Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset

Bill: Finally living out my dream of retirement!, Um, Hilary aren't you a little overdressed?

What is this you ask? It's this super awesome Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential playset. Visualize Hilary as president and play out all her roles with this super clever and fun paper doll set.

The set includes several characters like Hilary, Bill, Republican adversaries, and White House ghosts! There are two "sets" several costume and hair changes, and props.

There's a little pocket in front where you can store your dolls. The dolls could be a weeeee bit sturdier, I had trouble keeping Hilary standing up though Bill did fine, but the idea is just so clever and fun.

Which is where I say, don't take this as a political endorsement, it's not. I just thought this was super cute and also a great holiday gift idea.

I received a copy from Quirk Books in exchange for posting a picture with my caption!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christmas Time: It's All about Jesus by Sue M Barksdale with contributions by Russ Barksdale. Illustrated by Alicia T Young

I absolutely love Christmas time and am always on the lookout for more great books to help celebrate the season. While I don't have children of my own, I do have nieces and nephews and a healthy love for children's books!

Putting a fresh take on the Christmas story may be hard as it is one of the most familiar and beloved stories for children. So what makes this book stand out?

First of all, I appreciate that it is written in a rhyming format which is sure to be fun for young children (and is actually a very helpful component of learning to read since it aids in prediction). Secondly, the illustrations are completely charming! They are really beautiful and very cute and perfectly suited to the text.

I also really appreciate that Christmas Time tells the whole Christmas story, starting from the beginning and creating context for the events that took place while wrapping up with a reminder that this is the reason we celebrate today!

Finally, the last few pages of the book include devotionals or questions that enable parents to go back over the story and talk about what all the different aspects of it mean. I find this unique for a picture book and think it could be great!

Overall, if you're looking to add a book about the Biblical Christmas story to your library, I think this is a good one!

You can learn more about the book by visiting the publisher's page for it: Christmas Time

You can buy it on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's in a Horror Movie? Brief Thoughts on Unfriended

I like horror movies.

The other day I was chatting with my mom about the tv show American Horror Story, a show I only watched for one season and found grotesque on the whole. She said she'd heard it had basically become nothing but porn and then she paused and said, "maybe those two just go together."

I felt a little offended at first. Horror is one of my favorite genres, but there is in fact a lot of horror that I don't like. And it's not wrong to think horror and porn go together because in many cases this is true. It's just that...well it can certainly be more, is often more, and doesn't have to be just porn.

I think the best kind of horror will expose our fears in a way that is interesting and fresh. It will be an examination of the darker parts of us and it might use different methods to get there, but this the heart of it. And some of the interesting stuff going on gets lost because of genre, but what do I have a blog for if not to talk about the stuff I see no where else? :)

So I rented Unfriended the other day. Actually it's been a few weeks now. The concept seemed silly, but as I watched the events unfold, I realized that it's true to the best kind of horror--that there is more going on than the surface (admittedly silly) story.

Unfriended is about a group of friends who are suddenly haunted by someone in their online group chat. They try to get rid of this person, but they can't. It's the ghost of a girl who committed suicide after an awful prank was played her.

And yeah the premise is stupid. And it's not actually that scary. The deaths are needlessly gruesome. But halfway through I found myself interested anyway because the premise of taking friendships and putting them all online is actually kind of interesting and terrifying in and of itself.

As the ghost torments this small group of friends into revealing deep dark secrets about themselves--and these secrets are all betrayals of each other, the true terror reveals itself.

It's not so much a ghost forcing kids to tell their secrets as it is the fact that these secrets exist in the first place. We first think this is a nice group of friends having a nice chat, but this is only the exterior. They have done the worst kinds of things to each other and behind each other's backs, but they hide it with the gloss of smiles and likes and facebook friendships. But this outer appearance is superficial, at the core is pure rot.

It's interesting, too, how they try to justify their choices to themselves and these choices haunt them...literally. But there's a fair bit of denial going on, because it's always hard to accept the worst parts of who we are.

Overall, I don't actually recommend this movie. But I do think it's a good example of horror having thematic integrity and giving the consumer something to think about--if you are open enough to do so.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: Deadlock by DiAnn Mills

Q for the Author: What can you tell us about Deadlock?

Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is acopycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It by Stephen King--Audiobook

I originally wanted to do 31 Days of Thrills and Chills in October. Hahahaha. I'm so out of practice.

No but seriously, horror is one of my favorite genres and you can really indulge in October because it's expected. I'm hoping I can still crank out a few of the posts I wanted to, but I figure I better start!

Lately these days, I mostly listen to audiobooks because I can do that while I'm working. Audio is still a bit tricky for me, though, I am still looking for stuff that will keep my attention. And I really wanted scary books for October. Did you know this was my first Stephen King? Well technically my second--I listened to another short audio novella, but this was the first real experience I think. And I randomly chose It because I thought it was more of a horror story and really all I knew about it was that there was a scary clown and the idea of a scary clown being the premise just seemed absurd to me, so.

Oh my gosh I had no idea what I was getting into. Halfway through I decided to look up stuff and discovered this book is considered a sort of turning point for his work, it's one of his longest, etc etc.

It was mostly good, a few really awful things that might have had thematic significance but I wish weren't in there, and a ridiculous ending as I have come to expect from seeing movies, lol. And at times, I was bored.

It, in case you don't know, is about a small town in Maine that by all accounts has nothing really going for it and harbors a dark mysterious evil force that terrorizes and eats children basically. It shows up to them as the thing they fear most and it's really scary!

Basically, though, a long time ago, a group of friends (all boys and one girl!) thought they defeated this evil monster, but made a vow to come back if it ever resurfaced. They then forgot everything about their friendship and childhood and they all moved away until the force reawakens and the only one who stayed behind calls them all back.

So the story kind of takes you back to their childhood while also telling you what's going on in their present lives and it's loooong. Pretty much everything about the girl's storyline is terrible and cringeworthy. There is a hate crime that opens the book that is awful and lots of bullying throughout.

But still kind of interesting. An interesting examination of fear, I think. But if you want to know the best thing about this book, it's the narrator. Stephen Weber just does an absolutely phenomenal job, I probably never would have stuck with it if it was read by your average run of the mill audio book narrator. He really embodied the characters, each one of them, including IT, and handles the stuttering character like a pro, etc. I really cannot say enough good things. You know what he's doing currently? He's on iZombie :)

Anyway! There are quick brief, overdue thoughts about IT. Have you guys read it or seen the movie? Apparently a new movie is in the works. I hope they cut out all the stuff about Beverly. They probably will since if they include everything it will be two days long.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Spotlight: Promise to Keep by Elizabeth Younts

About the Book: World War II Marine Joe Garrison returns home from war longing to be a father to his deaf daughter, Daisy, only to find that she is attached to Esther Detweiler, the Amish woman who has raised her since his wife’s death in this touching historical romance.

Orphaned as a child, Esther Detweiler is used to caring for herself and her ailing grandmother. They made the best out of a hard life and poverty without asking for help. They even take in her shunned cousin’s deaf daughter, Daisy, when her mother dies and her father goes off to war. When Esther’s grandmother dies, Daisy is all she has.

When war veteran Joe Garrison returns, all he can think about is recovering from the horrors of war and building a relationship with his seven-year-old daughter. Daisy, however, is unwilling to leave Esther, whom she loves. Joe and Daisy get to know each other again, but Joe struggles with nightmares and fatherhood is proving to be more difficult than he imagined. Esther loves Daisy and despite her Amish ways, Joe finds himself drawn to her as a woman and not just a caregiver.

As their love blossoms, Joe decides to send Daisy away to a school for the deaf which propels their lives into turmoil and a battle for love and family.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: Lightning by Bonnie Calhoun

About the Book: After she found her real father, life for Selah should have felt settled. But the horrors have just begun. In her broken world of toxic earth and tribal clashes, Selah must battle the forces of nature alongside those in the Mountain who are calling for her blood. Haunted by the pain of mounting losses, she forges on, seeking her lost family and uncovering new mysteries. But the ultimate betrayal of her own body may soon make her quest impossible as it becomes apparent that what has made her new could also drive her to a life of madness.