Sunday, 31 March 2013

Review: 'The Following: Guilt'

'The Following: Guilt,' 2013, Fox. Written by Kevin Williamson. Directed by Joshua Butler. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore. Rated TV-14 for dialogue, language, sexual situations, and violence. Airs 9.00 p.m. EST on Monday.

In this episode, Joe Carroll sends Roderick Nelson and a few other followers to get Carroll's ex-wife, Claire Matthews, from where she's been hiding with the FBI. Ryan Hardy is with her now, and when Carroll's followers come for Matthews, Hardy and Matthews duck out the back, narrowly escaping. The two go off-grid and end up at the home of an old friend of Hardy's, Tyson (David Zayas). 

Tyson has been under witness protection for some time; he used to be FBI (he and Hardy went to Quantico together). He knows Hardy well, and can tell Matthews a few secrets. It's a good plot device, and keeps the viewer interested; however, we're not sure how Hardy is supposed to know where Tyson is being kept, since earlier episodes suggest Hardy doesn't have clearance to know such things. 

Meanwhile, Emma Hill tries to apologise to Jacob Wells for having left him and Paul Torres to die. At first he's reluctant; then he warms to her advances; then he decides he might like to kill her -- and though this may sound a bit wishy-washy, it seems to make sense whilst you're watching. 

Carroll is making headway with Joey, as well. He gets the boy to help him make S'mores, Joey's favourite food, and Joey begins to relax just a bit. 

Of course, things go wrong for Hardy by the end of the episode, so we're left wondering what will happen next. But that's part of what's fun about a show like this.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Review: 'Celtic Woman' by Celtic Woman

'Celtic Woman,' Celtic Woman, 2004, Capitol Records. Cover: attractive. Inside has more pictures, not only of the singers, but of the musical director/composer, David Downes. Lyrics are not included.

We got this CD one year from our mom for Christmas. It not only has wonderful music and beautiful vocals, but it has page-long biographies of each of the members of Celtic Woman, as well as of David Downes. 

The first track, 'Last Rose of Summer (Intro)/Walking in the Air,' is one of our favourites; Chloe Agnew has a lovely voice, and the sweeping music in this song enhances that nicely. We love the lyrics on this track. Agnew's first album, 'Chloe,' was recorded when she was just 12 years old. 

'May It Be,' another favourite of ours, was featured in 'The Lord of the Rings' (though there it was performed by Enya). It's quite an adventurous tune, with lyrics like 'Morni? ut? li? (Darkness has come)/Believe and you will find your way.' This one is sung by Lisa Kelly. Kelly has performed in many concerts in Dublin's National Concert Hall. 

We really enjoy the Celtic words in some of the songs, such as 'Siuil A Run (Walk My Love),' and the music in this particular track is quite beautiful. Orla Fallon sings this one; Fallon is also a harpist, and has won many awards worldwide, including The International Pan Celtic Harp Competition (twice). 

Mairead (don't you love these Celtic names?) Nesbitt plays the fiddle on the album; two notable tunes are 'The Butterfly' (for which lyrics may be found online, but they are not sung here) and the lively 'The Ashoken Farewell/The Contradiction.'  

Tracks include the classic 'Danny Boy,' sung by Meav Ni Mhaolchatha. Mhaolchatha has two solo albums, 'Meav' and 'Silver Sea.' 

David Downes' performing credits include concerts in Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Wembley Arena, and on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. 

Favourite lyrics include: 'The villages go by like dreams/The rivers and the hills, the forests and the streams' ('Last Rose of Summer'); 'Suddenly swooping low/On an ocean deep/Rising up a mighty monster from his sleep' ('Last Rose of Summer'); 'I'll sell my rod, I'll sell my reel/I'll sell my only spinning wheel/To buy my love a sword of steel' ('Siuil A Run'). 
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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Recommended Reading: A Call to Action

We would love to hear from you! What are your favourite books, and why? What book are you currently reading that you just don't want to put down? 

