Showing posts with label ebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ebook. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

Vegan Vamp by Cate Lawley


Rating: WORTHY!

This was another freebie from a book flyer I get via email. I downloaded it some time ago, and I forgot about it until I saw it offered again in that same flyer, so I dug it out of my collection and read it. It's nice not to be beholden to Net Galley for a change, so I can pick and choose whatever I feel like reading at the time, and take my time with it rather than feel compelled by deadlines and archive dates!

The story is very short, and clearly it's aimed to be a loss-leader to lure potential addicts into a series. I'm not a series fan, nor am I a first person voice fan, nor am I a vampire story fan, so this one had three strikes against it to begin with, but it was so different, or at least it promised to be, and I am a big fan of not taking the road most traveled. I was pleased that the blurb did not lie and that this novel actually worked its way under my skin. I ended up enjoying it.

That said, series? I'm not sure I want to get back into this in another story even though I enjoyed the first one, because that way lies madness. It takes a person into that insanity territory where you're doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This applies to you whether you are writing a series or reading one. So maybe I'll be back, but while that decision remains to be made, let's look at this one volume.

Mallory is not liked by her fellow office colleagues, except when she buys drinks. On this night, after doing that very thing and resenting it, she leaves the bar early and wakes up several days later with no memory of what happened in between. Plus she's lost many pounds in weight. Eventually she gets to a doctor who realizes that she's been bitten by a vampire. Mallory is referred to an underground vampire society that the doctor feels can help her. The problem is that she's not your usual vampire. The thought of blood, let alone drinking it, turns her stomach, as does much of the usual food she had liked to eat. She finds through trial and error that a vegan diet works for her.

That immediate issue settled, she takes up a commission from the vamp society to track down her attacker, who will be giving the underworld a bad name if he (or she) continues unchecked in this apparently random assaulting behavior. So the story goes and it was entertaining, amusing, and quite interesting although the mystery was a bit of a mess-tery. That aside though, I enjoyed the story and the voice, and the fact that the novel is set in Austin even though the author isn't. I will definitely consider reading another volume of this.


Mr Love by Sally Mason


Rating: WARTY!

This novel had an interesting plot and for a long while I stayed with it because it had some level of interest for me, but in the end it was so improbably wish-fulfilling that I couldn't take it seriously. It's honestly far more like a fantasy than a novel rooted in realism. Plus the main characters really were not very savory - not to my taste, and particularly not Gordon, the main male character. I can't for the life of me figure out how a romance ever happened between the main female character Jane, a literary agent, and him.

It took me a while to figure out that these characters were all in their mid- to late-thirties. The first indication of age, misleading as it was, was that Jane's favorite movie as a teenager was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was forced to assume from this that Jane was in her seventies since that movie was released in 1961, or perhaps that she'd seen it on TV or video at a later time when she wa sin her teens, and evidently had no problem with the racism in it, but eventually the author clarified that she was only half seventy! Give or take. She actually might have been a lot more interesting had she been in her seventies.

The story starts with Gordon and is told in present tense which really doesn't work very well, but I got used to it. Gordon is a pompous jackass who wants his massive tome of pretension to be published, but is rightly getting nowhere with it. In a series of events which make zero sense, and which have no rhyme or reason, he ends up writing a romance novel about a sassy woman who is based on a young girl he knew when he was in his teens, and who died. This girl haunts him - he sees her around him all the time, now apparently grown up, commenting on his life.

Without any sort of effort or promotion, the novel becomes a runaway best-seller after he self-publishes it. That's of course when Big Publishing™ comes knocking on his door. I mean, why would they care about someone they couldn't immediately milk for a fortune? Or at least they would come knocking if they knew who he was, since he published under a pseudonym. Jane, who already had two jerks in her life - her asshole of a boss and her douche of a fiancé, figures out who he is and tracks him down, seeing this as the path to her own corner office.

Gordon denies all authorship and talks his sister into pretending to be the author all along, although Jane suspects it's really Gordon. So they immediately get eight million for the book rights and a fat movie contract. All in the space of a few days! Ri-ight! The most amusing part of the book was the completely shallow movie star who hasn't even read the book, and the complete jerk of a movie director who has read it but wants to make his own version of it. I kept wanting someone to tell him to go fuck himself, but no one ever did.

Then the story went right down the shitter. As soon as it's revealed that Gordon is the author, somehow all of this movie stuff is off! Just like that! Why? How? What the fuck difference does it make who the author is if a contract has been signed and the book is real? The novel made zero sense at this point because it then has the movie rights magically revert to Gordon, who marries Jane and they get a new movie contract and a better star. No lawsuits are involved! I'm sorry but no!

This might have been a decent novel had it been more realistic and had Gordon any redeeming features at all, but he was a lousy drunk, completely unlike anyone Jane would want anything to do with, because let's face it, she really needed yet another dick make in her life. For me that's when I gave up on it despite being so close to the end. I can't commend it because it's far too amateurish to commend even though it did have a few entertaining bits here and there.


Love Him Not by Tara K Reid


Rating: WARTY!

This was one of those do-it-yourself stories, where you would, were it a print version, be directed to turn to page X if you want to do Y or turn to page Z if you chose to do B. I was curious as to how this would work - or even if it would work - in an ebook, and the book was free, so despite the story not interesting me, I picked it up. It was aimed squarely at women, although the gay male or bisexual communitiers might find some fun here. I had to persuade this guy Nick to fall for me - so I wasn't remotely impressed by the story, which was YA pap and you pretty much - it seemed from the parts I read - had to basically lay yourself out on a plate if you wanted Nick to like you.

Well, guess what - it turns out that I'm not that kind of a girl, so no! I failed with him twice. Apparently the novel is set up that you fail most of the time, which was fine with me because Nick ought to have been named Dick, judged from his behavior, but it's interesting that the mechanics of it did in fact work. You could tap the link to go to the optional sections of the story, or to return to the previous location and make a different selection.

I had no interest in pursuing this particular story, and cannot commend this as a worthy read. Obviously others - particularly the females at whom this is aimed - and maybe a few guys too, might have a much warmer view of this one than I did, but the format itself was interesting to me, and I can see this being useful in other stories. How well a book set up like this would translate across publishing platforms such as ePub, mobi, and PDF remains to be seen. My own feeling is that it's something better-suited to a middle-grade adventure story than to a romance, but who knows?

As far as this story itself is concerned, it felt trivial and silly to say nothing of how inappropriate it seemed in and age of #MeToo, college rape issues, and workplace harassment. I can't commend it.


Best Friends and Other Liars by Heather Balog


Rating: WARTY!

I get that this is "chick lit" as it's termed, and isn't aimed at me, but it's a novel and to me there are certain things a novel really ought to do. It ought to be original for one thing, and this one was not, and it ought to be realistic within its own framework which this genre really can't be by definition, so there were two strikes against it right away. I guess you could say it ought to be entertaining too, but with the poor writing it wasn't - not for me. Others may disagree. On the bright side, the author has evidently been on a cruise so there is a certain amount of authenticity except for the part where they got onto the boat with such amazing speed.

Either her cruise ship was really small, or they arrived very late to be able to get through the waiting line, and to board as quickly and hassle-free as they did. Real cruise lines aren't like that - not if the ship is large. My own experience demonstrated that it took hours - literal hours - to get on board. I'd have been willing to grant that her boat was small, but that's not what the text said, so it lost believability for me on that, and yes, I get that the author may have wanted to move things along, but to skip even mentioning the line was really inexcusable. On the other hand, the massage was pretty accurate! I didn't feel remotely relaxed after mine either. To me it simply was not worth the money.

