Choose Your Own Misery: The Office Adventures by Mike MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon

  Wow. Have these folks captured office life. Choose Your Own Misery is an apt title. 

They might give Dilbert a run for his money. 

And do they have a gift for writing. They had me laughing on practically every page. Or maybe crying because I could relate to the pain and misery. 

From the intro: 

“Think carefully before you make a move…or don’t. Frankly, it won’t make much of a difference. None of what we do makes much of a difference. We’re all just programmed to die.”

And there’s gems like this: 

“You feel sick the entire elevator ride up to the office, but that’s probably just the hangover combined with old mayonnaise.”

And this:  

“There’s nothing in the world less sexual than a PowerPoint presentation on ROI analysis.”

Which is sad because I can agree. I have actual experience presenting PowerPoints on ROI analysis. 

*sigh*

Oh, and I love the “surprise ending” that starts with you getting another drink at the bar…

Recommended. But maybe not for the same age group as “Choose Your Own Adventure” was geared for.  

Thanks to NetGalley and Diversion Books for a copy in return for an honest review.

Short Story Review: Balancing Act by Angie Barry

  Quite an interesting tale – you may know the characters, but the setting is a bit new. 

What happens when Adonis and Narcissus, tired of their games, make a wager to see who can seduce Ganymede first? 

In a short, short time, the author helps you get into their head and makes you wonder what’s going to happen. Because you’re interested in the characters. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Less Than Three Press for a copy in return for an honest review.

Credit Where Credit is Due. Book Review: Stars of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway by Victoria Micklish Pasmore

 “In the early days of Sun Records, Phillips said, “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and Negro feel, I could make a million bucks.” In 1954, he found that man: Elvis Presley.” 

I think she unintentionally described one of the biggest examples of cultural appropriation in our society. We all know this, but it’s not always laid out so specifically. In other words, we can’t market the black man, so let’s just take something from him and we’ll make a million bucks off of it. And history goes on.

How often does this repeat itself in history? A minority spends a lifetime creating something and the white man steals it from him to make himself rich. Or someone who isn’t greedy creates something for its beauty to share with the world, and someone greedy comes along and steals it because he figures out how to monetize it. It’s criminal.

Who got rich from Henrietta Lacks’s cancer cells? Not her or her family. Who gets rich from the sale of land all over the world? Not the indigenous peoples who first lived on it.

Weird that I picked up this in a book written for a younger crowd.

And would I have thought about it if that quote wasn’t there?

There is a brief biography and some little-known facts on each. It’s just interesting that this book talks about where the music originally came from then kind of skips over that part of its history.

And it’s interesting to me that everyone knows who the king of rock and roll is, but very few know who the queen is. (Wanda Jackson, BTW.)

“It is interesting to note that many of today’s rock ’n’ roll greats give credit to the early rockabilly artists as their musical inspiration.”

I think it’s interesting to note that this doesn’t say they give credit to the people who created the sound, but the first people to get rich and famous from it.

I think that’s what makes me saddest about this book. Is it really giving credit where credit is due??

A few other things I noticed about the book:

I wonder why some of the pictures are drawn. Could they not get permission to print them?

I notice they leave out anything negative about the artists. (Is that the real reason Jerry Lee Lewis is nicknamed “the Killer”?)

But it has some interesting info on these people who were important in the formative days of rock ‘n roll.

Thanks to NetGalley, Plum Street Publishers, and IBPA for a copy in return for an honest review. 

Children’s Book Review: I Hear a Red Crayon by Bonnie Feuer

 A powerful book as Bonnie Feuer shares growing up with an autistic brother. Bonnie does a good job of sharing with us her life with her brother Mark and showing us what it is like growing up with an autistic sibling, and, yes, maybe even a little even bit what in might be like to have autism.

The heartache and joy that comes from growing up with someone who is a little bit different and can’t always relate to the world in the same way.

A sweet, sweet story.

I would think that anyone who knew someone with autism would benefit from this book. Especially families who deal with it every day. But then, maybe it’s just something that everyone should read – if only to glimpse the larger world and see the different kinds of people in it.

Thanks to NetGalley, The Connecticut Press, and IBPA for a copy in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Gardening by Lisa J. Amstutz

  I know this was written for ages 8-14, but I’m dying to try some of these. 

The tea garden in a pitcher? Yes! (My grandmother used to make peppermint tea from the peppermint in her garden.)

And the ones that are live art like the air garden and living wall art look so cool!

And I never would have thought of making a zen garden with a plant. 

The tie-dye garden is pretty fascinating. 

There are even specialized mini-gardens to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Plus it’s written at such a simple step-by-step, that any age group old enough to do these tasks could follow. 

And these are so practical – the tea garden sections tells you how to make hot or iced tea. The spaghetti garden section reaches how to make squash spaghetti. 

Many of them are both practical and aesthetic. Some are just aesthetic. 

There are quite a few options here – even if you don’t think you have a green thumb there are several gardens that take a minimal amount of work to keep up. 

Recommended for anyone of all ages and all experience levels interested in growing just about anything, whether you want to express your artistic side or do something more down to earth. (Get it? Earth? Just a little gardening humor.) Or if you want a fun way to introduce kids to gardening. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for a copy in return for an honest review.

Comic Book Review: Strange Girl by Rick Remender

  This comic is such a fascinating idea. Coupled with interesting characters, great art, and an intriguing story. The rapture, Angels and Demons, Lucifer. 

Bethany is the best protagonist I’ve read in a long time. But Bloato? Bloato is amazing. 

Not only is it a great fantasy comic, but there’s a great underlining (and sometimes overt) discussion of God’s motivations. 

So it’s fantastic as a fantasy, but also as a discussion of theology. The introduction is interesting, talking about Rick Remender’s struggles and what went into this book. 

…Life without struggle is joyless and without reward.

Powerful stuff. Especially because of who says it. But I won’t spoil it for you. 

I was a bit daunted by the length of this time, but once I got into (in the very first chapter) it really started to fly by. 

And the art is amazing. Even though it changed from time to time. The depictions of the denizens of hell is always interesting when done well. 

Several times I laughed. I might have felt a little guilty but I laughed. This was probably Bloato 99% of the time. 

And that mind-blowing ending?? Insane!

It’s been a rough decade.

Same, Beth. Same. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Image Comics for a copy in return for an honest review.

Children’s Book Review: Little Bo Peep and Her Bad, Bad Sheep by A.L. Wegwerth

  I have never seen such a massive mash-up of mother goose tales. I know this is geared toward a much younger age group, but as an adult I found it fascinating to figure out all the figures from the fairy tales. (Like my alliteration?) 

At least 34 nursery rhymes are represented here. 

The bad sheep are running away (this is why Bo Peep couldn’t find them), stealing mittens (which is why the kittens lost them), getting caught up with the 3 blind mice who are being chased by the farmers wife. While the Patty Cake Bakers Man (called by some the Muffin Man) chases after Bingo (B-I-N-G-O) the dog; while his master calls for him (Where, oh, where has my little dog gone?). But favorite is the super-cow jumping over the moon. (I mean, he must have super powers? How else could he do it?)

And that’s just the tip of the shepherd’s crook. (You know, because Bo Peep has a shepherd’s crook? Nevermind.)  

Worth reading. 

And looking at the pictures, obviously. 

It’s a pretty creative mash-up. And the art fits the mood of the book.

(I only didn’t know one of the nursery rhymes represented, as they are listed in the back of the book – but I didn’t catch them all while looking at the picture.)

Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for a copy in return for an honest review.