Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cover revealed for Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


The cover has been revealed for Harper Lee's upcoming Go Set a Watchman from HarperCollins, to be released on July 14, 2015.



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Monday, March 9, 2015

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Vol 1 & Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Vol 1

 photo 1613772351.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpstp455rv2.jpgTransformers: More Than Meets the Eye, Vol 1
by James Roberts & John Barber, illustrated by Alex Milne & Nick Roche
Published by IDW Publishing, June 26, 2012
128 Pages • ISBN 978-1613772355 • Paperback

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Book description:
The ultimate Transformers saga begins here! More Than Meets The Eye reunites the fan-favorite creative team behind Last Stand of the Wreckers and sends the Transformers on an epic quest to the farthest reaches of the Transformers Universe - and beyond! Also includes the one-shot Death of Optimus Prime.


 photo 1613772912.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsajz74upg.jpgTransformers: Robots in Disguise, Vol 1
by John Barber, illustrated by Andrew Griffith
Published by IDW Publishing, August 7, 2012
120 Pages • ISBN 978-1613772911 • Paperback

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Book description:
The war for Cybertron is over - now the hard part begins! Bumblebee and his fellow Autobots struggle to maintain control of a world without Optimus Prime! Bumblebee's provisional government is struggling and Prowl defends it against the Decepticons, but how far will he go - and who will chose to stand by his side?


So, Humble Bundle's newest offer the other day was pretty much the entire current run of IDW's Transformers run of comics ($155 worth of comics according the website - I got it for $15, so not a bad deal). I've been curious about the current run that IDW has been publishing, so this seemed like a ridiculously good deal to me. I read the first volume of each series and actually thought they were pretty good.

The whole idea between both volumes is that the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons has finally ended with the Autobots in charge of Cybertron (a Cybertron that has changed as a result of something that happened just prior to the beginning of these two stories, and something that I'm not at all familiar with). Since the war, more and more Transformers who had fled Cybertron in the wake of the war are now returning, and see no need to have either faction on the planet anymore, as both Autobots and Decepticons are equally seen as responsible for the destruction of the planet. However, the Autobots don't see it this way and want to set up a new government to try to keep another from happening. Optimus Prime sees himself as the most visible sign of the war, so relinquishes his title as Prime, returns to calling himself Orion Pax, and exiles himself from Cybertron, leaving Bumblebee in charge. Meanwhile, Rodimus sees no point in giving up their heritage and starting over so decides to travel from Cybertron in search of the Knights of Cybertron. This is where the series splits into two.

More Than Meets The Eye follows Rodimus and his crew in search of the Knight of Cybertron, while Robots in Disguise deals with Bumblebee trying to reestablish something of a government on Cybertron and dealing with the disillusionment felt by just about everyone over this, especially the newly returned, unaligned Transformers. I've read about the More Than Meets the Eye title from several sources around the internets, and it turns out that they weren't wrong about the title. It combines a pretty decent story with some great character development and just enough wit to make something that's actually fun to read. Robots in Disguise is intriguing as well, given the way the series is dealing with the repercussions and aftereffects of the war. Overall, both series are surprisingly good (I think it would be easy for most people to write off Transformers as a whole, but these are legitimately good comics), but I did find that I enjoyed More Than Meets The Eye more. I'm really glad I bought into this most recent Humble Bundle and will be gladly reading the rest of the volumes.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sarton Sunday 8 III 2015 - As We Are Now by May Sarton

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 photo 0393309576.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpslodpqga0.jpgAs We Are Now
by May Sarton
Published by W. W. Norton & Company, October 17, 1992 (1973)
144 Pages • ISBN 978-0393309577 • Paperback

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Book description:
"I am not mad, only old... I am in a concentration camp for the old."

So begins May Sarton's short, swift blow of a novel, about the powerlessness of the old and the rage it can bring. As We Are Now tells the story of Caroline Spencer, a 76-year-old retired schoolteacher, mentally strong but physically frail, who has been moved by relatives into a "home." Subjected to subtle humiliations and petty cruelties, sustained for too short a time by the love of another person, she fights back with all she has, and in a powerful climax wins a terrible victory.

A searing look at the hopelessness of despair, loneliness and old age, May Sarton's As We Are Now is a powerful study of a woman's resolve to relinquish herself by any means possible from the depths of the anger and anguish she feels from her surroundings. Told through the journals of Caro Spencer who has moved into a "home," not due to a lack of mental strength but of a physical frailty that leaves her unable to live alone. She keeps the journals at first as a record of her days as she fears she is losing her memory, but later the journals become a record of the mistreatment that she and the other "inmates" must endure at the hands of the two women who run the home. Told over the course of several months, this is the story of one woman's battle against age and the carelessness that the elderly can be treated with.

This is a powerful book, told quickly and to the point, and there are times that you forget you are reading a novel and feel like you are being given a first-hand account of a woman's battle against her keepers. I found myself feeling hopeless as there should be something that I could do to help ease her suffering, but then I would need to remind myself that this is a novel. One of Sarton's more powerful works.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Our Souls at Night: A novel by Kent Haruf

 photo 1101875895.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpszmlog5ol.jpgOur Souls at Night: A novel
by Kent Haruf
Published by Knopf, May 26, 2015
192 Pages • ISBN 978-1101875896 • Hardcover
I picked up an ARC of this book at #ALAMW15

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Book description:
A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have long been aware of each other, if not exactly friends; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter, Holly, lives hours away in Colorado Springs; her son, Gene, even farther away in Grand Junction. What Addie has come to ask—since she and Louis have been living alone for so long in houses now empty of family, and the nights are so terribly lonely—is whether he might be willing to spend them with her, in her bed, so they can have someone to talk with.

Louis is surprised, even shocked, that she would've thought of him, though he soon is brave enough to try, impressed by the courage of her proposal. And so their lives now find a new rhythm and their conversations range freely, if sometimes haltingly, through their personal histories: his work as a high school English teacher; the loss of her teenage daughter, and the harm this did to her marriage as well as their son; his brief affair, as a young husband and father, which Addie had heard about; their youthful aspirations and middle-age disappointments and compromises; the joy both feel in at last being able to express the woof and weave of their experiences. This unusual arrangement, as Addie predicted, provokes local comment, and then the disapproval of their children, and their nightly pattern is further disrupted when her son, whose wife has departed for California, asks Addie to take in his six-year-old son, Jamie, for the summer while he tries to solve his various troubles.

Jamie is confused and hurt, of course, but gradually finds comfort in the company of his grandmother and her friend Louis, neither of whom has spent much time with kids in years but in turn learn how to all over again. Teaching the boy to play catch. Adopting a dog from the local shelter. A camping trip in the mountains, a trip to the county fair, simple pleasures that are a hallmark of Haruf's fiction. As are the things that jeopardize them, from the death of a mutual friend to family tensions that suddenly test Addie and Louis's ability to withstand them. And the subtle denouement then sweeps both of these amazing people forward—heartbreakingly, hearteningly into the unknown.


A beautiful, sparse story of a woman and a man who find companionship in their later lives through a fairly unconventional proposal: Addie Moore stops in to see Louis Waters one day wondering if he would like to come and sleep in her bed with her at night.

No, not sex. I'm not looking at it that way. I think I've lost any sexual impulse a long time ago. I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The night's are the worst. Don't you think?

She misses the closeness of her husband, who passed away several years ago, and would like someone to talk to at night. Louis' wife has passed as well, and while at first he is unsure exactly of how this will all play out, he agrees to sleep with her for one night, and then they would both see how they felt. If it was uncomfortable and neither wanted to do it again, they could walk away, no strings attached.

What they discover is a companionship and closeness that comes unexpectedly to them, while causing something of a scandal in their small town. People seem shocked by their decision, but Addie and Louis decide that they are of an age where what other people think is of no consequence to them anymore. That summer, Addie's grandson, Jamie, comes to live with her for the summer while his father (her son), organizes his own life. Jamie is confused by the change, but Addie and Louis rediscover their ability to take care of a young child again, and something of a family comes to exist. It isn't until tensions between Addie's son and Louis grow that anything can ruin what they have created for themselves.

This is a very fast read; Haruf wastes no time getting to the meat of the story. He takes what starts out as a very unconventional idea and reforms it into something that seems so natural that it isn't a wonder that more people don't make this a regular practice. My only complaint with his storytelling is making the book a bit too sparse; the lack of any quotations marks in the book makes for a somewhat confusing reading experience at times. Other than this one minuscule gripe, this is a beautifully told story, and one that will stick with you.

