Category Archives: Books

Review: Disney Stories

If you’re looking for the perfect read-to-me stories for the little Disney kid in your life — look no further! These amazing storybooks feature large, colorful and bright illustrations and the stories are simplified for little readers. Both books have 14 stories to choose from.

Disney Stories for 2-Year Olds features Mickey, Minnie, and friends. There’s a great story about when Mickey first met Pluto and another story about Minnie trying to train her dog, Fifi!

The stories for 3-year-olds book is based on the animated Disney classics (Lion King, Robin Hood, Dumbo, Peter Pan and more. Since the new live-action Lady in the Tramp is coming, I enjoyed reading the Lady in the Tramp story!

I can’t wait to read both books with my little niece and nephew!

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review: An Encyclopedia of Tolkien

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan or a lover of all things Tolkien this is a MUST buy. It’s an extensive and illustrated guide to the history, lands, and inhabitants of Middle-earth. David Day has compiled a masterpiece of combined insights and knowledge from his forty-plus years of working on Tolkein books.

The book itself is beautiful. I was struck at once with how lovely it was when I received it in the mail. It’s leather-bound, has gold leaf edge pages, and over 100 illustrations.
 

This is not your average Wiki-entry style encyclopedia either. Day often inserts not only the descriptions of places, people and races, but gives insights into the source of Tolkien’s inspiration for each.

All-in-all this is a book that should sit on any Tolkein fan’s desk and be picked up and read/consulted often!


A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review: Sons of Chaos Graphic Novel

History comes alive with the stunning visuals of Sons of Chaos.

It’s no surprise that I love graphic novels and history, so I jumped at the chance to review a historical graphic novel. Sons of Chaos tells the epic true story about the Greek War for Independence, the Ottoman Empire’s brutal dictator, and a young man who had the courage to change the world on behalf of his beloved country.

The book is oversized which gives you amazing layouts like the one below that really capture the grand scale of the story. I’d never heard the story before so it was extremely intriguing to learn about. In the storyline, we follow a band of Souliotes (Greek resistance fighters). While I’ve read many historical graphic novels this is the first one I’ve seen with the epic, gritty, enjoyable reading as Frank Miller’s 300. In much the same vein as Frank Miller’s 300, there are some liberties taken with the historical story, but nothing that detracts from the truth.

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The artwork just takes you into the grand scale of this story.

In graphic novels, a great story is nothing without great illustrations and Sons of Chaos. There’s movement, blood, and action in every single drawing.

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The choice to make this an oversized book was a good one. It really adds to the overall storytelling experience. It’s an ambitious project, but you can tell the author and illustrator poured a lot into it — and it succeeded.

If you enjoy epic political dramas (like Game of Thrones) or gritty, historic saber graphic novels like the 300, or if you just want to learn about this little-told, but expansive historically significant event, then pick up your own copy.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review: The Big Book Adventure

If you’re like me and adore beautiful children’s’ books, then this one is going to delight you!

The cover of The Big Book Adventure that features an illustrated fox and pig carrying books.

In The Big Book Adventure by Emily Ford and illustrated by Tim Warnes, best friends Foxy and Piggy delight in a series of adventures — that they read about in books! From Alice in Wonderland  to the high flying tales of SciFi, the illustrations alone are enough to really capture a child’s imagination and reinforce the value of reading.

This is a fun one to read out loud since it’s in rhyming verse! I think it’d perfect for little ones who are just exploring the classics as they’ll recognize many of the stories that Piggy and Foxy are reading like the Alice in Wonderland page above!

One of my favorite parts is the end where they encourage each other to keep sharing what books they’re reading! This is a must have for any family who (like my family) adore books. I highly recommend you get it for your shelf today.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Speeding Bullets Episode #000 – Finding Superman

Tim and Heidi soar in with the first episode of “Speeding Bullets”, a podcast for Superman fans by Superman fans. They lay out where Superman is to be found these days, and describe what this new super podcast is flying to. They also give their history and love of the Man of Steel.

This is just the beginning though and it’s only up, up, and away from here.

But we want to hear from you. Send us your feedback to: speedingbulletspodcast@gmail.com.

