Have You Heard

Post date: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 9:17am

Have You Heard About... Desolate Angel

… the ghost who has to fix the mistakes he made in life?  It may sound familiar, but Desolate Angel* by Chaz McGee puts a different spin on it.  Kevin Fahey was a crummy husband and father and only a mediocre detective, who was more often drunk than sober on the job, when he was killed in a drug bust. He’s stuck in a type of limbo, as a ghost, who has realized that if he can help his replacement, Maggie Gunn, solve some of the cases he screwed up on, he might finally see his final light. He can’t “talk” to Maggie, only guide her in the pursuit of justice, sort of like a very silent partner.  In this case, he realizes that he sent the wrong man to prison. He tries to guide Maggie and his former partner in the direction to “make it right.”

I wasn’t real sure that I’d enjoy a more serious type mystery, but as the mystery slowly unfolds, I found that I couldn’t put the book down and stayed up most of the night reading.

* The second book in the series is Angel Interrupted.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 1:09am

Have You Heard About... The White Devil

… the spectacularly spooky English ghost story?  The White Devil by Justin Evans follows the story of seventeen-year-old Andrew Taylor, who is sent to a British boarding school for his last year before college.  But it proves to be a tough adjustment, as Andrew’s classmates succumb to a mysterious epidemic as soon as he steps foot on campus, and Andrew begins having frightening visions of a malicious, jealous ghost haunting the school.  To make matters even stranger, the school’s poet-in-residence, Piers Fawkes, notices an uncanny resemblance between Andrew and the school’s most famous student, poet Lord Byron.  But this resemblance is extremely dangerous, for the ghost seems to be tied in with the history of Lord Byron, and he’s coming after Andrew next. 

This novel, with its foggy landscape and crumbling English houses, borrows heavily from classic ghost stories, but what makes this book really special is the literary background that forms the basis of the book’s central mystery. But don’t be fooled - this isn’t your average tale, with wailing ghosts and clanking chains.  This book is extremely scary, and best read in a well-lit room. 


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 1:02am

Have You Heard About... The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

…Vinnie Bump? In Melanie Benjamin’s The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb you’ll find out how the amazing Mercy Lavinia ‘Vinnie’ Warren Bump came to knock the Civil War off the front pages of the newspaper. This tiny, 2 ft. 8 in., dynamo had a huge personality and knew what she wanted out of life in a time when women were expected to marry and have children.

While telling of some of the problems that little people face, Vinnie tells her story with humor and compassion. She tells of how she first met the famous P.T Barnum and how their friendship grew and always inspired her. Her marriage to Charles Stratton, better known as General Tom Thumb, is very interesting, as is her loving relationship with her diminutive sister Minnie and what happened after she died.

You’ll need huge blocks of time to read this fascinating story as it’s very hard to put down.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 1:03am

Have You Heard About... Loving What Is

… how not to listen to the voice in your head? Here at the Waukegan Public Library, the staff has been undergoing a series of trainings on compassion. So far, we have focused on defining compassion and how to have compassion for each other. This month, the focus was on having compassion on ourselves. We have asked each other (and ourselves), “How are you doing?” wanting and receiving REAL answers. If you are interested in this topic, you really need to read Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. I first learned about Byron Katie from another co-worker (Thank you, thank you; you know who you are!) and checked out one of her books from our library. Before you read any further, I am going to be talking about the voice in my head with some candor. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, choose another book from our excellent review blog.

I don’t know about you, but the voice in my head can be so MEAN. It says mean things about my friends and family. It says mean things about me. It says mean things about anything it can think of. Here’s the good news I have recently learned: the voice in my head is NOT me. I am NOT mean. I’m only mean if I believe the mean things that voice says and let it be me. Simple, right? Not so simple. I need some structure, some tools, and that’s what I get from reading books by Byron Katie. She teaches you to listen to that voice and ask four questions about what it says. Seriously, it’s that easy. Don’t have time for the book? Start with her website: http://www.thework.com/index.php Have some compassion for yourself! (Your family will appreciate it, too, I promise!)

Katie’s husband, Stephen Mitchell, co-writes with her, and it makes for a pleasant read with many great examples. I highly recommend starting with this book. If you like it, you may also like some of my other “friends,” Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh and Geneen Roth.


Reviewed by Heidi (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 1:32am

Have You Heard About... The Sacketts

…Louis L’Amour’s great Westerns? The Sacketts is based on two Louis L’Amour books – The Daybreakers and Sackett. These two stories are intertwined to make one great western movie starring Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Ben Johnson, Glenn Ford and a host of old time western characters actors. Cattle, mining, card sharks, right vs. wrong – this movie has it all.

