Saturday, November 22, 2014

November Challenge - Sexy Saturday

November 22 - Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson

Bid Time Return
by Richard Matheson
Somewhere in Time
by Richard Matheson

At first, I was reluctant to include Richard Matheson's book Bid Time Return (the title later changed to Somewhere in Time following the movie release in 1980) because I didn't want anyone to have the wrong idea of books contents. So, I did what any good librarian does, I did some research. I found the word sexy means attractive, interesting, and appealing (as well as sexually suggestive, stimulating, and erotic). This book, to me falls into the Sexy Saturday category based on the first part of the definition because of the character descriptions (very attractive), the time travel aspect (interesting), and the idea that love can transcend time (appealing).

My husband and I started dating in August of 1990. Somewhere in Time (starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour) was the first movie we ever saw together. It became our movie. It wasn't merely the romantic love story between two people who lived eighty years apart (she in the 1890s and he in the 1970s), but the music which captured our hearts. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini would become our song.

This is one of the rare occasions when I saw a movie based on a book before I read the book. In fact, when I saw the movie I was not aware it was based on a book at all. After falling in love with the movie, the soundtrack, and the man who would become my husband, I fell in love with the book.

The protagonist, Richard Collier, a screenwriter in his mid-thirties has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He decides to spend his final days at the Hotel del Coronado. It is here, Richard becomes obsessed with the photograph of Elise McKenna, a famous theater actress who performed in the hotel in the 1890s.  Richard's infatuation with Miss McKenna becomes so intense he is convinced he must travel back in time to meet and pursue a relationship with the actress.

I am a huge fan of time travel, which is obvious based on titles I have written about in the past. Richard Matheson, has stated that Bid Time Return and What Dreams May Come [1978] (made into a movie in 1998, starring Robin Williams) "represent the best writing I have done in the novel form." Sadly Mr. Matheson passed away in June of 2013. Among these two great novels, both of which I have read, he leaves behind a huge legacy. To read more about the writer who "scared three generations of kids", read Richard Matheson (1926-2013): The Wizard of What-If? the Remembrance article from Time Magazine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Challenge - Fantasy Friday

November 21st - Fantasy Friday - Locke & Key series by Joe Hill

Locke & Key series
by Joe Hill

I wrote about Joe Hill's wonderful graphic novel series, Locke & Key earlier in the year. Since then, I have finished reading all of the books in the series.
  • Welcome to Lovecraft
  • Head Games
  • Crown of Shadows
  • Keys to the Kingdom
  • Clockworks
  • Alpha & Omega
These books are a perfect combination of horror (for which Joe Hill's father, Stephen King has built a pretty good reputation on as a writer) and fantasy. The amazing graphics by Gabriel Rodriguez make this a must read series for those who love these genres. I have to admit I have never really been a fan of graphic novels, but Hill and Rodriguez have pulled me in to this world. I highly recommend this series for Fantasy Friday.

It was recently announced at Comic-Con the books will be made into a trilogy of movies by Universal. I have not seen any information about a release date, but I did read the script is "half written". I'm so glad I have read the books. I just hope the script writers are true to the work. It makes me so sad when a great book is butchered into a movie.

November Challenge - Thriller Thursday

November 20th - Thrilling Thursday - The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch

The 13th Hour
by Richard Doetsch

When I think of Richard Doetsch's book The 13th Hour so many adjectives come to mind...gripping, riveting, blood-tingling, and mind-blowing. I could actually go on, but I'm sure you would like to know why I would describe this book in this manner.

Nick Quinn is given the chance to go back in time  to prevent the murder of his wife, which he has been accused.  The coolest part of this sci-fi, fantasy, thriller is how the book moves from chapter to chapter. He is given a talisman which allows him to go back in time in one hour increments in order to collect the clues to identify her killer. It is hard to talk about this book without giving too much away. It is one of those books that immediately grabs you and will not let you go even after the final words.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November Challenge - Whatever Wednesday

November 19th - Whatever Wednesday - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

Now, before I tell you about this fascinating book, I want to define Whatever Wednesday. I did not intend for this category to be taken as flippant. On the contrary, so many books can fit into the category (and I almost think it is my favorite because of that). With the guidelines I set for myself, this title would not have fit into any of the categories if I had not made Whatever Wednesdays. So, with that being said, let me tell you about my selection for today.

Now, if you remember my review from Sexy Saturday I am not usually a science-y person. I lean toward history. However, the mixture of science and history throughout this extraordinary story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks is gripping. I have always been intrigued with genetics. I remember learning how to complete a blood type chart in high school biology. and I was fascinated by DNA. By reading this book, I have discovered that I might not have learned about cells, DNA, and so many other amazing biological discoveries if it had not been for Henrietta Lacks.

I first learned about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot from my husband. The book was selected as the common reading for the incoming freshman. In the winter of 2011, Texas Christian University hosted members of the Lacks family at the 2011 Fogelson Honors Forum

Skloot's book has been named the winner of a number of awards including the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Award for Excellence in Science Writing, the 2011 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook, and a Medial Journalists' Association Open Book Award.

