Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 12:44am

Have You Heard About... Scary Godmother

…who can keep you safe from the things that go bump in the night? Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother* loves things that are dark, creepy, or unusual. She’s friends with skeletons, witches, vampires, and monsters. Your scary godmother is with you when it’s scary, especially on Halloween! This graphic novel shows how Hannah meets her Scary Godmother after her cousin tries to play a trick on Halloween. Hannah gets to know her Scary Godmother, Skully Pettibone (a skeleton), Bug-a-Boo (a monster under the bed), Orson (a young vampire), and many others.

This is a wonderful book for introducing young children to spooky things in a non-threatening way. Adults and kids alike will love the quirky humor and bright illustrations. The stories emphasize facing your fears and accomplishing tasks through perseverance and helpful friends. The mix of art and text blends picture book and graphic novel styles. A sketchbook section at the end shows the changes some characters went through from the initial sketches to the first book, as well as character studies used for the animated specials.

*This book reprints Scary Godmother, Scary Godmother: The Revenge of Jimmy, Scary Godmother: The Mystery Date, Scary Godmother: The Boo Flu, and the short story “Tea for Orson.”


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 12:36am

Have You Heard About... Love Letters from Ladybug Farm

… the charming Ladybug Farm? Donna Ball’s Love Letters from Ladybug Farm* showcases best friends Cici, Lindsay and Bridget, all in their 50’s and former suburbanites. They are in their third year of renovating Ladybug Farm, a delightfully rundown farm/estate in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. This third installment in the series finds the friends still trying to get their winery up and running, and they have also have decided to start a special events business. A high society wedding is planned to take place on their estate and the spoiled bride-to-be, her wacky mom, and soon to be mother-in-law have so many demands and ‘just a few little changes’ to make, that the three friends wonder if the money they are going to receive is really worth all of the horrendous hassles. A rooster, a goat, a dog, a broken leg and a tornado play into the things that can go wrong. The love letters that play into the book are touching and have a sort of sad but great ending for one of the members of this very unique household. The descriptions of the scenery are breathtaking. Every detail is written so as to make you feel like you are actually part of the story. You never want it to end.

While this is a standalone book with enough back story, I very highly recommend that you read book one, A Year on Ladybug Farm. This book tells of how the three friends came to the decision to buy the farm/estate and their hilarious and touching first year of renovations. Book two, At Home on Ladybug Farm, tells of new friends, tough decisions, the history of the farm/estate with more laugh-out-loud scenes and some moments when you might even need a Kleenex.

All 3 of these books are wonderfully descriptive, make you feel like you are there and part of what is happening and leave you very impatiently waiting for the next book.

* The first two books in this series are A Year on Ladybug Farm and At Home on Ladybug Farm.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 12:36am

Have You Heard About... Kitty Goes to War

… the werewolf named “Kitty”? She’s the main character in Kitty Goes to War* by Carrie Vaughn. Even on a good day, Kitty has her hands full with her talk-radio show, her pack, her husband, and the rest of her family and friends. Now she’s being sued by Speedy Mart for doing a show on strange events at their stores. Plus, the military wants to talk with her about werewolves, specifically werewolves who were in combat in Afghanistan. A Special Forces team was changed by their leader, but when he was killed, some members couldn’t cope without an alpha. The remains of the team are brought back to Colorado, and Kitty has to determine whether they can be reintegrated into society. She can’t turn her back on these wolves, leaving them to a court martial that could lock them behind silver walls and bars forever. However, her alternative is to risk letting them loose among humans – trained killers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and have the strength, speed, and regeneration of a werewolf. Can she help them?  Will they let her try?

Kitty Goes to War is a great addition to this fast-paced, smart-alecky series. It touches on some of the problems faced by any soldier who returns home, with a bit of a twist. The humor, magic, and action are tempered by real-world problems for an excellent modern-day fantasy.


* The previous books in the series are Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty Takes a Holiday, Kitty and the Silver Bullet, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, Kitty Raises Hell, and Kitty’s House of Horrors. The next book in this series is Kitty’s Big Trouble.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 12:36am

Have You Heard About... Is this Thing On?

…how you can use a computer, even if you aren’t a techie? “Is this Thing On?” A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes and the Kicking & Screaming, by Abby Stokes, is a wonderful book for those of us who swear that we are not computer people. With humor, pictures, and simple words (no techno babble), this book teaches the very basics of how to use a computer.

You start off by learning the difference between a PC and a Mac, then the difference between a laptop and a desktop model. It then tells you to go to the store and “test-drive” several models and talk to a sales person. From there it explains what to do when you bring your computer home and take it out of the box. This very useful book then goes on to explain what to do once you’re “plugged in,” what the mouse is for, and what all of those little icons are for on the computer screen and how to use them.

