Monday, December 30, 2013

The Boxcar Children - Graphic Novel

Title: The Boxcar Children Graphic Novel #1
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Illustrator: Mike Dubisch
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (July 26, 2011)
Format: 32 pg; ebook
Genre: Graphic Novel
Ages: Pre-Teen

When it comes to graphic novels, I have always been confused. Are they novels or are they comic books? Asking around, the only consensus that I can find is that they are pretty much comic books but produced on higher quality paper and bound like a book. That was not very helpful, so I decided to take the plunge and check it out.

When it comes to content, opinions vary. You either love them or do not understand the attraction. For me, I fall into the latter category. I just do not get the appeal.

The Boxcar children was originally published in 1924 and is a well know story centered around four children who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest before they go to live with their grandfather they mistakenly thought to be a cruel man. I figured, why not start with an easy story to see if the whole “graphic” thing would help or hinder the storyline.

Personally, I think too much was left out. Relatively speaking, there were not many words and the reader was left to fill in the blanks with the illustrations.

Maybe that was the point and I am just too old to get it.

Truly, I do not mean to be insulting or dense, but I just did not get it. Obviously, others have had much better outcomes with this genre and I applaud their respect for the novels, but they are wasted on me.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review - The Wives of Los Alamos

Title: The Wives of Los Alamos
Author: TaraShea Nesbit
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 25, 2014
Format: ARC Softcover: Pgs 233
Genre: Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine Program

This is another one of those love it or hate it type of books. I will give TaraShea Nesbit some credit, there is a good baseline story in there, but the delivery is lacking and a bit annoying. I wanted to get to know the women, what I got was more generic.

Told from a singular point of view, but delivered in a collective “we” “they” style, the reader has a hard time connecting.

Pulled from their comfortable lives, a group of women follow their scientist / physicist husbands to the desert of New Mexico during World War II to work on a secret project. Promised that they would have all of the same luxuries that they now have, they are soon disappointed in the sparseness of their new existence.

Insufferable weather, homes that barely support their needs, censored mail, limited contact with the outside world and other family members, husbands that cannot discuss what they do all day. Soon the women turn into gossipy annoyances. They once had beautiful clothes and a life in places like Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris and Chicago. Some were even scientists in their own right, but being separated changes them all.

Yes, they managed to carve out a life, but at what cost? They changed, the world changed, even their children had to grow up knowing what they had been a part of.

I wish there had been more, or less, or different. Something that would have helped me to connect with the women of this project. As I said, the premise is there, the delivery did not work for me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Review - The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Title: The Smallest Gift of Christmas
Author: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick (September 24, 2013)
Format: Board Book; Pgs 40
Genre: Children
Ages:3 to 7 years; Preschool to 2nd Grade

Selfish Roland is very disappointed that his Christmas present is so small. He hoped and wished for a larger gift and when he received that, he wanted something bigger and bigger. There was just no satisfying this child. That is until he realizes what is important and suddenly appreciates that the best gifts come in small packages.

This Christmas story might help young ones see that it is not about the size of the gift, but about home and family.

After the first reading, and you know a child wants the same story over and over, cover up the words and let your young one tell you the story they see. The simple illustrations, and I am not disparaging – some books are way over the top, are great springboards for a child’s imagination.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review - Dead Reckoning

Title: Dead Reckoning
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Hardcover (May 3, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 336
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #11

Maybe it is because there are only a couple more books in the series, but as I am closing in on the end, I find myself enjoying the books more and more.

Beginning with the firebombing of Merlotte’s to the bloody end of a high-ranking vampire, Sookie is once again in way over her head. The fey are still around causing trouble, Sandra Pelt has a score to settle, Sookie has ended her blood bond, Bubba is performing one last concert and Eric is betrothed to another. There was a lot packed into this book.

One week could never have gone so wrong for Sookie, but if she makes it through, she still has Tara’s baby shower to host.

I can understand how others say that the series has lost its spark and is a bit formulaic, but I had given up on new and stimulating a long time ago. Now, I read the Sookie Stackhouse series solely for the humor. Charlaine Harris is a very comical writer. The wit and offhanded remarks are at times inappropriately funny and yet you find yourself chuckling while a head is literally rolling across the floor.

