Wayside School was a set up to be special from the moment the builders mistakenly built it as thirty one-room floors instead of one thirty-room floor....moreWayside School was a set up to be special from the moment the builders mistakenly built it as thirty one-room floors instead of one thirty-room floor. Luckily this left a lot of extra space for the playground, a playground that Mrs. Jewels' class rarely gets to play on since their room is at the top of the building.
I remember loving the Wayside books as a kid. Anything and everything could and did happen, from dead rats who are determined to sneak into Mrs. Jewels class, to Mrs. Zorf (who doesn't exist, and her classroom on the 19th floor which also doesn't exist) to puns and humorous literal interpretations of concepts. In trying to expand my children's love of stories I picked Sideways Stories from Wayside School to read before bed each night.
While we enjoyed some stories, like Mrs. Gorf (who turns the kids into apples when they misbehave), Mrs. Jewels (who thinks the class is filled with monkeys because children can't possibly be so cute) and Todd (a student who just cannot seem to get through a whole day without being sent home, no matter how hard he tries), others were a complete miss. There were some stories I feel we didn't connect with because my son is a very literal thinker and didn't "get" the joke.
Being willing to believe anything is important to enjoying the thirty short stories in this book. If your child can suspend disbelief then they'll love these wacky tales. But if you stall on how unreal the concept of a story is then it's hard to get past that. Sachar doesn't suspend disbelief, he assumes you've already done that and writes a story about what happens afterwards.
Most of the stories are about three pages long, which lends well to before bed reading. Each is about a different student or teacher, but they all feature a familiar cast of characters which also makes this book good for reading in small bits since each story is like an episode, a whole story on its own but expands the world of Wayside a little bit at a time. The short length of the stories will also help children still learning to read or parents who burnout on books aimed at kids balance the pros of reading together with the frustrations. (less)
Ralph is tired of his relatives trying to make him share his beloved motorcycle. And he's afraid zooming through the mud puddles in the lobby of the i...moreRalph is tired of his relatives trying to make him share his beloved motorcycle. And he's afraid zooming through the mud puddles in the lobby of the inn where he lives has gotten his friend Matt in trouble. So with the help of his human friend Ralph runs away, to Irwin J. Sneed Elementary School, where there are long halls without carpet to ride on and plenty of good things to eat. Except that the students of Room 5 turns Ralph into a class project and an article in the town paper accuses the school of being infested with mice! And worst of all now Ralph's motorcycle is broken and he has no way to get back home. Ralph S. Mouse is a classic kid's chapter book. While amusing at times I found Ralph to be pouty and selfish, not exactly a hero. Cleary does mention the reality of mice (being vermin and all), but doesn't quite manage to set Ralph apart, other than his intelligence and his abilities to ride a motorcycle and speak (but only to certain, lonely children). My son enjoyed being read chapters of Ralph at night, but didn't connect with Ralph's pouting or anger. He was most interested in the beginning and the end, with a lull of interest in the surly middle parts. Ralph would probably most interest children who are also feeling surly, angry, and like the world is against them. Its strength is in showing kids that they're not alone in those feelings and teaching them to look for ways to solve their problems, because they might not be as bad as it seems. (less)
*I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reader Program.
If you love real life ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, hospitals and...more*I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reader Program.
If you love real life ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, hospitals and highways this is an excellent book for you. A compendium of tales of apparitions and mysterious happenings the book is cut into small, easy to digest pieces and often includes contact information for the restaurants, hotels and stores that claim to have ghostly residents.
Rule does offer some research into the possible identities of the ghosts, as well as token information on area ghost hunters and enough contact information to plan a ghost theme vacation.
She doesn't offer a skeptic's point of view or attempt to make the otherworldly scientific (aside from mentioning EVPs and batteries draining on investigations). She does include many interesting pictures that while not supernatural are mood setting.
If you don't like tales of hauntings then you won't find anything new here. But ghost fans can be insatiable and this is a fine starting place or addition to a fan's library. (less)
Delightfully cross genre, Like a Thief in the Night is a dark fairy tale love story set in a distant future. Arden is one of the top assassin in Darkr...moreDelightfully cross genre, Like a Thief in the Night is a dark fairy tale love story set in a distant future. Arden is one of the top assassin in Darkriver's stable, stolen as a child and reprogrammed through manipulation, memory wipes and neural reconfiguring. When she walks into a flat in Shanghai and strangles the handsome man sleeping on the silk sheets her life changes forever.
Because Aniketos is a creature myth, and he cannot die. The contract on Aniketos was a trap for Arden. Now she's a captive in a mysterious flat that has combined the magical remains of a fallen heaven and the technology of the modern world. No matter how lust-filled she tries to make their interactions she can't hide the fact that she's as much tempted by his offers of freedom from Darkriver as she's tempted by the man himself. Which only leaves the reason she was trapped in the first place to deal with.
Like a Thief in the Night is a fast read filled with hot sex and spy action. The futuristic and fairy tale feels are blended beautifully and the fierce, indomitable spirit of the characters bleed off the page leaving the reader dazzled and wanting more. This is a highly recommended read from a talented author. (less)
I think Dance with Deception is my first straight historical romance, if so it's an enjoyable introduction to the Victorian era. (And a fun change fro...moreI think Dance with Deception is my first straight historical romance, if so it's an enjoyable introduction to the Victorian era. (And a fun change from my more commonly read Victorian tales, most notably those of the Lovecraft mythos.)
Gwendolyn MacAlistair's father is supposedly dying and she is being forced into an arranged marriage with his close friend and near constant companion, Kier. But since their re-introduction as adults Gwen can't rid herself of thoughts of Sebastian, a duke now, but like an older brother to her in childhood. But both Gwen and Sebastian find themselves unprepared for the manipulations of her father and Kier, and for the deep family secrets that are about to be revealed.
Dance with Deception has all the classic ingredients of successful romance. Sebastian is haunted by a loveless past. Gwen is a feisty woman in a time that doesn't appreciate her, being manipulated into a proper, dutiful marriage with a man who seems to have no redeeming qualities. The attraction between the two is sizzling and the drama is spot on and satisfying.
Being new to historical romance I can't say how it rates in period accuracy, but the details of the setting neither disrupt nor overwhelm the love story. Even though it's over four hundred pages I read this one pretty quickly and found it hard to put down. The best thing I can say about it is that it's quite the sensory novel, woven with tastes, smells and sounds that other authors sometimes forget. All in all Dance with Deception is a solid, if not enjoyable debut. (less)
Any Given Doomsday, for better or worse is best summed up as what the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton would be if all supernatural creatures...moreAny Given Doomsday, for better or worse is best summed up as what the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton would be if all supernatural creatures (almost) were actually the spawn of fallen angels, left on Earth to challenge (aka slaughter) humankind.
The set up demands that readers accept the absolute existence of God and the Christian mythos, whereas most urban fantasies ask a reader to believe in the creature, but leave religion out of the picture. This can potentially bring Christian readers into urban fantasy, if they can get past the sex.
And the sex... is non-consenting. Definitely an aspect that will turn off many readers Elizabeth, the heroine, is drugged, and raped graphically multiple times within the book. This is completely forgivable (in the context of the story) because sex is vital to Elizabeth's powers. While I normally avoid giving such blatant spoilers these I found particularly troubling.
The story itself starts when Elizabeth Phoenix finds her foster mother dying on floor of her home, attacked by something Elizabeth can't explain. With a few cryptic words and a dark vision Ruthie passes something on to Elizabeth that lands Elizabeth in a coma. When she wakes up Elizabeth learns from her ex-coworkers, the Milwaukee PD, that her foster brother and ex-lover Jimmy is their number one suspect. Jimmy himself breaks the news that Ruthie passed her powers to Elizabeth, which makes Elizabeth obligated--for her own safety--to hunt down Ruthie's killers. And Elizabeth isn't just a seer, she's THE prophesied seer, meant to be the most powerful one, a seer and a demon killer and the person who is supposed to lead the side of good in the war against the evil Nephalim.
Elizabeth's complete lack of knowledge about the supernatural world does not set the story up in a good frame. Instead of being introduced to the rules of the magical world slowly it leads to the reader, like Elizabeth, to have no clue what's going on, but being pressured to accept tension, and to see Elizabeth attacked with no real idea of how these things are important. The pacing is slow, the revelations convenient and Elizabeth herself is a much quieter, less dynamic urban fantasy character.
The pace is unsure, more than once a fact is hidden from the reader for effect, though the story is told in first person and Elizabeth herself already knows of it. Readers are never given a solid idea of the "rules" of magic and the paranormal because they seem cherry picked for effect rather than for character building. While all Nephalim are absolutely evil both men presented as love interests have Nephalim blood and Elizabeth herself may have (after all, she has everything else that might make her powerful, other than strength of personality).
Any Given Doomsday has action, but feels slow despite it, reluctant to participate in or commit itself to its own story. The similarities to other series and the Biblical/Apocalyptic set up could bring in a fan base, but many will find this book vapid and unsatisfying.
In his study of the American male Guy Garcia exposes the ugly truth that all men want to hide but desperatel...moreReview by BookLove Staff Member Jason Lush
In his study of the American male Guy Garcia exposes the ugly truth that all men want to hide but desperately need shown, our weakness in today’s age of networking and social strong arming. The author adequately displays how the feminist movement empowered women but in essence castrated an entire nation of men.
We live in an age where all the strengths that helped us make it out of the caves has made us all but useless in the world we created. Guy Garcia points to a lot of statistics making the work informative but a little dry, then blind sides you with two chapters about Mattel’s Ken and Superman, referring to them as both real men and symbols of what we are and what we used to be, respectively a useless metrosexual and an idealized figure of manhood. The fact that he spoke of both characters as if they were true flesh and blood men seemed a little silly and out of place in this particular work.
In the end we see that our Pop Icons are mirrors of what we think a “Man” should be but can never live up to ourselves. In short the implication is that instead of living up to our traditional ideas of manhood we should just redefine what it is to be a man.
Seems a bit lazy to me, but hell what ever makes you sleep better at night.(less)
The good news is that this graphic novel offers exactly what I loved about the movie. HellBoy is a devil summoned by a mysterious Nazi who wants to un...moreThe good news is that this graphic novel offers exactly what I loved about the movie. HellBoy is a devil summoned by a mysterious Nazi who wants to unleash cthulhu-like elder gods upon the world. He's got an anger problem, he's a smart ass, and he calls himself the World's Best Paranormal Investigator. The art is dark, yet HellBoy's attitude adds some levity to the atmosphere. The bad news is that there isn't much in this first volume that you don't know from watching the first movie. Having started with the movie that's to be expected, but it did make the short promo strips included at the back of the volume the most interesting bits. Because I really enjoyed those, I believe if this had been my first HellBoy experience I'd have been won over. (In other words, if I wasn't already a fan, I would be after reading Seed of Destruction.) Not only is HellBoy a paranormal tale, and intriguingly so, but it is also carried by an anti-hero of sorts (as the impression readers are given is that HellBoy isn't supposed to be the hero, he's supposed to end the world) and one of my favorite character types, the intelligent, more-human-than-humans monstrous creature(Abe). It's a combination that, when it works, will always get my interest and likely my dollar. (less)
Zoë Martinique lives in a strange life. Her mom runs a tea/occult shop out of an old Victorian house, with the help of the ghostly gay couple that hau...moreZoë Martinique lives in a strange life. Her mom runs a tea/occult shop out of an old Victorian house, with the help of the ghostly gay couple that haunts the house and Rhonda, an urban fantasy cross between Penelope Garcia and Abby Sciuto. And Zoë herself is a strange character, possessing the ability to shuck her body and astrally travel about the city at will. It's Zoë's career path, auctioning her services as a super spy off on ebay, that leads to trouble when on an out-of-body spy mission she witnesses a creepy, Vin Diesel look-alike kill and reap the soul of a vice president of a major Atlanta company. Worse the creep marks her somehow, binding the two of them together and sending Zoë on a life changing mission to save herself and others. I have very mixed reactions to this book. To begin with it was very hard to get into. Zoë makes a lot of TV/movie references, she speaks directly to the reader often and her attitude is rather childish. Zoë's mother, the ghosts and Rhonda come off flat, and, honestly, annoying. The flow of the action, and therefore the tension, is consistently interrupted by Zoë's comments to the reader or attempts to be funny (usually with pop culture references) which nine times out of ten aren't. At one point, after the plot finally starts to be interesting, the flow is completely broken by a scene in which Zoë's "loving" mother holds Zoë at gunpoint and forces her to submit to an exorcism. I very nearly stopped there. Even though she's 28, Zoë's mother, Nona, treats her like child, even to the point of drugging her and physically restraining her to keep her from following the plot. Not only does this make Zoë seems even more childish, and disrupt the core plot, dragging it out more than needed, but the later references to Nona only acting out of love just don't coincide with her actions making the mother-daughter dynamic feel more like an abuser/Stockholm syndrome relationship. However, there are some interesting ideas in Wraith. Primarily is the reoccurring theme of people using Zoë's body against her. She gained her power during a traumatic rape and even after she becomes comfortable with it over and over people capture Zoë's body while she's out running around astrally and use it as leverage against her in a variety of ways. Whether Weldon realizes she's layered this theme into Wraith or not I'm not sure, but I did find myself continuing, wanting to see Zoë overcome this problem as much as I wanted her to have beat off her original rapist. The dynamic between Zoë and the two leading males in the book is also interesting, especially as unlike other urban fantasy books that stick closer to the romance Happily-For-Now ending this series seems poised to go into some very dark, rule-free territories that are interesting and new. There's also something to be said for the plot itself, which has unexpected twists of mystery, centers around planes of existence rather than the ways the character exist and spans into a multitude of human races that are sometimes missing from other urban fantasy tales. I'm not sure I can recommend Wraith at this point, but I can't exactly dismiss it either, making it one of the more difficult reads, and difficult reviews I've done in a while. (less)
This book reads easy and fast and it should be handed out to every parent whose child is diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It can change the perceptio...moreThis book reads easy and fast and it should be handed out to every parent whose child is diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It can change the perceptions of anyone--family, friend, educator or counselor--who is face with the baffling behavior of an autistic child. I cannot impress just how much this slim volume can help. The core beliefs in 10 Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew are: -All behaviors happen for a reason. And -All behavior is communication. The focus is on presenting (not really exploring or solving problems) the possible causes of "bad" behavior and realigning the thought patterns neurotypical people have when dealing with those on the spectrum. It can also help parents get behind the possible causes of misbehavior on the part of "normal" children. Some principals in this book are--or should be--universal. Don't let one term (Autism, ADHD, or even "trouble child") define all your child is. Focus on what your child can do instead of getting lost in what he or she can't do. All behavior has a cause, ferreting out the cause can go very far in helping to resolve negative behavior. And most importantly of all, love should not be dependent on good grades, good behavior or "being normal". Love should be unconditional. If there was ever an Idiot's Guide to Raising a Child this might be it. An essential book for understanding the social, language and sensory challenges experienced by many types of special needs children. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone whose life is touched by Autism Spectrum Disorders. (less)
Isis is the first work I've ever read by Douglas Clegg and I have to wonder why it took me so long. Isis is a classic st...moreI won this book in a contest.
Isis is the first work I've ever read by Douglas Clegg and I have to wonder why it took me so long. Isis is a classic style horror story, part darkness, death and depression, and part fairy tale. Gorgeously written it's the tale of Iris Villiers, a girl who grew up wandering a land haunted by ghosts and legends, who by all means should have known better than to breach the veil between the living and the dead.
Short (about 100 pages) Isis is full of barely restrained raw emotions, sadness and love. Also peppered between Clegg's stunning style are illustrations that match the tone of the book with their classic fairy tale style and simple black and white morbidity.
It's hard to review such a short tale without ruining the plot, so I'll leave it at this: Isis is not to be missed, a haunting tale that crosses genres and trends and is sure to be just as appealing years from now.(less)
First, the back blurb: “All the creatures of the night gather in 'the Hollows' of Cincinnati, to...moreI was given this book as a gift.
The Hollows book #1
First, the back blurb: “All the creatures of the night gather in 'the Hollows' of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party...and to feed.
Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining—and it's Rachel Morgan's job to keep that world civilized.
A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead...or undead.”
It's been a while since I've read a back blurb that said so very little about the book, and by now I should know to be suspicious when that happens. It's taken me three tries to get past page fifty of this book. The opening chapter is killer, as a skank-dressed Rachel Morgan stands outside a bar complaining about how her boss hates her and keeps giving her joke jobs (she works for an organization said to be like the FBI but it comes off a lot more like the IRS) then whining about all the jobs she's messed up lately. She assaults a man for buying her a drink (after mentioning, a lot, how much like a hooker she looks) and later as she uses disguise charms and potions to get around EVERYONE can see through them (so really, what's the point?). Readers should get used it this inconsistent way of storytelling because the book constantly goes back and forth between trying to convince us that Rachel is one of the best at her job, then showing her make loads of really poor decisions.
In fact inconsistent is about the best way to describe the whole book, though halting and frustrating also fits. After bagging the tax-evading leprechaun she's after Rachel decides to shove her job where it belongs, accept a bribe from the criminal she just caught and go freelance. For unconvincing reasons a living vampire, Ivy, and a pixie name Jenks join Rachel. And despite her boss admitting that he'd been trying to force her to quit for years (why he didn't just fire her, I'm not sure) he then proceeds to spend a lot of money hiring people to kill her. Typically they fail due to sheer luck or other people saving Rachel, rather than her own skills. Half the time Rachel herself doesn't even notice death spells or people moving in to attack.
Rachel, in turn, decides the best way to get her now ex-boss off her back is to try to bust a huge drug cartel case that he's working on before he does. There's also a very uncomfortable side plot involving a lesbian attraction between Ivy the vampire and Rachel. It's uncomfortable because Rachel is genuinely scared of Ivy's attraction to her, but Ivy's attraction appears to be built on things completely outside of Rachel's control. Rachel is Ivy's roommate and trying to find a way for their scents to never mingle, to never talk to her about her family or other vampires (although Rachel, super agent that she is, seems to know next to nothing about them when they're around) seems like expecting a woman to maim herself to prevent people on the street from finding her attractive.
As for the world building, a bioengineered tomato launched the supernaturals' takeover and made science illegal, which raises more questions and ends up coming off more silly than serious (especially to readers of SF as well). Humans are almost prisoners to the supes, but still portrayed with derision, totally missing out on an interesting source of conflict (which really sums up the drama of the book, it's all forced, and the natural sources are glanced over and ignored). There's a whole language Rachel uses, but in the end it feels false because of a lack of supporting detail. When there is detail of the greater world of Harrison's world it lacks the lush richness of genre powerhouses like Laurell K. Hamilton and Ann Rice.
Almost everything in the book comes off as stodgy and flat, and a complete inability to connect with or care about the main character makes me more than willing to let my book allowance relax a little by skipping out on the rest of this series. There's just too much crammed into this book with no context, atmosphere or charm, as if there's an attempt to make up for the lack of texture with fight scenes and drama that the main character had to be an idiot to get into in the first place. (less)