Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, November 24, 2011 - 1:37am

Have You Heard About... Chicken Cheeks

…the beginning of the ends?  Michael Ian Black and Kevin Hawkes’ Chicken Cheeks takes a straight-forward look at the backside of a variety of animals.  As the animals stack themselves into a tower, children will learn their names and socially-acceptable terms for their hind ends.  From “duck tail” through “polar bear derriere” and “toucan can” to “duck-billed platypus gluteus maximus,” the pile of critters (and bottoms) grows to an exciting conclusion.

This book is a favorite with both adults and children in my family.  The animals are depicted in a colorful, slightly-cartoony style with wonderfully expressive faces and bodies.  The text is limited to the names of animals and hind ends, but the pictures do a perfect job of telling the short story.  After the first read, watch for the ants on each page!


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 1:29am

Have You Heard About... My Lucky Life

… acclaimed actor Dick Van Dyke?  You can read all about him in his new memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.  Simply and to the point, Dick Van Dyke writes like he talks. Yes, he was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time for his career, but he did have several personal problems, like alcoholism and an addiction to cigarettes, that this biography deals with in a straightforward way.

The insightful information on his TV/movie roles and how he felt about his co-stars was very interesting. He talks about how he met his idols Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He mentions several of his famous friends – not in a gossipy way, but matter-of-factly, which I really enjoyed reading about.

This was a wonderful memoir by a truly American Icon.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 1:41am

Have You Heard About... The Lies of Locke Lamora

… the greatest thief who ever lived? In The Lies of Locke Lamora*, Scott Lynch brings to life a surreal world of con artists and thieves. This world holds great treasures and shocking dangers, nobles and assassins, magic both beautiful and deadly. Locke Lamora’s band poses as petty thieves to avoid attention, but the entire city talks about his alter-ego, the Thorn of Camorr, and how he swindles and embarrasses the nobles. Locke is no Robin Hood, however; he is in this solely for the profits of his gang … and the Thorn’s reputation as the best con artist and thief. Unfortunately, that pride in his abilities and reputation may prove to be Locke’s undoing.

The action rarely pauses in this detailed novel. Scott Lynch has filled his alien world with rich descriptions of the sights, sounds, and even smells that surround the merry gang of con artists. Dark humor, fantasy, and gritty danger are deftly mixed as Locke takes on nobles, guards, other thieves, and even his friends. The web of intrigue, plots, and counter-plots can be dizzying, but it is worth following through to the end.

* The second book in the series is Red Seas under Red Skies.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 1:32am

Have You Heard About... Evil Éclairs

… the latest murder at the donut shop? It is the focus of Jessica Beck’s Evil Éclairs*. Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, is accused of killing someone with her “to die for éclairs.” Lester Moorefield tells his radio audience that her donuts are poison. Why is everyone in the town of April Springs so secretive? Why don’t you pick up this book and find out?

Don’t read this on an empty stomach! Lots of yummy recipes to try out will make you hungry.

*The first three books in the series are Glazed Murder, Fatally Frosted, and Sinister Sprinkles. The next book is Tragic Toppings.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 1:57am

Have You Heard About... Terrier

… the girl who joined the Provost’s Guards? In Tamora Pierce’s Terrier*, Beka Cooper is just starting her training as a “Puppy” with the “Dogs” in the Provost’s Guards. She has wanted to be a Dog most of her life, even though it is hard, dangerous work. Helping the people of her city, particularly the Lower City where she was born, is Beka’s dream though, and she will stop at nothing to reach that dream. Not even the death of a friend, her own injury and humiliation, and a riot will stand in her way.

Terrier is written as a collection of diary entries where Beka chronicles her experiences and actions as a trainee. She describes her friends (both guards and rogues), surroundings, and activity in great detail as training for doing reports. Beka has been assigned to the Lower City, the area where some of the poorest and roughest people live. It is a dirty, dangerous place, filled with cruelty and hardship but also remarkable beauty and kindness that are all the more precious for being rare. Beka needs all of her skills and abilities, plus a touch of magic, to survive her first few months of training.

Tamora Pierce is an excellent storyteller. She brings Beka’s world to life with deft descriptions and an unflinching look at what can happen in a slum. Even minor characters are three-dimensional, with motivations that are explained from the viewpoint of someone who grew up in this rough neighborhood and understands the people who live there. Terrier is a wonderful fantasy with action, intrigue, and very strong female characters.

* The second book in the series is Bloodhound.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 1:48am

Have You Heard About... Broadway Rhythm

… a song called “Solid Potato Salad”? This cute song is in the movie Broadway Rhythm, sung by Aggie, Maggie and Elmira, better known as the Ross Sisters, three sisters who do an amazing contortionist act in the film. This golden oldie features George Murphy (before he became a U.S. Senator), Ginny Sims, Gloria De Haven, the always wonderful Charles Winninger, and the delightfully funny talents of Nancy Walker, Ben Blue, Kenny Bowers and Eddie ’Rochester’ Anderson. Tommy Dorsey and his band provide the music.

There’s not really a plot in this MGM World War II escapism musical. This movie is about the wonderful music, such as “All the Things You Are,” “Somebody Loves Me” – sung by the fabulous Lena Horne – “Irresistible You” and many others.

The highlight in this film is when Nancy Walker, Tommy Dorsey and Ben Blue do a fantastic musical number called “Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet.”

You won’t be disappointed if you check out this great DVD. It’s one of the classics from 1944.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, musical, review
Post date: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 1:32am

Have You Heard About... Partners in Necessity

… the Liaden universe and Clan Korval? Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Partners in Necessity* tells the stories of two couples who meet and fall in love. Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza joins Shan yos’Galan’s starship crew in desperation, trying to escape her past. It turns out to be one of the best choices she ever made, leading her to find a family and the love of her among the distant alien Liadens. Miri Robertson and Val Con yos’Phelium meet by chance on a dangerous world. She is a retired mercenary and a bodyguard who hired on with the wrong boss. He is an agent of change – former explorer, now part spy and part assassin – who needs to get away from a mission that is starting to deteriorate. Together they will find freedom and the ability to face a threat to both their family and the entire Liaden race.

Lee and Miller deftly blend epic space opera with sweet romance in these stories. They were originally published separately as Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change and Carpe Diem. The first story covers the introduction of Priscilla and Shan, and the second focuses on the meeting between Miri and Val Con, while the third interweaves the two narratives. The authors deftly build a fully-featured universe filled with three-dimensional characters, balancing romance with fast-paced action and humor.

*Other books about Clan Korval include Crystal Soldier, Crystal Dragon, Pilots Choice, Plan B, and I Dare. This is roughly the chronological order of these stories (with Partners in Necessity falling between Pilots Choice and Plan B) rather than the order of original publication.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 1:11am

Have You Heard About... Keep the Change

… tipping and gratuities? In Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica, you’ll learn who to tip, how much, and how not to look like the cheapskate you might be. Everybody you do business with seems to have their hand out nowadays.

Ever wonder why you really need to tip your hairdresser/barber every time you visit and at the holidays too? You know you should leave a tip for the waiter when you go to a restaurant, but do you really need to tip a furniture delivery person when you are already paying an upfront store delivery charge?

This book is a little bit on the wordy side, but it’s an enlightening and interesting read. Loaded with a few swear words that lend themselves to the interesting stories, there is something for everyone who is clueless about gratuities.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 1:39am

Have You Heard About... Black Butler

… the amazing butler with a dark side? Yana Toboso’s manga series Black Butler centers on the Earl of Phantomhive and his butler Sebastian. The story is set in a version of Victorian England touched by the supernatural, and the action ranges from elegant manors to seedy slums.

The Earl, Ciel, is a twelve-year-old boy who manages a great corporation as well as taking care of little … problems for Queen Victoria. Ciel’s parents died before the story begins, and he would be lost without his loyal butler. Sebastian has a knack for everything from cooking and cleaning to fighting and juggling. Sebastian’s exact nature and his connection to his master are slowly explained and expanded on over the course of the series.

The art in this series is beautiful, filled with intricate details and graceful movement. The stories cover some very dark topics, including drug abuse, murder, and human trafficking by both humans and otherworldly beings. This is lightened with humor ranging from slapstick antics to clever wordplay. All of the elements mesh to make a very enjoyable series.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 1:22am

Have You Heard About... The Midnight Show Murders

… what happens when the lights go off on a nighttime talk show? In The Midnight Show Murders, by Al Roker and Dick Lochte, secrets abound when an explosion kills a famous comic.

Chef Billy Blessing thinks he’s the intended target. As he tries to find out “why it happened and who did it,” politics, high finance and more have Billy searching for clues as he dishes the dirt with cool insider info, lots of laughs and a good dose of suspense. This is a very good book that I immensely enjoyed. 

The first book in this series – The Morning Show Murders – is equally enjoyable, but not necessary to read before book two, as there is enough of a back story to get you up to speed, but you won’t want to miss it.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)