Friday, September 30, 2011

Wonder Woman 612

Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI and PHIL HESTER; Art and cover by DON KRAMER and WAYNE FAUCHER; 1:10 Variant cover by ALEX GARNER


This is the one you've waited for! The year-long "Odyssey" storyline comes to an earth-shattering conclusion! Can Diana defeat the powerful forces that destroyed her entire reality? And even if she wins, she could still lose everything!

DC Universe32pg.Color

My thoughts:
We now get to see what is behind the door and who the robbed figures were who have been giving Diana cryptic messages and guidance.  The gods did not desert, they were driven out by one of their own and have been trying their best to offer assistance to Diana.  Here, Area, Zeus and more have been away from Olympus, driven out by Nemesis.  Nemesis was behind the Morrigan and behind the attacks that ruined the Amazon's homeland.  I am a bit ashamed to admit that I never considered, as Diana made her way behind the doors, what Nemesis would look like, but her appearance made sense.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wonder Woman #611

Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI and PHIL HESTER; Art and cover by DON KRAMER and JAY LEISTEN; 1:10 Variant cover by ALEX GARNER


The penultimate chapter of "Odyssey"! Who is behind Diana's altered reality? Who made the world forget that she is Wonder Woman? Who wants the Amazons dead? And, most importantly, why? The answers start to come right here!
 
My thoughts:
My big gripe is that the actual pages for Wonder Woman were really short.  There was, I guess you would call it a bonus issue of Super 8 in the middle of the book and then a preview of another title at the end.  I understand wanting readers to try out new things to get them to buy more, but this time it felt like the story was shortened so they could add something that, to me, did not add more value to the comic or the reading experience.
 
On the story itself, Diana is now coming after the Morrigan, not hiding or running from them and she sees her symbol, or what we know to be her symbol that she has some memory of.  Then she gets sucked into a supposed preview of the future where she is taking out other superheros because they didn't do enough to protect mankind.  I wonder if that is where this is really going.

E Readers

I have been toying with buying a Kindle or another e-reader since last spring.  In August I put one in my online cart and left it there for a week, before moving it into my save for later cart.  I just couldn't make the purchase.  It seemed like too much, there were so many choices and I couldn't see spending that much on myself, especially since my house is full of books that I am still planning on reading.  Then today when I as on Facebook I saw a post about the $79 Kindle and I put it in my cart.  I deliberated for a half hour and then went for it.  My birthday is coming up and, while it feels like an impulse, I've been wanting to get one for at least six months, maybe longer.  I have some small pangs of buyers remorse, but for the most part I'm just kind of excited.  I can't wait to give it a try and I am excited about the possibility of borrowing books from the library on it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wonder Woman #610

Synopsis from IGN Comics:
Revelations continue this month as Diana meets one of the Sisters of Fate, now an elderly woman confined to a hospital bed. Hester dramatically reinterprets Diana's origin story and even the fundamental source of her powers. I can hear some WW hardcore fans biting chunks out of their keyboards from here. Bear in mind that there's still no telling what will and won't stick when "Odyssey" wraps in a few months. All I really care about is that Hester grows and evolves the character, and he's doing an excellent job of it so far. He pushes Diana away from a place of rage and vengeance and towards one of love and compassion. It reads like redemption in more ways than one.


The script dips a bit when Wonder Woman dives back into action and enjoys a rematch with the trio of foes hunting her. I do grow tired of stories that feature a hero being badly beaten in one issue and then returning to easily mop the floor with her opponents later. Is Diana an X-Man now? But, in the end, this rematch is fairly unimportant, and it's the fight coming up that will really make or break the final leg of the story.

The lasso of truth gets a chance to help save the day, Diana Prince makes an appearance as a  nurse, Doctor Steve has a frame and she knows him, and she finds out that one of the fates kept weaving her another strand to keep her life force going, which I guess explains why she has had so many other lives.  Is Diana Prince just another strand on the web of her life?  The costume or outfit that Diana Prince gives to Diana is a melding of the old and the new.  It still has a more modern feeling, but has some touches of what most of us remember and call to mind when we thing of Wonder Woman.  Are all of the threads connected to lives and does that mean that she is living multiple lives at once?  Should I already know who is behind the Morrigan because honestly I don't.  I dislike how the last pages of the comic are used to give a sneak peak of a different comic book series.  They feel so shirt as it is, I am tempted to wait until they come out in book format and read them then which is what I may decide to do ultimately.  I think books rather than comics last longer and may end up being less expensive.


My thoughts:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wonder Woman #609 Story by J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester Art by Don Kramer, Sean Parsons, Wayne Faucher

From Comic Book Resources:
Wonder Woman” continues its winding unsatisfying arc toward something nobody is quite sure of in issue #609 as Dr. Psycho leads Diana by the hand to all her supposed potential and greatness..


In this issue, Diana has been badly injured and is taking a mind trip with Dr. Psycho (going by "Edgar" here, taller and with a more handsome visage) as he leads her to all her “past lives” which are really just potential incarnations of Diana’s spirit. Phil Hester is clearly trying hard to get Diana back to who and what she should be, but it’s not effective or very compelling. At one point Dr. Psycho proclaims that, “Every era somehow finds a way to create you,” which is a nice sentiment in that it shows how necessary Wonder Woman is to the world. Later Dr. Psycho says, “It is not enough to merely become Wonder Woman, you must choose it. Create yourself,” which nicely reinforces the agency that Diana needs to have in her own life in order to be successful. However, since Diana has to be literally led by the hand to these revelations by her former enemy, the reality we experience as readers is of Diana continuing to be a tourist in her own life and book.

There’s some nice art here by Don Kramer, and some particularly gorgeous stuff toward the end when readers are treated to many different reflections of Diana as Wonder Woman. However, the art is inconsistent and sometimes really out of synch with who Diana should be, even in this incarnation. There are far too many panels of doe-eyed innocence, paired with “seductive” constantly open mouth syndrome. It’s pretty off-putting overall.


My thoughts:
I disagree with the reviewer from Comic Book Resources, I liked the trip through Diana's mind with Dr. Psycho.  We saw him rescue her from the three fighters that were sent to either take her out or capture her so I think it is fitting that he should make an appearance her as well.  Diana has been getting bits and pieces about alternate pasts since the first issue, so here she is being given a back story.  I'm not sure if we are to believe that she has been coming back as each of these different warriors, the blind woman, the pirate, the disowned princess and Wonder Woman or if it has just been her essence that has been a part of each of these lives.  Perhaps it is the whole parallel universe thing again.  I thought the cover was misleading because it made it seem like she was going to be fighting with herself or the memory of herself, but she wasn't.  Perhaps the cover with make more sense and the story continues.  The good part of having fallen behind is that I can read them each one after another without having to wait for a new issue to come out. 
Story by J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester

Art by Don Kramer, Sean Parsons, Wayne Faucher

Colors by Alex Sinclair, Pete Pantazis

Letters by Travis Lanham

Cover by Don Kramer, Chris Beckett

Publisher DC Comics

Cover Price$2.99 (USD)

Release Date Mar 30th, 2011

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris , Ian Falconer (Illustrator) .

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new illustrated collection of animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.


In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk," a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members.

With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestselling Olivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.

