Have You Heard

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
Post date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 2:53am

Have You Heard About... Tempest in the Tea Leaves

… the cute new psychic in town? In Kari Townsend’s latest, the first in the Fortune Teller Mystery series, Sunny Meadows lives in an old Victorian house that she’s named Vicky. She has also inherited a cat named Morty who seems to have a certain “something” about him. Amanda Robbins, the town librarian, has come to Sunny to see what the future holds for her. There is a Tempest in the Tea Leaves as Sunny tells her some bad news that leads to her death.

Detective Mitch Stone thinks Sunny is a quack and nutty to boot, and he hauls her into the police station as his prime suspect. There are a lot of suspects, and as Sunny and Mitch team up and get on each other’s nerves, the one liners and one-upmanship fly. This is a fast, fun read not to be missed.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 2:03am

Have You Heard About... Calico Dresses and Buffalo Robes

… the clothing worn in the Wild West? Calico Dresses and Buffalo Robes*, by Katherine Krohn, looks at clothing and fashion in the American West from the 1840s to the 1890s. It covers everyone from Native Americans to cowboys and farmers to city slickers, with brief mentions of non-European immigrants and the military. In addition to clothing, this book looks at accessories and hair styles for both men and women. Where people got their clothing is also mentioned – whether it could be made at home or purchased from a store or catalog.

Calico Dresses and Buffalo Robes would be useful to people interested in costuming for theater or re-enactments (or just for fun), as well as those writing about the time period or with an interest in it. The text is accompanied by photographs and illustrations from the late 1800s. There is a section on trendsetters and rule breakers, such as Levi Strauss and Calamity Jane. An epilogue looks at how Western fashions have changed over time and how they are still popular today.

This book is short, designed to be a brief overview and introduction to the topic rather than a comprehensive work. A bibliography and list of recommended books and websites will help people who want more detail. Words that are likely to be unfamiliar are defined in the text and included in a glossary at the end.

* Other books in the Dressing a Nation series include Buckskin Dresses and Pumpkin Breeches, Petticoats and Frock Coats, Hoopskirts, Union Blues, and Confederate Grays, and The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 2:56am

Have You Heard About... Yellowstone Cubs

…Tubby and Tuffy, the bear cubs? These two are really not troublemakers in the DVD Yellowstone Cubs – they’re adventurous and curious. Yellowstone National Park is the playground for these two cute bear cubs as they decide to take a short vacation from mamma bear.

This Disney classic is from 1963, and the warning signs posted in the park that read “DO NOT FEED THE BEARS” still holds true today. While Tubby and Tuffy go for a boat ride, try spaghetti film for breakfast, or try to figure out the geysers in the park, mamma bear is looking for them. See the mischievous cubs when they when they discover the wonderful kitchen at the Old Faithful Inn. Narrator Rex Allen does an excellent job of describing the actions of these two adventurers.

This is a totally delightful, educational, short movie for the entire family to enjoy.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 2:56am

Have You Heard About... One Salt Sea

… changeling private investigator, October Daye? In Seanan McGuire’s One Salt Sea*, Toby discovers the lengths that people will reach to start a war. Someone in the fae community is trying to start a war between the land and the sea by kidnapping the Undersea Duchess of Saltmist’s two sons and implicating the Queen of the Mists in the crime. The fae will do a lot to one another, but children are rare and precious. Someone who is willing to kidnap and harm them is desperate and even more dangerous than usual. Toby only has three days to find and stop them. She would do the job anyway, to prevent the war and save the children, but her foes will make the job much more personal before everything is done.

The October Daye novels are an excellent urban fantasy series set in the San Francisco area. They feature non-stop action, with a little romance for spice. A wide variety of fae (both pure- and mixed-blood) inhabit these books, from Daoine Sidhe and Pixies to Merrow and Naiads. Most of them are of Celtic or European origin, but not all. Both different races and specific individuals are well developed, with their own traits and quirks.

Reading the earlier books in the series will help you understand the characters and their history together, but enough background is worked into this novel to let you dive right into the story. I highly recommend it.

* The previous books in this series are Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, and Late Eclipses. Seanan McGuire also writes zombie horror novels as Mira Grant.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 2:50am

Have You Heard About... The Great American Cookbook

… the cookbook that collects favorite foods from every state in the union? The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford has 500 time-tested recipes. Little stories throughout each state tell of how some of the recipes came to be. Ever hear of “Zimtsterne,” commonly known as Cinnamon Stars or Potato Kugel? Both are favorites in Illinois. How does Schaum Torte , a Wisconsin favorite sound? Maine’s famous Lobster Stew or California Guacamole? Are you hungry yet?

This is a reprint of How America Eats, originally published in the 1960s. Some of these recipes are easy, and several are rather challenging. Even if you never make any of the recipes, looking through this book is well worth it.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 2:40am

Have You Heard About... Flesh and Fire

… the spellwines that Vinearts make? Laura Anne Gilman created a unique form of magic for her book Flesh and Fire*. Although other people can use some of the power in the wines they make, only Vinearts can reach the magic in the grapes to make spellwines and use them to their full potential. Different grapes are better suited to different types of spells, and Vinearts also have specialties that affect which types of wines they can make and use the best.

Due to ancient abuses of power, Vinearts must come from the vineyards’ slaves, and the reader learns along with Jerzy, who is just starting his apprenticeship. Reclusive and secretive, even amongst themselves, Vineart training is as hard and dangerous as the life as a slave, although in much different ways and with many more rewards. As Jerzy adjusts to his new status and learns how to make and use spellwines, his world is threatened by someone who seems to be quietly destroying the precious vineyards (and their owners) and disrupting the balance of power.

* The later books in the series are Weight of Stone and The Shattered Vine.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 2:35am

Have You Heard About... Tragic Toppings

… a blueberry donut with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, stars and a sour gummy bear on top? You might think that this was the Tragic Toppings* of Jessica Beck’s new novel, but you’d be wrong.

Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, is up to her eyeballs in dough and mystery solving yet again. Her beloved recipe book has been stolen, and she has a hard time duplicating the yummy treats without it. Two people in April Springs are missing, and one turns up dead. Did one of them steal her recipe book to try to go into business for themselves or was it someone else? This book has lots of twists and turns and quirky characters that will keep you guessing to the very end.

It’s not necessary to read the previous books, but they are fun mystery cozies you won’t want to miss.

*The first four books in the series are Glazed Murder, Fatally Frosted, Sinister Sprinkles and Evil Éclairs.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 2:09am

Have You Heard About... Scent of the Missing

… the dogs and people who work together in search and rescue? In Scent of the Missing, Susannah Charleson describes her experiences working with Puzzle, a Golden Retriever she trained to do search and rescue. In addition to talking about the difficult process of training a very intelligent but strong-willed dog, she gives examples of several searches in which they participated, some successful and some not.

Although Susannah Charleson had raised and trained dogs for other work before getting Puzzle, she learned that both the dog and the training had special challenges. The process of training a dog to search for missing people is intellectually, emotionally, and physically challenging for both humans and dogs. People may go missing through mistakes, as victims of crimes, or due to disasters. The area that needs to be searched may be dangerous or difficult to get through. Also, each dog has a different personality and skills, so search-and-rescue dogs may have specialties such as working in urban areas or on water.

Humans need to learn to work closely with their canine partners to recognize the often-subtle cues that a dog has found something or is getting frustrated. Both humans and dogs can become frustrated and even depressed after searching for long hours without success, and the owners need to find ways to combat burn-out in themselves and their dogs.

This is a great book for dog-lovers, as well as for those interested in true crimes or disaster recovery.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)