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Monday, 25 March 2013

Tiger in My Soup Blog Tour

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Review: 'Tiger in My Soup' by Kashmira Sheth

Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2013, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95, hardbound, 30 pages. Category/Genre: mainstream. Cover: cool. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

This is a book about a young boy left alone for the day with his older sister, and the trouble his imagination gets him into. 

The main character only wants his sister to read his book to him. 'It's a book about tigers,' he says. 'Big, hungry tigers.' But his sister, like most big sisters, can't be bothered. 

The boy does get his sister to make him some soup. But whilst the boy is waiting for the soup to cool, a tiger jumps out of the bowl! The boy must fight for his life against the angry tiger; and the boy's sister doesn't even notice. 

There are little details in the artwork that readers will enjoy discovering. The alphabet soup spells, 'ROAR' when the tiger appears; the kitchen table has tiger faces carved in it; and the tiger and the boy interact around giant cans of soup on the inside covers of the book. 

This is an engaging story which will hit home with many readers, and there's a nice surprise ending. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Review: 'Bates Motel: First You Dream, Then You Die'

'Bates Motel: First You Dream, Then You Die,' 2013, Universal Television. Written by Carlton Cuse, et al. Based on characters created by Robert Bloch. Directed by Tucker Gates. Starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. Rated TV-14 for dialogue, language, sexual situations, and violence. Airs 10.00 p.m. EST on A&E on Monday.

Spoiler Alert!

This is a series which seeks to explain how Norman Bates (from the classic film 'Psycho') became the deranged killer he was. 

For some reason, some people don't understand that this means it's likely that the series will contain material unsuitable for children. There have been complaints about the violence, in particular the rape which occurs in the first episode. Granted, the victim (Norma Bates, played by the ever-intriguing Vera Farmiga, pictured) pulled herself together pretty quickly after the rape; and her son Norman (played by Freddie Highmore, pictured) wasn't nearly distressed enough to find a man raping his mother in their kitchen, especially considering how close Norman and his mother are supposed to be. But the show is on at 10.00 p.m., it is on A&E (which features such grisly shows as 'The Walking Dead'), and it's about the birth of a serial killer. Acts like rape and murder are probably going to be par for the course. 

That aside, we liked the show so far. As mentioned above, Vera Farmiga is pleasant to watch, and the episode showcased her talents well. Freddie Highmore is also turning out to be talented, and we look forward to seeing how the writers turn the almost-normal Norman into a psychopath. 

A quick overview: Norman's father dies; we're not told how, but Norman finds his body in the garage. (We suspect foul play on the part of Norma, who was bathing at the time Norman found his father. She left things burning on the stove and the iron still going.) 

Six months later, Norman and Norma move to White Pine Bay, where Norma has bought the Seafairer Motel, which they are going to turn into the Bates Motel. Unfortunately, they run across an angry drunk (Keith Summers, played by Earl Brown) who believes the motel should be his. He consequently attacks Norma, who ends up stabbing him to death. 

What to do with the body? Norma convinces Norman not to call the police (it would be bad publicity for the motel if people started calling it the 'Rape/Murder Motel'), and the two set about getting rid of the evidence. Throughout the episode, the Norman/Norma relationship is revealed, although it doesn't seem so far as if the two are unnaturally close. Just close enough to keep the secret of murder between the two of them.  

The reason it's called 'First You Dream, Then You Die,' is because the characters have a dream of starting over, which then goes horribly wrong. This is a classic film noir idea, which we think is appropriate, given the origins of the series.   

Review: 'The Following: Love Hurts'

'The Following: Love Hurts,' 2013, Fox. Written by Adam Amus and Kay Foster. Directed by Marcos Siega and Adam Davidson. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore. Rated TV-14 for language, sexual situations, and violence. Airs 9.00 p.m. EST on Monday. 

Spoiler Alert!

'Love Hurts' is the theme for this episode, which has Joe Carroll sending out two of his followers -- Amanda Porter (played by Marin Ireland, pictured) and Louise Sinclair 
-- to kill women with the same name as his ex-wife. Carroll intends for Hardy to think this manoeuvre is all about him, whilst in reality it is about trying to flush Claire Matthews out. Carroll knows that if Matthews finds out he's killing people with her name, she will come out of hiding to try and stop him.

