Nutshell Review – Audiobook – How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse by Cressida Cowell

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Cressida Cowell | 0 comments

How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse by Cressida Cowell, Narrated by David Tennant

HowToCheataDragonsCurse

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Series: #4 in the How to Train Your Dragon series
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: 2006 for the book, 2013 for this audio edition
Length: 3 hours, 12 minutes
Read by: David Tennant
Source: Library


The Book:

From the back of the paperback edition:

Hiccup’s best friend, Fishlegs has been stung by the deadly Venemous Vorpent! The only cure is the Vegetable-That-No-One-Dares-Name. In order to get his hands on this legendary prize and save his friend, Hiccup must travel tothe wintry island of Hysteria and battle the crazy Chief of the Hysterics, Norbert the Nutjob. Can he find a way to cheat the Vorpent’s curse or will he be too late?

My Thoughts:
This series has become our favorite for road trips. They are such fun they keep us entertained on even the most boring stretches of Interstate highway.

The scene where Hiccup, Camicazi and Toothless flee by riding a food tray down a snowy slope reminded me of my days in college in Texas when we stole trays from the cafeteria and used them as sleds when it snowed.

I may have started secretly nicknaming some of my co-workers with character names from this series. I’ll never admit who I think of as who but Norbert the Nutjob, Dogsbreath the Duhbrain, and The Doomfang are now my personal nicknames for a few of my co-workers.

David Tennant is simply fabulous as the narrator of this series. You can almost hear a slight smirk in his voice. The Hubster commented that he sounds like he had fun recording the series,

Let your inner 8 year old have fun and listen to this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration

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Nutshell Review: Bone Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 0 comments

Bone Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith

Bone Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith

Genre: Fantasy
Format: Graphic Novel
Series: #3 in the Bone series
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2006 (originally 1996)
Pages: 168
Source: Library


The Book:

From the publisher:

Hair-raising escapes. Long-buried secrets.
The stakes for the Bone cousins are getting higher.

Life in the valley isn’t getting any easier for the Bones and their newfound friends. Lucius, Smiley, and Phoney are attacked by the rat creatures and barely make it back to Lucius’s tavern. Then it doesn’t take long before Phoney is back to his old tricks.

Back at the farm, Fone Bone and Thorn are troubled by strange dreams, and Gran’ma Ben’s reaction is stranger still: She reveals long-kept secrets and unexpected dangers. In fact, they may have to leave the farm forever.

My Thoughts:
This is just such a fun series. I almost want to finish it quickly so that I can read it over again from the beginning. I plan on buying the compiled one volume edition once I finish all 9 volumes.

The characters are such a fun mix of fantasy creatures. The Bone cousins look like something out of the Walt Kelly Pogo comic strips. The residents of Barrelhaven look like humans. The rat creatures are, well I’m not sure how to describe them other than rat creatures. The red dragon cracks me up.

The original black and white artwork has been redone in color for the Scholastic editions and the pages are vibrant and full of action, emotion and detail.

The series is written for kids but has plenty of appeal for adults. It light and funny but it’s also kind of dark and scary (for kids) in places.

If you haven’t tried this series you should. It’s just a whole lot of fun.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Top Shelf
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 112
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Ten year old Lester lives with his uncle after his mother’s death and they just don’t seem to understand each other at all.

Why I Read It:
I am unabashedly a huge fan of Jeff Lemire’s work. I have been looking forward to reading this trilogy that comes highly recommended by several friends.

The Book:
From the back cover:

Xeric Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire illustrates the tale of Lester, a recently orphaned 10-year-old living on his Uncle’s Farm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. As their relationship grows increasingly strained, Lester befriends the small town’s hulking gas station owner, Jimmy Lebeuf, a damaged former hockey star. The two escape into a private fantasy world of super-heroes, alien invaders, and good old fashioned pond hockey. Tales From the Farm is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels set in a fictionalized version of Lemire’s hometown of Essex County, Ontario.

My Thoughts:
Personally I think Jeff Lemire is an extremely talented genius. I am amazed at the emotion he can convey in a sparsely drawn page with no text. After reading his Sweet Tooth series and a couple of other stand alones I was eager to start this trilogy that has been so highly recommended.

Lester’s feeling of loss and being lost in a life where his uncle just doesn’t understand him just oozed off the page and drilled into me as I read it. His uncle never expected to be solo parenting a child and feels unable to build a relationship with a loner child who likes to wear his superhero cape and mask all the time. I felt for everyone in the story. I really liked the way that the black and white art was done in a lighter gray for the flashback scenes.

When Lester meets Jimmy it’s a case of two damaged people helping each other to cope with the world by living a rich fantasy life. Their unlikely friendship helps them both to move on from their losses.

