Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones

Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones; illus by Chris Mould
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 144 pgs
Published July 1st 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers
first published May 27th 1993
Source: thrift store

A collection of three previously published stories by Diana Wynne Jones. The first two were published as individual titles in Great Britain and the third was included in a British anthology. They were then collected together and published for the first time in North America as this combined edition. The stories all follow a theme of the "uninvited guest" and are aimed at the younger reader, perhaps 10 and under. They are hilarious fantasies told with tongue firmly planted in cheek and should please readers of any age who like a bit of wicked fun. Diana's fans will find these short stories to be little gems they may not have come across before and they are sure to delight Wynne Jones' followers. It will remain a keeper for my shelves.

1} Chair Person (1989) - Pure delight! An old chair that's been sat in front of the TV for longer than anyone can remember is losing its stuffing and the family finally decides to replace it. After a spill from a second-hand shop's toy magician's kit brings the chair to life the pretentious chair person moves in, won't leave, embarrasses and bosses them, making them desperate to find a way to get rid of him. Hilarious! (5/5)

2) The Four Grannies (1980) - This one feels a bit Roald Dahl-ish. Erg and Emily's parents go away for four days and call a granny to come look after them for the duration. Due to divorces, the children have four grannies and each is horrible in her own unique way. None can take on the job, but of course, in the end, all of them arrive after the parents leave. Nasty grannies and a magic chopstick-wand make for a wild first day. (4/5)

3) Who Got Rid of Angus Flint? (orig. The Fearsome Friend) (1975) - This is the shortest story and quite silly, but nevertheless quite fun and certainly will entertain its intended young audience of perhaps 7-9. Angus Flint, a friend of Dad Roberts from college days calls upon him out of the blue asking if he can stay for a while since his wife has just left him. Upon his arrival, the family is dismayed to find him a belligerent, self-centered, bossy, ungrateful tyrant who rules their roost. The parents manage by escaping by day leaving the kids with the brunt of Angus's bullish eccentricities and finding a way to make him leave. Fun but no explanation as to where the magic comes from and the story is mostly geared toward younger children. (3/5)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Harry Lane is Innocent by J. Scaddon

Harry Lane is Innocent by J. Scaddon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 95 pages
Published September 10th 2015
Source: Kindle freebie

Oh my, an intense, emotional read. The last pages were almost unbearable to read. Time was running out, my heart was pounding and I was afraid to find out how the book might end. Very well written! The book starts off with a frightening scene and then turns towards a plot that has been done before but the author makes it his own. A mentally challenged man in the wrong place at the wrong time is charged with a murder he didn't commit and the police easily manipulate a confession out of him. Set in late 1940s London, England, this is a powerfully emotional tale of the innocence of the mentally child-like and the man-made justice system that is, and always will be, flawed. Sad and compelling.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Review copy from Random Penguin House Canada

I enjoy survival stories and have been impressed with the two previous books I've read (here and here) by this author. The Skeleton Tree lived up to my expectations. Two young boys are sailing down the Alaskan coast with Jack, uncle to one of the boys when a storm hits and tragedy strikes ending with Jack drowning right before his nephew's eyes. The two boys end stranded on the coast of Alaska with a forest behind them and mountains close by. This is a survival story and theirs isn't as tough as some situations can be, but it is realistic. They've landed near a river during salmon season, they find a rough-made cabin that someone had prepared to be there for a while but obviously left in a hurry, and the elder boy is outdoorsy. But the boys know they won't make it through a winter, so they try to prepare. These boy's don't know each other either and therein lies a mystery. The nephew is twelve, the other 15. Frank, the teenager is mean, bossy, a know-it-all and the two never truly have a happy day together as they can't get along with his attitude hanging over everything, but why did Uncle Jack bring them both along. He was going to tell them something before the storm. And Chris is sure Frank knows the answers and maybe that is why he hates him. The dialogue is real between the teens, the situations are intense and one never knows whether rescue or revealing the secret is the ultimate goal of the plot. The ending leaves one pondering about the boys' future and I like that in a book; it helps to make the characters seem more real. Well-written, with a good pace, and a fast page-turner for me. Highly recommended for young teen boys. I must read more of this author.