What turned me off this in the end was the trope male character, because while adherents of this genre might like that idea, the fact of the male always in every single case being muscular with film-star looks is ridiculous. I get why it's done, but to me it's pathetic and I demand much more realism in my stories than this genre - and this author in particular - is evidently capable of delivering. I DNF'd this at about a quarter the way through, right after she literally bumped into the guy - another tired trope which makes me barf. Sorry, but no. This was pathetic. I can't commend it, not remotely. It had a boatload of issues.


Cinders by Cara Malone


Rating: WARTY!

Erratum
“She leaned against the hood and worried at a hangnail on her pointy finger”
Surely she means 'pointer finger'?! This is why I have a problem with that term. OTOH, maybe she does have a pointy finger....

Well I made it almost 60% of the way through this before I had to run from it gagging. It started out pretty decently - a female firefighter, an arsonist, a love interest who wasn't yet a love interest but was quietly in the wings. Even when Marigold and Cynthia aka Cinder, aka Cyn, start to hook up, it still made for an entertaining story, although from that point on it became much more of a YA love story than ever it was an investigation into an arsonist. That I could even handle.

The problem came for me when the story made its nod and a wink to the Cinderella story. Marigold, who always complains about the amount of work she has to do, but all she seems to do is be a socialite, invites Cyn to a social event and Cyn comes dressed up, but gets called away to a fire. She changes shoes while talking to Mari in the parking area (for no apparent reason!), and accidentally leaves one of her loafers behind, which Mari then returns to her at the station house.

That part was fine, but as soon as these two began making out and going into a full blown sex session right there in the bunk room of the station house that was too much for me. It just felt wrong and sordid, and juvenile. If the author had made the fire alarm go off so they were interrupted when they began to make out, that for me would have made for a much more entertaining story! But this author went obvious on me and rather gross and immature as well, and that was far too much for my taste. That's when the romance felt fake and forced, like the author was faking it rather than feeling it, and I lost all interest.

I can't commend this based on the 60% or so that I read.


Hawk Moon by Rob MacGregor


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a fun and entertaining whodunit set in high-school. It's a little heavy on the Hopi religion, and at first I thought this might turn me off it, not being remotely religious myself, but I do enjoy a variety of stories including those with religion in them, and in the end it wasn't an issue.

The story concerns Will Lansa, who is back for the new school year after spending the summer on a Hopi reservation with his father. After meeting with his girlfriend on a lonely stretch of land outside of town, Will breaks up with her and she promptly disappears. Will is the last one to see her alive, and consequently becomes the number one suspect when her murder appears to be the explanation for her disappearance. This becomes even more of an issue when his baseball cap, along with a knife, a distinctive gift that he had foolishly kept in the unlocked glove compartment in his jeep, are discovered with traces of Myra's blood on the knife blade.

In the rush to judgment, and even though Will hasn't been arrested, he's largely shunned at school except by a few close friends and a key person in the form of a computer whizz named Corina who has long had a crush on Will. With her help and some assistance from a spirit guide, Will eventually manages to solve the mystery and prove his innocence. I can actually think of a better way to have told this story, but in in the end, it was told well enough, and it was engrossing and a easy to finish, and I commend it as a worthy read.


Happenings at Hookwood by Michael Wilton


Rating: WARTY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I made it a quarter the way through this, but had too many issues with it to continue. It may appeal to a certain set of readers, but I found it inappropriate for children and downright objectionable in parts.

The story is of a young rabbit named Startup who lives with his mom and dad in a community close by an old house. When a couple move into the house and bring their cat, an alarm runs through the wild community. This part I could get with because pet cats are in fact devastating our ecology. There are so many of them preying on wild birds and other animals that they're actually destroying wildlife at an alarming rate. Unfortunately that's not the thrust of this novel at all. On the contrary - rather than trying to do good with the fiction, it seems like the story is going in the opposite direction. More on this shortly.

