Have You Heard

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)

Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 2:03am

Have You Heard About... Adventures in America’s Western Parks

…the beautiful, great western parts of the United States? Adventures in America’s Western Parks: Great Train Rides, Lodges & Inns takes a train ride from Union Station in Chicago to Glacier National Park. If you go coach fare, it’s not terribly expensive. This is one super trip you’ll enjoy whether you actually visit in person or just sit back and be an armchair traveler.

Train travel to our great national parks is an awesome experience. In this DVD, you’ll travel to Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Denali and several other national parks. The scenery is breathtaking. The inns and lodges of the great west are tourist attractions in themselves.

As an armchair traveler, you actually feel as if you are part of the train ride in several scenes. This entertaining DVD is highly recommended.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 2:29am

Have You Heard About... Bloodsucking Fiends

… the vampires in San Francisco? Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends* is a wonderfully funny story filled with odd characters and bizarre situations. Jody Stroud didn’t believe in vampires until she woke up under a dumpster, burned by sunlight and craving blood. C. Thomas (Tommy) Flood is a would-be writer from Indiana who works nights at a Safeway. Somehow, they not only meet and bond, but manage to fall in love and save San Francisco. They’re helped (mostly) by Emperor Norton and Tommy’s crazy co-workers.

This bizarre urban fantasy is packed with slap-stick and scatological humor, as well as insane situations that somehow make sense at the time. It manages to be believable partly because it seems too strange not to be true and partly because Christopher Moore does such a wonderful job of mixing the weirdly true with the truly weird. If you can believe in stoner night-shift stock boys bowling with frozen turkeys and a homeless man who thinks he is the Emperor of San Francisco, are vampires really that much harder?

* The later books in the series are You Suck and Bite Me.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)