Meanwhile, we finally get to find out what's happened to Paul Torres and Jacob Wells, who were abandoned by Emma Hill and left to die. Torres and Wells have holed up in the Wells family retreat. Then Wells' mum arrives, and his dad will soon follow -- and Daddy will certainly call the police. 

Emma Hill is having her own problems; Carroll's lieutenant, Roderick, is giving her a hard time about her loyalties and the fact that she's sleeping with Carroll whilst away from her boyfriend, Wells. Add to that the fact that she can't seem to get Carroll to relax around her and commit to a relationship, and you have one miserable little psychopath. 

There is a wonderful scene in which Ryan Hardy confesses his love for Claire Matthews whilst trying desperately to save a woman in Porter's clutches. Kevin Bacon exercises his acting chops in this scene, as does Marin Ireland, who is a nice foil. 

One complaint: when Paul Torres is begging Jacob Wells to kill him, he echoes a line from Charlie Mead in a previous episode: 'I want my life to mean something.' These reviewers don't really see how dying in this case would cause Torres' life to mean anything, even in his twisted view. Still, this was a good episode. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

First Day of Spring

We've been seeing signs of spring for a while now: crocuses and daffodils blooming, wildflowers, vincas, robins, and even a spot of warmer weather. Warmer weather for us usually means reading out of doors and seeing more birds and wildlife. We like to track the coming of wildflowers and to see the new greenery everywhere. 

Supposedly, you can rest a raw egg on its end during the spring equinox. (This doesn't seem to be true; you can apparently rest a raw egg on its end at any time of the year, depending on the egg you choose.) 

Equinox EE-kwin-ox, n., means 'equal night.' This is the time of year when day and night come closest to being equal in length. The spring equinox (first day of spring) is also known as the vernal equinox. Vernal VUR-nul, adj., means 'of or pertaining to spring.'

Review: 'Life for Rent' by Dido

'Life for Rent' by Dido, 2003, Arista. Cover: we like it. Inside has more black-and-white pictures. Lyrics included. 

We first found out about Dido when we saw one of her videos; then we heard 'White Flag' and knew we liked her sound. On this album, we find our favourite, 'White Flag,' about a woman still in love with her ex; 'Stoned,' about a woman who wants to fall freely in love, whilst her lover keeps her at a distance; and the title song, 'Life for Rent,' about a woman who doesn't know how to settle down in life or love. 

We particularly like the music in 'White Flag' and 'Who Makes You Feel.' 'Who Makes You Feel' is about a couple still in love despite the fact that things are changing between them. Dido's voice gets a wonderfully whispery quality in this one. 'Do You Have a Little Time' also showcases the whispery quality she can get.  

All of the songs on this CD were written by Dido Armstrong, with the help of others except on 'See the Sun,' which was written by Dido alone. 

Favourite lyrics include: 'I will go down with this ship and I won't put my hands up and surrender' ('White Flag'); 'He told me he's packed up your books and your letters and things/And as the sun sets on Mary, it's rising on him' ('Mary's in India'). 

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

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Monday, 18 March 2013

Review: 'A Place for Turtles' and 'Stripes of All Types'

A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart, Illustrated by Higgins Bond, 2013, Peachtree Publishers, $16.95, hardbound, 29 pages. Category/Genre: reference. Cover: well done! Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

Like A Place for Birds by the same  author, this book is a call to arms for those willing to help animals in distress. Throughout the book, Stewart gives facts about how turtles are harmed by man: rubbish in water (plastic bags can kill turtles), unsafe fish nets (shrimp nets killed hundreds of thousands of loggerhead turtles each year until Congress passed a law that fishing nets have a turtle excluder device), and allowing dogs to roam free in forests, wetlands, and other wild places are but a few of the ways people hurt these creatures. 

But Stewart doesn't just leave us with the bad news. She also tells how people have been mending their ways and helping turtles, as well as listing ways the reader can help. For instance, over 400 Alabama red-bellied turtles were killed whilst trying to cross a four-lane highway between 2001 and 2006. But in 2007, a 4.3-mile-long fence was constructed along the highway to prevent turtles crossing the road. 