My first problem with this is that while this is obviously a children's book, one of the rabbits smokes a pipe. Admittedly he does have it taken away by his wife later, but the fact that he had it at all is a problem in a children's novel. This is not the nineteen-fifties! I don't mind some anthropomorphization of animals in children's books, but if you're going to make them completely human, then why have them as animals at all? To me it makes no sense to divorce them completely from their nature. These rabbits - and other animals such as squirrels and owls, for example - were entirely human - so much so that they'd lost all connection with nature. That was a problem for me. This lack of a vision as to what their origin was, had become so all-encompassing that at one point Mrs Rabbit, Startup's mom, was making curtains. For a burrow. Which by definition is underground. Where there are no windows. I won't get into why mom is depicted in traditional female roles and so on.

The next problem was that Startup - who seems to be appropriately named, sought to trick a squirrel into paying him for recovering some nuts. I could not get my mind around exactly how this came to be despite going back and re-reading several pages, but clearly Startup's motives were hardly altruistic. I didn't think this was a good example to set before children.

Right after this we're introduced to a hare, the characterization of which is evidently heavily-influenced by the idea of 'mad as a march hare' and the creature is depicted as crazy which again to me was a highly inappropriate precedent to set before children when thinking about a person who appears to have to some mental health issues, or who is maybe simply a bit different in his approach to life. He was called 'Lenny the Looney' and Startup's attitude to him is described like this: "He had no desire to get caught up in a dotty duscussion with Hare'. That's about where I decided I didn't want to read any more of this book, and why I cannot commend it based on the portion of it I have read.


An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing, Paulina Morgan


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a neat little colorful book (illustrated by Morgan) for young children written by Ewing, aimed at teaching tolerance and acceptance, and it's never too soon to learn such things. Young children in particular are far more accepting than so-called grown-ups when it comes to those who might be perceived as different, and it's only to the good to bolster those non-discriminatory perceptions. From A for ability through D for difference and E for equality, through I for immigration and J for justice to T for transgender and Y for 'Yes!', this book covers it all. I commend it as a worthy read for young children.


Experiment with Kitchen Science by Nick Arnold


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

What kid doesn't like to mess it up in the kitchen? This book facilitates all of that, but with a purpose: that of learning some science (and making some sweet treats along the way). We learn how to make butter, how to make a non-Newtonian fluid - which is a lot more fun than it sounds. We lean about fat and protein, starch and cellulose, swelling jellies, and how to mix oil and water!

We learn about specific gravity, air pressure, and surface tension, making beautiful paintings using milk, dishwashing liquid and food coloring, and also about colored foam and giant green eggs! The lesson on bicarbonate of soda and volcanoes makes some crunchy sweet treats, but note that not everything that results from these scientific forays ends up being edible! Educational it is, though. There will definitely need to be a lesson about brushing teeth properly after that one.

Throughout the book there are safety warnings and copious advice on when adults should step in and help out. I think this was a smart, fun, safe, entertaining, and very educational book, and I commend it fully.


Winter Sleep by Sean Taylor, Alex Morss, Cinyee Chiu


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a sweet and charming book about animals who sleep their way through winter the better to creep out with the spring and renew their lives along with nature revitalizing itself each year. Visiting his grandmother, the unnamed boy in the story is taken to a secret glade in the nearby woods where he finds the charm and appeal of nature to be irresistible. But when he makes a return visit in winter, the entire glade has changed, and far from being a place of buzzing insects, flourishing flowers, and chirping birds, it lies asleep under a blanket of snow, soundless, lifeless.

Or so it appears.

Grandmother Sylvie points out though that even in the midst of the quietude, they're surrounded by sleeping nature: the bears and the bees, the dormouse, the bat, the beetles, the earwigs, the moths, the fish and the frogs, all hidden and awaiting the return of long days and strong sunshine to wake up and get moving. There's a section at the back of the book about how and why animals hibernate, and the illustrations by Cinyee Chiu are charming and well-wrought. I commend this as a worthy read.


Wild in the Streets by Marilyn Singer


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

A Singer writes poetry! I'm not a huge fan of the poetic despite having published a volume of my own short stories and poems, but you have to love this one which not only teaches about wild animals that have adopted a lifestyle among humans - for better or for worse, but which also teaches a bit about poetry, using several different forms to describe the various animals and discussing those at the end of the book.

As for the animals? Well! The book travels the world from Austin to Australia, Rome to Rio, and it looks at Coyotes in Chicago (although pick most places in the US and you'll find coyotes!), Agoutis in Brazil, Bees in Vancouver, Butterflies in California, Boars in Germany, Hyenas in Ethiopia, tree frogs in Taipei, badgers in burial grounds, and so on. The animals are fascinating: from charming to harming, and trooping to pooping. Just like the the pigeons with the deadly aim, you can't miss with this book, which was fascinating and engrossing. I commend it as a worthy read.


One More Time by Nancy Loewen, Hazel Michelle Quintanilla


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I had two bad starts with this writing/illustrating team due to technical problems with the books, but I had no such problem with this particular title, which was much better.

When a young boy gets a new scooter for his birthday, he naturally wants to ride it at once, but he can't - he keeps falling off! Well, the answer to that is perseverance and with some help from grandpa and his own mettle, the kid learns that practice makes perfect. A nicely-illustrated and fun story about sticking to it.


A Little Bit Different by Claire Alexander


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Where would we be without individuals and personalities? This is a fun, short and cutely-illustrated book for young children about the joy of being an individual.

Among the ploofs, Shoof is definitely an individual, but at first, Shoof is shunned. It's only when minds are opened and individuality is finally appreciated, that Shoof finds a place in this world. Whether Shoof's friend's talents will be appreciated is another matter! I commend this as a worthy read for young children.


The Art of Drawing People by Debra Kauffman Yaun, William F Powell, Diane Cardaci, Walter Foster


Rating: WARTY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is another of those step-by-step books which approaches art from the lowest common denominator, under the assumption that all prospective artists are the same, at the same level, with the same skills and interests. There was nothing new there, and the art was competent enough, but the questions which bothered me about it were two-fold. One was: what does this book teach that a score of others like it do not, and I could find no worthy answer to that.

The other question was why is the book so larded with images of women? Are men so worthy of depicting? Surely what's sketch for the goose is sketch for the gander? If it had not been for the appalling gender-bias in the art and the limited range exhibited in the various depictions of figures, then I might have favored this book somewhat more, but as it was, I cannot commend it as a worthy read.


The Little Book of Drawing Dragons & Fantasy Characters by Michael Dobrzycki, Bob Berry, Cynthia Knox, Meredith Dillman


Rating: WORTHY!

From an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a short but useful book about drawing and shading, and making realistic images of fantasy beasts such as dragons, griffins, satyrs, and wyrms. It takes a step-by-step approach, and I'm not sure I buy into this raw blocky shapes first approach, followed by refining them because, for me at least, it means a rather soul-destroying trudge through drawing and erasing repeatedly as the blocky shape is transformed into the final artwork. Ultimately though, the point is to get to that final image, so whatever works for you as an artist is the way to go.

I wish more attention was paid to thais kind of thing, because I've seen very many art books which take this same approach and treat all prospective artists as though they are at the same level with the same personality and methodology and in need of precisely the same tuition. That is patently untrue, but I guess if you wish for more individual attention, you take an art class. This book is a 'lowest common denominator' kind of approach, but that doesn't mean it can't take you at least a part of the way along the path you wish to travel, and if starting here gets you closer to that fine end result embodied in the examples we see here, then this is as good a way to go as any!

On that basis I commend this as a worthy read.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Volcanoes and Earthquakes by Anita Ganeri, Chris Oxlade, Pau Morgan


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

From the same team who brought The Water Cycle (Ganeri and Oxlade writing, and Morgan illustrating), comes this one about volcanoes and earthquakes. Once again our guides are Ava and George who seem to have an extraordinary wealth of knowledge about a commendable diversity of topics! Would that our president was as well-informed as these two kids are. In this one we go up to the top of volcanoes and deep into the Earth's core.

