotional read, and hard to read at times as the graphic version keeps the brutality of the original and there are some very graphic scenes not suitable for young readers. The illustrations are highly detailed with full backgrounds, using artistic devises and a pleasure to behold. Another impressive graphic adaptation of a classic story. (5/5)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday: Books in the Mail

I had a nice little mailbox run last week. Mostly GN's and Manga for review and a bought myself a treat too

From First Second Books:

Two of America’s greatest explorers embark on the adventure that made their names—and sealed their fates.

In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis, Missouri, for one of the greatest adventures this nation has ever known. Appointed and funded by President Jefferson himself, and led by a cadre of experts (including the famous Sacajawea), the expedition was considered a success almost before it had begun. From the start, the journey was plagued with illness, bad luck, unfriendly Indians, Lewis’s chronic depression, and, to top it all, the shattering surprise of the towering Rocky Mountains and the continental divide. But despite crippling setbacks, overwhelming doubts, and the bare facts of geography itself, Lewis and Clark made it to the Pacific in 1806.

Nick Bertozzi brings the harrowing—and, at times, hilarious—journey to vivid life on the pages of this oversized black-and-white graphic novel. With his passion for history and his knack for characterization, Bertozzi has made an intimate tale of a great American epic.

From The Catholic Company:

Fr. Groeschel has impacted the lives of thousands. He now shares personal stories about the people who impacted his life. The Jewish man who tailored the suit the young man would wear to the seminary, and gave him advice: “Be a good boy.” The young drug addict who killed himself as Fr. Benedict stood outside his door. These stories are moving, inspiring, sometime tragic, sometimes hilarious. Mother Teresa, Cardinal O’Connor, Fr. Solanus Casey, and many more. They will help you appreciate those you’ve met over the years who have enriched and deepened your own life.

From Simon & Schuster Canada:

In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves--the Library Forces!

Iku and Commander Inamine are abducted by Bakushu-kai terrorists, who demand sensitive material from the library's protected collection in return for the hostages! Dojo is worried about Iku, his problem student with limited field experience. But what Iku lacks in training she more than makes up for in gumption, and she is not going to let library material go without a fight!

Contains Volumes 3 and 4 of Death Note!

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects--and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. Will Light's noble goal succeed, or will the Death Note turn him into the very thing he fights against?

King Crossout is at it again!

Calling upon the prehistoric power of a monstrous coelacanth and the sneaktastic skill of Tattle-Tail, the eraser-happy king has turned the restaurants of Eats Street from delightful to frightful! Terrie and Hippity are on the case, but they need your help!

Purchased from an online retailer:

The three Bone cousins--Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone--are lost in a vast, uncharted desert. They soon find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures, and come across a farmstead run by tough Gran'ma Ben and her spirited granddaughter Thorn. But little do the Bones know, there are dark forces conspiring against them and their adventures are only just beginning!
For the first time, the first three books of Jeff Smith's thrilling comic book saga are available in this boxed set!

The eloquent teachings of Scott Hahn have moved thousands of Catholic Christians to a more vital expression of their faith. In A Father Who Keeps His Promises, the popular Catholic apologist explores the covenant love God reveals to us in the Scriptures, and explains how God patiently reaches out to us--despite our faults and shortcoming--to restore us into relationship with his divine Family. Join Hahn as he follows the high adventure of God's plan for the ages, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing down through the generations to the coming of Christ and the birth of the Church. You'll discover how the patient love of the Father revealed in the Bible is the same persistent love he has for you.

By focusing on our status as part of the family of God, he shows how the broken human family is made whole in Christ. This book helps readers understand the deep personal love God bears for his people and the plan that he has to bring them into an intimate family relationship .

36. Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1

Bone: Quest for the Spark by Tom Sniegoski. Illustrated by Jeff Smith (Canada) - (US)
Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book 1

Pages: 218
Ages: 10+
Finished: Feb. 13, 2011
First Published: Feb. 1, 2011
Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

In the early morning hours, just before dawn came to the Valley, Tom Elm was dreaming.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.

Reason for Reading: I plan on reading "Bone" the graphic series this year, I've read one, just received the first 3 in the mail. And the idea of a new Bone story in chapter book form was intriguing. Plus I love Jeff Smith's illustrations.