In 1996, LaGrange, New York needed to make a bigger high school. But the only way was to overtake a wetland where Blanding's turtles lived. Soil and plants were moved to a nearby spot and another wetland was created for the turtles. 

Ways you, the reader, can help include never catching and keeping a turtle; never buying a turtle at a pet shop; and never throwing trash into any body of water. 

Filled with lush colour artwork throughout, this book also gives several turtle facts and has a handy bibliography. There are also maps of the ranges of 12 turtle species in the U.S. 

Age range: 6-10. (But it's excellent for any age.) 

If you like this one, try: A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart. 

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale, Illustrated by Susan Stockdale, 2013, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95, hardbound, 30 pages. Category/Genre: reference. Cover: Excellent. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

Magnificent acrylic on paper images adorn every page of this terrific book. Rhyming text takes the reader from one animal to the next, giving hints about where each animal lives: 'Stripes found in water,' says the text underneath the picture of a purple-striped jellyfish. 'And camped by a creek,' adds the text below a baby Malayan tapir.

The pictures are large, colourful, and wonderfully detailed. At the back of the book is a section with more information on each animal and his habitat. For instance, we learn that the zebra moray eel lives in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and Red Sea; that their stripes increase in number as they grow larger; and that the eel is a fish. 

We also find out about why these animals have stripes. For example, the phantasmal poison frog has stripes to tell predators that the frog is toxic. The okapi has stripes on his legs to help him hide from predators. And no-one knows why the Florida tree snail has stripes. 

For added interest, there's a game at the very end of the book, in which readers may guess which animals have which stripes. It's harder than you might think. It's also fun. 

Age range: 4-6. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Review: 'The Following: Welcome Home'

'The Following: Welcome Home,' 2013, Fox. Written by Amanda Kate Shuman. Directed by Joshua Butler. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore. Rated TV-14 for language, sexual situations, and violence. Airs 9.00 p.m. EST on Monday.

James Carroll is free, with his followers and his son. Now all he needs is his ex-wife, Claire, and in this episode he sets out to find her. His lieutenant, Roderick (Warren Kole), helps him decide how, and soon Roderick takes a group of followers with him to capture and interrogate Agent Michael Weston (pictured). 

We also find out why Roderick follows Carroll: Carroll is taking the blame for two murders Roderick committed. Carroll also teaches Roderick how to kill. 

This is a tense episode, with quite a lot told from the point of view of Carroll and his followers. Weston is showcased, as well -- a nice change of pace, because this is a good character. There's a creepy moment in which Weston is followed, only to turn around in his motel room to find two of Carroll's followers already there. 

On the homefront, we're introduced to Agent Nick Donovan (Mike Colter), who is going to head up the investigation from now on. He's by-the-book and obviously going to cause problems for Hardy, who Donovan wants to act as strictly a consultant. Donovan is a control freak when it comes to his work, and insists on having his say-so on everything; this already grates on the nerves of the FBI agents who are thus far used to doing things a bit more spur-of-the-moment. It will be interesting to see how Donovan's character develops in future episodes. And in the meantime, we have Hardy's bold-faced sarcasm to see us through.  

Friday, 15 March 2013

Author Interview: Susan Stockdale

Susan Stockdale is the author and illustrator of a number of children's books, including Bring on the Birds, Fabulous Fishes, Carry Me! Animal Babies on the Move, and Stripes of All Types, which will be reviewed on this blog on 18 March. Stockdale's books have won awards from Parents' Choice, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Library Association, and Bank Street College of Education. Her work is featured on puzzles and in colouring books and other products. 

How long does it take for you to write a book? It usually takes me
a few weeks to come up with my rhyming text. Then it takes me a few
more weeks to write the addendum, in which I provide additional
information about the animals included in my book.

What medium do you prefer to use for your illustrations? I
always create my illustrations with acrylic paint on paper. I like using
this medium because of its bright, opaque colors and because it’s
very “forgiving”; I’m able to paint over my mistakes easily.

