Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Salon: Sept. 30, 2012


What happened since last Sunday: My health is much better, in fact I feel fantastic.  The medication is working wonderfully and I am finally pain-free, (really the first time since the summer).  Needless to say I feel like a million bucks and I finally updated my weightloss blog with my 100lb post.  I've actually lost 102 lbs as of last Monday (watch the ticker at the top of this blog to see if it changes with tomorrow's weigh-in) and I posted with pictures of my before and after.  Wow!  I can hardly believe it.  Please go over and help me celebrate!

My best friend came back late Thursday night from a 2-week trip to Ireland.  She went with the church on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Patrick.  So it was fantastic to talk to her on the phone and meet up with her on Sat. eve mass.  Looking forward to a get-together to hear all about the trip and see all her souvenirs and photos.  I bought a gorgeous pair of black pumps with tiny gold studs on the toe at Sears for their "Sears Day" sale for $20, regular price $69.99 (I'm turning into such a shoe whore).  Ds is at respite this weekend and as usual it was WWIII getting him there, well I guess by this time we are up to WWVII.  You all know he's autistic and what a fuss we have getting him there.  He does not like leaving home and it is very hard on everyone but as soon as we get him there (dad and I are bruised, ds is red in the face and swollen from crying, typical meltdown after effects) ... as soon as we get him there he walks in says hi to a leader, chats with someone, laughs and couldn't care less when we leave!  

So after that ds and I went out for dinner, fish and chips.  Then off to the book shop and a coffee.  I bought the latest issue of The Strand.  I'm thinking of subscribing, so taking a serious look at this month's issue.

Now on to books & blogging!

What I read last week (reviews to come)(links take you to amazon.com):
This was such a sloooow reading week for me!!
Manga: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Wisdom (3) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Short story: "The Return" by Edith Reveley
YA Novel: Far North by Will Hobbs
Novel: Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
Short story:"We are the Fine Musicians" by Paul Darcy Boyles
Short story: "The Coat by Emma Golden
CollectionThe Circus Infinitus Stories Volume 1 by Ethan Somerville (2 stories)

What we watched:  We watched the DVD Ewoks: Caravan of Courage and watched a couple more episodes of the Batman cartoon we are watching on DVD.  Last night Dh and I watched Grown-Ups with Adam Sandler.

What I posted last week (links take you to my reviews/posts):
Graphic Novel: Bucko by Jeff Parker
Graphic Novel: The Iron Spirit by Steve Niles
Picture Book: Peg and the Whale by Kenneth Oppel
Juvenile Book: Cam Jansen and the Birthday Mystery (#20) by David A. Adler
Novel: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

What I plan to read this week (links will take you to amazon.com)
Graphic Novel: Thief of Thieves, Vol. 1: I Quit by Robert Kirkman
Memoir: Growing Up Bronx by H.A. Hargreaves
Graphic Novel: Fables #17: Inherit the Wind (finished it last night)
YA Novel: Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
Novel: Firestarter by Stephen King
Graphic Novel: Broxo by Zack Giallongo
Collection: The Circus Infinitus Stories Volume 1 by Ethan Somerville

250. Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation, & Defense, 3rd Edition


Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation, & Defense, 3rd Edition by William E. May, Rev. Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap., & Joseph Boyle, Jr.
Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur (2011)

Pages: 340 +index
Ages: 18+
Finished: Sept. 16, 2012
First Published: Aug. 22, 2011
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Genre: non-fiction, Catholic, theology, philosophy
Rating: 5/5




First sentence: "When Cabernet's wing regenerates, he'll head straight for the Capital."

Publisher's Summary:  "The authoritative work on the Church's teaching on sexual morality has been thoroughly updated to address dimensions of this complex topic that have emerged in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Since publication of the 2nd edition of Catholic Sexual Ethics, the philosophical landscape of human sexuality has dramatically changed. The rise of such concerns as moral relativism, the drive for same-sex unions, and a drastic redefinition of "marriage" and "family" have underscored the need for an unambiguous, up-to-date understanding of Catholic sexual teaching.
  • Features:
  • Summary of Catholic teaching on sexuality from biblical times to our own.
  • Presentation of principal elements of the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI on marriage in the early years of his pontificate.
  • Discussion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 2003 Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.
  • Integration of more recent materials that clarify issues into the existing framework of the book.
Whether you are involved in ministry, education, or catechesis, you will benefit from having this essential resource near at hand."

Acquired:  This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation, & . The Catholic Company is a great resource for tools to help you participate in the Year of Faith, including Year of Faith bible studies and exclusive Year of Faith personalized gifts. The Catholic Company also has all your Advent needs in stock, such as Advent calendars and Advent wreaths.

Reason for Reading: I am very strong in my faith and have a profound interest in moral theology and ethics.

Sometimes I feel like I've got in over my head when I set out to "review" a book and this is one of those times.  Of course I'm not going to actually "review" this as I am nowhere near as intelligent or learned on this subject as the authors. That's one of the reasons I read it!  So these brief musings will be my description and notes on this book, to perhaps help another reader decide if it is the book for them.  First of all this book is what one would call a textbook; I would presume it is used in colleges, etc, however it is not written in a dry, hard to understand voice, nor is it extremely technical nor does it require complex reading skills.  Rather, written for the laymen who is ready to study the topic at a further advanced level beyond an "off the shelf" layman's book.  The book does require some thinking and effort but it is by no means unapproachable and at times the reading even flies.  But the material is so interesting, inspiring, reaffirming, and possibly life-changing, that one will want to read passages over and over again before moving on.