So, as I've said I'm new to the Bone universe only having read one book at the time of this review, "Tall Tales". I loved it and I know for purest of the series it's not exactly known for being one of the best of the series. So I know I'm in for a treat.

That said, no previous knowledge of Bone is needed for this knew chapter book series. The very little background info I had was explained anyway, such as "what is a rat creature?" Tom Elm, is a turnip farmer's son who one day found a bit of interesting rock in the biggest turnip they ever grew. He has kept it hung around his neck as a good luck charm ever since, not that it's brought him any luck. Tom has lately been having horrible nightmares filled with darkness and shadows in which he is being smothered and drowned and one night the stone shines and saves his life. This is when he and his adopted brother Roderick the Raccoon are told about the terrible evil going on which is invading both the Dreaming and the Waking World, which will continue until it has squelched out the entire world in evil blackness. Tom has been chosen to find other fragments of the Spark (one of which he already has around his neck) and defeat the evil.

In this particular book Tom has visions of him being in a group of eight people setting off for this quest. So following the Sparks visions he and Roderick set off to collect the other six. In the meantime the whole book follows the exploits of all the members of the soon-to-be group of questers as they go about there business. Other than Tom & Randolph, we have a Bone family of Percival F. Bone Explorer Extraordinaire and his two charges Abbey & Barclay who are setting off to find this valley that the Bone cousins have talked about. Then there is a former Veni Yan warrior who is a shell of his former self since his adventures left his wife and children home alone to be killed and now he is a drunk who tells tales of the glory days in exchange for drinks. Finally, and shocking to all other members, the Dreaming insists that two Rat Creatures who are being hunted down by their king for waking him up while stealing his dinner, have also been chosen to be a part of this quest.

The book was a lot of fun. Typical quest fantasy, with a motley crew of creatures found in the world. Tom Elm is a good leader/hero for the group. He doesn't want to be a leader and though he's always dreamt of being a hero one day, the reality of it isn't so much fun. But he's been given the power of the Visions and at first reluctantly and later accepts that he has been given an important job to do and he'd better do it right. He's a humble fellow, but when following the Visions, the others mostly older than him follow quietly as they all know the wisdom of the Dreaming. A fun story with lots of humour, but also quite a dark story, hence my 10+ age recommendation. Intense and scary scenes may frighten some younger children. I know my sensitive son is going to be covering his eyes at the intense bits but I think he'll get through OK and will really enjoy it. There is one Smith illustration per chapter, but some chapters are longish so it made me wish there were more illustrations. There were certain scenes I would have loved to have seen illustrated but it must be tough to pick only one scene to illustrate from a whole chapter. I did catch a blooper in one illustration though. On page 159, when the tree grows out through the middle of the building all of our good guys are watching on one side, but wait a minute Abbey and Barclay are there too. They are not supposed to be, because at that exact moment in time they are up in the sky driving the airship "Queen of the Sky" hopefully coming to the others rescue! Oops. Looking forward to the next book in the series as the Quest really gets going, now that we have all the members gathered together.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

35. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. Illustrated by Randy DuBurke (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 95
Ages: 13+
Finished: Feb. 13, 2011
First Published: Jul. 30, 2010
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Genre: non-fiction, biography, graphic novel, true crime, YA
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Chicago, my hometown.

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: This was a Cybils '10 nominee and required reading for me as a Cybils graphic novels panelist. However, all the panelists received a copy from the publisher except me. I guess it got lost in the mail or, maybe it was a Canada thing. Anyway I was unable to find a copy before our shortlists were due but this book was unanimously voted by the others as the first book chosen to go on the shortlist, I happily deferred to their wisdom. A copy just recently came into my local library and I am just now able to read it. Happily, after I read it I heard it had been chosen as the Teen category Cybil Award Winner!

Simply put, this is the true 1994 story of 11yo Robert Sanidfer, nicknamed "Yummy", a part of a gang called the Black Disciples Nation, while intending to shoot and kill someone else accidentally shot and killed a 14yo female bystander, Shavon Dean, who had a bright future ahead of her. This is the story of the social conditions in extreme poor black neighbourhoods in urban cities and the gangs found there. The tale of one boy who was beaten and abused so much by the age of three that he never had a chance at life. He had no love and looked for it where he could find it, unfortunately it was within the acceptance of a violent gang.

