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Monday, August 31

Great Finds Issue #5

What to do when you don’t live close to a book store? Two words – Thrift Shop!

Hardbacks:

How to Train Your Dragon Book 1

Night Chills by Dean Koontz

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell



Paperbacks:

Stay Out of the Basement (Goosebumps Series)

Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake by Barbara Park

Roots by Alex Haley

Cat Raise the Dead by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Tuesday, August 25

Book Review - Awakening

Awakening

Awakening

BY: K. Lippi

PUBLISHED BY: Mirror Publishing

PUBLISHED IN: 2009

ISBN: 978-1-936046-14-0

Pages: 231

Ages: Teen & Up

Reviewed by Billy Burgess


Author K. Lippi brings us the epic tale of Awakening, a world where vampires, demons, werewolves and other supernatural creatures exist. A California girl named Emilia Miani just returned from visiting her father in Japan. Her life is turned upside down when she meets the mysterious stranger, Shin Kurosaki. He is her guardian angel, a Japanese demon assigned to her by one of her ancestors over 500 years ago.

She learns that she has mystical powers of her own, and also a dark destiny. Her grandfather was a death angel just like her. He was hired by God. Emilia is his only heir. She is forced to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps.

A fallen death angel, Markus is stealing the souls of innocent children. He is set on becoming a new god. Emilia and Shin try to destroy his evil plans, while she starts to have feeling for her guardian.

This book is cleverly written at times. The characters are deeply explored, and I felt everything the main character goes through. The backstory was a bit too much. It could have been saved for the sequel. Yes, there will be sequel because of the ‘to be continued’ at the ending. A little cliché if you ask me. Overall it was a fun read. If you love reading supernatural, good vs. evil tales, then you’ll love Awakening.

Saturday, August 22

Great Finds Issue #4

What to do when you don’t live close to a book store? Two words – Thrift Shop!



Paperback:

The Dragon of Doom (Moongobble and Me)


MoonGobble And Me: The Dragon of Doom by Bruce Coville illustrated by Katherine Coville

Thursday, August 20

Book Review - Dark Destiny


Dark Destiny: The Sleeping Beauty Story Your Mother Never Told YouDark Destiny: The Sleeping Beauty Story Your Mother Never Told You
BY: Kym Hackenberger & Melody Lowe
PUBLISHED BY: Wicked Witch Productions, LLC
PUBLISHED IN: 2008
ISBN: 978-1440412417
Pages: 158
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Do you remember the evil stepmothers and queens from the classic Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales? Did you every wonder how they became evil? Authors Kym Hackenberger & Melody Lowe gives us the dark and twisted tale of how an innocent young woman became the Queen of the Dark Realm.

Elspeth, the oldest princess of Rookskrieg, is soon to marry Malcolm, the prince of Talonsbay. It’s an arrange marriage set up by their fathers. Neither Elspeth or Malcolm want to get married. Malcolm is womanizer and Elspeth just doesn’t love him. She wants to fall in love like her newly married younger sister, Isabelle, did.

On the night of her sister’s wedding, she is embarrassed by Malcolm but is rescued by a dark and mysterious stranger, Jethart. She instantly falls in love him. They sneak around, but can only visit each other at night. Jethart isn’t like Malcolm or any normal man. He can turn himself into an owl and can cast magical spells.

During Elspeth’s wedding to Malcolm, Jethart appears and steals the bride-to-be. They elope, and, afterwards, Jethart takes Elspeth to his castle, Dubh Rathgart, aka the Black Fortress. She soon bares a son named Ossian.

Full of rage and lust for revenge, Malcolm starts a war with the Dubh Rathgart. He starts the chain of events that could destroy the kingdoms, and causes Elspeth to become the Queen of the Dark Realm.

Under 160 pages, this book is short and sweet, but at times the story feels rushed. Some of the dialogue feels a little flat. The characters are not developed enough. There was not one character I felt anything for. I did like that the chapters were short and kept your interest until the very end. Fans of fairy tales and pre-teens will enjoy reading this retelling.

Saturday, August 15

Great Finds Issue #3


What to do when you don’t live close to a book store? Two words – Thrift Shop!

