Monday, 31 March 2014

Review: 'A Visitor for Bear' by Bonny Becker

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, 2008, Candlewick Press, $16.99, hardbound, 52 pages. Category/Genre: mainstream. Cover: excellent. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

This is a very charming story about a bear who doesn't like visitors, and a mouse who refuses to take no for an answer.

Bear has a large sign on his door confirming that he doesn't like visitors. In spite of this, a mouse knocks on the door, turns up in the oddest places, and in general makes quite a nuisance of himself whilst Bear tries (unsuccessfully) to have a single cup of tea and breakfast for one. 

The mouse's antics, coupled with Bear's humourous reactions, make this book one both adults and children will enjoy reading over and over again. 

For ages 2-5. 

If you like this one, try: A Birthday for Bear, by Bonny Becker.    

Friday, 28 March 2014

Review: 'Masters: Glass Beads' by Lark Books

Masters: Glass Beads, 2008, Lark Books, $24.95, softbound, 335 pages. Category/Genre: art. Cover: attractive. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

Forty master craftsmen are highlighted in this book, and each is given an eight-page spread showcasing their work. The galleries contain photographs of a minimum of 12 beads per beadmaker, with examples of that beadmaker's work over time. 

Quotes from each craftsman are included within the galleries, and these provide insight into the beadmaker's creative life, personal philosophy, and approach to beadmaking. 

Beads within the book are flameworked, cold cast in molds, kiln-fused, or drawn out in a hot shop. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Review: 'Digital Macro Photography' by Ross Hoddinott

Digital Macro Photography by Ross Hoddinott, 2007, Photographers' Institute Press, $17.95, softbound, 176 pages. Category/Genre: how-to. Cover: great. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

This book covers terms required to familiarise yourself with digital photography, types of digital cameras, the care and maintenance of cameras, additional technology, and lenses and close-up accessories. 

Basic techniques are examined, including exposure, ISO, shutter speed and motion, etc. Hoddinott even tells you how to hold your camera, with pictures to illustrate the techniques. 

Other topics are light and colour, still life, natural history subjects, textures and patterns, and post-camera processing. There's a handy glossary and a list of pertinent web sites.

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review: 'Rats' by Carol Himsel Daly, DVM

Rats by Carol Himsel Daly, DVM, 2002, Barron's, $8.99, softbound, 95 pages. Category/Genre: reference. Cover: excellent. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble. 

This book tells you just about everything you ever wanted to know about rats and how to keep them as companion animals. Filled with great pictures, the book begins with a look at the zoology of rats, behaviour in wild rats, and the senses of rats. 

Breeds of rats are considered, and the reader is given tips on how to select a rat for his home. There's a section on supplies and housing, including a chapter on toys. Care of rats includes the best way to pick up a rat, and what to do when you need to transport your rat. 

Perhaps best of all is the special section on understanding your rat. There's a section at the back that lists website you may want to visit, as well as providing a list for additional reading, both for adults and for children. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Review: 'Life on Mars: From Manchester to New York' Edited by Stephen Lacey and Ruth McElroy

Life on Mars: From Manchester to New York Edited by Stephen Lacey and Ruth McElroy, 2012, University of Wales Press, $ 29.70 softbound, 210 pages. Category/Genre: film/TV. Cover: good. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.  

This book is a study of the science fiction/police drama Life on Mars, including discussion on the follow-up Ashes to Ashes, as well as the US and Spanish remakes of Life on Mars. It is a look at how the series invokes the past and how it shows where British TV drama is headed, plus it looks at how the series was structured. There are insights from the programme's makers as well as academic experts. 

The contributors also focus on characters, and it may be here that some of the most interesting points are made. Comparisons to earlier shows rely somewhat on the readers' familiarity with those shows, but not entirely. The show is, as the contributors say, a hybrid of science fiction and police drama, and therefore appeals to a wider audience. 

With a rather intellectual eye to the series, this book is for the avid fan who just can't get enough. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions?  