The story is narrated by a fictional character who was in Yummy's class at school and his thoughts on what is going down. He has many questions but never any answers of his own. He goes around the neighbourhood and finds plenty of different answers from all the folk who live there, fellow classmates, and listens to the newscasters, lawyers and politicians debate the situation on TV. However, ultimately it is left for the reader to decide whether Yummy was a hardcore killer or a victim or possibly both? Very powerful story! Told in black & white art which I think suits the story much more than colour would have but I find the art a little too dark and shadowy at times that it is hard to make out all panels. I'm sure this was the artist's intent but it's just not my thing. Minor squabble. This is a book that should certainly be on required reading lists for all inner city schools, or wherever urban gang violence is prevalent. A good hard look at this case may save some child from following in Yummy's footstep's.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Book of Revelation

I'm not about to review the Bible so this entry will be different from others.

Version I am reading: The Holy Bible, New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition

Book: The Book of Revelation

Book No: 73, The New Testament, Last book of the Bible

Author: John the Apostle (there is controversy amongst many, however, according to tradition and the early church fathers this is an accepted Catholic answer) *

Written: During the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96AD). Three witnesses of tradition put it at the end of Domitian's reign, one even states 95AD as the actual year. *

No. of Chapters: 22

Type of Literature: Apocalyptic

Have I read before? No. I've read plenty of bible story versions but they are very edited. I've stayed clear from reading this straight from the source from start to finish as it is so full of symbolism and confusing when you don't know what it all means. Of course, I've heard much of it at Mass, and read parts from my daily Mass readings.

Reason for reading: I previously read Scott Hahn's Hail, Holy Queen which very intelligently and understandably explained Mary's role in Revelation and as I read that part of Revelation, everything that I had learned from Hahn (and later discussed with my Deacon) made that part of the Book much more accessible to me. I am now going to read Hahn's The Lamb's Supper which professes to describe the relationship between Mass and the Book of Revelation so I thought I had better prepare myself first by actually reading Revelation from start to finish. It is a short Book, thankfully, as it is tough reading.

First Line:  "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw."

Last Line:  "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."

*according to The Catholic Encyclopedia

Friday, February 18, 2011

OT:‘Death panels’: Canadian court rules baby’s life support removed against parents’ wishes

THIS is Canada.

‘Death panels’: Canadian court rules baby’s life support removed against parents’ wishes

God have mercy on their souls!


Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins,
save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls into heaven,
especially those in most need of thy mercy.

34. Superman: Cosmic Bounty Hunter

Superman: Cosmic Bounty Hunter by Blake A. Hoena. Illustrated by Rick Burchett & Lee Loughridge (Canada) - (US)
DC Super Heroes series

Pages: 51
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 10, 2011
First Published: Aug. 2010
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: children, action, superheroes
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

On the faraway planet of Apokolips, a spaceship rumbled to a halt, kicking up a cloud of dirt and debris on the landing pad.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Stone Arch Books.

Reason for Reading: This book is too hard for my ds to read on his own and will be read aloud by dh as a bedtime book. But I like my superheroes too and wasn't going to miss out on the fun!

I like Superman fairly well. He's not my *favourite*, but he's cool. I hadn't heard of any of the bad guys in this story: Lobo, Kalibak and Desaad but I enjoyed this book the most of the 3 books I've just read in this series recently. Action packed from start to finish. We even have Lois going at Clark for scooping her on the front page once again to start the story off. It doesn't take long before Clark leaves Lois and Jimmy behind and the super action to start as Lobo is creating a havoc that Superman must put a stop to. Lobo (a bounty hunter) has been hired by the ruler of Kalibak and Desaad's planet to capture Superman with a new invention and bring him back to the planet. But when K & D interfere and Lobo finds himself captured and headed for Apokolips' dungeons too, he and Superman team up to turn the tables.

