The Lovecraft Anthology is a graphic collection of Lovecraft’s tales, adapted and illustrated by a variety of authors and artists. Featured in this first volume are several classics, including Call of Cthulhu, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Beyond the artwork, these adaptations also are quick verbal sketches of Lovecraft’s work. I enjoyed them, but often regretted the stories weren’t covered in more detail. Creating artwork is very time consuming, though, and being exposed to the styles of multiple artists was worth missing out on a few story details. As with any multiple-artist anthology, I had style preferences (D’Israeli!), but this will vary by reader. Recommended as an introduction to dark Lovecraftian worlds.

22. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, 276 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/02/2013

At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher, 174 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/12/2013

star wars  Inspired by Shakespeare’s writing style and the language of his time. Here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise knight and an evil lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers.

This was quite entertaining. Reading C3-P0’s lines in iambic pentameter and Shakespearen English were hilarious. As well as R2-D2’s thoughts being done as “an aside” to the audience in full well-educated language.

 

19. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, 208 pages, read by Angie, on 09/18/2013

A classic story about a boy and his dogs. In some ways, Where the Red Fern Grows seems like a timeless story about a boy’s determination to get what he most desires. He works hard, saves his money, and is finally able to buy his coon dogs. He trains them, he comes to love those dogs, and they love him back. The three of them are a unit that can’t be broken. However, I can’t see a child of today acting with so much patience and determination. Billy is a special character; he almost seems superhuman in a way. He thinks of others, he works hard, he sets a goal and works to achieve it. Old Dan and Little Anne also seem superhuman. They are like one dog in two bodies; they are bonded in a way you really don’t see often; and they can’t live without each other. This book had a little more coon hunting description than I was really prepared to read, but I appreciated the story. It is a simple story with a strong message, but there is a lot of depth in the storytelling that you don’t always find in current books. This is a classic for a reason.

16. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 08/16/2013

I don’t think I had ever read The Wind in the Willows before, so when I saw it on Tumblebooks I decided to give it a whirl. This is the story of Ratty and Mole who live together on the riverbank. It is also the story of Mr. Toad, a rascal obsessed with motorcars. Of course there are other characters about who pop up now and then, like Badger, the old codger who tries to set Mr. Toad straight. Each chapter follows the next, but they are almost independent stories in themselves. I enjoyed the adventures of these fellows and thought the book had withstood the test of time fairly well. You can definitely tell it was written 100 years ago, but it doesn’t suffer from it. My only word of caution is that the word “ass” is used quite frequently to describe characters (as in “don’t be an ass Mole”). So there might be some explaining to do if parents are reading it aloud or kids are reading it.

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fiction, Short Stories, Tammy · Tags:

Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman, 221 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/29/2013

This collection of Chinese folktales made for a fun read. You can almost hear the voice of the storyteller telling the stories around a campfire or more appropriately a father or mother telling their children’s these fables and tales at bedtime that their own parent told them. The stories cover a wide range of characters from peasants to princesses and kings. There are some morality tales as well with the man character being someone who is not too bright or who is lazy or stubborn. Some of the tales are similar to the fairytales including some dragons making an appearance.

Winner of the Newbery Award Winner 1926.shen

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes, 247 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/19/2013

This tale of adventure on the high seas is a rousing tale for teens. Set in 17th century England our young hero, orphan Philip Marsham must flee London in fear for his life. His father was a sailor so he decides to head to the sea. He signs on the “Rose of Devon” a dark frigate bound for Newfoundland. The story does take some time to get “underway” and into the action as we follow Philip on his walk to the sea, but he does meet some of his fellow shipmates along the way. Once aboard ship the story picks up. If the reader is unfamiliar with nautical terms he may need to look up some of the words to really be able to picture what is happening on the ship.

Philip soon wins his captain’s regard and is enjoying his new life when the ship is seized by buccaneers. With the bloody battles, murderous pirates and our brave hero this is a story for any reader in search of seafaring adventure.

Newbery Award Winner in the 3rd year of the award’s history in 1924.dark frigate

06. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis, 302 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/31/2013

Thirteen year-old Young Fu and his mother must move away from their farm in central China after his father dies and move to the city of Chungking (now spelled Chongqing. Young Fu and his mother have never been to the city before. While he is full of excitement and looking for adventure she is afraid of all the strange customs of the city and the foreigners who live there. Young Fu is apprenticed to Tang, a master coppersmith. The book is set in the 1920s a turbulent time for China it is after the fall of the Imperial government and factions are vying for power.