Hardbacks:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander Harry Potter tie-in)


Paperback:

Sanctuary (Angel)

Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott & Michael Norman

Angel: Sanctuary by Jeff Mariotte ($1.25 at Dollar General)

Mr. X by Peter Straub

Transgressions Vol. 2 edited by Ed McBain ($1.25 at Dollar General)

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy and the Sister War by Ann M. Martin

Give Yourself Goosebumps: #13 Scream of the Genie

Wednesday, August 12

Great Finds Issue #2


What to do when you don’t live close to a book store? Two words – Thrift Shop!



Hardback:

The Thief Lord

The Theif Lord by Cornelia Funke



Paperbacks:

More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps: Ten Spooky Tales (Goosebumps Book & Cap Special Edition, No 5)

Blitzcat by Robert Westall

The Kids in Ms. Colman’s Class #11 The Speilling Bee by Ann M. Martin

Taming A Sea-Horse by Robert B. Parker

A Savage Place by Robert B. Parker

In the Face of Danger by Joan Lowery Nixon

Where Two Ways Met by Grace Livingston Hill

Promising Angela by Kim Vogel Sawyer

More Tales to Give you Goosebumps Special Edition #2 by R.L. Stine

More & More Tales to Give you Goosebumps Special Edition #5 By R.L. Stine

Monday, August 10

Book Review - Goosebumps: Deep Trouble


Deep Trouble (Classic Goosebumps)Goosebumps: Deep Trouble
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY: Steve Scott
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-03519-4
ISBN-10: 0-545-03519-8
Ages: 9-12



The first adventure of Billy, Sheena and their Uncle Dr. Deep can now be read by a new generation in this re-release with a brand new cover and bonus features that include: Q&A with R.L. Stine, There’s Something Fishy About Mermaids, Sink Your Teeth Into Some Shark Facts!, Tales of Horror: When Sharks Attack, How to Survive a Shark Attack and An Undersea Adventure – Starring You!

Billy and Sheena are spending their summer vacation with their uncle, Dr. Deep, and his assistant, Alexander DuBrow, on the sea lab boat, the Cassandra. Their anchored just off a tiny island called Ilandra, in the Caribbean Sea, searching for a mermaid that had been spotted by local fisherman.

When Billy takes a swim in the ocean, he is almost attacked by a shark. A beautiful mermaid saves him. Dr. Deep and Alexander throw out a net and catch the mermaid. The mermaid is put into a tank. Billy and Sheena befriend the mermaid.

Alexander has plans of his own. The mermaid would be worth millions of dollars to the local zoo.

Can Billy and Sheena help the mermaid escape Alexander‘s evil clutches?

I don’t recall ever reading this book when it was first released but I really enjoyed reading it now. It will make you think twice about swimming in the ocean.

Book Review - Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy


Night Of The Living Dummy (Classic Goosebumps)Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY: Steve Scott
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-03517-0
ISBN-10: 0-545-03517-0
Ages: 9-12


It’s been over fifteen years since R.L. Stine first introduced his readers to the evil ventriloquist’s dummy. Slappy is back in this re-release of the first book. It has brand new cover and extra bonus features that include: Q& A with R.L. Stine, Fright Gallery: Slappy the Dummy, A Dummy’s Guide to Ventriloquism and Slappy’s Greatest Wisecracks.

Kris and Lindy Powell are twins that share everything. Lindy finds a ventriloquist’s dummy in a dumpster near their house. She takes it home and plans on making money with it by performing at birthday parties. Her sister doesn’t like Slappy because he’s always starring at her with an evil grin.

Thinking that she is jealous of Lindy’s dummy, her father buys her a dummy at a second hand store. Kris loves the dummy and names him Mr. Woods. She finds a piece of paper in the dummy’s pocket and reads the strange words out loud: “Karru marri odonna loma molonu karrano.”

After a few strange events, Kris believes that Mr. Woods is alive and no one believes her. How will she defeat Mr. Woods?

It was fun reading about Slappy again. He’s one of my favorite Goosebumps characters and I think you will enjoy reading about him too.

Book Review - Garfield and the Mysterious Mummy

Garfield and the Mysterious Mummy
BY: Jim Kraft
CREATED BY: Jim Davis
Designed and Illustrated by Mike Fentz
PUBLISHED BY: Troll Communications, L.L.C
ISBN: 0-8167-4438-6
Ages: 4-8
Reviewed by: Billy Burgess

While visiting the museum with their owner, Jon, Garfield and Odie accidentally get locked in the museum after closing. Strange things start happening in the Egyptian department that displays the nose of Ahomose.

Garfield and Odie are caught by the security guard and his cat, Cleo. She believes the rumors that the spirit of the Ahomose wants his nose back. She has heard weird sounds at night and one of the mummy coffins has went missing.

After a strange noise is heard near the Egyptian department, the security guard investigates it. When he didn’t return, Garfield, Odie and their new friend go to find him. They can’t find the security guard but they found something else, a living mummy!

All the doors are locked, so there is no way out till morning. Garfield and Odie must either hide or solve the mystery of the mysterious mummy.

The book is currently out of print but if you are lucky enough to find it, buy it. This is a cute book that your children would love to read.

Sunday, August 9

Book Review - Goosebumps: Horrorland #2 Creep From the Deep


Goosebumps HorrorLand #2: Creep from the DeepGoosebumps: Horrorland
#2 Creep From the Deep
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY: Steve Scott
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-91870-1
ISBN-10: 0-439-91870-7
Ages: 9-12


In this second installment of the new series, R.L. Stine brings back three characters from the original Goosebumps series. Billy and his sister Sheena are on a adventure with their uncle, Dr. Deep, on the hi-tech ship, the Cassandra. They are searching for the pirate ship called the Scarlet Skull that sank to the bottom of the sea in the late 1780’s, and carried millions of dollars’ worth of gold and jewels. After they find the ship, Dr. Deep disappears. When Billy and Sheena go looking for their uncle on a nearby island, they discover that the pirates of Scarlet Skull are still alive and they want their treasure back.

I enjoyed returning to the characters from the books “Deep Trouble” and “Deep Trouble II” that were written in the 90’s.

The second story picks up in “Horrorland” from the previous book. Billy and Sheena have won a free trip to the theme park. Their parents have also gone missing . While searching for them they run into Britney and Molly from the first book, who are also looking for Britney’s parents. When they go on the Quicksand Beach ride, Britney and Molly disappear. Now Billy and Shenna must search for their new friends and their parents, but the pirates of the Scarlet Skull may still be after them.

I enjoyed the continuation of the Horrorland. Once again the second story is only 30 pages and ends in a cliffhanger. If you are like me and countless other R.L. Stine Fans, you can’t wait to read more!

Book Reviews - Goosebumps: Horrorland #1 Revenge of the Living Dummy


Goosebumps HorrorLand #1: Revenge of the Living DummyGoosebumps: Horrorland
#1 Revenge of the Living Dummy
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY: Steve Scott
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-91869-5
ISBN-10: 0-439-91869-3
Ages: 9-12


After an eight year hiatus from his Goosebumps books, R.L. Stine is back in a new series. In the new series there are two stories in each book – a 100 -page story and then a 30-page story — which will be continued in each book.

Britney Crosby is going out of her mind when her cousin, Ethan, comes to visit with his ventriloquist’s dummy, Slappy. Slappy is a character from some of the original Goosebumps books . Britney and her best friend, Molly Molloy, are being tormented by Ethan and Slappy. At first they think Ethan is just playing jokes on them, but then they start to believe that Slappy is actually real. The book goes the normal route of a Goosebumps book, but with a different twist at the end.

The second story has Britney and Molly being invited to a theme park called “Horrorland.” But things become weird when Britney’s parents disappear and the girls start to see their old friend, Slappy, around the park.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I grew up reading R.L. Stine, so this brought back memories for me. I would recommend this book to other R.L. Stine fans and to new readers.

Great Finds Issue #1



What to do when you don’t live close to a book store? Two words – Thrift Shop!




