Monday, January 22, 2018

REVIEW: Even More Short and Shivery

Even More Short & Shivery
Author: Robert D. San Souci

I get asked often why I read books and stories that are technically children's literature. Why not? Some of the best classic books were written for kids: Heidi, Little Women, etc. My favorite kids books are often collections of horror, folklore and ghost stories. No spurting blood, cursing or naked people -- just fun, spooky tales. In my opinion, reading is a wonderful hobby....and personalized to each person. Read what you enjoy....and make no apologies for it. I love to read kids books!

There are several Short & Shivery collections of scary tales for kids. The stories are all middle grade appropriate. Each story is spooky...but not TOO scary. Kids will be happy....and Moms will be happy. No 2 a.m. visits from little ones saying "Mom, I'm scared. Can I sleep with you?'' The stories are entertaining, not nightmare inducing.

I decided to re-read these nifty little story collections while snowed in at home this week. The south shuts down when it snows. Nothing to do out there but shiver in the cold.....and southerners can't drive safely in snow. Best for me to stay home with hot tea and good books. I can shiver peacefully at home with creepy tales of vampires, demons, vengeful dead pirates and all things that go bump in the night!

Even More Short & Shivery gathers 30 creepy tales from around the world. I enjoyed them all! I highly recommend any of the books in the Short & Shivery series. They are all great!! And at just over 160 pages, this book is a quick read for adults and a manageable easy read for middle grade kids.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

REVIEW: More Night Frights

More Night Frights
Author: J. B. Stamper

Snow is steadily building up outside as I write this review. Since we couldn't go anywhere today (the South shuts down when it snows), I was in the mood to read. Snow days always remind me of my kids. I still have one at home...but I tend to fondly remember the days when all my kids were still in school. One is in Japan with the Navy and the other is in Missouri (Army). For some reason, I got to thinking about those Scholastic book order forms that used to come home with them (my youngest still brought them home about 3 times a year up until he started middle school this year) periodically. In elementary school in the 90s and early 2000s, my oldest son was heavily into Goosebumps and kiddo horror stories. For whatever reason today, in honor of all the snow days spent making him cocoa while he read about haunted amusement parks, ghosts at school, and other kiddo frights, I decided to find some cheesy Scholastic horror to read. I'm glad I did -- it made for some fun reading!

I remember my son having this book (and the original Night Frights). The stories are short. The horror isn't too gruesome. It's definitely middle grade friendly, but still creepy. Several of the stories are based on folklore and urban legend. A bit cheesy, but fun to read. The stories are well-written and between 5 and 8 pages long each. Perfect snow day reading! I still miss my son wayyyy off in Japan on the other side of the world.....but I felt closer to him today as I sipped cocoa and read a Scholastic book. I have several more lined up to read tomorrow. :) My middle schooler has a snow day I will have some time to read a couple more kids books. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for nostalgia reads or children's stories. Why not? :) I had a great time remembering when my adult kids were still little....and enjoyed some fun stories! It really did make my afternoon brighter, even though the tales are dark and spooky!

More Night Frights includes 13 stories (of course). All of them are short, and the print is large and easy to read. For kids who like a bit of Things-That-Go-Bump-In-The-Night and parents who prefer those bumps to be a bit benign, this will keep everyone happy. Bit of scary....but not too scary. None of them will cause "Mom, I'm scared. Can I sleep with you?'' incidents. For me, it was nice to revisit memories, and this was a perfect quick read for a day when we are all stuck indoors.

Let it snow! I have more books to read! :)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

REVIEW: The Twelve Fingered Boy

The Twelve Fingered Boy
Author: John Hornor Jacobs

Life changes drastically for Shreve when he meets Jack. Well, life started changing when Shreve landed in juvenile detention. But, he feels life in a cell is better than living with his drunk, neglectful mother. One day he's making money selling candy to the other inmates....and the next he's got a new, and very strange, cellmate. Jack not only has 12 fingers .... six on each hand....but he has strange superpowers that seem to manifest themselves when he is angered or threatened. Unfortunately there are some dangerous people who know about Jack and what he can do....and soon the boys will find themselves on the run. But it seems that escaping will be difficult if not impossible, as those chasing after them have powers too.

This is such an action-filled, fun read! I do admit that when I first started reading it, I almost put the book down. I didn't want to read a book about kids who are incarcerated....too difficult for a Mom to read about neglected kids who end up in prison. But the story soon morphed into something entirely different. Then I couldn't put the book down!