During the Fogelson Honors Forum at TCU, Mrs. Lacks's great-granddaughter, Erika Johnson said, "If you know someone who hasn't read the book or learned about it, pass along your knowledge. It's important, not just to the science world, but to everyone." Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball are doing just that by working with HBO to bring Mrs. Lacks's story to even through the medium of television. As an avid reader, I always say the book is so much better than a movie could ever be, however, if Mrs. Lacks's legacy is shared with more people because of the adaptation of Skloot's book, it will be for the best. Thank you, Ms. Skloot's for sharing the life of Henrietta Lacks with all of us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Challenge - Texas 2x2 Tuesday

November 18th - Texas 2x2 Tuesday - Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever--or Snack Time? 

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever--or Snack Time?written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Michael Slack 

Nugget (a fish) and Fang (a shark) are the very best of friends, until Nugget goes off to school. It doesn't matter what the subject Nugget is learning, it seems everything points to the fact that sharks and fish cannot be friends! 

This is a great story to use with young children when talking about diversity.  No matter our differences, we can make adjustments and be friends, regardless of what anyone else says. During the time we were reading the Nugget & Fang our students were learning about choices. We talked about the choices Fang and Nugget made throughout the story and if they were good or bad choices and why. The children laughed at Fang's Food Chain at the end of the story, so we made sure to include it with our costumes.

Nugget & Fang was named one of the 20 books for the 2014 Texas 2x2 Reading List. At my school, we love this book so very much, my clerk and I dressed as Nugget and Fang for our Fall Literacy Night. 

Mrs. Betts as Nugget and Mrs. Wilson as Fang

November Challenge - Catching up

I'm trying to play catch up! Last week I came home to no electricity. Once the electricity came back on I did not think about going to my computer and writing my blog posts because I had actually written ahead. However, when I went to my computer on Sunday morning (then to catch up because I was a day behind) I found it would not turn on. My son went in and checked the breaker box and yes, the breaker had been tripped. However, when he reset it smoke began rising from my computer's surge protector. He quickly turned the breaker back off and came running to help me, because needless to say, I was in a panic! We were able to determine the surge protector had indeed done its job. It died so that my computer may live! Thank you little surge protector.

So on to my catch up for the November Challenge.

November 15 - Sexy Saturday - Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
by Mary Roach
This is the first Mary Roach book I have read. I have many of her other titles on my To Read List, including Stiff, which believe it or not is not the prequel to this book! Go ahead, laugh, but Stiff has nothing to do with Sexy Saturday, unless of course you are into necrophilia!

I found this book one Saturday afternoon while browsing the shelves at my public library. The title intrigued me, and being a consenting adult, I checked it out. It shouldn't matter what I read anyway. No one has the right to look at my library record to see that I was reading about sex. I was experienced in the subject, obviously. My only child is now an adult (oh, that pains me to say...or write)!

Anyway, on to the book. I have never been much a science person. My interests run more toward history. However when I heard about the manner in which Ms. Roach writes, I was immediately curious and pulled into her book. She has a wonderful way with words she has been called, "the funniest science writer in the country" by Burkhard Bilger of The New Yorker. It may not be the sexiest book you have ever read, but I will tell you it will be the most entertaining science book you will ever read!

November 17 - Mystery Monday - Scrap-N-Craft Mysteries by Joanna Campbell-Slan

Paper Scissors Death
by Joanna Campbell-Slan
One of the very best ways to learn about new books is to simply browse the shelves, whether at the local bookstore (which unfortunately we no longer have in my home town) or the public library. I found the first book in the Scrap-N-Craft Mysteries series by Joanna Campbell-Slan, in just that manner. Be addicted to scrapbooking for many years, the title immediately caught my attention.  I read this first book about fellow scrapbook enthusiast, Kiki Lowenstein, when it was published in 2008. I enjoyed this book so much I could hardly wait for the next title to be released. Currently there are 9 books in the series with a 10th book to be released December 15, 2014 - Handmade, Holiday, Homicide. There are two additional titles: Shotgun, Wedding, Bells and Glue, Baby, Gone which will be released in 2015. Ms. Campbell-Slan has also released 21 novellas / short stories to keep readers hooked between full length novels.

I was thrilled to get to meet Ms. Campbell-Slan in 2012 when she was a panel speaker during the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference in Dallas. She was not only a fantastic speaker, but also very kind to this crazed fan of her books.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November Challenge - Fantasy Friday

November 14 - Fantasy Friday - Grave Site by Charlaine Harris

Grave Site
by Charlaine Harris
Today's selection is in the paranormal fantasy genre. Some of Charlaine Harris's biggest fans may not know her name, but they know two of her most popular fictional characters, William Thomas Compton and Sookie Stackhouse. They are the main characters in Harris's Southern Vampire Mystery series on which the HBO series True Blood is based.I was reading Charlaine Harris long before the series came out in 2008. The first book in the series Dead Until Dark was published in 2001.

Today's Fantasy Friday title, Grave Sight is from the Harper Connelly series. For those of you who enjoyed the Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment movie The Sixth Sense, these books just might grab you in a similar fashion. Harper Connelly, can see dead people. In fact, not only can she see them, but she can sense the person's final location and share their last moment on earth. Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver - who acts as her manager and bodyguard have developed a business of locating the dead for grieving family members.

To date, there are only four titles in the series, Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave, and Grave Secret. I have read all four and loved them. Sadly, it has been rumored that Ms. Harris will no longer be writing about Harper Connelly. This is very disappointing to me because I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Harper and Tolliver. I wish Ms. Harris would reconsider this decision (which was published on her Facebook page January 9, 2012), however I will respect her choice. I'm sure it can't be easy trying to please all of her readers all of the time. I guess as long as she continues to write, we will continue to read, which will make us all happy.