Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 1:56am

Have You Heard About... The Violinist's Thumb

… the information hidden within your cells? In The Violinist’s Thumb and Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code, Sam Kean takes us through the history of mankind’s understanding of genetics and heredity, from early beliefs through Mendel’s pea plants to the Human Genome Project. Along the way, he touches on a wide variety of subjects, including the effects of the nuclear bombs on people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, differences (and similarities) between Neanderthals and humans, and the extent to which genes determine our destiny.

Mr. Kean is an engaging writer, introducing the reader to the personalities and quirks of the many scientists involved in the study of genes, chromosomes, and DNA. He also takes a difficult subject and makes it interesting and understandable to the average person, much as he did with The Disappearing Spoon and elements (previously reviewed). Mr. Kean adds a very personal note to the narrative by talking about the results of his own genetic test and his fears about the chance that he could be at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease.

This well-written book provides an interesting account of the history of genetics, our current understanding of the field, and what scientists are looking at next. The author also looks at how our understanding of DNA affects everything from history and archaeology, to sociology and, of course, medicine.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 1:52am

Have You Heard About... Journey into Amazing Caves

… something being beautiful and scary that takes your breath away all at the same time? In the IMAX DVD Journey into Amazing Caves, you experience all of that and a lot more. In Greenland, you find these amazing cavers/scientists descending into the beautiful, but very dangerous, ice caves. The color of the blue/white ice is phenomenal as these people know that one wrong move and the ice above can come crashing down on them or the walls can suddenly close in on them as the ice is always moving. In this documentary, it was the deepest descent into an ice cave ever. Imagine a 100 mph blizzard, with extreme cold, worse than 50 below zero, in the middle of literally nowhere – that’s where this was filmed.

Next, these cavers/scientists head for Mexico, the Amazon and the Yucatan. Did you know that some trees in the Amazon are poisonous – sorta like poison ivy only worse? If the dangers of the cold and ice weren’t enough for you, then underwater cave diving, which is considered the most dangerous “sport” ever will send chills running down your spine. In underwater cave diving, when you use up 1/3 of your air tank, if you don’t turn around immediately, you will die. You need 2/3 of your air to get back. If you lose sight of the guide line you will die. Again, the scenery is eerily fascinating and breathtaking at the same time. The last stop is the Grand Canyon. Imagine dangling over the Grand Canyon in 112 degree heat and rappelling down to a cave. If you dangle too long you can lose the circulation in your legs. While this is only a 40 minute film, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Keep watching as the movie goes into “The Making of Journey into Amazing Caves.” While the cavers/scientists are doing their thing, just imagine that the film crew had to go into the ice caves, underwater and above the Grand Canyon in a helicopter before them to set up all of the truly death-defying action you see on the screen. One wrong move on their part could put everyone in jeopardy. One person on the film crew almost lost his life when a cable line slipped. Think of all of the equipment that is used in filming and how it had to be utilized to get these wondrous shots. Sometimes a scene had to be filmed as many as 10, 20 or 30 times, so it would be just right, and each time could be more dangerous than the first. I might be a bit prejudiced but all of this amazing journey is set to the music of some of my friends, the most fantastic musical group ever, the Moody Blues.

This is a short but wonderful DVD that the entire family will enjoy seeing many times.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 1:22am

Have You Heard About... Bring on the Night

… the vampires who get “stuck” in the time period when they died?  Bring on the Night* by Jeri Smith-Ready continues her adrenaline-filled series about Ciara Griffin and the rest of the staff and DJs at WVMP.  Ciara becomes an agent for Control, battles zombies and a plague, and makes two of the hardest and most important decisions of her life – all to stay with the vampire she loves.  If an obsessive-compulsive vampire can change, so can a con artist.