Lobo is a great villain here, he's actually a lot of fun for the full of himself biker-type. A great entry in the series. Written and illustrated by comic industry professionals, the story and characters all have an authentic feel. Each chapter has at least one full page illustration, some even have two, the pages of pure text are broken up for the reader by using comic book style graphics, in colour, for all the sound effect words. This nicely breaks up a two page spread of text which may otherwise seem daunting to reluctant readers. One of my favourites in the series.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

33. Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher

Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 350
Ages: 18+
Finished: Feb. 10, 2011
First Published: May 28, 2009
Publisher: Faith Words
Genre: horror, ghost story, christian fiction
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

On his knees, Dennis Shore cries out.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Hachette Book Group.

Reason for Reading: Ever since reading Ted Dekker, I'm wide open to the Christian Fiction/Horror/Thriller genre and this sounded right up my alley.

Dennis Shore has enjoyed a successful career as a horror writer but now, a widower, with his daughter off to college he is suffering a terrible case of writer's block and can't start his next book. In the meantime, his latest book has just hit the shelves and is as popular as ever. This is when he starts receiving e-mails from a crazed fan accusing him of plagiarizing that book from him. The emails turn into text messages and phone calls. Then parcels start arriving and other more threatening events happen as he meets his accuser, who just happens to really be the true author of Shore's latest bestseller. Dennis's imaginary world of horror is turning into a real life horror story.

This wasn't bad, not great, but okay. The Christian fiction angle of it is really not a big deal within the story and is stuck into the climax and denouement of the book's plot. This, I guess, is a way to appeal to both mainstream and Christian audiences but it feels forced, stuck on at the end. I'm a Christian reader of the book but I found myself shaking my head at the corny conversion. That aside, the horror story was quite well-written. An interesting and creepy story that is hard to make sense of at first. The reader is as confused as the main character wondering whether he is being stalked by a madman, visited by the supernatural, loosing his mind or a combination of all three. There are some fairly gruesome bits not for the faint of heart. The writing style does leave a lot to the imagination but enough details are given that you know exactly what happened and of course, being CF, there is no cursing. A decent horror story that I certainly enjoyed enough to have read the whole thing, but it feels as if the book is trying too hard to be Christian fiction that can crossover into mainstream fiction, and not quite succeeding. Thrasher has written several other books in this genre, though, and I'm willing to give him another try.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Looking to join a couple to new challenges

Anybody have any suggestions for me? I only have one challenge on the go now. The Mystery & Suspense challenge. I have a few criteria to join a challenge:

1. must run all year (end in Dec.)

2. must be a type of book I already read. (ie I officially finished the ARC, graphic novel & Canadian challenges so far this year. )

3. must be a decent amount of books (at least 12+, preferably more) so I don't look like the obsessive overachiever that I am. LOL

ARC Reading Challenge - COMPLETE

According to my records I have finished this challenge. My numbers don't match up with the official ones on the challenge blog, but I can't be bothered to go back and check which ones I forgot to add to the challenge blog. It doesn't matter though as I intend to keep adding my arcs read to the challenge site throughout the year as I did last year. But for the record this is *my* official list of 31 books for the Platinum Level of the challenge. The challenge blog will have me listed at over 30 soon enough. I'll be adding extras to the bottom of this list.

ARC Reading Challenge (Platinum Level 30+) (Jan-Dec. 2011)

1. The Boy Who Conquered Everest: The Jordan Romero Story by Katherine Blanc
2. Free Country by Jeremy Duns
3. Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan
4. Incorruptible, Vol. 2 by Mark Waid
5. Agatha Christie's Peril at End House by Didier Quella-Guyot
6. The Zabime Sisters by Aristophane
7. New Monster in School by Sean O'Reilly
8. The Incredible Rockhead vs. Papercut! by Scott Nickel
9. Luna Park by Kevin Baker
10. A Sickness in the Family by Denise Fuso
11. End Zone Thunder by Scott Ciencin
12. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves by Matthew K. Manning
13. Two Generals by Scott Chantler
14. Genkaku Picasso, vol. 1 by Usamaru Furuya
15. Fire in the Sky by J. Gunderson
16. MAOH: Junevie Remix,Vol.3
17. Tango and the Maigc Pencil by Sankgo Tomtmot
18. Rescue in the Bermuda Triangle by Marc Tyler Nobleman
19. Escape from Pompeii by Terry Collins
20. Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 3 by Kiiro Yumi
21. The Whirlwind World of Hurricanes with MaxAxiom, Super Scientist by Katherine Krohn
22. The Dynamic World of Chemical Reactions with MaxAxiom, Super Scientist by Agnieszka Biskup
23. The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild
24. Batman: Mad Hatter's Movie Madness by Donald Lemke
25. Unbroken: A Worl War II Story of Survival, Resiliance, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
26. Bubble in the Bathtub by Jo Nesbo
27. Death Note: Black Edition, Volume I by Tsugumi Ohba
28. City in Peril! by Paul Collicutt
29. Rust Attack! by Paul Collicutt
30. The Indestructible Metal Men by Paul Collicutt
31. Murder on the Robot City Express by Paul Collicutt