Hardbacks:

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Celebrated Jumping Frog And Other Stories by Mark Twain


Paperbacks:

Missing (Fear Street, No. 4)
Fear Street: Missing by R.L. Stine

Just A Summer Romance by Ann M. Martin

Book Review - The Dangerous Days of Daniel X


The Dangerous Days of Daniel XThe Dangerous Days of Daniel X
BY: James Patterson
COVER DESIGN BY: Keith Hayes
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-00292-9
ISBN-10: 0-316-00292-5
Ages: 10 & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

After watching the death of his parents, Daniel takes over their work. He becomes an alien bounty hunter. He isn’t like other teenagers. Daniel has the ability to manipulate objects and animals with his mind. He can create himself in any shape that he chooses.

His parents left him “The List”, an alien enhanced computer listing all of the alien fugitives on earth. It’s his mission to stop the fugitives and hopefully one day he’ll find his parents assassin.

This book is completely different from the “Maximum Ride” series. James Patterson has created an interesting character that children and adults will love. I can easily see this being adapted into a movie.

Book Reviews - The Pain and the Great One


The Pain and the Great One (A Dell Picture Yearling)The Pain and the Great One

BY: Judy Blume

ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Irene Trivas

Reviewed by Billy Burgess

There are two stories in this book. The first story is in the point of view of the sister, The Great One. She complains about her younger brother being annoying. She thinks her parents like him more.

The second story is in the point of view of the brother, the Pain. He thinks his older sister is annoying. He thinks his parents love her more.

This is a great picture book with a lot of truth to it. This is how real siblings at this age act. Parents will love reading this book to their kids.

The Berenstain Bears: Catch the Bus


The Berenstain Bears Catch the Bus: A Tell the Time Story (Step into Reading, Step 2)The Berenstain Bears: Catch the Bus
BY: The Berenstains
PUBLISHED BY: Random House
ISBN: 0-679-89227-3
Ages: 4-7
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

It’s seven o’clock and Brother and Sister Bear’s alarm clock goes off. Five minutes late they are still asleep.

Papa Bear is awake and drinking his morning coffee. Mama Bear is cooking breakfast. Brother and Sister Bear are still asleep.

Mama Bear notices the time and wakes the children up at ten minutes till eight. The quickly get around and on the bus at eight o’clock.

This is a wonderful little book for children. I think every kid has been in this situation.

Book Review - Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask


Haunted Mask (Classic Goosebumps)Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY: Steve Scott
COVER ART BY: Brandon Dorman
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-545-03521-7

ISBN-10: 0-545-03521-X
Ages: 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Chuck and Steve are always scaring Carly Beth and she’s tired of it. She buys a strange green mask at a new store. She plans on scaring them on Halloween Night.

As soon as she slips on the mask her attitude changes. She scares everyone she comes across. Her voice changes too. It’s more frightening. Her friend, Sabrina, calms her down and convinces her to remove the mask. There’s only one problem. The mask won’t come off!!

Find out how Carly Beth discovered the Halloween mask in this special edition of “The Haunted Mask.” Bonus features include: Q&A with R.L. Stine, Fright Gallery: The Haunted Mask, 10 Tips for Trick-or-Treaters and History’s Most Hideous Masks.

Book Review - Goosebumps: The Blog That Ate Everyone

Goosebumps: The Blob That Ate Everyone

Goosebumps: The Blob That Ate Everyone
BY: R.L. Stine
COVER DESIGN BY:
COVER ART BY:
PUBLISHED BY: Scholastic Inc.
Ages: 9-12
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In this classic Goosebumps books, Zackie Beachamp wants to be a famous horror writer. He stumbles upon a shop that has been damaged by a fire. He finds a old fashioned typewriter. It’s prefect for writing his horror stories. The shop owner gives it to him for free.

Zackie rushes home and starts typing. He soon finds out that the typewriter is magical. Whatever he types becomes real. Soon there is a terrifying blob destroying the town. How will Zackie stop it?

This is a fun book that kids and adults will like reading.

Book Review - A Week In the Woods


A Week in the WoodsA Week in the Woods
BY: Andrew Clements
COVER ILLUSTRATIONS: Brian Selznick
PUBLISHED BY: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
ISBN-13: 9780689858024
Publication: 2004
Ages: 12 & UP
Reviewed by: Billy Burgess

Mark moves to New Hampshire and to a small school called Hardy Elementary. His science teacher, Mr. Maxwell, doesn’t like him. Mr. Maxwell thinks Mark is a rich, spoiled kid.