I love the strong friendship that grows between Shreve and Jack. And I completely detest the "bad guys'' in this story -- but, I'm supposed to. It's classic good vs evil...with supernatural elements thrown in for good measure.

The Twelve-Fingered Boy is the first book in the Incarcerado Trilogy. I'm definitely going to read the other two books. I have to find out what happens next! :)

John Hornor Jacobs is also the author of The Incorruptibles Trilogy.

Friday, January 19, 2018

REVIEW: THe Glittering Storm (Sarah Jane Adventures)

The Glittering Storm (Sarah Jane Adventures)
Author: Stephen Cole

I have been a Doctor Who fan for a very long time. Way before the new television series. I grew up on the Doctors & companions who are now lumped together as Classic Who. My favorite? Easy answer -- Tom Baker. Doctor #4. And his stalwart companion, Sarah Jane. In fact, when the 4th Doctor regenerated, I was so angry that I stopped watching the show unless it was reruns of Tom Baker episodes. This wasn't too difficult, because back in the late 70s/early 80s the only stations showing Doctor Who were PBS affiliates. The one I had access to played a few episodes of the 3rd Doctor (portrayed brilliantly by Jon Pertwee), all of Tom Baker up to his regeneration, and a few episodes of the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison. Boo! Hiss!  Just kidding.....don't want Peter Davison fans hunting me with clubs and torches. lol. I have since come around to loving all the doctors.....I just liked MY Doctor and the regneration was too much for a tweenie nerd girl to take.) The PBS station only played a couple Peter Davison episodes....then started back at Jon Pertwee again. I never saw anything by the earliest Doctors, or those after Davison until I was an adult.

The Fourth Doctor had other companions that joined him as well, but Sarah Jane, along with the ever faithful robot dog K-9, was my favorite. Spunky, brave and cute, she made the episodes fun to watch.

Zoom forward a couple decades and I absolutely LOVED it when they brought Sarah Jane onto the new Doctor Who, and when she had her own series for a short while. I had no idea at the time that Sarah Jane Adventures stopped abruptly because actress Elisabeth Sladen was ill. I was so happy to see Sarah, K-9, and Mr Smith the Super Computer! The show was fun to watch! I was very sad when Elisabeth Sladen passed away, but they have kept her beloved character going with many books and audiobooks!

With snow falling outside today (pretty much shutting down the southern town where I live), I loaded up a Sarah Jane audiobook and disappeared into the lovely world of Doctor Who. Well, the lovely world of Sarah Jane, rather.  Sarah Jane Adventures is about Sarah's life after the Doctor is gone. She has K-9, an adopted alien son, Mr. Smith, and lots of friends to help her out. She's still on a quest to protect Earth from menacing aliens -- and manages to find trouble quite often!

In The Glittering Storm, westend London housewives and grandmothers are stealing jewelry and gold. They seemingly have no idea what they have done. Sarah Jane catches an older woman in her house at night, rifling through her jewelry looking for the precious metal. Turns out, all the thieves can be traced to the Auriga Clinic, a medical facility that treats muscle and joint pain using gold and titanium injections. When Sarah's teenage friend, Maria, starts to exhibit the same behaviors as the older women, Sarah knows she has to get to the bottom of what's going on!

This was such a fun, interesting audiobook to listen to! Elisabeth Sladen narrates. It was so nice to hear her voice again. Technically, these books are for the middle grade and young adult crowd....but I don't care! I like them, too! It's a great mix of the old Classic Who and modern Who, too (doesn't that sound like a Dr. Seuss sentence? ha!)! The story is perfect length to listen to on a short car trip or while waiting for an appointment. I was doing housework....Sarah Jane kept me company as I cleaned my kitchen and dining room. :) Lots of action and Doctor Who-ish shenanigans going on! Definitely worth listening to!