32. Wonder Woman: Rumble in the Rainforest by Sarah Hines Stephens
33. Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher
34. Superman: Cosmic Bounty Hunter by Blake A Hoena
35. Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book One by Tom Sniegoski
36. Jack London Call of the Wild Graphic Novel by Lloyd S. Wagner
37. Charles Dickens AS Christmas Carol Graphic Novel by Scott McCullar
38. Saints in Limbo by River Jordan
39. The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor
40. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver retold by Martin Jenkins
41. Incorruptible, vol 3 by Mark Waid
42. The Hollow People by Brian Keaney
43. Irredeemable, Vol. 5 by Mark Waid
44. Shantorian: Trackers, Book Two by Patrick Carman
45. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 4 by Hiroyuki Asada
46. Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today? by Agnes Rosenstiehl
47. Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 2 by Usamaru Furuya
48. Daytripper by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
49. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 1 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
50. The Deadly Conch by Mahtab Narsimhan
51. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
52. The Rukan Prophecy, Vermonia 4 by Yoyo
53. DC Super-Pets! Super Hero Splash Down by Jane Mason
54. Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker
55. Dragon Seer by Janet McNaughton
56. Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey
57. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 4 by Megumi Osuga
58. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
59. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
60. Slog's Dad by David Almond
61. Travelers Along the Way: The Men and Women Who Shaped My Life by Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.
62. Greek Myths retold by Marcia Williams
63. Stink and the Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown by Megan McDonald
64. Quiver by Holy Luhning
65. Greek Myths by Ann Turnbul
66. Death Note: Black Edition, Volume II by Tsugumi Ohba
67. Taro and the Terror of Eats Street by Sango Morimoto
68. Mystify by Artist Arthur
69. Merci Mister Dash by Monica Kullings
70. Royal Rodent Rescue by John Sazaklis. Illustrated by Art Batzazar
71. Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi
72. Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur by Tony Lee
73. My Dad's a Birdman by David Almond
74. Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum
75. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
76. Nearly Nonsense: Hoja Tales from Turkey by Rina Singh
77. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 2 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
78. In Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
79. More Stories from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
80. Dragonbreath #3: Curse of the Were-Wiener by Ursula Vernon
81. Dragonbreath #4: Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon
82. DC Super-Pets! The Fastest Pet on Earth by J.E. Bright
83. Graphic Classics: Western Classics edited by Tom Pomplun
84. Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
85. Love You More by Lisa Gardner
86.Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
87. Aquaman: Deepwater Disaster by J.E. Bright
88. The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy
89. Midway Monkey Madness by Sarah Hines Stephens
90. The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells
91. Why Catholics Are Right by Michael Coren
92. Cowboys & Aliens by Fred Van Lente
93. Toy Story: Toy Overboard by Jessie Blaze Snider
94. The Odyssey: Homer by Tim Mucci
95. Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Hunter by Maureen McGowan
96. Cinderella, Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
97. The Gates by John Connolly
98. The Sindbad Trilogy by Ludmila Zeman
99. Genkaku Picasso, Vol.3 by Usamaru Furuya
100. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
101. Heroes of the High Seas by J.E. Bright
102. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 5 by Hiroyuki Asada
103. Genesis by Bernard Beckett
104. MAOH: Juvenile Remix by Megumi Osuga
105. Tales of an African Vet by Roy Aronson
106. Death Note: Black Edition, Vol. 3 by Tsugumi Ohba
107. A Study in Scarlet by Ian Edginton
108. Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
109. Trickster: Native Americac Tales, A Graphic Collection edited by Matt Dembicki
110. I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg
111. Stones for my Father by TrilbyKent
112. Empire of the Ruins by Arthur Slade
113. Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 5 by Kiiro Yumi
114. Nick of Time by Tim Downs
115. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 3 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
116. Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman
117. DC Super Pets! Pooches of Power by Sarah Hines Stephens
118. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
119. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
120. Fallen by Karin Slaughter
121. Think of a Number by John Verdon
122. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
123. Capturing Joy: The Story of Maud Lewis by Jo Ellen Bogart
124. Picasso: Soul on Fire by Rick Jacobson
125. William Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice by John F. McDonald
126. Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote Part 1 by Lloyd S. Wagner
127. William Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet by John F. McDonald
128.Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Raymond Riggs
129. The Three Musketeers by Bruce Buchanan
130. The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
131. The Dusk Society by Sidney Williams & Mark Jones
132. Taro and the Carnival of Doom by Sango Morimoto
133. Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen
134. Death Note: Black Edition Vol. IV by Tsugumi Ohba
135. In Defense of the Realm by Sanjay Deshpande
136. Photo Booth by Lewis Helfand
137. The Flight of Dragons by Vivian French
138. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
139. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
140. Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace by Eric Wight
141. Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory by George O'Connor
142. Defiance, Resistance Book 2 by Carla Jablonski
143. Sita, Daughter of the Earth by Saraswati Nagpal
144. Space Race by C.E.L. Welsh
145. H.G. Wells: The War of the Worlds by Ryan Foley
146. Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Vol. 6 by Hiroyuki Asada
147. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 4 by Hiroshi Shiibashi
148. MAOH: Juvenile Remix, Vol. 6 by Megumi Osuga
149. The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles
150. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
151. Sinking Deeper or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster by Steve Vernon
152. Vermonia #5: The Warrior's Trial by Yoyo
153. After the Challenger by Robert Marsh
154. The Mysteries of Angkor Wat: Exploring Cambodia's Ancient Temple by Richard Sobol
155. The Midnight Charter by David Whitley
156. The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush by Howard Blum
157. Shimmer by Alyson Noel
158. Hamlet & Ophelia by John Marsden
159. George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream by Daniel Abraham
160. The Tiffin by Mahtab Narsimhan
161. Jeannie Out of the Bottle by Barbara Eden
162. Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
163. Treasures from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
164. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery edited by Tom Pomplun
165. Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs by Marcia Williams
166. The Clockwork Girl by Sean O'Reilly & Kevin Hanna
167. The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason
168. Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen
169. Orcs: Forged for War by Stan Nicholls
170. Green Lantern: Web of Doom by Michael Anthony Steele
171. Bleeder by John Desjarlais
172. The Remains of War: Surviving the Other Concentration Camps of World War II by G. Pauline Kok-Schugars
173. Green Lantern: Savage Sands by J.E. Bright
174. I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
175. First Descent by Pam Withers
176. Tales from India: Stories of Creation and the Cosmos by Jamila Gavin
177. The Dragon Turn by Shane Peacock
178. Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow by Daniel Nayeri
179. In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps it Up by Monica Kulling
180. The White Ballets: Swan Lake, Giselle, and La Bayadere by Rajka Kupesic
181. Holy Women by Pope Benedict XVI
182. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
183. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
184. Felix Takes the Stage by Kathryn Lasky
185. That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1912 by Sarah Ellis
186. Blood and Iron: Building the Railway, Lee Heen-gwong, British Columbia, 1882 by Paul Yee

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro. Illustrated by Giulio Maestro (Canada) - (US)
Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Level 2

Pages: 32
Ages: 6+
Finished: Feb. 8, 2011
First Published: 1992
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: children, non-fiction, science, nature
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

When you bite into a juicy apple, you're eating part of a flower.

