Sunday, August 13, 2017

Review: The Sisters Impossible

The Sisters Impossible The Sisters Impossible by J.D. Landis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one. It is a quick read, but there is a decent amount of substance. I liked the family interactions, especially, of course, the sisters, but also the father and the younger daughter. It might have bordered on the didactic a bit at the end, but that was OK.

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Review: A Murder for Her Majesty

A Murder for Her Majesty A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book and read it quickly. The characters are interesting. I got some of the Father WhatsHisNames mixed up, but that didn't seem to matter that much. Good story.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: Footrot Flats Collector's Edition 1

Footrot Flats Collector's Edition 1 Footrot Flats Collector's Edition 1 by Murray Ball
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot. I especially like the pictures that have baby animals in them - baby sheep, baby pigs, puppies. I probably don't get all the nuances of the sports references, or even some of the flora and fauna mentions, but it is fun, nevertheless.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: The Essential Footrot Flats

The Essential Footrot Flats The Essential Footrot Flats by Murray Ball
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A while back, I owned a copy of Footrot Flats: The Dog Strips: The Ultimate Collector's Edition. Then I sent it, via USPS from Colorado to Alaska. 15 of my book boxes broke apart in handling and the contents were lost. That book, which is now selling on Amazon for more than $1,200, was one of the ones that was lost. I can't afford to replace it at that price, so I bought this book instead. This is a rather jumbled collection of some of the best strips from the entire collection of Murray Ball's work. The strips were selected as favorites by friends and family members, as I understand. The drawback is that individual story lines are lost. From what I can tell, the individual books follow the story lines more completely.

That said, I enjoyed this book. I grew up in Iowa (USA), in a semi-rural area, which has now been taken over by urban expansion. We weren't farmers, but my brother raised sheep as a 4-H project and we raised chickens and geese, so I know a little bit about those animals. And we had dogs and cats. So, some of the situations were familiar to me, and some definite were not. This is New Zealand, after all. And I love cartoons from other parts of the world. [Recommendations are gladly accepted. I read English, obviously, but also German, some Spanish, and a bit of French.]

I would have enjoyed following story lines more and I may actually get some of the individual smaller books. It is hard to know which ones to get, though, as there are at least 30 of them.

One advantage of this particular book is the full color art work in between two of the sections of the book. These are a group of larger, full page or two-page spreads, where the detail is more evident. With the smaller strips, I occasionally had problems deciphering parts of the drawings. Ball's drawings typically have a great deal of detail, which means that the size of the drawings is more important than some cartoon strips that are more simply drawn.

This book should actually have gotten 4 stars from me - with deductions for the lack of continuity of story lines and the confusion when there was too much detail for the size of the strips - but I appreciate so much the humor and unique perspectives of a culture different from mine that I bumped the stars up to 5, anyway.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: The Best Man

The Best Man The Best Man by Richard Peck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mild spoilers.

About half way through this book, I was going to complain that the student teacher was portrayed way too positively. Everything about him was perfect - good looking, military (therefore assumed to be patriotic), determined to be a great teacher, fun, good with kids, creative, etc., etc. It seemed to be the perfect set up for a gay character. And yep, he was gay. I am not sure why my opinion of this lessened toward the end of the book. He was still portrayed as too good, but it didn't seem to matter as much. Most of the other characters were portrayed as too good, too.

Gay characters and other important characters don't have to be superhumanly great, in order for them to be lovable or interesting or worthy.

One thing that rescued the book from being overly positive for me was the MC. He was pretty clueless for much of the book. I like the fact that as he got older, he started paying attention to people more.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Amina's Voice

Amina's Voice Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book for exploring the transition to middle school and the relationships among girls of that age, but it is also a great book for affirming the importance of religious traditions, and tolerance. It is not great literature, but it is accessible and worthwhile.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My daughters would have loved this as kids. They thoroughly enjoyed confusing their mother with Spoonerisms, backwards words, words in other languages (predominantly German, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian) - all in the same sentence.

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Review: Hitler's Daughter

Hitler's Daughter Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is more interesting to me as an exploration of philosophy than as a good novel. It would make a good discussion book for middle school aged kids. The story isn't as strong as Pennies for Hitler, because of the narrative style - Anna is telling the story about someone else's story. That gives it a bit too much distance from the reader. The ending makes it more personal, but by then, it is a bit too late to get involved with the character.

Still, it has some interesting questions that are relevant even now with regard to various political situations. How much moral responsibility do we have for our parents' choices, our politicians' choices, our country's actions?

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Emily of Deep Valley

Emily of Deep Valley Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I enjoyed the premise of this book, it doesn't particularly stand out for me. I have not read the Betsy-Tacy books, so I wasn't invested in the location or the characters. It was sweet and interesting, but it didn't grab me by the heart and refuse to let go like Anne of Green Gables does.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I should probably give this book a higher rating. It held my interest long enough to finish it. The various children are unique and worth reading about. But, as a child, I would have been terrified by the problem situation. Even as a mature adult, it is scary to me. It is almost too real and too well written. That said, I am quite the wimp when it comes to scary situations. If realistic, scary situations appeal to you, the book is worth reading.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. Unlike some other reviews of it, I found the research aspect quite interesting and would have enjoyed even more detail about it. I didn't expect him to come to any absolute answers, and he didn't, but I did find the exploration of the topic through various and within diverse cultures interesting. Since there has been some discussion in the news right now of the differences between urban and rural living, I was glad he included side trips away from the big cities as well.

I agree with some of the answers he found: money matters, but only so much. Culture matters: it sets the stage. Community matters: it can change how we react to the places. Personal characteristics matter: they often mitigate what you might expect in those surroundings.

It would be interesting to do this on both a larger and smaller scale - more countries, especially including Africa and South America; and, on the other end of the scale, states within a large country, cities within large states. Even on the micro scale, I have seen differences. I have worked quite a few years as a substitute teacher. Some schools are definitely happy schools. Some made me anxious, just being in them. Intriguing.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am enjoying these illustrated versions. This one has some especially good pictures of Fawkes, the phoenix, plus some additional wonderful spreads of Diagon Alley. It is interesting to me that these illustrations don't seem to detract from my own imaged visions of the people and places in the books, but the movies did. I stopped watching the movies after the third one, because it was so unsettling to me to see the differences between my imaged HP world and the movies' imagined HP world.

It would be interesting to me to know how the illustrator chose which scenes to elaborate. He has chosen some that I would not have and omitted others that I would have included. Maybe I will go look that up.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Calvin und Hobbes: Von Tigern, Teufelskerlen und nervigen Vätern

Calvin und Hobbes: Von Tigern, Teufelskerlen und nervigen Vätern Calvin und Hobbes: Von Tigern, Teufelskerlen und nervigen Vätern by Bill Watterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Calvin and Hobbes above all of the comics I have collected. I am happy I am still able to read German well enough that I could understand almost all of this collection.

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