My thoughts:
About five or six years ago I belonged to my one and only book club.  It lasted for a year and each month we lost more and more readers until at the end there were only two to four of us.  One of the books we read before losing so many members was David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day.  Two of the other women had read it before and raved about it.  I liked the second half but was bored during the first section, granted I only gave myself two days to read it before we were meeting to discuss it, but for me it didn't get funny until half way.  This was my second attempt at his books.

I'm not sure if I liked it or not.  While it made me laugh a couple times it was nowhere near as entertaining as Chelsea Handler's two books.  I'm afraid I loved those so much that they are now going to be the ideal I hold other books up to.  It could be that this type of humor isn't for me.  The stories that made the biggest impact on me were "The Judicious Brown Chicken" who keeps taking what happens to her and the other birds as lessons on what to be until she finally realizes that those things are just that, things, and she should be herself just in time to be selected by the farmer's wife for dinner.  In "The Parrot and the Potbellied Pig" the pig is so dissatisfied at being called potbellied when he barely eats and exercises all the time that he is consumed with dieting to the point of anorexia instead of brushing off the label and being happy with himself.  And lastly "The Mouse and the Snake" which features a mouse who keeps a snake as a pet until the inevitable happens, which she never saw coming.  Even a day after finishing it I can't say if I'd recommend this or not.  I liked the shortness of the stories and how they lent themselves to small moments of free time.  I think I will give Sedaris one more chance and if that book doesn't grab me I will admit that he just isn't for me.

Details
•Pub. Date: October 2011

•Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
•Format: Paperback , 192pp
•ISBN-13: 9780316038409
•ISBN: 0316038407

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wonder Woman #608 By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Geraldo Borges (pencils), Marlo Alquiza (inks), Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story from Comic Book Review: Diana is forced to take on Cheetah and the other fallen Amazonians in a brutal, bloody battle that the princess does not get the better end of. Fortunately, although the terrible trio manage to destroy most of the rest of the surviving Amazons, Diana has another, more unexpected benefactor come to her aid.

By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Geraldo Borges (pencils), Marlo Alquiza (inks), Travis Lanham (letters)


My thoughts:
So I am thinking I should know who the crazy looking man at the end is who is claiming to be a doctor, but I'm not totally sure.  I recall there being someone like that in the retroactive issue I read who wanted Wonder Woman to love him and be with him, but not his name.  I'll have to look it up.  Anyway, it seems like now Diana is all alone in the world.  All of her Amazonian sisters have fallen to this current onslaught and without her mysterious savior she would be gone too.  The two remaining Morrigan want to go and watch Diana be defeated and caught but are warned by the spirit of their dead sister that Diana needs to die so she her spirit can aid the higher power they are supposed to be working for, so now there is someone above the women who were above or behind the original burning man.  The ladder just keeps growing!  I'm thinking it must be a god but which one I am really not sure.


It's Monday, What are you reading?

This is my first time participating in this meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey.  Last week I barely got any reading done.  It was my second week being back at work over the summer and between work, my own children, getting running time in on treadmill in preparation for a 5K Saturday and then all the new television shows, my reading was really slow!  I did go to the library on Monday night by myself while my daughter was at a Brownie meeting.  Anyone who knows me knows I rarely go anywhere by myself, I usually have at least one child with me, so this was a treat!  I went a bit overboard with the new release fourteen day loan books, so some of them may be going back without being read.  Here is what I checked out and hope to read this week:

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
A Discovery of Witches by Debra Harkins
Losing it-And Gaining Back My Life One Pound at at Time by Valerie Bertinelli
Here We Go Again by Betty White
Zen and the Art of Running: The Path to Making Peace with Your Pace by Larry Shapiro

The funny thing is last weekend I read a book a day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday so I thought five books for fourteen days would be just fine, but it has been a week and I have yet to finish any of them.  I more than half way through Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and on a previous loan I got to page 260 of The Discovery of Witches, but I am only 14 pages into Losing It and 11 into Betty White's.  I guess I need to focus on just one or two and either renew or return the rest.  Hopefully I'll have better focus this week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wonder Woman #607 By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Don Kramer with Eduardo Pansica (pencils), Andy Owens, Sean Parsons and Eber Ferreira (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors) and Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story from Comic Book Review.com: Diana–who, I can’t help pointing out, has actually started acting like Diana for a change of pace–and two of her closest Amazon guardians descend into a labyrinth to rescue the kidnapped boy, Harry. This being a labyrinth, there is naturally a Minotaur–along with a host of other nasties–to be conquered along the way. It turns out this is only the beginning of their problems though, as Harry’s kidnapping was only a ruse to lure Diana away from the rest of her Amazonian sisters, who are quickly engaged in a battle they may not be able to win without the help of their princess.

By J. Michael Straczynski and Phil Hester (writers), Don Kramer with Eduardo Pansica (pencils), Andy Owens, Sean Parsons and Eber Ferreira (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors) and Travis Lanham (letters)


My thoughts:
This was the issue I was missing since February and the reason I stopped reading the ones I did have, it seems a little silly in retrospect, but I wanted to read them in order.  I ordered it on Ebay last month and now I have the complete set (I think!).  I'm not missing any numbers in the ones that I do have for this most recent version of Wonder Woman's story.

In the first issues there was a man who had been burned who was hunting Diana and the Amazon's to kill them and try to trap Diana.  He was killed and we found out the the remaining two Morrigan were behind his quest for Diana because they are hoping to use her to replace the sister they lost.  The grow from fighting and war.

Diana is coming into her powers and images of Wonder Woman as most of us know her keep showing up, in small dolls that may or may not be voodoo dolls, in a stained glass window and even in her thoughts and dreams.  I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a parallel universe showing how one decision can change how the course of time runs but it is still running the other way just on a different plane or level, or if this is foreshadowing of who she will be when she fully matures and comes into her own.  She talks about the fire inside of her that her sisters see but don't want to see and how she can control it to be human, which brings me back to my other question, are the Amazon's human or mortal?  One of them talks about the mortals but then is killed so she can be killed, but is her lifespan longer?  I know I could look it up somewhere, but I am just going to keep reading to see what the answer may be!

The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

What if your parents agreed to disagree?

Eight and a half years ago, when their beautiful baby girl was born, Mr. and Mrs. Puddle couldn't agree on what to name her. So Mrs. Puddle calls her daughter Emily and Mr. Puddle calls her Ferdinanda. And everyone else? They call her Baby.

Having parents who agree to disagree does mean twice as many presents on your birthday, but it can complicate your life! There was the time Baby's parents couldn't agree on what kind of dog to get — so they got two, both named Sally. One summer day, when rushing back to the city from their country house, the Puddles leave the Sallys behind. Will the Puddles agree to go back? What will become of the Sallys?

Kate Feiffer's debut novel is by turns funny, heartwarming, and wholly satisfying. Tricia Tusa's pleasing artwork makes the Puddles' world complete.

Let the Puddle family into your heart. You will be glad you did.

My thoughts:
This story was a bit too disjointed for me, my children all thought it was funny and liked it, but when putting in the third and final disk in the car cd player my husband's comment was, "I won't be sorry when this story is done."  Unfortunately I agree with him.

The Puddles are disorganized and, as the parents can never agree on anything, there is a lot of debate about everything from where each person will sit in the car to what to do in every situation, it started to feel endless.  The Puddle family leaves their island vacation home to return to the city, an hours long trip, but they forget to out their two dogs in the car.  They can't decide if they are going back or getting them later and the dogs get their own chapters on their quest to get to the city to be with the Puddles.  Plus, where ever the Puddles go it always rains. 