Acquired: Purchased used at a book/garage sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: Ds read aloud to me as his reader.

This series is perfect for basic introductions to science topics. Told simply, but with enough detail to present the topic thoroughly. The text is written in a narrative voice that is friendly while being informative. The pictures illustrate diagrams with lines pointing to certain parts being discussed and throughout the story the same orchard and family are featured. A perfect combination of text and illustrations make this an enjoyable and understandable read for all. This husband & wife team always produce excellent non-fiction children's books together. You can't go wrong when you mix The Maestros with the "Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science" series.

On another note, not part of my official review. I pre-checked this book before giving it to ds to read and was certain that the reading level would be on target for him. I knew I'd have to help a bit with some big words, as usual, but there were plenty of words which may have been new vocabulary to him but were simple to sound out such as "pistil". Unfortunately, he had an amazingly hard time reading the book, even with words he knew. This brings me to the conclusion that he needs more regular practice with non-fiction books since the natural flow of a sentence can't just come to him and he can't just guess the correct word based on the first few letters of a word like he can with fiction. Naturally, non-fiction takes a lot more actual "reading" and I may have to start going to the library for some nf easy readers, if I run out at home.

32. Wonder Woman: Rumble in the Rainforest

Wonder Woman: Rumble in the Rainforest by Sarah Hines Stephens. Illustrated by Dan Schoening (Canada) - (US)
DC Super Heroes series

Pages: 51
Ages: 8+
Finished: Feb. 8, 2011
First Published: Aug. 2010
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: children, action, superheroes, environment
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

In the main ballroom of a hotel, men and women wearing nametags and fancy clothes chatted politely.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Stone Arch Books.

Reason for Reading: This book is too hard for my ds to read on his own and will be read aloud by dh as a bedtime book. But I like my superheroes too and wasn't going to miss out on the fun!

The plot involves a man known for his ruthless business tactics, no matter the harm done to human or nature in the process, who is being honoured for running a plant which makes drinkable water from ocean water on a small rainforest island country. Princess Diana is one of the delegates at the ceremony and she senses this man has not turned over a new leaf. She goes into Wonder Woman mode and discovers that his water treatment facility is just a facade for a much more evil business which is ruining the rainforest in the process. While she is out in the jungle she runs upon two enemies fighting each other: Gorilla Grodd and Poison Ivy. She manages to convince them that while they are not all on the same team, this time they are all on the same side; that of the rainforest.

Personally, I find eco-fiction a little tiring these days but am at least glad to see that this book deals with a real issue that once made headlines but no longer seems as media-worthy these days. Aside from that, I loved the action! What fun to have not one, but two super-villains show up in a story. Particularly Poison Ivy who is a personal favourite female villain. Somehow I've missed meeting Gorilla Grodd before but he adds a high dose of masculinity to the story for boys as do the eventual robots they all end up fighting at the water treatment centre.

Written and illustrated by comic industry professionals, the story and characters all have an authentic feel. Each chapter has at least one full page illustration, some even have two, the pages of pure text are broken up for the reader by using comic book style graphics, in colour, for all the sound effect words. This nicely breaks up a two page spread of text which may otherwise seem daunting to reluctant readers. Great comic action in a chapter book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

28.-31 - Robot City Adventures Vol. 1 - 4

Publisher: Templar Books

Series: Robot City Adventures by Paul Collicutt

Ages: 9+

Acquired: Received review copies of Vol. 3 & 4 from Candlewick Press, so I went ahead and borrowed Vol. 1 & 2 from my local library.

Reason for Reading: I love the idea of a Robot City where humans and robots are friends, and the covers are really cool too. The robots are all shiny.