Originally shown on TV in 1979 as a miniseries, this three-hour classic is not to be missed. This movie was not put into a DVD format until 2006, so the bonus feature is important to watch also.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, review, western
Post date: Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 2:31am

Have You Heard About... One Cool Friend

… the dapper little boy and his best friend? One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo and David Small, tells the story of a very proper boy who makes an unusual friend during a trip to the aquarium. When he asks his father if he can bring home a penguin, the distracted man assumes he means a stuffed penguin and approves. Father continues to be oblivious as Elliot and his new friend Magellan skate and share a snack, but even he realizes what’s happening when he finds a live penguin in the bathtub. Fortunately, Elliot’s father is very understanding since he has a friend of his own.

This is a lovely story about finding the perfect friend. Elliot is a shy, formal boy. Even his stuffed animals are shown in shades of grey. Elliot seems to unwind only around his penguin, Magellan. In contrast, his father is enthusiastic and colorful, if a bit clueless about his son. Still, the two humans are obviously fond of one another, and both love their unusual friends very much.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 2:11am

Have You Heard About... Hexes and Hemlines

… the latest cozy urban fantasy mystery that has a gobgoyle in it? The newest book by Juliet Blackwell, Hexes and Hemlines*, gives us more of a glimpse into the past of Lily Ivory, the owner of Aunt Cora’s Closet, a vintage clothing shop in the San Francisco area.

She’s a witch that never completed her witchy training. Her familiar is a pot bellied pig named Oscar who has an interesting past that’s also finally revealed. Lily, Aidan (the head of the witch society in the area), Sailor (a reluctant mind reader), Bronwyn (part of a coven and Lily’s co-worker at the shop) and a wonderful cast of secondary characters really come to life with all of their powers as Lily tries to solve the murder of a Serpentarian Society leader. With bad luck symbols all over the place, will Lily have enough magic to save herself and figure out who did it before the cops do?

It helps if you’ve already read the first two books in this wonderful series, but this book gives just enough of the back story so you do know what’s going on.

* The earlier books in the series are Cast-Off Coven and Secondhand Spirits.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 2:28am

Have You Heard About... I Will Not Read this Book

… the little boy who would find any reason he could not to read a book? In I Will Not Read this Book by Cece Meng, a little boy will do anything he can think of to avoid reading a book. He has to clean under his bed and feed his fish. He will not read this book even if you hang him upside down, by one toe, while you tickle his feet, in a rainstorm. He will not read this book even if you hang him upside down, by one toe, while you tickle his feet, in a rainstorm and a fire breathing dragon blows smoke in his face.

But what happens if he is suddenly dropped? Will he change his mind? You will have to read this delightfully illustrated book to find out!


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 3:56pm

Have You Heard About... Coupling

… the sexy sit-com from Britain? Coupling is a fun series about sex and relationships, centered on a group of six friends – a couple, their exes, and their best friends – played by Jack Davenport, Gina Bellman, Sarah Alexander, Kate Isitt, Ben Miles, and Richard Coyle. The first series includes episodes on breaking up, starting new relationships, pornography, and funerals. That may sound typical for a relationship-focused sit-com, but it also covers the Sock Gap, the Giggle Loop, and the Relationship Zone.

The characters in Coupling are a bit stereotyped, but mostly so that they can poke fun at the stereotypes. Each of the characters also has his or her own quirks, neuroses, and in some cases, outright insanity. What do you do when your girlfriend doesn’t accept being dumped? Is there a good way to explain why you’re hiding in someone’s closet of pornographic tapes? How can anyone manage to accidentally tell a woman that they collect ears in a bucket?

If you like British humor, like Monty Python and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or buddy sit-coms, like Friends, then you’ll probably enjoy Coupling. It’s full of beautiful British deadpans, wry humor, and wackiness, plus good friends who put up with one another’s oddities.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 2:00am

Have You Heard About... Sigh No More

… British indie folk/rock group Mumford & Sons? Their debut album, Sigh No More, is wildly popular both at home and here in the US. It’s not hard to tell why after listening to the gritty vocals, heart-felt lyrics, and beautiful music.

Love is a running theme throughout the album – love of family, friends, lovers and God; heartbreak and heartache; deserving love and denying love; standing by those you love and standing up for yourself. The songs are a good blend of fast and slow, with strong rhythms that will keep your toes tapping. Winston Marshall’s banjo is particularly good, with intricate picking featured in several tunes.

The one downside I found is that the lyrics are occasionally difficult to make out against the music. However, a second listening (no hardship, I assure you) helps, as does looking through the accompanying booklet.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Tags: CD, folk music, review