They meet some interesting people and it all circles back to completing the story, but it feels like you are a dog going in circles chasing your tail for awhile.  I was not at all sad when we pulled up to the house today and heard the words "The End".  So, I guess it appeals to children who are the intended audience, but isn't as enjoyable for adults.  I just wanted it to get to the point, yes it all tied together in the end, but for so much of the story it jsut seemed to be going on about nothing.
Details
•Pub. Date: June 2011
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
•Format: Paperback , 208pp
•Age Range: 8 to 12
•ISBN-13: 9781442421011
•ISBN: 1442421010

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wonder Woman 606 Story by J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester Art by Eduardo Pansica, Jay Leisten, Marlo Alquiza, Wayne Faucher, Julio Ferreira

Synopsis and Review from Comic Book Resources:
I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of the choice to “reinvent” Wonder Woman yet again. I think Gail Simone did a very good job on the title, and in her exit, she left the character in a newer place than she had previously been. J. Michael Straczynski came along and the entire concept got a reboot. Then Straczynski hightailed it out of there and Phil Hester was brought in to work from what was left behind. At this point in the evolution of the character, Hester needs to grab the reins on this book and steer it out of whatever the hell it is soaking in right now.
 I see bits and pieces that are right, such as Diana fighting alongside her sisters and looking for answers, but I see other areas that are wrong, such as the appearance of a Minotaur who seems to be of sinister motivation. Truly this book needs to be sifted through and it is Hester’s task to do the sifting. It is clear in reading this book that Hester is trying to find the path this book has strayed from, but it is equally clear that a true map of that path might not have ever existed. The story jumps from scene to scene with little transition, and characters pop up seemingly out of the woodwork. 
To complicate matters more, Pansica’s art seems to favor sensationalism, pouring blood onto panels as frequently as possible and playing up the curves of the female characters over enhancing their strengths.

Cheesecake overpowers what could have been a chilling moment as Diana’s three (arguably) strongest foes rise from their rebirthing chambers. The level of gore and ketchup-like blood topping nearly every figure set in battle within these pages is just mind-numbing. I understand the need to establish Diana as a fierce warrior, but it is possible to do so without slathering the character in blood and having her do likewise to her opponents.

This is a sloppy book, the art wants to be better than the final printed page truly is. Eduardo Pansica’s got the talent and ability, but his final pages as just not detailed to Don Kramer’s level. Conversely Pansica’s drawings are not kinetic enough to be anything other than static. I’m sure with each panel, page, and issue, it is obvious that Pansica is growing, but he needs to determine where he is growing to in order to make his own odyssey a fruitful one.

The phalanx of inkers provides evidence that there is a quick handoff between writer and artist and that shows through with the massive lack of consistency between art and story. Early on, Diana is told to keep her left arm close to her side, as she has been run through with a spear, but moments later, Diana is using that arm as though there is no wound. Now, I’m not going to make any leaps and compare her to Jay Cutler, but to go from clutching the limp arm to your side to using it in the fever of battle as though it were unmolested does not add credence to consistency.

There is a sense of direction beginning to settle in on this book. The sense is here, but not the direction itself. Diana is still very much a puppet in her own title, but Hester is a good writer and he has some solid toys to play with here. I’m interested to see where this book goes once Hester gets it more fully under his control. A reliable artist would certainly help make this book more Hester’s own title. Hmmm. Maybe Hester himself could step in and multitask an issue, providing script and art. That would help to get it back on track, right?
My thoughts:
So scratch what I said about the last issue, Diana is still kind of blood thirsty and brutal.  That is just something I don't remember so much from when I read the series as a child,  yes she fought and got hurt very regularly, but I don't recall her being quite so blood thirsty and out for revenge.  She does she more feeling her, anger as well as caring and pain, but she is quick to order others around and does not accept warnings from others, which leads to the death of one of her teaches.  I am a little unsure of how old the characters are. Do Amazon live forever?  Are they immortal?  I didn't think so but perhaps they are.  The curves of the women who are brought out of some sort of rejuvenation tank that made them full of anger and hate and have no memory of their past lives are a bit out of control.  To quote a friend who was making a comment about a totally different context, "holy boobies".  These are some well-endowed, barely covered women wearing skin tight wet clothes.    Part of what kept me from reading these for so long was that I had been missing issue 607, somehow I missed getting it when it came out.  I finally ordered it on Ebay so that I could read up to where the series currently is.  The sad thing is I am not even sure if it is still going on or if it was one of the story lines that died out when things changed over recently.  I guess I'll see when I get there!

Story by J. Michael Straczynski, Phil Hester

Art by Eduardo Pansica, Jay Leisten, Marlo Alquiza, Wayne Faucher, Julio Ferreira
Colors by Alex Sinclair

Letters by Travis Lanham

Cover by Don Kramer, Alex Sinclair, Alex Garner

Publisher DC Comics

Release Date Jan 26th, 2011

Saturday Snapshot- God Save the Queen!- September 24, 2011

We've been taking our children to the Renaissance Faire for the past few years.  I thought that we had done almost everything that was offered there in past visits, but this summer we did some things for the first time.  One was the elephant ride I featured in last weeks post.  The other thing we've never stopped to do is talk to or pose with the Queen.  Yes we've seen her walking around, but none of my children were ever interested in meeting her.  This year it was only my daughter who had an interest but it was still new and exciting!


The Queen took the time to talk to her about her visit, pose for a picture, and passed out plastic jewels.  She gave my daughter one for all the boys too even though they didn't take the time to talk to her. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wonder Woman #605 Story by Phil Hester, J. Michael Straczynski Art by Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica, Daniel HDR, Jay Leisten, Marlo Alquiza, Wayne Faucher, Eber Ferreira

Synopsis from Comic Book Resources
For those who haven't been in the loop, after four issues (plus a prologue in "Wonder Woman" #600) we've had a slight writer shift on "Wonder Woman," as the remainder of J. Michael Straczynski's planned year-long story is now being written by Phil Hester, based off of Straczynski's notes and outline. And for those who haven't read it? While this isn't intended as a slam on Straczynski, I think this is already a big improvement.


Unlike the previous four issues of "Wonder Woman," this new issue feels more relaxed and more human. The grim, slightly overwrought tone from those first few chapters is discarded and we start to get a feeling of just exactly who this new Wonder Woman is. It's just little shifts but they're important ones; we see her relationship with her guardians, what she does in her spare time, even what sort of music she likes. It doesn't sound like much but for this story it feels huge. Hester's turned Wonder Woman into someone who is still at her core the character readers knew for the previous 600 issues of her comic, but with enough changes that she's definitely someone whose life has been transformed into someone slightly different.

It's hard to say exactly how much or little of this was in Straczynski's story notes (something only he, Hester, and editors Brian Cunningham and Sean Ryan will truly know), but this is enough of a huge step away from the previous four issues that it makes me feel like at least some of this is Hester's tweaking of the story. Regardless of who decided to make this shift, it's a good one. Up until now, the new Wonder Woman wasn't a character, she was an outfit on an otherwise blank slate. Here she seems like an actual person. Sure, some of the bits feel a little trite (what is it with characters in Straczynski-plotted comics getting saved from domestic violence these days?) but none the less, it's a start.

