Welcome

A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. These are the ramblings of the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to mystery thrillers, Catholic theology, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction & Victorian fiction, and nonfiction; but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of juvenile/teen books, with a nod towards what parents can expect to find that might or might not be objectionable.

I also blog about graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Three Wacky Families Books by Jackie French: Garden Gnome, Gorilla & Vampire

My Uncle Gus the Garden GnomeMy Uncle Gus the Garden Gnome by Jackie French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wacky Families (#4)

Jackie French is a prolific Australian children's writer whom I've never had the chance to read until now. This is a deceptively simple short chapter book set in a magical world of bogeymen, tooth fairy and, witch parents. Tom's best friends are Mog, a big hairy thing and Fra, the ghost of a two-hundred year old assassinated princess. His Uncle Gus is a magical garden gnome and a girl at school's mother has put a bad luck spell on him because he won't take her to the dance. The book is plain silly fun with lots of humour but it's also a heartwarming tale of finding happiness, the joy of discovering your true self and learning the importance of family. This is a very sweet book which I found very quaint, even with its doses of toilet humour. The illustration was lacklustre though and could have enhanced the story had it been more appealing.




My Gran the Gorilla by Jackie French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wacky Families (#6)

This story was not as good as the previous one I read in this series (the Garden Gnome) as it seemed a bit forced and tried too hard. It wasn't until halfway through that I took a liking to some of the characters and found myself enjoying the antics. The books in this series are entirely unrelated, except for the theme of a wacky family, so from what I've seen of the two I've read so far some are going to be better than others. These are quick easy reads, with the humour aimed at younger kids including the obligatory toilet joke or two. Not bad. I'm going to read the other two I have but I did enjoy "Uncle Gus" the best so far. The illustration has improved considerably since the first one I read.



My Auntie Chook the Vampire Chicken by Jackie French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wacky Families (#7)

The 7th book in the Wacky Family series is the third which I've read and my favourite so far. These books can be read in any order as they have no common plots or characters, just a theme of *strange* families. This time we meet a vampire family and learn how and where vampires are living today. A boy/girl cousin duo take to an adventure and find out more about the world at large when the boy's pet vampire frog is kidnapped. They meet the black sheep of the family, Auntie Chook, for the first time and all three of them end up foiling the plot of evil robots to annihilate the entire vampire race. A way over the top plot, with the requisite toilet humour of this series, but I found the three main characters endearing and couldn't help but giggling through this wacky story. For the type of silly story that it is, kids will have a hoot with this one.


I have one more book left in this series that I have, My Pa the Polar Bear, but I'm going to leave it for a bit and see how I feel about it coming back to the series fresh.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ballad by Blexbolex



Ballad by Blexbolex

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An absolutely beautiful piece of work but an awkward book to categorize or generalize. This has been nominated in the graphic novel category for the Cybils but mostly as it fits there better than anywhere else. It's not going to appeal to the average graphic novel enthusiast though. I'd describe this as a long picture book, illustrated artistically, with as much, if not more (?) appeal to the older reader than a young child. Text and illustration go hand in hand here with the illustration being the prime mode of storytelling and the text mostly short two words in a stylized cursive font. This is a piece of art. The story is whimsical. The kind of tale children make-up in their heads as they play (or used to before internet), of bandits and dragons and queens, kidnappings, witches, spells and heroes. A joyous fairy tale! And again to show how hand-in-hand the text and illustration are the text mimics the art; when the world goes upside down so do the words, when the crowds and people get jumbled up so do the words and when the scenes are hidden in the dark the words are missing too. This is a very unique experience and will not appeal to those interested in a normal reading experience but if you enjoy something unusual, avant-garde even don't hesitate to read this little treasure.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann





Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The art is absolutely stunning; I wouldn't mind prints framed on my walls! However the story was predictable and fairly lacklustre. Mouse wants to leave Germany, tries to board ship but must face cats and dogs. He sees bats and gets the idea to fly. A session of several failed clockwork and steam machines fail before he finally hits success and makes his journey just before the owls get him. Breathtaking art, especially through the wordless sections.



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2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge


2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge 

I participated last year and it really helped me to read those books that have been sitting on the shelves forever.  Otherwise the sign-up is here. and the very basic rules are:

- The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.- Copyright 2014 or earlier.  Anything counts.

