10. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kira · Tags:

Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman, read by Kira, on 02/08/2014

Black Orchid tells or retells the story of one of DC comic’s superheroes (or superheroines).  The Black Orchid had appeared in DC Comics of the 1970’s.  Neil Gaiman performs a twist on the usual narrative of a superhero.  The story begins with our superhero getting killed in the beginning pages.  Then a former friend uses the woman’s DNA to create a plant/human hybrid, that has different superpowers.  It is a very violent story, with death upon death of the both the good and the bad guys.  Lex Luther is the main bad guy, while other superheroes/villains make cameo appearances.  This title is credited with helping to break the way for lessindex traditionalimagesBlackO graphic novels.

10. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Harlequin Valentine by Gaiman, Neil, read by Kira, on 02/09/2014

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Apparently the Harlequin is a stock character in European and British theater specifically, the Commedia dell’Arte format – along with a whole host of other characters – including Columbine – his love interest.  In this retelling of the Harlequin’s usual story, Gaiman adds a twist to the standard narrative.  Even though I was not familiar with the standard narrative, I could see that giving the woman powers and moving her into a main character status is a twist on the standard narrative where the woman is often the object, and Not the subject.  Interesting piece.harqp3

03. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Christmas : a Candid History by Bruce David Forbes., read by Kira, on 01/17/2014

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Did you know that the Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas in the US & UK for almost 2 Centuries!  So working Christmas was the norm, when Bob Cratchit asked Scrooge for the day off.  The christmas-a-candid-historyChristmas Carol story makes it seem as if, Scrooge is being a mean person, as opposed to a law-abPURITAN-BAN-ON-CHRISTMAS-WAS-TO-PREVENT-DEMONIZATIONS-OF-CITIZENS-IN-COMMUNITYiding citizen, a shrewd business person.  The biggest reason for the revival of the winter holiday celebration in Britain & America was the book, the Christmas Carol; the 2nd reason for the revival of celebrating Christmas, was the press’ fascination with the young Queen Victoria & Prince Albert from Germany who captured the royal families’ Christmas Tree in the newspaper.  The “tradition” caught on.cmaspuritans

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A pioneer in the world consciousness effort, Shakti Gawain details the practical technique of using mental imagery and affirmation to produce positive life changes.  creative-visualization-complete-book-on-tape-shakti-gawain-audio-cover-artThis includes the Pink Bubble Technique, Grounding and Runnbook covering Energy.  I find these exercises very useful and recommend work by Shakti Gawain.Visualization

31. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks, read by Kira, on 01/30/2014

something missingMartin a career criminal with OCD, only steals items that won’t be missed.  Food, cleaning supplies, and higher end pieces, like good thiefjewelry that hasn’tsomething_missing_coer been used or silver.  He likes his “clients” and when he accidentally knocks a toothbrush in the toilet, he is unable to just wash it off, but rather replaces it, which leads him to his first good deed.  He begins to think that maybe he is meant to be in these houses for more than personal acquisitions.

Something missing refers to both the items in people’s homes as well as relationships in Martin’s life.

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30. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kira

Jules Verne’s Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne/Gary Gianni, read by Kira, on 01/24/2014

Trapped in an Underwatjules verneer Vessel with a Brilliant Mad Misanthrope!  that about sums it up.  Since our challenge this month was classics, and I haven’t tried many graphic novels, I thought I’d give this book a go.  This is my 2nd or 3rd graphic novel, and I find I don’t get much out of these [though as a kid, some of the Classic Comics really brought to life some of the classics, but others didn't work].  On top of the limited plot-line the artwork was dreary, you could have had some beautiful underwater scenes, for example of Atlantis or the cool fish.    But No.

 

 

 

 

 

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22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Kira, on 01/19/2014

Wow!  I was so impressed with this 2nd book of the Raven Cycle trilogy.  Definitely, a book that stands on its own (well the background stoThedreamthievesbluery would be nice to have). tumblr_mswuqaIkXF1r181heo1_500135343_10202156284849292_698349595_oBlack Prince effigycabes water  Part of the credit goes to the awesome narrator of the Audiobook – Will Patton.  Patton manages unique and appropriate voices for each character.  The other part I really loved about this book, is the way it takes comaurora lynchmon narratives and breaks them, oh oh, the mother and aunties are letting the Hit Man into their house! danger danger, oh, but these women aren’t stupid, no they’re just braver and more clever than women usually get dreamthivscredit for.  This story focusesThe-Raven-Boys-IB2(pp_w573_h441) on Ronin and his abilties to dream objects and bring them back.  Also: Great Worldbuilding!

