Welcome

A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, 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 non-fiction, but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that, both fiction and non-fiction. 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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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What I was Watching in August

I keep a running list of what I watch but don't do full reviews, just short notes with my opinion.  I'm not a big TV watcher and watch most of my stuff on Netflix.  But we did go to the movies a few times last month.  Here's what I've been watching in August:

6. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (in the theatre) - We just watched the regular non-3D version.  None of us knew anything about this as I am not a Marvel reader (I'm a DC girl), and the guys are superhero movie fans, not comic readers.  So we all went, including Uncle Jeff, so that made 4 of us and we all really enjoyed it but no one thought it was extra-special or anything.  Of course, we all loved Groot, even though he is waaaaay too soppy for a superhero in my opinion. Then Rocket Raccoon was hilarious, the rest were just 'meh'.  Good movie, better than ok, but not great.  I'd definitely buy a Groot Funko POP!

ETA: It is now the end of Aug. and I have in my possession a Groot POP Bobble-Head!!

7.  Final 24: Season 2 (2007) (Netflix) - I really enjoyed this show.  Season 2 had more episodes than the first season and I found it quite a quality production.  There was no tabloidism to it at all, which was very refreshing and made episodes such as the one on Anna Nicole Smith (which I rolled my eyes at before watching thinking how could anything new be told about that circus?) truly interesting and brought the celebrity down to human level and we saw what a sorry, sad ending she really had.  I ended up feeling for a lot of these people.  My only complaint was too many of the episodes were about stars who OD'd, but there was a bit of variety on other types of famous people who died of other strange circumstances such as fashion designer Versace and cult leader David Koresh.

8. Dredd (2012) (Netflix) - I am a huge Judge Dredd fan and read a lot of the comics.  I didn't watch this when it came out and had no intention of watching it because how could they portray Dredd realistically.  No one would like him!  But I was taking too long to pick a movie and went ahead and am sorry I watched it. Dredd was not the Dredd of the comics.  He let sooo many people go that he would have sent to the cubes that is was unreal.  Dredd follows the rules, he doesn't care if they have an excuse!  And he soo would not have passed Anderson in that situation, she broke too many commandments.  Plus, as far as I've got in my reading Dredd has been credited with passing only one recruit ... ever ... and it wasn't PSI Division, Judge Anderson.  If I was rating i'd give this a 4/10.

9. Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013) (own) - This was interesting and tells you all about the history and personalities of DC's Rogues Gallery.  It's a documentary with loads and loads of commentary from DC writers and illustrators, with Christopher Lee narrating the whole thing.  I thought it was pretty cool getting to see what some of my favourite writers and illustrators looked like.  Scott Snyder looks like a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Neil Patrick Harris.  LOL and Geoff Johns is cute!  Anyway very interesting but it was too long (99 min) and started to drag.  I lost interest way before it was over and think I might have napped at some point.

10. Saints and Soldiers (2003) (Netflix) - I randomly picked this to watch; had never heard of it but was interested in watching a war movie.  It was very, very good.  An independent movie so not full of Hollywood action/adventure, long battle scenes and tons of blood.  There is some action but this is a very talky movie and starts off with the Malmedy Massacre and then has four American and 1 Brit soldier making their way through enemy lines to bring vital information to HQ.  One character belongs to a very strict Christian sect which does not allow smoking, drinking or even coffee and his character is wonderful, not preachy at all, but he brings to the table discussions about what war/the enemy is.  Are they not the same as us with different uniforms?  The medic of the group vehemently disagrees and while not being anti-war in anyway the movie does bring much provoking thought.  The actors were unknown to me but I thought the acting and production was overall excellent for a low budget independent movie.  There is a sequel I'm going to watch next, though I don't believe it has any of the same characters.

11. Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed (2012) (Netflix) - This is made by the same people and has the same star as the first S&S movie but not the same characters; it's a sequel in a sense that the theme is the same.  This again had a religious character and this time was about three US Airborne paratroopers who are trying to get to their rendezvous but they meet up with a female French Resistance who asks for their help in rescuing her comrades.  This was a bit more violent than the first movie but again as an independent film was more talky and thought provoking than an action movie.  Once again it visits the same theme of bringing a German and US soldier together realizing they are both human beings first.  I liked the characters in this one, but we didn't get to know them as well as those in the first.  Both movies are excellent though and I can't make up my mind on which I liked best.  There is a third movie in the series but it is more recent and not on Netflix yet.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (theatre) - Again we watched the regular version, not the 3D.  I thought this was pretty lame but my husband and son quite enjoyed it.  I found a few funny moments and the action at the end good but especially liked Shredder; that was one awesome villain costume he had.  Otherwise it wasn't much.  Was surprised to see Will Arnett, I haven't seen him in anything besides Arrested Development and here he seemed to play the exact same character as Jobe Bluth.

13. The Red Baron (2008) (Netflix) - I really enjoyed this, even though a) everyone started out with awful German accents then went back to their natural British ones and b) Baron von Richthofen was made out to be some wholesome, wonderful humanitarian.  Yeah. right... So, I don't really know much about him but I'm guessing he wasn't as nice and charming a person as he was presented here.  Otherwise, as fiction, this was an enjoyable WWI movie from the German perspective for a change.  They were the good guys, from their point of view and that was the only point of view this movie shows.  This*is* a German/UK made movie, btw.  One thing I didn't know, and found interesting, was that during WWI the Germans had a lot of Jewish pilots, many of them heavily decorated.  The actor who played the Baron is dashingly good looking and played the role wonderfully.  A lot of good aerial scenes of WWI planes too. Unbelievable they had so little protection up there!

14. Solved: Season 2 (2008) (Netflix) - Season 1 is not on Netflix so I had to start with Season 2.  This is a documentary show from Investigation Discovery (one of my favourite channels, but we no longer get TV beyond basic cable).  This is a really well-done show in the same vein as the classic A&E crime documentaries.  The cases featured here are all ones that have been solved, most followed the usual timeline of justice but a few went cold and were solved many years, if not decades later.  The show started off with husband did-its or wife did-its but then moved on to quite a wide variety of cases.  All involved a murder, usually just one and none of these are serial killings.  13 episodes, each an hour long (43 mins without commercials) and as an avid crime watcher/reader I was pleased to have not heard of any of these cases before.  Excellent!

15. Sherlock: Season 2 (2012) (Netflix) - (semi-spoiler) I watched the first two episodes quite some time ago and just finished up the last one last night and wowza!  Is it a doozy!  I just absolutely love this show to pieces!  The last episode of this season is "Reichenbach Fall" which every Holmes reader will associate with  the story "Reichenbach Falls", (waterfalls in Germany) where Sherlock and Moriarty have their infamous fight and Sherlock supposedly falls to his death here.  Well this show always puts new and unique spins on the original stories but it still ends the same way.  With Sherlock's death.  But wow!! How are they going to explain this?  I'm presuming here they will follow the original and have Holmes fake his death, but it was a very real public death this time.  How will it be pulled off?  I haven't a clue how they are going to do this, except I think they will turn back on Holmes' ability to be the master of disguise somehow.  Can't wait to start watching the next season!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Canada: A Country of Our Own: The Confederation Diary of Rosie Dunn, Ottawa, Province of Canada, 1800 by Karleen Bradford

A Country of Our Own: The Confederation Diary of Rosie Dunn, Ottawa, Province of Canada, 1800 by Karleen Bradford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Canada

I always look at the author first for these as some are long-time favourites and I know I'm in for a treat for those. This author, Karleen Bradford, I'd heard of and knew I had read a book by her but it wasn't until now that I've checked to see it was a book from a very long time ago about time travel back to the War of 1812 "The Other Elizabeth". I do have a fond remembrance of it. This was an entirely enjoyable book, written in journal format as usual for the Dear Canada series. Most children's books I read about Confederation take place in PEI but this one is a little unusual in that it takes place mostly in the time leading up to Confederation and takes place in Ottawa. It concerns a young girl who has been hired into service for a family in politics in "Eastern Canada" (renamed Quebec when it joined Confederation)who must move to Ottawa now that the Queen has named it captial city of the newly formed province of Canada (East & West combined). Ottawa is a ramshackle little town with small wooden houses, and mud streets that pigs and cows wander freely. The story mostly concentrates on day-to-day life as seen through the eyes of an Irish-Catholic servant girl but also her impressions of the daily life of her well-to-do employers. The political background concerns the thoughts pro and con for uniting the provinces into Confederation and the process that was involved during that full year leading up to Confederation. The book ends just after the celebration of the first Dominion Day July 1, 1867. Two historical figures are mentioned quite frequently Sir John A. MacDonald and Thomas D'arcy McGee. The main character, Rosie Dunn, is entirely likeable and makes for an interesting voice. The story is full of small crises making for an enjoyable plot, as well as an interesting historical piece. I really liked Bradford's writing and would easily read another book of hers.



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Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dav Pilkey

Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 by Dav Pilkey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captain Underpants (#11)

It's been a year long wait to find out what would happen to our friends George and Harold and Book #11 doesn't disappoint. There is a slight mixing up of the usual format which I missed but it is all there just slightly out of order. Thankfully, a comic book starts off with a brief four pages that summarizes books 1-9, then the first chapter spends a couple of pages reminding us where we are after book ten. Book 11 is just as fantastically hyperspeed as the last one, time-travel back and forth, speeding here, speeding there and then the ultimate problem arises when the time traveling results in double sets of our heroes. Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold are living in the same time as the present ones and by book's end all four Harold and George's are in big trouble with the only consolation the announcement of book 12. The book is just as funny and silly as usual and fans will be delighted. Even if you've grown out of the series, you may just want to give this a read to keep up to date with these old friends. Tra-la-la!