I'd like to mention that "Catholic Sexual Ethics" is not all about the sex.  The last three chapters focus exclusively on sexuality, however the rest of the book concentrates on other topics which are more important than sex and then brings in how sex is related to that topic.  One thread that runs through the book is that humans are sexual beings by nature but sexual lust & pleasure does not define who we are as humans.  Our relationship with God defines us, and how we express ourselves sexually needs to be with the presence of the Holy Spirit in mind.

Following ethics and morality as taught by the Church is a most glorious and wonderful thing.  One cannot imagine the beauty of this life unless one has experienced it and this book attempts to take all the high-faluting language down a few notches so the reader can understand what it means to respect the God-given body, yours and others.

First this book takes us through the history of sexual teaching in three chapters: first the Church's teachings, the Bible's teachings, and finally Catholic Traditions' teaching.  These three are all one-in-the-same only with different degrees of clarity and one defines the other to the point of no misinterpretation. These chapters set a foundation on just what sex is, and why it is.  The answers are very contradictory to modern society's hedonistic nature, but if one can read this for the true beauty of what the relationship is between God and his gift to us of sex, then you will be prepared for the rest of the book.

Follows are chapters on patterns of thinking in moral theology, Conscience: it's meaning and formation and finally Chastity, Virginity & Christian Marriage (three things which some may be surprised to find do walk hand in hand with each other).  This is the first chapter that solely concerns itself with sexuality.

The last two chapters concern Chastity and it's Obligations first for the Married Person and lastly for the Unmarried Person.

Christian Catholic Ethics are not a book or list of rules.  They are an explanation of what God expects from us when we are living mature Christian lives; we put God first, we invite the Holy Spirit in us to participate in all we do.  This isn't easy, but it isn't any unnatural hardship either.  The outcome is beautiful.  This book shows us where modern society and biblical (traditional) ethics parted and the damage it does to the soul.  If you are anything like me, you will be thinking about how you live your life and possibly making some adjustments.  Highly recommended for those teaching this subject, working with youth on the subject and anyone ready to dig deeper into how they can live their life closer to God, while reaping the rewards.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

249. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths


A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Ruth Galloway, #4

Pages: 346
Ages: 18+
Finished: Sep. 15, 2012
First Published:  Feb. 21, 2012
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Genre: mystery, forensic archaeology, horse racing
Rating: 4/5




First sentence: "The coffin is definitely a health and safety hazard."

Publisher's Summary:  "Set in Norfolk, England, embroils, once again, our brainy heroine in a crime tinged by occult forces. On Halloween night, the Smith Museum in King's Lynn is preparing for an unusual event — the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. Topham's death seems to be related to other uncanny incidents, including the arcane and suspect methods of a group called the Elginists, which aims to repatriate the museum's extensive collection of Aborigine skulls; the untimely demise of the museum's owner, Lord Smith; and the sudden illness of DCI Harry Nelson, who Ruth's friend Cathbad believes is lost in The Dreaming — a hallucinogenic state central to some Indigenous Australian beliefs. Tensions build as Nelson's life hangs in the balance. Something must be done to set matters right and lift Nelson out of the clutches of death, but will Ruth be able to muster herself out of a state of guilt and foreboding in order to do what she does best?"


Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

I loved the fourth entry in the Ruth Galloway mystery series.  Elly Griffiths has managed to combine the unrelated but unique topics of Australian Aborigines and horse racing to create a fascinating murder mystery which is directly related to the main character's profession of forensic archaeology.  Griffiths keeps the reader on her toes, sending us down quite a few rabbit trails so we never know who to trust in this story with  a wide pool of potential suspects, some very close to home for Ruth.  Not the usual serial killer story, but still more than one body, which is how I like my crime books, I thoroughly relished this plot.  There was a teeny bit of  'hocus-pocus' left unresolved, however, that I'd prefer not to have in a mystery, thus my 4 stars.

Ruth's private life takes leaps and bounds in this volume, moving along to another level.  I really like how Grifiths is moving her main character's lives along in this series unlike some others out there where they languish in an unresolved relationship for seven books.  No, Ruth and Nelson are both interesting characters whose lives are moving at the pace of real life people and they are just as entertaining as the mysteries in this series.  I didn't quite fancy "The House at Sea's End" but this is on par with books 1 & 2.  Looking forward to more from this series.

Friday, September 28, 2012

248. Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of a Genius by Atsuo Sugaya


Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of a Genius by Atsuo Sugaya. Illustrated by Tatsuyoshi Kobayashi (US) - (Canada)
Biographical Comics

Pages: 144
Ages: 9+
Finished: Sept. 11, 2012
First Published:  Sept. 4, 2012
Publisher: Shogakukan
Genre: manga, biography, history, inventor, artist, renaissance
Rating: 5/5




First sentence: "If you're going to be kept in a cage ... you may as well drink poison and die!""