I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for more Sarah Jane Adventures books and audiobooks!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

REVIEW: 100 Cupboards

100 Cupboards
Author: N.D. Wilson

After his parents disappear, 12-year old Henry York is sent to live with an aunt and uncle he hasn't seen since he was 4. He doesn't wish his parents any harm....but he doesn't really want them to come back either. They are....odd. Henry has learned over the years that his upbringing has been strange and markedly different from other kids around him. He's learned to roll with it and through observation has found ways to fit in and make friends. But just as he arrives and starts to settle in at his relatives' house, he finds more strangeness.  First there is the door to his grandfather's room. It's been locked up tight ever since he died two years before. And nothing seems to be able to open the door. Then there are the cupboards. Not the normal, sitting out in the open type cupboards. These have been plastered over in the attic where Henry sleeps. One night, he wakes up with plaster dust all over his bed....the cupboards are no longer covered. And Henry's life will never be the same.

One word sums up this delightful middle grade story:  Magical. Just like the wardrobe in Narnia, the cupboards have the poiwer to connect to other worlds. Henry and his cousin Henrietta work together to discover the secrets behind their grandfather's door, and what lies beyond the cupboard doors. Just a lovely story! 100 Cupboards is the first book in a trilogy. Great introduction to a series! I can't wait to read the other books!

I listened to the audiobook version of 100 Cupboards. Narrated by Russell Horton, the audiobook is just under 6.5 hours long. Horton reads at a nice, even pace and has a clear understandable voice. I have hearing loss, but was able to clearly hear and understand him.

N.D. Wilson is the author of several other middle grade books including the Ashtown Burials series. 100 cupboards is the first book I read by Wilson. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series, and reading more of his other books!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Hey! B.C.
Author: Johnny Hart

B.C., Peter, Thor, Wiley, Carp and Curls -- My favorite cavemen! Plus the cavewomen, Fat Broad and Cute Chick! Johnny Hart's prehistoric B.C. cartoon characters have been entertaining readers since 1958. I first came across the cartoons as a teenager in the 80s. This year I want to focus on reading what I enjoy, so I thought it would be a great time to re-read some of Hart's cartoon collections. The topics are still so relevant today....and I'm having a great time revisiting the prehistoric but oh so modern antics of his characters!

The B.C. cartoons poke fun at everyday life in general -- relationships, sex, politicians, sports, transportation, work, hobbies, religion, business.....nothing is sacred. In between his jabs at human foibles, Hart sprinkles in dictionary jokes, ants with marital problems, a philosophical turtle and his bird pal, anteaters on the hunt, and snakes trying to steer clear of cavewomen with clubs.

In Hey! B.C. the cavemen discover the wheel, fire.....and women. They also invent baseball and football. :) Another fun nostalgia read!

Johnny Hart also created the Wizard of Id cartoons (I loved those too!) He created the B.C. characters in the late 1950s. Wizard of Id came along in the 60s. Both cartoons ran in syndication in newspapers and were collected in multiple books until Hart's death in 2007.

REVIEW: B.C. Strikes Back

B.C. Strikes Back\
Author: Johnny Hart

Cartoonist Johnny Hart created his loveable cavemen characters in the 1950s. Over the next few decades his group of dysfunctional prehistoric humans invented the wheel, started the battle of the sexes, attended the first therapy sessions, and created team sports. :) The six cavemen and two cavewomen poke fun at everything from love and feminism to politics and society. Side characters range from ants pursued by hungry anteaters, a turtle and his bird BFF, and cute dinosaurs.

I loved these cartoons when I was in middle and high school. Hart poked fun at just about every part of life and society. In 2018, I am revisiting books and series that I have on my own shelves, or books I remember enjoying in the past. I decided it was time to re-read B.C. and another Hart creation, Wizard of Id. These cartoons are still amazingly relevant. I suppose the basic ponderings and challenges of humanity really don't change all that much. Some of the jokes or interactions between the male and female characters could be seen as a bit is never disrespectful, just truthful. The cute, sexy cavewoman is treated differently than the overweight, unattractive cavewoman --- but isn't that the way things really are? Might as well poke fun at it! :) Today it might be non-PC to crack jokes at uncomfortable truths....but that doesn't lessen the truth, just hides it. Most of Hart's jokes about the sexes point out the strengths of the women in a humorous way. An example.....while the cavemen are celebrating their invention of the wheel and trying to decide what they might be able to do with it, the cavewomen have already invented the bicycle.

B.C. Strikes back features an introduction by Rod Serling. It's a great collection of Hart's wit and humor. I enjoyed re-reaading this book, I still find the cartoons as funny as I did years ago, although some of the jokes have a bit different meaning for me now.

B.C. ran as a syndicated cartoon in many newspapers from the 1950s up until Hart's death in 2007.