Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 1:49am

Have You Heard About... Welcome to Bordertown

…the hidden city on the border between our world and the Realm of the elves? Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, brings readers back to one of the first shared worlds of urban fantasy. This new anthology includes works by some of the biggest names in fantasy and science fiction – Terri Windling (who created Bordertown and edited the first collections of stories about it), Cory Doctorow, Patricia McKillip, Catherynne M. Valente, Jane Yolen, Tim Pratt, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, and many others. In addition to short stories, there are poems, song lyrics, and a graphic novel.

Bordertown is a difficult, confusing city caught between the World of technology and the Realm of magic. It is hard to reach under the best of circumstances, although a route can usually be found from almost any urban area. However, the way there was closed completely for thirteen years. At least, it was thirteen years in the World; only thirteen days passed in Bordertown itself, and no one knows how much time went by in the Realm. Magic and technology work only intermittently in Bordertown, so those who live there learn to rely on both and neither – strange mishmashes of spells and batteries and engines that run when you whisper a charm over them. Newcomers bring new technology, dreams, and ideas to the city, but they have to adjust to a world without the internet or cell phones or instant access to everything.

Bordertown is a world of fairy tales, but it is far more Grimm than Disney. Many of the stories feature runaways and young people looking for adventure, from both sides of the border. Frequently, they find both more and less than they expected – gangs, cheap squats in rundown buildings, strange plants and animals (and people), music, art, the chance to live their dreams, and the chance to starve to death. Life on the border is not easy, but it can be beautiful.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 1:43am

Have You Heard About... The 1940s House

…the modern British family that decided to see what life was like in World War II Britain? In 2000, a three-generation family tackles the lifestyle of The 1940s House.

See what it’s like as they endure without the “modern” conveniences of the 21st century. The Brits had it a lot harder than the Americans during the war years and for a long time afterwards. Making your own bomb shelter and having to use a chamber pot, women working in factories for the first time, food rationing, and the difficulties of cooking. Air raids and the lack of sleep. Learn how America raised their morale during this period of time. No cell phones or video games. You had to use your imagination and make your own fun. Could you cope? See how this experience changed their lives.

This is a fascinating look into the past.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 1:55am

Have You Heard About... No Such Thing as Ghosts

… the young dragon who has had adventures with ninja frogs and giant bats? Danny Dragonbreath investigates a haunted house on Halloween night in his latest adventure – Ursula Vernon’s No Such Thing as Ghosts*. Danny, his best friend Wendell, and their classmate Christiana are out trick-or-treating when a bully challenges them to check out a spooky abandoned house. Christiana doesn’t believe in ghosts (or dragons, for that matter), so she comes up with rational explanations for most of the things they encounter. However, logic and skepticism are no match for the weirdness that happens around Danny, and the three friends must make a great sacrifice to escape the house and return to their families.

The entire Dragonbreath series is filled with Ursula Vernon’s quirky writing and wonderfully fun artwork, with a great mix of silliness and creepiness. Much of the book is text, but the art is cleverly integrated through frequent comic-style pieces in green, black, and white. Danny’s enthusiasm, wild imagination and love of the bizarre are tempered by his friend Wendell’s nerdiness and fear of, well, everything. Although No Such Thing as Ghosts is the fifth book in the series, it can be enjoyed without reading the others. They are all quick, fun reads, though, and well worth the time.

One of my favorite quotes (from p. 85):

[Danny] ran the flashlight over the boxes. Most of them had things written on the side like “Summer clothes” and “Kitchen stuff,” but then again, if you were a cannibal, you probably didn’t put labels like “Yummy dead bodies” and “Fresh corpses” on your boxes, did you?

* The earlier books in this series are Dragonbreath, Attack of the Ninja Frogs, Curse of the Were-Wiener, and Lair of the Bat Monster.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 1:55am

Have You Heard About... Lobsters Scream when You Boil Them

…the screaming lobsters? This food myth is debunked in Lobsters Scream when You Boil Them: And 100 Other Myths about Food and Cooking by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Lobsters don’t have vocal cords. If you hear a whine, it’s their joints whistling. Food prepared at home is safer then food prepared at a restaurant. Not necessarily so. Restaurants have health inspectors. Eating candy causes acne. Think about this. Eating carrots helps your eyesight. Maybe. A gas stove is better than electric. This argument will go on forever.

Just because you’ve heard these things forever from your Mom, Grandma or the foodie guru on TV, doesn’t necessarily make them correct. With insightful info on the why’s and why not’s of 100 food myths, this book is presented in a funny and easy-to-read way. It has short headings so you can skim through the book fast or pick a favorite topic. Several recipes are also included.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 1:30am

Have You Heard About... Old Man’s War

… the military retirement plan?  At age seventy-five, you can join the army and go to war in outer space.  That’s the basic premise of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War*.  Despite the vast reaches of space, habitable planets are few and far between, so competition for them is fierce, and mankind must fight to defend Earth and find our own space to colonize.

The wars are brutal and never-ending, military training is harsh, and the new recruits will never see their homes again.  This book could easily have become cold and depressing, but Scalzi’s deft writing saves it.  He beautifully juggles gritty realism with wry humor, alien technology, and realistic characterization.  He also encourages the reader to think about what it means to be human and the purposes of war.  If you enjoy military or science fiction, give this book a try.