This series stands out among the modern fantasy crowd in the disadvantages of becoming a vampire.  While they can live in normal society, their increasing obsessive-compulsive traits and difficulty adapting to changes beyond the time when they were alive leaves vampires very vulnerable.  This helps add to the individuality of the characters and makes some great scenes of people using or trying to overcome these disadvantages.  This is a fun series with a good twist.


* The first two books in this series are Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 1:19am

Have You Heard About... 100 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys

… the coolest toys ever played with? 100 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys by Mark Rich is a delightful look at the toys that you remember from your childhood. Go down memory lane as you remember when you got a Barbie doll, Mr. Robot or a Hula Hoop (mine was pink). Remember Slinkies or Silly Putty? The Daniel Boone coonskin hats were “way cool” back in the day.

Were you part of the first generation to get any of these toys like I was, or did you receive them long after your parents or grandparents played with them? Most of what I played with, way back when, are now considered collector items. This book is sure to bring back long lost memories.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 1:43am

Have You Heard About... Kill Me Softly

… the people blessed (and cursed) by fairies? Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross, tells the story of Mirabelle, raised by her godmothers because her parents were killed when she was an infant. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Mira becomes increasingly obsessed with her parents’ death and the town where she was born. She plots to go there without her godmothers’ knowledge, needing to find answers about her heritage. However, what she finds will endanger her life and change everything she thought she knew about herself and the world around her.

Ms Cross creates an intriguing world where some people catch the attention of fairies. They become fated to play out roles from various folktales — one girl lives with her stepmother, wondering when the woman will decide she is too beautiful and must be killed, a charming young man waits for the day when he will meet (and save) his princess, and the brothers with blue hair cannot be trusted by the women they love. The stories are varied, although they generally have European roots. More interesting is the question of how much free will an individual has to affect his or her personal version of a traditional role. The reader learns everything along with Mira, who is in more danger than her peers, due to her ignorance, but also has the opportunity to make her own fate.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 9:37am

Have You Heard About... The Magic of Belle Isle

… the power of imagination and the inspirations of life? The Magic of Belle Isle is a story about a once famous writer named Monte Wildhorn, played by Morgan Freeman. He’s at an impasse in his life and in his writing, and he has taken to drinking. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. When he moves to Belle Isle for the summer, he gets acquainted with his next door neighbor, Charlotte O’Neil, played by Virginia Madsen. Charlotte has three daughters, one of whom makes up stories to tell her sisters. Monte tries to teach the middle daughter about writing and the inspirations of life, and he finds that with her observations of him he can become the writer he once was. Monte writes a children’s story for the youngest daughter, but Charlotte picks up on the fact that it is actually a love story of the two of them.

Monte and Charlotte have a very old-fashioned, courtly-mannered friendship that to me was very moving. Eventually, Monte stops drinking, and that’s when the magic starts to happen. This movie is a comedy, and although it seems slow moving at times, it really isn’t. It makes you think, and this is where the power of imagination and the believability of all things possible come in.  It’s a story that will have you crying and laughing at the same time.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: Comedy, DVD, review
Post date: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 1:22am

Have You Heard About... Thunder Dog

… a man who was born premature and became blind after they put him in a sealed incubator and pumped in pure oxygen until his lungs matured? That was the procedure used in the 1940s for premature babies.

In Michael Hingson’s memoir, Thunder Dog, you learn about his past and also about his guide dogs, particularly his guide dog Roselle. This story takes place on 9/11. Michael describes how he and Roselle survived such a horrible tragedy and how Roselle remained calm all the time even though people were screaming and panicking. Roselle guided Michael from the 78th floor through the stairs of the Word Trade Center with 12 floors above them already leaning to one side. You will learn about the strong bond between a blind person and a Seeing Eye dog. After reading this wonderful true story, people will have many different points of views and opinions of this story. Some people might focus on the blindness, others might focus more on the dog’s braveness, and others maybe only will be focus in how the events of 9/11 played out.