Once again I’m strongly recommending another of Lemire’s books. This is clearly a trend. Every one I’ve read has been wonderful. His spare and sometimes rough artwork is so full of emotion that his characters always stick with me long after I’ve finished the books.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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It’s Monday What Are You Reading #30

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Blogging/Reading, What Are You Reading? | 0 comments

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

This weekly reading roundup is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Finished in Print

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon

I enjoyed this one. The story of the origins of the game of Monopoly that I grew up ‘knowing’ turned out to be a big fat lie. I loved all the tidbits of history and information in this book.

Continuing With in Print

The Broken Places by Ace Atkins

The Broken Places by Ace Atkins

This is now the only print book I’m reading so I should be able to devote some quality time to it this week.

Finished on Audio

As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson

As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson

Another good story with Walt Longmire and friends. His daughter is getting married but he’s busy helping a tribal police chief solve a murder case.

Started on audio
My new audiobook that I’m starting today is one that comes highly recommended by Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity. I already had the ebook but Trish convinced me to get the audio from the library.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

What are you reading?

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Weekend Update – The Oops It’s Been a Couple of Weeks Edition

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Blogging/Reading, Fun, photos, Weekend Update | 4 comments

Weekend Update

We were out of town last weekend so I didn’t do a weekly update. That means I’ve got a couple of weeks of randomness backlog to catch up.

We were down in Southern Oregon last weekend. One of our patented quick weekend trips to see a couple of plays and find out what other kinds of mischief we can get into without having to take a vacation day. Guys and DollsThis trip we saw Guys and Dolls and Pericles. I had never seen either one. They were both a lot of fun.Pericles

We also stopped in at Red Lily Vineyards. We had enjoyed a bottle of their wine before but this was our first visit to the winery. It’s a great set up. They gave us our wine to taste in test tubes which is fun. If you don’t want to stand at the counter you can take your tasting setup and go sit somewhere and enjoy at your own pace.Red Lily Vineyards The winery’s tasting room is lovely and we had a delicious antipasti platter for lunch. We plan to go back when we’re down there again in August. It was a bit too dreary to sit on the patio the day we were there but maybe we’ll get better weather next visit.

There are a few new books and bookish related items in our house. I am a huge fan of magnetic bookmarks because I hate losing my place and hauling books back and forth to work in a tote bag is just asking for regular bookmarks to fall out. Harry Potter Magnetic BookmarksI bought this set from Crafted Van and I love them. They’re even cute from the back.
Back of Harry Potter Magnetic Bookmarks

I have ordered this set for The Hubster
SpaceHuntersBookmarks

I stopped in at Powell’s the other day and picked up this one for The Hubster.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone

I had ordered this one for me and it arrived faster than I had expected since it was on backorder when I placed my order.

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

I have a new set of colored pencils arriving tomorrow to go with it.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review | 4 comments

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

The Monopolists : Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 320
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The story of the origin of the game of Monopoly that I knew growing up was a fable perpetuated by Parker Brothers to protect it’s interests and hide the truth.

Why I Read It:
I heard about this one when Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness shared a photo of it on Instagram. I looked it up at my library and put in a request that same day.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The Monopolists reveals the unknown story of how Monopoly came into existence, the reinvention of its history by Parker Brothers and multiple media outlets, the lost female originator of the game, and one man’s lifelong obsession to tell the true story about the game’s questionable origins.

Most think it was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvanian who sold his game to Parker Brothers during the Great Depression in 1935 and lived happily–and richly–ever after. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game decades later, unearthed the real story, which traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie who invented her nearly identical Landlord’s Game more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly. Her game–underpinned by morals that were the exact opposite of what Monopoly represents today–was embraced by a constellation of left-wingers from the Progressive Era through the Great Depression, including members of Franklin Roosevelt’s famed Brain Trust.

A fascinating social history of corporate greed that illuminates the cutthroat nature of American business over the last century, The Monopolists reads like the best detective fiction, told through Monopoly’s real-life winners and losers.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I had grown up with the story of Charles Darrow creating the game of Monopoly during the Depression. I learned a lot about not only the history of the game but also about toy companies, trademark and patent law, the legal system and the occasional side trip to completely unrelated things.

For the most part this was a fun and interesting read. There were a few of those side trips to completely unrelated things that I felt could have easily have been left out but it wasn’t enough to change my overall opinion of the book.

My inner trivia buff and collector of random useless information absolutely loved this book. I think The Hubster got tired of me and my “Did you know …?’ comments. It’s a fun little trip through history in both the early and late 20th century.

About half of the book is devoted to the history of the game Monopoly and half is about Ralph Anspach’s battle with Parker Brothers to sell his own game Anti-Monopoly in the 1970’s.

This is one that is worthy of a trip to your local library.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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