Chinese traditions are introduced to the reader through the eyes of Young Fu including crooked streets to catch and confuse evil spirits, payment of debt on New Year’s Day, the debate over whether a priest should be called or a doctor for a sick family member. The reader travels with Young Fu as he grows up and goes from apprentice to journeyman, or an experience craftsman. The book is told by stories of events that happen to Young Fu and usually there is some new experience or knowledge that he gains though sometimes it is by making costly mistakes.

Overall an enjoyable look at a troubled time in China’s history and the lessons one needs to learn as they grow from boy to man which won the Newbery Award for children’s literature in 1933. young fu

23. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright, 124 pages, read by Tammy, on 05/19/2013

Thimble SummerNewbery Winner 1939

A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, on her family’s Wisconsin farm, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock and money for Garnet’s father. Garnet’s good luck continues throughout the summer and she’s convinced its because of her lucky thimble. Though not a long book, it is easy for the reader to picture Garnet’s family farm, their small town and the close-knit farming community. Garnet clearly loves the farm, but her older brother is determined to never be a farmer as he watches their father struggle to pay the bills. He realizes the famiy income is based on the weather and things beyond his control no matter how hard dad works. But through the eyes of a stranger and Garnet he also grows to appreciate the benefits of farm life.

Crossovers-2 coverThe two volumes of “Crossovers” are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with each other and real people throughout history.  The premise of the book was inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England, in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he explored the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by Win Scott Eckert and others to become the “Crossover Universe.”  Mr. Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe. Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  (Mr. Spock himself claimed Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor of his!)  There are 2000 entries in this chronology and 300 illustrations. Reading these two books is fun and will send you scurrying to find many of the stories and books that are referenced.

 

20. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Classics, Fiction, Horror · Tags:

Alice in Zombieland by Nickolas Cook, Lewis Carroll, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 02/19/2013

Alice meets zombies in this fun mashup. This book follows the Alice in Wonderland story pretty well it just adds zombies to the mix. In fact, Alice herself becomes a zombie after falling down the rat hole and starts craving meat. While the book isn’t stellar it is a fun read. I really enjoyed how the author integrated zombies into every little bit of the Alice story.

Crossovers-1 cover

The two volumes of this book are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with real people throughout history.  The premise of this book is inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (aka Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he detailed the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by others into the Crossover Universe.  Win Scott Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe.  Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  Reading these two books is a fun and highly addictive experience!

 

20. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Eric, Fiction

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 270 pages, read by Eric, on 01/19/2013

tarzan of the apesUndoubtedly, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most famous literary creation is Tarzan, John Clayton, Earl Greystoke. As a teenager, I became obsessed with the many adventures of this hero. I collected an entire paperback set, and even reproduced the cover art from one as a pencil project when I was taking art lessons.

This is my first revisiting of the original tale in nearly two decades, and although it’s still a wonderfully pulpy read, my ability to overlook its faults has waned. Racially and sexually, Tarzan’s adventure has its share of swooning women and “noble savages.” Luckily, it also has adventure on a grand scale, and a wonderful sense of humor as balance. This classic is far removed from the various filmed versions attempted over the decades, and worth a look as the origin of an iconic figure.

18. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 10/17/2012

The Indian in the CupboardOmri gets a plastic Indian from his friend Patrick for his birthday; he also gets and old cupboard from his brother and a key from his mom. Together these items make magic. When Omri puts the Indian in the cupboard and locks it the Indian comes alive. Suddenly he finds himself in possession of Little Bear an Iroquois brave who wants things had has to be taken care of. When Patrick finds out about Little Bear he wants his own and chaos ensues. Soon the boys realize that they have real people who were sucked from their real lives not toys in their possession. They realize the best thing to do is to send them back through the cupboard.

This little book was a fun read. It doesn’t really seem dated at all even though it is over 30 years old. Omri and Patrick act like real little boys who want what they want no matter the consequences. Their adventures with Little Bear and Boone are a little dangerous and a lot exciting. I really enjoyed how the boys differed in their reactions to the toys coming to life. Omri accepted the responsibility and Patrick was less cautious and more reckless with them. But in the end the boys make the right decision for everyone even if it isn’t the easiest.

16. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Tammy · Tags:

The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage, 301 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/15/2012

A new translation of the alliterative poem written in Middle English around 1400 AD originally known as The Alliterative Morte Arthure. Simon Armitage who recently received acclaim for his translation of the classic alliterative poem, Sir Gawain and The Green Knight turns his talent to this classic. He follows King Arthur’s bloody conquests across Europe until his bloody fall, with many of his loyal knights, through a poignantly described burial scene. The language is still lyrical and moving in spite of being a translation.

24. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction · Tags:

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves #1) by Jean Craighead George, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 08/24/2012

Miyax/Julie is torn between living the eskimo way and living the white man “gussak” way. She has been torn from her father and forced to live with others. She marries Daniel and eventually runs away after he tries to force himself on her. In the Alaskan wilderness she bonds with a wolf pack and is accepted as one of them. The alpha wolf, Amaraq, teaches her how to survive and speak with the wolves. They become the family she no longer has.

Julie is a very strong, independent girl who has a fascinating story. At times I did find her voice a little preachy when she was talking about the eskimo way of life and the wolves. However, her relationship with the wolves was fascinating. I am not so sure about the end of the book. I haven’t read the sequel so I don’t know how George resolves this, but the end was a little unsatisfying. I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes when Amaraq gets killed, which is a sure sign of a good book!

27. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Courtney, Graphic Novel

Stickman Odyssey by Christopher Ford, 208 pages, read by Courtney, on 07/16/2012

No classic story is complete until you’ve read it in stickman form. Just sayin’.
Really, this is a hilarious volume that makes the Odyssey entertaining for any age. Follow Zozimos on his adventures after he is banished from Sticatha. You’ll meet golems, smart ladies, sailors and so much more. All in stickman form! Now I need to track down the next volume (aaaaand…ordered).

25. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Fiction

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 03/17/2012

Such a fun book. This book was just as fun to read as an adult as it was as a kid. I love all the puns and the silliness of the world Juster has created and I imagine kids today enjoy it just as much as they did when I was a wee lass. This is such a clever book but it is written so that the cleverness does not go over the heads of the intended audience. I love the Milo has to find Rhyme and Reason because the land is just not the same without them. I loved all his adventures. This is truly a timeless classic.

23. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Classics, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, 149 pages, read by Angie, on 03/22/2012

I am not sure how I went through childhood not reading this book since it seems like it is such a classic coming of age ritual now, but somehow I did. I kind of wish I would have read it as a 10 or 12 year old. I think Margaret’s story, while a little dated, has such universal appeal that all young girls can relate to it. I can see why it has become the classic it has.

Margaret is just like every tween girl I have ever known or was. She is worried about growing up, school, boys, friends, her body. The unique thing about Margaret is that she wonders about religion. She comes from a mixed religion family: her mom is Christian her dad is Jewish but really they don’t practice any religion. Her parents are going to let her decide what she wants to believe when she is old enough. Margaret talks to God all the time but she doesn’t have a religion.

I really enjoyed Margaret’s story and her journey. I think her her struggles are ones that all young girls can identify with. Who didn’t worry about getting boobs or what your friends were wearing or what boys were cute? I understand putting the period in a positive light but I am not sure I know of any girls who actually looked forward to getting their period or were that excited about it. That might have been the only part I found the least bit unrealistic. The rest of the book seems like a look at a typical 6th grader. Sure it was a bit dated in parts, but that added to the charm. I think it definitely stands the test of time.

04. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Melody

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, 318 pages, read by Melody, on 02/03/2012

The Moonflower Vine was a beautiful book.  The opening chapter is about three grown daughters coming home to the Ozarks to visit their elderly folks.  What seems at first blush a nostalgia piece about skinny dipping, peach ice cream, and afternoon picnics delves into each of the family member’s lives as the book progresses.  There are love affairs, secrets, vices, jealousies, and all the small dramas that make up the realities of life.  Would I have loved this book if I were not an Ozark native who has watched the moonflowers open and heard the killdeers cry in the meadows?  I think that I would but that the story has such a personal connection to me and my heritage assuredly endears it to me.  In the foreword the Pulitzer winning author Janet Smiley who included The Moonflower Vine in her Thirteen Ways to Look at a Novel, a study of 100 great novel, places The Moonflower Vine with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison as the rare great single novel.  I completely agree.  Upon finishing, I wanted to know if Mary Jo ever found love, if Soames got to fly, if Callie and Matthew lived the to see 80, 90, 100. And was saddened that I will never know.   I suppose that is the sign of a truly great novel,  that long after the last word you wonder and worry about the characters as if they were real people who you might meet going down the road, an Ozark gravel road with wild honeysuckle in the ditch.