Zombie here, Zombies there, zombies everywhere, and not a scout in sight. Having read this book, that I think would be the scariest thing I could thinZombie here, Zombies there, zombies everywhere, and not a scout in sight. Having read this book, that I think would be the scariest thing I could think of.
This part, high adventure, the part campfire story, part traditional zombie story kept turning pages long into the night, and looking over my shoulder the whole time. I kept promising myself I would put it down at the end of "this" only to find myself reading on and on.
Follow Scouter Mike and his troop of scouts and they return from their practice survival training only to find themselves in a world gone mad where their training might be the only thing that keeps them alive.
Though this book is a tradition zombie tale with all that that entails, it is still BSA / venture scout age appropriate. It is definitely something that will be sharing with my scouting age kids.
While I am not normally a fan of zombie / scary stories, Mr. Plested's easy narrative style won me over and helped me along until I was so hooked I could not put it down.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with any scouting experience, as well as any one who loves a good scary campfire story. ...more
Philip Carroll Does it again. In Shooting Stars he takes a genre that I don't normally like or even read, and made me really enjoy this story. And nowPhilip Carroll Does it again. In Shooting Stars he takes a genre that I don't normally like or even read, and made me really enjoy this story. And now on with the review.
Being a teenager is hard, really hard. Add to that, moving to a new school, and joining a sports team. Jocks and Cliques that you don't have a chance of understanding unless you have lived in a place all your life. And don't get me started on the girls. Chuck has all of these problems and more when he moves to his new school from Washington State. He discovers that not only does he have to deal with all the normal problems of moving to a new school but he has accidentally stepped into the middle of a battle ground on a higher plain.
When his new girl friend Kelsey, turns out to be more than he excepted he finds him self in the middle of a battle that nothing he has ever experienced can prepare him for. He will need everything he has and more if he hopes to get out of this one live.
Part of me wonders if I like this book so much because I was Chuck growing up. I moved to a new school in high school, joined the Cross Country team, did well, and met the girl of my dreams only to have her turn out to be so much more than I thought she was. My girl friend (and now wife) didn't end up having magical powers or anything but still she was special. But I think that it is more that Chuck's story is one that a lot of teen aged guys can relate to.
In Shooting Stars : A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy's Perspective Mr. Carroll gives us an engaging story. More than that, he gives us real characters who you can relate to. They have hopes and dreams, and he drags you down, some times kicking and screaming, into their lives. At one point I found myself yelling at the book, "Oh no Chuck that is such a bad idea!" I really cared about these people, and when the book ended I was really sad that I could not continue to be friends with them.
Mr Carroll does not glorify the demonic forces that are vampires but instead exposes their true ugly nature, and the forces required to do battle with them. This to me was a huge deal, and for a teen aged romance involving vampires it was a breath of fresh air.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Philip Carroll for some time, I follow him on social media and I consider him a friend. I was given a Beta copy of an early version of this book and an advanced readers copy (ARC) of the book and enjoyed both immensely. While I probably would not have picked up this book normally because as I said I don't normally read this genre, Philip has opened my eyes. If you have any doubt, I am going to buy copies for each of my teen aged boys so that they can read it....more
Flypaper Boy thinks his super power is lame. I mean really, what can a super hero do when his super power is sticking to things until someone comes alFlypaper Boy thinks his super power is lame. I mean really, what can a super hero do when his super power is sticking to things until someone comes along with some nail polish remover to free him. That is until he is kidnapped by bad guys and is forced to become a super villain. What is a good guy to do, when he has to use his powers for the forces of evil?
Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age follows Jimmy Wheeler AKA Flypaper Boy on his first real adventure. This is a super hero book. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am really not that much of a super hero fan, but this book caught my attention and held it.
High school can be hard enough if you are different, harder still if you have to move to a new school. Through it all FlyPaper boy manages to keep his cool, remember his mission and stay true to his moral code.
Let's be honest here, Jim Wheeler is a teenaged boy, and he is surrounded by teenaged girls. He is going to notice them. He is going have feelings for some of them. But all the while he manages keep a lid on his hormones and and stick to his moral code, not only for being a hero, but also for being a human. That is one of my favorite parts of the book. Multiple times he is presented with opportunities where he could have taken advantage of the situation, and yet he never does.
This book is not so much about being a super hero, probably why I liked it despite my normal aversion to comic book super heroes, and much more about being a kid in a tough situation, trying to find his way through who happens to have super powers.
Mr. Carroll did a wonderful job, grabbing my attention and keeping it. His characters have depth, they have flaws, and they have to live life the best way they know how. I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to sharing it with my kids.
A Note for parents: If you are looking for a good book to start the school year with, this is a good one. It is certainly safe for middle grade readers though probably older ones will appreciate it more. If they are still in the eeew boys / girls are yucky stage they might want to wait another year or two. And the book is aimed more at boys than girls, though I think girls will like it too....more
The in interest of full disclosure Michell Plested is a good friend of mine and a co-edit on a couple of projects we have worked on together, and I waThe in interest of full disclosure Michell Plested is a good friend of mine and a co-edit on a couple of projects we have worked on together, and I was given my Advanced Readers Copy in return for a fair and honest review. Though I would have gladly paid full price for the book having read the first one.
Warning there are mild spoilers of both book one and book two but nothing you can get over. In this second book in the series Mik Murdoch Boy Super Hero continues in his efforts to protect his fair town of Cranberry Flats, but with his Super Hero Librarian Friend moved to the city and him left with only the hope of a super power to come, what is a boy to do? Well he could eat the berry given to him by the guardian, but who knows what will come of that. When troubles at school, his friends leaving town, and something weird going on with his health, his parents decide that a summer at the lake might just be the right thing for them all. When he bumps into his idol and gets a chance of a life time, the summer just gets more and more complicated.
If you read the first, book or even if you didn't you will enjoy this book. While I loved the first book, this one is head and shoulders above it, Michell Plested has really grown as a writer and a story teller. Even though he is a year older now, Mik still relies on his parents and turns to them in times of trouble, far from the norm of most absent or brainless parents found in most YA novels.
While his super powers and what he discovers at the lake are a bit out there Mik himself is truly down to Earth. He has every day concerns, his Dog Krypto, his dad who has to keep going back into town for work, and his mom who is a bit lonely out at the lake, not to mention some pesky creatures who keep messing with them, and girl near his own age in the cabin down the beach.
This book is a quick read, but just long enough to make it truly enjoyable, and just short enough to leave you wanting more.
I am still reading it to my kids (one chapter a night) and they are always asking for more....more
***Warning I don't think this review spoils anything but there are some minor hints and what might be considered VERY minor spoilers about this book*****Warning I don't think this review spoils anything but there are some minor hints and what might be considered VERY minor spoilers about this book***
Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I did really enjoy this story. And even though I enjoyed this story, my feelings about it are incredibly complex, but at the end of the day I have given it 4.5 stars.
But why only 4.5 stars when there are 5 to give? Well, like I said, my feelings about this story are incredibly complex. Let me see if I can explain why.
I have read a number of other stories by Neil Gaiman, and really enjoyed them. I knew that this book, if not really the same story, was at least related to Anansi Boys and at least had some of the same characters. And as I said I have read other books by Neil and I really enjoyed them.
It was not until tonight, when I read the summary of this book, and saw that it was supposed to be unsettling that it really hit me. That was at least partly what startled me about this book. Not entirely mind you, but partly. I will get to the rest of what bothered me shortly. I kind of wish I had known this before I read the book. Maybe then my feelings about this book would be less complex.
The book is powerful in a way that nothing else I have read by Mr. Gaiman has ever been. It was powerful in ways that made you ache for the injustice that a great number people have been made to suffer, at the hands of others. It powerfully illustrates the loss of the old ways, in seeing the old world really pass away, to be replaced by something that is in my opinion less worthy. While not romanticizing those ways. It lets you clearly see that the good old days were really not that good, not that what we have is all that much better, maybe just better at hiding it.
Now, I am a lover of "old world" mythology. I have read and studied, mythology from the middle east, and west. (Private admission here, I have read and tried to study "far East" mythology and I just don't get it, but that is not the point.) The reality is that these myths are very often dark. They can be disturbing. They can be and are racy at times. Zeus, for example was so lustful that kings locked up their wives and daughters to keep him away from them. And yet he always found ways around them, often forcing himself on them when he did. There are parts of mythology, and history in general that are disturbing, and scary and sexy and violent, with combinations of each of those attributes in every possibly conceivable way. Ten thousand slaves crucified for an uprising that they may or may not have had a part in during the early parts of the Roman empire, or the book of Esther to give two examples.
So it is not that this book was any of those things that really struck a cord with me. Yes, I felt for the people in the book, and I felt real anger at some of the injustice, and sadness at my inability to do more in the world, and even regret at the loss of the "Old gods." The problem is that, while I was reading this book, the word that came to mind more than once was raunchy. The book talks about sex, openly and graphically. There is no hiding behind euphemisms here. That really shocked me. It was not only the sex of the gods, but the sex of the humans around them, described in often raw detail. But it was also the sex of the gods, violent, destructive, and in many ways what we would normal call inappropriate.
Make no mistake, this is a dark, brooding book. This is not the book you take to the pool over the summer as a little light reading. It is also not the book you leave lying around where impressionable young children (and some adults) may stumble on it. But it is a incredible, thought provoking, emotionally powerful book. It tells an incredible story, and Neil Gaiman once again proves that he has earned his title as the most popular author in science fiction.
I recommend this book to anyone over the age of 18 who is not squeamish about graphically described sex, and even those who are, but because despite those parts of it, this book really tells an incredible story.
I got the 10th anniversary edition of the book from audible, the one that Neil Gaiman describes as his preferred version of the book. It also includes some outtakes and notes from the author at the beginning and the end of the book. The audio quality and performance by the voice actors was top notch. ...more
The Sinners Guide to Natural Family Planning By Simcha Fisher.
This book came highly recommended, so when one more person recommended it to me, I decidThe Sinners Guide to Natural Family Planning By Simcha Fisher.
This book came highly recommended, so when one more person recommended it to me, I decided that it was time to get a copy. Well actually two copies, since the deal right now is if you buy the hard copy you get the kindle version for free. That worked out really well since my wife prefers hard copy and I prefer e-copy.
I should start this review by saying my wife and I have been practicing NFP for more than 14 years, and we have been teaching it for just over 13 years. So while I was excited about reading this book, we have some experience in helping people who have questions about the why’s and the where’s and the hows of NFP. We have heard many of the complaints, promises and hype about it. We have lived a lot of the pains and joys of it as well. And in the last few years we have gotten rather tired and probably jaded by all of the sunshine and unicorns side that you see most of the time.
This book, is not one of those sunshine and rainbows, puppies and kittens. Well maybe it is because, as anyone who has ever had a puppy or a kitten will tell you, that while they are super cute and there are some great benefits to having one, they can also be a pain. Ruined floors and furniture, torn up shoes, walks in the middle of the night that and unexpected puddle that gets your socks wet right after you turn the lights off.
So on with the review. This books starts with a disclaimer. This book will not teach you NFP. It will not tell you about all the different methods, it will not even tout one version of NFP over all the others. It won’t tell you about the dangers of using artificial birth control. So if that is what you are looking for, this is not the book for you.
After the disclaimer, the first few chapters are about the realities of living with NFP. Why you might choose it, and some of the common arguments. And I enjoyed reading about them. Even though I knew it was the case already it was good to hear that other people struggle with using NFP as well. The chapters on why, biologically speaking, the struggle can be so darn hard was especially nice to see.
For a long time my wife and I called ourselves the NFP dropouts. After reading this book, the title no longer seems all that appropriate. While my wife says she already kind of knew this, believe it or not, outside of class, guys really don’t talk about these things. So it was nice to see that there are other couples out there that are just as much “dropouts” as we are.
I have only given this book three stars. And all three stars are for the first half to two thirds of this book. the last third of the book deals with, well, it deals with sex. Ok NFP is about sex. Not entirely, a good portion of what NFP is about is learning to listen to and interpret your wife’s body, in order to help prevent or to achieve a pregnancy. But that is just a start. NFP is about respect and love and intimacy that extends way beyond the bedroom.
While I suppose it was good information to get out there, and as one of the reviewers pointed out, that normally you would only find this kind of information in a very intimate conversation with a close friend, some times it would be good to keep more of that information to those close intimate conversations.
I am a prude. I will admit it. But, I am a prude who is willing to talk about just about anything in a one on one conversation. We have had couples ask us some of the questions that were handled in the last third of this book. So it is not that the subjects are “off limits” or something. The problem I had with this section of the book, was that it was no longer a close personal intimate conversation. If I had not been laying on the bed right next to my wife, I would have been really uncomfortable reading this. After all, if I were talking about this kind of stuff, I would have her there with me, so if I were reading it I would need to be sitting right next to her, even with that, I was glad she finished the book before me so that she knew what it was that I was reading. To say it made me uncomfortable would be an understatement. While I know there are those that would disagree with me, I feel that some conversations are best left to intimate situations when both the husband and wife are involved. So while I appreciate the effort Mrs. Fisher made in getting this information out, I kind of wish she hadn’t. As it stands by the time I was finished with this section of the book, I was soured on the whole thing, and really had to try hard to put my feelings aside to write anything positive about the book at all.
My last comment on this book is this. Who am I to say one person’s writing style is better or worse than another. So I want to make it clear that, that is not what I am saying. I know that Simcha has a very personal and rather informal style of writing. I do like her style for most of the things that she writes, but some things require a more formal style. I think if some of the subjects that I found uncomfortable were written with a less irreverent and a more formal style they would have been easier to deal with.
If you are struggling with NFP and feel like you are all alone out there, and if all you are hearing from the people around you is the puppies and rainbows side of it, this is likely a great book for you. If you have been using NFP for long enough that you know that it is a struggle and that there are other people out there like you, this book might be just more of what you already know. At best it will be an affirmation, at worse it will make you uncomfortable if your not reading it with your spouse....more
I really enjoyed this short look into the background of a character that I thought was long gone. While the story does not tie directly into the restI really enjoyed this short look into the background of a character that I thought was long gone. While the story does not tie directly into the rest of the Shannara line, it does help you to understand who the Weapon's Master really is, and why he is willing to do some of the things that he does. Not all of them mind you, but some of them.
Great job Mr. Brooks. I would love to see more stories like this one on some of the other characters.
This is a great book. When reading to my younger kids or getting them to read to me, a little bit of silliness goes along way to making reading more fThis is a great book. When reading to my younger kids or getting them to read to me, a little bit of silliness goes along way to making reading more fun, especially when you have read the book several times.
I really enjoy the basic story telling style with words that are easy enough to read without making the story dull and boring.
Three short stories are are long enough to challenge a young reader while not totally overwhelming them....more
If you are like me, you might be a little sentimentChristmas Markets in Vienna
By Katharina and Mick Bordet
Five out of Five Stars
If you are like me, you might be a little sentimental for the “old days.” Especially around the holidays. For me a lot of what the “old days” means is remembering growing up in Germany. What can I say, I am a sentimental sap. But when it comes to things that I remember best about living there, Christmas time is high on the list. Meeting my wife-to-be and skiing are also high on the list, but Christmas time is pretty darn close to the top.
Some of my favorite, sights, smells, experiences, and of course tastes came from the Christmas Markets that you can find pretty much in every town and village throughout Western Europe. So when I was given the chance to get a peek into the new book Christmas Markets in Vienna By Katharina and Mick Bordet, I jumped at the chance.
WARNING: If you like mulled wine (Gluhwein) you might want to cook up a batch of it before you start reading this book, because if not by the time you get to the end you are going to wish you had.
This book is part guide book, part map, and part beautiful picture book. Each Christmas Market in the Vienna area is given it’s own section, with descriptions of when it is open, if there is a cost to get in, what kinds of things that you might find there, and even links to maps that will help you get there. Believe me there was a serious case of, how come there is not a bridge from the states to Europe going on while I was reading and using the maps. You can also find the links to each of the Market’s official websites. For us “state side” that is likely not all that helpful, but if you happen to be in Vienna during Christmas time next year, you know where to go. Even if you have never been to one of the Christmas markets you have likely seen them on TV or have heard about them. But in case you haven’t this book will solve that problem. For the rest of us. This book will make you “homesick” if anything will, and in the best possible way.
Both Katharina and Mick wrote about their experiences in each of the markets, and it was great to get their opinions, what they were looking for and what they found. I really appreciated the fact that they told you which ones had the most tourists and when you might be able to visit to avoid the biggest crowds.
Then there were the pictures. Pictures of the stalls and the wears, pictures of the market itself, and pictures of the locations. This was particularly breath taking where some of the markets are in castles and monasteries.
The book is relatively short, and I have to say that is probably the only downfall. I read the whole thing, in about an hour, and I was sad when I got to the end and realized If I wanted to get more Christmas market experience I would likely have to buy a plane ticket. The only thing missing from the book were the actual smells and tastes, but then there is a goal for the next book they put out.
The book is available in both English and German, so you can take your pick on what version you want. My German is a little (a lot) rusty so I stuck with the English version. It is only available in ebook formats so you can’t get a hard copy of this book, but it is available for all your favorite ebook formats from all your favorite ebook markets so no matter what device you have you can get a copy of it. Christmas Markets in Vienna
***** In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book free of charge as a preview copy. Having said that I would have gladly paid the meager price of $3.99 to get a copy of it. Nostalgia or no, it is a beautiful book and fully worth the price. Christmas Markets in Vienna...more
I am a student of history, and not a historian. I enjoyed this. I have read a few other histories that included this time period. This one, since it iI am a student of history, and not a historian. I enjoyed this. I have read a few other histories that included this time period. This one, since it is told from the point of view of Caesar it is obviously slanted in favor of the Romans, but it was still quite interesting to hear it from his point of view. I would recommend this anyone who is interested in this time period, but not as a first book. There is too much context about the time period that is really needed to appreciate this book. ...more