Publisher's Summary:  "Creator of the world-famous painting the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci is widely considered the greatest genius of all time, his knowledge and ingenuity extending far beyond the field of art. A scientist and inventor, he experimented with flight, studied the human anatomy, and conducted military expeditions. However, some details of his life are less well known. As an artist, he completed only a few works of art, including The Last Supper, and many of his inventions never came to fruition. In his personal writing, he often employed "mirror writing," writing in reverse from right to left. He traveled extensively and died in France more than 500 years ago, leaving many mysteries about his life behind. In this Biographical Comic, we will explore these mysteries, his thoughts on his creations, and the influence of his mother."


Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading:  I enjoy graphic biographies.

One of the better biographies I've seen done for kids in the graphic format, never mind in manga!  Divided into chapters and presented in American format (front to back) this reads as a normal book but has the distinct manga presentation in its artwork and style.  At 144 pages long plenty of space is given to tell a fairly detailed story of da Vinci's life at this level quickly moving up to his young manhood and onwards.  Pictures of his actual work are included as are those of contemporaries.  The book concentrates more on what inspired Leonardo, what compelled him, how he learnt, where his methods came from than his actual time spent painting his masterpieces.  There is also a map and a timeline included for reference.  The artwork is enjoyable and the story is highly entertaining, which should cause young readers who find these topics of interest to further explore the man and work.  An impressive little book that makes me want to check out the others in this series.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

247. Cam Jansen and the Birthday Mystery by David A. Adler


Cam Jansen and the Birthday Mystery by David A. Adler. Illustrated by Susanna Natti  (US) - (Canada)
Cam Jansen Mystery, #20

Pages: 58
Ages: 7+
Finished: Sep. 10, 2012
First Published: 2000
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: children, mystery, theft, grandparents
Rating: 4/5



First sentence: "Quack! Quack!"

Publisher's Summary: "Not only does Cam Jansen have a birthday mystery to solve...she has one to celebrate! The Cam Jansen series marks its twentieth year with the twentieth book featuring Cam Jansen and her photographic memory. When Cam's grandparents are robbed on their way to a surprise birthday party, Cam puts her memory to work to solve the mystery. The clue is in the story--try to find it before Cam does!"

Acquired: Purchased a used copy from the library discards/for sale table.

Reason for Reading: My son read this aloud to me and we've read the second book in the series.  This book is just a bit too hard for him so I need to help frequently and now and then take over reading a page but he's doing quite well, we are going to do more in this series as he likes it quite well and it will be an indicator of his improvement when he can read them without (much) struggle.

This is a fun, intelligent mystery for younger kids.  The clues are there.  Cam has used her photographic memory once again to picture the scene but she's not a know-it-all and isn't sure how to piece it all together so it makes sense.  The kids' never go off into dangerous territory without the required adult present: the father, a police officer, etc.  Nothing silly here but the dialogue is light-hearted and the family and friends have fun even amidst the discomfort of having their luggage and gifts stolen.  Well-written mystery series for beginning chapter book readers and early fans of the genre.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

6th Canadian Book Challenge - FINISHED

ETA:  Sept. 26 - I have officially finished the challenge having read 13 Canadian authored books.  However I will continue to keep adding books to this list and the blog until the challenge is over.

Happy Canada Day!  And you know what that means!  Time to start a new annual, make that 6th annual, Canadian Book Challenge.  Rules are same as the first, read 13 books by Canadian authors or set in Canada by June 30, 2013.

Review links can be posted here.

1. Emma's Emu by Kenneth Oppel
2. The King's Taster by Kenneth Oppel
3. Peg and the Yeti by Kenneth Oppel
4. Butterfly Tears by Zoe S. Roy
5. Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Precious Little Life by Brian Lee O'Malley
6. Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires
7. White Lies by Jeremy Bates
8. This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
9. A Door in the Wall by Inger Ash Wolfe
10. Jake and the Big Hairy Lie by Phil Calloway
11. Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: vs the World by Brian Lee O'Malley
12. Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire
13. Peg and the Whale by Kenneth Oppel

Or More
**  "Some Kind of Piggery Jokery" by Molly Miron
14. Scott Pilgrim (3) & The Infinite Sadness by Bryan O'Malley
15. Whirlpool by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
** "The Man Who Walks on the Sky" by Shane Peacock
16. Far North by Will Hobbs
17. Growing Up Bronx: A Memoir of my Shapers and Shakers by H.A. Hargreaves
18. Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
19. Scott Pilgrim (4) Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley
20. Anna's Red Sled by Patricia Quinlan
21. Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock
22. Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman
23. Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young Children by Douglas Coupland
24. Laura Secord: A Story of Courage by Janet Lunn.
25. Going Up! Elisha Otis's Trip to the Top by Monica Kulling
26. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O'Malley
27. The Secret of the Stone Frog by Dave Nytra
28. Bigfoot Boy: Into the Woods by J. Torres & Faith Erin Hicks
29. Grim Leaper by Kurtis J. Wiebe
30. Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires
31. The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux
32. Thieves & Kings, Vol. 1: The Red Book by Mark Oakley
33. Thieves & Kings, Vol. 2: The Green Book by Mark Oakley
34. Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
35. The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
36. Scott Pilgrim`s Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O`Malley
37. That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore
38. Let's Kill Uncle by Rohan O'Grady
39. Thieves & Kings, Vol. 3: The Blue Book by Mark Oakley
40. Night's Child by Maureen Jennings
41. Island of Doom by Arthur Slade
42. Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley
43. The Thirteenth Rose by Gail Bowen
44. Thieves & Kings V4: The Shadow Book by Mark Oakley
45. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay
46. Thieves & Kings V5: The Winter Book by Mark Oakley
47. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks
48.