Monday, January 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #3

This meme is held over on Book Date's blog and here we talk about what we are Currently Reading, What we read/posted the last week and what we plan on reading next week. I won't be posting what's coming up. 

I do have a request for suggestions if anyone can help. I'm trying to read a book from all 50 states + DC and only have 2 states left. So does anybody have any suggestions for a thriller, crime or detective novel set in either Delaware or Idaho? Thanks so much!

What I am Currently Reading:


I've read one other book by this author and she is *brilliant*! A hidden gem!
 Cobweb Walking by Sara Banerji


I'm only a few chapters in but, so far I can tell I'm really enjoying this. 
 Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley

Manga/Graphic Novel

 Sons of the Devil Vol. 1 by Brian Buccellato; illus. by Toni Infante

I always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. My current collection is:

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce

What I Finished Reading and/or Posted This Week
Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in the Supermax by William Wright, MD
Miracleville by Monique Polak
Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown

Manga/Graphic Novel
Devil Survivor 2 by Satoru Matsuba
Chi's Sweet Home, Volume 12 by Kanata Konami
Inuyashiki 2 by Hiroya Oku
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1 of 6 by Amy Chu
Vinland Saga 7 by Makoto Yukimura
The Kurdles by Robert Goodin
The Flash, Vol. 7: Savage World by Robert Venditti

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in the Supermax by William Wright & Miracleville by Monique Polak

I've been sick this weekend and just reading and don't feel like writing so just a couple of posts with mini-reviews to both my blogs today.

Maximum Insecurity: A Doctor in the Supermax by William Wright, MD
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mini Review - Enjoyed the first half with anecdotes of patients and the author's black humour. Second half became more of a diatribe on his dislike for bureaucracy and "bleeding heart liberals" and he had a bit of a holier than thou attitude that made me roll my eyes more than several times.

Miracleville by Monique Polak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mini Review - Lovely story. Very Catholic, well done. About a teen girl going through the usual questioning of her faith. Set in the pilgrimage town of St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec. The family has a mother and eldest daughter who have the Faith and the father and youngest daughter who do not. I had a few issues with the theology but regardless for a secular book it presented the Faith and faithful in a moving story. I quite liked this. Read it in one sitting.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Introduction by John Grafton
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 21st 2015 by Dover Publications
Reprint of a 1993 edition
Source: egalley via Netgalley AND I own the 1993 print edition

A collection of four long, short stories by the great Victorian writer most known for his ghost stories though he did write over a dozen Gothic novels. I like LeFanu though I've only been reading him for several years. He's a bit hit and miss with me. I love his signature ghost stories, his stories of the macabre and those that fall under the label Gothic. His writing can be a bit too descriptive for my tastes and topics too metaphysical for my likes, but I'll always give him a go. This collection is a good sampling of what he has to offer, especially if you are not familiar with him. It's certainly not a "Best of" but does showcase some different plots (as I've mentioned) and lengths of his tales. It also features an interesting introduction to the author by John Grafton.

1. Green Tea (1869)- Well, I can't say I'm too taken with this one. A man starts seeing a little monkey, who eventually gets aggressive and speaks telling him what to do. (an imp? a demon?). A doctor believes it to be some sort of spiritual manifestation which we bring upon ourselves and, in this case, the man opens his sight to this world through overdrinking green tea. Weird and strange but not in a way that entertained me. (2/5)

2. Squire Toby's Will: A Ghost Story (1868) - Now this is more like it! Much too dense of a tale to summarize but briefly; an old Squire prefers his youngest son over his eldest, he's a drunken, hateful old man and dies the same. Leaving his almost impoverished estate to his youngest brings about a vicious feud between the brothers; but in his death, the old Squire seems to have seen the error of his ways toward his eldest yet hasn't lost his meanness. He haunts his youngest son and after an accident, the eldest joins him and the youngest lives a life of terror haunted by these nasty ghosts. Very well done. (5/5)

3. The Fortune's of Sir Robert Ardagh, Being a Second Extract from the Papers of the late Father Purcell (1838) - This is more of a Gothic ghost story with an old atmospheric house and a dark, moody, brooding man. The first half of the story is a narrative of the legend of Sir Ardagh's mysterious reclusive life and strange death while the second half is a retelling of the truth from an eyewitness of his normal life, how he became reclusive and strange death. The truth is very different from the legend and yet each is no stranger nor mysterious than the other. This is all very creepy with no explanations whatever, which I wish there were. (4/5)