There's a whole horde of artists on board this month, but despite seven different people touching the book it's remarkably consistent. It's still easy to pick out Don Kramer's pencils, which I think are the strongest of the bunch, with a smooth and clean feeling that flows nicely across each panel. Still, Eduardo Pansica and Daniel HDR do a solid pitch-in effort, keeping that overall look together. I suspect some readers who don't look at the credits might not even realize the round-robin pencils and inks going on behind the scenes.

"Wonder Woman" #605 is an important step in the right direction for the title. A lot of the wind has gotten lost from the sails of this storyline, but if anyone can rally the readership back on board, it's Hester. It's a good start, and it makes me wish that he'd been on board from the beginning.
My thoughts:
I agree with the reviewer for CBR, the feel of this issue is different than the previous ones.  It starts to feel like maybe we are getting a chance to know Diana as something other than a fighting machine full of anger at the past.  She feels more real, she talks to a cat and stone statues, she helps a domestic violence victim, she shows a bit of her past and tells some jokes.  I guess my understanding of the Morrigan is different than either what it actually is or what they are being portrayed as in the issue.  I have to admit that I don't have the best knowledge of myths of any sort, I keep meaning to learn more but then I get distracted by another book.  It is so easy to get distracted by books. Parts of this called to mind Percy Jackson as well.  Medusa's head makes an appearance as does a Minotaur.

I've been buying these issues as they come out, but I am just now getting around to reading them again, not for lack of interest just mostly distraction and lack of time.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take a reading vacation, where you would just stay home with the intention of reading the whole time.  Would it feel wasteful or relaxing?  I kind of need the beach as a vacation spot, but I tend to get a lot of reading done there!
Story by Phil Hester, J. Michael Straczynski

Art by Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica, Daniel HDR, Jay Leisten, Marlo Alquiza, Wayne Faucher, Eber Ferreira
Colors by Alex Sinclair

Letters by Travis Lanham

Cover by Don Kramer, Alex Sinclair

Publisher DC Comics
 
Story by Phil Hester, J. Michael Straczynski

Release Date Dec 22nd, 2010

Where does the time go?

This week was my second week back at work after having the summer off.  I thought I had things planned out better so that I would still have a chance to read and exercise, along with taking care of my children and family and working, but I barely read a thing!  I failed to take into account the time drain of new fall television shows.  usually I don't tune in for most of them so they aren't an issue, but when I am on the treadmill I need something to watch and then once you've turned it on the next show starts so fast after one is done that before you know it you are still watching!  I watched from the treadmill, while folding and sorting laundry and preparing materials for school, but still it was on and probably made me work a little slower.

I enjoy Dancing with the Stars.  I love the music and seeing people moving motivates me more to get up and get moving too, so that is a good treadmill show in my mind.  They seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for stars now but the dancing is fun nonetheless.  I also like that it isn't a year long commitment, but after a couple months it is done.

I tried out both Revenge and Charlie's Angels but don't really plan to go back for either of them.  I enjoyed Revenge more than Angels, but neither had that something special that would bring me back.  Grey's Anatomy still had enough going on that I will tune in again, but that could also be because I've been watching it from the beginning of the series.  Modern Family is on at the time I usually exercise so it will probably make the cut because it is funny and is on when I need something.

Shows I am still looking forward to are Desperate Housewives and Boardwalk Empire.  What shows did you watch this week?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Recipe Club: A Novel about Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel , Nancy Garfinkel .

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Loyalty, loss, and the ties that bind: These are the ingredients of The Recipe Club, a "novel cookbook" that combines an authentic story of friendship with more than eighty delicious recipes.


Lifelong friends Lilly and Val are united as much by their differences as by their similarities. In childhood, "LillyPad" and "ValPal" form an exclusive two-person club, writing intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secrets . . . and recipes—from Lilly's "Lovelorn Lasagna" to Valerie's "Forgiveness Tapenade." The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val's bond across the decades: through the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of first love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred—until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.

My thoughts:
I love books that are set up as letters between two people.  At the beginning of the novel the two women are exchanging email because on of their parents has just died.  At first it seems like the two are striking back up a friendship that suffered a rift many years ago, but then the reach an impasse and call it off.  Then we go back to the 1960's and 1970's and read letters between the two as children.  Things get fleshed out, insight is given, and things start to make sense.

I loved the letters and the childhood feelings and insecurities that are shown, how much more dramatic an eighteen year old is than a forty year old, how much they want to find themselves and find their place and be loved and accepted by their parents.  In many of the letters a recipe is exchanged.  I found myself wanting to try out the recipes.  I  haven't as of yet, but there are a few I may.  I am torn because I usually pass along books I read unless I know I want to read it again, but with all the recipes I may save this one a little longer to have the chance to try them.  It may even go with my recipe books in the kitchen cabinet.

I liked Valerie more than Lilly, but could see traits of who I used to be in some of both of their actions, especially some of Lilly's.  Part of her growing up and fitting in and having boyfriends, not the singing and performing parts. 

The last part that brought them up to their present, or second to last part I guess, where it was actually in a regular novel format was my least favorite, I was glad when they went back to emails and letters.  Some of it was tied up a bit tidier than I would have liked, but I was satisfied with the ending.

Details
•Pub. Date: September 2010
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 342pp
•ISBN-13: 9780061992292
•ISBN: 0061992291

Monday, September 19, 2011

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
 Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone else in Napville, but his dull presentations put his audiences to sleep. Enter Gloria, Napville's new police dog. Gloria knows just how to liven up the safety speeches--as long as Officer Buckle's back is turned! Full color.


The children at Napville Elementary School always ignore Officer Buckle's safety tips, until a police dog named Gloria accompanies him when he gives his safety speeches. .



Awards: Caldecott Medal Book

My thoughts:
Not a new book by any means, but a fun one I use at the beginning of the school year to talk about rules in a fun way.  Gloria acts out each of Officer Buckle's safety tips like never stand on a swivel chair and gets and keeps the children's attention.  After reading it at school we discussed the rules we were going to have for our classroom to be safe and have fun at school while learning.

Details
•Pub. Date: September 1995
•Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
•Format: Hardcover , 40pp
•Age Range: 5 to 8
•ISBN-13: 9780399226168
•ISBN: 0399226168

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Funny Thing Is... by Ellen Degeneres

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Ellen DeGeneres published her first book of comic essays, the #1 bestselling My Point...and I Do Have One, way back in 1996. Not one to rest on her laurels, the witty star of stage and screen has since dedicated her life to writing a hilarious new book. That book is this book.


After years of painstaking, round-the-clock research, surviving on a mere twenty minutes of sleep a night, and collaborating with lexicographers, plumbers, and mathematicians, DeGeneres has crafted a work that is both easy on the ears and very funny. Along with her trademark ramblings, The Funny Thing Is...contains hundreds of succinct insights into her psyche, and offers innovative features including:

• More than 50,000 simple, short words arranged in sentences that form paragraphs.

• Thousands of observations on everyday life — from terrible fashion trends to how to handle seating arrangements for a Sunday brunch with Paula Abdul, Diane Sawyer, and Eminem.

• All twenty-six letters of the alphabet read aloud.

Sure to make you laugh, The Funny Thing Is...is Ellen in top form.

My thoughts:
So yesterday when I went to the library to find the Chelsea Handler book I wanted to check out I discovered the call number that houses similar titles.  Not that I didn't know they were there somewhere, but I love stumbling across books that I am interested in but hadn't been looking for.  It is like hitting the library jackpot!

I enjoyed this book, it didn't make me laugh quite as hard as Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang did yesterday, but there were definitely parts that set me off.  It was interesting too to read Ellen's book because a few months ago I read her wife Portia de Rossi's book and she was mentioned in it. 

Against Ellen's wishes I read this book while driving and flossing my teeth at the same time.  Not really, but she cautions against it right from the front and urges us all to floss.  Not bad advice.  Also a good point, if you are using something to make sure you can use your phone hands free you may also need to concentrate on it as well!

I think I'm going to be looking for some more of her books at the library next week, just don't tell her since she seems to be very worried about if you have paid for the book!

Details
•Pub. Date: September 2004
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster
•Format: Paperback , 192pp
•ISBN-13: 9780743247634
•ISBN: 0743247639

Meet The Author
Ellen DeGeneres's first book, My Point...and I Do Have One, was an instant national bestseller that spent more than six months on the New York Times bestseller list. DeGeneres has won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, and a People's Choice Award for her work as a writer and actress on her television series Ellen, and received Emmy nominations as host of the 39th Annual Grammy Awards, as an executive producer of HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2, and as star and executive producer of her critically acclaimed one-woman HBO special The Beginning. DeGeneres made history when her on-screen persona Ellen Morgan became the first openly gay leading character on television, but her groundbreaking legacy had already begun in 1986, on the Tonight Show, when she became the first and only female comic invited by Johnny Carson to sit down with him after her stand-up performance. In September 2003, DeGeneres launched The Ellen DeGeneres Show, her own nationally syndicated daytime talk show.

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land by Gail Carson Levine

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Gwendolyn Carlisle loves fairies, perhaps too much. On her birthday, she receives the precious “kiss” necklace which has been passed down from mother to daughter ever since Peter Pan gave it to Wendy Darling. That night, Gwendolyn has the first of her visions—tantalizing, lifelike visions, almost as if she were actually in Fairy Haven. She sees animal-talent fairy Beck give a pie to wise Mother Dove and hears the voices of water-talent Rani and even Tinker Bell herself.


More than anything, Gwendolyn wishes she could be there. When she is just about to lose hope, Peter Pan comes at last and blows fairy dust on her. The instant they reach Never Land, she sets out to find fairies. But the fairies are not eager to meet her.

Then the evil Kyto, a dragon the fairies once helped to capture, escapes. He intends to destroy Never Land, starting with Fairy Haven. The fairies have but one choice: they must stop Kyto. As they set out on their desperate quest—a quest that could be their very last—the fairies must decide if Gwendolyn can help or hinder. . . .

Infused with magic and feeling, and bursting with excitement, this thrilling tale is the third in the celebrated series of illustrated novels from Newbery Honor winning author Gail Carson Levine and renowned illustrator David Christiana.

My thoughts:
This was an audio book that just didn't quite hit the spot for us.  Perhaps if you were more into the Disney fairies and all their talents it would be a better fit.  At times it felt like just a tie in to the Disney Fairy line to get children interested in buying the toys at the store.  All of their talents and ways of speaking, they don't say sorry but, "I would fly backwards if I could" and not thank you but "fly with you" got a bit long.

I lost track of which fairy was which and it just didn't hold my children's interest as I would have liked it to.  Maybe reading it aloud would have been better as the book did have some illustrations.  We made it through, but we won't be looking for any more books in this series.  It turns out this is book three!

The idea of all of Wendy's descendants having a chance to go see Peter Pan in Never Land was intriguing, but just not enough.  Peter Pan is barely in the story and it is all about the fairies.

Details
•Pub. Date: June 2010
•Publisher: Disney Press
•Format: Hardcover , 224pp
•Age Range: 7 to 9
•ISBN-13: 9781423109358
•ISBN: 142310935X

Meet The Author
Gail Carson Levine is the author of many acclaimed children’s books, including the New York Times bestsellers Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg and Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand; Newbery Honor Book Ella Enchanted; and Writing Magic. Look for many of these books and more on audio from Listening Library.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

People Magazine- September 19, 2011

This past week I started back to work teaching preschool and all the posts I meant to make this week never happened.  I had planned to have them all scheduled and ready to go so if I was too tired or busy at night my blog would still be ready, and then it didn't happen.  Week one is down so now to do better planning for week two.  I did manage to make exercise a priority though and ran four of the five days last week which was another one of my concerns.  Everything is a work in progress to obtain balance!

Last weeks issue reinforced for me that I really would like to read Night Circus.  I've been hearing a lot of buzz about it and I really do think I would enjoy it, so it has been added to my list.  Not that I ever get to everything on my list, but one must dream!

When I see someone like Susan Lucci I marvel at how long she has stayed in the same role but also wonder how she has manged to stay so thin.  Does she exercise a lot of eat very small portions?  Is it easier for someone to be careful about eating if they know every week they are going to be watched by a large audience or does having access to trainers and ordering food make it easier to stay careful and disciplined?  Or is she just naturally thin?

I do not understand people who get married to someone who is in prison, especially if they never met before the incarceration happened.  It just feels wrong to me on a whole bunch of different levels.

My lack of television viewing comes to mind every time I read this magazine.  I have never watched Kate Gosslin's show or shows.  I did see her on Dancing with the Stars, but not her personal shows.  I found her comment odd that she was looking for another TV opportunity now that her show with her children was cancelled.  The only thing she is famous for is having a lot of children, making some odd hairstyle choices and having her husband leave her.  I'm not sure I would call her a celebrity, but I have a feeling she will be successful in finding some kind of TV venue for her which I think she wants to keep getting the attention she is used to and for the money.  How many people are out there now trying to have large families to get a show on TV?  Are my four kids enough?  Would most people even want to be on TV?  Probably not.

Lastly, Roger Ebert seems so content with his life and says he doesn't miss food, but I think I would miss the tastes of food as well as even more the ability to speak .  He is lucky to still be alive and to be such a gifted writer that he can use writing for all his communication, but I am sure he has days where he is not as satisfied with where he is.

Saturday Snapshot- September 17, 2011- Elephant Ride

Last weekend we visited a local Renaissance Faire and for the first time took an elephant ride.  I can't recall if I've ever been on one before, perhaps when I was little.  I have to say that elephants are very wide and not as comfortable to ride as one might think!


Only two of my children wanted to ride, the two little girls on the back are not my children.  Riding reminded me of two different books, any guesses which ones?

Not too hard to figure out the titles, Water for Elephants and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.  In the movie version of Ya-Ya sisterhood the character rides on a plane, but in the book the ride she really wants to take is on an elephant.  This was a fun memory of a fun day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
WHAT . . . A RIOT!


Life doesn't get more hilarious than when Chelsea Handler takes aim with her irreverent wit. Who else would send all-staff emails to smoke out the dumbest people on her show? Now, in this new collection of original essays, the #1 bestselling author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea delivers one laugh-out-loud moment after another as she sets her sights on the ridiculous side of childhood, adulthood, and daughterhood.

Family moments are fair game, whether it's writing a report on Reaganomics to earn a Cabbage Patch doll, or teaching her father social graces by ordering him to stay indoors. It's open season on her love life, from playing a prank on her boyfriend (using a ravioli, a fake autopsy, and the Santa Monica pier) to adopting a dog so she can snuggle with someone who doesn't talk. And everyone better duck for cover when her beach vacation turns into matchmaking gone wild. Outrageously funny and deliciously wicked, CHELSEA CHELSEA BANG BANG is good good good good!

CHELSEA HANDLER ON...
Being unpopular: "My parents couldn't have been more unreasonable when it came to fads or clothes that weren't purchased at a pharmacy."

Living with her boyfriend: "He's similar to a large toddler, the only difference being he doesn't cry when he wakes up."

Appreciating her brother: "He's a certified public accountant, and I have a real life."

Arm-wrestling a maid of honor: "It wasn't her strength that intimidated me. It was the starry way her eyes focused on me, like Mike Tyson getting ready to feed."

My thoughts:
This book has been on my Paperbackswap wish list for over a year, at that time the local library didn't have a copy yet.  This morning on a whim I checked the online catalogue and found out that they now have a copy and it was available so I checked it out.  This one was just as funny as Are You There Vodka?  It's Me Chelsea.  It made me laugh out loud over and over again.  My children kept asking me what was funny and none of it was something I could share with them.

I am terrible at telling funny stories, because I always end up laughing too hard to actually tell them.  I would be like her one friend who had to hide under a desk during a speaker phone call that was a joke about a fake funeral.  I would be the person who was ruining the punchline and laughing before the joke was done, so I am impressed by people who can tell and carry off intricate jokes and lie on the fly.

I mentioned this in my last review, but I have never seen Chelsea's show.  I just checked the listings and it is coming on in a half hour so I am going to check it out.  I have a tiny little fear inside that it won't be as funny as her words were to me.  I am not a big fan of stand-up comedy and I'm not exactly sure if that is what her act is.  I don't want to have my opinion changed, but it is a  risk I have to take to try out seeing her live, and really what do I have to lose?  I enjoyed the book.  I laughed more today than I have all week combined.  I wonder if I can count that as exercise?  I did run today, but every little bit counts right?  Maybe laughing can be my new ab work!

Details
•Pub. Date: September 2011
•Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
•Format: Paperback , 256pp
•ISBN-13: 9780446552431
•ISBN: 0446552437

Meet The Author
Born in Livingston, New Jersey, to a Jewish father and a Mormon mother, Chelsea Handler is the youngest of six children. She is the star and host of E!'s Chelsea Lately.


www.eonline.com/chelsealately


www.myspace.com/chelseahandler







Monday, September 12, 2011

Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Sahara Jones is going into fifth grade-again. Although she won't be "Sahara Special" anymore (special needs, that is), she doesn't expect this year to be any better than last year. Fifth grade is going to be different, though, because Sahara's class is getting a new teacher: Miss Pointy. From her eggplant-colored lipstick to the strange subjects she teaches, like "Puzzling" and "Time Travel," she is like no other teacher Sahara has ever known. With Miss Pointy's help, Sahara just might find a way to redefine special for herself. The latest chapter in her book unfolds when her mother insists that she be taken out of special Ed. So Sahara is facing fifth grade in the regular classroom, again. But why even try to do the work, Sahara wonders, if everything just winds up in the counselor's file? Enter Miss Pointy, the new fifth-grade teacher. With her eggplant-colored lipstick, and strange subjects such as "Puzzling" and "Time Travel," she's like no other teacher Sahara has ever known. Through Miss Pointy's unusual teaching, storytelling, and quiet support, Sahara finds the courage to overcome her fears and prove which file shows her true self.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book on audio with my children in the car.  It is read by Phylicia Rashad who took me back in time a bit to the Cosby Show.  I considered trying to tell my children how I used to watch a TV show she was on, but thought it might take too much time.  I almost turned this story off soon after we started it because of some questionable words, but I am glad we stuck with it.  Part of me wanted to give it a chance and the other part knew we had a longish drive ahead of us and it was the only audio book I had brought along.

Sahara has stopped doing any work at school because she doesn't want the school counselor to have anything else to put in her file but on her own she is writing her life story and hiding it in a little used section of the public library.  Getting a new teacher who doesn't read files and doesn't put limits on her students is the best thing that could have happened to Sahara and her classmates.  She grows and changes so much through the story, and as with a lot of growth, it isn't always easy or painless.

I loved how Miss Pointy had her students write in journals every day.  I recall a seventh grade teacher I had who had us keep a manilla folder with paper and we were given regular time to write, sometimes on a prompt and others on whatever we wanted to write.  I loved that time and I really think it helped me to grow and understand myself better.  It was a school year where I really felt like the future was open before me and possibilities were there, and that is what Sahara comes away with.  She also comes to see herself as special as a person and not in having special needs that need individualized attention in the classroom.  For children I think it shows that having belief in yourself can change things that you think are set in stone, sometimes it is our own inner critic that is keeping us from moving ahead.


Details
•Pub. Date: September 2004
•Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
•Format: Paperback , 192pp
•Age Range: 8 to 12
•ISBN-13: 9780786816118
•ISBN: 0786816112

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris



Overview from Barnes and Noble When Sookie's brother Jason's eyes start to change, she knows he's about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population-and Jason's new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who's behind the attacks, unless the killer decides to find her first.


My thoughts:
I read this at the beach last week.  It was the third time I've picked it up but somehow I never got around to finishing it.  It was a little weird reading this one at the same time as I am watching season four of True Blood on HBO because in the TV series Jason is not turning into a were-panther.  While the show is based on the books, they really do change a lot of details.

This one had all the elements you expect from the series, Sookie and her feelings for vampires and her ability to hear thoughts, shape shifters in danger from a sniper set on taking them out one by one, werewolves and their pack business and a few fairies thrown in for good measure.

I wonder if the issues with picking a new pack leader will be covered next season on the TV series and if it will be as graphic as it is in the book. I'm going to have to look for book 6 at the library or online because I would like to read the rest of them before they are covered on TV so I can experience them in my own way, not comparing them to what is happening on the screen.

Details
•Pub. Date: April 2006
•Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
•Format: Mass Market Paperback , 320pp
•Series: Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series #5
•ISBN-13: 9780441013333
•ISBN: 0441013333

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jeannie out of the Bottle by Barbara Eden with Wendy Leigh

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A magical, heartwarming memoir from one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons

Over the past four decades, the landmark NBC hit television series I Dream of Jeannie has delighted generations of audiences and inspired untold numbers of teenage crushes on its beautiful blond star, Barbara Eden. Part pristine Hollywood princess and part classic bombshell, with innocence, strength, and comedic talent to spare, Barbara finally lets Jeannie out of her bottle to tell her whole story.

Jeannie Out of the Bottle takes us behind the scenes of I Dream of Jeannie as well as Barbara’s dozens of other stage, movie, television, and live concert performances. We follow her from the hungry years when she was a struggling studio contract player at 20th Century Fox through difficult weeks trying to survive as a chorus girl at Ciro’s Sunset Strip supper club, from a stint as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on live TV to tangling on-screen and off with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. From the ups and downs of her relationship with her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman to a touching meeting with an exquisite and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe at the twilight of her career, readers join Barbara on a thrilling journey through her five decades in Hollywood.

But Barbara’s story is also an intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy: a stillborn child with her first husband, Michael Ansara; a verbally abusive, drug-addicted second husband; the loss of her beloved mother; and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son, just months before his wedding. With candor and poignancy, Barbara reflects on the challenges she has faced, as well as the joys she has experienced and how she has maintained her humor, optimism, and inimitable Jeannie magic throughout the roller-coaster ride of a truly memorable life.