246. Peg and the Whale by Kenneth Oppel

Peg and the Whale by Kenneth Oppel. Illustrated by Terry Widener (US) - (Canada)  OUT OF PRINT
Peg (#2)

Pages: 32
Ages: 4+
Finished: Sep. 8, 2012
First Published: 2000
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Genre: picture book, tall tale, Canadian author
                                                      Rating: 4/5



First sentence: "Peg was born upon the bright blue sea."

Publisher's Summary:  "Peg was born upon the bright blue sea.

A big, strapping lass, she isn't one to do things in half measures. Anything she turns her hand to, she's good at. But she wants more than that. She wants big, she wants better, she wants best. She wants to be the world's best fisherman....

Now that Peg's pushing seven, she figures it's high time she caught herself a whale. So she packs up her fishing rod and signs on with the whaling ship Viper. Peg is ready to catch a whale. But is the whale ready for Peg?

In this humorous nautical tall tale, Kenneth Oppel and Terry Widener have created a feisty, independent child hero for the ages."

Acquired:  Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading:  I am reading all of the author's books.

I am glad that I read the second book first as I enjoyed that one much better than this, though I've given them both 4 stars.  Rating picture books is difficult as I have to remember they are for kids and not adult me.  This book is just as appealing to kids.  Oppel has written a fun, original, tall tale about an independent little girl who wants to catch herself a whale.  An enormously over-the-top adventure as she takes off on her own, joins a whaling ship, catches a whale with a fishing rod, gets taken for a ride, makes a home for herself inside his stomach and voyages up to the arctic.  After fashioning a rudder to steer the whale Peg manages to make it back to her parents' fishing boat and the book ends with her ready to do something even bigger and better.  The picture shows her in the mountains with Mt. Everest in the horizon and this is where she'll meet the Yeti in book 2.  What I didn't like in this one is that Peg doesn't connect with the whale like she does with the Yeti, the whale is not tamed and doesn't become her "friend".  I was also spoiled by Barbara Reid's illustrations in Yeti and was underwhelmed to see the different illustrator here.  The illustrations are bright and bold, pleasant but no Barbara Reid.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday



This week's list is sooooo me.  Make a list of the top ten series you haven't finished for whatever reason (haven't got around to it, didn't like it, etc.)  Hahaha....  I am by nature a series reader and about 3/4 (maybe more) of what I read is part of a series.  This list could be my top 500 series I haven't finished {sigh}, but I will concentrate on 10 series I really *need* and *want* to finish but just haven't for some reason.

1.  The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray- I absolutely LOVED the first two books in this series and pre-ordered the 3rd but when it arrived on my doorstep and I opened the package and found a what? 9000 page doorstopper {slight exaggeration} I was disgusted and put it on my shelf and there it remains.  In reality it is only 832 pages but this was 5 years ago, a long time to wait.  I want to make this one a priority next year.

2. The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix - I was faithfully reading this series as each book came out each year but by the time I got to "Friday", Book 5, I found I had forgotten how the series started and was forgetting too much between books and not enjoying them as much as I would if I read them closer together so I decided to wait until the last 2 books were published, then I'd start the series over again from scratch as I had really enjoyed it in the beginning.  Well, the last book was published in 2010 and I still haven't got around to this yet.

3. Mo Hayder - OK, this is a cheat.  This is an author, not a series.  However most of her books belong to a series with her throwing in a standalone every now and then.  I ordered Hanging Hill (a standalone) from the UK so I could have it hot off the press.  No waiting for the Canadian edition.  But I haven't read it.  Because if I do that means I have no more Mo Hayder books left for me to read :-( So I'm hanging on to it until a new one comes out, which I will order from the UK and sit on and repeat the above process.  Checking AmazonUK, I see my wait will soon be over as a new book in her series is due out in the UK in Mar. 2013.

4. The Mitford Series by Jan Karon - I somehow got started in the middle of this series with book 3, the proceeded to read books 4 &5.  I hate reading series out of order.  It was at this time I thought I'd better go back and read the first two.  This was all well before blogging days.  Now the series is all over with 9 books in total and I haven't proceeded any further than those 3 middle books.  {sigh}

5. Rabbi Small Mysteries by Harry Kemelman - I read the first three books in this series in one of those big omnibus editions and I was absolutely charmed with both the mysteries and Rabbi Small.  I've always wanted to continue on with this series.  Whenever I go to thrift shops, garage sales, etc. I pick up any I don't have, so I have a few of them on the shelves now, but alas, I have never read any past the first three.

6. Faery Realms by R.J. Anderson - The third book in this trilogy was not published in North America due to some sort of leak of the manuscript (I'm not sure of the whole story).  Anyway I just adored the first two books so much that I ordered the last one, Arrow, from the UK and was soooooo giddy when it arrived.  But have I read it yet??? Not!

7. The Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black - I loved the first book in this series and have the second two languishing on the shelf.  Why?  I haven't a clue.  Every time I look at them, I want to read them, but I never do.

8. Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell - I have read the first book in this series and that is that.  Rather embarrassing actually, since forensic thrillers is one of my specialties and this is supposed to be "the" series that started it all.

9. Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Collen Gleason -I enjoyed this series so much, and it's really not a genre I usually read, but when it came to the last book, #5, I just never got around to requesting it from the library.

10. The Amazing Spiderman by J. Michael Straczynski - I was reading these from the library, one at a time, in order, and really enjoying the experience.  I got up to Vol. 8, then something came up and I never did put the next volume on hold.  The rest is history; I've never read another volume since.  I just need to make that move and get the next volume and it will keep me rolling along again.

173. The Iron Spirit by Steve Niles

The Iron Spirit by Steve Niles. Art by Scott Morse (US) - (Canada)
Criminal Macabre: Cal McDonald Mystery (Graphic Novel #7)

Pages: 34
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jun. 24, 2012
First Published: Sep. 25, 2012
Publisher: Dark Horse
Genre: graphic novel, horror, ghost story, paranormal, detective, picturebook
Rating: 5/5



First sentence: "It was 3 a.m. when I heard the knock on the door of my Studio City sh*t hole."

Publisher's Summary: A haunted veteran leads monster hunter Cal McDonald to a creepy subterranean military base where mad science experiments were conducted on US soldiers. Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) takes his occult detective into an exciting new format with Eisner winner Scott Morse of Pixar and TR!CKSTER fame! Published as an oversized board book hardcover at 9"x12" with rounded corners.

Acquired: Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

Reason for Reading: I love horror stories and I love detective stories.  Putting the two together like this reminded me of "Angel" and my interest was piqued.

Have you ever read something by an author you've never heard of and suddenly feel like you've discovered a secret world someone, somewhere (THEY) have been hiding it from you.  This is how I felt while I was reading "Iron Spirit".  I just couldn't believe it was this good.  An absolutely fantastic, creepy, scary ghost/horror story on an equal footing with the King himself.  I look up the author and he has a whole series of Cal McDonald stories under a series called Criminal Macabre: both graphic novels and text novels as well as short stories, plus he's written other stuff too.  Why haven't I heard of this guy before!  This illustrated short story, perhaps more accurately called a picture book for adults than a graphic novel, is a superb little story.  Even though this is my first introduction to Cal, the story introduced him to me very well, gave me some insight to his character, enough to understand him and the book has me itching to read more Cal McDonald.

I also loved the art in this book.  Line drawings splashed with watercolour, using mostly cool colours, blues, violets which tend to keep the atmosphere eerie.  Watch my reviews as you will certainly be seeing more books by Steve Niles here!

Monday, September 24, 2012

244. Bucko by Jeff Parker


The Collected Bucko by Jeff Parker. Art by Erika Moen. Forward by Steve Lieber. (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 144
Ages: Adult
Finished: Sept. 7, 2012
First Published: 2011 webcomic (Sep. 12, 2012 this edition)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Genre: Graphic novel, humour, adult
Rating: 5/5



First sentence: "Hey--didn't you need to get up?"

Publisher's Summary:  "After discovering a dead body in an office bathroom, hungover job interviewee Rich “Bucko” Richardson becomes suspected of the murder. What he thinks is a quest to find the real killer turns into a weeklong romp through the wilds of Portland, Oregon, complete with bike-mounted cover bands, steampunk Makers, Juggalos, SuicideGirls, meth heads, so much absinthe, and an entire city made of books. After taking the Internet by storm, Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s dirty, funny murder mystery is now the most hilarious book in comic shops!

*Includes brand-new strips, commentary, and info on the real-life inspirations for Bucko!

*Best new webcomic of 2011!"

Acquired: Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

Reason for Reading:  I just couldn't pass up the dead guy in the bathroom plot even though I was a little leary that the book might be beyond my tastes of decorum.

For me, this is one of those books that I was surprised to have enjoyed so much and also somewhat embarrased as it is not my typical fare and *not* what I would recommend to my regular readers who know that I point out issues one may have with a book's moral/indecent attributes.  Well, let me say, this is the first book, I've ever reviewed that I've felt necessary to lable *adult*.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not really like *that*.  It's all innuendo and talk.  There is bad language; it is irreverent and well just plain downright dirty in parts, nothing graphic mind you.  But it is absolutely hilarious and I didn't find myself offended at all.  These people were just so waaay out of my realm of experience I couldn't relate to them as real people but they were downright quirky and I know such types *do* exist in the world.  I was chuckling and really had a ball.  A little uncomfortable at first, but the two main characters Rich (Bucko) Richardson and Gyp(sy) are adorable and so genuine I fell for them right away no matter how misguided they were.

This book will not be for everyone and probably not for my usual blog readers but those of you who are here for my graphic novel and quirky book reviews will certainly appreciate this.  While this is a print edition of a webcomic, it includes major bonus material for the fan.  There is an introduction by Steve Lieber and one by Parker and Moen.  There is also a running commentary at the bottom of most pages by the author/illustrator.  Then there is a bonus comic on the Jugalette's story of her life and a look at the process of how a page was made; finally ending with a photo gallery.