Pics include: Blue, the gang, Kavinsky’s car, Glendauer, Cabes Water, Aurora Lynchtumblr_mqgw0pp1ej1s2qitso1_500 tumblr_mdmygfZaTa1qmbg8bo1_500 and 2 collages.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Classics, Fiction, Kira

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, read by Kira, on 01/18/2014

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s seemed to be mostly a character sketch of Holly Golightly (Gloria Vanderbuilt is one of many supposed models for the character).   The narrator and Holly both live in a brownstone Manhattan apartment building.  Holly was a vivacious country girl, who has become a society girl, socializing with wealthy men, who give her expensive gifts and money.  The narrator seems to be a version of Truman Capote, observer and writer.

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02. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira

Ross Poldark : a novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by by Graham, Winston, read by Kira, on 12/27/2013

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I recently watched the dramatization of this Masterpiece series for the 3rd time in my life (once as a youngster forced to view it as my parents watched it, a decade ago on VHS, after I suggested MRRL purchase it, and now checking out the DVD series from DBRL).  The story weaves in economic and class injustices alongside sudsy and dramatic storylines.  What was especially interesting was contrasting the book version with the TV series.  So much more happens in film, than in the book, much more drama.  For example in the film series, the protagonist marries Demelza, only after she is forced to reveal that she is pregnant by him.  And he is still in love with his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth who ended up marrying his cousin Francis (they understood that he had died fighting over in the colonies).  In the book, he gives Elizabeth up right after he sleeps with Demelza – no protracted struggle to do the right thing.  Also, in the book Ross is clearly fascinated with Demelza this creature who has bloomed as she became his housemaid.

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26. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags:

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Kira, on 12/24/2013

Jonathan Stroud has done it again, actually this title is better than the Bartimaeus series (imho).  The Lockwood Investigative Company of ghost investigators burn down a house in the process of eliminating a problem specter haunting a house.  That’s when things get really interesting, when a wealthy CEO hires them to clean out a mansion where other larger & more experienced agencies have failed.  Join Lucy, George, and Anthony as they attempt to stay alive and solve this mystery.

A wonderful read – good plot, and delicious atmosphere, transports you to another London.

 

 

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11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry, read by Kira, on 12/11/2013

Once again I’m impressed with Dave Barry.  He is so funny.  This time he strings together a cohesive narrative with gut-busting sections, and Christmas cheer.  Its a story told about a family who’s dog is dying and how this affects the annual Christmas pageant.shepherd_angel_walter_barry  santa-and-nativity-scene

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Kira, Romance, Science Fiction · Tags:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth, read by Kira, on 12/06/2013

This title unlike the previous 2, is narrated by both Tris and Tobias. I’m Not sure this adds that much (unlike hearing Beans narrative in contrast to Ender’s version of the same story). I’m always suspicious that the author is trying to pad their work to add more pages.  Maybe Roth is pulling a Hobbit Movie extension trick, trying to get as much out of the story as she can.  Overall, I liked this book, no it wasn’t as fast-paced as the other two, but you gained a lot of explanation.  I wonder if Roth knew where the series was headed when she published the first book.

 

allegiant  DIVERGENT-ALLEGIANTalegntimagesallegns

If a song was playing during the opening scenes, it could be the Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again” new boss, same as the old boss…

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Graveyard Child by M.L.N. Hanover., read by Kira, on 12/01/2013

Jayne Heller finds out a LOT about her past in book 5 of the series.  Like what happened on her 16th birthday, who was her real father, and was Eric a bad guy, or a victim, and where did the very powerful demon that shares her body come from.fallen-angel-black-dark-female-goth-gothic-scene-winged-78921graveyard childDemon_Hunter_  Creative world-building in another fast-paced enjoyable read.  Loved it!

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder, read by Kira, on 12/01/2013

scentmg scntmg A continuation of the title Touch of Power.  Avry believed to be dead by everyone, sneaks into Estrid’s army and trains them in stealth moves.  We also get Kerrick’s point of view (for better or for worse – I often suspect authors of padding their pages when they insert another POV).  It was exciting, though I really wanted to follow only one storyline, and then come back to the other plotline. scentofmagicAnother enjoyable read!

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Humor, Kira, NonFiction

I'll mature when I'm dead : Dave Barry's amazing tales of adulthood by Dave Barry., read by Kira, on 11/28/2013

dave barry    I never knew how funny Dave Barry is!  I will have to look into more of his material.  The two best vignettes were Fangs of Endearment: a Vampire novel which spoofed Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series, and I also really liked Tips for Visiting Miami which incorporates some data on crime in Miami (which I guess is kinda high).  He has some more serious vignettes on health which include urging people to get their routine exams, like oscilloscodavebarrpes.Twilight-Vampire-Joke

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Kira, Memoirs, NonFiction

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee casts off the yarn harlot's guide to the land of knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , read by Kira, on 11/28/2013

castoff froganatomy-of-a-knitter1  knit steph Stephanie Pearl-McPhee uses the format of a travelogue to humorously describe knitter’s foibles (including the STASH). She also incudes a number of quizzes so you can find out what type of knitter, stasher, etc. you are.  It was quiet funny and I actually learned a few things I hadn’t know (I am Not a tumblr_loylymBblY1qcg6wqo1_500process knitter).

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

Perv: the Sexual Deviant in All of Us . by Jesse Bering, read by Kira, on 11/27/2013

Jesse Bering asks thoughtful questions in this examination of what acts or even thoughts are considered deviant in our culture.  Are you ready to label someone deviant because you’re grossed out by the thought of their behavior, or because you’re concerned about the harm to the individual (or animal)?perv.rscreen-shot-2013-10-16-at-7-59-03-amperv-the-sexual-deviant-in-all-of-us  Nope, its Not 50 Shades of Gray.images  He draws a distinction between pedophilia and hebephilia (attraction to physically mature teenagers).  He asks us to make choices that actually improve children’s lives, and not prioritize moralizing.  Bering uses both logical arguments as well as scientific research.

27. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science · Tags:

Gifts of the Crow: how perception, emotion, & thought allow smart birds to behave like humans by John Marzluff & Tony Angell., read by Kira, on 11/26/2013

giftscrow   corvids5-500x666This book describes the multiple and unexpected intelligences of corvids aka the crow family.

Tony-Angell crowCorvids outscore dogs and equal primates on a number of dimensions, with their tool use, and understanding that other creatures have minds (minds that can be deceived) capabilities.  Also, Corvids engage in play, from repeatedly sliding down snowbanks, to using a piece of bark to surf the air via updrafts.  They recognize individual humans, and have been know to gift humans with small tokens,

Initially, I really wanted a New Caledonian Crow for a pet (they seem to be the brightest of the lot).  However, after reading the sections where the crows mob other individual birds, and mercilessly tease other animals, I changed my mind.  The authors present a very balanced look at corvids, including the limitations of corvids as demonstrated by the research.  Some of the sections on how corvid brains function, shed light on human brains (yes, these avian dinosaurs show convergent evolution with humans).

Very interesting.corvidstackweb

 

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24. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, read by Kira, on 11/18/2013

Maria Snyder crafts almost perfect fantasy novels featuring strong female protagonists.

Avry of Kazan is one of the last healers alive in the lands, she has been moving from town to town attempting to hide her gift because the healers have been blamed for spreading the devastating plague.  Healers work by absorbing the injuries into their own bodies, but then healing 5 times more quickly.

Marauders and despots have followed in the wake of the devastation.  Prince Ryne appears to be the only king capable of taking on the nefarious evil-doers.  Unfortunately, he has contracted the plague, but is in frozen stasis, in case a healer can be found.  Prince

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Kerrick is searching for a healer to bring Ryne back to life.

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13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Fiction, Kira

Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel, read by Kira, on 11/12/2013

goodbyenow4nowProtagonist Sam works for as a programmer for an online dating company.  As he is filling out an online application in the hopes of meeting the right one, he realizes  that none of the questions really tap into really meaningful issues.  Even if meaningful questions were included, most people would lie.  So, proposes that he writes a new software algorithm that taps into people’s financial statements.  The good news is that it works really successfully in matching up couples.  The bad news is that it is too successful and long term monthly signups drop.  He is fired, then the grandmother of his new girlfriend Meredith – the perfect match from his algorith – dies.  Meredith spends HUGE amounts of time moping and mourning her grandmother’s death.  In an effort to return his love Meredith to her usual self, Sam creates another algorithm based on digital conversations between Meredith and her grandmother to recreate a digital version of the grandmother.

The book seems more like a mouthpiece to explore these complicated issues.  Unfortunately, there is a HUGE amount of whining by most of the characters (I’m usually pretty sympathetic, but the characters are so hopeless and pathetic). Might have been better reading the book instead of listening to it.