The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

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Title: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Notable: Book #1 in the Mrs. Pollifax series

Premise:

Mrs. Pollifax is an older widowed woman whose children have left home.  She is feeling unfulfilled in her daily pursuits, so her doctor recommends that she try something out which she’s always wanted to do.  When she was younger, Mrs. Pollifax dreamt of being a spy.  You can see where this is leading, no?

My thoughts:

I was not expecting much of this book–just look at that cover!  When was the last time you saw a book cover quite so absurd?  This book surprised me so much with how well it was written, the charming heroine, and the crazy story line.

Through a happy accident Mrs. Pollifax is chosen for a simple mission, but she ends up getting dragged into a complex and dangerous web of intrigue.  Though she’s naive in the ways of secret agents, Mrs. Pollifax is experienced in life and human nature, and she has to employ all of her wiles and knowledge to make it through a truly harrowing ordeal.

I recommend The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax to those who enjoy an unconventional adventure story with a unique protagonist.  This was a completely unique and refreshing read!


Possible Objections:

  • Some of violence
  • A bit of adult language

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

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Title: Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

Premise:

This is an autobiographical graphic novel about John Leguizamo’s life–from his childhood through the present day.  It includes episodes from his stormy childhood days, through his varied and colorful acting career, to his marriage and family.

My thoughts:

My favorite role of John’s was as Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!  So when I saw that the library had this graphic novel about his life, I had to get it.  I was totally unprepared for what I found when I cracked it open!  It’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t like painful honesty and plenty of potty-mouth language.

Objectionable parts aside, I really enjoyed the book.  It took me a little while to come to that conclusion, though.  After I got to the last page and closed it, I felt like I had gone through some sort of traumatic life experience and needed some time to recover and process what I had just read.  John’s life was pretty intense (often not in a good way), yet in this story he shares his heart and motivation with us.  I’m sure this was a cathartic endeavor for him–a chance to examine his life, come to terms with all of its stages, and accept it for what it is.  Without his past he wouldn’t be who he is today.  As someone who likes getting inside other peoples’ heads, this was a satisfying read for me.  It makes me thankful for my relatively uneventful (and peaceful) life.

I recommend Ghetto Klown to adults who enjoy autobiographies told in a unique way.  Just be prepared for a lot of crudeness and bad language.

Possible Objections:

  • Lots of bad language
  • Cartoon nudity
  • Sexual references & language
  • Drug use
  • Some violence
  • A few racial slurs

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Books We Own: Terry Pratchett

My husband introduced me to the wonderful realm of Discworld some years ago.  I had never heard of Terry Pratchett and at first his books struck me as somewhat odd.  What exactly were these books?  They were definitely fantasy, but unlike any fantasy I had ever read.  I soon discovered that this was a magical and wondrous world, and I wanted to discover all of its delightful secrets.  If you are a fan of English humor and fantasy books, you will love the Discworld novels.  They are simply brilliant!

We are in the process of trying to build a complete set of Pratchett’s books, but they are not as easy to come by here in the States.  Also, I like to add to my book collection by finding the odd book at a thrift sale or Goodwill.  It’s like finding hidden treasure.  The few times I have found one of Pratchett’s books at Goodwill, I’ve wanted to start running through the aisles, waving the book around for everyone to see and shouting out my exultation.  Sweet, sweet victory!  I refrain, though.  Who wants to get carted off by the police because you got overly excited about a book, y’know?

**You can see a slideshow of the books at the end of this post.

♥ = we own the book

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Discworld Novels in Order:

  1. The Color of Magic
  2. The Light Fantastic
  3. Equal Rites
  4. Mort
  5. Sourcery
  6. Wyrd Sisters
  7. Pyramids
  8. Guards! Guards!
  9. Eric
  10. Moving Pictures
  11. Reaper Man
  12. Witches Abroad
  13. Small Gods
  14. Lords and Ladies
  15. Men at Arms
  16. Soul Music
  17. Interesting Times
  18. Maskerade
  19. Feet of Clay
  20. Hogfather
  21. Jingo
  22. The Last Continent
  23. Carpe Jugulum
  24. The Fifth Elephant
  25. The Truth
  26. Thief of Time
  27. The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable
  28. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  29. Night Watch
  30. The Wee Free Men
  31. Monstrous Regiment
  32. A Hat Full of Sky
  33. Going Postal
  34. Thud!
  35. Wintersmith
  36. Making Money
  37. Unseen Academicals
  38. I Shall Wear Midnight
  39. Snuff
  40. Raising Steam
  41. The Shepherd’s Crown

For Younger Readers:

  1. Dodger
  2. Dodger’s Guide to London
  3. Dragons at Crumbling Castle
  4. Johnny and the Bomb
  5. Johnny and the Dead
  6. Nation
  7. Only You Can Save Mankind
  8. The Abominable Snowman
  9. The Bromeliad Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers, Wings)
  10. The Carpet People
  11. The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner
  12. Where’s My Cow?