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Review: 'The Anatomist's Wife' by Anna Lee Huber

The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber, 2012, Berkley Prime Crime, $15.00, softbound, 357 pages. Category/Genre: mystery. Cover: very good. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

In Scotland, 1830, Lady Kiera Darby is in self-exile, having endured great scandal in London. Now she's living at Gairloch Castle with her sister, Alana, and her family. She is dreading a house party, which some of the upper crust is to attend. 

Then one of the guests is murdered, and suspicion falls on Lady Darby -- she was the artist for her now-dead husband's human dissections, and people think her unnatural. It's up to Lady Darby to clear her own name, but she won't be investigating alone; Sebastian Gage, son of a gentleman enquiry agent, will be heading the investigation. 

A rousing good mystery with a dash of romance, a compelling heroine, and an atmospheric setting. 

If you like this one, try: Mortal Arts, by Anna Lee Huber.   

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: 'Phoenix Rising' by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, 2011, Harper Voyager, $7.99, softbound, 402 pages. Category/Genre: steampunk. Cover: excellent except Braun's face isn't as pretty as we imagined it. Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

We've been into steampunk lately, and this fit the bill quite nicely. Eliza Braun, field agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, has orders to help archivist Wellington Books for the forseeable future. Itching for action, Braun urges Books to help her solve the forgotten cases, starting with the last case her ex-lover was on, the 'Rag and Bone' murders. 

Much against his better judgement, Books agrees to aid Braun, and the two set off on an adventure filled with enough action and mayhem for even Braun, and enough intrigue and machinery for the inquisitive Books. 

The two follow a clue left by Braun's ex (who's now in a madhouse), and before long discover a secret society that goes back generations. Along the way, they pursue and are pursued by a mysterious woman in black. They also have to hide their investigation from their superiour, who doesn't want them in the field.  

Note: graphic sexual situations and mild language.  

If you like this one, try: The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris; The Doomsday Vault by Stephen Harper.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review: 'Cursed' by Jennifer L Armentrout

Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout, 2012, Spencer Hill Press, $9.95, softbound, 287 pages. Category/Genre: fantasy. Cover: good. We'd like to see a picture of her eyes, though. Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

Ember McWilliams died two years ago. Her sister, Olivia, brought her back, and since then Ember has had pale blue eyes and a killing touch. 

With their father dead and their mother all but comatose with grief, Ember must take care of the household by herself. But the money is running out, and things look grim. 

Then one day, some people come to take her and Olivia to a house hidden deep in the mountains. Here Jonathan Cromwell has been collecting a group of 'gifted' people -- people just like Ember and Olivia. Ember should be glad; she no longer has to worry about bills, and this is a place where she and her sister should belong. 

But things aren't what they seem at the Cromwell house, and as Ember gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to hurting someone she cares about. 

Note: strong language. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Review: 'Soulless' by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger, 2009, Orbit, $7.99, softbound, 373 pages. Category/Genre: steampunk. Cover: good, but why is her back broken? We like the fog . . . Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

We like this one, partly because it's a mishmash of steampunk and the supernatural, partly because it's well told and has excellent characters, and partly because of the humour. 

Alexia Tarabotti has a number of problems: she's a 25-year-old spinster (and half Italian, at that), she enjoys science far too much for a lady, and she's soulless. 

Being soulless means Alexia is a preternatural: able to nullify the supernatural with a touch. When she touches a werewolf or vampire, he becomes, for that moment, human again.

Alexia also has the irritating problem of a vampire trying to feed on her whilst she's enjoying a nice tea in the library. She ends up having to kill the vampire, which brings in the Bureau of Unnatural Registry and a burr under her saddle, Lord Conall Maccon, alpha werewolf and the fourth Earl of Woolsey. 

But Alexia soon has more to worry about than trading barbs with Maccon and wondering what sort of contraption his beta, Professor Randolph Lyall, is wearing on his face. Someone is causing lone werewolves to disappear and rove vampires to appear; and someone is after Alexia herself. 

Not only that, but Lord Maccon chooses now to kiss her. 

Note: mild language and graphic sexual situations. 

If you like this one, try: Soulless: The Manga by Gail Carriger; Changeless by Gail Carriger; Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger; and Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris.