Have You Heard

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)

Post date: Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 1:42am

Have You Heard About... Escape from the Land of Snows

… the hardships endured by the Dalai Llama and Tibet? Being a big fan of the Dalai Lama, when I saw Escape from the Land of Snows, by Stephan Talty, on the new book shelf, it didn’t take long to snatch it and head for the self-check machines.

I had read Freedom in Exile, The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama just after it had been published in 1990 and found it too to be a gripping read. The new book read like a thriller with plenty of suspense and a chance to cheer for the ultimate underdog. This is all about the March 17, 1959, Tibet uprising against the People’s Liberation Army of Communist China and the Dalai Lama’s ultimate decision to make a harrowing escape over the Himalayas to India. It is also about the events and atrocities leading up to that decision after months of China’s slow but deliberate takeover of the Tibetan people’s liberties, religion, and culture. Today, the Tibet Government in exile remains in Dharamsala, India, but many Tibetan people have never given up on the hope of their God King returning one day despite everything China has done to make the indigenous people feel like outsiders in their own country.


Reviewed by Richard (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 1:31am

Have You Heard About... Buttercream Bump Off

… the sweet cupcake bakery mysteries? Mel, Angie and Tate are back, in Jenn McKinlay’s Buttercream Bump Off*, with all of their nutty family and friends, for a second helping of yummy cupcake fun, movie trivia and murder.

Mel’s mom, Joyce, interrupts a couple’s cupcake baking class with news that she has a date. Joyce doesn’t know that her handsome date is actually a con man, and when he is murdered on the date, Mel and Angie have to figure out who did it to get Joyce off the police’s list of suspects.

Angie falls for the con man’s son, and Tate is still clueless that he is really in love with Angie. Sounds like a soap opera or a screwball comedy! Complicated, maybe, but loads of fun to unravel in this fast read with great recipes to try out.

*Don’t miss book the first book in the series: Sprinkle with Murder. The next is Death by the Dozen.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 1:50am

Have You Heard About... The Feel Good Book

…the many things that make people smile? You can celebrate them with Todd Parr’s The Feel Good Book. Brushing your hair with a lion feels good…so true. Watching your grandparents dance feels good…yes, yes it does! Strawberry toothpaste? I don’t know about that one…

I love Todd Parr’s books. I fell in love with them working in the Children’s Department. Now that I have a baby of my own, I am thrilled that she loves them, too! Marie (my precocious 1 ½ year old) loves the brightly colored drawings that Parr uses to illustrate his books. The Feel Good Book is always close at hand. It’s a little worse for wear…chewed up corners, torn pages, missing dust jacket. That’s a sign of a well loved book. Marie never tires of reading this book as well as Parr’s other titles we have in our home library. (Underwear Do’s and Don’ts is my favorite.) I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes to smile, share a book with a friend and talk about everything in their lives that feels good.

From the back of the book: “The Feel Good Book inspires kids (and adults!) to celebrate the many things that make us smile every day.” This description really nails it. After we read it, we have fun writing an addendum. “Marie, what feels good? Kissing Jilli-Dog feels good. Running around naked after a bath feels good. Eating oatmeal with your fingers feels good. Singing the cowboy song before you go to bed feels good. Splashing in puddles feels good. Loving on Mommy and Daddy feels good.”

What makes you feel good?


Reviewed by Heidi (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 1:43am

Have You Heard About... Rango

Clint Eastwood turning into a chameleon? That’s the idea behind Rango — a very hip and totally unique DVD. Rango blows into the town of Dirt and takes on the Eastwood persona. Think The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, music and all, only with the residents of the desert turned into cartoon characters in place of people.

No, Clint Eastwood isn’t in the movie, exactly – just listen and watch. Also, be sure to watch the special features to see how this movie came about. Kids will like the cartoon aspect and adults will get a kick out of the western satire.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Tags: DVD, family, review