Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker

Posted by on Feb 16, 2018 in 2018, 4 stars, Book Review, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Blizzard of Glass by Sally M Walkerby Sally M Walker

Genre: Middle Grade Nonfiction
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 145

The Book:
From the publisher:

On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. One ship was loaded top to bottom with munitions and the other held relief supplies, both intended for war-torn Europe. The resulting blast flattened two towns, Halifax and Dartmouth, and killed nearly 2,000 people. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, a blizzard hit the next day, dumping more than a foot of snow on the area and paralyzing much-needed relief efforts.
Fascinating, edge-of-your-seat storytelling based on original source material conveys this harrowing account of tragedy and recovery.

My Thoughts:
I learned about this book from a friend in my LibraryThing group. I vaguely remember hearing about the Halifax Explosion at some point but I really didn’t remember any details, so I picked this up at the library.

It’s a middle grade book but it’s an good read for adults too. There were only a couple of places where she’s explaining terminology that reminded me that this was a book intended for a 10-14 year old audience.

The book is fascinating. Walters sets the scene and introduces several families who will be impacted by the disaster. The story of how the ships ended up colliding, the actual explosion and the aftermath were all well done.

The immediate aftermath focuses much on the children in the families she features. many of whom were in the age range of her audience.

What surprised me was how quickly the city leaders got organized and began search and rescue as well as treating the wounded and managing the dead. An interesting note was that Halifax had experience in dealing with large numbers of dead because the bodies that were recovered from the Titanic disaster 5 years earlier had been taken there.

Other interesting things:
Many people thought that the Germans had attacked.
Lots of people were watching the fire after the ships collided so when the blast happened there were large numbers of eye injuries when the windows they were watching through blew in.
People were thrown by the blast and many babies were gathered in one place until they could be identified by surviving family members.
The blizzard that dumped snow on the are the day after the explosion hampered the rescue and recovery efforts.
Within hours of the explosion the city of Boston was organizing relief efforts and sending a train with supplies and medical personnel.

This is an interesting book about an incident I had heard of but didn’t know a lot about. I might seek out a more comprehensive book aimed at adults about this event.

I’d recommend this one even if you aren’t the target age range.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Lady Killer Vol. 2 by Joelle Jones

Posted by on Feb 13, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Joelle Jones | 0 comments

Lady Killer Vol. 2 by Joelle Jones

Lady Killer Vol. 2 by Joelle Jones  with art by Joelle Jones

Genre: Action/Adventure
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 127
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 2 is a  compilation of issues 1-5 of the Lady Killer 2 comic series.
From the publisher:

The secret’s in the cleanup!

The killer housewife is back! The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, where life carries on as usual. Josie continues to juggle Tupperware parties, her kids, and a few heads–and things don’t get any easier for the entrepreneur hit lady when her past comes back to haunt her.

My Thoughts:
I loved the first volume of this series so I was not surprised at all that I loved this second volume too. Josie Schuller is a picture perfect housewife in early 1960’s Florida. She’s also a killer for hire. She’s a Tupperware lady with a plan for after the party.

Yes there’s plenty of graphic violence in this series but it also manages avoid being gross. There are also picture perfect early 1960’s fashion and decor. In addition, there is plenty of dark humor.

When I finished the first volume I had said I was interested in “finding out what is the story with her mother-in-law? That woman has a past, I tell you.” Oh boy was I right.

This one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so I hope Joelle Jones is working on more.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on Feb 9, 2018 in 2018, 5 stars, Book Review, Jim Kay, JK Rowling | 0 comments

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated edition by J.K. Rowling with art by Jim Kay

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K Rowling with art by Jim Kay

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Oversized Hardcover
Series: Harry Potter #3
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

The third book in the bestselling Harry Potter series, now illustrated in glorious full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay!

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.”

Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

My Thoughts:
I’m not going to bother to talk about the story because we all know it. I’ve read it multiple times, listened to it once (the Jim Dale versions) and plan to listen to it again (the Stephen Fry versions) so obviously, I love it.

I adore these illustrated editions of the series. They have been released in October every year so far. I have made it an annual tradition to start reading them in January every year. The books are big and heavy so definitely not something I take with me to work. That means I read them a little bit every day so I can savor them all over again.

These editions are oversized (coffee table size) books printed on high quality paper with an attached ribbon bookmark. I’m still a little worried about what they’re going to do with Order of the Phoenix. I have to think it’ll be a two volume set or I won’t be able to lift it. We’ll see how much Goblet of Fire weighs in October.

Jim Kay has done a masterful job with the illustrations. They are beautiful. I am amazed that he has managed to create these images. They are wholly new, yet at the same time remain true to both the drawings in the original editions and the sets and actors from the movies.

I felt that Jim Kay managed to take the images in my head and make them even more beautiful than I hand imagined.

Fortunately this one didn’t have the spiders that Chamber of Secrets had. There weren’t any illustrations in this one that I had to skip.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in 2018, 4 stars, Book Review, Nnedi Okorafor, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi OkoraforBinti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Tor/Forge
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 101
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene—though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

My Thoughts:
This is the final book in a trilogy of novellas. The story is a fascinating blend of science fiction and coming of age story.

This one picks up right after the events of the second book. I can’t really say a whole lot without giving away too much so I won’t.

This was a satisfying and sometimes surprising ending to Binti’s story. Although I don’t read a lot of science fiction this trilogy was a hit for me. I think that it’s partly because this is totally different than anything I’ve read. Nnedi Okorafor has a fabulous imagination.

If you’re looking for short but interesting books for your next readathon you should pick up this series. Now that all three are available you can really read them straight through.

4 starsRating 4/5

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Posted by on Feb 2, 2018 in 2018, 3 stars, Book Review | 5 comments

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Genre: Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 127
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway’s most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal—a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

My Thoughts:
This is another one of those classics I have never read until now. I liked it well enough but I certainly didn’t love it. It’s one of those books that the more I think about, the less I think I liked it.

It’s a short book and I took my time with it and was only reading a few pages at a time over the course of several days. I did get caught up in the old man’s battle with the marlin and there were actually moments that were rather exciting. On the other hand there were things that the old man did that seemed pretty stupid for a man who has been fishing all his life.

This was my first book by Hemingway and I have to say I wasn’t blown away. I doubt I’ll make an effort to seek out any of his other work.

3 stars Rating 3/5

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Going Clear by Lawrence Wright – Audio Edition

Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in 2018, 4 stars, Book Review | 0 comments

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright narrated by Morton Sellers

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright narrated by Morton Sellers

Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 2013
Length: 17 hours, 27 minutes
Narrated by: Morton Sellers
Source: Purchased

The Book
From the publisher:

Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige — tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.

My Thoughts
I’m oddly fascinated with Scientology and Scientologists. I think if Scientologists weren’t so secretive about things I probably wouldn’t care. I’ve been intrigued by the whole history, religion and organization for years. Last year I listened to Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman and found it fascinating.

This book is fairly similar to Inside Scientology (which I listened to last year) and covers a lot of the same ground so there wasn’t a lot of new information.

One thing I liked about this book is that interspersed throughout Wright’s examination of Scientology’s history is the story of one man and his experience with the church. The book opens with Paul Haggis meeting a scientologist in his hometown of London, Ontario. That meeting led to a 35 year active membership in the church.

However this is not just Paul Haggis’s story. Along with following Haggis’s life and eventual break with the church Wright also tells the story of the church and it’s founder L. Ron Hubbard. He explores the nature of religion and the question of whether Scientology is a religion or not.

Wright talked to many former members of the church in researching this book. What I find interesting is that many of them still use some of the techniques of Scientology while rejecting the official church organization. I think much of this is related to David Miscavige, who took over the church (in a bit of a coup) when Hubbard died.

In my opinion, L. Ron Hubbard may have been a complete whack job but his successor David Miscavige is disturbingly power hungry. Some of the stories of the way he has treated the people supposedly in is inner circle are downright strange.

The book is a little dry in places and sometimes rambles a bit but it’s quite interesting, a little disturbing and worth reading. There is a video documentary available based on this book which is both good and disturbing.

Morton Sellers does an adequate job of narrating the book. He was a little too slow for me though but speeding up the playback made it too fast.

Both this book and Inside Scientology are interesting explorations of the church and it’s history. They do cover a lot of the same ground however so I’d recommend reading one or the other but not necessarily both.

4 stars Rating 4/5 for the book

3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the narration

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