How long does it take for you to do an illustration? It can take anywhere
from a week to a month, depending on the size of the illustration.

What kinds of writing quirks do you have? I say my words out
loud as I write them. I need to hear how they sound. This is especially
important since I write in rhyme, and the rhythm has to be just right.

Who is your favorite author and why? I have lots of favorite
authors! They range from writers of nonfiction like Doris Kearns
Goodwin and David McCullough, who impart historical information
with suspense and excitement, to fictional writers like Michael
Chabon and Jonathan Franzen, who write with imagination and

What is the writing process like for you? Is it the same with
every story you write? I follow the same process for every book. I
get an idea, for example - how animals carry their young. Then I
begin researching my theme and gathering information. Then I
synthesize this information into spare, rhyming text and an addendum.

What inspired you to write 'Stripes of All Types’? I was stirred to
create the book after seeing an exhibition of colorful frogs at the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Many of the
frogs had stripes that served a purpose, usually alerting other
creatures that they were poisonous. That gave me the idea to create
a book about how different animals benefit from stripes. I also love to
paint patterns, so this topic was a perfect fit.

Can you make a living as a children's writer? I’m trying! I’d say
that, adding the income generated by my school presentations, I
currently make the salary of a part-time job.

How was your first publishing experience? It was a steep learning
curve because I had been painting fantasy landscapes for years.
Then suddenly I was writing and illustrating a nonfiction book, in
which all the details in both the text and illustrations had to be
factually accurate. But I had a great editor and art designer who
patiently showed me the ropes, so it was a very good experience.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: 'Breakaway' by Kelly Clarkson

'Breakaway,' Kelly Clarkson, 2004, RCA. Cover: good picture. There are more pictures of Kelly Clarkson on the inside. Lyrics included. 

Basically, this album rocks from start to finish. Some of the deeper lyrics come from Clarkson herself, though other writers do a very good job on this CD, as well. 

There's a lot of anger and angst in this album. 'Since U Been Gone' (one of our favourites) is one of the angry ones, as is 'Walk Away'; but 'Since U Been Gone' is the more powerful of the two. 'I Hate Myself for Losing You,' 'Addicted,' and 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' are definitely angst-filled; 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' is about a woman who refuses to cry (on the outside) any more even though she's still cut up on the inside. 'Addicted' is about a woman who can't break free of a love she knows is wrong for her. And 'I Hate Myself for Losing You' says it all.

There's some really good guitar and percussion on this album (hence the rocking), particularly on such tracks as 'Hear Me' (Josh Freese is on the drums, and Clif Magness does the acoustic and electric guitars and bass on this song). 

'Beautiful Disaster' is live. 'Addicted,' like 'Where is Your Heart,' starts off slower and picks up later. 'Addicted' is sort of bluesy, especially in the lyrics, and shows off the texture of Clarkson's voice.     

Favourite lyrics include: 'How can I put it, you put me on/I even fell for that stupid love song/Yeah yeah, since you been gone' ('Since U Been Gone'); 'Now all that's left of me/Is what I pretend to be/So together but so broken up inside' ('Behind These Hazel Eyes'). 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review: 'How to Etch Glass' by Eric Robert

How to Etch Glass: A Guide to Personalized Glass Etching, Eric Robert, 2012, self-published, free ebook, 22 pages. Category/Genre: how-to/crafts. Cover: Attractive. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it:

How to Etch Glass is divided into three parts: Part One is a brief overview of various glass etching processes; Part Two illustrates several objects you can etch; and Part Three presents the reader with the basic steps required to etch glass using a few of the most common processes. 

The etching types Robert explores are: cream etching, hydrofluoric (HF) acid etching, engraving, and sandblasting. In spite of the professional results you can obtain through hydrofluoric acid etching, Robert does not recommend it because of the dangerous qualities of this chemical. There are three types of engraving, which Robert explains in brief: rotary, wheel, and hand engraving. Sandblasting, which is safer than hydrofluoric acid etching, produces professional results, according to Robert.