At first Mark wants nothing to do with the Hardy’s famous week in the woods led by Mr. Maxwell. Once Mark begins to open up to life in the country, he changes his mine about the trip. He thought it would be fun to learn something new and he might even enjoy it.

Mark buys all new camping gear and is ready to meet some new friends. But things go all wrong for him.

The week in the woods is not what they had planned, especially not Mr. Maxwell.

If you have ever moved during your childhood or just had a hard time meeting new friends, then you'll enjoy reading this book.

Saturday, August 8

Book Review - Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark


Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1)Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark
BY: Mary Pope Osborne
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Sal Murdocca
PUBLISHED BY: Random House Children’s Books
ISBN-13: 9780679824114
Publication: 1992
Ages: 4-8
Reviewed by: Billy Burgess

Jack and his sister Annie stumble across a tree house in the woods that contains dozens of books. He opens a book on dinosaurs and they are magically transported back to the days of dinosaurs.

Jack finds a golden medallion in the grass with a fancy M engraved on it. The explore the dinosaur world. The meet a friendly Pteranodon and a nasty Tyrannosaurus. How will Jack and Annie find their way home?

This is a charming book that children will love. It teaches them about dinosaurs, reading books and using your imagination.

Thursday, August 6

Book Reviews - Dead Until Dark


Dead Until Dark (Book 1) [Southern Vampire #1]Dead Until Dark
BY: Charlaine Harris
COVER DESIGN: Judith Murello
PUBLISHED BY: Ace Books
PUBLISHED IN: 2001
ISBN: 978-0-441-01699-0
Ages: Adult
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Charlaine Harris has wonderfully crafted the vampire legacy into modern times, where vampires are now legal. Japanese develop a synthetic blood, TrueBlood, making it possible for vampires to live among the living.

Sookie Stackhouse lives with her grandma in a small town called Bons Temp, Louisiana. She works as a waitress at Merlottes, but she’s not like other waitresses. She can read people’s minds. Sookie considers this to be a disability. It’s hard for her to date anyone when she knows everyone’s thoughts. Her life is turned upside down when a dark, handsome vampire named Bill Compton steps inside Merlottes. Bill’s over one hundred years old, and is the first vampire in Bons Temp.

Sookie rescues Bill from the Rattrays, who wanted to drain his blood for drug uses. Unable to read Bill’s thoughts, Sookie starts to fall for the vampire, which causes problems between Sookie and her boss Sam Merlottes. Sam has a crush on her, and is hiding a dark secret. As she gets closer to Bill, there are several deaths, fang-bangers, in the town, and one death hits close to home. The main suspect is Sookie’s womanizing brother, Jason, who’s had a relationships with all of the victims.

Sookie must use her telepathic powers to find the killer before she’s the next victim.

Humor and clever writing highlight this book above other vampire novels. The quirky characters and plot twists keep you interested until the very end.

Tuesday, August 4

Where is Scrooge McDuck Hiding at?


(Originally posted in the June 2008 issue of the SFC Newsletter)


Where is Scrooge McDuck Hiding at?

By Billy Burgess




It seems the future of cartoons are in jeopardy. They are being replaced by pre-teen and reality shows which is fine for an older audience. But what about the younger children who are too young for this.

I remember watching “Garfield and Friend”, “Tiny Toon Adventures”, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” every Saturday morning. You can now find a new incarnation of TMNT but it’s not as good as the original. It seems the current trend is to remake old cartoons. Can‘t the studios come up with any new ideas of their own? Surely, there are writers out there, like me, with lots of imagination, can come up with new, exciting cartoon characters and stories for today’s kids. Stories you can remember generations from now.

Not being able to sleep one night, I turned the television on and flipped through the channels. I ran across a cartoon on the Disney Channel. I watched only five minutes before I was disgusted. The story, the humor and the animation were terrible, in my humble opinion.

After a few more nights of not sleeping, I decided to record some cartoons during the day for me to watch. I was shocked when I looked at the television listings and couldn’t find any of the cartoons that I grew up with! In fact, there were hardly any cartoons on at all. What happened to the creative original cartoons that I grew up with? What happened to the after school cartoons?