Since I still have a couple of books to go, I have no idea what Sookie will be up to next, but I do hope that Ms Harris will keep me laughing to the end.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review - Lucky Bang

Title: Lucky Bang
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (June 28, 2012)
Format: e-Book; Pgs 94; 204 KB
Genre: Mystery
Source: Amazon Purchase
Series: Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas Adventures #3.5

I am not a fan of the half books that author seem to be putting out in a way to keep their fans hooked without really moving a story line along. I tend to just skip them and wait until a full-length novel is published. With that being said, I could not avoid this book. I love the Lucky O’Toole series.

You have mystery, you have naughty, you have interesting reoccurring characters and you have Ms. Lucky O’Toole the head of customer relations at Babylon, a major hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Right there, that should tell you that her 18-hour days are not what you would call normal. She works for the big boss which is also her father. Her mother is a madam who just also happens to be pregnant again with the big boss’s child. Lucky’s ex-boyfriend is a straight female impersonator that is currently on a world tour and her current boyfriend is a chef at the Burger Palais.

I know, it sounds strange, but if you have been following Lucky’s life from the very first book, this is not strange at all.

In this very short, 94’ish page novella, Lucky is chasing after old dynamite that just might be leading her to her father’s old flame and a possible long lost brother. Of course, life is not that easy especially when her father goes missing and half of Vegas is attempting to fill Lucky in on the past.

Trying to put the pieces together before all heck breaks loose keeps Lucky on her toes and away from the radio, which is playing a love song just for her.

I really enjoy this series and always look forward to the next Lucky adventure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections

Title: I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
Author: Nora Ephron
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 9, 2010)
Genre: Vicissitudes of Modern Life

I loved the audio version of this book. I loved driving to work each day and listening to Nora read to me a short snippet of what had happened in her life.

Though Nora may not remember names, faces or movie titles, she did remember the important things. Her love of and struggle with her passion for journalism, her trials of being a meatloaf, her successes and failures within the movie industry, but most importantly, what she will miss and what she will not.

What is most heartbreaking is that it is possible that she wrote her list of things that she will miss while undergoing treatment for the leukemia that eventually took her life. That should serve as a reminder to the rest of us, who have achieved a certain age, to treasure the things that we love even if others find it strange.

I will miss her humor and insight. I will miss her on target observations and I will always smile when reminded that I am not in my “senior” years, but I am only in my “google” years. That will help to cushion the blow when I myself cannot remember things that I swear I knew yesterday.

Thank you Nora and I will miss you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review - Doctor Sleep

Title: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner (September 24, 2013)
Format: Kindle 4216 KB; Hardcover Pgs 544
Genre: Thriller
Source: Purchase
Series: The Shinning #2

Reading the disclaimer, “This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously” – well I certainly hope so. It is bad enough that I will be looking at every person in an RV through a cautious sideways glance, but I am relived to know that the True Knot is only some jacked-up craziness in Stephen King’s mind. Really – this is an awesome book.

I was a bit apprehensive when I had not read The Shinning and had relied on my previous viewing of the movie. Mr. King states quite emphatically that Doctor Sleep is a sequel to the book and not the movie.

Ok, so diving in is what I did. At first, I was a bit confused with the chapters and parts, but that soon calmed down and the flow was right where it should have been. The book grabs you from the beginning and I swear it if was not for the fact that I am a big baby, I would have read well into the night.

The numerous reviews out there have already picked about the plotlines and I will leave it to them. Except for a couple of the True Knot devotee’s that seem to come and go as needed, every character has an integral part of the story. Personally, I hate it when authors just throw characters around in the first chapter and the reader is stuck trying to sort everyone out. You will also be walking through the AA meetings that made up a big part of Stephen King’s life, but that is okay. It is what both the author and the main character needed to do to get to the good stuff.

This book is intense, there is humor in unexpected places and I just wanted to lean back and absorb the story that was being told. Not in a “steam” sort of way, but in a “can my phone just stop ringing for five minutes” so I can get through this part.

Grab this book and a quiet room and just be mesmerized by what Dan Torrance has been up to.