A hilarious romp, on the wild-side, but not beyond acceptable to my tastes, even though I was a little shocked here and there.  Let's say I spent quite a bit of time looking up definitions of words I hadn't a clue about and got quite an education on how the "other side" lives.  Really hilarious though.  Loved it!

DVD Break: Ewoks: Caravan of Courage


Ewoks: Caravan of Courage orig. title The Ewok Adventure - (1984) - (DVD) - (Made for TV) - (ILL)  

After watching the sequel to this, which we own at home, we thought we would try ILL and see if we could come up with the first original made for TV movie since it too had received an Emmy.  This movie however we found rather tiresome.  After the initial sequences in which the children are separated from the parents and we get to see some huge special effects creatures, the movie really slows down.  The brother's character really bothered me.  He doesn't trust the Ewoks at first, calls them names, then suddenly he's ok with them, but he continues to have an attitude the entire film.  Cindel's main purpose seems to be to stand around and look pathetic.  Which she is very good at doing.  Anyway nothing of significance happens as they look for their parents except a few comic moments with the Ewoks, until the big scene at the end where everyone is reunited.  Ds was bored with the movie and I was glad when it was over.  The sequel is much better.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Salon: Sept. 23, 2012


I've decided to join the Sunday Salon.  I've been reading and commenting on the posts for years but have never participated myself.  I've decided to join in a few memes and thought this would be a good one.

What happened since last Sunday:  Health crisis.  The previous week I'd had exploratory surgery on my abdomen and they didn't find anything, PTL, but that meant was I was still in excruciating pain. Went back to see surgeon on Thurs. He was pretty confident the surgery ruled out anything serious and that I probably had an ulcer so booked me for a gastroscopy which I had on Friday.  I have a terrible gag reflex, so that was totally not fun, but I was overjoyed when they called out that they had found a "big ulcer".  Yeah!  I know what's wrong with me!  Yeah! It's big!  That explains the unbearable pain.  So I was put on very strong ulcer meds the day before the gastro and now that it is Sun. the pain is starting to diminish.  Prognosis is that the meds will completely heal me.  Thank God!

Other than that I've been in the house, not going anywhere until last night when I finally felt well enough to go out and we ended up at Wal-mart so I could pick up some things on my list and several more things not on my list. ;-P Over $200 later, but with everything I needed and some scrumptious rain boots 50% off, as well as a complete set of Cambridge towels for my bathroom and lots of other goodies. I was happy after this shopping therapy and we headed straight to Sat. eve. Mass which I've missed for two weeks due to health.  So that was very rewarding as well.

Now on to books & blogging:

What I read last week (reviews to come)(links take you to amazon.com):
NovelDead to You by Lisa McMann
Graphic NovelDark Matter, Vol. 1: Rebirth by Joseph Mallozzi
Children's Book: The True Book of Jungles by Illa Podendorf
Short Story: Reason Seven by Barry N. Malzberg
Short Story: Some Kind of Piggery Jokery by Molly Miron
Graphic NovelJudge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 by John Wagner
Short Story: O Homo, O Femina, O Tempora by Kate Wilhelm
Graphic NovelHereville 2: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch
NovelThe Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Short Non-Fiction: The Man Who Walks on the Sky by Shane Peacock
Graphic Novel: Judge Dredd: Cry of the Werewolf by John Wagner

What I posted last week (links take you to my reviews/posts)
Manga: Library Wars: Love & War Vol. 8 by Kiiro Yumi
Meme: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People You Would Like to Meet 
Manga: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Novel: Criminal by Karin Slaughter
Graphic Novel: Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire
Manga: Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll V. 5 (Final Volume)
Graphic Novel: Adventure Classics (Graphic Classics Vol. 12)
Bible: The Gospel according to Matthew


What I plan to read this week (links will take you to amazon.com)

We didn't watch anything on DVD,Netflix or TV this week.  Have plans to next week though.

243. The Gospel according to Matthew


I do not review the Bible.  This is the format I've previously set upon to record my readings of the Books.

Version I am reading: Good News New Testament, Good News Translation, Imprimatur: CCCB

Book: The Gospel according to Matthew

Book No: 47, The New Testament, First Book of the New Testament

Author: St. Matthew

Written: Catholic scholars, in general, agree it was completed during the years 40-45AD

No. of Chapters: 28

Type of Literature: Historical

Have I read before? Yes.  Many times.  Many translations.  Matthew is a beautiful Gospel focusing on the ministry of Jesus; his works, deeds and preachings.  It is rich in what Jesus said while he was here on earth.  Told in chronological order, the birth of Jesus is told quickly as is the story of John the Baptist; the meat of Matthew starts in Chapter 4 when He calls the disciples together and starts preaching.  One of the most beautiful parts of Matthew is the long detailed account of the "Sermon on the Mount".  This should be included in any list of the world's greatest speeches.  If only everyone could take heed of these words, and live according to them what a wonderful peaceful world we would live in!  Matthew contains several episodes and parables not found in the other Gospels and he also quickly glosses over or only eludes to events mentioned in the others.  As his purpose is to present Jesus as the Messiah through his words and deeds his story winds down with the plot against Jesus and finishes off quickly with an accounting of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Reason for reading:  I am reading the New Testament to my 12yo ds this year.  He received this book at school last year and it is perfect for his comprehension level.  It does leave out some of the more controversial words, replacing them with more vague words (ie. "fornication" with "immoral acts") but my son is autistic, not understanding that part of life yet and this is our first time through with the actual Word of the Lord, rather than in bible story context though my son knows his Gospel well.  He brought up some very good discussion points, knew when something was missing from Matthew's account and we had some amazing discussion through certain parts about what was written that was important to us as Catholics but is ignored or re-interpreted by Protestants.  The Gospels are also fun to read because we find different words of the Mass within each one.

First line:  This is the list of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, who was a descendant of Abraham.

Last line:  And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.

Source for information I needed to look up: The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saturday, September 22, 2012

242. Adventure Classics (Graphic Classics Vol. 12)


Adventure Classics edited by Tom Pomplun (US) - (Canada)
Graphic Classics, Vol. 12

Pages: 144
Ages: 12+
Finished: Sep. 5, 2012
First Published: 2005
Publisher: Eureka Productions
Genre: graphic novel, YA, short stories, anthologies
Rating: 4/5




First sentence: "Conor wrote to me three times before the end from the camp at Deir-el-Bahari..."

Publisher's Summary:  "Adventure Classics is the second multi-author anthology in the Graphic Classics series. The book presents thirteen stories and poems of danger, horror, comedy and romance; all told in new comics adaptations. Included are "The Valley of the Sorceress" by "Fu Manchu" author Sax Rohmer, "The Masked Ball" by Alexandre Dumas, and "Tigre" by Zane Grey. Plus a classic war story by Damon Runyon, a saga of Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini, and a noir crime tale by "Zorro" author Johnston McCulley. Also more stories from O. Henry, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert W. Service, Edith Nesbit, Robert Louis Stevenson and Fitz-James O'Brien, as illustrated by Hunt Emerson, Michael Manning, Mary Fleener, Don Marquez, Mark A. Nelson and more great contemporary artists. With a dramatic cover painting by Chris Moore."

Acquired:  Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading:  I'm working on reading the complete series.

Adventure Classics didn't turn out to be one of my favourite volumes in this series but still it is an exciting read and a fantastic collection of obscure tales from classic authors of the past.  The theme is a bit vague here.  What exactly is an "adventure"?  Easily enough to define, we have the stories of pirates, the wild west, the arctic gold rush, and tales of war but a few others are on the fence as to whether they are "adventures" or not: magic in the desert, love in the jungle, a haunted house story.  Nevertheless, a unique blend of stories provides an interesting mix of styles and some stand out more than others.  The piece de resistance for me was to see one of my favourite poems done in the graphic format "The Shooting of Dan McGrew".  While I'd heard of most of the authors represented here I'll have to say other than "Gunga Din", another all-time favourite poem, all the other titles were new to me, which was refreshing.  My favourite stories were E. Nesbit's "The Mystery of the Semi-Detached", McCulley's "Stolen Story" and Runyan's "Two Men Named Collins".  Usually I find several I don't get or like but this time there is only Fitz-James O'Brien's "The Man Without a Shadow" which is so short and then drawn in a humorous style that I'm not sure I get it beyond a farce.  I enjoyed all the other re-tellings, though wishing they hadn't left out some middle verses of "Gunga Din".  And was visually pleased with all the art except J.B. Bonivert's illustration of "Valley of the Sorceress".  I believe I've not appreciated his work before.  Here, all his characters have muscular male bodies, with manly stances, including the women, who are drawn the same way with breasts and are rather disconcerting.  Reading this book has done two things for me. 1) I've read a few of E.Nesbit's ghost stories; now I'd love to find and read a collection of them. 2) I'd like to re-watch {again} one of my all-time favourite movies ever "Gunga Din" with Cary Grant.

Friday, September 21, 2012

241. Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll V. 5 (Final Volume)

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll Vol. 5 by Yumi Tsukirino. (Canada) - (US)
Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamoroll, Vol. 5 

Pages: 160
Ages: 5+
Finished: Sep. 3, 2012
First Published: Sep. 4, 2012
Publisher: viz media
Genre: children, manga, fantasy, humour
Rating: 3/5





First sentence: "One spring day... something floated down to the cafe.."

Publisher's Summary: "The friends from Café Cinnamon are selected for an elite café training program at Dream School Town! But a rivalry immediately ignites with the pups from Black Café. Can they put aside their differences long enough to make some great desserts?!"

Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster Canada.

Reason for Reading:  Next (and final!) in the series.

On the back cover of this book is highlighted the words "FINAL VOLUME", other than that you would have no idea. The quality of the story continues along as it has for the previous four versions but as a final volume it is a let down, without any conclusions or endings.  The book begins with pups having a continuous story line that takes them to school, introducing three new characters who get  lot of the spotlight.  Then it moves on to some short stories involving the pups but the new characters are gone and finally after that is a short section of 4 panel comic strips which do include the new characters.  As the previous last three books, the last section of the book features the "Angels" and now the stories centre on the girls and clothing, fashion and popularity.  For this volume the boy-craziness has been tamed and I'm back to recommended for younger audiences.  

All together a well, written fun little series for girls who like cutesy cute.  The series never could capture what it wanted to be, endlessly picking up plots and then throwing them away never to be heard of again but the adventures are cute.  They also couldn't seem to find their target audience.  The first two books are suitable for 5 years and up but vol. 3 & 4 add a certain craziness for boys that will only appeal to girl who have started to like boys (I'm guessing at 8+), then the final volume goes back to the same age range as the first two, 5+.  Older elementary and young teens who like Japanese Kawaii and are into the Sanrio characters themselves will like the books.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

240. Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire


Lost Dogs by Jeff Lemire. Introduction by Timothy Callahan. (US) - (Canada)


Pages:  104
Ages: 18+
Finished: Sept. 2, 2012
First Published: 2005 (new edition:  Jul. 31, 2012)
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Genre: Canadian author, crime, historical fiction, graphic novel
Rating: 4/5




First sentence: "Papa! Papa! Papa!"

Publisher's Summary: "Long out of print, Jeff Lemire's Xeric-Award-winning LOST DOGS now returns in a newly remastered edition, soaked with blood and ink. This 104-page mythic yarn follows a family man who's larger than life... but even he may not be powerful enough to prevent the loss of everything he's ever known.

Bold, brutal, and emotionally raw, LOST DOGS represents an acclaimed storyteller's first professional work."


Acquired: Received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley.

Reason for Reading: I had not yet read anything by Canadian artist Jeff Lemire and have wanted to for ages. This being his first book, and knowing it was a dark story prompted me to finally give him a go.

For a first time reader of Lemire I was fascinated with this short novel.  An incredibly dark story with a redemptive ending; the type of book I always find deeply satisfying.  This is Lemire's first book and it shows.  I was struck rather harshly for the first few pages at how raw the drawing was and how ugly the people were drawn, but I quickly grew accustomed to it and I do have to say that I am always attracted to this type of art done in inks.  The story gripped me; it is set in the past, during the days of horse & buggies.  The publisher's summary assumes Lemire is so popular we don't need a story summary but I do and did search around for one before I read it.  A giant of a man takes his wife and daughter to the city for the day and they wander into the wrong part as evening approaches to watch the ships.  They are attacked and his wife and daughter are killed.  The man eventually learns his wife is still alive and must make a deal with a man to use his size in return for the information on where his wife is being held.  The story just becomes darker and darker as it progresses until the very end, which though bittersweet, was redemptive and satisfying.

Some would call this a "depressing" story, but my regular review readers will know I like depressing and very much enjoyed this story.  If this is Lemire at his worst (his fans seem to regard this as just ok) then I am truly interested in exploring his other works.  Since I've started at the beginning, perhaps I'll read him in chronological order.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

239. Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Criminal by Karin Slaughter (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)
Special Agent Will Trent, Book 6

Pages: 436
Ages: 18+
Finished: Sep. 2, 2012
First Published: Jul. 3, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: mystery, thriller, serial killer
Rating: 5/5



First sentence: "A cinnamon brown Oldsmobile Cutlass crawled up Edgewood Avenue, the windows lowered, the driver hunched down in his seat.."

Publisher's Summary:  "Karin Slaughter’s new novel is an epic tale of love, loyalty, and murder that encompasses forty years, two chillingly similar murder cases, and a good man’s deepest secrets.

Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before—this was Will's home. . . .

Flash back nearly forty years. In the summer Will Trent was born, Amanda Wagner is going to college, making Sunday dinners for her father, taking her first steps in the boys’ club that is the Atlanta Police Department. One of her first cases is to investigate a brutal crime in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. Amanda and her partner, Evelyn, are the only ones who seem to care if an arrest is ever made.

Now the case that launched Amanda’s career has suddenly come back to life, intertwined with the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. And these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.

A masterpiece of character, atmosphere, and riveting suspense, Criminal is the most powerful and moving novel yet from one of our most gifted storytellers at work today."
I edited the above very slightly as it gave away one piece of information which I thought was a spoiler.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada

Reason for Reading:  Next in the series.

Wow, oh, wow, oh, wow!!  Not since Karin's first book have I been so taken with one of her books.  This is a good series, that kind of went down a bit in the middle to 3s & 4s for me, then last book, Fallen, raised the bar back up to a 5 and here with Criminal, Slaughter has outdone herself.  This is probably the most disturbing crime (or MO) a serial killer has ever performed that I have read in fiction.  I'm actually afraid to check online to see if there has been a real case of this type of torture/killing because 1) I don't want to know someone could *really* do this and 2) if they didn't, it makes me wonder where Slaughter's mind goes to make up this stuff!  Chilling, sick, creepy, a splendid serial killer read for something totally new, unique and different from the rest.

Karin totally switches things up with this entry in the series with setting most of the book during the 1970s and Amanda's first homicide case.  This ties into the present with a case they are working on, but the past is the dominant part of the book and this just really throws something fresh into this series and finally we get to know Amanda as a person, what made her like she is today.

Thirdly,  Will and Sarah's relationship develops and I'm so happy with the direction Sarah's character has taken as I absolutely could not stand her in the Grant County Mysteries.  No longer is she the whiny woman, sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong, getting herself in trouble and having to be rescued at the end of the book.  I hope to Heaven that never happens again.  Please stay at the hospital Sarah!  Anyway (LOL) This was just absolutely fantastic, loved every minute of it and I think Slaughter has blown a breath of fresh air into the series.  Can't wait for next year's book!