Other Titles:

  1. A Blink of the Screen
  2. A Slip of the Keyboard
  3. A Tourist Guide to Lancre: A Discworld Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs)
  4. Death’s Domain: A Discworld Mapp
  5. Good Omens (also by Neil Gaiman) ♥
  6. Guards! Guards!: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  7. Maskerade: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  8. Mort: The Play (also by Stephen Briggs)
  9. Mrs. Bradshaw’s Handbook: To Travelling Upon the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway
  10. Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook
  11. Seriously Funny: The Endlessly Quotable Terry Pratchett
  12. Shaking Hands with Death
  13. Small Gods: A Discworld Graphic Novel (also by Ray Friesen)
  14. Strata
  15. The Art of Discworld (also by Paul Kidby) ♥
  16. The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide
  17. The Compleat Discworld Atlas
  18. The Dark Side of the Sun
  19. The Discworld Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  20. The Folklore of Discworld (also by Jacqueline Simpson)
  21. The Long Earth
  22. The Long War
  23. The Long Mars
  24. The Long Utopia
  25. The Long Cosmos
  26. The New Discworld Companion (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  27. The Pratchett Portfolio
  28. The Science of Discworld (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  29. The Science of Discworld II: The Globe (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  30. The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  31. The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day (also by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen)
  32. The Streets of Ankh-Morpork Mapp (also by Stephen Briggs) ♥
  33. The Unadulterated Cat
  34. The Unseen University Cut-Out Book (also by Alan Batley & Bernard Pearson)
  35. The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
  36. The World of Poo
  37. Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion. . .So Far (also by Stephen Briggs)
  38. Wyrd Sisters: The Play (also by Stepehn Briggs)

Discworld Books by Other Authors:

  1. The Authorized Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Magazine from SFX ♥

 

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I just noticed that my camera seems to have a scratch on the lens.  That’s awesome.  😦

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Walk in the Woods

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Title: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Premise:

This is a humorous memoir about Bill’s quest to hike the Appalachian Trail, a good portion of it with his friend Katz.  Additionally, Bill shares his observations and opinions on topics which are pertinent to the story, such as, the National Parks Service, invasive species, conservation, mining, etc.

My thoughts:

It would not be an understatement to say that I LOVED this book!  It wasn’t a page-turner that I just couldn’t put down, but more like an old friend that I would return to for shared jokes and just to appreciate being together.  I wanted to savor my time with this book.  Bill’s wry humor really suits me and I appreciate the way he uses it to draw attention to and poke at issues he cares about.  Sometimes it’s more effective to criticize something through sardonic humor than by railing against it in an angry tirade.

When I picked up the book, I didn’t really think it would be all that exciting.  How can you make an exceptionally long walk entertaining?  Well, Bill figured it out and delivered beautifully.  His comedic timing is like strawberries and whipped cream: perfect.  Let me state again that I am in love with his writing style and I look forward to reading more of his works.  How can I have gone so long without reading any of his books?

The last thing I wanted to comment on was how Bill brought little nuggets of history into his story.  I love history when it’s presented in an engaging manner, and Bill incorporated it seamlessly.  I was particularly intrigued by the opulent hotels which once existed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the sad history of the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania.  I had previously studied Centralia when I was on a kick about ghost towns, and it is a haunting setting to be sure.  If you’ve never heard of it, do a bit of research.  It’s fascinating.

I recommend A Walk in the Woods to adults and mature teenagers who enjoy a humorous adventure story.  If you like wry humor, you’ll especially appreciate Bryson’s writing.

A couple of favorite quotes:

“’Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror.’  When Daniel Boone is uneasy, you know it’s time to watch your step.”  (p. 63-64)

“The forest we walked through now was really just a strapping adolescent.  In 1890, a railroad man from Cincinnati named Henry C. Bagley came to this part of Georgia, saw the stately white pines and poplars, and was so moved by their towering majesty and abundance that he decided to chop them all down.  They were worth a lot of money.”  (p. 68)

Possible Objections:

  • a decent amount of swearing

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Azazel by Isaac Asimov

Azazel-w

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My husband is a fan of Isaac Asimov.  I was a bit dubious, especially considering there’s a demon on the front cover.  I don’t like horror-type anything, so I was fearful that this book would be scary.  (I guess watching horror movies as a child left some kind of permanent damage on my psyche.)  My fears could not have been further from the truth.  Azazel is not at all scary.  Not even a wee little bit.