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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn

The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the third book in a trilogy that I believe only has the connection that they take place in the same geographic area at some point. I read this book before a very long time ago but did not remember it as I re-read it this time. It's a bit slow to get into and not exactly a page-turner story. The plot is quiet and meandrous even though an adventure and mission is taking place. We are privy as much as to what is taking place inside Phoebe's thoughts as to what is happening to her physically. It is still a refreshing approach to the American War of Independence. The characters in the book are Loyalists who have to flee from their homes to Canada after being made to leave by the rebels, some violently others just forcibly. However, the main character, Phoebe, is neutral. Her freedom loving professor of a father leaves to fight for the rebels and gets killed the first year. At 13 she moves across the creek to her Aunt and Uncle's house. The Uncle is a pacifist, but his eldest son is Loyalist and goes off to fight for the King. Needless to say he suffers a gruesome end. Phoebe, now 15, goes across the country on her own, followed by a stray cat and bear cub, to complete her cousin's mission because she is loyal, loyal to family, not any side in any war. The book heavily portrays the terrible ways that neighbour turned against neighbour and the Loyalists were, any combination of, kicked out of their homes, property and chattel stolen, beaten, tarred and feathered, women and children with husbands gone off fighting were kicked out in the middle of the night with virtually nothing but their horse and cart and a bag of flour. Young men accused of being Loyalist were hanged and after the war these refugees hiding out in Canada were not allowed back into the new Independent America. The book also heavily focuses on that even while there was a war going on and many angry people had taken sides, just like in all wars anywhere, there were just so many people who really had no side, couldn't care less who won, just wanted their homes back, their towns to be safe, to be neighbourly again and their loved ones back home alive and hopefully in one piece. Even though I found the pacing slow, it is an enjoyable story with an exciting journey of survival across country and populated mostly with female characters.



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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl

Always Emily by Michaela MacColl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Overall, I quite enjoyed this Gothic mystery in the vein of the Bronte sisters, Emily and Charlotte, on whom the book uses both as inspiration and as the main characters. Elements are taken from both "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights" and incorporated into this historical mystery featuring the sisters and their brother, Branwell. I found it rather slow for a mystery and more in tune with the novels than the real Brontes but nevertheless it was still an entertaining Gothic mystery. Of particular note is the engaging Author's Note at the end of the novel detailing some real historical facts and notes on where she took artistic license.



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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lucille by Arnold Lobel

Lucille by Arnold Lobel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An I-Can-Read Book

I collect old I-Can-Read books and this one is a keeper for the collection. Lucille is just a pure fun, silly story. Arnold Lobel is a favourite children's illustration and this is a book that he both wrote and illustrated. One of the easier books to read with only one or two sentences per page and illustrations done in a profusion of pink, yellow and orange to match the mood. Lucille the horse is tired of being a dirty mess all the time pulling the farmer's plow. One day the farmer's wife, who has the luxury of spending her days sitting in the house, drinking tea and listening to the radio decides to prettify Lucille by taking her shopping. Well Lucille gets herself a fancy hat, high heels, and a lovely white dress. Now she spends her days drinking tea with the farmer's wife and cannot work in the fields as she is too dainty for such. All the wife's friends come for visits, but Lucille quickly finds the rules of etiquette tiresome and ends up running for her life back to the farmer and her former messy, dirty life. Just plain silly, but obviously contains the message of being happy with who you are and not having pretentious delusions of grandeur.



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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Winter of Peril : The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge, Mairie's Cove, New-Found-Land, 1721 by Jan Andrews

Winter of Peril : The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge, Mairie's Cove, New-Found-Land, 1721 by Jan Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dear Canada series

An enjoyable read by an author I'm more familiar with as a picture book author, so was surprised to see her name on this book. A quick read that kept me interested and about a time period that isn't really written about much: when the fishermen came to Newfoundland during the late 17th century before and just as settlement in the area was starting to catch on. The story does take quite some suspension of belief though and I found the characters irritating. The parents have ventured into this New-Found-Land completely clueless and it is their pampered 12yo daughter who quickly learns "the way of the world" and takes on wanting to be "USEFUL" and learn how to take care of herself and others. The book heavily concentrates on life for the itinerant fishermen who traveled to Newfoundland from England/Ireland each summer to return home with their booty before the winter's ice set in. Great descriptions of the entire process they used for fishing from the preparation, to actual fishing, to preserving the fish for the long voyage home. Topics briefly mentioned are the discrimination against Catholics in this highly Protestant British time period and the introduction of the Beothuk Indians. I was disappointed with the only brief mention of the Beothuks and also though the hardship of winter was mentioned it hardly scratched the surface of the reality of an Eastern winter. Not one of the best "Dear Canada" books but most certainly readable and the journal format always makes these books interesting and fast reads. As usual with these books, I especially enjoy the back matter which includes a section on what happens to the characters afterwards, an historical essay on the topics covered in the book and pictures of archival items from the actual period.



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