In this volume we learn of magma chambers and ash clouds, of sliding sandwiches and lava lamps. Actually I made up that last one, but we do have sliding sandwiches so kids can make their own fault lines and strike slips! Fun! The kids take us through tectonic plates and home-made volcanoes and educate us along the way. The only thing I found fault with (if you'll excuse the pun) was that in the section on famous earthquakes it seemed to be largely the USA which was featured - San Francisco and Alaska, with a mention of Kobe in Japan.

It's a little tiresome for the US to always be puffing-itself up into the forefront, like the rest of the world doesn't exist. San Francisco barely makes it into the top ten of the most devastating earthquakes. All of the others were elsewhere, such as the appalling St Stephen's tsunami of 2004 in the Indian Ocean, and the devastation in Haiti less than a decade ago. I felt it disrespectful that the US was held up as being famous (for what exactly?) as though nowhere else really matters, when these other disasters took far more lives and some of which are far fresher in the world's memory. The world isn't the US and the fiction that it is has become a serious and dangerous problem under our current president. This insularity and provinciality needs to stop.

That aside though, I consider this book an informative and worthy read.


The Water Cycle by Anita Ganeri, Chris Oxlade, Pau Morgan


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Erratum:
In the back of the book, in a section labeled 'Notes for Teachers and Parents', I read in the second paragraph "How do the children think this might have effected the city?" which should have employed 'affected' rather than 'effected'. I'd recommend changing that before any teachers read it! It's much more effective, and not an affectation!

This was an amusingly-illustrated (by Morgan) and informatively-written (by Ganeri and Oxlade) book which discusses the water cycle, without which Earth would be a desert The book discusses, sometimes a bit repetitively, but repetition helps recollection, how water from the oceans evaporates and later precipitates over land as fresh water, which nourishes the soil and eventually flows back to the ocean via rivers, thereby completing the cycle.

The water cycle is a critical part of everyone's need for water, and access is becoming more stressed as the climate change grows worse and the rains come too harshly or not at all, and changing snowfall patterns leave less water to return to the rivers and ocean in spring. Lack of access to sufficient clean fresh water is looming as the number one crisis on our planet. As spoiled Americans each splash through 300 gallons a day in average, the poorer residents of, say, Chennai, in India, which is undergoing an appalling drought in 2019, have less than eight gallons per person per day.

Ava and George the 'geo-detectives' are our guides in this story, and are well-informed. Taking trips on boats and via airplane and even a parachute, and traveling from beach to mountain, they explore not only the cycle, but how water is abused and polluted. Until recently, Cape Town in South Africa was facing a zero water day in the near future: a day when there would be no fresh water for the city's population to use. This scared people so much that they began a serious conservation effort, and now they have put off zero day indefinitely.

There are eleven other major cities across the globe: Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Istanbul, Jakarta, London, Mexico, Miami, Moscow, São Paulo, and Tokyo which will face this crisis as well in the very near future if something isn't done - if water isn't valued as highly as it ought to be. This will occur during the lifetime of the children who might read this book, so any effort to educate them as to the vital importance of water is to be commended. This book as a worthy effort in that direction.


Kind Mr Bear by Steve Smallman


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a very short book, illustrated by the author, about a kindly old bear who helps everyone in the forest. He helps recover a kite from a tree(that is, a toy kite, not a bird of the same name!), lift heavy things, and shelter the tiny denizens of the forest from surprise rainstorms. People take Mr Bear for granted until he's not there any more. When he's sick is when people miss him, and finally it dawns on those forest folk that maybe Mr Bear could use some help.