The way the book is written is quite interesting.  The reader is essentially sitting in Asimov’s seat, hearing a series of short stories related by a friend of Mr. Asimov himself.  I use the term ‘friend’ loosely.  The friend in question is George, a man who has the ability to call forward a two-centimeter tall demon.  This demon, Azazel, lends assistance, not for George himself, but for those around him whom he sees fit to assist.  Unfortunately, George’s assistance is more like a curse, but it’s not for lack of good intentions.  It’s sort of a series of be-careful-what-you-wish-for cautionary tales.  Each chapter contains its own mini story, so it’s very good for light reading.  Or lite, if you prefer fewer calories.

Azazel is fairly brimming over with wit and dry humor.  The good-humored jabs that George and Asimov direct at one another are some of the best parts of the book.  Here’s one of my favorite lines, from page 60, “What kind of a harebrained, idiotic, malapropistic, omniklutzistic rear end of a diseased Bactrian camel are you?”

Conclusion: I’ll be reading more Asimov.  His writing is witty, entertaining, and it challenges me to go find a dictionary and expand my vocabulary.  It’s appropriate for adults, not so much kids.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber

Hard Times

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I’m not sure where I got My Life and Hard Times–perhaps at a library book sale.  (I love those!)  This is the only book by James Thurber that I own, but I will definitely be reading more of his works!

This book is a short collection of autobiographical stories about Thurber’s life in Ohio around the 1930’s.  The episodes he shares run the gamut–from a biting dog to crazy servants, from a broken dam to a car that had to be pushed.  I can’t do justice to the humor contained in this book.  You just have to trust me and read it for yourself.  The ludicrous situations are just right to make you chuckle, chortle and snort.

Also, Thurber included his simple illustrations throughout.  I think they add a nice touch to the stories.  I highly recommend this book as a fun, short read!

 

Possible Objections:

  1. The b-word makes an appearance.
  2. Thurber’s grandpa regularly takes God’s name in vain.
  3. There is some talk about a “yellow” gal and a “Negro”/”Negress” in the chapter about servants.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Light Fantastic

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The Light Fantastic is the sequel to The Color of Magic, which I reviewed earlier.  This book picks up the story where the previous book left off, in the middle of the adventures of Rincewind (a wizard) and Twoflower (a wealthy tourist).  There are some new characters in this book, who add a bit of fun to the story.  Cohen, the aging hero, is quite entertaining.  I’ve also come to admire the Luggage much more, as his loyalty to his owner continues on through the story.

The story basically boils down to Rincewind and Twoflower going on an epic adventure, though one man is trying to keep from dying, while the other thinks it is the best vacation he’s ever been on.  A strong parallel story is the jockeying of wizards for positions of power, which enters into the spotlight more at the very end.

I certainly enjoyed the book and have had fun getting to the know the characters better.  Like the previous book, the action and characters are all over the place.  It can get a little confusing, but I still think the overall story is charming.  (My husband tells me that the Discworld really starts to come into clearer focus around the third or fourth book.)

So…will you give it a go?  Have you already read it?  If so, what did you think?

Possible Objections:

  1. Some rude language.
  2. Several references to things of a sexual nature.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER THE LIGHT FANTASTIC POSTS:

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

Worst Class Trip EverThis post contains an affiliate link.

The Worst Class Trip Ever is about Wyatt, Suzana, and Matt.  They go on a field trip to Washington, D.C.  While they are on the plane, Matt and Wyatt see two men looking at aerial photos of the White House.  They think that the two men are going to try to kill the president when they fly over the White House.  Matt takes something out of the two men’s backpack.  They find out that the thing that they took out of the men’s backpack is a laser radio jammer.  Read the book to find out what the two men were going to do with the jammer. I recommend it for preteens and up.  I would rate it PG for violence, action and peril.

Bubba says good-bye.

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The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Color of Magic 1This post contains an affiliate link.

Let me just start out by saying that my husband and I are both Terry Pratchett fans.  I know that his books are not everyone’s cup of tea.  It really takes a certain type of person to appreciate his books.  You have to appreciate English humor, especially its subtlety.  You should be a fan of fantasy literature, and it helps if you’re a bit of a geek.  If you fit those requirements, I highly recommend his writing to you.

The Color of Magic is the first in the Discworld series of books about a fantasy land and a wide cast of unique inhabitants.  This land isn’t really restricted by things like gravity, probability, absolutes of time and space, etc.  It’s a fantasy world that does not take itself seriously and which can change in the blink of an eye.

Since this is the first book in the series, you should expect it to be less polished than later books.  While I did enjoy it immensely, I can see how the story doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as others that I’ve read.  The plot seems somewhat disjointed and the sheer number of characters and places introduced can be bewildering, as well.

If you’re a Pratchett fan, read the book anyway.  If you want to be a Pratchett fan–read it.  If you want to follow the advice of a total stranger–read it.

Let me know what you thought of the book!

Possible Objections:

  1. Lots of violence–it’s how many issues are solved.
  2. There are plenty of allusions to things of a sexual nature.
  3. One kingdom is full of barely clothed people.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER THE COLOR OF MAGIC POSTS: