Have You Heard

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)

Post date: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 1:36am

Have You Heard About... Miracle

… Christmas with a twist?  Connie Willis collects eight of her short stories to make Miracle, and other Christmas stories.  These stories take a slightly twisted look at the holiday season, both religious and secular.  Mary and Joseph take a wrong turn through a modern church on the way to Bethlehem.  People get what they truly want for Christmas, whether they know it or not.  A self-centered, impatient, manipulative man gets what he deserves.  An odd trio has their own epiphanies and search for the second coming of Christ. 

Most of the stories have a fantasy, horror, or science fiction angle, although where the line between magic and miracle falls will depend on the reader.  Connie Willis ends the collection with her recommendation of twelve things to read and twelve things to watch this Christmas.  This is one of the books I frequently re-read in December to remind myself of what Christmas is really about, what it should be about, and how much worse my family and work-place gatherings could be (even without alien invaders).


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 1:25am

Have You Heard About... Murder Unleashed

… the latest murders in Reno Nevada? Straight from today’s newspaper headlines, Murder Unleashed* by Rita Mae Brown tells an intriguing story about today’s banking crisis and all of the homes that are in foreclosure, specifically in Reno Nevada.

Jeep and her niece Mags need to find out what’s going on and how they can help. What happens when squatters move into these abandoned homes? The local politico who’s running for Congress is murdered because of his views on these squatters, but what does the banking industry in Reno have to do with it? The mystery is a little bit thin and relatively easy to figure out, though it is somewhat of a surprise to those involved. The second mystery that runs throughout the book has to do with a hidden treasure, and this is where the four-footed companions of Jeep and Mags come into the story.

* I highly recommend that you read the first book in this series, A Nose for Justice, although at the start of this book it gives a wonderful description of all of the characters.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 1:16am

Have You Heard About... Masters of Deception

… the tricks artists can play on your eyes and your mind? Al Seckel looks at several artists whose works are more than they seem in Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali & the Artists of Optical Illusion.

The illusions in this book vary, including progressive changes like the one on the cover, composite portraits, trompe l’oeil, sculptures that look completely different depending on the viewpoint, and much more. Only a few examples of each person’s work are included, but they are excellent examples and beautifully presented. In addition, the author explains how the illusions work and the artists’ importance. The text is nearly as eye-opening as the art itself!


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 1:50am

Have You Heard About... Stomp Live

… the group that can make music out of anything? Stomp Live is an awesome DVD! As the title implies, anything that makes some type of noise is part of this wonderful production. Hands, feet, brooms, Zippo lighters, beer cans and even the kitchen sink can be used to make music.

The co-ordination and physical strength of the cast is amazing. Facial expressions are a big part of what make this video funny. Think improvisation. When you think it’s over, keep watching until you get a black screen for at least 2 minutes or you’ll miss the very ending.

Two of my favorite parts were the use of newspaper to be annoying and how to make music with the kitchen sink. This DVD is not to be missed.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)