The section 'Etching Product Ideas' covers what sorts of glass items you can etch, such as mugs, wine or champagne glasses, cake dishes, mirrors, lighted displays,and so on. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this section. 

Robert also talks about how to engrave glass using a rotary tool, which basically involves tracing an image with the tool. He then talks about how to etch using cream. For this, you will be cutting out a stencil before applying the cream; then you allow the cream to set before washing it off of the glass. Robert unfortunately does not say whether to wash the cream off with soap and water, a mild detergent, or simply water. 

Next, Robert offers solutions for how to make etched glass stand out if you use the cream method. One solution is to use a wax metallic finish product called Rub N' Buff. Robert provides a link to where you can purchase this product. Diluting the Rub N' Buff helps to make the glass appear as though it has been etched without other additives, according to Robert. 

The last section in the book covers how to sandblast glass. Firstly, a stencil is applied, using a squeegee to eliminate any air pockets; then a handheld sandblaster is used. 

Robert also has extras if you sign up for the free newsletter. The extras include free etching patterns and free videos. There are a few typos and other minor errors in the book, and Robert fails to tell where you can purchase some of the products, such as the engraving tool. Another helpful aid would be listing the tools required at the beginning of each project. Nonetheless, this is an informative and entertaining book for anyone new to the craft of glass etching. 

You may email Robert at:

If you like this one, try: Suggestions?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Review: 'The Following: Let Me Go'

'The Following: Let Me Go,' 2013, Fox. Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey. Directed by Nick Gomez. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore. Rated TV-14 for language and violence. Airs 9.00 p.m. EST on Monday. 

Spoiler Alert!

In this installment, Joe Carroll complains about his mistreatment by the FBI and requests a transfer. Warden Gene Montero (Nestor Serrano) grants the transfer, much to the frustration of Ryan Hardy and the FBI. Hardy believes there's something going on behind the request; soon he's proven right, as Carroll masterminds another escape. 

Meanwhile, Emma Hill brings Joey Matthews to another 'friend' -- this time it's Bo (Jacinto Taras Riddick), who isn't a follower of Carroll's but who is willing to help nonetheless. But Joey quickly discovers Bo has a woman (Audrey Esparza) being held captive in a cage, and he wants to help. This sets up a real problem between him and Bo, who isn't a nice guy at all. Charlie Mead (Tom Lipinski) makes another appearance, and helps Hill and Joey when they need it most. 

When Carroll escapes, he enlists the aid of his attorney, Olivia Warren, who has been helping him for a while now because she's terrified of what he'll do if she doesn't. One can't help feeling sorry for her, because she's so cut up about what she's being forced to do -- and one can definitely understand why she's afraid. In this episode, Carroll rewards her for her aid with cruelty befitting a man of his type. 

The woman in the cage is also connected to Carroll's escape; she's the daughter of Warden Montero, who granted Carroll's transfer because he was afraid for his daughter's life. 

This episode continues the fast pace and action of the previous installments, and also proves that no-one, not even those helping Carroll, is safe.   

Friday, 8 March 2013

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review: '0304' by Jewel

'0304,' Jewel, 2003, Atlantic. Cover: nice except for the Day-Glo colours. Inside has two more pictures of Jewel, nearly identical. CD is Barbie doll pink (ugh). Lyrics included. 

Jewel's lyrics show a dark side that contrasts with her girl-next-door look. There's plenty of sex in here, and also some creepy, disturbing lyrics ('Haunted,' which she says is from the stalker's perspective, and which is her favourite song on the album to sing).

Continuing with the more shady side of life, 'Stand' is about all the problems and pain life offers (though it presents hope in that we can stand together); 'America' is about all the problems in the U.S.; and 'Yes U Can' shows the seedier side of clubbing. 

There's light in the album, too: 'Run 2 U' is a celebration of love, 'Doin' Fine' is about being young and reckless, and '2 Find U' is about the turning point in a relationship, when the couple either parts or sees it through. '2 Become 1' is about the closeness a woman feels with her lover, 'Becoming' describes a woman's transformation, and 'Fragile Heart' tells the story of a woman who's been hurt before but is still hopeful.  

Jewel intended this album to be 'a modern interpretation of big band music,' something that 'combined dance, urban and folk music.' Personally, we don't really get the big band influence, though we do hear the dance,urban and folk music bit. 

There are liner notes included: brief notes on Jewel's thoughts and experiences in making these songs. 

Note: bleeped out language (strong). 
Favourite lyrics include: 'Running fast through a fairy tale/Dark woods; starless night/Feel cold air in my lungs/Full moon, u follow me . . . ' ('Sweet Temptation'). 

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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

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Monday, 4 March 2013

Review: 'Prairie Chicken Little' by Jackie Mims Hopkins

Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrated by Henry Cole, 2013, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95, hardbound, 30 pages. Category/Genre: mainstream. Cover: Action-oriented. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

A Texas twist on Chicken Little, this book has Mary McBlicken, the prairie chicken, running to tell Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan that there's a stampede coming. 

Younger readers will like the rhyming names and the way the story unfolds in repetition. Plus the names are very creative: Jeffrey Snog the prairie dog, Beau Grabbit the jack rabbit, June Spark the meadowlark, and Slim Brody the sly coyote round out the bunch. 

There's a perilous turn near the end, in which Slim nearly tricks Mary and her friends into becoming a meal for him -- but things turn out all right, and the ending is something kids will find humorous. 

Personally, we didn't care for the way some of the characters are depicted (the prairie dog, the jack rabbit, and the dog in particular), plus we didn't like the way the characters' mouths droop downward. But Cole's artwork is definitely expressive, and kids will likely warm to it. And the coyote and the horse, as well as the insects, were done quite well. 

Age range: 4-8. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Review: 'The Following: The Fall'

The Following: The Fall, 2013, Fox. Written by Shintaro Shimosawa. Directed by Marcos Siega. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, and Annie Parisse. Rated TV-14 for language, sexual situations, dialogue, and violence. Airs 9.00 p.m. EST on Mondays.

This episode starts where the last one left off, with Ryan Hardy at gunpoint and in the kidnappers' custody. Here we see some nice interplay between Hardy and his captors as Hardy plays mind games to try to throw them off their game. He really knows how to get under their skins, particularly the men's; and whilst he's doing that, Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) tries to get inside Emma Hill's head. 

Unfortunately for the kidnappers, they are now surrounded by the FBI, SWAT, local police, the state police, and anyone and everyone else Parker can think of to call to the scene. And the kidnappers are definitely feeling the pressure. None of them knows quite what to do now that their plan has gone awry, and no help is forthcoming. 

Meanwhile, Claire Matthews has (quite stupidly) allowed herself to be driven to another location by Charlie Mead (Tom Lipinski, pictured), another of Joe Carroll's followers -- or, rather, one of hers. She believes she is going to see her son if she does what Mead says, but soon discovers things might not be that simple. 

In this episode, we learn more about Parker's background and why she turned to this line of work. We also find out that, like Joe Carroll, the writers have a few surprises in store. 

One thing about this series that can be off-putting (and which has cropped up in numerous reviews) is the fact that the police -- no matter how many there are or how prepared they are -- keep letting the bad guys slip through their fingers. It seems this is just something viewers will have to learn to accept (a bit of suspension of disbelief) if they want to accept the premise of the show itself, which is in part that Carroll's followers are everywhere. EVERYWHERE.  

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Blog Tour

Don't forget to check out the other sites on the tour!

Kid Lit Reviews also on Twitter @KidLitReviews1
(And Emily Rivet is hoping to have something special on Peachtree's blog, but that's yet to be confirmed)

Friday, 1 March 2013

On the Bookshelf: Books to Be Read March 2013

Well, we got finished with Debbie Kump's '7G,' but not Richard Castle's 'Naked Heat'; so that's still on the list. (Sigh. We do so dislike hold-overs.)

Next on the list is Debbie Kump's 'Transformed.' As mentioned with '7G,' this one was suggested to us by someone in the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F); he's the author's cousin, and he was looking for someone to do a review of her books. So here goes.

Blog Tour

Don't forget to check out the other sites on the tour!