Review: Littlest Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu

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Anyone who knows anything about geek culture knows the recent uptick in Cthulhu’s popularity. Crazy squid-face has been making the rounds on tshirts, in games, on playing cards, and pretty much anything you can think of. Enter Littlest Lovecraft, a really cool idea between Tro Rex & Eyona Bella to publish illustrated books with an H.P. Lovecraft influence. I was happy to receive a free PDF review copy of their first book: The Call of Cthulhu. I’m a sucker for picture books, especially books as pretty to look at as this one.

First off, this book is decidedly Lovecraftian. I don’t recommend it if you don’t like horror. The book stays true to the Cthulhu mythos and the illustrations may be frightening to younger children.

The book is fairly long as well for a picture book. There’s fairly long chunks of text per page. This would probably ideally work for a high elementary or pre-teen. And, of course, adults who love pictures.

And the pictures are really the shinning star in this book. They’re beautiful, colorful and tell the story well. The style feels very horror without losing the kidish element to them. They’re all hand drawn and illustrated.

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The writing is fun with a very light rhyme scheme to it. Adapting a short story into an illustrated picture book is a huge task to undertake, but the characters, events and feel of the original story by H.P. Lovecraft are all there.

If you love all things Cthulhu OR don’t know anything about Cthulhu’s backstory – this is the perfect book for you. If you’re a parent who loves scaring your kids to death… um… you’re weird and will probably like this book too.

The book was a successful Kickstarter Project and, from what I’ve seen on Facebook, the advanced printed copies are looking FANTASTIC. You’ll want to order your own copy ASAP.

Find out more: http://littlestlovecraft.com

Order your own copy: http://littlestlovecraft.com/orders

Friend them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlestLovecraft

 

Why Love the Hunger Games?

Hunger Games Novels

Warning: This Article Contains Minor Spoilers for “The Hunger Games” books.

With Hunger Games fever reaching a frantic state (the movie is coming out on the 23rd), it’s been very interesting to watch the uninitiated on Facebook struggle with the phenomena. My Facebook newsfeed is full of people reading the books for the first time, borrowing them from teenage daughters, and getting lost in the first book for days. All of this epitomized in my friend Sarah’s FB status: “what’s the big deal with the Hunger Games?”

While I answered her question quickly, I’ve been chewing over the series for the past week. Having relistened to the audiobooks, watching the previews and clips, and reliving every moment of my first experience (last year) I find the question easier to answer then when I first read them. As a writer, I tried to puzzle out why the Hunger Games works. Why it’s so popular. Why I feel it should replace Twilight and Harry Potter on every kids shelf. And I’ve come to some conclusions.

Continue reading

Reading Through Sherlock Holmes – An Introduction

I’ve been a Sherlockian since I was 9 years old. My dad brought home a thick, red book with tiny text and little did I know, I was about to fall madly in love. In the pages of that book I discovered my hero, Sherlock Holmes. I devoured the entire book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (which actually starts with the second story A Scandal in Bohemia) and then the rest of “the canon” (as the collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are called). Ever after that, I was obsessed (as my parents can attest to).

I’m not sure what exactly attracted me to Holmes at such a young age. The language was difficult, the setting foreign (Victorian and post-Victorian England), and the character was cold and distant. Perhaps it was the fact that I felt rather odd myself. The transition into a double digit age, the desire to be smart, coupled with feeling a bit like an outsider amongst my peers made reading about Sherlock Holmes a solace. I tackled the whole series within a couple months and, for years after, books about Sherlock Holmes, copies of the stories, videos, toys, and other paraphernalia peppered the story of my life. Sherlock Holmes was always my first love. I watched every movie and TV show I could get my hands on. I even recorded episodes of my favorite cartoons that parodied the great detective. When Basil of Baker Street was rereleased I watched it with gusto. The first person I ever met who was “a friend on the internet” was Leslie Klinger when I was 16. Les went on to write the ultimate annotated Sherlock Holmes. Our trip to Minnesota one summer as a family wasn’t complete without a trip to the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes Collections. One Halloween I begged for (and helped pay for) a Sherlock Holmes costume that still hangs in my closet (I wore it about six Halloweens after that).