 Once you learn what everything does you’re ready to learn to play Solitaire. When you get this mastered, you’re ready to learn how to get to the Internet, how to set up an e-mail account and what E-manners are. When all of this is conquered, you can get into e-mail attachments, smiley faces, how to scan photos and how to blog and much more. This book even has a small section on what the heck an iPod and iPhone are.

 This book goes on and proves that you are never too old to learn something new.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 12:22am

Have You Heard About... Freedom

Jonathan Franzen’s best seller Freedom?

Think of a book that could very well turn into a classic over a short time period.  That could be this story, which reads like an autobiography.  It is long, but it stirs you inside to keep turning the pages. True for so many of us are the mistakes of life, the decisions where you won’t find out until the end, after many years of growth, whether they were the right ones after all.  The author mixes a healthy blend of politics and realism to the limit, but lets you draw some of your own conclusion on how some of these characters continue their futures.


Reviewed by Doreen (staff)

Tags: book, fiction, review
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 12:03am

Have You Heard About... How to Train Your Dragon

… the Viking called Hiccup? In the DVD of How to Train Your Dragon, you’ll see him go from a scrawny Viking in training to the greatest dragon slayer in the history of Vikingdom. Hiccup needs to prove to his Dad, and the others of his tribe, that he is worthy of becoming a Viking. With his quirky new pal Toothless – a small, sort of greedy and somewhat rude dragon – these two learn to understand each other and eventually earn the respect of everyone.

This movie has adventure, animal-human communications, heroism and is at times both funny and sad.

Watching the special features gives you an understanding of the characters and how long it actually took to make this movie. Did you know that every dragon has its own unique fire breathing capabilities?

This is a great PG-rated movie for the entire family.

If you like the movie, be sure to check out the further adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock 3 in the books by Cressida Cowell.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, family, review
Post date: Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 12:38am

Have You Heard About... I Shall Wear Midnight

… the Nac Mac Feegles and their big wee hag? I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth book in Terry Pratchett’s series about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men*. Tiffany is becoming well known as the witch of the Chalk, gaining the respect of her neighbors. However, when that respect turns to fear and even people who know her well spread rumors about what “everyone knows” witches do, Tiffany must use all of her powers, skills, and sense to defeat an ancient evil that seeks to destroy all witches. I Shall Wear Midnight is another beautiful blend of drama and comedy from the creator of the Discworld.

One of my favorite quotes (from p. 34):

“Ye will bring tae mind, brother o’ mine, that there was times when ye should stick your head up a duck’s bottom rather than talk?”

Daft Wullie looked down at his feet. “Sorry, Rob. I counda find a duck just noo.”


* The previous books in the series are The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 12:08am

Have You Heard About... The Spirit Thief

… the world’s greatest thief, who can sweet-talk doors into opening for him? The Spirit Thief*, by Rachel Aaron, tells the story of Eli Monpress. He’s not just a thief; he’s also a wizard who can talk with the spirit inside anything – a campfire, a tree, the stones in a wall – and most of the time, he can con it into doing whatever he wants.

This is a fun story about a world where magic is done through the control and manipulation of natural spirits. Most wizards make deals with spirits, trading their energy for the spirits’ assistance. This brings an interesting twist to the magic, giving it different strengths and limitations from the standard fantasy realms. Overall, this is a fun, fast read, with wry humor and likeable characters.


* The next two books in the Legend of Eli Monpress series are The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 12:17am

Have You Heard About... How to Boil Water

… the Food Network’s great basic cookbook? If you are just learning to cook or want to learn how to cook more simply, How to Boil Water: Life beyond Takeout is the book for you. It really does teach you how to boil water! This book is a basic guide to cooking. It has how-to hints and tips worded in an easy-to-understand way (no big, fancy words). Photos guide you along in how to prepare comfort foods.

Learn how to make easy potato salad, cut up meat or a whole chicken, make a fried egg without flipping it – this was one of my favorites – and much more. I thought this book was really informative and very helpful.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 12:17am

Have You Heard About... 11:11

… the amazing music of Rodrigo y Gabriela

The dynamic duo has released yet another stunner with 11:11! The guitar work by both musicians is something I have never heard before, with Rodrigo’s heavy handed, almost metal-like riffs and Gabriela’s cool, laid-back Latin vibe. They are far and wide the best acoustic team out there today. Pick it up today or whenever you stop by! You will not be disappointed.


Reviewed by Austin (staff)