The book was wonderfully-illustrated and the story poignantly told, and I commend it as a worthy read. The only oddity is that in a section in the back, title Next Steps, the discussion topics weren't about Mr Bear, but about Percy and Posy the penguins. I suspect this was put in there as a place-holder for a new discussion page to be written for this particular book, and that has not yet been added since this is an advance review copy. Presumably that will be fixed before the final version is published!


The Red Suitcase by Gilles Baum, Amandine Piu


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I was very disappointed in this. Clearly it was designed as a print book, and I'm not the sort of reviewer who is privileged enough to get those, so I get only the ebook. Usually that's enough to evaluate a book for the most part, but in some cases, particularly with children's books, it's inadequate. In other cases - like this one - it's impossible.

The problem was that the PDF version I got frequently got stuck and would not swipe past a certain page without great and persistent swiping efforts. I've encountered books like this before, but they are not common, and what it is exactly which causes it, I do not know. I tried this in both Adobe Digital Editions, and in Bluefire Reader, both of which are excellent ebook readers for the most part, and both of them had the same problems with this book, and on the same pages, too. On occasion, it locked up the reader and crashed it, which is a huge no-no.

The first page to stick was the title page. If you swipe very v-e-r-y slowly, i.e. leave many seconds between arriving at a page and swiping to the next one, it works better, but at any reasonable swiping rate, it sticks. You definitely cannot skim over several pages to quickly get to a specific page, and when it sticks, even tapping on the screen will not bring up the slide bar to navigate quickly. When you finally get the navigation bar and move the little slider along, it takes several seconds to respond and change pages. Sometimes after a swipe I would count slowly from one to twenty before the page would indicate it was ready to move. I had downloaded several children's book from Net Galley for review along with this one, and this was the only one of them which I had this kind of trouble with.

My second problem with this is even more serious and it is that, while I get that this book is minimalist, having merely the outline of the red suitcase - and not even a complete outline on over twenty pages - was too much. or rather, far too little. The book struck me as lazy and even cynical, which went completely counter to the message the book was supposed to be purveying - that of perseverance. This book taught me far more about irritation than ever it did about its stated topic. I lost patience with it repeatedly, and I cannot commend it at all.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mythologica by Steve Kershaw, Victoria Topping


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

If Steve is the cake in this book, then Victoria is definitely the Topping. The text is great, but the artwork will blow your socks off. In fact I still haven't found mine, and I'm seriously considering billing the artist for a new pair.

I asked myself, when beginning to read this, what it can bring to the table that couldn't be served equally well by a quick reference to Wikipedia. The answer quickly became obvious. This book has pizazz, which no one could ever accuse Wikipedia of! It's not dry and technical, but lively, exciting, and has roots you can follow all the way back to Tartarus. Unlike those annoying Rick Riordan books which brutally-wrenched the mythology from its native Greece and inexplicably transplanted it to the USA with nary a με την άδειά σας (which is Greek for 'by-your-leave'), like only the USA matters and alas who cares about Hellas anyway, this book keeps everything where it originated and tells the complete story in pithy paragraphs that skip none of the weird details which is what makes these tales so engrossing.

The book runs to some fifty pages of text and illustration, and covers Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, Dionysius, Hades, Demeter, Persephone, Ares, Gaia, Prometheus, Pan, Eros, Penelope, Narcissus, Oedipus, Pandora, Icarus, Midas, Cassandra, Orpheus, Helen, Achilles, Hector, Jason, Medea, Cyclops, Argos, Typhon, Chimaera, Medusa, Cerberus, Talos, Pegasus, the Muses, the Fates, the Amazons, the Argonauts, the Hydra, the Centaurs, The Griffin, the Giants, the Hundred Handers, The Minotaur, the Sirens, the Harpies, the Phoenix. In short, it has everything in one convenient place.

The text alone would have made this a worthy read, but add to that the artwork (and especially its diversity) and it takes it to a whole other place. I was repeatedly struck by how much of the Bible's mythology was taken directly from the earlier Greek stories. This is a wonderful book with much to entice, and I commend it as a worthy and educational read.