4. Sir Dominick's Bargain: A Legend of Dunoran (1872) - This is the shortest story in the collection but LeFanu is a master dramatist at filling his tales to overflowing with plots. A bit of a tale within a tale, our narrator comes upon a rundown house in the woods and meets an old hunchback who proceeds to tell him a story of the last owner of the house, a man who sold his soul to the devil. The beginning is a bit too flowery with description for my tastes but once the plot gets underway LeFanu has me in his hands. (3/5)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Crown
Source: Purchased @ Kindle Store

Utterly, utterly amazing! This is only January but I'll be hard-pressed to find a book that will pass this as the number one book of my year! There are thousands of reviews of this so I'll come at this a little differently. I actually read Armada first, when it came out and I enjoyed it to a point, but now I really understand why readers were underwhelmed with it as a second book. Honestly, Cline will probably always find his future writing compared as never quite reaching the heights of this, his first novel. He genuinely hit the mark with his first novel. This doesn' just have lots of eighties references, the whole thing is virtual immersion into eighties geek culture. Having come of age in the eighties myself, and now thinking of them as my glory days I sooooo get this book and pretty much remembered playing every Atari game, Arcade game, freaking over every song, loving every movie, TV show, etc. My best friend even had a ColecoVision! Just a fantastic story and I absolutely cannot wait for the movie! So glad it's a Spielberg vehicle! Just awesome!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Nikki Kill (#1)

Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her. 
Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack. 
The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone? 
As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson. 
Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.  
- from Goodreads

Jennifer Brown is currently my favourite contemporary YA author and I was wildly looking forward to this, her new book. However, I am at a loss how to rate this book and we'll see what I come up with after writing this review. The main female character, Nikki Kill has synesthesia which is cool, but otherwise, she is a vile, angry, selfish, unlikeable character for the entire book. Supposedly she hates the privileged self-centred kids from a very elite rich family but she has the very same qualities she dislikes in them. She has major authority issues, having no respect and outright disdain for all adults from her dad, to the cops to teachers. Her general attitude to each being "blah, blah, blah shut up talking so I can get out of here and do what I want." She has sex the first second she can with a character she knows is potentially dangerous. She is a high school student and there is sexual tension between her and the cop investigating the crime which is seriously creepy, perverted and downright unethical. Nikki jumps into dangerous situations and the reader has to completely suspend disbelief to think the situations happen even in the fictional world of a book. Not one single character is likable in the book, so I didn't care who died, who was guilty, who got accused, who went to jail, etc.

So, after all that, did I hate the book? Well, no, not capital "H" hate. At the 60% point, I knew I was invested and would have to finish the book. This isn't up to par with Brown's previous books in which I've always fallen for, or at least been emotionally attached to, the characters. Big let down, though.

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #2

This meme is held over on Book Date's blog and here we talk about what we are Currently Reading, What we read/posted the last week and what we plan on reading next week.  I keep my sidebar up-to-date with that so don't list what's coming up.

What I am Currently Reading:

 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I started and DNF'd 2 other books this week before I settled on this one
 Maximum Insecurity by William Wright, MD

Graphic Novel/Manga:
 The Kurdles by Robert Goodin

I always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. My current collection is not a collection but a single short story on my ereader for Monday morning:

The Little Goblin by J Scaddon

What I Finished Reading and/or Posted This Week
Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers
City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century by Matthew J. Prigge

Manga/Graphic Novels
Oddly Normal Vol. 1 & 2 by Otis Frampton
A Glance Backward by Pierre Paquet
UQ Holder Vol. 6 by Ken Akamatsu
The Seven Deadly Sins Vol. 11 by Nakaba Suzuki

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers

Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers edited by Alfred Hitchcock

Hardcover, 207 pages
Published 1965, by Random House
Source: used book sale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great collection of mostly science fiction from the fifties with a few from earlier days. These stories were all previously published in the sci-fi magazines of the era and were curated together here with a theme of "monsters" and chosen as appropriate for young readers. I loved these Alfred Hitchcock collections as a kid and I'm pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this as an adult. The selection of authors contains a few famous names, and other lesser-known names but research shows they were all prolific short story writers. I really enjoyed the selection only finding one dud in the whole group and several very excellent ones.

1. The Day of the Dragon by Guy Endore (1934) - An apocalyptic tale of how an underappreciated professor brings about the apocalypse. He determines to experiment on alligator brains to improve their slothfulness and eventually succeeds but his experiments not only become lively they start to change, evolve as it were, until they become dragons, eventually mating, man-eating. The narrator, one of the last of the human race left living underground records the tale from the beginning for posterity's sake, in case the human race does survive, which he admits is not likely. Readable, but scientifically dated from the thirties. (3/5)

2. The King of the Cats by Stephan Vincent Benet (1929) - Wickedly delicious! I loved this! Rather like a fairy tale in some ways, but contemporary. A man is in love with a Siamese princess who is visiting New York but then a famed conductor comes to town whose claim to fame is that he has a tail. A bit of a mystery follows with the paranormal. Romantic gothic. Delightful. (5/5)

3. Slime by Joseph Payne Brennan (1953) - This was written five years before the cult hit movie "The Blob" but is basically the same thing. Here the slime is some sort of primordial beast from the sea who makes its way to land and starts absorbing living beings leading its way up to humans. As typical with '50s monster movies, the army is called in, well the Home Guard in this case, and they figure out its weakness and save the world. Typical of its genre. (3/5)

4. The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles by Idris Seabright (1951) - Macabre little tale of a salesman who goes to a house inhabited by unknown creatures to sell his wares. It ends as one would expect. (3/5)

5. Henry Martindale, Great Dane by Miriam Allen deFord (1954) - My favourite story so far. A writer of short fiction wakes up one morning, with shades of Kafka, to find he has turned into a great dane. He and his wife wait a week to see if he'll change back but he doesn't and they determine he has the body of a dog, the instincts of the dog, but has retained his human eyes, human voice, and human brain. They pack up and move to the country where no one will know them. In this, I felt the most for the wife who was given little choice in the matter and I think the real monster here was not the dog the husband turned into but the husband's true self that never changed and held an unfortunate dominance over the woman until the (to me) tragic end. Of course, she had plenty of opportunities to change the outcome but never took any. A freaky story. (5/5)

6. The Microscopic Giants by Paul Ernst (1936) - A copper mining operation taking place in the depths of the earth for the war effort has the miners discovering fossilized tiny little feet. Until the footprints start to multiply and then a tiny person is seen and the two men in charge go to investigate. A great sci-fi story from this age, filled with pseudo-science but creepy nonetheless. (4/5)

7. The Young One by Jerome Bixby (1953) - I really liked this! A family moves to America from Hungary deciding it is time to give up the old ways and get by as humans in the New World which doesn't believe in their kind. Their young son knows he's different but doesn't know what he is yet, but after he befriends a local boy whose insatiable curiosity makes him play a trick on the young boy to learn his secret himself, he luckily keeps his life and makes the boy's parents decide it is time to tell their son the truth. Fun and unexpected turn of events. (5/5)

8. Doomsday Deferred by Will F. Jenkins (1949) - Really enjoyed this! A man goes to the Brazil jungle to find a rare butterfly and gets caught up in a horrifying insect invasion. A hive collective of army ants are controlling a lone family far out in the jungle but the entomologist realizes how close they are to gaining control of mankind. With his insect knowledge, he saves the day, South America and perhaps the world. Good old-fashioned apocalyptic fifties fiction. (5/5)

9. Shadow, Shadow on the Wall by Theodore Sturgeon (1950) - A vicious stepmother gets hers after she locks a boy in his room with all his toys removed while his dad is away on business. Creepy! (4/5)

10. The Desrick on Yandro by Manly Wade Wellman (1952) - This has to come in as my second favourite! A creepy story written like a Smoky Mountain legend. A guitar-playing hitch-hiker ends up taking a power-hungry, greedy rich man back to his grandfather's origins in the Smokies. Well-told. (5/5)

11. The Wheelbarrow Boy by Richard Parker (1953) - A strange little magical tale which seems to be bemoaning the loss of corporal punishment in the schools. I think (?) it may have been meant as satire at the time it was written. Doesn't hold up well. (2/5)

12. Homecoming by Ray Bradbury (1946) - I like this story, it's a fun family to imagine. Bradbury paints the characters vividly so we can see how wild this Hallowe'en homecoming party must be. But it is a sad story and even though mortal Timothy is assured by both his mother and a favourite Uncle that he is loved and will be even beyond death, I can't help but think that doesn't satisfy Timothy. I think Timothy wants them to tell him that if he dies they will use their powers to bring him back, and he is dejected by their assurances that he will have it better as a mortal. This story always leaves me feeling sad for Timothy. (4/5)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 480 pages
Published January 2nd 2016 by Random House Canada
Source: review copy from Random Penguin House Canada

Well, I've found a new favourite author! I've read a few of her paranormals and now two of her thrillers and I can say I'm hooked on Kelley Armstrong. This is a brilliant and unique premise allowing for a creepy thriller and Armstrong delivers! She kept me guessing throughout the entire book, changing my mind right up until the very end. I had my suspicions on too many people to have ever solved this one! There is one of the grossest crime scenes I've ever read in a serial killer mystery and I don't throw names around much but the scene is worthy of Mo Hader (my fav for gruesome scenes). I just loved the whole atmosphere of the book: the abandonment, the loneliness, the Wild West aura, and yet it was pure Canadian. There is a romance subplot, and I know always say I'm not into romance (and I'm not) but the romance part is laid back enough that it won me over and I especially enjoyed the characters. The book ends on a complete note but there are threads that make it possible the main characters could return in a sequel. Which would be totally awesome!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century by Matthew J. Prigge

Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century by Matthew J. Prigge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Source: LibraryThing Early Review Program

A collection of dark tales from Milwaukee's early history taken from the newspapers, written in the author's own words. Divided into four sections: Murder, Accidents, Vice, and Secrets. The stories have no segues between them and are in no chronological order; they are simply vignettes ranging from a paragraph to three pages long. Themes are arranged together such as all suicides are together, as are fires, poisonings, prohibition cases etc. I had expected more of a flowing narrative than a collection of stories so took off to a slow start, but once I decided to read about 25 pages in a sitting I enjoyed the book much more in the small doses and found many of the stories interesting. Personally, rather than satisfying my interest in true crime, I found the book more satiated my appetite for social history. Much can be gleaned from these stories on social attitudes at the time. I especially enjoyed the chapter on vice, not because it was salacious by any means, but because of the information I gleaned on such matters as flappers, police procedures, the youth of the day, and a funny story on a crusade to ban kissing not for moral reasons but because of the germs! LOL. The stories range from the 1850s to the 1920s, with some from the '30s and a handful from the war years of the '40s. Interesting for its stories of crime and the underbelly of society in the early 20th century but most fascinating, in my opinion, from a social history aspect of the era.

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #1

Well, I used to participate in this waaaaay back in the day when J. Kaye started it. It's moved around a bit since then and is now hosted by Book Date. I've decided to join the meme again and have fun visiting the blogs.

What I am Currently Reading:


 City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong


 Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler by Allan H. Ryskind

Graphic Novel/Manga:

 The Seven Deadly Sins Vol. 11

I also usually may have a few other things on the go long term that I won't include here, but I do always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. My current collection is:

Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers edited by Alfred Hitchcock

What I Finished Reading and/or Posted This Week
Mister Doctor by Irène Cohen-Janca
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Chronological with Stephen King

Manga/Graphic Novels
Your Lie in April Vol. 5 by Naoshi Arakawa
My Love Story!!, Vol. 7 by Kazune Kawahara
One-Punch Man, Vol. 4 by ONE
Twin Star Exorcists: Onmyoji, Vol. 3: by Yoshiaki Sukeno
Noragami: Stray God Volumes 7, 8 & 9 by Adachitoka

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mister Doctor by Irène Cohen-Janca

Mister Doctor by Irène Cohen-Janca; illus by Maurizio A.C. Quarello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 68 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Annick Press
Source: egalley via netgalley

A sad, depressing tale for a children's picture book but a story that must live through the ages and never be forgotten. The Warsaw Ghetto was an abomination, pure and simple. This book takes a look at a group of ill-fated orphans who had the fortune to be housed with Polish hero Janusz Korczak when they were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. The book presents the horrors of The Ghetto, toned down for age appropriateness but not holding back on the truth. We see the heroism of Mister Doctor as the children called Korczak and how perhaps he managed to make their short life a little less hard or mayhap a little more bright. The drawings done in yellows and browns are very atmospheric and the book end with an afterword "About Janusz Korczak" which briefly details his life story. Well done. Appropriate for middle grades and up, otherwise will depend on sensitiveness of individual reader.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. illustrated by David Palladini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, First Edition, 326 pages
Published February 2nd 1987 by Viking
Source: Used book store

On my continuing saga of re-reading King's books in chronological order. I actually wasn't looking forward to this much as it was the first one that I had absolutely no recollection of the story. I couldn't bring to mind one thing about it though I do certainly remember reading it and have a faint remembrance of enjoying it. King really brought something new to his readers with "The Eyes of the Dragon" as this is his first book not for adults. In the '80s there really wasn't such thing as Young Adult books, but by today's standards, this would be classified as YA. Most of the book is suitable for children but the beginning is somewhat bawdy, making it hard for me to recommend for younger than teens.

This is not a traditional fantasy, but more of a fairytale with Kings, princes and a bad magician. King writes in the all knowing voice of "the storyteller" often speaking to the reader telling them to make up their own mind on certain matters. It is a good story, well-written (with touches of Tolkien in style) and will delight the fairytale fan. But it is not like his other works; it starts off dramatically then turns into a slow-paced ponderous tale, making the reader think about the nature of man. Only one character is truly evil, many of the others are what I usually call "grey". Slower than one expects from King but quite a good tale.

As to connections with his other books, it connects to "The Stand" via Flagg and is part of "The Dark Tower" universe having the magician Flagg and a King Roland.

After having read the book I'm a tad annoyed, well more than a tad, but I've calmed down now :-) The list I'm following put this book in the wrong place and I shouldn't have read it at this point, it's really still several books down the line should be 1987 instead of 1984 where it was on my master list.  But it's re-read now, so on we go.  Talisman co-authored with Peter Straub is next.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chronological with Stephen King

(Re) Reading Stephen King in Chronological Order

Finally decided to give this personal challenge its own page! All my posts have been gathered into this one. 

I started this project in 2007, hit a snag for a few years, then since 2011 have started each year off with a Stephen King book.  Other than that this is a long-term project with no goals or objectives other than an "I hope to maybe accomplish "this" this year.

1.  Carrie (1974)
2.  'Salem's Lot (1975)

3.  Rage (1977) 
4. The Shining (1977) 
5. Night Shift (1978)


6. The Stand (1978)
7. The Long Walk (1979)

8. The Dead Zone (1979)
9. Firestarter (1980)

10. Roadwork (1981)
11. Danse Macabre (1981)


12. Cujo (1981)
13. The Mist (1981)
14. The Running Man (1982)
The Gunslinger (see below)
15. Creepshow (1982) (had a really hard time finding this)
16. Different Seasons (1982)

17. Christine (1983)
18. Cycle of the Werewolf (1983)
19. Pet Sematary (1983)

20. The Eyes of the Dragon (1984) out of order should be 1987
21. The Talisman (1984) with Peter Straub
22. Thinner (1984) [by Richard Bachman]

Skeleton Crew (1985)
IT (1986)
The Gunslinger (1982)
The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (1987)

Misery (1987)
The Tommyknockers (1987)
Nightmares in the Sky (1988)
The Dark Half (1989)
Four Past Midnight (1990)
The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands (1991)
Needful Things (1991)
Gerald’s Game (1992)
Dolores Claiborne (1992)
Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993)
Insomnia (1994)
Rose Madder (1995)
The Green Mile (1996)
Desperation (1996)
The Regulators (1996) [by Richard Bachman]
The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass (1997)
Bag of Bones (1998)
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
Storm of the Century (1999)
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000)
Dreamcatcher (2001)
Black House (2001) with Peter Straub
Everything’s Eventual (2001)
From a Buick 8 (2002)
The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah (2004)
The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower (2004)
Faithful (2004) with Stewart O’Nan
The Colorado Kid (2005)
Cell (2006)
Lisey’s Story (2006)
The Secretary of Dreams, Volume One (2006)
Blaze (2007) [by Richard Bachman]
Duma Key (2008)
Just After Sunset (2008)
Under the Dome (2009)
Blockade Billy (2010)
The Secretary of Dreams: Volume 2 (2010)
Full Dark, No Stars (2010)
American Vampire Vol. 1, graphic novel (2010)
The Talisman: Vol. 1: The Road of Trials, graphic novel (2010)
11/22/63 (2011)
The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
Little Green God of Agony, webcomic (2012)
Road Rage: Throttle, graphic novel (2012)
Joyland (2013)
The Dark Man (2013)
Doctor Sleep (2013)
Mr. Mercedes (2014)
Revival (2014)
Finders Keepers (2015)
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)
End of Watch (2016)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Master ARC List

This is my updated ARC list for 2016. I did fantastic last year in keeping up with all incoming arcs. I only had three actual requests that didn't get read, then some mangas piled up when I had to rush out to Calgary when my dad had a stroke in November.  Then, of course, I was bombarded with graphic novels for the Cybils judging. Towards the end, my reading was geared towards our discussions so I still have plenty left that I'm looking forward to. 2012 is the last year on my list with a bad backlog; I've been keeping things under control since then. So we'll see what I can do with those and my plan is to eliminate the Library Thing backlog this year.  That is why I've separated them out prior to this year. 

Library Thing 2011-2015
1. Miracleville by Monique Polak
2. Bound by Antonya Nelson
3. A Mind of Winter by Shira Nayman
4. December Park by Ronald Malfi
5. Millhouse by Natale Ghent

6. We are all Made of Molecules by Susin Nielson
7. Shattered Glass by Teresa Toten
8. Milwaukee Mayhem: Murder and Mystery in the Cream City's First Century by Matthew J. Prigge

9. The Intercept by Dick Wolf
10. Five Farthings by Monica Redich
11. The Adventures of Jewell Cardwell: Hydra's Nest by Fumi Hancock
12. Don't Feed the Boy by Irene Latham
13. Watching Jimmy by Nancy Harty
14. A Note From An Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker
15. Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell
16. Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer
17. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
18. Vincent Shadow: The Top Secret Toys by Tim Kehoe
19. Beyonders #2: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandom Mull
20. The Inquisitor by Mark Allan Smith
21. The Space Mission Adventure by Sharon M. Draper
22. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
23. Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
24. Black Heart by Holly Black
25. The Red House by Mark Haddon
26. The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac
27. Heroes of Olympus by Philip Freeman; adapted by Laurie Calkhoven
28. The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker
29. Brachman's Underworld by Vlad Vaslyn
30. No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
31. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price
32. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
33. Home by Toni Morrison
34. Anteater-Boy by Dean Ammerman
35. XO by Jeffrey Deaver
36. Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley by J.D. Davis
37. Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl
38. The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
39. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
40. The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
41. Long Lankin by Lindey Barraclough
42. The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace
43. The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams
44. Toby's Room by Pat Barker
45. Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan
46. Widow's Might by Sandra Brannan
47. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susan Nielsen
48. Genocidal Organ by Project Itoh
49. Gold Mountain Blues by Ling Zhang
50. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
51. The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma
52. Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft
53. Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon
54. The Black Heart Crypt by Christ Grabenstein
55. Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs
56. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legraand
57. The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo
58. Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
59. Bookweirdest by Paul Glennon
60. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

61. Buried Prey by John Sandford
62. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
63. Far Far Away by Tom MacNeal
64. Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
65. The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy
66. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin &
67. These Fragile Things by Jane Davis
68. Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
69. Songs of the Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
70. The Magical Fruit by Jo Nesbo
71. The Tree of Story by Thomas Wharton
72. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg
73. Wise Acres by Dale E. Basye

74. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
75. Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
76. The Belief in Angels by J. Dylan Yates
77. Middle School: Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson
78. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami 
79. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
80. The Confabulist by Steven Galloway
81. Noggin by John Corey Whaley
82. Middle School: Save Rafe! by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts
83. 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajama's by Marie-Helene Bertino
84. The Sandman by Lars Kepler
85. The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker
86. The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis
87. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
88. A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker
89. The Job by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg
90. Motherless by Erin Healy
91. The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
92. Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang
93. The Sixth Gun Dlx Ed Volume 1 HC by Cullen Bunn

94. A Beauty by Connie Gault
95. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
96. Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

97. Livingstone 1 by Tomohiro Maekawa
98. Fairy Girls 1 by Boku
99. Fairy Tail Master's Edition Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima
100. Orpheus in the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux
101. The Widow by Fiona Barton
102. Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper (DNF)
103. Fantasy Sports #1 by Sam Bosma
104. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
105. Dragons Beware! by Jorge Aguirre  (DNF)
106. Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! by Scott McCormick
107. Lumberjanes #2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson  (DNF)
108. Ariol: Where's Petula? by Emmanuel Guibert
109. Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog
110. Sanjay and Craig #1: Fight the Future with Flavor! by Eric Esquivel
111. A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova
112. World War Two: Against the Rising Sun by Jason Quinn
113. Drink Dirt Eat Stone by Kyle Fleishman (DNF)
114. Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss
115. Bad Machinery 4: The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison

129. City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
130. Devil Survivor 2 by Satoru Matsuba
131. The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence
132. The Seven Deadly Sins 12 by Nakaba Suzuki
133. Noragami: Stray God Vol. 10 by Adachitoka
134. Fairytail: Ice Trail 1 by Yuusuke Shirato
135. Inuyashiki 3 by Hiroya Oku
136. Noragami: Stray God 11 by Adachitoka
137. Devil Survivor 3 by Satoru Matsuba
138. Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson
139. UQ Holder 7 by Ken Akamatsu
140. Noragami: Stray God 12 by Adachitoka
141. Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine by Monica Kulling
142. Livingstone 2 by Tomohiro Maekawa
143. School Judgment Vol. 2 by Nobuaki Enoki
144. Trial By Fire by Norah McClintock
145. Your Lie In April 7 by Naoshi Arakawa
146. Fairy Girls 2 by Boku
147. Fairy Tail Master's Edition Vol. 2 by Hiro Mashima
148. This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart  (DNF)
149. Legendary Worlds: Adult Coloring Book by Witek Radomski
150. Noragami: Stray God 14 by Adachitoka
151. The Seven Deadly Sins 14 by Nakaba Suzuki
152. Clayface's Slime Spree (Batman & Robin Adventures) by Laurie S. Sutton
153. Scarecrow's Nightmare Maze (Batman & Robin Adventures) by J. E. Bright
154. Far Out Fairy Tales edited by Sean Tulien
155. Real Account 2 by Okushou
156. Noragami: Stray God 15 by Adachitoka
157. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
158. Insidious by Catherine Coulter
159. Fairy Tail Ice Trail 2 by Yuusuke Shirato
160. Inuyashiki 4 by Hiroya Oku
161. The Big Picture: Brendan and Erc in Exile, Volume 2 by Amadeus
162. The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock
163. The Seven Deadly Sins 15 by Nakaba Suzuki
164. Your Lie in April 8 by Naoshi Arakawa
165. QQ Sweeper, Vol. 3 by Kyousuke Motomi
166. Everyone's Getting Married, Vol. 1 by Izumi Miyazono
167. By Gaslight by Steven Price
168. Queen Emeraldas 1 by Leiji Matsumoto
169. Barracuda by Sigmund Brouwer
170. Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
171. Clayface Returns (You Choose Stories: Batman) by John Sazaklis
172. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
173. In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
174. Life Sentence: Stories from Four Decades of Court Reporting -- or, How I Fell Out of Love with the Canadian Justice System (Especially Judges) by Christie Blatchford
175. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley
176. A Murder for Max by John Lawrence Reynolds
177. Three Years with the Rat by Jay Hosking
178. Only the Hunted Run by Neely Tucker
179. Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
180. Everyone's Getting Married, Vol. 2 by Izumi Miyazono
181. Haiku!!, Vol. 3 by Haruichi Furudate
182. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
183. Word of Mouse by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein
184. I See You by Clare Mackintosh
185. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
186. Games of Make-Believe by Julie Ann Wambach