Our Souls at Night: A novel by Kent Haruf will be available May 26, 2015, from Knopf.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Mary GrandPré

 photo 1101891564.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps6idb8az9.jpgA Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
by Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Mary GrandPré
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, March 10, 2105
160 Pages • ISBN 978-0385392280 • Hardcover
I picked up an ARC of this book at #ALAMW15

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Book description:
Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet "training tips" in each chapter.

Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet — a ridiculous notion!

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem... before it’s too late.

This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.


What an unexpected surprise! I had picked up a copy of A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans on a whim at #alamw15, having not one clue as to what it was about. Yesterday, I was looking for something to read, and picked this up just to check it out and ended up reading it in the one sitting. The story follows Miss Drake, a curmudgeonly dragon who has taken on a new "pet" in the form of Winnie, the grand-niece of her previous pet, Amelia (or Fluffy as Miss Drake liked to call her). Winnie is strong willed and very sure herself and at first Miss Drake finds this very discouraging and realizes she's going to have to be very assertive in training her new pet. (Of course, the question actually becomes, exactly who is the pet here?)

Miss Drake, on a shopping excursion for some new tea and biscuits, also buys Winnie a new sketchbook that may be more that it appears to be, and when Winnie starts to sketch all the marvelous, magical creatures she is discovering, the sketchbook releases a magic all its own and the sketches come to life! It is up to Miss Drake and Winnie to find the sketchlings before they are discovered by both the magical and nonmagical worlds.

Putting this all down, A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans sounds like a typical middle grade adventure story, but what took me completely by surprise was that the story is just as much about love, loss, and the importance of family as it is about anything else. Amidst all the magic and missteps and adventures in the story is a growing underlying theme of the importance that both friends and family can have in a person's life, where friends become family and family become friends. The conclusion is one of the most touching endings to a book that I have read in a very long time, and made me think fondly of those that I have loved and lost in my life. The connections between Miss Drake and Amelie, Winnie and her father, and eventually Miss Drake and Winnie are made so incredibly real in such a short book. Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder have crafted a beautiful and fun-filled story, and Marie GrandPré's accompanying illustrations are perfect. I would recommend this to anyone with or without a young person in their life; anyone will be able to enjoy this whimsical tale about the strength and love of families. Highly recommended.

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans is published by Crown Books for Young Readers and will be available March 10, 2015.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sarton Sunday 22 II 2015 - The Fur Person by May Sarton

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 photo 039334990X.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsxnneddv1.jpgThe Fur Person
by May Sarton
Published by W. W. Norton & Company, December 1, 2014 (1957)
120 Pages • ISBN 978-0393349900 • Paperback

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Book description:
A delightful, whimsical tale—one of the most popular books for cat lovers ever written, now newly illustrated. May Sarton's fictionalized account of her cat Tom Jones's life and adventures prior to making the author's acquaintance begins with a fiercely independent, nameless street cat who follows the ten commandments of the Gentleman Cat—including "A Gentleman Cat allows no constraint of his person, not even loving constraint." But after several years of roaming, Tom has grown tired of his vagabond lifestyle, and he concludes that there might be some appeal after all in giving up the freedom of street life for a loving home. It will take just the right human companion, however, to make his transformation from Cat About Town to genuine Fur Person possible. Sarton's book is one of the most beloved stories ever written about the joys and tribulations inherent in sharing one's life with a cat.

The Fur Person is a book that I think any cat lover will cherish. I reread it every couple of years and can always see so much of my cats in Tom Jones (even though my cats are girls). We follow Tom Jones on his journey from a Cat About Town to his discovery of a loving family, and his evolution with his new family, Brusque Voice (May Sarton) and Gentle Voice (Judy Matlack), from Gentleman Cat into a Fur Person. I would imagine that May Sarton took some literary freedom in relating Tom's early years before he became part of her and Judy's family, but his time with them is based on his true adventures. It's a charming little story that I think any cat lover can relate to.

I would have to say that this is by far Sarton's most successful book commercially, only due to the fact that this is the most reprinted book she has published. Just in the last couple of years, there have been two new gift editions published, a hardcover edition and this paperback edition.