Reviewed by Esmeralda (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 1:19am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio

… the mysterious stranger in Sugarcreek, Ohio? In Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, by Serena Miller, Joe Matthews has been accused of murdering his wife in L.A. He and his little boy, Bobby, are on the run and show up in Sugarcreek looking for a temporary place to stay. Rachel Troyer, who is half Amish and half Englisch, is the local cop. She is very protective of her three elderly Amish aunts who run the small inn where Joe and his son seek shelter. Being a good cop, Rachel is very suspicious of Joe as he won’t give her any information on who he really is and why he is in Sugarcreek. He looks and acts too refined to be just a homeless drifter as he proclaims.

The aunts adore Joe and hire him as a handyman until he can get enough money to get back on the road, much to the dismay of Rachel. It isn’t until over halfway through the book that you learn who Joe really is, which keeps the suspense high as Rachel starts to fall in love with Joe. When Joe’s father and brother turn up and a suspicious fire burns down the inn, you’ll be glued to your seat. The twists and turns in this book will keep you hooked to the very end as you laugh, cry and know that there is a happy ending that will surprise everyone.

Sugarcreek, Ohio, also known as “the Little Switzerland of Ohio,” is about an hour’s drive south of Akron, Ohio. Several places mentioned in the book really do exist, and I can highly recommend Beachey’s Country Chalet Restaurant. The food is to die for, but being in Amish country it is not open on Sunday.

*Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 1:15am

Have You Heard About... Weapons of Grass Destruction

… the country hits “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Poison” and “Paint It Black”? Yes, they may have been rock hits when they were done by The Beatles, Alice Cooper and The Rolling Stones, but Hayseed Dixie has given them country and bluegrass makeovers on Weapons of Grass Destruction. The results are surprisingly good and wonderfully funny.

In addition to covering rock songs, Hayseed Dixie includes a few originals on this album. However, it really is amazing how well the genre change works. You have to listen to the lyrics to know whether you’re hearing a traditional piece or a song from The Sex Pistols or Mick Jagger.  Some of the covers work well as parodies, and some stand on their own as good adaptations.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 1:12am

Have You Heard About... The Daily Cookie

… feeling like you weigh 500 pounds after reading a cookbook? The Daily Cookie by Anna Ginsberg has 365 cookie recipes, one cookie recipe for each day of the year. Ok, so you’re not going to make a batch of cookies everyday unless you’re planning to send them to our troops overseas or hosting a super gigantic family reunion. If you make a batch of cookies every three weeks, it will take you about twenty-one years to get through this book.

Start out with reading the basic how- to’s, and what kind of equipment and ingredients to use. January1 tells you in a little side blurb that it is New Year’s Day and that Pomegranate Swirl Cheesecake Bars are a favorite on this day. If you celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday on January 8, you’ve got to try Peanut Browned Butter Banana Bacon Cookies. Sounds slightly disgusting, but the ingredients make sense. On January 13, the side blurb tells you it’s International Skeptics Day and that Sweet-&-Salty Corn Chip Candy would taste just fine. I made it, and it is yummy.

You can’t go wrong on April 30 if you make Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies as it’s National Oatmeal Cookie Day. Since everyone likes junk food, why not try Double Trouble Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies on July 21 which just happens to be National Junk Food Day. (If you’re a junk food junkie like me, why wait until July 21? You can eat these every day!) You don’t have to be Polish to enjoy Polish Kolaczki on National Polka Day which is August 9, because it’s also National Book Lover’s Day too. These are good anytime of the year and a personal favorite of mine. Did you know that October 17 is Wear Something Gaudy Day? Why not try the Colorful Confetti Cookies! Do you feel like a dictator? Well, Start Your Own Country Day is November 22 and Cranberry, White Chip & Ginger Cookie Bark will have your subjects eating out of your hand.

Needless to say, this is the only cookie cookbook that you will ever need! If the recipes don’t tempt you the pictures will. The side blurbs are interesting bits of trivia. Happy baking (and eating)!


Reviewed by Terry (staff)