Illustrated with sixteen pages of photographs, including candid family pictures and rare publicity stills, Jeannie Out of the Bottle is a must-have for every fan, old and new.

My thoughts:
I am fascinated by the lives of real people and love to read biographies and autobiographies, probably autobiographies more because there is more real anecdotes and less speculation.  I don't believe I have ever seen a full episode of I Dream of Jeannie, but I knew the premise of the show and read a good review of this one somewhere a few months ago.  I found it on the new shelf at the library before we left for our vacation and I grabbed it.  I don't like to take library books to the beach so I had to wait until we came back to finish it.

Barbara Eden's story is engaging and feels authentic.  At times there felt like a lot of name dropping, which is one of the things she accuses her second husband of doing too much of, but I think a lot of readers might be wondering which other stars she interacted with and acted with during her career.  The love she shared with her first husband, Michael Ansara, was so palpable that I really felt like the decision she made to seek a divorce was not the right one.  She states that even to this day she is not sure she made the right decision, but I couldn't tell if it was because of the love she still felt or for the effect she felt it had on their son Matthew.

The Hollywood of Barbara Eden's early career seems so different from the way it seems today.  Along with the studios steadfast decree that she could not show her bellybutton as Jeannie on her hit show.  One of the passages that rally stayed with me was when Eden was talking about how Jeannie might not have won a lot of awards at the time, but it has remained popular and known all these years later in reruns and DVD release s while many of the shows that were winning acclaim at the time from critics have not endured nearly as well.  We tend to think awards are what makes great shows, but many times the shows people love may not be the same ones that critics are putting their attention on.

Another thing that I know I have made mistakes with is questioning my first instincts about a person.  Eden's first impression of her second husband was not a positive one, but then he won her over through persistence.  She was married to him for quite a few years, but it was not a good marriage and she ended up leaving him.

I loved this glimpse into Eden's life and how she was honest with her struggles in her career and in her personal life.  How the stillbirth of her second son threw her into a depression that ended her first marriage, how her son struggles with drug addiction and repeatedly sought treatment, how she ended up in a verbally abusive marriage and stayed far longer than she should have, and how show business was there through it all with roles and jobs all over the world.

Details
•Pub. Date: April 2011
•Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
•Format: Hardcover , 288pp
•ISBN-13: 9780307886941
•ISBN: 0307886948

Meet The Author
BARBARA EDEN has been a television, film, and stage actress, and a Las Vegas headliner, for more than five decades. She is best known for her title role in the hit TV series I Dream of Jeannie. She grew up in San Francisco and currently lives in Beverly Hills with her husband, Jon Eicholtz, and their Labradoodle, Djin Djin.


WENDY LEIGH is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen books, including Life with My Sister Madonna (as co-author) and True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess.



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Saturday Snapshot- September 10, 2011- First Day Of School

This was the first week of school for my children, but due to the flooding rains in the Northeast they had two cancellations, so they only went to school two of the four days.  The first day was Tuesday.  Unfortunately I still haven't gotten my camera working right since sand got in it at the beach so I had an old one ready to go, or so I thought.  When I tried to take before school pictures the battery was dead, even though the night before it was fine, so my first day of school shots were the kids getting off the bus at the end of the day.

You can't see it in the picture, but it was raining when they got home.  It rained for pretty much three whole days.  Our neighborhood was not hit as hard as others in the area.  We were all thankful when Friday came that they were able to go to school.  Using up both allotted snow days in the first week of school has to be some kind of record!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle , Colleen M. Madden (Illustrator)

School Library Journal


Gr 1–4—"At the library…. The Gingerbread Man lives at number 398.2." And so begins this Dewey decimal twist on an old favorite. When the naughty cookie escapes from the librarian, his pursuers include a thesaurus from 423.1 that cries, "Stop! Cease! Halt! Freeze! Stay!" and a robot from 629.892 that drones, "Stop. Stop. You. Are. Misplaced." As the impish runaway meets each new character, he echoes the familiar refrain, "Run, run, as fast as you can./You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!" When he reaches the 920s, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Amelia Earhart all try in vain to catch him. "Even Jesse Owens, a record-breaking Olympic runner, couldn't keep up." Finally, an Arctic fox emerges from the 998s: "Looks like you're trapped…. I'm quick and light on my feet. Get up on my back." We all know what usually happens next, but the "clever librarian" saves the day and the cookie is safely reshelved where he belongs. The young woman sports cat's-eye glasses and a '70s striped and flowered frock; the pudgy brown protagonist is classically iced and has a pink candy nose; and the book spines feature humorous titles such as If You Give a Fox a Gingersnap. Children will delight in the picture of the wily fox waiting expectantly to swallow the little man. Pair this fun introduction to library organization with Jackie Mims Hopkins's Goldie Socks and the Three Librarians (Upstart, 2007) to welcome students back to school in September.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
My thoughts:
I loved this book.  It reminded me of when I started working on my library science degree before I got pregnant for the first time.  That degree never worked out, children and moving across the country put it on hold, but working in a library has always appealed to me.  When i brought it home from the library my daughter told that they read it last year at library and I can totally see how it would be useful for teaching about how a library is organized.  The Gingerbread Man is running away from characters and animals who are emerging from other books on the shelves, and each time they step out of  a book you see what their address is and of course their "address" is where they belong in the Dewey Decimal System.  My younger two enjoyed it just for  the story, the numbers didn't mean anything to them, but I think the older two might grasp that the numbers are used to organize the books in a way that they can be found by others using the library.

Details from Barnes and Noble:
•Pub. Date: January 2010
•Publisher: Highsmith Incorporated
•Format: Hardcover , 32pp
•Age Range: For infants or children in preschool (I disagree with this, I think the book is more for elementary grades than preschoolers)
•ISBN-13: 9781602130487
•ISBN: 1602130485

People Magazine August 29, 2011

I am whittling down my stack of magazines.  Last night I flipped through this one while waiting to get clothes from the washer to the dryer.  I though that Gerard Butler looks so different with blond curls and having lost a lot of weight, he almost looks like a different person now.  I wonder if he is getting ready for a role.  One of the large downfalls I can see to being a celebrity is how for example every time a picture is taken of Reese Witherspoon the caption is talking about if her abdomen is showing any signs of impending pregnancy.  (In other news I did see today that she was hit by a car while running today, I hope she is okay).

I found some books that I need to add to my TBR list.  The Submission by Amy Waldman and the Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexander Fuller both look like good books.  I wonder if I will ever get to all the books on my TBR list!

I thought that Ashton Kutcher's trailer on the set of Two and Half Men is as big as many peoples homes.  I know actors spend a lot of time on their sets but do they all have a home away from home while they are there?  The Jolie-Pitt family always seems so close and devoted to each other.  As a parent of a larger than average family I can only imagine how much planning must go into traveling with six children and how expensive it must be, but they really seem to involve their children in everything they d.  Jewel's baby is adorable as were all the celebrity tots shown on so many pages.