But, my love of Sherlock Holmes did not stop there. Shortly after reading through the canon I realized there was a whole scholarly aspect to the stories. The Baker Street Irregulars, a society for serious minded study, was formed in the 1930s and counted SciFi legend Isaac Asimov among it’s members. There were journals, newsletters, and papers from all corners of the globe. When I was 11 and 12 I wrote extensively myself and submitted to some of those publications and even began my own email newsletter via my newly minted AOL account – Sherlockian Snippets. In undergrad I squeezed Sherlock Holmes into every paper I could (I even wrote a sociology paper on the Sherlock Holmes fandom).

Recently, Stephen Moffat, who I’ve admired for years for his work on Doctor Who, has made the great detective famous again with his modern Sherlock for the BBC. Sherlock Holmes has also hit the pulp hero status with Guy Davis’ Sherlock Holmes. I myself am working on a novel that has touches of Sherlock Holmes. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read through the canon and I thought now would be a great time to brush off the series and read it again. I’ll be blogging my way through the read through (for those ubernerds, I’ll be doing it according to publication date, not chronologically) and you’re invited to read along and share your own insights (fair warning “A Study in Scarlet,” the first story is actually a novella so it’s a bit long).

Come blog people, the game is most definitely afoot!

Review: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook


Have you ever wanted to make your own Pumpkin Juice? How about a Treacle Tart like Harry Potter eats in the Great Hall? With The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, you can do just that!

This cookbook goes through all the times in the Harry Potter books when food is involved, and includes many of the recipes involved in each event. Some of the chapters are titles things like: Treats from the Train, Recipes from a Giant and an Elf, and Holiday Fare. Before each recipe, a description is given of where the recipe was mentioned in the books. Many of the recipes from the books are authentic English dishes. We Americans might wonder what Mince Pies or Bath Buns are, but in England they are just another dish.

I am really looking forward to trying the Shepherd’s Pie recipe. I had Shepherd’s Pie at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and it was delicious. I hope this recipe lives up to that. There are recipes for all different levels of cooking abilities in this book. Some of the candy looks pretty complicated. There is a section at the beginning of the book telling you what to substitute for some of the English ingredients, and some directions that might be different. The measurements are in cups and teaspoons though.

There was only one thing that disappointed me a little. When I went to Honeydukes at The Wizarding World, I had a Chocolate Cauldron that was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. It was a little chocolate cake in the shape of a cauldron. It had some sort of chocolate filling, and was just yummy. In this book they have Cauldron Cakes, which is probably more accurate, and are a sort of pancake.

The author, Dinah Bucholz, is a pie baker known for her fine desserts, so I’m sure the desserts in this book are fabulous.

Any Harry Potter fan would enjoy this book. Who doesn’t want to have a Harry Potter themed party and actually eat food from the books? You can purchase this book on Amazon or other major book stores. I’ve seen them at Barnes and Noble. I also came across a Kindle ebook called The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents: 10 Summertime Treats, and it’s only around $1.

Buy The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Review of Star Wars vs. Star Trek by Matt Forbeck

It’s safe to say that I’m an uber geek girl. I cut my teeth on Star Trek and met Riker at my first Star Trek convention when I was like 8 years old. My dad watched the original Star Trek (ST:TOS as it’s referred to by fans) when it first aired, but he also watched the Star Wars movies as they were released. Geekdom, it runs in my blood.

So when I got the chance to read and review Matt Forbeck’s “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” I jumped at it. Long has there been a stalemate in which future franchise reigns supreme. Is it Star Trek with it’s “wagon train to the stars,” optimistic vibe of explorers and tusslers or Star Wars, with it’s small flame of hope against an oppressive regime? Both are near to my heart, so I read the book with gusto.

If you’re looking for a very serious, in-depth look at the cultural, political, social implications of two fictional world mega-franchises — this is not the book for you. And kudos to Matt for not making it another academic discussion. Instead Matt pits similar characters against each other based on their roles in a head to head combat that’s heavily influenced by both stories. My favorite parts are the show downs themselves that are written in semi-fictional prose (want to see Obi Wan and Picard battle? It’s here). Long time fans of both series will enjoy the depth of information and the (sometimes surprising) mashups. At the end of each meeting there’s a decision – who wins? Sometimes clear, sometimes a draw, the characters themselves will determine the winning franchise at the end.

Great fun to read and it often had me giggling like crazy. I highly recommend Star Wars vs. Star Trek to any uber geeky fan who just needs to know who wins.

Buy it now on Amazon:  http://t.co/8ZLyWRF