Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 1:08am

Have You Heard About... It Gets Better

… the project to inspire hope for kids and teens who are harassed because they are (or people assume they are) gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender? It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living is a collection of essays edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. High school is hard for everyone, but it’s even worse if you’re different in some way. After several teens who were gay or were perceived to be gay committed suicide in 2010, Dan Savage wanted to reach out to other kids who felt hopeless. He and his partner, Terry Miller, made a video about how terrible high school was and how much better their lives have gotten since then, and they put it on YouTube. They hoped to get one hundred videos like theirs.  They got thousands.

People from all over the world wrote about their experiences and offered encouragement in this book. The essays are short, many only a page or two. They have to be to fit the dozens and dozens of stories and words of hope that people wanted to share. The writers come from all walks of life – politicians, business people, entertainers, religious leaders, educators, scientists, students, and many others. Some are famous, and others are everyday people. They may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise “different;” or they may be supportive of those who are. All of them want to encourage kids and teens not to give up. Life is hard, and sometimes it feels like the bullying will never end. However, it got better for everyone in this book – they made new friends, got tougher, found support, got away from the bullies, fell in love. It wasn’t always easy, but it did get better for them, and it can get better for you.

This is not an easy book to read. Many of the contributors suffered abuse, bullying, and depression. Some attempted suicide because they didn’t think they could keep going. However, they all talk about the importance of staying strong and believing that life will improve. Now they’re able to give others the encouragement and hope that they wish they had had. While much of the book is aimed at LGBT teens, the message applies to all teens who are having trouble. Share this book with people who need that help, or read it to learn what you can do to make a difference for someone else.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 1:05am

Have You Heard About... Tooth Fairy 2

… Larry the Cable Guy in a pink tutu? Larry the Cable Guy plays Larry Guthrie, a bumbling but loveable guy who is trying to win his girl, Brooke, back from Beau, who’s running for mayor. In Tooth Fairy 2, Larry lets slip that there is no tooth fairy. Big mistake. The head of the tooth fairies, who looks like a kid, is actually 500 years old and hears of this grave misspoken mistake. In order for Larry to win Brooke back he has to be a tooth fairy, dressed in a pink tutu. Mean ol’ Beau steals new toys from Brooke’s after-school day care to make Larry look bad. You’ll crack up at all of the situations that Larry gets into. You’ll meet Crusher the pig who helps Larry along. Will Larry collect all of the teeth he needs to git-r-done and win Brooke back?

This is a DVD for the entire family. You won’t have to explain to little kids what’s real or isn’t. It’s magic! In the special extras at the end the Tooth Fairy/Larry explains why you lose baby teeth, which is pretty cute also.

If you enjoy this DVD you might also like to check out the original Tooth Fairy with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The very end of that DVD is well after the credits, and you don’t want to miss it.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, family, review
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 1:41am

Have You Heard About... Hex Appeal

… the hottest hexes money can buy? Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod, brings together nine stories by some of the top urban fantasy authors of our time. From the University of Oklahoma to London’s Nightside, an intriguing collection of vampires, zombies, witches, wizards, demons, and other supernatural creatures deal with spells to help and hurt them.

While the tone of the stories varies, all have at least dark humor and a touch of mystery, and most also feature love, lust, or romance. These are all new stories, not reprints or excerpts from other works. A few feature characters from longer series, but they stand alone perfectly well. This collection has something for everyone: betrayal, retribution, innocent mistakes, and salvation; worlds much like ours and worlds where magic is crushing technology; gritty noir, true love, and epic fight scenes. Give it a try if you like Ms Elrod’s other anthologies, such as Dark and Stormy Knights or Strange Brew.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 1:36am

Have You Heard About... Cedar Creek Seasons

… one of the most fascinating small towns on earth? Welcome to the Cedar Creek Settlement in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. In Cedar Creek Seasons*, you get four short stories in one book. Cedar Creek Settlement is a real place just north of Milwaukee (I-94 north to I-43, exit 89, follow the Cedar Creek Settlement signs) that makes a wonderful day trip so you can relive the adventures in this book by Cynthia Ruchti, Eileen Key, Becky Melby and Rachael Phillips.

Each story is set in a different season. Most of the places mentioned and all of the festivals really do exist (I love all of the festivals. Winter Fest is in February, Strawberry Fest is in June, the Wine and Harvest festival in Sept. is my very favorite, and German Fest is in October). Cedarburg has the only existing covered bridge in the state of Wisconsin, and all of the stories have a connection to the bridge, whether it’s through prayer, a place of refuge or just a memory. A few of the characters, who range in age from the 20’s to the 60’s, appear in some small way in another story. To tell what each story is about, just know that romance is in the air, second chances, old loves, chocolate, strawberries and laughter are the ingredients that make this book extremely hard to put down.

*Cedar Creek Seasons is part of the Romancing America series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 12:39am

Have You Heard About... Babel

… the second album from Mumford and Sons? For bonafide Mumford and Sons fans, this second album was a long time coming after Sigh No More debuted in early 2010. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this rousing indie-folk quartet from London, it’s time to give Sigh No More a listen. Go ahead. I’ll wait!

So now that you’re thoroughly hooked on Mumford and Sons’ catchy rhythms and powerful lyrics, it’s time to give their latest album, Babel, a listen. Lead singer Marcus Mumford’s voice has been taken to epic heights, particularly on “Broken Crown” and “Lover of the Light,” and the pounding rhythms are as infectious as anything heard on Sigh No More.