* The later books in this series are The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 1:22am

Have You Heard About... A Decadent Way to Die

… the Georgia gal whose sassy southernisms and love of good chocolate and food make some great mysteries? Savannah Reid stars in A Decadent Way to Die*, the sixteenth book in the series by G. A. McKevett.

Granny Reid raised Savannah and all of her many siblings, who turn up in a lot of the books. Savannah was a cop in San Carmelita, a southern California town, and when she was fired, she decided to open her own detective agency. Her former cop partner, Dirk, assistant-in-training Tammy, and two dear friends now help her with her cases. Savannah is hired to look into the “suspicious accidents” of eighty-year-old world famous doll maker Helene Strauss. Helene’s granddaughter doesn’t think these so called “accidents” are really that but an attempt to kill her feisty, “tell it like is” grandmother instead.

Savannah has her hands full with all of Helene’s family members. With all of this new case going on, Tammy is in serious trouble as well. Savannah has a big heart and does her best to bring justice to those who deserve it.

All of these books have a slight message, and this one deals with abuse. You’ll need a Kleenex for the heart stopping ending.

Each of these sixteen books stands alone, but I strongly recommend that you read all of the books in this fantastic series so as not to miss any of action.

*The previous books in the series are Just Desserts, Bitter Sweets, Killer Calories, Cooked Goose, Sugar and Spite, Sour Grapes, Peaches and Screams, Death by Chocolate, Cereal Killer, Murder a la Mode, Corpse Suzette, Fat Free and Fatal, Poisoned Tarts, A Body to Die For, and Wicked Craving.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 1:46am

Have You Heard About... Delirium’s Party

… the “Little Endless” – childlike versions of the characters from Sandman? In Delirium’s Party* by Jill Thompson, Delirium wants to cheer up her sister Despair. She decides to throw a big party and invite all of their siblings.

Delirium thinks of everything – cake, presents, party hats, and more! Nobody can make a party wilder than the personification of delirium. Unfortunately, Despair is just not made for cheerfulness. A twist at the end makes everyone content, if not truly happy.

Jill Thompson’s quirky, colorful artwork works wonderfully with this story. When Delirium put on her thinking cap and “Thinked, Thunked, and Thoughtededed,” the picture of her wearing a hat with feathers, flowers, buttons, organ pipes, pencils, and light bulbs is perfect. The story is light-hearted, but keeps the essential feel of Neil Gaiman’s characters.

* The previous book about these characters is The Little Endless Storybook.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 1:27am

Have You Heard About... Hello, Frisco, Hello

… the 1943 romantic, musical comedy set in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast at the turn of the 19th century? In Hello, Frisco, Hello, a talented singing foursome is fired for being so good at a dance hall that the customers stop drinking their beer to just watch and listen to them. The story line is about what happens during their rise to fame and fortune, and the downfall that follows.

Starring the beautiful Alice Faye, the handsome John Payne, and the comedic talents of the wonderful Jack Oakie and June Havoc, this film might seem a little bit corny by today’s movie going public, but it’s pure magic for those who remember the good old days. It features the Oscar winning song “You’ll Never Know” and has a spectacular roller skating number that you just have to see. Be sure to watch the “Re-making of Alice Faye” in the special features also.

If you’ve never seen this classic, pick it up now for a good evening of pure entertainment that’s free with your library card.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, musical, review
Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 1:51am

Have You Heard About... Lamb

… the stories of Jesus’ life that didn’t make it into the Bible? Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal goes far beyond the Apocrypha. It focuses on the period of Jesus’ life that is not covered by the Gospels, as well as his later life and crucifixion, telling the “real” story of the man who was Christ. Biff accompanies his friend as Jesus tries to learn how to become the Messiah he is meant to be, adding comic relief and fast wits that get them out of almost as much trouble as he gets them into.

This highly irreverent and wonderfully funny novel manages to poke fun at almost every major religion in the world, not just Christianity. However, the point seems to be more identifying and exposing the inherent humor in religion, rather than attacking it. The sacrilege and crass humor hide a surprising number of serious ideas which may make you think, once you stop laughing.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 1:40am

Have You Heard About... Cherries in Winter

…how to get through hard times?  In Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, Suzan Colón writes with candor of her family history in hard times and includes a few wonderful, old fashioned, stick-to-your-­ribs recipes. This book is a history of sorts on how her family survived the Depression, with a ‘make do, can do, and we’ll survive attitude’ that is relevant today. This book is not so much of what has happened in the past, but of how Suzan copes with the present day economy and the loss of her job through reading her grandmother’s cookbook and journal.

If you remember the hard times of the Depression, the 2000/2001 recession, or are just going through a rough patch financially, this extraordinary book is for you. Told with laughter and a few tears, this short read is wonderfully in tune with today. One of the highlights in the book is about mashed potatoes – how they were made way back when and how Suzan makes them now is a hoot. If you miss the humor in it, you need to go back and start at the beginning of the chapter. This book makes you feel like you can do anything you really set you mind to. I loved it!


Reviewed by Terry (staff)