28. Vol. 1: City in Peril! - (2009) Here we are introduced to Robot City and this story mainly features Curtis, the colossal coast-guard robot. I absolutely loved him! What a cool, massive robot! Obviously he works for the coast-guard and is a giant lighthouse shaped robot, who is in charge of smaller (than him) buoy shaped robots who do most of the manual work involved in the job of the coast guard. After rescuing a crew and fixing an oil leak out on a rig a giant squid comes to Robot City's shores and wraps itself around a bridge. Following him are tons and tons of other sea life. Curtis goes out to fight off this squid but eventually finds out that it and the sea life are trying to communicate with him. An exciting robot superhero story a little reminiscent of transformers (without the transforming lol). The feel of the story actually reminded me of the '90s cartoon series Rescue Heroes. The book is done in old-time comic book style with newsprint type pages (though thicker quality paper) and pre-'80s comic book illustrations. I really enjoyed it though I was disappointed with the ending which was cliched with a message rather than exciting. (4/5)

29. Vol. 2: Rust Attack (2009) A completely unrelated story to volume one. We are introduced to the city's best confidential detective agency which includes former police officers Mike, human, Rod, robot and secretary, Elaine, human, who seems to work more in the field than behind a desk. One day a sexy female robot walks in, one of the automettes, a dancer at Robot City Music Hall, and shows she has rust, in fact all the robot automettes have been infected. This is serious business. Nothing is more frightening to the robots than rust and a rust epidemic in Robot City would be catastrophic. The detectives are on the job moving from one suspect to another. This is a really fun story, written in an old noir detective style and illustrated in old-time comic book style with newsprint type pages (though thicker quality paper) and pre-'80s comic book illustrations. Volume 1 does not have to be read first as the stories are not related, though followers are rewarded with a mention of Curtis's name on page 4 and a small cameo scene appearance by the giant robot towards the end. Two completely different types of stories is making an interesting series. I'm looking forward to volume 3. (4/5)

30. Vol. 3: The Indestructible Metal Men (2010) This series continues to contain it's momentum with yet another style of story. Again, a separate story in which the previous volumes need not be read but readers who have been following in order are given a nod with a couple of significant appearance of none other than Curtis, the Lighthouse Robot, and a short cameo by investigators Rod and Mike. A hundred years ago robots (then called metal men) were first being worked on by famous scientist Dr. Greenwood. Greenwood unfortunately went down on an ocean liner disaster along with his three indestructible men. Seventy years later one of them appeared out of the sea onto dry land and immediately shut down, he's been in Robot City's Museum ever since. But now evil Mr. Furniss has discovered another of the Metal Men and inadvertently turned on a communication signal. The first robot then takes off to find him. It is up to young scientist Sarah Cross and her robot assistant to track him down and eventually stop Mr. Furniss from his nefarious doings. Loved this issue! Again, it had everything you want in a comic, great story line, plenty of action, adventure and cool robots. The book is done in old-time comic book style with newsprint type pages (though thicker quality paper) and pre-'80s comic book illustrations. And we have a funny ending this time that made me giggle and look forward to volume 4. (4/5)

31. Vol. 4: Murder on the Robot City Express (2010) Now we turn to a full cast of robots as the newest train of tne Line is trying to beat the record of the last one seven years ago. Aboard are all sorts of big shots, such as directors, actors, sports figures, businessmen, rich girls with dogs and any one rich enough to get on this sure to be a gala trip. Problem is, someone dies on the trip, a quantum physicist. First glance looks like perhaps suicide, but his room has been ransacked. Have important papers been stolen or perhaps something much more valuable? The owner is not about the stop the train on this record breaking run so he puts the the robot Harrison, a simple conductor, in charge of finding out what happened based on the fact that he's always reading murder novels. Well Harrison turns out to be one bright cookie and he starts narrowing down the field to a significant amount of people who could have wanted Prof. Shimizu dead and starts his interrogations. Going to the head of the train whenever he needs information sent to him from authorities or interesting places. A fun mystery, with some real clever detecting going on. It may be hard to figure out whodunit with this one. And "no"! they didn't all do it! haha. Lots of robots on board but with all the characters we don't really get to connect with any of them except Harrison, the conductor and cute Curt: The Coffee Robot (who is on his first day on the job). The book is done in old-time comic book style with newsprint type pages (though thicker quality paper) and pre-'80s comic book illustrations. This is certainly the best of all four books in this series to date. A great read for anyone who likes a little science fiction pulp in their mystery. No word on whether there will be any more in the series at this date yet. Oh, and I forgot to mention there is one small cameo appearance by Curtis the Lighthouse Robot, making him the only robot to have appeared in all 4 volumes. (5/5)