I succeeded very well last year signing up for 20 and easily made it to 50+ so will sign up for a higher level this year but won't pressure myself with the highest one.

21-30 First Kiss


1.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge


I joined this last year and it was by far my favourite challenge!  I usually don't like reading from lists but this little 12 book list was really fun to mark off and finally read books I've had and wanted to read for ages.  I'm keeping the books short this year with a couple of exceptions since I'm giving myself a couple of other book-a-month type challenges.  Basic rules.  12 books with 2 alternates.  Must be copyright 2013 or earlier.  For more information and to sign up go here.

My master list of books follows and will be updated with links in real time: 

Jan.1-Dec. 31 (2015) Goal:  books
12 Books from TBR Copyrighted 2013 or earlier

1. Christine by Stephen King (1993)
2. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (1972)
3. The Duel by Giacomo Casanova (1780)
4. The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (1971)
5. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck (1972)
6. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
7. The Tomorrow City by Monica Hughes (1978)
8. Anthem by Ayn Rand (1946)
9. The Double Hook by Sheila Watson (1959)
10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)
11. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (1986)
12. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)

Alternates
1.The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
2. The Duel by Anton Chekov (1891)

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Little Golden Books


What a lovely picture book for grown-ups! If you love Little Golden Books and they make you feel all nostalgic and warm and fuzzy inside this is the book for you. A beautiful picture book, where each page is taken from an LGB from the 40s-60s with one each from the 70s and 80s. Some of my favourite artists are here: Eloise Wilkin, Garth Williams, Tibor Gergely and Gustaf Tenggren. There's also plenty of Richard Scarry and Corrine Malvern, plus an illustrator I hadn't been familiar with whose pictures I now adore: Retta Worcester. I'm only skimming the top of the cream with the illustrators I mention, there are plenty more. The words make up a little story, for grown-ups, about Christmas, which is sweet and made me go "Awe" at the end. Of course, you can share the book with your child friends, but they may not find the illustrations as adorable as you do and you may want to skip some of the text aimed at the adult such as " And let's not even think about the hassles of holiday travel. the excess! The expense!" or "Why not put the kids' energy to good use?" I collect Little Golden Books and this one is a keeper for me. I'm definitely getting the Valentine's one coming out and need to get the first one put out earlier this year. Beautiful book with glossy, high quality pages.



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Billy Joel by Fred Schruers

Billy Joel by Fred Schruers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



This is a good biography of Joel and in a way can be likened to an autobiography as it is mostly told in direct quotes from Joel himself. The story is that Billy was working on his biography and at a certain point handed the material and job over to Schruers, his official biographer. Thus, this is a pro-Joel book and not the place to be if you are looking for the "dirt" or trash-talking. I found the beginning and ending of the book very good but the middle dragged. Upon starting I was fascinated to find myself reading a thrilling Holocaust survival story as Billy Joel's family history is told. I hadn't expected this! I didn't even know he was Jewish, for some reason I thought he was Italian. LOL. The early days, and story right up to the early years of his marriage to Christie Brinkley was an interesting story for me. I was actually captivated as the book really centred on the industry and told Joel's life through his songs which are all very autobiographical. I've read several books about rock stars, but this is the first one that has ever seriously been about the industry itself. Then Billy becomes involved in legal issues with his (ex)manager and counter suits, etc. etc. plus he stops writing and this part of the book was very slow going for me and I waded through it hoping I'd get interested again. Which I did when Joel reaches more modern times post 9/11 and his career is revitalized. Now the impact of his music, his legendary status as a songwriter and his continued success as a performer and speaker take us up to the present. The book doesn't hold back on controversial subjects (his alcoholism, rocky friendship with Elton John, etc) but Joel speaks of them bluntly, of where he is with them now, not lingering on the demons or heartaches. This is his general approach to life and a theme throughout the book. I recommend this biography if you want to know more about Billy Joel's music, the man who wrote the songs and why, the type of life he lived and where he is now, in mind and body. I don't recommend if you are looking for the juicy stuff about Joel's demons, his alcoholism, who he slept with etc, it's just not that type of book.



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