Mumford and Sons are well-known for their electrifying live performances, and this CD captures that energy splendidly with its bold and unabashedly emotional sound. Give Babel a listen, and I guarantee you’ll be singing and foot-stomping as if your life depended on it.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Tags: CD, folk music, review
Post date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 12:34am

Have You Heard About... My Mother Was Nuts

… Laverne DeFazio from TV’s Laverne & Shirley? In the new biography, My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall, you get a quirky look at Penny Marshall as she struggled to grow up in what she considered a very crazy, yet normal family. As in a lot of celebrity biographies, you hear about the dysfunctional family life, the drugs and the famous people. In Penny’s case, it totally shaped who she became in later life — a great actress and producer and a fantastic director.

Touring Europe with singer Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. Married to actor/director Rob Reiner (her second marriage) during the run of the great TV show Laverne & Shirley. All of the things that went on with Cindy Williams her co-star and the other cast members. Penny Marshall talks about her older brother, director Garry Marshall, and his influence on her career, doing drugs with John Belushi, and getting to know actress Carrie Fisher and how they’ve stayed friends for a long, long time. Tom Hanks tells of how he got his big break in two of Penny’s biggest blockbuster hits – Big and A League of Their Own. Whoopi Goldberg, Mark Wahlberg and Robert de Niro tell of their funny experiences of working with Penny. A lot of behind the scenes craziness, how she survived lung cancer and a brain tumor, and how she managed to come out in one piece is a miracle.

This book was a fascinating and fast read that I thoroughly enjoyed.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:47am

Have You Heard About... Seraphina

… life in a city in the great country of Goredd? Rachel Hartman’s novel, Seraphina, follows the title character as she struggles with identity and prejudice in an alternate Middle Ages. The kingdom of Goredd has had an uneasy peace with dragons for nearly forty years. The dragons can take human form, but friendship between the two races is viewed with suspicion, and relationships are outlawed by both sides. Despite this, Seraphina is the daughter of a human father and a dragon mother. If anyone outside of her immediate family learned this, she would certainly be exiled, and she would probably be killed. Unfortunately, exposing herself may be the only way to prevent the outbreak of a new war.

Ms Hartman infuses her story with an incredible amount of detail, from the many saints who influence everyday life in Goredd to the austere habits of dragons. Seraphina’s story is much more serious than that of Amy Unbounded, a graphic novel set in the same world. However, it still has points of wry humor and whimsy. The two stories also share an elegance of storytelling, with a wide variety of characters who drift apart and then back together.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 12:42am

Have You Heard About... Amy Unbounded

… life on a farm in the great country of Goredd? Rachel Hartman’s graphic novel, Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming, follows the title character through the summer she turns ten, a time filled with celebrations and troubles. Amy reads (most of) the story of Queen Belondweg, who united Goredd long ago. She also learns more about the role of women in modern Goredd. Her mother is a barbarian who settled in Goredd and learned to make clocks. Amy’s best friend’s sister raised him and most of his brothers after their mother died, but she has no rights and will become a servant in her own home when her oldest brother marries. Amy’s mother’s best friend is a wealthy textile merchant, but she will lose her business if she does not marry by the queen’s deadline; despite this, she runs her kitchen as an open salon where women of all classes can gather and talk freely.

Ms Hartman gives us an intriguing look at rural life in an alternate Middle Ages. Amy is free spirited and energetic — teasing family and friends, playing pranks, and making up silly songs. However, she is also starting to grow up and realize some of the serious aspects of life — arranged marriages, having her best friend sent off to be fostered in another village. She learns a bit about love, too, from her own first crush to a friend who falls for a dragon in human form. Not everything ends well, but a number of crises are averted (or at least made less awful), and plenty of good can be found at the end.

The story is fun and thought provoking. The black and white artwork is elegantly spare, giving every detail needed without being busy or overwhelming. Amy Unbounded has a similar feel to Amelia Rules — fresh, energetic characters who deal with serious problems without losing their sense of fun and adventure. Try it!

This graphic novel is set in the same world as Rachel Hartman’s novel, Seraphina.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 12:51am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas

… the fun of camping in Arkansas? Lucy Binoche is about to find out in Sandra D. Bricker’s Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas*.

Lucy can’t ride horseback, hates hiking and isn’t into killing a worm just to hook a fish. So what is she doing signing up to go camping in Snowball, Arkansas? Her singles church group is going on a camping trip, and hunky Justin, a newcomer, is very into the outdoor life. Lucy wants to impress Justin and hopes that God will turn her into something she’s not – the outdoorsy type. Her good friend Matt can’t talk her out of it so he signs up to go along to sorta keep an eye out for her. Lucy has good intentions, just not good judgment. The mishaps that Lucy encounters will keep you in stitches. Will Lucy impress Justin or will Matt come to her rescue?

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


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 12:48am

Have You Heard About... Light & Shade

… the mastermind behind one of the greatest rock bands of the 1970s? Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski is a detailed view into the extraordinary life of guitar icon Jimmy Page. Mr. Tolinski is a former editor in chief of Guitar World magazine so he had great access to the guitarist as well as a technical understanding of his craft. As he says in his introduction, “Led Zeppelin dominated the seventies and continues to resonate decades later.” Being a fan of Led Zeppelin, and guitar playing, this book was an easy choice for my vacation reading list.

I learned a lot of inside info on recording rock music as well as the history of the band. One startling fact that came out of the book was that Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton all modern day guitar gods, grew up within a twelve-block area of London. Wow, think about that. Talk about the stars lining up. Pick it up and if you love rock or heavy metal…you won’t be disappointed.


Reviewed by Richard (staff)