It was eye opening to look at the cost of war on a soldier's family when they come home but are no longer the same due to injury both visible and invisible and the tough time a lot of military families are struggling through.  Robyn Gardner, the woman who disappeared in Aruba and is presumed dead made me wonder who would go on vacation with just a male friend and why water so often plays a part in unexplained disappearances.  Should we all just stay out of the water?  Or is it really that unpredictable?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In Touch Weekly September 12, 2011

Today as supposed to be the second day of school for my older children, but heavy rains caused flooding in our area and school was cancelled.    Because of that I ended up having to take all four kids to the grocery store with me.  My plan had been to go to work today and then do errands tomorrow, but I had to flip flop them and take everyone due to our Flood Day.  Usually I can walk by all the magazines in the check out and resist the urge to buy one, but 45 minutes to an hour of having to say no to everything from donuts to Pringles my defenses were down.  I have to admit I was tricked by this cover.  The first thing I thought was, "Oh my, Jennifer Aniston got married?".  Turns out the magazine just thinks she is planning a wedding due to unnamed close sources.  I won't hold my breath for that one.

In other mostly useless news and such, I have to say that I still believe that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith probably have a marriage that is doing just fine.  Romance onscreen is acting and if it is done really well, viewers almost want to believe that it is real, but usually it isn't.  Not so sure about Katy Perry's pink hair, it does kind of look like cotton candy.  I loved seeing all the cute kids with wild hair.

I wonder if Jessica Simpson is really as worried about her weight as she was portrayed.  Over the course of the years she has gone up and down and if she is really happy who cares if she could be thinner.  On the opposite end of this were the stars of Glee being shown at more healthy weights.  Does showing them super skinny help people see a more realistic,while still much thinner than average, or does it just make people think they should strive for the barely there figures?

I was a bit disturbed by the gender neutral model who is male but models both clothes for women and men.  He looks so androgynous I don't think I would have known he was a man if it hadn't said so.  Lastly, I am very much looking forward to the finale of TrueBlood this weekend.  I will be sad to see it end, but can't wait to see how it all wraps up.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliot


Overview Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.


On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann's compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann's father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

Read an excerpt here: http://www.rosslynelliott.com/books.php

My thoughts: 
I read this book as a participant in a Litfuse blog tour.  Lately I have not been requesting or participating in very many tours or solicited reviews, but this was one I really wanted to read.  I liked how Eliot used the names and history of real people and then fleshed them out with her own ideas and creations.  She really made history come alive on the pages of her novel and made each of the characters seem like they could really be living breathing people.

Things are so different now with what is and is not proper, that it was interesting watching and reading about how women and men had to act and how people coming from different social stations interacted.  This is the first time I really feel like I have had a glimpse inside a Poor House or at life as an apprentice.  Imagining how orphans or children whose parents were unable to care for them were forced to make their way without much help from government or society was eye opening.

Also very relevant and insightful were the glimpses of the underground railroad and how slaves found their way north and the very real dangers that they encountered in their quest to be free.  I was struck by the similarity of the runaway slaves and the apprentice, how someone who owned them or had their indenture could inflict whatever type of treatment he or she desired and the court and government would look the other way because of a piece of paper or because they were owned.

This book gave a very real feeling and once I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down.


About Rosslyn:

Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated so often that she attended nine schools before her high school graduation. With the help of excellent teachers, she qualified to attend Yale University, where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a schoolteacher before returning to study at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and teaches in children's ministry.

For more about Rosslyn, visit her website: http://rosslynelliott.com

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Fairer-Morning-Saddlers-Legacy-Novel/dp/1595547851/ref=sprightly-20




Blog tour schedule:  http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13424909


Details
•Pub. Date: May 2011
•Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
•Format: Paperback , 400pp
•Series: A Saddler's Legacy Novel Series
•ISBN-13: 9781595547859
•ISBN: 1595547851

 

Blood Work by Kim Harrison

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
When Ivy met Rachel, the result wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Sparks flew as the living vampire and the stubborn witch learned what it meant to be partners. Now Kim Harrison, the acclaimed author of Pale Demon and Black Magic Sanction, turns back the clock to tell the tale—in an original full-color graphic novel.


Hot-as-hell, tough-as-nails detective Ivy Tamwood has been demoted from homicide down to lowly street-crime detail. As if rousting trolls and policing pixies instead of catching killers wasn’t bad enough, she’s also been saddled with a newbie partner who’s an earth witch. It’s enough to make any living vampire bare her fangs. But when a coven of murderous witches begins preying on werewolves, Rachel Morgan quickly proves she’s a good witch who knows how to be a badass.

Together, Ivy and Rachel hit the mean streets to deal swift justice to the evil element among Cincinnati’s supernatural set. But there’s more to their partnership than they realize—and more blood and black magic in their future than they bargained for.

My thoughts:
This was actually my original splurge book for my vacation, but the hardcover graphic novel was just too pretty to take on the beach with me so it had to wait until I returned for its chance to be read.  I discovered the Rachel Morgan series a few years ago and read through all the ones available in a pretty short period of time.  I have to admit, as I've said in reviews of two or three of the other books, when one of the main characters was killed off I almost stopped reading the series.  I recall I was pregnant at the time and was shocked that he was really dead.  Plenty of characters die, but it was so unexpected to me that I was shocked.  In this book, a prequel to the series, he is still alive and has yet to even meet Rachel, so it was nice to see him but I miss their dynamic.

I saw some complaints about this book online.  Readers who didn't like the graphic novel nature, who felt it didn't really tell a fleshed out story and that it was just an excuse to make more money.  I disagree, I liked that Harrison was telling a brand new story with the same characters instead of retelling or reinacting a current story as a graphic novel.  I am fine with books like that as well, I enjoyed Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter manga books or Diana Gabaldon's Exile, but it was a nice change for the whole story to be new.  I also liked how Ivy got a bigger build up of her character, we get to see just how much her association with Piscary has warped and made her who she is and how much she is unhappy with the way she is.  Ivy is always present in the other stories, but I feel like we as readers got to gain a better understanding of her from this.

Another neat feature was how the sketches Harrison got from the artists were shown along with her comments of approval or of changes that need to make.  I imagine it is hard to get the vision from the author to the illustrator and took a lot of work and perserverence on both sides.  I will be looking forward to the second graphic novel that is in the works.

Details
•Pub. Date: July 2011
•Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
•Format: Hardcover , 176pp
•Series: Rachel Morgan Series
•ISBN-13: 9780345521019
•ISBN: 0345521013

Biography from Barnes and Noble:

Bestselling paranormal fantasy author Kim Harrison went all the way through school with nary a thought of becoming a writer. A biology major in college, she took only the required English courses needed to graduate. So when the writing bug hit her later in life, she found herself at a real disadvantage with grammar, spelling, and other basic weapons in the scribbler's arsenal. However, her love of books was her saving grace. Always a voracious reader, Harrison instinctively recognized the role of plot, pacing, and character development in good storytelling. She set about writing with great enthusiasm and plugged away for the better part of decade, until she was able to bring her skills up to par.

Harrison's debut novel grew out of frustration with a growing pile of rejection notices. In an attempt to get publishers' attention, she set out to craft something deliberately weird and edgy. She conceived a motley cast of vampires, werewolves, pixies, and witches, including a sexy bounty hunter named Rachel Morgan, and threw them together in a short story. Then, her agent introduced her to editor Diana Gill, and together they refined and expanded Harrison's idea into a full length novel.

Published in 2004, Dead Witch Walking became a bestseller, launched a blockbuster series, and catapulted Harrison into a pantheon of paranormal superstars that includes Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Christine Feehan, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. As if to validate her inclusion in these ranks, Harrison's stories have also been included in several bestselling paranormal collections.